Elton John sings for Ai
Pop icon Elton John publicly dedicated his only concert in Beijing to Chinese artist Ai Weiwei (艾未未), sending a murmur of shock through an audience accustomed to tight censorship of entertainment. Minutes into his show on Sunday night, John told the audience that the performance was dedicated “to the spirit and talent of Ai Weiwei,” several audience members said. Ai and John had met each other briefly before the concert. “I super like him,” Ai said on his Twitter page, which is banned in the country, but has 180,000 followers. Local reports on the show left out the dedication.
Engineer ‘killed’ by prestige
The government gave hero’s praise yesterday to a senior engineer on its Liaoning aircraft carrier program who died of a heart attack after witnessing the first landing of a plane on the ship, underscoring the project’s huge national prestige. State broadcaster CCTV ran news of Luo Yuan’s (羅援) death as its first item on the noon broadcast, an unusual honor for a scientist who was previously unknown outside of the carrier program. Luo, 51, oversaw the development of the J-15 fighter-bomber planes for the ship. Academics assigned to signature government projects like the carrier are often under enormous pressure and stress is considered among the biggest killers of the country’s intellectuals.
Parking spot sold for fortune
An individual car parking space has sold for HK$1.3 million (US$166,600), reports said yesterday, as investors seek new ways of making money amid sky-high property prices. Buyers have turned to parking lots to make quick gains after the government imposed a series of measures last month to try to cool the overheated housing market. Tycoon Li Ka-shing’s (李嘉誠) flagship Cheung Kong Holdings made HK$600 million over the weekend by selling 514 parking slots, the South China Morning Post and the Standard newspapers said. Some slots, priced between HK$980,000 and HK$1.3 million, were resold for profits of up to HK$300,000 each, the reports said.
UN slams Fukushima checks
A UN rights investigator has said the country has not fully served the health needs of residents and workers affected by the nuclear crisis caused by the meltdown last year at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant. Anand Grover, UN special rapporteur on the right to health, yesterday said the government has over-emphasized optimistic views of radiation risks and conducted limited health checks after last year’s meltdown. After conducting an 11-day survey in Fukushima and other areas, Grover found that residents complained about lack of access to their health check results and that many plant workers on short-term contracts have no access to permanent health checks.
Toxic syrup kills at least 13
At least 13 people have died after drinking a toxic cough syrup in Lahore, forcing authorities to close pharmacies and a medicine factory, officials said yesterday. The deaths occurred in the Shahdra Town neighborhood between Friday and Sunday, with the victims mostly drug addicts who took the syrup to get high, local police station chief Atif Zulfiqar said. The scandal comes after about 100 patients died in January in Lahore after taking faulty locally made medicine. Punjab Province health adviser Khawaja Salman Rafiq said the syrup would be confiscated from all pharmacies.