Archive for June, 2014

30/06/2014

Indian Rocket Launches Five Foreign Satellites Into Space – India Real Time – WSJ

The Indian Space Research Organization launched five foreign satellites into space on Monday morning. The shot’s main cargo was Spot-7, a high-resolution earth-observation satellite belonging to Airbus Defence & Space Co. of Europe. It also carried four other smaller satellites: AISAT from the German Aerospace Center; NLS7.1 and NLS7.2 from Canada’s University of Toronto Institute for Aerospace Studies’ Space Flight Laboratory; and VELOX-1 from Nangyang Technological University, Singapore.

It follows the November launch of a spacecraft to Mars, the first such attempt at interplanetary exploration by an Asian country.

The cost of launching the five satellites wasn’t revealed. India’s Mars satellite, dubbed Mangalyaan, or Mars craft, in Hindi, cost $73 million. Speaking at Monday’s launch, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi noted that amount is less than what it took to produce “Gravity,” the blockbuster Hollywood movie about space. “Gravity” cost about $100 million to make.

via Watch: Indian Rocket Launches Five Foreign Satellites Into Space – India Real Time – WSJ.

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30/06/2014

Who Needs Science? China Province Orders Water Pollution ‘Swim Test’ – China Real Time Report – WSJ

Zhejiang Province is administering a swim test for its cadres, but not for the purpose you might think.

The coastal province is trying to get officials to jump into local rivers as part of an effort to battle China’s notorious water pollution.

“The public doesn’t get to know what water standards are from data, but from using it. Swimming can be used to judge this, (and) leading officials should do the test,” Zhejiang People’s Congress deputy director Mao Linsheng said at a recent meeting (in Chinese).

It’s not clear exactly what the province hopes to accomplish with the new initiative. There’s a rich political symbolism associated with leaders swimming in rivers in China thanks to Mao Zedong, who took a famous dip in the Yangtze River in 1966, accompanied by a team of bodyguards and 5,000 admirers, to prove he was still robust on the eve of the Cultural Revolution. But the destruction wrought in the decade following the Great Helmsman’s swim makes it a dubious template for today’s officials.

There’s also the question of whether Mao would be willing to swim in any of China’s rivers were he still alive today. Nearly 60% of China’s water is either moderately or seriously polluted, according to the Ministry of Land and Resources’s annual report released this April.

Pollution in Zhejiang appears particularly problematic. Last year, CCTV reported that more than 80% of the waters just off the coast of Zhejiang Province were polluted, threatening the local fishing industry. In March, a river in the city of Wenzhou in Zhejiang caught on fire as a lit cigarette set alight chemical residues floating on its surface.

via Who Needs Science? China Province Orders Water Pollution ‘Swim Test’ – China Real Time Report – WSJ.

30/06/2014

Meme Manufacturing: China Taking Orders for Suarez Bite Bottle Openers – China Real Time Report – WSJ

Well known for his dives, Uruguay striker Luis Suarez is deft at selling fouls that didn’t happen.

Now he’s become a business opportunity for online vendors in China skilled at selling products that don’t exist.

With the hope of cashing in on Mr. Suarez’s infamous biting of Italian player Girogio Chiellini during Uruguay’s World Cup win over Italy last week, almost 200 merchants on Taobao, the e-commerce site run by China’s Alibaba, are selling Suarez bottle openers.

A screenshot shows an advertisement on Taobao for a Luis Suarez can opener. “One bite and its open, it says. Taobao

Using a Photoshopped image that went viral after the game of Mr. Suarez’s mid-bite visage grafted onto a plastic figurine and preparing to chomp down on a bottle lid, the vendors are selling the openers for as little as 15 yuan ($2.50).

“One mouth, one opener….one bite and it’s open,” read one advertisement.

Given the social media storm that followed the bite, the openers could sell briskly. The problem is, like part of Brazil’s World Cup infrastructure just weeks before the tournament, it doesn’t exist yet.

As cunning in the cut-throat world of Chinese e-commerce as Mr. Suarez is on the field, Taobao vendors contacted by China Real Time gave different motivations for putting up advertisements for the products.

One vendor, who was advertising the openers for an outrageously expensive 9,999 yuan, admitted he didn’t actually expect to sell the product. Instead, he said, he was using Mr. Suarez’s outburst as a marketing opportunity.

“Honestly, I won’t really sell it at that high price even if I have it on hand. It’s just for pleasure,” said the vendor selling under the name Drinchlee. “I was just doing it for entertainment around the World Cup, and you can take a look other stuff that I am selling, such as football teams T-shirts!”

Others were more serious about turning the meme into cash. One vendor with the screen name Lin Mumu0393 said he had received 108 orders and that he was still working with manufacturers to make the product. He said he would have limited supplies in two weeks.

via Meme Manufacturing: China Taking Orders for Suarez Bite Bottle Openers – China Real Time Report – WSJ.

30/06/2014

China supreme court appoints top environmental judge | Reuters

China’s supreme court has appointed a senior judge to handle environmental cases as the environmentally challenged country bids to get tough on polluters and improve the way its laws are enforced, an official newspaper said on Monday.

China Environmental News, published by the Ministry of Environmental Protection, said Deng Xuelin had been appointed as the presiding judge of the Environmental and Resources Tribunal of the Supreme People’s Court.

The tribunal was formally established just two weeks ago.

Beijing, hit by a series of pollution scares and scandals, has vowed to reverse some of the damage done by three decades of untrammeled economic growth, but it has traditionally struggled to impose its will on big industrial enterprises and the local governments that protect them.

The report said the new state tribunal would give “unified guidance and coordination” to the 134 specialist environmental courts that have been set up by local governments, noting that the procedures used to handle such cases was “very informal”.

Litigators have long complained that lawsuits launched against polluters have been routinely rejected or even ignored by local courts, many of which lack the capacity and the independence to take on powerful government-backed firms.

China has promised to create legal channels allowing members of the public to take action against firms that break the law, but environmental officials say they lack resources and are already overwhelmed by the number of cases.

 

Earlier this year, China passed amendments to its 1989 Environmental Protection Law, giving local governments greater powers to fine, shut down and even imprison violators.

via China supreme court appoints top environmental judge | Reuters.

30/06/2014

China’s Communist Party expels former military chief Xu Caihou in graft probe | South China Morning Post

A former top Chinese military figure was expelled from the Communist Party for suspected corruption and his case handed over to prosecutors for investigation, the Politburo announced after a meeting on Monday.

xucaihou-salute.jpg

The party also decided to expel three cadres closely connected to the nation’s former security tsar, Zhou Yongkang, over allegations of corruption and bribery, Xinhua reported.

A report on the investigation into Xu Caihou, a former vice-chairman of the powerful Central Military Commission, was presented at the Politburo meeting presided over by party General Secretary and President Xi Jinping, Xinhua reported. The case was handed over to military prosecutors, it reported.

The 71-year-old Xu, who was until 2012 a member of the Politburo, would be the most senior military figure to go on trial for corruption.

“His case is serious and leaves a vile impact,” Xinhua cited a Politburo statement as saying.

The investigation into Xu, launched on March 15, found he had abused his power and received bribes “personally and through his family members” in exchange for granting promotions in the military.

Xu had also sought profits for other people in exchange for cash and properties, which were routed through his family members, Xinhua reported.

The South China Morning Post reported on March 20 that an escort of dozens of armed police had taken Xu from his bed at the 301 Military Hospital in Beijing.

via China’s Communist Party expels former military chief Xu Caihou in graft probe | South China Morning Post.

27/06/2014

E China plants suspended after students’ nosebleeds – Xinhua | English.news.cn

Nine industrial plants in east China’s Zhejiang Province have been fined and suspended after their emissions were blamed for a spate of nosebleeds in a nearby middle school, authorities said on Thursday.

From March to May, 18 students suffered nosebleeds in Huangjiabu Township Middle School in the city of Yuyao, school medical room records show.

He Dongfeng, father of a student at the school, said his son suffered a bleeding nose about three weeks ago, together with three or four of his classmates.

He reported a sour and metallic smell in the air near the school.

Huangjiabu Township High School is near Huangjiabu Township’s industrial zone, a 133-hectare area that is home to 31 plants, including nine metal finishing and six dyeing plants.

Zheng Qilong, deputy head of the township, said authorities could not deny, but also did not have any evidence of, a connection between industrial pollution and the students’ nosebleeds.

According to doctors, toxic air can cause bleeding from the nose if the density of particulate matter is high enough. Another possible reason is that long-term exposure to toxic air may damage the coagulation function of blood platelets, leading to nosebleeds.

Yang Sheng, an official with Huangjiabu’s environmental protection bureau, said based on complaints from teachers and students of the high school, environmental authorities have carried out plant inspections and fined and suspended nine of them.

via E China plants suspended after students’ nosebleeds – Xinhua | English.news.cn.

27/06/2014

Video sharing site fined $42m for copyright infringement – China – Chinadaily.com.cn

Chinese video sharing site QVOD was ordered on Thursday to pay a fine of 260 million yuan ($41.8 million) over copyright infringement.

Shenzhen QVOD Technology Co., Ltd. should pay the fine within 15 days of receiving the administrative punishment or be charged a late fee of 3 percent of the fine for each day, said Fang Canyu, a law enforcement officer with the Shenzhen Market Supervision Administration.

The firm should pay the fine first even though it can apply for an administrative review within 60 days or file a lawsuit within three months, Fang said.

The hefty fine is three times the illegal earnings QVOD made by violating others’ information network transmission rights, according to the administrative ruling.

The imposition of hefty fines has proved to be very effective in curbing copyright infringement cases, said Zeng Raodong, head of the laws and regulations department under the Shenzhen Market Supervision Administration.

The punishment was given days after a hearing on June 17.

QVOD streamed 24 films and TV dramas even though it was fully aware or should have known that third-party video websites infringe copyright, Fang said.

The company, founded in 2007, used to offer pirated and pornographic videos with peer-to-peer video streaming technology. Its user base quickly grew to 300 million.

via Video sharing site fined $42m for copyright infringement – China – Chinadaily.com.cn.

27/06/2014

China’s Maker Movement Gets Government Support for DIY Workshops – Businessweek

On a Wednesday night in late May, about 60 people assembled in a warehouse in downtown Shanghai for a presentation on how to make mini sports cameras like the popular GoPro (GPRO). The meeting was organized by XinCheJian, one of China’s first hackerspaces, which offers workshops for participants interested in design and technology to create everything from robots to smartphone apps.

A 3D printer makes a miniature chair during the China International Technology Fair in Shanghai on May 8, 2013

The weekly gatherings attract 30 to 150 people and offer them a way to share ideas, skills, and inspiration. After attending a meeting in 2012, Rockets Xia, an environmental advocate with a Chinese nongovernmental organization, was so impressed by a 3D printing demonstration that he quit his job and went to work for DFRobot, a Shanghai-based company that makes robotics kits and other hardware for hobbyists.

The popularity of XinCheJian, which means “new factory,” is a sign of China’s joining the growing maker movement—what former Wired editor Chris Anderson in his 2012 book Makers described as the “third industrial revolution,” in which entrepreneurs use open-source design, 3D printing, and crowdfunding to manufacture goods on their own. In China, 30 independent hackerspaces, including XinCheJian, have opened across the country.

via China’s Maker Movement Gets Government Support for DIY Workshops – Businessweek.

27/06/2014

Scientists Say Water Shortages Threaten China’s Agriculture – Businessweek

China has a fifth of the globe’s population but only 7 percent of its available freshwater reserves. Moreover, its water resources are not evenly distributed. The lands north of the Yangtze River—including swaths of the Gobi desert and the grasslands of Inner Mongolia—are the driest, but more than half of China’s people live in the north.

An ancient stone bridge was discovered on the dried up lakebed of Poyang lake in Jiujiang, eastern China in 2013

Water is not well managed in China. Nearly two-thirds of water withdrawals in China are for agriculture. Due to the use of uncovered irrigation channels (leading to evaporation) and other outdated techniques, a significant portion of that water never reaches the field.

A new paper by scientists in China, Japan, and the U.S. published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences sounds the alarm: “China faces … major challenges to sustainable agriculture,” the authors write. Failure to conserve water resources could threaten China’s food security, a longtime priority for the country’s leaders.

via Scientists Say Water Shortages Threaten China’s Agriculture – Businessweek.

27/06/2014

China Bans Companies From Selling ‘World Cup Heartbreak Insurance’ – China Real Time Report – WSJ

The World Cup is about to break a few more hearts.

China’s Insurance Regulatory Commission announced Thursday that it would ban insurance companies from developing and selling products related to gambling.  So long, ‘World Cup Heartbreak Insurance.’ We hardly knew you.

Before the World Cup started, An Cheng Insurance sold the heartbreak insurance in an attempt to ease the pain for fans whose favorite teams were knocked out of the tournament early. The company had planned to release new insurance products for the upcoming second round of the World Cup, “but there is no more,” said Zhang Yi, product manager at An Cheng.

The insurance regulator released the policy on Thursday.

“They are the leading body at a higher level, so we need to respect whatever their decision is,” Mr. Zhang said.

On Friday, “World Cup Heartbreak Insurance” was no longer available on An Cheng’s store on Alibaba’s Tmall platform. It had also been removed from the company’s own online shop.

Although the company can’t keep hearts from breaking, it is still offering another World Cup-related product: “Getting Drunk Insurance.”

This product has a premium of 13 yuan ($2) for young people (defined as those between the ages of 18 and 40) and 18 yuan for those from 41 to 50 years old. It covers medical expenses of up to 500 yuan if the buyer gets drunk and sick. The coverage lasts for 90 days.

Meanwhile, Shanghai-based Zhong An Insurance is still selling its World Cup insurance products, including “Soccer Hooligan Insurance,” “Night Owl Insurance,” “Foodie Insurance” and “Getting Drunk Insurance.”

A spokeswoman for the insurance company said it doesn’t have to discontinue its World Cup-related products because they are normal medical or personal accident insurance and aren’t related to gambling. “Although we use the World Cup as a special time to promote our products, it’s very different from gambling,” she said.

Those who break their hearts by placing failed bets on the outcome of the games can at least take some solace in knowing the tournament only comes around once every four years.

–Olivia Geng

via China Bans Companies From Selling ‘World Cup Heartbreak Insurance’ – China Real Time Report – WSJ.

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