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Posts Tagged ‘Tiananmen Square’

Beijing releases pollution data; US figures higher

Posted by Admin on January 24, 2012

http://news.yahoo.com/beijing-releases-pollution-data-us-figures-higher-021659057.html;_ylt=AlKJPQohYJ29ASKTCs8_U1Ws0NUE;_ylu=X3oDMTQ3N29ramJpBG1pdANTZWN0aW9uTGlzdCBGUCBTY2llbmNlBHBrZwNhMmNiYTI2Ni1mOGEwLTNkNTAtOGU4Zi03ZDVjZGM3NGY4NzEEcG9zAzMEc2VjA01lZGlhU2VjdGlvbkxpc3QEdmVyA2E2MjQ0MDUwLTQ1ZTAtMTFlMS05ZWZlLTI2OTYwZjY4OWU2NQ–;_ylg=X3oDMTFvdnRqYzJoBGludGwDdXMEbGFuZwNlbi11cwRwc3RhaWQDBHBzdGNhdANob21lBHB0A3NlY3Rpb25zBHRlc3QD;_ylv=3

By LOUISE WATT | Associated Press – Sat, Jan 21, 2012

BEIJING (AP) — Caving to public pressure, Beijing environmental authorities started releasing more detailed air quality data Saturday that may better reflect how bad the Chinese capital‘s air pollutionis. But one expert says measurements from the first day were low compared with data U.S. officials have been collecting for years.

The initial measurements were low on a day where you could see blue sky. After a week of smothering smog, the skies over the city were being cleared by a north wind.

The readings of PM2.5 — particulate matter less than 2.5 micrometers in size or about 1/30th the average width of a human hair — were being posted on Beijing’s environmental monitoring center’s website. Such small particulates can penetrate deep into the lungs, so measuring them is considered a more accurate reflection of air quality than other methods.

It is the first time Beijing has publicly revealed PM2.5 data and follows a clamor of calls by citizens on social networking sites tired of breathing in gray and yellow air. The U.S. Embassy measures PM2.5 from a device on its rooftop and releases the results, and some residents have even tested the air around their neighborhoods and posted the results online.

Beijing is releasing hourly readings of PM2.5 that are taken from one monitoring site about 4 miles (7 kilometers) west of Tiananmen Square, the monitoring center’s website said Saturday. It said the data was for research purposes and the public should only use it as a reference.

The reading at noon Saturday was 0.015 milligrams per cubic meter, which would be classed as “good” for a 24-hour exposure at that level, according to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency standards. The U.S. Embassy reading taken from its site on the eastern edge of downtown Beijing said its noon reading was “moderate.” Its readings are posted on Twitter.

Steven Andrews, an environmental consultant who has studied Beijing’s pollution data since 2006, said he was “already a bit suspicious” of Beijing’s PM2.5 data. Within the 24-hour period to noon Saturday, Beijing reported seven hourly figures “at the very low level” of 0.003 milligrams per cubic meter.

“In all of 2010 and 2011, the U.S. Embassy reported values at or below that level only 18 times out of over 15,000 hourly values or about 0.1 percent of the time,” said Andrews. “PM2.5 concentrations vary by area so a direct comparison between sites isn’t possible, but the numbers being reported during some hours seem surpisingly low.”

The Beijing center had promised to release PM2.5 data by the start of the Chinese Lunar New Year on Monday. It has six sites that can test for PM2.5 and 27 that can test for the larger, coarser PM10 particles that are considered less hazardous. The center is expected to buy equipment and build more monitoring sites to enable PM2.5 testing.

Beijing wasn’t expected to include PM2.5 in its daily roundups of the air quality anytime soon. Those disclosures, for example “light” or “serious,” are based on the amount of PM10, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide in the air.

Beijing interprets air quality using less stringent standards than the U.S. Embassy, so often when the government says pollution is “light,” the embassy terms it “hazardous.”

“There has been tremendous amounts of attention in the Chinese media — whichever newspaper you pick up, whichever radio station you listen to, channel you watch — they are all talking about PM2.5 and how levels are so high,” said Andrews.

“What has been so powerful is that people are skeptical, and I think rightly skeptical,” about the government’s descriptions of data, he said.

___

Online:

Beijing center’s readings (in Chinese): http://zx.bjmemc.com.cn/

The U.S. Embassy’s Twitter feed: https://twitter.com/beijingair

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War looms as UPA, Anna harden positions

Posted by Admin on June 9, 2011

http://in.news.yahoo.com/blogs/boxpopuli/war-looms-upa-anna-harden-positions-073523746.html

By Ramakrishna S R | Box Populi – Wed, Jun 8, 2011

Everyone knows Anna Hazare has been demanding a stringent law against corruption, but his day-long fast at Raghat today is not for that cause. He is actually protesting the government’s violent midnight raid that scuttled Baba Ramdev‘s hunger strike last week-end.

The action at Delhi‘s Ramlila Grounds, where Ramdev was holding a fast against black money, has left 71 injured. With no place to go in the middle of the night, some found shelter in a gurudwara. The government’s high-handedness has triggered criticism from across the political spectrum. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has defended the swoop, saying it was unfortunate but unavoidable. The National Human Rights Commission isn’t impressed, and has called for reports from the central and Delhi governments.

Last night, Times Now showed a 51-year woman in hospital, paralysed after being thrashed at Ramdev’s pandal. Raj Bala is a citizen like any other, but concerned enough to take part in a movement against black money. She now lies in a hospital ICU on ventilator support. Doctors describe her condition as critical.

The government isn’t winning any hearts by terrorising peaceful demonstrators. Even the Supreme Court was shocked by the midnight raid. It has taken suo moto notice, and ordered the government to explain the forceful eviction. People across the country are asking the same question: Why did the police assault a group of women and children deep in slumber? The police, meanwhile, have seized CCTV footage of their action from Ramlila Grounds. Why, you ask? Ramdev believes they are trying to destroy evidence of their atrocities.

Two more developments add to the repression the UPA government is unleashing: (a) it is busy digging up dirt on Ramdev’s close aide Balakrishna; and (b) prominent Congress leaders are tarring Anna Hazare with the communalism brush, describing him as a mask of the RSS and Sangh Parivar. If Balakrishna were a Nepali citizen who possessed illegal arms, as the government is now letting it be known, why didn’t the police act all these years? And if Anna Hazare were a mask for hateful rightist groups, why are the government’s senior-most leaders sitting down with him and discussing a new law?

Given the predominance of the tri-colour at Anna Hazare’s meetings and saffron at Ramdev’s meetings, many had assumed they were aligned to the Congress and the BJP respectively, but the equations aren’t turning out that simple. Anna Hazare is a Gandhian and Ramdev a yoga guru and TV celebrity. Despite their dissimilar moorings, they feel they are fighting the same battle, and have affirmed faith in each other.

That makes life that much more difficult for the Congress. It will now have to take on the combined forces of Anna Hazare and Ramdev.  It looks like the Congress is already panicking. It has already let Digvijay Singh loose on Ramdev, letting him call the baba names, and tried to stop Anna Hazare from demonstrating today at Jantar Mantar. With a flip-flop Congress turning vengeful and going after anti-corruption activists, Anna Hazare and Ramdev are bound to close ranks and prepare for a bigger battle.

Ramdev is continuing his fast in Haridwar, and has asked his followers to stop their hunger strike for the time being. The Delhi police had transported him to the pilgrim town after evicting him from Ramlila Grounds. They have also barred him from entering Delhi for 15 days. All of which suggests the action will hot up in the last week of June, whe Ramdev resumes his campaign in the capital. The civil society group led by Anna Hazare is bound to come up with a more aggressive plan of action if the government continues to treat them shabbily.

Meanwhile, the US, which has spoken out against Tiananmen Square and Tahrir Square, clearly sees India as capable of handing its protests in a democratic manner. It has described the government action against Ramdev an internal Indian matter.

Posted in India Forgotten | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off

China dismisses U.S. call on Tiananmen anniversary

Posted by Admin on June 5, 2011

http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20110604/wl_nm/us_china_tiananmen

People walk past a replica of the Goddess of ...
 People walk past a replica of the Goddess of Democracy as they enter Hong Kong‘s Victoria Park
By Ben Blanchard and James Pomfret 1 hr 33 mins ago

BEIJING/HONG KONG (Reuters) – China dismissed a U.S. call for it to free dissidents and fully account for the victims of the bloody Tiananmen crackdown, on the anniversary of the crushing of the pro-democracy uprising 22 years ago.

The date on which troops shot their way into central Beijing in 1989, killing hundreds, was not publicly marked in mainland China. The democracy protests in Tiananmen Square and elsewhere remain taboo for the ruling Communist Party, especially this year after calls for an Arab-style “jasmine revolution.”

In Hong Kong, tens of thousands lit candles, held jasmine flowers and chanted for a fully democratic China in a night vigil to mark the anniversary and condemn Beijing’s human rights abuses and curbs on freedoms.

The State Department said China must release all those still jailed for their participation in the 1989 protests.

“We ask the Chinese government to provide the fullest possible public accounting of those killed, detained or missing,” deputy spokesman Mark Toner said.

At least five people remain in jail for taking part in the protests.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei, in a statement carried by the official Xinhua news agency, said the U.S. comments “groundlessly accused the Chinese government.”

“We urge the U.S. side to abandon its political bias and rectify wrong practices to avoid disturbing China-U.S. relations.”

The president of democratic Taiwan, the island China claims as its own and has never renounced the use of force to recover, said Beijing should follow Taipei’s example and reform politically.

“We urgently hope the mainland Chinese authorities will have the courage to undertake political reforms and promote the development of freedom, democracy, human rights, and rule of law,” President Ma Ying-jeou said in a statement.

On Saturday, Tiananmen Square was packed with tourists as normal, with no obvious signs of extra security.

“I didn’t agree with the method of the protest, making a disturbance on the square,” said a 60-year-old Beijing resident who gave her family name as Chen. “But I think there should be a way for people to express what’s on their mind.”

“VOICE FOR CHINA”

In a Hong Kong park however, some 150,000 people made a plea for Beijing to atone for the June 4 crackdown, an event given added poignancy this year by a heavy clampdown on dissent.

“We want to express that we’ve never given up,” said Andy Wong, who was at the vigil with his wife and two kids. “When there’s a big turnout it shows that we (Hong Kong) still care.”

Hong Kong, a former British colony handed back to China in 1997 with a promise of a high degree of autonomy, has remained a beacon for the overseas Chinese pro-democracy movement.

“Hong Kong is now playing a more important role when the whole of China is silenced,” said Lee Cheuk-yan, a pro-democracy lawmaker and one of the organizers. “We are the voice for China and we’ll spread the message for democracy,”

Dissidents in China, meanwhile, said controls over them had been strengthened.

“I can’t come out today. I’ve been kept at home. But I’ll be fasting for the day, like I do every June 4 anniversary,” said Zhou Duo.

Zhou was one of four activists who negotiated with troops to evacuate Tiananmen Square of student-protesters in 1989, avoiding much bloodshed on the square itself on June 4. He was later jailed for his role in the protests.

“Of course, sooner or later June 4 will be reassessed and rehabilitated. That’s inevitable. History can never be completely erased.”

Zhang Xianling, who lost her son in the Tiananmen protests, said she had been allowed out to visit her son’s grave, but was being followed and was not allowed to go as part of a group with other bereaved parents, as she has done in the past.

“It shows that even after all these years, China is still limiting human rights,” Zhang said.

After the crackdown, the government called the movement a “counter-revolutionary plot,” but has more recently referred to it as a “political disturbance.”

Recent unrest in Inner Mongolia and explosions in two provinces sparked by social grievances have also ruffled authorities as the leadership prepares to hand over power to a new generation at a Party Congress next year.

(Additional reporting by Chris Buckley, Ken Wills and K.J. Kwon in Beijing, Paul Eckert in Washington, James Pomfret, Xavier Ng and Justina Lee in Hong Kong, and Jonathan Standing in Taipei; editing by Robert Birsel and Andrew Roche)

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