|On the left||On the right|
|On Violence||Erik Loomis, an assistant professor at theRhode Island University, called for "Wayne LaPierre’s head on a stick". Lapierre is the CEO of the National Rifle Association.||Professors insisted Loomis's calling for Lapierre's murder was Freedom of Speech, and forced the Rhode Island University's president who initialized distanced the institute from Loomis's inciting violence to issue a statement to support Loomis.|
Friday, December 28, 2012
Tuesday, December 25, 2012
Staples.com is showing different prices of the same item depending on users geographic location. For example, if the user is within 20 miles of a competing B&M store, then he will be shown a discounted price. Wall Street Journal found other vendors, such as Discover Financial Services, Rosetta Stone Inc and Hope Depot were playing the same game. The price you see is determined by a range of factors including your location and browsing history. Orbitz was found to charge a higher rate to Mac users earlier this year.
The Communist government in China is pushing for a Real Name Act on Internet. Last time, about one year ago, a similar effort aimed to deter criticizing to the government failed due to resistance from both users and the business sector. This time, it was packaged into a consumer protection measure. The purpose, according to the official People's Daily, was to prevent leaking user information.
Israel is placing another Internet legislative in the pipe. Once approved, police will be able to secretly shutdown certain websites. The owner and operator of the site would not be notified. The new law is said to be targeting all good causes: gambling, child pornography and copyright infringement.
Wednesday, December 19, 2012
You might have thought that you miss-typed a few letters and stumped upon a porn site, like the long-gone whitehouse.org, when you log on the official website of National Land Bureau in Xingguo County of Guangxi, because all faces of senior officials of the Bureau had been mosaic-ed.
It's a security feature, explained Mr. Tang, the Communist Disciplinary Committee Chief, told a reporter. A few months ago, almost all officials received 'Photoshop-ed' pictures depicting them with unknown women, naked. With the letter, there is a note demanding a large amount of money for silence. Because they honestly did not remember how many women they had had, many wired the money. As a precaution, their faces were technically scrambled, said Mr. Tang.
The corruption is so prevailing among officials nowadays such that officials have become victims of random targeting. Some criminals sent spam messages to officials with one line words: wire $$$ to this account otherwise we will expose your crime. Many followed just in case.
The picture on the left were taken by a person passing by. It happened to be one day before the boys were found dead in a garbage container on the street. It is believed to be the last picture of these boys, possibly the only picture in their lives.
Nov 16, 2012, Bijie of Guizhou Province, five children cuddled in a garbage container to keep warm. All five were found dead the next morning. Aged from 5 to 10, the kids had been wandering on the streets for months according to residents nearby. When a former reporter broke the story online at Kaidi Community, the entire country were shocked and saddened by the modern Little Match Boys.
Beijie Police acted quickly to arrest the reporter Mr. Li Yuanlong and pressed criminal charges for revealing the death of kids. Li was sentenced to jail for 2 years in 2005 for similar offense, and has been jobless. Li's son, now studying in Canada, said the family was proud of Li. Facing online pressure, police allowed Li back home in early morning on Nov 25. Li wrote in Weibo, 'Gloria in excelsis Deo.'
Chinese netizens banged on their keyboards demanding heads roll. The government and the Party listened. This morning, residents noticed new slogan was painted on garbage containers on streets. It now reads (the red Chinese characters beneath the large openings): 'HUMAN OR ANIMAL STRICTLY FORBIDDEN. ENTER AT YOUR OWN RISK.'
Four years ago in Guiyang, the capital city of Guizhou Province, three little girls were actually caught on camera warming themselves with a box of matches.
In an interview aired by the official China Central Television (CCTV), audiences noticed the wrist of the senior official of the Interior Department was mosaic-ed. CCTV responded that the process was to hide a logo on the official's chest. However, viewers pointed out that the measure was to prevent concerned citizens from finding out the watch she was wearing.
Several officials had been found to own multiple expensive watches valued beyond reach of their wages, and were forced to step down.
Tuesday, December 18, 2012
- Top Ten (Chinese) Internet Moments 2012
- Chinese intellectuals were forced to take side in a duel between Dr. Shimin Fang and Mr. Han Han. Han was ambushed after he wrote three political essays in which Han advocated for citizen actions for progressive reforms.
- Director of the Central Bureau of Compilation and Translation, the ideological think tank, was accused of adultery, corruption and taking bribes by a postdoc trainee in the Bureau in a detailed account literature, which was posted online.
- A post by a Hunan police went viral when people found the government paid $30k to some Urghur Muslims for some fruit cakes. The incident renewed public skeptical in China's Affirmative Action which was perceived as leaning against majority.
- A Green Peace post triggered an outcry on an unauthorized human test of Genetic Modified Golden Rice on school age children. The experiment was explicitly banned by Chinese authority, but the US based researchers from the Tufts University smuggled testing materials into China, and conduct the experiment in a rural elementary school in disguise of a state sponsored lunch project without informing parents.
- Violent mobs destroyed Japanese cars and attacked drivers in the heated anti-Japan campaigns across China following the dispute over Diaoyu Islands. Online photos and accounts showed many of the most violent mob were actually plain cloth police.
- Two Chinese graduate students at USC were killed outside their residence. Because the Associate Press mistakenly reported the two were rich kids, and then refused to issue a correction upon request, Chinese communities felt the AP was conducting an Anti-Chinese spinning of the tragedy.
- Beijing municipal government was criticized for its handling of a heavy rain. Dozens of people died, including one driver drown in his car on the street in the heart of its CBD area. Many likened the incident to the chaos and cover-up in the bullet train accident last year.
- Following former deputy mayor of Chongqing Wang Lijun's failed asylum bid at the US Consulate in Chengdu, a big political drama unfolded in the course of months, often proceeded by online rumors which were later turned out to be the truth.
- Chinese learned from Internet that an affordable luxury brand Zadig & Voltaire announced they would not serve Chinese as a sales pitch.
- Vice-Chairman of the National People's Congress's Financial and Economic Committee Mr. He Keng blamed westerners who donate to Chinese were shameless. The comment backfired, and forced He quit from online social networks.
Saturday, December 15, 2012
A 210 pages gossip had been quietly circulating on Twitter, Weibo, and Douban. The piece was written by a postdoc of the Chinese Communists Party's Central Marx, Engels, Lenin and Stalin Translation and Compilation Bureau, accusing the chief of the Bureau of extramarital affairs with the postdoc herself. As you would expect a work of heart by a trained Judicial Doctor, the 120 thousand word manuscript was completed with an index, roles, footnotes, and appendix. It is very well written. Individuals and events were documented to the utmost detail.
The plot is cliché, but not without major twists. An ambitious young female scholar dealt with her mentor using her attractive body. It is interwoven with corruption, bribery, lust, and boring politics. However, it actually started as a love story, and ended with two broken hearts.
Many insiders pity on the hero, Mr. Yi Junqing, the director the Bureau, a vice-cabinet level position. Yi, a brilliant scholar, raised as the youngest professor of Heilongjiang University, and later the President of the same school. Yi earned fame with his intelligence, as well as with his well manners and elegance of a gentleman. Yi has been followed and admired by many young scholars in the same way as a pop star. Our heroin, Dr. Chang Yan, was no exception. Chang is an accomplished scholar, an associate professor at the Shanxi Normal University.
The first encounter of the duo took place last summer when Chang applied for a postdoc position at the Bureau. A temporary visiting trainee would not have crossed paths with a senior Party leader if everything went along regular courts. Chang enticed Yi, but did not succeed until many attempts later. In addition to her body, Chang bribed Yi with money, repeatedly.
At one point, Chang felt entitled to demand something back, in particular a permanent position at the Bureau. When it did not go well, Chang demanded a monetary payback. Yi wired her RMB 1 million ($160,000). Now Chang demanded exclusive rights to Yi's body. Yi complied by expel other young female out of the Bureau. It's hard to tell from the manuscript, but Chang was agonized by something and went public in the end.
The calm, candid, and left-no-stone-unturned descriptions make this manuscript a literature of human nature, that every man and woman have to face. What was revealed in this story could not be easily dismissed as another perspective on a long existing conflict between men and women. The writing offers unprecedented insight in a manner only seen before in Les Confessions. Dr. Chang published the manuscript to defame Mr. Yi. In the process, Dr. Chang combed through her own thoughts, and provided a soul-searching self-reflection, accompanied by unfiltered daily journal and raw dump of electronic communications. There are evidently miscommunication, misunderstanding and miscalculation by both sides. Retrospective thinking, however, many of the missteps were inevitable even if everything were to restart from the beginning.
Every great drama has to end as a tragedy. Although the manuscript and any discussions must be promptly banned, but Yi's career is finished. Yi's value for the Party is to provide convincing legitimacy of the ruling. Any stain would be unbearable burden for the Party.
Update, a sequel: Evidently inspired by the Yi Junqing incident, an undergraduate student wrote about her story with a professor in Southeast University of Nanjing.
Monday, December 10, 2012
Vice-Chair of the Financial and Economic Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC) Mr. He Keng said foreign donors were evil minded to insult China.
The comment was made in the context of a joint mega yard sale organized by the foreign consulates, commissions and diplomatic agencies in southern city Guangzhou on Dec 9, 2012 for disabled local residents. The yard sale raised about RMB 330,000, or $50,000.
Mr. He posted on Weibo that official Chinese charities raised way more money annually inside China from Chinese people. Comparing to the amount Chinese government spent on disabled people, the $50,000 is not even close to pocket changes. Foreigners who donate to China are evil minded to shame Chinese people. Mr. He's exact wording is, quote: "the only intention of foreign missions was to ashame Chinese people. Those yard sale organizers are shameless," unquote.
Mr. He Keng is a member of the standing committee of NPC, and formal vice director of the National Bureau of Statistics of China.
To set the record straight, we, Chinese people welcome any help to our needs. As of today, we do not have a government that bothers to take care of regular people, who do not have a voice. We appreciate every penny and will put them into good use.
Update: Mr. He further justifies his accusation with more postings, in which he questions the necessity of holding such a yard sale to raise funds. "The US Counselor in Guangzhou earns more than $50,000 in 6 weeks. Why didn't he just donate his salary if he were sincere?' asked Mr. He.
Sunday, December 09, 2012
Not in Chino Hills is a crowd-sourced initiative led by Peruvian immigrant Rosanna Mitchell. Rosanna is dedicated to eradicate Chinese women who came to US to give birth anchor babies. Rosanna, a practicing divorce lawyer, distributes surveillance cameras to local residents to monitor activities, including car movements of vehicles used by Chinese. As Rosanna told the reporters of local Daily Bulletin, she wants to know "what locations they're doing the drop offs, where it's going and where it's stopping." Rosanna also recruits volunteers to follow Chinese in sight.
On the east coast, the Democratic controlled US Senate closed an act passed by the Republican controlled Congress, which would allow foreign students who earned advanced degrees in the US in science and engineering fields to stay in the US after their graduation. Latino-leaning Democrats killed the bill in name of diversity. The largest population of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) students are Chinese oversea students.
Mitchell used the new Chinese Exclusion Act movement as a pivot for her staled City Council campaign. Although it's often a risky path, launching a racial war against the minority is often an effective measure, when 1) the economy is bad; and 2) you know a thing about propaganda, what to tell and what to hide.
Mitchell's arguments based on making people fear about their economic security in a hard time. Mitchell warned local residents the cost of medical expenses, and the burden of public school.
What Mitchell did not tell local residents were: 1) Chinese moms pay full cost with cash in advance to hospitals. Local hospital make every effort to allure more Chinese moms from a limited supply, because they are the group who actually pay. In a sense, it is Chinese moms's wallets that sponsored the local medical system to provide medical assistance to many local residents, including Peruvian immigrants like Ms. Mitchell's uncles, aunts and second and third cousins. 2) These babies are not to stay. They all go back China within one month. The 'anchoring' title is more like a in legal terms, than anything else. Wealthy Chinese came to US for delivery because of very specific reasons: the medical resource, environment, US citizenship and legal technicalities at home. In other words, they are looking after what can not be acquired with money in China. For example, in China, it's against the law to have a child out of a marriage, and against the law to have a second child in a family. Unlike people from Latino countries who come to the US in boatload (or van-load), only wealthy Chinese with well connections managed to come to the US for delivery. Unfortunately, the attractiveness of US stopped after the child was born. Thus, with no exception, they all fly back, the mom and the baby. For this group of people, money is not a concern; and on the other hand, they will never qualify for welfare. The new US citizen baby does provide an assurance of safety for the baby and the family. Surviving the communist rule is no low task than playing by jungle rules. The family may find a need to come to US one day, but they will ride in first class, and have a boat-load of cash followed.
In the end, what Rosanna Mitchell asked local people to do would hurt local people. There is no way these are too much to decipher for a lawyer trained at UC Irvine, but she chose not to reveal to the local people. Mitchell used local people as disposables for her political aspiration.
Anchors babies from extremely wealthy Chinese families and well-trained scientists and engineers are what US really needs to attract. Politicians have every right to advance their own agenda, but people shouldn't complain if they limit themselves to only political rhetorics.
As a first generation immigrant from Peru, Ms. Mitchell enjoyed free public school education all the way till her current practice as an divorce lawyer. She never found it troubling, but now finds fee-paying legal immigrants a trouble? As a lawyer, Ms. Mitchell can not tell the difference between illegal immigrants and legal? As a politician, Ms. Mitchell do not know what money is supporting local hospitals and local schools? We do not believe Ms. Mitchell is not a small time racist, who hates her neighbor only because of the difference in skin color. Ms. Mitchell is worse because she knows better. The Seagull does not believe Ms. Mitchell is a racist. Ms. Mitchell takes advantage of human being's weakness to advance her own agenda by getting out the darkest of human mind and making one group of people hate another group of people for no logical reason. Chinese moms are singled out for no better reason other than they are in small number and an easy target. As a matter of fact, we do not see Ms. Mitchell would hesitate or blink when opportunity presents steering racial hatred towards Peruvian people a cheap shot. That is Evil.
Tuesday, December 04, 2012
It may be hard for westerners who had been brainwashed by Washington Post or New York Times to accept the reality that minorities, such as those in Tibet and Urghur Muslims in Xinjiang, in China enjoy more rights and privileges than the majority Han people.
According to the official police report released on Weibo (Chinese knock off of Twitter), a resident Mr. Ling had a dispute with a group of Urghur Muslim from Xinjiang, when he bought fruit cake from them. Tianyue police station (Yuyang, Hunan Province) arrested Ling, and compensated Urghur Muslims for the loss cakes damaged in the dispute. The Urghur Muslim group agreed to go back to Xinjiang.
People were quick to point out the police might have paid too much for the cake. The police gave the Urghur Muslim group RMB 160k ($28,000) for the cake, and RMB 40k ($6,500) for the cart, and iced the deal with a criminal charge against the buyer.
The 'Xinjiang Fruit Cake' sellers have been as famous as Nigeria bankers. Usually, city people know to stay away. But as always, there are a few who haven't heard of it. It is a kind of very sweet cake. The trick is that it is very heavy. It is heavier than, say, gold. Imagine your surprise when you could hardly lift a palm size cake with one hand. Also, food in China is usually sold by 'Jin (500g, about a pound)'. But this kind of cake is sold by 'Liang (50g, 1 and 1/4 oz)'. When you ask for price, you would be simply told a number, say 20, and you would assume that was RMB 20 per lb, and you would assume that piece of pi cost about $1. You can't be more wrong. The piece would easily cost you $100 or more. At this time, you must pay, otherwise, you would find yourself surrounded by a group of Muslims with knives in their hands. Muslims were allowed to carry knives with them by law.
The handling of the dispute by Hunan police is typical, but rarely reported because of sensitivity of the topic. By China's criminal law, Muslim would not be punished even after committing serious crimes. Local police do not have the motivation to intervene any dispute had Muslim involved. If a police were hurt, they probably couldn't even press charge. The optimal solution for local police would be to get them away to somewhere else, anywhere but their own jurisdiction. They must have purchased tickets for the group to go back Xinjiang, but readers should not be surprised to find these Muslims in a neighboring city.
Expectantly, the police report would be taken down from the Internet. It was. It must be a omission of oversight.
The Chinese law regarding ethnic minorities is hated by Han people. However, not even all of the minorities are happy. Some Urghur scholars have been arguing that the policy encouraged Urghur youth to become thieves and robbers, and practically discourage them to become responsible citizens.
And there is the academic policies.
Unlike the affirmative action act in the US, which is hidden by layers of carefully weaved reasons and excuses behind a complicated and never made publish admission process, everything is a clear cut in China. A Urghur Muslim can enter a college with less than half of the exam scores. Although it guaranteed more college graduates as it is designed, consequently, Urghur youth have no incentive to study hard. Further more, they will find themselves unmarketable after graduating from the college because no employer believes in the value of their diploma. They will have to settle on often uninspiring government jobs (although they pay well), thanks to diversity policies in employment.
Sunday, November 18, 2012
Two greatest patriots, libertarians and idealists of our time stepped down from their podiums last week.
Washington D.C., Nov 14, 2012, Representative Ron Paul delivered his farewell speech to the Congress, in which he asked penetrating questions such as: Why Congress voluntarily bend over to the executive branch? Why alternations of the ruling party does not carry any policy changes? Why big corporations were bailed out in 2008, while middle class left loosing families and jobs? Why so many officials believe in making fortune out of printing money? Why so many people agree government and politicians can provide protection without sacrificing freedom? Why people never realize war destroys wealth and freedom? Why so little attention on the kill list made by the President, even when American citizens have been included in it? How come patriotism equates to loyalty to the government, rather than to the principle of liberty and people?
A 37-question edition:
- Why are sick people who use medical marijuana put in prison?
- Why does the federal government restrict the drinking of raw milk?
- Why can’t Americans manufacturer rope and other products from hemp?
- Why are Americans not allowed to use gold and silver as legal tender as mandated by the Constitution?
- Why is Germany concerned enough to consider repatriating their gold held by the FED for her in New York?
- Is it that the trust in the U.S. and dollar supremacy beginning to wane?
- Why do our political leaders believe it’s unnecessary to thoroughly audit our own gold?
- Why can’t Americans decide which type of light bulbs they can buy?
- Why is the TSA permitted to abuse the rights of any American traveling by air?
- Why should there be mandatory sentences—even up to life for crimes without victims—as our drug laws require?
- Why have we allowed the federal government to regulate commodes in our homes?
- Why is it political suicide for anyone to criticize AIPAC ?
- Why haven’t we given up on the drug war since it’s an obvious failure and violates the people’s rights?
- Has nobody noticed that the authorities can’t even keep drugs out of the prisons?
- How can making our entire society a prison solve the problem?
- Why do we sacrifice so much getting needlessly involved in border disputes and civil strife around the world and ignore the root cause of the most deadly border in the world-the one between Mexico and the US?
- Why does Congress willingly give up its prerogatives to the Executive Branch?
- Why does changing the party in power never change policy?
- Could it be that the views of both parties are essentially the same?
- Why did the big banks, the large corporations, and foreign banks and foreign central banks get bailed out in 2008 and the middle class lost their jobs and their homes?
- Why do so many in the government and the federal officials believe that creating money out of thin air creates wealth?
- Why do so many accept the deeply flawed principle that government bureaucrats and politicians can protect us from ourselves without totally destroying the principle of liberty?
- Why can’t people understand that war always destroys wealth and liberty?
- Why is there so little concern for the Executive Order that gives the President authority to establish a “kill list,” including American citizens, of those targeted for assassination?
- Why is patriotism thought to be blind loyalty to the government and the politicians who run it, rather than loyalty to the principles of liberty and support for the people?
- Why is it is claimed that if people won’t or can’t take care of their own needs, that people in government can do it for them?
- Why did we ever give the government a safe haven for initiating violence against the people?
- Why do some members defend free markets, but not civil liberties?
- Why do some members defend civil liberties but not free markets?
- Aren’t they the same?
- Why don’t more defend both economic liberty and personal liberty?
- Why are there not more individuals who seek to intellectually influence others to bring about positive changes than those who seek power to force others to obey their commands?
- Why does the use of religion to support a social gospel and preemptive wars, both of which requires authoritarians to use violence, or the threat of violence, go unchallenged?
- Why do we allow the government and the Federal Reserve to disseminate false information dealing with both economic and foreign policy?
- Why is democracy held in such high esteem when it’s the enemy of the minority and makes all rights relative to the dictates of the majority?
- Why should anyone be surprised that Congress has no credibility, since there’s such a disconnect between what politicians say and what they do?
- Is there any explanation for all the deception, the unhappiness, the fear of the future, the loss of confidence in our leaders, the distrust, the anger and frustration?
As a matter of fact, some fans filed a petition on the White House site asking President Obama to respond. The petition has garnered 5,711 signatures in 2 days, 19,289 short of the 25,000 threshold which in theory warrant an official response.
Beijing, China, the same day on Nov 14, 2012. The once-a-decade power transition was accomplished 'successfully' with the concluding of the 18th National Convention of Chinese Communist Party. The 'next generation' leaders, represented by Party boss Xi Jinping and future premier Li Keqiang become the top party officials replacing Hu Jintao and Wen Jiabao.
Hu Jintao made a last contribution, maybe the first and real contribution to Chinese political system by not extending his term as the command-in-chief. When Hu visited a Japanese elementary school classroom in 2008, an eight-year old asked him, 'why do you want to be China's President?' Hu replied, 'I don't want to be the president, Chinese people want me to be the President.' Retrospectively thinking, perhaps Hu was indeed being sincere at that moment.
China's true lost was Mr. Wen Jiabao, the only voice for people's liberty and freedom in the 800 million strong political force ruling China. In the past two years, Wen had publicly asked for political reform. Many times he was shut out by propaganda department, and many times he had to take chances to talk about it with foreign news agencies when he was en route visiting other countries.
As the top government official, Wen's last ten years, in a sense, is an edition of Ron Paul after winning the presidential campaign. By disguising his true color and blending in among his colleagues, Wen raised to the top of the executive branch in China as the premier.
While Ron Paul had been by and large ignored by the Democrats and buried by the Republicans as a Congressman, Premier Wen had been distanced and suppressed by his colleagues in the politburo. For most part of his two terms, Wen was seen as a fire fighter, rushing to every disasters and accidents. Even as an coordinator of rescue and relief, Wen did not have much authority. During the Sichuan Earthquake, PLA officers refused to send it troops to the disaster area. Wen was over heard threatening a top brass in the phone, 'you are fed by the people, use your conscious.'
With his limited authority, Wen abolished a long lasting ordinance which allowed police to detain anyone out of his hometown without proper permission.
Instead of questions, Wen left with alarming warnings to the ruling communist party. 'Without political reform, there would be no future but peril', and a vow, 'I will push the political reform, until my last breadth.'
Wen suffered a blown to his face when New York Times published a lengthy investigation on the wealth controlled by Wen's family and friends. The article showed an astonishing $2.7 billion fortune amassed by his close connections. Although NYT claimed the article was the result of years of journalism, Voice of America as well as a few other western news agencies revealed that shortly after Wen fired a Maoist leader Bo Xilai, all western media in Beijing received packages with same information from mysterious sources. Some of the information presented is difficult to verify, while some turned out as poorly disguised smear campaigns. The author of the author, David Barboza explained he obtained his sources from public inquiry. It may sounds plausible to westerners, but for anyone familiar with Chinese politics, that is nothing but flat lie.
Wen responded with a statement from oversea lawyers, the first ever when a top communist officials bring legal system into a political turmoil. Wen also requested a formal investigation on his financial status.
"Old soldiers never die, they just fade away", as said by General MacArthur. Nevertheless, the legend of Paul and Wen will keep inspiring people across the globe in the years to come.
Monday, November 12, 2012
Lei Yang is a common Chinese name, and there are dozens of the name living in the US, several of them could be found on popular social networking websites such as Linked-In or Facebook, which caused confusions when the story was first heard about Yang's death.
Thirty-year old Lei Yang, a research scientist at the ConocoPhillips, had been living a double life. On Nov 4, 2012, the same day he jumped out of a speeding 2011 Chevy Traverse on west bound County Road 3900, he posted a well acclaimed advisory offering tips on how to publish high quality papers on the Science Net. Before they heard the bad news, thousands of Chinese students and scholars had studied the article, in which Yang reflected on his success in research and publication, including 8 papers on Science and Nature within 2 years in the area of solid oxide fuel cells alone. As a fresh PhD, it's a remarkable achievement that would warrant a position with a faculty top university or research institute. Yang's personal blogs had been followed by numerous aspiring scientists for career guidance. Yang is truly a shining star in the virtual cyberspace.
Alas, Yang ended his life in such a dramatic way, an incident people would surely talk about in the next few days at lunch break.
At the time, his wife 31 year-old Shuang Xue was holding the wheel. Their 2 year-old son Vincent Yang was sleeping in the back seat. According to his Xue, Yang was giving instructions to Xue who was learning to drive, and the two had an argument. Local police determined the car was operating normally at the time, and no one else was injured.
Lei began his college life in the Department of Materials Science at Beijing University of Aeronautics & Astronautics (BUAA) in 1999. He then earned a Master's degree from the Qinghua University before pursuing a PhD degree at the Georgia Institute of Technology. In past 5 years, Lei's achievements include a gold prize from Materials Research Society, National Scholarship from Chinese government, IUPAC International young chemists award, anACerS award, as well as 5 patents and over 30 high impact papers.
In real life, Yang was known as a person you would otherwise notice, for being unfashionably laid-back. In a group picture taken at an award ceremony, a short Yang was dwarfed by his sharply dressed peers in a five sized up suits.
A friend of Yang recalled Yang had to call in at late night to ask a $25 refund for two tables he bought from a yard sale. Even over the phone, Yang's wife could be heard scolding Yang loudly.
According to an online memorial site, A memorial fund account has been set up for Lei. A check can be sent to: Attn: Lei Yang Memorial Fund, 66 Federal Credit Union, PO Box 1358, Bartlesville, OK 74005.
Rest in Peace, Lei Yang.
Update via ScienceNet:
Family friends Mr. Li and Ms. Li released a statement on Nov 13, 2012 regarding Dr. Yang's death. According to this statement, Dr. Yang did not have a heated dispute with his wife. Because of language barrier, Dr. Yang's wife told police there was a quarrel, and that Dr. Yang jumped out of the car. However, none of those actually happened.
Wednesday, November 07, 2012
Back in August during the London Olympic, British journal Nature published an article promptly after Chinese athlete Ye Shiwen earned a gold medal in Women's 400 meters, in which it called Ye a Chinese cheater.
Expectantly, the Nature article generated a huge public outcry among Chinese in China and overseas as they felt being hurt emotionally. However, the true damage for a journal like Nature to throw in such an accusation was caused by the fact that the article was lack of any proof or logic. Even worse, the author not only cherry picked information to fabricate his theory, but also manipulate numbers, and in more than multiple cases, altered numbers to prove that his theory that: 1) With no exception, 2) Chinese could not swim as fast as Caucasians, 3) due to genetic differences between the two races.
The author, Ewen Callaway, is a veteran Nature reporter. Readers do not need to read between lines to find the article biased and racially motivated.
Out of one and half billion Chinese, Callaway has one true friend, Dr. Fang Shimin, who on his own website New Word Thread (Xinyusi) echoed Callaway's accusations and tried his best to generate an ambient light by reminding readers previous dosing incidents in China. Fully aware that Callaway's racism blast bears no scientific value and is the opposite of science by all possible way, Fang tried to deflect criticism by pointing out past incidents when Chinese athletes were caught with doping.
Dr. Fang's loyalty was appraised as high as £2,000 last week when Nature handed Fang the John Maddox Prize, named after a Nature editor, for standing up for science. Ironically, Fang's show on the Callaway article is nothing but standing up for science. Perhaps, a proper title should be, 'for standing up against science (Science is a rivalry journal published in the US, no pun intended), but with us'.
Tuesday, November 06, 2012
FT Nov 4: While Tianjin, the traditional financial center of northern China failed to attract any foreign financial institutions in the past few years, it had made progress in an unexpected direction and earned itself an uninspiring new role: The World Capital of Internet Censorship thanks to its low labor cost.
Despite technical advances, online censorship is still a labor intensive task. An examiner needs to make a decision to delete or keep a post in a matter of seconds, often a split of a second, considering the population and enthusiasm of Chinese netizens. A net cop's base salary is $650 in Beijing, $600 in southern city Shenzhen, and only $480 in Tianjin. Because of skyrocketing housing price in Beijing and Shenzhen, companies would have difficult to find qualified net cops even if they double or triple their current offering. Anything higher than that would be economically suicidal.
Weibo (Chinese knockoff of Twitter), Youku Tudou (Youtube knockoff) all had their censoring department moved from Beijing to Tianjin. More are joining the trend.
Monday, November 05, 2012
Under the tightened Internet censorship, 'Sparta' was used in place of 'the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China' because of its similarity in pronunciation.
- We verified following activities had been prohibited in Beijing:
- Any cooking knives were removed from the shelf;
- RC airplanes buyer must register at toy stores;
- Taxis were ordered to steer away from important streets, back seats rollers were removed;
- Buses running on important streets were replaced with models without openable windows;
- All touring boats, except two ferries in the North-Sea Park and the three dragon boats in the Summer Palace Park, were ordered to stop operation;
- P.E. classes in schools were suspended;
- All construction sites suspended; all painting jobs banned;
- Pigeons must be contained in cages;
- The Annual Beijing International Marathon was canceled;
The expected one-a-decade power transition had been delayed due to the intricacies of handling the Bo Xilai case, triggered by the attempted defection of Bo's henchman Wang Lijun to the US General Consulates in Chengdu, Sichuan Province.
Tuesday, October 23, 2012
Thomson Reuters released a ranking of the world's top 100 materials scientists, based on their research impact in the past 10 years. Altogether 15 Chinese made the top 100 list, while 6 of them occupying the top 6 slots.
- Peidong Yang of University of California Berkeley
- Yadong Yin of California Riverside
- Michael H. Huang of National Tsing Hua University in Taiwan
- Younan Xia of Washington University St. Louis
- Yugang Sun of Argonne National Laboratory
- Yiying Wu of Ohio State University
Yang, Yin, Xia, Sun and Wu all graduated from the University of Science and Technology of China (USTC) in Hefei, Anhui Province.
Saturday, October 20, 2012
- December 20, 2012, the Department of Justice settled a complaint with Lesley University regarding on campus food service. By the agreement, which sets a precedent to all high education institutes that provide on campus food services, the university must "do more than simply provide gluten- and allergen-free options in its food lines (though it has to do that to). It must also develop individualized meal plans for students with food allergies and allow them to preorder meals; provide a dedicated space in its main dining hall to store and prepare foods to avoid cross-contamination; display notices concerning food allergies and identify foods that contain specific allergens; train food service and staff about food allergies; and try to retain vendors that offer food without allergens."
As if the cost of education is not high enough, and answering to mounting accommodation requests has not complicated the core mission of teaching and learning enough.
- October 16, 2012, Washington Post published a call for not teaching Chemistry in high school, the argument being that Chemistry is 'painfully' difficult. The author claimed he couldn't remember a thing from his own Chemistry class, and he could make a living as a philosophy major in college.
- October 9, 2012, French President François Hollande found it was unfair to assign any homework at all, because some kids had parents who were willing to help them to figure out problems. To foster an 'equal' societal eco-system, the French President proposed banning homework all together.
- July 29, 2012, New York Times published a op-ed calling to abolish teaching Algebra at high schools because it prevent students from graduating.
Well, all taking place while youth in China, India, Korean and Japan are studying 120 hours a week, and asking for more.
Wednesday, October 17, 2012
Oct 16, 2012 Miami, the Florida State Board of Education passed a plan which set goals for students based on their race.
By 2018, the Board wants 90% of Asian students, 88% of white students, 81% of Hispanics and 74% of Blacks to be able to read. As to math, the goals are 92% for Asian kids, 86% for white, 80% for Hispanics and 74% for Blacks to be 'proficient'.
Chairwoman Kathleen Shanahan stated that measuring students by race was needed to comply with the federal No Child Left Behind Act enacted under the Bush Administration.
The practice at K-12 level schools echos mainstream ideology in the education system. Study showed an Asian student would need 140 points in SAT score higher to compete with an otherwise equal credential white student in college admission of elite schools. Still, white students feel being discriminated against by race. Abigail Noel Fisher, a white student, sued University of Texas for its holistic admission process. The case is under review at the Supreme Court, Docket No. 11-345.
President Obama has instructed Justice Secretary Eric Holder to study a proposal to set a federal quota on inmate demography based on race. President Obama disputed criticism that the policy mirrors the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882. "Asian is severely under-represented in federal and state jails as well as local detention centers," the President spoke at a campaign stop in battlefield state Ohio, "a fact that American simply can not afford to turn their back upon. We have to recognize that not every group is staring at the same point, and it is the obligation of the government to ensure that no one should make advancement alone." The implementation requires Census data being used in a lottery system to facilitate identifying and locating selections of Asian candidates, because not enough could be produced through the regular justice system.
Along Black, Hispanics and other minorities, Chinese Americans have been proud of being yellow dog Democrats. May the odds be ever in your favor.
Friday, October 12, 2012
Mo Yan is the not the first communist Party member to be awarded the Nobel Prize, and he might not be the last. With the expanding economic clout of red China, the committee will have to try hard not to have their eyes on the giant.
Mo Yan is not an ordinary Party member of the 80 million strong Chinese Communists Party, but a top propaganda official. While attending the Frankfurt Book Fair, he withdrew China delegate from a symposium when he noticed the organizer allowed a writer Dai Qing who was not favored by the red regime.
Having passed the loyalty test with glowing scores, Mo was named the Deputy Chairman of Chinese National Writers Association.
Last year, Mao published his calligraphy, a handwriting copy of Chairman Mao's 'Talk at the Yan'an Conference on Literature and Art' to showcase his admiration to the late dictator. The 'talk' is not yet another piece of Mao's crazy revolution advocate. It is the single main guideline and handbook which is used to convert Chinese intellectuals to 'tamed tool of the Party (quote and unquote)'.
At his news conference after the Nobel news, Mo comforted Chinese writers: "... writing is not free at any place in this world. Comparing to the past, Chinese writers have great freedom in writing. The freedom Chinese writers enjoy today is astonishing broad." Mo went to Beijing Normal University. Another known alum of Beijing Normal University is Dr. Liu Xiaobo, Nobel Laureate 2010. Liu is serving a seven years jail time because of his writing, which calls for peace and democracy. Liu's wife, Liu Xia, has been placed under house arrest for two years, for no other reason but being the wife of Liu Xiaobo.
Mo is aware of criticism on his close tie to the Party. At one occasion, Mo defended himself, 'I also write under pressure, often great pressure. If you read my works, they are different than the mainstream.' Mo praised youth leader Han Han, a race car driver and writer. Han Han advocate for political evolution, comparing to radical revolution. Because Han's moderate ideas appeal to the general public, he has been treated as a dangerous enemy of the state by the communist government.
A talented writer, Mo is skillful of producing beautiful words and interesting plots. Actually he is highly acclaimed as a master of Chinese language. Even before the Nobel tap, Mo had been consistently ranked top 10 modern Chinese writers by various standards. As the old Chinese wisdom: it's easy to find a best worrier, but impossible to decide the best writer. Not everyone agree with the Nobel committee's choice on Mo. German scholar Wolfgang Kubin felt Mo's 'eighteenth century story-telling style' was obsolete.
Despite stunning art and skills in steering public opinion, Dr. Geobbels was not rewarded with a Pulitzer. Walter Duranty did receive a Pulitzer medal in 1932, in the height of a great famine in the USSR, which was conveniently ignored by the Moscow Bureau Chief of the NYT at the time.
Tuesday, October 09, 2012
The Supreme Court is weighing the affirmative action with Fisher v. University of Texas. A white student is suing the Texas University on discrimination based on races, because she would have been admitted had her skin been darker, with her other credentials.
The Seagull was deeply troubled by the thought that some white people felt wronged by the education system in the US. Being the majority in the nation, a white students can walk in any elite college, with 140 points lower than an Asian student at any given day. What the heck to make Fisher thought she deserve to bump out Asian students who earner hundreds of points higher than her?
Alike the passionate school cook in Falun, Sweden, the American education system find it easier to achieve equality by punishing hard working students, rather than make the rest work harder.
Monday, October 01, 2012
Zadig & Voltaire Opened a new hotel in Paris, which will not serve Chinese tourists. "We are going to select guest, I won't be open to Chinese tourists, for example," said Thierry Gillier in an interview with Women's Wear Daily.
The hotel is a renovation out of a rundown house on the Left Bank of Paris.
Thierry Gillier is the owner and founder of French brand Zadig & Voltaire. Gillier's father Andre Gillier is a co-founder of Lacoste.
Despite strong anti-Chinese sentiment, Paris remain on the top list of most popular tourists and shopping destinations for Chinese, partially thanks to relax visa regulation of the France.
A Chinese group stuck at the Galeries Lafayette Haussmann for six hours on Feb 11, 2008. A suspected cashier thought a new wed couple from Zhejiang Province used a counterfeit 50 euro bill. The young couple were detained by the security, and booked in a French police station where they were tourtured. French police cut the bride's underwear to pieces, and locked her up with real criminals. It turned out the bill was authentic, and the couple were released, naked. French police officers offered to send them back to the store if they pay him half of their money (thousands of dollars). They had to call a cab in shreded clothes to get back Galeries Lafayette Haussmann.
At the store, while the group was waiting for the couple to return, the Galeries Lafayette Haussmann had serurity to throw them out since they were not shopping. A senior sat down on a stool as he was tired, a security gurad kicked the stool away.
The young couple finally get back to Galeries Lafayette Haussmann and joined the rest of the group.
The most amazing thing was that the group immediately started shopping again.
More than 900 thousands Chinese tourists visited France last year.
Tuesday, September 25, 2012
While browsing a yard sale across street, I found a letter from late Senator Mathias to a friend dated September 20, 1976. Attached with the letter are reprints of two talks he made in the summer of 1976 on the right to privacy.
Thirty-six years later, the points he made are still vivid and refreshing amid the broad adoption of Internet technologies today.
Senator Mathias was a Frederick native, who was born, raised in Frederick and practiced law in Frederick. Among the many honors he had received, he was granted an honorable doctoral degree from Hood College in 1974.
Senator Charles McC. Mathias, Jr. Addresses the American Bar Association
The Fourth Amendment in the Electronic Age
August 11, 1976
In 1817 former President John Adams wrote to a friend who had asked him to recall the genesis of the American Revolution. Age had not dimmed Adam's passion, or his memory of the events that had liberated his country from England. He went straight to the first of the great dramas in our long advance toward libertarianism. Richard Harris, in his New Yorker essay on the fourth amendment, has given us a detailed account of that drama, and those events. Today I'd like to touch the highlights.
"The scene", Adams wrote, "is in the council chamber in the month of February, 1761 . . . in this chamber, round a great fire, were seated five judges, with lieutenant-governor Hutchinson at their head, as chief justice, all arrayed in their new, fresh, rich robes of scarlet English broadcloth; in their large cambric bands, and immense judicial wigs".
John Adams was a young lawyer of 25. He and every other member of the bar of Middlesex County and Boston sat in the chamber that day, also arrayed in the gowns and wigs of English tradition. Adams took noted, and 57 years later resurrected the scene, which echoes today as powerfully as ever vital in our law and heritage.
At issue were the general warrants called writs of assistance, a legacy of the repressive court of star chamber. The writs authorized officers of the crown to search homes and property for smuggled goods, and to compel any British subject to assist in the search. They did not specify whose property, or what evidence was to be looked for.
The merchants of Boston demanded a hearing. They asked James Otis, Jr. of the Bay Colony to represent them, and offered him a generous fee. Otis accepted the job and declined the fee. "In such a cause", he said, "I despise all fees".
The Revolution had found one of its first heroes, a man usually overlooked in the liturgies of the Bicentennial. Otis resigned as advocate general of the admiralty court, a position with promise of wealth and advancement, and went to work for the Colonists against the writs of assistance.
John Adams never forgot Otis' 5-hour performance that day. According to Adams, Otis wove a spellbinding mix of classical allusion, history, legal precedent, constitutional law, and prophecy. When he was done, opposition to the writs was unalterably set in the minds of the Colonists, and one of the fundamental principles of English common law had been indelibly written in our history.
"I will to my dying day", Otis began, "oppose with all the powers God has given me all such instruments of slavery on the one hand and villainy on the other, as this writ of assistance. It appears to me the worst instrument of arbitrary power, the most destructive of English liberty and the fundamental principles of law that ever was found in an English lawbook. . . ."
A warrant, he said, must designate the place to be searched, the evidence to be looked for and the person in question. It can be issued only upon a sworn complaint. A general warrant, in Otis' view, was in dead conflict with the British constitution.
"On of the most essential branches of English liberty", he said, "is the freedom of one's house. A man's house is his castle, and whilst he is as well guarded a prince in his castle".
It was America's first defense of the right to privacy; a first glimmer of the notion that a citizen has the right to be let alone.
After Otis' peroration, the colonists followed events in England, where in 1763 a pamphleteer named John Wilkes was arrested and his home ransacked on the authority of a general warrant. Wilkes sued the officer for trespassing, claiming that a general warrant was illegal under the unwritten constitution. The jury found in his favor.
At the same time another incendiary writer, John Entick, was arrested on a warrant that did bear his name but ordered the seizure of all his books and papers, without specifying any particular ones. Entick sued and won. The Government appealed, and the Court of Common Pleas found unanimously in Entick's favor. "Papers", wrote Lord Camden, are the owner's goods and chattels: they are his dearest property, and are so far from enduring a seizure that they will hardly bear an inspection". Soon afterwards, the House of Commons declared general warrants illegal.
William Pitt the elder, the Great Prime Minister who was dismissed by George III for his sympathy toward American grievances, put it most eloquently of all: "the poorest man may in his cottage bid defiance to all the force of the crown. It may be frail: its roof may shake; the wind may blow through it; the storms may enter, the rain may enter, -but the King of England cannot enter; all his forces dare not cross the threshold of the ruined tenement!"
In 1791, the Founding Fathers compressed theses events and utterances, and the tradition that shaped them, into the succinct injunction of the fourth amendment: "the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the person or things to be seized".
To procure this right was one of the overriding aims of the American Revolution. It is a right no despotism can accommodate. It is a right no free society can be without.
It is fair, I think, to suppose that Madison and his colleagues were satisfied that they had guaranteed the people from intrusion, search and seizure beyond all doubt. They Bill of Rights was written to clarify. It drew lines around the individual freedoms, intended to be unalterable and plainly visible.
But the Founding Fathers could not foresee the electronic age. They could not foresee telephones, wiretaps, bugging devices, computers and data bands. Technology has cluttered the domain off the constitution. It has confused things. It has made our homes and our private lives accessible, even when our doors are looked and our shades are drawn. It has created a new kind of intrusion: invisible, unannounced often untraceable.
Unauthorized intrusions have almost always been a temptation to police in search of evidence, and to governments troubled by national security. With the electronic age, the temptations have proliferated. The meaning of privacy has become blurred in many minds, and in the confusion, electronic prying has outrun the restraints of the fourth amendment.
In 1928, the Supreme Court dealt for the first time with wiretapping in Olmstead versus United States. The plaintiffs were bootleggers who had been convicted on the evidence of recorded telephone conversations. They claimed that the use of such evidence violated the fourth and fifth amendments. The supreme Court upheld the convictions. Chief Justice William Howard Taft wrote the opinion. Wiretapping, he ruled, was not a search and seizure and not an illegal entry, because the tap had been placed outside. Only the spoken word had been seized, and the spoken word was not protected by the fourth amendment.
In spite of Taft, the Olmstead case produced an historic definition of privacy: the famous dissent by Mr. Justice Brandeis. "The makers of our constitution", he wrote, "sought to protect Americans in their beliefs, their thoughts, their emotions and their sensations. They conferred, as against the Government, the right to be let alone--the most comprehensive of rights and the right most valued by civilized men. To protect that right, every unjustifiable intrusion by the individual, whatever the means employed must be deemed a violation of the fourth amendment.
Nonetheless, Taft's unimaginative pronouncement stood for 39 years, until the court decided in Katz versus New York that warrantless wiretapping had to be construed a violation of the fourth amendment. "The fourth amendment", the court ruled, "protects people, not places". One did not have to be at home to be intruded upon.
The Katz decision vindicated Brandeis' 1928 dissent. And I believe the fourth amendment bears no other interpretation. What did the Founding Fathers intend to confer, if not the right to be let alone--the right to speak in private, the right to think in private?
Jefferson once warned that "the natural process of things is for Liberty to yield and Government to gain ground." In our 200 years history, we have resisted that tendency. Armed with the Constitution, we have fought infringements of our liberties, and on balance have squeezed out enough victories to bring civil liberties alive and well to the present day. The courts have stood by our right to privacy in some areas, such as the right to read as one chooses in the privacy of one's home. But the courts have not guarded us as well against intrusion and surveillance--nor has the Congress or the legal profession. And where we have turned our backs. Government has exceeded its rightful powers, almost without fall. Liberty has yielded, and Government has gained ground.
This past year, when it began to emerge that executive power had been used over nearly four decades in routine, secret disregard of the fourth amendment, the Senate finally interceded with the creation of the Select committee on Intelligence. I was a member of that committee. The revelations that came in more than a year of testimony astounded even the most seasoned members of the committee.
The FBI, as we learned, made hundreds of warrantless, surreptitious break-ins. Bugging devices were installed in offices and bedrooms. Private papers were photographed.
Phones were tapped.
FBI and CIA computers were fed a prodigious diet of names and organizations. Nearly a quarter of million first-class letters were photographed to compile a CIA computerized index of one and a half million names. Some 300,000 persons were index in a CIA computer system; files were collected on about 7,200 Americans and more than a hundred domestic groups in the CIA's operation chaos. Army intelligence kept files on an estimated 100,000 persons. The Internal Revenue Service kept files on more than 11,000 persons and started investigations for reasons of politics, not taxes. More than 26,000 persons were catalogued by the FBI. Whose intention was to imprison them all summarily in the event of a national emergency.
The revelations went on and on, with scarcely a dull moment. We learned that quarrels among black groups had been aggravated with forged letters, inciting violence, marriages were disrupted, again with forged letters.
As James Otis put it "What a scene does this open." But in 1761, the violations were flagrant, and dressed in the formality of the writs of assistance. Today's intrusions on privacy dispense with all formality. They are soundless, and unseen. No doors are broken down, no papers carried away. Instead of seizure, there is photography and a computerized file. Instead of an ear to the door, there is bugging device inside the room.
These intrusions were seldom detected and so seldom challenged. Unchallenged, they multiplied. The fourth amendment was being flouted by those whom it was meant to bind and by those who were meant to enforce it; the American people stood by indifferent or unaware.
The blame belongs many places.
For 25 years, Congress has routinely appropriated funds for intelligence, knowing little about how the money would be used and not troubling to find out. From time to time, we attempted to set mild restrictions that were ignored, and then failed to insist on compliance.
The courts have hesitated to meet the intelligence community head-on. They Supreme Court conceded in 1972 that warrantless electronic surveillance had been permitted by Presidents without "guidance by the congress or a definitive decision of the courts."
And the legal establishment, the American Bar Association and the State and city bar associations, might have guessed how deep the disease ran, and met every lawyer's obligation to protest. The secrecy spun by Presidents and Government agents was thick but not impenetrable. Now and then a voice was raised, in fear or indignation. These complaints might have been looked into. What the press finally did, we might have done ourselves.
The recommendations of the Select Committee were designed to establish supervision, to check and balance the intelligence agencies as required by the Constitution. We advised, simply, that intelligence-gathering be brought within the bounds of law.
We proposed that there be no electronic surveillance without judicial warrant.
We proposed that no homes be entered, no mail be opened, without a warrant.
The Permanent Oversight Committee, which the Select Committee created when it finished its businesses, will have sentinel duty. It will alert the Congress and the country, let us hope, the moment the law is violated. For the moment, order and the rule of law have been restored.
But something in America has been dimmed in these decades of official lawbreaking. James Otis understood what it was when he spoke of "the liberty of every man."
It is more than an abstraction. It is more than a syllogism stating that if the liberty of one is taken away, then the liberty of any other can be taken just as easily. The fact is, it can be taken from some much more easily than from others. But wherever one man's liberty is violated, the liberty of every man, the transcendent aim of our law, is diminished.
The Socialist Workers Party, an ardent, possibly naive, undoubtedly peaceful group of Americans, as the FBI has admitted, was spied on and its offices broken into for years. Forged letters were sent to spouses and employers in attempts to wreck marriages and ruin jobs. In those abuses, the liberty of every man was diminished.
The late Martin Luther King, Jr., an apostle of non-violence and integration, was hounded by FBI spies and technicians whose instructions were to "destroy"him. In that crude campaign, the liberty of every man was diminished.
When the FBI concocted letters designed to instigate murder between the Black Panthers and a Chicago street gang, the liberty of every man was diminished as surely as if those agents tampered in your lives, or mine.
And as long as the Government intrudes illegally in the private life of so much as a single ragtag student demonstrator, the liberty of every man will be diminished.
No conscientious lawyer can be indifferent to be scars of these past years, or to the neglect that made them possible.
Today, a new test of the fourth amendment appears to be pending, brought along in the stealthy evolution of the computer.
The computer has become indispensable in commerce, industry, and government. Increasingly, information is shared from computer to computer, covering vast distances in seconds Law enforcement has become automated; the law enforcement assistance administration, created in 1968, recommended the development of computerized information system, and the FBI, a year earlier, unveiled its national crime information center, a monster computer in Washington, accessible on the instant to law enforcement agencies all over America.
Business and commerce now hum to computer rhythms. The bank, credit, medical, and business records of almost every one of us are stored away in some electronic memory. Computers do not discard information, unless ordered to. They do not forget it. They amass it, they produce it indiscriminately at the ouch of a button.
The capacity of men in power to wreck civil liberties and subvert laws was amply demonstrated in the Watergate affair, and by the intelligence community in every administration from Roosevelt to Nixon. Computers have only begun to demonstrate their potential. Men and computers, in collaboration, edge closer and closer to the innermost precincts of our private lives.
Two years ago I introduced the bill of Rights Procedures Act, which was designed to reinforce the fourth amendment. They bill would require court approval, upon a show of probable cause, before the Government could wiretap, bug, open mail, or dig into telephone, credit, medical, or business records. Court approval would have to be put in writing. Any Federal agent who proceeded to these measures without a court order would be subject to criminal prosecution.
Congress was created for the most part to make law, not enforce it. But where the constitution is made to seem ambiguous by modern technology, or where it is assailed by Federal agents and overreaching presidents, or where the courts are dilatory, then Congress does have the power to intercede. The Bill of Rights Procedures Act would reiterate the fourth amendment and insist by statute that it be enforced.
Over the years, the United States Supreme Court has been a primary guardian of our civil liberties. The court has traditionally exercised vigilance in its decisions defining the scope of the privacy protections afforded under the fourth amendment's prohibitions against unreasonable searches and seizures.
In recent months, however, the Supreme Court has signalled a retreat from its position as the protector against governmental intrusion. In a series of recent decisions--ranging from its ruling in United States against Miller that a citizen's banking records are not his private papers so as to come under the protections of the fourth amendment, to its holding in South Dakota against Opperman, approving sweeping inventory searches of automobiles in police custody, the court has taken a much narrower view of the fourth amendment. In dissent, Justices Marshall and Brennan have leveled unusually harsh criticisms of these recent decisions,. As Justice Brennan, joined by Justice Marshall, wrote in dissent in United States against Martinez-Fuerte, that case was "the ninth this term marking the continuing evisceration of fourth amendment protections against unreasonable searches and seizures."
I join in the eloquent dissents of Justices Brennan and Marshall and hope that this trend will be reversed in the coming term of the Court.
Against this background, I believe it is essential that the Congress and State legislatures--who apparently have been lulled into passivity by the dominant role played by the Supreme Court--reevaluate their usual practice of stepping aside to allow the courts to determine the breadth of the privacy safeguards in the Constitution. Even when Congress has had the opportunity to delineate the scope of these protections, it has either failed to do so or specifically left such determinations to the courts. Typical of its abdication to the judiciary are the following:
In the 1968 Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act, Congress expressly disclaimed reaching a decision regarding the constitutional limitations on the President's power to order wiretaps without judicial warrants;
In the Bank Secrecy Act, Congress authorized surveillance into the bank records of millions of Americans without making clear whether these administrative powers were subject to the prohibitions in the fourth amendment;
In the border search statute, Congress permitted searches of individuals within 100 miles of the border without declaring whether the fourth amendment was applicable to governmental actions of this nature.
The time is at hand when the congress and its State counterparts must enact legislation to protect the privacy which is essential to our democratic society.
In the advance of computer technology, the words of James Otis bristle once more. The writ of assistance, he said, "Is a power that places the liberty of every man in the hands of every petty officer." To prevent this, our fourth amendment was written. It was written to guarantee the privacy of the home and personal papers, and the right to be let alone. It was written to place the liberty of every man our of the reach of every pretty officer, every Federal agent, every Attorney General, and every President, and to lock it securely within the rule of law.
Senator Mathias Addresses The Utah Bar Association
Speech by Senator Charles McC. Mathias, Jr.
July 17, 1976
"If men were angels," wrote Madison in the Federalist Papers, 'no government would be necessary."
In the Kentucky Resolutions of 1798, Jefferson echoed this unsentimental view of mankind. "It would be a dangerous delusion," he wrote, "were a confidence in the men of our choice to silence our fears for the safety of our rights . . . in questions of power then let no more be heard of confidence in man, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the constitution."
The Founding Fathers were skeptical of human nature. They were inspired by the humanists, but they were never beguiled by illusions of a benign, ever reliable inner an. They knew that when the first bloom of the revolution wore off, men in power would have to be restrained. It was their premise that where power exists, sooner or later it will be used.
Our 200-year history has confirmed the skepticism, and the wisdom, of the Founding Fathers. The chains of the constitution have been constantly tested, as men and governments have stretched, and at times assaulted, the limits set upon them. So far, our system has endured the stress and collision. No other government in the world has survived in its original form as long as ours.
But this is not an invitation to complacency. We can be grateful, in this bicentennial year, that the Founding Fathers provided so well for us, but it would be foolish to relax completely. The tension of men and governments goes on, as Madison and his colleagues foresaw, in a constant process of ebb and flow.
This past year I served on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, and in that capacity got a vivid glimpse of man's propensity to use power as it accrues to him.
The intelligence fraternity has used power in a mind-boggling variety of ways, to almost any purpose imaginable, from the routine collection of information to cloak-and-dagger antics reminiscent of a grade-B spy movie. Power has been used for good reason, and it has been used for no logical reason at all, as though simply because it was there. Millions of dollars and hundreds of hours were lavished on projects of the most bizarre and aimless nature. In some cases, not even the perpetrators themselves could say what they hoped to accomplish.
For 25 years, the NAACP was investigated by the FBI to determine whether that organization "had connections" with the Communist Party, After the first year, an FBI report conceded that the NAACP had no association whatsoever with Communism, but the investigation went on anyway.
For more than 30 years, the FBI investigated the Socialist Workers Party, embarrassing its members and breaking into their offices in the nighttime, acknowledging all the while that the Socialist Workers Party had never broken any law and had never incited anyone to break the law.
One of the most dismal and misguided of the enterprises we investigated was the prolonged assault on the rights and privacy of the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. In 1968, FBI headquarters notified its agents in the field that Dr. King must be destroyed, because he might "abandon his supposed obedience to white liberal doctrines (non-violence)." The order reads like a passage from Catch-22. By the perverse logic of the FBI high command, Dr. King was a prime suspect to foment violence, no matter how long and how earnestly he preached and practiced the opposite.
Once a project was entered into, it often grew naturally, feeding not on exigencies but upon itself. "The risk," said one witness, "was . . . to move from the kid with the bomb to the kid with a picket sign, and from the kid with the picket sign to the kid with the bumper sticker of the opposing candidate. And you just keep going down the line."
The process is in a familiar pattern. Power granted freely, without stipulation, rushes to opportunity like air into a vacuum.
Thomas Jefferson was in Paris as Minister to France during the constitutional Convention in 1789. When he received the news that George Mason of Virginia had failed to persuade the delegates to adopt a Bill of Rights he fired off a volley of letters to the founders of the New Republic. Civil liberties, he insisted, must e enumerated, leaving no doubt as to where the power of government ended, and where the rights of the people could not be infringed. Civil liberties could not be left to the goodness of men in power. Within four years, thanks to Mason, Luther Martin of Maryland, and above all to the entreaties of Jefferson, the first ten amendments had been written.
Encroachments on the Bill of Rights began almost before the ink was dry.
In 1798, the Alien and Sedition Acts were passed, in circumstances that have a familiar resonance. The Nation feared war with France. There were considerable numbers of Frenchmen in the country. The several alien acts authorized deportation of aliens and imprisonment of persons whose motherland was at war with America. The Sedition Act made it a high misdemeanor "unlawfully to combine and conspire" to oppose legal measures of the Government, and to engage or abet "insurrection, riot, or unlawful assembly or combination." Ten persons, all Republicans, were fined and imprisoned under the act by the Federalist administration of John Adams. Republican editors who criticized President Adams were liberally prosecuted, while Federalists who denounced Vice-President Jefferson were left alone.
Jefferson and Madison responded passionately in the Kentucky and Virginia resolutions. If the acts should stand, Jefferson warned, "these conclusions would flow from them: that the general Government may place any act they think proper on the list of crimes and punish it themselves, whether enumerated or not enumerated by the Constitution."
There is simplicity in this, and clarity. The Government may not condemn, harass, punish or confine, except where the law and the Bill of Rights allow. The constitution was not written to be ignored, according to whim or convenience. It was not written to be suspended in hard times or crises. It is the law, and final.
Even Lincoln was spurred to abridge one of the bedrock principles of the Bill of Rights. When the Civil War broke out, Lincoln suspended the writ of habeas corpus. On suspicion of disloyalty or agitation, thousands of citizens were imprisoned without trial. Congress ratified the order after the fact, and in 1863 a compliant Supreme Court sustained it.
American civil liberties have always been battered in wartime.
In 1918, Congress enacted the Sedition Act, a blunt-edged weapon against dissent. The act authorized severe punishment for anyone during wartime who should "utter, print, write, or publish any disloyal, profane, scurrilous, or abusive language" about the flag, the Armed Forces or their uniforms, the Constitution, or the form of the Government of the United States. If the congress has ever struck more fiercely at the First Amendment, I should like to know when.
During World War II, this country fell into one of the most painful and disgraceful of our lapses, the internment of Japanese-Americans. The lieutenant general in charge of west coast operations gave this quaint explanation of the policy he recommended so devotedly: "The fact that no sabotage has taken place to date is a disturbing and confirming indication that such action will be taken." On this frail and witless supposition, 112,000 Japanese-Americans lost every shred of protection under the law. President Roosevelt succumbed to the paranoia. Every Japanese-American on the west coast was herded into centers in the western deserts and the swampland of Arkansas.
When wartime conditions do not exist, the Government is often tempted to invent them.
In 1919, Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer bequeathed his name to history as director of the Palmer raids, wherein thousands of political dissenters and anarchists were arrested summarily Aliens were deported. On January 2, 1919, Government agents swooped into 33 cities and arrested 2,700 persons.
Nearly all of the sad and comic antics of Watergate were ascribed to national security. The men around the President seem to have believed that they were committing small sins to prevent greater ones.
The same delusion has flourished in the intelligence community. As Government agents, prodded by their superiors and encouraged by every administration from Roosevelt to Nixon, proceeded to the most aberrational violations of the bill of rights, they carried the heartfelt conviction that they were promoting the greater safety of this Nation. "It was my assumption," one witness told us, "that what we were doing was justified by what we had to do . . . the greater good, the national security."
The rationale is old, and it comes easy. Consider how many tyrannies have been erected, and how many liberties snuffed out, in the name of that nebulous and changeable aim, "the grater good."
The founding fathers knew better than to take the risk. They believed that power grows to the extent it is permitted, and they constructed the constitution around the assumption. Its verity has been borne out again and again, most recently by the zealous excesses of the intelligence community. These excess were covert, hidden even from their victims. They were almost never discovered, and therefore seldom challenged, unchallenged, they grew and grew and grew.
I believe we have checked them. Our rescue has come in a resounding invocation of the doctrines of Madison and Jefferson. Those doctrines remain our greatest surety against the ill-will or carelessness of men in power, and the misconduct of their subordinates. As we celebrate our 200th birthday, we ought to remind ourselves of this, and resolve as Jefferson advised, to "let no more be heard of confidence in man, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution."
Saturday, September 22, 2012
China's Premier Wen Jiabao was giving an opening remark at the EU-China summit in Brussels. After a long list of achievements reached in his ten years tenure as China's premier, Wen stressed his disappointment over two issues: lifting arms embargo and nonrecognition of fully-fledged market economy status. While Wen was still speaking, the live feed was cut abruptly before he could finish the sentence.
A diplomat who attended the meeting said the request came from China.
It's interesting to learn someone in the Chinese delegation could order speech of Wen, the Prime Minister and No. 3 in CCP, to be cut off. It's also interesting to speculate how did the organizer recognize and accommodate the request to mute the top Chinese official at the meeting.
As the lonely minority among his peers, Wen was always muted on sensitive talks in China. Wen also use his oversea trips to talk about his visions on political reform.
Professor Tian Xie of University of South Carolina Aiken commented that Wen probably wanted to use his last EU-China summit to advocate for importance and urgency of political reforms. The two issues would have been a good talk point for that.
Wednesday, September 19, 2012
According to UK's Telegraph, around 50 Chinese mob attacked Gary Locke's car right at the entrance to the US Embassy in Beijing. The car was damaged, but Locke was able to escape after Chinese guards intervened.
The attack took place under the backdrop of China's dispute with Japan over Diaoyu Islands. A State Department spokeswoman reaffirmed US's position that the islands were covered under Article V of the security treaty between US and Japan, a stance seen by China as bias. A few days earlier, the US Defense Secretary Panetta visited Japan on an unscheduled stop on his Asia trip, and announced deployment of one more anti-missile system. Although Panetta stressed that the system was targeting North Korea, the timing clearly was very sensitive in the height of the Sino-Japanese dispute. Panetta also is extending his China stop from 2 days to 4 days.
While evidences had surfaced that violent protests against Japan and Japanese interests in dozens of cities across China were led by official securities forces disguised as mobs, rumor has it that the attack on Locke was a job done by the same group of people. It's revealing to notice that anti-Japanese protests, which had caused damages of billions of dollars in dozens of cities, 'evaporated' all in a sudden without major police crack-down. And then it came the attack to US Ambassador.
Sunday, September 16, 2012
While rumor has it that many of the most violent protester who looted shops and burned down cars were strangers with out-of-town accents, here came photo proof.
In the following photos posted on Weibo, 20 some young men with same short hair style were seen marching to the scene in formation. They dressed casually as civilians, but many of them carried police communication radios (circled in red).
After yesterday violence breaking out simultaneous in dozens of cities, intellectuals on the Net were puzzled on how could it happen under the Communist Government's tight control. Many participants reported that more than half of the rioters were actually undercover policemen. Netizens were able to match one of the aggressors to a police chief, based on his official portrait. From the photos posted today, it seems not only police, but also military troops led the riot. Local police do not enforce the short hair style displayed in the marching formations. Undercover police officers have their signature dress code, too: messenger bags, as identified in many pictures.
As The Seagull had speculated yesterday, the show of violence was not about Diaoyu Islands, and had little to do with Japan in general. It's a show conducted by the Communist Party to convince ordinary people the importance of a strong police state. This is not a Kristallnacht, but the Reichstag Burns.
Another picture surfaced, despite their colorful civilian casual clothes where were seemingly grabbed from a migrant farmer's warehouse, check out their hair style, and the green armored personnel carrier half-covered in the back.
The communist government has been trying their best to make a case for heavy-handed police suppression.
Saturday, September 15, 2012
by the evening, Chinese government had declared martial law in Xi'an, capital city of Shannxi Province.
The day of Sept 15, 2012 started as an organized protest, but ended as riot with the city burning in flames. A convey of Porsche carried crossed-out Japanese flags proud led the way. Patriotic activities has become a new badge for China's 2nd gen riches. Last month, two young drivers driving a BMW and an Audi forced the Japanese Ambassador's convey to stop, then broke the Japanese flag on his car.
So far the protest has been tolerated, if not encouraged by the government. An intellectual described how he sneaked in the mob who were chanting anti-Japanese slogans in front of the Japanese embassy. He described how police supplied water and make sure everyone had a fair turn to express their anger.
Soon the protest turned into chaos. Angry mob vandalized Japanese brand cars on the streets, in parking lots. Japanese supermarket were looted. Japanese restaurant destroyed.
There would always be comedies, although dark ones in this case. This young man was seen holding a sign which read, 'I will mail-order a wife from Japan, then hang her up and beat her every day.'
By the end of the day, nineteen cities had seen riots against Japanese business and properties. In Wangfujing, heart of business in Beijing, an Armani store was destroyed, because mobs found Japanese characters on its banner. When desperate employee cried we were not a Japanese firm, a mob replied, 'yeah right, but Italy was also a fascist country on Japan's side (in WWII).'
Next, Qingdao of Shangdong Province, the birth place of the boxer uprising which led to a declaration of war against eleven countries in 1900.
The Court of Qing Dynasty quickly changed its mind when it was clear that boxers had caused more trouble then they could handle. An order was issued and soon hundreds of thousands of boxers were rounded up and executed, to appease foreign delegates.
As it says, history tends to repeat itself, the first time a tragedy, the second round a comedy. Does the communist Party really believe they can manipulate people's hatred risk-free?
Japanese embassy published anti-Japanese gathering information in multiple cities one day before they took place, based on messages spread on Weibo, Chinese version of Twitter. There is no excuse Chinese police were not alerted. Furthermore, propaganda censorship officers deliberately deleted messages calling for calm. Reporter Li Miao of the PhoenixTV complained that Weibo deleted her tweets reporting all Chinese visitors were not attacked in Japan. It's clear that the communist government just can't wait to see violence on the streets.
Two days later it will be the anniversary of September 18, 1931. Imperial Japanese Army attacked Chinese troops in Shenyang of Liaoning Province. Had the current violence not curtailed, no-one can be sure what might happen. Now the government of China holds a big bargain power against the Chinese intellectuals for tighter control and elimination of civil liberty.
It's nothing about the dispute with Japan, but all about the ruling power of the Party.
Mayor Bloomberg's ban on large soda sale is not a compliment on his IQ in general, nor creativity in particular.
Communist China had done better, where people not only were fed only a healthy diet, but also rounded up every morning to do morning exercise together. Even better, students performed an eye therapy everyday at school together.
Critics can quickly point out some factual errors in the measure billed as a way to fight obesity. For example, experiments had shown that the appearance of a huge cup actually served as a suppressor on consumers' appetite on icy soda. Rarely you see people in a restaurant finish their drink. However, smaller cups may actually make them drink more the before. Other study had shown that synthesizer sugar used to make diet soda make people hungry for real sugar thus drink more.