Doing Advance Work

News that doesn't receive the necessary attention.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

'Sanitation is something that is very real,' said Earth Day celebrant in Washington, DC, April 18, 2015

"Sanitation is something that is very real," he said. "I understand and cannot turn a blind eye to what's going on."

Above, 4/18/15, "Scenes from the Earth Day concert on the Mall," CRouselle Twitter

Above, 4/18/15, "Crowds here in DC to fight #ClimateChange! (They're just bahind the piles of trash.)-mao #EarthDay #EcoWarrior, The Quotus Twitter


Above, 4/18/15, "Trash left over from #EarthDay2015 celebrations and concert at National Mall #ironyatitsfinest," TomHebert96 Twitter


4/18/15, "Usher, Gwen Stefani, Mary J. Blige headline Earth Day rally, drawing crowd on National Mall," AP, Brett Zongler, via US News

"A daylong Earth Day concert had R&B star Usher dancing on crutches Saturday on the National Mall to rally thousands for political action to confront climate change and poverty.

Usher, Mary J. Blige, Gwen Stefani, Common, Fall Out Boy and Train all performed during the free Global Citizen 2015 Earth Day rally hosted by and Soledad O'Brien....

"To end poverty, it starts, in my opinion, with an education about it," Usher told the crowd. "I want you to go and investigate for yourself so that you can really understand what's going on."

The rally was a joint initiative of the Global Poverty Project and Earth Day Network. It coincides with meetings at the World Bank and International Monetary Fund. Usher joined the poverty project at the White House on Friday for a meeting with officials.

"I felt really good that the issues we are addressing here are on the table," he told The Associated Press. After his performance, Usher said his passion is expanding education to help end poverty. But the impacts of climate change also have severe impacts on the world's poor, he said.

"Global warming is something that obviously will affect all of us. Clean water and sanitation is something that is very real," he said. "I understand and cannot turn a blind eye to what's going on."

For his part, played host and said the huge turnout shows people are concerned.... 

The rally also touched on global health and development needs. The U.S. Agency for International Development announced from the stage that it will commit $126 million [US taxpayer dollars] to rebuild West African health care systems that were broken by the Ebola outbreak. The U.S. government already has spent $1.4 billion [US taxpayer dollars] on the crisis to support 10,000 humanitarian responders and to provide equipment, laboratories and training.

While Earth Day is officially on April 22, the Saturday rally asked participants to commit to making environmentally friendly "acts of green." Organizers also asked attendees to sign petitions for a U.N. conference on climate change planned for Paris in December."


India extends ban on cow slaughter, forces beef off restaurant menus, makes sale of beef punishable by 5 years in prison-NY Times

4/17/15, "A Ban on Beef in India Is Not the Answer," NY Times, continuing op-ed contributor, Manil Suri

"The sacredness of cows in India might be a clich√©, but it is deeply felt, rooted in the history of Hinduism. In Mumbai, one often encounters women selling grass to feed the cow they have in tow — for a few rupees, the donation affords not only a blessing, but also a chance to feel connected to the country’s farmland roots. The cow is divinely associated with Krishna, the cowherd, and considered a mother figure because of the milk it gives. One doesn’t go into an Indian branch of McDonald’s expecting to order a Big Mac.

And yet, beef has long been available at various Mumbai restaurants — from the burger at the iconic Leopold Cafe to the marrowbone curry popular at eateries in Muslim neighborhoods. This reflects the accommodation necessary in a city — and country — with such extraordinary diversity of religion, culture and wealth.

Last month, however, this changed. Beef dishes were forced off the menu when Maharashtra, the country’s second most populous state, which incorporates Mumbai, extended a ban on cow slaughter to bulls and oxen, and made the sale of beef punishable by up to five years in prison. A few weeks later, the state of Haryana passed similar legislation. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s office has suggested that such bills are models for other states to emulate.

The laws have affected more than just restaurants. Thousands of butchers and vendors, their livelihood abruptly suspended, have protested in Mumbai. The leather industry is in turmoil.
Beef is consumed not only by Indian Muslims and Christians, but also by many low-caste Hindus, for whom it is an essential source of affordable protein. The poorest waste nothing, from beef innards to coagulated blood, while their religion pragmatically turns a blind eye. Low-caste Dalit Hindu students, and others, have organized beef-eating festivals to protest the infringement on their culture and identity.

With the recent re-criminalization of gay sex, bans on controversial books and films and even an injunction against the use of the colonial-era name “Bombay” instead of “Mumbai” in a Bollywood song, the new laws join a growing list of restrictions on personal freedom in India. Already, the police in the city of Malegaon have arrested three Muslim men accused of calf slaughter, and ordered livestock owners to submit mug shots of cows and bulls to a cattle registry, to create a record in case any of them go missing.

The Maharashtra law had been in limbo, awaiting the Indian president’s signature for 20 years, but was resurrected only after the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party came to power last year. This suggests its real purpose is to play to the party’s political base.

Some Hindu hard-liners insist the idea of eating beef was introduced by Muslim invaders, despite references to its consumption in ancient texts like the Vedas, written more than a millennium before the time of Muhammad. By eradicating this “alien” practice, they hope to return the country to values they hold dear as Hindus. “Our dream of ban on cow slaughter becomes a reality now,” Maharashtra’s chief minister tweeted upon passage of the new law.

Another problem with such bans is that aged or unwanted cattle must be looked after at great expense (presumably by the state) if they are not to waste away.

The only practical reason advanced by Maharashtrian officials for their law is that it will help farmers hold on to their cattle in hard times, when they might otherwise be tempted to sell. This motivation actually does have historical standing. In fact, it fits in perfectly with a theory on the origination of the beef taboo that the American anthropologist Marvin Harris proposed almost five decades ago.

Mr. Harris observed that more important than their value as milk producers, cattle in India formed the backbone of small-scale agriculture. They were used to plow fields, provide dung for fuel and fertilizer and produce calves to stock the herd. He noted that a family that consumed its cattle during a time of drought and famine was not able to recover afterward: They had lost the means to work the land. Over the years, farmers who preserved their cattle were the ones who survived, leading to this practice’s being gradually codified into religion.

This drama is still being played out in Maharashtra, which in recent years has experienced persistent and devastating drought. Although religious rules ensured that a farmer would no longer eat his cattle, he could still succumb to the modern equivalent — selling it for slaughter, usually at throwaway prices. The beef ban, then, can be interpreted as an extension of the religious proscription: Thou shalt neither eat nor sell thy cattle.

Unfortunately, the situation in Maharashtra has deteriorated past the point where such a ban will help. Previous governments have squandered billions of dollars on failed irrigation schemes, while encouraging water-intensive crops like sugar cane in drought-prone areas. Farmers are desperate: On average since 2011, there have been four suicides of Maharashtrian farmers every day. Rather than ancient proscriptions, they need a financial safety net and responsible agricultural policies in order to deal with the current situation and probably worse climate change effects to come.

Indian civilization has evolved over the centuries to include multiple diverse communities with competing interests. Despite its secular Constitution, India remains strikingly unequal. The government must make every effort to balance majority sentiments with minority needs. This is what the previous rules that restricted cow, but not bull, slaughter did.

Imposing ideals from a mythic past is not the answer. The true lesson to take away from history is how utilitarian goals can shape religious custom. Hinduism has always been a pragmatic religion; what today’s India needs is accommodation.

Manil Suri is the author of the novel “The City of Devi” and a mathematics professor at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County."


China has hotline to report civil servants caught playing golf with business associates, gov. says golf leads to 'unclean behavior and illegal conduct,' has led Communist Party officials astray. Per Mao, was 'sport for millioniares'-NY Times

4/18/15, "China’s Crackdown on Corruption Targets Golf, a ‘Sport for Millionaires’," NY Times, Austin Ramzy, Hong Kong

"President Xi Jinping's crackdown on vice and corruption in China has gone after drugs, gambling, prostitution, ill-gotten wealth and overflowing banquet tables. Now it has turned to a less obvious target: golf.

In a flurry of recent reports, state-run news outlets have depicted the sport as yet another temptation that has led Communist Party officials astray. A top official at the Commerce Ministry is under investigation on suspicion of allowing an unidentified company to pay his golf expenses. The government has shut down dozens of courses across the country built in violation of a ban intended to protect China's limited supplies of water and arable land.

And in the southern province of Guangdong, home to the world’s largest golf facility, the 12-course Mission Hills Golf Club, party officials have been forbidden to golf during work hours “to prevent unclean behavior and disciplinary or illegal conduct.

The provincial anticorruption agency has set up a hotline for reporting civil servants who violate nine specific regulations, including prohibitions on betting on golf, playing with people connected to one’s job, traveling on golf-related junkets or holding positions on the boards of golf clubs.

“Like fine liquor and tobacco, fancy cars and mansions, golf is a public relations tool that businessmen use to hook officials,” the newspaper of the party’s antigraft agency declared on April 9. “The golf course is gradually changing into a muddy field where they trade money for power.”

Dan Washburn, author of “The Forbidden Game: Golf and the Chinese Dream,” said the crackdown was not surprising given the game’s reputation in China as a capitalist pastime and the extent of Mr. Xi’s prolonged campaign against corruption, which has toppled senior party and military leaders.

“This is Xi Jinping’s China, and it’s clear he’s intent on making his mark,” Mr. Washburn said. 

“Everyone’s a potential target in this ongoing crackdown on corruption, and golf is a particularly easy and obvious one.”

Golf has faced harsh suppression in China before. When the Communist Party came to power in 1949, Mao Zedong condemned the game as a “sport for millionaires, and courses that had been built for foreigners were turned into public parks, zoos and communal farms.

The sport went dormant for three decades before China’s first course since the revolution opened in Guangdong in 1984. Now, as many as one million people play the game in China. Though it is popular among members of the wealthy elite — including party bureaucrats, apparently — some of China’s earliest professional golfers are former workers and farmers who stumbled onto the game.

Huang Wenyi, a onetime construction worker who is now the world’s 1,189th-ranked player, thrilled Chinese fans Thursday after he led at the end of the first day of the Shenzhen International, a European Tour-sanctioned event in the southern Chinese city. (He had fallen to 13th place by the end of play Saturday.)

Chinese players in their teens and even younger, drilled by parents and coaches with a resolution that rivals that of state-run sports schools, are expected to be strongly represented among the world’s top players in coming decades.

The national government banned the construction of new courses in 2004, citing concern over the environmental impact of unrestrained development. But even that did not stop the game’s rise. In defiance of the ban, the number of courses in China has grown more than threefold since then, to more than 600 today, according to industry estimates.

Courses were often built as part of luxury housing developments to increase land values and attract rich property investors. Local governments, which depend on land sales for a large share of their revenues, looked the other way as developers described them as “leisure” facilities.

After years of warnings, the National Development and Reform Commission said on March 30 that 66 illegally constructed golf courses in Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjin and 20 provinces had been closed — and indicated that its investigation was continuing.

The next day, anticorruption investigators at the Ministry of Commerce announced that they had opened an inquiry into Wang Shenyang, director general of the ministry’s Department of Outward Investment and Economic Cooperation, on suspicion of participating in activities sponsored by an unidentified company. Golf was the only activity specified.

The Legal Weekly, run by the Ministry of Justice, chimed in by publishing a list of 15 party officials who have been punished in the last decade for golf-related transgressions. It included Sun Guoqing, head of the Ministry of Transportation’s planning department, who was suspected of using public funds to pay for rounds, and Han Jiang, a district official in Shenzhen, who was convicted of receiving nearly $1 million in bribes, the largest single portion of which was in the form of a membership to the Mission Hills Golf Club.

“Golf, because of its high cost and unique glamour, has been called the ‘aristocrats’ game,’ ” the newspaper said. “But an awkward truth is that because of ‘rotten’ golf, some officials have been punished or even jailed.”

An art dealer in Beijing, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss illicit activity, said that many insider deals were made over rounds of golf. “When we play golf, we invite officials, too,” he said. “This is not something ordinary people can afford.

Some golfers have complained about the criticism of their sport, arguing that there is nothing inherently corrupt about it. “Around the world so many officials and even presidents play golf. Why is it that in one certain country that when an official plays golf, he’s corrupt?” Lin Xiang, a golf coach in Shanghai, wrote on Sina Weibo, the popular social media platform.

If time on the links is almost required of politicians in the United States, Chinese leaders zealously avoid the game. The one top-level official known to have regularly played golf, Zhao Ziyang, was deposed as party chief by hard-liners during the 1989 Tiananmen protests and spent the rest of his life under house arrest for his support of the student-led demonstrations.

Uncertainty about the future of the sport has led to a drastic slowdown in course construction. “It’s all drying up,” said Les Watts, a Hong Kong-based course designer. After two decades of work on courses in mainland China, he says he is planning to soon return to his native Australia.

Still, Chinese golfers are not ready to abandon their new passion. “I’m still playing,” said a 60-year-old golfer in Beijing who would only give his surname, Zhang. “It’s already in the next Olympic Games, so the state will definitely support it.

Mr. Zhang sat with his shoes off, checking stocks on a small computer before a round at his club. “If ordinary people use our own money to play,” he said, “the government never says you can’t do it.”

Mr. Washburn, the author, said golf would continue to be buffeted by the contradictions of a country that has embraced market forces even as it continues to describe itself as socialist.

There are alternate realities in China,” he said. “One day you’ll read headlines about a war on golf, and the next you’ll hear about China’s future Olympic golf stars.”"

"Vanessa Piao contributed research from Beijing."
"A version of this article appears in print on April 19, 2015, on page A8 of the New York edition"...

Sand and dust storms hit China, Middle East, and Northern Africa in 2015, Northern Sahara dust can be carried by high winds before landing as far away as UK. Greatest effects are closest to major dust sources, number of storms varies over decades-UK Daily Mail, Thornhill

4/17/15, "Mystery of the dust storms sweeping the world: Experts baffled by spate of 'haboobs' which have brought travel chaos and turned day into night in cities thousands of miles from deserts," UK Daily Mail, Ted Thornhill

"This year has seen a rash of massive dust storms around the world that have led to travel chaos and blocked out sunlight - but experts cannot pinpoint the reason behind the spate.

NW China, 2015
This week incredible footage showed the moment an unusual 'apocalyptic' dust storm, known in Arabic as a haboob, struck Belarus, turning day to night, and China has suffered four massive sandstorms since the start of the year.

Some experts have said that climate change bringing excessive heat can make some areas more susceptible to dust storms, but one European scientist pointed out that the number of dust storms over the decades has always been variable.

NW China, 2015

The footage of the dust storm in Belarus, filmed from a high rise apartment, shows traffic moving along a busy street in the province of Salihorsk, south of the capital of Minsk on Monday afternoon. As dark clouds move over the city, the entire area is plunged into darkness - forcing motorists to turn on their lights as they navigate the darkened roads. The storm was caused by a cold front moving in from the Ukrainian-Belorusian border, reported RT

April 2015, London



Earlier this month Britain was shrouded in a cloud of Saharan dust known as 'blood rain' as the temperatures soared.
Dr Steven Godby, a geographer researching the effects of blown sand and dust at Nottingham Trent University, explained how these events can occur..

'The dust is produced from source areas in North Africa, incorporated into a northerly airflow and can travel long distances before being desposited as far away as the UK..
'However, the events we experience are small scale compared to those experienced closer to major dust sources. And incredible pictures also taken at the beginning of April showed the moment ferocious red sandstorms devoured a city in China's north west.
Golmud, China, 2015

China's pollution hit cities are now having to cope with a fresh nuisance - the massive sandstorm that struck the north-west of the country being the fourth this year alone.

The images show the city of Golmud, in the country's north west Qinghai Province, as it succumbs to a sweeping half-hour sandstorm which reduced the visibility to as little as 30 metres, according to The People's Daily Online.

China's National Meteorological Centre (NMC) issued a blue alert for the sandstorms.

The red sand swept across the northern part of the country bringing strong winds and floating sand to the regions of Xinjiang, Inner Mongolia, Gansu, Ningxia and Shaanxi. The organisation advised residents to stay indoors and local authorities to brace for the clean-up operation after the sandstorms. China's four-tier colour-coded weather warning system signifies red as the most severe followed by orange, yellow and blue.

Photos of the city of Dunhuang in the north-western province of Gansu show the thick orange haze coating the city's atmosphere and the lack of people on the streets gave the area an almost alien planet appearance. A local meteorologist said visibility was reduced to less than 50 metres in downtown areas. .

In December a small town in Queensland, Australia, experienced a dust storm that residents said was unprecedented in magnitude. Clouds of dirt engulfed the town of Bedourie, in Queensland's south-west, bringing with it a thick, dusty night for more than 90 minutes. 

And in February raging sandstorms engulfed Israel, Palestine, Lebanon and Egypt causing the worst Israeli air pollution in years and whipping up huge waves in the Mediterranean Sea. 

The storm, made up of accumulated dust carried from the far reaches of the Sahara Desert in North Africa also engulfed Cairo. 

4/4/15, Storm stretches to Paki, India, NASA
Israel's Environmental Protection Ministry said air pollution levels were the country's worst in five years. The sandstorm that engulfed the Arabian Peninsula, meanwhile, wrecked havoc across the area, causing traffic accidents, the cancellation of hundreds of flights and triggering breathing difficulties among residents.

It began on April 1, when high winds whipped up the sandstorm in northern Saudi Arabia before it consolidated and began moving southeastward across the peninsula to eventually cover an area almost as large as the United States, Discover Magazine reported. Along the way it caused chaos across the area's major cities including Riyadh and Dubai, where some locations were reduced to zero visibility, streets turned a shade of orange and schools were forced shut. 

The Cooperative Institute for Meteorological Satellite Studies said: 'The blowing sand reduced surface visibility to near zero at some locations, disrupting ground transportation, air traffic, and also closing schools. 'Visibility was reduced to 0.1 mile for several hours at Dubai International Airport, which is one of the world’s busiest in terms of volume of flights.' 

More than 450 Saudi Arabian Airlines flights were cancelled between across three days which equalled 33 per cent of the carrier's 1,526 scheduled flights, the Saudi Gazette reported. On top of this, 678 flights were delayed and another 19 rerouted from airports in Jeddah, Riyadh and Dammam. 

Dr Emilio Cuevas-Agull√≥, director of the Izana Atmospheric Research Center in Tenerife, Spain, told MailOnline that while it was difficult to say if there have been an increase in dust storms generally, population and urban growth in desert regions means an increased risk of people being affected by them. He said: ‘We are more aware of the problem since we have much better monitoring, mainly from satellites, and forecast systems, in the last five to 10 years, and because the population growth and corresponding infrastructures increase in desert and arid regions, in recent decades, increasing vulnerability to the same dust episodes.’

He added: ‘Our longest dust records over the North Atlantic, downwind from the Sahara desert, which started in late 1970s show a great inter-annual variability and decadal changes, but we don't really see positive trends.’ A Nasa study said: 'Approximately half of the dust in today's atmosphere may be the result of changes to the environment caused by human activity, including agriculture, overgrazing, and the cutting down of forests.'"

Intense red dust storm in Russia "created by a cold front:"
4/1/15, "Epic storm turns day into night in Belarusian city," Russia Today

"An “apocalyptical” storm swept through several regions in Belarus, including the capital. But it was in the city of Soligorsk where clouds as black as ink obscured the sun light, while strong winds ushered in a sand storm.

Soligorsk residents, about 120 kilometers from the capital Minsk, were both scared and excited by the weather phenomenon that hit Belarus on Monday. At around 17:00 local time, darkness descended on the city with over 100,000 residents opting to stay indoors.

People reportedly had to move around several districts with flashlights. The storm’s heavy rains led to electricity being cut off, trees falling down and damage to buildings.

The country’s Emergency Ministry reported about 46 communities in the Minsk region suffered various kinds of damage. The capital city was also hit by storm force winds and torrential rain, but no emergency situations were reported.

The epic storm was created by a cold front on the Ukrainian-Belorusian border that later reached the Carpathian Mountains in an event that is quite rare for this time of the year. Meteorologists called the natural phenomenon a “haboob,” which means an intense red dust storm in Arabic." via Drudge


Image captions:

1. "A raging sand storm sweeps in on the city of Golmud in north west China, where 200,000 people live"

2. "The sandstorm was the fourth to hit the area this year as authorities struggle to deal with the natural hazards"

3. "Blurred: The Shard, one of London's most iconic buildings, is pictured shrouded in 'blood rain' earlier this month," image by Geoff Robinson

4. "Golmud (NW China) was left covered in a remarkable red haze when the sand cloud blew across the city".

5. "On April 1 a sandstorm could be seen enveloping much of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates," NASA .. .

6. "By April 4, it was beginning to stretch across the Arabia Sea towards Pakistan and India," NASA


Ed. note: Large white patches appearing in this post are vandalism by my longtime hackers.


Friday, April 17, 2015

Loving gun battles in terror state of Mexico near US town of McAllen, Texas. Lovingly burned school bus in Northern Mexico town of Reynosa near US border. Entire US political class would happily watch bullets fly all day instead of building a simple fence to protect chump, expendable Americans from a violent, failed state

4/18/15, "Gun Battles Rock Mexican Border City,", AFP, Nuevo Laredo, Mexico

"Gunfights erupted in broad daylight Friday in a Mexican city across the US border plagued by drug cartel violence and several vehicles, including a school bus, were set on fire.

There were no immediate reports of casualties from the clashes in Reynosa, a city of 610,000 located across from the Texas town of McAllen, but a US consulate warned Americans to keep off the Reynosa streets.

Mexican authorities suspect the gun battles, which began in the early afternoon, are related to a power struggle within the Gulf cartel, an official in the Tamaulipas state prosecutors office told AFP. "We don't know if there are victims because we can't reach the locations (of shootings) for the moment," the official said.

Gunmen blocked streets with vehicles, setting several ablaze, including a school bus, the official said. The tactic is used to prevent rival factions or government forces reaching the area.

The local daily El Manana reported that US authorities temporarily closed two border crossings.

The US consulate in the city of Matamoros, which oversees consular affairs in Reynosa, issued a message saying it "has learned of several firefights and roadblocks throughout the city" and urged Americans to "use extreme caution and to remain in-doors."

The city government issued a "red light" alert on its Twitter account, urging residents to stay away from some areas.

Reynosa residents posted pictures on Twitter of burning vehicles and people lying on the ground in panic.

The government has dealt blows to the Gulf cartel in recent years with the arrest of several leaders. Authorities have blamed a surge of violence in Tamaulipas this year on the gang's infighting.

The gang has also battled its former allies, the Zetas cartel, for control of drug trafficking in Tamaulipas."


Wednesday, April 15, 2015

China arrests at least 10 for protesting air and water pollution from iron plant. Protesters say gov. falsifies pollution testing results-Radio Free Asia

"Protesters and environmental activists say there is widespread falsification of pollution testing and environmental impact assessments."
4/15/15, "Police Detain 'At Least 10' in Clashes With Pollution Protesters in China's Guangdong," Radio Free Asia

"Authorities in the southern Chinese province of Guangdong have detained at least 10 people following clashes between police and local residents protesting pollution from a nearby ironworks, ethnic minority residents of Daying village near Qingyuan city said on Wednesday.

At least 10 people were injured after riot police were sent in to disperse a crowd of protesters who had blocked the entry to the Mingfeng Pipe Fittings Products factory for several days, members of the local Yao ethnic minority told RFA.

"They behaved as if they were going after criminals," local resident Hai Shu said. "A lot of people saw the police beating up an elderly guy over 60."

"They pinned him to the floor like a criminal suspect, and he had a black eye and a bloody nose and face," Hai said.

"Four of them dragged him into their vehicle and held him down with their boots; he wasn't allowed to move an inch," he said.

Local residents say that pollution from the iron plant in nearby Yao'an township has gotten progressively worse since it opened three years ago.

Environmental officials have visited the area to take samples, but no results have been made public, they said.

"One village doesn't have enough water, so they have to use water from the river, and 50 to 60 people had diarrhea and vomiting," Hai said.

"Also, all the duck eggs around here near the river are all very red inside."

Hai said the villagers suspect the plant of sending toxic effluent into the river, just 10 meters away.

"There is also horrible smoke that covers the sky, and we can often smell it in the evenings," Hai said. "It makes people dizzy; it must be poisonous."

River 'severely polluted

A second local resident surnamed Liao said local people are convinced that the plant has left the nearby river severely polluted.

"I don't think it could pass environmental tests," Liao said. "If these plants passed the tests, then they wouldn't stick them out here in the back of beyond."

An official who answered the phone at the Yao'an township government offices said the plant operates within legal guidelines.

"The government takes this very seriously, and we are following this incident," the official said. "But I can't say much more because we haven't had the test results back yet."

Repeated calls to the Mingfeng factory rang unanswered during office hours on Wednesday. Online information showed the 20,000 square-meter plant opened in 2009, and manufactures a range of cast-iron parts.

A local resident surnamed Tan said the river water exudes a foul stench, and that nearby well water had also given people serious gastrointestinal symptoms.

"This happened in the village next to ours," Tan said. "After they drank it, they had vomiting and diarrhea."

"When we take the rice we grow around here, our ducks, or any agricultural products to sell, people always ask if it's from this village, and then they don't want it," he said.

"We all rely on what we can grow, so we have no way to exist here," Tan said. "We'll carry on protesting, even if the whole village ends up dead."

'Wait for results'

An official who answered the phone at the environmental protection bureau in nearby Lianzhou city said the agency had taken samples of duck eggs from Yao'an for testing.

"As for whether or not there is serious pollution in that area, we'll have to wait for the test results to come out," the official said. "We're not saying it's polluted, and we're not saying it's not polluted."

"You can always come here and talk to us in person."

On Tuesday, thousands of angry protesters took to the streets of Neijiang city in the southwestern province of Sichuan amid growing popular anger over the leakage of toxic gas from a nearby coking plant, local residents told RFA.

China has seen a huge increase in mass public protests sparked by worsening levels of air and water pollution, as well as public health scandals linked to heavy metal pollution from mining and industry.

Protesters and environmental activists say there is widespread falsification of pollution testing and environmental impact assessments, making oversight of government-backed local industry nearly impossible.

China has an exemplary body of environmental protection law that is rarely properly enforced in practice, environmental campaigners say."

"Reported by Hai Nan and Wong Lok To for RFA's Cantonese Service, and by Yang Fan for the Mandarin Service. Translated and written in English by Luisetta Mudie."


Build desalination plants, not high speed trains to nowhere-Long Beach Press-Telegram letters

4/15/15, "Build desalination plants, not a high-speed rail: Letters," Long Beach (Calif.) Press-Telegram
"Build desalination plants, not a high-speed rail

Re “Can desalination save California from the drought?” (Question of the Week, April 7):

Instead of spending money on a bullet train, California should build desalination plants. We cannot live without water or food. California supplies 70 percent of the food for the country and we have cut off water to the farmers to save the smelt fish. The legislatures are more interested in catering to their money backers than doing what is right for the citizens of California. 

— Edna Jones, Pasadena

Desalination and water conservation

Re “Can desalination save California from the drought?” (Question of the Week, April 7):

Which sounds better, water or train? Anyone with an ounce of common sense and a firm grasp on reality would say water is the only answer. We don’t need a bullet train that starts in south nowhere and ends in north nowhere. We will need water for all of our life, but no one will ever need the train to nowhere
Desalination is one method of gaining usable water as well as conservation of water being another. 

As with other commodities, we will be water rationed when needed and taxed whether needed or not, but paying for a train that won’t bring a single drop of water to a single community is beyond common sense and reality

— Richard Morrison, Lakewood"



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