Friday, February 24, 2012

And now... for a wee bit of GOOD NEWS... from 60 Minutes!

This made my day... wiped away the bitter taste of reading news reports of Mahathir's demented and desperate attempts to cling like a dying Tyrannosaurus rex to fast fading power and political influence.

Thank you Derek, thank you, Shanthini, for alerting me to this uplifting 60-Minute report.

30-minute overview of a looming disaster called Lynas

Gilbert Almeida poses some intelligent questions with distractingly theatrical affectation - while Fuziah Salleh is entirely credible and convincing with her clear, concise responses. This feisty level-headed MP for Kuantan is one of the brightest silver linings in the dark and ominous Lynas cloud that hangs over the people Pahang.

This 30-minute interview presents an excellent summary and overview of the atrocious Lynas rare refinery project. Another hideous long-term curse brought upon Malaysians by the morally deformed Umno/BN regime.

Bruno Manser, the Ghost That Walks in Sarawak...

Bruno Manser, a real-life Toruk Makto
to the endangered Penan tribe
Well-connected friends in Sarawak whisper that a massive bounty was placed on Bruno Manser's head more than 12 years ago. The money was put up by several logging companies linked to Chief Minister Taib Mahmud who hated Manser's guts. Some say the reward for Manser's head was at least RM1 million.

Bruno has been missing since May 2000, the last time anyone heard from the larger-than-life Swiss artist who transformed himself into a Rambo against the destruction of Borneo's precious rainforests and inspired the Penan to resist the systematic ethnocide perpetrated against them by Taib's corrupt regime.

The valiant spirit of Bruno Manser lives on as the foundation he inaugurated in Switzerland to continue his important mission. I salute this wholly admirable hero who dedicated his life to battling a voracious and vampiric political and corporate dynasty hellbent on destroying an entire ancient ecosystem.

Thanks to the Bruno Manser Foundation, the world can see what is actually happening behind the tight security surrounding the accursed Bakun Dam - demented brainchild of Daim Zainuddin and Mahathir Mohamad...

Members of the Ukit tribe forced to live in floating houses as the waters rise
They were offered a barren resetttlement site and because they refused to budge,
received no compensation
Hanging on to a bleak existence, battling against despair

Thousands of drowned trees along the periphery of the man-made lake
Apart from the trees, how many other magnificent lifeforms have been killed by Bakun Dam?
Yet another ill-conceived, wasteful and unnecessary mega-project from BN


Tuesday, February 21, 2012

This is what I call world-class journalism... Thanks, Kiera!

Will Malaysians Get Cancer for Your iPhone or Prius?

I went to the site of a notorious rare-earth refinery - and investigated plans for a new one - to find out.

By Kiera Butler | Mon Feb. 13, 2012

Greetings from Malaysia! I'm here working on a reporting project about 17 elements at the bottom of the periodic table known as the rare earths, which are key to manufacturing all kinds of cutting-edge technology—from smartphones and laptops to wind turbines and hybrid-car motors to defense technology, including tank engines, radar and sonar systems, and navigation systems in smart bombs. For the last few decades, China controlled the world's market for rare earths, producing about 97 percent of the global supply. But in late 2010, China cut its exports by 35 percent to keep the valuable metals for its own manufacturers. The prices of rare earths shot up, and almost immediately mining outfits in other countries began cropping up.

One of the biggest to come on the scene is Lynas, an Australian company. Although the company will mine its materials in Australia, it hopes to build its refinery in Malaysia. It was granted a temporary license to operate last month; the company says that once it is up and running, it will be able to supply a fifth of the world's rare earths. If all goes according to plan, Lynas rare earths could soon be found in flat-screen televisions at your neighborhood Best Buy and Priuses at your local car dealership.

Since rare earths occur naturally with the radioactive elements thorium and uranium, safety is a major concern with using them. Engineers have expressed reservations about the safety of the Lynas refinery's design, as the New York Times has reported. Some Malaysians suspect that Lynas is choosing to refine in Malaysia in order to sidestep more stringent environmental regulations at home.

I've been traveling around with Lee Tan, an unflappable environmental consultant who grew up in Kuantan and now lives in Australia. This year, Lee has spent most of her spare time working to stop the refinery from opening. "My mom lives in Kuantan, and my brothers and sisters were thinking about retiring there," she says. "Now, they're not so sure."

You can't blame them for their concerns: Malaysia has hosted a rare-earth refinery before, with some painful results. From 1979-92, the Japanese company Mitsubishi ran a plant called Asia Rare Earth, where it processed the materials it needed to sell electronics to markets all over the world. In the years since, nearby villagers have seen birth defects and eight cases of childhood leukemia. Mitsubishi is still dealing with the mess; the New York Times called it "the largest radiation cleanup yet in the rare earth industry."


Kiera Butler is the articles editor at Mother Jones.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Nothing like some good music to blow away bad politics...

Last month I invested in an affordable new Divoom digital sound system (designed in Singapore, manufactured in China) that packs more punchy bass than anyone would expect. It's been very therapeutic, to say the least. After reading two or three local news items, I tend to get so pissed off or depressed, the only remedy is to put on some high-energy mp3s downloaded from YouTube via this nifty free website. It only takes a jiffy... and now my music archive has expanded extensively. Just sharing some of my medicine with anyone who might need it... put on your headphones or wait till the neighbors are out!

Thank you, YouTube, for making so much good stuff available to so many. You certainly do humanity much greater service than any government I can think of!