We heard from friends that skies were blue and clear in Beijing yesterday. Here is the view at 10am on July13, 26 days before the opening ceremonies and one week before the emergency shutdown of factories and traffic is supposed to begin.
Update: with 25 days to go, this appears not to have been a trend, at least not a positive one. But only six days now until the sweeping shutdowns. I believe the neighboring factories will close, as advertised. Somewhat more cautious in my assumptions about the cars, since I've met so many people who have mentioned that they've obtained both even- and odd-numbered licenses plates, to cope with the even/odd restrictions on driving each day.