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    New Leader for Olympic Construction

    Organizers of the 2008 Olympics have tightened supervision and drafted in a top construction official since the sacking of Beijing's vice mayor for corruption earlier this year, BOCOG says.

    Xu Bo joined BOCOG from the ministry of construction following the dismissal of Beijing vice mayor Liu Zhihua earlier this year, BOCOG construction spokesman Wu Jingjun said.

    "Now we have further enhanced auditing as well as assessments of the projects," Wu said when asked about Liu's sacking.

    Liu headed the construction team for the 2008 Olympics and
    anti-coprruption investigators have also questioned his former deputy, Jin Yan, Wu said.

    But Wu repeated BOCOG's earlier assertion that Liu's dismissal was an "individual case" that would not affect the ongoing construction of Olympic venues.

    "It's a personal problem, it has nothing to do with the Olympics," he said. "I don't think Liu Zhihua's individual case will have a major negative impact."

    Deputy construction chief Wang Gang said officials were confident that they would continue to ensure the quality and progress of the Olympic venues.

    "I think that the costs and investments are now under control, and there are no special difficulties for us," Wang said.

    Wu said 2006 was a "very successful year" in which "many technological problems" were solved at Olympic construction sites.

    "The engineers, technicians and workers put forward numerous innovative proposals to save land, energy, water and materials," Wu said.

    "What was done in 2006 laid a sound foundation for 2007 when all the Olympic projects will be completed."

    Final Migrant Villages to Go

    Officials plan to demolish the final 22 of Beijing's 171 "urban villages", which are home mainly to poor migrants, in a six-month clean-up before the 2008 Games.

    The 22 villages will be razed during a campaign to demolish 3.32 million square meters of "illegal constructions" by the end of June, the Beijing Daily said.

    The new campaign will also focus on cleaning up 60 areas of land close to Olympic venues and other key sites in the city, the newspaper said.

    Satellites to Aid Weather Service

    Two new satellites will help provide accurate weather forecasts during the 2008 Games, the China Meteorological Administrat
    Work completed earlier this month on the outside of the Beijing Watercube. (Bill Smith) 
    ion says.

    The Fengyun-2D satellite, scheduled to be launched on December 8, will be used in tandem with China's first geostationary orbital weather satellite. It will be joined by a third Fengyun satellite in the second half of 2007.

    The current Fengyun - which means wind and cloud - was launched into orbit in October 2004.

    Police Tighten Gun Controls

    Beijing city police say they have tightened controls over licensing, storage and usage of firearms, ammunition, explosives and radioactive material to enhance security during the 2008 Games.

    The city will no longer approve commercial shooting or hunting ranges, and sports bodies must reduce the number of guns and ranges used for training, said Beijing Municipal Public Security director Ma Zhenchuan.

    Museums that are unable to secure weapons properly must remove them from display, Ma said.

    Private ownership of guns is illegal in China, but some individuals but some individuals acquire them through military or other channels.

    Reported from Beijing by Bill Smith

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