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from George Chen:

A turning point for China?

By George Chen
The opinions expressed are the author’s own.

Is the train crash tragedy becoming a turning point for China's political and economic development?

Frustrations among the Chinese public have been growing rapidly -- at least on the internet if not yet in the streets. People are particularly unhappy with the way the Ministry of Railways has dealt with the train accident, which so far has cost 39 lives.

It has now turned into a full-blown crisis. Shen Minggao, chief Greater China economist for Citigroup, said in his latest research note to clients that the train tragedy could become "a turning point in the China growth model."

"Authorities may choose intentionally to slow GDP growth gradually but firmly to 7-8 percent in following years and spend more time to fix the problems created by artificial fast growth," said Shen in the note.

from George Chen:

Not just an accident

By George Chen
The opinions expressed are the author’s own.

We’ve talked about whether China's economy will have a soft or hard landing. In fact, what China needs is a pause. Lots of things in China may be moving way too fast. Including our trains.

On Saturday, at least 35 people died when a high-speed train smashed into a stalled train in eastern Zhejiang province, raising new questions about the safety of the fast-growing rail network. For a Reuters story, click here.

from Photographers' Blog:

Trading fear for photos on a stricken plane

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We took off smoothly for the short flight from Singapore to Jakarta, and I started falling asleep. Suddenly I was woken up by the sound of two bangs, like a bomb or truck tire blowing out. My wife gripped my hand and asked “Do you smell something burning?” Yes, there was a sharp smell stinging my nose. I realized there was something wrong because all the stewardesses ran back with the food carts.

The plane started to vibrate, harder and harder. I held my wife’s hand tightly and looked at her face as she started praying. My two younger children were asleep, after their first ever trip abroad, but not Pradipta, the eldest one. “Pra look through the window and watch outside,” I said. “I see light, I see fire, I see fire,” he said. Then the electricity was switched off.

from Photographers' Blog:

Witness to a cobblestone crash

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I am writing this on the road from rural eastern France at the end of the fourth stage of the month-long Tour de France. It’s hot and dusty outside with temperatures at about 38 degrees Celsius (100 degrees Fahrenheit). On the backs of the motorcycles in protective gear we are suffering as we spend all day in the sun. Fortunately there has been a lot happening in these early stages of the Tour and the images have been worth it.

On the third stage of the Tour between Wanze in Belgium and Arenberg in France, I was riding on the second of our two motorcycles. The second bike is not authorized to shoot the riders on the move, but instead can overtake the pack and then stop on the side of the road so the photographer can shoot the riders as they pass by. The third stage was very special as the last 50 kilometers were on the famous cobblestone backroads of northern France more commonly associated with the Paris-Roubaix cycling classic. This section is known as the “Hell of the North”. I have covered 21 Tour de France races, but never had the occasion to cover either Paris-Roubaix, nor shoot a cobblestone section.

from India Insight:

Hyderabad airshow crash a wake-up call?

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INDIA-CRASH/

It was a promise that Lt Cdr Rahul Nair could not keep. Some months ago, Nair had promised to return home soon to sample his mother's cooking.

On Wednesday, Nair and fellow pilot Cdr S.K. Maurya lost their lives during the Indian Aviation 2010 air show in Hyderabad.

from Olympics Notebook: Vancouver 2010:

Georgian luger dies in horrific crash – update

OLYMPICS-LUGE/Georgian luge competitor Nodar Kumaritashvili has been killed after a horrifying crash in training for the Winter Olympics.

The 21-year-old's sled left the track at the Whistler Sliding Centre at around 90mph, according to observers, and smashed into a course side structure.

from Photographers' Blog:

Remembering the Concorde crash

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On July 25, 2000, I had returned to Paris after four weeks of covering the Tour de France and was in the office waiting for my flight back to my home base Nice. It was a quiet day for news and that afternoon I relaxed in the office.

Paris photographer Philippe Wojazer told me, "because it's quiet, there isn't any need for the two of us here, I'm going back to my place." I remember seeing him take his motorbike helmet and then seeing a news flash that said, "Plane crash at Roissy." The adrenaline was pumping in the office when a second news flash announced "It is a Concorde."

from Raw Japan:

Call me “Crasher”

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MOTORCYCLING-PRIX/MOTOGP

My nickname among the Reuters photographers in Tokyo is "Crasher".

They call me that because I always seem to get pictures right at the moment of a crash whenever I cover motorsports.

One colleague sometimes teases me saying "You’ve got to stop pouring oil on the track," and I answer: "I would never use oil -- I only use banana skins!"

from Left field:

Briatore, Symonds step down from Renault

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briatore

There's an extraordinary story breaking just now, with Formula One team Renault releasing a statement saying they will not contest the charge that last year's Singapore Grand prix was fixed.

Renault also announced that team boss Flavio Briatore and director of engineering Pat Symonds have left the team.

from Commentaries:

Algos gone wild

The many proponents of high-frequency trading keep saying there's no reason to be concerned about a rogue algorithim sparking a 1987 market-style crash. HFT supporters keep saying show us a case where a rogue algo even caused a minor hiccup in the market.

Well, Bernard Donefer, a professor at CUNY's Baruch College in New York City and a critic of highly-automated trading programs, says the world already has gotten a glimpse at the kind of mayhem a rogue or simply a misfiring algo can cause.

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