BY THE numbers

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Continuing tree-planting tradition

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Surge in global temperature by 2100: UN

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Haze makes a late-season comeback

People exercising in the morning at Bedok Reservoir Park despite the haze on Oct 20.

The Pollutant Standards Index (PSI) went into the unhealthy range again yesterday afternoon.

The three-hour PSI began going up from 7am, but it remained in the moderate 50-100 range till 3pm, when it hit 104.

It kept climbing and peaked at 127 at 9pm before dropping off slightly.

At 11pm, the 24-hour PSI was 85-91 in the various regions of Singapore.

If this hits the unhealthy band above 100, it is recommended that strenuous outdoor exertion should be reduced.

There had been relatively clear skies for a few days, and last week the Meteorological Service had said that Singapore can expect more rain and less haze, with the dry season coming to an end. The increased rainfall would help put out the fires in Sumatra and Kalimantan in Indonesia that lead to the smoke haze being blown to Singapore.

But it had also warned that there may still be occasional slight haze on some days because of the accumulated of particulate matter in the air under light wind conditions.

Tags: haze, PSI and unhealthy

Let's move on: Shanmugam

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Sim Lim shop in coin case faces probe

Sim Lim shop gave woman $1,010 refund for iPhone purchase... in coins.

The Sim Lim Square shop that charged a woman a total of $3,000 for an iPhone "bundle" and, when ordered to refund $1,010, handed her the money in coins, is being investigated by the Consumers Association of Singapore (Case).

It is checking whether the shop, Mobile Air, has violated the Consumer Protection (Fair Trading) Act, Lianhe Zaobao reported.

The shop has been involved in several cases of improper marketing practices in the past, the report said.

Case received 14 complaints about the shop between July and September this year.

Mr Seah Seng Choon, executive director of Case, was quoted as saying he plans to ask the store to sign a Voluntary Compliance Agreement.

This would allow Case to take it to court if it is found to engage in unfair trading practices after signing the agreement. If the shop refuses to sign the document, Case will still be able to apply for an injunction to put a stop to unfair practices.

Shop owner can't explain why refund made in coins

The New Paper reported last week that a customer, who wished to be known only as Ms Zhou, had bought an iPhone from Mobile Air for $1,600 on Sept 24, but she was then forced to pay another $1,400 for an "insurance plan".

She went to the Small Claims Tribunal, which ordered the refund.

She called the police when the payment was made in coins. After reporters also arrived at the shop, the shop offered to pay part of the sum in notes.

Mr Jover Chew, owner of Mobile Air, spoke to TNP, but did not explain why the payment had been made in coins.

He repeatedly evaded the reporter's question, saying only that Ms Zhou could have rejected the coins if she did not want them.

Related report: Sim Lim shop owner can't explain why he paid customer's $1,010 refund in coins

Related report: Sim Lim Square shop refunds woman $1,010 in coins

Tags: Sim Lim, iPhone, refund and coins

Orders just came flooding in: Manager

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Woman searches in vain for 8 hours for package in warehouse

BACKLOG: Customers searching for their packages at Dragonlink warehouse.
BACKLOG: Customers searching for their packages at Dragonlink warehouse.
BACKLOG: Customers searching for their packages at Dragonlink warehouse.

For eight hours last Tuesday, she rummaged through hundreds of boxes in search of her package containing two sets of clothes costing $200 that she had ordered online from China two weeks earlier.

But the housewife, who wanted to be known only as Ms Lee, 45, had to leave empty-handed. When she returned the next day, it took the warehouse staff another six hours of searching to find her package.

Dragonlink, a local courier service that delivers parcels from overseas, said this was the first time it had been unable to cope with deliveries.

Since Oct 17, it has received more packages from China daily than it could deliver.

Read the full report in our print edition on Nov 3. Subscribe to The New Paper, now available in print and digital, at

Space Galactic's dead pilot identified as father-of-two Michael Alsbury

The man killed in the Virgin Galactic crash was identified on Saturday (Nov 1) as 39-year-old Michael Alsbury, a father of two.

The man killed in the crash was identified on Saturday as 39-year-old Michael Alsbury, a father of two and test pilot for Virgin Galactic’s project partner, Scaled Composites.

He was also the co-pilot for SpaceShipTwo’s first powered flight, The Independent reported.

The pilot, Peter Siebold, who is also the project's director of flight operations, is in hospital receiving treatment.

The Virgin CEO said he did not know Mr Alsbury, though a video shows the two men together as the Virgin Galactic team celebrated a successful test flight last year (2013).

Sir Richard paid tribute to the pilots and their families and said: "This team is a group of the bravest, brightest, most determined and most resilient people I have ever had the privilege of knowing.

"We are determined to honour the bravery of the pilots and teams here by learning from this tragedy."

 Mr Alsbury's widow, Michelle Saling, told the Mail Online that her life was "a living hell". 

Source: The Independent, Mail Online.

Related reports:

The final moments of Virgin Galactic SpaceShipTwo

Richard Branson says space is 'worth it' after pilot dies in Virgin Galactic crash

Kids in Portuguese town have compulsory Mandarin lessons. Here's why.

Professor Wang Xin Liang (Mario) checks a pupil writting on a board during a Chinese class at Parque School in Sao Joao da Madeira.

Five hundred years after the Portuguese became the first Europeans to establish sea trade with China, a town in northern Portugal is counting on its youth to secure a new foothold in the Asian giant.

The small industrial town of Sao Joao da Madeira, Portugal's shoe capital which specialises in luxury models, has now made Mandarin compulsory for its 8- and 9-year-olds.

The aim is to give their youth the competitive tool to help sell its footwear to China.

And the government, battling to put six years of debilitating crisis behind, is watching the town's experiment closely to see if it can be replicated throughout the country.

"Chinese is the key which will open the doors to the world’s biggest market," said Dilma Nantes, Sao Joao da Madeira’s city councillor on education.

China may be known as the factory of the world, and is indeed the biggest producer of footwear – making 10 billion pairs a year – but Portuguese shoe-makers are starting to step into the huge Asian market.

Affluent Chinese with a taste for luxury are increasingly fond of handmade Portuguese footwear, which are the world’s second most expensive after Italian shoes.

Professor Wang Xin Liang (Mario) helps pupils during a Chinese class at Parque School. PHOTO: AFP

As Portugal battles to encourage growth after a prolonged contraction that saw unemployment soar past 17 percent, the industry is key in helping the country export its way out of the slump.

Exports of footwear by Portuguese brands to China soared from 10,000 pairs in 2011 to 170,000 pairs in 2013, reaching sales of 5.4 million euros ($6.7 million).

If sales of footwear made in Portugal for foreign brands were included as well, 2013 revenues surpass 20 million euros – although still a fraction of the total shoe exports reaching 1.7 billion euros that year.

Sao Joao da Madeira, a city of only 20,000 inhabitants, wants to get ahead of that curve by training their children from young to speak Mandarin.

And the children appear to enjoy it. "I would like to see the Great Wall," nine-year-old Eduardo said.

His classmate Daniela decided: "Chinese is not particularly difficult."

"They are young and learning fast," their Chinese teacher Wang said, smiling.

Professor Wang Xin Liang (Mario) teaching Chinese class. PHOTO: AFP

The idea is for the children – who started the classes when they were eight – to carry on with the language studies until the end of secondary school.

In one workshop in the industrial town, the boss of the company, Mario Tavares, is convinced that the move would give the children a clear advantage over their peers in doing business with the Chinese one day.

Tavares's firm Tape began selling to China in 2013, starting with just 200 pairs, but he hopes that figure will soar five times to 1,000 in 2014.

Yet even that is just a drop in the ocean for the company, which exports a total of 160,000 pairs worldwide every year.

"China has the potential to become our main market one day," he said, adding that the young Mandarin speakers would later on be perfect for "sales jobs or managerial posts at factories".

Watch a video of these kids here. 

Source: AFP