Archive for June 11th, 2007

The Sun & The Star: Green Carrot Compromise

June 11, 07

UPDATE: Malaysian PM thinks the same way I do! Badawi: Use Carrot Instead of Stick For Carbon Emissions! 

Once again, much thanks to my dad who alerted me to the publication of my letter early in the morning… In TWO newspapers! On the same day!

Yes, both The Star and The Sun printed my letter, originally entitled Global Warming and the Economy – the Green Carrot Compromise (to catch the eye of the editor in charge).

Then again, I sent out the e-mail letter to NST and Malaysiakini as well, on a Friday afternoon, so it’s a bit less amazingly coincidental.

But still… My letter in two papers simultaneously, yay! And two days later… NST carries my letter as well!

The Sun’s version is as usual a more complete rendition of my original letter – it’s is even 3 words longer than what I sent! And it’s under EXTRA!: Comments & Analysis instead of the usual Speak Up! section.

They even mentioned me as a ‘scientist’ (they must remember my earlier letter to The Sun) with a blog called Buuuuurrrrning Hot! Thus, I shall put The Sun’s version first so you’ll read it, if not both of the letters.

Click on the images to view the full size with non-blurry words. Or just click on the site link if you prefer that to enlarging each image in turn.

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From The Sun 11 June 2007:

GreenCarrotsKeepCool0

GreenCarrotsKeepCool1 GreenCarrotsKeepCool2 GreenCarrotsKeepCool3

Green carrots can keep us all cool
Scott Thong Yu Yuen

Proponents and sceptics of anthropogenic global warming theory are constantly at odds. Each side rejects the other’s arguments, logic, demands and recommendations as misguided, myopic or worse. And each side constantly accuses the other of ignorance, political bias, unscientific conclusions and hidden agendas.

 

One only has to look at the clash of the titans where the Europe Union on one side is pushing for reduced carbon emissions, while the US on the other side is pushing for reduced expectations. China and India, two of the fastest industrialising nations, want to remain exempt from restrictions for a long time more. And the IPCC calls this a “global consensus on global warming”?

 

What I cannot fathom is the sheer hard-headedness of both sides. Neither side seems willing to compromise, or even stop to consider the other side’s logic – it’s all or nothing in this round of cards.

 

The Kyoto crowd led by the EU wants drastic measures to be taken to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, while industry led by the USA refuses to willingly put its head on the economic chopping block. In the end, each party goes its own way – but it’s still not quite agreeing to disagree. After all, global issues affect all of us, no matter which side of the planet we are on.

 

So keeping in mind this failure to see eye-to-eye, I have this suggestion to make: Why not find and agree on a compromise that partially satisfies both sides of the argument?

 

I dub this plan the “Green Carrot Compromise” – a clutch of solutions that relies on the use of carrots (economic incentives) instead of sticks (carbon limits and taxes) to achieve both environmental and economic requirements.

 

Instead of forcing “green” energy on to industries and consumers, why not stop the endless arguments over whether solar, wind, nuclear or bio-fuel power is the best way forward … And actually set up more of these alternative energy sources?

 

Stop bickering, start building, and soon enough alternative energy will be able to compete with conventional fossil fuels. If green power becomes as cheap, stable and plentiful as conventional power, industry will much more easily be persuaded to make the switch.

 

Instead of forcing high fines on drivers who enter congested city roads at peak hours, why not first upgrade the public transport systems to be up to standard? Many commuters are forced to either pay the peak hour fine, or endure hours of unpunctual and uncomfortable public transportation.

 

When the purchase price of low-emission hybrid vehicles becomes comparable to standard vehicles, more and more drivers will choose hybrids without hard nudging. And as showroom prices fall and gas prices rise, hybrids will make firm economic sense, as well as environmental sense.

 

The overall result of the Green Carrot Compromise will be a partial-win situation for both sides of the global warming debate. CO2 and other emissions will be reduced, and the industrial nations will not lose huge percentages of their GDP in the meantime. Neither side will get the whole cake and eat it, but it’s better than one side getting nothing at all.

 

One foreseeable drawback is that it will take time to set up enough alternative energy production to meaningfully reduce reliance on fossil fuels. Carbon emissions will still exist as green energy slowly expands.

 

But isn’t it still preferable to start these compromise efforts now, than to remain stagnant while debating over policy for years? If the setting up of green power sources is steadily continued, green energy might eventually replace fossil fuel power completely – if new technologies such as clean fusion don’t become practical first.

 

When environmentally friendly electricity and low-emission vehicles become more economically sensible, then industry and the public will shift over to the green without any shoving by policy-makers. And as oil and gas prices rise, green technology might even end up cheaper than conventional technology.

 

Global warming proponents might be right, and the world really is headed towards an environmental catastrophe because of greenhouse gases released by human activity. Or the sceptics could be right, and efforts like Kyoto Protocol will only serve to cripple the economy, while achieving nothing against an imaginary threat.

 

But by adopting a Green Carrot Compromise, we can hedge our bets while moving perceptibly forward. We’ll get both the greens – a healthy and clean environment, and greenbacks in our bank accounts.

 

After all, out in the real world, no party ever gets everything that it wants. That is the basis of power sharing and diplomacy. I think it’s high time that the pundits and policymakers stopped “butting their loggerheads” – the rest of us are the ones getting the headache.

 

The writer is a scientist with a blog Buuuuurrrrning Hot. Comments: feedback@thesundaily.com

Updated: 04:18PM Mon, 11 Jun 2007
Printable Version | Email to a Friend

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From The Star 11 June 2007:

GreensAndGreenback1

GreensAndGreenback2

GreensAndGreenback3

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BIG UPDATE 12 June 2007: One day after my letters are published, Malaysian PM Badawi says almost the same thing!

KL Spy Camera Peeping Tom Landlord

June 11, 07

Every female tenant’s worry come true. I remember climbing past the ceiling panels in the Desa U bathroom to check for any hidden electronics, just because a panel semed to be out of place and no one remembered moving it. Girls everywhere will be checking their rooms and bathrooms today.

The A-hole rat b***ard in this case will pay a heavy price. You can count on it. 

If the justice system isn’t harsh enough for the public’s liking, you can bet there’ll be a lot of noise. Just look back at the number of letters angry at the bocor remark.

And if the videos or pictures have already left the peeping-tom’s private possession, then my recommended punishment is simple: Video the culprit in various humiliating nude poses, preferably with his orifices ‘interacting’ with such items as rubber hoses and broom handles. Then post it on YouTube and the blog of every blogger who condemns his actions.

Watch out for tomorrow morning, as the letters and opinions section of the papers will be full of complaints and condemnations for the voyeur, sympathy for the victims, and outrage over the continuing degradation and disrespect of women in our country.

UPDATE 13 JUNE: The treacherous beast has spycams in his own home to defile his maids and even his wife’s sister!

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From The Star 11 June 2007:

Peeping Tom landlord held

Voyeur nabbed: The landlord has been detained by police for allegedly installing three spy cameras in his house in Jinjang.

KUALA LUMPUR: A landlord who fitted spy cameras in the three bathrooms of a house he rented out to female students has been detained. 

The cameras were fixed near the fluorescent lamps in the bathrooms at his double-storey house in Taman Bullion Mewah, Jinjang here. 

One of the students, in her early 20s, who rents the house with 18 others, went to the bathroom, looked up and noticed something strange in the light socket on Saturday. 

She told her fellow housemates when they returned from college. The girls informed a neighbour who opened the socket and discovered the cameras.  

The cameras were discovered in the bathrooms of the house (right) on Saturday.

A quick check revealed two more cameras in the other bathrooms. The girls made a police report. 

A police team went to the house and recovered the cameras which were believed to have transmitted the images remotely.  

The girls called the landlord under the pretext that something was wrong with the house. Police arrested the man when he turned up. 

Sentul OCPD Asst Comm K. Kumaran confirmed that the landlord, a 34-year-old interior designer, was arrested at midnight.  

He said the man from Gombak would be remanded until Friday.

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From NST 11 June 2007 (NST removes links after a week):

What’s that flickering red light? : Students’ hidden camera nightmare

By : Lee Shi-Ian

The camera was hidden in the black oval object by the side of the fluorescent lamp. A flickering red light alerted a student using the bathroom and led to the camera being discovered. (Inset) The suspect being taken to the Sentul police headquarters
The camera was hidden in the black oval object by the side of the fluorescent lamp. A flickering red light alerted a student using the bathroom and led to the camera being discovered. (Inset) The suspect being taken to the Sentul police headquarters

KUALA LUMPUR: All she wanted was a shower after a long day. Instead, she discovered that she was fulfilling someone’s perverted desires.

The girl, a student of the International Islamic University Malaysia, was preparing to take a shower at her home in Sentul about 2.45pm on Saturday when she noticed a red flickering light coming from a black oval object near the overhead fluorescent light.

The 20-year-old did not think anything of it.

Later at 5pm, she was about to take another shower when the red flickering light from the black oval object caught her attention again.

Her curiosity aroused, the student climbed a ladder to take a closer look at the object.
Seeing that the red light was coming from inside the object, she decided to take it apart.

To her horror, she found a camera with recording capabilities.

The traumatised student told her neighbour, who alerted the local Rukun Tetangga, a source said.

“The student and several of her housemates then went with members of the Rukun Tetangga to the Sentul police headquarters, where she lodged a report.”

According to the report, 19 students rented the four bedroom double-storey house in Taman Billion Mewah from a man, believed to be in his 30s, in October 2005.

The students, aged between 18 and 20, with some coming from Perak and Terengganu, are all studying at the IIUM.

The landlord, a paperer by profession, drops by the house once a month to collect the rent.

One of the students recalled that the landlord would spend 10 to 15 minutes in each of the three bathrooms in the house on each of his visits.

“He also gave us strange advice, like where to stand in the shower area while we are bathing and which angles to face,” the student added.

The landlord apparently explained to the students that the bathroom doors would be damaged by water, hence the reason for telling them where to stand.

It is learnt that cameras were found in all the bathrooms.

Following the report, police went to the house later in the evening to set a trap for the landlord.

They had the students contact the landlord and ask him to drop by, ostensibly to repair a leaking pipe.

The man, who is married with two children and lives in Taman Greenwood, was nabbed on arrival and produced in the magistrate’s court in Jalan Duta yesterday.

He was remanded for eight days.

Sentul police chief ACP K. Kumaran confirmed the arrest.

Yesterday, the five students gave their statements to Sentul police.

They are praying that pictures of them in the nude and in various states of undress would not be circulated through mobile phones and the Internet.

“They are hoping that police will recover whatever pictures and videos which are in the suspect’s possession,” the source said.

Malaysiakini: Are US News Agencies Biased Against Palestine?

June 11, 07

My debut Malaysiakini piece. The Star, NST and The Sun decided not to print it – I already expected so, seeing as they have to watch out for their printer’s licences and my letter seems very pro-Israel (strict no-no around here!). Which is why I included Malaysiakini on the mailing list this time.

You need a subscription to view the full article. Luckily, I’ve included the full version screen captures. I’ve also included the text for easier reading and access to the links.

Also, thanks to Dr. Hsu for alerting me to the appearance of my letter and for saving the page for me before I got a subscription for the full version.

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From Malaysiakini Opinions/Features, Jun 8, 07 11:49am

newsbiasisrael0 newsbiasisrael1 newsbiasisrael2 

newsbiasisrael3 newsbiasisrael4 newsbiasisrael5 newsbiasisrael6

Are US news agencies biased against Palestine?

Alison Weir at her recent talk in Petaling Jaya organised by Just (International Movement for a Just World) with the theme ‘Deadly Distortion: American News Coverage of Israel-Palestine and its Effect on the Alleged Clash of Civilisations’ gives the impression that American news agencies are biased against Palestine and in favour of Israel in their coverage of the conflict.

Without expressing support for either side in the conflict, I would like to say that this issue is not as clear cut as it is made out to seem. My purpose in writing this letter is simply this: To point out that the American media is not always unflinchingly on the side of Israel.

In fact, a not-inconsequential number of columnists and bloggers, in America and worldwide, feel the exact opposite – that the American media is routinely biased against Israel, and simultaneously unfairly biased in favour of Palestine and whoever Israel’s opponents are.

For example, take the case of Tuvia Goldman. In this case, a photo taken during the Al-Aqsa Intifada of 2000 depicted a bloodied youth with a shouting, club-wielding Israeli policeman standing behind him.

This photo was published by at least seven American newspapers including the New York Times, with an accompanying caption stating that the unarmed youth was a Palestinian. The caption also gave the impression that the Israeli policeman was in the process of assaulting the youth. Thus the scenario fed to the public was that of uniformed Israeli brutality against an innocent Palestinian.

It was only when the youth’s father sent a letter to the New York Times that the truth behind the sensation was revealed: The injured youth was actually Jewish. While riding in a taxi, he and his friends had been mobbed, beaten and stabbed by Palestinian Arabs. The youth, Tuvia Grossman, managed to stagger to a petrol station where the Israeli policeman protected him from probable death.

American media bias?

A sincere error in reporting, perhaps. But when the New York Times published a correction, it omitted any mention of the youth having been beaten by Palestinians. Was that an example of American media bias in favour of Palestine?

Another example of alleged media inaccuracy not in favour of Israel is the well-known Red Cross Ambulance Incident. In this incident, photographs and television footage were released by the mainstream media depicting two damaged ambulances during the 2006 Israel-Lebanon conflict. One of the ambulances had a hole piercing directly through the centre of the red cross painted on its roof.

The media all across America and elsewhere reported that these ambulances in Lebanon had been struck by Israeli military weapons. Eyewitnesses to the incident who were interviewed testified that an Israeli aircraft had aimed rockets at the ambulances, scoring a direct hit on them and creating a huge fireblast that injured the ambulance drivers and passersby.

All in all, the impression that was created was that the Israeli armed forces had deliberately targeted clearly-marked humanitarian aid vehicles, causing much bloodshed and death. In other words, a blatant and unquestionable war crime.

The enigmatic reporter Zombietime was, however, skeptical of this claim. Using media-released photos as reference material, he investigates on various inconsistencies in the media-published accounts.

For example, the ‘rocket hole’ punched through the Red Cross symbol was quite suspicious. What were the chances a rocket fired at range would hit the exact middle of the symbol? Why is the hole so small and neat, instead of large and ragged from a rocket ripping through the metal roof? Why are there already rust large marks around the ‘freshly made’ hole?

If the rocket supposedly tore into the ambulance from the outside, why are the edges of the hole bent outwards from the inside of the ambulance? And wait a second, isn’t the position of the hole exactly where these Red Cross ambulances usually have a round emergency light or siren? Perhaps all that happened was that the light had been removed, rather than a spectacular rocket impact having made the hole?

If the rocket struck the ambulance and exploded devastatingly – as the various eyewitnesses swear – why are the ambulances shown in the photographs so remarkably intact? Where are the blood and gore and burn marks from the fire? Even the inside of the ambulances look amazingly under-damaged for an explosion that purportedly happened inside the passenger compartment.

And the ambulance driver who was reported to have been seriously injured by the rocket, who was shown in photographs resting in hospital heavily bandaged… Why does he appear in photographs taken less than a week later walking about, unbandaged and completely uninjured?

Zombietime proposed several hypotheses as to why such slipshod reporting was so quickly accepted and aired by the American media. One hypothesis was that the American media was politically biased against Israel, rather than the other way around as Alison Weir believes.

The charges of reporting bias against Israel are not confined to American media either. Other Western media have occasionally been taken to task for their dubious news sources and alleged laziness in basic facts-checking.

For an example involving the BBC, a photo shows a Lebanese woman wailing in front of a demolished building. The caption reads that she is mourning her home, which was recently destroyed by Israeli weapons.

Yet in a photo claimed to have been taken two weeks later, the exact same woman in the exact same clothes is shown looking shocked in front of a completely different building…which is also claimed to be her home that was just destroyed by Israeli weapons! This strange coincidence was publicized by blogger Drinking From Home.

Censored and doctored

With it being so seemingly easy to manipulate the Western media, there even exists the term ‘Pallywood’ – a combination of the words Palestine and Hollywood. The term refers to news events that are allegedly staged by locals and cameramen to portray Israel in an unfavourable light as often as possible. Such events are quickly scooped up by foreign reporters eager for juicy news coverage, with nary a regard for its authenticity.

And even if the Israel-Palestine conflict is given pro-Israel selective coverage by the American media, what can be said of the media in other countries… Including our own? Is the media worldwide fair and unbiased, or is it heavily censored and doctored in favour of a certain side, depending on the country’s political leanings?

Once again, let me reiterate the disclaimer that I am in no way supporting Israel with my reporting and references. I am merely pointing out that even if there does exist significant media bias in favour of Israel, there also exists evidence of significant media bias against Israel. I sincerely and strongly ask that the editor keep these disclaimers of mine.

But there is also another lesson to be learned from the above stories. In many of those cases, it was independent bloggers who did the reasearch and pointed out the inconsistencies in the traditional media reporting. That is truly something worthy to be mentioned when bloggers today are accused by certain official channels of being incapable of anything except shallow reporting and spreading sensational rumours.

The ideal of reporting is to be truthful, accurate and unbiased. Unfortunately, it seems that in the harsh realities of this world, the tenets of free speech are often abused and exploited for ulterior motives. It’s enough to make skeptics and paranoid questioners of us all.

But with every netizen being capable of individually checking out the reports and facts for themselves, our questions will at least have a chance of receiving satisfactory answers.

SCOTT THONG YU YUEN, a Malaysian, believes that to sacrifice the truth for any cause is to sacrifice the integrity of that cause.

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For more information on the topics I mentioned in my letter, browse thru the following:

TuviaGrossman

TuviaGrossman
2006 Lebanon War photographs controversies
Zombietime
Zombietime on Reuters photo fraud
Media coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict
Pallywood
If Americans Knew (founded by Alison Weir) 
Fauxtography Update (List of fake news pics)
Media Mythbusters Wiki(Dedicated to exposing media inaccuracies)

Carjack and Hijack in Johor

June 11, 07

Just one short of the 3-in-1 of this previous post.

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From The Star 10 June 2007:

Robbers carjack manager and take him on terror ride

JOHOR BARU: A manager of an engineering firm was taken on a terror ride lasting almost two hours when he was carjacked by three robbers. 

However, the robbers returned his MyKad and mobile phone SIM card, and even gave him RM30 for a taxi ride. 

The victim, in his 30s, had parked his Toyota Hilux outside his workplace at the Berjaya Industrial Area at 7.45am on Friday when he was approached by two men. 

“There were three of them but the driver stayed back inside the black car they came in. 

“They told me my car would be towed. I thought they were from the bank, so I told them I had not defaulted any of my loan instalments,” he told The Star

The victim said the two men forced him at knifepoint to the rear seat of his pick-up truck. 

“I passed them my mobile phone, wallet, ring and watch. They asked for the password of my ATM card, too, and I told them as they threatened to kill me,” he added.  

After about an hour in the car, he was transferred to the robbers’ black car and driven to an oil palm estate in Kulai before being dumped there. 

Police urged anyone with information to call them at 07-2212 999.

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From The Star 10 June 2007:

Truck full of electrical goods hijacked

JOHOR BARU: Robbers held up a lorry driver and his assistant taking a break at a rest area along the North-South Expressway at knifepoint and hijacked the truck full of electrical goods. 

The victims were on their way to deliver the goods to a warehouse in Taman Mount Austin. They stopped at the rest area at 4am on Friday when the robbers struck. 

They were tied up by two men armed with parang and dropped off at a palm oil estate in Senai, some 10km away. The hijackers drove off with the lorry containing RM157,000 worth of electrical goods . 

The victims freed themselves and made a report at the Skudai police station at 8.30am. 

The lorry was later recovered in Sedenak with the contents missing. 

Johor Baru (North) OCPD Asst Comm Ruslan Hassan said police had detained a 28-year-old man to assist in the investigations. He has been remanded until June 14. 

“We believe five suspects were involved and have launched a manhunt,” he said.  


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