Helping Africa to help stop Ebola spread; First Japanese passenger jet in four decades; China’s violent land disputes

1 Helping Africa to stop Ebola spread (BBC) The World Health Organization is to “ramp up” efforts to prevent Ebola spreading beyond the three countries most affected by the deadly virus. Fifteen African countries are being prioritised, top WHO official Isabelle Nuttall said. They will receive more help in areas including prevention and protection.

But former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan has said he is “bitterly disappointed” with the international community’s response. Mr Annan said richer countries should have moved faster. “If the crisis had hit some other region it probably would have been handled very differently.

In Geneva, the WHO’s Dr Nutall said the transmission of the Ebola virus remained intense in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea – the three countries at the centre of the Ebola outbreak. There was a “spike” in the Guinean capital, Conakry, she said, and “intense transmission” in Freetown, the capital of Sierra Leone. In the Liberian capital, Monrovia, she spoke of “significant underreporting” and problems with data-gathering making it hard to reach firm conclusions.

2 First Japanese passenger jet in four decades (Yuri Kageyama in San Francisco Chronicle) The first made in Japan passenger jet in four decades reaches a development milestone later this week. A “rolling out” ceremony in Nagoya, central Japan on Saturday will unveil the long awaited Mitsubishi Regional Jet, or MRJ, a fuel-efficient lightweight carbon-fiber composite passenger plane.

Major Japanese machinery maker Mitsubishi Heavy Industries says the MRJ90 will seat 88 people, while the MRJ70 will seat 76, and the planned MRJ100X will have 100 seats. The plane is billed as fuel-efficient, quiet and green, with a comfortable cabin of relatively wide seats and high ceilings. The first flight is planned for the second quarter of next year, with test flights to follow totaling 2,500 hours, and the first deliveries are set for 2017.

MRJ has received 191 orders, from All Nippon Airways, Trans State Holdings, SkyWest, Air Mandalay and Eastern Air Line with 184 additional purchase options. The MRJ is Japan’s first nationally funded, domestically manufactured passenger aircraft since the YS-11, a turboprop airplane that was discontinued in 1973.

More than 5,000 deliveries of regional jets are expected over the next 20 years, according to Mitsubishi, whose aircraft division is called Mitsubishi Aircraft Corp. Japan’s regional rival China has two commercial jet aircraft projects underway, the first of which, the ARJ21, is now ready for delivery, according to manufacturer Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China, also known as Comac. The plane, with room for up to 90 passengers, had been promised for 2007, but technical problems led to years of delay.

3 China’s violent land disputes (The Guardian) Villagers in a bitter standoff with a property developer in rural south-western China burned four construction workers to death in a clash that left eight people dead, authorities have said. The incident in Yunnan province was one of the most violent land conflicts to strike the country’s vast rural hinterland in recent years, casting a spotlight on the plight and anger of residents who see their livelihoods threatened when their lands are seized by developers with the backing of local governments.

Alarmed by such violence, the ruling Communist party is expected to grant more independence to local courts in the hope of extending justice and alleviating tensions between members of the public and local governments.

State media reports said the latest dispute at Fuyou village was over land compensation. Villagers detained eight construction workers on Tuesday when the developer attempted to restart work on the site, the government statement said. The villagers then bound the workers’ hands and feet, beat them up, and poured petrol on them. The government said the villagers threw homemade petrol bombs and set fire to the petrol-drenched detainees. Four workers burned to death and two others died from unspecified injuries, it said.

The violence has not been unconditionally condemned by members of the public, many of whom are instead questioning what led to the conflict. State media, meanwhile, are blaming the local government. “It shows the local government has not made effective efforts to resolve the conflict between the developer and the villagers,” said a Beijing Times editorial, pointing out that the villagers had lost fertile lands that once provided them with handsome profits.


About joesnewspicks

This blog captures interesting news items from around the world for those strained by information overload and yet need to stay updated on global events of significance. The news items displayed are not in order of merit. (The blog takes a weekly off — normally on Sundays — and does not appear when I am on vacation or busy.) I am a journalist for nearly three decades.
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