Posts Tagged With: Chinese

Elephant “1”, Car “0”….South Africa: Elephant overturns vehicle

An elephant overturned a vehicle carrying two tourists, injuring both, on Monday, said South African officials.
The tourists are of “Chinese origin,” according to a statement from Kruger National Park. One of the tourists said he was from Hong Kong, according to a hospital official.
An elephant in the park attacked the vehicle on a road at 6:30 a.m. Monday, and a medical team in a helicopter rushed to help the injured male driver, said the statement. He was taken to Clinix Phalaborwa Private Hospital, near the park.
An official at the hospital said the man was in critical condition with multiple rib fractures, and that his female companion was also being treated there for a pelvis fracture. He said officials planned to transfer the pair to a hospital in the Pretoria area.
The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.
It is unclear why the elephant became aggressive, said the park spokesman William Mabasa. He is appealing to the public to be alert in Kruger park and try not to get too close if they see an elephant approaching on the road.
The vast Kruger park lies in South Africa’s northeast, next to Zimbabwe and Mozambique.

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Qianlong Chinese vase sold at auction for almost £1m…..

A small Chinese vase that was valued at between £10,000 and £15,000 has been sold at auction for almost £1m.

The extremely rare 18th Century ornament, made for a Chinese emperor, was brought to Britain by the seller’s family more than a century ago.

It had been kept in a house in North Yorkshire for 45 years and the owner had no idea how valuable it was.

It was sold for £950,000 to a telephone buyer from China at Tennants’ auctions rooms in Leyburn, North Yorkshire.

Nigel Smith, Tennants’ associate director, said the blue and white vase was made for the Qianlong Emperor around 1730.

He said the high price was down to its rarity and exclusivity as very few were produced.
“It really is a museum-quality piece and these things very rarely come on the market.

“It’s come down through the family. One of their relatives was a diplomat in China in the 1880s and was given it as a gift.”

The seller’s grandmother, Lady Ethel Margaret Stronge, left the vase to his mother Mrs Rose Ethel Richardson of Tynan Abbey, County Armagh, Northern Ireland, who gave it to her son.

Lady Ethel married Sir Francis Stronge who joined the diplomatic service in London in 1879 and served in Peking the same year.

He went on to serve in the Supreme Court in Shanghai in 1885 before working in Central America.

The vase was discovered by Rodney Tennant, from the auction house, during a routine house call to value the contents.

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600-year-old coin found in Kenya…..

Scientists from Illinois have found a rare, 600-year-old Chinese coin on the Kenyan island of Manda.

The Field Museum in Chicago announced the find Wednesday. The joint expedition was led by Chapurukha Kusimba of the museum and Sloan Williams of the University of Illinois-Chicago. Researchers say the coinproves trade existed between China and eastern Africa decades before European explorers set sail.

The coin is made of copper and silver. It has a square hole in the center so it could be worn on a belt. Scientists say it was issued by Emperor Yongle of China and his name is written on the coin.

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NightWatch……… For the night of 11 December 2012

North Korea: Update. North Korea launched its long range rocket on 12 December. The North Koreans claimed the launch was a success.
The Yonhap news agency, citing a South Korean government source, said the rocket took off from the Sohae/Tongchang-ri launch center on the west coast at 0951 local time (0051 GMT) and was immediately detected by South Korean navy ships deployed in the Yellow Sea. Multiple other news sources reported the rocket launched at 0949 local time.
Japanese sources reported a rocket stage fell into waters off the Philippines at 1005, 12 December, giving a flight time of 14-16 minutes.
The US military confirmed the trajectory of what it called a missile and said, “Initial indications are that the missile deployed an object that appeared to achieve orbit.”
Comment: The information about technical troubles appears to have been disinformation. A 16 minute flight time would support the North’s claim that the launch was a success. If confirmed, this would be the first North Korean success in launching a satellite into orbit, and the first successful test of the components of an intercontinental ballistic missile. That makes this a great marketing tool for the North.
Naturally and reflexively the Allies condemned the launch. The only comments that matter, however, are those from China. None have been reported during this Watch. The Chinese made clear last week their opposition to any North Korean action that promotes instability in Northeast Asia. On the other hand, the Chinese will be the first to observe that this launch has caused no significant instability, aside from diplomatic bombast..
This is North Korea’s second rocket launch this year in apparent defiance of Chinese official public opposition. It is time to question whether all factions in the Chinese government are opposed to North Korean provocations. Alternatively, it is time to explore which factions in the Chinese government are encouraging North Korean provocative behavior.
Syria: The United States designated the Syrian Islamist rebel group Jabhat al-Nusra as a terrorist organization. The US believes al-Nusra has links to al Qaida, according to the US State Department.
Comment: Today, al- Nusra fighters captured what is being called a strategically vital army base near Aleppo. In fact, government forces abandoned it and took anything of value with them. They have been abandoning peripheral bases, which have become difficult to supply, and steadily falling back towards Damascus to defend the center of power.
Relative to al-Nusra, no other Syrian opposition fighting group is doing what it is doing, taking abandoned bases. That might not seem to be a significant achievement, but then that is what the most intrepid of the Syrian opposition fighters is capable of achieving.
The notion that US denunciation has any significance on this fighting is risible. The Asad government’s fall back to Damascus means that the end game has begun. Violent internal instability in all states is centripetal.
The US, the West and the Saudis have lost influence over, much less control of, the Syrian main opposition fighters, despite the new so-called unified chain of command. Jabhat al-Nusra was not invited to the meetings last week in southern Turkey, but it appears to be spearheading success at Aleppo. The jidaists are in the vanguard and the Western powers are playing catch-up… poorly.
Syrian Muslim Brotherhood. The United States’ decision to designate the Syrian rebel group Jabhat al-Nusra as a terrorist organization was “very wrong and too hasty,” Deputy Leader of the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood Farouk Tayfour said on 11 December. The chaos in Syria makes it too early to categorize people, and the decision will cost the United States popularity in Syria, Tayfour said.
Comment: The Syrian Muslim Brotherhood has little use for US, western or Saudi opinions. As pro-Brotherhood fighting groups continue to lead the struggle, they have made it clear that US influence will be negligible in the end game..
NightWatch Special Comment: (This is a NightWatch editorial opinion.) The US is helping to destabilize the government of Syria, just as it did the government of Egypt.
US interests generally favor stable governments, whether elected or not. The Chinese take the same approach to North Korea. They judge that instability in Northeast Asia is contrary to China’s national interests. It is bad for business, investment and development projects. Thus, even the Chinese would consider the current US policy as confusing because it promotes instability with no clear end state in mind.
In the Syrian case, the US is acting as a proxy for Saudi Arabia, which is determined to block the spread of Iranian influence in Arab countries.
The US has no high-minded moral interest in this fight, as if it were helping the downtrodden struggle against an authoritarian government. Were that the motivating factor, the US might have denounced Egyptian president Mursi’s assumption of dictatorial powers on 22 November. Asad has no comparable powers. The US has said nothing about Mursi’s personal coup d’etat.
The big winner from instability in Syria and Egypt will be Iran because its policy of hostility towards Israel is a magnet for all Arabs.
The Saudis lost the struggle to influence or control the direction of the Arab Spring states when Hamas survived eight days of Israeli air attacks, owing exclusively to Iranian, Egyptian and Sudanese help. Saudi Arabia, with all its $billions, was irrelevant.
The US and Saudis appear to be on the wrong side of history, because Iran already appears to have made contingency preparations for supporting an anti-Israel, fundamentalist, Sunni regime in Damascus, just as it did with the Mursi government in Egypt.
US policy in the Middle East appears to be promoting an increased threat to Israel by uniting the new Islamist regimes against Israel under Iranian leadership. This is the one issue on which they can agree and this is a warning.
Egypt: Dueling protests occurred in Cairo, separated by concrete barriers. Anti-Mursi protesters breached a barricade outside the presidential palace in Cairo, but did no damage. Pro-Mursi supporters fired birdshot into the camp of the anti-Mursi protestors in Tahrir Square.
Egyptian Defense Minister General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi invited all sectors of the Egyptian population, including journalists, politicians, athletes and artists, to meet on 12 December in the Olympic Village to discuss a way to end Egypt’s current political crisis. He said the national unity talks will not cover politics or the referendum but will bring Egyptians together.
Comment: Today, the leaders of Egypt were Army officers, once again. There is no revolution if a civilian elected government has to rely on the Army. Mursi and the Brotherhood have grasped defeat from the jaws of victory, but they do not yet seem to appreciate the implications of what they have done in bringing back the Army.
Ironically, Mursi refused to accept that the courts had authority over him, but personally accepted Army authority over him when he asked for Army protection.
Mali: Malian Prime Minister Cheick Modibo Diarra announced his resignation and the resignation of his government early 11 December, just hours after soldiers acting on the orders of ex-coup leader Amadou Sanogo arrested Diarra at his home. In a brief speech given at and aired by national broadcaster ORTM, Diarra said that he resigned with his government. He gave no reason for resigning.
Comment: A new prime minister has been appointed but this act by Sanogo and his thugs indicates he has not accepted that his coup failed; his actions strategically damaged, if not destroyed the integrity of Mali and that he should be in prison for treason, instead of ordering the arrest of anyone for any reason.
This action has undermined the international effort to recapture northern Mali from the Islamists, jihdists and terrorists. Until Sanogo is in irons and behind bars, nothing useful can be done in Mali.
Morocco: Comment. This week news sources have reported new political restiveness and frustration that the King’s commitment to political reform is weak.
The NightWatch hypothesis for warning purposes is that the Arab monarchies are the next targets of Arab Spring activism in 2013. The first round of anti-monarchy demonstrations took place in Jordan. The second round occurred in Morrocco.
The secular leaders have been overthrown. The monarchs are next, including the House of Saud, before 2013 is over.

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Chinese terra cotta warriors had real, and very carefully made, weapons…….

The 7,000 soldiers buried with Qin Shi Huang in 210 B.C. were made of clay. But the bronze weapons the terra cotta army carried into the enormous tomb complex near Xi’an in western China were the real things: tens of thousands of swords, axes, spears, lances and crossbows, all as capable of spilling blood as anything Qin’s real army wielded when they triumphed, ending centuries of war and uniting China under a single rule for the first time.

What has been a puzzle for scientists is how so many weapons could have been made so skillfully, so uniformly and so quickly. (Qin reigned for only 11 years; construction of his mausoleum complex is thought to have started long before his death.) They now have a likely answer. A new study of 40,000 bronze arrowheads suggests they were produced in self-sufficient, autonomous workshops that produced finished items rather than parts that fed into an assembly line of sorts.
Which suggests that something akin to the just-in-time production methods used in industry today may have had a trial run more than two millenniums ago.

“Our initial assumption was that all of these items were mass-produced in large production chains, with the various parts produced in specialized units before they were assembled together. That’s how most cars are made — Fordism, or flow-line production,” said University College London archaeologist Marcos Martinon-Torres. He is lead author of the new study, published last month in the Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory. “However, our data strongly suggest that production was arranged in much smaller units, several working in parallel, each of them sufficiently autonomous and versatile to produce finished items,” or what is sometimes called cellular production, lean production or Toyotism.
While archaeologists who have studied the terra cotta army have long thought that a form of mass production must have been in operation, this is the first time that this assumption has been backed up with such precise data.

The scientists came to their conclusion through metallurgical analysis of the weapons and a statistical analysis of where they were found.

First, they studied some of the 37,348 arrowheads found in 680 locations, using a portable X-ray fluorescence spectrometer, a hand-held tool that determines an object’s precise chemical content.
Although the polished arrowheads seem identical to the human eye, X-ray fluorescence revealed that discrete batches of the copper-tin alloys bore unique chemical signatures. Each batch bore its own mix of copper, tin and lead. Different batches were found throughout the site, suggesting that multiple workshops were operating at the same time.

Then the researchers positioned each artifact and warrior on a digital map based on the detailed records created in the 1970s and 1980s by the Chinese archaeologists who first excavated the site.

An illuminating picture emerged. Each quiver seems to have been produced and assembled by a single workshop. The arrowheads were probably made in batches, tied with linen to bamboo shafts, finished with feathers, bundled into 100-arrow quivers of leather and hemp and placed with terra cotta archers armed with crossbows. (The bows’ organic material hasn’t survived the centuries, but 220 bronze crossbow triggers were found.)
A surprising find

The archaeologists had expected that the quivers’ components would have been produced at a variety of locations and then assembled later. But if that were the case, the arrowheads found together shouldn’t bear the same chemical signature. They should be all mixed up, but they are not.
Finding evidence that the weapons weren’t made in an assembly-line fashion “was a bit of a surprise for us,” Martinon-Torres said. “It was only when we saw this in the terra cotta army that we started to look for modern parallels and found Toyotism.”

“What they did is very sophisticated and convincing,” says Toyotism expert Jeffrey Liker, referring to the researchers. Liker is a professor of industrial and operational engineering at the College of Engineering at the University of Michigan and has written five books on Toyotism.
However, Liker said, the distinction between Fordism and Toyotism in Qin’s weapons workshops was less notable than the fact that characteristics we associate with modern mass production — standardization, quality control, flow — were present at all.

Archaeologists believe that the tomb-outfitting teams were composed of artisanal groups, each of which worked under a master craftsman, with a foreman overseeing quality control. They have identified the seals or signatures of at least 87 foremen on warriors’ backs, indicating a form of personal accountability for the quality of each statue.
No room for error

The statues seem to have been placed in the pit fully outfitted with weaponry because they were so tightly packed in the tomb that there was no room to maneuver around them. This means that the weaponmakers had to coordinate with statue workshops or the flow of work would have stalled, said Martinon-Torres.

Any production problems would probably have been bad news for workers, said Robert Murowchick, director of the International Center for East Asian Archaeology and Cultural History at Boston University. Qin leaders identified who was responsible for each step so that problems in quality or consistency could be tracked to their source “and no doubt punished harshly, as the Qin culture was big on the carrot-and-stick model of management,” he said.
However advanced the Qin manufacturing system was, other modern ideas — such as, say, don’t kill your employees — were absent.

The main historical record that archaeologists rely on for clues to the tomb’s construction is a 1st-century B.C. account by Sima Qian, who wrote that 700,000 people labored to build Qin’s mausoleum complex. Slaves, indentured servants, prisoners of war, foremen, masters, artisans — all were conscripted into a strict hierarchical system with brutal work conditions. Skeletons in iron shackles unearthed at the site back up this account.

Even if the weapons’ makers had high status, it’s likely that some suffered a similar fate. “You don’t want people to have the skills to make these very powerful Qin weapons and then have them disappear and go work for your neighboring state,” said Murowchick.

Murowchick said the weapons production system for the tomb probably mirrored how the real Qin army sourced its weapons and was probably a factor in its battlefield success. “The Qin had a fantastically powerful military by ensuring a standardization of weaponry and also the ability to quickly replace and repair broken pieces on the battlefield,” said Murowchick. “It makes perfect sense to have a cellular production model. If you’re 200 miles from home and need more crossbow locks or triggers or arrowheads, you have teams that can produce things.”

However efficient the Qin manufacturing machine was, Martinon-Torres doesn’t romanticize the megalomania that drove it.
“This was a society ruled by a ruthless autocrat. The mausoleum is a celebration of that super-ostentatious, centralized personality through the sheer investment of manpower and resources,” he said. “We can look at the mausoleum and say, ‘Wow, look how powerful that emperor was.’ But we can also try to reconstruct the hundreds of thousands of anonymous laborers who made it possible. In that sense, we are hopefully giving them a little bit of credit for what they’re worth.”

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WWII…Friends and Enemies….strange bedfellows

“A Chinese soldier guards a line of American P-40 fighter planes, painted with the shark-face emblem of the `Flying Tigers,’ at a flying field somewhere in China.” ..1942

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