Sunday, November 18, 2012

Good Bye and Good Luck

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:
  1. Why are sick people who use medical marijuana put in prison?
  2. Why does the federal government restrict the drinking of raw milk?
  3. Why can’t Americans manufacturer rope and other products from hemp?
  4. Why are Americans not allowed to use gold and silver as legal tender as mandated by the Constitution?
  5. Why is Germany concerned enough to consider repatriating their gold held by the FED for her in New York?
  6. Is it that the trust in the U.S. and dollar supremacy beginning to wane?
  7. Why do our political leaders believe it’s unnecessary to thoroughly audit our own gold?
  8. Why can’t Americans decide which type of light bulbs they can buy?
  9. Why is the TSA permitted to abuse the rights of any American traveling by air?
  10. Why should there be mandatory sentences—even up to life for crimes without victims—as our drug laws require?
  11. Why have we allowed the federal government to regulate commodes in our homes?
  12. Why is it political suicide for anyone to criticize AIPAC ?
  13. Why haven’t we given up on the drug war since it’s an obvious failure and violates the people’s rights?
  14. Has nobody noticed that the authorities can’t even keep drugs out of the prisons?
  15. How can making our entire society a prison solve the problem?
  16. 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?
  17. Why does Congress willingly give up its prerogatives to the Executive Branch?
  18. Why does changing the party in power never change policy?
  19. Could it be that the views of both parties are essentially the same?
  20. 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?
  21. Why do so many in the government and the federal officials believe that creating money out of thin air creates wealth?
  22. 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?
  23. Why can’t people understand that war always destroys wealth and liberty?
  24. 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?
  25. 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?
  26. 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?
  27. Why did we ever give the government a safe haven for initiating violence against the people?
  28. Why do some members defend free markets, but not civil liberties?
  29. Why do some members defend civil liberties but not free markets?
  30. Aren’t they the same?
  31. Why don’t more defend both economic liberty and personal liberty?
  32. 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?
  33. 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?
  34. Why do we allow the government and the Federal Reserve to disseminate false information dealing with both economic and foreign policy?
  35. 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?
  36. Why should anyone be surprised that Congress has no credibility, since there’s such a disconnect between what politicians say and what they do?
  37. 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

The Death of Lei Yang

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

Nature's New Low

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

Tianjin Becoming the World Capital of Internet Censorship

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

What Else One Can Not Do When the Sparta In Session

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.