Saturday, June 17, 2017

Assorted Links: Telescope Disputes, Seeking Justice, Seeking a Jail Cell, and 30 Years at a Square

1. Dennis Normile details the fascinating and potentially far reaching tug of war over the priorities for China's next major telescope:
On one side is an established engineering team, led by a veteran optics expert responsible for the nation's largest existing telescope, that is eager to push ahead with an ambitious design. On the other are astronomers reveling in a grassroots priority-setting exercise—unprecedented for China—who have doubts about the ambitious design and favor something simpler.

Now, a panel of international experts has reviewed the designs and come out squarely in favor of the simpler proposal, according to a copy of the review obtained by Science. But the conclusion has not ended what one Chinese astronomer calls "an epic battle" between the high-ranking engineers accustomed to top-down control over projects and the nascent grassroots movement.

2. Javier C. Hernández covers the immense hurdles Chinese citizens face when attempting to seek justice for harm caused by chemical pollution:

Doctors eventually determined that the children had lead poisoning and pointed to a nearby factory, Meilun Chemical Materials, which produced pigments for use in paints and makeup powder. Upset and demanding accountability, dozens of families prepared to sue. . . .

Yet in Dapu, as in much of China’s rural heartland, the chemical industry is king — the backbone of years of above-average economic growth. Local Communist Party officials depended on Meilun and other plants for their livelihoods and political fortunes, and they had a history of ignoring environmental violations to keep the factories humming.

Yifei’s father, Wang Jiaoyi, did not anticipate the backlash to the lawsuit. First, he said, his co-workers at a local farm warned that he might lose his job packing vegetables. Then thugs showed up at his door, threatening to hurt his family. After months of pressure, Mr. Wang decided to drop the case.

“There’s no way to win,” he said. “There’s no such thing as justice.”

3. A young man in Shanghai claimed getting sent to jail was his plan for stopping his computer gaming addiction. OK, but there are ways to do that without scaring two women:
Putuo District prosecutors said the defendant, identified as Xiaogang, had followed and attempted to rob a young woman surnamed Wang outside her home in the wee hours last November 23. He fled after being told Wang’s relatives were nearby.

On February 12, he followed another woman surnamed Wu and tried to drag her away as she was about to enter her home. She called for help and Xiaogang was subdued at the scene.

4. And to conclude, capturing a lot of change: "30 years in the life of one Chinese square – in pictures"
For three decades, Chen Zhixian has captured the action in the People’s Square of Jincheng. Moving from black and white to colour, then slide film and now digital, the only constant in his photos has been the statue of Chairman Mao.

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