Email of the day

I’ve received emails from people who think I sell and distribute Peking duck, and from people who want to know Peking duck recipes, but this was the oddest one yet:

This is not a joke…I am looking for advice on how to treat a PET PEKIN DUCK who has a cough for the past month….any ideas???????? I have been searching but it seems hard to find.

Any duck veterinarians out there with any ideas?

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Ruili, Yunnan’s “City of Sin”

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Young junkies shoot up in the streets of Ruili

A few weeks ago, when I asked readers to suggest places to see in Yunnan someone suggested Ruili. I had never heard of it before, but this article told me all I need to know. This place is a living, breathing AIDS factory. Truly scary. (And no, it’s not on my itinerary.)

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China following the path of Nazi Germany? (No, I don’t think so.)

While this irresponsible news analysis appears in the loathesome Washington Times, it’s from UPI (which I didn’t even realize was still in business) so I’m surprised it’s so vitriolic.

Chinese President Hu Jintao signaled Friday that he remained determined to crack down on intellectual dissidents, a likely sign of considerably increased repression in the years to come.

[...]

The massive precautions [after Zhao's death] taken to prevent any rekindling of the popular democratic flame was far from being an isolated move. In a recent study for the Washington-based Jamestown Foundation, Willy Wo-Lap Lam, one of the most respected observers of Chinese domestic politics, noted that Hu, originally widely expected to be a reformist, liberalizing leader, began very clearly to swing back toward doctrinaire Marxist-Leninism in line with Mao Zedong thought when he approved a lavish celebration of the 110th anniversary of Mao’s birth a year ago.

This development, Lam wrote, “has been exacerbated since the new supremo (Hu) took over the post of Central Military Commission chairman from ex-president Jiang Zemin last September.”

Lam also reported that top officials in the Chinese Communist Party and its Leading Group on Foreign Affairs had observed with alarm pro-Western President Viktor Yushchenko’s victory, on the wave of widespread popular protests, in Ukraine’s “Orange Revolution” over the past two months. “The Hu leadership agreed with Moscow’s assessment that Yushchenko’s victory the second time around was due to heavy support from the Western alliance led by Washington,” Lam wrote.

As a result, Lam continued, Hu’s advisers now fear a domino effect may develop across Eurasia with former Soviet Central Asian republics in the Russian and Chinese-led Shanghai Cooperation Organization such as Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan developing their own irresistible popular movements until eventually the destabilizing contagion of democracy, as Beijing leaders see it, re-infecting China itself.

Lam also cited a widely quoted editorial in the official People’s Daily in early January warning that “hostile forces have not abandoned their conspiracy and tactics to Westernize China and to divide up the country.” Now, Lam continued, the Chinese Communist Party’s “leadership’s fears about ‘subversion’ allegedly spearheaded by the U.S. have been translated into tough tactics against the nation’s liberal academics, writers and journalists.”

These moves fulfill a prediction we made in these columns more than two years ago on Nov. 16, 2002, that “if the 1990s proved to be China’s equivalent of America and Germany’s 1920s Jazz Age, there is the very real possibility that China’s coming decade may parallel the rise of nationalist fascism in 1930s Germany.”

Well, how’s that for scare journalism? And it gets even worse (so read it all).

Remember, this newspaper is conservative Washington’s bible, so I view it as a barometer of the Bushniks’ viewpoints. We all know Bush doesn’t want to make trouble for China, but he is under serious pressure from his beloved right-wing bible-thumping base, which still sees Red when they see China.

While I happen to think the writer makes some valid points, I also fear we’re seeing a reactionary campaign against China, based on burning fears that the US will fall under the PRC’s shadow (a fear that’s pretty groundless, at least for the next 100 years). I want to see Hu pressured and tamed and liberalized. But articles like this only stir up fear and loathing and are unhealthy in every way.

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Dick Cheney does Auschwitz – dressed like a slob

Is Cheney an idiot, attending a formal ceremony honoring those murdered in Auschwitz, wearing a parka, hiking boots and a cheap knit ski cap embroidered with the words “Staff 101″? Answer: Yes.

This story is painfully funny and beautifully written by the WaPo’s fashion writer Robin Givhan, who doesn’t hold her punches: “The vice president, however, was dressed in the kind of attire one typically wears to operate a snow blower.” Read the whole thing – really.

Via Atrios, where you have to go to see this picture of Cheney.

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Charles Johnson does Auschwitz — and gets it all wrong

My favorite wingnut racist blogger Charles Johnson yesterday wrote a piece commemorating the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, a place the very name of which has become synonymous with evil. Johnson’s piece is well intended; it offers a sketchy, History 101-type description of the death camp, the kind of thing you can find on any number of Web sites. And that would have been fine, but he ruins it by coming to an appallingly wrong conclusion of what the lesson of Auschwitz should be:

If remembering Auschwitz should teach us anything, it is that we must all support Israel and the Jewish people against the vilification and the complicity we are witnessing, knowing where it inevitably leads.

Now wait a minute. I am a Jew and I support Israel (though not unconditionally). But this is absolutely NOT the key lesson of the Holocaust, not at all. Far more important is the lesson that men, even the most civilized and cultured, are capable of doing the most atrocious of things when barbarism is permitted to flourish and when the basic tenets of human decency are discarded and replaced by notions of superiority. Another key lesson is that racial stereotyping of ANY group, be it gypsies, Jews, gays or Slavs, can have dire consequences. And another key lesson is how urgent it is that we have stringent laws, check and balances to reign in those who would abuse their power, and those who would see fit to torture and kill.

Yes, the plight of the Jews is a central part of this mosaic, but the lessons of Nazism aren’t simply about making sure we all protect Jews. It’s about making sure no group — Jewish or otherwise — ever again falls victim to the kinds of horrors the Jews faced in Auschwitz. It’s about preventing man’s basest instincts from overcoming his critical thinking.

How odd, that Johnson doesn’t see the extreme irony here — that his own site is the kind of breeding ground for hatred and racism that made Auschwitz possible. His embrace of torture, religious hatred and the notion that we can do whatever we want to those who belong to a specific religious group — the road to Auschwitz got started from precisely this deviant mentality.

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The best journalists money can buy

This is truly sleazy. You can write to the offender Joe Gannon and tell him what you think.

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Another perspective of corruption within the CCP

I want to urge readers to visit a now-antique thread about Taiwan, and find the comments that eswn of eastsouthwestnorth wrote there today. Very wise and thought-provoking.

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“Zhao mourners rounded up, beaten”

Update: The story’s out in the US now; here’s a link.

A reader sends me this story from the unlinkable SCMP (and sorry about formatting issues; no time to fix):

Mourners for deposed leader Zhao rounded up, beaten: witnesses

Updated at 2.50pm:

China has detained dozens of people, some of whom have been severely
beaten, for trying to mark the death of former leader Zhao Ziyang, witnesses said on Thursday.

The allegations came as the government intensified security to prevent mourners attending Saturday’s funeral in Beijing for Mr Zhao, the former Communist Party secretary general purged for opposing the 1989 military crackdown on the Tiananmen democracy movement. At least three people, including a woman in her 70s, were punched and manhandled by police officers outside the government offices which receive complaints in the Chinese capital, witnesses said.

They were among some 60 people who pinned white paper flowers to their clothes, a traditional Chinese symbol of mourning, said a bystander who took pictures of the beatings and posted them on overseas websites.

“A man from Henan province was beaten badly. His left eyeball looked like it was beaten out of its socket and he had a one inch cut to his right eye,” said the man who requested anonymity.

“An elderly woman from Shandong province was beaten to a point where she couldn’t move and a man from Hunan province was also beaten,” he said.

Police shouted at the petitioners that Mr Zhao, who spent nearly 16 years under house arrest until his death last week, was a “political criminal,” the witness said.

“They said: ‘Why are you commemorating him? You’re clearly opposing the government. But the petitioners said ‘We think differently. We think he’s a good person.’”

Also last week, an estimated 80 to 90 petitioners were rounded up near Mr Zhao’s traditional courtyard home in Beijing for trying to get inside to pay respects and express condolences to his family, petitioners said.

“In our petitioners’ hostel, all 10 people who went were detained and held from from 9am to 11pm,” said Bai Shuhua, one of the 10.

“In the police station, they said ‘You don’t seek leaders who are
alive, but insist on seeking dead leaders. How can the dead help you?” Bai said.

One of the petitioners, Liu Hongbo, was punched twice as he yelled, “Zhao didn’t do anything wrong,” Bai said.

Mr Zhao, prime minister and head of the Communist Party for much of the 1980s, died on January 17 at the age of 85.

The authorities fear his death and funeral on Saturday will be a rallying point for dissidents, petitioners and people dissatisfied with the government.

For all the reform, there’s still a price one must pay (like having your eye punched out) for expressing your political beliefs. No matter how much some of you don’t like Zhao, do you see this as a good thing or a bad thing?

I know, there are good people and bad people in the CCP, and it may not be as black and white as it seems. But on second thought, the story above really does appear to be black and white. Does anyone find any gray?

Update, 6:10 p.m. MST.

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Censored!

The harmless, soft-spoken Peking Duck is being banned by this filtering system, apparently being employed by a US company in China to filter the Web sites its employees can visit:

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The writer in China who brought this to my attention, whose identity I will leave anonymous, sent me the following email:

I recently changed the server that in the US to connect to the internet, and suddenly I couldn’t get in to Peking Duck at all

I’ve had trouble reading your site before from one or two different servers that I’ve been using in the US but this is the first time that I have actually had a message saying that your site has been blocked. Usually I’ve just not been able to get through and have presumed that it was just a busy time or something. This would explain why I’ve had such trouble reading your site before.

I’ve had similar problems with Seelai because of the pornography on that site when I was using a server that I knew had a net nanny installed, but I’ve never seen an ISP block an advocacy groups site before, at least not an nAmerican ISP.

This company isn’t my ISP and I’d never heard of them before, but whoever they are they wouldn’t let me see Peking Duck from the computer in my apartment. If they are a blacklist provider, then they could potentially have supplied your website’s name to hundreds of ISPs by now.

It is certainly not good news if liberal sites are being blocked by US companies, who knows how many other liberal blogs are blocked.

This is really creepy. I’m okay with the CCP trying to block my site (though they wouldn’t bother, since it’s in English), but US companies in China? I just don’t get it….

UPDATE: The emailer who informed me of this wrote to correct a misimpression I had. This censorship occurred in the US, not in China, which makes it even creepier.

Mark hypothesizes that it might have been cause by my “Don’t Blame Me, I Voted for Kerry” banner, but I’ve had anti-Bush, pro-Kerry stuff on here for ages. I’m not convinced…

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Charles Johnson’s car?

I saw this picture over at Poor Man and immediately thought the car must belong to Charles Johnson, proprietor of Little Green Cesspools. (It doesn’t, Poor Man explains, but it sure wouldn’t surprise me.) Click to enlarge.

charles johnson's car.jpg

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