Fragile China, urban trials, immigration backlog, Philly soccer, more

Chinese Blizzards Reveal Rail Limits

“The snow and ice that have led to chaos at transport hubs as up to 200 million migrant workers and other travelers attempt to return home for the Lunar New Year festival next week have also restricted coal shipments along critical rail arteries feeding power stations in the southeast, China’s densely populated manufacturing heartland.

“Food prices are increasing in major cities including Beijing as distribution bottlenecks and bad weather hamper deliveries of vegetables and meat, the official Xinhua news agency reported Thursday.

“These shortages are a reminder that China’s huge, interconnected economy and its 1.3 billion people are increasingly vulnerable to even short-lived interruptions to the flow of goods and services.”

City to stitch a loop around Lake Union

“The idea has been around for decades: Connect an existing assortment of unmarked paths, sidewalks and roadway shoulders to form an uninterrupted loop around the busy lake.

“Now the city is ready to go forward. It’s about to hire a consultant to develop a cohesive 6.2-mile urban route — one that could be a boon to walkers, joggers and bicyclists but likely would reduce parking and slow car traffic, especially in the Eastlake neighborhood.”

Citizenship delays imperil immigrants’ votes
“ ‘Maybe if I pass the exam and become a citizen, I can vote,’ said Antonia Landeros, a 38-year-old Mexican immigrant who works for a Houston janitorial firm. ‘But I don’t know because I haven’t received a date for my interview.’

“Landeros, who married a U.S. citizen after coming to Houston 15 years ago, longs to vote — to voice her support for a presidential candidate who appreciates immigrants. She and others in the class say the November election will be crucial in changing immigration policy.”

Funding moves Phila. closer to soccer goal

“Pennsylvania officials will announce today that they have taken a huge step toward bringing a pro soccer team to the Philadelphia region – arranging an estimated $45 million in funding to help build a stadium and other projects on the Chester waterfront.

“The formal announcement is scheduled for 2 p.m. in Chester, at a news conference to be attended by Gov. Rendell and Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi. The two political leaders, a Democrat and a Republican, will join local and state politicians at the Wharf at Rivertown, a riverside office complex not far from where the stadium would be built.

“Word of the pending announcement triggered jubilation in local soccer circles.”

Presidential field thins as Florida alters race

“ ‘Florida reshapes the race completely,’ said U.S. Sen. Mel Martinez, whose last-minute endorsement of McCain helped him overtake Romney. ‘It was a bad loss in a state [Romney] had to win.’

“The Democratic race is also shifting rapidly, though John Edwards’ supporters said his decision to quit the race Wednesday had nothing to do with his third-place finish in Florida. Edwards did not endorse rivals Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama, leaving the two campaigns dueling for his donors.”

State to probe development of ‘green’ chemicals

“The proposals are an attempt to change the approach to environmental health from a chemical-by-chemical squabble to a wholesale shift in the way industry manufactures compounds used in products as varied as prescription drugs, plastic food packaging, pesticides, cosmetics and household cleaners.

“State officials today will unveil the initial ideas for spurring innovation that could lead to nontoxic substitutes for many of the thousands of chemicals on which industries rely. The strategy, if adopted, would be the first in the nation.”

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