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Chinese blogger creates Google maps of violent land grabs

by Staff Writers
Beijing (AFP) Oct 22, 2010
A Chinese blogger is tracking violent and sometimes deadly land grabs taking place in the Asian nation and recording them on Google Maps in a bid to try and get people to boycott "blood housing."

The anonymous blogger on Sina.com has recorded more than 70 different confirmed and unconfirmed incidents around the country on two so-called "Bloody Maps," which had registered more than 52,000 hits on Friday.

"Record demolitions and refuse to buy blood housing," he wrote on his blog http://t.sina.com.cn/bloodymap, which provides links to the maps.

One map records incidents that have been reported by media or have been confirmed, while the other also pinpoints events that have been mentioned online or raised by Internet users.

Net users are able to click on each mark on the map to get a description of what reportedly happened.

The incidents include the widely-reported self-immolation of three people trying to stop local officials from forcing them out of their homes in the eastern province of Jiangxi.

China has witnessed a surge of violent confrontations over land seizures as officials and businesses seek to cash in on a property boom and forcibly remove residents to make way for property developments and infrastructure projects.

The incidents, added to mounting public anger over skyrocketing housing prices, have led to the government adopting a series of measures to cool down the property market.

The blogger was quoted by the official Xinhua news agency as saying that he was doing the project "for society."

"Media coverage and public attention to illegal land seizure disputes can gradually fade out, failing to form a persistent deterrent to the phenomenon," he said.

"So it is necessary to find a new way to express people's concerns."

earlier related report
Brazil unveils fresh aid for Amazon drought
Sao Paulo (AFP) Oct 22, 2010 - Brazil's government announced new aid of 13.5 million dollars for northern regions hit by the worst drought in decades which has stymied navigation on the Amazon River and tributaries.

The funds will help for food delivery, water purification and pumping in Amazonas state, where some communities have been cut off by the drop in river levels.

The Brazilian air force has already distributed 500 tonnes of food and supplies to some areas which are normally dependent on water transport.

Officials said the level of the Amazon River at Manaus, the regional capital, is near its lowest level since 1963.

Scientists say it appears Brazil is headed for its worst drought since that year. Final data to be collected up to October were expected to confirm that.

The withering of the Amazon has produced unusual scenes of children playing football in the dried-up riverbed of a tributary, the Quarenta, that crosses Manaus.

Remote towns upstream that rely on water traffic as their main link to civilization have been cut off as their own tributary has all but disappeared.

The rainy season in the area normally begins in November.




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FARM NEWS
Farmland the size of Italy lost each year: UN report
United Nations (AFP) Oct 21, 2010
An area of cultivated land the size of Italy is lost each year to environmental degradation, industrialization and urbanization, a UN expert said Thursday. Up to 30 million hectares (75 million acres) of land is lost to the new pressures and Olivier De Schutter, UN special rapporteur on the right to food, said 500 million small farmers suffer from hunger partly because "their right to land i ... read more

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