Archive for March 17th, 2011

Japan’s Unsavory Options

Daniel Wagner
The Huffington Post
March 17, 2011

Japan’s first week of this crisis has revealed to the world what many Japan watchers have known for many years — that it was woefully unprepared to deal with an inevitable severe earthquake and its repercussions.

TEPCO (the Tokyo Electric Power Company) and the Japanese government have unfortunately fulfilled the expectations of many who are familiar with their histories addressing crises, in which they have proven either inept or purposely misleading in delivering trustworthy information to the public. To proclaim, as one Japanese minister did last weekend, that the amount of radiation released at that time was equivalent to a CAT scan was simply absurd. We should not have expected more from TEPCO, which has in previous instances delivered purposely misleading information. But the Japanese government had an opportunity to shine in managing this crisis; it has regrettably fallen fall short of the mark.

Had TEPCO and the government either had a handle on what was occurring at the Fukushima nuclear complex, or been honest and forthright in reporting what was occurring, they might have put themselves in a position to reach out for international assistance more rapidly, and the events over the past week at the complex may not necessarily have unfolded as they have.

U.S. government officials have expressed alarm at how this ordeal has been handled and envision a possible ‘dead zone’ in Northeast Japan for decades. We could see a scenario in which a large swathe of northeast Japan becomes permanently uninhabitable. Were that to occur, the impact on the Japanese economy would clearly be severe and would preclude the idea of rebuilding areas impacted by the quake and tsunami. As bad as that would be, the impact on companies expecting to participate in the rebuilding effort would be unwelcome, and the anticipated ‘bounce’ in global share prices as a result of spending an anticipated $200 billion to rebuild the area would prove to be premature, since it may not happen at all. Read the rest of this entry »


Comparing Fukushima, Chernobyl, Three Mile Accidents: Q&A

By Adi Narayan
Mar 17, 2011

March 15 (Bloomberg) — Radiation leaks from Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s earthquake-stricken reactors in northeastern Japan represent the worst nuclear power accident since the meltdown at Chernobyl, Ukraine, almost 25 years ago, scientists say.

Military helicopters are dumping water on containers holding spent uranium fuel to prevent them from overheating after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami disabled a cooling system, Tokyo Electric spokesman Kaoru Yoshida told reporters yesterday. Once exposed, the spent fuel rods may catch fire and melt, spewing radiation into the atmosphere.

“Radiation levels are extremely high, which could possibly impact the ability to take corrective measures,” U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chairman Gregory Jaczko told a congressional panel in Washington yesterday.

Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about the accidents at Fukushima, Chernobyl in 1986 and Three Mile Island, Pennsylvania, in 1979. The information is drawn from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission in Washington, the World Health Organization in Geneva and interviews with radiation safety experts in the U.S., Australia and India. Read the rest of this entry »


Malaysia should learn the lessons from the Japan Nuclear Catastrophe

The last six days has been the hardest moments for Japan as a nation as they are faced with an earthquake of a magnitude of 9.0, followed by the nuclear explosions at the Fukushima nuclear plants with a radiation contamination threat.

Malaysians extend their greatest sympathies to Japan for the earthquake that has struck in such unexpected fashion. Indeed, the people of Japan had shown great courage in face of the national tribulation which has been described as the worst disaster of the nation after World War II.

The incident had revealed the inconvenient truth for the proponent of nuclear power that it is a high-risk gamble. Officials in Japan have said that the nuclear reactor was built to withstand disasters. Yet the accident which occurred has caused such detrimental result.
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What’s the hype about?

By Francis Loh | Aliran

Francis Loh finds the hype surrounding the proposal that we should do away with the ethnic/race categories in application forms befuddling.

Give the ethnic group of the following Malaysians: Abdullah Badawi? Samy Vellu? Ling Liong Sik? Karpal Singh?

Yes, Abdullah is Malay, Samy is Indian, Ling is Chinese and Karpal is Indian of Sikh faith. No prizes for getting the right answers. Most Malaysian school children would be capable of doing so. Hence, even if these individuals do not state their ethnic group or race orally or in any form, we would still know which ethnic group each belongs to.

In fact, Malaysians are also not required to state their ethnic group or race when they register themselves to vote. Yet the ethnic breakdown for each electoral constituency can be worked out. We know that the political parties determine the estimates for each constituency by going through the electoral rolls. Or if they do not have the capacity to do the counting themselves, they rely either on the estimates that the Elections Commission or the major newspapers provide. Whether the newspapers rely on the Commission’s estimates or the other way around is not so clear. Anyway, the point is that we can determine the race or ethnic background of most Malaysians by reference to their names.
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Two unreasonable and unacceptable conditions for the release of the 35,100 copies of Bahasa Malaysia Bible should be withdrawn immediately

The two unreasonable and unacceptable conditions for the release of the 35,100 copies of Bahasa Malaysia Bible, Alkitab – each copy should be stamped “For Christians only” and each copy should carry a serial number – should be withdrawn by the Barisan Nasional government immediately as they smack of discrimination at their worst and will expose Malaysia to international ridicule, scorn and condemnation.

In less than 24 hours, the goodwill which the Najib administration had hoped to generate from the release of the 35,100 copies of Alkitab – 5,100 copies in Port Klang and 30,000 copies in Kuching Port – had been dissipated not only by the two unreasonable and unacceptable conditions, but the most ham-fisted way and trigger-happy manner in implementing them.

The Bible Society of Malaysia, the importer of the consignment of 5,100 Alkitab impounded at Port Klang for about two years, has protested at the “defacement” and “violation” of the Bahasa Malaysia Bibles as it has been informed that the scriptures have been stamped with the words “Al Kitab Berita Baik ini untuk kegunaan penganut agama Kristian sahaja” (‘This “Al Kitab Berita Baik’ is only for the use by Christians only”) and the Home Ministry had stamped spaces for the serial numbers into the Bibles.
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Longing For A Free Mind (Part 2 of 14)

By M. Bakri Musa

The Meaning of A Free Mind

[In Part 1, I discussed the importance of having leaders and followers with free minds – Hamka’s “berani menyebut yang aku yakin” – if we hope to aspire to Vision 2020. In this second part I assert that a free mind is Allah’s command; it is a necessary condition to being a believer.]

I will not wax philosophical on the meaning of a “free mind.” My co-panelist Dr. Azly Rahman is more than qualified to do that; he is also more erudite. The only formal exposure I had to philosophy was an introductory course in my freshman year; that hardly qualifies me. Instead I will share with you my understanding of the concept.

I am less concerned with the philosophical pondering on whether something can exist without being perceived (the tree falling in the deep forest) rather the more practical problem of the same reality being perceived differently, sometimes diametrically so. It is this that can so often leads to much strife and even greater misery.
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