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A Shining Example

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I don’t often quote China as a shining example, but…

China bans stars who have used drugs from national media

Jaycee Chan, the son of Hong Kong movie star Jackie Chan, was among celebrities caught using drugs this year

China’s media watchdog says that stars who have used drugs or visited prostitutes will be banned from state television and other media outlets.

The ban is meant to keep the industry healthy, reported China Daily.

The State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television said recent cases had set a bad example for the country’s youth.

Source: BBCNews Read more

Lucky Find

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China: Shang or Zhou dynasty sword found in Jiangsu

A Chinese boy has made the discovery of a lifetime by stumbling across a 3,000-year-old bronze sword in a river in Jiangsu Province.

Eleven-year-old Yang Junxi says he touched the rusty weapon’s tip while washing his hands in the Laozhoulin River, in Gaoyou County, the state news agency Xinhua reports. After pulling it out he took it home, where it quickly became a sensation for curious locals, before the family decided to send it to officials for examination. “Some people even offered high prices to buy the sword,” Junxi’s father Jinhai says. “But I felt it would be illegal to sell the relic.”

Archaeologists have dated the 26cm (10in) weapon to either the Shang or Zhou dynasties – the dawn of Chinese civilisation – based on its material, size and shape. Lyu Zhiwei of the Gaoyou Cultural Relics Bureau says that while the sword appears to be of both decorative and practical use, its form suggests it was the status symbol of a civil official rather than a sword for fighting.

The authorities are now planning a major archaeological dig in the river, once part of a system of ancient waterways that developed into today’s Grand Canal. Junxi and his father have been given a reward for handing in the relic.

Source: BBCNews

Four-winged flying dinosaur unearthed in China

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Newly discovered Changyuraptor yangi lived 125m years ago and was like ‘a big turkey with a really long tail’

An artist’s impression of the new species of four-winged, microraptor dinosaur Changyuraptor yangi. Illustration: Stephanie Abramowicz/Dinosaur Institute, NHM

A new species of prehistoric, four-winged dinosaur discovered in China may be the largest flying reptile of its kind.

The well-preserved, complete skeleton of the dinosaur Changyuraptor yangi features a long tail with feathers 30cm in length – the longest ever seen on a dinosaur fossil. The feathers may have played a major role in flight control, say scientists in the latest issue of Nature Communications, in particular allowing the animal to reduce its speed to land safely.

The 125m-year-old fossil, believed to be an adult, is completely covered in feathers, including long feathers attached to its legs that give the appearance of a second set of wings or “hind wings”. It is the largest four-winged dinosaur ever found, 60% larger than the previous record holder, Microraptor zhaoianus, in the family of dinosaurs known as microraptors.

These beasts were smaller versions of their closely related, larger cousins, the velociraptors made famous in the Jurassic Park movies. They belong to an even wider group including the king of all dinosaurs, Tyrannosaurus rex. At 1.3 metres long and weighing 4kg, the meat-eating C. yangi is one of the largest members of the microraptor family, which tended to weigh 1kg or less.

Microraptors, which are close relatives of modern birds, had many anatomical features that are now only seen in birds, such as hollow bones, nesting behavior, feathers and possibly flight. They were dinosaurs rather than pterosaurs, the more well known flying prehistoric reptiles.

C. yangi was [like] a big turkey with a really long tail,” said Dr Alan Turner from Stony Brook University, one of the authors of the paper. “We don’t know for sure if C. yangi was flying or gliding, but we can sort of piece together this bigger model by looking at what its tail could do. Whether or not this animal could fly is part of a bigger puzzle and we’re adding a piece to that puzzle.”

The fossil was discovered in Liaoning province, northeastern China, an area noted for the large number of feathered dinosaurs found over the past decade, including the first widely acknowledged feathered dinosaur, Sinosauropteryx prima, in 1996.

Before this study, it was thought that the small size of microraptors was a key adaptation needed for flight, but the discovery of C. yangi suggests that aerial ability was not restricted to smaller animals in this group.

Source: TheGuardian

Explain this…

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150,000-Year-Old Pipes Baffle Scientists in China: Out of Place in Time?

A file photo of a pipe, and a view of Qinghai Lake in China, near which mysterious iron pipes were found. (NASA; Pipe image via Shutterstock*)

The universe is full of mysteries that challenge our current knowledge.

In a mysterious pyramid in China’s Qinghai Province near Mount Baigong are three caves filled with pipes leading to a nearby salt-water lake. There are also pipes under the lake bed and on the shore. The iron pipes range in size, with some smaller than a toothpick. The strangest part is that they may be about 150,000 years old.

Dating done by the Beijing Institute of Geology determined these iron pipes were smelted about 150,000 years ago, if they were indeed made by humans, according to Brian Dunning of Skeptoid.com.

And if they were made by humans, history as it is commonly viewed would have to be reevaluated.

The dating was done using thermoluminescence, a technique that determines how long ago crystalline mineral was exposed to sunlight or heated. Humans are only thought to have inhabited the region for the past 30,000 years. Even within the known history of the area, the only humans to inhabit the region were nomads whose lifestyle would not leave any such structures behind.

Source: EpochTimes Read more

Quackery

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The Chinese multinational making millions out of vulnerable Ugandans

In the west, Tiens markets its products as food supplements and ‘wellness equipment’. In Uganda, they are sold as treatments for everything from HIV to cancer. James Wan reports from Kampala for Think Africa Press

Wasswa Zziwa Edrisa (middle ) distributes Tiens products in the rural Ugandan town of Iganga. Photograph: James Wan

On the corner of a bumpy, red-soil road in the rural town of Iganga in eastern Uganda, there lies a small store. A handful of people mill around the entrance in the glaring sun, waiting for their turn to enter. They are the main source of activity on this placid street, but their patient presence barely betrays the hubbub within.

Inside, almost a dozen people sit crammed on makeshift benches around two edges of the stifling room. Most of the remaining space is taken up by a shop counter, behind which are shelves piled high with vibrantly coloured health products covered in Chinese characters.

A couple of customers compete with a baby wailing as they read out lists of products to the shop attendants who pick them off the shelves. Every now and then, the door in the corner opens. Someone steps out, and the person sitting closest steps in.

Beyond that doorway is an even smaller room, windowless and illuminated by a single light. As I peer in, three people are undergoing diagnostic tests; a woman is standing on a machine that hums loudly as it vibrates, and a few more patients are waiting slumped along the wall.

Wasswa Zziwa Edrisa − or “Doctor Wasswa” as he is known here − stands in the centre wearing a fresh, chequered shirt on his back and an unwavering grin on his face.

“I will show you how we help so many people,” he says, beaming. “Let me show you the machines.”

‘Organ scanners’

“This is one of the scanners,” he explains, pointing to a piece of kit that looks a bit like a 1970s radio. “It shows everything. We can see if you have diabetes, kidney deficiencies, liver problems, eye problems. Everything.”

Wasswa explains that the test works using a traditional Chinese understanding of the body whereby different points of the hand relate to different internal organs. We watch as an attendant prods a patient’s left palm with a metal tip, making a little meter light up. When the light goes green, he explains, it means that part of the body is fine, but if it goes orange it indicates a problem.

Next, Wasswa points me to the corner where a woman is standing on a small machine and holding onto a pair of handlebars, to which she is harnessed. Her whole body blurs in the dim light as the platform beneath her vibrates rapidly, its droning buzz filling the room.

Similar machines can be found in many gyms these days and are meant to help tone muscle, but the uses Wasswa presents are quite different.

“This is a blood circulation massager,” he announces. “You see how she sweats. It opens the vessels and deals with paralysis. It helps people with stroke.”

A woman stands on a machine Wasswa claims ‘deals with paralysis’. Photograph: James Wan

 

Wasswa then shows me another diagnostics machine, this one connected to a laptop. As the patient holds on to an appliance plugged into the computer, pictures of different organs flash up on the screen for a few seconds each as a dial next to it oscillates erratically. After a minute, a one-page document pops up, detailing how well his organs are functioning.

In the airless room, Wasswa runs through a few more devices − a face pain remover, a blood pressure reducer, a necklace that removes radiation − before squeezing past bodies and chairs to get back to the first patient we met. By now his diagnostic test is complete. The patient tells me that he came to the store because of some mild pain around his mouth. Wasswa breaks the news that there are more serious things about which he ought to be concerned.

“He has a problem with his spleen,” says Wasswa. “At times, he gets constipation and some swelling in the legs and arms. There is also some paralysis in the legs. He gets headaches. At times he feels dizziness. His brain arteries need to be detoxified. He has kidney deficiencies. He has bad chest pain. He has high cholesterol. He has poor circulation. And he has problems with his stomach.”

The man looks young and healthy. Wasswa is not perturbed.

“He needs to improve his circulation by using our machines and he will need to take our products. If he uses them, he will be fine,” he says.

‘Radiation cure’

Back in the waiting-room-cum-pharmacy, Wasswa shows me some of these products. He picks goods off the shelves – capsules, toothpastes, body creams – and stacks them on the counter as he explains what they do.

“This takes away all the radiation in your body. This helps with diabetes. This treats ulcers. This is for slimming. This adds more white blood cells to your system. This is for people who are mentally disturbed,” he says.

“These medicines are good for everything,” he concludes finally, the pile of products on the counter now complete. “If you have cancer, we can help. If you have HIV, we can help. Even if you have a hernia or a tumour or appendicitis, you just take our products and they will disappear.”

Even if you have a hernia or a tumour or appendicitis, you just take our products and they will disappear

This small store in eastern Uganda employs a handful of staff and, according to Wasswa, receives dozens of people each day. Wasswa is also frequently heard on local radio advertising his services and has made quite a name for himself in the area.

Wasswa was previously a school teacher and says his parents were “peasants”, but now, in his 30s, he is anything but. These days, he drives a shiny four-wheel drive, wears sharp suits and travels around the world. All this makes him quite the exception in Iganga, but across Uganda this young man is by no means a solo pioneer and his store is by no means unique.

Source: The Guardian Read more

Pinocchio rex

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New Tyrannosaur named ‘Pinocchio rex’

Pinocchio was smaller than T. rex but its nose was a third longer – perhaps for a different hunting strategy

A new type of Tyrannosaur with a very long nose has been nicknamed “Pinocchio rex”.

The ferocious carnivore, nine metres long with a distinctive horny snout, was a cousin of Tyrannosaurus rex.

Its skeleton was dug up in a Chinese construction site and identified by scientists at Edinburgh University, UK.

The 66-million-year-old predator, officially named Qianzhousaurus sinensis, is described in Nature Communications.

“Pinocchio” looked very different to other tyrannosaurs.

“It had the familiar toothy grin of T. rex, but its snout was long and slender, with a row of horns on top,” said Edinburgh’s Dr Steve Brusatte.

“It might have looked a little comical, but it would have been as deadly as any other tyrannosaur, and maybe even a little faster and stealthier.

“We thought it needed a nickname, and the long snout made us think of Pinocchio’s long nose.”

Researchers now think several different tyrannosaurs lived and hunted alongside each other in Asia during the late Cretaceous Period, the last days of the dinosaurs.

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Ancient reptile’s birth fossilised

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Green highlights the mother’s skeleton, yellow the unborn embryo inside, purple the animal being born and red the remains of another

rare fossil has revealed how marine reptiles evolved to give birth to live young, scientists say.

The fossilised Chaohusaurus was discovered in central China’s Anhui Province and includes the remains of three babies.

The animals lived 248 million years ago and are the earliest of the marine reptiles from the Mesozoic Era.

Experts suggest the position of the babies shows that giving birth to live young evolved on land, not in the sea.

The preserved partial skeleton shows the mother’s tail extending to the right, her ribs on the left and her pelvis and hind flipper in the centre.

The skulls of two embryos are visible, one still inside the mother and the other exiting her pelvis.

A third newborn’s bones were also preserved beneath the mother’s tail.

The fossil is the earliest of its kind and one of only two rare records of Icthyosaurs giving birth.

Previous studies have revealed that live births were common in marine reptiles that could not lay eggs at sea or walk on land but scientists have debated where this style of reproduction originated.

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