Air pollution – it isn’t the cars. On July 20, half of private cars in Beijing went off the road in a sweeping attempt to improve air quality in advance of the Olympic games…But guess what? Beijing’s air pollution doesn’t appear to have changed. In fact, visibility outside my window the last few days has been worse than it was in the week before the car regulations came into place. — Huffington Post

Human rights watch. Two prominent international campaign groups on Monday accused Beijing of failing to meet promises it made on human rights and the environment when it won the bidding to host the 2008 Olympic Games. At a briefing in Hong Kong, Amnesty International said that the Chinese government’s preoccupation with security and stability in the run-up to the games had contributed to a deterioration, rather than an improvement, in human rights across the country. Chinh’s News

Dissidence at home. After farmer activist Yang Chunlin was detained in February over his open letter titled “We Want Human Rights, not the Olympics”, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Yang Jiechi, responded to international criticism with the following statement; “No one will get arrested because he said that human rights are more important than the Olympics. This is impossible.” This seemed to close the door on the official human rights discussions in China, at least until the middle of July when the government felt compelled to ensure that there has been “[n]o ‘dissident’ arrested for [the sake of] Games’ security,” stating that such accusations are untrue and groundless. Others seem to disagree.– Asia Portal

China edgy about security threats. Just over a week before the Beijing Olympics, a militant Islamic group’s claims of responsibility for bombings in China have fueled unease about security. The government has assured its people and the Olympic community that heavy security will ensure a secure games. But its clampdown has smothered a broad array of groups, many with grievances against the government but without a history of violence. — Huffington Post