Monday, March 29, 2010

Law Makers Asked University Not to Sue Interest Groups

Students participating the environmental law clinic at the University of Maryland were told to stop working on two cases against local poultry industry brought up by environmental groups. It was part of the curriculum of the law school to have law students working on real cases.

Senator Tomas M Middleton, a Democrat, said, "What I'm hoping is they'll have some sensitivity......Farming and agriculture on the Eastern Shores seems to be under attack." Along with 34 other senators, a measure will block $250,000 if the University does not comply. A similar measure in the House will take away $500,000. About 30% of the University's budget comes from the State.

Two cases were at stake. One regards direct drainage into the Pocomoke River; the other regards a poultry company whose way of controlling a large number of farms.

History could argue that, sometimes, a 'corrupted' legislature serves the society better as a 'Chinese style' rubber stamp.

First Man-in-the-Middle-Attack on a Root Level DNS Server

The first ever man-in-the-middle-attack just took place on a root level DNS server, and of course, that would be in Beijing, China.

China had long been arguing that the top level DNS management must be de-centralized (to China, from the US) for varies reasons. They got one, and they used one.

ISP in US and Chile noticed when their customers tried to visit sites such as YouTube, Twitter or Facebook, they ended up at Chinese sites instead of the real ones. An investigation revealed that inquiries made to a root server in Beijing (one of 34 in the world) were intercepted and altered by the communists government's Great FireWall.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Parents Arrested for Taking Children to Hospital

Parenting has never been easy, it's just more difficult in some places in China under communism regime.

Parents in Sichuan Province were jailed after asking the government to investigate the building quality of those collapsed in the earthquake.

Parents in Hunan Province were jailed after taking their kids to do blood work in hospitals in neighboring areas.

On September 18, 2009, hundreds farmers of Jiahe County, Hunan rented buses to take their kids to Guangzhou to test led level. They had to go to Guangzhou because local government forbade this testing in local hospitals. Because of industrial pollution, about 80% of local children were lead poisoned. Their bus convey were stopped by police officers led by the local Party Legal Secretary LI Ying.

Li Ying told reporters of Xin-Jing Bao (New Beijing Daily), they did nothing wrong to detail the parents because they followed legal procedures, even though they had originally thought the farmers were going to appeal to upper government. Farmers were at fault because they did not inform local government their intention before leaving home. Li said by throwing a small amount farmers in jail, 'the majority of population were thus educated'.

All of the pollution producing companies were owned by officials in local government.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Computers with Bogus Heart

Junior student Huang Jing of the Beijing Capital University of Economics and Business was released after spending 10 months in jail. Her crime then was complaining a buggy computer she bought from ASUS, a prominent computer maker. The computer kept crashing, and couldn't be fixed after repeated service requests. One of her tech savvy friend opened up the case, and noticed the CPU was an 'engineering edition'.

An engineering edition CPU is not meant to be installed in any computer, but used for testing purpose only. Many computer makers in China use these kind of CPU to lower cost. There are two channels an 'engineering edition' CPU can be acquired: Intel often gives some of these chips to computer manufactures before a production model is available so that the vendor can have something to test their motherboard and design. Each vendor usually receives a handful of engineering edition CPUs for each model they are going to build a computer upon. They are most likely used up during the designing and testing process. The second channel is through smuggling from overseas. For whatever motivation, humongous amount of CPU produced in the normal production phase but found to be defect were dumped into a junk market, marked as 'engineering edition' for testing purpose. Intel prohibit usage of such chips in any computer. However, there is no way to regulate where they will end up once they are released to the market. Many Chinese computer makers find these chips a great way to reduce cost, and use them primarily in domestic market where they are 'escorted (as in explicit written legal language)' by a strong pro-business justice system. A few years earlier, a consumer WANG Hong in Shijiazhuang complained a computer he bought from a domestic maker was 'as delicate as a cartoon of toufu'. The (Beijing) Haidian District Court fined him more than $40,000 on defamation (1999-MinChu3538).

In Huang Jing's case, the prosecutor changed their mind and released her after 10 months in jail. Huang also received $5,000 compensation from the government for her jail time. On the annual National Consumers' Day of March 15, 2010, her lawyer filed a complaint to the (Beijing) Xuanwu District Court, asking the court to find the 'national consumers association', a government agency, non-act in her case. Law suits against ASUS will be followed.

In the first ever Online Consumers' Rights survey last year, Huang's case was voted No. 1 in the country as the most severe offense to consumer's rights with 50,255 votes.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Being Cynical

People outside of China often puzzled at the cynicism attitude among elite Chinese. Indeed, it is not only an essence on issues of political significance, but abundant in trivial daily life. For example, many many years ago, faculty dinning room of Beijing University sold two kinds of buns, one made with regular (dark) wheat flour, and the other kind with bleached flour. The official name of the two, as referred to in the rest of the China, would be 'regular' and 'enriched'. However, intellectuals of the University rather used disparaged words, such as 'black' and 'white', and later 'pay-more', and 'not-pay-more' (the cultural backdrop: mentioning anything about money is historically despited for intellectuals). In another example, though many enthusiastically supported the student democratic demonstration on the Tian'anmen Square in 1989, once the military rolled tanks into Beijing, few dared murmur any objections. Quietly, on basketball fields on campus, a referee would proclaim 'martial law' in lieu of 'time-out'. They called the attention that they recognized the situation, without expressing an opinion of any.

What are the cowards afraid of? People living outside China often fail to understand that you could be throw into jail or killed even on a trivial gesture.

It couldn't be more clear from the threatens issued after the 1989 incident. The CCP claimed millions of communists sacrificed their lives in the wars and fights to established the current regime, therefore, if any students or anyone else wants to over throw the government, the CCP will behead ten million people first. (The logic was actually disputed by a number of old generation communists years later, where they argued, those who sacrificed their lives did that for a hope of a country where enjoy their lives, unlike the situation of current regime)

Even if you were not against the government, and even if it were a misunderstanding, you and your family could be ruined and buried forever. The communism enforces their rule by crushing any challengers mercilessly. It is also a highly efficient mechanism which always entices more followers by offering huge incentives and covering for their well beings with no limit.

With the knowledge, it's easier to decipher the behavior of elite of Chinese intellectuals after the Governor of Hubei grabbed a young female reporter and confiscated her recording pen at the National People's Congress in front of hundreds of other reporters.

Five days after the incident, many posters are praising the governor, while felt lucky for the reporter. The mainstream voice is that the reporter should count her blessing because had it happened in Hubei Province, she wouldn't have been able to walk out alive. Many expressed sympathy on the governor because had it happened in Hubei, police, military or even security would have handled the interruption perfectly for him. An untamed reporter would not even be able to get close to him within a 10 miles perimeters. The elite spread the incident at first time to check out the political wind. When they sensed the central government could care less even though it happened at the biggest annual political show stage, they backed from their initial demand of apology.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

No Apology Was Due, Said Hubei Governor

The whereabout of governor of Hubei Province had been tracing down by curious reporters in the past couple of days, after he grabbed a female reporter, and confiscated her recording pen at a news conference of the National People's Congress.

Today LI Hongzhong was finally ready to talk to official reporters of designated agencies regarding the weired episode on March 7, 2010. He stated that no apology was due in this case because the reporter, LIU Jie of Beijing Times committed fraud impersonation (as a People's Daily reporter).

Beijing Times is a wholly owned regional division of People's Daily, targeting readers in Beijing. The relationship is somewhat analogous to that between a Buick and General Motors.

Governor LI said he would prefer to forgive the misdemeanor of the young reporter because she was still new in this field.

All reference to the incident had been wiped out from the web inside China protected by the Great FireWall.

The Fighter Pilot and the Beauty

Wang Hanxun (front second from left), Deputy Commander of Fifth Wing, was shot down one year before the victory of Anti-Japanese war above Guilin, Guangxi Province.

Wang's fiancee, Zheng Pingru, was arrested in Shanghai and executed after a failed attempt to assassinate a collaborator Ding Mocun in occupied Shanghai.

The assassination was adopted by a recent movie Lust, Caution (Wikipedia, IMDB).

We will remember you.

Monday, March 08, 2010

Hubei Governor Li Hongzhong Shined at the 11th National People's Congress

In the morning of March 7, 2010, the Hubei Province delegation held a press conference to advocate the progress made in Hubei. A female reporter Liu, Jie asked what did the governor think about the Deng Yujiao case, where local officials of Hubei gang raped a waitress in public.

Governor LI Hongzhong (Wikipedia, Official Home Page) was apparently annoyed. He asked the reporter who did she work for? The reporter replied, "People's Daily" (a Party owned propaganda newspaper). The governor reprimanded the reporter, "Are you really (affiliated with the People's Daily)? Don't you know you are the Party's mouthpiece (mouth and tongue in Chinese)? What the hell direction are you steering your readers' opinion? I will talk to your boss!"

In a move which to stun everyone in the room, the governor grabbed the reporter by her breasts to pull her close to himself. The governor then robbed the reporter's breasts while the reporter sobbed silently in tears for about two minutes that's when he found a hidden recorder pen in her bra with a string hanged on her neck. Without raising his voice, the governor broke the string in a swift and affirmative act, and passed the recorder pen to a Hubei official accompanying him. He then tossed the reporter's credentials out in front of a roomful of other reporters.

The reporter is Jie LIU, a reporter of "Beijing Times" (Jinghua Shibao in Chinese), a Beijing based daily newspaper under "People's Daily".

The governor is LI Hongzhong, deputy Party secretary of Hubei CCP, a member of the 17th Central Committee of the CCP, and a representative of the (current) 11th National Congress. Li has been the governor of Hubei Province since the end of 2007.

The episode was promptly described by reporters at the scene by twitter-equivalent micro-blogs, and appeared on many blogs, including those operated by influential mainstream traditional media, such as "Southern Weekends", "Finance", etc. Audios and videos of the incident flooded video sharing sites.

The last time in history when an official Chinese reporter (reporters in China are government employees) had a dispute with an official happened in April 1957, before the commonly considered communism dark era of the Cultural Revolution (1966-1969). Assistant Agricultural Minister ZUO Ye had a verbal exchange with a reporter due to over-crowding during a USSR delegation's visit in Beijing. Hundreds reporter were jailed as a result.

The recorder had been officially issued back to the reporter by the Hubei provincial government the next day according to online reports. However, no apology was offered. Media demands an apology, and some reporters threatened of further action with a 24 hours note.

Download or listen the original audio before it would be harmonized.

In his annual state of the country State Council Government Work Report delivered on March 5, 2010 to the 11th National People's Congress where the incident took place, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao said, '...... (the government) should facilitate people's criticism and monitoring of the government. At the same time, the government should encourage media to monitoring its operation. Authority should work under the sunshine."

Friday, March 05, 2010

Changhong: An Interesting Chinese Corporation

Thanks to one corporation, families in the US can enjoy a DVD movie without breaking their banks, sort of.

Before Changhong DVD players being dumped into the US retail markets at $20 a piece, a DVD player was sold at more than $150 in the least. But what is interesting is that Changhong dumped $1 Billion worth of DVD players to the US in a duration of over three years. A Taiwan born Chinese American businessman imported Changhong DVD players from China at about $100 a piece, then sold them to retailers at $10 a piece, for three years. Changhong did not receive a penny from it. When Changhong reported realized what had been happening, it was too late to do anything about it. Reportedly, the $1 Billion lost wiped out everything Changhong had accumulated in the past 10 years, and more.

Magically, Changhong survived, and continued its thrive in Chinese household appliance market. How could a company survive from a lost of this scale, only God knows.

A recent whistle blower case revealed even more shocking scenario of the company. A former Changhong executive Fan Dejun told the court that Changhong blew up its sale by $1 Billion in the year 1998 alone. For example, Changhong claimed it pocketed $100 Million from Chongqing Departmental Store (a major retailer and distributor in Chongqing metropolitan), however, the real figure was only $15 Million. Two other stores in Sichuan Province claimed sales of Changhong product of $120 Million and $80 Million, while other official numbers showed no store in Sichuan sold more than $50 Million in the year of 1998.

Also in 1998, Changhong surprised the country in a stun announce that it had reserved 250 million color TV tube from eight largest color tube manufacture in China, which equals to two years of total production volume in China. At the time, Chinese law prohibited manufacture to import TV tubes from overseas. Therefore, Changhong's strike basically pushed every other TV manufacture in China down the ridge. Such bland monopoly measure was endorsed by the central government and legal systems.

Who are these guys?

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Toyota Strikes Back

In wake of the recent congressional investigation of the unintended sudden acceleration problem of Toyota cars, Toyota strikes back.

The tactics are ordinary: carrots and sticks. On the sweet side, Toyota dramatically increased lobby fund, on top of the 32 firms on the Hill already representing Toyota on every fronts. A whopping 40% of the 140 congressmen and senators who are involved in the investigation already on Toyota's payroll before the 'incident'. To show its teeth, Toyota pulled two managers from an advisory board of the Southern Illinois University, which is known for its automotive programs, 'in view of recent events'. The events refer to a Southern Illinois professor who testified on the Congress on possibility that an electronic malfunction in the throttle system of Toyota's unique drive-by-wire system caused the problem. Professor David W. Gilbert demonstrated the discovery on evening news with a real Toyota car. He also testified he couldn't duplicate the same problem on similar cars from other manufactures, including Honda and Ford.

The chief engineer of Toyota testified Tuesday that Toyota would make better cars, "so that Toyota customers would make less mistakes while driving Toyota cars". In the end, it's all customer's problem, after all.

Monday, March 01, 2010

Vancouver to Lose $5 Billion on Olympics

City of Vancouver has spent more than $6 Billion on the 2010 Winter Olympics games held there, but the direct and indirect income was not expected to exceed $1 Billion.

Vancouver will not be the first city to be hit by Olympics deficit. $1.5 Billion deficit from the 1976 Montreal Summer Olympics cost 30 years of local residents to pay back.

Even the historically profitable 1996 Summer Olympic in Atalanta left the southern capital with ghost streets and malfunction surveillance cameras that testify for the unhealable wounds from work of accounting genies.

Cities in China, however, always pocket in after holding international conventions, such as the Olympics and World Fairs, mysteriously. For example, Beijing Olympics committee announced last June that they had a pure revenue of $150 Million after holding the 2008 Summer Olympics.