World View: China Admits That 20% of Its Farmland Is Polluted
- China admits that 20% of its farmland is polluted with cadmium
- Pro-Russian Ukraine activists refuse to stand down
- MERS in Malaysia raises concerns of 'super-spreader'
China admits that 20% of its farmland is polluted with cadmium
A previously top secret report has emerged from China's Environmental
Protection Ministry showing that 19.4% of China's farmland is
contaminated with heavy metals, particularly cadmium, nickel, and
arsenic. The toxins come from factories and mining. Rice crops are
particularly vulnerable, since rice paddies are flooded with water, so the soil can be contaminated by a mine that's miles away. The
report was released as a result of numerous scandals about tainted
rice containing cadmium, which can cause kidney damage or cancer.
Almost half the supplies of rice sold in Guangzhou, a major city, are
contaminated with cadmium.
Chinese food traders have little regard for the dangers caused by
tainted food. Investigations have shown that traders have been
selling rice known to be cadmium-tainted to food processors. This is
reminiscent of 2008, when some 54,000 babies fell ill and were
hospitalized with kidney problems because of melamine added to milk
powder to fool inspectors into thinking that it had more protein than
it really had. (See "A generational view of China's growing melamine food disaster"
from 2008.) AP and Shanghai Daily
Pro-Russian Ukraine activists refuse to stand down
Pro-Russian east Ukraine activists have refused to honor the
international agreement that was signed on Thursday, saying that they
weren't bound by any agreement that they were never asked to sign. As
we reported several days ago,
Russia's ambassador to the European Union said that any such agreement
would be "betraying" the people of eastern Ukraine, and he's right --
activists are saying that Russia sold them out. They're refusing to
vacate the buildings they had occupied until the Ukraine's interim
government in Kiev is ousted. Russia is supporting this opposition.
The White House has warned of "serious consequences" if Russia does
not honor the agreement it signed.
Many commentators believe that Russia's president Vladimir Putin is
looking for an excuse or just waiting until the time is right to order
an invasion of east Ukraine. But he's had plenty of excuses up until now, and his 40,000 man army has been on Ukraine's border for weeks.
He could have ordered an invasion at any time in the last few weeks if he had wanted to.
It's at least as probable that Putin is looking for a way to avoid
invading and to create a status quo under terms favorable to Russia.
An invasion would not be quick and would meet a great deal of local
resistance. Russia's army would get bogged down in a protracted
battle which, according to several analysts, Russia cannot afford.
Under this interpretation, Putin's flip-flop was really an act of
desperation, as he had ruled out an invasion and had no other
viable choice. AP
MERS in Malaysia raises concerns of 'super-spreader'
MERS-CoV (the Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus)
raised serious concerns late last year as it was spreading
in Saudi Arabia and other Middle Eastern countries. But
now two new outbreaks, one in the Middle East and one
in Malaysia, is causing new concerns that the virus may have
mutated and can spread more easily.
There have been 238 confirmed cases of MERS up until now, with 92
leading to death, which is a high death rate. In the last week there
were 20 cases in two distinct clusters, one in Saudi Arabia and the
United Arab Emirates (UAE), and one in Malaysia. It's known
that both clusters were caused by a 54-year old man who traveled
between Saudi Arabia and Singapore in mid-March but did not
become ill until April 4.
It was just such a "super-spreader" who caused the SARS virus to
become an international crisis a decade ago. The fear is that the
MERS virus has mutated enough to allow such a super-spreader to cause
another international crisis. Arab News and Recombinomics and World Health Organization (WHO)
KEYS: Generational Dynamics, China, Environment Protection,
cadmium, nickel, arsenic, Guangzhou,
Ukraine, Russia, Vladimir Putin,
Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus, MERS-CoV
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