Anti’s Blog, the Beijing News – both toppled by the reforming CCP

I don’t want to spend a lot of time talking about China’s closure of Michael Anti’s blog on MSN Spaces. It makes me too sick, and it is New Year’s Eve. Letters from China has done an fine job covering the fall of the Beijing News, and he also links to some absolutely indispensable translations from ESWN. Those posts from Beijing News workers can literally make you cry.

In a thread below on the greatness of Chairman Mao, some commenters are insisting China’s media is improving and gaining new freedoms, and they hailed China’s toleration of bloggers critical of the government. I think today there’s precious little wind in their sails, except pure hot air.

China’s making progress in some ways, but in others it’s still in the dark ages, and is just as bad as any police state. You won’t see this when you travel there as a tourist. You won’t see it in the faces of the happy nouveau middle-class Beijingers window-shopping along Wangfujing. But it’s there beneath the surface, waiting to assert its muscle on those who have the temerity to ask questions or fight for greater rights.

Reading those ESWN translations, I felt what little hope I still held for the government slip away. It’s got no heart, no soul and no conscience. The people who wrote the words are so beautiful, and they deserve so much better.


Wang Binyu’s “wasted life” and the tragedy of China’s migrant workers

New Year’s Eve, and I wasn’t going to blog at all tonight, but a couple of stories are too important to ignore.

Is there a time to kill? That question kept ringing in my mind as I read this painful article in today’s Times, the only paper that seems to have China’s corrupt and ineffective legal system firmly in its line of fire.

From the prison cell where he contemplated an executioner’s bullet, a migrant worker named Wang Binyu gave an anguished account of his wasted life. Unexpectedly, it rippled across China like a primal scream.

For three weeks, the brutal murders Mr. Wang committed after failing to collect unpaid wages were weighed on the Internet and in Chinese newspapers against the brutal treatment he had endured as a migrant worker. Public opinion shouted for mercy; lawyers debated the fairness of his death sentence. Others saw the case as a bloody symptom of the harsh inequities of Chinese life.

But then, in late September, the furor disappeared as suddenly as it had begun. Online discussion was censored and news media coverage was almost completely banned. Mr. Wang’s final appeal was rushed to court. His father, never notified, learned about the hearing only by accident. His chosen defense lawyer was forbidden from participating.

“All of you are on the same side,” Mr. Wang, 28, shouted during the hearing, his father said in an interview here in the family’s home village in northern Gansu Province. “If you want to kill me, just kill me.”

On Oct. 19, they did. Mr. Wang was executed so quickly, and quietly, that it took weeks for the word to fully trickle out that he was dead.

There’s not a word here that won’t infuriate you. The deck is so stacked against the defendant, especially when he’s a poor migrant worker, that I wonder why China even has a court system. The system is in many ways literally a joke, a kind of creepy parody of itself.

Wang was forced to fight against those who exploit and tread on the poor,” one person wrote at a Chinese Web site. “Why is the law always tough on the poor?”

Mr. Wang’s case also illustrates how a system built for convictions has few safeguards or protections for a defendant facing death. Officials in the High Court of Ningxia Autonomous Region, the area in western China where the case was heard, refused several requests for interviews. But Wu Shaozhi, the Beijing lawyer who tried to represent Mr. Wang, said the Ningxia courts obviously wanted fast results.

Before the appeal, the Wang family signed power of attorney to Mr. Wu. But Mr. Wu said court officials had initially lied, telling him the appeal was over. Then they refused to let him enter the case. Instead, Mr. Wang was represented by a lawyer approved by the court.

Meanwhile, Mr. Wu noted, the same judges who heard the appeal also concurrently handled a mandatory final review of the case. It meant that judges were reviewing their own ruling – a practice that legal experts said is not uncommon and provided little real check and balance on the use of the death penalty.

Wang followed all the rules, and tried to fight for his money using the legal system. The article details the Kafkaesque run-arounds and obstacles he faced, and how a good man seeking justice was turned into a killer. You have to read it.

Sometime when I post a story ike this, a commenter will ask, rather snidely, “So why don’t you do something constructive to help make the situation better?” Believe me, if I could do something to change China’s judiciary, I would. For now, writing about it is the only way I know how to make a difference. Knowledge is power, ignorance is impotence and silence is death.

I’ve been striving for balance and looking for something, anything at all, to praise about China’s leaders. So far, I’ve failed abysmally, and stories like this confirm my belief that it’s not a bad thing to point the spotlight on the CCP’s sins and crimes against humanities. In fact, it’s absolutely essential.


Recovery Thread

Tell us how you survived Christmas, or anything else you’d like to discuss.


What’s Wrong with America?

How’s that for a loaded question? The following is an essay by frequent commenter David Mercer. I don’t necessarily agree with it all (e.g., I plan to vote for the Dems in the next election because their track record is somewhat less atrocious than the Republicans), but it’s certainl;y food for thought.

Did my ancestors eke out a bare existence on Plymouth Rock to practice their faith for this?

Spying on ourselves as the Russians only could have in the most
fevered dreams of the KGB.

Did my ancestors fight and die for the American Revolution for this?

Calling it necessary to stop terrorist attacks when all that was
needed to stop 9/11 was strong doors and locks in cockpits.

Did they fight and die on the battlefields of the Civil War for this?

Even Lincoln suspending habeaus corpus was at least done in the open.

Did my grandfathers fight in Europe and the Pacific for this?

Inherant power under the Constitution to do this is beyond laughable.

Has the entire last 400 years of struggle of my ancestors been utterly in vain?

Has America forgotten utterly what it is?

Have the darkest nightmares of George Washington and the dangers of
party politics finally been realized?

Why is all of the debate about the NSA spying revolving around it’s
legality? How is that even possible here?

Can anyone see right from wrong anymore in America?

Can anyone remember what it means to be an American?

Where is the Spirit of America?

Do not vote for any incumbent, Democrat or Republican, in coming
elections, or it will be the worse for us all. They are both corrupt
parties, fighting over power that they are loathe to give up.

We The People are Sovereign here.

The Republican and Democratic Parties are not Sovereign, and have no
inherant right to exist.

We The People ARE the Government of this Nation, and it seems to be
long past time that we administered a refresher course in that lesson
at the ballot box, to both of those old and corrupt parties.

How is it that the rules to stand for office in this nation are so
convoluted and nearly impossible to meet for anyone not personally
wealthy or backed by the Republicans or Democrats?

Does either of those parties truly even remember what those words MEAN?

Have we truly become the worst in what we hate? How is unquestioned
rule by one or the other different from unquestioned rule by one

Does anyone understand what this program means?

It WILL lead to abuses of personal power that make the 47 year rule of the FBI by it’s first director seem tame and pale, and whomever grabs the reigns of such an apparatus will not easily give them up.

Who in the Democratic party has already been blackmailed by data
gathered by this program? If they haven’t yet, give it at most one
more election cycle.

How would electing another batch of Democrats truly make things any

What excuse would they grab hold of to do the same, and how long would that temptation of power take before they gave in to it?

My God, what ever happened to the plain meaning of the text of the 4th Amendment?

What ever happened to the plain meaning of the law being what it meant?

What ever happened to individuals actually running for office and
truly representing the interests of those around them in their

When was the last time that the outcome of elections for the House of
Representatives was not almost entirely a foregone conclusion?

It no longer matters if any individual candidate means well
personally, if they are a member of one of the two major parties they
are supporting a corrupt apparatus.

Would you sell your birthright for a mess of potage?

Do not vote for major party candidates if you still know what the
Spirit of America is.

If it still lives, prove it at the ballot box. Start write in
campaigns for independent candidates, and do not donate to the two
major parties. Vote with your wallet as well.

Vote the two parties out of power while you still can, as electronic
balloting will soon make anonymous voting a dream of the past, and it
will then be too late.

Ask these difficult questions, forward and post this message, and do
not take excuses for an answer.

-David Mercer
Tucson, AZ

This essay is public domain and may hence be distributed in any media
with or without attribution, in whole or in part.

Comments, China’s dream blog hosting company

If you want to get your blood pressure up a few notches, head over to Danwei and read this maddening story. Excerpt (emphasis added):

Yesterday Danwei reported news that the Guangming Group had taken control of The Beijing News — Beijing’s best newspaper — from its more liberal and truth-minded joint venture partner the Nanfang Group. The Guangming Group is controlled directly by the Ministry of Publicity (neé Ministry of Propaganda), and it seems that most editors and journalists in Beijing believe the newspaper will soon go the the dogs under Guangming’s leadership.

An editor at The Beijing News named Wang Xiaoshan responded to the hostile takeover on his blog with a post in large highlighted characters:

There’s no way to retreat, so we won’t retreat. The butcher’s knife is already raised… We’re going to die so let’s make it a beautiful death.

The post was copied as an image by Massage Milk (reproduced above, links to Massage Milk below). But Wang Xiaoshan’s blog is hosted on’s blogging service; less than 24 hours after he published his battle cry, Sina’s censors deleted it from his blog, together with all comments that readers had made to the post.

Go to to Danwei to read massage Milk’s evocative response.


Most under-reported story of the year

Bush is blessed. For the past two weeks, all we’ve been reading about in the blogs and newspapers (if anyone reads newspapers aymore) has been the NSA snooping on US citizens, and rather hysterical outcries from the right claiming that those who question this (and anything our great war-time president decrees) are traitors.

This has provided a marvelous smokescreen, allowing the biggest news story in months to slip quietly by, unnoticed and unremarked-upon. That story is the end of the myth of a peaceful unified Iraq, which became the justification for our dirty little war once the weapons of mass destruction canard fell apart.

The myth of a unified Iraqi identity may have finally been laid to rest this month.

More clearly than any other measurement since the U.S.-led 2003 invasion, preliminary results from the Dec. 15 parliamentary elections show Iraq as three lands with three distinct identities, divided by faith, goals, region, history and symbols….

[T]he preliminary election results, which have trickled out through a series of haphazard leaks and news conferences and remain disputed by all parties, show a nation starkly fragmented into ethnic and religious cantons with different aims and visions.

Nine out of 10 Iraqis in the Shiite Muslim provinces of the south voted for religious Shiite parties, according to the early results from the Independent Electoral Commission of Iraq. Nine out of 10 Iraqis in Sunni Muslim Arab areas of central and western Iraq voted for Sunni parties. Nine out of 10 Iraqis in the Kurdish provinces of the north voted for Kurdish candidates. Nationwide, only about 9% voted for tickets that purported to represent all Iraqis.

The results were like a bracing splash of ice water for U.S. officials, who had predicted that a secular, centrist Iraqi government would emerge after the invasion that toppled President Saddam Hussein. Many longtime observers of Iraq had hoped this month’s vote would foster national unity by bringing to power moderate politicians who might help draw down a minority Sunni Arab-led insurgency against a government now controlled by the country’s majority Shiites, and stanch Kurds’ secessionist tendencies.

Instead, more than 240 of the 275 legislators, who will decide the composition of the future government, will probably be Shiite Islamists, Sunni Arab sectarians or autonomy-minded Kurds. The Shiites, who make up about 60% of the nation’s population, will hold by far the largest share….

Regardless of the cause, the very idea of Iraq may be slowly fading, politicians and common Iraqis acknowledge, often sadly. Even the Iraqi flag seems to appear only in the posters of politicians bankrolled by U.S.-funded aid organizations. Government buildings such as the ministries of education and health are often festooned with posters of bearded and turbaned Shiite clerics instead of the red, white and black flag of Iraq.

This article (which requires registration) offers an excellent snapshot of the “three Iraqs,” and, if you read between the lines, is actually a eulogy for all the hopes and dreams of the naifs who rather stupidly fell for the liberty/beacon-of-democracy bullshit.

I suspect Bush hopes the NSA scandal widens and blossoms; it’s thus far acted as a protective wall, insulating him from the real news of the day. And besides, the NSA scandal bolsters Bush’s image among the fools who see it as proof he’s “tough on terrorists” and muy, muy macho. Our capacity for self-delusion is infinite. As H.L. Mencken put it, “No one ever lost money underestimating the intelligence of the American public.”

Wake up, America. The Iraq catastrophe hasn’t even started yet. Get out the popcorn and sit back.


Why Taiwan’s democracy gives the CCP bleeding ulcers

A fine post by Michael Turton on how China’s dreams of annexation become ever shakier as Taiwan’s democracy grows stronger. Short, succinct, spot-on.


Nostalgic longing for the good old days of Chairman Mao

Striving to balance out the barrage of anti-Mao posts marking the Great Helmsman’s birthday, ESWN translates an article that explores why so many in China look back to Mao with nostalgic admiration.

Of course, I can easily understand this phenomenon. Mao did a decent job of keeping corruption in check (not too difficult when you have totalitarian powers), gave the peasants free medical care and at least conveyed an appearance of caring for the underprivileged.

Someone said that in the Mao era, people lived in relative poverty. However, the social order and security situations were extraordinarily good. Everything was simple and people lived in a relaxed fashion. Nowadays, things are more complicated. People feel bored and oppressed. A counter-argument was that since everybody was so poor back then, there was nothing to steal or rob. “Sameness” was obviously a characteristic of that era, but the severe inequality of wealth today has affected social stability in China.

Actually, no matter how people argue about the pros and cons of the person Mao Zedong or the era of Mao Zedong, the fact is that Mao has returned to Chinese society, whether it is on the altar of a peasant home or by the city taxi driver’s seat. Mao images proliferate among the people. Yet, there is a difference. In Mao’s era, we treated him as the Absolute God. Later on, we determined that he was a person who could make mistakes. Today people are looking at Mao as a god who could provide peace and security.

Needless to say, I find this nostalgia rather misplaced. For all of his pretentious talk glorifying the peasantry, we need to remember that one of the first things Mao did was move into Zhongnanhai, where he proceeded to enrich himself and his henchmen. (Funny, how these Marxists so enamored of notions of being at one with the lower classes always seem to move into the palaces of the corrupt imperialist oppressors they replaced, quickly taking on all the trappings of the old despised enemies.) And of course, we all know how the farmers and peasants benefitted from the Great Leap Forward.

I won’t go on about Mao’s sins, which we all know too well. Creating a sense of peace and security is great, but this was matched and overwhelmed by the massive and needless suffering Mao thrust on his helpless people. If anyone in China today truly looks to mass-murdering Mao as “a god who could provide peace and security,” they do so either from ignorance, stupidity or blindness.


In the name of honor…

I think it’s all but impossible for us to get inside the minds of Muslims who kill their own children to save their family “honor.” You can only read a story like this with a sense of disbelief, shock, revulsion and bewilderment.

Nazir Ahmed appears calm and unrepentant as he recounts how he slit the throats of his three young daughters and their 25-year old stepsister to salvage his family’s “honor” — a crime that shocked Pakistan.

The 40-year old laborer, speaking to The Associated Press in police detention as he was being shifted to prison, confessed to just one regret — that he didn’t murder the stepsister’s alleged lover too.

Hundreds of girls and women are murdered by male relatives each year in this conservative Islamic nation, and rights groups said Wednesday such “honor killings” will only stop when authorities get serious about punishing perpetrators….

Bibi recounted how she was woken by a shriek as Ahmed put his hand to the mouth of his stepdaughter Muqadas and cut her throat with a machete. Bibi looked helplessly on from the corner of the room as he then killed the three girls — Bano, 8, Sumaira, 7, and Humaira, 4 — pausing between the slayings to brandish the bloodstained knife at his wife, warning her not to intervene or raise alarm….

Speaking to AP in the back of police pickup truck late Tuesday as he was shifted to a prison in the city of Multan, Ahmed showed no contrition. Appearing disheveled but composed, he said he killed Muqadas because she had committed adultery, and his daughters because he didn’t want them to do the same when they grew up.

He said he bought a butcher’s knife and a machete after midday prayers on Friday and hid them in the house where he carried out the killings.

“I thought the younger girls would do what their eldest sister had done, so they should be eliminated,” he said, his hands cuffed, his face unshaven. “We are poor people and we have nothing else to protect but our honor.”

260 such “honor killings” took place so far this year, a small number considering the size of the religion, but even one such killing is incomprehensible and sickening. Unfortunately, the “anti-idiotarians” will surely point to today’s story as proof that Muslims are all animals. Surely some of them are (the father interviewed in this story certainly qualifies), but apparently most in Pakistan were as shocked and repulsed by this story as we are.

Update: Man, I am prescient. Here’s some intellectual musings on this story from a great Islamic Studies scholar.

The more we hear about the Religion of Piss and their Moongod Followers of the Prophet of Pederasty, the more we long to saw their heads off and piss on their remains….

And President Dickless, in between tonguebathing the rectums of Islamofascist “clerics”, keeps assuring us that Islam is a “Religion of Peace?”

If anybody slit the throat of a child around His Imperial Majesty, he would not only kill the son of a syphilitic goat bastard that did it, he’d kill every single worthless imitation of a human being that had ever as much as said a nice word about the pig. And I’d enjoy the killing too.

But keep sucking excrement out of the sphincters of your muslim masters, Dubya, if you stopped doing it we might get the silly idea that you were a leader of men, after all.

Just remember to swallow.

He’s a proud member of Charles Johnson’s “anti-Idiotarian Blogroll.” And he’s no better than Nazir Ahmed.


Identity Theft

On Christmas day, I decided to check my credit card balance online for no particular reason aside from boredom (I always seem to be alone on Christmas). To my shock, I saw my balance was totally out of whack with my spending, and I soon saw why: Someone was placing all kinds of bizarre charges on my card, including a stay at a Las Vegas casino, several dating services, Hotmail-plus accounts (three of them!) and sundry other online shit. Alarmed that I might have to foot the bill for the fraudsters, I called my credit card company and told them what happened.

It’s a lot easier to tear companies down on your blog than to praise them, but I have to say Bank of America handled the mess incredibly well. Within minutes, I was talking to a security investigator and all the charges were dropped; I was told I’d have a new card in two days. I have rarely been treated so professionally and politely by customer service people.

Of course, I’d love to know how the bastards got my data to begin with, and especially how they paid a hotel bill with a card they didn’t have in their possession.

Which leads me to a good article I just read on the idiocy of banks and every other business identifying people solely based on their Social Security numbers.

Ironically, during the first few decades that Social Security cards were issued, they contained the phrase, “Not to be used for identification.” However, since no law was passed to prohibit the use of Social Security numbers as identification, institutions, including hospitals and banks, began using the nine-digit number to identify their customers.

“Social Security numbers are used way too much for unnecessary reasons like identification on Medicare cards, student ID cards or driver licenses,” says Hillebrand [an attorney for the publisher of COnsumer Reports].

She says that unless you are applying for a loan where they need to check your credit history or a potential employer needs your Social Security number for tax purposes, there is no reason that businesses could not use a different identifier.

“Both government and businesses need to distinguish between convenience and importance. There needs to be a standard of disconnecting ID function from credit function,” says Hillebrand.

If businesses are asking their customers to guard their personal identification to help reduce ID theft and fraud, but the businesses continue to use the Social Security numbers as their main source of identification, the businesses are doing exactly what they preach against by allowing access to these special numbers.

“It’s a bomb in the town square; it needs to be defused,” says Mark Durham of Identity Theft 911.

Another example of a glaring problem that could be easily solved if those in control would just put their minds to it. As usual, it will take an earth-shattering crisis affecting millions before anything changes.