IMAGES: China ‘building runway in disputed South China Sea’

China is rapidly building an airstrip on an artificial island in disputed South China Sea waters, recent satellite pictures show, potentially ramping up tensions with several Southeast Asian neighbours. Fiery Cross in the Spratly Islands was little more than a reef when China began land reclamation works to turn it into an island in late 2014.

Now satellite images taken last week by DigitalGlobe and shown on the website of the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) show the runway — estimated at 3.1 kilometres (1.9 miles) in total — more than one-third complete, it says.

When in operation, it says, it will be able to “accommodate almost any type of aircraft that China would want to land”.

“Before this construction China lacked the refuelling and resupply capabilities to reach the southern part of the South China Sea,” it added.

“While they have not yet been built, Fiery Cross should be big enough to accommodate hangar facilities for Chinese aircraft.”

Pictures taken less than four weeks earlier showed two sections of 468 metres and 200 metres were under construction, CSIS said, demonstrating the speed of the works.

On Wednesday, defence journal IHS Jane’s reported that pictures taken by Airbus Defence and Space on March 23 showed a section more than 500 metres long and 50 metres wide.

China claims nearly all of the South China Sea, on the basis of lines on Chinese maps published in the 1940s and locking it into disputes with several Southeast Asian neighbours.

Its island-building in the Spratlys, also claimed in whole or part by the Philippines and Vietnam among others, has been seen as part of an attempt to assert its territorial claims by establishing physical facts in the water.

Fiery Cross is known as Yongshu to Beijing, Kagitinan to Manila, and Da Chu Thap to Hanoi.

Images published this month on the website of the CSIS also showed a flotilla of Chinese vessels dredging sand onto a feature known as Mischief Reef.

That reef is about 100 kilometres (60 miles) from the southwestern Philippine island of Palawan, and roughly 1,000 kilometres from the nearest major Chinese landmass.

– International outcry –

Vietnam, the Philippines and Malaysia have asserted their own claims in the area by stationing troops in the Spratlys and building airstrips there from the 1970s onwards.

Philippine defence ministry spokesman Peter Galvez told AFP Friday the airstrip would have “economic, environmental, diplomatic, defence”, and other implications for the Philippines, but did not elaborate.

“As we have said before, all these developments will have a grave impact across multiple dimensions of national security in the immediate to the long term,” he said.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei, in a Friday briefing, maintained that China’s island construction was “mainly for the sake of improving the relevant functions of these islands and reefs, and improving the conditions of workers on the islands and reefs”.

Such construction was also aimed at “improving search and rescue, environmental protection, security of sea lanes, and safety of fishing activities,” he added.

Vietnamese foreign ministry spokesman Le Hai Binh said Thursday that construction by other countries in the Spratlys without permission from Hanoi was “totally illegal and baseless”.

Last November, the US warned that the Fiery Cross project could accommodate an airstrip.

“We urge China to stop its land reclamation program, and engage in diplomatic initiatives to encourage all sides to restrain themselves in these sorts of activities,” military spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Jeffrey Pool said.

China’s moves in the region should spark fear around the world, with military conflict possible, Philippine President Benigno Aquino told AFP on Tuesday.

Beijing quickly dismissed his comments as “groundless”.


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PICTURE: The undersea domain in Asia

(2014) Chinese Navy submarines and warships take part in an international fleet review.

While Chinese surface vessels wrangle with their regional counterparts over disputed waters in the East and South China Seas, a quieter but potentially deadlier competition is taking place underwater. Subsurface military capabilities are proliferating across the Asia-Pacific, and while the US Navy has long dominated the undersea realm, American submarines now have plenty of company.

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China Defends the Interception of a US Navy Plane 135 miles East of Hainan Island

BEIJING — China’s Defense Ministry rejected U.S. accusations that a Chinese fighter jet’s intercept of a U.S. Navy surveillance aircraft off the southern Chinese coast was dangerous, and blamed Washington for mounting large-scale and frequent close-in reconnaissance operations.

Ministry spokesman Yang Yujun said the Chinese pilot conducted operations that were “professional and the Chinese jet kept a safe distance from the U.S. planes.”

He called the U.S. accusations “groundless” in a statement issued Saturday night, and said that China was conducting “routine identification and verification” flights.

Pentagon press secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby gave a different account Friday of the Aug. 19 encounter about 135 miles (220 kilometers) east of China’s Hainan Island. He said the Chinese jet made several close passes by the Navy P-8 Poseidon plane, coming within 30 feet (9 meters) of it at one point.

Kirby said that included the Chinese jet doing a “barrel roll” maneuver over the top of the Poseidon – a modified Boeing 737 – and passing across the nose of the Navy plane apparently to show that it was armed. Kirby said the Chinese jet’s maneuvering posed a risk to the safety of the U.S. air crew and was “inconsistent with customary international law.”

He said it was the fourth such incident since March of “close intercepts” involving Chinese jets.

The Chinese statement also said that a Navy P-3 Orion, an anti-submarine and surveillance aircraft, flew alongside the Poseidon. The Pentagon did not mention the second aircraft.

 Tensions between the two countries have risen in the South China Sea, as China disputes territorial claims with U.S. ally the Philippines, Vietnam and other neighbors.

In 2001, a Chinese jet collided with a U.S. Navy surveillance aircraft off Hainan Island, killing the Chinese pilot and forcing the Navy plane to make an emergency landing on the island. Washington severed military relations with China after that episode.

In the latest encounter, Yang blamed “the large-scale and highly frequent close-in reconnaissance by the U.S. against China” as “the root cause of accidents endangering the sea and air military security between China and the United States.”


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NEW Revolutionary Architectural Designs by the UK for China’s Tallest Building Ever Just May Save the World in Process

While the architectures of yesteryear are often blamed for urban decay, today’s buildings could be responsible for its renewal.

Jutting from the ground like two giant stalagmites, the latest design from UK architecture firm Chetwoods is going to blow the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa, out of the water—and save the world while it’s at it. Standing a full kilometer (3,281 ft) tall, the structure might be the key to solving China’s catastrophic pollution problem on every level. Bestowing upon the project the hopeful moniker, ‘The Phoenix Towers,’ Chetwoods hopes to resurrect the Chinese city of Wutan from its ashes.

By using a complex mechanical system to simultaneously filter Wuhan’s air and water, collect solar, wind, and hydrogen power, provide produce from a massive vertical garden, harvest rainwater, house restaurants and businesses, boil biomass, and generally aim to solve every major ecological crisis faced by central China’s “Fourth Pole,” the Phoenix Towers just might live up to their name. “It doesn’t just stand there and become an iconic symbol of Wuhan, it has to do a job,” founder Laurie Chetwood said in an interview with Dezeen. “We’ve applied as many environmental ideas as we possibly could to justify the shape and the size of them.”

Aside from their super-sustainable abilities, one of the coolest things about the Phoenix Towers is that Chetwoods designed them to resonate with local religion and philosophy. The towers link Western technology and architecture to the Chinese myths of the phoenix; two towers represent the dual gender the legendary bird has in Chinese iconography, and the spirit of rebirth is spread throughout all eight hectares of the the half-mile high towers. With these spiritual considerations in mind, the firm makes a peace offering to the the somewhat rocky history of Western insensitivity when it comes to development in China. The towers also aim to attract eco-tourism, with profit margins further extending that olive branch.



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VIDEO REPORT: Peruvian Vigilantes Whip Women at a local Night Club!



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Amazing New Initiative to build a floating pool that filters river water off the shores of New York City!

+ Pool is our initiative to build a floating pool for everyone in the rivers of New York City, and we need your help. We’ve spent the last year working with engineers, swimmers, consultants and planners studying what it would take to swim in clean, natural river water right here in the city. Now with your support here on Kickstarter we can bring + Pool one giant step closer to the water.

BACKGROUND (and why we think this is a good idea)

We started + Pool last June, during what seemed like one of the hottest summers of our lives. As a New Yorker, you spend most of your time on an island surrounded by water, and when it gets as sweltering hot as it does in New York, you naturally start fantasizing about swimming in the river. But the rivers here aren’t the cleanest and swimming in them isn’t necessarily the best idea. We wanted to do something that could change that.



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VIDEO REPORT: Private Dream Chaser Space Plane to Launch 1st Orbital Flight in 2017


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Six Good Paying Jobs Not Usually Thought About…

Navigating a tough economy isn’t easy, but picking a career path and sticking to it can provide enough focus and drive to mitigate the difficulties. If you’re less concerned about doing something you love and more concerned with financial stability, then check out six high paying jobs not usually considered inspired by Yahoo!

1. Management Consultant – If you know how to take a team of employees and work them into top shape, then becoming a management consultant may be the job for you. These professionals are experts at evaluating how people are managed and suggesting ways to improve communication and performance. This job requires at least a bachelor’s degree in fields such as business, accounting, statistics, and computer science, but many companies prefer individuals with a master’s in business administration. Average Salary: $78,600

 2. Accountant – Do you enjoy doing your taxes? Are you up to the challenge of understanding financial laws and applying them to an entire company? Accountants come in a few different varieties, but most of them are paid well. It can be a tough job if you’re radically opposed to math and learning dry, tedious laws on finances, but the rewards for succeeding are job stability and a comfortable lifestyle. Most positions require a bachelor’s in accounting, and there are different certifications available which will make you a more marketable candidate.
Average Salary: $63,550

3. Registered Nurse – Becoming a nurse isn’t the easiest thing to do; you have to be okay with the gross functions of the human body, able to work with people, and capable of maintaining composure in stressful situations. If you’ve served in the military, you most likely fit some of these basic requirements, so the next step is simply obtaining the proper education. It is possible to become a nurse with an associate’s degree in nursing or a bachelor’s in nursing science, but once those are completed you will have to pass a state licensing exam.
Average Salary: $65,470

4. Fashion Designer – Fashion designers aren’t just the people who make crazy get-ups for runway shows: the variety of roles within the industry is broad. Fashion designers may specialize in shoes, pants, or even costumes. Whatever your passion, if it involves clothes then this is a profession to consider. It’s important to note that clothing isn’t just about pop culture: there is plenty of room for innovative thinkers in terms of traditional style, comfort, and durability. If this is a career you’d like to pursue, a degree is not required but will give you critical skills to improve your work. Employers usually rely on an applicant’s portfolio more than anything else when making a hiring decision.
Average Salary: $62,860

5. Web Developer – As cell phones and tablets boom and the internet evolves, the need for web developers grows stronger. The U.S. is experiencing a technology boom in regards to how users access and interact with the internet thanks to wearable technology and ever-advancing mobile devices. Web development requires a number of different roles to fill, and each one may have different education requirements. If you have a knack for programming and want to enter a booming industry, get the degree or credentials you need and start reaping the benefits.

Average Salary: $62,500

6. Market Research Analyst – Marketing and branding are two of the most powerful tools at the disposal of any company. Understanding trends and the way a targeted audience thinks is key to creating and launching a successful product. If you think you’re talented at knowing what will be big where and when, this is a job that pays well and tends to be in-demand. Analysts can come from a wide range of degrees such as market research, computer science, and even communications. Whatever your degree, the key to obtaining this job is leveraging your expertise towards what a company is looking for.

Average Salary: $60,300

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VIDEO REPORT: 2013 Emerging Market Analysis

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Looking back at WW I; the uncomfortable parallels that exist today with the era that led to the outbreak of the first world war

As the New Year approached a century ago, most people in the West looked forward to 1914 with optimism. The hundred years since the Battle of Waterloo had not been entirely free of disaster—there had been a horrific civil war in America, some regional scraps in Asia, the Franco-Prussian war and the occasional colonial calamity. But continental peace had prevailed. Globalisation and new technology—the telephone, the steamship, the train—had knitted the world together. John Maynard Keynes has a wonderful image of a Londoner of the time, “sipping his morning tea in bed” and ordering “the various products of the whole earth” to his door, much as he might today from Amazon—and regarding this state of affairs as “normal, certain and permanent, except in the direction of further improvement”. The Londoner might well have had by his bedside table a copy of Norman Angell’s “The Great Illusion”, which laid out the argument that Europe’s economies were so integrated that war was futile.

Yet within a year, the world was embroiled in a most horrific war. It cost 9m lives—and many times that number if you take in the various geopolitical tragedies it left in its wake, from the creation of Soviet Russia to the too-casual redrawing of Middle Eastern borders and the rise of Hitler. From being a friend of freedom, technology became an agent of brutality, slaughtering and enslaving people on a terrifying scale. Barriers shot up around the world, especially during the Great Depression of the 1930s. The globalisation that Keynes’s Londoner enjoyed only really began again in 1945—or, some would argue, in the 1990s, when eastern Europe was set free and Deng Xiaoping’s reforms began bearing fruit in China.

The driving force behind the catastrophe that befell the world a century ago was Germany, which was looking for an excuse for a war that would allow it to dominate Europe. Yet complacency was also to blame. Too many people, in London, Paris and elsewhere, believed that because Britain and Germany were each other’s biggest trading partners after America and there was therefore no economic logic behind the conflict, war would not happen. As Keynes put it, “The projects and politics of militarism and imperialism, of racial and cultural rivalries, of monopolies, restrictions and exclusion, which were to play the serpent to this paradise, were little more than the amusements of [the Londoner’s]…daily newspaper.”

Playing your role
Humanity can learn from its mistakes, as shown by the response to the economic crisis, which was shaped by a determination to avoid the mistakes that led to the Depression. The memory of the horrors unleashed a century ago makes leaders less likely to stumble into war today. So does the explosive power of a modern conflagration: the threat of a nuclear holocaust is a powerful brake on the reckless escalation that dispatched a generation of young men into the trenches.

Yet the parallels remain troubling. The United States is Britain, the superpower on the wane, unable to guarantee global security. Its main trading partner, China, plays the part of Germany, a new economic power bristling with nationalist indignation and building up its armed forces rapidly. Modern Japan is France, an ally of the retreating hegemon and a declining regional power. The parallels are not exact—China lacks the Kaiser’s territorial ambitions and America’s defence budget is far more impressive than imperial Britain’s—but they are close enough for the world to be on its guard.

Which, by and large, it is not. The most troubling similarity between 1914 and now is complacency. Businesspeople today are like businesspeople then: too busy making money to notice the serpents flickering at the bottom of their trading screens. Politicians are playing with nationalism just as they did 100 years ago. China’s leaders whip up Japanophobia, using it as cover for economic reforms, while Shinzo Abe stirs Japanese nationalism for similar reasons. India may next year elect Narendra Modi, a Hindu nationalist who refuses to atone for a pogrom against Muslims in the state he runs and who would have his finger on the button of a potential nuclear conflict with his Muslim neighbours in Pakistan. Vladimir Putin has been content to watch Syria rip itself apart. And the European Union, which came together in reaction to the bloodshed of the 20th century, is looking more fractious and riven by incipient nationalism than at any point since its formation.

I have drunk and seen the spider
Two precautions would help prevent any of these flashpoints sparking a conflagration. One is a system for minimising the threat from potential dangers. Nobody is quite clear what will happen when North Korea implodes, but America and China need to plan ahead if they are to safeguard its nuclear programme without antagonising each other. China is playing an elaborately dangerous game of “chicken” around its littoral with its neighbours. Eventually, somebody is bound to crash into somebody else—and there is as yet no system for dealing with it. A code of maritime conduct for the area is needed.

The second precaution that would make the world safer is a more active American foreign policy. Despite forging an interim nuclear agreement with Iran, Barack Obama has pulled back in the Middle East—witness his unwillingness to use force in Syria. He has also done little to bring the new emerging giants—India, Indonesia, Brazil and, above all, China—into the global system. This betrays both a lack of ambition and an ignorance of history. Thanks to its military, economic and soft power, America is still indispensable, particularly in dealing with threats like climate change and terror, which cross borders. But unless America behaves as a leader and the guarantor of the world order, it will be inviting regional powers to test their strength by bullying neighbouring countries.

The chances are that none of the world’s present dangers will lead to anything that compares to the horrors of 1914. Madness, whether motivated by race, religion or tribe, usually gives ground to rational self-interest. But when it triumphs, it leads to carnage, so to assume that reason will prevail is to be culpably complacent. That is the lesson of a century ago.


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