China’s Parallel Online Universe

(By Christopher Walker & Sarah Cook, The Diplomat)

(December 27, 2011) To the casual eye, China’s social media landscape might look diverse and lively. But the social media clones are careful to follow Communist Party censorship.

As the showdown escalated between Chinese security forces and residents of Wukan, where villagers revolted against the Chinese Communist Party, you didn’t find as much discussion of the incident in Chinese social media as you might expect. And it wasn’t only because the internet was shut off in the town.

It was also a result of China’s development of a set of “social media clones” that ably mimic the functions of the most popular, internationally recognized social media applications, such as Facebook and Twitter. The replicas, however, come with a major catch: they systematically comply with the Chinese Communist Party’s strict censorship requirements. Continue…

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Happy New Year of the Dragon

(23 January 2012 – 9 February 2013: Water Dragon, according to the Chinese calendar)

Lee administration changing its attitude towards North Korea

(by Ahn Chang-hyun, Staff Writer, The Hankyoreh)

 (Dec.23 2011) Signs of change are making themselves evident in the Lee Myung-bak administration’s North Korea policy following Kim Jong-il‘s death.

Observers are suggesting inter-Korean relations might resume after being all but totally cut off in the wake of last year’s Cheonan sinking and artillery attack on Yeonpyeong Island.

During a meeting Thursday morning at the Cheong Wa Dae with Grand National Party emergency countermeasures committee chairwoman Park Geun-hye and Unified Democratic Party co-president Won Hye-young, Lee said there was “some room for flexibility in our North Korean relations in the future.”

In particular, Cheong Wa Dae senior secretary for public relations Choe Kuem-nak reported Lee as saying that the measures taken by Seoul following Kim’s death were “intended to show North Korea that we fundamentally do not view them with hostility” and that “perhaps North Korea never thought we would do this much.” The remarks reflect a clear message that Seoul has no intention of provoking or destabilizing North Korea. Continue…

Un annuncio prematuro

(di Alessia Cerantola. Da Asahi Shimbun, 19 dicembre 2011)

 Nel tentativo di tranquillizzare la popolazione giapponese e mondiale sull’incidente di Fukushima, il primo ministro giapponese Noda ha dichiarato durante la conferenza stampa dello scorso 16 dicembre che l’impianto è sotto controllo e che la crisi nucleare è finita. La sua affermazione, fatta a nove mesi dall’esplosione, è stata accolta con scetticismo da parte degli abitanti della prefettura di Fukushima e all’estero, oltre che da alcuni colleghi del suo stesso partito democratico. Il Giappone sta cercando di risollevarsi da una situazione difficile e dall’immagine negativa diffusa dopo l’11 marzo. Il numero dei turisti che hanno visitato il paese a novembre è calato del 13 percento rispetto allo stesso periodo del 2010. Inoltre, 44 nazioni e regioni hanno ristretto l’importazione di prodotti agricoli provenienti dall’arcipelago.
Ma secondo gli esperti la centrale è ancora vulnerabile e altre scosse di assestamento potrebbero colpire il sistema di raffreddamento che aveva permesso di portare il reattore a uno stato di relativa stabilità. Per l’Istituto di ricerca sull’energia atomica giapponese è più corretto dire che il cosiddetto “arresto freddo” è in corso adesso. Allo stesso tempo continua la fase di smantellamento e di rimozione dai reattori del del combustibile fuso, un’operazione molto delicata e lunga. Mentre il governo ha dichiarato la fine della seconda fase della messa in sicurezza del reattore e ha ritirato le forze di autodifesa impegnate nella decontaminazione sono ancora circa 150mila le persone evacuate dalla prefettura che si chiedono quando potranno tornare a casa.

China’s Abandoned Wonderland

(Dec. 13 2011, The Atlantic)

In Chenzhuang Village, China, about 20 miles northwest of central Beijing, the ruins of a partially built amusement park called Wonderland sit near a highway, surrounded by houses and fields of corn. Construction work at the park, which developers had promised would be “the largest amusement park in Asia,” stopped around 1998 after disagreements with the local government and farmers over property prices. Developers briefly tried to restart construction in 2008, but without success. The abandoned structures are now a draw for local children and a few photographers, who encounter signs telling them to proceed at their own risk. Reuters photographer David Gray visited the site on a chilly morning earlier this month and returned with these haunting images of a would-be Wonderland. [21 photos]

“Memories for the Future” Project in Japan

Before and after the tsunami

On March 11, 2011 a devastating earthquake and tsunami hit northeastern Japan, causing unimaginable damage. Many people lost their lives, their homes, and all their precious memories collected over generations. Among the things lost were precious photos and videos — cherished images of family, friends, pets and once-in-a-lifetime events — buried in rubble or washed to sea.

To help people share their photographs and videos that did survive, Google created this site, “Mirai e no kioku”, which means “Memories for the Future” in Japanese. It is our hope that this will help people rediscover lost memories of their homes and towns.

In addition to the images that the people in the region have uploaded, Google is also providing thousands of miles of Street View imagery in the affected areas that were collected before and after the disaster. Using Google Maps on this site, it is possible to see the full extent of the damage by finding an image in Street View and then clicking the “Before” and “After” links at the top to see how the earthquake and tsunami impacted that area.

Assolto lo tsunami

(di Alessia Cerantola per Internazionale, 8 dicembre 2011)

Secondo quanto emerso finora dalle indagini governative sul disastro nucleare di Fukushima, la causa dell’esplosione nell’impianto potrebbe non essere stata lo tsunami, come invece ha sostenuto in dall’inizio la Tepco, l’azienda che gestisce la centrale. le simulazioni al computer fatte dalla Tepco per spiegare l’incidente, infatti, non riproducono
esattamente i tempi intercorsi tra la variazione del livello
dell’acqua e quello della pressione nei tubi. Avanza così l’ipotesi che una parte delle tubature si fosse danneggiata prima dello tsunami a causa della scossa di terremoto che l’ha preceduto. “Le centrali nucleari in Giappone hanno gravi lacune dal punto di vista della sicurezza, non ci si può limitare a considerare solo il rischio tsunami”, Continue reading