Boy Scouts of America sends disappointingly terse reply to my letter

Boy Scouts of America sends disappointingly terse reply to my letter
In my mailbox today was this disappointingly generic reply to my letter protesting Donald Trump’s politicization of the Boy Scout National Jamboree. The Boy Scouts of America is wholly non-partisan and does not promote any one political position, candidate or philosophy. The invitation for the sitting U.S. President to visit the National Jamboree is a long-standing tradition dating back to President Franklin Roosevelt in 1937. Since then, an invitation to speak has been extended to every U.S. President that has had a Scout Jamboree occur during his term. This 80-year-old custom of inviting Presidents to speak to Scouts is in no way an endorsement of any person, party or policies. Rather, the speaking invitation is based on our “Duty to Country” from the Scout Oath and out of respect for the Office of the President of the United States. As one of America’s largest youth-serving organizations, the Boy Scouts of America reflects a number of cultures and beliefs. We will continue to be respectful of the wide variety of viewpoints in this country. ———————————————————————————— Note: This E-mail is sent with reference to Incident #1935491 Kindly mention Reference Number ‘ref#24-1935491’ for further E-mail communication in this regard. The letter was not ...

Donald Trump’s speech to the Boy Scouts, and my letter to the BSA leaders 12

In case you missed it, President Trump spoke at the Boy Scout Jamboree, and managed, as he often does, to turn an innocuous public appearance into an political rally. Politicizing the Boy Scout Jamboree runs counter to the BSA Code of Conduct and the BSA Rules and Regulations, as detailed at this link. As someone who was once involved in Scouting, I was angry enough to write a letter to the national leadership of the BSA, which I am sharing here because the cheap politicization of an ostensibly apolitical youth group is both amoral and dangerous. —————————- This is addressed to the national leadership of the BSA: I was mortified today to hear President Trump’s remarks to the Scouts attending the Jamboree. He turned what should have been a once-in-a-lifetime moment to hear wisdom from the Chief Executive into a political rally. Mr Trump encouraged the Scouts to boo former President Barack Obama and former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. He encouraged them to contact their Congressmen and women and tell them to repeal the Affordable Care Act. I shouldn’t need to remind you that the Scouters’ Code of Conduct and the Rules and Regulations of the BSA strictly prohibit ...

TFW you see yourself quoted anonymously in a news article 1

TFW you see yourself quoted anonymously in a news article
This morning, while reviewing news from the cryptocurrency world, one article especially caught my eye, so I read it all the way through. And found myself reading my own words. No, it wasn’t plagiarism, but the writer used a comment I had left days ago at a Steemit.com post verbatim, without using my name or Steemit handle. My feelings were a mixture of pride, surprise — and annoyance. Back in my days as a newspaper reporter, we were expected to contact people whom we would quote in a news article. Since the writer made no attempt to contact me, seeing my words in her article ruffled my feathers a bit. Otherwise, I was quoted accurately and appropriately, so my feathers are now back to normal. The subject of the article at Bitcoin.com was American investment in ICOs (initial coin offerings), which have recently become a very common method for cryptocurrency projects to raise money quickly. If you’re familiar with IPOs (initial public offerings) in corporate finance, the idea is the same: to get a boatload of money to help expand a business. As many ICOs are based abroad, Americans are sometimes blocked from investing in them, because of US taxation ...

Abducted Chinese scholar remains missing, family offers $50K reward

Abducted Chinese scholar remains missing, family offers $50K reward
Zhang YingYing, 26, who was abducted June 9 in Champaign, Illinois , remains missing and her worried family has raised the reward for information about her whereabouts to $50,000. A former graduate student, Brendt Christensen, 28, was indicted on July 12 on one charge of kidnapping. He is being held in Urbana pending arraignment, according to the University of Illinois police department. Zhang was a visiting scholar at the University of Illinois/Urbana-Campaign, and was planning to meet a rental agent about an apartment on June 9. She did not show up for the appointment and did not return the agent’s calls. A native of Fujian province, China, she was last seen getting into a car later identified as Christensen’s about 2 pm June 9. Traffic cameras showed her leaning through the passenger side door and talking to the driver, then getting in before the car drove away. Her friends reported the last message they got from her came about a half-hour later. Local police and the FBI were able to locate the car on June 27, and after further investigation arrested Christensen three days later. Her father, aunt and fiancé arrived in Illinois last month. At a news conference Friday, ...

BULLETIN: Chinese dissident writer Liu XiaoBo dies of cancer, age 61

BULLETIN: Chinese dissident writer Liu XiaoBo dies of cancer, age 61
Nobel laureate Liú Xiǎobō 刘晓波, who had been imprisoned in China in 2009 on charges of subversion, has died in a Liaoning hospital at age 61, news media reported today. Liu was diagnosed with terminal liver cancer earlier this year, and released on a medical parole in May. But his condition did not improve, and his health rapidly declined in the last two weeks. Doctors reported his internal organs were shutting down two days ago, but dialysis seemed to improve his condition somewhat. The writer co-authored Charter 08, a pro-democracy manifesto which urged the Chinese Communist Party to abide by the Chinese constitution’s protection of civil rights and political freedom. In 2009 he was arrested on charges of “subversion of state power” and sentenced to 11 years in prison. A year later, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in absentia, as China refused permission for Liu or any member of his family to travel to Oslo to accept the prize. Liu Xia, his wife, has been under house arrest since 2010, despite no formal charges against her. She was allowed to visit her husband in hospital, however. As the government has heavily censored news of Liu and his Nobel ...

Chinese Nobel laureate Liu XiaoBo in critical condition

Chinese Nobel laureate Liu XiaoBo in critical condition
Chinese dissident and Nobel Peace Prize winner Liú Xiǎobō 刘晓波 is in critical condition in a Chinese hospital, the South China Morning Post reported today. A medical team is on standby to resuscitate him if necessary. Liu, 61, was diagnosed with terminal liver cancer and released from prison on medical parole in May. One of the principal authors of Charter 08, a pro-democracy manifesto, Liu was arrested and convicted in 2009 on charges of subverting state power. In 2010 he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. The Chinese government had ignored international appeals for his release until his health deteriorated earlier this year. Since May Liu has been treated in a hospital in Shenyang, Liaoning province. His condition rapidly worsened last week. Two foreign doctors recommended he be flown to an overseas hospital for more aggressive treatments, but his Chinese doctors claim he is too weak to be moved. This quote from the South China Morning Post suggests it is the government that has advised against moving Liu, however. Asked on Monday if Liu would be allowed to go overseas for treatment, Reuters reported that foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said: “China hopes relevant countries will respect China’s sovereignty and ...

Chinese Nobel winner to be freed from prison for cancer treatment

Chinese Nobel winner to be freed from prison for cancer treatment
JISHOU, HUNAN — Eight years after being jailed for alleged political crimes, Chinese Nobel Peace Prize winner Liú Xiǎobō 刘晓波 will be released on medical parole, the South China Morning Post reports. Liu, 61, has terminal liver cancer, his lawyer told the Post. He is being treated outside the prison in Shenyang, Liaoning province. As one of the authors of the pro-democracy Charter 08 Manifesto, Liu was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2010, for “his long and non-violent struggle for fundamental human rights in China.” According to Wikipedia, Liu is the first Chinese citizen to be awarded a Nobel Prize of any kind while residing in China. One might assume that China would be proud, but the government has taken care to censor the news of Liu’s award and his incarceration. China’s government has not acknowledged the prize, other than to advise international delegates in 2010 to boycott the award ceremony or face “consequences.” Until Liu’s diagnosis in May, Beijing had refused international appeals to release him. His wife, Liú Xiá 刘霞, has also been under house arrest. Liu was arrested and tried in 2009 on charges of subversion of state power.

My first month on Steemit.com: my account is worth more than $260!

My first month on Steemit.com: my account is worth more than $260!
JISHOU, HUNAN — Last month, I wrote that I had signed up for an account on Steemit.com, a new blogging/discussion platform that rewards writers and commenters with tokens called Steem Power and Steem Dollars (SBD). These in turn can be exchanged for regular money (US dollars, for example) or for other kinds of cryptocurrency, such as Bitcoin. Well, after a month, my Steemit wallet is now worth about $263. Not super impressive, but still more than I have earned from this blog during its decade-long existence. I really need to talk to HR about my pay. Steemit users earn whenever readers upvote (aka “like”) their content. Some prolific authors, such as Chinese travel writer sweetsssj, earn hundreds of dollars for each post. My biggest reward so far has been much more modest: just shy of $35. But Steemit users also are paid “curation rewards” — for reposting others’ content. The amount of the reward depends on the original post’s value and on the reposter’s Steem Power. Essentially, Steem Power is a measure of a user’s influence on the platform. More Steem Power means more curation rewards. So, you can earn money by posting, commenting and reposting (re-steeming). Here’s my tally ...

A birthday surprise — because it’s not my birthday

A birthday surprise -- because it's not my birthday
JISHOU, HUNAN — On Friday I told my freshmen that I would not be returning to teach them English in the fall. By way of explanation, I said I was now 61, one year over the mandatory “retirement” age for foreign teachers here. Well, I guess some of my students took that to mean I had just had a birthday, so two of them today went to a DIY cake shop and made me a small birthday cake (photo above). My birthday is in January, but no matter! They were showing their affection and care for me, so I just went along with it. Charissa and Jackie (pictured below) arrived after dinner with the cake, candles, paper plates and forks. They sang “Happy Birthday,” I made a wish, and blew out the candles. Though the decoration was a bit over the top, the cake tasted great, and it was a very nice surprise. The freshmen are now in some kind of special classes — I suspect a test run of some computer-based learning system. So, my last classes with them were a week ago. I’m an evaluator of their progress in the special classes, so I still will see them ...

Big news: some bad, some good 1

Big news: some bad, some good
JISHOU, HUNAN — I’ve been quiet here for the last two weeks, because I have been very, very busy, and not just for the usual end-of-the-term onslaught of activities. I learned on June 2 that I had “aged out” of my job here in Hunan, and would need to leave China no later than June 30. That’s the bad news — a forced separation from this place and the people I’ve grown to love. While I can still visit, I can no longer teach in Jishou on a work visa, because in April Hunan province enacted a new rule — 60 is the maximum age for a work visa. I’m now 61. Now for the good news. Within a few days of posting my resume on Dave’s ESL Café I was offered a job at the Henan University of Technology in Zhengzhou. There, the maximum age is 64 (I asked several times to be sure), so conceivably I can work there another three years if I like — or as long as the province or the city doesn’t abruptly change the rules to screw over the foreigners again. In fact, several English language schools in China sent me offers, but ...

Astrophotography: Moon and Venus, Jan. 31, 2017

Astrophotography: Moon and Venus, Jan. 31, 2017
HIROSHIMA, JAPAN — OK, I’m not really in Japan now, but I was when I took the picture. I’m just now trying to curate the hundreds of photos I took during my month in Japan, and thought I’d share this. It’s not super-sharp, because I had no tripod and tried to brace the camera against a window frame to steady it. The Chinese tune, “The Moon Represents My Heart,” (月亮代表我的心 Yuèliàng Dàibiǎo Wǒ de Xīn) most famously sung by Teresa Teng (邓丽君 Dèng Lìjūn) has been playing in my head lately. So, for me at least, a picture of the Moon seems suitable for the occasion. Camera geek details: Nikon D3300, Tamron 70-300 mm zoom lens @ 135 mm, f/4 1/500 sec, ISO 12,800. Teresa Teng was from Taiwan, and became one of the first non-mainland singers to become very popular in China. Nearly everyone in China knows this song, especially those who came of age during the Opening Up of the 1970s. Sadly, she died young from asthma complications at age 42. Now, for your listening pleasure, Miss Teng. (Scroll down past the photo.)

Bitcoin, Litecoin withdrawals resume at Chinese exchanges — woo hoo!

Bitcoin, Litecoin withdrawals resume at Chinese exchanges -- woo hoo!
JISHOU, HUNAN — After five months of shutdowns, Chinese cryptocurrency exchanges have resumed Bitcoin and Litecoin withdrawals, meaning I could finally move the coins I’ve had at Huobi.com since February to my other wallets. Chinese regulators forced BTCChina, Huobi and OKCoin to halt the withdrawals (but not Chinese yuan withdrawals) in January, pending “investigations.” Basically, it boiled down to the government telling the exchanges to tighten ship, monitor who was moving money through the exchanges, and add policies to limit margin trading and end fee-less trades. Resumption of Bitcoin and Litecoin withdrawals comes a week after the three exchanges announced they would offer trading May 31 in Ethereum and Ethereum Classic — two of the hottest tokens in the markets. Interest in Ethereum has picked up in China, as I’ve mentioned before here. Makes me wonder if the exchanges did some bargaining with the national regulators to allow the new trading platforms in exchange (pardon the pun) for complying with the new rules. In any event, Bitcoin prices rose today over $2,400, perhaps in response to the Chinese exchanges regaining full integration with the world markets. The other two were also trading strongly today.
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