Health-wreaking air pollution is a long-standing gripe of China's burgeoning middle class. (AFP/Nicolas ASFOURI) "The take-away is simple," lead author Siqi Zheng, an associate professor at MIT and director of the University's China Future City Lab, told AFP. "Higher levels of air pollution lower people's happiness in the world's most populous country." Dirty air is not the only blight on life in urban China, which is also plagued by soaring housing prices, worries over food safety, and poor public services. But health-wreaking pollution - especially microscopic bits from coal-fired power plants and factories that settle in the lungs - is a long-standing gripe of the country's burgeoning middle class. More than a million premature deaths every year in China can be chalked up to air pollution, the World Health Organization and other research groups have concluded. A toxic cocktail of small and larger particulate matter, nitrogen dioxide (NO2), sulphur dioxide (SO2) and ozone (O3) is … [Read more...] about In China, unhappiness tracks poor air quality
Six people have been charged after Australian authorities uncovered a multi-million-dollar crime syndicate stealing baby formula and vitamins from major retailers across Sydney for shipment to China, police said Monday (Jan 21). Premium baby milk formula, vitamins and honey from Australia are highly sought after in China AFP/SAEED KHAN Four members of one family and two other men have been arrested and charged over the "organised criminal group" that New South Wales Police believe has operated for several years. "We're thinking this is quite an expansive criminal group that was exploiting an overseas market at the disadvantage of the Australian public," NSW Police Detective Superintendent Danny Doherty told reporters in Sydney. Doherty said investigators were still probing where the products were being sold, but alleged that so far, "thousands of shipments of baby formula were sent to China". Premium baby milk formula, vitamins and honey from Australia are highly sought after … [Read more...] about Police bust Australia China baby formula crime ring
Two people died on Sunday (Jan 20) and 25 more were injured, four seriously, in a fire at the ski resort of Courchevel in the French Alps, officials said. The pre-dawn blaze forced the evacuation of some 60 resort workers, including foreigners, from a three-storey accommodation building. (AFP/JEAN-PIERRE CLATOT) The pre-dawn blaze forced the evacuation of some 60 resort workers, including foreigners, from a three-storey accommodation building. Firefighters found the two unidentified bodies in a burnt-out area of the building in the upmarket Courchevel 1850 ski station. Three of the four badly injured were flown to hospital by helicopter, the local officials said. The cause of the fire was not immediately known. "Some young people escaped down the facade of the building using the balustrades. Some of them were in their underwear," said one witness, who identified himself as Victor, 27. The blaze had already devoured the top two floors of the building by the time firefighters … [Read more...] about Two dead, 14 hurt in French ski resort fire
Four men were arrested on Sunday (Jan 20) following a suspected car bombing in the Northern Irish city of Londonderry, police said who believe a dissident republican group the New IRA to be responsible. Two men in their twenties were arrested as police and army explosives teams remained at the scene of the blast. (Photo: AFP/Paul Faith) Two suspects in their 20s were arrested on Sunday morning and then two other men. aged 34 amd 42, were taken into custody in the evening, the Police Service of Northern Ireland said. The suspected bomb exploded at 8.10pm on Saturday (4.10am Singapore time Sunday), as police were evacuating the area following a warning that a device had been planted outside the city courthouse. There were no casualties. "Our main line of inquiry is against the New IRA," said Police Service of Northern Ireland assistant chief constable Mark Hamilton. "The New IRA, like most dissident republican groups in Northern Ireland, is small, largely unrepresentative, and … [Read more...] about Police link Northern Ireland car bomb to “New IRA”
Has he made the world a better place? AFP/Fabrice COFFRINI His foundation, which hosts many of the world's most powerful, famous and wealthy people at its annual meeting in the Swiss ski resort of Davos, has clearly made an impact. But questions have grown about whether the organisation is meeting its declared goal of "improving the state of the world", with resentment rising against the pro-business Davos agenda, and voters turning instead to populist leaders. One persistent criticism is that WEF meetings, including this week's main annual gathering in Davos, have simply created a safe space for the corporate world to lobby governments without oversight. Schwab was not available for an interview with AFP but the WEF's managing director, Adrian Monck, said in an email that the organisation "subscribes to the highest standards of governance". "FRAGILE AUTHORITY" Schwab, born in Ravensburg, Germany, in 1938, was a little-known business professor at the University of Geneva when in … [Read more...] about Has Davos made the world better?