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China's air is the worst in the world, how bad is their water?

The photo below is of a journalist taking a sample of water from the Jianha river. The water is red because of factories illegally squirting their waste products into the public streams. Yes, that red sludge is water. Chinese environment official challenged to swim in polluted river | Environment | guardian.co.uk
Widespread outrage against China's environmental issues that began when Beijing's air pollution hit record levels last month has spread to encompass another major public health threat: water pollution. Last week, an eyeglass-retailer executive from Rui'an City, coastal Zhejiang province, offered the city's environmental protection chief Bao Zhenming more than �20,000 to take a 20-minute dip in a highly polluted local river. The entrepreneur, Jin Zengmin, posted the dare to his microblog beneath pictures showing the waterway overflowing with discarded aluminum cans, polystyrene boxes and paper lanterns. He blamed the river's industrial demise on dumping by a local rubber shoe factory. The Rui'an government responded by saying that most of the river's pollution was caused by individuals, not factories, and could be attributed to overpopulation. Bao has since declined the offer. "Finally this issue [water pollution] has aroused the attention of the general public," said Ma Jun, head of the Beijing-based Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs. "Although it's going to take a long time [to fix], now we have seen a starting point."

February 19, 2013

Masked robbers steal $50 million in diamonds from Belgian airport

Diamond heist at Brussels airport nets gang up to $50m in gems | World news | The Guardian
The men, who were armed with machine guns and dressed in police uniforms, broke through a hole they had made in the airport security fence in two vehicles, a Mercedes van and a car, and they made straight for a Swiss passenger plane operated by Helvetic Airways. Staff from a high-security van operated by Brinks had just finished unloading the diamonds that were to be transported on the plane bound for Zurich. The men flashed machine guns but no shots were fired as they took 120 parcels from the plane's hold, stacking them in their vehicles. They fled at high speed through the hole in the security fence. The van believed to have been used in the raid was later found burnt out just outside Brussels. Ine Van Wymersch, spokeswoman for the Brussels prosecutor, said: "They were well prepared. There were passengers on the plane but they saw nothing of what was going on." The prosecutor would not comment on the exact value of the stolen parcels, believed to contain rough and polished diamonds intended for different handlers in Switzerland.

February 18, 2013

Taking your dad to Burning Man

A fun long read for the day. And the kind of piece that experience always makes me think is utterly faked. Also--and this is nitpicking--but how can you mention the Slut Olympics and then fail to go into any detail? Wells Tower's Burning Man Experience - GQ February 2013: Men's Lives: GQ
My father and I are staid, abstracted East Coast types without much natural affinity for bohemian adventures. But we are here less for the festival itself than in service of an annual father-son ritual. Fourteen years ago, my father was diagnosed with an exotic lymphoma and given an outside prognosis of two years. When we both supposed he was dying, we made an adorable pledge—if he survived—to take a trip together every year. Thanks to medical science, we've now followed the tradition for a solid decade, journeying each summer to some arbitrarily selected far-flung destination: Greenland, Ecuador, Cyprus, etc. This year, we've retooled the concept and departed instead on a bit of domestic ethnography. We have joined the annual pilgrimage of many thousands who each year flee the square world for the Nevada desert to join what's supposed to be humanity's greatest countercultural folk festival/self-expression derby. Or it used to be, before people like my father and me started showing up. . . . At the adjacent welcome booth, dreadlockers, having been duly greeted, are trudging back to their hippie wagon. "I hope it doesn't suck this year," one of them says, eyeing our vast and foolish RV. "We're surrounded by all these bougie people." "I'm so fucking stoned,"complains a bikini-clad girl wearing a fedora snugged over dreadlocks stout as table legs. "Man, I gotta focus. Gotta get ready for the Slut Olympics." We climb back aboard, tracking pounds of dust into the RV. My dad is enlivened. "What a nice greeting that was," he says. "Did you know that woman didn't have any trousers on? I was so focused on her breasts I didn't notice she was naked until after the ceremony."