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

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 ...

PLA dispatches local singing star Song Zuying 宋祖英 to Spratly Islands for show

PLA dispatches local singing star Song Zuying 宋祖英 to Spratly Islands for show
JISHOU, HUNAN — The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has sent local singing star Sòng Zǔyīng 宋祖英 to the disputed Spratly Islands to perform for military personnel stationed there, the BBC reports. Song, 49, is from Guzhang County, Hunan, about an hour’s drive from Jishou. Song belongs to the Miao minority group (also known as Hmong) and often performs wearing Miao clothing and silver bridal jewelry and headgear (see photo). China has been developing one of the Spratly Islands, which lie in the South China Sea near the Philippines, Malaysia and Vietnam. Jurisdiction of the islands has been a source of friction between China and its smaller neighbors, who are not very keen on China’s incursion into international waters so close to their shores. For its part, China claims its development of the islands, which includes an airstrip and a naval dock, is for civilian use only. Beijing claims a large swatch of the South China Sea belongs to China, basing that assertion on centuries-old documents. The UN, however, recognizes the nearby countries as having jurisdiction. Song is a non-combatant member of the PLA with the rank of rear admiral. She’s performed Chinese and Miao songs around the world, and sang ...

S. Korea rejects North’s accusation it abducted restaurant workers from China

S. Korea rejects North's accusation it abducted restaurant workers from China
An embarrassed North Korea has accused its arch-enemy, South Korea, of abducting 13 defectors from Ningbo, China, last week. South Korea, meanwhile, insists the group came of their own free will. North Korea also obliquely criticized “a country” — namely, China — for assisting in the alleged (and imaginary) abduction. The 12 female employees and a male manager left Ningbo in Zhejiang Province on April 5, and arrived in Seoul to seek asylum on April 7. A Chinese foreign ministry official confirmed that the group had legal travel documents, suggesting China did not prevent their departure. North Korea has demanded the 13 be returned immediately, or South Korea would face “unimaginable serious consequences.” The article published by the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) carries a statement of an unnamed spokesperson from North Korea’s Central Committee of the Red Cross Society. “We sternly denounce the group abduction of the citizens of the DPRK as a hideous crime against its dignity and social system and the life and security of its citizens,” the spokesperson was quoted as saying. “The recent case of ‘group defection’ cooked up by the puppet group is a crucial provocation against the DPRK which can never be tolerated ...

13 N. Korean restaurant workers legally leave China to defect to S. Korea

13 N. Korean restaurant workers legally leave China to defect to S. Korea
In what could be a slap in the face to its North Korean ally, China has allowed 13 restaurant workers to leave China legally to defect to South Korea. The 12 women and 1 man had been working at a North Korean-run Pyongyang restaurant in Ningbo, Zhejiang province, but left China with the proper legal documents, a Chinese foreign ministry spokesman said yesterday. Illegal workers in China are usually repatriated to North Korea if they are caught, but the restaurant workers likely had Chinese work or business visas. North Korea maintains 130 government-run restaurants around the world to bring in badly needed hard currency. News media have reported that workers in these restaurants are closely monitored and are rarely given freedom to move about. South Korea announced the defection on Friday, but said nothing about the workers leaving China. But Chinese foreign ministry Lu Kang said at a routine news conference that 13 North Koreans “were found exiting the Chinese border with valid passports” on April 6. China is North Korea’s only ally, and provides considerable aid (while also taking natural resources) from the so-called Hermit Kingdom. North Korean defectors found in China are generally sent back home, where they ...
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