Spill blame-game starts

first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREBlues bury Kings early with four first-period goals The floor of Guan’s kitchen was covered with pots, pans and plastic trash cans that she filled with water after the government said supplies would be suspended. In the bedroom were plastic-wrapped bundles of dozens of bottles of drinking water. “Three days?” Guan said Thursday, when asked how she would cope if water isn’t restored until Monday. “No problem.” The team of investigators sent to Harbin included disciplinary officials, which “indicates punishments of irresponsible acts are on the way,” the official Xinhua News Agency reported. It didn’t give any other details. But Chinese leaders have come to rely on such handpicked teams to investigate disasters, tacitly admitting they cannot trust information from local officials. The Nov. 13 explosion at a chemical plant in Jilin, about 120 miles southeast of Harbin, highlighted complaints that the government is failing to protect the public from the environmental damage caused by China’s roaring economic growth. The disaster “has stunned the whole nation,” Xinhua said, in an apparent effort to assure the public that Chinese President Hu Jintao and other senior leaders share their shock and anger. The government earlier said the 50-mile-long flow of benzene was expected to pass Harbin early today. But the city’s deputy Communist Party secretary, Du Yuxin, told The Associated Press that water service might not resume until Monday. Officials had said they might need extra time to make sure supplies are safe. Usually docile government newspapers criticized the handling of the disaster. The government failed to detect the spill of benzene – possibly the world’s largest – for several days, and Harbin city leaders said this week they were shutting down its water system without initially telling the public why. The Beijing-based China Youth Daily published a detailed list of official missteps and confusion. “If information is not given in a timely, accurate and transparent manner, it will leave room for rumors to spread,” it said. Environmentalists have accused the government of failing to prepare for such a disaster and of failing to react quickly enough. They have questioned the decision to allow construction of a plant handling such dangerous materials near important water supplies. One newspaper called on Beijing to learn a lesson from the outbreak in China of severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS, when the government was criticized for initially withholding information about the disease. “The government should tell the public the truth,” the Beijing News said. “During SARS, the publication of truthful information turned the situation around.” Such comments would not be published without high-level official approval. They apparently were meant both to prod authorities in Harbin to do all they could to help the public and to warn officials elsewhere to prevent such disasters. “Chinese leaders have sent strong messages in the past few days, ordering the relevant departments to ensure the safety of drinking water, closely follow the pollution situation and provide accurate information,” Xinhua said. Environmental officials blame the spill on the chemical plant’s owner, a subsidiary of China’s biggest oil company, state-owned China National Petroleum Corp. Two reservoirs on the Songhua River have been ordered to release more water to dilute the toxin, Xinhua said. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! HARBIN, China – China’s leaders sent a team Friday to investigate a chemical plant accident that poisoned a major river, saying officials responsible will be punished as the 3.8 million residents of this northeastern city went a third frigid day without running water. Hundreds of villagers were being evacuated near Harbin on the Songhua River as toxic benzene flowed past, while a Russian city downstream braced for its arrival. In China’s southwest, some 6,000 people reportedly were evacuated following a second chemical plant explosion, raising fears of a new poisoning disaster. In Harbin, a line of some 500 people stretching for 100 yards waited in windy, subzero weather in a working class district on the city’s east side for water to come by truck. When a truck with a tank on its bed arrived, residents rushed to fill tea kettles, buckets and basins at a portable tap with five spigots. “Everyone has enough at home for the basics, but they want to add some for washing and cooking,” said Guan Hongya, a 54-year-old manager for a textile firm, who was filling buckets to carry back to her third floor, walk-up apartment. last_img read more

Spending Caps Limit Funding for Facility Needs Officials Say

first_img Dan Cohen AUTHOR All three military departments are accepting risks to their facilities in their fiscal 2017 budget requests by postponing needed sustainment and restoration projects, the Pentagon’s top installation officials told lawmakers Thursday.Insufficient investment in recent years has resulted in the degradation of many Navy installations’ piers, runways and other facilities, Steven Iselin, principal deputy assistant secretary for energy, installations and environment, told the Senate Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Subcommittee.The Air Force included funding in its budget proposal for only 30 construction projects out of 500 requested by major commands, said Miranda Ballentine, assistant secretary for installations, environment and energy, reported Military Times. She said she expects the backlog of degrading facilities to grow.About 15 percent of DOD facilities are in “failing” condition and about 12 percent are in “poor” condition, Pete Potochney, acting assistant secretary of defense for energy, installations and environment, told the panel.Officials “are doing the best we can in making sure dollars are spent wisely and to compete for those resources in this budget environment,” Potochney said. “Facilities degrade more slowly than readiness, and in a constrained budget environment, it is responsible to take risk in facilities first,” he said.The witnesses’ written testimony and a webcast of the hearing can be found on the committee website.last_img read more

2020 BMW 3 Series Wagon is here but not for US

first_imgEnlarge ImageMmm, wagon. BMW BMW revealed its new 3 Series Wagon on Wednesday, but don’t get your checkbook out just yet. Last we heard, BMW isn’t planning to offer the longroof 3 Series in the United States anymore. And that’s a shame, since this one looks to be a seriously nice package.Up front, the 3 Series Wagon — or Touring, as it’s known in BMW parlance — shares its fascia with the G20-generation 3 Series Sedan. Around back, the wagon’s taillights use a similar design to the sedan’s, and the angular rear glass kinks nicely into the overall shape of the hatch.Speaking of the hatch, all 3 Series Wagons come with an electronically operated tailgate, and you can set how far it opens in the car’s iDrive infotainment system. BMW says the luggage compartment is wider than before, with both a taller and wider loading aperture, making it easier to load cargo. The back seats have a standard 40:20:40 split, and can be folded flat. Maximum cargo capacity is 53 cubic feet, which is about the same as a compact SUV.2020 BMW 3 Series WagonEnlarge ImageInside, the Touring is the same as any other new 3 Series. BMW A total of seven engines will be offered in Europe. The gas-fed 330i and M340i xDrive variants that we get on the US-spec sedan carry over, and a third, less powerful 320i is also available. On the diesel front, buyers can select engines ranging from 150 to 265 horsepower in output — or more importantly, 320 to 580 pound-feet of torque. For folks who might tow, the base 320i Touring can pull 3,500 pounds, while all other versions can handle 4,000.For front passengers, the 3 Series Touring is identical to the 3 Series Sedan — the design, switchgear and multimedia systems all carry over unchanged. The most robust iDrive 7 setup features a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster and 10.2-inch central screen, with BMW’s voice-controlled AI assistant on board.BMW says customers will be able to preorder the new 3 Series Touring this month, ahead of its official on-sale date in September. Again, it’s unclear if this shaggin’ wagon will ever be offered in the US, but for now, we’ll keep our fingers crossed. The 2020 BMW 3 Series Touring is a wagon we want 1 Wagons Luxury cars Share your voice Tags 2019 BMW X5 xDrive50i review: A potent and tech-rich SUV BMWcenter_img 2020 Toyota Supra review: A solid sports car that’s rife with controversy More From Roadshow Comment 74 Photos BMW 2019 BMW 330i xDrive review: The new and improved 3 Serieslast_img read more

Maruti Suzuki Ciaz India Launch by September Report

first_imgMaruti Suzuki is reportedly gearing up to launch its much anticipated Ciaz ahead of the festive season this year, claims a new report.Maruti Suzuki Ciaz, the replacement of the company’s underperforming SX4 sedan has hit the web numerous times through spied images and reports. Now a latest report in Financial Express, citing its sources close to the development says that Maruti will launch the Ciaz in the domestic market by September this year. The report also states that the company has started the trial production of Ciaz at its Manesar facility.The Ciaz, the new sedan offering of Maruti was first seen at the Delhi Auto Expo 2014 and is based on the Suzuki Authentics concept car, which was displayed at the 2013 Shanghai Motor Show. The car will be pitted against Hyundai Verna, Honda City and Volkswagen Vento in the sub-continent and is expected to fall in the price brackets of 7.2 lakh to 10.5 lakh.Under the hood, Maruti’s new C-segment offering, Ciaz is likely to pack the same 1.3 liter Multijet diesel or 1.4 liter K Series petrol engine of Ertiga and is expected to carry some of the features of both SX4 and Ertiga.Ciaz is expected to come loaded with safety features like with Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) with Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD). The car is also likely to accommodate premium features like 16-inch alloy wheels, keyless entry, push button start, puddle lamps and leather seats.Earlier last week, the company had showcased the near production version of Ciaz at the Beijing Auto Show 2014. The mid-sized sedan concept dubbed Alivio measures 4545mm in length, 1475mm in height, 1730mm in width and has a wheelbase of 2650mm. Suzuki’s Alivio sedan draws power from 1.6-litre DOHC 4-cylinder petrol engine and comes mated to six-speed automatic transmission.With the launch of new sedan, Maruti hopes to cash in during this festive season. The auto industry in the country, which has been witnessing poor demand for the past few months is also getting ready to welcome the festive season in hopes of finding a change in the market condition.(ED:AJ)last_img read more

Rohingya repatriation relocation stalled

first_imgHundreds of Rohingya refugees shout slogans as they protest against their repatriation at the Unchiprang camp in Teknaf, on 15 November 2018. — Photo: ReutersBangladesh’s plans to tackle the Rohingya refugee crisis have been stalled until the new year with repatriation and relocation programs only likely to be revisited following year-end general elections, a top Bangladeshi official said on Sunday.Abul Kalam, Bangladesh’s refugee relief and repatriation commissioner, told Reuters “a new course of action” needed to be adopted on repatriation that took into account refugees’ key demands.More than 720,000 Rohingya fled a sweeping army crackdown in Myanmar’s Rakhine state in 2017, according to UN agencies. The crackdown was launched in response to insurgent Rohingya attacks on security forces.Rohingya refugees say soldiers and Buddhist civilians killed families, burned many villages and carried out gang rapes. UN-mandated investigators have accused Myanmar’s army of “genocidal intent” and ethnic cleansing. Myanmar has denied almost all the accusations, saying its forces engaged in a counter-insurgency operation against “terrorists”.In late October, Bangladesh and Myanmar agreed to begin to repatriate hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslim refugees who fled, but the plan has been opposed by the Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh and the UN refugee agency and aid groups, who fear for the safety of Rohingya in Myanmar.The repatriation of the first batch of 2,200 refugees was to begin officially on 15 November, but it stalled amid protests at the refugee camps. None of those on the list agreed to return if their demands for justice, citizenship and the ability to go back to their original villages and lands were not met.“I don’t think anyone’s agreeing to go back without these,” said Kalam, who last week called on the international community to pressure Myanmar to accept certain “logical and acceptable” demands in order for any repatriation to take place.Myanmar does not consider the Rohingya a native ethnic group and calls them “Bengalis”, suggesting they belong in Bangladesh. It has agreed to take the Rohingya back and said they would need to accept the National Verification Card, which it says would allow Rohingya to apply for citizenship. The Rohingya reject the card, saying it brands them foreigners.Kalam said he believed Myanmar needed to propose a “clearer path” to citizenship for the Rohingya if any returns were to take place, adding he would raise the matter at the next bilateral meeting on repatriation, likely to take place next month.Myanmar government spokesman Zaw Htay was not reachable on Sunday for comment.With Bangladesh now set to go to the polls on 30 December, any decision either to repatriate people, or relocate refugees from the crowded camps to Bangladesh’s Bhasan Char island will not proceed until 2019, Kalam said.“Elections are coming up now, so the government will only finalise a future course of action after the elections,” said Kalam, adding that Bangladesh remained ready to repatriate refugees if any volunteered to return.Bangladesh has vowed not to force anyone to return.Kalam said construction work on alternative housing on Bhasan Char was “nearly complete.” He said he was hopeful some refugees would agree to move, given the island’s “livelihood opportunities” such as fishing and farming. Aid agencies express caution as the island is prone to flooding.last_img read more