Just to round out the CCTV fire theme

As mentioned earlier, the devastating fire in Beijing two days ago was indeed caused by fireworks and firecrackers on the final night of the Spring Festival / Chinese New Year celebrations. For positional reference, the building that burned down is behind, and mostly obscured by, the distinctive asymmetrical CCTV tower in the two shots below:

On a nice day last fall (edge of hotel barely visible behind left leg of CCTV tower):
On the second day of the Olympics (hotel just visible behind and to the left of CCTV tower; this was before the air cleared up on the following day, thanks to a powerful cold front that moved through from Mongolia):

Night of the fire, photo from UK Telegraph (this view from east; others from the south):


People in and interested in China already know this, but for those who don't:  Danwei.org has one-stop shopping for links and  explanations about the cause of the fire, and coverage inside China, here. Similarly with the current set of links and headlines on EastSouthWestNorth, here.

Apart from the disaster/tragedy itself, the interesting aspects are: that the perils of the fireworks and firecrackers are more than a joke (it might be hard to believe that they set off a major building fire if you haven't seen how much ordnance is set off; it's all too plausible if you have); that people responsible appear to have been CCTV employees; and that the whole subsequent matter of investigating, publicizing, making sense of, and drawing omens from an unignorable spectacle involving the country's leading propaganda/communication outlet and the city's most distinctive new landmark will say a lot about the emotional and political state of China right now. (Update: interesting LA Times story, which I see before me in paper version here in the LAX airport, here.)

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James Fallows is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and has written for the magazine since the late 1970s. He has reported extensively from outside the United States and once worked as President Carter's chief speechwriter. His latest book is China Airborne. More

James Fallows is based in Washington as a national correspondent for The Atlantic. He has worked for the magazine for nearly 30 years and in that time has also lived in Seattle, Berkeley, Austin, Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur, Shanghai, and Beijing. He was raised in Redlands, California, received his undergraduate degree in American history and literature from Harvard, and received a graduate degree in economics from Oxford as a Rhodes scholar. In addition to working for The Atlantic, he has spent two years as chief White House speechwriter for Jimmy Carter, two years as the editor of US News & World Report, and six months as a program designer at Microsoft. He is an instrument-rated private pilot. He is also now the chair in U.S. media at the U.S. Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, in Australia.

Fallows has been a finalist for the National Magazine Award five times and has won once; he has also won the American Book Award for nonfiction and a N.Y. Emmy award for the documentary series Doing Business in China. He was the founding chairman of the New America Foundation. His recent books Blind Into Baghdad (2006) and Postcards From Tomorrow Square (2009) are based on his writings for The Atlantic. His latest book is China Airborne. He is married to Deborah Fallows, author of the recent book Dreaming in Chinese. They have two married sons.

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