A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘china

[NEWS] Some Friday links

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  • Bloomberg notes the recent challenge to one-family rule in Gabon, looks at Russia’s new Internet firewall, examines the Syrian Kurds’ withdrawal beyond the Euphrates, and reports on near-record migration into the United Kingdom.
  • Bloomberg View talks about inequality in China, looks at continuing disputes over Second World War history in Poland and Ukraine, and examines the things Texas and California have in common.
  • CBC reports on the impending release of a report on foreign workers, looks at the integration problems of Syrian refugees re: housing, and reports on Canada’s interest in more immigration from China.
  • The Inter Press Service notes how drought is hurting cocoa farmers in Cameroon.
  • MacLean’s looks at how some in the Conservative Party have not moved past same-sex marriage, describes how the new British Columbia tax on foreign buyers of real estate is deterring Chinese, and reports on the catastrophic potential of carbon release from melting permafrost.
  • National Geographic notes how the young generation sees Pluto and its classification history.
  • The National Post describes how design fans want the CBC to release its 1974 standards manual, and looks at controversy over a study claiming extensive support in mosques for extremist literature.
  • Wired has photos from the uninhabited cities of China, and describes the new prominence of the alt right.

[NEWS] Some Wednesday links

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  • Bloomberg talks about Poland’s problems with economic growth, notes that McMansions are poor investments, considers what to do about the Olympics post-Rio, looks at new Japanese tax incentives for working women, looks at a French war museum that put its stock up for sale, examines the power of the New Zealand dairy, looks at the Yasukuni controversies, and notes Huawei’s progress in China.
  • Bloomberg View is hopeful for Brazil, argues demographics are dooming Abenomics, suggests ways for the US to pit Russia versus Iran, looks at Chinese fisheries and the survival of the ocean, notes that high American population growth makes the post-2008 economic recovery relatively less notable, looks at Emperor Akihito’s opposition to Japanese remilitarization, and argues that Europe’s soft response to terrorism is not a weakness.
  • CBC notes that Russian doping whistleblowers fear for their lives, looks at how New Brunswick farmers are adapting to climate change, and looks at how Neanderthals’ lack of facility with tools may have doomed them.
  • The Globe and Mail argues Ontario should imitate Michigan instead of Québec, notes the new Anne of Green Gables series on Netflix, and predicts good things for Tim Horton’s in the Philippines.
  • The Guardian notes that Canada’s impending deal with the European Union is not any model for the United Kingdom.
  • The Inter Press Service looks at child executions in Iran.
  • MacLean’s notes that Great Lakes mayors have joined to challenge a diversion of water from their shared basin.
  • National Geographic looks at the elephant ivory trade, considers the abstract intelligence of birds, considers the Mayan calendar’s complexities, and looks at how the young generation treats Pluto’s dwarf planet status.
  • The National Post notes that VIA Rail is interested in offering a low-cost bus route along the Highway of Tears in northern British Columbia.
  • Open Democracy notes that the last Russian prisoner in Guantanamo does not want to go home, and wonders why the West ignores the Rwandan dictatorship.
  • TVO considers how rural communities can attract immigrants.
  • Universe Today suggests sending our digital selves to the stars, looks at how cirrus clouds kept early Mars warm and wet, and notes the discovery of an early-forming direct-collapse black hole.
  • Variance Explained looks at how Donald Trump’s tweets clearly show two authors at work.
  • The Washignton Post considers what happens when a gay bar becomes a bar with more general appeal.
  • Wired notes that the World Wide Web still is far from achieving its founders’ dreams, looks at how news apps are dying off, and reports on the Univision purchase of Gawker.

[BLOG] Some Wednesday links

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  • blogTO notes the all-gender washrooms of the CNE.
  • The Broadside Blog’s Caitlin Kelly looks at ways people can preserve themselves.
  • Dangerous Minds shares photos of homeless people, by themselves and dressed in their childhood dreams.
  • False Steps looks at a proposed Soviet orbital tug.
  • Far Outliers looks at the Navajo, at their pastoralist lifestyle, at their adaptiveness, and at their 1864-1865 deportation east and their 1868 return.
  • Marginal Revolution notes the extreme dependence of Australia on China.
  • The Planetary Society Blog considers the question of scale in a Mars photo.
  • Towleroad notes the impending success of Frank Ocean’s album.
  • Window on Eurasia suggests Russia is undercounting Ukrainians, despairs for the future of Russia-Ukraine relations, and notes the Hitler-Stalin alliance’s legacies.

[ISL] “Mining the Ocean Floor: Good Idea?”

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Bloomberg View’s Adam Minter wonders about the negative environmental consequences of mining the ocean floor.

While commodities traders still work their way out of a historic slump, Japan is looking ahead to the next boom. According to Bloomberg News, next year a group of Japanese companies and government agencies will start mining minerals at a site 1,000 miles southwest of Tokyo — and one mile beneath the ocean’s surface. It will be the first large-scale test of whether mineral deposits can be mined commercially from the seafloor.

The project is fairly bold. The seafloor is home to priceless deposits of minerals such as gold, copper and cobalt. And thanks to new technologies, it might soon be exploitable. That’s potentially good news for miners and commodity speculators. But it poses some alarming challenges for the marine environment — and the economies that depend on it.

At least as far back as the 1960s, scientists have known that rich deposits of minerals could be found in metallic nodules strewn like stones across the deep seabed. In 1977, researchers discovered hydrothermal vents on the ocean floor, along with some of the richest ore bodies in the world. In both cases, though, slumping commodity prices and high extraction costs doomed exploitation efforts.

China changed everything. As its economy picked up earlier this decade, and demand for commodities surged, the search for alternative sources of raw materials gained steam. Resource-poor Japan resuscitated its interest in seabed mining. China started building its own underwater mining capabilities, including a proposed partnership with India. Between 1984 and 2011, the International Seabed Authority — which oversees seabed mining under a United Nations convention — issued just six exploration permits. Since 2011, it’s issued 21, covering nearly 400,000 square miles of ocean floor that could one day be mined.

Exploration isn’t disruptive to the environment. But seabed mining will be. For one thing, it requires underwater harvesters that will suck up those valuable rocks — and any organisms or habitats that get in the way. Some will recover, but others never will: Nodules, which support an abundance of organisms, require millions of years to form. Even worse, the harvesters will kick up huge sediment clouds that could spread over vast areas of the seabed, potentially ravaging corals and sponges.

Written by Randy McDonald

August 22, 2016 at 8:19 pm

[ISL] Quartz on the Hong Kong independence movement

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Quartz’ Vivienne Chow reports on the demographic dynamics behind the Hong Kong independence movement.

When Edward Leung and Chan Ho-tin, the de facto leaders of the nascent Hong Kong independence movement, led thousands of protesters in a rally outside the government headquarters last Friday night (Aug. 5), it was about more than just the government’s attempt to bar them from running in elections in September. It was a symbolic gesture of one generation’s determination to revolt against the society’s so-called “old seafood” establishment, a defining moment for a city that desperately needs to find a new cultural identity.

“Old seafood” refers to the Cantonese phrase “lo see fut.” “Lo” is the sound of the Cantonese word for old, while “see fut” resembles the sound of asshole. It is common Hong Kong slang, used to refer to the “old butts” occupying top positions in society and refusing to cede their privileges.

Sampson Wong, an artist and liberal arts lecturer at the Hong Kong Academy for Performing arts, said the old seafood class feel a sense of entitlement because “they turned Hong Kong into a wonderful metropolis within two decades and made the Hong Kong miracle possible.”

“They probably have the tendency to feel that they should be in charge of the city, and that they are more capable than the younger generations,” he said. Wong’s art project “Countdown Machine” was removed from the city’s tallest skyscraper after he and partner Jason Lam revealed the installation was a clock counting down to 2047—the expiry date of the “50 years unchanged” promise that Beijing made to Hong Kong after the 1997 handover.

Whether its members identify as being pro-democracy or pro-Beijing, being part of the old seafood class is more about mindset than political stance. They can be anyone, ranging from mid-level management to the top leaders of companies, organizations, or political parties. They have demographics on their side—Hong Kong’s low birth rates and large elderly population mean that nearly half the city’s residents will be over 65 by 2041. And they continue to monopolize the discourse of Hong Kong’s cultural identity and values almost 20 years after the handover to China.

Written by Randy McDonald

August 16, 2016 at 3:30 pm

[URBAN NOTE] “China wants to revive Brazil high-speed train project: sources”

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The Globe and Mail carries Alonso Soto and Leonardo Goy’s Reuters article describing the interest of China in reviving plans for a high-speed rail route connecting Sao Paulo with Rio de Janeiro. The idea appeals to me, but is it actually viable, economically and politically?

Chinese firms are pushing to revive an $11-billion high-speed-train project to link Brazil’s two largest cities, shelved after the South American nation descended into recession and political turmoil, three sources familiar with the talks told Reuters.

China’s ambassador to Brasilia told interim President Michel Temer on Wednesday that Chinese train builders and operators want to participate in Brazil’s biggest ever infrastructure project, delayed repeatedly because of doubts about its viability and concession models, the sources said.

Temer was invited to ride the high-speed train connecting Shanghai and Hangzhou next month during a G20 summit when he will discuss the project in bilateral talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping, a Brazilian presidential aide said.

“The Chinese are working hard to revive the project,” said the aide, who asked for anonymity because he was not allowed to speak publicly. “Brazil is not convinced yet, but is supportive of the idea.”

A spokesman with the Chinese embassy in Brasilia said he did not know the content of the discussions between Temer and ambassador Li Jinzhang. Li did not immediately respond to email requests for comment.

Written by Randy McDonald

August 15, 2016 at 7:59 pm

[BLOG] Some Friday links

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  • blogTO writes about the impending installation of snooze stations across Toronto.
  • Centauri Dreams considers the astrobiological implications of stromatolites.
  • D-Brief notes that Titan has methane-flooded canyons.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze looks at the Kepler-444 system and notes studies of HR 8799.
  • The Dragon’s Tales notes an assassination attempt against a Donbas leader, and notes dinosaurs probably had colour vision.
  • The Everyday Sociology Blog considers the workplace culture of Amazon.
  • Language Log looks at a mangled translation of South Asian languages into Chinese.
  • The Map Room Blog links to an exhibit on persuasive cartography.
  • The NYRB Daily shares photos of 19th century Rio de Janeiro.
  • Out of Ambit’s Diane Duane shares a recipe for gingerbread.
  • Mark Simpson engages with spornosexuality.
  • Towleroad notes the ill-thought article outing gay Olympic atheltes.
  • The Volokh Conspiracy notes the non-recognition of special sharia rules in American courts for Muslims in family law.
  • Window on Eurasia notes Russia’s problematic military economy, looks at the Russian immigrant community in China, notes the pro-Baltic patriotism of Russophones, and looks at prospects for rapid population fall in Russia.
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