China considers changing one-child policy

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BEIJING (AP) — China may consider changing its one-child policy because it has succeeded in helping to slow population growth in the past three decades, a Chinese official said Sunday.

The policy, launched in the 1970s, has produced “very good results,” said Wu Jianmin spokesman for the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, an advisory body to parliament.

There would be an estimated 400 million more people in China without it, Wu said.

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Pentagon to test invisible gases in Crystal City

WASHINGTON (Map, News) – The Pentagon is scheduled to release an odorless, invisible, and yes, harmless, gases into the city Thursday to test how quickly they spread through buildings, officials said.The test is part of the military’s national security preparation for the capital area.

Over the past few years, the defense agency has worked with Arlington County to set up chemical sensors throughout the county, where thousands of defense employees work in leased office space.

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Armenia declares Marshal Law

Armenia declares emergency ruleA state of emergency has been declared in Armenia’s capital on the 11the consecutive day of protests against an allegedly rigged presidential election.

The measure, signed by President Robert Kocharian, bans public gatherings and imposes restrictions on media reports.

It came after police fired in the air to disperse demonstrators. Some reports suggest a number of casualties.

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Police in riot gear were out in large numbers

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Iraq war may cost US USD 7 trillion

Noble Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz estimates that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan may cost the US up to USD 7 trillion.When US troops invaded Iraq in March 2003, the Bush administration predicted that the war would be self-financing and that rebuilding the nation would cost less than USD 2b, but Stiglitz estimates that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are costing America more than USD 3 trillion.

That estimate from the Noble Prize-winning Sttiglitz also serves as the title of his new book, “The Three Trillion Dollar War”, which hits store shelves Friday.

The book, co-authored with Harvard University professor Linda Bilmes, builds on previous research that was published in January 2006. The two argued then and now that the cost to America of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan is wildly underestimated.

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Joseph Stiglitz and Linda Bilmes

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Iran shifts oil sales away from dollar

Deputy head of the National Iranian Oil Company for international affairs says Iran has completely dropped dollar in its oil sales.“We issue invoices in dollars and agree with clients that the letters of credit and other means of payment will have a non-dollar basis,” he said.

In an interview with The Financial Times, Hojjatollah Ghanimifard said that over the past three months, Iran has received 75 percent of the proceeds from its oil sales in euros and the remaining 25 percent in the Japanese currency, yen.

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Hojjatollah Ghanimifard

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Finnland – areas normally covered in snow and ice…

RSOE Emergency and Disaster Information Service
Budapest, Hungary2008-03-04 19:23:42 – Climate Change – Finland

GLIDE CODE: CC-20080304-15687-FIN
Date & Time: 2008-03-04 19:23:42 [UTC]
Area: Finland, , Statewide,

Description:

Southern Finland had only 20 days of snow, compared to 70 days normally,
while neighboring Estonia had to cancel a popular cross-country ski
marathon in the southern city of Tartu in early February. “I don’t
remember winter like this. We had almost no snow at all in February,”
said Merike Merilain, chief weather forecaster at Estonia’s
meteorological institute, EMHI. “It’s been emotionally very stressful,
especially to many older people, that it’s dark and rainy all the time,”
she added. The Finnish Meteorological Institute said the mild winter
partly resulted from strong southerly and westerly air currents caused
by exceptionally warm surface temperatures of the Atlantic.
Nevertheless, the higher temperatures have only fueled concern that
greenhouse gasses are changing the climate, especially in the sensitive
Arctic region.

“When we were young, back in the ’80s, then winter existed,” said Ronny
Ahlstedt, 28, who works at an outdoor ice-skating rink in downtown
Stockholm. “We are contributing to this warm weather by letting out all
this pollution in the air.” In areas normally covered in snow and ice,
spring-like temperatures have brought premature sightings of flowers
such as winter aconite, snowdrops, wood anemone, daffodils and
coltsfoot. Finland’s coasts are clear of ice up to 350 miles north of
Helsinki, said Jouni Vainio from the Finnish Institute of Marine
Research. “It’s most unusual because now the whole sea should be frozen
along the Finnish coast.” Railway traffic is also being helped by the
warmth. More than 90 percent of all trains this winter have been on time
or less than five minutes late, according to the Finnish state railway,
VR. “Hard frosts and heavy blizzards have always been a bane of rail
traffic. This winter has been punctuated by their absence,” VR spokesman
Herbert Mannerstrom said.

Sweden: Winter ended before it started in Europe’s north

RSOE Emergency and Disaster Information Service
Budapest, Hungary2008-03-04 19:22:55 – Climate Change – Sweden

GLIDE CODE: CC-20080304-15686-SWE
Date & Time: 2008-03-04 19:22:55 [UTC]
Area: Sweden, , Statewide,

Description:Icebreakers sit idle in ports. Insects crawl out of forest hideouts.
Daffodils sprout up from green lawns. Winter ended before it started in
Europe’s north, where record-high temperatures have people wondering
whether it’s a fluke or an ominous sign of a warming world. “It’s the
warmest winter ever” recorded
, said John Ekwall of the Swedish
Meteorological and Hydrological Institute. In December, January and
February, the average temperature in Stockholm was 36 degrees – the
highest on record since record-keeping began in 1756. Record winter
highs were set at 12 other locations across the country, according to
the national weather service, SMHI. Migratory birds have returned from
southern latitudes prematurely. In southern Sweden, they never left.
“The birds that have stayed are robins and chaffinches,” said biologist
Lars-Ake Janzon at the Swedish Museum of Natural History. “They stayed
because there hasn’t been any snow.”

The warm weather also has stirred life inside the vast forests of the
Nordic and Baltic countries, where insects such as ants and ticks
emerged early from winter shelter. For businesses, the mild weather has
been a mixed blessing. For winter sports enthusiasts, the green winter
has been a nightmare. Small ski resorts around Stockholm never opened,
and skating enthusiasts waited in vain for ice to form on the waterways
surrounding the Swedish capital. “There’s not one millimeter of ice,”
said Anders Tysk, organizer of the annual Vikingarannet ice-skating race
on Lake Malaren. After postponing the race several weekends, he had to
tell 500 registered participants on Monday there would be no race this
year. “It’s the first time we’ve canceled since we introduced flexible
dates in 2003,” he said.

Large Number of Beijing Falun Gong Practitioners Arrested Before Olympics

According to sources from Beijing, from the end of 2007 to early this year, at least 100 Falun Gong practitioners with confirmed names (oftentimes practitioners do not reveal their true identity to protect family, friends and colleagues) have been arrested in Beijing.Some were immediately sentenced to eight months in prison. It is believed to be a new round of suppression by the Chinese Communist Party before the next session of the National Congress in March and the Olympics in August 2008.

A Beijing Falun Gong practitioner, Li Qingyun (alias) said, in an interview with The Epoch Times that since the end of 2007 he has known of more than 10 Falun Gong practitioners being arrested.

According to data from the Falun Gong website Minghui.net, since the end of last year at least 100 Falun Gong practitioners have been secretly arrested in Beijing. According to the latest news from Beijing, there were over 40 arrests between Jan. 23 and 25.

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Chinese paramilitary policemen patrol near the Olympic countdown clock showing less than 6 months to go for the up coming Beijing Olympic Games at Tiananmen Square in Beijing on February 18, 2008. According to sources, a large numbers of Beijing Falun Gong practitioners have been arrested before the Olympics. (Teh Eng Koon/AFP/Getty Images)

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China speeds pace of military buildup

China is speeding up its military buildup and developing high-technology forces for waging wars beyond Taiwan, according to the Pentagon’s annual report on Chinese military power.“The pace and scope of China’s military transformation have increased in recent years, fueled by acquisition of advanced foreign weapons, continued high rates of investment in its domestic defense and science and technology industries, and far-reaching organizational and doctrinal reforms of the armed forces,” the report states.

The report also warned that China’s expanding military forces “are changing East Asian military balances; improvements in China’s strategic capabilities have implications beyond the Asia-Pacific region.”

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