This week, China Central Television (CCTV) made an uncharacteristically bold move: It aired the first season pilot of Game of Thrones, the popular HBO fantasy drama renowned for gruesome violence and graphic sex scenes. The move is likely part of a broader plan to help boost the audience for the country’s state-run traditional television stations, whose notoriously dull, heavily regulated programming has lost viewers to video streaming sites.
Yet CCTV evidently had to hew to rules on “public morality” that the Community Party endorses; the pilot episode of the first season, “Winter is Coming” is about 11 minutes shorter than HBO’s and is dubbed in Mandarin.
If the internet response to CCTV’s tidied-up Game of Thrones is anything to go by, viewers are way too used to watching both pirated and licensed versions of foreign shows to swallow Communist Party-approved drama.
Read more. [Image: HBO]
Around the world, a number of groups looking to draw tourists have constructed upside-down houses, complete with inverted furnishings and decor. Collected here are photos of four recent examples of his topsy-turvy architecture in China, Russia, Germany, and Austria, As a bonus, all of the interior shots are interactive — click on them to flip the view and see it “right side up”.
The Chinese media is calling it the largest sandstorm to hit the region in a decade; NASA has settled for “China’s Great Wall of Dust.” Cities and towns engulfed in the particle swell experienced visibility conditions of 60 to 160 feet, and the composition of the dust made the sky glow orangish-yellow, like the inside of a jack-o-lantern. In some places, trains were delayed, roads shut down, and school children kept at home until the cold front carrying the dust dissipated.
What’s it like to be in the middle of one of these things? Footage from Wednesday in Gansu Province provides the answer – it’s pretty miserable.
Everyone “knows” that China is badly polluted. I’ve written over the years, and still believe, that environmental sustainability in all forms is China’s biggest emergency, in every sense: for its people, for its government, for its effect on the world. And yes, I understand that the same is true for modern industrialized life in general. But China is an extreme case, and an extremely important one because of its scale.
Hu Yaobang, whose death 25 years ago triggered the Tiananmen Square protests, served China in an era of unprecedented openness.
Read more. [Image: Wikimedia Commons]
From A Hundred-Pound Suit of Bees, one of 12 photos. She Ping, a 34 year-old beekeeper, covered with a swarm of bees on a small hill in southwest China’s Chongqing municipality on April 9, 2014. Ping released more than 460,000 bees, using queen bees to attract them to his body, and made himself a suit of bees that weighed 45.65kg (100 pounds) within 40 minutes. (AFP/Getty Images)
And it’s about politics, not corruption.
Read more. [Image: Reuters/Jason Lee]
The Canadian government’s decision to scrap its “Immigrant Investor Program” leaves 46,000 wealthy Chinese who had planned to emigrate to Canada, or at least move their money and families there, searching for a new home.
The decision, announced in Finance Minister Jim Flaherty’s budget on February 10, effectively tosses out 59,000 pending visa applications, 70 percent of them from China, according to the South China Morning Post. Under the terms of the program, applicants with a net worth of over C$1.6 million (U.S. $1.5 million) agreed to give the Canadian government an interest-free, C$800,000 loan for five years in exchange for a resident visa that could lead to citizenship.
The program drew a flood of mainland Chinese applicants via the Canadian consulate in Hong Kong, forcing Canada to freeze the approval process in mid-2012. Part of the problem was that the visa program was priced too low, Canada said, undervaluing Canadian permanent residence. There was also “little evidence that immigrant investors as a class are maintaining ties to Canada or making a positive economic contribution to the country,” the budget says.
Read more. [Image: Todd Karol/Reuters]
Vadim Makhorov and Vitaliy Raskalov, the masked Russian daredevils who have taunted authorities from Egypt to the Czech Republic by illegally climbing some of the most towering structures on the planet, have done it again. This time the target was the world’s second-tallest building: the 2,073-foot-high, still-under-construction Shanghai Tower in China.
The result are breathtaking. Literally. You may want to make sure you’re sitting down. Watch the men clamber in the clouds without ropes or other safety equipment, and peer down on one of the biggest cities on the globe from a tangle of metal grating and red scaffolding.
It’s a time-honored tradition: When a U.S. president gives his State of the Union address, interest groups pore over the carefully crafted remarks line by line, word by word, to assess the administration’s priorities and blind spots. The exercise plays out, if to a lesser degree, overseas as well: The day after President Obama’s sixth address, news outlets in Kiev, Beijing, and Tehran are picking apart references to their countries.
State of the Union addresses haven’t always been such a spectacle. U.S. presidents have delivered them since 1790, but until 1913 these addresses were submitted as annual reports to Congress. When Woodrow Wilson became president, he turned the constitutionally required update on the nation’s well-being to an in-person speech.
In Tuesday night’s State of the Union address, Obama named 13 nations: Afghanistan, Burma, China, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Mali, Palestine, Somalia, Syria, Tunisia, Ukraine, and Yemen. Each has been named in previous State of the Union addresses; one, Tunisia, was first mentioned in Thomas Jefferson’s 1805 State of the Union address for its role in Mediterranean piracy. This time around, the circumstances were just a tad different.
Which countries have presidents mentioned the most in their State of the Union addresses? Which regions of the world get the most attention? And what trends can we discern over time?
Read more. [Image: Larry Downing/Reuters]