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About The Asian reporter. (Portland, Or.) 1991-current | View Entire Issue (Feb. 1, 2016)
February 1, 2016
THE ASIAN REPORTER n Page 9
Chinese billionaire to donate money to restore mangroves
By Eric Staats
Naples Daily News
APLES, Fla. (AP) — Wenliang
Wang has never seen the leafless
dead mangroves that poke into
the sky over a flooded mud flat between
Goodland and Marco Island.
But the Chinese billionaire wants to
restore them anyway.
Rookery Bay National Estuarine
Research Reserve is counting on as much
as $5 million from Wang’s international
conglomerate Rilin Industrial Group to
restore the 225-acre black mangrove forest
along San Marco Road and then apply the
same fix to die-offs around the world.
Wang’s advisers, who recently visited
the site, say it’s just what he does: “He has
no motive other than the environment,”
said Ted Venners, chairman of China
Green, a Las Vegas-based company that
brought the Rookery Bay project to Wang.
For project manager Robin Lewis,
restoration is getting money that it has
been lacking for years.
“It was like a blessing from heaven to
have someone interested in our project,”
said Lewis, president of Coastal Resources
The die-off about a mile west of
Goodland has been decades in the making,
scientists say. The construction of San
Marco Road, also known as State Road 92,
in 1938 cut off tidal flow that feeds the
mangroves from Fruit Farm Creek.
Mangroves depend on that flow to survive
— Lewis calls it their heartbeat. When
Hurricane Andrew came through in 1992,
rains flooded the forest. By 1995, the
die-off was apparent.
“Water can get in but it can’t get out,”
Lewis said. “Left alone, this problem just
gets worse and worse and worse.”
Lewis’ solution is simple. He plans to
install new culverts under San Marco
Road and, where needed, dig barely
perceptible channels to help water get into
the forest. Instead of water standing for
months, drowning the mangroves, water
will flow in and out.
“It’s just what the forest should be
doing,” said Kevin Cunniff, a research
coordinator at Rookery Bay.
Frustrated by a lack of funding, Lewis
undertook a first phase of the restoration
with volunteers, donations, and a $50,000
grant from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife
Service. Lewis showed off the results, a
greening patch of formerly dead
mangroves, to Wang’s advisers.
“It just shows what Mother Nature can
do if given the opportunity,” Lewis said.
Still, there are doubts about the
restoration project from those who say the
only way to restore a dead mangrove forest
is to replant it with seedlings. That
method, which still is more common, also
fails more than it succeeds.
Lewis calls his approach Ecological
MYSTERIOUS MOTIVE? The site of the Fruit
Farm Creek Mangrove Restoration Project in the
Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve is
seen in Naples, Florida. International conglomerate
Rilin Industrial Group is funding up to $5 million to
complete the restoration project. (Dorothy Edwards/
Naples Daily News via AP)
Mangrove Restoration, or EMR, and it is
the new spin and the fact that the project
has all its permits and is ready to go that
got the attention of Wang’s advisers.
Wang has undertaken similar projects
before, raising similar questions about his
motives. He has spent millions to protect
one of the largest wetlands in China in
Dandong, across the Yalu River from
North Korea, and where Wang owns a
strategic port. He also is working to stop
deforestation of the Amazon in Brazil,
where Wang trades soybeans.
In 2013, the secretive Wang made
headlines when he pledged $2 million to
the Clinton Foundation, raising questions
about his motives and about the
foundation’s ties to foreign governments.
Last year, The New York Times reported
that Wang — Forbes lists his net worth at
$1.05 billion and ranks him 288th on
China’s richest list — was the money
behind a shell corporation that bought
three condos in the Time Warner building
in New York City for $25.6 million.
Rilin adviser Jack Shi’s phone rang as he
walked along the side of San Marco Road
looking at the dead mangroves and talking
over the project.
“That was Wang,” Shi said.
Ancient Japanese crafts updated in exhibit
By Katherine Roth
The Associated Press
EW YORK — Traditional Japanese crafts like tea
ceremony bowls, statuary, ornate lacquerware,
and precious dolls are given an edgy,
individualistic update in an exhibit currently on view at
the Museum of Arts and Design.
Twelve masters of these ancient crafts — or kogei —
take them in new directions, inspired by contemporary
design, Japanese manga, anime, and other modern art
“There is a technical ability inherent in kogei that has
the capacity to unleash intense, future-oriented visual
imagery,” curator Yuji Akimoto, director of Japan’s 21st
Century Museum of Contemporary Art, says in the
By Malcolm Ritter
AP Science Writer
Instructions: Fill in the grid so that the digits 1
through 9 appear one time each in every row, col-
umn, and 3x3 box.
Puzzle #64531 (Medium)
All solutions available at
Other artists take new approaches to the ancient crafts
of figurative sculpture or kutaniyaki (a style of glazed
pottery from the Edo period).
Two lacquer artists are also featured in the exhibit.
Shin’ya Yamamura balances fine lacquer techniques with
new forms using unusual materials, while Tatsuo
Kitamura and his studio use newly rediscovered lacquer
techniques and apply them to atypical forms, including
ornate wooden eggs and Jewish and Christian religious
The exhibit, with wall texts in Japanese and English,
features a brief biography of each artist and, in some
cases, videos showing them at work.
Many of the artists lead aesthetic double lives, pursuing
both traditional-style crafts and these more daring and
controversial contemporary works.
Shinkyo Nakamura situates his work in a Japanese
doll-making tradition that began in the 17th century. But
he takes the craft in a new direction with highly stylized
representations of Japanese courtiers in European
costume, exploring the boundaries of traditional craft and
“The strong sense of individualism found in these works
link them equally to art as to traditional craft,” said
Ronald T. Labaco, a curator at the Museum of Arts and
Design who coordinated the New York show with
Samantha De Tillo. “They extend the vitality of kogei into
the 21st century.”
The exhibit is accompanied by a catalog written by
Akimoto and published by the 21st Century Museum of
Contemporary Art. The book, Art Crafting Towards the
Future, is named for the original title of the exhibit.
Beyond chess: Computer beats human in ancient Chinese game
The show, “Japanese Kogei: Future Forward,” was first
shown at that museum in Kanazawa, Japan, and is open
in New York through February 7.
The ancient crafts’ “own special, original richness and
beauty ... give voice to the concerns of our time,” Akimoto
For instance, inspired in part by Japanese horror films,
Kutsuyo Aoki’s ceramics combine rococo elements with
spooky skeletal forms that “might perhaps be viewed as
prayers or exorcisms, with the power to dispel the
indefinable feelings of anxiety that proliferate in
contemporary society,” Akimoto says.
Yuki Hayama’s painstakingly precise works in ceramic
reflect a haunting blend of manga, dystopian vision, and
ancient myth. The work is so detailed it requires
ultra-high definition 8k technology — a screen image
allowing for a resolution of about 33 million pixels, 16
times higher than current HD broadcasts — to fully
Tea bowls in the show are boldly graphic, sometimes
shown upside down (Yuri Takemura), in bright colors
featuring contrasting drippy dots of color (Takuro
Kuwata), or made with an eye to transcending physical
and cultural boundaries by incorporating clays and
techniques from around the world, as in works by Toshio
Kohei Nakamura’s works in porcelain and iron
reference science fiction or apocalyptic scenarios. And
Kuwata’s enormous vessels feature chunky, glitzy glazes
that appear to be breaking apart and descending from his
vessels, with decorative elements resembling scraps of
EW YORK — A computer
program has beaten a
human champion at the
ancient Chinese board game Go,
marking a significant advance for
development of artificial intelligence.
The program had taught itself how
to win, and its developers say its
learning strategy may someday let
computers help solve real-world
problems like making medical
diagnoses and pursuing scientific
The program and its victory are
described in a paper by the journal
surpassed humans for other games,
including chess, checkers, and
backgammon. But among classic
games, Go has long been viewed as
the most challenging for artificial
intelligence to master.
Go, which originated in China more
than 2,500 years ago, involves two
players who take turns putting
markers on a checkerboard-like grid.
The object is to surround more area
on the board with the markers than
one’s opponent, as well as capturing
the opponent’s pieces by surrounding
While the rules are simple, playing
it well is not. It’s “probably the most
complex game ever devised by
humans,” Dennis Hassabis of Google
DeepMind in London, one of the study
authors, told reporters.
The new program, AlphaGo,
defeated the European champion in
all five games of a match in October,
the Nature paper reported.
In March, AlphaGo will face
legendary player Lee Sedol in Seoul,
South Korea, for a $1 million prize,
Martin Mueller, a computing
science professor at the University of
Alberta in Canada who has worked
on Go programs for 30 years, but
didn’t participate in AlphaGo, said
the new program “is really a big step
up from everything else we’ve seen. ...
It’s a very, very impressive piece of