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Posts Tagged ‘China’

Things to think about the next time you hear a Chinese-government apologist saying we shouldn’t “imperially impose our Western culture on China”:
  • Sage Advice – “Beijing wants the world to admire a “rising China” not only for its phenomenal economic accomplishments and growing military prowess but also for the quality of its civilisation. Yet, no matter how many Confucius Institutes the government establishes abroad to teach Chinese language and culture, the People’s Republic will not win international respect for its political and social progress until it ceases locking up political dissidents and treats those currently detained in a more humane manner.”
  • Chinese suppliers to Microsoft cited for labor violations – “Global companies often require audits of their Chinese suppliers, but many are flawed or compromised, experts say. In a report last week, the Pittsburgh-based National Labor Committee said the KYE factories often recruited 16- and 17-year-old “work study students” to toil 15 hours a day, six or seven days a week, for between 65 cents and $1 an hour. The report released photographs it said were smuggled out of the factory, showing dorm rooms cramped with 14 workers and employees slumped over their work stations, apparently in exhaustion. The report said many workers were forced to work 15-hour shifts producing computer mice and a Microsoft Web cam.”
  • Chinese accused of vast trade in organs – “China’s hidden policy of executing prisoners of the forbidden quasi-Buddhist group Falun Gong and harvesting their organs for worldwide sale has been expanded to include Tibetans, “house church” Christians and Muslim Uighurs, human rights activists said Monday. In a news conference on Capitol Hill, several speakers, including attorney David Matas of B’nai Brith Canada and Ethan Gutmann of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, said their investigations have unearthed a grisly trade in which an estimated 9,000 members of Falun Gong have been executed for their corneas, lungs, livers, kidneys and skins.”

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Keeping their causes and sacrifices in the news:

  • US and EU call for release of Chinese dissident – “The US and European Union today renewed calls for the immediate release of high profile dissident Liu Xiaobo, as a Chinese court upheld his 11-year-sentence. He was convicted for inciting the subversion of state power after co-authoring Charter 08, a call for greater political freedoms. Although the vaguely-worded offence carries a maximum term of up to 15 years, the writer’s sentence was one of the longest handed out in recent years on the charge. But a reduction would have been remarkable in such a high-profile political case and his wife said she had expected the decision. She added that Liu shouted out his innocence after hearing the court’s statement.”
  • China can’t ‘frighten the monkey’ – Ma Jian 馬建 – “When former Czech president Vaclav Havel knocked on the door of the Chinese embassy in Prague to demand the release of writer Liu Xiaobo (劉曉波), I had an eerie sense of deja vu. Thirty-three years ago, Havel helped initiate Charter 77, the landmark document that crystallized the ideals of all the dissidents — and many others — trapped behind the Iron Curtain. Havel, of course, was rewarded with a long jail sentence for his efforts. Now Liu has been sentenced to 11 years imprisonment for much the same crime — initiating Charter 08, perhaps the bravest attempt yet to chart a peaceful way to freedom for China. History is said to repeat itself, first as tragedy, second as farce, and it is indeed farcical for China’s government to try to suppress the yearning for freedom in the same brutal ways that Soviet-era communists once did. Jailing Liu on the absurd charge of trying to overthrow the Chinese state is typical of the type of thinking found in the closed societies of 20th century communism, where the state asserted its absolute right to judge every thought and every thinker.”
  • Lawyer says Hong Kong violated Chinese dissident’s rights – “The complex case of the dissident, Zhou Yongjun, who had been living in exile, has raised questions about whether Hong Kong authorities handed him over to the Chinese police in violation of the “one country, two systems” form of governing. Mr. Zhou was sentenced on Jan. 15 to nine years in prison by a court in the city of Shehong, his lawyers said last week. He was also fined $11,700. Mr. Zhou, 42, from Sichuan, was a prominent student protester in the days leading to the June 1989 killings around Tiananmen Square, when soldiers took the lives of hundreds and perhaps thousands of civilians. Mr. Zhou fled to the United States in 1993 and became one of many stateless exiles.” – a warning for Taiwan…
  • Chinese activist surfaces after a year in custody – “Since Mr. Gao disappeared into the custody of public security personnel in February 2009, the Chinese government has provided a series of contradictory and cryptic explanations of his whereabouts, despite entreaties by the United Nations, the White House and the European Union. During a previous detention in 2006, Mr. Gao said he was tortured by his captors. He said they repeatedly applied electric shocks to his body and warned him that he would be killed if he revealed how he was treated.”
  • Crusading Chinese lawyer gives up activism – “Gao acknowledged that his seeming turnabout is sure to dishearten his backers and asked for their understanding. ”Everybody will be disappointed. Some people were really involved, concerned, supportive, making appeals. So when they read my words they will definitely feel disappointed. To them, I apologize. I’m extremely sorry,” he said. His previous imprisonment and run-ins with police — including a time in 2007 when security forces gave him electric shocks to his genitals and placed cigarettes in his eyes — helped him survive the last 14 months.”
  • Chinese lawyer says he favors family over dissent – ““I don’t have the capacity to persevere,” said Mr. Gao, sitting straight-backed at a tea house near his apartment in northern Beijing. “On the one hand, it’s my past experiences. It’s also that these experiences greatly hurt my loved ones. This ultimate choice of mine, after a process of deep and careful thought, is to seek the goal of peace and calm.” His eyes brimmed with tears several times when he discussed his family, especially when he described seeing their shoes when he returned home for the first time on Tuesday. “I completely lost control of my emotions, because to me these are the three dearest people in the world, and now, we’re like a kite with a broken string,” he said.”
  • Ailing Chinese dissident is denied early release – “Joshua Rosenzweig, a researcher at the Dui Hua Foundation, an advocacy group, said it was worrisome that prison officials refused to provide any documentation of Mr. Hu’s medical condition. “The lack of transparency leaves the impression that they are trying to hide something,” he said. “They seem to be saying, ‘Don’t worry, we know what’s best for him.’ But how is his family supposed to take those assurances at face value, given what they’ve been through?” It is the second time Mr. Hu has been denied medical parole.”
  • Gao Zhisheng, Hu jia, Liu Xiaobo – “This latest disappearance has been devastating for Mr. Gao and his family, which had been under constant police surveillance for years. Press reports said that his teenage daughter had tried to commit suicide. His wife and children escaped to the United States last year. Chinese authorities also are doing their best to break two other men of conscience who are still being held. On Monday, family members said the government had rejected a request for a medical parole for Hu Jia, who has shown signs of possible liver cancer. He gained prominence fighting to protect AIDS patients, environmental causes and democratic rights before being charged two years ago with subverting state power.”

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  • Chinese workers find mass animal grave at Harbin zoo – “Mr. Eich and Ms. Pruitt illustrate the huge shake-up in photography during the last decade. Amateurs, happy to accept small checks for snapshots of children and sunsets, have increasing opportunities to make money on photos but are underpricing professional photographers and leaving them with limited career options. Professionals are also being hurt because magazines and newspapers are cutting pages or shutting altogether. “There are very few professional photographers who, right now, are not hurting,” said Holly Stuart Hughes, editor of the magazine Photo District News. That has left professional photographers with a bit of an identity crisis. Nine years ago, when Livia Corona was fresh out of art school, she got assignments from magazines like Travel and Leisure and Time. Then, she said, “three forces coincided.””
  • Tiger deaths raise alarms about Chinese zoos – “Among the charges under investigation at the Shenyang zoo are employee reports that bones of dead tigers were used to illegally manufacture a liquor believed to have therapeutic qualities. One employee said he had made vats of the liquor and served it to visiting government officials. The government action comes after years of troubles at the zoo, the Shenyang Forest Wild Animal Zoo. The zoo’s animal population has declined from a high of more than 1,000 to about half that now.”

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First an essay on the subject by one of the philosophers I respect the most, Peter SingerThe unknown promise of Internet freedom – “Nevertheless, the more important point is that Google is no longer lending its imprimatur to political censorship. Predictably, some accuse Google of seeking to impose its own values on a foreign culture. Nonsense. Google is entitled to choose how and with whom it does business. One could just as easily assert that during the period in which Google filtered its results in China, China was imposing its values on Google.

Google’s withdrawal is a decision in accordance with its own values. In my view, those values are more defensible than the values that lead to political censorship – and who knows how many Chinese would endorse the value of open access to information, too, if they had the chance?”

And here is the incident in China referenced in the essay – Chinese official’s threat to report ignites furor – “Infuriated that the reporter would even ask about the case — in which a waitress at a karaoke bar killed a government official in self-defense — he threatened to go to her boss, seized her audio recorder and marched off, according to reports of the encounter.

But instead of fizzling out, the March 7 episode has blossomed into a cause célèbre for free-press advocates in China. In a rare display of unity, journalists, lawyers, academics and activists posted a letter of protest on the Internet demanding the governor’s resignation.”

Here is the recent news summary of Google and China:

  • Google shuts China site in dispute over censorship – “Just over two months after threatening to leave China because of censorship and intrusions from hackers, Google on Monday closed its Internet search service there and began directing users in that country to its uncensored search engine in Hong Kong… Some Western analysts say Chinese regulators could retaliate against Google by blocking its Hong Kong or American search engines entirely, just as it blocks YouTube, Facebook and Twitter.”
  • Google or China: Who has more to lose? – Ai Weiwei – “Unlike most companies, which will do whatever it takes to make a profit or gain market share, Google has set a different example. It has shown that it values decency and integrity, even when that means standing up to the Chinese government. Google deserves tremendous respect for acting to protect users’ privacy and security and upholding the ideals of freedom of information and exchange. The Chinese government has always been arrogant in dealing with protests of any kind when it comes to censorship or judicial reform. Google’s departure now teaches millions of people how much is at stake.”
  • Google and China – NYT Op Ed – “Google’s decision to stop censoring its search service in China on Monday was a principled and brave move, a belated acknowledgment that Internet companies cannot enable a government’s censorship without becoming a de facto accomplice to repression. We hope that other American companies with operations in China, notably Microsoft and Yahoo, will consider emulating Google’s decision.”
  • What happens as Google uncensors search in China? – “Nancy Liu, 22, a journalism student at a Beijing university, said that her classmates were sending messages on the Chinese social-networking site Renren approving of Google’s decision to continue to provide services in China. ‘‘They wrote sentences about this like, ‘Google is really a man,’ ’’ she said. Such comments were often deleted within minutes of posting, according to Ms. Liu. The Chinese government has a history of shutting down Internet companies that allow politically dangerous content to be posted on their sites, effectively mandating industrywide self-censorship. Fanfou.com, a burgeoning Twitter clone, was yanked offline for insufficient censorship last year, as was Yeeyan.com, which translates foreign news articles.”
  • Google in Hong Kong makes little dent in China – “Comments on social networking sites that are supportive of Google “will be deleted in a couple of seconds,” said Oiwan Lam, 38, an independent journalist and researcher who is an expert on Chinese independent media. The China Digital Times reported that the Chinese State Council Information Office had ordered all news sites to “carefully manage the information in exchanges, comments and other interactive sessions” and “clean up text, images and sound and videos which support Google, dedicate flowers to Google, ask Google to stay, cheer for Google and others that have a different tune from government policy.””
  • Stance by China to limit Google is risk by Beijing – “But China also does not acknowledge to its own people that it censors the Internet to exclude a wide range of political and social topics that its leaders believe could lead to instability. It does not release information on the number of censors it employs or the technology it uses for the world’s most sophisticated Internet firewall. Its 350 million Internet users, many with fast broadband connections, are assured they have the same effectively limitless access to information and communications that the rest of the world enjoys. Google publicly challenged that stance in January, and reinforced its ideological opposition to China’s policies by finally pulling the plug on its mainland search engine after a failed round of talks with Chinese officials. That forced Chinese leaders to defend their control of the Web, which they did partly with an outburst of nationalism and vitriol.”
  • Google searches for a foreign policy – “For Internet companies, that choice has been sharpened by the fact that the World Wide Web is no longer just a force for freedom and diversity but also a tool for repression. Governments use it to spy on dissidents, human rights activists, and other troublesome elements. This change happened so fast that it left the foreign policy establishment gasping to catch up. It also exposed Washington’s deep ambivalence about information technology: while it champions the free flow of ideas in closed societies like Iran, it fears being a target for cyber-attacks by hostile governments and doesn’t want to export technology that could be diverted into military uses. Conflicted and confused, Foggy Bottom has little to offer Silicon Valley by way of support or even guidance.”
  • Google alerts Gmail users to suspicious logins – “Google has introduced a new security feature that alerts Gmail users whose e-mail accounts may have been broken into by a malicious intruder and helps them regain full control. In a blog post Wednesday, Google said that if it sees unusual account activity, like an uncharacteristic login from a computer with a suspicious I.P. address in Poland, it will show a warning in a red bar at the top of the page. Users will be able to click to get more information, or hit “Ignore” if they were, indeed, in Poland and nothing is wrong.”
  • Google official calls for action on Internet restrictions – “Ms. Jones described a chaotic scene for Internet companies in China. She said attacks from hackers were rampant, fraudulent payments were common, and spammers worked without fear of punishment from the government. Representative David Wu, Democrat of Oregon, said he thought more companies would follow the example of Go Daddy and Google and cut back operations in China. “Pretty soon you have a cascade going,” Mr. Wu said. “There is a difference between compliance and complicity.””
  • Google gets little US corporate support in Internet fight with China – “Google is using Internet freedom as a rallying cry in its confrontation with China. But the deafening silence from U.S. corporations underscores how increasingly isolated Google looks in its hope to rewrite the rules in the country with the biggest number of Internet users. Only GoDaddy.com, the Internet domain name and Web host company, immediately followed Google’s lead in protesting Chinese policies. It said that it would no longer register domain names in China because of new rules requiring it to collect customers’ photos. The action by GoDaddy, which has not been known in the past for taking a strong stance on Internet freedom, contrasts sharply with the modest responses from other companies.”
  • Dell and Go Daddy threaten to follow Google out of China
  • Google stops censoring in China, creates “China dashboard” – “They have also created a new dashboard page, where the whole world (or human rights activists) can see at a glance which Google services are being blocked by China at any given day. Gutsy indeed. I don’t know about you guys, but this move wins Google major points in my mind. I am all for free speech, and I think it’s rare for a company to put its money where its mouth is. Kudos.”
  • China to Google: Nyah nyah nyah! – “From groundlessly accusing the Chinese government of supporting hacker attack against it to pushing China abandon the legal regulations on the Internet by threatening to withdraw from the Chinese market, many facts have shown that Google is politicalizing itself.  Google, as the world’s largest search engine, should understand an internationally accepted rule as well as other enterprises, if not better, that no matter in which country you conduct business, you have to obey the laws and regulations there.” – sigh…
  • Google partners call for clarity on China plans – “A letter purportedly from 27 Google-authorised sales representative companies says the wait has gone on for too long, eroding their business, scaring off employees and putting big investments in jeopardy.”
  • Of course, like so much else concerning the Chinese government, the letter appears to be fake – Letter from Chinese ad sellers to Google appears fake – “A letter demanding that Google compensate advertising agents if it withdrew from China probably is not genuine, said a sales official at one of the companies named as a signatory. The letter, published Tuesday on the Web site of the state-run China Central Television and received by Google, is “likely a fake,” said Gao Min, who is in charge of Google ad sales at Beijing Zoom Interactive Media.”
  • Chinese media pans google and alleges US intelligence links – “Chinese media unleashed a torrent of criticism against Google on Saturday after reports it would leave the country, with Xinhua news agency alleging that the company was linked to US intelligence.”
  • Google details ‘new approach to China’
  • Interview: Sergey Brin on Google’s China move

Bonus: Aside from the usual (Tiananmen, Taiwan, Tibet), what else is being censored?  What Chinese censors don’t want you to know – “For the “poisonous cowpea incident” in Hainan, only use news articles from the Xinhua News Agency, People’s Daily and the official Hainan media. [Cowpeas from Hainan Province were found to be contaminated with a toxic pesticide, setting off criticism about why the cowpeas were sold to other provinces.]”

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This is a must-read article for anyone who wishes to understand what censorship is like in China – China’s censorship machine takes on the Internet.

Just a few excerpts:

““Carrot” — in Mandarin, huluobo — may seem innocuous enough. But it contains the same Chinese character as the surname of President Hu Jintao. And the computers, long programmed to intercept Chinese-language searches on the nation’s leaders, substitute an error message for the search result before it can sneak onto a mainland computer.”

“That’s not all. Not content merely to block dissonant views, the government increasingly employs agents to peddle its views online, in the guise of impartial bloggers and chat-room denizens. And increasingly, it is backing state-friendly clones of Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, all Western sites that have been blocked here for roughly a year. The government’s strategy, according to Mr. Bandurski and others, is not just to block unflattering messages, but to overwhelm them with its own positive spin and rebuttals.”

“With 384 million users in China at last count in January — and 181 million blogs — the Internet poses a true cat-herding predicament for censors. Foreign entities that operate outside China are the lesser of the censors’ problems. The reason is logistical: access to the Internet in China from the outside world is limited, and all traffic must pass through one of three large computer centers in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou.”

Also see this blog post on China’s freelance internet propagandists and the linked articles.

Lastly, check out this first-hand account of a NYT reporter finding out he’d been hacked – I was hacked in Beijing – “For weeks, friends and colleagues complained I had not answered their e-mail messages. I swore I had not received them.

My e-mail program began crashing almost daily. But only when all my contacts disappeared for the second time did suspicion push me to act.

I dug deep inside my Yahoo settings, and I shuddered. Incoming messages had been forwarding to an unfamiliar e-mail address, one presumably typed in by intruders who had gained access to my account.

I’d been hacked.”

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  • Melvin makes a home at Farm Sanctuary – “Every day as she passed a home in Redding, California, a compassionate resident saw a goat tied to a tire in a yard and decided to take a closer look. What she found was deplorable. Having perhaps purchased him as a living lawnmower, the goat’s “owner” showed an utter lack of concern for his wellbeing, failing to feed the famished animal or provide water to quench his thirst. The goat was also forced to endure the elements without shelter and, for weeks, he stood alone in the rain and cold. His hair was matted to his body, urine soaked his abdomen and hind legs, and he was severely infested with lice. But even as Melvin spiraled into neglect, his advocate refused to give up on him and made persistent phone calls to local law enforcement until he was rescued.”
  • Divide and diminish – Judson – “Or perhaps we should stop getting mired in details, and reflect on what we know: small islands are simpler, less ecologically interesting places than big islands. When we break up rainforests or steppes, or build roads through pristine landscapes, we start to fray the fabric of nature. We may not see the full impact today, tomorrow, or next year. But we know what the long-term effects will be. By fraying nature we make the planet a simpler, duller, diminished place.”
  • Even among animals – leaders, followers, and schmoozers – “Scientists studying animals from virtually every niche of the bestial kingdom have found evidence of distinctive personalities — bundled sets of behaviors, quirks, preferences and pet peeves that remain stable over time and across settings. They have found stylistic diversity in chimpanzees, monkeys, barnacle geese, farm minks, blue tits and great tits, bighorn sheep, dumpling squid, pumpkinseed sunfish, zebra finches, spotted hyenas, even spiders and water striders, to name but a few. They have identified hotheads and tiptoers, schmoozers and loners, divas, dullards and fearless explorers, and they have learned that animals, like us, often cling to the same personality for the bulk of their lives.”
  • Citizens Unite – Lessig – “This insight gives a clue to perhaps the most sensible constitutional response to the Supreme Court’s decision. Not, as an angry gaggle of activists have proposed, through an amendment aimed at denying what Citizens United never asserted—that corporations are persons. But instead, through an amendment that recognizes what no one has ever asserted—that whether or not they are persons, corporations are not United States citizens. And if there is something appropriate to keeping the conversation about who is to govern us to us citizens, there may well be something appropriate in protecting elections against undue influence by non-citizens.  A simple amendment would give Congress precisely this power:  Nothing in this Constitution shall be construed to restrict the power to limit, though not to ban, campaign expenditures of non-citizens of the United States during the last 60 days before an election.
  • Pecking my battles – “The result is a pet rooster high-stepping and variously barking around a suburban yard with entitled impunity. Why beat around the nest? Buddy thinks he owns the place.  I thought — hoped, really — that the neighbors would complain to authorities. Not quite. They deliver corn on the cob. One young boy stops by every afternoon with chunks of cheese.”
  • Aspiring Taiwanese singer dubbed the new Susan Boyle – “Lin Yu-chun’s (林育群) pitch-perfect rendition of Whitney Houston’s hit I Will Always Love You on Taiwan’s pop idol competition One Million Star (超級星光大道) has gone viral online with almost half a million hits on YouTube and international media attention.” – video on YouTube
  • Court rescinds fine, slams censorship – “Lawmakers across party lines yesterday expressed support for the Taipei District Court’s rejection of a fine given to a Falun Gong activist by Taipei police for distributing flyers in front of Taipei 101. To break through China’s constant information censorship on the Falun Gong movement, Falun Gong supporters in Taiwan often wave placards and distribute flyers to Chinese tourists in front of the Taipei 101 building. Interior designer Hsu ­Po-kun (許柏坤), however, was fined NT$300 by Wei Kuo-hsiung (魏國雄), a police officer in Taipei’s Xinyi District, on Dec. 4 last year for “hindering traffic” at the building. “I wave signs peacefully and I don’t stalk or provoke [Chinese tourists]. Why was I fined? Is Taiwan becoming the same as China, which oppresses Falun Gong?” asked Hsu, who appealed his case to the Taipei District Court.”
  • Steve Wozniak, Steve Jobs, and the long road to the iPad – Wu – “Apple is a schizophrenic company, a self-professed revolutionary that is closely allied with establishment forces like the entertainment conglomerates and the telecommunications industry. To understand this contradiction we need to look back to Apple’s origins. Let’s go back to a day in 1971 when we find a bearded young college student in thick eyeglasses named Steve Wozniak hanging out at the home of Steve Jobs, then in high school. The two young men, electronics buffs, were fiddling with a crude device they’d been working on for more than a year. That day was their eureka moment: Apple’s founders had managed to hack AT&T’s long-distance network. Their invention was a “blue box” that made long-distance phone calls for free. The two men, in other words, got started by defrauding the firm that is now perhaps Apple’s most important business partner.”
  • Researchers trace data theft to intruders in China – “Turning the tables on a China-based computer espionage gang, Canadian and United States computer security researchers have monitored a spying operation for the past eight months, observing while the intruders pilfered classified and restricted documents from the highest levels of the Indian Defense Ministry.”
  • Google: A warning for Taiwan and Ma’s ECFA – “An article in the April 5th issue of Business Week targets China as a manipulator and a country where countries are starting to realize the lack of business potential there. It was a refreshing read in that until recently (with the Google vs China fiasco), the way to make money was to head east to China. I happened to pick up the paper magazine of this issue, but you can also read it here online. All of the issues raised in this piece point to the same problems that the U.S. has been facing in regards to China. China has consistently struck deals with countries and organizations, only to renege on them.”
  • Happiness Button – Adams – “Suppose humans were born with magical buttons on their foreheads. When someone else pushes your button, it makes you very happy. But like tickling, it only works when someone else presses it. Imagine it’s easy to use. You just reach over, press it once, and the other person becomes wildly happy for a few minutes. What would happen in such a world?”
  • Jailed Chinese dissident Hu  Jia is seriously ill, his wife says – “Hu Jia, an internationally known human-rights activist who has been imprisoned for more than two years on charges of subverting state power, is seriously ill with a liver disease that may be cancer, his wife said Thursday. She said that she had asked the authorities to grant him parole but that she and Mr. Hu’s lawyer had received strong indications from prison officials that the request was unlikely to be granted.”
  • The declination: An advance pardon for torture – “The proposed advance declination in the Abu Zubaydah case is also disturbing. Had it been signed, it would have been a virtual license to torture, a “get out of jail free” card. According to the OPR report, the DoJ criminal division refused to sign any advance declinations on policy grounds, but the very fact the CIA asked for one is significant. Notably, the proposed advance declination was discussed in early 2002, months before the infamous White House “torture memos” were drafted. The timing seriously undercuts Bush administration accounts of the origins of the CIA’s interrogation program (for instance, this account). For years, Bush officials have suggested (see here and here) that interrogation techniques were utilized only after a thorough and objective legal review by White House lawyers, culminating in the two torture memos in August 2002. It now appears that the infamous memos—which even Bush’s own OLC later dismissed as twisted and erroneous—were drafted only after the criminal division refused to provide advance declinations to the CIA.”
  • Taiwan must avoid becoming a new Tibet – “Why is it that the Dalai Lama, the spiritual and political leader of the Tibetan people, does not live in Tibet? Many people are aware that the Dalai Lama lives in exile and that he has done so for 51 years, but surprisingly few in Taiwan are familiar with the story of why he was forced to flee 51 years ago. Recently, a Chinese-­language version of the Dalai Lama’s autobiography My Land and My People was published in Taiwan and it is an absolute must for anyone curious about that time in history. More importantly, the book also provides many lessons for Taiwan today as it faces the formidable challenge of rapprochement with China. What happened in Tibet half a century ago? Why did the country not enjoy peace after signing a “peace agreement” with the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), a document that is better known as the Seventeen-Point Agreement, in 1951?”
  • Hardy tattoo-gate finally explained by White – man, now Chinese censorship is even affecting MMA?!
  • China bars scholar, Cui Weiping, from US trip – “Communicating through her superiors at the film academy, she said “they” — an unseen entity she described as “the authorities” — had repeatedly rebuked her for perceived sins: posting social criticism on her blog; sponsoring a seminar on the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests; and sending out Twitter messages about the jailing of Liu Xiaobo, a writer who was convicted of subversion last year for demanding increased liberties. “These things made them unhappy,” she said, “and now they are going to make me unhappy.” Chinese officials have long used travel restrictions to punish those who have strayed across the murky line of public nonconformity. This month, Liao Yiwu, a writer and a tireless critic of the governing Communist Party, was removed from a plane as he was on his way to a literary festival in Germany.”
  • Tibetans convicted for sending information abroad – “Since the unrest in Tibet in March 2008, as many as 50 Tibetans have been arrested for sending reports, photos or videos abroad, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said in a report on Monday. In some cases, those arrests resulted in long jail sentences, it said.”
  • Too-busy bees – “The paradox is that our demand for these foods endangers the wild bees that help make their cultivation possible. The expansion of farmland destroys wild bees’ nesting sites and also wipes out the wildflowers that the bees depend on when food crops aren’t in blossom. Researchers in Britain and the Netherlands have found that the diversity of wild bee species in most regions in those countries has declined since 1980. This decrease was mostly due to the loss of bees that require very particular habitats — bees that couldn’t adapt after losing their homes and food sources to cultivation. Similarly, between 1940 and 1960, as land increasingly came under cultivation in the American Midwest, several bumblebee species disappeared from the area. It is difficult to count and keep track of wild bee populations globally, but their numbers are probably declining overall as a result of such human activity.”
  • For the battle-scarred, comfort at leash’s end – “Just weeks after Chris Goehner, 25, an Iraq war veteran, got a dog, he was able to cut in half the dose of anxiety and sleep medications he took for post-traumatic stress disorder. The night terrors and suicidal thoughts that kept him awake for days on end ceased. Aaron Ellis, 29, another Iraq veteran with the stress disorder, scrapped his medications entirely soon after getting a dog — and set foot in a grocery store for the first time in three years.”
  • Censored in Singapore – “Last month, on the same day The New York Times praised Google for standing up to censorship in China, a sister newspaper, The International Herald Tribune, apologized to Singapore’s rulers and agreed to pay damages because it broke a 1994 legal agreement and referred to them in a way they did not like.”
  • University of Fox – “One last thing, 24% of Republicans believe Obama “may be the anti-Christ.” The only answer to this mass delusional ignorance is that these people are getting all their information from Fox News and most especially Professor Glenn Beck.”

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Full list of my bookmarks on Delicious here.  Also, I have recent finished uploading a new set of photos on Flickr: 2009-08 Amherst.

Bookmark highlights:

  • On Kristof’s column suggesting topics for the new year, I suggested looking at corruption in our government institutions, as inspired by Professor Lawrence Lessig. Some recent articles on this issue:
    • “A dose of realism?”  How about this for “realism”: We need leadership – Lessig – “This Court has become an angry old dog which has now bitten four times in a row. (The government is 0 for 4 in its defense of campaign finance regulations). Sure, maybe it won’t bite your kid. Maybe it will be the sweet moderate dog it was years ago. But you don’t need to be the parent of a young child to believe it reckless to let your kid play with this dog. And I don’t think you have to be a complete cynic about the Supreme Court to read their decisions to signal that this revolution is not yet over.”
    • How campaign finance ruling changes politics – NPR interview with Lessig
  • On animals:
    • An otter’s work is never done – too cute
    • Free Tilly – and all circus animals – Singer – “We will never know exactly what was going on in Tilly’s mind, but we do know that he has been in captivity since he was about two years old – he was captured off the coast of Iceland in 1983. Orcas are social mammals, and he would have been living with his mother and other relatives in a pod. It is reasonable to suppose that the sudden separation was traumatic for Tilly.Moreover, the degree of confinement in an aquarium is extreme, for no tank, no matter how large, can come close to meeting the needs of animals who spend their lives in social groups swimming long distances in the ocean. Joyce Tischler, of the Animal Legal Defense Fund, described keeping a six-ton orca in Sea World’s tanks as akin to keeping a human in a bathtub for his entire life. David Phillips, director of the International Marine Mammal Project for the Earth Island Institute, which led the efforts to rehabilitate the orca Keiko – made famous by the movie Free Willy – said “Orcas deserve a better fate than living in cramped pools.””
    • Chinese zoo blamed for death of 11 tigers – “The deaths underscore conflicting signals in China’s attempts to save its dwindling number of tigers. While extensive conservation efforts are under way, animal protection groups say zoos and wildlife parks may be deliberately breeding more animals than they can afford, hoping to sell off the carcasses onto a black market where tiger parts fetch a high price for use in traditional medicines and liquor.“We’ve seen cases where tiger farms have steeped the bones from their deceased tigers in liquor to sell to visitors,” said Hua Ning, project director for the China branch of the International Fund for Animal Welfare.Other animal rights groups like the Washington-based National Fish and Wildlife Foundation have documented stockpiled pelts and the sale of tiger wine at the Xiongsen Bear and Tiger Mountain village in south China’s Guangxi region.”
    • Tuna takes center stage at CITES meet – “Atlantic bluefin tuna is in crisis and meets the criteria for a total ban on international trade, the head of the UN wildlife trade organization said on Saturday in opening a 13-day meeting.The 175-nation Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), convening for the first time in the Middle East, is the only UN body with the power to outlaw commerce in endangered wild animals and plants.Besides the sharply disputed proposal on bluefin, the convention was to debate the status of African elephants, polar bears and tigers.”
    • Farm Sanctuary – Taking in an abandoned calf – at the start / two years later
    • Farm Sanctuary – USDA’s latest slaughterhouse violations heighten urgency for federal ban on all sick animals entering food supply – “Yesterday members of Congress heard testimony from Dean Wyatt, a supervisory veterinarian at the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service, about instances in which he and other inspectors were overruled when citing slaughterhouses for violations such as shocking and butchering days-old calves that were too weak or sick to stand and butchering conscious pigs, despite rules that they first be stunned and unconscious. In addition to being illegal, inhumane and unsafe, this behavior falls well outside the bounds of what most Americans consider acceptable conduct, and the USDA’s repeated decision to turn a blind eye toward it is cause for national outrage and concern.”
  • Taiwan’s greatest ascent – “During the Japanese occupation (1895-1945), much of the area around Yushan was stripped of timber to supply the growth of the Japanese empire. When survey teams discovered that Yushan was 176 meters higher than the revered Mount Fuji, the mountain’s reputation skyrocketed. The Japanese renamed it Niitakayama, or New High Mountain, and it became a popular hiking destination among Japanese and Taiwanese. The first trail to the peak opened in 1919, and by the 1930s, middle-school girls in school uniforms were climbing as a coming-of-age graduation trip, according to a plaque at the start of the trail.”
  • On Tibet:
    • Tibetans recount Himalayn escapes – ““We’ve all heard stories of Tibetans being shot by Chinese border patrols while trying to escape, so we had to sleep during the day and walk at night, which made it very hard to see clearly, especially when it was snowing,” Jamga said. “We could not see where we were going.”  The trip was a combination of hunger, extreme weather and the threat of being shot.  “One of the members in the group died since we had nothing to eat for a few days,” he said.”
    • Parade honors memory of Tibetans 1959 uprising – “More than 1,000 people — Taiwanese, Tibetans, Chinese, Americans, Europeans and Latin Americans — took to the streets of Taipei yesterday to commemorate the 51st anniversary of the 1959 Tibetan uprising. Holding banners and signs with slogans like “self-determination for Tibet,” “stop cultural genocide in Tibet” and “Stop killing in Tibet,” the crowd departed from Zhongxiao Fuxing MRT station in Taipei and marched to Taipei 101.”
  • On China:
    • China increases security in Tibet to prevent protests – “In Nepal, where the government has been forging closer ties with China, the police on Wednesday arrested 30 protesters who had been demonstrating in Katmandu, the capital, in support of the Tibetan cause. More than 12,000 Tibetans live in Nepal, many of them refugees who have fled Chinese rule.” – a clear example of China using its influence to restrict human rights even in other countries.
    • China jails Tibetan filmmaker for six years – “A Chinese court has jailed a Tibetan filmmaker for six years after he made a documentary in which ordinary Tibetans praised the Dalai Lama and complained about how their culture had been trampled upon, campaigners said.The film, Leaving Fear Behind, features a series of interviews with Tibetans who talk about how they still love their exiled spiritual leader and think the Beijing Olympics did little to improve their lives.”
    • China shows signs of neo-fascism – “One of the most peremptory signs of fascism is the state’s negation of individualism and the idea that citizens draw their identity and raison d’etre from the state. Evidence of this emerged earlier this week when Chinese Vice Sports Minister Yu ­Zaiqing (于再清) chided 18-year-old Olympic champion short track speedskater Zhou Yang (周洋) for thanking her parents — but not her country — after winning gold at the Vancouver Winter Games last month.  “It’s OK to thank your parents, but first you should thank the motherland. You should put the motherland first, not only thank your parents,” Yu told the Southern Metropolis Daily.”
    • Chinese editorials assail a government system – “But a few hours later, the editorials had largely vanished from the Internet, presumably erased by a government that is wary of abandoning a 50-year-old system that many critics say has fed the surging gap between China’s urban and rural population.”
    • Not surprisingly, this happened shortly afterward – Editor is fired after criticizing Chinese registration system – “On March 1, just days before China’s annual legislative sessions, Mr. Zhang’s newspaper and a dozen other Chinese publications published his editorial, asserting that the registration system unfairly restricts the right of Chinese citizens to seek a better life outside their hometowns. “We believe in people born to be free and people possessing the right to migrate freely,” the editorial proclaimed.  The editorial vanished from the Internet within hours, the victim of China’s censors, but not before it was picked up by foreign news outlets.”

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