China: Celebrities to promote virtue: The official in charge of the internet in China has called for celebrities to promote virtue among their followers on social media. The official, Lu Wei, said famous people should inform against any activities that could be harmful.
16 August 2013
Lu Wei’s comments appear to have been provoked by an incident last month in which a popular Chinese singer, Wu Hongfei, was arrested after she published a message threatening to blow up a local government building. She was eventually released, but her message sparked a huge debate about freedom of speech.
Lu Wei is trying to enlist that sort of influence in the hope of pleasing both the Communist Party, which is desperate to maintain power, and millions of young internet users, equally desperate for the freedom to say whatever they want.
Hundreds of millions of Chinese people use the internet, and its influence has worried the Communist Party for years, particularly when the central government becomes a target. For example, in March last year, a number of websites carried rumours that there was a coup going on in Beijing. All of them were shut down and their owners were arrested. For China’s leaders, controlling the internet has become a routine part of controlling the country.
China green industries: Chinese state media say the government is trying to tackle pollution caused by the country’s fast economic development. According to the state-run news agency, new measures are being introduced to encourage the country’s green industries.
12 August 2013
China is the world’s biggest polluter. But toxic smog in its cities is increasingly generating enormous public anger.
Now the authorities say they want the green industries to have a turnover of more than $700bn by 2015. They’re offering tax breaks and subsidies to promote growth and innovation within the sector.
It’s the latest move by the government to curb pollution. Last month, the authorities ordered hundreds of steel, paper and leather factories to shut down production lines that were causing high levels of pollution.
Camels could be source of deadly virus: Scientists studying a deadly virus say they are closer to finding its source. Research suggests that camels could be responsible for passing Middle East Respiratory Syndrome – or MERS – to humans. The study is published in the Lancet Infectious Diseases.
9 August 2013
This deadly virus first emerged in the Middle East last year. So far, it’s infected nearly 100 people, killing about half of them – and scientists have been striving to understand how it spreads.
Now tests have revealed that dromedary camels in Oman and the Canary Islands have signs of the virus in their blood. Scientists have found antibodies that show that the animals were once infected with the Mers virus, or one that’s very similar.
This, though, doesn’t offer definitive proof that camels are reservoirs for the disease. For that, scientists need to look at animals from the country where the virus is most prevalent – Saudi Arabia – to see if they carry the infection. Researchers say confirming the source of the virus is a priority and will be crucial for halting its spread.
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