Archive for December, 2010

China makes notable progress in achieving food security [People’s Daily]

Posted in China on December 31, 2010 by Zuo Shou / 左手

December 24, 2010

Olivier De Schutter, a United Nation special rapporteur on the right to food said on Friday that China has made remarkable progress in achieving food secuirty over the past 30 years.

“China has made remarkable progress in achieving food security as a result of 30 years of investment in agriculture and reforms that allowed small-scale farmers in this country to be incredibly productive,” Olivier De Schutter told a news conference.

With a population of 1.3 billion, China has 21 percent of the world’s population and 9 percent of the world’s arable land. China has moved since 2005 from being a beneficiary of food aid to being a donor of food to others, thanks to impressive progress in agricultural production by 200 million rural farmers who have an average land acreage of 0.65 hectares, De Schutter said.

China has achieved a grain self-sufficiency rate of about 95 percent, and its grain reserves are estimated to be more than double the 17-percent safety level recommended by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, he added.

The high productivity of small-scale farming was “the secret of China’s success,” a Chinese official said.

“Small-scale farming will be more productive if it is sufficiently supported and if small-scale farmers are encouraged to organize themselves at the cooperative level, at the level of village, to achieve certain economic scale,” De Schutter said. He praised the Chinese model of combining small farms with collectively-run organizations at the village level.

De Schutter also said that China faces the challenge of improving the situation of people living in rural areas, adding that improving the security of land tenure is important.

He also said China faces the challenges of moving toward more sustainable agriculture and addressing issues of malnutrition in some poverty-sticken regions.

By Zhang Qian, People’s Daily Online

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China strengthens regulation on foreign property investment [People’s Daily]

Posted in China, Housing on December 31, 2010 by Zuo Shou / 左手

December 24, 2010

China is tightening regulation on foreign investment in the real estate sector to crack down on speculation, according to a statement from the Ministry of Commerce (MOC) on Thursday.

The ministry urges local authorities to increase checks and supervision on property investment that involved foreign investors and strengthen risk controls on the sector, said the statement posted on the MOC web site.

According to the statement, foreign-funded developers are not allowed to make profits through buying and reselling real estate projects, which will be strictly monitored by the MOC along with the Ministry of Land and Resources and the State Administration of Foreign Exchange.

The ministry also required local authorities to tighten scrutiny over foreign-funded investment companies and not to allow those companies to enter the real estate businesses, while closely examining the exact amount of foreign funds used in new real estate projects.

Foreign direct investment(FDI) into China’s property sector jumped 48 percent to 20.1 billion U.S. dollars in the first eleven months of this year, compared to a 17.73 percent growth in the total FDI in the same period, according to earlier MOC data.

China introduced a group of measures to crack down on property market speculation and rein in skyrocketing home prices since the beginning of this year, including prohibiting the issuance of mortgage loans for third home purchases and raising down-payments.

The government is also guarding against possible “hot money” inflows that might complicate China’s policy to fight inflation.

Property prices in 70 major Chinese cities rose 0.3 percent in November, month on month, and 7.7 percent year on year, according to the National Bureau of Statistics.

Source: Xinhua

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China invests heavily in building basic medical insurance system [Xinhua]

Posted in China, CPC, Universal Health Care on December 31, 2010 by Zuo Shou / 左手

December 25, 2010

BEIJING, Dec. 24 (Xinhua) — China’s health care reform funds – 850 billion yuan (126 billion U.S. dollars) over three years – were mainly used to build a basic medical insurance system for urban and rural residents, said Minister of Finance Xie Xuren Friday.

Xie made the remarks at the 18th session of the Standing Committee of the 11th National People’s Congress (NPC), a bimonthly session that began Dec. 20 and will end Dec. 25.

The government in April 2009 unveiled a 850 billion yuan three-year plan for national health care reform.

With the funds, the government promised universal access to basic health insurance, the introduction of an essential drugs system, improved primary health care facilities, equitable access to basic public health services and a pilot reforms for state-run hospitals.

Xie reported that in 2009, the government spent 399.4 billion yuan on health care, with 64.5 billion yuan on the medical insurance system, 24.6 billion yuan on public health services and 21.7 billion yuan on grassroots medical institutions in rural townships and small urban communities.

This year’s medical and health budget was 443.9 billion yuan, Xie said.

By the end of last month, 55.6 billion yuan had been spent on the medical insurance system and 31.6 billion yuan on grass-roots medical institutions, according to statistics from the Ministry of Finance.

Xie said the central government will enhance health care reform, strengthen monitoring on the funds’ disbursement, and supervise local governments allocation of funds.

“We will fulfil the 850 billion yuan plan,” he said.

Thanks to the country’s financial support, some 1.26 billion Chinese are covered by the basic medical insurance system, with 424 millon of them in cities and towns and 835 million in rural areas.

Under the medical insurance system, governments in urban and rural areas this year paid no less than 120 yuan per person per year in subsidies, with about 60 to 75 percent of inpatient medical expenses being reimbursed.

According to Vice Minister of Health Zhang Mao, improving the medical insurance system and decreasing the cost of individuals’ medical treatment helps ensure affordable health services for all people.

Regarding the increased cost of health care, Zhang urged state-run hospitals to seek less profit and stop over-treating.

To make the payment of medical expenses convenient, the government is promoting the use of a one-card system, to allow patients to be reimbursed as soon as possible, Hu Xiaoyi, vice minister for human resources and social security, told lawmakers.

According to Hu, more than 800 million cards will be issued during the next five-year program (2011-2015).

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DPRK blasts U.S. for tension on Korean Peninsula [People’s Daily]

Posted in Cheonan sinking, DPR Korea, Japan, Korean Central News Agency of DPRK, US imperialism, USA on December 31, 2010 by Zuo Shou / 左手

December 24, 2010

The official KCNA news agency of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) on Friday accused the United States and its military allies of taking “a grave action of aggression quite contrary to the global trend for peace.”

The United States is “entirely to blame for the situation” on the Korean Peninsula that was on the brink of war as Washington used the peninsula to realize its strategy to dominate East Asia, said the KCNA in a commentary.

The United States, which focused its efforts on knocking into shape a triangular military alliance with Japan and South Korea to hold hegemony in the Asia-Pacific, “put the alliance into test” by escalating the situation on the peninsula this year, it said.

The U.S., Japan and South Korea demonstrated “unprecedented joint actions” in reacting to the Cheonan warship case and the island shelling incident by employing “every means and method to add fuel to fire” to escalate the conflict, it said.

Japan and South Korea are acting as “shock brigades” for realizing the U.S. strategy for aggression, it added.

The commentary also called on the international community to take as an urgent matter to return stability and peace to Northeast Asia and to “foil the U.S. moves to round off alliance for aggression.”

Source: Xinhua

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“City of Life and Death” resurrected in N. America [Film Business Asia / Sweet & Sour Cinema]

Posted in China, Sweet & Sour Cinema, USA on December 30, 2010 by Zuo Shou / 左手

I encourage everybody interested in Chinese cinema, or great world cinema, to check this one out. It’s the best film that’s been released in China during the several years that I’ve been living here. I’ll try to see if I can’t kick out a review one of these days now that it’s slated for a much-delayed US release – Zuo Shou 做手

December 29, 2010

by Stephen Cremin

~ Distribution News ~

Kino International has picked up North American distribution rights of Lu Chuan’s (陸川) wartime drama City of Life and Death (南京! 南京!).

Lu’s critically acclaimed film, shot in black-and-white, depicts the Nanjing Massacre from the perspective of several characters including a Japanese soldier, a Chinese prostitute and a foreign diplomat.

Released in China in Apr 2009, the film grossed RMB172 million ($26 million) theatrically. It premiered internationally at the Toronto festival before winning the top prize at San Sebastian in Sep 2009.

The film has had a troubled history in North America.

In Aug 2009, National Geographic Entertainment announced that it had acquired the film for North American distribution but the deal was never closed leading to the cancellation of its scheduled March release.

In Jan 2010, the film was one of two Chinese titles pulled from the Palm Springs International Film Festival in reaction to the Californian festival’s screening of a documentary about the Dalai Lama.

Kino plan to release City of Life and Death at New York’s Film Forum, the theatre originally booked by National Geographic, on 11 May. Kino also plans to release the film in Canada.

Chinese titles distributed by Kino International include Chen Kaige’s (陳凱歌) Life on a String (邊走邊唱, 1991), Yim Ho’s (嚴浩) The Day the Sun Turned Cold (天國逆子, 1994) and Li Yang’s (李楊) Blind Shaft (盲井, 2003).

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~ Also see: “Lu Chuan’s WWII Film to Head for N. America” [] – ~

Study shows political views correlate with brain structure – Right-wingers’ noodles found to have larger “fear area” [Telegraph]

Posted in U.K. on December 30, 2010 by Zuo Shou / 左手

~ Tories may be born not made, claims a study that suggests people with right wing views have a larger area of the brain associated with fear. ~ [Actually the first phrase of the preceding sentence is a misrepresentation of the study; as is the original title, listed at the bottom of the article. See the 5th sentence for the correct perspective. This Science Correspondent and/or his editor are sloppy.]

28 December 2010

by Richard Alleyne

Scientists have found that people with conservative views have brains with larger amygdalas, almond shaped areas in the centre of the brain often associated with anxiety and emotions.

On the other hand, they have a smaller anterior cingulate, an area at the front of the brain associated with courage and looking on the bright side of life.

The “exciting” correlation was found by scientists at University College London who scanned the brains of two members of parliament and a number of students.

They found that the size of the two areas of the brain directly related to the political views of the volunteers.

However as they were all adults it was hard to say whether their brains had been born that way or had developed through experience.

Prof Geraint Rees, who led the research, said: “We were very surprised to find that there was an area of the brain that we could predict political attitude.

“It is very surprising because it does suggest there is something about political attitude that is encoded in our brain structure through our experience or that there is something in our brain structure that determines or results in political attitude.”

Prof Rees and his team, who carried out the research for the Today programme on BBC Radio 4, looked at the brain make up of the Labour MP Stephen Pound and Alan Duncan, the Conservative Minister of State for International Development using a scanner.

They also questioned a further 90 students, who had already been scanned for other studies, about their political views.

The results, which will be published next year, back up a study that showed that some people were born with a “Liberal Gene” [sic] that makes people more likely to seek out less conventional political views.

The gene, a neurotransmitter in the brain called DRD4, could even be stimulated by the novelty value of radical opinions, claimed the researchers at the University of California.

Original article title: “Political views ‘hard-wired’ into your brain”

Edited by Zuo Shou 左手

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Israel’s ex-president convicted of rape [PressTV]

Posted in Israel on December 30, 2010 by Zuo Shou / 左手

Compare and contrast the MSM’s underwhelming treatment of this long-in-the-making story of an Israeli President’s appalling guilt as a rapist/sexual abuser with the recent hysterical Julian Assange “sex crimes” witch hunt. – Zuo Shou 左手

December 30, 2010

~ Former Israeli President Moshe Katsav has been found guilty of raping and sexually abusing several women during the time he was holding office. ~

The Tel Aviv district court on Thursday convicted Katsav on two counts of rape and other sex abuse charges, declaring that the ex-president’s version of events was “riddled with lies.”

The verdict was handed down more than four years after complaints surfaced [sic] severe sexual offenses against his employees, Israeli daily Ha’aretz reported.

Katsav was convicted of raping and sexually abusing a former employee from the tourism ministry. He was also convicted of sexually harassing two other women from the president’s residence.

The year-long trial took place almost entirely behind closed doors on Thursday morning.

The verdict came one year and a half after the start of his trial and 12 years after allegedly committing the first of the offenses with which he was charged.

The conviction means Katsav will face a minimum of four years in prison.

The 65-year-old Katsav resigned in 2007 and was replaced by Shimon Peres.

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