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Social insurance for foreigners

CHINA is drafting details of its Social Insurance Law that will allow it to apply to foreign employees, a senior official with the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security said. Xu Yanjun, deputy director of the ministry's social security center, said foreign employees in China will be able to enjoy the same social insurance benefits as Chinese nationals under the law, Xinhua news agency reported. The law will go into effect on July 1. It specifies that all workers will have the right to five forms of insurance: basic endowment insurance, basic medical insurance, work injury insurance, unemployment insurance and maternity insurance. The law will also ensure that workers from countries that have signed bilateral social insurance agreements with China will be able to avoid paying two premiums, Xu said. Most foreign workers currently living and working in China's larger cities are limited to having work injury insurance and basic medical insurance, Xu said. The sixth natio…

Wet Dragon Boat Festival forecasted

Heavy showers are expected during the Dragon Boat Festival holiday and are likely to relieve the city's worst drought in history, local weather authority said this afternoon. With changes in atmospheric circulation, Shanghai will have rainy weather from Friday to Monday with more rainfall on Sunday and Monday, said the Shanghai Meteorological Bureau. Shen Yu, the bureau's senior forecaster, said the protracted drought in the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River is a result of the La Nina phenomenon which has caused lower temperatures in the seawater of the Pacific Ocean. However, the rains during the three-day holiday would not change the drought situation in the lower reaches of the Yangtze, Shen added.

Umbrella initiative under a cloud

IT never rains but it pours for the Metro operator after passengers took advantage of a public-spirited initiative to acquire themselves free umbrellas. Some 30,000 new loan umbrellas were on offer at Metro stations last week, but already many have gone "missing." The operator said the return rate is slightly above 50 percent, following rain last week, even though commuters were supposed to leave cellphone numbers. "Some passengers left fake cellphone numbers," said Metro officials. Station staff call them once they fail to return umbrellas within seven days. The free service, called "Love Umbrella," was first launched six years ago and proved popular. But as the original stock of 20,000 umbrellas dwindled to just 600, the operator arranged for reinforcements a week ago. At Metro Line 2's Jiangsu Road Station in downtown area, passengers have borrowed 10 umbrellas but only one has been returned, said the operator. Even worse is Line 3's Shanghai R…

Pregnant women warned of thyroid hormone deficiency

ABOUT 10 to 15 percent of pregnant Chinese suffer thyroid hormone deficiency which can impede fetal brain development and cause higher incidence of miscarriage and other pregnancy complications. Women who plan to start a family or are in the early stage of pregnancy, especially highly-risk people, should better undergo a thyroid check for early intervention and treatment, experts told a medical conference today. The country's first survey on thyroid diseases, done by the Chinese Medical Association and Merck Serono in Shanghai and other nine cities, showed that 6.5 percent of Chinese have thyroid hormone deficiency, but no more than 5 percent of them get any treatment due to a lack of knowledge. "Compared with ordinary people, thyroid diseases are more harmful to pregnant women," said Dr Wu Yijie of Shanghai No. 1 People's Hospital. "It not only affects their health but also their baby's health and IQ, raising the likelihood of brain, kidney and heart disord…

Get your popcorns ready!

Today is the opening day of Sweden Film Week 2011, giving Shanghai-ers the chance to watch the newest from the Swedish film industry. The screenings are a mix of animation, drama, comedy, thriller and, of course, some good ol Bergman stuff.

In Shanghai, all films will be showed at Grand Theatre, 216 Nanjing west rd, near Xizang rd. , 216, .

Tickets can be bought at the cinema for 50 rmb. All films are in Swedish/English with Chinese subtitles.

Screening schedule at Grand Cinema, Shanghai

May 30, 7pm Miss Kicki (88 min)
May 31, 8pm Easy Money (120 min)

June 1, 8pm The Girl (96 min)

June 2, 8pm Sawdust and Tinsel (88 min)

June 3, 8pm Sound of Noise (110 min)

June 4, 8pm The King of Ping Pong (106 min)

June 5, 8pm Metropia (80 min)

June 6, 8pm Everlasting Moments (125 min)
See you at the cinema!


Walking uphill

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Ive been keeping busy lately. At the same time as Ive been battling sleeping problems Ive been putting in quite a few extra hours at work, and then on top of that Ive tried to locate a new apartment in Shanghai. Man, when I have time to sit down and blog again Im going to share with you some of the funniest flat-hunting stories and dramas that Ive been experiencing over these last few weeks! But not until things calm down a bit. For the last week I havent even been to the gym once (!) and anyone who knows me knows that thats a sign of me rearranging my priorities. But getting enough sleep is a priority right now, as well as moving into a new flat. This area where I live now is great, but too noisy at nighttimes. I dont think the noise is the only reason why Im having troubles falling asleep at night, but it definitely has some impact.

I still have some big projects to finish off (D Day 1 is tomorrow, and then another one the week after that), and then life will (hopefully) eventually g…

No kidding, this is art!

Jin Jing, a local celebrity, guides children to put the finishing touch on a rainbow during an activity at the Shanghai Oriental Pearl TV Tower yesterday. Eighty paintings by children from all over the country will be exhibited at the tower for one week to celebrate International Children's Day which falls on Wednesday.

Museum opens

A museum devoted to Qin Yi, the 90-year-old Chinese performing artist, opened in the Liyuan Garden of Zhaojialou Old Town in Minhang District yesterday. It includes props and costumes from a bygone era to tell Qin's story.

City mulls higher taxi fares and fuel surcharge

Shanghai plans to raise taxi fares and introduce a fuel surcharge to cope with higher petro prices, the Shanghai Development and Reform Commission said today. In one proposal, the flag-down rate will increase by one yuan to 13 yuan but the standard rate after the first three kilometers will remain at 2.4 yuan/km. In another, the starting flag-down rate will remain unchanged but the standard rate after the first three kilometers will rise to 2.7 yuan/km. The fuel surcharge will be 2 yuan per trip under current gas prices. A public hearing on the proposals will be held on June 13, the commission said.

Signal problem causes delays on Metro Line 6

A signal system failure on Metro Line 6 caused delay of trains for about 40 minutes and left huge crowds waiting at the Jufeng Road station in Pudong. The subway operation returned to normal at about 9:30am. The Metro operator alerted passengers through microblog that the equipment problem might affect the service for more than 15 minutes and urged passengers to take other means of public transportation. But it said the line would not be suspended. A passenger told Xinmin.com that only two trains came to the station in 40 minutes from 8:50am to 9:30am.

Shanghai checks for tainted Taiwan food products

SHANGHAI authorities are investigating the local market for food from Taiwan possibly containing a carcinogenic additive. Taiwan's biggest food additive supplier, the Yu Shen Spice Co Ltd, was found to have been adding DEHP, a plastic polymer, to a thickening agent over the past five years to save costs. Long term ingestion can damage the liver and kidneys, cause female sexual precocity, harm male reproductive capacity, and is a possible cause of cancer, Xinhua news agency reported yesterday. The tainted food, including sports drinks, jam, fruit juice, yoghurt, dried fruit and health food, may be on sale in Taiwan, the Chinese mainland, Hong Kong, the United States, Vietnam and the Philippines, the Taiwan Department of Health reported. More than 40 food producers, inlcuding Yes Water, Sunkist and Triko, are involved in the case as they had bought the thickening agent from Yu Shen. In Taiwan, all food that could have been tainted with the additive has been ordered to be removed fro…

Xuhui doctor arrested after stabbing colleague

A doctor stabbed one colleague this morning in a community health care center in downtown Xuhui District. The victim was seriously wounded and is still being treated in the hospital. The suspect has been caught, police said. The incident happened around 10:40am on the center's third floor, a witness said. The doctor did not get along well with this colleague, other staff in the center said. Police are still investigating the case.

Sunland Park under construction in Waigaoqiao

SHANGHAI residents will soon have a new place for outing when the Sunland Ecological Park in Pudong's Waigaoqiao area is completed next year, officials said yesterday. Construction of the 3.35-square-kilometer park, about 2.4 times the size of the Century Park, began yesterday. The new park will have no boundary walls and will consist of a big lake, a peony garden and a sports park. It is part of the Sunland Eco-Community Project that also includes shopping malls and an international community to cater to the needs of about 210,000 workers and 7,000 firms in the Waigaoqiao Free Trade Zone. Greenery and water area will cover 70 percent of the eco-community, said Lu Qin, deputy director of administration at the Shanghai Waigaoqiao Co Ltd. All the green space will open to the public for free except for some private sports clubs, he added. The sports park will have a golf course, a rugby ground, a track and field, and a cycling trail around the lake. People can play sports or watch in…

Power shortages may close department stores

STORES and businesses in parts of Shanghai face being shut down on the hottest days this summer, as the city tries to juggle a tight power supply with spikes in demand. Most likely to be affected are Pudong, Yangpu, Baoshan, Minhang and Songjiang districts - industrialized areas that do not have large electric substations, Shanghai Electric Power Co said yesterday. Factories and department stores will be required to close when a potential power shortage occurs, as households will get priority, it said. "The power limit won't be citywide and residents' consumption will be secured," the company said. The grid comes under more pressure on the hottest days as sweltering residents crank up their air conditioning. The maximum power load is estimated at 28.5 gigawatts under extreme hot weather conditions in July and August, while its maximum production capacity is 27.4GW, including 8.7GW brought from other provinces via transmission lines. This means a supply gap of 1.1GW c…

Drug addict jailed for crashing 3 police cars

A drug addict was sentenced to 14 months in prison today by a local court for driving with an expired license and crashing three police cars to avoid inspection. The convict surnamed Li drove a Geely on February 25 to the intersection of Yuyao Road and Xikang Road in Jing'an District where traffic police were checking drunk driving because it was near a bar area. Police signaled him to stop the car as they found he was driving in a strange route. Li didn't stop the car. Instead, he stepped on the gas to flee and crashed two police cars in the run. Police chased him in three patrol cars. Li dashed through several red lights and didn't stop until it bumped with a police car that tried to corner him.When police asked Li to get out for inspection, he even kicked an officer's leg. Police found 7.91 grams of heroin and "ice" in his Geely. The court also ordered Li to pay 8,255 yuan (US$1,270) in compensation for damaging police vehicles. Li admitted he was a drug a…

A big feast coming for film lovers

DURING the 14th Shanghai International Film Festival from June 11 to 19, local movie buffs can watch more than 200 Chinese and foreign films in 24 cinemas across town, the organizer said yesterday. This year's festival will present a retro show of films made by celebrated Polish director Krzysztof Kieslowski, Danish director Bille August and Chinese director Zheng Junli. Other exhibition films include award-winning productions from Japan, Canada, Germany, Italy, France and China. Film enthusiasts will be able to see some latest big-budget films such as "Pina," a 3D documentary by Wim Wenders on the late German dancer and choreographer Pina Bausch; Danny Boyle's biographical adventure film "127 Hours;" Coen Brothers' "True Grit;" and the Danish drama "In a Better World," which won the 2011 Academy Award for Best Foreign Film. In addition to screening much anticipated Chinese films like "If You Are the One 2" and "Afters…

Controlled by the weather

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"Yeah, sorry, I'm not going to to be able to meet you for dinner for the next, ehum, 4 months or so.."

Before I start this post I would just like to thank all of you that contributed with your advices and recommendations about sleep/insomnia in my previous post. Thank you!

Now, since I am having a bit of a rough week I thought Id share a funny thing that happened last week.

Om Monday, I got a text from a Chinese friend that I havent seen for a long time:

"Dinner on Thu?"

"Sorry, I cannot make it," I texted back. "I have a busy week. How about Sunday?"
"OK," she texted.

Saturday came, and I had totally forgotten about it all until I got the following message:

"Its going to rain tomorrow. Should we have dinner on Wed instead?"

"Eh sure."

Talk about relying on the weather forecast. And talk about being controlled by what kind of weather it is owhen you plan your calendar.

I remember a friend of mine once told me about a girl …

Teenage arsonist's revenge on aunts

A 17-YEAR-OLD boy who started four fires to take revenge on his aunts for beating him was sentenced to one year in prison yesterday. Judges of the Putuo District People's Court learned that the boy, identified as Dong, had psychological problems and appointed mental health experts to offer counseling in a bid to stop him reoffending. The court heard Dong had a difficult life. His parents divorced when he was seven years old and he traveled with his father to Shanghai where they made a living picking through garbage. When Dong was 14, his father fell from his moped after suffering an epileptic attack and died. Dong returned to his hometown in Jiangsu Province to live with his 80-year-old grandmother but got into trouble, leading to a 10-month prison sentence. His grandmother asked three aunts, who lived in Shanghai, to take care of him. However, Dong was frequently scolded and beaten by his aunts over his behavior. Seeking revenge, Dong decided to start fires, reckoning once it was…

Committee set up to coordinate food safety measures

Shanghai government set up a food safety committee yesterday to free locals from worries about the food safety. "We'll make Shanghai one of the cities in China where food is safest," Mayor Han Zheng pledged yesterday. The new committee will coordinate efforts by the city's three food safety watchdogs -- the Shanghai Food and Drug Administration, Shanghai Administration for Industry and Commerce, and Shanghai Quality and Technical Supervision Bureau. As one of the regulating measures, supermarkets will be required to remind customers to check the shelf life of food products before buying them. Local supermarkets are required to put up an eye-catching notice to tell customers that certain foods are near expiration and buyers will not be able to return expired goods for refund, according to the new regulation.

Metro breakdown causes short delay for commuters

SHANGHAI Metro authority imposed crowd control at the People's Square station at 8:05am this morning after an equipment failure was reported on Metro Line 1. The Metro operation returned to normal soon after the problem was solved minutes later. The 37-kilometer subway from Xinzhuang in Minhang District to Fujin Road in Baoshan District is a main north-south artery for many Shanghai commuters.

Free bag ban flouted by city retailers

ALMOST three years after a law was brought in to curb the use of plastic bags, they are still being widely offered free of charge at many outlets in Shanghai. The Chinese Cabinet, the State Council, introduced legislation on June 1, 2008, stating that stores should no longer provide plastic bags free to shoppers. Outlets doing so could be fined 10,000 yuan(US$1,500). Officials with the Ministry of Commerce said at the weekend they are now considering banning free plastic bags in places such as restaurants and hospitals. The ministry is now canvassing public opinion. However, an investigation by Shanghai Daily has found the regulations are ignored by many stores and vendors in Shanghai - from chain brands to street-side markets. Instead of charging consumers for bags, as they are required to by the authorities, the stores happily offer free non-recyclable bags. Reporters visited a dozen food and beverage stores downtown, where takeaway plastic bags are in high demand, and found most pr…

Bogus date swindles money from young women

A man was sentenced to eight years in prison for swindling more than 350,000 yuan (US$53,864) from young women pretending to be their date through a matchmaking TV program, the Xuhui People's Court said today. Feng Zhenyu, 53, who claimed he was 35 and owned a property company, met four women through the matchmaking program and used different excuses to get money from them. And his fraud was not exposed until one victim found out he was married and called police. The victim, a white-collar who was not identified, met Feng through the matchmaking TV program in September 2009 and started a relationship with him. Just 10 days after their first meeting, Feng told her that he paid 17 million yuan in compensation after a building still under construction suddenly collapsed because he was the developer. As a result, he was short of cash. The young woman in her 20s believed his words and gave him her bank cards, the court heard. In the next few months, Feng cheated 280,000 yuan out of the…

Sleepless in Shanghai

Unfortunately I dont feel very rested or relaxed after the wknd. I seem to have gone from problems with falling asleep every now and then to constant sleeping problems. I have tried many things: not watching TV before sleeping, listening to music, exercising before going to bed, not exercising before bed, reading books, drinking tea, not drinking tea, avoid coffee and sugar, not eat big meals before bed, keeping the room dark and cool, doing relaxing yoga breathing, changing my sleeping spot (I now go from my bed to the couch every second night. It worked in the beginning but not so much anymore), herbal sleeping pills (not useful), real sleeping pills (also not useful dont make me fall asleep). I am getting a tad big frustrated and desperate: what the h*** am I supposed to do?!

I know that it is in my head and in my head only. Its a thought that shapes itself as soon as I hit the afternoon, saying: Oh, here comes the night and I feel so tired after last nights lack of sleep wouldnt it…

Railway stations taking names as new ticket system kicks off

PASSENGERS buying advance tickets for bullet train services in Shanghai yesterday needed to prove their identity for the first time under a new real-name system which requires ID cards or other legal documents. Railway ticket booths in Shanghai have all been equipped with recognition devices which can quickly read the personal information on ID cards and print the passenger's name and ID number on the ticket. But for other forms of identification, such as passports, ticket officers have to type in the numbers manually which could lead to delays. One ticket officer, surnamed Wu, at a ticket outlet on Taixing Road, said it would take more time to input numbers from documents other than ID cards, and she would have to keep a careful check when typing foreign names and numbers. The nationwide system will apply to tickets for bullet train services prefixed by the letters "C," "D" and "G" from June 1. There are several types of documents allowed under the n…

Car plate price driven to 3-year high by demand

STRONG demand kept car plate prices in Shanghai at a three-year record high at this month's auction yesterday, despite the city government increasing supply for the second time this year. Auto dealers said the city government's measures to restrict access to the elevated highways during rush hours by cars with out-of-town plates played a vital role for the rising prices. Shanghai's auto show in April also boosted the number of new car owners who are not sensitive to prices, according to local auto dealers. The average price for a car plate rose for a fifth month to 47,700 yuan (US$7,338), up 301 yuan from April, according to Shanghai International Commodity Auction Co. The lowest price climbed 1,100 yuan to 47,400 yuan. The local government offered 9,000 car plates this month, 1,000 more than in April. In March, the quota was raised from 7,500 to 8,000. The number of bidders was 25,708, a jump from 22,326 last month. "Tightening controls over out-of-town plates are co…

It's Party time for the children

Children release balloons in front of the site of the First National Congress of the Communist Party of China in Shanghai yesterday, the first day the historic building reopened to public after several months of renovation to celebrate the 90th anniversary of the founding of the CPC. The revamp project included repairing, repainting and reconsolidating the walls, pillars, doors and windows in order to reproduce the atmosphere the building had in the 1920s, while the exhibits inside remain unchanged.

2 people hurt by high voltage shock from broken cable

TWO people were electrocuted early this morning when a high-voltage cable snapped at a construction site in the city's Jiading District. They were rushed to the hospital and are now in stable condition. The accident happened around 1:35am when the power cable was torn apart, causing a bolt that hit a worker at the construction site on Dingbian Road and a passing three-wheeler driver. Police said workers were installing a drainage pipe in the area with a lift crane which accidentally tore off the high-voltage cable. Power supply in the area was not affected by the accident and its cause is still under investigation.

Following Xu's footsteps

Foreign tourists pose for a photo on the Bund in Shanghai yesterday, the nation's first "China Tourism Day." The tourism day will fall on May 19 each year, the date when renowned writer Xu Xiake began his famous travel books. Nearly 400 years ago, Xu, dubbed the "Saint of Travel" in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), began his 30 years of travel through the country and penned his masterpiece, "Travel Notes of Xu Xiake," which mapped out a well-defined geography of the country and highlighted its remarkable sights and attractions. Many believe China's decision to mark the day reflects the growing importance of tourism in the country's ongoing economic restructuring and the country expects to become one of the leading tourist destinations around the world within five years.

Taiwan singer accepts Gao's role in talent show

FAMOUS Taiwanese singer-producer Jerry Huang will replace Gao Xiaosong as a judge for the remaining 10 or so episodes of the second season of "China's Got Talent," the producer of the hit TV show said today. Gao was sentenced to six months in prison and fined 4,000 yuan (US$615) by a Beijing court on Tuesday for drunk driving. A friend of Gao, Huang is also well-known for his original campus ballads. He said he felt honored to be invited as a judge for the show and will adjust his schedule to accommodate the program's recording timetable. "The 'Got Talent' franchise has an irresistible appeal to me," Huang added. "I will learn to make my words easy to understand when rating a contestant's musical performance. I am also ready to be moved to tears by the grassroots contestants." Soon after Gao was detained by Beijing police, the show's producer has scrambled to find a suitable stand-in. But most of the high-profile artists the produc…

A hot nap

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Yesterday I went for a class of hot yoga, and even though I might jinx it by saying this, it might be so that I maybe have improved, just a liiiiittle bit!? At least I got some very nice! and good comments from the yogi and for me, inflexible and stiff by nature, thats quite big.

Anyway, when we moved over to doing the floor poses the girl next to me fell asleep on her mat! It was 40 degrees in the room, and we were given a 10 seconds rest. And just like that she was sound asleep! The teacher came to wake her up, so which she seemed ashamed of and apologized for, however, one pose down later and we were given 10 seconds to lie down in savasana relaxing pose, and we had lost her again!

For me, who are experiencing serious sleeping problems from time to time (it goes in phases, sometimes I dont get any sleep at night for 5 night in a row) and find it extremely hard to relax and especially fall asleep, someone who can fall asleep just like that when its 40 degrees in the room and youre tak…

Man stabs girlfriend before turning self in

A man turned himself in this morning after stabbing his girlfriend in emotional outbreak. The woman, not identified, was rushed to the hospital and has been in stable condition after emergency treatment. The suspect surnamed Zhang surrendered himself to the Gumei Police Station in Minhang District, the local STV news channel reported. The young pair in their early 20s came from Chongqing and shared a rented apartment at 980 Wanyuan Road in Minhang. The cause of their conflict is not immediately known.

Brothel owner arrested for stabbing customer

A man who ran a "barber shop" with porn services was arrested for stabbing his customer who demanded refund as a prostitute refused to offer service, Qingpu District prosecutor said. The 25-year-old Sichuan native, surnamed Wu, was a construction worker during the day but a "barber shop" owner at night, secretly providing sex service, the prosecutor said. By hiring five young women as prostitutes, Wu made fast money from male customers who frequented his shop late at night. But he also faced a problem that some customers took advantage of the prostitutes by beating them or refusing to pay them because the shop lacked bodyguards as many other porn revenues did. So Wu decided to let his wife be the manager of their prostitutes and asked his brother, surnamed Lu, to act as the guard for the shop. Things went smoothly until February 20, 2010 when a drunk customer surnamed Ma visited the shop and paid one of the girls for sex service. On the way to a secret room in a ne…

-lighthearted take on a heavy issue

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Excuse my lack of blogging, but this time it actually wasnt by choice: blogspot was down most of Friday, so it was hard to blog. Maybe it was for the better, though, because last week was crazy busy. I think Ive spent a maximum of 7 hours/home per day, and that includes sleeping.

On Thursday night a Chinese friend of mine took me to the theatre to watch a Chinese play. Shes married to a laowai, and his Mandarin is very good. For some strange reason, she believes that my Chinese is almost as good. So one day she said:

-Hey, you should join me to the theatre and watch a Chinese drama! I often take my husband and he enjoys it. When your level of Chinese is so good its a shame if you miss out on the local goodies.

I could not have agreed more (about it being a shame if Im missing out, not so much about my language skills) and decided to give it a go and join her.

We went to (Shanghai Drama Art Centre) to watch a play called (it basically means a great deal of money but the name was also si…

Steps toward saving energy

Passers-by step on mats in front of an energy-saving ball to produce power supplying the ball's lighting on Shanghai's Nanjing Road Pedestrian Mall last night. Installed with 622 groups of LED lights, the ball was illuminated yesterday to call for environmental protection. - Zhang Suoqing

Fast learner in the art of jiaozi wrapping

Former world 100-meter record keeper Asafa Powell learns how to wrap up jiaozi, a traditional Chinese food, during a charity activity to share happiness with mentally-challenged children yesterday in Xuhui District. Together with Powell at the event were world No. 1 javelin thrower Andreas Thorkildsen from Norway and 2010 Asian Games 100 meter gold medalist Lao Yi from China. The athletes are in town to take part in the 2011 Shanghai Golden Grand Prix, which is held tomorrow.

Bund mulls plan to cool visitors with sprayers

THE Bund sightseeing zone management is considering installing water sprayers in the area to help cool tourists in sizzling summertime. Such public cooling devices had been used to comfort huge crowds waiting to enter the World Expo pavilions in Shanghai last summer and they had received thumbs-up from Expo visitors. After the Expo, some popular sightseeing spots such as the Oriental Pearl TV Tower have installed such the sprayers. The management said the major barrier to the scheme is the concern that water sprayers along the Bund promenade may mar the scenery with vapor. It said the officials are still working on the plan to blend the cooling devices in the surroundings and allow visitors to enjoy the waterfront scenery even hot weather.

Dairy firm defends additives use

A Shanghai dairy company has defended the use of additives in its strawberry yogurt after media reports accused it of using banned substances in the processed fruit pieces and not listing additives on the packaging. Bright Dairy & Food Co Ltd, China's third-biggest dairy company by sales, issued a statement yesterday saying that all the additives contained in flavored strawberry particles in the yogurt were allowed in food production in China. And it rejected allegations that it had done anything wrong by failing to list ingredients. Bright Dairy said the original ingredients of the strawberry particles didn't need to be shown on the pack, according to the country's general standard for the labeling of prepackaged foods, as there is a national standard for their production. The China Business Herald reported yesterday that several additives were missing on packs of strawberry yogurt produced in Bright Dairy's Beijing factory. It also said that Bright Dairy used swe…

Courier stabs 5 guards in Xintiandi area

AN express deliveryman stabbed five security guards in the downtown Xintiandi area this morning. The security guards at the Platinum Tower had asked the deliveryman, who didn't wear a work uniform, to show his ID to enter the building. But the deliveryman refused and they started a quarrel, which turned bloody. The deliveryman took out a long knife he was carrying and stabbed the five guards. The incident happened around 10am. Two victims suffered severe cuts, one in the head and one in the arm. They were rushed to the nearby Ruijin Hospital and Shanghai Ninth People's Hospital. The suspect has been detained by police for further investigation.Shanghai Daily reporters will bring you more details later.

Just 2 months to go!

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Its around 2 months until my summer holiday now. I cannot believe it. It feels as if I just got back from Australia and calculated that it would be a good, 6 months until my next time off. And suddenly, here we are, just 2 months to go. Time flies.

Before this holiday I have so much to do (at work) that I dont know if I should cry or laugh. Itll work itself out (it always does!), but still. Two months feels like nothing.

This summer will be spent in Finland, Sweden and London (oh, and I guess Ill also have to go to Copenhagen now when theres a city tunnel between Malm in Sweden and Copenhagen in Denmark. It apparently takes something like 10-15 minutes to move across, or, OK, under the sea. Nice. It took them 10 years to finish that tunnel. No comments).

I havent been back in England since 2006. I spent 6 months living in London straight after high school back in 2001. I headed over together with 7 (!) close friends. One after another dropped off (missed their boyfriends, couldnt find a …

Pirated CDs

SHANGHAI Railway Police said yesterday they seized 17,790 pirated CDs during a recent crackdown. Police officers found the pirated goods in warehouses across the city and among cargo transported by trains. Officers also nabbed 36 gambling machines during the spot checks, police said.

9 pairs of bullet trains test Beijing-Shanghai rail

THE Shanghai-Beijing High-speed Railway began its month-long trial today with the first bullet train leaving the city's Hongqiao Railway Station at 8:45am. Nine pairs of trains will run the route today. VIP carriages were still seen in each train with drawn curtains. Earlier reports said VIP carriages would be reconfigured to leave out luxury furnishings and put in more seats. Railway officials said the fastest service was expected to clock 4 hours and 48 minutes to complete the 1,318-kilometer journey. But information about ticket prices is still not available to the public.

Pudong gears up construction for Disneyland

CONSTRUCTION has started on two main roads leading to the Shanghai Disneyland project while preparation is being made to build other four roads, Pudong New Area officials said yesterday. The 3.87-kilometer Hangcheng Road running south of the future them park is estimated to cost 505 million yuan (US$77.8 million) to build. The section between S2 Expressway and the planned Tanghuang Road will have four lanes while the section between Tanghuang Road and Nanliu Road will have six lanes. Tanghuang Road is also under construction east of the theme park, but the officials provided little information. Meanwhile, digging has started to create a 39-hectare artificial lake in the park and a 10-kilometer-long river around it. About 70 percent of the excavated mud will be trucked off before the end of May and the whole project is expected to be finished next March, said Zhao Xiwei, an official with the water project administration. A Metro extension to Shanghai Disneyland has entered the pre-cons…

The chase for straighforwardness

Trying to get some honesty out of my closest colleague (who is Chinese) is sometimes like pulling out a tooth: slow and painful.

There I am, drafting a sell-friendly PR-like text to an event that were having, doing my best to make it sound interesting, cool and not-to-be-missed.

However, since I am not a naturally born PR person, I quickly get a gag-feeling when I read my own selling points. So I turn to my colleague:

-Do you think its too much? Too exaggerated?

-Eh. No! Hihi.

-OK, good.

-Hihi.

There it is. The laugh. The giggle. The sign that something is wrong even though shes telling me it isnt.

-Why are you laughing, I ask, trying hard to put up my most stern face.

-I dont know. Hihi. The invitation is a bit funny!

-FUNNY?!

-Yes, haha!

-Its not supposed to be funny! Its supposed to sound tempting and cool, but not funny.

-Ah.

-Well, so do you think I should change something?

-Yeah, maybe you could change this part.

She points at the part that I was the most worried about from the beginning. Hello…

Moped-stealing gang caught in Shanghai

CITY police said today that they have bust a criminal gang who focused on stealing mopeds and scooters after two weeks' chase. Three suspects have been detained and seven stolen mopeds found, Changning District police said. The police were first alerted in early April when several residential communities reported mopeds missing. They tracked down the suspects on April 25. The gang had stolen 14 mopeds and scooters since March, said the police, who are still investigating the case. The suspects, in their 20s, sold the mopeds and schooters for gambling, police said.

Why Asians don't perspire as much as westerners

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Team China is not sweating it.

Last Sat night I went out with a Chinese friend. We ended up going for a long dinner, and then to a wine bar for some drinks. We talked and talked, and suddenly I realized that it was only us left at the bar and that the waiter came up to our table.

-Were closing. Do you mind? He said, apologetic, and pushed us the bill

Thats when I glanced at my watch and realized that wed been out for 8 hours (!), talking non-stop. It was definitely time to leave! I think its best Chinese language practice Ive gotten in a long time, however, and my dreams were in Chinese that night when I eventually fell asleep.

Anyway, during this marathon conversation we talked about a lot of interesting things, including fitness and working out. My friend confessed that he only eats salad at nights (!!) as hes afraid of gaining weight. Now I never, ever, thought Id hear about a guy doing that in China but there we go.

Another thing he explained to me is why Chinese people dont perspire a…

Pedestrian overpasses planned for Bund area

FOLLOWING the construction of the Lujiazui skywalk, the Bund area will also have overhead walkways to make the historical area more pedestrian-friendly. Old buildings along Henan Road, a parallel street near the Bund will have pedestrian overpasses to connect with each other, the Shanghai Urban Construction and Transport Commission said over the weekend. Meanwhile, a pedestrian overpass will be built to connect the Dongjiadu area with the southern part of the famous waterfront. An outdoor stage is also included in the construction plan. But it will be a complicated job to build these walkways in the Bund area due to the large number of protected heritage buildings and narrow streets, the authorities said. They said the skywalk system in the Lujiazui financial district can facilitate traffic flow and more skywalks will be built along the Century Avenue in the future. The officials also revealed that women's toilets along the Bund have increased by 54 percent, cutting the waiting ti…

One (out of a million?) searching for a fresh start

Yesterday I did something that I really dread: went flat hunting. Now, before I go into the cons of flat hunting in Shanghai (because really, the only pro is when you eventually find something price worthy and liveable, and to be able to do that, you need to see at least 60 dumps) let me just say that yesterdays hunt was unsuccessful.

We started at home in front of the computer. Got reasonably excited at some of the photos of amazing apartments that we saw on expat sites online. Brad new furniture, oven, health club, and only 2 min to the metro station they all said, while shining at us with tempting prices of 6000 rmb.

However, when we called one of the agents representing these flats, we were immediately told that the price had been raised (over night?!) to 7500. And then one hour before we were supposed to see the dream crib the agent called us again to say that the rent was actually 8500! Eh?!

We did not go and see that flat in the end.

Instead, we did things the Jonna way meaning, wa…

Improved blog!

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Room for improvement -oh yes! One can start with keeping their eyes open while being photographed!

I am fully aware that I should have done this ages ago, but anyway, better late than never. I've now added a search function to my blog, the blog labels (not so many) and a subscribe by email function. Now I just have to start update this baby on a more regular basis too -and we can all live happily ever after. Nah, just kidding. But since I'm in the mood of improvement and changes, I might as well take this opportunity to ask you, my dear readers, if there is something else that you wish for (writing wise that is)? Is there some topic you don't want to read about? Something you wish to read more about? Something you feel is missing? Just say the word.

City to hold public hearing on taxi fare

SHANGHAI'S pricing authority is inviting public representatives to a taxi fare adjustment hearing and the adjustment plan will be announced later this month, officials said today. Industry insiders view it as a signal that local taxi fares will be raised again to offset fuel price hikes.The new prices will come into force by middle July, government officials said. The current taxi fare is 12 yuan (US$1.85) for the first 3 kilometers, up from 11 yuan before October 2009. Online speculation said the new start-up price will be 15 yuan. City authority already lowered the monthly dues taxi companies are allowed to collect from cabbies early this month.

Wedding guests ill after hotel meal

SHANGHAI Food and Drug Administration officials are investigating a possible food poisoning case after more than 100 people complained of vomiting, diarrhea and other symptoms after eating dinner at Ramada Plaza Pudong hotel on Monday night. Guests at the four-star hotel said they attended one of three different wedding receptions, but they all suffered similar symptoms, which they believed were caused by food poisoning. Xu Jingda, 26, a bridegroom at one of the wedding receptions, told Shanghai Daily that 35 of his 45 friends and relatives were either hospitalized or had to ask for sick leave after attending his wedding. "I woke up in the middle of the night after the wedding with a stomachache and started to vomit," Xu said. "Many friends called and said they suffered the same symptoms." Xu said he never expected such a memorable moment in his life would be ruined. Wang Gang, 45, brother of a bride at another wedding held in the hotel at the same time, said 120 o…

The dust has settled

A cleaner sky is seen in downtown Shanghai today (above). The environmental watchdog said the level of inhalable particles in the air has dropped after days of sandstorm pollution. Today's air quality is good, second of 5-level scale from excellent to very unhealthy. The city suffered its worst air pollution in the past four days.

Taiwan woman in death plunge

THE only daughter of Taiwan's top examination official plunged to her death from a Shanghai high-rise in the early hours of yesterday morning. Wendy Kuan, 34, fell from a residential complex in Xuhui District between 4am to 5am, police said yesterday. Police have ruled out the possibility of murder after an initial investigation. Kuan fell from the kitchen window in the residence on the 27th floor, officers said. It is not known if she was alone in the apartment at the time. Local Police and the Taiwan Affairs Office of Shanghai are further investigating the incident. She was the only daughter of Kuan John Chung, president of Taiwan's Examination Yuan, or House of Examination. Kuan's family, including her father, arrived in Shanghai yesterday evening. Kuan John Chung was "in deep sorrow and almost collapsed" at a Taiwan airport, according to Taiwan reports. Her mother, Zhang Hui Jun, hinted that there had been "relationship problems," according to the r…

The no-sugar bet update

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And I can't have this, right... nuts and carrots, anyone?!

Just to let you all know, Im now more than 1 week into the bet and Im doing fine. Its not hard not to eat candy/cookies/sugary snacks during the weekdays (although when I colleague recently came back from a trip to Sweden and emptied a bag of candy in the kitchen, I had to ban myself for going in there until it was all gone), the biggest challenge comes during the weekends.

If Im out doing something I dont have any problems. As soon as I get home, position myself comfortably on the couch and turn on a movie though. Ahhg! Thats when thoughts like snacks, I need snacks! hit me. Since I had a rather inactive and boring wknd last wknd, I better keep myself busy this weekend so that I dont fall for temptation. Someone told me that the first 2 weeks are the hardest then the sugar cravings will disappear and I will not think about snacks anymore. So here we go, sugar-free week 2, whos still with me?

Oh, and training is going OK too.…

Extension blights historic home

RESIDENTS fear that the historic building in which they live will collapse after a neighbor illegally built heavy extensions on top of the structure. Deep cracks appeared in the walls of apartments in the three-story Shangwen Road building during the work to build a two-story rooftop extension. The building is in Longmen Community, where 49 shikumen residential buildings dating from 1934 are under the protection of Huangpu District government. Shikumen homes, which incorporate Chinese and Western elements, are a distinctive Shanghai architectural style. Wang Mingbao, a 74-year-old resident told Shanghai Daily that her neighbor upstairs, Zhao Fengfeng, started building on the roof of their building last October, despite objections from residents and government officials. Wang said although small cracks appeared on the walls and the building shook during construction, Zhao ignored all complaints. Work began to add another floor to the illegal apartment on April 20, and a long crack appe…

Migrants make up 39% of Shanghai population

SHANGHAI has 8.98 million non-locals staying in the city for over six months, accounting for 39 percent of the city's 23.02 million residents, according to the sixth national census held last November.The population of non-locals, mainly migrant workers, has increased by 159 percent from the 3.46 million in the last census in 2000, the Shanghai Statistics Bureau said today.Though Shanghai has been considered an aging society, the age group between 15 and 64 years old actually increased 4.97 percent compared to that of 10 years ago, while the age group older than 65 decreased by 1.34 percent from the last census.Ren Yuan, professor of Fudan University, said the situation is a result of a large number of migrant workers pouring into the city during the past 10 years and "it helps to deal with the city's large aging population."Shanghai has lowered its threshold for outsiders to apply for hukou, or permanent residency. Ren considered it would help relieve the city of it…

Lazy VS active wknds

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Oh, what did I do this wknd?! Nothing special... just a run in the wilderness.

Chinese honesty has its pros and cons. It is definitely refreshing to sometimes speak to people that make no excuses for themselves. Like one of my Chinese friends. She loves sweets. And hates sweating. The other day I met her in the city. I was, as usual, cramming on to a gym bag (planning to hit the gym later), which she looked at and said:

-Are you still going to the gym? I dont think you need to lose weight.

-Nah, thats not why I am going. I go because I like it because I think its a nice feeling to first run and then

I stopped short as I saw her eyebrows wrinkled in a not-so-approving way.

-How can you LIKE it? Its so boring! She finally said.

-Eh its a bit boring, I admit. But its good for your health.

Her face didnt change. I could tell that I wasnt winning this conversation.

-So you never go? I tried.

-Nah, never. My mom has told me I should. That Im too lazy. But I like being lazy. I like being home doing n…

City air quality worst in 4 years

SHANGHAI yesterday experienced its worst air quality in more than four years as sand carried from storms in the north of the country created grey, dusty conditions in the city. Weather forecasters said wind and rain expected over the next couple of days would help disperse the pollution, which stood at the highest level in a scale of five, but that it would still affect the city. In terms of the amount of inhalable particulate matter, yesterday's air quality was the worst since April 2, 2007. The level then was the worst in the previous seven years. Except for downtown Huangpu District, all Shanghai districts and Chongming County recorded "heavy air pollution," the highest level in the five-level measurement scale used locally to assess air quality. Medium level air pollution was recorded in Huangpu District. Tomorrow, pollution levels are predicted to fall to the second highest level. The environmental watchdog still advised locals to keep windows shut and minimize the …

Considering others

Remember back when I used to have a small problem with a spitting boss in Suzhou? Well, Id almost forgotten about how much it can annoy you to sit next to someone who constantly feels as if s/he needs to clear his/her throat and spit, until last night when I went see a concert by the Moscow symphony orchestra at Daning Theatre. Id managed to score a good seat, just behind all the important Chinese guests that had been decorated with a flower in their suit jacket. Most of them were 50+, dressed up, and looked genuinely happy about being there. Except for the man sitting in front of me.

Clearly bored with the concert and music, he kept twisting and turning in his seat, reading about sports car in a magazine that he had brought along and clear his throat and spit in a napkin! The latter made me see red. It was just horrible to sit and listen to him interrupting the atmosphere by clearing his throat in the middle of a beautiful piano solo! I thought I was the only one that was bothered, un…