Saturday, March 26, 2011

‘Artificial Cooling Cloud’ For Qatar World Cup

By Chris Wright



Bods from the Mechanical and Industrial Engineering department at Qatar University have unveiled their design for an ‘artificial cloud’ that could be used to temper the desert country’s blistering heat during the 2022 World Cup.

According to the spiel, the cloud is positioned by remote control, made of 100% light carbonic materials, filled with helium, fuelled by four solar-powered engines (I imagine there’s a lot of that knocking about in Qatar) and it’s primary function will be to hover above the various stadiums in order to ‘filter both direct and indirect UV rays, as well as controlling temperatures at pitch level’ – all at a cost of around $500,000.

Whether or not the design was inspired by the clouds that shrouded FIFA’s bidding process has not yet been disclosed.

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The Da Silva Twins – Spot The Difference

By Chris Wright



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Book Review: A Battling MADEY's Story


Written by Sholto Byrnes 
FRIDAY, 25 MARCH 2011 Asia Sentinel


Just over a year ago, I went to Mohamad Mahathir's office on the 86th floor of the Petronas Twin Towers to interview the former Malaysian prime minister about Barry Wain's recently published biography of him. It was a frustrating business.

I suggested we begin by talking about "the book." He claimed not to know which one I was talking about – even though the media in Singapore and Kuala Lumpur had been full of it for weeks, not least because at that point the Malaysian authorities were not letting it into the country. So I held up a copy of Malaysian Maverick. "Ah," said Dr M. "Barry Wain. All the bad things I did throughout my 22 years. Nothing good at all." He smiled. "If that is his impression of me, he is welcome to it."

I had hoped for some feisty rebuttals of the charges Wain laid against him. This is a man, after all, well known for his pungent put-downs. Indeed, to his admirers (and with qualifications, I am one) his outspokenness is one of his most attractive qualities. But when it came to the key queries, which will be familiar to anyone who has considered his years in office (1981-2003) – the growth of corruption, the emasculation of the judiciary, the retreat of secularism, the silencing and imprisonment of critics – he was fluent, but ultimately evasive.

Those hoping to find satisfactory answers in Mahathir's long-gestated 800 page memoir, "A Doctor in the House," will be similarly disappointed. For one of the amusing aspects of this book (although those who have suffered some of the good doctor's harsher ministrations may not find it so), is that when it comes to the main incidents his critics have always latched on to, it seems that Dr M wasn't there.

When 106 people were arrested during 1987's Operation Lalang, he tells us, "I was flabbergasted... I thought only a few ringleaders would be taken in... But I could not countermand police orders." Mahathir admits that his finance minister, Daim, "was repeatedly accused of lining his pockets and taking kickbacks from contracts." But what could he do? "People came to see me to complain about him, and when I demanded evidence, they could produce none."

As for the dismissal of Tun Salleh Abbas as Lord President of the Supreme Court the following year: it had nothing to do with his criticisms of the government or his lack of pliability. "It was the Agong who instructed me to remove Tun Salleh," writes Mahathir, explaining that the then king felt insulted because Salleh had written to him complaining about noisy building renovations. Dr M realizes that some readers will be "incredulous" that he "was prepared to dismiss the Lord President simply at the Agong's behest and on his personal demand... But that is the truth as to what happened."

He rues the fact that he has been "branded a legal vandal" as a result. However, "many see only what they wish to see.... for me that is simply human nature and it has to be accepted."

In 1998, Dr M says he was "apprehensive" when the police told him they were going to arrest Anwar Ibrahim – with good reason, since his former deputy then appeared in court with a black eye. "I advised the IGP not to use violence or to handcuff Anwar," he writes, "...it angered people when I suggested that his injury may have been self-inflicted, but I honestly did not think that the police would beat him up, particularly after I had personally instructed the IGP to be careful."

He expresses irritation at the way Anwar's trial was conducted, meaning his former protege was "able to score several points and leave many Malaysians convinced that he was the victim of a political conspiracy." But, continues Mahathir, "how anyone could believe this, I really could not understand. To conspire against Anwar in this way I would have had to take the police, the Attorney-General and his prosecutors, their witnesses, the judge, the forensic laboratory experts and many others into my confidence."

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