Think L.A. has smog problems? Check out China’s ‘Airpocalypse’
Fueled by coal plants and burning fields, the thick haze has closed schools, clogged traffic and is prompted doctors to warn of widespread respiratory problems.
In Harbin, a city of 12 million world-famous for its wintertime ice festival, the smog was so thick that visibility was reduced to 20 yards. Municipal bus drivers lost their way in the haze. In one case, a morning rush hour bus that left at 5:30 wandered around for three hours before the driver found the route.
Photos: STR / AFP, NASA
The growing swarm of cockroach farms in China
You may think of them as a nasty pest, but in China, raising cockroaches has become an increasingly popular industry. Our own Barbara Demick talked to some of the nation’s most successful roach ranchers to find out what’s behind the bug industry boom.
So where’s the demand for roaches?
At least five pharmaceutical companies are using cockroaches for traditional Chinese medicine. Research is underway in China (and South Korea) on the use of pulverized cockroaches for treating baldness, AIDS and cancer and as a vitamin supplement.
South Korea’s Jeonnam Province Agricultural Research Institute and China’s Dali University College of Pharmacy have published papers on the anti-carcinogenic properties of the cockroach.
Plus, there’s the fact that cockroaches are technically edible:
Many farmers are hoping to boost demand by promoting cockroaches in fish and animal feed and as a delicacy for humans.
Chinese aren’t quite as squeamish as most Westerners about insects — after all, people here still keep crickets as pets.
Photos: Wang Xuhua / For the Times
Big duck in the big city
The gigantic duck seen above is the work of Dutch conceptual artist, Florentijin Hofman. Titled “Spreading Joy Around the World,” the 16.5 meter-tall rubber duck has been traveling the world since 2007, appearing in 10 countries and 12 cities.
But after suffering structural damage, the duck has been unfortunately been deflated for repairs.
Photos: Jessica Hromas / Getty Images, Vincent Yu / Associated Press
Some of the best eye candy you’ll see today.
test reblogged from utnereader
The Red (computer) Scare: Is the Chinese military behind hundreds of hacking instances since 2006? One U.S. computer security firm believes so, fanning concerns that U.S. digital infrastructure, both private and governmental, isn’t up to snuff. From reporter Michael Muskall’s look at Mandiant’s findings:
The hacking activity was likely part of the mandate of the Unit 61398 of China’s People’s Liberation Army, identified in the report as “one of the most persistent of China’s cyber threat actors.” The unit is based in the Pudong New Area, outside of Shanghai from where the computer attacks originate.
Read the report for yourself here, and see if you agree that the recent hacking spree, which has targeted companies from Facebook and Apple to the New York Times and Wall Street Journal, is being dictated by the Chinese government.
Photo: Keith Bedford / Bloomberg
Seismic activity in North Korea: Detected yesterday, the activity has been confirmed by North and South Korean media to be indicative of a nuclear test, the rogue nation’s third since obtaining nuclear capability.
North Korea claims that the device was more powerful than its previous two, though that has yet to be independently confirmed. The test has been soundly condemned by neighboring countries, from Japan, Russia and even China.
Said the White House in a statement following the test:
Far from achieving its stated goal of becoming a strong and prosperous nation, North Korea has instead increasingly isolated and impoverished its people through its ill-advised pursuit of weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery.
For more info on the test, and its implications, click here.
(Photo via Yonhap)
Outcry baffles Chinese maker of U.S. uniforms: Li Guilian built Dayang Trands into a $300-million company. “We have cheaper costs here so you can have cheaper prices in America,” she says.
Descended from a long line of farmers, the country girl spotted opportunity 33 years ago as Communist China was beginning to test free-market reforms. She opened an apron and tablecloth factory in her home village of Yangshufang, gradually shifting to more complex garments.
Fascinating, fascinating piece on culture and economy. What do you guys think?
Photo: U.S. athletes, from left, swimmer Ryan Lochte, decathlete Bryan Clay, rower Giuseppe Lanzone and soccer player Heather Mitts model the U.S. Olympic uniforms made by Chinese firm Dayang Trands. Credit: Associated Press
In China, millions make themselves at home in caves: Some are basic, others beautiful, with high ceilings and nice yards. “Life is easy and comfortable here,” one cave dweller says.
In recent years, architects have been reappraising the cave in environmental terms, and they like what they see.
"It is energy efficient. The farmers can save their arable land for planting if they build their houses in the slope. It doesn’t take much money or skill to build," said Liu Jiaping, director of the Green Architecture Research Center in Xian and perhaps the leading expert on cave living. "Then again, it doesn’t suit modern complicated lifestyles very well. People want to have a fridge, washing machine, television."
Liu helped design and develop a modernized version of traditional cave dwellings that in 2006 was a finalist for a World Habitat Award, sponsored by a British foundation dedicated to sustainable housing. The updated cave dwellings are built against the cliff in two levels, with openings over the archways for light and ventilation. Each family has four chambers, two on each level.
Photo: Ma Liangshui, 76, has lived in caves around Yanan his entire life. Credit: Barbara Demick / Los Angeles Times
China’s high-speed building boom: A 30-story hotel in Changsha went up in two weeks. Some question the safety in that, but the builder defends its methods.
Above, a time-lapse video of project. The building was prefabricated and assembled on site.
Since late February, more than 90% of the postings on the Obama page have been from Chinese users. The enthusiastic participants have given their movement the moniker “Occupy Obama.”
“Everybody comes to talk to Mr. Obama because it is easier to talk to him than to Chairman Hu and Premier Wen,” one Chinese participant wrote, referring to Chinese President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao.
China political star Xi Jinping a study in contrasts: This is a profile on the Chinese vice president, who begins his U.S. tour this week. On track to take China’s top post this year, he was sent as a teen to a dirt-poor village.
Photo: Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping waves to Thai students during a visit to Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok late last year. Credit: Pairoj / AFP/Getty Images
North Korea defector learns to trust the stranger who saved him: He managed to escape North Korea only to be held against his will in China. A Seoul-based fiction writer risked her comfortable life to help.
Their unlikely relationship was forged along the underground railroad that moves North Korean refugees to China and then to Southeast Asian nations en route to South Korea.
Lee is not a missionary, social worker or for-profit broker, characters who people the way stations of the underground railroad. She’s a socially conscious writer with a comfortable life in Seoul who made risky trips to China to offer money and advice to a stranger.
Photo: Krys Lee, right, and Kim Yong-chul, a North Korean defector. Credit: Matt Douma / For The Times
The International Harbin Ice and Snow Festival held in Harbin, in China’s northern Heilongjiang province, is set to open Thursday. The annual three-month-long festival attracts visitors from all over China as well as a number of foreign guests who brave below-zero temperatures to see colorful large ice and snow sculptures, ride horse-drawn carriages and enjoy a number of winter activities set up on the sidelines of the festival.
Photo credit: Diego Azubel / EPA