National / International News

China tells party officials to stop smoking in public

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-01-02 23:56

The new Party directive says smoking, “damages the image of the party and the government.”

So does rampant corruption – but smoking seems to be a more manageable vice among China’s ruling elite.

"The leadership wants local officials to change their style and become closer to the people," says Wu Yiqun, who helps head an anti-smoking NGO in Beijing. "Part of this is setting a good example by not smoking."

But old habits die hard.

When I approach three well-dressed smokers in their 50s outside a tobacco shop in Shanghai with my microphone, one of them drops his cigarette and dashes off. The second one retreats into the shop, and the third one, Gu Ziheng, takes a long drag of his cigarette before explaining the other two were "leaders," dodging the question of whether they’re government officials.

Gu thinks this smoking ban is a good idea. "To build a civilized society, you need economic support as a foundation," he says, conjuring Party talking points, "China’s developed into a stronger nation, so it must take care of its image."

As Gu says this, his friend who dashed off peeks his head out from behind a wall, and whispers loudly enough so we all can hear: “Don’t say anything bad about the party!”

Gu and I both nod, the man disappears, and we resume the interview.

Gu tells me this smoking ban has a lot to do with Xi Jinping’s crackdown on corruption. "Now - in China, you have high-end, and low-end, cigarettes," Gu explains, exhaling smoke. "Smoking high-end cigarettes means you’re corrupt."

Local officials in China have been caught using public money to buy expensive cigarettes as gifts to other officials. After Gu puts out his cigarette, his friend who retreated to the tobacco shop comes out with a red, shiny carton of Chunghwa cigarettes. They’re certainly not the highest-end cigarettes.  But Chunghwas, which cost a hundred dollars a carton, are commonly used as bribes in China.

As I stare at the candy apple red box, both men say awkwardly “we bought these with our own money.”

The third man remains partially hidden behind the wall, avoiding the microphone, unable to enjoy a smoke.

Family issues plea over gun murder

BBC - Thu, 2014-01-02 23:51
The family of a 20-year-old man who died after being shot in Liverpool make an appeal on the third anniversary of his shooting.

East US battles major snow storm

BBC - Thu, 2014-01-02 23:33
Thousands of flights are grounded in the US as a major snowstorm hits eastern states, dropping 53cm (21 inches) of snow in Massachusetts.

Sales creating 'frenzy' at the shops

BBC - Thu, 2014-01-02 23:20
A "shopping frenzy" has gripped the capital since Christmas say business leaders, with others around Wales reporting "guarded confidence" for 2014.

DOJ Expected To Defend Health Law's Contraceptive Mandate

NPR News - Thu, 2014-01-02 23:19

The Justice Department will answer a challenge to a provision in the law requiring most employers that offer health insurance to include birth control at no cost. A group of Catholic nuns objects to the provision, and they won a temporary reprieve from Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor.

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Smith and Haddin punish England

BBC - Thu, 2014-01-02 23:14
Steve Smith's century and 75 from Brad Haddin help Australia to 326 all out on the first day of the final Ashes Test.

Cardiff chairman says sorry to fans

BBC - Thu, 2014-01-02 23:13
Cardiff chairman Mehmet Dalman says sorry to fans for the controversy surrounding Malky Mackay's sacking as manager.

VIDEO: 12 Years A Slave star on his moment

BBC - Thu, 2014-01-02 22:58
Chiwetel Ejiofor admits it took him "a day or so" to decide whether to take on the leading role in 12 Years A Slave.

Ejiofor 'hesitant' on 12 Years role

BBC - Thu, 2014-01-02 22:56
12 Years a Slave star Chiwetel Ejiofor says he was initially hesitant about taking the lead role in Steve McQueen's latest film.

VIDEO: 'Weapons ships' to return to Syria

BBC - Thu, 2014-01-02 22:34
Danish and Norwegian ships tasked with removing Syria's stockpile of chemical weapons are due to depart from Cyprus on Friday.

'I work for a living and darts is my hobby'

BBC - Thu, 2014-01-02 22:32
BDO world champion Scott Waites discusses working full-time, keeping his dad happy and why he isn’t joining the PDC

Brighton bomb slowed peace talks

BBC - Thu, 2014-01-02 22:29
The attempt to murder Margaret Thatcher in Brighton nearly led to the collapse of secret Northern Ireland peace talks, according to newly released documents.

Who could - and should - fight whom in 2014?

BBC - Thu, 2014-01-02 22:23
BBC Sport's Ben Dirs rounds up the fights we'd all like to see in 2014 - some of which might even take place

VIDEO: India's PM says he will step down

BBC - Thu, 2014-01-02 22:22
The Indian Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, says he will not stand in the next general elections.

Workers killed in Cambodia clashes

BBC - Thu, 2014-01-02 22:15
Three people are killed as Cambodian police open fire on protesting garment industry workers in Phnom Penh demanding an increase in wages.

VIDEO: Flights hit as snow blankets US

BBC - Thu, 2014-01-02 22:08
Parts of the north-east United States have been hit by a major winter storm, with 53 cm (21 inches) of snowfall recorded in one Massachusetts town.

'Deadly' floods and 'Thatcher's secrets' in papers

BBC - Thu, 2014-01-02 21:59
Some papers are concerned about the prospect of flooding, while others focus on revelations from government files released under the 30-year rule.

Cyber security firms agree $1bn deal

BBC - Thu, 2014-01-02 21:34
Cyber security company FireEye acquires Mandiant, a firm known for emergency responses to network breaches, in a deal worth more than $1bn (£608m).

Australia saw hottest year in 2013

BBC - Thu, 2014-01-02 20:05
Australia experienced its hottest year on record in 2013, with temperatures 1.2C above the long term average, the Bureau of Meteorology says.

VIDEO: Is this world's most expensive soap?

BBC - Thu, 2014-01-02 19:07
A Lebanese family-run business claims to have produced the world's most expensive soap infused with gold and diamond powder.

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