[in partial translation]

There are any number of theories about democracy.  Simply put, democracy is about giving the people to choose through periodic fair elections . An important factor in election is public opinion, and the most important channel that includes public opinion is "media."  Just about everyone uses television, newspapers, radio and the increasingly popular news websites.

... There have been tremendous changes in the American media recently ... especially among the left-wing newspapers ...

Of the daily circulation at the four top newspapers, the right-wing The Wall Street Journal fell 1.9% while retaining the position of top newspaper (2.04 million).  Although USA TODAY has 2.27 million in circulation, many are gift copies at hotels and it is not considered a "serious newspaper" because it is more about sports and entertainment.  The left-wing New York Times fell 3.5% to 1.08 million copies, just over half of the number at The Wall Street Journal.  The Los Angeles Times, which is even more left-wing that the New York Times, fell 8% to 770,000 copies.  The center-left Washington Post fell 3.3% to 650,000 copies.  The other three left-wing newspapers in the top 10 also went down.  Miami Herald fell 8.8% to 260,000; the San Francisco Chronicle fell 5.3% to 370,000; the Boston Globe fell 6.7% to 380,000.  Meanwhile conservative media tycoon Rupert Murdoch's New York Post continued to perform well, increasing 6.1% to 700,000 and surpassing the Washington Post to become the fifth largest newspaper in the United States.

For the record, here are the data on September 30, 2006 from the Audit Bureau of Circulation (ABC's FAS-FAX ending September 30, 2006):

1. USA TODAY, 2,549,252
2. The Wall Street Journal, 2,047,127
3. New York Times, 1,623,697
4. Los Angeles Times, 1,172,005
5. Denver Post/Rocky Mountain News, 1,039,340
6. Chicago Tribune, 937,907
7. Washington Post, 930,619
8. New York Daily News, 780,196
9. New York Post, 708,561
10. Houston Chronicle, 692,586

You can try to reconcile these numbers with Cao Changqing's article.  (Please compare the numbers carefully!!!)  Here is a question: Even if you decided to write an article about the ascendancy of the right-wing newspapers over their left-wing rivals, could you have conceivably written the article above (given the Audit Bureau of Circulations data)?
 
The facts are: the numbers for the right-wing Wall Street Journal and New York Post are exactly what the ABC numbers are, but the numbers for the 'left-wing' New York Times and Los Angeles Times and the 'central/left-wing' Washington Post are way understated.  Cao Changqing must be reading a different set of books altogether.  And he fails to mention that the New York Daily News is ahead of the New York Post, and neither NYDN nor NYP could possibly be considered as "serious newspapers" just as USA TODAY is not.  Still, this is the kind of stuff that passes as a meaningful analysis of American media.

P.S.  Someone asked: "So who is Cao Changqing?"  I refer you to Clean Government Is Not A Core Value For Democracy for an illustration.  There's much much much more about Cao Changqing but you can look it up yourself.  Such is the tristesse of the so-called independent overseas Chinese media.

“做芳粥子???!!!也就我们杂志想得出这样馊的主意!还说他是公共知识分子,在我看来公共厕所还差不多!
嘴脏得不行,智商也有问题。是我,早就他妈地骂丫傻逼了。至蠢,瞧他说的那些话,什么二奶的,他知道什么是二奶吗?
死蠢的猪(这几话不代表我们杂志说,是我个人意见)。去了美国脑袋都变成转基因的了。”
“我曾经造谣:,方舟子的乳房是义乳;,方舟子生的孩子因为转了基因没屁眼.
这个事情说我造谣我也不大承认,第一,方舟子确实没有让人看过他的乳房,第二,方舟子确实没有让人看他孩子的屁眼

[in translation]

"Interview Fang Zhouzi???!!!  What a stupid idea that our magazine came up with!  Even though they call him a public intellectual, he is more like a public toilet!  He has a filthy mouth and his intelligence quotient is suspect.  If it was up to me, I would have f**king cursed out this stupid c**t.  He is stupid for saying those things.  He talked about mistresses, but what does he know about mistresses?  Damn stupid pig (These are my personal thoughts, and do not represent our magazine).  When he got to America, the genes in his brain must have been mutated.

"... I started some rumors.  First, Fang Zhouzi's tits are fake.  Second, Fang Zhouzi's child was born without an anus due to genetic mutation.  Now I would dissent if you accuse me with starting rumors.  First, Fang Zhouzi has not let anyone see his tits.  Second, Fang Zhouzi has not let anyone see his child's anus." 

[in translation]

Recently, the most popular person on the Internet must be Zhang Yu.  There is one theory: if "hidden rules" exist in the film/television industry, then there must be reasons for their existence.  Thus, there are reasons for them to exist; if you break the "hidden rules," then you are wrong.

That is an interesting theory.  It is even more interesting to note that there is a market for this theory.

According to this theory: if you want to get a film role, you must offer your body because that is the "hidden rule."  If you want a job promotion, you must pay bribes because that is the "hidden rule."  If an actress wants to perform in film without offering sexual favors, then she is breaking the "hidden rule."  If an official wants to stay clean and uncorrupt, then he is breaking the "hidden rule."  From there on, we infer: weak women are destined to be abused, because that is the "hidden rule."  Obedient citizens are destined to be bullied, because that is the "hidden rule."  If the weak women object to the abuse, they are breaking the "hidden rule."  If the obedient citizens refuse to be bullied, they are breaking the "hidden rule."

How can there be so many "hidden rules"?  No wonder people keep saying that the Chinese people are tired and bitter.

On January 27, 2003, the Turkish premier said that the Americans have informed him that they can conquer Iraq militarily in fifteen days.  I believe it.  When the war in Iraq begins, the entire country will be rapidly pacified.  Once the Saddam government falls, the embryonic form of a modern democratic government will quickly come into being with the support of America in the area of the two ancient rivers.  Within five years, this newborn Iraq will stand proudly in the world.  This is what I say.  You just wait and watch for it.

Okay, so maybe it has only been 3-1/2 years and there is still a chance that the prediction will come true.  But of the three options (1) double the bet, as in I know it will happen because what you see right now is transitory; (2) pretend I never wrote this and hope that no one will bring this up; (3) acknowledge that I was wrong and I will try to analyze where I went wrong -- which do you think will happen?

Here is more stuff from Jiao Guobiao in praise of the "public order disturbances"/"mass incidents" after Iraq was overrun by the Coalition forces:

In recent days, the Iraqis have been looting the public institutions, including government offices and foreign embassies as well as the national museum.  The media have condemned the American and British troops for failing to stop the looting.  I believe that this is the way by which the Coalition wants to "tame the people."

The Iraqi looters are like people attending a carnival.  They are like farmers at the harvest celebration, who are trying to reap as much wheat as possible.  This is a release from a longtime repression, a re-possession after a longtime exploitation.

The Coalition should give the Iraqis a suitable period to release their feelings.  If they had watched them over closely just like the former Saddam regime, then the Iraqis would think that one Saddam has been replaced by another Saddam and nothing has changed.  If the old things continue to exist, then what hope is there in life?

Therefore, I believe that the media are wrong to use "looting" and "robbing" so persvasively.  Looting and robbing must have identifiable victims, such as homes being robbed.  Here, the "looting" is only for materials without any owners and this is different from robbing someone's possessions and maybe even hurting the owners.

... The looting by the Iraqis is like the Beijing people looting the Summer Garden back then.  They cannot go near the place in ordinary times, because they were treated as the enemies by the authorities.  Alas, here came a day when they could go and rip the place apart.  So what were they waiting for?

"Looting" is a form of robbery and is not a good thing.  The comforting thing is that it will be over quickly.  For one thing, the Coalition forces and the people of Iraq will undertake the joint task of maintaining public safety.  For another thing, this was just looting without real robberies.  In 1998, Indonesians rioters robbed the Chinese of their properties and abused their women.  Now that is real robbery.

In reviewing the entire process of looting by the Iraqis, this was just a happy celebration among the people.  There were no riots created by violent rioters.  The participants were just the good citizens of Iraq. 

 ... I was a graduate from the Department of Journalism, so I logically became a journalist.  I did that for seven years.  During my seven years as journalist, I worked in investigative journalism, crime reporting and then I became a political journalist.  When I stepped into politics, my eyes were opened up.  Government, public servants, political parties, politicians, businessmen -- how various people betray their allies, distrust each other, refuse to share the wealth or spread around their misfortunes!  How many of those people have a conscience?  If I tell you that Doctor Woo who told you to eat "dog biscuits" is actually a person who spoke the truth from his heart, my readers would say "Huh?"  If I said that you shouldn't believe Anson Chan even if she swore that she was telling the truth, my readers would say "Huh?" too.  Not everybody can accept the truth.  In this case, the politicians think that they are politicians but they are just nobodies, whereas the reporters are small politicians.

... Lau Kong-wah said correctly that there is no politics in Hong Kong.  There is only entertainment.

Politics is just like entertainment, and the media is increasingly becoming entertainment.  How many political news reports show the media style?  The media company bosses only want to make money and they want exposés and scandals.  Social responsibility and public trust have become decorative already.  When the news products are not respected, what becomes of the reporters?  Their positions and wages deteriorate from day to day.  As time goes by, only novices would want to do this laborious but unrewarding job.  Such is the sorrow of this occupation, as well as society as a whole.  Without these experienced and perceptive reporters, how shall the readers expand their vistas and how shall the media fulfill their functions?  So the media become the tools of the rulers, just as Chairman Mao, the government, the politicians and the advertisers wish.

But apart from all this, the media workers are still worthy of respect.  Their rewards are not commensurate with their efforts.  Sometimes, they put in not only their sweat and time, but also their emotions and ideals.

These signs have been the subject of discussion at many Chinese media (People's Daily, Xinhua, Yangcheng Wanbao, Sichuan Daily, etc).  It is even included in a high school exam.
 
A Southern Weekend article titled "Uncivilized behavior of Chinese tourists overseas has shocked senior officials" began this way: "'Chinese persons, please flush toilet,' 'Please keep quiet,' 'Please do not spit' ... these warning signs written in simplified Chinese characters appear frequently in the major destinations for Chinese tourists overseas: France, Germany, Japan, Thailand, Singapore, etc.  At a time when tourists are becoming the latest export from China, 'Chinese people' have come to stand for uncivilized and rude behavior."
 
The story is a hoax.  To quote from the United Nations Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination: "the United Nations is based on the principles of the dignity and equality of all human beings and seeks, among other basic objectives, to achieve international co-operation in promoting and encouraging respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language or religion."
 
If any country work on the basis that certain individual Chinese persons had engaged in uncivilized behavior and then promptly issue these signs directed against the entire "Chinese people," then this is racial discrimination.  In China, we have seen that signs such as "Resolutely combat the criminal organizations from Henan" and "Beware of Xinjiang pickpockets" being denounced and removed after nationwide public outcries.  So could it be that developed countries like France and the United States would allow these kinds of signs that exhibit clear racial discrimination?  How likely is that?  Do the Chinese media have brains?

1. The so-called luxury apartment is a small two-bedroom small-family apartment measuring just over 600 square feet in area.  It faces the building across the street, not the Hudson River.  The building has a small gym, but no swimming pool.  The residents are middle-class American families.  The apartment is also far away from Central Park, so any claim of park views is absurd.  So too is the claim that the rent is NT$250,000 per month.
 
2. On the day before Thanksgiving, we went to dinner at a French restaurant with friends.  The Mercedes-Benz is not ours.  My friend called a car service in consideration that my wife is pregnant and it was cold in New York City that night.  When we go out, we usually hail yellow taxi cabs in the street.
 
3. My wife's fur cape was purchased by her mother many years ago.  Her mother told her to bring it along this time because it is cold in New York City.  There is another fur coat that my wife bought on our wedding anniversary for NT$30,000 plus.
 
4. Since graduation, I have been on an internship in an American law office in Manhattan. In early September, I went back to Taipei to visit my ill mother, and I delayed my return in consideration of her poor health.
 
5. Finally, I thank everybody for their concern.  But I wish you would respect my privacy and not intrude into our normal lives.  If anyone should distort the truth or make exaggerated claims to smear our reputations, we will take the necessary legal actions.

... Do scantily-clad women actually increase sales in the automotive industry? There is no simple answer.  Given the number of bikinis hovering over street rods, hot rods and import racers at the 2005 SEMA show, you might think the answer was a clear Yes.  One of the exhibitors, Drew Heitner, owner of M&D International, expressed his thoughts on the matter succinctly: "A woman judges her man by the car he drives, but a man judges his car by the women it attracts."


 ... It served as a reminder that tasteful and tasteless are two different approaches to marketing, but whichever strategy you choose, you have to remember the fundamentals.

Rule No. 1: Know your product. If there is a demand and the quality is there, your product will sell.

Rule No. 2: Know your customer. If the testosterone crowd is your buyer and you want to ignore the rest of the population, then go for it. But never underestimate the female buyer — we play an important part in automotive decisions and are the fastest growing sector in the auto area.

I am not a feminist. I am a female car enthusiast. My argument is not to sever that century-old partnership of beautiful women and beautiful cars. But I do want companies to use some taste and discretion when placing the two together.

(The Sun)  At the Chang'an Motor exhibit, a tall and lovely model was being harassed verbally by a man who reeked of alcohol.  "Miss, why are you standing here?  Are you tired?"  The model ignored him while continuing to smile.  The man persisted: "Miss, you are really sexy!" as he attempted to sidle up to her.  Meanwhile another man was taking photographs of the models at the Shanghai People exhibit, but his camera was focused on the breasts and buttocks.  When asked, "Why are you photographing pretty girls but not the cars?" he said: "If I want to buy a car, I would have gone to the auto dealer.  Why did I come here?  To check out the girls.  It is visually enjoyment and my wife says its okay."

There is also an Internet forum debate at ChineseNewsNet.  The title of the post is "The World Is Watching China, But What Is China Watching?" and contains three photographs but no text.  From the foci of the cameras, the photographers seemed to have no interest in the cars.

Does this prove the low quality of the Chinese people once again?  Well, before you can even think about this question, you need to be aware that the commentators assert that these photographs came from Japan.  As proof, they said that the steering wheel in the car in the background of the third photograph is on the side opposite to the Chinese way.  So the first question is, What kind of person would use photographs of Japanese cameramen in a post titled "The World is Watching China, But What Is China Watching?"  The second question is that notwithstanding these photographs, do you believe that such behavior are commonplace in China?  The third question is that if such behavior is commonplace in China, then is anything wrong with it?  After all, the behavior is just as common in Japan and the United States.  The fourth question is that having dealt with all the preceding questions, what is the proper title for that post?
 
Related link (in Chinese): 
国展车模被看客“盯骚”  yWeekend

[in translation]

Singapore Strait Times special correspondent Ching Cheong has been detained in mainland China for over a year, and his wife Mary Lau has been working very hard for his release ...

Yesterday Mary Lau and the Hong Kong Journalists Association held a press conference to defend Ching Cheong.  The reporter from Sing Tao Net asked Mary Lau whether her criticisms of the court charges implied that she has accepted that the verdict document on the Internet was authentic.  Mary Lau snapped back: "You are going to have to ask your webmaster!  SingtaoNet was the first to publish this verdict document.  Why is the Chinese government not after the Sing Tao people responsible for this?  We have consulted with knowledgeable people and they tell us that leaking state secrets leads to three years in jail.  But I have no reason to call for the Chinese government to cause trouble for you."

What are possible scenarios?
 
(1) Sing Tao obtained the documents surreptitiously.  Then they have broken Chinese law.
 
(2) Sing Tao obtained the documents from a verified official source (subject to non-disclosure of the identity of that source) who did so in order to serve an unstated purpose (e.g. establish criminality).  You would think that Sing Tao is ethically required to disclose the circumstances so that their readers can exercise care.
 
(3) Sing Tao obtained the documents from an unverified source (e.g. an anonymous email showed up in the editor's inbox and the attached document seemed 'real').  You would think that Sing Tao is ethically required to disclose the lack of verification.
 
Sing Tao has said nothing about the process.  You can flip a coin among (1), (2) or (3).  I lean towards (2) with the suspicion that parts of the documents could have been edited.  This is a personal opinion.  You must forgive me for speculating -- What else can I do when Sing Tao provides no further information? 

Related LinkThe Ching Cheong Verdict  Joel Martinsen, Danwei.

I have been writing over at MSN Spaces for several years.
I thought it was not bad, because there was no web administrator jumping in to delete stuff.
But it is over.  Last Saturday, it died totally.
In this nation with the most free Internet, this is actually a common event.
Of course, starting a new blog is a very simple matter.
This sort of thing can go on repeatedly, because the costs for both sides are low.
But it is a nuisance for everybody to update their links.
...
So it is not a big deal or loss to move elsewhere.
I am not going to move the original blog posts here, because I am too lazy and beside, I don't see the need.
You should read the latest and most interesting things.
The new location is probably just like MSN Spaces.  It'll be a bit slow, and it does not look like an authentic Chinese-language interface.
But they probably will not be deleting your blog posts every couple of days for the sake of their survival.
The imperfect thing is that it does not provide blog links,
and it has some ads on the right-hand column (I get nothing out of it).
I insist on the following ideas for blogs:
It should be freely accessible to the public, because proxy services are suitable for just a few people;
I will try to make it survive as long as possible;
I will write and link to whatever I want and I will not accept any debate under censorship (or else I shouldn't bother to get on the Internet). 

It has been ridiculed by cynics as the Central Polling Unit for its intensified public opinion survey programme. But the Central Policy Unit has acted to bolster its policy research team to function as the government's "think-tank" on both policy options and public opinion analysis.

The CPU has recently invited applications for the post of senior research officer and two research assistants. Its research team presently comprises four senior researchers and four research officers.

CPU head Lau Siu-kai said: "We have the biggest research team to conduct trend studies about political, social and economic developments of Hong Kong and the mainland. Tracking public opinion is an integral part of governance. With that, critics have second thoughts when they want to claim public opinion is on their side."

(Apple Daily)  By Yu Jie, independent Chinese writer

The first time that I heard the name Pelosi was in the year after the tragedy at Tiananmen Square.  At the time, I heard this piece of news on VOA: this 50-year-old Congresswoman did something courageous by displaying a banner that read: "Dedicated to the martyrs who died for democracy in China" right there in Tiananmen Square.  The result was obvious: she was immediately tackled by a bunch of military police men and then expelled from China.  For the past 16 years, this photograph is prominently displace in Pelosi's office.  Every year when the Chinese democrats attend the 6/4 memorial service in front of the Chinese embassy, Pelosi can often be seen.

This past May, I was attending the Forum On Religious Freedom and Law in Washington DC.  During the time, I also attended a forum of the Laogai Foundation and I met Ms. Pelosi.  She was invited to give the opening address.  She wore a light dress with a bright scarf, and she looked elegant.  By comparison, another "strong woman" of about the same age is Chinese vice-premier Wu Yi, who is stiff, bloated, old and feeble.

Looks and style are connected to the political system and cultural environment: Pelosi's dashing energy reminds people of "freedom" whereas Wu Yi's lack of gender characteristics reminds people of "autocracy."

(Chuiyung) Suzanna Cheung Chui-yung, free-lance reporter from Hong Kong

Those reporters on the China-US beat will know Pelosi.  When I was covering Hong Kong-US and China-US news in Washington DC more than a decade ago, Pelosi is the congresswoman whom the Hong Kong reporters have the most contact with.  She often speaks about Hong Kong issue in Congress. ...

Some Hong Kong reporters may think of Pelosi as an old friend.  For me, she is too political because she is only counting votes in her heart.  At least when I dealt with her, I could not sense any "genuineness" in her at all.

First, let us examine her congressional district and we will know why she speaks about Hong Kong actively.  Pelosi's 8th district covers most of San Francisco city, including the Chinese community.  ... Faced with several hundred thousand Chinese voters, Pelosi obviously has to include the issues that these Chinese care about.  Yet, in terms of what a politician should do within a democratic system, Pelosi's speeches are too empty and showed that she does not know much.

One should not assume that since she is a Democrat who chants "Long Live Democracy" that she must be a human rights fighter.  Actually, she is no different from Hillary Clinton as both are equally experienced and astute.  You listen to their speeches on the Israel-Palestine problem and you realize that they are thoroughly politicians.

There is a big Jewish lobbyist organization known as AIPAC in Washington DC.  The board of directors are all political and business heavyweights and Pelosi is very friendly with them.  Pelosi takes part in their events where she gives speeches to support Israel's "occupation" policies.  The double standards of politicians are clearly revealed here.

At Guangzhou University, it is a tradition to celebrate after the mid-term examinations.  This male student attended the party on a Saturday night.  He felt very happy, he drank a lot of wine and then some girls were interested in him and invited him to attend another party.  So he went with them in a taxi to another apartment.  They continued to drink and he took some drugs.

When he woke up, he found himself naked in a bathtub filled with ice.  He looked at his chest, and the letters "Call 110 or you will die" had been written with red lipstick.  There was a phone next to the tub.  He called 110.  He told 110 about his situation and that he had no idea where he was.  110 advised to get out of the tub and check himself in the mirror.  He did and saw nothing unusual.  110 then told him to check his back.  He saw two 9-inch long openings on his lower back.  110 told him to get back into the tub immediately and wait for the emergency team.  The doctors found out that his kidneys had been stolen!  In the black market, a pair of kidneys are worth 300,000 RMB! ...

The real crime committed by Zhu might just be plagiarism or lack of originality.  The kidney theft story is an urban legend that goes back to 1996 (see Snopes).  Zhu did not even attempt to modify the story except to translate the location from Texas to Guangzhou.

Taichung Mayor Jason Hu's wife Shao Hsiao-ling, who was seriously injured in a car accident on Saturday night, remained in critical condition as of press time, having to rely on medication and life support after having her left forearm amputated and her spleen removed in hours of emergency treatment at Chi Mei Hospital in the southern county of Tainan.  Hu himself suffered a minor concussion and lacerations to the face.

The accident took place at 7:51 p.m. on a north-bound lane of the second national freeway, at around 325.3 kilometers south of Taipei, where the van carrying Hu, Shao and close sides was slammed by a small sedan. The van rolled over a few times after hitting the car, the police said.

There is now a media-related story (United Daily News):

[in translation]

Yesterday, Apple Daily showed the bloody photograph of Taichung Mayor's wife Shao Hsiao-ling on the front page.  Government Information Office Minister Cheng Wen-tsang angrily criticized the newspaper for violating the integrity and right to privacy of Shao.  He has called the Taipei city information office director Lo Chih-cheng and asked Apple Daily to be punished.  He emphasized, "If the Taipei city government won't deal with it, the Government Information Office will step in."

The Taipei city Information Office believes that Apple Daily violated that "child and youth welfare laws" and has referred the case to the Social Welfare Department.  They will hold an interdepartmental meeting to determine the most effective approach based on the existing laws.

But the Social Welfare Department director Chang Shu-wen said that in the absence of specific complaints to show that children or youth were actually negatively affected by the news photographs, the department cannot impose any penalties.

Apple Daily chief editor Chen Yu-hsin responded that Cheng Wen-tsang had overstepped in his criticism which Apple Daily cannot accept.  Chen Yu-hsin said that the photograph in Apple Daily was taken in an open public space before Shao Hsiao-ling was taken to the Chi Mei Hospital.  Furthermore, this traffic accident is an important event that has drawn the attention of the national public.  Apple Daily dealt with this case in no way different from any other traffic accidents in the past. 

Here is the front cover of Apple Daily (the full photograph is here).

Indeed, here is today's Apple Daily bloody traffic accident photograph in Nantou county (see link).

P.S. (SCMP)  Apple sorry for using picture of politician's injured wife.  By Lawrence Chung.  November 21, 2006.

The Taiwanese edition of Apple Daily apologised yesterday for printing a front-page picture of the wife of a popular Taiwanese politician covered in blood after being critically injured in a car accident.

The apology came after sharp criticism from the island's media regulator, the Government Information Office, that it was highly improper to publish such a picture without taking into account the victim's right to privacy.

In a statement issued in Taipei, Apple Daily said it had merely hoped to use the picture to present the actuality of a news scene. "We apologise if readers disapprove or feel uncomfortable about the photograph we published," it said.

(Apple Daily)  November 23, 2006.

[in translation]

Apple Daily declares that the traffic accident was an issue that the people were concerned about and the photograph was taken in a public place, therefore the decision was made to publish the photograph.  In respect to the principal, portions of the photograph were masked.  Apple Daily states that it will listen humbly listen to criticisms from readers and apologizes to the principals and readers.  In the future, we will be more careful about the selection and handling of traffic accident photographs.  We welcome continued reader feedback.

Q1.  Taipei city mayor Ma Ying-jeou said that he was unaware of the falsified receipts used to claim special funds.  Do you believe Ma Ying-jeou is innocent?
Yes 41%; No 27%; Don't know/refused 32%
 
Q2.  Taipei city mayor Ma Ying-jeou is embroiled in this special fund business.  Are you satisfied with his crisis management?
Yes 34%; No 36%; Don't know/refused 30%
 
Q3.  Do you believe that Taipei city mayor Ma Ying-jeou should resign as a result?
Yes 17%; No 58%; Don't know/refused 25%
 
Q5. Comparing the case of President Chen Shui-bian's state funds and Ma Ying Jeou's special funds, which of these cases have a greater impact on the city mayoral elections in Kaohsiung and Taipei?
Chen Shui-bian 50%; Ma Ying-jeou 10%; Same 16%; No impact from either 4%; Don't know/refused 20%.
 
(China Times)  (1,019 persons interviewed by telephone on the evenings of November 15-16.  Sample was drawn using the residential telephone directory with the last two digits being randomized)
 
Q.  Do you believe that the Democratic Progressive Party is clean and uncorrupt?
Yes 14%; No 68%
[in June 2006, the same question had Yes 13%; No 56%]
 
Q.  Do you believe that the KMT is clean and uncorrupt?
Yes 23%; No 53%
[in June 2006, the same question had Yes 16%; No 49%]
 
Q.  Which of the four major political parties do you trust to rule?
KMT 45%; DPP 11%; PFP 3%; TSU 2%; None of them 20%.

A 'mass incident' refers to the incident (such as protest, demonstration or assembly) which usually involves large numbers of people (e.g. 10,000 people rioting at a university over their diplomas).  

A 'public order disturbance' is an individual crime and the number of people do not come into it.  There are 28 articles and 37 crimes written into the People's Republic of China Code of Criminal Law.  The categories include provocation/troublemaking, gambling, running underworld criminal organizations, obstruction of official business, fighting with weapons in a mob fight, delaying the delivery of mail, holding mass orgies, computer hacking, making and selling fake police uniforms, forging ID cards, burning national flags, corpse desecration, etc.

For example, if I was caught selling fake police uniforms, then I am the sole criminal.  This is a 'public order disturbance' (Article 281) because my action caused social mistrust of people in uniforms.  The number of actual people who lost their trust is not known with any precision.  As another example, if a group of five hackers went and crippled the People's Daily website, they would be guilty of "disturbing the public order" (Article 285 and Article 286 of the PRC Code of Criminal Law).  This is one incident with five criminals.  How would that be counted in the statistics?  One or five?  But the number of people affected is not known with any precision.  Neither of these two examples may be considered "mass incidents" because the number of public members affected is not known to any precision.

It was therefore wrong to assume that "mass incidents" are a subset of "public order disturbances."  No, these are in fact two different concepts that work on different bases.

A Beijing driver who infamously threw aside the bicycle of a foreign woman who had blocked his way has apologized to her on television.  The driver, surnamed Niu, apologized in response to a barrage of criticism after photographs of the incident were plastered on the Internet.  "I must say sorry to the foreign lady. I acted too rashly at that time. I shouldn't have thrown her bicycle to the ground," Niu said on a popular Beijing TV programme.

The incident occurred after the woman confronted Niu, assuming he had been driving in a bicycles-only lane. Niu said he had not violated any traffic rules. Traffic police testified that he had been driving on a road of mixed traffic, open to both cars and bicycles.

The incident had hurt him and his family greatly, said Niu, noting he had changed his home phone number.  Internet users had bombarded him with phone calls denouncing his behaviour of October 20.  

... "All netizens please help find the identities of the driver and the foreign lady," said one posting.  The much-read posting, written by popular blogger Mo Jie, also called on netizens to denounce the driver.  "We must get him to realize that his behaviour is smearing the country's image and the face of Beijing," said the posting.

Netizens quickly answered the calls to name the driver, posting his home phone number and other personal information on the Internet.  Some netizens said the foreign woman worked for an American company near the scene, but no further information about her was revealed.

"The incident shows two things," says one of the blog articles. "It shows the Chinese are self-reflecting people and readily accept positive criticism. It also shows the terrifying power of the Internet, its power to mobilize people and bare secrets."

How did it work?  The photograph of the driver was published, for one thing.

While the blogger did not originally published the license plate number, he provided it to Southern Daily for their front cover story!

Letter #1: I kept my silence when EastSouthWestNorth announced he wanted to take over society's eyes, ears, mind, and spirit. I did nothing when he tried to take us over the edge of the abyss of mental serfdom. But his latest criticisms are the straw that breaks the camel's back. Let me begin by citing a range of examples from the public sphere. For starters, I believe in "live and let live". EastSouthWestNorth, in contrast, demands not only tolerance and acceptance of his sermons but endorsement of them. It's because of such careless demands that I insist that his attempts to leave behind a legacy of perpetual indebtedness everywhere are much worse than mere stoicism. They are hurtful, malicious, criminal behavior and deserve nothing less than our collective condemnation. Lastly, EastSouthWestNorth's constant whining and yammering is a background noise that never seems to go away.

Letter #2: I occasionally receive inquiries from people who have read my previous blog posts and want to know why I insist that I sincerely intend to exercise my franchise to reveal the nature and activity of EastSouthWestNorth's goombahs and expose their inner contexts as well as their ultimate final aims. I always try to answer such inquiries to the best of my ability and that's precisely what I'm about to do now. Wait! Before you dismiss me as infantile, hear me out. EastSouthWestNorth's more than viperine. He's mega-viperine. In fact, to understand just how viperine EastSouthWestNorth is, you first need to realize that he keeps saying that he is forward-looking, open-minded, and creative. For some reason, EastSouthWestNorth's hangers-on actually believe this nonsense. Although EastSouthWestNorth obviously hates my guts (and probably yours, as well), EastSouthWestNorth is locked into his present course of community destruction. He does not have the interest or the will to change his fundamentally dotty obiter dicta. I hope I haven't bored you with yet another blog post about EastSouthWestNorth. Still, this post was the best way to explain to you that I am highly critical of those who tolerate or apologize for people who work with EastSouthWestNorth.

Want more of the same?  Do-it-yourself with Scott Pakin's automatic complaint-letter generator.

  am370 Headline Daily Metro
Circulation 280,000 600,000 300,000 - 400,000
Distribution Points Distributed by hand outside MTR stations and inside KCR stations; placed at managements offices of housing estates Manually distributed at housing estates Sole rights to distribute inside MTR stations; also distribute by hand outside MTR stations
Contents Targeted towards middle-class with focus on financial news and the Central Blogger and others looking for hot topics Large amount of local Hong Kong and entertainment news.  Based its appeal on volume. Mostly local Hong Kong news, with some international news
Ad pages 11 full pages; 16 half pages 17 full pages; 15 half pages 18 full pages; 15 half pages
Ad rates (per page) HK$10,000 - 20,000 ~HK$40,000 ~HK$40,000
Net earnings Losing HK$1.6 million per month Losing money by in mid-year report, bringing down overall profit of Sing Tao down to $4.3 million Reached breakeven in 14 months, but no detailed information.
Here are the estimated daily operational details for am370:

[in translation]

The American magazine Fortune published its rankings of "2006 corporate social responsibility."  China National Petroleum Corporation and State Grid took over the last two positions (#63 and #64).  This is quite different from their rankings of #39 and #32 in the Fortune Global 500 list.  

When we speak of corporate social responsibility, we immediately think about this incident: the contamination of the Songhua River from the explosion at the China National Petroleum Corporation.  That did tremendous damage to the environment and disrupted the lives of millions of citizens.  We can also recall the debate about how excessive pay for state enterprise employees from the story of "Electric meter reader gets paid 100,000 RMB per year."  The consequence of the excessive pay are borne by the customers who have to pay higher rates.  Therefore, neither company needs to defend or challenge why they are at the bottom of the rankings, because it is their shame!

But I always believe the problem with the state enterprises is one about the government and not the companies themselves.  Without the protection of the government, wouldn't China National Petroleum Corporation be bankrupt as a result of the Songhua River contamination incident?  Without the government, can the state monopolies (in electricity, tobacco, telecommunications, etc) be monopolies and so can they have the money to pay those amazingly high salaries to their employees?

[in translation]

I think that many of you know about the Sichuan story (note: Comment 200611#051).  I saw the Internet public opinions and I visited the official news websites as well as other media outlets in order to read the various viewpoints.  Since reports reflect the leanings of the respective positions of the sources, I wanted to find reports that are more neutral and complete.

So I read the official news reports.  I got the idea that the child drank the pesticide at 16:40, he was brought to the hospital at 18:30 and he expired at 19:30.  There was only a description of the clash with excessive action between the family members and the doctors.  The mainland China mainstream media carried the standard report and they did not mention that this became a mass incident.  Hong Kong and overseas media interviewed local officials by telephone to confirm the mass incident, but were told that no mass incident took place.

But certain details raised questions.  For example, the local government said that the hospital was still functioning normally, but the non-mainland reporters found certain hospital workers (who did not want their names revealed) who said that the hospital was not providing outpatient services for the moment.  So you can imagine and conjecture, and the question is, Who is lying about the present state of the hospital?

As for whether the hospital rendered treatment in a timely manner, the government formed an independent panel of experts who concluded that the cause of the death was the severity of the condition in spite of the hospital doing its best.  The local newspapers therefore said that "one cannot speculate or spread rumors based upon subjective opinions, because it will mislead the public and disrupt social order."

At this time, my questions are: Why are such rumors so easily believed by the people?  Why do most people here not trust hospitals?  Could it that too much discontent has accumulated, so that it is all released in this moment?  If so, then shouldn't the local officials responsible for overseeing medical and healthcare really reflect on their work?

Since the newspaper were publishing editorials about the case, this proves that the case was serious.  I do not believe that a simple dispute about medical treatment requires newspaper editorials and an investigative panel of experts.  Even if there was a mass incident, there was no need to cover it up.  These days, the more someone tries to cover up, the quicker rumors will fly and things will get worse.  Such examples have always existed in China.  I remember the Songhua River incident last year.  If the relevant departments had responded quickly and increased transparency, the matter would have moved in another direction.

But I still have another question -- if there really was a dispute, then why did it turn into violence?  Faced with an assembly of citizens who are possibly emotional, the local officials are being tested for their administrative ability.  If these officials cannot appropriately and correctly handle the situation, then shouldn't they be held responsible for the escalation into violence?

I do not believe that in each real clash, the socially vulnerable group is always right.  If that is the rule, then this society is unhealthy.  So that is why government officials complain about their situation because people always assume that they are wrong.  The problem is whether the socially vulnerable groups feel that they have to resort to extreme methods because they have lost confidence in the judicial system and they have no other means to protect their rights.  If so, then the government officials must ask themselves why they let the citizens live in such a social environment.

I do not believe that it is right to employ extreme methods to protect one's rights.  But if these people lack any concept of the rule of law, then the government officials should create the right environment in which the rule of law works and explain to the people how it works.  If people do what they do because they have no other choice, then the government officials need to reflect every time that a clash occurs.

[in translation]

Just then, the television program "Appointment in Shangdong/Henan" showed a story about a Chinese war journalist in Gaza.  I did not catch the episode title and therefore I skipped the name of the reporter.  The story was shocking, so I will narrate some of the segments for you.

Segment 1: One day, the reporter was filming in the street.  Someone tapped him from behind.  The reporter turned out and saw a child.  The child pointed at something in his hand and said, "This is a hand grenade."  The reporter looked at it and said, "Hmm, I know."  Then he turned out to continuing filming.  The child tapped him once again and said, "This is a hand grenade!"  Then the child stared into the questioning eyes of the reporter, pulled the safety pin and threw the hand grenade behind him.  A loud explosion followed:

Segment 2: One day, the reporter was filming in the middle of the street.  Someone behind him yelled: "Don't move! Raise your hands!"  The reporter turned around and saw a child pointing a gun at this head.  The reporter said: "I don't like people pointing guns at my head.  Fake guns will do it."  So he grabbed the gun from the child's hand.  Then he realized that it was a fully loaded gun with the safety catch off ...

Segment 3: The reporter heard that Israel will surround and clean up a certain refugee camp.  So he entered the refugee camp beforehand and tried to find a good spot to take photographs from.  Two locals came over and said, "Hi, Japanese?"  "No, Chinese."  "Okay, let's come to my house and have a cup of coffee."  This is the typical way to treat guests, so the reporter went with them.  Once they turned around the corner, the two Palestinians turned around, pulled out guns and pointed them at the reporter's head.  One of them said something in Hebrew.  Later on, the reporter found out that the phrase was "Kill him."  According to the reporter's analysis afterwards, they did not shoot because he had no idea what the phrase meant.  The reporter then said: "Foreign languages are not good things.  It is better not to learn them.  Knowing putonghua is enough."

Aren't these segments fun?  This is a true story that happened in our world ...

[in translation]

A few days ago, the telephone rang.
"How are you?  Is this Professor He Weifang?"
"This is he.  You are ..."
"I am XXX with the China Justice Administration magazine at the Ministry of Justice.  I would like to discuss something with you."
I know about that magazine.  I even attended one of their forums several years ago.  "Please go ahead."
"It is like this.  Our magazine would like to expand the list of our directors.  You are responsible for the Peking University research center on the judicial system.  We would really like to get your consent to list your unit as part of the board of directors."
"But ... what does a director have to do?"
"Oh, mainly to participate in the ordinary activities of our unit."
I was a bit dubious.  Previously, this publication had organized some evaluation of the articles in the magazine, but I was invited personally to participate.  How can my unit participate?
"That is to say, you will list our center in your magazine in order to show influence.  Anything else?"
"Thirty thousand RMB per year."
I was suddenly delighted.  As a director only in name while making 30,000 RMB, it is worthwhile to consider this because of the additional research funds.
"It is not a lot.  But we need to organize some events through the year.  Therefore, each director unit pays 30,000 RMB.  That is not a lot."
Then I understood -- we had to give them 30,000 RMB.  Oh, what a way to make money!
"Sorry, there is no need to say anything more.  Please tell your boss that we will not participate in your so-called board of directors.  Furthermore, what you are doing is really dreadful.  Even if we have the money, we won't get you a cent!  Bye!"
 
I hung up the phone and I was pensive.  The official publication from the legal research center of the Ministry of Justice dared to gather money in such an open manner.  The board of directors is in fact a list of donors.  The Ministry of Justice is an organization that receives money from the state, so that its subsidiary organizations are adequately financed by taxpayer money.  But this magazine is trying to make a profit on its own, so where is the legitimacy?  Besides, this is a purely official publication without any theoretical depth and readable articles.  It was no honor to be listed in the board of directors.  It is amazing that the magazine could even dream up such a gimmick.
 
These days, state units are becoming more and more like private enterprises, while private enterprises are often like official units.  This is a messy situation.


 
The screen captures were supplied by the Beijing police.  But what good does this do?  The two perpetrators were unidentified and the motorcycle had no license plate.

(in translation)

Yesterday, I had lunch with a senior person at Apple Daily.  By the way, I asked him about when the Jimmy Lai interview on the TVB Lifestlye cable channel program Be My Guest (《志雲飯局》)would air.  The reply was: "No idea!"  Since this was an opportunity to read the boss's mind beyond his regular column, it was strange not to remember the broadcast time.  Either the person knows exactly what the boss thinks or else the person intends to utilize alternate means of viewing such as YouTube.

Unfortunately, I have not been able to locate the Jimmy Lai interview on through any alternative media.  Therein lies the problem: YouTube is bottom-up through individual contributions and that means not every television show will show up.
 
What is so important about this one cable television program with a miniscule audience rating?  It is not the audience size but the legendary statement into the public record.  This is the moment when Jimmy Lai, the chairman of Next Media, made the statement with respect to Gillian Chung affair.  It does not matter how many people saw the actually show; the relevant number is the number of media commentators who refer to this historical moment.  And I haven't seen it!!!
 
Related Link:
智英飯局  案內人隨筆

L'inconnu!

J’ouvris la fenêtre,
Et fut stupéfaite par l’étendue du nuage gris.

Voilé de terre et de poussière détrempées,
Agonisa le ciel,
Isolé de l’oxygène.

Surprise par un air lugubre, l’eau de mer se mit à tourbillonner, et soudainement,
Métamorphosée en cyclone, elle flécha le milieu du nuage,
A travers le creux duquel des lueurs de l’aube pénètrèrent.

Le lendemain s’annonca.

Already the bricks are flying around on the Internet.  How many elementary school grammatical mistakes can be made in such a short poem?  If this is the top five simultaneous interpreter in Shanghai, how does the French hope to communicate with the Chinese?

[in translation]

There was an earthquake yesterday at the South China Morning Post.  Two Sunday Morning Post senior managers -- chief articles editor Trevor Wilson and articles editor Paul Ruffini -- were dismissed.  Some veteran workers were unhappy and the word is that they have signed a letter of petition to the SCMP chairman Kuok Khoon Ean to ask him to render justice for two good senior managers.

It has been quite stormy over at SCMP recently.  Last month, the Sunday Morning Post chief editor Niall Fraser resigned, and now it is the turn for two more colleagues to leave.

I heard that there was a tradition over at SCMP to present a farewell article on the front page for any colleagues who are leaving.  Usually, the accompanying article is sarcastic or cute, including cartoon drawings.  This is typical English humor, and it was no exception for Niall Fraser.  

I remembered that when Willy Lam, the same thing happened and it was a lot of fun.  But this time things went awry.  The chief editor Mark Clifford was incensed that he was not consulted about putting Niall's departure on the front page.  Trevor and Paul were the instigators, but I don't know if their dismissal was related to this matter.  Yesterday Mark sent out an email to the colleagues to tell them the front page of the newspapers is not intended for fun and games!  The inside story at SCMP is that Mark and Niall did not get along.  I put in a call to SCMP to confirm, but nobody has called back yet by the deadline.

The Apple Daily article may be misleading about what actually transpired.  Here is the version in Ming Pao

[in partial translation]

SCMP has a tradition that whenever a colleague leaves, they will write a farewell article in the form of news report and get it printed like a "SCMP" newspaper front page as a souvenir.  Please note that this does not mean that the farewell article is printed in the mass distribution copy.  Only a mock-up of the front page is printed.  This sort of behavior is fairly typical in the business.  Perhaps the 'news report' invoked the name of the new chief editor, someone was enraged, went through an internal investigation and dismissed the two 'authors' immediately.  Yesterday Mark Clifford sent out an email to SCMP employes to hint that the actions of certain colleagues affect the image of SCMP negatively and must not be tolerated.  Yesterday, Ming Pao attempted to confirm the affair with Mark Clifford, but the SCMP spokesperson responded that there will be no comment about whether employees were dismissed for violating the business code of conduct. 

Relevant LinkHong Kong: SCMP senior editors sacked  Mister Bijou (note: PLEASE READ THE COMMENTS!!!); No Joking Please, We’re Journalists  Justin Mitchell, Asia Sentinel; UPDATE: Standoff at the South China Morning Post  Justin Mitchell, Asia Sentinel; Hong Kong subs sacked over ‘c**t’ leaving page  Dominic Pensfold, UK Press Gazette; Clash of civilizations at Hong Kong newspaper Patrick Smith, International Herald Tribune.

[in translation]

I want to tell you about an ugly scandal that I was personally part of.

We are university students.  In early September, a friend introduced to Lin Xiuhua.  He is the boss of the Xiamen Fengmingchaoyang Performance Cultural Corporation.  Through him, we met Nan Lan, who is an assistant agent at the Zhongqianlungde Cultural Corporation in Beijing.  She said that she was on business in Xiamen and then she got into the main subject.  Our friend had told us about the Meng Guangmei affair so we knew what this was about.  The main thing was about the compensation.  There were six of us, and we agreed upon 400 RMB per month.  The money will come from Lin Xiuhua to us.  Frankly speaking, this money represents a considerable sum to students.  So the six of us registered ourselves with certain Internet ID's.

During this meeting, we found out that she also hired many hackers to delete the "Red Storm" video clips.  For those websites that deletion could not be made, she contacted the website operators and paid money to have the complete videos replaced by other videos with the insulting parts deleted.  So this will allow Meng Guangmei to go through her positioning of "she only spoke the truth."

At the time, we published many posts in support of mgm.  But a large proportion were deleted by the Baidu administrators.  Two of the ID's were even blocked.  Since Zhongqianlongde did not see those posts, they said that we did not work hard.  In the end, the two people whose ID's were blocked received only 200 RMB, two others got 260 RMB and I and another person got 300 RMB.  This was far less than the 400 RMB that we agreed upon.  Together, we came up more than 1,000 RMB short.

As for the Xiamen Fengminchaoyang people, they said that this was what they were given.  So we were mad, because we only earned so little for work that was against our conscience.

I don't know how many groups like us are out there.  I don't believe that this exists only in Xiamen.  There must be many more in Wuhan, Shanghai, Tianjin.  Some are over at the Tianya forum, and others at Baidu.

We know that we did wrong.  I hope you will forgive us.  Even while we were publishing posts in support of Meng Guangmei, we were also publishing other posts condemning her.  In our hearts, we are just like others.  Please forgive us.  Thanks.

When Nan Lan was contacted by the Youth Weekend reporter, she laughed and said: "I heard about this from a kid at the company.  I have never heard of this Fengmingchaoyang company in Xiamen.  This whole thing is too hilarious.  We are busy with promoting two other artistes.  If I knew how to hire people on the Internet to do this kind of stuff, I would have made those two quite popular by now.  We are busy worrying about how to promote them.  I asked Meng Guangmei if she has offended anyone here on the mainland.  She said, 'I don't know.  I doubt it.'"

Did the US really support Chan?  Well, that depends on which newspaper you read.  For illustration, here are two different accounts (and they are different) about the 'secret' balloting.

(Apple Daily)  In the first round, it was China 10, Japan 9, Mexico 6, Spain 5, Kuwait 4.  So Kuwait dropped out.  Of the four Middle East votes that supported Kuwait, 3 went to Mexico and 1 to China.  Another vote for Spain now went to China.
 
In the second round, it was China 11, Mexico 10, Japan 9 and Spain 4.  So Spain dropped out.  All European votes for Spain then went to China and this proved critical.
 
In the third round, it was China 15, Mexico 10 and Japan 9.  So Japan dropped out.  All the 9 Asian votes and 7 African votes went to China.
 
In the fourth and last round, it was China 24 and Mexico 10.  China won.  The Europeans played a key role.  Mexico's principal support came from Latin America and the Middle East.  The reason why the Europeans went for China was that they felt competitive against Mexico's supporter -- the United States.

(Ming Pao)  In the first round, China got 10 votes.  One rumor was that these 10 votes consist of China's own vote plus 9 African votes because China had just forgiven debts totaling US$10 billion to a number of African countries.  That is incorrect, because the African countries had informed China that they were committed to Japan.  So China got those votes from the Asian countries such as Thailand.
 
In the second round, China got Bahrain's vote.  In the third round, Spain's supporters had to chose among China, Mexico and the US-backed Japan.  The Europeans did not want to support US-Japan and Mexico, so China held on to the lead into the next round.
 
In the fourth and last round, the direction of the 9 votes for Japan was critical.  Mexico would win with those 9 votes.  At this juncture, the 9 US-Japan votes went to China.  China 24, Mexico 10.  China wins.


The President's son-in-law Chao Chien-ming and four others are standing on trial for alleged insider trader in the case of the Taiwan Tradiing Corporation.  Arguments were heard yesterdat at the district court in Taipei.  Chao Chien-ming was chewing gum in the courtroom and the chief judge ordered: "There is no eating in the courtroom."  So Chao quickly spit out the gum into his hand.
 
When Chao Chien-ming was bailed out, his "45 degree head tilt" was criticized as a sign of an arrogant attitude.  Previously, he was shaking his leg in court and that was criticized as contempt of court.  Then yesterday he was pointed out for chewing gum.

[in translation]

"If I post on the Internet to ask people to lay siege to the Legislative Council on July 1st and someone informs the police, will the police come and arrest me?"  The blogger at Atheist's Babel Lau Ching pointed out that whereas Internet speech never used to run into the law, nowadays one can step on landmines anytime.  "If you write something on the Internet, then it is evidence in black-and-white.  The citizens must be very careful about what they write on the Internet."

... A small number of mischief makers have caused popular blogger Benjamin Ng Wai-ming to be pensive.  Ng's blog 知 日 部 屋 has more than 5,000 visitors per day.  He believes that Internet speech should be monitored by the blogger and government interference is uncalled for.  Concerning the police reaction about Internet speech, he said: "I am displeased.  I feel that the entire Internet culture on discourse is being smeared!"

Benjamin Ng is an associate professor of the Department of Japanese Studies at the Chinese University of Hong Kong [blogger's note: actually, he is a full professor], where he teaches "Introduction to Popular Culture in Japan."  His blog advocates "It is better to know Japan than just to adore or hate it" ( 哈 日 反 日 不 如 知 日).  Since much of this blog carries positive introductions to Japanese culture, he has often been denounced by anti-Japanese netizens and he has even been threatened with "Kill your entire family!"  He said that he thought about calling the police but in the end he only deleted that comment and the information about his family on the blog.  "I don't want to resort to the law, because freedom of speech on the Internet is so precious."

"The Internet has its own culture, and the government should stay out it."  Benjamin Ng used the publishing copyrights as example.  He criticized the government for leaning towards protecting those who own the copyrights and therefore ignoring the fact it was the commonly shared culture that enabled the Internet to grow so rapidly.  He stressed: "If there should come a time that when a blog is sued for copyright infringement every time that it uses an image or music piece, then I shall close down my blog."

To appreciate the last sentence, you only have to glance through Ng's blog, which uses images extensively.  It is impossible to discuss Japanese culture with pure text.

1. She laughed at mainlanders for not closing the restroom doors
2. She disclosed that she "basically gets paid nothing" when she hosts programs on CCTV
3. She said "The Nanjing massacre was a historical incident" and "The Sino-Japanese love-hate relationship will never be resolved"

The commentator wonders if there are "crimes":

1. Anyone who has been to rural villages or even small county cities know that not only do people not close their restroom doors, but most of the time there are no doors to close
2. Why hasn't CCTV told us about the fortunes that they pay their program hosts?  That should make it clear that Meng was lying!
3. Meng did not deny the importance of the Nanjing massacre.  She only pointed out the fact that the Nanjing massacre is a deep scar that will always stand between China and Japan.

Such being the case, then why did tens of thousands of Chinese netizens feel scorned, insulted and slighted?  Simply put, this is the sub-conscious Ah Q spirit.  When Bai Yang's The Ugly Chinese first appeared, people were shocked and depressed, but even more people were hopping back.  More than 20 years later, the criticisms by Bai Yang about the "filthiness," "disorderliness" and "noisiness" of the Chinese people are still valid.

Regrettably, Meng Guangmei retreated this time.  The basic significance of this storm is the question: Can we tolerate the "honest words" from an artiste?  Do we provide enough space for an artiste to say "honest words"?

Relevant LinkMeng Guangmei and Toiletgate: The latest Chinese Internet swarm  Jeremy Goldkorn, Danwei

...  What about the Mister A that people care about?  I am genuinely concerned for his life and family property right now.  Originally, I told the prosecutor that there are many secrets that I cannot talk about.  There are many things that I cannot talk about upon pain of death.  As the prosecutor said, some things cannot be talked about even from the grave, because they are so secret.  I cannot talk about many things due to the national interests.  Even if someone steals the money from us during the diplomatic process, we cannot say anything.  That is why diplomacy is so difficult.  What can we do?  We have a "bad neighbor" over there and such are "my intentions and considerations."

... Some people have said that I must apologize on the matter of the secret diplomatic work of Mister A, no matter whether it was a well-intended or ill-intended lie.  But if the lie was well-intended to cover up secret diplomacy, then it is understandable.  But let us consider the legal principle of "conflict of obligations."  I must consider the national interests foremost, and therefore I was inconsistent and contradictory.  This led to misunderstanding by the prosecutor, or it affected the course of justice and the progress of the judicial investigation.  I am willing to apologize for that.

In order to conceal the secret diplomatic work and protect the national interests, I dared not tell the prosecutor about certain things that only a small number of colleagues at the National Security Agency know with respect to who said what to whom.  I had the best of intentions and I was doing my best.  The treatment that I am receiving today and my personal hardship cannot be understood by you.  But it does not matter because you chose me as your president and I will endure even greater hardship and grievances.

... I do not want to cling onto the job.  We do not have to wait until the final appeal.  If found guilty on the corruption charge on the initial trial, I will take a bow and resign!

Listening to the television pundits right now, there are two points that came out strongly with respect to Mister A.  First, there is a rumor being floated that Mister A is in mainland China and under the control of the Chinese government.  Therefore, he had to send in the fax to deny any involvement in the secret diplomacy, intelligence gathering or receiving payment.  But the prosecutor's case is made on the basis of the physical evidence (namely, the dates on the receipts and payment vouchers compared to his entry/exit records to/from Taiwan).  The fax is supportive but extraneous.  The obvious point is that if Mister A is in big trouble, then who is responsible for putting him into this position?  Who asked him to play this role out of personal loyalty?  That would be the president himself.  At a minimum, the President should have declared categorically Mister A had done none of the things that he and his subordinates presented to the prosecutor, as a principle of personal loyalty.  Instead, Mister A is left hanging out there, because President Chen Shui-bian cannot and will not directly admit that he was part of a conspiracy to commit perjury.  As a reminder, perjury carries a maximum penlaty of 5 years in prison.
 
Second, the last translated paragraph is
我不是戀棧職位,不必等到三審定讞,只要司法在一審判決貪污有罪,我立即下台一鞠躬! ("I do not want to cling on to the job.  We do not have to wait until the final appeal.  If found guilty on the corruption charge on the initial trial, I will take a bow and resign!").  Please note that the charges against Wu Shu-chen are (1) corruption/embezzlement; (2) perjury; (3) falsification of documents.  The proof on the perjury and falsification of documents seemed incontrovertible in the case of Mister A and a conviction seems inevitable.  So the President just took them out of the equation in his speech tonight.  He promised to quit only if found guilty on the corruption charge!  Even if he committed perjury and falsified documents, they were justifiable, irrelevant and/or inconsequential.  Very deft, indeed.
 
What about the corruption charge?  The prosecutor had scheduled appointments with the President and his wife for more interviews, but he felt that it was no longer necessary because he had sufficient evidence to indict after the other conspirators confessed.  His position with respect to the corruption/embezzlement issue is that the presidential office accounting department reimbursed the money to Wu Shu-chen on the basis of the falsified documents and the ultimate application of the money (e.g. secret diplomatic missions, Red Cross donations, diamond rings, etc) was immaterial.  What do you think? 
If an accountant took $14 million from a company and route it to the Red Cross, should she go free?

But though we've made much progress, I have one major regret: I took a risk with regard to our action in Iran. It did not work, and for that I assume full responsibility. The goals were worthy. I do not believe it was wrong to try to establish contacts with a country of strategic importance or to try to save lives. And certainly it was not wrong to try to secure freedom for our citizens held in barbaric captivity. But we did not achieve what we wished, and serious mistakes were made in trying to do so. We will get to the bottom of this, and I will take whatever action is called for. But in debating the past, we must not deny ourselves the successes of the future. Let it never be said of this generation of Americans that we became so obsessed with failure that we refused to take risks that could further the cause of peace and freedom in the world. Much is at stake here, and the Nation and the world are watching to see if we go forward together in the national interest or if we let partisanship weaken us. And let there be no mistake about American policy: We will not sit idly by if our interests or our friends in the Middle East are threatened, nor will we yield to terrorist blackmail.

The above speech was immortalized because it was made in the passive tense and refused to identify the responsible person(s).  Serious mistakes were made, but by whom?  Compare this to President Chen Shui-bian's statement in the interview with Financial Times before the prosecutor's office issued the multiple indictments:

Nothing of this seemed to touch Mr Chen. Dodging a question on what damage the string of scandals under his government had done to Taiwan’s democracy and his political authority, he instead said he and his family had been treated unfairly because of what he called Taiwan’s excessive press freedom and a lack of responsible reporting.

Only when pondering his own historic legacy did Mr Chen admit some mistakes may have been made. “Even if my family members have made some mistakes, we all have to undergo legal scrutiny,” Mr Chen said. “Sometimes I feel ashamed and feel this is a loss of face. But isn’t this also to be cherished as a sign of Taiwan’s democracy and rule of law? Thus personal liabilities become everyone’s assets.”

At this point, it is proper to consider what the family members actually did.  Here is the list from the indictment:

(United Daily News)  Among the receipts submitted for the state secret fund, the prosecutor discovered purchases of clothing and jewelry (such as diamond rings).  Bian insisted that his family members did not purchase these items for themselves; even if they purchased the items, these were gifts for other people.  When the prosecutor showed that the diamond ring was customized for the First Lady, Bian changed his tune and said: "I used the state secret fund to buy a gift for her."  The prosecutor stated: "Although the state secret fund does not have any regulations against buying gifts for the First Lady, it ought to fall within reasonable bounds.  Otherwise, the President can give the entire NT$50 million budget to his family.

(United Daily News)  In Wu Shu-chen's part, there were 29 receipts totaling to more than NT$14.9 million on gifts and luxury items, including a Tiffany diamond ring costing more than NT$1 million (partially paid for with a SOGO gift voucher), a diamond ring worth NT$320,000 from Cartier, a scarf worth more than NT$100,000, a sweater worth NT$60-70,000, a pair of sunglasses worthy NT$17,000 and other gold jewelry.  Neither Bian nor his wife could explain to whom these 'gifts' were offered.

(United Daily News; United Daily News)  Among the receipts for reimbursement from the state secret fund, there were items in which Chen Hsin-yu (the president's daughter), Chen Chih-chung (the president's son) and Chao Chien-ming (the president's son-in-law) made purchases of baby products and gift purchases and dined at restaurants.  Among Chen Hsin-yu's items were a NT$44,500 purchase of Disney English-language product and two purchases of NT$38,556 and NT$11,388 of Burberry products.  Chao Chien-ming bought a telephone and a NT$10,000+ goose-feather blanket.  Chen Chih-chung had NT$2,488 for law textbooks and NT$11,592 for imported female clothes purchased at SOGO.  The total sum amounted to NT$340,000 plus.  In all cases, they claimed that they did so at the behest of the President.  However, they were unable to say whom the gifts were for and whom they dined with.  In the indictment, it was pointed out that one cannot purchase gifts for others without knowing their gender, age, position and preferences.  Also, at a meal, it was impossible not to know the names of the other parties -- some of the meals involved only two persons, and it would be difficult to have a meal with one other person without knowing his/her names.  In the second interview with the prosecutor, the president claimed that he asked his family members to entertain certain people, but he was unable to name anyone.  Also, the receipts included purchases of cashmere scarves worth NT$60,000 or 70,000 as gifts, but the President and his wife could not name any of the recipients.

(United Daily News)  Given all of the above, the prosecutor nevertheless decided not to indict Chen Hsin-yu, Chen Chi-chung and Chao Chien-ming on the grounds that there was no proof that they personally profited.  "It may be that their receipts were used by others. and they did not speak the truth in order to protect their family members."  But will the three be charged with perjury?  The prosecutor said: "We have not decided."  When the reporters pressed on: "But when they testified, they must know that they were lying."  The prosecutor said that there was no proof of perjury as such.  On behalf of the three, he begged the media to "spare them."  To be more precise, the prosecutor said that just because he does not believe them is not the same as they had lied, because there is no proof that they profited.  So that was why they have not yet been indicted for perjury.

[in translation]

Today, a new market research report about Internet media was released.  According to NetRatings, 36.6% percent of adult Internet users are supporters of the Republican Party, 30.8% are supporters of the Democratic Party and another 17.3% are Independent.

In recent years, political websites are becoming increasing important in elections.  The candidates need the political opinions on the Internet to maintain their image.

The research showed that the most popular website for Republican Internet users was RushLimbaugh.com which was viewed by 84.8% of the people; the number two and three websites are NewsMax.com and BillO'Reilly.com, which are visited by 65.4% of the Republic Internet users.  The number four and five websites are respectively DrudgeReport and SaltLakeTribune, used by 59.0% and 57.9% of the Republic Internet users.

For the Democratic Internet users, the top three most popular websites are BlackAmericaWeb.com, AOLBlackVoice and BET.com (Black Entertainment Television), being watched frequently by 79.9%, 64.8% and 58.6%.

The data for the Democratic Internet users do not even pass the laugh test, because these are all websites for black people.  Personally, I think that this is a cruel joke that the NCN editors did not catch.

[in translation]

Anhui province deputy governor He Xinxu was placed under "double regulations" for corruption.  His downfall was connected to his mistress Xiaohe.  On June 17, 2005, He Xinhua was appointed the deputy governor in Anhui province in charge of the major departments of Political Law and National Security while still being the Chizhou City party secretary.  On June 25, 2005, He Xinxu was traveling with Xiaohe to the Jiuhua Mountain resort area to celebrate his promotion.  While The boss was mad because he was interrupted in the middle of his business and threw a fit.  He then turned off his telephone.  His dereliction of duty was one of the reasons that led to his eventual dismissal.

[in translation]

An impoverished student was accept by a university, but he could not afford the tuition fees.  His parents were trying to borrow money, but no one was willing to lend money to them . Finally, the naive father went to the media and hoped that they can help.  He was received by a reporter.

The reporter asked: "Which university was your son accepted by?"
The father said: "Xian.  The third group ..."
The reporter said to himself: "It would be better if it were Peking University or Tsinghua University ..."
 
The reporter then asked: "Is there anything special about your son?  For example, was he physically handicapped?  Did he have an accident ...?"
The father said: "My son is nothing special.  He is healthy and obedient."
The reporter said to himself: "It would be better if your son were special."
 
The reporter then asked: "Then are you both healthy?"
The father said: "We are both healthy."
The reporter said to himself: "It would be better if one of you have some special physical problem."
 
Then the reporter asked the final question: "Is your son the first university student from the village?"
The father said: "No.  Three were admitted last year."
 
After listening to all this, the reporter signed and said: "I cannot help you.  I don't think any reporter can help you."
The father asked: "Why?"
The reporter said: "Because you have no news value."
The father said: "I don't understand."
The reporter said: "You may be poor, but you must still have news value."

China
 

http://www.zonaeuropa.com/ 
 

On his site EastSouthWestNorth, blogger Roland Soong of Hong Kong aggregates vast amounts of material from Chinese news media and posts it quickly. Although the stories he picks up can seem narrow in theme -- and sometimes bizarre -- they speak volumes about today's China.

[in translation]

1. Media have become freer as a result.  Newspapers and television all showed the original poster of the Japanese porn actress.  With the Internet probing the edges, the mainstream media have now followed the lead.  What can we do?  Eyeballs are the forces of production.

2. Officials have the lofty spirit of internationalism.  A netizen said: "You may not have seen this actress, but then have you even seen such a big needle?  You take one look and you know that it is not meant for an injection!"  This is clearly an unprofessional opinion, because an intravenous injection is obviously that big.  Therefore we did not doubt the professional quality of the health officials.  Instead we should praise their spirit of internationalism.

3. Anything that was not discovered must be rational.  The reporters asked, "If this is an adult video actress, then the poster must have violated the copyrights on her personal image?"  A person-in-charge said: "If no one asked about this, then there is no violation of copyrights.  Besides, most people won't be able to recognized who this is."  This fantastic logic of reasoning is the best interpretation of our piracy industry.

4. People have unlimited imagination.  After this affair became public, there were many discussion topics that you don't whether to laugh or cry about.  Apart from the connection between porn actresses and nurses, the main one is naturally the never-ending nationalistic chauvinism, with people suspecting that the ad producer was a "Chinese traitor (汉奸)."  On our Internet, we do not lack talented people!

5. The government is becoming much more efficient.  From the time the local television station reported this item through the news forums wondering whether Mr. Mao will be "fixed" by his wife through the finish of the World Healthy Cities Alliance Conference to the ultimate removal of the poster, it only took one week.  This is a miracle.  We request that the relevant department apply for a Guinness World Record for the quickest response by a government department in China.

(Reuters)  Government prosecutors will file corruption charges against Taiwan's first lady, Wu Shu-chen, along with other officials in the government of President Chen Shui-bian, the high court prosecutor said on Friday.  The high court will charge Chen's wife with corruption, faking evidence and faking documents in the case, involving the misuse of more than T$14.8 million ($448,500) the prosecutor's office said in a statement.  Wu has previously denied any wrongdoing.  Others that the prosecutor plans to file charges against include Ma Yong-cheng, a former close aide to Chen, according to the statement.  The filing of charges stems from a case involving Chen and those around him, and their possible under-documented use of funds from a special state affairs budget.
 
At the online edition of China Times, this was plastered all over the front page with lengthy stories covering the indictments (including a full document in PDF format for downloading), background, investigation and reactions.  Comment 200611#010 was summarized from China Times.

 
At the online edition of United Daily News, this was also plastered all over the front page as well.

 
Apple Daily has a website that does not get updated during the day (that is to say, the news reports are static for the entire day).  On this historical day, Apple Daily published an extra printed edition as well as updated the website to include several long stories.  In addition, the indictment documents were also downloadable.

 
Liberty Times also has a website that does not get updated during the day.  Thus, one cannot find nothing about this development on the website.  Instead, the top story was about the threat against the manager of the La New Bears baseball team.

 
So which of these newspapers 'get' the new media landscape?

[in translation]

When I go out, I hate queues.  When I see a long queue, I get intimidated and I would walk away unless it was unavoidable.  What is unavoidable?  For example, IT premiere sales, dining at Open Rice, testing the Ngong Ping 360 Cable Tram (no Internet ticket sales as yet), etc seem to require getting on queues.  If you want something that is good or cheap, you will probably have to pay the price of queuing.

Actually, there are certain unique selling points (either good or cheap) about places with long queues, or else the consumers will give up because they think it is a waste of time.  Management scholar David Maister believes that the longer the service time or the higher the price, the longer the customer is willing to wait.  To be frank, as long as the customer thinks he is getting his money's worth, he has no problem with waiting longer.

I have tried to read Maister from another angle.  If the customer has to wait longer, is it possible to raise the price (or value)?  The pre-supposition is that the service must have some unique selling points.

Look at these two examples:

1. A specialist medical doctor.  Specialist R has a densely packed appointment schedule every day.  But he has a habit of always showing up late.  R admitted frankly that he was not being lazy, but he has discovered a phenomenon.  Every time that a patient is made to wait longer, there is no complaint because the doctor is thought to be delayed on account of ward tours or meetings.  In addition to forgiving him, the patient takes this as evidence that the doctor is of 'high quality.'  In the patient's view, longer ward tours mean that the doctor has many patients and this builds up confidence; numerous meetings means that he "must be formidable" in his professional field.  Based upon the above reasons, there is every advantage in being tardy.  Indeed, revenues have increased every year and R adheres to this golden rule.

2. A single-prostitute brothel.  Social worker J handles cases involving sex workers.  One day, she paid a surprise visit to a prostitute who worked by herself in an apartment.  Since it was prime time, the customers were lined up outside the apartment and so J had to come back another day.  Later, J chatted with the prostitute who said that it was misleading.  Although she was busy that night, she decided to take more time in her business service and made the customers wait longer.  This had the indirect effect of "advertising" and therefore she can raise the price.  But J pointed out that this prostitute was pretty good looking.

This proves once more that there are no noble versus ignoble occupations.  There are only smart and dumb people, and only brains matter.

This reminds me of "Threshold Models of Diversity: Chinese Restaurants, Residential Segregation and the Spiral of Silence" by Mark Granovetter and Roland Soong ( note: with the footnote "The authors are listed alphabetically" meaning that Roland Soong is considered to be the major contributor). In Clifford Clogg, ed., Sociological Methodology , pp. 69-104, 1988 (see Adobe pdf).  Eighteen years later today, that article is tough to read even for its major contributor.  You will have to remember that it was written in an era in which it was fashionable to talk about dynamical systems, chaos theory, fractals, self-similarity, etc.  The relevant part is about the "Chinese restaurants" which was not articulated adequately in the article.  Here is the notion: You visit Chinatown and you don't know which restaurant to go into (because they all look the same).  What will you do?  You peek through the windows -- if there is no one inside, then maybe this is a signal that the restaurant is terrible; if the queue goes around the block, then no food can possibly justify a two-hour wait; therefore, you want a restaurant that is neither too vacant nor too busy.  In other words, the length of the queue or the waiting time becomes a signal for quality.

Nicaragua is currently gearing up for its national elections on Sunday, November 5. For the last year, Nicaragua's complicated electoral panorama has been further convoluted by a string of U.S. representatives endeavoring to ward off an electoral victory by Sandinista (FSLN) leader and former president Daniel Ortega. U.S. officials have publicly censured Ortega, attempted to unify his opposition, and threatened that an Ortega win would endanger U.S. financial support. The continuous intervention, however, has failed to unite Nicaragua's divided right or significantly detract from Ortega's base. Now U.S. meddlers are flustered and desperate in the face of recent polls revealing that Ortega is within a few percentage points of clinching the presidential office.

In a last-ditch effort to undermine Ortega, U.S. Congressman Dana Rohrabacher, chairman of the House's International Relations Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigation, sent a letter on Friday, October 27, to Michael Chertoff, Secretary of Homeland Security. Rohrabacher enjoined Chertoff "to prepare in accordance with U.S. law, contingency plans to block any further money remittances from being sent to Nicaragua in the event that the FSLN enters government." The nearly half million Nicaraguans currently living in the U.S. send around $500 million each year to their family members in Nicaragua, according to Nicaraguan economist Nestor Avendaño. 

... Rohrabacher's letter is but one voice in a recent cacophony of U.S. meddling. Headlines of the last week have been laden with unsolicited U.S. opinions on Daniel Ortega and the sort of President Nicaraguans should want. The day after Rohrabacher sent his letter, Florida governor Jeb Bush authored a letter published in a La Prensa paid ad. Bush's letter declares that Nicaraguans must choose between a "tragic step towards the past," which he identifies as the "totalitarianism" of the Sandinistas, and "a vision towards the future." Jeb Bush's own vision for Nicaragua's future is revealed at the bottom of the ad, where the Alianza Liberal Nicaraguense party, which is running the U.S.-preferred presidential candidate Eduardo Montealegre, is named as the ad's sponsor.

Just a few pages away from Bush's ad appears an article in which Adolfo Franco, USAID's Assistant Administrator for Latin America and the Caribbean, warns that a FSLN victory next week could limit USAID support for Nicaragua, citing worries that Daniel Ortega might significantly alter Nicaragua's current economic model. USAID's admonition piggybacks on US Secretary of Commerce Carlos Gutierrez's more explicit pressure in an interview publicized one week earlier. Gutierrez threatened that an Ortega win could preclude a $230 million combined investment from three foreign companies that would generate 123,000 jobs, a $220 million aid package promised through the Millennium Challenge Account, and implementation of CAFTA in Nicaragua.

On October 29, the day after printing Jeb Bush's letter, La Prensa published an editorial by Otto Reich, former Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs, in which he accuses the FSLN of maintaining ties with terrorist groups, a claim that Reich does not attempt to substantiate. Though Reich does not currently hold a position in the U.S. government, he writes as if he does, stating, "If the Sandinistas control the government of Nicaragua, there will be strong pressure in Washington to review all aspects of the bilateral relationship, including remittances." Reich equates a Sandinista victory with "a return to a past of poverty and international isolation." Such a dismal outcome indeed seems likely if the U.S., as the party responsible for the isolation of the past, would implement Reich's thinly cloaked threat of aid and remittance cutoffs. 

Ironically, Reich precedes all the above statements with the disclaimer, "No one can tell [Nicaraguans] who to vote for." Jeb Bush, Adolfo Franco, and other outspoken U.S. figures have similarly acknowledged Nicaraguans' sovereign right to pick their own leaders. Unfortunately, such statements come across as meaningless niceties when subsequently contradicted with threats and admonishments against choosing a president not to the U.S.'s liking. As Nicaraguans make their way to the polls on Sunday, they must not only consider "What will this candidate do for my country if elected?" but also "What will the U.S. do to my country if this candidate is elected?" The product of relentless outside interference, this sad reality is profoundly undemocratic.


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