30 August 2010
HE'S JUST TOO GREEN FOR THE JOB. THANK YOU, ILLIBERAL MEDIA, FOR FORCING THIS GUY ON THE AMERICAN PEOPLE. ACCORDING TO THE ILLIBERAL MEDIA IN 2008, OBAMA WAS THE ANOINTED ONE WHO COULD WALK ON WATER.
WELL, HE'S BARELY TREADING WATER NOW...
27 August 2010
Taipei, Aug. 17, 2010 (CENS)--Due to the effect of the year of tiger and lone bird on the Chinese calendar, Taiwan`s fertility rate will drop below 1, to 0.94, this year, the lowest worldwide, as a result of which the local population will stop growing in 2022 and begin to decrease from 2023, four years ahead of the original forecast, reported the Council for Economic Planning and Development (CEPD) yesterday (Aug. 16).
The CEPD, however, also predicted that the fertility rate, or the average number of offspring born to local women during their reproductive years of 15-49, will climb back to 1.3 by 2060.
The forecast is based on a demographic survey carried out by the CEPD once every two years. Chen Shih-chang, chief of CEPD`s Department of Manpower Planning, pointed out that Taiwan will become an aged society in 2017, when the share of its population aged 65 and higher will hit 14%, the threshold for such society according to international definition. Aged citizens will account for 42% of the total population in 50 years, according to Chen.
The trend of decreasing offspring, said Chen, will impact the operation of kindergartens, elementary schools, and junior highs. The number of freshmen at junior highs will plunge 29% by 2020 from the current level and the number of college students will plummet by 43% by 2030 from the current level. Chen noted that fewer and fewer members of the younger generation will have to support a larger and larger older generation. At present, every 100 productive people aged 15-64 have to support 36 dependents, including senior citizen aged over 65 and children aged under 15. The amount of dependents for every 100 productive people will exceed 60% in 2034. (by Philip Liu)
26 August 2010
15 August 2010
12 August 2010
09 August 2010
We wish him well but know it's going to be a tough slog -- both personally and professionally.
As you can hear below, Dr. Chee speaks flawless English and Mandarin Chinese.
from The Seattle Times
Lavish Obama vacation in time of economic turmoil raises eyebrows
First lady Michelle Obama is on a five-day trip to a luxury resort along with a handful of friends, her younger daughter, Sasha, aides and Secret Service personnel.
Tribune Washington bureau
WASHINGTON — As the U.S. economy endures high unemployment and a jittery stock market, President Obama has preached sacrifice and fiscal discipline. But the pictures coming out of a sunsplashed Spanish resort this week may be sending a different message.
First lady Michelle Obama is on a five-day trip to a luxury resort along with a handful of friends, her younger daughter, Sasha, aides and Secret Service personnel. Her office said the first family will pay for personal expenses, but declined to reveal the taxpayer cost for the government employees. The president stayed home in the United States, as did daughter Malia, 12, who is at camp.
The trip provided plenty of fodder for television news shows, talk-show hosts and bloggers.
Critics portrayed the foreign getaway as tone deaf to the economic anxiety back home. Earlier in the week, the first lady was photographed walking through the streets of the Costa del Sol region wearing a one-shouldered Jean Paul Gaultier top.
Every first family takes vacations. The criticism aimed at Michelle Obama is that she chose to visit a foreign country rather than remain in the United States and support its fragile economy.
In July, the first lady flew to the Florida Panhandle, a tourist spot hit hard by the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, and delivered the message that for parents "looking for things to do with their kids this summer ... this is a wonderful place to visit."
The opulence of the European trip also has drawn scrutiny. Michelle Obama is staying at the Hotel Villa Padierna, a Ritz-Carlton resort in the mountains outside Marbella. The resort has two golf courses, a posh spa with Turkish baths, views of the Mediterranean Sea and a high-end restaurant specializing in avant-garde fare. Room rates start at $400 and rise to $6,500 for a two-bedroom villa with a private pool and 24-hour butler service.
The danger for the Obamas is that the trip may feed perceptions they are out of touch with struggling American families, said Chris Wilson, a Republican pollster.
"This in and of itself doesn't hurt President Obama, but it plants a seed in voters' minds ... that 'they're not like me,' " he said.
While her friends arrived in Spain on their own, Michelle Obama flew in on a type of aircraft also used by Vice President Joseph Biden. It costs the government $11,555 an hour to operate the plane, according to the Air Force. Assuming a nearly eight-hour flight to nearby Málaga, the total round-trip cost of the flight is about $178,000.
The Obama family will reimburse the government an amount equal to two first-class tickets — for mother and daughter Sasha, Air Force officials said. A round-trip first-class flight to Málaga costs about $7,400 apiece, without discounts or restrictions.
Anita McBride, who was chief of staff to former first lady Laura Bush, was not surprised the trip has its critics.
"When you are a public figure, it can be difficult to lead a private life. Despite the fact that much of this trip is paid for personally, the American people know that there are costs borne by the taxpayers and it's to be expected that the more expensive the trip, the greater the risk of criticism," McBride said.
White House press secretary Robert Gibbs declined to answer questions about the vacation, saying it is a "private trip."
An unspecified number of Secret Service agents and aides are staying at government expense. Edwin Donovan, a spokesman for the Secret Service, declined to say how many agents are with the first lady in Spain.
An Obama administration official said the first lady is accompanied by "a handful of longtime family friends — it's moms and daughters — and it's minimal staff." One aide on the trip is the first lady's deputy chief of staff, Melissa Winter.
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the destination was chosen by Michelle Obama and her friends.
On Friday, Spanish police cleared off a 100-yard stretch of beach in Marbella for Michelle Obama and Sasha, 9. As the first lady rested inside a canvas hut by the shore, Sasha splashed around in the sea and a security guard swam with her.
The first lady is to meet with King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia on Sunday at their summer residence on the island of Mallorca.
After the first lady returns home, she and her family will travel to the Gulf Coast for the weekend of Aug. 14, followed by a 10-day vacation on Martha's Vineyard off the coast of Massachusetts.
Kathleen Hennessey and Michael A. Memoli of the Tribune Washington Bureau contributed to this report. Material from The Associated Press is included in this report.
07 August 2010
Bell admits more hefty city salaries
Several other administrators get six-figure paychecks, and two were given extra payments.
Interim City Manager Pedro Carrillo, center, faces more questions from Bell residents and the media at a Friday afternoon session at which more hefty salaries and two other unexplained payments were made public. (Luis Sinco, Los Angeles Times / August 4, 2010)
August 7, 2010
The city's director of administrative services, Lourdes Garcia, was earning $422,707, and the director of general services, Eric Eggena, earned $421,402, officials said. Those amounts include salary, deferred compensation and some benefits, which city officials did not fully detail.
In addition, Bell's director of community services, Annette Peretz, earned $273,542, a deputy city engineer earned $247,573, the business development coordinator earned $295,627, a police captain earned $238,075 and a police lieutenant earned $229,992. Their names were not immediately released.
The city's acting administrator released the compensation numbers at a raucous afternoon news conference that was interrupted several times by furious community activists. Los Angeles County prosecutors said they would add the salaries to their existing investigation into the city.
Documents obtained Friday by The Times also revealed that both Garcia and Bell's former assistant city manager, Angela Spaccia, had received additional payments of at least $100,000 beyond their salaries. The payments to Spaccia appear to have been a loan. The documents do not make clear whether Garcia was required to repay the money she received.
At the press conference, acting city administrator Pedro Carrillo said the city plans to launch a study of salaries to "make sure they are commensurate with experience" and job responsibilities. "We will take some very firm and bold moves," Carrillo added. "It could mean termination or reduction."
The city has been the focus of national attention ever since The Times revealed that City Manager Robert Rizzo was being paid $787,637 a year, Police Chief Randy Adams' salary was $457,000 and assistant city manager Spaccia's was $376,000. All three resigned amid public uproar.
For several weeks, Bell officials have refused to provide documents requested by The Times under the state Public Records Act, by community activists and by a sitting member of the city council.
Carrillo, who was appointed acting city administrator after Rizzo stepped down, acknowledged that the city had been slow to provide records. He apologized to residents, saying Friday marked a "new day."
Spaccia, the former assistant city manager, was given a $130,000 cash advance in March. A document signed by Rizzo says she is entitled to "an amount not to exceed $130,000." The amount plus interest was to be repaid no later than May 28, according to city records. Carrillo said he would investigate whether Spaccia had repaid the loan.
Another document shows the city gave a $100,000 payment to Garcia in March.
Carrillo said he has directed the city attorney to investigate the "propriety and legality" of both payments.
Neither Garcia nor Spaccia could immediately be reached for comment.
Prosecutors expressed shock at the latest developments.
"How can a city sustain itself with all these salaries? We're talking about millions of dollars," said Deputy Dist. Atty. David Demerjian. "Everyone in L.A. County is going to want to work for the city of Bell now."
Demerjian said investigators would look into the newly disclosed salaries and were also curious about the other payments to Garcia and Spaccia.
A city can make a loan or other outside payment to an employee only if there is a clear benefit to the public, Demerjian said. Sometimes municipal governments offer loans to candidates for top jobs to entice them to live in a city. Typically, such arrangements are made when a person is being asked to move to a city where housing might be out of the employee's price range. Bell, however, is one of the poorest cities in L.A. County, with a median household income of $40,556.
Demerjian noted that in January, Inglewood mayor Roosevelt Dorn pleaded guilty to a public corruption charge stemming from a $500,000 city loan he had received.
In addition to prosecutors, officials from other cities said they were stunned by the additional large salaries paid by Bell. "That's outrageous," said Ken Pulskamp, city manager of Santa Clarita and president of the city manager's department of the League of California Cities. "People have been digging around for these salaries for weeks, and the public is only just learning about this now?"
Pulskamp said that outside of Bell and the city of Vernon — which paid a former city administrator more than $500,000 before he was indicted — salaries of more than $300,000, let alone $400,000, are almost unheard of.
"And here in Bell are two other department heads making over $400,000," he said.
"I haven't seen any justification. It's a small city, it's a poor city, and this just defies common sense."
Assemblyman Hector De La Torre (D-South Gate) said the numbers underscore the need for more transparency when it comes to municipal salaries.
"It just makes you wonder what the next shoe to drop will be in Bell. Again, the gravy train was not just for the top people," he said. "How could you keep these kind of salaries a secret? I think $400,000, $300,000 salaries for middle managers is the explanation."
Copyright © 2010, Los Angeles Times
04 August 2010
An openly gay federal judge ruled that California's Proposition 8, which was passed by the democratic vote of the people in 2008 to ban same-sex marriages in the state, is unconstitutional.
Prop 8 supporters are expected to launch an immediate appeal to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco.
03 August 2010
23 November 2005
THE CASE FOR NGUYEN TUONG VAN
By Jonathan Fairbank
On Friday, December 2, 2005, convicted Vietnamese-Australian drug trafficker Nguyen Tuong Van will be hanged at Changi Prison. Where is Changi Prison, you might wonder. Is it in some run-down Third World country, where if you drink the water, you’ll get the run for days? Is it in relatively unenlightened China?
No and no. Changi Prison is in the ultra-modern, ultra-sleek Republic of Singapore. The Republic is well-known for its stringent laws. People in the United States will remember the Singaporean government’s mandated caning of American teenager-vandal Michael Faye in the early 1990’s.
Nguyen, who is 25 years old, has been convicted of trafficking 396 grams of heroin through—not to—Singapore in December 2002. He was on his way back to Australia when Singaporean authorities discovered the contraband strapped to his body.
Does this case rise to the level of death by hanging? A resounding NO according to both the people and government of Australia. Indeed, both the Australian people and government have been heroically relentless in their attempt to save Nguyen’s life. Another resounding NO from the United Nations Special Envoy. And add another NO from this humble commentator.
I am no abolitionist when it comes to the death penalty. Indeed, I am a supporter of the death penalty as the ultimate punishment for the most egregious crimes. This crime deserves a jail term, not the ultimate penalty, especially in light of the fact that the harm resulting from Nguyen’s smuggling would fall upon Australians not Singaporeans as he was returning to Australia with the drugs. A robust lawyer might even argue that in this case Australian law—and not Singaporean law—applies.
At any rate, Nguyen will be hanged as scheduled on December 2. The tiny Republic of Singapore has never yielded to international pressure, not even to the United States when the Clinton Administration attempted to spare Faye from being flogged.
So next time when the word Singapore appears on Reuters, what images will come to mind? A city with impeccably clean streets? A city of creativity and the arts as the Singaporean government has re-branded it? Or the photographic images above, which suggest an ultra-modern city still trapped in 19th century thinking…
# posted by The FAIRBANK REPORT @ 11/23/2005 01:17:00 PM 1 comments
Nguyen Tuong Van: Look Homeward, Angel
04 December 2005
FOR VAN THE BELLS TOLL
By Diori Yu
Diori Yu is a free-lance writer based in Southern California.
First, let me congratulate the FAIRBANK REPORT for its extensive coverage of the Nguyen Tuong Van case by means of both the narrative and photographic essays. The FR is one of a very few North America-based weblogs that actually followed this emotive story, which only goes to underscore the importance of the Internet and the blogosphere, in particular, as a significant alternative to the traditional media outlets.
I continue to be haunted by the scene at that small Melbourne church where hundreds of people had gathered to pray for Nguyen Tuong Van. As the clock struck 9 AM in Melbourne (6:00 AM, December 2 in Singapore), which was the scheduled time of Nguyen’s hanging, the church bells tolled 25 times, one for each of the young victim’s years on earth. And the people sobbed—some quietly, others less so, all expressing indignant pain. It was only a 30-second video clip, but it was one of the most powerful videos I have ever seen.
The good people who gathered at that small parish church represented all walks of Australian life: the young and old, Asians and whites, Christians and non-Christians, liberals and conservatives, and men, women and children. They are united by two factors.
The first is the manifest injustice in this case. As stated elsewhere in the FAIRBANK REPORT, this crime, which in some jurisdictions might just constitute a misdemeanor, deserves a jail sentence, not the death sentence. And the absence of judicial involvement in the sentencing and appeals processes, let alone judicial review, smacks of the rule of policy rather than the rule of law.
The second factor that unites the people assembled at the church and indeed throughout the world is the compassion they feel for the Nguyen family. No mother or brother should ever go through the anguish of the last three weeks that the Nguyens have experienced. Although they will never know the Nguyen family’s pain, decent people can and do feel it. And they have responded with an immense outpouring of moral support.
Blessed are those who care about injustice. Blessed are those who have compassion. Blessed are those who are decent.
Petition against penalty
The signatures will be pooled with 12,000 already collected by the Save Vui Kong Campaign in Malaysia, and submitted to President S R Nathan this month. -- ST PHOTO: NEO XIAOBIN
ABOUT 140 people gathered at Speakers' Corner in Hong Lim Park on Sunday to sign a petition to spare convicted Malaysian drug trafficker Yong Vui Kong from the gallows.
The signatures will be pooled with 12,000 already collected by the Save Vui Kong Campaign in Malaysia, and submitted to President S R Nathan this month.
Yong, 22, was convicted by the High Court on Nov 14, 2008, of trafficking in 47.27g of heroin. The death penalty is mandatory for trafficking 15g or more of the drug.
The Court of Appeal turned down his appeal in May, and he has till Aug 26 to file a plea for presidential clemency.
Sunday's event at the Speakers' Corner was organised by the Singapore Anti-Death Penalty Campaign, a loose group led by activists Seelan Palay, 26 and Rachel Zeng, 27; and by socio-political website The Online Citizen (TOC), which has called for an end to the mandatory death penalty.
TOC chief editor Andrew Loh said Yong had become repentant in prison; and argued that hanging him would not deter drug barons from finding others to do their work.
Source: Straits Times, Singapore