Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Coal Shortage Left Thousands in Cold in Urumqi

Wrapped in a comforter to keep warm in dorm

More than 10,000 people in Urumqi, Xinjiang, found their home freezing after the heat was stopped on Saturday. A coal-burning furnace providing heat for the area stopped working after heat company workers fed it with coals of poor quality. The company purchased these bad coals from some small coal mines, when its contract coal provider was short of supply, Xinhua reported.

The heat break lasted for nearly 96 hours, leaving thousands of people fighting cold in rooms of temperature lower than 10 degree Celsius, or about 50 degree Fahrenheit, while the out-door temperature was way below the freezing point. Some electronic heaters thus were sold out in many local stores during these days. The heat was resumed late Wednesday night.

China has been in constant shortage of coal supply for recent years, largely due to huge demand of coals for generating electricity to feed energy hungry factories of all kinds. The demand-supply strain has been a major drive for illegal coal mining, including over production at state-owned coal mines, which many times has led to explosion, collapse and other fatal accidents at the mines.

Homosexual Man Stopped from Seeking Partner
A homosexual man was stopped last month by a security guard at the gate of elite Tsinghua University in Beijing, before he made his way into the campus with a board on his back. The hand-written board read: I’m a gay; sincerely looking for a life-time partner. He said he took the action not only to find a partner, but also to advocate for gay rights and fight against discrimination, Shanghai based Xinmin Evening News website reported.

The man later complained to the university, claiming he was discriminated, but the university denied any discrimination against homosexuals.

The Tsinghua incident is one of the few, but increasing cases of advocating gay rights in China, although homosexuality has largely remained a taboo in public discourse. Most gay people in China still hide their sexual orientation from others and many remained in normal marriages. But the society has been more and more familiar, if not more tolerant, with the concept of homosexuality, and many people are talking about it in private talks or on the anonymous Internet.
----by Josie Liu

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