China has fewer rich lawmakers but their fortunes have grown

Published: Friday, March 02, 2018 @ 6:52 AM
Updated: Friday, March 02, 2018 @ 6:51 AM

            FILE - In this Friday, Feb. 25, 2011, file photo, Li Shufu, chairman of China's Geely Holding Group, speaks after an interview before a Volvo press conference on their development strategy in China at a hotel in Beijing. Volvo Cars says it plans to invest $10-$11 billion worldwide over the next five years in an ambitious expansion following its acquisition by a Chinese owner. (AP Photo/Andy Wong, File)
FILE - In this Friday, Feb. 25, 2011, file photo, Li Shufu, chairman of China's Geely Holding Group, speaks after an interview before a Volvo press conference on their development strategy in China at a hotel in Beijing. Volvo Cars says it plans to invest $10-$11 billion worldwide over the next five years in an ambitious expansion following its acquisition by a Chinese owner. (AP Photo/Andy Wong, File)

Members of China's billionaire-studded ceremonial legislature are even richer than last year.

It's all the more remarkable considering the number of superrich lawmakers dropped by about a quarter, according to wealth compiler Hurun Report, China's version of the Forbes rich list.

Hurun's report released Friday found 152 super-wealthy delegates to the National People's Congress and its advisory body, which are set to meet next week in Beijing.

That's down from the 209 who attended last year's session of the rubber-stamp parliament.

The group's collective wealth, however, swelled to 4.1 trillion yuan ($650 billion), up by nearly a fifth from 3.5 trillion yuan the previous year.

Tycoons with fortunes from traditional businesses like mining, autos and real estate share space on Hurun's list with entrepreneurs who made their money from internet services, smartphones and glass for the devices, highlighting the evolving nature of China's economy, the world's second biggest.

The report also underlines fears about the political fortunes of China's elite under President Xi Jinping, who's carrying out a marathon corruption crackdown. The latest victims include a low-profile oil tycoon reportedly detained for questioning and the founder of Chinese insurer Anbang, Wu Xiaohui, whom authorities plan to prosecute for financial offenses.

Xi is set to begin a second-five year term as president at the parliament's meeting starting March 5. NPC delegates are expected to approve the Communist Party's plan to remove presidential term limits, giving Xi, who has taken control of an unusually wide range of political and economic tasks, even more power.

Hoogewerf said while the ranks of superrich lawmakers have thinned out, he hasn't seen anything to indicate Chinese entrepreneurs are "losing confidence in the business environment."

Delegates are chosen every five years, most recently this year. High turnover between last year's group and the new NPC attendees is one big reason for the ranking's changes, said Hoogewerf. He added that delegates don't have nearly the same power that members of congress or senators have in other legislatures.

Heading the list is Pony Ma Huateng, CEO of internet giant Tencent Holdings, operator of China's ubiquitous WeChat/Weixin chat app, with a net worth of $47 billion.

The second richest NPC member is Li Shufu, chairman of Geely, one of China's biggest independent automakers. It owns Sweden's Volvo, stakes in Malaysia's Proton and British sports car maker Lotus, and recently acquired nearly 10 percent of Germany's Daimler. His fortune is estimated at $17 billion.

The youngest member is Liu Ruopeng, founder of advanced materials maker Kuang-Chi, which also owns a New Zealand jetpack maker. Hurun says he's worth $2.6 billion.

Among the few women on the list, Zhou Qunfei is one of China's wealthiest. She made a $10 billion fortune through her company Lens Technology, which makes glass for smartphones and tablets.

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Dayton official: CareSource construction site fire ‘not dangerous’

Published: Thursday, March 22, 2018 @ 12:15 PM
Updated: Thursday, March 22, 2018 @ 5:07 PM

SKY7: Aerial footage of Caresource construction site fire

A downtown Dayton office tower being built to house to hundreds of CareSource workers caught fire Thursday, sending a large column of pitch-black smoke billowing, visible as far away as Troy and Beavercreek. 

Company officials said they do not expect the mid-day fire to delay next year's projected opening.

RELATED: Dayton Fire: CareSource fire involves roofing materials

Traffic in parts of downtown came to a standstill as officials blocked off streets for safety and as crowds formed to watch the spectacle. 

“Pieces of charred black material are floating off the building and landing on the street,” said Steve Brack, a GrubHub driver that was making lunchtime deliveries downtown.

Dayton fire officials said the fire appeared to involve foam roofing materials on the top of the six-story building, called CareSource Center City, located at East First and North St. Clair streets.

RELATED: Dayton Fire: CareSource fire involves roofing materials

The building will be first newly constructed office tower in downtown Dayton in about a decade.

According to Dayton fire officials, everyone was able to get out of the building safely, and the only people believed to have been inside at the time the fire started were construction workers.

The heavy black smoke rising over downtown may have looked dramatic, but the fire was not particularly large or hazardous, said Dayton fire Chief Jeffrey Payne.

“This wasn’t a dangerous fire because it was outside and well ventilated,” he said.

The fire started shortly after noon on Thursday and was basically extinguished within 90 minutes, officials said. The fire would have been knocked out much sooner if it had not been six stories up.

PHOTOS: CareSource construction site on fire in downtown Dayton

Caresource fire

Foam insulation stacked on top of the building apparently caught fire when work being done underneath it heated and ignited the materials, said Payne. 

The biggest danger was that the burning foam would melt or warp the metal decking and overheat the supports, potentially leading to a collapse, he said. 

But though some of the metal decking did warp, no parts of the structure collapsed, Payne said.  

Crews put out the fire using the 137-foot aerial ladder truck. Firefighters also cooled the decking and hit hot spots with hoses. 

Troy Erbes, vice president of the company constructing the new building, said all employees and construction workers are accounted for and there were no injuries.  

“We had an incident on the roof of the building,” said Erbes, VP of Danis. “Some roof insulation caught on fire.”

RELATED: Numerous roads in downtown Dayton closed due to building fire

A time-lapse of the fire in downtown Dayton

Erbes said they are working to determine what ignited the fire. Danis and fire staff plan to sit down to discuss best construction practices and go over how to avoid future issues, fire officials said. 

CareSource’s operations were not affected by the fire, and the organization does not believe the fire will delay the construction or opening of the new building, said spokeswoman Fran Robinson.  

CareSource said in a statement it still planned to open its new downtown Dayton campus in the spring of 2019.  

Construction started last year on the building, which is expected to house more than 600 employees.  

“Family and friends of those who work in our four CareSource buildings in downtown Dayton should know that the fire did not approach any of our other buildings,” Robinson said. 

MORE INFO: What is the building on fire in downtown Dayton? 

The new tower is being built at the site of the former Patterson Co-op High School on the 100 block of East First Street. 

CareSoure has become a major employer in Dayton, anchoring downtown with its employment base of nearly 2,000 workers.  

Along with its 230 N. Main St. headquarters, CareSource bought a building it had been leasing called Ballpark Village, across from Fifth Third Field.

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Tipp City: Middle school student made threats against 2 adults, building

Published: Thursday, March 22, 2018 @ 5:08 PM

The Tipp City Exempted Village Schools said Thursday that a middle school student faces misdemeanor charges including aggravated menacing and disorderly conduct after allegedly making written comments threatening intent to harm two adults within the building and to cause building destruction. 

Tipp City police were notified and are investigating the incident. There were no injuries. 

“The Tipp City Police Department does not deem the student to be an immediate threat to students, staff, or the community,” Superintendent Gretta Kumpf said in a written statement.

Kumpf said the district emphasized the police were confident there is no additional threat of harm from the incident. She said the student will remain out of school during the investigation. 

Police said the threats were found in a classroom, turned over to administrators and a suspect identified. The juvenile admitted to writing the threats, police stated.

Police said charges were filed after contact with Miami County prosecutors. The student is charged with two counts of aggravated menacing and one count of disorderly conduct.

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Girl, bored with sister’s soccer game, makes 65-million-year-old fossil find

Published: Thursday, March 22, 2018 @ 9:01 AM

Girl Discovers 65-Million-Year-Old Fossil During Sister's Soccer Game

An Oregon girl decided digging in the dirt was more her speed than watching her big sister’s JV soccer game. And that decision turned into a major discovery.

Naomi Vaughan found something that she called her “Moana rock” after it reminded her of the Heart of Te Fiti from the hit Disney film, last year, CNN reported.

The “Moana rock” turned out to be something that dated back at least 65 million years.

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It was actually an ancient fossil called an ammonite. Ammonites are extinct marine invertebrates, CNN reported.

Paleontologists told Oregon Live that they’re not normally found in Bend, but have been discovered more than 80 miles away.

>> Need something to lift your spirits? Read more uplifting news 

One paleontologist believes it came from an area further away, a town of Suplee, 112 miles east of Bend, Oregon Live reported. He believes that either there was a family connection between the two towns or that the fossil came from a school collection. 

And while well-preserved ammonite fossils can fetch big bucks -- up to thousands of dollars, Vaughan’s sample may be worth about $10 or $20.

Vaughan plans on keeping her find, Oregon Live reported.

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Family pleas for help finding teen missing since father’s shooting death

Published: Thursday, March 22, 2018 @ 4:29 PM

Ex-wife, 5 others indicted in 2017 killing of Beavercreek man

The family of a man killed in front of his three sons is asking for help to find one of those boys - who is now missing.

Federal prosecutors said Robert Caldwell was fatally shot as he left a counseling session in Riverside last August.

Investigators said Robert Caldwell was gunned down in this parking lot and all three of his sons were very close to him.

Their grandmother, Caldwell’s mom, took emergency custody that night and has custody now.

But she’s asking for help to find Jacob, who has been missing since the night of his father’s funeral.

RELATED: UPDATE: Ex-wife, 5 others indicted in 2017 killing of Beavercreek man

“It’s extremely frustrating and frightening, it’s frightening,” said Sally DeThomas, mother of Robert Caldwell.  “I’m very concerned about his safety, physical safety, I’m concerned about his emotional and mental health.”

DeThomas is now raising her son’s three children, but only two of them are currently living with her, as Jacob Caldwell has been missing for months.

Riverside police investigators identified his ex-wife’s boyfriend, Sterling Roberts, as a person of interest due to surveillance video in the area.

Roberts was arrested in South Carolina a few days after the killing.

Earlier this month, federal prosecutors announced murder charges against him and Robert Caldwell’s ex-wife, Tawnney Caldwell.

Four other people also face charges connected to the death. 

Jacob’s aunt, Cindy Caldwell, also says she just wants the 14-year-old home.

“As far as Jacob, we don’t think he’s even going to school, getting the healthcare he needs,” Cindy Caldwell said.

Sugarcreek Twp. police, where DeThomas lives, are investigating the missing persons case for Jacob.

Sugarcreek Twp. police said they’ve had very few solid leads and that if someone were harboring Jacob they could face charges, felony charges if they’ve taken him out of state.

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