The New York Times is reporting that the U.S. Olympic team is considering recommending that its athletes wear a mask in Beijing when not competing. A U.S. Olympic team scientist:
is urging all the athletes to wear specially designed masks over their noses and mouths from the minute they step foot in Beijing until they begin competing.
Having recently acquired the equivalent of “coal miner’s lung” within a day of arriving in Beijing, I have more than a little sympathy for precautions to combat Beijing’s air pollution. I don’t think anyone credible truly believes the pollution problem will be solved before August 2008. Sure, Beijing authorities plan to cut traffic in half during the games. That is during the Olympics, by the way, not before. I’m no air pollution expert, but wouldn’t it make sense to cut down on traffic prior to the games to decrease the level of air pollution?
I think the scariest event, at least for the athletes, will be the marathon. The marathon world record holder, Haile Gebrselassie of Ethiopia, is threatening to pull out of the event, citing Beijing’s air pollution as the reason. Will the air pollution ruin the Olympics? Maybe not, but that remains an open question. Will it overshadow the games? Likely.
According to a report by China Daily:
Three young people in China’s southern Yunnan Province have been arrested over the gruesome murder of a middle-aged man whose death by dismemberment was captured on digital video camera in the tourist town of Lijiang.
The Guangzhou-based South Metropolitan Daily reported on Friday the case of Zhang Chao, a 19-year-old college student who was the mistress of the victim, Mu Hongzhang, a 39-year-old married road construction engineer, in Lijiang. The two were having a sexual affair and Mu gave her money.
Apparently the neighbors got fed up with the stink. Led to a residence by the strong odor, Chinese police arrested four people and seized 16 endangered pangolins. Another 37 dead pangolins were found in the fridge. Also in the fridge: a bear paw.
Pangolins, an endangered nocturnal anteater-like animal, are prized for their meat as a delicacy and scales for hangbags, shoes and Chinese medicinal purposes. The Chinese authorities have been cracking down on smuggling endangered animals – case in point, two pangolin smugglers were recently given death sentences.
Any guesses where the residence was located? Ready to be shocked? Guangdong.
A subject of debate for over 20 years, the Chinese government finally kicked off construction on a multi-billion dollar, multi-year project to build a high speed railway between Beijing and Shanghai. Expect to cost a whopping $21 billion, the project is scheduled for completion by 2013. Traveling at a speed of 350 km/h, the approximately 1300 km journey will be cut from the current 10 hours to about five hours.
I’m not opposed to the project, but I am curious what argument was most persuasive to the decision-makers to justify the cost. Green considerations, like reducing carbon emissions with fewer flights? Increase passenger capacity on a crowded route? It strikes me as a large amount that could perhaps be directed elsewhere.
Picked up my new breakfast discount card today. The card for lunch and dinner isn’t coming out until February. No price changes from the last card, which was valid the last four months of 2007.
The coffee had a strange taste–almost like a chemical flavor. I’m not sure if it’s something new or if this is how it always tastes, and I am only aware of it now because I just returned from three weeks in the US. I can’t remember it tasting different after any of mt other trips home, though.
In other McD’s news, the constantly changing “third pie” is now red bean. Ugh.
Engadget and The Financial Times are reporting that Apple and China’s leading mobile phone company, China Mobile, have called off negotiations to introduce the iPhone into the Chinese market. The rumor is that China Mobile balked at Apple’s revenue sharing demands. Cingular, T-Mobile, O2 and Orange came around to Apple’s way of thinking on sharing revenues from the popular iPhone, but not China Mobile. Back in November, China Mobile’s CEO labeled the iPhone “not suitable” for China.
Judging from the popularity of gray market imports of the iPhone in Beijing and Shenzhen (based on my own unscientific visual survey) this could be a big boost to smaller rival China Unicom if they are able to come to terms with Apple.
According to multiple reports (Shanghai Daily, Telegraph, SCMP – subscr.) horse racing and gambling will be legalized on a trial-basis in Wuhan beginning in late 2008 or early 2009. Apparently a Wuhan-based outfit auspiciously called The Orient Lucky Horse Group has received permission from authorities to begin legalized gambling on horses as early as September 2008. While some stories have pointed out that gambling has been banned in China since 1949, that is not technically accurate. Horse racing has existing continuously in Hong Kong and Macau (they’re part of China folks) for well over a hundred years. And, according to The Times of London, horse racing without legal gambling was brought back recently for short periods of time in both Guangzhou (’90s) and Beijing (’00s). Sure, that makes sense. Racing, but no gambling. In China.
The reports say there will be a horse racing “lottery” but it’s unclear what form the gambling will take. Anything other than the ability to choose specific horses to bet on will resemble the indecipherable China Sports Lottery.
Perennial Chinese Basketball Association bottom-dwellers Xinjiang Guanghui made an unexpected run to the playoffs this season and were considered strong CBA title contenders with a regular season record of 26-4. But there will be no title for the Flying Tigers after they were stripped of most of their points disqualifying them from the playoffs. It turns out the team’s star point guard Guan Xiuchang wasn’t born in Heilongjiang, as claimed by the team but rather is a Vietnamese-American named Song Cun-sou. This minor technicality violates the CBA’s two foreigner per team rule. When first questioned, the team insisted he was from Heilongjiang. Under continued pressure, they provided fake papers identifying him as a citizen of Macau. Eventually his true identity came to light, though Xinjiang Guanghui inexplicably denies knowing Song was from overseas. Incredibly, Song apparently played for another team, Yunnan Honghe in 2004-05.
This makes me curious. How did they get away with this for so long? Did everyone know they were cheating but didn’t do anything about it until they were a title contender? That sounds most plausible to me. Or perhaps they actually fooled people into thinking he was Chinese. I’m guessing Song speaks some Chinese (he did play in China in 2004-05) and attempted to blend in somehow. Did they limit his contact with the media and other outsiders?
According to Guangzhou Daily, the world’s largest tumor, weighting 45kg, was removed from a patient in Guangzhou. The tumor, in addition to being the largest ever recorded, was actually heavier than the patient itself…
Ananova offers some more information on this story.
A recent article on Shanghai Daily, titled City Surgeons Come in Handy, reports on a Jiangsu native with the largest hand in the world (with a 26cm left thumb…).
To view the original article, which contains a very shocking picture, and not recommended for the faint hearted (seriously, you don’t want to see this), click here.