The Asian Development Bank (ADB) warns that Asia's greenhouse gas emissions will triple over the next 25 years.
According to a report entitled Energy Efficiency and Climate Change: Considerations for On-Road Transport in Asia, carbon dioxide emissions from vehicles are set to rise 3.4 times for China and 5.8 times for India, primarily due to development and growing urban populations. According to the World Health Organization, this could led to "as many as 537,000 premature deaths each year, as well as a rise in cardiopulmonary and respiratory illnesses."
With the amount of growth and development taking place in Asia, the region will struggle to cope with air quality and climate change. Conferences such as the Better Air Quality Conference highlight the efforts that are taking place in toughening up on emissions, but Asian countries will need to translate talk into action. As Lew Fulton, a transport expert with the UN Environment Programme, explained to conferees, the challenge is immense:
We're not only seeing increases in pollutant emissions. We're seeing huge increases in fuel consumption which is coupled tightly with [carbon dioxide] emissions... It's costing cities and countries ever increasing amounts of foreign exchange with the high oil proces that we've got.
Never mind the brouhaha over a dying newspaper industry. Certain sectors of Old Media are actually gaining ground (er, I mean air). More and more broadcasters are showing a commitment to a format that is all news, all the time, all around the world. Yesterday saw the launch, to mixed reviews, of France 24 (vingt-quatre), a government-backed 24-hour news channel that's putting a Gallic spin on the day's events. Most of the stories will be broadcast and streamed online in French and English, and there are plans to ramp up Arabic-language content as well.
The trend is happening in smaller countries too. When I was in Bangkok last month, I spoke with Tom Mintier, a CNN veteran who had been hired by Thailand's media giant UBC to launch a 24-hour news channel. Mintier thought that there was a valuable untapped market made up of viewers who wanted to watch news in their native tongue. Too bad UBCTV's news programming wasn't already on the airwaves during the coup. Then again, maybe it wouldn't have mattered. Mintier plans to avoid political coverage in favor of business and sports. If you ask me, that's an incomplete definition of "news."
At any rate, France 24 and UBCTV may make some headway in their respective niche markets. But neither is likely to make a dent in the overwhelming global dominance of the BBC and CNN International. They simply don't have the resources, reach, or potential audiences.
The shooting death of Lebanese Minister Pierre Gemayel and the poisoning of former Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko were the most prominent political murders of 2006. But, as this week's FP List shows, their assassinations aren't the only ones setting off political crises and stoking intrigue around the world. The truly sad part: This List of political killings is hardly exhaustive. Picking off an opponent or political foe is still a tragically common way of redrawing the political landscape in many countries.
What is it with this White House and Asia gaffes? Back in April, during Hu Jintao's much-hyped visit to Washington, an American announcer on the White House's South Lawn referred to China's national anthem as that of "the Republic of China" - also known as Taiwan.
Now, just hours before Bush was set to leave for Asia to attend a major economic summit, the White House Web site was caught in yet another major mistake. Last night, the flags of the three countries Bush is to visit this week - Vietnam, Indonesia, and Singapore - were displayed on the White House's site. The problem? The flag shown for Vietnam was actually the flag for South Vietnam, the country that ceased to exist in 1975. Once the FT's Observer pointed out the mistake to the White House, the flag was swiftly replaced. Awkward, huh? Then again, it's not like Bush threw up in the lap of his host or anything.
In a city-state notorious for uber-cleanliness (with litterers charged exorbitant fines), Singapore's latest endeavour involves trying to extinguish its current filthy enemy – crows. How do they plan to do this? By shooting them down one by one. The government has employed the help of the Singapore Gun Club and a private security company to help reduce the numbers of its enemy. From the NYTimes article:
The minute you fire at crows in a tourist area you get a thousand police cars… Everyone will think Osama is here," [said one gun club member]. From time to time, though, an emergency demands the shooters' attention in the busiest parts of town and the police will clear a kill zone for them among the housing units.
For those who are interested, the complete (2 hours, 50 minutes and 13 seconds!) event FP co-hosted with the Woodrow Wilson School and the National Press Club is now online via Google Video. The event is divided into two roundtables, and the final speaker is Ambassador Christopher Hill. Enjoy.
It's only been 16 days since the coup, but deposed former Prime Minister of Thailand Thaksin Shinawatra already has a new job: Spammer. There's an e-mail circulating around cyberspace that's written by a "Thaksin Shinawatra" from an e-mail address registered in Uruguay. Here's the text in its entirety:
Before I proceed, I must first Apologies for this unsolicited
mail to you am aware that this is certainly an unconventional approach
to starting a relationship but as time goes on you will realize the need for my action. I have interest of investing in your country as such I decided to establish contact with you for assistances soon as I am able to
transfer my funds for this investment, which is already with a security company in Europe. I would want you to assist me in; (1) Helping by traveling to Europe as a front collect these funds from the security company in Europe. This is because of my inability to travel out of the country, which I am taking refuge at the moment with my wife and children, which I will explain better to you upon the receipt of your acceptance. When I hear from you, I will open up full/detailed information. May happy days & a fair future
await you, as you deserve.
Heehee. If that's Thaksin, then I've got a Nigerian investment that you might be interested in. Kudos to spammers for at least following the news.
One of the most interesting and overlooked developments to emerge from last week's military coup in Thailand concerns the general now in charge of the country and the Muslim insurgency in the southern part of the country. Nearly 1,700 Thais have died over the past two and a half years as a result of fighting in the south, but there may be hope that, despite cracking down on the press and banning political activities, Thailand's current military leaders may be more amenable to negotiations with insurgents than former Prime Minister Thaksin was. FP spoke recently with John Brandon of the Asia Foundation about the political future of Thailand and he had this to say:
Everyone except Thaksin and his cronies thought the [response to the insurgency] has been handled badly. A Muslim separatist said the other day that he thought the coup was a good thing, and I think that's because Gen. Sondhi Boonyaratkalin, the head of the military council who led the coup, is a Thai Muslim from the south. [The insurgents] feel that he will be able to work with Muslim insurgents in the south and create a strategy that promotes peace and security.
In fact, after Gen. Sondhi was appointed head of the armed forces last year, his first major spat with PM Thaksin came when Sondhi's proposal for talks with insurgents was rejected. So, will we see a move to negotiations soon? Greater autonomy for the south?
Be sure to check out the rest of this week's Seven Questions with John Brandon. He gives his predictions for the next interim prime minister of Thailand and explains why this coup probably made no one happier than the oppressive leaders in neighboring Burma.
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