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 ...

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 ...

BBC reporters attacked by ‘thugs’ in Xinhua county, near Loudi, Hunan

BBC reporters attacked by 'thugs' in Xinhua county, near Loudi, Hunan
[CORRECTION ALERT: Xinhua is a county, not a township. I’ve corrected that error.] JISHOU, HUNAN — A BBC correspondent reported today that he and his team were attacked while attempting to interview a local woman about her petitions to the national government. The altercation occurred in a village of Xinhua county in the jurisdiction of Loudi, a city about three and half hours from Jishou. John Sudworth says a group of people prevented him from meeting Yang Linghua, a resident who planned to journey to Beijing to present her grievances to the national congress there. Then, Sudworth says he and his team were physically accosted and their equipment smashed. Then they were chased out of town. Eventually, uniformed police and local officials came out, and required Sudworth and the other journalists to sign a forced confession that they had conducted an “illegal interview.” Ms Yang was also detained, he says in his account. After we left the village, we were chased down and had our car surrounded by a group of about 20 thugs. They were then joined by some uniformed police officers and two officials from the local foreign affairs office, and under the threat of further violence, we ...

A teacher grades Donald Trump’s remarks about Black History Month, gives speech an F 1

A teacher grades Donald Trump's remarks about Black History Month, gives speech an F
HIROSHIMA, JAPAN — Donald Trump (R-Blowhard) made some remarks Wednesday about Black History Month and (the bust of) Martin Luther King Jr. that have left many puzzled. For one thing, Trump appeared to believe Frederick Douglass (at left) was still alive, though he died 122 years ago. Less puzzling was the extent to which Trump took the opportunity to talk about himself and his campaign. In a speech of less than 800 words, he managed to address the topic of Black History Month and notable African-Americans less than half the time. To demonstrate what I mean, I’ve highlighted in red anything pertinent to the subject of Black History Month and struck out anything relating to Trump and his campaign and election. If this had been a homework assignment for a class of mine, I would have failed it, and required the student to rewrite it. It barely addresses the topic at hand, and the general tone is so casual and flip that it would lead one to believe the speaker not only knows very little about black history but that he doesn’t even care to. In my professional judgment, Trump barely spent five minutes preparing this talk. “Just a few ...

Trump economics, the Cow version

Trump economics, the Cow version
Some of you may be familiar with the Cow Analogy for economic systems. If not, click the link to see one verson. I whipped up an entry for Trump Economics. Trump economics: You want a cow. A big cow. The biggest cow ever. Heads will spin. So you borrow enough money for two of the biggest cows ever, and lure others to invest in the cows and pay you for putting your name on the cows. You default on the cow loans, so you declare bankruptcy and stick the investors with two cows they don’t want. You also demand they take your name off the cows, and then claim the loss of the cows as a deduction so you don’t have to pay income taxes. The cows die. You are hailed as a financial genius. You decide to run for president. Comments are welcome.

Keith Olbermann rakes Trump over coals for not accepting possible Clinton win

Keith Olbermann rakes Trump over coals for not accepting possible Clinton win
JISHOU, HUNAN — Keith Olbermann has justly raked Donald Trump (R-Blowhard) over the coals for his coy suggestion that “we are going to have to see” whether to acknowledge Hillary Clinton as the winner of the election Nov. 8. During last week’s debate, moderator Lester Holt had asked the bombastic Trump if he would support Clinton if she won the election. Trump said yes, but a few days later told The New York Times, “We’re going to have to see. We’re going to see what happens. We’re going to have to see.” Trump has also told supporters at his campaign rallies to watch for voter fraud at the polls, leading others to worry about Trump supporters interfering with the voting process, or about possible violence after the results are in. Responding to these remarks on his GQ webcast, The Closer, Olbermann in a fiery broadside salvo accused Trump of single-handedly overturning the entire American electoral process and demeaning the previous 57 presidential elections by suggesting he would not accept the outcome as binding. “Get out of the election,” Olbermann said. “Get out of this country!” Citing close and pivotal elections from 1864 to 1960, Olbermann noted that no candidate in ...

Int’l arbitration court rules against China’s expansive claims to So. China Sea

Int'l arbitration court rules against China's expansive claims to So. China Sea
China’s claim to a vast portion of the South China Sea is invalid and it has encroached on the sovereignty of the the Philippines, a United Nations court ruled today. The ruling by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague is a sharp rebuke of China, which has aggressively expanded its presence in the South China Sea against the objections of neighboring countries. China earlier had asserted it would not recognize or abide by the court’s ruling, claiming the court had no jurisdiction. But the decision is a serious blow to China’s “face” in the region, and it remains to be seen how the Beijing government will react. Government officials called the decision “ill founded.” And social media users in China were decrying the Hague’s decision within minutes of the announcement — no doubt republishing government-supplied responses. Here are two examples from my WeChat feed, translated by WeChat’s built-in app. Further reading: BBC The Washington Post South China Morning Post

Chinese-made ‘grandpa’ cartoon addresses territorial disputes in So. China Sea

Chinese-made 'grandpa' cartoon addresses territorial disputes in So. China Sea
JISHOU, HUNAN — In an effort to convince the wider world that China has an expansive territorial claim to a large portion of the South China Sea, the People’s Daily has released a three-minute cartoon history lesson that is sure to convince the United Nations tribunal considering those claims. A decision by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague is expected on Tuesday, but China has announced it intends to ignore the court’s decision. So there. Entitled “Grandpa Tells a Story,” the wise grandpa tells his inquisitive granddaughter the history of China and its long-standing claim to the South China Sea and especially to islands just off the coasts of four other nations, Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia and the Philippines. (See map above.) Taiwan also has overlapping claims with China in the area. First, he tells her Chinese fishermen were the first to discover the Spratly Islands 2,000 years ago, during the Han Dynasty. They found them with the help of magnetic compasses, which the Chinese just so happened to invent. Apparently, other fishermen in the area were clueless. Then, sailors during the Yuan Dynasty explored the South China Sea. Six hundred years ago, the navigator Zheng He (sailing in ...

China dis-invites children’s choir after it sings Taiwan’s national anthem

China dis-invites children's choir after it sings Taiwan's national anthem
JISHOU, HUNAN — The Puzangalan Children’s Choir of Taiwan was supposed to perform in Guangdong next month, but China has canceled the group’s invitation, apparently for political reasons. The choir, comprising members of the aboriginal Paiwan people, had sung the Taiwanese national anthem at the inauguration of Taiwan’s new president, Tsai Ing-wen, last month. Since China considers Taiwan a province of the mainland, the song apparently hurt Beijing’s feelings. The performance at a choral festival in Guangdong was part of a fundraising tour for the choir. President Tsai has pledged $15,000 to offset the loss of income, the BBC reported today. Focus Taiwan TV reported today that the group has raised enough funds to attend the International Choir Festival organized by Cantemus Choral Institute in Nyiregyhaza, Hungary, in August. So, take that, China! For more information about the choir, you can visit their Facebook page or their website. Here’s an example of their singing.

Anonymous 3rd grade pizza math question drives Internet crazy

Anonymous 3rd grade pizza math question drives Internet crazy
JISHOU, HUNAN — It seems every few months or so the Internet is in turmoil about some silly “controversy” or another. The latest is the “Marty and Luis” pizza question. An image of the question, supposedly marked in green by a teacher, ended up on reddit two months ago, apparently as a criticism of American education, or teachers, or math. Who knows? Well, I’m a skeptic, so I went digging around the Internet trying to find the origin of the question and the image. The source of the question was easy to find: Pearson Education’s EnVision math series for 3rd Grade Common Core. The source of the image was a different matter. Using, I used the image as a search parameter. It’s earliest appearance was, oddly enough, on a German image collection site,, and it was posted there in March 2015! The account of the original poster, gelöscht-20111221-112645, has since been locked, and his new account, gelöscht-20120516-162657, is not visible to the public, though the images are searchable. Go figure. After this mysterious German appearance, the same image ended up on about a week later, where it began to attract the usual assortment of comments, ranging from ...

Chinese government mouthpiece disses ‘barbarian’ UK media following ‘Gossip Queen’s’ gaffe

Chinese government mouthpiece disses 'barbarian' UK media following 'Gossip Queen's' gaffe
British media will become more civilized after they are exposed to 5,000 years of Chinese history, the editors of the Chinese version of Global Times wrote yesterday, responding to coverage of Queen Elizabeth II calling a Chinese delegation “rude.” “The West in modern times has risen to the top and created a brilliant civilization, but their media is full of reckless ‘gossip fiends’ who bare their fangs and brandish their claws and are very narcissistic, retaining the bad manners of ‘barbarians’,” the unsigned editorial says, according to the South China Morning Post. The Queen was recorded Wednesday having a conversation with the police commander who had been in charge of security for Chinese diplomats during Chinese President Xi Jinping’s October visit. The commander remarked that the delegation had been uncooperative and rude, and the Queen replied that she knew about it. “They were very rude to the Ambassador [Barbara Woodward],” the Queen said. Both were apparently unaware their conversation was audible to TV news cameras. Chinese reaction was initially muted, though BBC News reports were bleeped out on the mainland. The English language Global Times made light of the gaffe. Yesterday’s Chinese language version was more irate, but said the ...
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