Egypt Govt Pledges Not to Dismiss Public Sector Employees

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

Egypt Govt Pledges Not to Dismiss Public Sector Employees

Saturday, 14 December, 2019 – 12:30
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El Sisi (Reuters)
Cairo- Waleed Abdurrahman
The Egyptian government stressed on Friday that it has no intention to dismiss any state employees after moving to the new administrative capital.

It affirmed seeking to maintain all employees’ rights along with developing and raising the efficiency of the state’s administrative apparatus and staff.

The government said it has “monitored reports on some websites and social media pages about its intention to forcibly dismiss three million employees of the state’s administrative apparatus in line with moving to the new capital.”

Notably, the government plans to relocate its ministries and employees to the new capital, where they will start operating by mid-2020. While investors have started building residential and educational neighborhoods.

This step aims at improving and upgrading the quality of services provided to citizens.

In January 2018, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El Sisi inaugurated the largest mosque and church in the administrative capital.

According to the cabinet’s Media Center, the government seeks to improve the performance of the state’s administrative apparatus, while paying special attention to the human component by designing training programs for workers in this sector.

Its step targets preparing cadres capable of managing the process of institutional change in order to build an efficient and effective administrative apparatus that applies the standards of governance and corresponds with Egypt’s Vision 2030.”

Egyptian government spokesman Nader Saad noted in November that there are several ways for employees to reach the new administrative capital, as the cabinet has been studying options for bringing employees to the capital, either by contracting with transportation companies or by paying cash for transportation costs.

During a meeting with Prime Minister Mustafa Madbouly in June, Sisi called for “commitment to the decided plans for construction work in the new administrative capital and the speedy completion of the main and internal road hubs and site coordination work.”

Meanwhile, the government denied Friday news circulated on its intention to privatize the “Real Estate Registration and Documentation Authority” due to its inability to automate its services.

The Ministry of Justice confirmed that the Authority will remain an official government agency that serves all citizens.

It added that the authority offices’ automation is carried successfully, with the aim of improving the level of services provided in a way that contributes to facilitating procedures for citizens.

Trump attacks Greta Thunberg for being Time’s ‘Person of the Year’

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE USA TODAY NEWS)

(TRUMP, THE VERY UNSTABLE EGO MANIAC SHOWS HIS ASS ONCE AGAIN BY ATTACKING A TEENAGE GIRL)(oped:oldpoet56)

Trump attacks Greta Thunberg for being Time’s ‘Person of the Year’

USA TODAY

WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump attacked 16-year-old environmental activist Greta Thunberg on Thursday for being named Time magazine’s “Person of The Year.”

“So ridiculous,” Trump said on Twitter. “Greta must work on her Anger Management problem, then go to a good old fashioned movie with a friend! Chill Greta, Chill!”

Thunberg responded swiftly, changing her Twitter profile to read: “A teenager working on her anger management problem. Currently chilling and watching a good old fashioned movie with a friend.”

Trump, who was named Person of the Year after winning the 2016 presidential election, has criticized the magazine before for passing him up in the years since.

Trump mocked Thunberg back in September, when both were in New York City for meetings at the United Nations.

Citing lines from Thunberg’s address to the Climate Action Summit – the teenager said “people are dying” and “we are in the beginning of a mass extinction” – Trump issued a late-night snarky tweet.

“She seems like a very happy young girl looking forward to a bright and wonderful future,” Trump wrote. “‘So nice to see!”

Thunberg dismissed Trump’s comments, and said later she wouldn’t consider meeting with the U.S. president on the issue of climate change.

“I don’t understand why I would do that,” Thunberg said last month on  “The Ellen DeGeneres Show.” “I don’t see what I could tell him that he hasn’t already heard, and I just think it would be a waste of time, really.”

Thunberg has spoken about her diagnosis of Asperger’s, a neurological disorder that creates difficulty with social and communications skills. She calls it her “superpower.”‘

In naming her Person of the Year, Time magazine said “Thunberg began a global movement by skipping school: starting in August 2018, she spent her days camped out in front of the Swedish Parliament, holding a sign painted in black letters on a white background that read Skolstrejk för klimatet: “School Strike for Climate.”

It added: “In the 16 months since, she has addressed heads of state at the U.N., met with the Pope, sparred with the President of the United States and inspired 4 million people to join the global climate strike on September 20, 2019, in what was the largest climate demonstration in human history.”

On social media, critics described Trump’s tweet as equivalent to bullying a child.

“The President of the United States is attacking a child,” tweeted former federal prosecutor and legal commentator Renato Mariotti.

Former White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci, now a fierce critic of Trump, called him “a bully and a punk” for attacking Thunberg.

“No normal person would find this sort of behavior tolerable,” he tweeted. “Much less from a global leader. @realDonaldTrump is a despicable person.”

Iran: Air Pollution Shuts Schools in Iran’s Capital

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

Air Pollution Shuts Schools in Iran’s Capital

Wednesday, 13 November, 2019 – 12:30
In the Nov. 14, 2016, Tehran is shrouded in a blanket of brown-white smog as the first of the winter’s heavy pollution hit the city. (Getty Images)
Asharq Al-Awsat
Schools in Tehran were ordered to be closed on Wednesday after the Iranian capital was cloaked in dangerously high levels of air pollution, authorities said.

Governor Anoushiravan Mohseni-Bandpey said kindergartens, preschools and primary schools would be shut in the city and the counties of Gharchak, Pishva and Varamin.

“The air quality index for the city of Tehran still has not passed the unhealthy status for sensitive groups,” he was quoted as saying by state news agency IRNA.

Average concentrations of hazardous airborne particles hit 133 micrograms per cubic meter in the city and were as high as 150 for 10 districts, he said.

That is far above the World Health Organization’s recommended maximum of 25 micro-grams per cubic meter on average over a 24-hour period.

Warnings were issued for children, pregnant women, the elderly and people suffering from cardio-vascular or respiratory diseases to stay indoors.

Many people were seen wearing face masks to avoid fumes as they waited for buses on the sides of traffic-choked streets of southern Tehran during morning rush-hour.

A layer of thick smog covered Tehran on Tuesday, but it appeared to dissipate in northern areas on Wednesday morning with fewer school buses on the roads.

Air pollution was the cause of nearly 30,000 deaths per year in Iranian cities, IRNA reported earlier this year, citing a health ministry official.

Each winter, Iran’s sprawling capital suffers some of the worst pollution in the world through thermal inversion — a phenomenon that traps hazardous air over the city.

According to a World Bank report last year, most of the pollution in the city of eight million inhabitants is caused by heavy duty vehicles, motorbikes, refineries and power plants.

India air pollution at ‘unbearable levels’, Delhi minister says

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE BBC)

 

India air pollution at ‘unbearable levels’, Delhi minister says

In the smog, a large crowd of Hindu worshippers entering the River YamunaImage copyright REUTERS
Image caption Worshipers braved the smog to enter the polluted River Yamuna as part of the Hindu religious festival of Chatth Puja

Air pollution in the north of India has “reached unbearable levels,” the capital Delhi’s Chief Minister Arvid Kejriwal says.

In many areas of Delhi air quality deteriorated into the “hazardous” category on Sunday with the potential to cause respiratory illnesses.

Authorities have urged people to stay inside to protect themselves.

Mr Kejriwal called on the central government to provide relief and tackle the toxic pollution.

Schools have been closed, more than 30 flights diverted and construction work halted as the city sits in a thick blanket of smog.

A sign reading "Keep Delhi clean" with a thick smog in the backgroundImage copyright AFP
Image caption Only cars with odd or even number plates can drive on given days in a bid to reduce pollution

Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain advised the city’s residents to “avoid outdoor physical activities, especially during morning and late evening hours”.

The advisory also said people should wear anti-pollution masks, avoid polluted areas and keep doors and windows closed.

How bad is the smog?

Levels of dangerous particles in the air – known as PM2.5 – are far higher than recommended and about seven times higher than in the Chinese capital Beijing.

An Indian health ministry official said the city’s pollution monitors did not have enough digits to accurately record pollution levels, which he called a “disaster”.

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Five million masks were handed out in schools on Friday as officials declared a public health emergency and Mr Kejriwal likened the city to a “gas chamber”.

The World Health Organization (WHO) says a third of deaths from stroke, lung cancer and heart disease are due to air pollution.

“This is having an equivalent effect to that of smoking tobacco,” the WHO says on its website.

How are people reacting?

Mr Kejriwal’s most recent comments are unlikely to please government officials, reports the BBC’s South Asia regional editor Jill McGivering. She said Indian politicians were blaming each other for the conditions.

On Sunday young people in Delhi came out to protest and demand action.

“You can obviously see how terrible it is and it’s actually scary you can’t see things in front of you,” said Jaivipra.

A protester holding a sign that says: "Can't decide whether air quality or economy is falling faster"Image copyright AFP
Image caption Angry protesters compared the pollution to India’s sluggish economy

She said she wanted long-term and sustainable anti-pollution measures put in place.

“We are concerned about our futures and about our health but we are also fighting this on behalf of the children and the elderly who bear the biggest brunt of the problem here,” she said.

Some ministers have sparked controversy on social media by suggesting light-hearted measures to stay healthy.

Harsh Vardhan, the union minister for health and family welfare, urged people to eat carrots to protect against “night blindness” and “other pollution-related harm to health”.

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Meanwhile, Prakash Javadekar, the minister of the environment, suggested that you should “start your day with music”, adding a link to a “scintillating thematic composition”.

“Is that the reason you have turned deaf ears to our plight on pollution?” one Twitter user responded. “Seems you are too busy hearing music that you are not able to hear us!”

What’s caused the pollution?

A major factor behind the high pollution levels at this time of year is farmers in neighboring states burning crop stubble to clear their fields.

A row of police wearing facemasks to protect themselves from the toxic smogImage copyright AFP
Image caption Police are wearing face masks to protect themselves from the toxic smog

This creates a lethal cocktail of particulate matter, carbon dioxide, nitrogen dioxide and sulfur dioxide – all worsened by fireworks set off during the Hindu festival Diwali a week ago.

Vehicle fumes, construction and industrial emissions have also contributed to the smog.

Indians are hoping that scattered rainfall over the coming week will wash away the pollutants but this is not due until Thursday.

Media caption Residents have been donning high-grade masks to counter the smog

Brazil: Petrobras President says Northeast leak is biggest environmental aggression in Brazil

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF BRAZIL’S 24/7 NEWS)

 

Petrobras President says Northeast leak is biggest environmental aggression in Brazil

The head of the largest Brazilian state-owned company, Robero Castello Branco, said the spill that hits the northeast coast is “the biggest environmental aggression suffered by the country”. Castello Branco compared environmental impact to British BP disaster in Gulf of Mexico, one of history’s biggest crashes

The Atalaia Waterfront in Aracaju was taken by an oil slick this Friday morning (27);  According to information from the State Administration of the Environment (Adema), the affected area corresponds to 4.5 kilometers of beaches, starting at the Coroa do Meio lighthouse until the bath of Doce Doce;  The recommendation is not to make use of the sea in these places;  Petrobras reported that the spot was found but there was no incident on the oil rigs
The Atalaia Waterfront in Aracaju was taken by an oil slick this Friday morning (27); According to information from the State Administration of the Environment (Adema), the affected area corresponds to 4.5 kilometers of beaches, starting at the Coroa do Meio lighthouse until the bath of Doce; The recommendation is not to make use of the sea in these places; Petrobras reported that the stain was found, but there was no incident on the oil rigs (Photo: Valter Lima)

247 – The head of the largest Brazilian state-owned company, Robero Castello Branco, said that the spill that hits the northeast coast is “the biggest environmental aggression suffered by the country”. Castello Branco compared the environmental impact to the British BP disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, one of the biggest accidents in history.

The head of Petrobras said: “I would like to refer initially, before starting my talk, to the greatest environmental aggression suffered by our country, I believe that in our history, which appears in the form of oil slicks that have reached the middle environment throughout the Northeast. “

The report by the newspaper Folha de S. Paulo points out that “Castello Branco defended Petrobras’ action in the fight against pollution and criticized what he called the political use of the tragedy, rebelling criticism regarding the speed and structure of the emergency response.” has been very politicized, ideologized, with sometimes fake versions, that this or that could have been done, “he said. 

The article also underlines that “according to the president of Petrobras, the company has been providing protective equipment and has already deployed two ships and drones to help with the cleaning work.” Finally, it has worked under the coordination of Ibama [National Institute of Environment and Renewable Natural Resources] incessantly to mitigate the effects of this environmental aggression. “

6 U.S. Cities With the Cleanest Air

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRAVEL TRIVIA)

 

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6 U.S. Cities With the Cleanest Air

The American Lung Association’s State of the Air Report reveals the U.S. cities with the cleanest air. According to data from 2015 to 2017, all of these cities had zero days when ozone and particle pollution reached unhealthy levels. If you want to enjoy some clean, crisp air on your next stateside vacation, consider one of these cities.

Bangor, Maine

Credit: Luboslav Tiles/ Shutterstock

The city of Bangor in south-central Maine ranks 23rd for cleanest U.S. cities for year-round particle pollution and also had no days with unhealthy levels of ozone or short-term pollution.

Bangor’s success, unfortunately, isn’t replicated throughout the state, which has one of the highest rates of asthma in the country — approximately 10% among adults and 11% among children. Experts suspect that a critical factor affecting the state’s pollution levels is contaminants sweeping into the region on ocean and air currents from upstream urban areas.

In Bangor, however, you can breathe freely. Work your lungs with a hike through nearby Acadia National Park or take a more leisurely stroll along the city’s Penobscot River Walkway.

Lincoln–Beatrice, Nebraska

Credit: Katherine Welles/ Shutterstock

Lincoln ties with Bangor at 23rd for year-round pollution with zero days of unhealthy ozone and short-term pollution.

If you find yourself in the Midwest, take advantage by visiting some of its many outdoor attractions. The Sunken Gardens, recognized by National Geographic as one of the 300 best gardens in North America, are full of vibrant year-round flora. Meanwhile, the Pioneers Park Nature Center boasts hiking trails with informative exhibits on the area’s ecology. You’ll also find information on the factors that contribute to the city’s fresh air.

If you’re in Beatrice, you’ll want to visit the pristine Homestead National Monument of America, where you can hike among the prairie grasses and browse the outdoor exhibits depicting the history of American homesteading.

Finally, the Lincoln–Lancaster County Health Department has monitors that provide air quality data to residents so those with respiratory conditions can stay safe and healthy.

Wilmington, North Carolina

Credit: Gary C. Tognoni/ Shutterstock

Wilmington, North Carolina, is another city to be congratulated for its air quality. Known as the Port City, Wilmington is recognized for everything from its nearby beaches to the country’s largest movie studios outside of California. The city is also home to the U.S. Coast Guard’s Diligence vessel.

Wilmington’s residents have benefited from statewide environmental initiatives such as the 2002 North Carolina Clean Smokestacks Act. The city’s air also got a boost when Duke Energy, the regional electricity provider, converted the energy source of its Wilmington–adjacent plant from coal to natural gas.

If you visit Wilmington, you’ll want to take advantage of its nearly two miles of Riverwalk along Cape Fear River. The pedestrian boardwalk also connects to the Sea Bikeway and East Coast Greenway.

Palm Bay–Melbourne–Titusville, Florida

Credit: TDKvisuals/ Shutterstock

Tied with Wilmington for the 13th lowest year-round pollution — and the same zero days of dangerous ozone or short-term pollution — is the metro area of Palm Bay–Melbourne–Titusville in central Florida.

The region is also known as the Space Coast, due to the presence of the John F. Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral. Anyone interested in the history of our solar system will enjoy visiting the Space Center with its interactive tours and exhibits. You’ll breathe easy knowing that all that rocket exhaust hasn’t overwhelmingly increased pollution in the region.

Meanwhile, enjoy more clean air at the renowned Cocoa Beach or browse the wildlife at Brevard Zoo. You can also explore the various downtown districts, each of with its own unique character and the same pollutant-free atmosphere.

Burlington, Vermont

Credit: Sean Pavone/ Shutterstock

With no days of unhealthy ozone or particle pollution levels, the metro area of Burlington–South Burlington ranks 12th overall for year-round particle pollution and is another American city with the cleanest air in the country. As the largest city in the state, Burlington is home to the University of Vermont and is rightfully considered one of the most beautiful college towns in the country.

In 2015, Burlington became the first American city to run entirely on renewable electricity, which has undoubtedly played a role in its clean air success. Along with biomass, solar, and wind power, its largest energy source is hydro, thanks to its use of dams and its location on Lake Champlain.

Burlington also has an ongoing “Great Streets Initiative,” a municipal project aimed at enhancing the city’s sustainability. From a new City Hall Park to improved bike lanes, the various changes make Burlington a vibrant place to visit and explore — with the added bonus of pollutant-free air.

Honolulu, Hawaii

Credit: Izabela23/ Shutterstock

Tied for the lowest year-round particle pollution, in addition to zero days of dangerous ozone or particle pollution levels, Honolulu has some of the cleanest air in the country. While the Hawaiian islands are known for their natural beauty, what is remarkable is that the state has managed to preserve its fresh and vibrant atmosphere even in its urban capital — and largest city — of approximately 350,000 people.

Despite its favorable ranking, however, Honolulu’s air quality has suffered dramatic swings thanks to the existence of “vog,” the island term for volcanic smog. When Kilauea erupted on the Big Island in 2018, winds spread the resulting sulfur dioxide to other islands in the archipelago, including Oahu, on which Honolulu is located. When vog levels are high, residents — and visitors — can experience symptoms ranging from eye/skin irritation to coughing, headaches, and fatigue.

However, when the winds are favorable, the islands do indeed have the best air in the country. The city’s outdoor attractions are also perfect for visitors who prize clean air and pristine environments. From outdoor gems like Waikiki Beach to the Honolulu Botanical Gardens, this beautiful Hawaiian city certainly offers plenty of value for all tourists.

Brazil Amazon: Old enemies unite to save their land

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE BBC)

 

Brazil Amazon: Old enemies unite to save their land

Kayapó and Panará during the meetingImage copyright LUCAS LANDAU/REDE XINGU+
Image caption Kayapó and Panará, once rivals, have united against the policies of the Brazilian government

While the world’s attention has been focused on the fires raging in the Amazon rain forest in Brazil, indigenous people living there have warned that the policies of President Jair Bolsonaro pose a bigger threat to their existence.

Rival groups have now come together to fight the government’s plans for the region that is their home, as BBC News Brasil’s João Fellet reports from the Amazon village of Kubenkokre.

Dozens of indigenous people gathered in this remote part of northern Brazil last month after travelling for days by bus and boat.

The meeting brought together formerly sworn enemies such as the Kayapó and the Panará.

The two groups were at war for decades, raiding each other’s villages in tit-for-tat attacks. The warring came to a brutal end in 1968, when an attack by the Kayapó, who came armed with guns, left 26 Panará, who only had arrows to defend themselves, dead.

Tensions remained high for years but according to those gathered in Kubenkokre, the two sides have now overcome their animosity for a greater goal.

“Today, we have only one enemy, the government of Brazil, the president of Brazil, and those invading [indigenous territories],” Kayapó leader Mudjire explained.

“We have internal fights but we’ve come together to fight this government.”

His words were echoed by Panará leader Sinku: “We’ve killed the Kayapó and the Kayapó have killed us, we’ve reconciled and will no longer fight.”

“We’ve got a shared interest to stand together so the non-indigenous people don’t kill all of us,” he said, referring to the threats posed by the arrival of miners and loggers carrying out illegal activities in their area.

‘69,000 football fields lost’

More than 800,000 indigenous people live in 450 demarcated indigenous territories across Brazil, about 12% of Brazil’s total territory. Most are located in the Amazon region and some groups still live completely isolated and without outside contact.

President Jair Bolsonaro, who took office in January, has repeatedly questioned whether these demarcated territories – which are enshrined in Brazil’s constitution – should continue to exist, arguing that their size is disproportionate to the number of indigenous people living there.

His plans to open up these territories for mining, logging and agriculture are controversial, and any change to their status would need to be passed by the Brazilian Congress.

Encontro no XinguImage copyright LUCAS LANDAU/REDE XINGU+
Image caption Indigenous groups performed traditional dances and songs during the meeting

But it is something that worries the indigenous leaders gathered in Kubenkokre. “Other presidents had more concern for our land. [Mr Bolsonaro] isn’t concerned about this, he wants to put an end to what our people have and to how we live,” explains Panará leader Sinku.

“That’s why I have a heavy heart and that’s why we’re here talking to each other.”

In some demarcated areas, loggers and miners are already at work after some local indigenous leaders granted them permission.

Indigenous leader Bepto Xikrin told the gathering how some 400 miners and loggers had illegally entered the Bacajá territory since the start of the year. He said that members of his indigenous group were scared and did not know what to do.

And according to a network of 24 environmental and indigenous groups, Rede Xingu+, an area equivalent to 69,000 football fields was destroyed between January and June of this year alone in the Xingu river region.

Doto TakakireImage copyright LUCAS LANDAU/REDE XINGU+
Image caption Kayapó leader Doto Takakire shows some of the destroyed areas in the Xingu basin

Heavy machinery has caused major damage and the Fresco and Branco rivers that run through the region have been contaminated with mercury.

Kayapó leader Doto Takakire said illegal mining had been further encouraged by the fact that it often goes unpunished.

Analysis by BBC Brasil shows the number of fines handed out by the Brazilian Institute of Environment and Renewable Natural Resources (Ibama) for environmental violations has dropped significantly since President Bolsonaro took office on 1 January.

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A graph showing the number of fines handed out since 2009
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Mr Bolsonaro has in the past pledged to limit the fines imposed for damaging the Amazon and many blame the president for Ibama’s current weak position.

‘We won’t repeat the past’

At the meeting – which was held in both Portuguese and Kayapó – participants discussed projects for their region’s economic developments which do not contribute to deforestation, such as handicrafts and the processing of native fruits.

“[I’m concerned] about the trees, water, fish, the non-indigenous people who want to enter our land,” explained Sinku. “I don’t want to contaminate the water with [toxic products from] mining… That’s why I’m here.”

Indigenous groups which have allowed miners on to their land were not invited, an omission which some of those attending described as a missed opportunity.

“There’s no-one here who wants agribusiness or mining in their villages, so are we just going to talk amongst ourselves?” Kayapó leader Oé asked.

Media caption   Why the Amazon rain forest helps fight climate change

The fires which have been burning across the Amazon were not a big topic of debate at the gathering, in part because they have mainly happened outside protected indigenous reserves but also because those gathered consider illegal mining and logging as more pressing threats.

“We won’t repeat the past,” Kayapó leader Kadkure concluded. “From now on, we’ll be united.”

China: People Mourn Martyrs Who Died Fighting Forest Fire

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SHANGHAI CHINA NEWS AGENCY ‘SHINE’)

 

People mourn for martyrs who died while fighting forest fire in Sichuan

Xinhua

Xinhua

A ceremony is held to receive the bone ashes of fireman Zhang Chengpeng, who died while fighting a forest fire in southwest China’s Sichuan Province, at Jinan international airport in Jinan, east China’s Shandong Province, April 5, 2019. The ashes of fireman Zhang Chengpeng returned to his hometown of Zouping in Shandong Province on Friday.

Xinhua

People mourn for Xu Penglong, Zhao Yongyi, Zhang Shuai and Kang Rongzhen, martyrs who died while fighting a forest fire in southwest China’s Sichuan Province, as their remains are taken back to their hometown in Linyi, east China’s Shandong Province, April 5, 2019.

Xinhua

The remains of Xu Penglong, Zhao Yongyi, Zhang Shuai and Kang Rongzhen, martyrs who died while fighting a forest fire in southwest China’s Sichuan Province, are taken back to their hometown in Linyi, east China’s Shandong Province, April 5, 2019.

Xinhua

The remains of Xu Penglong, Zhao Yongyi, Zhang Shuai and Kang Rongzhen, martyrs who died while fighting a forest fire in southwest China’s Sichuan Province, are taken back to their hometown in Linyi, east China’s Shandong Province, April 5, 2019.

Xinhua

People mourn for Xu Penglong, Zhao Yongyi, Zhang Shuai and Kang Rongzhen, martyrs who died while fighting a forest fire in southwest China’s Sichuan Province, as their remains are taken back to their hometown in Linyi, east China’s Shandong Province, April 5, 2019.

Xinhua

People attend a mourning ceremony for fireman Zhang Chengpeng, who died while fighting a forest fire in southwest China’s Sichuan Province, in Dachen Village, Zouping, east China’s Shandong Province, April 5, 2019.

Xinhua

The remains of Xu Penglong, Zhao Yongyi, Zhang Shuai and Kang Rongzhen, martyrs who died while fighting a forest fire in southwest China’s Sichuan Province, are taken back to their hometown in Linyi, east China’s Shandong Province, April 5, 2019.

Xinhua

People mourn for Xu Penglong, Zhao Yongyi, Zhang Shuai and Kang Rongzhen, martyrs who died while fighting a forest fire in southwest China’s Sichuan Province, as their remains are taken back to their hometown in Linyi, east China’s Shandong Province, April 5, 2019.

Xinhua

A ceremony is held to receive the bone ashes of fireman Zhang Chengpeng, who died while fighting a forest fire in southwest China’s Sichuan Province, at Jinan international airport in Jinan, east China’s Shandong Province, April 5, 2019.

Xinhua

People mourn for Yang Ruilun, a martyr who died while fighting a forest fire in southwest China’s Sichuan Province, as his remains are taken back to his hometown in Majiang County, Miao and Dong Autonomous Prefecture of Qiandongnan, southwest China’s Guizhou Province, April 5, 2019.

Xinhua

People mourn for Yang Ruilun, a martyr who died while fighting a forest fire in southwest China’s Sichuan Province, as his remains are taken back to his hometown in Majiang County, Miao and Dong Autonomous Prefecture of Qiandongnan, southwest China’s Guizhou Province, April 5, 2019.

Xinhua

The remains of Xu Penglong, Zhao Yongyi, Zhang Shuai and Kang Rongzhen, martyrs who died while fighting a forest fire in southwest China’s Sichuan Province, are taken back to their hometown in Linyi, east China’s Shandong Province, April 5, 2019.

Xinhua

People mourn for Yang Ruilun, a martyr who died while fighting a forest fire in southwest China’s Sichuan Province, as his remains are taken back to his hometown in Majiang County, Miao and Dong Autonomous Prefecture of Qiandongnan, southwest China’s Guizhou Province, April 5, 2019.

China officials ‘faked water tests with bottled water’

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE BBC)

 

China officials ‘faked water tests with bottled water’

A row of unbranded plastic water bottlesImage copyright GETTY CREATIVE
Image captionThe officials reportedly faked the data by using bottled water instead of river water

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.

India: Kerala floods: death toll rises above 324 as rescue effort intensifies

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE GUARDIAN NEWS AGENCY)

 

Kerala floods: death toll rises above 324 as rescue effort intensifies

220,000 people left homeless in southern Indian state after unusually heavy rain

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 ‘Please pray for us’: Kerala experiences worst monsoon in nearly a century – video report

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.

https://interactive.guim.co.uk/uploader/embed/2018/08/kerala_floods/giv-3902lxSDbOfGLgX2/

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.

People are airlifted to safety in Kerala floods, India.
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 People are airlifted to safety. Photograph: Sivaram V/Reuters

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.

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 Aerial view shows scale of monsoon flooding in Kerala, India – video

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.”

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 Kerala floods: man, neck-deep in water, appeals for help from inside his house – video

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.

Soldiers evacuate local residents in Ernakulam.
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 Soldiers evacuate local residents in Ernakulam. Photograph: -/AFP/Getty Images

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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