Archive for ‘Social & cultural’

19/12/2014

Beijing Zoo boss who put 8 million yuan fortune down to part-time taxi driving is jailed for life for corruption | South China Morning Post

The former deputy chief of China’s Beijing Zoo – who claimed his 8 million yuan (about HK$10 million) fortune was earned from part-time jobs, including working as a taxi driver – was sentenced to life imprisonment by a Beijing court this morning.

Xiao Shaoxiang was jailed for life today after being found guilty of corruption, including taking bribes and “possessing huge assets of unknown origin”. Photo: Xinhua

The Beijing Second Intermediate People’s Court found Xiao Shaoxiang guilty of corruption, including taking bribes and “possessing huge assets of unknown origin”.

All his personal property would be confiscated, the Beijing-based newspaper, Mirror, reported on its official mainland microblogging Weibo website.

Prosecutors said six million yuan in cash, paintings and gold bullion from unknown sources were found in Xiao’s apartment – a cache worth a total of 8 million yuan, the court said during his trial in August.

He was charged with accepting bribes totalling more than 140 million yuan.

Xiao, 59, had denied all the charges during the trial.

He had defended himself by claiming that he had earned the money from moonlighting as an unlicensed cab driver after work at the zoo from 1991 to 1994.

via Beijing Zoo boss who put 8 million yuan fortune down to part-time taxi driving is jailed for life for corruption | South China Morning Post.

19/12/2014

China’s Animal Rights Movement Makes Gains – Businessweek

It’s getting a little easier to be an animal in China. The country’s fledgling animal-rights movement this week received a double boost, with a animal-welfare law in the works and a prominent zoo taking action to stop animal performances.

A tiger performs at Chongqing Safari Park in China

On Wednesday, Dec. 17, the Global Times, the tabloid affiliated with the official Communist Party mouthpiece the People’s Daily, reported that that the National People’s Congress is moving ahead on a plan to pass landmark legislation to protect animals, both in the wild and in captivity. Lawmakers have just completed a draft of the proposal, Chang Jiwen, vice director of the Research Institute of Resources and Environment Policies under the Development Research Center of the State Council, told the newspaper.

There’s still a long way to go before the proposal becomes law: China’s parliament isn’t likely to take up the amendment until late in 2015. But given China’s track record, we should take progress wherever we can get it. Or, as the Global Times reported, “Shi Kun, director of the Wildlife Institute at Beijing Forestry University, told the Global Times that China has long been criticized for not treating wild animals humanely, but with legal recognition of animal welfare, the country should be able to make progress on curbing phenomenon like overtime performance by zoo animals and harsh living conditions for wildlife on farms.”

via China’s Animal Rights Movement Makes Gains – Businessweek.

16/12/2014

India’s Senseless Ban on Uber: Rape Is the Real Problem – Businessweek

The alleged rape of an Uber passenger by her driver in New Delhi on Friday and his arrest over the weekend is another sad chapter in India’s ongoing battle with violence against women. While official statistics suggest the country witnessed 25,000 rapes in 2012, survey evidence suggests numbers perhaps 10 times as high.

Police escorting the hooded Uber driver following his court appearance on rape charges

The government’s response to the incident was to immediately ban Uber operations in Delhi. Alhough this might offer a welcome sign of political commitment to tackle violence, it doesn’t make sense. The police in India have been accused of multiple rapes, and tourists have been raped on a train and in a traditional Delhi taxi this year; the government has not shut down the police force, the railways, and traditional taxi services. It has singled out Uber, perhaps more because it is a high-profile, politically weak service than because of any risks riders may face.

In fact, there are good reasons to think Uber can provide a safer experience than India’s traditional transportation options do. Unlike the vast majority of rape cases in the country, the alleged perpetrator in the Uber case was arrested within hours of the incident. That’s not a surprise: Uber’s procedures guaranteed that there was considerable information available on the suspect. The company provided police with the name, age, and photo of the driver, along with his bank verified address, car details, and trip and route data. That’s a much higher level of knowledge than passengers have when they hail a cab off the street.

via India’s Senseless Ban on Uber: Rape Is the Real Problem – Businessweek.

16/12/2014

China jails businesswoman in railway graft case for 20 years | Reuters

A court in China sentenced a well-known businesswoman to 20 years in jail for corruption on Tuesday, saying the woman with ties to a disgraced former railways minister was guilty of bribery and illegally running a business.

Ding Yuxin, also known as Ding Shumiao, helped 23 businesses win railway construction contracts and funnelled 49 million yuan (£5 million) worth of kickbacks to former railways minister Liu Zhijun, state media has previously reported.

She also “offered sexual favours to Liu by arranging an unidentified number of women for him”, the official China Daily reported last year.

In a brief statement on its microblog, a Beijing court said the evidence in the case against her was clear, ordering she also pay a fine of 2.5 billion yuan and have assets worth 20 million yuan confiscated.

It gave no other details.

via China jails businesswoman in railway graft case for 20 years | Reuters.

15/12/2014

This Is What India’s Radio Cabs Are Doing to Make Women Safer – India Real Time – WSJ

Indian authorities and radio taxi operators in the national capital have stepped up security measures to ensure passenger safety in the aftermath of an alleged rape of a female passenger by a driver contracted to the international car booking service Uber Technologies.

Transport authorities in New Delhi have ordered radio fleet taxi companies and web-based operators to submit database of their drivers whose credentials need to be checked and have asked them to come up with a revised safety plan to be put in place by early next year, a Delhi police official, who did not wish to be named said Monday.

“A list of around 20,000 drivers has been submitted so far out of which the background details of more than 10,000 still need to be verified,” he said.

Last week, Delhi’s transport department barred Uber from operating its ride-hailing system in the national capital until it got the proper licenses. Uber on Thursday said it would suspend its service in the capital while it reviewed its screening processes. The department had stated that only six registered radio taxi companies would now be allowed to continue operating in New Delhi.

The cab operators in New Delhi, for their part, said they have certain safety rules in mind that they would submit by Dec. 31 to the transport department.

via This Is What India’s Radio Cabs Are Doing to Make Women Safer – India Real Time – WSJ.

14/12/2014

After Swacch Bharat, Modi wants ‘drug-free India’ – The Hindu

Voicing concern over the “devastating” drug addiction menace, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday said society as well as the government will have to work together to fight this problem and that a helpline would be set up soon to assist those seeking solutions.

In his third Mann Ki Baat programme on radio, he said the menace is a “national pain” but instead of the youth mired in the problem, drugs should be shunned.

He said drug addiction is “a malaise filled 3D — darkness, destruction and devastation — as it leads to the dark alleys of destruction and devastation“.

The Prime Minister said a thinking process should begin to ensure that the country is rid of this problem and added that he will try to involve celebrities from the cine world, sports and other fields to campaign for a “drug-free India”.

via After Swacch Bharat, Modi wants ‘drug-free India’ – The Hindu.

14/12/2014

China to place permanent anti-graft teams in major departments | Reuters

The corruption watchdog of China’s ruling Communist Party will establish permanent offices in some of the country’s most important party and government departments, state media said on Friday, as part of a sweeping campaign against graft.

Teams will be based in the cabinet office and parliament, as well as the party’s powerful organization department, which oversees personnel decisions, propaganda department and United Front Work Department, which deals with non-Communists, the official Xinhua news agency said.

While numerous corruption inspection teams have fanned out across the country in recent months, this is the first time such offices have been placed in crucial arms of the government, and paves the way for similar permanent offices.

via China to place permanent anti-graft teams in major departments | Reuters.

12/12/2014

Christmas celebrations: Oh what fun | The Economist

CITIES across China blink with fairy lights, fancy hotels flaunt trees and tinsel, and glossy magazine covers display festive recipes and table settings. “Joy up!” reads a sign (in English) on three illuminated trees by a shopping mall in Beijing. The Chinese are doing just that.

In the first decades of Communist rule in China Christianity was banned, along with other religions. Now there are tens of millions of Christians in China and faiths of all kinds are blossoming. But this has little to do with the country’s fast-growing fascination with Christmas. In the West the holiday is a commercialised legacy of Christian culture; in China it is almost entirely a product of Mammon. Father Christmas is better known to most than Jesus.

Well before Christmas took hold in China’s cities, its factories were churning out Christmas essentials for consumption in the West. Industrially, China is now the Christmas king. According to Xinhua, a state-run news agency, more than 60% of Christmas trinkets worldwide last year came from a single “Christmas village”—Yiwu (in fact, a city), in the eastern province of Zhejiang.

But ever more of these goodies now stay in China, to satisfy a domestic craving. Some are tailored to Chinese tastes: Father Christmases playing the saxophone, for example, are a common decoration—no-one quite knows why. This year some shops are putting Santa hats on sheep; the Chinese new year in February, another excuse for hedonism, will be sheep-themed. A shop selling sex aids in Beijing displays a mannequin with a short Santa hot-pants suit, complete with white furry leg warmers.

Christmas in China never really ends. Decorations sometimes remain up year-round. In 2016 the south-western city of Chengdu will host Asia’s first “SantaPark”—a giant Christmas-themed amusement park modelled on a Finnish attraction. It will be known as the “official home of Santa Claus” (despite Chengdu’s sweltering summers and mild winters).

Family reunions are not part of Christmas tradition in China; for most people it is a chance to enjoy public displays of lights, and, for a growing number of younger Chinese, to exchange gifts with colleagues and friends (China’s home-grown festivals are not so centred around gift-giving). As elsewhere, Christmas in China is a merry time to shop.

via Christmas celebrations: Oh what fun | The Economist.

12/12/2014

Modi Gets International Yoga Day – India Real Time – WSJ

It’s probably not a stretch to say that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi just scored a win at the United Nations.

The international body Thursday declared June 21 the International Day of Yoga, something Mr. Modi called for in September in his maiden address to the U.N. General Assembly in New York.

”By changing our lifestyle and creating consciousness, it can help us deal with climate change,” he told the group of nations at the time. ”Let us work towards adopting an International Yoga Day.”  On Thursday, 177 countries co-sponsored the resolution to establish an international day of yoga, Pakistan, India’s neighbor and long-time rival did not join in doing so. Malaysia is also not sponsoring the event. Islamic clerics sparked controversy in 2008 after issuing a fatwa against yoga, because of its association with Hinduism.

via Modi Gets International Yoga Day – India Real Time – WSJ.

11/12/2014

New college graduates struggle find jobs – Xinhua | English.news.cn

The heart of China’s coal industry is shrinking. Coal companies in the northern province of Shanxi are cutting salaries and cutting jobs. Now the ripple effect is being felt most keenly among new college graduates with related majors, who are facing extremely tough odds to find work in the industry.

New college graduates struggle find jobs

Close to 10,000 college graduates stand in long lines in the early morning at one of the top universities in Shanxi province for the biggest job fair of the year.

They are among China’s record 7.3 million new graduates in 2014. But for those hoping to work in the coal industry, the prospect of finding a job are especially low.

“The coal industry is not doing well. They’re cutting jobs now. It’s very hard to find employment with any coal company,” Wang Hao, graduate from Taiyuan University Of Technology, said.

“I think coal companies need less people now. In the past job fair, a coal company would recruit over 20 people. Now they only recruit three to five people,” Ma Junwei, graduate from Taiyuan University Of Technology, said.

Over 200 companies are taking part in the job fair. Only two of them are major coal groups.

“Recruitment needs of local coal companies have severely dropped. Hiring decreased by 25% in 2013. This year it will be even less,” Yuan Qunfang, employment director of Taiyuan University Of Technology, said.

With coal companies hiring less people, many graduates with related majors have shifted their attention to other industries.

“Before, few of us would switch to jobs in other fields. But now some of my classmates are trying to get certification to become teachers, while some others are seeking jobs in banks,” Ma said.

Shanxi’s economy relies heavily on coal… and the downturn has placed great pressure on the job market. Education officials say college graduates should seek jobs in more fields, and that the local government should also provide more employment assistance.

via New college graduates struggle find jobs – Xinhua | English.news.cn.

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