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-Qingming Jie -Tomb Sweeping Festival

Sometime between this wknd and Monday and Tuesday its Qingming Jie Tomb Sweeping Day, a day to honour those that have passed by visiting grave sites and/or burning everything from paper money to paper cars on their graves (or, on the street if you dont make it to the graveyard). Unfortunately, I dont get this holiday off, so while the rest of China are burning paper money/going shopping, Ill be in the office, working away. I really dislike these kinds of holidays, because there are different rules for everyone, making it kind of hard to get something done: some have to work this wknd in order to get Monday and Tuesday off. Some dont work this wknd but still get Monday and Tuesday off. I dont have to work this wknd (who wants to work on the wknd anyway? What a silly rule?!) and I dont get Monday and Tuesdays off. And then some seem to be working on Monday, only to have Tuesday and Wednesday off?!

Ah, trying to get my head around this system is pointless. On top of that there are so many…

Residents test pork for drug

CITY residents are purchasing clenbuterol detection test papers online and conducting their own experiments in fear of purchasing drug-tainted pork from markets. However, experts said people lack the proper equipment and knowledge to get accurate results. The test papers can be found on Taobao.com, a popular e-commerce website, and are being sold from 2 yuan to over 1,000 yuan (US$150) each. The vendors said users could check whether pork contains clenbuterol by doing the experiment. If red lines appear on the paper, it means the pork contains the illegal drug. Although some vendors said the papers would only be sold to factories or markets equipped with certain instruments for experiments, many individuals purchased dozens of such papers after media reports said pig raisers were giving the animals clenbuterol in order to produce leaner pork, which sells for higher prices. A Beijing-based vendor surnamed Yang said the company could now sell up to 2,000 test papers every day, instead o…

Chinese score low in English proficiency test

Chinese have poor English skills despite their huge efforts in language training, according to a study released today. China ranks only the 29th in the English Proficiency Index, a lower range, and behind Asian rivals such as Malaysia, Japan and South Korea. Test-oriented, rote learning habits did not give Chinese students the real language skills, education experts said. The EPI report was based on a free online English test participated by 2 million adults from 44 countries and regions where English is not the native language. The report finds that the ranking is closely related to a country's average salary, export volume and education input. The average salary income of the top-ranked country Norway stood at US$87,070 while China's average income was just US$2,940. Compared with TOFEL, IELTS and other tests whose participants have specific goals and are well prepared, the report can better reflect the real English language proficiency of a huge population, according to the…

City in the forefront of medical research

LOCAL medical experts are developing new cures and therapies with national funding. The Eye, Ear, Nose & Throat Hospital of Fudan University recently won a national research project to study genetic causes for deafness and its early prevention. Deafness is the most common disability which affects the life of more than 20 million Chinese, over 800,000 of them children under seven years old. "The project is to identify more genes and mechanism resulting in deafness and develop effective therapies," said Dr Li Huawei, the lead scientist in the project. "The current treatment for deafness is giving patients hearing aid devices or artificial cochlea, which is too expensive to be widely adopted." The goal of the project is to transplant patient stem cells and develop them into hearing cells to repair damaged hearing. In addition to deafness research, doctors at the Shanghai Children's Medical Center are pioneers in applying minimally invasive surgery to children,…

The language roller coaster

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Back to school? No thanks!

Yesterday I had a bit of a bad day with everything going wrong And when there are many bumps on the road you know what its like: You start creating yourself invisible bumps. At least is your name starts with a J and ends with ONNA.

So, yesterday I started thinking that on top of everything else that went downhill, my Chinese had gotten all bad, as I now dont study the language on a regular basis anymore. I speak Chinese with my Chinese co-workers on a daily basis (my closest colleague is Chinese), and I have a lot of meetings and phone calls in Chinese. But from time to time I forget words/vocabulary that I used to know, and that frustrates me. Some days it pops back into my head, but I cannot get around the scary thought of: think if I just get worse and worse and suddenly forget everything that I worked so hard to learn! I know its a kind of ridiculous thought, but I think you know what I mean.

So, yesterday, in between bad thing 1 and bad thing 2, I decided …

Snow Dragon returns

Frontier officers prepare to board icebreaker Xue Long, which translates literally as Snow Dragon, at Wusong port in Shanghai yesterday to handle entry proceedings for the 134 Chinese researchers and crew aboard. The vessel returned to the city after its 27th scientific expedition to the Antarctic.

City offers incentives to local veggie growers

AT least 33,000 hectares of land has been earmarked for growing vegetables this year to ensure a stable supply of vegetables in the city, said officials from the Shanghai Agricultural Commission today. Currently, vegetables are planted in 34,733 hectares of suburb farmland, which supplies about 8,300 tons of fresh vegetables a day with 4,700 tons being green-leaf vegetables. The wholesale price of the seasonal bok choy was 0.6 yuan (9 US cents) per kilogram today, down 8.8 percent from the previous month. The government has taken urgent measures to boost vegetable output and rein in soaring vegetable prices on the market. Research showed that vegetable farming is not lucrative. "Some local farmers would rather let vegetables rot in the field than hiring farm hands to harvest," said Ye Shengzhou, an officer from the commission. On another note, officials said they will closely examine pork products for traces of Clenbuterol, a chemical that makes pigs to grow only lean meat b…

Not living in "la-la-land"

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Only for work circumstances would I agree to wear a hard hat...

Where does all of my time go? Its almost April and I havent even done half of all the Jonna stuff I promised to do for myself this spring. Sure, Ive kicked off a more healthy life (and Ive stuck to it I mix long distance treadmill running with spinning, weight training and yoga- it normally becomes 4 sessions/week, sometimes 3, and sometimes 5), but what about the rest? I had some serious writing plans for this spring, oh, and not to mention the fact that I was gonna cook more (ehhh), blog on a more regular basis (ehhh), take more photos (ehhh?!) and try to do more fun/new things on the weekday nights. Hasnt really happened yet, but maybe I can blame winter and get re-started again now with spring around the corner. It is really heating up. Lovely! I hope spring lasts for more than 2 weeks this time!

One thing Ive thought about is how people back home look at my life over here. Sometimes it hits me that some people dont see…

Fore! Pupils study game of golf

PUPILS at a private school in Shanghai are learning how to drive onto the fairway, chip out of sand traps and sink that putt during sports lessons. The Yongchang Private School in Luwan District has listed golf as a required subject for Grade One and Two students this semester, although some parents have questioned whether the sport is appropriate for schoolchildren. Unlike many Western countries, as well as Asian countries such as Thailand and Malaysia, where the sport is affordable for most people, golf in China remains largely a pastime for the rich. Li Yuhua, the school's principal, told Shanghai Daily yesterday that the school hoped that golf could be an effective way of improving students' "qualities." Pupils have to communicate in English when they play golf, and Li believes that is a positive contribution toward their future development. The school introduced the course about two years ago, and it has also set up a golf team of more than 10 students. The scho…

City safe from iodine-131 which dissolves in 2-3 months

It can take two to three months for the radioactive fallout of iodine-131 from Japan's Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Plant to dissolve in Shanghai, local experts said today. The radioactive fallout is carried to the city through atmospheric circulation, not by the wind, said experts with the Shanghai Radiation & Environment Monitoring Agency. They told the public not to overreact because iodine-131 found in Shanghai is extremely low in level and poses no threat to human health. "Plutonium detected in the soil near the crippled nuclear plant won't affect Shanghai as plutonium isn't a volatile matter," said Wang Mingxia, senior engineer at the agency. "It will only affect areas near the plant." Shanghai and other coastal areas including Jiangsu, Zhejiang, Guangdong and Guangxi all detected very small amount of iodine-131 yesterday after Heilongjiang Province first reported traces of iodine-131 on Saturday.

Yulia, who?

I love this place. You never, ever, know what to expect from strangers that you meet! One day can be horrible: some ladies in a shop gossip about the size of your behind, and another one tells you youve got panda eyes. Then, on another day, the flattering game goes overboard.

Just the other week, at an event, I got the most obscure comment. A girl told me I look like Jenny little J in Gossip Girl. I had to bite my lip not to laugh out loud. There is NOTHING resembling between me and this (at least) 10 year younger actress. Not even my long, thick hair compares to her lioness mane. It was simply a comment for flattery, but when something is so far from the truth, it becomes almost ridiculous.

Likewise, a Scandinavian, tall, blond male friend of mine was once told he looked like Clint Eastwoods son.

-Oh really?! I didnt even know Clint had a son?

-Me neither. But if he does, Im sure hed look like you.

-Riiiiight.

Then there were our two Finnish male friends that came here for a visit in 2009.…

Radiation over Shanghai at 'extremely low' level

Radioactive material has been detected in the air above Shanghai and other southeastern coastal areas, monitoring authorities said yesterday. But the levels were "extremely low" and would not affect public health or the environment, they said. The findings were revealed in a statement issued by China's National Nuclear Emergency Coordination Committee. According to the statement, experts said no protective measures were needed against the material, believed to have been dispersed through the air from the quake-damaged Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant in Japan. The committee said the detected levels of radioactive iodine-131 were below one-hundred-thousandth of natural background radiation and not considered harmful. Monitoring The same material had been detected over northeastern Heilongjiang Province at the weekend. The latest find was in the air above Shanghai, the provinces of Jiangsu, Zhejiang, Anhui and Guangdong, and Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region. So far, …

Time for sightseeing as flowers in bloom

THE flowering season is upon us and cherry, also called sakura, will be the highlight of this year's spring outings. Though it's unlikely to go to Japan to see its clouds of sakura blossoms due to the nuclear crisis, locals can still admire the flower in Shanghai Botanical Garden where cherry trees are expected to blossom this week and last around the Qingming Festival on April 5. The Shanghai Sightseeing Bus Center is now selling several packages for flower fanciers to see blooms and blossoms in the city's suburbs and in neighboring provinces. Peach blossoms in Pudong District, rape flowers in Fengxian District, and cherry blossoms in Wuxi, Jiangsu Province are all on its package list, the center said. People can go to the center's official Website, www.csjtrip.com, to book a tour. The site is in Chinese language only.

Moganshan -

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This wknd we did something that was long due: got away from Shanghai and spent the wknd surrounded by beautiful nature and clean air! Yes, some friends and I went to Moganshan!
Moganshan is located some hours outside of Hangzhou, so first we took a train to Hangzhou and then we had ordered a car to pick us up from there, taking us straight to Moganshan. You can apparently take a couple of buses too, but it was Friday night, and after a long week in the office it felt nice to get there without too much hassle.

We stayed in a gorgeous cabin that had everything we needed (including an open fire and an ayi that cooked us delicious meals every day!) for a kick-a** wknd. We spent the day hiking, sitting in the sun, eating some good food, playing yatzi and card games, enjoying good wines and just relaxing. After a spring of visitors and Shanghai-sightseeing, this was just what we needed: a city break with a view. I could recommend it to anyone!

We stayed at the Naked retreat, which was pricy b…

Price hike investigation begins

SHANGHAI'S price bureau has launched an investigation into price hikes for household and personal care products, after reports of panic buying. This comes as the commerce commission issued an urgent notice over the weekend requiring supermarkets to ensure they have sufficient supplies to meet demand. "We have told local supermarkets to make sure they have enough stock and to get it on the shelves," Chen Yuxian, an official with the Shanghai Commission of Commerce, told Shanghai Daily yesterday. Shoppers were reported to have rushed to hypermarkets over the past few days, stocking up on daily necessities. This followed media reports that said the price of products - including washing powder, shampoos and soap - from producers including Procter & Gamble and Unilever will rise by up to 15 percent next month. The companies have since confirmed that prices will increase. "The situation has returned to normal and consumers need not worry," Chen insisted. The Shan…

Field of dreams

A girl, wearing a lei made with rape flowers, and a woman enjoy themselves yesterday in a field of yellow flowers in Shanghai's Fengxian District. The district announced the opening of a 16-day Rape Flower Festival, where visitors can enjoy scenery, folk performances and home cooking.

Lighter loads

PROBLEMS with overloading have decreased on inner river transport in the city after local maritime warnings and crackdowns. The city's maritime safety authority said law enforcement teams found about 10 percent of cargo ships or vessels were overloaded, compared to the 60 percent in previous checks. More than 4,000 ships use the waterways every day.

Science fund to grow from 2.8% to 3.3% of GDP

SHANGHAI will increase its investment in scientific research and technology development from 2.8 percent of its gross domestic product to 3.3 percent by 2015 to boost innovation and industrialization of new technologies. Medicine, ecology and information technology are among the sections that will get more funding during the 12th Five-Year Plan period, said Shou Ziqi, director of Shanghai Science and Technology Commission, today. The authorities have seen positive results after introducing favorable policies to spur development of science and technology. The output of the city's biomedicine industry, for instance, will reach 200 billion yuan (US$30.48 billion) next year, doubling that of 1999 when the city began to promote the industry.

Shanghai stores cut food imports

SOME Shanghai hotels and supermarkets have stopped or cut back on food imports from Japan although authorities so far have not found any problems with Japanese food in the city. The Pudong Shangri-La said imported food at the hotel, which has two Japanese restaurants, was mainly from the United States, Canada, Russia and Norway at present. "As of March 16, we stopped importing perishable products from Japan and this applies to all hotels in our group," said Angel Mao, the hotel's director of communications. Hyatt on the Bund and Le Royal Meridien Shanghai said yesterday they imported very few perishable products and condiments from Japan even before the problems at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant. Xin Qi, media officer with the OLE supermarket, said about 70 percent of its imports of Japanese food were suspended because of safety concerns and a supply shortage. "We've stopped buying fish and fresh food from Japan for fear of radiation contamination," s…

Lemurs' romance bears fruit in Wildlife Park

A pair of ring-tailed lemurs at the Shanghai Wildlife Park got "married" after going through a difficult time, officials said today. In the lemur society, males have a lower position, but three-year-old A'sen managed to win the love of a three-year-old female, A'ying. The two lemurs lived in two different quarters separated by wire gauze. A'sen always leaned on the gauze, staring at A'ying amorously and calling for her attention. A few days later, A'ying seemed to be excited about A'sen as well. Seeing their unusual behavior, their keeper let A'sen into his lover's ground. But the male lemur was rejected by other females there. They attacked him with the stink secreted from their scent glands. But A'sen endured, got through the "attack" and was eventually accepted by A'ying's fellows. Soon after they got "married," A'ying was found pregnant and gave birth to a pair of twin lemurs two weeks ago, park official…

Special fund for funerals

SENIORS without children can now arrange their own funerals after the Shanghai Funeral and Interment Trade Association set up a special fund, it said yesterday. Meanwhile, the Shanghai Funeral Service Center published a price guide for coffins, urns and other funerary items to prevent price gouging. The funeral association said seniors can sign contracts with funeral parlors allowing them to arrange their own funeral service, including grave purchase. The fund will cover the outstanding funeral cost, arising from inflation, from the contract price, it said. The fund will also cover funeral costs for needy residents, the association said. It did not specify the size of the fund. Officials said eventually everyone will be able to arrange their own funeral. This will provide people with peace of mind so they won't have to worry about whether they get a good funeral. The funeral service center provided a price guide on products made of different materials so families know they aren…

Network hookup to boost hospital efficiency

LOCAL hospitals are speeding up the integration of their information systems to improve clinical efficiency, avoid repeat tests, and cut patient waiting time. Huadong Hospital used a Microsoft software to integrate its information system with that of its branches in three different districts. A patient's medical history and test results can be seen by doctors in any of the four hospitals. Previously, patients going to different hospitals had to take same tests again."Moreover, a unified platform is good for diagnosis, treatment and nursing care. It can improve hospital management because it measures staff performance using the same indicators," said Zhu Huili, Huadong's vice president. "The information system can benefit a hospital group which consists of a city-level hospital, several district-level hospitals and numerous community hospitals," Zhu added. "Patients too will benefit because it saves their time, energy and money." Long queues are a …

Stem cells hold painless cure for baldness

STEM cell technology is expected to bring a cure for severe hair loss and will be tried on people suffering boldness due to genetic reason or scalp injury, Shanghai doctors said today. Dr Li Guihai from the plastic surgery department of the PLA No. 455 Hospital said similar technology has been tested in laboratory in China and abroad but it will take years for it to enter clinical use. "Doctors can collect hair follicles and separate follicle stem cells," he said. "The stem cells will be cultivated into many follicle cells in the laboratory and transplanted back to the patient." Hair transplant technology is developing fast in recent years. Doctors can collect hair follicles and transplant them directly into the bold area without leaving scars. Previously, doctors must remove a piece of scalp to collect follicles. The procedure always leaves a scar on the patient. "Stem cell technology will make the procedure painless and the patient is spared of long hours in…

For what it's worth

My new gyms really great. They give you towels for free for every workout (not like my old gym where you had to pay 15 rmb to rent one). You simply go to the towel counter, give them your membership card, and they will give you two towels (one for shower, and one for your workout which is fantastic when youre a cardio freak like me!) as well as a towel card, that you then have to give them back in order to get your membership card when you leave.

The other day at the gym after a long workout, my friend lost her towel card. We looked everywhere but couldnt find it. So she went up to the counter with her used towel and explained, asking if she still could get her membership card back.

The girl behind the towel counter froze.

-Youve lost you card!? But like how?

My friend and I exchanged glances.

-Eh not sure how. Just lost it?! She said with an attempt of a smile.

It was clear that the towel counter girl took this situation quite seriously. She went to make some phone calls and then came back…

Note perfect

Distinguished conductor Zubin Mehta meets the press yesterday before he conducts the Orchestra Del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino from Florence at the Shanghai Grand Theater tonight. This will be Mehta's fifth performance in Shanghai.

Shanghai court introduces avoidance system

MEMBERS of the judicial committee, the highest trial panel in a court, will be asked to withdraw if a litigant thinks their identities will affect the justice of the trial. The Shanghai No. 2 Intermediate People's Court will take the nation's lead to allow litigants to apply for the withdrawal of its judicial committee members, judges said today. "This will improve the transparency of the committee's work," said Wang Xinfang, director of the court. "The committee can judge a case with as much justice as possible after its privilege is removed." The committee, a Chinese-style judicial body, is usually made up of court directors and senior judges. They will discuss important and complicated cases tried by a lower court and decide how to rule the cases if a three-person judge panel think it is beyond their capability to make a fair judgment. In the past, litigants and their lawyers wouldn't know whether their lawsuits were discussed by the committee or…

Paranoid place

Forgive my absence, but I simply could not bring myself to write light-hearted blog posts with everything thats going on in the world.

Not much has happened. While Ive been gone the world has shown living proof of being a paranoid place: While salt has sold out in China, iodine tablets have sold out in Sweden. Yeah, you heard me right. On the other side of the world. Far from Japan. People. Buy. Iodine tablets. To protect themselves from the radiation.

I dont know if I should laugh or cry about it all.

The sold-out-salt in China is another story. There are mixed views on WHY Chinese people all of a sudden are stocking up on this must have, taste enhancing and iodine containing mineral:

* Some say its because people are scared that food supplies are going to run out, and then the most important thing to have in the kitchen (as a Chinese family) is apparently salt (funny, I always thought it would be oil!).

* Some say its because salt contains iodine (iodine tablets have, just like in Swede…

Starbucks: no need to search for toilet spy cameras in shops

STARBUCKS has no plans to check toilets in its Shanghai outlets for spy cameras, even though one was found in a branch in nearby Hangzhou. No order had been given to Starbucks Shanghai to search restrooms, a spokesman for the coffee shop giant said, adding that he was confident there were no devices to be found. This follows a case in Xihutiandi, Hangzhou in Zhejiang Province, where a spy camera hidden in an air freshener was discovered in a unisex toilet. "The incident in Hangzhou is just a single case," Huang Yun, a Starbucks spokesman, told Shanghai Daily yesterday. "Our toilets are absolutely safe and we staff also use them." Huang said the company is awaiting the results of a Hangzhou police investigation. The spy camera in the toilet of Starbucks' Xihutiandi outlet was reported by Zhejiang Online www.zjol.com.cn on Friday after netizen Qiu Hongbo posted details on his microblog. Qiu said a female customer found the camera, a black cigarette-pack-sized box…

Kidnapper caught while boy hostage wriggles free

A gambler kidnapped a 10-year-old boy and hoped to use the ransom to recover his losses, but he fell into a police trap while his hostage, tied up in a small woods, managed to break free. Wu Liqing, a 26-year-old native of Jiangxi Province, has been arrested on charges of kidnapping, Minhang District prosecutors said today. Wu came to Shanghai last December and was hired by a manufacturing company as sales manager with a monthly salary of 5,000 yuan (US$762). Because his wife and daughter weren't with him, Wu grew addicted to game parlor slot machines and soon lost 200,000 yuan. To make things worse, he got fired for spending too much time in the game parlor. Wu decided to go back home. On his way to the train station on January 26, Wu saw a boy walking alone after school and a ransom plot came to his mind. When the boy entered a residential complex, Wu, who didn't know the boy at all, called him "Little Xu" at random. To his surprise, the boy responded and asked how…

Foreigner fined and deported for altering visa

A European man was fined and deported for altering his visa without authorization, the Shanghai Exit-Entrance Administration said today. The man received a new visa last December after he applied for an extension. His old one was nullified with a cancelation stamp. But when he showed off his passport containing many visas to his friends in the United States in January, he found the cancellation stamp look ugly and erased it, according to the bureau. His illegal altering of the visa failed to escape the eyes of local police when he applied for another visa extension this month. Local authorities reminded foreign visitors not to alter the visa or they may face fines and deportation.

Residents use free electricity loophole

TENS of thousands of city residents are living in neighborhoods where they get all their electricity free of charge, but are creating serious fire hazards. In old residential areas - known as "dilapidated neighborhoods" - awaiting demolition and where relocation negotiations have reached, stalemate residents can take advantage of a policy loophole. In some relocation projects, the city power and water suppliers stop charging bills against the households but instead seek to recover the costs from relocation managers. Accordingly, free electricity is available in the dilapidated blocks, which often have aged and messy wiring systems. Feng Fang, a 39-year-old domestic helper from Anhui Province, said she lived with her husband in such a rented room in Putuo District for three years. She only moved out last month after her landlord finally agreed on a compensation offer. Feng said the family paid only 500 yuan (US$76) a month for rent, with no charge for power and water. "I…

Tasty literary works at M

TODAY you can read your book ... and eat it too. As Shanghai's three-week International Literary Festival comes to an end, M on the Bund is hosting its third annual Books2eat competition. The edible-books contest is just what it sounds like: choose a book, character or title and make something - anything - edible with it. For Revital Melech that was an easy decision: cake. But not the kind of cake you can make in a day. It's taken almost two weeks of planning for the trained pastry chef's "Wizard of Oz" to take shape. The creation includes everything from an airbrushed background to the yellow brick road, along with a 3-D Dorothy and friends. Melech, who owns a luxury cake boutique, bakes for a living and won last year's Most Professional category. "I'm not in it for the competition," she says. "It will be fun. I'll try and make (the cake) fun for everybody." That fun is what caught Cia Bengtsson's eye three years ago, when she…

Punishment For Pair Who Spread Rumors

TWO Shanghai residents have received administrative penalties for spreading rumors of nuclear radiation. One man, surnamed Wu, posted on a popular social networking site that nuclear pollutants had arrived in the city from the damaged power plant in Japan. Another man, surnamed Yin, Wu's former classmate, helped spread the rumor on his microblog and via instant messages, police said. An official said their behavior had breached the public security law.

College student jumps to her death today

A Shanghai college student jumped to her death this morning after sending an SMS message "Goodbye" to her teacher. The sophomore jumped from the 12th floor of a building in Shanghai International Studies University's downtown campus in Hongkou District about 10:30am. Many students were having classes in the building when the incident happened. A witness photographed the scene and uploaded them to t.sina.com, a Twitter-like microblog website, which immediately drew widespread attention. The victim was a student of the English Language Department. Her classmates suspected that she probably killed herself over love affairs. The cause of her death is still under investigation. Suicide has become a major cause of death for college students in Shanghai, according to a college safety report released by the city's education authorities in 2009. Thirteen college students, including a foreign student, took their lives in Shanghai in 2009, more than those killed by disease and …

Rescue vehicle stirs false radiation fears

A NUCLEAR and chemical rescue vehicle that aroused widespread attention, and even some panic, after appearing at a local university last weekend following the Japan earthquake, turned out to be a public vehicle used for private purposes. The driver, an employee with the city's civil defense authorities, drove the vehicle to Shanghai Ocean University's suburban Lingang campus to visit his child last Sunday, university officials said yesterday. The Baoshan District Civil Defense Bureau's chemical rescue station has punished the employee and pledged to improve the administration of public vehicles. The man did not have authorization to use it for personal use. The red vehicle features white Chinese characters reading "Nuclear and Chemical Rescue." The driver entered the campus about 8am and left about one hour later last Sunday. Some students took a picture of the vehicle and uploaded it onto microblogs and other social network websites. The posts soon became popula…

Salt sold out as panic buyers store it as radiation cure

JAPAN'S nuclear crisis continued to cast shadow on Chinese people today as many of them fearful of radiation rushed to buy salt and the country's supermarkets put up sold-out notices one after another. The panic buying first started in Zhejiang and Guangdong provinces yesterday evening, then spread to Shanghai and other provinces such as Liaoning, Qinghai and even Hainan. The price of a 500gm pack of salt has hiked up to 10 yuan at some markets in Guangdong, compared with about 2 yuan just a day ago. The craze is fueled by the misconception that iodized salt could offset radioactive pollution. Some people believed Japan's radiation leaks would contaminate seawater and affect salt quality later, so they wanted to store some. But both government departments and radiation experts said the crisis so far had no influence on China and its coastal waters, besides iodized salt is not effective to prevent radiation. In some extreme cases, people even get sick or die from taking too…

Serial convenience store robber caught at last

A man was detained by Zhabei District police for a string of robberies at local convenience stores, officials said today. The suspect surnamed Ji reportedly committed his first robbery at a Lianhua convenience store on Changzhong Road, Zhabei District, on the night of February 1, two days before the Spring Festival. Threatening with a knife, Ji seized 700 yuan (US$107) and fled on a scooter. Several days later, Ji robbed a Quik convenience store on Sanquan Road, walking away with 1,500 yuan in cash and eight packs of Chunghwa cigarettes worth about 384 yuan. Police checked video records of surveillance cameras, which showed Ji disappeared at intersection of Nanda Road and Hongliu Road which straddles Putuo, Baoshan and Jiading districts. On February 17, Ji reappeared and robbed anther store on Luchang Road of dozens of bottles of expensive liquor. Police detectives soon found Ji was living in Nanxiang in Jiading District after investigating a store that purchased some of the stolen li…

Scare over additives in meat

Most major retailers in Shanghai have stopped selling meat products from the Shuanghui Group, China's largest meat processor, after an illegal additive was found in products by an affiliate of the Henan-based company. Shares in the Shenzhen-listed Henan Shuanghui Investment & Development Co under the group were suspended from trading yesterday after dropping by the daily limit of 10 percent the previous day. China Central Television reported on Tuesday that Jiyuan Shuanghui Food Co purchased pig feed containing clenbuterol, a chemical fed to pigs to prevent them accumulating fat. The chemical is banned as an additive in pig feed in China. Doctors say humans can suffer from nausea, headaches, limb tremors and even cancer after eating food containing the drug. The Henan Province government yesterday ordered 16 pig farms to halt pig and pork sales and has sealed 13.4 billion tons of pork suspected of being tainted after the Ministry of Agriculture sent a team to Henan to investig…

Medical reform plan for public scrutiny

SHANGHAI will speed up the modernization of its medical service industry by concentrating best resources on two international medical centers in Pudong and Hongqiao areas. Local public hospitals will phase out VIP wards and transfer patients who demand better services at higher costs to the two medical centers, local health officials said today. They unveiled the draft plan for health reform today, which was open for public comments and suggestions in next few days. Medical facilities funded by Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwanese investors are encouraged under the health reform plan, which tries to attract private and foreign investment to the city's health care system. Previously, foreign institutions were only allowed to open joint venture clinics and hospitals in the city. The final version will be issued next month, officials said. Xu Jianguang, director of Shanghai Health Bureau, said Shanghai is to establish a health care system covering both permanent and temporary residents to …

Radiation test on travelers and goods from Japan

THE city will tighten radiation check on travelers from Japan and their luggage and test foods from Japan before they go to the local market to prevent nuclear pollution, the Shanghai Entry-Exit Inspection and Quarantine Bureau said this morning. The bureau has installed radiation testing equipment at airports and seaports. Travelers will be quarantined if they are found exposed to a high level of radiation. Officials said food imports from Japan are mostly seafood, grain, drinking water, vegetables and fruits. The food will be subject to radiation test at the port or in the lab. The bureau said it will keep a close watch on the development of the radiation crisis in Japan after the March 11 earthquake and will take further measures if necessary.

Scams to scare

Now the rumours have come to China too:

BBC announcement: radiation to hit Shanghai. Local authorities are issuing a warning and telling people to stay inside if it rains of if its windy outside.

Text messages like this spread like a bush fire yesterday, causing not only confusion, but also some honest fear. Because what if its true?

Some hours later, however, we established that it was a scam.

It was exactly the same when I lived in London in 2001. I landed in London on the very same time as the plane hit the World Trade Centre, namely on September 11. The world, including London, was in shock. As the city slowly returned to normal, people started telling each other of warnings that they had gotten from anonymous, Taliban looking men.

-I went to the hairdresser and the guy who did my hair was from Afghanistan and he told me that I seemed like a nice girl and that I should avoid Piccadilly Circus on October 11!!

Do you think we were scared?!

However, when the third person came with a similar…

Court rejects lawsuit against local insurer

A SHANGHAI district court has rejected a lawsuit by the parents of a woman who died from drunk driving to ask for compensation from an insurance company. Jia Zhenkun, deputy director of Pudong New Area People's Court, said it is lawful for the insurance company to list drunk driving in exemption clauses because drunk driving is an illegal behavior that threatens the public security. The woman surnamed Wang, 32, bought an accident insurance at the end of 2008 from a local insurance company not identified by the court. The police was valid from January 5, 2009 to January 4, 2010. Wang signed the contract and had no doubt of the clauses when a clerk of the insurance company called back after signing the contract. Wang died on December 29, 2009 after her car hit the separation bar in the middle of the road. She was confirmed of drunk driving. Her parents found the policy and applied for 500,000 yuan in compensation from the insurance company. Their request was turned down. The couple …

City unveils plan for post-Expo use of riverside venues

SHANGHAI government today announced its plan for the use of the 6.68-square-kilometer Expo Site and welcomed public comments and suggestions. According to the six-part plan, the Expo Village which provided accommodations for the Expo's foreign staff will be turned into an international community in next five years. The core area where the Expo's five permanent buildings stand the Expo Boulevard, Expo Center, Expo Theme Center, China Pavilion and Expo Cultural Center (now called Mercedes-Benz Arena) will serve as a business hub for exhibitions and conferences. The Houtan area is reserved for future development, according to the plan. Buildings in the Urban Best Practices Area in the Puxi section of the Expo Site will be retained as recreational venues. The former Jiangnan Shipyard will house a number of museums. The Huangpu River banks along both sections of the Expo Site will open to the public for leisure activities, as the plan shows. People can go to the Shanghai Bureau o…

Expert says Shanghai's radiation risk no cause for alarm

AS many citizens are concerned about the possible effects following the explosion of nuclear power stations in Japan, Shanghai Daily talked with Professor Zhu Guoying, researcher of Radiomedicine Institute of Fudan University to check on the situation. Q: What dangers does radiation pose to humans?A: There are generally two kinds of impact that radiation may have on people the acute impact and the long-term impact. The acute impact is usually aroused by exposure to great amounts of radiation over time. It will cause instant reactions such as vomiting, diarrhea and headaches, as the digestive and nervous systems are most vulnerable to radiation. There may also be a long-term impact which does not show symptoms instantly. The problems can conceal themselves for months or even years. But a high rate of cancers such as leukocythemia and cancerous goiter have been found in victims of the Chernobyl disaster. Q: Since new explosions at the nuclear power stations in Japan have been reported …

Reluctant to take the blame? Blame others!

On Saturday we went out for dinner with our visiting friends. However, once me and my bf got to the restaurant we realized that our visiting friends had ended up falling asleep instead of getting ready, and although theyd realized their mistake and woken up again they were running a bit late. No biggy. My bf and I decided to have a drink and enjoy some alone time, seeing that we havent had any for the last month or so (like I said visitor inflation!). Soon, however, we realized that we had been seated next to the smoking corner of the restaurant (that was smoke-free except for that very corner). Since none of us are smokers we asked the waiter if he by any chance had another table available, further away from the smoking corner? He did, and so we moved to the second floor of the restaurant.

-So is this floor smoke free too? I asked the waiter, who replied with an of course and a smile.

Great! I thought to myself and was just about to have a sip of my drink when I realized that the Chine…

Food from Japan to be tested

RADIATION tests on food imported from Japan in the wake of the radiation crisis in Fukushima Prefecture will be carried out soon, Shanghai entry-exit inspection authorities said yesterday. Hong Kong and Macau have also announced that fresh food from Japan will be tested. Shanghai Entry-Exit Inspection and Quarantine Bureau officials said that no food from Japan had come into the city since the quake, so Japanese food currently on the local market was safe. Meanwhile, Shanghai is not in imminent danger of nuclear leaks caused by the Japan earthquake because of current weather conditions, officials said. Radiation from the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant should not affect Shanghai or China in the next few days because the winds were mainly blowing in a northeastern direction, they said. The China Meteorological Administration said radioactive pollutants from the nuclear plant should mainly affect east Japan and the Pacific Ocean to the east over the next three days and then disperse to…

First crop of Longjing tea coming next week

THIS year's first crop of Longjing tea, one of the best known green teas, will be available on the market after March 20 if weather permits. Experts with the Shanghai Tea Association said tea plants in the hilly area near the West Lake are still "asleep" but buds about the size of a grain can be seen in tea plants on the sunny slopes of terraced tea plantations. If weather is good, tea picking will start on March 20. The association said the fresh new tea now sold in the market is Wuniuzao, a variety also produced in Zhejiang Province. Some dealers claim it was Longjing tea but it is not. A tea seller surnamed Liu at the Zhongshan Road N. Tea Market said all the Longjing tea sold in the market is from last year's stock. Some venders stored Longjing in refrigerators and tea leaves look the same as new tea but don't taste the same. Some dealers even sell Zhuyeqing, a green tea from Yibin, Sichuan Province as Longjing. Though the two teas look similar but Longjing h…

Babies and natural disasters

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Baby Sam (who's not that small anymore) has gotten a baby sister.

It feels a bit strange to try and write a regular blog post with everything thats going on in Japan. The tsunami aftermath is simply horrific, I almost cannot read the news updates and look at the pictures. Makes it hard to go on and think about other normal stuff, even though its impossible not to.

One stream of light in this darkness is that my sister gave birth to her second child just the other night. A baby girl, quite big (4300 grams) as she was 12 days delayed. This gorgeous little baby girl (who is yet to be given a name) is my second niece (+ one nephew) that has been born while Ive been in China. At times like this I get insanely homesick. And when I get like that, I go on shameless baby shopping sprees, making sure I get this baby everything that she could possibly need from her aunt in China (yeah, Sam and Malou my other nephew/niece are the best dressed babies in Malm. One Christmas when I was going home …

On a blind date ... with 1,000 people

AS he leans awkwardly against a wall, clutching a soft drink bottle, everyone passing by can sense Zhang Junye is nervous, and a little embarrassed. Wearing thick glasses, 27-year-old Zhang steals glances at the women around him but does not approach anyone and say "hello." Neither do the women come up to him. "I may pluck up the courage," said Zhang, with an anxious smile. "Or maybe not." Zhang, along with more than 1,000 other young men and women, gathered for a game-style blind date yesterday afternoon at a stadium in downtown Jing'an District, hoping to find their Mr or Miss Right or just make friends. The event, entitled "Meet Along Metro Line 2," was organized by the Metro operator together with Jing'an, Pudong and Changning district governments. Many of the young people attending work at offices along Line 2 and may see fellow blind date candidates on the daily commute. Traditional Chinese reserve was put aside for a while, at a t…

Japanese return home

MANY Japanese business people and tourists began flying home from Shanghai yesterday, following the 8.9-magnitute earthquake that rocked Japan on Friday. With airports gradually resuming operations in some Japanese cities, passengers rushed to Shanghai's two airports, departing on flights that had been delayed due to the quake and tsunami. The number of passengers flying from Japan to Shanghai declined after the quake, authorities said yesterday. At Hongqiao International Airport, more than 900 passengers left for Japan yesterday and 800 of them were Japanese citizens, the airport authority said. Officials said some of them "still could not contact their relatives or friends back in Japan." Many passengers cut short business trips or holidays in the city while some Chinese were also worried about their relatives and loved ones who were in Japan when the earthquake struck. "We just want to make sure our daughter is fine," said a Chinese couple at Hongqiao airpor…

Shanghai residents feel shake

MANY residents in downtown Shanghai and neighboring provinces felt their buildings shake yesterday because of the Japan earthquake. But the Shanghai Seismological Bureau said the disaster wouldn't have a serious impact on the city, which is more than 2,200 kilometers from the epicenter. "Since the quake is so strong, some residents, especially those staying in high-rises, felt the quake and called our bureau," said Wang Jianjun, its vice director. "The power from this earthquake is more than 10 times that of the devastating quake which hit Wenchuan in Sichuan Province in 2008. Wenchuan is some 1,600 kilometers from Shanghai, so more people felt the quake that time." Wang said the tsunami caused by the earthquake shouldn't influence Shanghai either. A woman working at CITIC Square in Jing'an District said most of her colleagues kept working, but a few people said they had felt a slight shaking. Dong Jun, who was on the first floor of a shopping mall in H…

Adult exhibition shows pleasure is big business

WHILE the world economy is recovering gradually, the sex product industry, one of a few didn't see a big slowdown, is continuing to flourish. The Eighth China International Adult Toys and Reproductive Health Exhibition opened its doors at the Shanghai International Exhibition Center yesterday. As well as a business-oriented platform, the exhibition also offers a display of relics from a Chinese sex museum, Japanese adult movie star performances and lingerie shows, although the organizers wanted it to be more professional and not just a show. The list of attendees at this year's three-day event features more than 100 companies including some 20 overseas companies, some of which are industry leaders. "Previously, we may have had about 10 overseas participants, and they were not big ones," said Qu Hong from CIEC Overseas Exhibition Co, one of the organizers. "Because of the big market in China, more of the world's leading companies have launched in the domestic…

Child beggars healed of wounds in Shanghai

TWO child beggars, rescued by police in Hainan Province last month and brought to Shanghai for medical treatment, are both recovering well and will be discharged tomorrow, hospital officials said. Both children are from inland Henan Province and were rented by their impoverished families to professional beggars who forced them to perform on the street and beg for money. If they failed to meet their daily quota, they would get beaten up. Ren Fangfang, eight, suffered lacerations in her nose, ears and scalp savage punishment by her boss. Yesterday she had stitches removed from her wounds. Jiang Shan, president of Shanghai Time Plastic Surgery Hospital, said psychological therapy is also proving effective and the young girl is becoming happier and more reponsive. "She will be released this weekend," he said. Some local residents, moved by Ren's miserable experience, promised to cover Ren's education and other living costs. "I want to go to school and come back to …

One of the best things I've done

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People back in Europe or the US (that havent been to China) often have the wrong kind of image of Chinese people. Many people seem to think that all that Chinese people ever do is to cheat foreigners. I often get questions from friends or people that are coming here for a visit, wondering how alert they should be for scams and such. And sure, there are some infamous scams (like art students from Beijing/Xian/Suzhou who try to sell you their crappy paintings after befriending you on the street but you easy learn how to spot those ones), and every now and then a taxi driver will make one extra turn in order to earn some extra kuais (I have to say though, that I dont think taxi drivers are bad guys. They are often helpful and friendly and keen to get you where you want as fast as possible. For their own sake as much as yours), but generally speaking, I dont think people here cheat you that much.

Yesterday was a day when I realized how awesome Chinese people really are. I first had a great…

Farewell to the farm

A woman surnamed Xu talks about the farmland behind her yesterday in Jingnan Village in the Pudong New Area. The countdown has begun for the 1,000-square-meter farmland - the last within the city's Inner Ring Road - as the land will be turned into a public park, and some community service facilities will be built there under a redevelopment plan approved by the Pudong government last October. There are now seven or eight households growing various vegetables including Chinese cabbage, spinach and celery on the land. "We eat what we cultivate mostly, and sell the rest at the market," said a resident surnamed Lin. "And we never use any pesticide." The Inner Ring Road is more than just a system of getting around the city, it is also a line that defines the "downtown" area of Shanghai. House prices within the Inner Ring Road are much higher than those outside.

Man jailed for making banknotes with scissors and glue

A local court sentenced a man to six months in prison today for altering RMB banknotes. Yao Jian, a 23-year-old migrant worker, turned 37 100-yuan notes into 38 notes by clipping and pasting with scissors and glue. On the night of November 5, 2010, he deposited the 38 altered notes into an ATM in Hongkou District and drew out 38 real notes from the machine immediately. In this way, he made 100 yuan. His abnormal behavior was spotted by a bank clerk through the surveillance camera and he was caught on the scene. Yao told the Hongkou District People's Court that he was unemployed and didn't want to become a burden to his parents. To make money, he thought of this idea. He said if his clip-and-paste method proved successful, he would make more money this way. But he never expected he would be caught on his first attempt. His lawyer begged for leniency at the court, saying Yao's forgery didn't have much negative effect on the society because the forged money would not circ…

'No car, no apartment, no wife,' women sing in online video

AN amateur music video made by a group of "over-aged" single women has stirred up huge controversy over its lyrics urging men to buy cars and apartments as a condition of marriage. The self-styled "golden over-aged beauties" - attractive single women in their late 20s - call their video "No Cars, No Apartments," the same title as a song made popular last year by a male singer, but with very different lyrics. Where he was complaining about the stresses suffered by men who were expected to provide cars and apartments before marriage, the women celebrate the fact. In the video, the women, "over-aged" because women from 25 to 30 would normally be married already, are pictured dressed in sexy clothes on downtown streets or even half-naked on a bed, singing: "Women's dreams are cars and apartments, without them, don't think you can hook up with us..." One woman carrying an iPad and another standing near a Porsche sing: "I have c…

Car fells a tree and a walker but no loss of life

A speeding Buick car knocked down a roadside tree and a pedestrian this morning in Pudong New Area, keeping the victim under the wheel for nearly 30 minutes before he was rescued, local police said. The 21-year-old man surnamed Wu was trapped under the car at Luoshan Road at about 8:10am and some passers-by made a failed attempt to pull him out. After someone called the emergency number, firefighters came a few minutes later, extracted the wounded man from the car and sent him to the Shanghai East Hospital in Lujiazui. "The Buick was making a fast turn around the corner and lost control," one witness said. Doctors said Wu only suffered minor injuries in his legs and waist.

Freestylers in class

Ive joined a new gym, where they have Les Mills classes such as spinning, fat burn, bodypump and you name it. Its awesome. After having spent the last year or so on a treadmill in order to get my weekly fitness dose, its nice to be able to go to classes, be inspired by the instructor, do as s/he says and not having to think so much on your own (might come across as a bit strange, but when it comes to training its actually ideal).

I used to do a lot of spinning when I lived in Australia and Finland, but since my move to China it has only happened on rare occasions such as at fat burning parties in Suzhou. So, during the last weeks classes Ive sort of struggled to keep up.

But, no worries about that. I realized, from looking around in class. Me struggling was actually considered a minor problem for the instructor. Most people didnt listen to a word he said.

Spinning over here is like freestyling: go into class, get on a bike, and do whatever you like. Stand up if you feel like it, and when…