1) On the Jiang Zemin situation, NMA of Taiwan weighs in with a somewhat coarse but amusingly illustrated account. (Again, no joke, good wishes to members of his family.) I am always a sucker for NMA's ominous-panda figures, for instance around times 0:15, 0:30, and 0:50.


2) If you are getting a pop-up ad with every single click on our site -- I am too, and sorry, it's a temporary bug. We want to invite you to subscribe, but we don't want to drive you away.

3) Back to pandas: the very worthy Pandas International, whose work I described in the magazine, reports on new floods in the (already earthquake-devastated) Sichuan panda refuge areas, including this photo of a bridge I saw in drier times.


The Pandas International report adds:
>>According to local forestry authorities, following heavy rains on July 6th, a wild giant panda drowned. The body was found in the Zipingpu Reservoir by a local villager on Tuesday morning.

The male, aged about 10, drowned after it was swept into a section of the Minjiang River by rain-triggered floods and mudslides....

In addition to the panda's death, 6 people have died.<<
4) Somehow this seems connected: a report that air pollution leads to "brain damage and depression." No wonder I have felt so stupid and unhappy in recent years.

5) Back to Jiang Zemin, a very interesting Reuters report by Benjamin Lim and Sui-Lee Wee helps explain why there could be so much sensitivity about the health of a leader who handed over power long ago to people who themselves are about to leave power. I'll let you read it for yourselves.

6) Chinese chart of the day: airfares on the highly lucrative Beijing-Shanghai route, before and after the arrival of the Beijing-Shanghai high-speed train. This via the Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation, in Sydney.


See if you can guess when the high-speed rail service began. I hope to try it next month and see how it compares with the planes
UPDATE: the truncated vertical scale of the chart -- it shows only the span from $250 to $425, not from zero to $425 -- of course makes it somewhat misleading. The fare fell suddenly by about one third, not by the 90% or so that the chart would suggest. Still, the suddenness of the change is the interesting part. Thanks to Parker Donham  for the reminder.

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