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Chairman Mao effigy torn down after online backlash against lavish expenditure

Remember that brief we wrote a while back (this week) about a 120-foot or so statue of Chairman Mao being built in rural China? It wasn’t quite done at the time. Close, though. It took more than half a million dollars to build, and almost a year to get near completion. As of this morning, it exists as a pile of rubble. Some say the orders to destroy the effigy came from the Tongxu County provincial authorities after images of the project became widely distributed and criticized online. It’s size and decadence drew attention as a colossal misallocation of money in an area of China requiring lots of aid. [Source: NYTimes]

Syrian government allowing the flow of aid into starving town

The Syrian government has agreed to allow food supplies and other aid into the town of Madaya, where residents are reportedly dying of starvation under the occupation of troops loyal to Bashar al-Assad, according to the UN. Rice is said to cost $250 USD per kilogram there, and residents have resorted to scouring mine fields for grass and eating tree leaves. “Madaya is not on the verge of a humanitarian catastrophe, it is already a humanitarian catastrophe,” a Madaya health worker told the Guardian. “The view on the street is frightening, frightening. We know that people think we are exaggerating, but believe me, it is worse than any exaggeration.” Some are sceptical the support will arrive, and, if it does, that there will be enough to make a difference. Assad has used starvation as a way to cripple communities before, hoping the civilians will blame the Syrian rebels for the strife. [Source: Guardian]

Watch what must be millions of bats leave a cave in long undulating column

Thai skincare company blasted for racist ‘White makes you win’ ad campaign

Seoul Secret, a Thai skincare company, released an ad recently with the slogan “White makes you win,” featuring 35-year-old actor and model Cris Horwang’s testimony attributing her success to the products she used to whiten her skin. “Before I got to this point, the competition was very high. If I stop taking care of myself, everything I have worked for, the whiteness I have invested in, may be lost,” she said in the ad. Seoul Secret used the model to peddle a skin-whitening pill it has developed. The company has since apologized and removed the ad, being forced to do so over the overwhelming outrage the world focused toward the campaign’s racist message. The narrator at one point in the video says, “White makes you win,” and the product (called Snowz) “helps you not return to black.” [Source: Guardian]

Wildfire 58,000 hectares in size devastates Western Australia 

Three people are missing and about 95 homes in the town of Yarloop have been evacuated as a 58,000-hectare wildfire continues to devastate Western Australia. Warnings remain in place for the area surrounding Waroona Harvey and Preston Beach. In Yarloop, where the fire is affecting the most lives, the blaze remains too intense to tackle head-on, said crews working in the area. Four firefighters have been injured and a truck destroyed in efforts to squelch the fire. “A big fireball came through and there was no way they were going to stop it. This could well be the end of the town,” Australian politician Murray Cowper told the BBC. The cause of the fire hasn’t been officially stated, but parts of the country are known to be hot and dry and prone to thunderstorms. [Source: BBC]


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