China punishes officials for tampering with smog monitoring

This is a May 7, 2013 file photo of a foreign tourist wearing a mask walks in front of Tiananmen Gate on a polluted day in Beijing, China. (AP)
Updated 15 January 2018
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China punishes officials for tampering with smog monitoring

SHANGHAI: China has punished officials in the provinces of Jiangxi and Henan for tampering with pollution monitoring equipment in order to reduce smog readings, the environment ministry said in a notice on Sunday.
China has been waging a “war on pollution” since 2014 in a bid to reverse the environmental and political damage done by more than three decades of untrammelled economic growth, but enforcement has been a constant problem.
The Ministry of Environmental Protection (MEP) said officials in the cities of Xinyu in Jiangxi and Xinyang in Henan, sought to reduce emissions readings by spraying water on their air quality sensors.
Both cities are major producers of polluting and energy-intensive nonferrous metals like aluminum and copper.
The two local governments said the officials responsible were dismissed or subjected to “administrative” punishments.
“Regardless of whether they deny deliberately tampering and whether or not it has an obvious impact on emissions data, spraying water on air quality monitoring sampling points... disrupts the normal operations of air quality monitoring,” the ministry said on Sunday.
The MEP has tried to establish a real-time nationwide emissions monitoring system to help fight against pollution and ensure its rules are being enforced throughout the country.
But it has also been forced to crack down on the widespread falsification of data, with local officials accused of trying to evade responsibility by misusing or disabling monitoring equipment. Some firms have also sought to evade monitoring by operating only at night.
The ministry has sought to reduce “administrative interference” in its emissions data by bringing all its 1,436 monitoring stations under central government control and denying local authorities access to the equipment.
This isn’t the first time Henan has been castigated for failing to maintain the integrity of its air quality data, with the ministry accusing local firms of providing fraudulent emissions figures in March last year.
Local environmental officials in the northwestern city of Xian have also been punished for stuffing sensors with cotton and removing surveillance tapes.


Five suspects in court over Nairobi hotel attack

Updated 18 January 2019
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Five suspects in court over Nairobi hotel attack

  • A magistrate granted a request from the prosecution to detain the four men and one woman for 30 days while investigations continue
  • Gladys Kaari Justus is being investigated over the transfer of money while Guleid Abdihakim — who holds Canadian citizenship — is being probed over suspicious communication

NAIROBI: Five suspects, including a Canadian citizen, appeared in a Kenyan court Friday in connection with a militant attack on a Nairobi hotel complex that left 21 dead.
A magistrate granted a request from the prosecution to detain the four men and one woman for 30 days while investigations continue.
The suspects are accused of “possible involvement in the almost 20-hour siege of the DusitD2 hotel and office complex by a suicide bomber and four gunmen who were all killed by security forces,” a court document said.
“The investigations into this matter are complex and transnational and would therefore require sufficient time and resources to uncover the entire criminal syndicate,” a statement from Director of Public Prosecutions Noordin Hajji said.
A total of 11 suspects were arrested after Tuesday’s attack, however investigations into the others were still ongoing.
Those who appeared in court include Joel Ng’ang’a Wainaina, a taxi driver who ferried the attackers around on several occasions, and Oliver Kanyango Muthee, a taxi driver who drove one of the assailants to the scene of the attack.
Gladys Kaari Justus is being investigated over the transfer of money while Guleid Abdihakim — who holds Canadian citizenship — is being probed over suspicious communication.
The other suspect Osman Ibrahim is alleged to have met with one of the attackers on January 8.
Two suspects yet to appear in court, Ali Salim Gichunge and Violet Kemunto Omwoyo possessed SIM cards that were in “constant communication” with numbers in Somalia, court documents revealed.
The attack was claimed by Somali militant group Al-Shabab, an affiliate of Al-Qaeda which has repeatedly targeted Kenya over the presence of its troops in Somalia.
In 2013 an attack on the Westgate mall in Nairobi left 67 dead, while in 2015 Shabab killed 148 people at a university in Garissa, eastern Kenya.