Sabtu, 26 Oktober 2013

The Star Online: Metro: South & East

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The Star Online: Metro: South & East

Disabled Frenchman says Everest jump 'message of hope'


KATHMANDU:  A multiple sclerosis sufferer hoping to become the first disabled person to skydive over Mount Everest says he wants his feat of daring to send "a message of hope" to others with the disease.

"I am a happy person. Probably a little crazy...just a little. First, happy," 55-year-old Frenchman Marc Kopp told AFP in Kathmandu ahead of his scheduled tandem skydive next week.

Kopp, who lives in Longwy, northeast of Paris, has suffered for more than a decade from multiple sclerosis, the degenerative nervous system disease which disrupts the brain's ability to communicate with the body.
Muscles weaken, lesions emerge on the brain and spinal cord and in the worst cases, patients can lose the ability to speak or walk.

Although he usually uses a wheelchair, few places in Nepal are disabled-friendly so he manages with a walking stick, holding on to his friend, champion skydiver Mario Gervasi who will accompany him on his jump.

It was 13 years ago when Kopp, then a senior manager in local government, felt a haze before his eyes. He dismissed the blurred vision - a symptom of MS - as a sign of working too hard.

Then he had trouble moving his right leg, experiencing sharp pain when he tried to do the simplest tasks.
His right arm followed and soon, his whole right side hurt. An enthusiastic horseman, eventually, every activity became painful.

After a battery of tests, he was diagnosed in 2001 with primary progressive multiple sclerosis, a form of MS with almost no prospect of remission.

"I thought I was prepared to hear anything, it had taken so long, one year to diagnose the cause. But when I heard the news, it hit me hard," he said.

A friend sent Kopp MS-related reports but he couldn't bear reading them.

"But my wife looked at all of them and saw our future," he said.

"Seeing her so frightened made me realise I had to be strong, I had to face my illness," he added.

As his condition worsened, he became increasingly determined not to simply become a victim and instead began volunteering for a support group for fellow sufferers.

When he met Gervasi last July at a parachuting event in Lorraine, the skydiver who has jumped over Everest and over the North and South poles, was planning a trip to Nepal with French football legend Zinedine Zidane.

But a clash of schedules meant the footballer could not join him and instead, he asked Kopp if he wanted to skydive over the mountain together.

It took Kopp less than a minute to say yes.

"Why not? I felt like I would send a message of hope. Even if you are sick, you are still alive."

He raised 26,000 euros ($35,885) for the trip from friends and well-wishers.

The exact timing of the jump depends on the weather but it could be as early as Monday.

The opportunity to jump from a chopper hovering 10,000 metres (32,800 feet) above the roof of the world is a gift, he said.

"I always wanted some adventure in my life, like my childhood hero Tintin," he said, referring to the Belgian comic book hero who also travelled to the Himalayas in search of excitement.-AFP

Soldiers jailed over stuffed animals


BANDA ACEH: An Indonesian military tribunal has jailed two soldiers for illegally possessing two stuffed Sumatran tigers and a stuffed bear, with the men forced to appear in court alongside the protected animals.

The court in Banda Aceh on Sumatra island handed Chief Sergeant Joko Rianto a two-month jail term and Chief Private Rawali a three-month sentence on Thursday.

Rianto was given a five million rupiah (RM1,452) fine while Rawali, who like many Indonesians goes by one name, was ordered to pay 2.5 million rupiah (RM726).

"Rawali and Joko Rianto have been found legitimately and convincingly guilty of illegally possessing dead protected animals," judge Lieutenant Colonel Budi Purnomo said.

Rianto, who was caught with one of the tigers and a bear in his house, argued he had purchased the critically endangered tiger to use its teeth to cure his sick wife.

Tiger parts are frequently used in traditional medicine in Asia despite the lack of peer-reviewed scientific evidence showing that they have any medicinal benefits.

Rawali claimed a friend had given him the tiger to repay a debt.

Ratno Sugito, a local animal activist, welcomed the sentences: "Even though the sentence was weak, at least the military court showed its willingness to enforce the law." — AFP

Adulterous website not welcome


ASHLEY Madison, a dating website targeting married spouses, is not welcome in Singapore, said Minister for Social and Family Development Chan Chun Sing.

Chan was responding to media reports that the dating website, which facilitates extramarital affairs between married individuals, is planning for a launch here next year.

"I do not welcome such a website into Singapore. Promoting infidelity undermines trust and commitment between a husband and wife, which are core to marriage," Chan said in a Facebook post on Friday.

The Canada-based website, which goes by the slogan "Life is short. Have an affair", has over 21 million users worldwide. It has already expanded to other Asian countries and territories such as Japan, and, more recently, Hong Kong in August.

A Facebook page called "Block Ashley Madison – Singapore" has been set up by a Singaporean, after news broke that the website is planning to launch here.

"I'm heartened by the responses of many Singaporeans who also spoke up against such a website.

"This reflects the significance we all place in commitment and fidelity in marriage," said Chan. — The Straits Times / Asia News Network


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