Tags: CCP, censorship, China, human rights, persecution of dissidents, Society
By Cassie Ryan
The General Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television, the office charged with regulating the media, announced the move Wednesday. The office claimed it wanted to “strengthen management” and stop the “spread of harmful information.” The prohibition also applies to freelancers, NGOs, and commercial organizations.
The move coincided with the news that The New York Times had just won a Pulitzer Prize for its October 2012 report on the hidden wealth of ex-premier Wen Jiabao and family.
Press freedom group Reporters Without Borders (RWB) condemned the ruling as “draconian,” saying that the Communist Party’s censorship has been increasing steadily since its 18th Congress last November, when the new leadership was selected.
“The censors have had the foreign media in their sights ever since they published embarrassing revelations about China’s leaders,” the report said. “The regime is trying to prevent the Chinese media from repeating such revelations.”
The report added that foreign media play a key role in informing the international community about events in China, as well as the Chinese public, which it described as “the victim of the government’s growing censorship of local media.”
However, burgeoning Internet use in China, for example via Sina Weibo microblogs, renders censorship virtually impossible.
“The initiative seems bound to fail in the era of Weibo and social networks, where information and revelations from the foreign media circulate like wildfire,” the RWB report said. “But it could be used to justify new acts of censorship and could therefore have an impact on the Chinese media, which often quote international news agency reports in particular.”
Beijing journalist Gao Yu, two-time Courage in Journalism Award winner, and former deputy editor-in-chief for Economics Weekly, told the Sound of Hope Radio Network that the Internet has broken the Party’s censorship restrictions, and the move is further evidence of a crisis in officialdom.
“[News about] communist officials’ scandals, natural and mining disasters can be spread around the world in a few minutes or seconds,” Gao said.
“For years the Chinese media’s brainwashing propaganda has destroyed the Chinese people’s morality. With the development of the Internet, the brainwashing propaganda can no longer be sustained,” she added. “This is the Chinese regime’s crisis, and that’s why they are tightening control.”
The ban could have a big impact on domestic newspapers, as international agencies like Reuters provide most of their foreign coverage.
Bloggers responded strongly, particularly journalists. A Beijing journalist cited by citizen media website Global Voices said on his Weibo: “Public opinion supervision is essential for a healthy society. The scale of criticism is the scale of democracy–if criticism is not free, then praise is meaningless. The correct conclusion is from a wide range of voices, rather than what is chosen by the authority.”
Another Weibo user added: “What is harmful information? I think there’s only true and false information. The purpose of the news is to broadcast the truth, which is the basic need of a society. Most of the harmful information as defined by the propaganda department throughout the history of the Chinese republic proved to be accurate. Blocking information and opinions may be effective temporarily, but such a policy of self-denial won’t work in the long run.”
A third referred to a Chinese idiom, saying “The more one tries to hide, the more one is exposed.”
With research by Jane Lin.
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More in Chinese Regime
Tags: CCP, China, human rights, IT and Media, labor camps, persecution of dissidents
By Genevieve Belmaker
An Epoch Times reporter is the winner of a prestigious annual award for his reporting on organ harvesting in China. Matthew Robertson, who specializes in reporting on China and is fluent in Mandarin Chinese, wrote a series of articles on forced, live organ harvesting published in The Epoch Times in 2012.
Robertson and the articles won the Society of Professional Journalists’ (SPJ) Sigma Delta Chi award for professional journalism. The SPJ, founded in 1909 under the name Sigma Delta Chi, promotes freedom of information, educates and advocates for journalists, and protects First Amendment guarantees of the freedoms of speech and press.
Winners for the 10 categories of the 2012 Sigma Delta Chi awards came from a pool of more than 1,700 entries in categories including print, radio, television, and online. The awards are in recognition of outstanding work published or broadcast in 2012. The Epoch Times collection won for the newspaper category Non-Deadline Reporting (Daily Circulation 1-50,000).
In the nomination letter from The Epoch Times, Deputy Editor-in-Chief Stephen Gregory said that the topic of the articles—forced, live organ harvesting in China—is important and under-reported.
“Hospitals are working hand in glove with the Chinese regime’s repressive security apparatus, and doctors, using the skills meant to heal, are killing helpless prisoners of conscience by removing their organs,” stated Gregory in the letter. He added that the four articles by Robertson submitted on the topic “are a sample of a larger body of work and are the fruit of over two years of consistent effort.”
In praising Robertson’s work on the extremely complicated and sensitive issue, Gregory pointed to his professionalism and dedicated focus.
“Matt [Robertson] has developed contacts with all of the major investigators and human rights organizations in the West concerned with organ harvesting in China and has proven adept at digging important stories out of information publicly available on the Chinese web,” wrote Gregory.
The award-winning articles include “Would Be China Defector, Once Bo Xilai’s Right Hand, Oversaw Organ Harvesting,” about a high-ranking Chinese security official’s forced organ techniques; “After Bo Xilai’s Purge, Searches For ‘Organ Harvest’ Suddenly Allowed,” which analyzes Internet traffic to examine the struggle within the Chinese leadership over accountability for these crimes; “Accused Chinese Organ Harvester Lurks in Transplant Community,” about a Chinese doctor who was head of the organ transplantation unit at a hospital implicated in organ harvesting; “Friendly Ties Come With Award, But Ethicists Object,” on how a major university may have sacrificed ethics for the chance to develop closer ties with China; and “Book Exposes Organized Killing for Organs in China,” a review of State Organs: Transplant Abuse in China, a compilation of works from dozen specialists addressing the issue of organ sourcing practices in China.
In an interview about winning the award, Robertson said he found it gratifying.
“I think it’s awesome that SPJ gave this award because China is a controversial topic to some degree,” said Robertson. “Journalists in China—if they report on this—would probably have their visas denied, so it’s being pushed aside.”
Robertson began learning Chinese in 2007. He lived in Taiwan for eight months of immersion study. Learning aids included the Chinese-language edition of The Epoch Times, listening to NTD Television and Voice of America, studying reams of Communist Party propaganda, watching ancient Chinese drama serials, and reading the books of Falun Dafa.
To produce the articles, Robertson noted that he made all the phone calls and checked all the available sources, as good journalists do, but had to go well beyond.
“It’s much harder than reporting on subjects in the Western world, because the information is so much harder to get. You cross-check many sources and make some inferences.”
He said that he is “standing on the shoulders of the amazing research done by others, including my Chinese colleagues at The Epoch Times, and also the great work of other Chinese researchers.”
“Through my investigation I found not only gross abuses of human rights, evil things, really, that the Chinese regime has done, but also lack of fortitude in the West in the face of those things.”
“Tens of thousands of prisoners of conscience may have been killed from organ harvesting,” said Robertson. “In Mainland China, military hospitals and labor camps have worked together to carry this out.”
The winners of the Sigma Delta Chi awards were announced on April 23, 2013 on their website.
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Tags: CCP, China, human rights, persecution of dissidents, Society
By Sally Appert
An 18-year-old and fellow amateurs accurately forecast the April 20 earthquake in Sichuan Province and another one in Yunnan Province three days earlier, but a communist official said they were acting against the law.
Lin Long, a student and microblog owner, is part of an online team of about 50 amateur earthquake researchers who gather information online and use it to make predictions. Lin told the Beijing News that their group, called the Forecast Center, has made over 800 predictions so far, mostly for overseas quakes, with over 500 being accurate.
“I am protecting the people’s right to know, to let them know something out of the ordinary was found in the data. We do this to prevent property loss,” Lin told the news agency.
“We are really careful with information on big earthquakes, and we inform the rescue troops if that’s the case.”
However, a municipal decree states that earthquake predictions should only be announced by the authorities, chief forecaster Sun Shihong of China Earthquake Networks Center (CENC) told Beijing News. Sun said that a false prediction from a private group could disrupt social order and stability.
“They should turn in their results and once the government experts confirm it, they will ask the government to issue an official announcement,” Sun added.
On April 14, three days before the Yunnan quake struck, the Forecast Center posted an online prediction that there would be an earthquake in that area within 72 hours. According to state mouthpiece Xinhua, the tremor destroyed nearly 500 houses, injured 14 people, and affected almost 130,000 in the area.
The group noticed oddities in data from the Yunnan Earthquake Precursory Data Center about a week before the disaster hit, according to the Beijing News.
On April 18, Lin’s team also accurately predicted the devastating 6.9-magnitude quake in Sichuan, which killed at least 207 people and injured almost 12,000, based on official data.
Netizens expressed their opinions on the matter via Sina Weibo, China’s Twitter-like microblogging platform.
“Why don’t we make it illegal if an earthquake took place and the Earthquake Administration did not forecast it?” one Internet user joked.
Another quipped: “The Forecast Center stole the Earthquake Administration’s job. Also, earthquake prediction in China is a state secret.”
A third was more serious, saying, “There are tens of thousands of pieces of inaccurate information like this. If everyone just predicts at will, how much inconvenience will it bring to our daily life; can you imagine?”
Tags: Body & Mind, environmental issues, Food, health, Science, Society, sustainable development
By Jack Phillips
Earlier this week the U.S. Congress quietly passed the Agricultural Appropriations Bill, which has been derided by opponents as the “Monsanto Protection Act,” it was reported.
In the appropriations bill, the provision essentially protects purveyors of genetically modified seeds, including Monsanto, from lawsuits amid potential health risks, according to Salon.com.
President Obama signed the measure into law on Tuesday.
More than 250,000 people have signed a petition that opposes the Monsanto Protection Act, according to Food Democracy Now.
“Once again, Monsanto and the biotech industry have used their lobbying power to undermine your basic rights,” reads a statement on Food Democracy’s website.
There has been anger over how the provision passed through Congress, without being reviewed by the Agricultural or Judiciary Committees. The provision was introduced anonymously as the Agricultural Appropriations Bill progressed, according to Salon.
Now, the Food Democracy Now and the Center for Food Safety have blamed the Senate Appropriations Committee and chairwoman Sen. Barbara Mikulski.
The Center for Food Safety said that “many Democrats were unaware of its presence in the larger bill,” according to its website.
“In this hidden backroom deal, Senator Mikulski turned her back on consumer, environmental, and farmer protection in favor of corporate welfare for biotech companies such as Monsanto,” Andrew Kimbrell, the head of the Center for Food Safety, said in a statement.
He added: “This abuse of power is not the kind of leadership the public has come to expect from Senator Mikulski or the Democrat Majority in the Senate.”
Tags: beauty, Nature
By Jarrod Hall
Each year in April, South Korea’s many cherry trees come to life with bright white and pink flowers. Koreans celebrate the occasion outdoors with festivals, picnics, bike-rides and other outdoor activities. The blossoms are not a symbol of national pride, as they are for the Japanese, but are dearly loved – crowds flock to the countries parks and gardens to enjoy the show.
One of the largest and most popular cherry blossom festivals in South Korea is the Yeouido Spring Flower Festival in Seoul. Yeouido is situated on a large island surrounded by the Han River in the heart of the city. It’s the country’s financial and political center, home to major government, financial and media organizations. The road that circles the island is lined with cherry blossoms and parts of the road are closed to traffic for the festival.
Olympic Park in Seoul’s Southeast doesn’t have a flower festival but has beautiful gardens filled with walking paths, bike trails and traditional wooden rotundas. It was built to house the 1988 Olympic games and is home to many cherry trees and other flowering trees that bloom at the same time such as Magnolias and Forsythia.
See more photos: City in Focus: Cherry Blossoms in Seoul (Photos)
Tags: CCP, China, Economy, human rights, persecution of dissidents, Society
Eight activists have been detained in the past few weeks for calling on over 200 high-level officials in the Communist Party to publicize details of their assets, alongside new leader Xi Jinping’s anti-corruption campaign.
Most recently, rights lawyer Ding Jiaxi and veteran democracy activist Zhao Changqing were locked up on April 17, two days before Xi’s latest speech about countering corruption at a Politburo meeting on Friday.
“All Party members must keep high mental vigilance and gain more public trust for the Party by new progress in the anti-corruption struggle,” Xi said, according to state mouthpiece Xinhua.
Also on Friday, state-run media created special webpages that lead to online informant centers where the public can report on corrupt officials.
If they are afraid of their assets being publicized, it shows that there’s some issue with their property – Liu Weiguo
Overseas advocacy group China Human Rights Defenders (CHRD) said police have been detaining activists, lawyers, and ordinary citizens in a crackdown against anti-corruption and other politically sensitive issues.
The CHRD report added that the seized activists are part of “The New Citizens Movement,” and their petition for asset disclosure includes Xi Jinping and new premier Li Keqiang.
Lawyer and activist Liu Weiguo told New Tang Dynasty Television that Ding Jiaxi was completely within his rights to make the request for transparency. “If the human rights of a lawyer can’t be protected, then the basic rights of citizens will be trampled by the authorities.”
“If they are afraid of their assets being publicized, it shows that there’s some issue with their property,” Liu continued. “They possess huge amounts of undisclosed wealth. Officials fear that this evil will be exposed, so they stifle citizens who ask for disclosure.”
Ai Xiaoming, former professor of Sun Yat-Sen University, told Voice of America that Ding’s appeal is in line with the Party’s anti-corruption campaign. “So if you say asking officials to disclose their wealth is illegal, you are actually saying that the anti-corruption requirement raised by the Party is illegal.”
Prominent lawyer Zhou Ze blogged about the crackdown on his Weibo account: “It will be very difficult to systematize official asset disclosures,” he said. “Citizens who call for officials to disclose their assets get punished. The chasm between ordinary people, and the Communist Party and its officials is vast.”
With research by Ariel Tian.
Tags: CCP, China, environmental issues, Society, sustainable development
By Tian Yuan
Pollution is a big issue in China because it affects everyone. People get anxious when discussing the polluted air, sand storms, contaminated rivers and groundwater, and “cancer villages,” where toxic chemicals are having hazardous effects on the villagers.
Chinese officials talk about protecting the environment, but they get a special supply of clean food, water, and even air. In December 2012, when new Party leader Xi Jinping gave his “China Dream” speech, part of his vision included “a better environment.”
So if everyone is concerned about China’s environment, why is the pollution getting worse by the day, with the number of cancer villages increasing? It’s obvious that the officials are saying one thing but doing another: They are encouraging sacrifice of the environment in exchange for economic development and are penalizing those who spend money on cleaning up the environment.
Why is this? For starters, the Communist Party is an illegitimate dictatorship. To prolong its reign, the regime tries very hard to boost and boast about economic growth.
Before 2012, the Party tried desperately to keep the gross domestic product (GDP) growth rate around 8 percent. After 2012, it went all out to keep the rate around 7 percent. Below this level, unemployment will proliferate, causing social instability that would endanger the regime’s rule.
A recent study by the U.S. National Bureau of Economic Research proves this point with solid numbers. The author looked at 283 cities in China and found that officials who spent their budgets treating pollution normally have no hope of being promoted. However, those who spent large sums on building highways and other infrastructure—increasing the local GDP at the expense of the environment—are very likely to be promoted.
In other words, if an official takes care of the people’s welfare and deals with pollution, he should not expect to be promoted. However, if an official raises the GDP figure, the regime gives him a raise without caring how much pollution was generated. Driven by this blatant personal gain, how many officials can we expect to protect the environment?
The Chinese regime also prohibits environmental protection movements by the people. Since 1996, the number of mass demonstrations and riots due to environmental issues has increased by about 30 percent each year.
From the p-xylene pollution in the coastal cities of Xiamen, Ningbo, and Dalian, to the molybdenum-copper pollution in Shifang in southwest China, and the Oji Paper Company’s waste pollution in Qidong, near the coast in central China, local officials colluded with companies and allowed polluting projects before the public became aware of the consequences.
The people have no channel through which they can appeal the state’s decisions. So they resort to demonstrations and riots, and the regime responds by “stabilizing society”—mobilizing the Armed Police force to suppress protesters. This has become the Party’s fixed protocol for solving environmental problems.
China’s dictatorship and the regime’s animosity toward the people’s will are also responsible for the severe pollution. The Western world’s environmental protection policies began as civil movements in the 60s and 70s, with democracy required for their success. The Americans achieved a strong foundation for environmental protection through votes and demonstrations.
During Japan’s industrialization, major localized pollution incidents caused local residents to become severely ill. In the 60s, there were many civil groups advocating environmental protection and challenging the Liberal Democratic Party, the dominant party after the war, which did not care about environmental pollution. These groups also encouraged people to boycott the worst companies.
By the mid 70s, environmentalist groups successfully changed Japan’s situation, with many politicians supporting environmental protection. Wanting to improve their public image, the companies began contacting environmental groups and promised to care about the environment. Positive mechanisms for dealing with environmental problems were eventually established.
The pollution in China reflects the corruption of the communist regime—pollution will exist as long as the Party exists. The soil is contaminated by heavy metals. Industrial chemical wastes are found in rivers, lakes, and groundwater, turning them an array of colors. The air is filled with tiny particles that cause lung cancer, and the food is loaded with toxins.
The Chinese have reached a critical point in their quality of life. If they continue to be indifferent and continue to be duped by the regime, the Chinese people will be committing a kind of suicide.
Tags: chinese characters, Chinese culture
Conveying the special significance of music,
literally ‘the sound of happiness’
The Chinese characters 音樂 (yīn yuè) stand for music. 音 is the character for sound, while 樂 refers to music itself as well as the concepts of happiness, pleasure, and enjoyment. The two characters combined literally mean “the sound of happiness.”
The ancient Chinese regarded music as a tool to contact the gods, and music was not only for enjoyment and entertainment but also part of sacred ceremony to reunite humankind with Heaven.
In addition, music is the ancestor of medicine and its primary purpose in ancient China was to heal illness. The character for medicine, 藥 (yào), is derived from the character for music.
藥 comprises two parts: 樂 at the bottom and the radical 艹 at the top, which refers to grass, herbs, and other grass-related plants. Following discovery of the healing effects of herbs, 艹 and 樂 were combined to form 藥.
Tags: Body & Mind, CCP, China, environmental issues, health, Society, sustainable development
In a village in Hebei Province—the province that surrounds China’s capital, Beijing—villagers have reported that their well water has been the color red for more than a decade and have suspected the unnatural color is due to the run-off from a local chemical factory. Several years of complaints to the authorities have produced no visible results, and the villagers have had no choice but to use bottled water for drinking.
Asked about the situation is Xiaozhuzhuang Village, Deng Lianjun, the director of the Bureau of Environmental Protection in Hebei Province’s Cangxian County, remarked that boiled red beans can change the color of water to red. According to Deng, the red color is not necessarily an indication of poor quality.
Locals then began calling Deng the “Red Bean Director,” and he recently stepped down amid criticism. With his departure, stories of local villagers suffering from cancer due to pollution began coming to light.
The Yanzhao Metropolis Daily, a Hebei Province newspaper, reported on April 7 that the test results of a well with red water at a chicken farm in Xiaozhuzhuang Village, showed that the content of aniline, a toxic chemical, exceeded the limit allowed in drinking water by 73 times.
On April 9, China News reported that since 1996 in the village of Xiaozhuzhuang, population 800, 24 people have died of cancer, with six villagers currently living with the disease.
Although villagers have made multiple complaints to the Central Government’s Ministry of Environmental Protection, the response has always been the same: “water test results are within normal parameters.”
“It happens in Anhui, Henan, Shandong, Shaanxi, and Shanxi [provinces],” long-time environmental and human rights activist, Hu Jia, told Sound of Hope (SOH) Radio.
“Sometimes there are multiple instances in one province. I have been to the front line, for example, in the areas surrounding the Huaihe River [a major river in east China],” Hu Jia said. “I have seen those people with esophageal cancer. There are ‘cancer villages.’ A small factory can poison an entire river, not to mention the pollution from various types of huge state-owned enterprises.”
According to the 2012 Annual Report released this January by the National Central Cancer Registry, the growth of cancer in China is alarming, with one person diagnosed every six minutes, and 8,550 people diagnosed every day.
The national cancer morbidity rate is high, with about 3.5 million new cases and about 2.5 million cancer deaths every year.
In February, China’s Environmental Protection Ministry published its 12th Five-Year Plan for the Prevention and Control of Environmental Risks of Chemicals, which acknowledged the existence of what are called “cancer villages”—places with sky-high cancer rates linked to pollution from toxic chemicals.
A New Epoch Weekly article, appearing in 2011, “Cancer Villages Unknown to the Outside World” featured the first person account of Mdm. Tang Miwan of Malaysia, who had joined a medical team sent to help the villagers.
The article revealed the locations of 30 cancer villages in Henan Province in central China. No foreigners were allowed to visit those villages, barriers were deployed at the entrances of some, and those visiting were instructed not to ask questions or take photographs.
According to the article, chemical waste water was routinely dumped into local rivers, and those villagers who consumed the seriously polluted water were at high risk of being diagnosed with cancer. Nothing would grow on the infertile land near the rivers, and villagers could not cultivate any land irrigated with the contaminated water. One person’s fingers festered after she washed her hands with the water.
Development at All Costs
“Damage to the environment and ecosystem has been the cost of China’s development,” Gong Shengli, a Beijing-based internet news researcher, told SOH. “A 2007 World Bank report reveals that 750,000 people die in China each year from air pollution.
“Land pollution is much more serious than air pollution, so the result is even more alarming. Serious pollution affects 40 percent of the country’s water supply, and 55 percent of underground water in 200 cities is polluted. This means about 300 million Chinese have no access to clean water,” Gong said.
According to a China Business Journal article in 2008, Julong Chemical Factory polluted the nearby Dongjin Village in Jiangsu Province, resulting in the deaths of 100 villagers over a period of 5 years, 2001 to 2006, from esophageal and lung cancers.
An article in the Changjiang Times in 2006 reported the creek adjacent to Diwan Village in Hubei Province was heavily polluted, leading to the deaths of more than 100 villagers from cancer.
“The Chinese Communist Party’s officials at all levels think of nothing but personal interest and gain, even those officials at environmental agencies. The officials’ performance ratings have been closely tied to the growth rate of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), so the officials are only concerned about tax revenues or the increasing growth rate of the GDP and give no regard to the rate of occupational disease or loss in food production,” Hu Jia told SOH.
“Political achievement and official posts have become top priorities for the officials. When there is no judicial independence in China, how can people expect [ethical] oversight of water safety, toxic chemical disposal, and the environment? Environmental problems have now become China’s ‘cancer,’ which is incurable when closely linked to [national priorities],” said Hu Jia.
Translated by John Wang and Euly Luo. Written in English by Barbara Gay. With reporting by Sound of Hope Radio Network.
Tags: archaeology, Chinese culture, Science, Society
An ancient Mayan village buried in volcanic ash for centuries has revealed unusually well-preserved houses, crops, and gardens.
U.S. archaeologists excavated the village of Cerén, discovered in the 1970s in El Salvador. A volcano destroyed the village over 1,400 years ago, and the volcanic ash preserved the plants effectively in that tropical area.
“What this meant for me, is this site had all these plant remains lying on the ground,” study lead author David Lentz, professor at the University of Cincinnati, said in a press release.
“Not only do we find these plant remains well preserved, but we find them where the people left them more than a thousand years ago, and that is really extraordinary.”
The scientists got their first glimpse of a Mayan kitchen, which included an intensively planted garden.
“We could tell what was planted around the houses,” said Lentz. “This is fabulous because people have long debated how the Maya did all this. Now we have a real example.”
Another new discovery was malanga, a root crop related to taro, which scientists didn’t know the Maya cultivated. The team also found grasses that don’t exist in that area anymore and a house containing over 70 ceramic pots.
In addition, they found a paved road called a “sacbe,” which Lentz plans to follow in the future to see if it leads to other interesting discoveries.
“It was tricky because we kept encountering things we’d never encountered before at a Maya site,” said Lentz. “They were just invisible because of the lack of preservation.”
“Cerén is regarded internationally as one of the treasures of the world,” he added.
“What’s been found there gives you a real idea of what things were like in the past and how humans have modified things. I think what we’re learning there is revolutionizing our concept of the ancient past in Mesoamerica.”
The findings are helping scientists understand the Mayas’ agriculture and how they lived with such a dense population. The research will be presented at the annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology in Honolulu on April 3-7.
Tags: Body & Mind, environmental issues, health, Nature, Science, sustainable development
Extended public comment period ends April 26
By Tara MacIsaac
Superfish: A genetically engineered salmon is on its way to approval for human consumption in the United States. It would not likely be labeled any differently than conventional Atlantic salmon in grocery stores.
The AquaBounty AquaAdvantage transgenic salmon grows two to six times faster than natural Atlantic salmon stock thanks to genetic engineering. It has been dubbed the “superfish” or “FrankenFish” by concerned advocates for Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) product labeling.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released an assessment of the genetically engineered (GE) salmon on December 26, 2012, reporting that the salmon does not pose significant environmental threats or threats to human health upon consumption.
U.S. Sen. Mark Begich and Sen. Patty Murray sent the FDA a letter expressing grave concern. Upon the senators’ request, the FDA extended the public comment period to April 26. The FDA will review comments before approving the product.
The senators write: “Legislation will be introduced in the 13th Congress to seek a more comprehensive environmental review of this and other genetically engineered fish, and require labeling of any such products sold in the U.S. so consumers are aware of what is on their dinner plates.”
The GE salmon would be labeled the same as conventional Atlantic salmon stock, “because the essential nature of the salmon has not changed as a result of the introduction of the AquaAdvantage construct, an AquaAdvantage Salmon is still an Atlantic salmon,” reads the draft assessment report.
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Tags: CCP, China, Falun Gong, human rights, labor camps, persecution of dissidents, Science
By Matthew Robertson
Originally he’d only planned to speak for five minutes, about the recently-concluded Boao economic forum. But as he began recalling the details of torture recently revealed in a Chinese magazine article, well-known television host Cao Baoyin went on for over 20.
“Curse the Boao forum!” Cao said at the beginning of the video, using an actual Chinese curse word. He had just read the article after coming home from his day job on April 9, and needed to speak out. Cao is a television personality and a columnist for Beijing News, a major newspaper in the capital.
At a number of points in his talk he visibly struggled to hold back tears. At one point he held up a board that he’d written a number of the main torture methods on.
“Hell on earth,” he had titled it. He announced the techniques one by one: “Small room,” “inmate-monitors,” “electric shocks,” “death bed,” “tiger bench,” while rapping on each with his Chinese fan.
“Behind every word there’s blood, inhumanity, lawlessness, immorality, and naked barbarism,” he said, before elaborating on specifically how Chinese communist prison guards use the “hanging an airplane” torture against inmates in the Masanjia Women’s Labor Camp.
Cao was one of the hundreds of thousands of Chinese to read and react to a recent article about that labor camp, published in the Chinese magazine Lens, which is known for its photography.
The article detailed the brutal torture methods applied against inmates, most of whom are practitioners of Falun Gong, a Chinese spiritual discipline that has been persecuted since 1999. The article did not mention Falun Gong—the persecution of the spiritual practice is off limits for China’s media.
The fact that the piece was published at all was stunning to many. Masanjia is known to have devised many of the extreme torture methods used to break the wills of Falun Gong practitioners, and then taught them to other labor camps.
Cao Baoyin spoke about how prisoners who go on hunger strikes are treated. “They tie them to a ‘death bed’ and use metal pliers to force open their mouths. Some of the victims have their teeth knocked out because of that. Even some of the workers ask for the day shift, so they don’t have to witness it when it happens at night.”
He became agitated and focused on the camera: “The ‘death bed,’ that’s really going to kill people. But in this women’s labor camp, if you die they don’t even care. They think the prisoners’ lives are worth less than flies. Women do this to other women, except that because some of them wear a uniform they can act like beasts, doing this crazy torture. Are these still people? Even beasts don’t do this to one another. When you hear all this, can you say it’s not hell on earth?!”
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Tags: funny things, Nature, Society
By Phoebe Ryles
Earthquakes turn water to gold over hundreds of thousands of years according to a new study by Nature Geoscience.
Earthquakes turn water to gold according to a study released by the Journal of Nature Geoscience March 17. The study puts forward a new theory on the formation of gold deposits that may change the way we mine for gold.
When an earthquake hits, the movement travels outward along cracks in the earth, called fault lines. The shifts can cause the instant vaporization of any groundwater that was flowing through the fault lines. Groundwater often carries tiny amounts of gold and other minerals in suspension.
The Nature Geoscience study suggests that when the water vaporizes the minerals crystallize. Over hundreds of thousands of years, and a million little earthquakes later, the mineral deposits build up to substantial, minable deposits.
This study may mean that mining companies will focus their exploration in areas with frequent seismic activity.
“This new knowledge on gold-deposit formation mechanisms may assist future gold exploration efforts,” said Dion Weatherley, a geophysicist at the University of Queensland in Australia and lead author of the study, according to LiveScience.com.
There are other geological events that also cause gold formation, such as volcanic activity.
Tags: Chinese culture, classical Chinese dance, Shen Yun
FRANKFURT—Mr. Andreas Seipp is a pianist who performs at various venues, a chamber musician, an accompanist at the Cologne Opera, and a music teacher at a Cologne, Germany, high school. He attended the Saturday night New York-based Shen Yun Performing Arts New York Company show at the Frankfurt Jahrhunderthalle.
Mr. Seipp bought a ticket to the Shen Yun show after having read up about the group on the Shen Yun website: “A Shen Yun performance features the world’s foremost classically trained dancers, a unique orchestra blending East and West, and dazzling animated backdrops—together creating one spectacular performance.”
“I’m impressed with this wonderful show, the unique orchestra, and the fantastic choreography,” said Mr. Seipp. “The musical arrangements can be counted among the top class—especially the mixture of Chinese and European instruments that work in such unison and present such a harmony of sounds.”
“Tenors, sopranos and other award-winning vocalists perform piano-accompanied solos, along with a regular favorite—the stirring melodies of the two-stringed erhu, also known as the Chinese violin,” states Shen Yun.
“It was my greatest pleasure to be at that show,” Mr. Seipp added.
Shen Yun’s animated backdrops present audience members with the lyrics of all the songs, as well as project landscapes, deep forests, celestial paradises, and Mongolian prairies to enhance the performance on stage.
“I not so much listened to the soprano singer, but had my eyes and ears open for the pianist that accompanied the singer,” said Mr. Seipp. “This was a marvelous piano debut. The musician listens very carefully when the instrument of his expertise is being played.”
Each year, Shen Yun presents a completely new set of dances, songs, and musical scores.
“Coming back to the orchestra, I must repeat that they emanated great harmony,” he said. “And then one finds out that these were all new compositions—impressive.”
“In a collection of short pieces, audiences travel from the Himalayas to tropical lake-filled regions; from the legends of the culture’s creation over 5,000 years ago through to the story of Falun Dafa in China today; from the highest heavens down to the dusty plateaus of the Middle Kingdom,” states Shen Yun.
“I came alone tonight and will tell everyone in glowing tones what I have experienced tonight,” concluded Mr. Seipp. “I will touch on the different scenes, the colors, and the folk dances, and make them wish that they would have come along to tonight’s show.”
With reporting by NTD Television
New York-based Shen Yun Performing Arts has three touring companies that perform simultaneously around the world. For more information, visit ShenYunPerformingArts.org
Tags: Culture, Society, Spirituality
The Indian national flower, Lotus Nelumbo nucifera, profoundly inspires the country’s ancient and modern culture, art, and literary richness.
or those who have traveled through the heart of rural southern-India, the sights of Lotus ponds surely act as an unforgettable and beautiful reminiscent of the journey. The flower’s association with Indian culture dates back to thousands of years—thereby inspiring, shaping and, bringing out the true spirit of India as an ancient civilization.
The richness of ancient Indian literature is synonymous with its ancient language, Sanskrit. In Sanskrit, every word embodies a world of experiences.
According to K. K. Yatheendran, a Kerala based Sanskrit scholar, Lotus has many inspiring names in Sanskrit, each evocative of a different experience: Pankeyrooham (born from the mud), Sahasrapatram (thousand petaled), Kamalam (which decorates water), Shatapatram (hundered petaled), and Amboroham (that which sprouts from water) to name a few.
Yatheendran says that Lotus at many places in Sanskrit literature is used as a metaphor like the word “Vadana Amboojam,” which means a lotus like face or a lustrous face.
Lotus gets its best mention in modern Indian literature in a famous Sonnet “Lotus” by Toru Dutt, “Love came to Flora asking for a flower, That would of flowers be undisputed queen,…..”
The flower also finds itself etched on Indian art in various contexts. A very commonly seen symbol in Indian temples even now, Lotus has become synonyms with purity and goodness in art.
“It’s to be noted that generally only full blossomed flowers are offered before God in India, except for Lotus, whose buds are offered,” Yatheendran told the Epoch Times.
Lotus has been found in pre-historic murals and cave paintings in the country. The most noted is the painting, Padmapani of Cave 1 of Ajanta in Maharashtra state. In Sanskrit, Padmapani literally means the bearer of lotus.
The flower is also a popular motif in Kolams (Rangoli)—a from of decorative patterns drawn on the floor with powdered rice, chalk or synthetic powdered colors. The drawings are believed to bring prosperity to the home.
Even during the Mughal period, lotus motif was represented in architecture. In Shah-jahana-bad city, established by the king Shah Jahan (A.D. 1627–58), now known as the Red Fort, the lotus was used as a symbol of ever-renewing youth.
The exclusive female apartments (the Rang Mahal) is designed in the form of a large lotus, with delicately patterned petals laid out within a square bordered frame. In the center of the basin there is a slender stem with a silver lotus at the top from which water rushes out.