AP, By Binaj Gurubacharya, April 25
A strong 7.5-magnitude earthquake has hit near Nepal’s capital of Kathmandu and the U.S. Geological Survey says it expects heavy damage.
Early reports from Kathmandu say some houses have been damaged and walls toppled.
There is no immediate word on casualties.
The quake hit around noon Saturday and was also felt in neighboring India as well as in Pakistan.
M7.5 – 35km E of Lamjung, Nepal
Reuters, April 20
Beijing – China’s central bank on Sunday cut the amount of cash that banks must hold as reserves, the second industry-wide cut in two months, adding more liquidity to the world’s second-biggest economy to help spur bank lending and combat slowing growth.
The People’s Bank of China (PBOC) lowered the reserve requirement ratio (RRR) for all banks by 100 basis points to 18.5 percent, effective from April 20, the central bank said in a statement on its website www.pbc.gov.cn.
“Though the growth in the first quarter met the official target of around 7 percent for 2015, the slowdown in several areas, including industrial output and retail sales, has caused concern,” said a report published by the official Xinhua news service covering the announcement.
The latest cut, the deepest single reduction since the depth of the global crisis in 2008, shows how the central bank is stepping up efforts to ward off a sharp slowdown in the economy.
“The size of the cut is more than expected,” said Shenwan Hongyuan Securities analyst Chen Kang.
“It’s going to release around a trillion yuan (in liquidity) at least.”
Asahi Shimbun, By Kunijiko Imai, Febrary 26
Japanese and Mongolian archaeologists said Feb. 26 that they have discovered the remains of a 13th-century military outpost established for Mongol conqueror Genghis Khan (c. 1162-1227) in southwestern Mongolia.
The joint research team said the discovery could be useful in learning about the Mongol Empire’s strategy on western expansion and trade routes.
“We hope the discovery will be useful in ascertaining the history of the Mongolian Plateau between the 13th and 14th centuries,” said team leader Koichi Matsuda, professor emeritus of Mongol Empire history at Osaka International University.
Data From Seized Computer Fuels a Surge in U.S. Raids on Al Qaeda
New York Times, By Matthew Rosenberg & Eric Schmitt, February 12
Washington — As an October chill fell on the mountain passes that separate the militant havens in Afghanistan and Pakistan, a small team of Afghan intelligence commandos and American Special Operations forces descended on a village where they believed a leader of Al Qaeda was hiding.
That night the Afghans and Americans got their man, Abu Bara al-Kuwaiti. They also came away with what officials from both countries say was an even bigger prize: a laptop computer and files detailing Qaeda operations on both sides of the border.
American military officials said the intelligence seized in the raid was possibly as significant as the information found in the computer and documents of Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad, Pakistan, after members of the Navy SEALs killed him in 2011.
In the months since, the trove of intelligence has helped fuel a significant increase in night raids by American Special Operations forces and Afghan intelligence commandos, Afghan and American officials said.
Chinese ambassador to US says officials from both countries are discussing Xi making first state visit to US later this year
AP, February 8
A top Chinese diplomat has said President Xi Jinping plans to make his first state visit to the US later this year, Chinese state media reported on Monday.
The official China Daily newspaper quoted China’s ambassador to the US Cui Tiankai as saying Chinese and US officials were discussing the visit. Cui told Chinese reporters on Sunday that no date had been determined yet.
The US national security adviser Susan Rice said on Friday that the US had invited both Xi and the Japanese president, Shinzo Abe, for state visits.
AP, December 28
Kabul, Afghanistan – The United States and NATO formally ended their war in Afghanistan on Sunday with a ceremony at their military headquarters in Kabul as the insurgency they fought for 13 years remains as ferocious and deadly as at any time since the 2001 invasion that unseated the Taliban regime following the Sept. 11 attacks.
The symbolic ceremony marked the end of the U.S.-led International Security Assistance Force, which will transition to a supporting role with 13,500 soldiers, most of them American, starting Jan. 1.
Gen. John Campbell, commander of ISAF, rolled up and sheathed the green and white ISAF flag and unfurled the flag of the new international mission, called Resolute Support.
“Resolute Support will serve as the bedrock of an enduring partnership” between NATO and Afghanistan, Campbell told an audience of Afghan and international military officers and officials, as well as diplomats and journalists.
I need some help from the ladies.
How does one extrapolate, infer, or deduct and induct the role of women in a society 1,000 years old with pretty much nothing but textile fragments, kitchen and cooking utensils and a very, very thin literary record to go on?
I know I am missing something.
And I know it is right in front of my eyes because half the population of a city cannot remain invisible.
And please, keep the anti-patriarchal political grandstanding out of this. I am very aware of the problem and I’m looking into the solution.
So save it for another thread.
Reuters, By Kathy Chen & Stian Reklev, June 3
Beijing – China said on Tuesday it will set an absolute cap on its CO2 emissions from 2016 just a day after the United States announced new targets for its power sector, signalling a potential breakthrough in tough U.N. climate talks.
Progress in global climate negotiations has often been held back by a deep split between rich and poor nations, led by the United States and China, respectively, over who should step up their game to reduce emissions.
But the fact that the two biggest emitters of greenhouse gases made unprecedented announcements on climate within 24 hours of each other sparked optimism among observers hoping to see the decades-old deadlock broken. The steps come ahead of a global meet on climate change starting on Wednesday in Germany.
China, the world’s biggest emitter, will set a total cap on its CO2 emissions when its next five-year plan comes into force in 2016, He Jiankun, chairman of China’s Advisory Committee on Climate Change, told a conference in Beijing.
Reuters, May 17
Beijing – More than 3,000 Chinese nationals have been evacuated from Vietnam, state news agency Xinhua said on Sunday, following deadly rioting that stemmed from an outpouring of rage over Chinese oil drilling in a disputed area of the South China Sea.
The violence was triggered by China’s positioning of a $1 billion oil rig in a part of the South China Sea claimed by Hanoi, a move described by the United States as provocative. It is the worst breakdown in ties between the two Communist neighbors since a short border war in 1979.
The evacuation followed days of clashes between Vietnamese rioters and Chinese workers. Crowds of thousands massed as rioters turned against Chinese workers and Chinese-owned businesses, or those thought to be Chinese, smashing windows, gates and walls and torching vehicles and factories.
CNN, By Sophie Brown, December 14
China’s first lunar rover landed on the moon Saturday, less than two weeks after it blasted off from Earth, Chinese state news reported.
The landing makes China one of only three nations — after the United States and the former Soviet Union — to “soft-land” on the moon’s surface, and the first to do so in more than three decades.
China launches first mission to the moon
Chang’e-3, an unmanned spacecraft, will release Jade Rabbit (called Yutu in Chinese) — a six-wheeled lunar rover equipped with at least four cameras and two mechanical legs that can dig up soil samples to a depth of 30 meters.
The solar-powered rover will patrol the moon’s surface, studying the structure of the lunar crust as well as soil and rocks, for at least three months. The robot’s name was decided by a public online poll and comes from a Chinese myth about the pet white rabbit of a goddess, Chang’e, who is said to live on the moon.
Escalation of response in South China Sea is the first time China is known to have sent military jets in zone alongside foreign craft
The Guardian, By Tania Branigan & Ed Pilkington, November 29
Beijing / New York – China scrambled fighter jets to investigate US and Japanese aircraft flying through its new air defence zone over the East China Sea on Friday as the regional clamour over the disputed airspace escalated.
The ministry of defence announced the move, which is the first time China is known to have sent military aircraft into the zone alongside foreign flights, stepping up its response to the challenge after its unilateral establishment of the zone. It previously said it had monitored US, Japanese and South Korean aircraft and had flown routine patrols in the area on Thursday.
The ministry’s statement said that two US reconnaissance aircraft and 10 Japanese early warning, reconnaissance and fighter planes had entered the zone.
The air force “monitored throughout the entire flights, made timely identification and ascertained the types,” defence ministry spokesman Shen Jinke told the official China News Service.
Ex-SKF: Obama Administration Instructs US Commercial Airlines to File Flight Plans with China in Newly Declared Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ), November 30
Ex-SKF: China Says Japan Is the Prime Target of Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ), November 29
Finding provides clues about how SARS spreads, and has wide implications for public health measures, researchers say
Al Jazeera America, November 1
Scientists have discovered that bats in China are a source of a respiratory virus similar to SARS, which infected 8,000 people and killed more than 770 during a global pandemic a decade ago.
When an international team of researchers isolated and cultured a form of the virus found in a colony of horseshoe bats, they found that the virus was able to bind to a human SARS receptor — meaning that it can be transmitted directly to humans. The scientists discovered seven different strains of the virus in the same horseshoe bat colony in Kunming, which is in Yunnan province in southwestern China.
“Our discovery that bats may directly infect humans has enormous implications for public health control measures,” said a news release issued by Peter Daszak, president of the international conservation group EcoHealth Alliance and a co-author of the study.
The scientists said they had suspected that the outbreak of the SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) pandemic in Guandong province in 2002 had originated in bats, which then transmitted it to civets and then to humans. But they were never entirely sure.
“We have been searching for this missing link for 10 years, and finally we’ve found it,” said Dr. Zhengli Shi, director of emerging infectious diseases at the Chinese Academy of Sciences and a co-author of the paper, which was published this week in the journal Nature.
The Public Record, By Jeffrey Kaye, September 10
There are many reasons why one should oppose the military action against Syria being planned by the Obama administration. But given that the action is being trumpeted as a righteous response to the alleged use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government, there is one reason to oppose the U.S. action that carries with it more than the usual amount of painful irony.
It is difficult to know how to introduce this subject, as it is so dark and evil, and the U.S. population has been lied to for so long about it, that I fear the initial reaction very likely can only be shock and denial. And yet, the crimes to which I am about to refer are quite well documented, and were themselves the focus of a Congressional bill in 2000 directing the National Archives to specially search for and release the relevant documentation. The deaths involved are said to approach half-a-million souls, and the injuries of many are still ongoing.
After World War II and the blanket amnesty for all the BW researchers, who were led by Kwantung Army Lt. General Shiro Ishii, British and Canadian researchers have alleged that some of the Japanese personnel were utilized in a campaign of biological warfare by the United States during the Korean War. The issue is still hotly debated today, and the U.S. still keeps secret today many documents related to that war.
The scope of the chemical war unleashed in China can be ascertained by the damage left afterward. According to Nationalist Chinese sources in Taipei, approximately 700,000 chemical munitions were left abandoned in China after World War II. The Chinese government says that approximately 2,000 people still die each year from encounters with such ordinance. An ongoing clean-up of the chemical mess, in part paid for by Japan, is still ongoing in 2013.
AP, September 19
Valdai, Russia — President Vladimir Putin said Thursday he may run for a fourth presidential term in 2018, confirming the expectations of most Russians and frustrating those now working to restore free elections in Russia.
If Putin runs and wins, it would keep him in power for about a quarter century and make him the nation’s longest-serving leader since Soviet dictator Josef Stalin.
Putin has largely rolled back on Russia’s post-Soviet democratic achievements, sidelining the opposition, reducing the Parliament to a rubber stamp and establishing tight control over the media. He insisted that Russia, only two decades away from the fall of the Soviet Union, is determined to become a democracy, but would find its own path despite criticism from the West.
“The kind of government that Russia should have should be determined by Russian citizens and not by our esteemed colleagues from abroad,” he said during an international conference, an annual event attended by Russia experts from the U.S. and Europe.
McClatchy / Penn State University, By Brittany Horn, August 19
Nanmen, China — In this small village about 25 miles from Shanghai, the smell of paint and gasoline hangs heavy in the stagnant afternoon air. Small dogs run in streets wide enough for only a small car. Children with worn Disney backpacks walk home from school, avoiding the trash tossed into the street gutters.
It seems to be a village much like any other in rural China. But there is something different about Nanmen that weighs on villagers’ minds.
Nanmen is one of more than 400 so-called “cancer villages,” areas so polluted by waste and factory runoff that its citizens are in danger of contracting the deadly disease. The villages are part of the dark underside of China’s industrial might – places that critics, environmentalists and foreign experts believe the government has sacrificed in its rush to prosperity.
“Many cancer villages can be proven, even though the government may choose to not acknowledge it,” said Dong Jiang, an environmental activist who has studied the link between pollution and cancer in places like Nanmen.