Archive for the ‘Olympics’ Category

China’s Water Crisis

February 6, 2009

China has a growing crisis of getting clean water where it is needed most, compounded by drought and a huge groundwater and coastal water pollution tragedy.

China is currently in its worst drought in more than half a century and the government has declared a “Red Alert.”

The State Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters made the “Red Alert” determination, Xinhua said, because millions of acres of farmland for grain is all dried out, 4.3 million people face a water distress and 2.1 million head of livestock are short of water.

At the international level, there is already concern about global wheat prices and food availability.

Ma Wenfeng of Beijing Orient Agribusiness Consultants said, “The government has sufficient wheat reserves to stabilise the wheat market.  China is unlikely to boost wheat imports much and therefore the direct impact on the international prices will be minimal.”

China has had a looming water crisis for more than a decade.  Just to pull off the Olympics in Beijing this last summer, China had to build a complex series of water ways and aquaducts to feed the thirsty city.  These projects contributed to the loss of farmland around Beijing which turned into desert near Beijing.  The dry areas that were formerly farmlands made for an increase in blowing dust and sand in Beijing.

For more than a decade China has also been reporting increased chemical pollution of its ground water.  As much as 80% of China’s ground water and wells now have high amounts of chemicals from fertilizers,  insecticides and industrial plant run-off.  

China’s poor sewage management has poisoned vast areas of coastal waters.  The “green slime” in the Yellow Sea just prior to the Summer Olympics almost ended sail racing events.  The slime comes when pollution causes th algae to “bloom.”

China’s drought is severe — threatening farms, crops and livlihoods.

But China’s bigger picture of poor water management, control, conservation and sewage management may be creating a long-term nightmare.

China already has a limit of 1 child per family as the population grows past 1.3 billion. 

GETTY IMAGES The Danjiangkou Dam is seen here under construction in July 2006 in central Hubei province, China. Its water is the source of plans to solve Beijing's thirst for more water.

Above: The Danjiangkou Dam is seen here under construction in July 2006 in central Hubei province, China.  Photo: Getty Images


China Drought “Red Alert”

More than 80 pct of China’s coastal waters polluted

Thirsty Beijing awash in water woes

China: Human Activity May Have Increased Earthquake Severity


2008: China Hoped Only For Olympic Glory; Wound Up with Chaos in Tibet, Earthquake, Troubles

December 28, 2008

The year 2008 promised China just one big event, but instead of one, the country got four.

2008 was meant to be all about the Beijing Olympics – the giant sports day that this country had been planning for more than a decade.

But in March came big event number one, and it had nothing to do with sport.

By James Reynolds
BBC News, Beijing

In the Tibetan capital, Lhasa, Tibetan monks demonstrated on the anniversary of the Dalai Lama’s escape into exile in 1959.

These protests escalated into the biggest disturbances in Tibet for more than 20 years.

The demonstrations brought into relief the profoundly different ways in which Tibet is seen by China and the West.

For China, Tibet is an inalienable part of the Chinese motherland which has been transformed from a medieval, feudal backwater into a more equal society.

For many in the West, the people of Tibet are occupied and oppressed by a hostile country which denies Tibetans the freedom of worship.

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London 2012 Olympics ‘Vulnerable to Terrorist Attack’

December 15, 2008

John Patten, a former Home Office minister and an advisor to the British Olympic Association, has warned that inadequate security procedures have left London 2012 venues vulnerable to terrorist attack.

By Paul Kelso
The Telegraph (UK)
Patten, who was a Cabinet minister in the last Conservative government and served as Northern Ireland secretary said that the Olympic Park site in east London is already vulnerable to terrorists who could plant smart bombs in the foundations of venues currently under construction.

Writing in the latest edition of The Spectator, Patten, who is a member of the BOA’s advisory board, claims that well-placed sources have told him the Olympic project is suffering from a lack of security planning.

Patten claims that the acrimonious departure of Metropolitan Police assistant commissioner Tarique Ghaffur, who was overseeing Olympic security before he sued the force claiming racial equality, has hindered the project.

London 2012 'vulnerable to terrorist attack'

Centre of attraction: an artist’s impression of the London 2012 stadium now under construction and which could be vulnerable to attack

He also suggests that the key agencies involved in organising security are bickering over who takes the lead role, undermining confidence in the entire project.

“In an age of determined and technologically sophisticated incremental terrorism, the Met and the Security Services must overcome everything from highly unfortunate public rows over employment discrimination affecting key officers involved to more private inter-agency rivalries,” Patten writes.

“Forget about policing crowds in 2012, pipework and brickwork is being laid now which is vulnerable to smart devices that can lurk latent until 2012. At least one person from that world tells me that there is no real integrated concept of operations yet. Someone or somebody must provide that focus and work with a semi-detached Home Secretary.”

Patten’s observations, part of a wide-ranging critique of the project, will fuel concerns already expressed that security planning is behind schedule.

Earlier this year, the Public Accounts Committee warned that security master-planning for the project was behind schedule.

The Home Office is working on a strategy document and had planned to put it to the Olympic board before the end of the year. It is expected to unveil its plans in the new year.

When questioned on the issue by The Daily Telegraph last month, Home Secretary Jacqui Smith said she was satisfied that the total security budget of £838 million would be sufficient to cover the final bill, but declined to comment on details of the plan.

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China Crackdown: Read my lips… No Lip-Synching!

December 4, 2008

China has told artists on its annual top-rating TV gala show on Chinese New Year’s Eve not to lip-synch their songs, local media reported on Thursday, a controversy that overshadowed the Beijing Olympics opening ceremony.

A mainstay of state-run programming since the 1980s, “CCTV Spring Festival Gala” attracts hundreds of millions of viewers to watch hours of comedy sketches and kitsch song-and-dance acts often heavily imbued with patriotism and themes emphasising national harmony.

But the show has also come under heavy criticism in recent years for being overcommercial and not keeping up with the times, and for trotting out presenters who fluff their lines and celebrities who do a poor show of miming their way through songs.

Officials from China’s State Administration of Radio, Film and Television (SARFT) had demanded producers pick “real” singers, along with other directives about arranging songs with “healthy” lyrics, a report posted on web portal said.

“Firstly, make real singing as the benchmark, and choose talented performers who can truly sing. Firmly put an end to ‘miming’,” Zhao Huayong, a SARFT official, said in a notice posted on the watchdog’s website ( ).

Zhang Ziyi, one of the few Chinese actresses to break into Hollywood, came under fire from Internet users and local media for doing a shabby job of miming on the last show in February.

The SARFT notice follows a move by China’s Culture Ministry to formally ban lip-synching and to revoke the performance licences of repeat offenders, local media reported earlier this month.

Chinese Olympic organisers were also lambasted after they admitted a nine-year-old girl lip-synched during the opening ceremony of August’s Beijing Olympics in place of the real singer who was rejected because of her appearance.

Lin Miaoke who lip-synched at the opening ceremony over the voice of Yang Peiyi [right], who was considered unsuited to the lead role because of her buck teeth

Lin Miaoke who lip-synched at the opening ceremony over the voice of Yang Peiyi [right] who was considered unsuited to the lead role because of her buck teeth Photo: GETTY/AFP

An official revealed that nine-year-old Lin Miaoke lip-synched her performance at the Beijing opening ceremony.
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(Reporting by Ian Ransom; Editing by Nick Macfie, Reuters)