(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SHANGHAI CHINA NEWS AGENCY ‘SHINE’)
People mourn for martyrs who died while fighting forest fire in Sichuan
(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SHANGHAI CHINA NEWS AGENCY ‘SHINE’)
(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE BBC)
China is sending investigators to Hunan province after local officials were accused of faking data at a water monitoring station, state media report.
The officials are alleged to have placed sensors intended to measure the water quality of Lujiang River inside bottles of mineral water instead.
The river, in Zhuzhou, is badly polluted by sewage water, reports say.
There is widespread suspicion that some local officials and companies in China ignore environmental policies.
The environment ministry says it is investigating in Zhuzhou and “will seriously punish” any “violations”.
One monitoring sensor was even placed in a cup of tea instead of the Lujiang River, Xinhua news agency says.
Water monitoring currently takes place at 2,050 sites in the country, China Daily reports.
The Chinese government has vowed to improve its efforts to monitor and combat pollution – but there continues to be concern about air and water quality in China.
In 2016, one government report said more than 80% of rural wells in the north-east contained water unsafe for drinking.
Meanwhile, a separate 2017 government survey found more than 13,000 companies in China failed to meet environmental standards.
(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE GUARDIAN NEWS AGENCY)
More than 324 people have died in the worst flooding in nearly a century in the south Indian state of Kerala.
Roads are damaged, mobile phone networks are down, an international airport has been closed and more than 220,000 people have been left homeless after unusually heavy rain in the past nine days.
Officials repeatedly revised the death toll upwards from 86 people on Friday morning to more than 300 by the evening as a massive rescue operation reached more flood-hit regions. “Around 100 people died in the last 36 hours alone,” a state official said.
Casualty numbers are expected to increase further, with thousands more people still stranded and less intense though still heavy rain forecast for at least the next 24 hours. Many have died from being buried in hundreds of landslides set off by the flooding.
The Kerala chief minister, Pinarayi Vijayan, said the state was experiencing an “extremely grave” crisis, with the highest flood warning in place in 12 of its 14 regions.
“We’re witnessing something that has never happened before in the history of Kerala,” he told reporters.
The Indian prime minister, Narendra Modi, was on his way to Kerala on Friday evening “to take stock of the flood situation in the state”, he said.
Kerala, famed for its tea plantations, beaches and tranquil backwaters, is frequently saturated during the annual monsoon. But this year’s deluge has swamped at least 20,000 homes and forced people into more than 1,500 relief camps.
The toll in Kerala contributed to more than 900 deaths recorded by the Indian home ministry this monsoon season from landslides, flooding and rain.
Rescue workers and members of India’s armed forces have been deployed across the state with fleets of ships and aircraft brought in to save the thousands of people still stranded, many sheltering on their roofs signalling to helicopters for help.
Officials estimated about 6,000 miles (10,000km) of roads had been submerged or buried by landslides and a major international airport in Cochin has been shut until 26 August. Communications networks were also faltering, officials said, making rescue efforts harder to coordinate.
Residents of the state used social media to post desperate appeals for help, sometimes including their GPS coordinates to help guide rescuers.
“My family and neighbouring families are in trouble with flood in Pandanad nakkada area in Alappuzha,” Ajo Varghese said in a viral Facebook post. “No water and food. Not able to communicate from afternoon. Mobile phones are not reachable and switch off. Please help … No rescue is available.”
Another man in the central town of Chengannur posted a video of himself neck-deep in water in his home. “It looks like water is rising to the second floor,” he says. “I hope you can see this. Please pray for us.”
The fate of the man was still unclear on Friday. The state finance minister, Thomas Isaac, tweeted in the afternoon that the last road to Chengannur had washed away before his eyes and the town was cut off.
The water has claimed parts of Cochin, the state’s commercial capital, and was still rising in some areas of the city on Friday, with residents urged to evacuate and guide ropes strung across roads inundated by fast-moving currents.
Meteorologists said Kerala had received an average 37.5% more rainfall than usual. The hardest-hit districts such as Idukki in the north received 83.5% excess rain. More than 80 dams across the state had opened their gates to try to ease the crisis, the chief minister said.
Agence France-Presse contributed to this report
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(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF NBC NEWS AND FROM THE ASSOCIATED PRESS)
A dead polar bear lies on the beach in Norway’s Svalbard archipelago on July 28, 2018. Norwegian authorities said the polar bear was shot after it attacked and injured a polar guard who was protecting a group of tourists from a cruise ship.Gustav Busch Arntsen / Scanpix via AFP – Getty Images
A German cruise line has received a wave of backlash after its crew members shot and killed a polar bear that had attacked a guard whose job it was to spot and prevent interactions with the animal.
The cruise, a Hapag-Lloyd ship called the MS Bremen, was traveling near the northernmost island of the Svalbard archipelago, between mainland Norway and the North Pole, had intended to show the bears off to a group of tourists — and it appears guards on the vessel attempted to scare the bear off before resorting to lethal force, officials said.
Police spokesman Ole Jakob Malmo told the Associated Press that two members of the Bremen’s 12-man crew that set out ahead of tourists on Saturday first tried to ward off the bear “by shouting and making loud noises as well as firing a signal pistol, but to no effect.”
In a statement, Hapag-Lloyd Cruises had said the attack happened when a four-person bear guard team, went on land ahead of the tour.
“One of the guards was unexpectedly attacked by a polar bear that had not been spotted and he was unable to react himself. As the attempts of the other guards to evict the animal, unfortunately, were not successful, there had to be intervention for reasons of self-defense and to protect the life of the attacked person,” the statement said. The guard who was injured is in stable condition, according to Hapag-Lloyd Cruises spokesman Moritz Krause.
Experts warn that, as climate change continues to shrink the polar bear’s habitat, the animals are finding themselves face-to-face with humans more often.
“With climate change there’s a lot less sea ice and bears have to spend a lot more time on land. There is definitely more chance of interaction between people and bears,” said Sybille Klenzendorf, senior biologist and senior species expert for the World Wildlife Fund.
“And this is not just for tourism. This is for communities, this is for industry, anybody operating and living in the Arctic has this chance of higher encounters so we have to be prepared in a preventive and proactive manner to prevent conflict with polar bears,” she noted.
Experts told NBC News that in most cases guards have and are able to use a host of methods to deescalate bear encounters before resorting to killing the animal.
“Deterrent methods are extremely successful,” said Brian Horner, the founder and director of LTR Training Solutions in Anchorage, Alaska, which includes bear-guard instruction.
Horner said there are several steps guards can take before killing the animal. A guard who sees a bear can first try to shoot a projectile firework that will cause a bang and scare the animal off, although this requires a precise shot in order to scare the bear backwards rather than forward. Guards also must take care not to start a fire with the flare, Horner said.
Guards can also use a 12-gauge shotgun loaded with blank rounds.
“All it does is make the shotgun make a really big bang. We like those, but our clients don’t like them because it’s 161 decibels, and if you’re not ready, you’re going to have an ear ache,” Horner said.
The next line of defense is rubber bullets before a final non-lethal option: bean bag projectiles. But they can be risky.
“When you’re using bean bags, you’re so close that if it decides it doesn’t like the bean bag, it’s going to run toward you,” Horner said of polar bears.
Klenzendorf said that there are specific rules of engagement that cruise lines are supposed to follow in the region where the killing happened over the weekend, and that polar bear guards are required to limit the chance of interaction between humans and bears. But even to the trained eye, in the Arctic, it’s not an easy task.
“It’s very hard sometimes in the arctic environment to actually see them,” Klenzendorf said of polar bears.
Horner agreed that it can be a challenge for bear guards to spot the animals.
“Polar bears are smart. They’re really smart … and they have to hunt a lot. Polar bears go from curious to interested quickly,” Horner said, adding that “polar bears are sneaky” and likely crept up on the guards.
Fortunately, Klenzendorf said, polar bear guards don’t often end up having fatal interactions with the animals.
“Given that it’s only been the second bear in 20 years of the cruising industry in Svalbard that has been killed, it shows there must be high standards that are being followed for interactions,” she said.
(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)
According to the study, air pollution caused one in seven new cases of diabetes in 2016, adding that even low levels raised the chances of developing the chronic disease.
The study estimated that pollution contributed to 3.2 million new diabetes cases globally in 2016 — or around 14 percent of all new diabetes cases globally that year, AFP reported.
“Our research shows a significant link between air pollution and diabetes globally,” said Ziyad Al-Aly, the study’s senior author.
Pollution is believed to affect the production of insulin in the body, “preventing the body from converting blood glucose into energy that the body needs to maintain health,” the research elaborated.
Al-Aly said the research, published in the Lancet Planetary Health, proved a higher risk even with levels of air pollution currently considered safe by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the World Health Organization (WHO).
“This is important because many industry lobbying groups argue that current levels are too stringent and should be relaxed. Evidence shows that current levels are still not sufficiently safe and need to be tightened,” he added.
According to AFP, diabetes affects more than 420 million people globally and is one of the world’s fastest growing diseases.
(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SHANGHAI NEWS PAPER ‘SHINE’)
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang on Tuesday called for efforts in greening and prevention and control of forest fires, floods and droughts to ensure socio-economic growth and the building of an “ecological civilization.”
Li made the remarks in a written instruction to a teleconference on national work in land greening and prevention and control of forest fires, floods and drought held in Beijing on Tuesday.
He instructed governments at all levels to carry out solid work in greening as well as disaster prevention and control, which are pivotal for sustainable development and the security of lives and property.
Extensive land greening programs should be carried out to build a green shield, meeting the annual goal of adding 100 million mu (about 6.7 million hectares) of forests, Li said.
Work in forest fire prevention should be done in a scientific way, while strictly following procedures and preventive measures.
He also called for efforts to enhance preparation for flood and drought by improving water infrastructure and disaster prevention and control abilities.
Vice Premier Hu Chunhua said at the meeting that green resources should be increased via multiple channels, including key forestry projects, and called for efforts to improve ecological protection and develop green industries.
Hu also called for intensified safety supervision and monitoring, urging improvements in emergency planning for disaster prevention and control.
(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF GLOBAL VOICES)
Severe sandstorms have blanketed Iran’s Ahwaz region again this past week, with people choking as atmospheric dust levels reach 57 times the safety limit set by the World Health Organization. In late January the news broke that citizens were crowding hospitals across the predominantly Arab region—which is desperately poor despite being home to over 95 percent of the oil and gas resources claimed by Iran—complaining of severe shortness of breath and respiratory problems. Between January 21 and 25, three people died from severe respiratory illnesses.
The area is blanketed by a thick smog of sand and visibility is down to under 200 meters. The government has suspended flights to and from regional airports and closed schools, offices and banks across the once-lush province.
In 2013, the city of Ahwaz, the capital of the region, topped the World Health Organization’s list of most polluted cities in the world. According to the report, Ahwaz’s average Air Quality Index score was 372—the global average is around 71—or “Hazardous”. It was the only city on the list with an average value above 300. Reporting on the situation at the time, the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO) wrote that “contributing factors include desertification caused by river diversion and the draining of the marshes and the oil, petrochemical, metals and sugar and paper processing plants in and around Ahwaz.”
More than four years later, the situation in Ahwaz remains unchanged, and the group most affected are the region’s indigenous Ahwazi Arabs, who have long been discriminated against by successive Iranian governments.
The reason for the high rates of pollution is the accelerating desertification of the region, due to the extensive drying of the rivers and marshes as a result of the massive river-damming and diversion project initiated when Hashemi Rafsanjani became president in 1989. The project has seen millions of gallons of water rerouted from the region’s rivers to other parts of Iran and has intensified the already high rates of pollution and environmental degradation in the region.The dust storms combine with the constant clouds of choking pollution released into the atmosphere by the region’s petrochemical refineries and factories—none of which are subject to any environmental regulations or oversight—and also with the pollution produced by the burning of sugarcane.
Speaking on condition of anonymity due to fears of reprisals by the Iranian regime, an Ahwazi high school student told Global Voices that, “The burning used to take place during the day, but after there were protests by local Arabs chanting ‘We might be able to buy potable water, but we cannot buy clean air!’ they have begun burning it at night. This morning, the school grounds were covered in several centimetres of ash from the burning. I already have severe asthma, and this is making my condition worse.”
Sugarcane in the Ahwaz region
Sugarcane is not indigenous to Iran, but has been cultivated in the region since the 1960s. During the tenure of Hashemi Rafsanjani the government embarked on an ambitious state-subsidized sugarcane-farming project that involved the seizure of thousands of hectares of farmland from Ahwazi farmers whose ancestors had farmed there for generations. Thousands of families were driven into abject destitution as their farmland was converted into vast sugarcane plantations.
These efforts have brought little profit: the sugarcane project has proven economically disastrous, with imports far cheaper than local production. The greater concern, however, is the widespread pollution and environmental devastation it has wrought on a region that was once the breadbasket of the Gulf area. Across the Ahwaz region, in cities like Falahiyeh, Muhammarah and Abadan, massive plantations of palm trees whose produce was famed across the Middle East have either been deliberately destroyed or simply left to wither. Also at serious risk are the region’s flora and fauna, as the Falahiyeh wetlands and the Hor-Azim wetlands are almost completely destroyed.
Sugar refineries are depleting the already scarce supply of river water for their water-intensive processes, and polluting the region’s remaining rivers and streams by pumping untreated chemicals used in the sugar-cleaning and refining process back into the waterways. This leaves the water downstream unusable and high in saline, which destroys the arable lands of the region’s poor Ahwazi farmers.
Then there’s the burning of the sugarcane, which takes place on plantations around the Ahwazi capital and other cities in the region before the May-November harvest. The smoke from burning sugar cane is thick and heavy due to the dense sugar and alcohol content; instead of drifting upward it blows across the land, causing severe and sometimes fatal respiratory and skin problems among the population.
The heavy toll on health
At the end of January, at least three Ahwazi Arabs were reported to have died as a result of respiratory problems caused or exacerbated by the region’s severe air pollution. One of them, 43-year-old Kareem Abdul Khani from the city of Susa, who suffered from chronic asthma, was rushed to the city’s Mafi Hospital on January 21 after complaining of dizziness and difficulty breathing due to the severe pollution in the area, which greatly exceeded usual levels. He died the following day.
The second man, 47-year-old Hamid Hamdian from Mollasani County near Ahwaz city, had been suffering from respiratory disease for some time. He died suddenly after being overcome by severe breathing problems.
The third man, 34-year-old Ahmed Chenani from Hamidieh city, 30 kilometers west of Ahwaz, died from chronic respiratory problems on the night of January 25, after suffocating from the air pollution blanketing the area. Family members who rushed him to the Golestan Hospital in Ahwaz city, said that the lack of adequate medical facilities and the negligence of medical staff contributed to his death.
Rates of cancer in the region are also rising. A member of the medical staff at a hospital in Ahwaz who, like other interviewees, wished to remain anonymous, said that ten years ago the hospital had 40 beds that were largely underused. In recent years, the hospital has become overrun with cancer patients.
All this is a huge price to pay, especially for the indigenous Ahwazi Arabs, who are still denied all but the most menial jobs in sugarcane and oil—the two industries wreaking havoc on their home region‚—while ethnic Persians are brought in from other parts of Iran and offered high wages and modern, purpose-built housing in segregated settlements. Despite being natives of the wealthiest region in Iran in terms of resources, the majority of the Ahwazi people live in medieval conditions under a de facto apartheid system.
(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TIME NEWS)
(BEIJING) — An Iranian oil tanker collided with a bulk freighter and caught fire off China’s east coast, leaving the tanker’s entire crew of 32 missing and causing it to spill oil into the sea, authorities said Sunday.
Chinese authorities dispatched police vessels and three cleaning ships to the scene after the collision, which happened late Saturday. The South Korean coast guard also sent a ship and a plane to help search for the missing crew members — 30 Iranians and two Bangladeshis.
The Panama-registered tanker Sanchi was sailing from Iran to South Korea when it collided with the Hong Kong-registered freighter CF Crystal in the East China Sea, 257 kilometers (160 miles) off the coast of Shanghai, China’s Ministry of Transport said.
All 21 crew members of the Crystal, which was carrying grain from the United States, were rescued, the ministry said. The Crystal’s crew members were all Chinese nationals.
It wasn’t immediately clear what caused the collision.
State-run China Central Television reported Sunday evening that the tanker was still floating and burning, and that oil was visible in the water.
It was not clear, however, whether the tanker was still spilling oil. The size of the oil slick caused by the accident also was not known.
Earlier Sunday, Chinese state media carried pictures of the tanker on fire with large plumes of smoke.
The Sanchi was carrying 136,000 metric tons (150,000 tons, or nearly 1 million barrels) of condensate, a type of ultra-light oil, according to Chinese authorities.
By comparison, the Exxon Valdez was carrying 1.26 million barrels of crude oil when it spilled 260,000 barrels into Prince William Sound off Alaska in 1989.
The Sanchi has operated under five different names since it was built in 2008, according the U.N.-run International Maritime Organization. The IMO listed its registered owner as Hong Kong-based Bright Shipping Ltd., on behalf of the National Iranian Tanker Co., a publicly traded company based in Tehran. The National Iranian Tanker Co. describes itself as operating the largest tanker fleet in the Middle East.
An official in Iran’s Oil Ministry, who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to reporters, said 30 of the tanker’s 32 crew members were Iranians.
“We have no information on their fate,” he said. “We cannot say all of them have died, because rescue teams are there and providing services.”
The official said the tanker was owned by the National Iranian Tanker Co. and had been rented by a South Korean company, Hanwha Total Co. He said the tanker was on its way to South Korea.
Hanwa Total is a 50-50 partnership between the Seoul-based Hanwha Group and the French oil giant Total. Total did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
It’s the second collision for a ship from the National Iranian Tanker Co. in less than a year and a half. In August 2016, one of its tankers collided with a Swiss container ship in the Singapore Strait, damaging both ships but causing no injuries or oil spill.
(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE WASHINGTON POST)
Culture, Up Bringing, Police, And The Heart
Culture is just what it is you say, so no blame here or there, just chance
Dictating life, street life, who to rob, who to cap, gun smoke, not so sweet
Education, Religion, is it really only for the weak who work to get ahead
Staying alive day-to-day, avoiding 5-0 like a plague, give yourself a chance
True, the world can be a cold-cold Witch, Dead behind the Mask we wear
Cuddled in at your own Crib tonight, are you and your family in safety’s bliss
Hate, anger, fear, blood in our streets, God please save us from our selves
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