Monday, March 27, 2006

Wind power 'ahead of predictions'

Onshore wind farms will provide about 5% of Britain's electricity by 2010, according to the British Wind Energy Association (BWEA).

In a new report, it says turbines are being installed faster than predicted.

If this is correct, onshore wind farms will take the government halfway to its target of generating 10% of electricity from renewable sources by 2010.

The report comes a day before the government unveils a major review of its climate change policies.

Entitled Onshore Wind: Powering Ahead, the report claims to be the most comprehensive assessment of the UK's onshore wind sector ever undertaken.

It forms part of the BWEA's response to another ongoing government review on energy which is due to conclude in the middle of the year.

Half full

Our research proves that onshore wind will bring major benefits to the economy and the environment
Chris Tomlinson
The BWEA says that projects already constructed and those already approved will give a capacity of 3,000 megawatts (MW) by 2010.

Taking into account potential barriers such as planning consent and grid capability, it identifies a further 3,000MW capacity which it says is "forecast to be consented and built" by the decade's end.

"Onshore wind can play a hugely significant role in meeting renewable energy and climate change targets," said the BWEA's head of onshore, Chris Tomlinson.

"Our research proves, very clearly, that onshore wind will deliver, bringing major benefits to the economy and the environment while securing our energy supplies."

Onshore wind farms are more advanced than any other renewable energy sector in Britain, though installation lags well behind some other European countries such as Denmark and Germany.

A 2004 reform of the planning process aimed at easing approvals has proven only a partial success, with a number of recent applications refused or scaled down.

But despite opposition from a few high-profile figures such as TV naturalist David Bellamy, polls suggest the public approves, with a Guardian/ICM survey in 2005 showing about 70% of the population endorsing wind farm construction within 20 miles (32km) of their home.

If the onshore wind industry is as healthy as the new report suggests, the challenge for the government is to stimulate the remaining 5% of renewable capacity needed to reach its 2010 target.

BWEA figures show that only four offshore wind farms are currently in operation. Though output can be higher per turbine and wind more consistent, construction costs are also higher and grid connection is a bigger issue.

Photovoltaic solar panels produce less than 1% of the nation's electricity, and wave and tidal technologies remain in the development stage.

Pakistan have upper hand in Test

First Test, Colombo: Sri Lanka 185 v Pakistan 124-4

Pakistan hold the upper hand in the first Test against Sri Lanka in Colombo after dismissing the hosts for 185.

At the close on day two Pakistan were 124-4 in reply, with Imran Farhat hitting 69.

Sri Lanka were put in to bat in overcast conditions and with the ball darting all over, slumped to 30-5.

Tillakaratne Dilshan (69) and Farveez Maharoof (46) put on 111 for the sixth wicket as fast bowler Mohammad Asif took 4-41.

Sri Lanka got off to a torrid start when play finally got under way after the first day was washed out with opener Upul Tharanga out for a duck, lbw to Asif, with the fourth ball of the day.

Sanath Jayasuriya, playing his first Test match in six months, Kumar Sangakkara and skipper Mahela Jayawardene also failed to reach double figures.

But Dilshan and Maharoof fought back before and after lunch until Maharoof became Asif's fourth victim after he was dismissed thanks to a great reflex catch by Younis Khan at second slip.

Dilshan was hoodwinked by spinner Danish Kaneria, who took 3-44.

Pakistan were in trouble themselves at 28-3 before Farhat hit 69 off 90 balls before losing his wicket in fading light.

Captain Inzamam-ul-Haq was unbeaten on 30 at the close.

The home side were forced to go into the match without regular captain Marvan Atapattu and key paceman Chaminda Vaas, both sidelined by injury.

Pakistan, without fast bowling spearhead Shoaib Akhtar, suffered a late setback when batsman Mohammad Yousuf was ruled out by a hamstring problem.

And Pakistan pace bowler Rana Naved-ul-Hasan was also unavailable because he has returned home to see his wife, who is ill.

Lanka president wins tsunami case

Sri Lanka's Supreme Court has awarded President Mahinda Rajapakse $5,000 in damages after ruling that a probe into tsunami aid money breached his rights.

The investigation last year followed a complaint that donations were siphoned off in Mr Rajapakse's constituency when he was prime minister.

The court ordered the opposition MP who complained and two top police officers to pay the bulk of the damages.

Mr Rajapakse, who was elected president in November, always denied wrongdoing.

'Attempt to discredit'

The allegations arose last September when a magistrate gave police the go-ahead to investigate how 83 million rupees ($830,000) in public donations ended up in three private accounts in Mr Rajapakse's Hambantota constituency in southern Sri Lanka.

The opposition MP brought the court case... as soon as Mahinda Rajapakse was nominated as presidential candidate
Chief Justice Sarath Silva

Two weeks later the Supreme Court ordered the probe to be halted.

In their verdict on Monday, three Supreme Court judges unanimously ruled that Mr Rajapakse's fundamental rights had been breached.

They ordered the complainant, Kabir Kasheem of the opposition United National Party (UNP), to pay $1,000 in damages to the president.

National police chief Chandra Fernando and another senior police investigator must each pay $1,000 to Mr Rajapakse. The state was also ordered to pay him $2,000.

Chief Justice Sarath Silva said the court case had been brought as soon as Mr Rajapakse was nominated as a presidential candidate.

"The court sees this as an attempt to get political mileage for [UNP leader] Ranil Wickramasinghe and to discredit Mahinda Rajapakse."

'Not a cent'

Mr Rajapakse told parliament last year that the cabinet was aware of the existence of the private fund, known as Helping Hambantota.

His office said he had held donations privately to try to speed up the rate at which aid money was being handed out to victims of the 26 December, 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami.

The money in question had been put in a state account and Mr Rajapakse had not taken "even a cent" for his use, his secretary Lalith Weeratunga told the AFP news agency at the time.

Sri Lanka received millions of dollars in foreign aid following the tsunami, which killed more than 31,000 people, left hundreds of thousands homeless and devastated long swathes of coastline.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Pressure on Malaysia police chief

By Jonathan Kent BBC News, Kuala Lumpur
Malaysian government and opposition politicians have called for the country's deputy police chief to quit.
Musa Hassan defended a police officer who was filmed forcing a female detainee to strip naked and squat repeatedly while holding both ears.
Mr Musa, the country's deputy inspector general of police, said the practice was standard procedure.
The video of a naked Chinese woman being humiliated in police station has caused widespread outrage in Malaysia.
But Mr Musa has made it clear he believes the real culprit is the person who filmed the incident.
He told reporters that detainees were made to strip and squat in order to dislodge items concealed in their private parts.
Doctors, including one who is a senior member of one of Malaysia's governing parties, says the procedure is not an effective means of conducting a body search.
They want intimate examinations carried out in hospital.
Reform
Mr Musa's speedy exoneration of his officer appears to contradict Malaysia's Prime Minister, Abdullah Badawi, who has promised a full investigation and no cover-up.
Leaders of all three of Malaysia's main opposition parties and at least one MP from the prime minister's own party are calling for Mr Musa to resign or be sacked.
One minister contacted by the BBC stopped short of that but demanded the police chief immediately explain his remarks.
The prime minister has made reform of Malaysia's police force a priority for his administration.
An independent inquiry held at his behest reported earlier this year and called such police strip search practices a gross infringement of human rights.
Story from BBC NEWS:http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/asia-pacific/4475122.stmPublished: 2005/11/27 06:06:13 GMT© BBC MMV
By Jonathan Kent BBC News, Kuala Lumpur
Malaysian government and opposition politicians have called for the country's deputy police chief to quit.
Musa Hassan defended a police officer who was filmed forcing a female detainee to strip naked and squat repeatedly while holding both ears.
Mr Musa, the country's deputy inspector general of police, said the practice was standard procedure.
The video of a naked Chinese woman being humiliated in police station has caused widespread outrage in Malaysia.
But Mr Musa has made it clear he believes the real culprit is the person who filmed the incident.
He told reporters that detainees were made to strip and squat in order to dislodge items concealed in their private parts.
Doctors, including one who is a senior member of one of Malaysia's governing parties, says the procedure is not an effective means of conducting a body search.
They want intimate examinations carried out in hospital.
Reform
Mr Musa's speedy exoneration of his officer appears to contradict Malaysia's Prime Minister, Abdullah Badawi, who has promised a full investigation and no cover-up.
Leaders of all three of Malaysia's main opposition parties and at least one MP from the prime minister's own party are calling for Mr Musa to resign or be sacked.
One minister contacted by the BBC stopped short of that but demanded the police chief immediately explain his remarks.
The prime minister has made reform of Malaysia's police force a priority for his administration.
An independent inquiry held at his behest reported earlier this year and called such police strip search practices a gross infringement of human rights.
Story from BBC NEWS:http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/asia-pacific/4475122.stmPublished: 2005/11/27 06:06:13 GMT© BBC MMV

China city water supply resumes

Mains water supplies in the Chinese city of Harbin have resumed five days after they were cut due to a toxic chemical spill.
Provincial governor Zhang Zuoji took the first drink after supplies were reconnected, Xinhua news agency said.
An 80km (50-mile) stretch of contaminated water passed through the city of 3.8m people after 100 tonnes of benzene spilled into the Songhua river.
The contaminated water is due to reach Russian cities downstream in two weeks.
Beijing has begun an inquiry into the spill caused by an explosion at a petrochemical factory on 13 November.
For the last five days, Harbin's residents have been relying on bottled water and water delivered by lorries.
China has apologised to Russia for the pollution heading towards Russian rivers.
Traffic lights
Inspections on Saturday evening revealed that water quality in the Songhua river upstream of Harbin had returned to national standards, Xinhua reported.
The restoration of supplies at 1800 (1000 GMT) on Sunday came five hours earlier than expected.
However correspondents pointed out it was not immediately clear whether this would continue or whether it was for the whole city.
HARBIN TIMELINE
13 November Explosion at petrochemical plant, Jilin city
21 Nov Water to Harbin city cut off; local government cites mains maintenance
22 Nov State media say water could have been contaminated after the blast
23 Nov Authorities admit very high levels of benzene have been found in the water
23 Nov Authorities say 100 tonnes of benzene emptied into the Songhua river
26 Nov China apologises to Russia where the pollution is expected to arrive within two weeks
Guidance on how safe it is to drink the water is to be available locally over the next few days.
TV stations will use a traffic light-style system to inform residents about water quality.
A red indicator will mean the water is unusable, yellow that it is suitable for bathing only, and green that the supply is fit for drinking.
To quicken the clean-up, water was discharged into the Songhua from nearby reservoirs to dilute the spill while the army installed new filters at Harbin's water plants.
Tests showed levels of nitrobenzene in the river, Harbin's main source of water, had dropped below the official safety limit.
On Friday, levels had been three times above the safety limit, China's state news agency Xinhua reported.
The toxic leak passed Harbin early on Sunday morning, said Lin Qiang, a spokesman for the provincial environmental protection bureau.
As it flows downstream, it is likely to contaminate Russia's Amur river, which feeds water to more than 500,000 residents of the Khabarovsk region.
In Khabarovsk, residents have been urged not to panic while the authorities plan to limit the damage from the approaching spill.
As soon as the presence of benzene is detected, a state of emergency will be introduced in Khabarovsk, Russian TV said.
Cold and hot water supplies will be cut off for at least 40 hours and schools, childcare organisations and restaurants will close.
Story from BBC NEWS:http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/asia-pacific/4475384.stmPublished: 2005/11/27 11:55:48 GMT© BBC MMV

Burma 'extends Suu Kyi detention'

Burmese pro-democracy activist Aung San Suu Kyi had her house arrest extended for another 12 months, sources within the country's military government say.
Officials visited her home for a short time to read out a notice informing her of the decision, reports say.
The decision was widely expected following a similar 12 month order issued last November.
Ms Suu Kyi, 60, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991, has been under house arrest since May 2003.
Under the terms of her house arrest, Ms Suu Kyi is routinely denied visitors and not allowed to use the telephone.
No reform
A spokesman for Ms Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy could not immediately confirm whether the house arrest had been extended.
However, U Lwin told the Associated Press news agency that the date was right for another extension.
AUNG SAN SUU KYI
1990: National League for Democracy (NLD) wins general election while Suu Kyi under house arrest; military does not recognise the result
1991: Wins Nobel Peace Prize
1995: Released from house arrest, but movements restricted
2000-02: Second period of house arrest
May 2003: Detained after clash between NLD and government forces
Sep 2003 Allowed home after operation, but under effective house arrest
"The whole world has been calling for release of Suu Kyi, but the government has not been responding to any of the calls," he added.
The BBC's Kylie Morris in Bangkok says that neither the isolation policies of the US and Britain nor the attitude of engagement by neighbouring south east Asian nations appear to be having much effect in spurring the military government on to real political reform.
Ms Suu Kyi has spent 10 of the past 15 years under house arrest or in prison since returning to Burma from the UK.
Her party won a landslide victory in the country's first multi-party elections, in 1990, but Burma's ruling military junta did not allow the result to stand.
They had come to power in 1988 after crushing a pro-democracy uprising.
Story from BBC NEWS:http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/asia-pacific/4475202.stmPublished: 2005/11/27 09:02:23 GMT© BBC MMV

Bosnia unveils Bruce Lee bronze

A bronze of martial arts legend Bruce Lee has been erected in the Bosnian city of Mostar - a day before a second statue of him is unveiled in Hong Kong.
The life-size 1.68 metre statue depicts the Chinese-American actor in a typical defensive fighting position.
Hong Kong unveils its own statue of the kung-fu star on Sunday, at a ceremony to be attended by Lee's widow Linda.
The Mostar unveiling was attended by the ambassadors of China and Germany, both of whom assisted the project.
The city witnessed fierce fighting between rival ethnic factions in the 1992-95 war.
Symbol
It remains split with Bosnian Muslims, Croats and Serbs still deeply divided.
Lee was chosen by organisers as a symbol of the fight against ethnic divisions.
"We will always be Muslims, Serbs or Croats," said Veselin Gatalo of the youth group Urban Movement Mostar.
"But one thing we all have in common is Bruce Lee."
Lee, who died in 1973 at the age of 32, was born in the US but moved to Hong Kong as a child.
The statue there will be unveiled on what would have been the Enter the Dragon star's 65th birthday.
Story from BBC NEWS:http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/entertainment/4474316.stmPublished: 2005/11/26 17:43:16 GMT© BBC MMV

3G industry optimistic for 2006

At the largest annual mobile wireless exhibition in Asia, in Hong Kong, Stephen Cole assesses the mobile phones vying for our attention in 2006, and finds that many see a turning point on the horizon.
3G stands for third generation, which, put simply, is broadband for your mobile.
However, much of the hype around the services it offers - including video, picture messaging, and accessing the internet - has not been realised in past years.
Despite all the fancy offerings, it turns out that most people use their phones to make telephone calls and send the occasional text.
In Europe voice is the clear revenue winner, closely followed by text. But we only spend an average of 1 euro a month on all the other services put together.
Operators are looking at a similar situation in the US, although in Japan and South Korea, where 3G were first introduced, the field is more bunched up.
Part of the problem may be data speeds. 3G typically offers us download rates of 100 to 300 kilobits per second - this is much slower than most broadband connections in the home which typically pass data round at megabit speeds.
But new upgrades to networks such as HSDPA (High Speed Downlink Packet Access) and EV-DO (Evolution, Data Optimised) could spark a change in 2006.
We will not know it is happening, but these upgrades will mean we can download data from one place to another at between two and three times the speed.
This makes large files like music or video a far more attractive proposition.
Makeover
Last month, the Isle of Man in the UK was the first place in Europe to get a commercial roll out of the new HSDPA technology, allowing faster broadband access over the whole island.
Although this is only available through a PC card at the moment, it is already leading to a turf war between wi-fi hotspots and cellular networks.
Internet browsing on mobiles is in for a makeover as well. Some big industry names are behind a new browser called the S60, which was recently shown off in Hong Kong.
Launching early next year, it allows quick zoom in, a page overview, and an Apple-like scroll-through page history.
Broadband has already fuelled an explosion in online multi-player gaming in the home, and now many see that transferring to mobiles.
However, because of the time it takes to play many games, much will depend on how much operators charge these young players.
Higher data speeds while on the go makes mobile TV more attractive, too, and many in the industry believe it is the development to watch in 2006.
But some already see a tussle between the operators and content providers, as Mark Newman, an industry analyst from Informa, explained.
"If we imagine in any particular country there may be four or five mobile operators, and each one wants to have something exclusive that they can offer to their customers.
"On the other hand if you're a TV company, you want to broadcast your services to as many people as possible. Immediately you have friction between the two sides."
Driving factors
It is not just about the technology. Next year's Football World Cup is expected to be a significant turning point.
We have really good chances that the soccer championship next year will be the boom for this technology Christophe Caselitz, Siemens
Christophe Caselitz, the president of Global Mobile Networks for Siemens, said: "The soccer event is going to be one of the driving factors next year.
"I would doubt that somebody is going to watch 120 minutes over the cell phone, but you can condense that, you can look to the most important goals, or to the most important scenes.
"Then we have really good chances that the soccer championship next year will be the boom for this technology."
Siemens was showing off its version of a new mobile TV broadcast system, called DVBH, at the show.
We will need new handsets to receive the signals, so while trials began this year, the rollout could perhaps be more likely to coincide with the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Internet telephony, or IP calling, promises to help bring down the cost of calling next year, with wi-fi in the home and office likely to lead to landline rates on our mobiles while inside these hotspots.
Marc Rouanne, the chief operating officer at Alcatel, said the first thing that will start is combined GSM and wi-fi.
"With the handset you have, you will arrive in your home and you will move to wi-fi and DSL. You won't notice.
"That's simplicity. This is coming for Christmas in seven markets."
As for Wimax - wi-fi's cousin that covers a much larger area - it could still be a way off for mobiles. For one thing, they need to get a large transmitter/receiver inside the handsets.
As for 3G itself, many see 2006 as a turning point for the fortunes of new services.
The industry is waiting for us all to do more than just talk.
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Story from BBC NEWS:http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/programmes/click_online/4470700.stmPublished: 2005/11/25 16:53:27 GMT© BBC MMV