As I have compared and contrasted before, the US can be particularly vicious and relentless, when it comes to hunting its “fugitives”, such as Bobby Fischer, etc.. And it really doesn’t matter how long Bobby Fischer went on the run, the US government doesn’t have much of a history of forgiving (unless you are an elite campaign contributor, which often will get your a presidential pardon).
And in this respect, I doubt very much that any Western nations are willing or capable of giving refuge to a man like Snowden.
UK has even gone to the length to ordering Air Lines to NOT fly Snowden to UK. (Interesting, what if Snowden lands on the Falkland Island?)
But who can give refuge to “fugitives” from the West??
Many are poo-pooing the idea of Hong Kong giving Snowden refuge, saying that HK is not really independent. True enough. But deep down right now, there is a special kind of irony in HK, where many “Democracy” devotees are hoping and wishing that China will give mercy where the West would not.
Earlier, I suggest that NSA put the effectiveness of the PRISM program to the test, by performing something easier, like fixing the “No Fly List”, long plagued by inaccuracies.
As it turns out, I spoke too soon. I thought about it some more, and I realized that an obvious RESULT of the PRISM program would be a “No Fly List.”
As it turns out, the PRISM program was actually partly responsible for the creation and generation of the “No Fly List”, as recently confirmed by an Ex-NSA, Bill Binney, who claimed that he was the creator of PRISM 1.0.
Not just that, PRISM is also linked to the creation of the “Drone Kill List” (which at least gets vetted by humans).
Is this linked to the President’s “kill list?”
Yes. And the no fly list. Senator Kerry from MA was accidentally placed on the list and it took him two years to get off of it. Can you imagine what a regular person would have to go through? And don’t forget, drones are not precision weaponry. They have a large kill radius. A lot of people die who aren’t targeted.
I saw a funny clip of comedian Lewis Black on the Daily Show the other day. When discussing Microsoft’s new Kinect system that can interpret user expressions and even skin changes, Lewis raised a middle finger, and told Microsoft to “F* off”. Then, when a follow up clip showed that some guy built a robot that determine when a person needed beer refill, and pour beer for that person, based on Kinect system’s computer vision, Lewis sarcastically but humbly apologized to Microsoft, and said, any amount of privacy is worth sacrificing, if you can get a robot to pour me a beer.
Then, I thought today, hey, why couldn’t NSA use their cyber-snooping for something actually useful?
Corruption thrives in an atmosphere of low trust. When people trust their fellow citizens, they are more likely to behave honestly toward them.
Corruption is high when generalized trust is low and particularized trust is strong, as Gambetta argues for the Italian Mafia. Particularized trust makes it easier for people to cheat people who are different from themselves.
This weekend, I went to see “Free China: The Courage to Believe“. This hourlong movie by Michael Perlman, who previously directed “Tibet: Beyond Fear”, boasts a few awards from some small indie, human rights, and “awareness” festivals. Like the similarly propagandistic but much less affordable Shen Yun dance performance, Falun Gong foot soldiers had plastered posters and postcards for the film in Chinese restaurants, on storefront windows, and on public information boards. Yet despite the heavy-handed advertising, it’s not often that a movie covering the broad subject of China comes to English-speaking audiences. Could this film be something other than a rehashed collection of dehumanizing stereotypes about the Chinese government? I set out to find out. Read more…
As reports and interviews are rolling in just the last few days, NSA insider Edward Snowden has revealed and confirmed some details of the US surveillance and cyber-espionage machinery. A picture is emerging from the pieces, but until we see the rest of the 37 pages of the NSA powerpoint document, it will be hard for us to assess the nature of the US intelligence service.
But still, I like to offer a few speculations based upon what we currently heard.
Perhaps we are getting to the real juicy bit of Edward Snowden’s knowledge, perhaps he’s dangling some bait and posturing, but he has given new details about something that many already suspected is true: US conducts massive amounts of cyber-espionage in the world.
NSA alone, says Snowden, conducts 61,000 ops globally currently, and has been hacking into China (including HK) for years. For what purpose, who knows, there aren’t that many terrorist groups to go after. That can only mean that US is conducting cyber-espionage on pretty much every nation on Earth, with China on top of the list.
You’ve ever noticed how many American news personalities and pundits always talk about personality when they are comparing Xi Jinping with his predecessor Hu Jintao? Hu is described as lacking in this while Xi is often described as having more of it. See this latest Charlie Rose interview with Richard McGregor on the latest meeting between Xi and Obama and notice McGregor’s comments about Xi and Hu. His comments are really common in the media when addressing Xi (also see here and here for some more examples). Xi’s physical appearance also seems to get a lot of attention. Whether Xi has more “personality” than Hu is true or not is not my concern. What is my concern is the focus on such a nebulous thing as personality. Why is it so important to Americans? Many of our presidents had been elected out of personality. The last two, Bush and Obama, being good examples. Many politicians try to drum up or manufacture their personal attributes and try to create images that appeal to Americans. Americans are deeply concerned with character and judge others by it. Unfortunately people do this all over the world including China (such as the cult of Mao) but it seems especially a matter of emphasis in the USA and the west.
“And now for something completely different….” So started many of Flying Circus’ funniest moments.
In a way, that was the simple slogan of yearning in all of us for “something completely different” in the world we live in. Something we could see, experience, or do.
I thought of that phrase recently, when I read about Edward Snowden, the NSA surveillance program leaker/defector/informant/traitor/hero/villain/whatever. Yes, there are many words to describe Mr. Snowden now in the last few days. I try to come up with a truly accurate term for him, and the only thing I could think of is that Snowden is just “Something completely different,” because he has done the “something completely different.”
In routine criminal cases, unlike this one, Hong Kong had shown a willingness in recent years to extradite people to face charges in the United States, he said.
In the video, Snowden said that “Hong Kong has a strong tradition of free speech.”
Hong Kong returned from British to Chinese rule in 1997, but still enjoys some autonomy in business and governmental functions.
However, under Hong Kong’s Fugitives Offenders Ordinance, Beijing can issue an “instruction” to the city’s leader to take or not take action on extraditions where the interests of China “in matters of defense or foreign affairs would be significantly affected.”
Now that the U.S. President Obama has publicly acknowledged the existence of PRISM, it is interesting to see executives from America’s Internet giants such as Google’s Larry Page saying he has no knowledge of it. It is mind-boggling that he could say that while in 2012 alone, 1856 electronic surveillance and physical searches were approved with NONE denied by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.
As I have written in the past, it is Google’s business interest to align with the current U.S. strategy on “Internet freedom.” The idea there is simple: make sure every citizen in every county have unfettered access to Google, Facebook, Twitter, and other U.S.-based Internet services. It’s great for business. It’s also great for NSA to freely tap into foreign national’s private emails and everything else.
Perhaps all those 1856 instances in 2012 were of U.S. national security interest, but for each not, it is tantamount to the U.S. government hacking into private stuff of foreign nationals – with Google, Facebook, etc assisting. With knowledge about Prism, governments around the planet will likely be discouraging their citizens from using foreign Internet services.
So, here again, for some who espouse a “free” Internet, the intent is not truly free. The Chinese government by blocking some of these services has proven once again they are prescient.
The culturists, by which term I mean not those who esteem culture (as what intelligent man does not ) but those its exclusive advocates who recommend it as the panacea for all the ills of humanity, for its effects in cultivating the whole man.
- J. C. Shairp
What Shairp eluded to was the “Culturist” who, on the positive side saw “culture” as a magic cure for every problem. But at the same, by implication, the “culturist” blamed every problem on the lack of certain types of “culture” (the good kind), or even held prejudice against certain other “cultures”.
The Chinese blogsphere is rife with indignation on how Michelle Obama pulled a Political Snub On Peng Liyuan. Apparently, Michelle decided to attend her daughter’s 12th birthday party in Washington instead of be in California to host Liyuan for the pivotal bilateral meeting between presidents’ Obama and Xi.
I’ve noticed a trend among some commentators and bloggers at HH. As you know, some of my past posts have been at odds some of your views regarding things such as some modern characteristics of Chinese people. While I believe it’s often quite uncivilized and harmful (and I think you’d be surprised at how many Chinese in China will affirm what I have said because it is so obvious to anyone who has been here for a long time), some comments suggested that “outsiders” such as myself can’t judge them because different cultural values are incommensurable and judgments using one set of values can’t be applied to judge another set of values.
It turns out, Western critics of Chinese “Rote Memorization” methods may have been proven wrong by Western educators. Not surprising, critics were far too quick to jump to conclusions of what’s bad in education, while without really understanding the education process in depth.
Many recent year researches from educators have shown that “repeated reading” of learning material increases comprehension, (not just memorization).
Without admitting or comparing similarities of the “repeated reading” methods to traditional Chinese education methods, the education researchers shown benefits of such methods, which the ancient Chinese educators made popular (sometime around the Han Dynasty).
A friend of mine who lives in Shanghai wrote a quick WeChat update today:
which roughly translates to:
“Today is June 4th. Let’s pay homage to those young Chinese who perished in the cause of freedom and democracy.”
(For an in-depth article on June 4th, read “Let’s Talk About Tiananmen Square, 1989” and in Chinese, “且谈1989年的天安门事件.”)
Many of our readers’ reaction might be: “oh no, another idealist who is sold on the ‘freedom’ and ‘democracy’ religion!” Not so! In fact, there are many in China who use these two terms as a way to solidify grievances they have with Chinese society. They mainly see China as more backwards compared to richer countries like the United States. When asked what China is more backwards on? Many a response come as, “we have less freedom and democracy.” Read more…
However, IMPACT is relative, especially relative to history itself. As I argued, the Scientific Revolution in the West may have come to halt, whereas it is the OTHER parts of the World that is continuing down the Scientific Revolution path.
Particularly China, is carrying on the rationalist tradition of the Scientific Revolution to continue to change traditional institutions of human conditions, particularly in Politics.
North Korea is the most vilified nation in the world. But in truth, it should be considered the shining city on top of a hill as far as human spirit is concerned. HOW???
You wouldn’t think that by what you typically read in the international news (dominated by Western media). Oh, the people in North Korea are so wretched. They eat dirt, have no freedom, live in a police state (I’ve argued it is the U.S. that is the reigning police state), and are constantly bombarded with suffocating, stale state propaganda. Poor North Koreans. Look to the South – see how free, how happy, how prosperous they are! Read more…
After getting their communist hands caught in the cookie jar with cyber espionage and covert theft of our technology and IP, the sneaky Communist Chinese are shifting tactics and resorting to overt acquisition of our safe, efficient pig husbandry and processing technologies to save their crumbling communist pork industry rife with disease, contamination, poison, censorship, lack of freedom.
They have to be stopped. Write to your congressman, boycott Communist-China-made products and turncoats who sell out to the communists. Burn all your possessions contaminated with Communist-China-made parts, like you and your neighbor’s cars (especially if they are ChiComs.) The evil Communist Chinese even force-feed Tibetan babies rotten pork (Tibetans abstain from pork as muslins) while wrapping them in flea blankets infested with smallpox.
Communist China is evil, we are great, USA, USA, USA…
Freedom loving, patriotic but not nationalistic, America
Recently, Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto, a prominent Japanese politician, raised a storm in Asia when he pronounced that the “comfort women” Japan enslaved during WWII as “necessary.” According to this BBC report, Hashimoto said:
In the circumstances in which bullets are flying like rain and wind, the soldiers are running around at the risk of losing their lives…. If you want them to have a rest in such a situation, a comfort women system is necessary. Anyone can understand that.
I have certain amount of respect for both of them. Particularly, I consider Mr. Schell’s understanding of China to be more salient and in depth than most of his colleagues. At the same time, I also commend Mr. Fallows’ understanding of China, as much as he was kind enough to generalize about the positives of China.
Mr. Schell’s comments in the above post was particularly enlightening in its discussion of what Mr. Fallows only generalized as the positive “spirit” in the Chinese People and in the Chinese government, “that, instead of conveying an air of being hemmed-in by an era of limits, conveys the feel of a society hell-bent on building a more prosperous and stronger country”. Mr. Fallows commented that China’s can-do “spirit” was in contrast to the “fatalistic” one in the West. But Mr. Fallows did not go much into the depth of the differences in “spirit”. Mr. Schell, on the other hand, attributed the fatalism of the West, at least indirectly, to propagandization that lead Americans (and perhaps Westerners in general) “to believe that governments are the problem not the solution.”
On May 8, Japan’s government lodged a “strong protest” with the Chinese government over an article that had run in the People’s Daily in which two academics questioned the basis of Japan’s sovereignty over the Lewchew 琉球 (in Japanese, Ryukyu) islands. The Chinese side of course rejected the protest, and opinion columnists the world over have been weighingin. The current press furor has produced exciting developments in Lewchew’s main island of Okinawa, where in May 15 two professors have founded the “Association of Comprehensive Studies for Independence of Lew Chewans”. Already, there exists in Lewchew rising tensions between natives and nationalist Japanese, a latent history of cultural and linguistic abuse of Lewchewans, and a culture of protest upon which independence campaigners can piggyback. The only missing ingredient in this karmic tinderbox of anti-Japanese sentiment is international diplomatic support for Lewchewan separatists, which does not seem to be forthcoming from China. The Wall Street Journal soberly notes that “individual commentaries”, such as those in the People’s Daily, “don’t necessarily reflect the views of top political leaders, and Beijing officials on Wednesday gave little indication that the commentary represents a potential shift in policy.”
Video below was taken about a year ago, then 5-year old Tsung Tsung exhibiting what a piano prodigy he was. This is obviously raw talent and true passion. It would have been a shame for not Tsung Tsung’s parents affording him the piano and the lessons. Tsung Tsung is another example of why I am bullish on China. The hundreds of millions of Chinese finally moving out of the farms, away from playing in the dirt, are finally getting a chance to unleash their potential. That’s all due to stable development. When James Fallows told the Anglophone media that the Chinese have no dream, well, we were the first to tell him: shove it!
Once in a while one runs into articles that seem to fly against convention wisdom, that seem to tear at the veil of world injustice, that seem to open one’s eyes to provide insight into the causes of so many of today’s ills. This article titled Why There is So Much Pro-War Reporting from “the Big Picture” blog is one of them.
In reading this article, I note how the article also parallel a lot of what Norm Chomsky (Manufacturing Consent) and David Swanson (War is a Lie) have written about pro war sentiments. Yet, I still feel that this article is flawed in so many ways. We are only scratching at the surface of, not diving deep into, the problem.
The article points to 5 major reasons why free media is not so free, and why it’s so pro-war. Read more…
With June 4th right around the corner, the Western press will likely try to milk it, though each year with decreasing column space. In anticipation of that, we remind our readers the narrative perpetrated in the West is not the truth. 龙信明 draws from public materials and shows us what the real truth is, in English, “Let’s Talk About Tiananmen Square, 1989,” and in Chinese, “且谈1989年的天安门事件.”
melektaus‘ recent observations about the Chinese people (“What’s wrong with China? Hint: it’s not the government“) has certainly caused a stir. We all should commend him for sharing his thoughts from the bottom of his heart and for his genuine desire to see a better Chinese society. (Some of you might be visiting because James Fallows of The Atlantic has linked to it. As an aside, see our take on why Fallows is so wrong on so many things related to China.) Anyways, I don’t want to derail his thread, so if you wish to add to the conversation, I urge you to continue there. Many of you have offered thoughtful comments, so thank you. I do want to highlight Allen‘s response here, because, as he illustrates clearly, we all have a tendency to judge others based on our standards – and is unfair: Read more…
For some time, I have been on a hiatus from the blog. That does not mean that I was tuned off from what’s going on in the world. Despite my temporary leave of absence, I till end up devoting non-trivial amounts of time to corresponding over emails with friends … and editors on this blog about current events.
I was just about to send another email when I realized that instead of not blogging, and just emailing, perhaps I can do some short posts (taking less than 20 minutes each, say) and share my thoughts here and there. It’s not the way I usually blog, but maybe I can do a few of those before I get time to get back to the way I used to blog.
After living here for more than 9 months, I have come to a most repugnant conclusion. It pains me to even think about it for I am a Chinese person who has often defended the traditions, institutions, values and dignity of the Children of Heaven. But the truth is often painful at first. I realize now that much of the problems in Chinese society, and a plethora of problems there are, are not from the Chinese government (not a surprise to me since I am a long time China watcher suspicious of the anti government rhetoric of the west). What is surprising is that the myriad problems within Chinese society comes from the behavior, values and the beliefs of its people, a people that with all their traditions of wisdom behave in the most atrocious, despicable manner towards each other today. In a sense, I’d always expected this but were perhaps too proud to admit it and needed first hand experience for verification. Now I cannot escape that basic truth.
STUPIDITY, a formidable globalised trend, is gaining momentum. Living in Hong Kong, I can feel its pressure wave on my face each morning I wake up. This 21st century bliss seems a Darwinian mystery at first.
Idiot genes don’t serve any obvious evolutionary purpose, yet are present in prodigious abundance. How did that happen, I wonder? Perhaps people supported imbeciles because they’re cute, or pathetic enough for charity? After all, plenty of garbage DNA, such as those that make pooches, are bred for their adorably lack of intelligence.
Unfortunately, both conjectures don’t stand up to observation. Read more…