Showing posts from June, 2011

Time to pack up and leave

Finally, we have found a new crib! That only took us some 2,5 months or something?! Our current lease expirers in just a few days, so we really left it for the last minute. During our flat hunt, I think we have seen more than 100 flats in at least 4 different district. In the end, we considered everything, and still, it was so hard to find something decent.

Ive never before found it hard to find a flat in Shanghai but this time it was a true struggle. My old real estate agent told me that its because house prices are rocketing and as a result, more people are renting. Not only does this lead to less available places, but also, rents going up. For instance, on our way to see one place in the French Consession, we met some old friends of mine, and while we discussed our flat hunt we realised that we were about to go and have a look at THEIR old place! They had left it some 2 months ago, leasing it for 5500 rmb. Now it was on the market for 8000. Crazy.

During our search we ended up using …

Crossing the line of openness

Sharing food -fine! Sharing salary info... I don't think so!

Back in a hot and humid Shanghai. I would lie if I said I dont miss Swedens blue skies, green fields and fresh air, but then again, I only have another 2 or so weeks at work, then Im going back to Scandinavia on a holiday, so Ill manage! In fact, its kind of nice to be back, especially since Ive missed all the everyday craziness (or whatever you should call it? Charm?!) about China. Such as yesterday, when I went to the ladies room (which is located in our office building, rather than inside our actual office, so you have to head out to the elevators to visit the loos) at work.

While I was washing my hands, the ayi who cleans the toilets every day came in. We have a friendly kind of relationship: We greet each other with smiles, hold up doors for each others, small talk about the weather and so on. However, yesterday she took our relationship to a whole different level when she asked:

-So you work over there? (pointed towar…

Addict couple robs drug dealer

AN addict couple who allegedly robbed a drug dealer in a bid to get money to buy medicines to help them quit their habit have been arrested, prosecutors said yesterday. The pair spent all the cash they robbed, amounting to 3,500 yuan (US$541), on rehabilitation medicines. "Their behavior indicated they had a strong will to quit taking drugs. But it wasn't right to rob someone, even if the victim was a drug dealer," said Fang Xiaoying, a prosecutor of the Jing'an District Prosecutors' Office. Yang Fei, a 29-year-old Anhui Province native, and Xu Min, his wife, decided to give up their drugs habit in April and went to Wuxi, Jiangsu Province, for rehabilitation. A few days after their rehab stint, the couple, unable to resist, came to Shanghai to buy narcotics from a drug dealer. They went into rehab at Wuxi off and on until running out of money. On the train to Shanghai on May 1, Yang suggested robbing the dealer, prosecutors said. The couple told the drug dealer t…

City to wage 10-day war on mosquitoes

MOSQUITOES may pose a big threat this summer if no immediate action is taken to control the pest that proliferates fast in standing water left by the rainy season, local health officials said. Abundant rainfall and a fast rising temperature after the plum rain season that ended on Monday is ideal for mosquito breeding. June, July and August are the peak breeding season for mosquitos in Shanghai. Mosquito density normally doubles in June, compared with May. "We haven't worked out the density this June but it definitely will be much higher than last month's," said Leng Peien, a department director with the Shanghai Center for Disease Control and Prevention. "If no effective measures are taken, mosquitoes will explode in number due to the hot and humid weather." A 10-day anti-mosquito campaign will be launched citywide by the Shanghai Patriotic Health Campaign Commission tomorrow, with a focus on construction sites, Metro stations, residential areas, undergrou…

Cleaning up the creek

A boy watches an excavator dredging up silt from Suzhou Creek in downtown Shanghai yesterday. The six-month program to clean up the silt in the waterway is wrapping up along 16.4 kilometers of the river's downtown section. About 8,000 cubic meters of silt has been dug up and moved away every day since January when the last phase of the clean-up program was launched. Efforts to clean up the heavily polluted creek began in 1998.

Drug addict steals diamond from his own shop

A jewelry shop employee was detained for alleged stealing a platinum ring from his shop in downtown Jing'an District, police said today. The ring featuring a 2.01-gram diamond was priced at 301,000 yuan, police said. The suspect surnamed Chen stole the ring on June 17 from a safe in the shop. He was caught three days later by police who identified him through surveillance video recording. Chen had pawned the ring for 45,000 yuan and told the police that he needed the money to buy drugs. Chen has been addicted to drugs since 2008 and his wife divorced him for that reason, police said.

Migrants to get equal welfare benefits next month

MIGRANT workers in Shanghai will be able to enjoy the same social welfare benefits as local employees starting next month, officials said today. The new measure, set to take effect on July 1, will require both migrant workers and their employers to pay social insurances that cover pension, health care and work injury, and it is bound to raise the labor costs of employers. Zhao Jiande, a municipal official in charge of migrant workers' affairs, told Shanghai Daily that a company now pays less than 300 yuan (US$46.36) a month for one migrant worker, but it will have to fork out nearly 600 yuan per worker. A migrant worker will also pay his or her share of the insurance cost. But the 600-yuan insurance cost will be the standard cost for a five-year transitional period until 2016. Afterwards, the payment will reach the same level as for local employees. More than 4.5 million migrant workers are now employed in Shanghai.

On track with celebrations

A worker yesterday admires one of two Metro trains finely decorated with "red" elements to celebrate the 90th anniversary of the founding of the Communist Party of China on Friday. Celebratory designs and slogans cover part of the exterior, while inside the trains there are more than 60 pictures telling the story of the CPC and its revolutionary martyrs. The trains will run on Line 7 and Line 1 on July 1.

China is slow to turn lab results into drugs, therapies

CHINA ranks second after the United States in the number of articles published in medical journals, but it ranks 13th in applying research results in clinical practice, Health Minister Chen Zhu told a Sino-US forum on translational medicine in Shanghai yesterday. Chen said Chinese medical experts must speed up the translation of basic research and laboratory achievements into drugs and therapies to enhance public health and upgrade the diagnosis and treatment of non-contagious diseases and emerging infectious diseases. "It is also the requirement of China's ongoing health reform, which calls for more cost-efficient diagnosis and treatment to relieve people's financial burden," Chen said. "Many of our researches have not brought benefits to the public," Chen told the three-day forum which opened yesterday. Experts said translational medicine should focus on non-contagious diseases like stroke, cancer, hypertension and diabetes because NCD causes more than 80…

Half of drunk drivers in crashes

HALF the suspected drunk drivers stopped since the beginning of last month were involved in accidents, Shanghai traffic police said yesterday. Collisions with other vehicles or an object left at least 10 people injured. Police have intensified patrols around the city since May 1, when China passed a law which for the first time can see a drunk driving offence result in a prison sentence. Shanghai police said because of the clampdown, which was widely reported in the media, drivers have been less likely to get behind the wheel after drinking. Officers said this is reflected in figures. In China there are two offences involving driving after consuming alcohol. Drunk driving and the less serious offence of driving after drinking, where the level of alcohol is lower. Between May 1 and June 20, police stopped 285 suspected drunk drivers, down 74 percent on a year earlier. In the same period they stopped 1,796 people suspected of driving after drinking, which was a reduction of 64 percent o…

Meari heads for eastern coastline

EXTREME weather conditions are plaguing China with a strengthening tropical storm on the eastern coastline and a prolonged drought in the northwest. The full force of the storm named Meari, still gaining in strength and likely to soon become a typhoon, would be felt in Zhejiang Province as it made landfall there yesterday evening, according to an alert from the meteorological station of Zhejiang Province. Meari, heading northward, was forecast to pass by Shanghai at midnight last night and move north into the Yellow Sea, according to local meteorologists. Under the influence of the tropical storm, strong winds and heavy rains hit the city last night. However, today's highest temperature is still predicted to be 31 degrees Celsius, 1 degree higher than yesterday, weathermen said. Shanghai has emptied reservoirs to make room for the water the typhoon is likely to bring, said Zhang Zhenyu, spokesman for the Shanghai Flood Control Headquarters. Shanghai has inspected subway stations, …

City police crack 4 drug rings

SHANGHAI police have busted four gangs in the city and in Sichuan Province involved in the manufacturing and smuggling of drugs. After a year-long investigation, 24 suspects have been detained and more than 41 kilograms of drugs confiscated, the Shanghai Public Security Bureau said yesterday. One of the gangs even set up a methamphetamine manufacturing mill in an apartment in Shanghai's Baoshan District. In May 2010, police in Shanghai's Hongkou District were tipped about the drug, commonly known as ice, being smuggled into town. After almost six months of detective work, three gangs, led by suspects surnamed Li, Zhang and Zhou, were found trafficking drugs, mostly ice, from Sichuan to Shanghai. As their investigations continued, police found the gangs' suppliers in Sichuan, led by a suspect surnamed Jiang, were planning to establish an underground ice manufacturing mill in Shanghai. "At that time Sichuan police was intensifying their crackdowns on drug-related crimes…

Midsummer in Sweden

Idyllic Nordic summer shot -how it's supposed to be (this shot is actually from Savonlinna in Finland)

Sorry for the lack of updates -I'm in Sweden on a business trip. But I took today off in order to celebrate Swedish Midsummer -a traditional festive day that I haven't celebrated in Sweden for 10 years! As usual, this day comes with a bit of a wind, some chilly temperatures and rain, but that's Swedish summer in a nutshell, and especially on this day! I'm soon heading over to one of my old childhood friends for a traditional Swedish midsummer feast. Happy midsummer everyone!

Ticket of Beijing-Shanghai high speed railway starts to sell

Retired teacher He Zhijun shows newly-bought tickets of the Beijing-Shanghai high speed railway at a ticket agency in Shanghai today. Ticket selling of the Beijing-Shanghai high speed railway started at 9am today. The 1,318-kilometer rail, which will officially start operation on June 30, is expected to significantly ease the transportation strain between the two metropolises and promote development and coordination between regional economies.

Rush-hour services get a boost

RUSH-HOUR passengers crammed into Metro trains may soon have a little more elbow room as the operator is increasing peak-time services and buying more trains. Ying Minghong, president of the Shanghai Shentong Metro Group, said 27 new train are to go into service alongside the 2,000 currently operating in the network. And additional services will run during rush hour, pledged Ying. Ying said Shentong was aiming "to increase the capacity by 10 percent on average during rush hour." The six lines receiving the additional resources are Lines 2,6,7,8,9 and 11. New trains have already been added on Lines 7, 9 and 11. Shanghai's Metro system has 11 lines and handles 5.55 million passengers a day this year - a 26 percent increase on last year. It accounts for 35 percent of the public transport volume daily. Metro Line 2 - the city's busiest subway, handling 1 million riders in work day - will receive the biggest boost with seven new trains added and interval times cut to thre…

More subway trains to shorten waiting intervals

THE Metro operator, Shanghai Shentong Group, will add new trains to six lines this year to increase the Metro's carrying capacity by shortening intervals between trains. The six lines include Line 2, Line 6, Line 7 and Line 8, Metro officials said today. In another development, Metro Line 2 will extend the service time on its eastern extension to the Pudong International Airport by one hour. As a result, the last train for the airport will leave at 10pm, instead of 9pm. The officials also said they will take actions to improve construction techniques and find ways to solve the problem of subsidence which caused water leaking in Metro stations during the "plum rain" season.

Tiger mom and cubs in town

TIGER mom Amy Chua admitted yesterday in Shanghai that she doesn't know if she was right to publish the parenting memoir that made her one of the world's most controversial mothers. Chinese American Chua was in the city yesterday with her family - 18-year-old Sophia, 14-year-old Louisa, her husband Jed Rubenfeld and her parents - to promote "Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother." The family also participated in "Culture Matters," a cross-culture talk show. The Yale law professor gave speeches in Beijing on Monday before coming to Shanghai. The 48-year-old said she called herself a tiger mother because she was born in the Year of Tiger, according to the Chinese lunar calender. Published in January, her thought-provoking comic memoir recounts how she used seemingly harsh techniques raising Sophia and Louisa. These included banning sleepovers and playdates, "forcing" the girls to practice the piano and violin every day and calling them "garbage"…

Pudong builds high-end international medical center

SHANGHAI expats will be able to see doctors in two new hospitals in Pudong and Hongqiao after the city removes the VIP rooms from local public hospitals, which are originally designed for foreigners and wealthy Chinese. Shanghai International Medical Center, one of the two high-end hospitals with VIP services, will be under construction this Friday and be completed by 2013. Parkway Health Medical Center, a leading healthcare group in Singapore, will manage the operation of the new hospital. Local first-class hospitals and foreign-owned clinics will be invited to offer services in the center. The world-class medical center will offer services in English, Japanese and other languages and aim to attract patients from around the world. The city is still working on the payment issues of the hospital to ensure its services are covered by foreign medical insurances. The authorities are also exploring ways to allow public hospital doctors who are now working in VIP rooms to also serve in the …

50 charged in fight against IPR violation

NEARLY 50 suspects in 26 cases have been charged with intellectual property rights violation involving 22.48 million yuan (US$3.47 million) in recent weeks, prosecutors said yesterday. Of the 26 cases, 16 were related to selling counterfeits, and five cases involved more than 1 million yuan. The biggest of the 26 cases involved a suspect named Lu Ente and accomplices who allegedly sold fake Gucci leather products and watches valued at 9.83 million yuan. Lin Zhongming, a prosecutor at the Shanghai Prosecutors' Office, said counterfeiters are now better organized and selling a wider range of goods, including fake-brand bicycles, steel items and health care products. "Gang members had a clear division of labor in production, transport and sale," Lin said. "They ran an elaborate operation, renting residential rooms and basements as warehouses and selling their products through online shops." One gang, allegedly headed by Liao Xujie, dealt in fake iPhones, Nokia cel…

New therapy improves survival rate of colon cancer patients

SHANGHAI Zhongshan Hospital has developed a new therapy which can effectively prevent and control the spread of colon cancer cells to the liver, its doctors told an international colon cancer treatment forum this week in Shanghai. Colon cancer patients normally have 6.9 months to live if the cancer cells have spread to the liver. To prevent or delay the liver metastasis, the Zhongshan Hospital applies chemotherapy to both the colon and the liver before cancerous cells start to invade the liver. Data shows the new therapy can reduce the risk of liver metastasis by 55 percent. Colon cancer has become the second killer cancer after lung cancer in Shanghai due to a changing diet and other unhealthy habits, said Dr Qin Xinyu from the Zhongshan Hospital's surgery department. China's five-year survival rate of colon cancer patients is 32 percent, compared with 61 percent in the United States and 46 percent in Europe. The new method invented by the Zhongshan Hospital has been adopted …

Sunny side up

A foreigner relaxes with a book near Shanghai Concert Hall at People's Square yesterday, when, after days of rain, the sun came out. Many people headed outdoors to enjoy the rare sunshine during the plum rain season. However, today will be overcast with a high of 30 degrees Celsius, with showers in some areas.

Officials blamed for being absent in time of floods

FLOOD control officials in the city's Songjiang District were accused for not staying on duty during the flood season. As torrential rains dumped 100 millimeters of water in Songjiang on Friday and Saturday, many homes in the Yueyang area were flooded. But none of the area's flood control officials came to help them drain the floodwater, complained Zhu Xindi who was taking the high school entrance exam on Saturday and Sunday. The district flood control headquarters said they put up evacuees in nearby hotels or schools, but gave no explanation for the absence of its two officials in the area, according to A source in the headquarters told the website that the two officials surnamed Shi and Xue were not in the city last week. Zhu said her family moved to a hotel themselves in order to prepare for Sunday's exam, having waited in vain for local authorities to make the arrangement for them.

Dogs destroyed after 14 attacked

A woman shows the scars on her left arm after she was bitten by one of two unlicensed dogs which attacked 14 people in suburban Jinshan District. The two dogs have been destroyed. None of the injured, aged between 10 and 80, is in a life-threatening condition, local officials said. Many of the injured were walking in the street or waiting for buses when the two dogs appeared about 10am, bit people on the legs and arms and ran away. Urban management officials later tracked down the dogs in nearby streets. All the injured received rabies shots in hospital.

China orders recall of drug over toxic fears

Shanghai's pediatric hospitals yesterday started to remove a GlaxoSmithKline antibiotic treating children's upper respiratory diseases and urinary tract infection from their pharmacies and inform parents that they will give full reimbursement if returning the drug. The emergency actions were launched after the State Food and Drug Administration issued a statement on its website yesterday, requiring an immediate halt of sales and use of GSK's amoxicillin and clavulanate potassium, and that products already on the Chinese market will be recalled. According to the statement, test results show that GSK's amoxicillin and clavulanate potassium product contains traces of Di-isodecyl phthalate (DIDP), a cancer-causing plastic polymer. It's the first time the plastic polymer was found in medicine after the country's food industry has been plagued by the presence of the toxic chemical since Taiwan reported the first case in May. Wang Yan from Shanghai Food and Drug Admin…

Take cover, it's going to be torrential

DON'T leave home without your umbrella for the next seven to 10 days, weather forecasters warned yesterday as they predicted heavy rain and thunderstorms for Shanghai. Frequent rain over the past week, the beginning of the plum rain season, turned to torrential showers yesterday, flooding some city roads and causing delays to flights. Shen Yu, a senior engineer with the city's weather bureau, said the wet weather would continue until early next month. Drivers in the city were urged to prepare for tricky road conditions over the weekend. People involved in outdoor activities were also warned to be aware of the risk of lightning. On the bright side, the city will remain comfortably cool over the next few days with highs between 23 and 26 degrees Celsius. Thousands of air travelers were delayed yesterday morning after a sudden torrential shower disrupted traffic at local airports, the airport authority said. More than 90 percent of outbound flights were delayed until after noon b…

Vendor 'actors' dupe jade fans

ILLEGAL vendors are acting out heart-rending pieces of street theater to dupe foreigners and non-local visitors into spending thousands of yuan on fake jade. A gang of around 12 people, said to be from Hunan Province, take the roles of sellers and customers to target tourists at Duolun Road cultural street, near Luxun Park in Hongkou District. According to residents, some gang members pretend to be selling items. They arrive at stalls with tears in their eyes, claiming they are having to sell family heirlooms for a pittance due to poverty. Other gang members take the role of interested buyers, gathering around the stalls in feigned curiosity, heatedly discussing the authenticity of the "jade," and some bargaining with the seller to attract more passers-by. "Often when visitors pass by they hear them making a deal on a good-looking stone that is usually lower than regular store prices," said 55-year-old resident Song Yuehong. "This creates the impression that t…

Airport TV ad warns against corruption

AN anti-corruption advertisement will be shown on TV screens in the city's two airport terminals for the first time, the Shanghai Prosecutors Office said yesterday. The office signed an agreement with Shanghai Airport Authority yesterday to drum up the fight against corruption and promote the clean government. The one-minute cartoon ad with the message, "A clean Shanghai relies on you and me," will be broadcast on LCD display panels in the terminals of the Pudong and Hongqiao international airports. The ad is produced by the municipal and Xuhui District prosecutors' offices who hope it can serve as a reminder for public servants to resist temptations and stay clean. The ad content will be updated regularly, the prosecutors said. Last year more than 70 million travelers went through the two airports.

Journalists experience bullet train to Beijing

A bullet train carrying 50-plus journalists set out from Shanghai this morning for a manned test on the Shanghai-Beijing High Speed Rail which is scheduled for commercial operation late this month. Running at a steady speed of 300 kilometers per hour, the train completed the 5-hour journey with only one stop in Nanjing, capital of Jiangsu Province, before reaching its terminal, Beijing Railway Station, at 1:50pm, 8 minutes later than schedule. Each train carriage has an emergency brake handle and six emergency exits. If an accident and an earthquake occurs, power will be cut off automatically. But the train's system can sustain electricity supply and ventilation for up to 120 hours, according to the Shanghai Railway Bureau. Tickets for Beijing by bullet train will cost between 410 yuan (US$62) and 1,750 yuan. Ninety trains will serve on the high-speed rail daily with 63 trains running at 300kph and 27 at 250kph when commercial operation begins.

Bullet train hits other services

EXISTING rail services between Shanghai and Beijing are to be reduced once the new high-speed link opens later this month. However, the railway operator yesterday insisted "many regular train services would still be kept along the route," ensuring passengers have plenty of choice. Li Jun, an official with the China Railway Ministry, said on Monday that part of the existing fast train capacity will be transferred to the high-speed line, while some slower services will be withdrawn. Li said the new operation routes and services plan will be released by July 1. Travelers say they have learned that 10 current sleeping train services between the two cities will be withdrawn and one of two existing fast night train services will also be cut. Earlier the rail authority promised to retain all current services as they meet different passenger needs. An official said services facing the axe are uncompetitive, as berth ticket prices on sleeper trains range from 655 yuan (US$101) to 730…

Bus driver attacker arrested to face criminal charges

THE man who attacked a woman bus driver on Route 116 was arrested today on charges of disturbing public order. The offender, surnamed Shen, was judged suffering depression by a judicial panel and would bear limited criminal responsibility. The driver Zhou Weiqin, 42, suffered from fractures and bruises and has left the hospital for further recovery at home. Despite his depression, the 33-year-old offender should still be punished for his criminal act, Baoshan District prosecutors said. According to the Criminal Law, those who disturb the public order will be given a sentence of up to five years in prison. Shen attacked the driver on May 13 because he took the bus by mistake and the bus didn't stop where he thought it should. To vent his frustration, he beat the woman driver brutally in the glare of other passengers.

School for the blind wins back building after long lawsuit

AFTER four years of litigation, the Shanghai School for Blind Children finally took back its building on Hongqiao Road from a Taiwan businessman who occupied the property for profit making. The four-story building will be renovated into a rehabilitation center and blind children can receive better education and training, the school said. The Taiwan man surnamed Chou and his mistress refused to move out of the building after the Changning District People's Court issued a verdict in April, and the court had to order for their detention. Chou used to be a farmer in Taiwan and obtained a compensation payment valued at more than 1 million yuan (US$154,321) 20 years ago after his land was acquired by the Taiwan government. Chou then moved to Shanghai to seek business opportunities with his money, which was enormous on the mainland at that time. In 2002, Chou found a four-story school building was empty and signed a five-year lease contract with a service center under the Shanghai Educat…

Giving the gift of life

A vendor from Anhui Province who works in Shanghai's Lujiazui financial area smiles as he donates blood at a temporary donation spot set up by the Shanghai Blood Center yesterday, World Blood Donor Day. This year more expatriates have been making voluntary donations as part of a new city drive. The center has recently established a new volunteer group - Love In Foreigner - which is calling on expats to spread the word to encourage donations from members of the city's international community. Rh negative blood, which is more common in Caucasians than in Asians, is always in short supply in Shanghai.

Thrift awareness on rise but action still lagging

YOUNG people aged between 18 and 24 have higher awareness of frugality than any other age groups, but their saving habits are just the opposite, according to a survey report released yesterday. The survey conducted by the East China University of Science and Technology said the frugality index of Chinese residents had been improving in the past six years, and 57.8 percent of the respondents had a sense of frugality, 11.8 percent more than in 2009. According to the report, 58.5 percent young people surveyed nationwide had frugality awareness, while those aged 41-59 had the least frugality awareness. But the report did not provide detailed statistics of people's thrift behaviors. Although frugality awareness is growing among the Chinese, their behaviors still need to improve. They are aware of saving water and energy, but not for land resources and materials. The report suggests giving non-government organizations a big role to play in promoting frugal behaviors among citizens and o…

Instructor with the wow factor

A DISTINCTIVE-looking female fitness instructor who stars in a touchscreen video playing in thousands of city taxis has become the subject of heated online debate. Shanghai-based in-taxi advertising company Touchmedia recently launched a Mr and Miss Wow fitness campaign to encourage passengers to take gentle exercise while they travel. The video shows the heavily made-up woman wearing a 1980's-style blue top and a pink headband, blinking and swinging her pigtails while doing her exercise routine. Some web users complained she disturbs them with her "peculiar appearance and strange movements." But others have rallied to the defence of the retro-style instructor, saying a sight of her in the morning gives them a boost for the day. On microblogging site, her instruction video had been forwarded more than 7,700 times yesterday. Some web users said they enjoyed doing the exercises in cabs but the female instructor was "too strong and too muscular," an imag…

Power failure halts business on Huaihai Road M.

PART of the downtown Huangpu District was hit by a power outage this afternoon, disrupting business in office buildings and department stores on Huaihai Road M. The blackout mainly affected the area around the intersection of Huaihai Road and Maoming Road and was caused by equipment failure in an underground transformer substation, said the Shanghai Electric Power Co Ltd. As of 3pm, power supply had been partly restored and it would take another hour to bring electricity to the whole area, the company said. The company said the breakdown of the 110,000-volt substation at 1:15pm was caused by an external force, but no details were given. The sudden blackout brought business to a halt in office buildings and department stores along the bustling Huaihai Road M. Economic losses are not immediately known.

An air of beauty

Contestants in the 61st Miss World pageant's Shanghai division leap into the air on Bihaijinsha - blue sea and golden sand - beach in Fengxian District yesterday, when the resort reopened to the public. The competition will run from Saturday until July 31.

Film fest rolls out the damp red carpet

ON a damp but star-studded red carpet outside Shanghai Grand Theater last night, Rupert Murdoch touted the new movie his Chinese-born wife produced while Matt Dillon yelled his affection for Shanghai in Chinese. More than 300 international and local celebrities joined Murdoch and Dillon to walk down the carpet in heavy rains to lift the curtain on the 14th Shanghai International Film Festival. Among them were Oscar-winning actress Susan Sarandon, Japanese film director Shunji Iwai and the newly married Shanghai star couple Deng Chao and Sun Li. Murdoch said that it was his first time attending the Shanghai International Film Festival. "I am very proud of my wife and the film ('Snow Flower and the Secret Fan') she produced." Dillon was thrilled by the warm welcome from local people. He yelled "Shanghai International Film Festival, I'm coming" in Chinese. Asian celebrities The festival's grand opening also attracted Hollywood-based Hong Kong director …

Lottery loser

THE lottery winner of 10 million yuan (US$1.54 million) did not show up last night, the deadline to claim the prize. The ticket was believed to have been sold to a man in Jiading District. It ties for the biggest unclaimed lottery prize in China. A 10-million-yuan prize went unclaimed in Jiangsu Province last year.

4 documentaries win awards at Shanghai TV Festival

BULGARIAN director Sophia Tzavella won a MIDA award for Best Social Documentary today for her film "Paradise Hotel," which depicts life in a neighborhood on the outskirts on a provincial town in Bulgaria. It's a tale about integration, love, misery and a Gypsy wedding. MIDA or Magnolia International Documentary Awards are given in four competitive categories: Social Documentary, History and Biography Documentary, Nature Documentary, and Asian Documentary. "Documentary film has a long history in Bulgaria. The country has won many awards in international competitions," said a representative from the Bulgarian Consulate in Shanghai. "This helps Bulgaria to promote cultural exchange with other countries." German director Sebastian Dehnhardt's film, "The Chancellor Who Fell to His Knees, The Two Lives of Willy Brandt," earned the Best History and Biography Documentary award. It portrayed the former German Chancellor Willy Brandt from his chil…

Bruised shoulders after a painful rub

Lately my back has been feeling kind of stiff, so yesterday after work I decided to skip the gym and head for a massage. Massage for me is something I often talk about, but seldom do. Every time I have visitors in town and take them for massage (and they ohh and ahhh over the low prices and the quality of massage) I think to myself: Damn, this is good! I should do this on a regular basis now when I actually live in a country where its good and it doesnt cost a fortune. However, as soon as the friends depart I forget all about my promise to myself and my shoulders.

Since my sleeping pattern (still) is a bit off, I thought that maybe a massage could help me relax. So, I went to a place and told the masseuse (a young, Chinese guy) to focus on the stiff areas and knots of my shoulders and back.
-Dont worry about doing some kind of massage routine where you massage every single part! I added, maybe a wee bit too confidently. I just want you to focus on the problem areas!

Fifteen minutes late…

Officials sacked over deadly Nov 15 high-rise fire

SEVERAL Jing'an District officials, including District Mayor Zhang Renliang, have been sacked for their responsibilities in a deadly high-rise fire last November that claimed 58 lives. Shanghai Vice Mayor Shen Jun, who is in charge of construction, also received a major demerit. So did Huang Rong, director of the Shanghai Construction and Transport Commission. Jing'an District Party Secretary Gong Deqing was disciplined as well. The blaze, caused by unlicensed welders, spread rapidly through scaffolding to the entire 28-storey residential high-rise on Jiaozhou Road on November 15 last year, causing heavy loss of lives and properties. The fire was fed by inflammable insulating materials used in the facelift project. Lack of quality control and safety supervision were blamed for the tragedy. Shanghai Party Secretary Yu Zhengsheng pledged earlier to punish those responsible for the deadly fire. Altogether 26 people responsible for the accident have been prosecuted and detained. T…

The ordeal is over!

Students jump for joy at the gate of Shanghai Xiangming High School after finishing a grueling threeday National College Entrance Exam this morning. This year 61,000 Shanghai students took part in the exam, a drop of 5,000 from last year. The number is expected to shrink to 58,000 in 2015.

The horrible flat hunt

Finding a new apartment in this city is a nightmare. We have been looking for a month now, and so far we havent seen anything we like. If its not too dirty, its too expensive or too far away from the areas where we want to live.

For a long time we were looking for something in Luwan, but since our budget is far from unlimited weve given up on that area. With what we could pay we couldnt get anything decent anyway. Most of all I wish we could stay where we are now, but with the noisy nightclubs below our complex, its a no can do. Im already sleeping with double earplugs (and I still hear the music!) and now Ive started getting problems with my ears. We HAVE to move, but there are so few good places out there ahhh, headache!

During the month of hunting weve seen some of the most disgusting places ever. I seriously cannot believe how some people are living over here. Especially one apartment, that could have been good, but that was occupied by 3 foreign ladies when we visited it, was so di…

It's early! Plum rain season set to begin tonight

DON'T leave home without your umbrella over the next month or so - the plum rain season is set to begin tonight or tomorrow, local forecasters said yesterday. This is 10 days earlier than previously predicted. The arrival of the plum rain belt will see showers and thunderstorms dominate the city's weather over the next 30 days, said the Shanghai Meteorological Bureau. While the plum rain season is set to start early, total precipitation should still be 170 to 210 millimeters as previously forecast, said Wu Rui, a chief service officer at the bureau. "The plum rain season is now less predictable," Wu told Shanghai Daily yesterday. "With global climate change, the plum rain season in recent years is different to that of the 1980s and 1990s." The plum rain season in Shanghai, which usually started around mid-June and ended around mid-July, should be continuously showery with few high-temperature days. However, in recent years showers and thundershowers have be…

Man arrested for slaying woman cabbie

THE man who killed a woman cabbie on April 26 in the city's suburban Minhang District has been arrested, local prosecutors said today. Zhu Yinyuan didn't pay his fare to the unlicensed taxi driver surnamed Yang and cut her throat with a knife. Witnesses saw Yang was waving at passers-by for help around 7pm on April 26. "She used one hand to cover her throat and the other to hold a cellphone," said a witness surnamed Zhang, who was then riding a moped. Yang handed her phone to Zhang to talk to her husband surnamed Hu and she was pronounced dead later in a hospital, the prosecutors said. Hu said he and his wife were operating an unlicensed taxi around a Metro station in Minhang. A surveillance video showed a young man wearing a cream-colored jacket, blue jeans and a pair of glasses took Yang's taxi at the station. Based on these clues, police caught Zhu, 21, two days later in a local Internet cafe. Zhu said he was going to Songjiang that day but found he didn't…

Greediness shows its ugly face

I had dinner with an old friend the other week, a Chinese girl surnamed Wang that I havent caught up with for ages.

After the usual chit chat (your hair is longer/you are not fatter than before haha!! Note that it has changed!-/do you still not cook any food at home?/how high is your rent?) we got down to some serious business when my friend told me about her worsening family situation.

Wangs mother has got three siblings. When Wangs mothers mother (so Wangs grandmother) passed away some months ago, one of the sisters was living together with the mother, taking care of her and the house chores.

Wangs grandma left her family an apartment but no will, obviously hoping that her children would split the assets evenly between all four of them.

However, since the aunt lived with the grandma, and had been pulling the heavy load by herself for a long time, she decided to simply declare that the apartment should be hers and hers only.

In fact, do you know what she used as her main argument? That sh…

New rule spells shutdown for illegal additive users

LOCAL food manufacturers who use illegal additives are likely to face shutdown, according to a new amendment to the city's food safety regulation, which is now under deliberation. Shanghai legislators said that using prohibited additives and non-edible materials in food production constitutes a crime. So does recycling expired food to make new one. Companies producing unqualified food valued under 10,000 yuan (US$1,430) will be fined between 2,000 yuan and 50,000 yuan. Those making unqualified food valued over 10,000 yuan will be fined five to 10 times of the actual value. Those guilty of serious violation will be forced to close down, according to the draft of the amendment.

Local tap water safe from toxic spill in Xin'an River

SHANGHAI'S drinking water supply should not be affected by the chemical spill in the Xin'an River in neighboring Zhejiang Province, a local engineer assured some disturbed Shanghai residents. Chen Guoguang, senior engineer of the Municipal Water Supply Monitoring Center, said the city's tap water mainly comes from the Yangtze River and part of it is from the Huangpu River, which is far from the Xin'an River. He said Xin'an River is not connected with the Yangtze and Huangpu rivers. On Saturday, a truck crashed into a chemical tanker loaded with 20 tons of phenol, which leaked onto the highway and was washed by a heavy rain into the nearby Xin'an River.

Table Tennis Festival in pictures

Persson playing a Chinese rising star (he got to play some professional kids in a knock-out tournament and then the winner got a game with him. Some of those kids were pretty good!).
Here playing against the winner of the men's tournament: a 60 year old guy from Ericsson. He was so happy, and I believe so was Persson. A joy to watch their last game.

Hungary for victory in the rain

THE wet weather put a damper on the Dragon Boat Festival with only about 6,870 tourists taking a short break over the three-day holiday, about the same as a normal weekend, the Shanghai Sightseeing Bus Center said yesterday. Last year almost 79,000 people took advantage of their three days off to go on trips from the center. Next month will be busier, said center officials, with July 1's 90th anniversary of the establishment of the Communist Party of China approaching. Areas with links to the Party's history were proving popular. Trips to Jiangsu Province's Shajiabang scenic area, where Communist Party soldiers fought against the Japanese, and Zhejiang Province's Nanhu area, where the Party's first national congress moved after it opened in Shanghai, are among those in demand. "Such packages were solidly booked before the holiday," said Shen Li, an official with the center. "As the anniversary is approaching, such packages will welcome an even hotter…

Jrgen Persson - in Shanghai!

Yes, it was Jrgen Persson that was in China for a China Sweden Table Tennis Festival that we arranged in order to celebrate the Swedish National Day! Some 200 players from different Swedish companies battled in an elimination tournament throughout the day, and then the winners (one man and one woman) got to play Persson in the final game. A long day of great fun, Persson proved to be not only a great player, but also a great person, open and happy and up for posing for photos, signing shirts and rackets and answering questions from media as well as random spectators. What a great athlete! I admire someone that can be so professional and high level, and still so friendly and down to earth.
Also, I got invited to the Table Tennis: 2011 China Open - that takes place in Suzhou in the end of August. Can't wait to see Persson in real action (no offense to the competitors of today's tournament, but I think he has more to give). Being 45 years old this year, Persson should have retire…

Guess the athlete game

Anybody recognize this iconic athlete? Probably much bigger in China than in his native Sweden. Anyway, this is who I will be spending Sweden's National Day with. Thumbs up if you -despite the bad photo- can tell me his name (and if you're not Swedish!).

Shelling out on jewelry

A man examines two elaborately decorated eggs studded with gems at an exhibition of jewelry handicrafts from Hong Kong, which opened yesterday at Shanghai Souvenirs Shopping Center on Nanjing Road E. More than 200 exhibits are on display at the show, which will run until August 5.

Rooted in tradition

A vendor sprays water on calamus, a plant which is said to help deter evil spirits during the Dragon Boat Festival, at a wet market on Luoshan Road in Shanghai yesterday. As many locals still keep the tradition of hanging the plant on doors during tomorrow's festival, vendors are preparing for a peak in sales.

On track for a holiday

Travelers queue to buy tickets at Shanghai Hongqiao Railway Station yesterday, the last working day before the threeday Dragon Boat Festival. This year, 4.1 million people are expected to take the train to escape from the urban hustle and bustle during the holiday, 7.9 percent up on last year, according to the Shanghai Railway Bureau.

Remote jammer thieves target luxury cars

A YOUNG man has been arrested for allegedly using a car remote control jammer to block locking instructions, allowing him to steal cash and valuables from unwitting motorists. The suspect, Zhang Liang, 21, told police that he targeted luxury vehicles because their owners often leave a large amount of cash in the car. Zhang's alleged accomplice, Chang Weigang, is still at large. Police have reminded motorists to always check their car door is locked after using the remote control. Zhang, a Sichuan Province native, came to the city's Fengxian District a few years ago. He has been jailed three times for blackmail and theft. He learned from a friend, nicknamed "Bajin," in March that a car remote control jammer would block the locking instruction given by the car remote control. Usually, car owners, thinking the door had been locked, would leave without checking. Zhang spent 700 yuan (US$108) buying a jammer. He chose a car at random for a test before stealing. When the c…

Illegal ambulance confiscated

TRAFFIC police yesterday seized an unlicensed ambulance which looked like a normal hospital vehicle but supplied its patients with industrial oxygen, a gas banned for medical use. The vehicle was seized at 9am at a hospital in Yangpu District during a citywide crackdown launched jointly by health authorities, the traffic administration and police against unlicensed "underground" ambulances. Although the vehicle had all the equipment that a normal ambulance should have, including first-aid kits, alarm lights and siren and hospital signs, the law enforcement team uncovered a great safety hazard after carrying out a thorough check. The most serious danger was with the oxygen cylinder which was not filled with medical oxygen but with the industrial variety that is banned for medical use, said Shen Jiming, an official with the Shanghai Medical Emergency Center. "Industrial oxygen can be fatally damaging to patients as it may contain exhaust, impurities, and even toxic gas,&q…

Jinshan urban project official jailed for bribes

A Jinshan District official in charge of road construction was sentenced to six and a half years in prison today for taking 254,000 yuan (US$39,137) in bribes. Tao Guoqiang, 55, argued that 50,000 yuan of the accused bribes was actually borrowed for his home decoration and admitted to taking the rest illegally. "I didn't take bribes on purpose. If I refused to take the money, those who offered the cash would lose face," said Tao. Tao was former Party secretary of Jinshan District Urban Construction Management Office and director of Road Project Management Department. He was in charge of awarding road projects to contractors, the district prosecutors said. Tao was charged of taking advantage of his position to take 254,000 yuan in bribes, including two Rolex watches, from four construction companies from 2004 to 2008. "Tao was a powerful man in the eyes of contractors. I must get his help if I wanted to win a road project in the district," said a briber surnamed…

ID makes debut on bullet trains

"SHOW your ID, please." The movie line will soon become a familiar refrain at city railway stations after a real-name policy was introduced yesterday for bullet train services. During the first day's spot checks, local rail officials found that most passengers boarding trains were carrying ID. But some hoping to buy bullet train tickets at city stations had forgotten to bring theirs. "A few are careless," said Chen Qixiao, a rail official with Shanghai Hongqiao Railway Station, one of city's major hubs for bullet trains. Rail staff, together with police officers, conducted spot checks on about 5 percent of passengers in the waiting area. Although a little surprised at the ID request, Andrew Gaule from Britain showed his passport and ticket to two rail officials at Hongqiao. There was no name on the ticket, so officials checked his passport number, which matched that on his ticket. He intended to board a train to neighboring Hangzhou City in Zhejiang Provinc…

Light pollution blamed on lack of wind

SHANGHAI Environmental Monitoring Center said the city's air quality was slightly polluted today due to misty weather over the Yangtze Delta region and it advised people with cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, children and the elderly to avoid staying outdoor too long. Shanghai Meteorological Bureau also issued its first warning of haze this morning and reminded motorists to drive carefully as local visibility fell below 3,000 meters. Local weathermen said the haze was caused by still air and lack of wind. The sky is expected to clear up tonight with a change of wind.

Philips recalls 1.75 million hair dryers

ROYAL Dutch Philips Electronics Ltd is recalling 1.75 million hair dryers sold in the China market because these dryers are prone to catch fire due to a switch defect. Three types of hair dryers -- HP4930, HP4931 and HP4940 -- produced between January 2008 and January 2011, will be recalled, the company said in a statement. The General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine said the dryer switch becomes hazardous with frequent use. In some extreme conditions, driers that have been powered off but are left connected to the socket may still heat up. The company will replace the faulty dryers with new ones for customers. Detailed information is available on or at service hotline 800-820-0930.