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Launch of space shuttle Discovery delayed indefinitely
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Launch of space shuttle Discovery delayed indefinitely

Sunday, February 22, 2009

NASA announced during a press conference on Friday night that the agency has decided to delay the launch of Space Shuttle Discovery, which was scheduled for takeoff on February 27. NASA cited the need for additional time to evaluate the shuttle’s hydrogen fuel flow control valves. A new launch date has yet to be scheduled, though NASA is considering mid-March as an option. Another review of Discovery’s flight readiness is scheduled for February 25.

Discovery had originally been scheduled for liftoff on February 12, but NASA wanted to perform additional tests on the valves which control the amount of hydrogen fuel pumped into the external tank when the shuttle is taking off. When Space Shuttle Endeavour went into space in November 2008, one of the valves broke. NASA fears that if one breaks off on this mission, then it could damage the outside of the shuttle.

“We need to complete more work to have a better understanding before flying,” said Bill Gerstenmaier, associate administrator for Space Operations at NASA Headquarters in Washington, D.C. who chaired Friday’s Flight Readiness Review. “We were not driven by schedule pressure and did the right thing. When we fly, we want to do so with full confidence.”

The current scheduled mission, STS-119, is set to fly the Integrated Truss Structure segment (“S” for starboard, the right side of the station, and “6” for its place at the very end of the starboard truss) and install the final set of power-generating solar arrays to the International Space Station. The arrays consist of two 115-foot-long arrays, for a total wing span of 240 feet, including the equipment that connects the two halves and allows them to twist as they track the sun. Altogether, the four sets of arrays can generate 84 to 120 kilowatts of electricity – enough to provide power for more than 40 average homes.

Commander Lee Archambault will lead Discovery’s crew of seven, along with Pilot Tony Antonelli, and Mission Specialists Joseph Acaba, John Phillips, Steve Swanson, Richard Arnold, and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Koichi Wakata.

The History Of Western Work Boots

By Max Johnson

Workboots have an interesting history in the United States. The designs and styles have changed, and sometimes, workboots are becoming fashionable to wear even out of the workplace experience. Western work boots are named such because they are a historical type footwear worn by cowboys. Today, anyone can appreciate a good cowboy boot, but you will still see these used on a ranch, farm, or while riding.

The roper is one type of footwear that is a boot but does not go to the middle of the calf as is common with the majority of western work boots. The roper falls between the middle of the calf and above the ankle. These are easy to wear and fun coming in a wide array of styles popular today. Every generation has a different type of style and design they prefer, and this means manufacturers will create what is needed to get you a better footwear whether needed for aesthetic purposes or grungy working days.

Fortunately, the hide used to make these workboots will vary a great deal offering a unique experience to each piece of footwear. For instance, you can use elephant, string ray, eel, ostrich, snake, alligator, buffalo, elk, deer, or other exotic types of leather to make the footwear you need. Whether you choose an exotic leather or a more traditional cattle leather, you will find that the design is exceptional based on the professionalism and uniqueness of the manufacturer in question.

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Even the design is perfect for protecting the ‘cowboy’. Generally, these are loose around the ankle allowing for quick removal in a bind. Plus, the lack of shoelaces means that there is nothing to catch and bind you down. Imagine the pain of trying to dismount your horse only to find your shoelaces have gotten stuck. With a simple cowboy boot, this is going to be less of a problem allowing you the security you need to concentrate on working instead of dismounting.

The original toe was narrow and slightly rounded making it easier to get your foot into the stirrup. The treadles sole is going to allow a gentle gliding motion into the stirrup as well. It wasn’t until the early 1940s that the toe started getting pointy and sharp. The pointed toe can actually be more uncomfortable to work in than the slightly rounded toe. This means you will need to investigate the differences and choose the one that is right for you.

The tall heel is common in the western work boots, but there is a reason!

A tall heel allows your foot more stability while in the saddle. You will not have the problems with slippage that is evident with other styles of boot. In addition, the shaft is high to protect your leg and ankle from that rubbing motion that can be painful. Every piece of the boot is designed for functionality and reliability.

When you choose western work boots, you are choosing a highly functional piece of working apparel that can mean a lot to your health and vitality. You get more of the stuff you need, and a brief history goes a long way in making you more comfortable in the saddle.

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Owner and manager of Moroccan factory arrested over 55-fatality fire
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Owner and manager of Moroccan factory arrested over 55-fatality fire

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Police have arrested the owner of a mattress factory in Hay Hassini, Casablanca, Morocco which burned down in a disaster that claimed 55 lives. His son, who was the factory’s manager, was also arrested.

Those killed — 35 of whom were women — were trapped inside by locked fire exits, which were barricaded to stop theft during working hours. “The people who died were either asphyxiated or burned,” commented a firefighter. 17 were wounded. Moustapha Taouil of the Casablanca civil protection service said the blaze was triggered by an inadequatly maintained electric saw on the ground floor. The initial fire quickly engulfed all four storeys of the building.

The Rosamor factory was clearly operating unsafely, officials said. “It’s a building with a ground floor and three upper floors specialising in making furniture, therefore there were highly inflammable products,” said Taouil. “We confirmed during our examination that the owners of the premises failed to respect legal requirements for this kind of industry including staff training… the owner in contravention of the law, locked staff inside the plant apparently to prevent theft of raw material. It was this that prevented them getting out. The fire was caused by lack of proper maintenance of certain machines and electrical installations.” He said a short circuit on the ground floor, which was filled with power saws, triggered the disaster.

As a result of the investigatons, “The plant’s owner, Adil Moufarreh, and his son Abdelali Moufarreh, who was the manager, have been taken into custody after having been questioned by police,” said an official.

28-year-old factory employee Fadila Khadija said “There was no emergency exit, the extinguishers were empty and the working conditions were difficult.” One source said that windows were also unusable as they were covered with iron bars. 20-year-old survivor Omar Elaaz said “I was working on the first floor as an upholsterer. The smoke came up from the ground floor where the foam rubber, wood and glue are stored. I used a gas bottle to break the wire mesh that protects every window.” 31-year-old upholsterer Hakim Hakki told of his own lucky escape and its effect on him from hospital: “I jumped from the third floor with four other colleagues while the women, who didn’t dare to follow us, perished in the inferno. God saved me but I’ll never forget those who died.”

The father of deceased 19-year-old Abdelazziz Darif said his son was paid 250 dirhams (20 euro/31 US dollars) per week and did not have social insurance.

Demonstrators protest Condoleezza Rice’s trip to Australia
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Demonstrators protest Condoleezza Rice’s trip to Australia

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Anti-war demonstrators in Sydney, Australia on Thursday dubbed U.S. Secretary of State Dr Condoleezza Rice a “war criminal” and “murderer.” Two protesters were evicted and five people were arrested during protests against the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.

Dr Rice, on a three-day trip to Australia, said she understood why people found it hard to be positive about Iraq when all they saw on their television screens was violence.

Soon after Rice began her speech at the University of Sydney’s Conservatorium of Music, two protesters shouted from the rear of the auditorium, “Condoleezza Rice, you are a war criminal,” and “Iraqi blood is on your hands and you cannot wash that blood away.” Standing with their palms towards her, the young man and woman repeated their accusation until security intervened to remove them from the hall.

About 15 minutes into Rice’s address, a third protester appeared at a balcony door, interrupting her speech as she referred to freedom. “What kind of freedom are you talking about? You are a murderer,” said the demonstrator before he was quietly escorted from the hall. “I’m very glad to see that democracy is well and alive here at the university,” she said.

In her speech, Rice sought to justify the U.S. occupation of Iraq, describing Iraqis as now more free. One student asked about abuses committed by U.S. forces at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. She said the abuses had made her “sick to her stomach.” However, she defended Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where human rights groups say detainees are held in inhumane conditions and in detention flouting international laws.

Before Rice began her speech, about 50 protesters were gathered at the front gates of the Conservatorium. The group were confronted by police on horseback and by police dogs. Police used the horses to charge into the group of activists and push them back, as a police helicopter hovered.

A police spokeswoman said the group was blocking pedestrian access to the building and that police had spent more than 20 minutes warning them to move. The police then moved in and pushed the crowd back 20 metres. Police say five people have been charged with “hindering police in the execution of their duties.”

The “Stop the War Coalition” says Rice is a “war criminal” and is not welcome in Australia. The group’s spokeswoman, Anna Samson, says the protest is one of many planned in the lead-up to the third anniversary of the invasion and occupation of Iraq on March 20.

Paddy Gibson, from the University of Sydney’s Student’s Council, says the protest is in opposition to the Iraq war, and to the use of the University of Sydney’s campus to host Rice, “the most powerful woman in the world,” who they say is a war criminal. “They’re saying, ‘… you’ve got Sydney Uni’s support to stand up and peddle your murderous hate speeches,’ which is what we see it,” he said.

“You’ve got 180,000 people killed, as we said, for no other reason than strategic control of the region’s oil resources. And the anti-Muslim racism that’s been whipped up to justify this war is being felt by Sydney University students,” said Mr Gibson.

Adobe to Purchase Macromedia for $3.4 Billion
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Adobe to Purchase Macromedia for $3.4 Billion

Monday, April 18, 2005

Adobe Systems, Inc. announced today that they will acquire Macromedia, Inc. for an estimated $3.4 billion in stock. Bruce Chizen, the chief executive officer of Adobe said that “Customers are calling for integrated software solutions that enable them to create, manage and deliver a wide range of compelling content and applications — from documents and images to audio and video. By combining our powerful development, authoring and collaboration software — along with the complementary functionality of PDF and Flash — Adobe has the opportunity to bring this vision to life with an industry-defining technology platform.”

The acquisition is expected to close in the fall, subject to approval by the stockholders of both companies and regulatory approvals. Under the terms of the agreement holders of Macromedia stock will receive 0.69 shares of Adobe stock for every share of Macromedia stock. Macromedia stockholders are expected to own approximately 18 percent of the combined company.

The two companies have in the past been rivals and some of their products compete in similar niches. For example, both Adobe Photoshop and Macromedia Fireworks are graphics editing programs, and both Adobe GoLive and Macromedia Dreamweaver are webpage design applications.

In the combined company, the current CEO of Adobe, Chizen will continue as CEO. Stephen Elop, president and CEO of Macromedia, will become president of worldwide field operations. The combined company will keep the name “Adobe”, and will focus on integration and growth.

Additional details are available from Adobe Investor Relations.

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Fernando Alonso wins 2007 European Grand Prix
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Fernando Alonso wins 2007 European Grand Prix

Sunday, July 22, 2007

McLarenMercedes driver Fernando Alonso won the FIA Formula-1 2007 European Grand Prix at the Nürburgring, Nürburg, Germany.

Although light rain began to fall during the formation lap, the start was relatively clean, marred only by a collision between the two BMW Sauber drivers. As the rain began to fall more heavily, the pit lane filled up with crews from every team expecting all the drivers to change to intermediate tyres at the end of the first lap. However Kimi Räikkönen, who had started in pole position and was leading the race, skidded across the pit-lane entrance and back out onto the track, forcing him to drive another lap in increasingly wet conditions.

Having opted to start the race from the pits on intermediate tyres Marcus Winkelhock, a rookie SpykerFerrari driver on his first ever Formula One race, quickly rose to become race leader despite having started the race in last position.

Championship leader Lewis Hamilton, who had suffered a crash in the third qualifying session and started 10th on his repaired car, had a perfect start, gaining six places, but made contact with one of the BMWs on the first lap and punctured his left rear tyre.

Within several laps the track quickly became flooded, and on lap three Jenson Button, Lewis Hamilton, Adrian Sutil, Nico Rosberg, Scott Speed, Anthony Davidson, and Antonio Liuzzi all aquaplaned off into the gravel trap at the same place – Liuzzi making contact with the tractor attempting to recover the other cars. The safety car was deployed for several laps but the increasingly dangerous conditions forced race officials to red-flag the race, bringing it to a complete stop until the rain cleared up, and drivers once again gathered on the starting grid for a restart. Despite needing to have his car lifted out of the gravel trap by a crane, Hamilton managed to keep his engine running, and in accordance with the rules regarding being moved from a dangerous position, was allowed to rejoin the restarting grid in last place, albeit a lap down on all the other drivers.

After about half an hour of stoppage, Winkelhock then led the pack off in a flying start behind the safety car. He was quickly overtaken by almost every car, before retiring due to mechanical problems.

For most of the race Felipe Massa led, pursued by world champion Fernando Alonso. Hamilton was the fastest driver on the track, but even at three seconds a lap faster than the other back-markers it took him a long time to catch the pack.

Rain was predicted to recommence approximately 20 minutes before the end of the race. Renault took a gamble by bringing Heikki Kovalainen in first for a tyre change, but they were too early, and he quickly dropped back from fifth position. Several laps later, there was a rush into the pits, with nobody wanting additional risks on the wet track. The “extreme wet” tyres reduced the pace of Massa’s Ferrari and allowed Alonso to come closer and push hard on his rival.

After two laps of constant pressure and overtaking attempts, Alonso passed Massa, and held him off until the finish. The aggressive attack style chosen by Spaniard caused a slight contact between their cars.

Kimi Raikkonen had been close behind Alonso, but his car suffered a breakdown and he had to park it alongside the track.

Mark Webber drove his Red Bull-Renault to the third place. His teammate David Coulthard also made a nice race finishing 5th from his 20th place on the starting grid. This became the most successful result for Red Bull in this season.

Still the third place of Webber was under threat from Alexander Wurz from WilliamsToyota who came closer and closer up to the finish line which they crossed with +0,263 sec distance.

The two BMW Saubers ended 6th and 7th. And the top eight was closed by Heikki Kovalainen from Renault.

For the first time from his debut Lewis Hamilton finished outside the points. His consistently quick pace throughout the race raised him up to tenth place, and in a final gamble he attempted to stay out on dry tyres during the second downpour. This raised him into the points temporarily, but after several slow laps he was forced to pit, and dropped back to tenth. In the dying laps he came within several seconds of Giancarlo Fisichella and Heikki Kovalainen, but although he managed to pass Fisichella, Kovalaninen remained out of reach, and Hamilton had to settle for ninth place. He remains leader of the drivers’ championship, but now only 2 points ahead of Alonso.

This was the first wet race since the 2006 Hungarian Grand Prix.

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New Zealander on oxygen machine dies after power disconnection
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New Zealander on oxygen machine dies after power disconnection

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

New Zealander Folole Muliaga died Tuesday morning after Mercury Energy cut off the power in her household due to $168.40 of unpaid bills. Mrs Folole Muliaga was seriously ill and dependent on an oxygen life support machine that required electricity to run.

The 44-year-old died two and a half hours after the power was cut by a contractor, working for State Owned Enterprise, Mercury Energy. A spokesperson for Mercury Energy has said that they are devastated and deeply sympathetic by the news, but state they did not know that the power was needed to run the oxygen machine. They have stated that discretion is exercised in cases of extreme hardship or when medical conditions make it appropriate and that the same contractor had done so the previous day. However, relatives claim that the contractor was told that the power was needed by family members present, was invited into the house and talked to Mrs Folole Muliaga, but showed no discretion or compassion under the circumstances.

The power was cut at about 11am. Brendan Sheehan, spokesperson for the family, said that after the power was cut, Mrs Muliaga suffered from breathing difficulties. During this time Mrs Mulianga declined an offer for an ambulance from family members. At about 1pm she informed her sons that she was feeling dizzy and asked for hymns to be sung. Her condition quickly deteriorated until she couldn’t speak. When she passed out at 1:32pm, an ambulance was called but Mrs Mulianga could not be revived when it arrived 12 minutes later.

That same evening remaining family members claim they had to grieve in the dark, power was only reconnected after the outstanding amount of $168.40 was paid to Mercury Energy. Mercury Energy claim that the were initially only made aware that a funeral was going to take place and attempted to reconnect the supply at midnight once the full circumstances were made clear but were unable to contact the family. They state the supply was eventually reconnected before 8am the next day. Evidence has been provided by family members to show that they had made two payments to Mercury Energy in the same month trying to clear their outstanding bill, $61.90 on 1 May 2007, and $45 on 17 May 2007.

Trevor Mallard, minister of State Owned Enterprises, said, “I do think it is important that the facts are established before people rush to judgement.”

Both the New Zealand Police and Mercury Energy, the retail operating division of Mighty River Power, are conducting investigations into the events.

The mother-of-four school teacher lived in Mangere, South Auckland and had been suffering from a heart and lung condition, according to relatives of Mrs Muliaga, since February.

Hospital doctors have expressed surprise at the short length of time between when the supply was cut and the death occurred. They have also explained that relatives are trained what to do if the supply is lost, including to call for an ambulance if severe symptoms develop.

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Several groups seek to purchase Saturn auto brand
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Several groups seek to purchase Saturn auto brand

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Penske Automotive Group, Inc., an Ohio-based investment group and Telesto Ventures have indicated separately that they are interested in purchasing the Saturn auto brand from General Motors (GM).

According to The Wall Street Journal, Nissan-Renault is interested in purchasing Saturn. Bloomberg, however, indicated that Nissan-Renault may be a partner of Penske’s potential bid. If Penske acquired the brand, they would distribute Saturn vehicles and outsource the assembly.

GM revealed that the Saturn brand along with Saab and Hummer were up for sale when unveiling their restructuring plans to Congress for governmental loans. While the Pontiac brand was originally to be a niche brand, GM had changed their plans recently and decided to eliminate the brand.

Telesto Ventures is an investment group that includes private equity firm Black Oak Partners LLC of Oklahoma City and several Saturn dealerships. Initially, Telesto will purchase Saturn branded cars from GM then act as a general retailer for foreign brands. Telesto is in talks with several foreign manufacturers.

The Ohio group includes many former senior auto company managers plus private financial backers, chemists and engineers who live in Michigan, Ohio, Indiana and Florida. This group plans to initially purchase cars from GM then purchase existing but closed plants due to automaker restructuring. Additionally, one of the partners indicated a willingness to accept some “legacy” cost in relation to the United Auto Workers. The Ohio group is also pursuing possible loans or other support from national and state governments.

GM is reviewing several offers for Saturn. GM has contracted with S.J. Girsky & Co. to advise them on the sale.

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Wikinews Shorts: June 4, 2007
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Wikinews Shorts: June 4, 2007

A compilation of brief news reports for Monday, June 4, 2007.

MediaCorp Radio in Singapore has been fined 15,000 Singaporean dollars (US$9,800) over an on-air stunt in March in which female guests on a radio show were asked to remove their brassieres, and pose for video that was to be posted on the station’s website and on YouTube.

The Media Development Authority said the radio show’s hosts made improper and sexually suggestive remarks about “how fast the bras were removed, as well as the color, design and cup size of the bras, and the size of the girls’ breasts.”

Sources


Researchers at University of Malaya say they have developed an erectile dysfunction cure from walnut extract.

“It takes about an hour for the effects to set in and it will last for about four hours,” said Professor Dr. Kim Kah Hwi of the Faculty of Medicine Physiology.

So far, 40 volunteers have tried the Viagra alternative, called “N-Hanz”, with positive results, Kim said. To make one pill, it takes about 3.3 kilograms (about 7 pounds) of walnuts.

Sources


An 8-year-old Indonesian boy died after being attacked on Saturday by a Komodo Dragon at Komodo National Park on Komodo.

The boy was attacked while making a toilet stop in a bush, a park official said. “The dragon bit his waist, tossed him and dragged him. His right leg was badly scratched,” park spokesman Heru Rudiharto said. The boy then bled to death.

Attacks by Dragons on humans are rare, though the reptiles, which can grow to a length of 3 meters (9 feet), regularly kill such prey as pigs and small deer. Komodo Dragons are an endangered and protected species, and about 2,000 of them live in the wild, mainly on Komodo and nearby Rinca island.

Sources


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China completes “mammoth” Three Gorges Dam hydro-electricity project
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China completes “mammoth” Three Gorges Dam hydro-electricity project

Saturday, May 20, 2006

The People’s Republic of China has announced the completion of an enormous dam across the Yangtze River, an important milestone for the world’s largest hydroelectric project. The official Xinhua News Agency reports the event as a “landmark in the construction of the project.”

Launched in 1993, the Three Gorges Project, including the 2,300 metre long, 185 metre high dam with 26 power generators, is being built in three phases on the middle reaches of the Yangtze River – China’s longest river. Built with over 16 million m3 of concrete, the Three Gorges Dam is considered the biggest reinforced concrete dam in the world.

The Three Gorges Reservoir is capable of holding nearly 40 billion m3 of water, including a space of 22.15 billion m3 for extra flooded water. With a length of more than 6,300 km and a natural fall of 5,400 metres from the west to the east, the flood-prone Yangtze River is the third largest in the world.

The gigantic project is expected to generate around 15 million megawatts of electricity, 84.7 billion kWh annually when the entire project is completed in 2008. But whilst proponents of the world’s largest hydropower project laud the increased electricity generation and improved flood control as benefits to China, opponents claim destruction of the environment, ruin to China’s cultural heritage – disaffecting millions of local residents.

“In my view, building the Three Gorges dam is a ridiculous and evil farce,” says dam opponent Dai Qing. “Many people have known something is wrong with the project, but few have dared to speak up,” she said. After it becomes operational, the 660km reservoir created by the dam will drown 13 towns, 4500 villages and 162 archaeological sites.

Friends of the Earth (FoE) are also strident vocal critics. “The dam is having a titanic social and environment impact,” the group said this week. “Sometimes people are being moved out by truncheon and bulldozer because they refuse to leave their home for fear of not being rehoused. Human rights violations are massive and brutal,” it said. FoE pointed to evidence that the dam was already having a serious environment impact.

FoE points to a scientific study by the East China Normal University in Shanghai, published in March in Geophysical Research, which said that in 2004, the Three Gorges dam has reduced the supply of sediment to the Yangtze delta to just 35 per cent of the norm.

Millions of tonnes of silt are drawn along the Yangtze river every year, and critics argue the dam will intercept much of it – with potentially disastrous consequences. They say the lack of sediment further downstream would lead to soil erosion, and the accumulation of sediment in the reservoir could raise the dam level, submerging even more land.

Opponents say the reservoir could fill with the accumulated garbage from tens of millions of households. The China Yangtze River Three Gorges Project Development Corp. has spent $2.5 million on a vessel to collect as much as 7 million cubic feet of garbage that accumulates at the dam each year, according to Xinhua. Some argue that the impact of the dam project will contribute to the extinction of the rare Yangtze river dolphin.

The dam project will force the relocation of a total of 1.13 million people, and communities that have lived in the area for millennia will disappear. Researchers warn sedimentation and rising water levels in the reservoir will lead to the evacuation of tens of thousands more people.

But as the waters rise, that which can not be saved will disappear along with some world famous natural scenery. Critics say the dam is under threat from earthquakes, with two geological fault lines nearby. Officials working on the project counter this by saying the worst that can happen is a tremor measuring 6.0 on the Richter scale, while the dam is built to withstand force 7.0.

“Although the dam is now complete, we still have a long way to go and cannot become self-satisfied or relax our efforts in the least,” Li Yongan, general manager of the Three Gorges Project Development Corp, said. The official China Daily in an editorial called for people to remember the more than 100 workers whom died during the dam’s construction. “The best possible way to repay such a debt of gratitude is to make sure the highest safety and quality standards are observed up till the very end of the entire building process,” the editorial said.

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