Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Johor has second highest number of drug addicts

The state has the second highest number of drug addicts in the country, up from fourth spot last year.

Penang has the most number of addicts, while Federal Territory takes third spot.

State National Anti-Drug Agency rehabilitation assistant director Abbas Sudar said this did not mean that the drug addiction problem was worsening in the state, as statistics show that the trend was on the decline.

“There has been a decrease in the number of addicts nationwide and also in Johor. But some states have a higher rate of decline, which pushed Johor up the ranking,” he said.

“About half of the addicts detected are in Johor Baru,” he said yesterday.

Abbas added that one of the challenges faced by the agency was the high number of relapse cases.

“After going to Pusat Serenti and getting rehabilitated, they are physically okay and the body is free from drugs,” he said.

“But their minds are trapped. They have the urge to take drugs again, thus causing a relapse.”

Abbas said it was important that society worked closely with the agency to tackle the issue more efficiently.

Responding to the call is the Johor Baru Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry, which will be organising an anti-drug exhibition and talk on Dec 29 and 30.

“It will be held at the Taman Ungku Tun Aminah community hall,” said its president Datuk Soh Poh Sheng.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Govt must pay RM380mil if toll not raised

The Government will have to fork out a total of RM380mil to compensate toll concessionaire companies next year if the Cabinet decides not to increase toll rates.

Works Minister Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu said although the Cabinet had not decided on the issue, the ministry had worked out the amount of compensation to toll concessionaire companies.

Except for the Penang Bridge where the toll rate is scheduled to be revised on Oct 1, seven expressway operators are due to review their rates on Jan 1.

The Government would have to compensate Ampang-Ulu Kelang Elevated Highways RM28mil, North-South Expressway (central region) RM18mil, Seremban-Port Dickson RM178mil, Kulim-Butterworth Expressway RM10mil, Second Link to Singapore RM6mil, Sprint Highway RM34mil, NKVE RM9mil and Penang Bridge RM22mil, he said.

The Government, having increased toll charges of the Lebuhraya Damansara Puchong (LDP) from RM1 to RM1.60 instead of RM2.10, would have to pay Litrak, the operator of LDP, RM75mil.

Samy Vellu said this in his reply to Lim Kit Siang (DAP-Ipoh Timur) while answering queries at the committee stage of the Supply Bill 2008.

He added that the Government was still finding ways to reduce the toll charges.

Replying to Salahuddin Ayob (PAS-Kubang Kerian), Samy Vellu said the cost to build the palace complex to replace Istana Negara was RM450mil with another RM200mil to build the quarters, security features, multi-level underground car park and others.

He said the cost of the new palace complex was not RM1bil as stated by Salahuddin.

“The Government has decided that the cost to build the new palace complex be capped at RM650mil and it cannot be more than that,” he added.

549 probed under ISA since 2005

THE Anti-Corruption Agency investigated 549 people from 2005 to September this year, with 269 cases still pending.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, who is Internal Security Minister, said no ACA personnel was investigated during the same period.

Seventy-four people have been detained under the Internal Security Act (ISA) at the detention camp in Kamunting, Perak, until Aug 29.

The detainees were held for offences such as involvement in Jemaah Islamiah and Daulah Islamiah, minting of counterfeit RM1 coins, using fake identities and fake China passports and smuggling of illegal foreign workers.

Other cases involved the Southern Thailand Military Movement and Southern Thailand Separatists Movement.

Abdullah said the Government was aware of the detainees’ welfare and allowed them to apply for financial assistance.

More than 3.1 million spend RM15mil on smokes every day

MORE than 3.1million smokers nationwide are spending a whopping RM15mil daily on cigarettes, reported China Press.

Health Ministry parliamentary secretary Datuk Lee Kah Choon said the figure showed a worrying trend, adding that smokers should quit the habit and spend the money on something beneficial instead.

According to a report by the ministry's Disease Control Unit, there was an upward trend in the number of young smokers.

Lee said there was one female smoker in every 33 who lighted up nationwide. Currently, the number of female smokers in the country stands at 274,000.

He said 1.1 million smokers were aged between 25 and 34 while 318,000 were between 55 and 64, adding that many smokers were parents. “If parents cannot lead by example, their children might follow their footsteps and pick up the habit,” he said.

The ministry had stepped up anti-smoking campaigns, as smoking was a public health problem.

Without such campaigns, the number of smokers was expected to soar to 3.8 million by 2015. It will reach the four million mark by 2020.

Friday, January 5, 2007

Carbon dioxide pollution kills hundreds a year

Climate-warming carbon dioxide spewed by coal-fired power plants and fossil-fueled vehicles has been causing hundreds of premature U.S. deaths each year over the several decades, a new study reported.

The deaths were due to lung and heart ailments linked to ozone and polluting particles in the air, which are spurred by carbon dioxide that comes from human activities, according to the study's author, Mark Jacobson of Stanford University.

As the planet warms due to carbon dioxide emissions, the annual death rate is forecast to climb, with premature deaths in the United States from human-generated carbon dioxide expected to hit 1,000 a year when the global temperature has risen by 1.8 degrees F (1 degree C).

When the planet gets that hot, which could happen this century, the world annual death rate is estimated to rise to 21,600, Jacobson said on Friday in a telephone interview.

Earth has warmed about 1.4 degrees F (0.8 degrees C) in the last 150 years, with most of that gain in the last three decades. Jacobson said about 700 to 800 U.S. annual deaths in the most recent years can be attributed to human-caused carbon emissions.

Greenhouse gas pollution has spurred the global warming that is result in a damaging rise in the sea level, droughts and possibly more severe storms this century. This is the first time a scientist has specifically linked one human-generated greenhouse gas to human mortality.

Carbon dioxide is one of several greenhouse gases blamed for climate change, but it is the one humans have the most ability to control through regulation of activities that burn fossil fuels like coal and oil. It is also emitted by natural processes.


Using a complex computer model and data on carbon emissions from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Jacobson found the impact was worse in places that are populous and polluted.

"Of the additional ... deaths per year due to ozone and particles ... about 30 percent of those occurred in California, which has 12 percent of the (U.S.) population," he said, noting that California has six of the 10 most polluted U.S. cities.

"So it was pretty clear ... that climate change was affecting Californians' health disproportionately to its population," Jacobson said.

What happens in California is important, since this populous state has long been a testing ground for U.S. pollution regulation.

Jacobson's study, to be published in Geophysical Research Letters, was released soon after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency rejected a bid by California and 15 other states to let them set higher standards for carbon emissions from cars, trucks and SUVs than the federal government does.

Jacobson's research was not available before the EPA's decision on Dec. 19, but the EPA's rejection made points that Jacobson said are addressed by his study.

In turning down the states' request, EPA argued that California did not have a special circumstance warranting this change, that there were no studies isolating carbon dioxide's effects and none looking at health impacts.

"It's actually occurring right now, it's been occurring for the past 20 to 30 years," Jacobson said of the deaths related directly to human-generated carbon dioxide emissions.

He noted, however, that the deaths due to carbon dioxide are only a small fraction of annual premature deaths caused by air pollution overall: an estimated 50,000 to 100,000 in the United States and between 1.5 million to 2 million worldwide.

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