Archive for the ‘electricity’ Category

Zimbabwe’s Ruling Party Created Economic “Disaster,” Now Considers Defeat

April 1, 2008

President Mugabe of Zimbabwe was hailed then for his policies of racial reconciliation and development that brought education and health to millions denied those services under colonial rule. Zimbabwe’s economy thrived on exports of food, minerals and tobacco.The unraveling began when Mugabe ordered the often-violent seizures of white-owned commercial farms, ostensibly to return them to the landless black majority. Instead, Mugabe replaced a white elite with a black one, giving the farms to relatives, friends and cronies who allowed cultivated fields to be taken over by weeds.

Today, a third of the population depends on imported food handouts. Another third has fled the country as economic and political refugees and 80 percent is jobless. Life expectancy has fallen from 60 to 35 years and shortages of food, medicine, water, electricity and fuel are chronic.

Today the ruling party may be facing ouster by the voters, if the election is honest….

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China’s carbon (And Coal and Pollution) Dragon

February 22, 2008

The Christian Science Monitor
February 22, 2008
Try this statistic on for size: If China’s economy continues to grow at its current pace, and the Asian giant doesn’t cut its rate of energy use, by 2030 it could be emitting as much carbon into the atmosphere as the entire world does today.

Beijing is rushing to make its air clean for the 2008 Olympics, but experts say it will be impossible for the site to be totally safe for athletes at the global sporting event. 

And here’s another: As you read this, China is bringing on line coal-fired power plants – major sources of greenhouse-gas emissions – at the mind-boggling rate of two per week.

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Blackouts in China city as snowy weather revisits

February 16, 2008

BEIJING (Reuters) – More than two million people have been hit by power cuts in China‘s Qujing city and thousands have been stranded on highways as snowy weather revisits the southwest region, state media said on Saturday.

China has yet to recover from the worst power shortages in recent years that have hit central and southern parts since late January, as the coldest winter in decades damaged power cables and crippled coal deliveries to power stations.

Power plants at Qujing, the second-largest city in Yunnan province, have barely enough coal reserves for three days and snow has blocked roads, Xinhua News Agency said, citing local government officials.

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Wicked winter weather tests China

February 6, 2008
By CHRISTOPHER BODEEN, Associated Press Writer 

BEIJING – China tackled its snow crisis with a striking — and uniquely Chinese — display of communist mass mobilization, propaganda and state control.

But for the host of the summer Olympic Games, the weather blitz also laid bare its weaknesses, stretching its transport and energy systems to the limit.

Still, the crisis has wound down just in time for the Lunar New Year holiday, and illustrates the strengths of a one-party system struggling to manage an ever more complex society.

“The essential thing is that the central government has very substantial mobilization powers,” said Joseph Cheng, chairman of the City University of Hong Kong’s Contemporary China Research Center. “Once it sets its priorities, it can really act.”

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China: Muscle Moves Mountains of Snow, Ice

China, Vietnam: State Run Media Paint a Rosey Picture, Ignore Abuse of Populations

Millions in China to greet new year without power

February 5, 2008
By Chris Buckley

KAILI, China (Reuters) – Railways and highways were returning to normal across China on Tuesday, but millions are likely to spend the biggest holiday of the year without power and water in what for some is the coldest winter in a century.

In this photo released by China's Xinhua News Agency, a convoy ...
In this photo released by China’s Xinhua News Agency, a convoy of trucks carrying coal heads to provinces hard-hit by snow and ice storms to increase coal supply and bring back power there from Erdos, north China’s Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, Monday, Feb. 4, 2008. The worst snowfall in decades beginning early January paralyzed cities in a part of the country.
(AP Photo/Xinhua, Li Xin)

The freezing weather in the run-up to the Lunar New Year break, which begins on Wednesday and offers the only chance for poor migrant workers to visit loved ones, has killed scores of people and left millions stranded.
Whole cities have had their power and water cut off for more than a week and so far 11 electricians have been killed trying to reconnect lines or break ice encasing poles and cables.

In this photo released by China's Xinhua News Agency, soldiers ...
In this photo released by China’s Xinhua News Agency, soldiers climb the Jinggang Mountains in east China’s Jiangxi Province on Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2008 as they are mobilized to fix power transmission lines damaged by heavy snow storms. The loss of power brought electric trains to a standstill, stranding more than 5 million holiday travelers.
(AP Photo/Xinhua, Dai Qingming)

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In this photo released by China's Xinhua News Agency, Chinese ... 
In this photo released by China’s Xinhua News Agency, Chinese President Hu Jintao delivers a speech at a grand gathering in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2008 to celebrate the upcoming Spring Festival, the Chinese Lunar New Year’s Day, which falls on Feb. 7 this year. Hu chaired the gathering of 4,000 people from various sections of society, Xinhua said.(AP Photo/Xinhua, Li Xueren)

China, Vietnam: State Run Media Paint a Rosey Picture, Ignore Abuse of Populations

February 5, 2008

By John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom

According to the communist and state-controlled media of Vietnam, Vietnam won a contract this week to export 300,000 tons of rice to the Philippines.
Great news, right?

“Just try to buy a bag of rice in the Central Highlands,” a recently arrived immigrant from Vietnam to the U.S. said to me. “You cannot afford it because it is not there. One grain of rice must be shared five ways.”

Vietnam sold one million tons of rice abroad in January.

Vietnamese rice has been exported to more than 70 countries and territories around the world including demanding markets such as the EU, the US and Japan. In 2007, Vietnam was second among the world’s rice exporters, trailing only Thailand, with an export volume of 4.3 million tons and grossing more than US$1.4 billion in export turnover, according to the Ministry of Industry and Trade.

And in Vietnam, due to industrialization, the amount of land devoted to rice production goes down each year.  According to the communist controlled state media, Vietnam has recently lost 300,000 irrigated hectares of rice fields.

Consequently, in much of Vietnam rice is scarce — driving up the price and contributing to double-digit inflation in December alone.

In China, just a few weeks ago, all the news was terrific. Beijing was preparing for a gigantic self-love-in called the Summer Olympics, said the communist state-controlled media.

Then a man was killed in a construction accident at the Olympic site.  China has historically ignored worker safety.

Then a few other things went wrong.

A huge snowstorm brought China to its knees. Produce prices doubled and inflation set in. Cities have been without electricity, coal for heat and other necessities for more than ten days.

A crowd bigger than the entire population of Boston was stranded at a railroad station without adequate water, food or sanitary facilities. When the crowd surged forward they stampeded a rail worker to death.

A passenger past Chinese soldiers controlling access to the ...
passenger walks past Chinese soldiers controlling access to the railway station in China’s southern city of Guangzhou. China’s chief meteorologist has admitted the country was not prepared for the severe winter weather that has stranded millions of people struggling to get home for Lunar New Year.(AFP/Liu Jin)

And we discovered something: China is a winter wonderland without modern snowplows. Over one million soldiers we called out to shovel. Military vehicles like armored tanks were used instead of plows. Snipers tried to remove ice from electric power systems.

And something like 20 million migrant workers – the people that are the engine of the booming industrial economy – were unable to return home for the New Year. They were left in the snow and cold during their only opportunity to return home during the year.

The Prime Minister and President Hu Jintao did something for their people.  They said they were sorry.

Hu Jintao
Hu Jintao

The lesson is easy and stark.

When the media controls what the world largely hears about your nation; the “truth” is often a long way from the headlines.

“Spin” isn’t something invented or perfected by American Hollywood or sports teams. China and Vietnam know something about “spin,” where it is managed by the central government.
Nguyen Kim Hung cooks a rat at his home in Dinh Bang Village, ... 
Nguyen Kim Hung cooks a rat at his home in Dinh Bang Village, Bac Ninh Province, vietnam, Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2008. In Dinh Bang village, just outside Hanoi, rat meat has been eaten for centuries. Rat can be prepared into many dished, most commonly to boiled and fried rat to Dinh Bang villagers.
(AP Photo/Chitose Suzuki)

Rat hunter Nguyen Tien Phat, top, and his brother Nguyen Kim ...
Rat hunter Nguyen Tien Phat, top, and his brother Nguyen Kim Hung, left, drink rice wine in front of rat cuisine, boiled rat and fried rat, which is Phat caught and Hung cooked, at Hung’s home in Dinh Bang village, Bac Ninh Province, Vietnam, Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2008. In Dinh Bang village, just outside Hanoi, rat meat has been eaten for centuries. Rat can be prepared into many dished, most commonly to boiled and fried rat to Dinh Bang villagers.(AP Photo/Chitose Suzuki)

China Cracking Down on Human Rights; Ignoring Olympic Pledge

As China Olympics Nears; Pollution Fears

Monday: China Covered in Snow, Fog, Displaced People

February 4, 2008

By John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom
February 4, 2008

Overnight our friends and colleagues in China sent us a deluge of reports all with a familiar ring: masses of Chinese people remain engulfed in snow, fog, troops holding them back and just a crush of humanity unable to move or make progress.

The snow emergency is now in its fourth week and a nation that now has been revealed as a place totally ill-equipped for a major snow “event,” as weathermen love to say in the U.S., is now using military armoured vehicles (“Tanks”) to pack down snow on freeways.

Armed vehicles are deployed to crush ice covering roads in Chenzhou, ...
Armed vehicles are deployed to crush ice covering roads in Chenzhou, Hunan province, in this picture distributed by China’s official Xinhua News Agency February 3, 2008. The power supply of the city was cut off as the heavy snow and ice damaged seriously the power facilities including the transmission towers and lines, Xinhua News Agency said. Picture taken February 3, 2008.

Troops are beeng used in formations two and three deep to create a wall of uniformed men to block surging crowds from their intended objective.  But this tactic has not been foolproof.  Last week a crowd broke through the wall of troops and crushed a man to death in the process.

Freezing storms have killed scores of people and left travelers stranded before the Lunar New Year, or Spring Festival — the only opportunity many people have to take a holiday all
year — or perhaps years.

The poor, nomadic migrant workers in China, sometimes estimated at up to 100 million people or one-third the total population of the U.S., do not have but this one opportunity to return home each year.  But our colleagues have spoken to dozens who have not been home for three or four years.  These people have very limited human rights and no advantages in life.

And getting home for the Lunar New Year is deeply important.  Paying respect to one’s parents and elder family in person at the start of the Lunar New Year makes one lucky all year.  To miss the event can evoke ill will from the household gods for the entire year.

A man lights candles at a stall selling foods  in Chenzhou in ...
A man lights candles at a stall selling foods in Chenzhou in China’s southern Hunan province Monday, Feb. 4, 2008. The city of four million has been without electricity for ten days.  Most electric power generating plants run off coal which cannot be distributed without trains.  The trains are blocked by snow and their power lines are felled by ice.
(AP Photo/Vincent Yu)

Lunar New Year is a deeply significant cultural event without an analogy in the West — especially among the rural, under educated and poor.

President Hu Jintao chaired a second emergency Politburo meeting in a week on Sunday.  Yet the communist leadership, despite its best effort and calling out over one million troops, simply does not have the experience or resources to effectively deal with a snow emergency of this magnitude.

“We have to be clear-minded that the inclement weather and severe disaster will continue to plague certain regions in the south,” said a statement issued after Sunday’s Politburo meeting. “Relief work will continue to face challenges, posing a tough task.”

The China Meteorological Administration said the weather was the coldest in 100 years in central Hubei and Hunan provinces, going by the total number of consecutive days of average temperature less than 1 degree Celsius (33.8 degrees Fahrenheit).

But there is hope for milder days said the weather agency.

“The weather over the disaster-stricken regions is likely to turn better in the next several days, but it is still necessary to remain alert for possible low temperatures, frozen rain, snow, freezing and heavy fog,” it said in a statement.

The state controlled communist government is already in full “spin” mode saying that the economic impact of the snaow is limited and is likely to create new investment.

“There is no doubt that such a big economy will encounter various difficulties each year, but the Chinese economy is maintaining stable growth momentum,” said Fan Gang, director of China’s National Institute of Economic Research.

The snow is likely to stimulate investment on items such as upgrading the national power grid or improving the transportation network for coal, Fan was quoted as saying.

AFP reported this:
“The economic situation has become complicated with the new factors cropping up,” said Wu Jinglian, an analyst at the State Council Development Research Centre, the central government’s think tank, according to the paper.

China’s economy, the world’s fourth-largest, grew by a blistering 11.4 percent in 2007, the highest level in 13 years.

Investment accounted for 4.3 of those 11.4 percentage points, more than the 2.7 percent accounted for by net exports, according to the National Bureau of Statistics.

The World Bank Monday also predicted limited impact on the economy, as it lowered the 2008 growth forecast for China from 10.8 percent to 9.6 percent, not because of the snow, but because of the global slowdown.

“Natural disasters normally call for economic activity to repair the damage,” David Dollar, the head of the bank’s China office, told a briefing in Beijing.

Most of the impact of the storms — including rising food prices and a decline in industrial output over January and February — will turn out to be temporary, World Bank economists said.

There “could be some pick-up (later in the year) as investment takes place to solve the bottlenecks,” said Louis Kuijs, a senior economist with the bank.

Thousands of passengers wait to get on trains outside the railway ...
Thousands of passengers wait to get on trains outside the railway station in China’s southern city of Guangzhou. A double row of troops keeps the migrants in place.  Heavy fog descended Monday on large parts of southern China, complicating the task of helping millions of workers stranded by winter weather that in some areas is the worst in 100 years.
(AFP/Liu Jin).

China Confirms Man Killed in Stampede; Winter Chaos Continues
Blizzard Strikes: What Happens in China Different From in the U.S.?
Snowstorms damage China’s reputation

A Frail Economy Raises Pressure on Iran’s Rulers

February 3, 2008
The New York Times
February 3, 2008
TEHRAN — In one of the coldest winters Iranians have experienced in recent memory, the government is failing to provide natural gas to tens of thousands of people across the country, leaving some for days or even weeks with no heat at all. Here in the capital, rolling blackouts every night for a month have left people without electricity, and heat, for hours at a time.The heating crisis in this oil-exporting nation is adding to Iranians’ increasing awareness of the contrast between their growing influence abroad and frailty at home, according to government officials, diplomats and political analysts interviewed here.

From fundamentalists to reformists, people here are talking more loudly about the need for a more pragmatic approach, one that tones down the anti-Western rhetoric….

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A defiant President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has said that Tehran ...
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad  

Blizzard Strikes: What Happens in China Different From in the U.S.?

February 2, 2008

By John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom

When a major snowstorm hits; what are the differences between China and the U.S.?

Answer: Everything.

China is experiencing its worst winter storm in 50 years or more. The event has turned into a near-disaster as tens of millions of travelers have been stranded and more than a million troops have been mobilized both to provide peace and security and to remove snow.

Soldiers shovel snow at a square outside the Nanjing Railway ...
Soldiers shovel snow at a square outside the Nanjing Railway Station in Nanjing, Jiangsu province February 2, 2008. Emergency crews struggled on Saturday to restore power to parts of southern China blacked out for a week by heavy snow as forecasters warned of no quick end to the worst winter weather in 50 years.
(Jeff Xu/Reuters)

In one of China’s train stations, more people are stranded than the entire population of Boston.

At Shanghai’s Hongqiao airport, soldiers were sent out to remove the snow and ice from acres of runways and tarmacs: armed only with shovels.

Snow removal in the U.S. is difficult and costly yet relatively routine due to long term investment in plows, trucks, sand, chemicals and other things.

In China, snow is being removed by anything from brooms made from branches to hundreds of shovel wielding troops. There are virtually no modern American-style snowplow trucks.

In China today, the Prime Minister, all his top communist party dignitaries and President Hu Jintao are on the road ordering local party functionaries to remove snow and ice and trying to apologize to massive hoards of people with bullhorns.

In a howling blizzard with 200,000 people before you, how many people do you think you can reach with a battery powered bullhorn?

In many parts of China today, the electrical grid is broken and disrupted due to ice which brought down power lines.

When three electrical workers were killed while attempting repairs, the Prime Minister met with the families and state-controlled communist TV made the workers into national heroes.

In China today, we see the impact of millions of migrant workers with limited or no human rights. Sure, they produce a wonderment of goods for Good Old Communist Red China and we buy it. But now we see how it is all possible.

China’s economic boom is on the backs of the poor and abused.

China is, in a word, crippled by snow, ice and cold. Vital normal services are paralyzed: like coal delivery, electricity, water service and the food supply and distribution system.

We pray for our Chinese brothers and we also say to the centrally controlled communist government: what gives?

China Confirms Man Killed in Stampede; Winter Chaos Continues

Monday: China Covered in Snow, Fog, Displaced People

Snowstorms damage China’s reputation

February 2, 2008

By David R. Sands
The Washington Times 
February 2, 2008

Snow in China has killed at least 60 persons, sent fuel and food prices soaring, snapped power lines, blocked roads and rail lines, closed mines and airports, shaved a few points off economic growth for the year, and prevented millions of travelers from getting home on one of the biggest holidays of the year.

Airport workers clear snow and ice next to a snow covered Air ...
Airport workers clear snow and ice next to a snow covered Air China plane, after heavy snowfalls again caused long delays and cancellations at Shanghai’s Hongqiao airport, on February 2. China warned the worst of its savage winter weather was not yet over as it doubled the number of troops aiding winter storm relief efforts to more than one million.
(AFP/Mark Ralston)

But the most long-term damage from the two weeks of winter storms may be to the reputation of the central government in Beijing.
More bad weather was in the forecast for the country’s beleaguered southern and eastern regions as China’s communist leaders struggled to dig out from a natural disaster that has exposed glaring domestic weaknesses in the globe’s emerging economic superpower.

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