31 January 2011

Indo Pop Star Jailed for Prurient Sex Tapes

Sex-tape scandal pop star jailed

One of Indonesia's best-known pop stars has been sentenced to three-and-a-half years behind bars after sex tapes featuring his celebrity girlfriends found their way to the internet, riveting and dividing this predominantly Muslim nation.

Liberals said the embarrassment suffered by Nazril "Ariel" Irham - who insists the videos were not intended for public viewing - was punishment enough. But hard-liners were outraged, saying the singer was contributing to the country's moral decline.

Hundreds charged the gates of the courthouse in the city of Bandung after the verdict was read out, yelling "Too light! Too light," as he sped off in an armoured police car. Police fired warning shots to break up a scuffle between his supporters and critics.

Ariel, lead singer of the country's most popular band, Peterpan, was the first celebrity to be charged under Indonesia's strict anti-pornography law, which came into effect in 2008 despite strong opposition from the public and members of government.

It is seen by many as vaguely worded and as carrying overly harsh penalties.

Ariel insists the tapes were stolen from his house and posted online without his knowledge, but presiding Judge Singgih Budi Prakoso said the pop star did nothing to prevent them from spreading online.

He sentenced him to three-and-a-half years years in jail - well short of the maximum 12 years - and fined him £15,000.

"As a public figure, the defendant should be aware that fans might imitate his behaviour," said Judge Prakoso, adding that the frontman for Peterpan - also popular in neighbouring Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei - did not show remorse.

His supporters were devastated. "He's just a victim," said Roslawati, 30, as tears streamed from his eyes. "He didn't post that video."

Indonesia, a secular country of 237 million people, has more Muslims than any other country in the world. Though most are moderate, analysts suggest a small extremist fringe has become more vocal in recent years.

23 November 2010

Here's the video...

Warning: Prurient and erotic video below.


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Sexy Indo Hunk On Trial for Sex Video

By BNO News

JAKARTA, INDONESIA (BNO NEWS) -- Indonesian pop star Nasriel Irham on Monday appeared in court after two homemade sex tapes released on various websites resulted in him being charged under Indonesia's 2008 Anti-Pornography Law.

Irham, 29, who is also known as Ariel, is suspected of appearing in two separate homemade sex tapes involving his current girlfriend, TV presenter Luna Maya, 27, who accompanied Irham to court, and actress Cut Tari, 33, known for her roles in Indonesian soap operas.

All three have denied accusations, but only Irham - who has been in custody since surrendering to police on June 22 - is facing charges, which include distribution of pornography.

Irham, frontman for Indonesian music group "Peterpan," has been dubbed by various media outlets as "Peterporn," as the scandal has stirred Indonesians nationwide.

While the hard-line Islamic People's Forum demand harsh punishment against Irham, several hundred fans gathered outside the court, screaming in support of his liberation.

If convicted, Irham could be facing a prison term of up to 12 years and a fine of up to Rr 6 billion ($672,000).

(Copyright 2010 by BNO News B.V. All rights reserved. Info: sales@bnonews.com.)

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28 January 2011

Real Power vs Small Fry

Above: The Chinese People's Liberation Army demonstrates why it's the most professional military in the world. What a thrilling show of military precision!

Above: The Vietnamese People's Liberationb Army's mediocre march.

Affirmative Action Medicine

USD4,000 for her virginity

From the Korea Times 1/28/2011

A Chinese woman has taken to the street in an attempt to sell her virginity.

The woman, who declared unmarried at 30, said, "I want to meet my prince who is charming," but was forced to return home with little more than the stern glares of passers-by.

According to a Chinese news portal site, a long-haired woman in a yellow jacket attracted a barrage of criticism on the street of Wenzhou in Zhejiang province, Jan. 25 in local time.

"I am selling my virginity for 25,800 yuan," the woman's pink placard reads, stating a figure equivalent to around 4.3 million won. Revealing little about herself other than her age and marital status, the woman silently waited for a man from the streets to approach her.

She attracted significant attention as ordinary people on the street took photos with their camera phones; however, hardly any men seemed to indicate any intention of fulfilling the woman's wishes.

When a reporter on the scene asked the woman what had driven her to such action, she replied, "A friend who has watched me being single for a long time gave me some advice. She said that if I demonstrated some courage, I might increase my chances of meeting a nice man. That is why I have come to be here doing this today."

The woman endured the sharp stares of other people in the street before eventually being restrained and sent home by the guards employed at a nearby bank.

"By offering her body for a clearly stated price, the woman was engaging in illegal prostitution and, if caught again, may be arrested," said a police officer.


From Foxnews.com 1/28/11

DEVELOPING: Egypt's national carrier says it has suspended its flights from Cairo for 12 hours.
EgyptAir's announcement follows a government-imposed curfew from 6 p.m. to 7 a.m. in response to widespread demonstrations and rioting that engulfed the Egyptian capital after Friday prayers.

The company said its flights from abroad will be able to land, but departures were canceled from 9 p.m.

Separately, a Cairo Airport official said a number of international airlines had canceled flights to the capital, at least overnight. The official was not authorized to speak to the media and spoke on condition of anonymity.

Egypt's military deployed on the streets of Cairo to enforce a nationwide nighttime curfew as the sun set Friday on a day of rioting and violent chaos that was a major escalation in the challenge to authoritarian President Hosni Mubarak's 30-year rule.
Still thousands in the capital Cairo defied a nationwide night curfew and were trying to storm two major government buildings -- the state TV and the Foreign Ministry. Others were praying on the streets after nightfall.

Flames rose up across a number of cities from burning tires and police cars. Even the ruling party headquarters in Cairo was ablaze in the outpouring of rage, bitterness and utter frustration with a regime seen as corrupt, heavy-handed and neglectful of grinding poverty that afflicts nearly half of the 80 million Egyptians. Hundreds were looting television sets and electric fans from the burning complex of buildings used by the ruling party.
One protester was killed in demonstrations that stretched across nearly half the provinces in Egypt, bringing the death toll for four days of protests to eight.

"I can't believe our own police, our own government would keep beating up on us like this," said Cairo protester Ahmad Salah, 26. "I've been here for hours and gassed and keep going forward, and they keep gassing us, and I will keep going forward. This is a cowardly government and it has to fall. We're going to make sure of it."

Internet and cell phone services, at least in Cairo, appeared to be largely cut off since overnight in the most extreme measure so far to try to hamper protesters form organizing. However, that did not prevent tens of thousands from flooding the streets, emboldened by the recent uprising in Tunisia -- another North African Arab nation.
There are reports Syria has also suspended internet access in response to the unrest in Egypt.
Even Nobel Peace laureate Mohamed ElBaradei, one of the country's leading pro-democracy advocates, was under house arrest after joining the protests.

"It's time for this government to change," said Amal Ahmed, a 22-year-old protester. "I want a better future for me and my family when I get married."
The sustained and intensifying demonstrations raised serious questions about whether Mubarak can keep his grip on power. Egypt is Washington's closest Arab ally, but Mubarak may be losing U.S. support. The Obama administration has publicly counseled him to introduce reforms and refrain from using violence against the protesters.
President Barack Obama convened his national security team on the growing protests in Egypt as aides voice concern about violent clashes between demonstrators and police.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Friday that the United States is "deeply concerned" about the Egyptian government's violent use of force to quell protests in Cairo and elsewhere, urging both sides to show restraint."We are deeply concerned about the use of violence by Egyptian police and security forces against protesters," Clinton said. "The Egyptian government needs to understand that violence will not make these grievances go away."
In one of many astonishing scenes Friday, thousands of anti-government protesters wielding rocks, glass and sticks chased hundreds of riot police away from the main square in downtown Cairo and several of the policemen stripped off their uniforms and badges and joined the demonstrators.
An Associated Press reporter saw the protesters cheering the police who joined them and hoisting them on their shoulders in one of the many dramatic and chaotic scenes across Egypt on Friday.
After chasing the police, thousands of protesters were able to flood into the huge Tahrir Square downtown after being kept out most of the day by a very heavy police presence. Few police could be seen around the square after the confrontation.
The unrest began when tens of thousands poured into the streets after noon prayers in the mosques, stoning and confronting police who fired back with rubber bullets and tear gas.
Groups of thousands of protesters, some chanting "out, out, out," defied a ban that has been in place for days on any gatherings and turned out at different venues across Cairo, a city of about 18 million people. Some marched toward major squares and across scenic Nile bridges.
As the sun set, burning tires, buildings and cars sent up plumes of black smoke across the cityscape. Security officials said there were protests in at least 11 of the country's 28 provinces.
The protesters were energized by the return of ElBaradei on Thursday night after a month abroad. He declared he was prepared to lead the opposition to a regime change.
When he joined protesters after noon prayers, police fired water cannons at him and his supporters. They used batons to beat some of ElBaradei's supporters, who surrounded him to protect him.
A soaking wet ElBaradei was trapped inside a mosque while hundreds of riot police laid siege to it, firing tear gas in the streets around so no one could leave. Tear gas canisters set several cars ablaze outside the mosque and several people fainted and suffered burns.
When he returned home, police stationed outside told him he was not allowed to leave again.Abeer Ahmed, a 31-year-old woman who showed up for ElBaradei with her toddler, said she has a law degree but makes a living cleaning homes.
"Nothing good is left in the country," she said. "Oppression is growing."
Some of the most serious violence Friday was in Suez, where protesters seized weapons stored in a police station and asked the policemen inside to leave the building before they burned it down. They also set ablaze about 20 police trucks parked nearby. Demonstrators exchanged fire with policemen trying to stop them from storming another police station and one protester was killed in the gun battle.
In the upscale Mohandiseen neighborhood, at least 10,000 were marching toward the city center chanting "down, down with Mubarak." The crowd later swelled to about 20,000 as they made their way through residential areas.
Residents looking on from apartment block windows waved and whistled in support. Some waved the red, white and black Egyptian flags. The marchers were halted as they tried to cross a bridge over the Nile, when police fired dozens of tear gas canisters.In downtown Cairo, people on balconies tossed cans of Pepsi and bottles of water to protesters on the streets below to douse their eyes, as well as onions and lemons to sniff, to cut the sting of the tear gas.
At Ramsis square in the heart of the city, thousands clashed with police as they left the al-Nur mosque after prayers. Police used tear gas and rubber bullets and some of the tear gas was fired inside the mosque where women were taking refuge. Hundreds later broke through police cordons to head to the main downtown square, Tahrir. But they were stopped by police firing tear gas.
Near Tahrir, hundreds of riot police in a cluster moved in, anticipating the arrival of large crowds. A short while later, thousands of protesters marched across a bridge over the Nile and moved toward the square, where police began firing tear gas at them.
Hundreds of protesters played a cat-and-mouse game with riot police in a square just behind the famed Egyptian Museum on Tahrir Square. Police were using tear gas and the protesters responded with rocks and chants of "illegitimate, illegitimate," a reference to Mubarak's regime.
Later, television footage showed a chaotic and violent scene where protesters were throwing rocks down on police from a highway overpass near Tahrir Square, while a police vehicle sped through the crowd spraying tear gas on demonstrators.
Clusters of riot police with helmets and shields were stationed around the city, at the entrances to bridges across the Nile and other key intersections.
The troubles were preventing trains from coming to Cairo, said security officials.
In Assiut in southern Egypt, several thousand demonstrators clashed with police that set upon them with batons and sticks, chasing them through side streets.
Mubarak has not been seen publicly or heard from since the protests began Tuesday. While he may still have a chance to ride out this latest challenge, his choices are limited, and all are likely to lead to a loosening of his grip on power.
A Facebook page run by protesters listed their demands. They want Mubarak to declare that neither he nor his son will stand for next presidential elections; dissolve the parliament holds new elections; end to emergency laws giving police extensive powers of arrest and detention; release all prisoners including protesters and those who have been in jail for years without charge or trial; and immediately fire the interior minister.
Mubarak has not said yet whether he will stand for another six-year term as president in elections this year. He has never appointed a deputy and is thought to be grooming his son Gamal to succeed him despite popular opposition. According to leaked U.S. memos, hereditary succession also does not meet with the approval of the powerful military.
Mubarak and his government have shown no hint of concessions to the protesters who want political reform and a solution to rampant poverty, unemployment and rising food prices.Continuing the heavy-handed methods used by the security forces the past three days would probably buy the Mubarak regime a little time but could strengthen the resolve of the protesters and win them popular sympathy.
The alternative is to introduce a package of political and economic reforms that would end his party's monopoly on power and ensure that the economic liberalization policies engineered by his son and heir apparent Gamal over the past decade benefit the country's poor majority.He could also lift the emergency laws in force since 1981, loosen restrictions on the formation of political parties and publicly state whether he will stand for another six-year term in elections this year.
Friday's demonstrations also got a boost from the endorsement of the country's biggest opposition group, the Islamic fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood. The group called its supporters to join the protests on Friday.
The Brotherhood, outlawed since 1954, is Egypt's largest and best organized opposition group. It seeks to establish an Islamic state. It renounced violence in the 1970s and has since been a peaceful movement. Its network of social and medical services has traditionally won it popular support, but its detractors say its involvement in politics has chipped away at its support base.
It made a surprisingly strong showing in 2005 parliamentary elections, winning 20 percent of the legislature's seats, but it failed to win a single seat in the latest election late last year. The vote is widely thought to have been marred, rigged to ensure that Mubarak's ruling party win all but a small fraction of the chamber's 518 seats.
Egypt's four primary Internet providers -- Link Egypt, Vodafone/Raya, Telecom Egypt, Etisalat Misr -- all stopped moving data in and out of the country at 12:34 a.m., according to a network security firm monitoring the traffic. Telecom experts said Egyptian authorities could have engineered the unprecedented cutoff with a simple change to the instructions for the companies' networking equipment.
The Internet appeared to remain cut off in Cairo but was restored in some smaller cities Friday morning. Cell-phone text and Blackberry Messenger services were all cut or operating sporadically in what appeared to be a move by authorities to disrupt the organization of demonstrations.
Authorities appear to have been disrupting social networking sites, used as an organizing tool by protesters, throughout the week. Facebook, Twitter and Blackberry Messenger have all seen interruptions.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.

22 January 2011

the age of bipolarity (again)

China -- the economic Sputnik?

from the New York Times

Maybe Japan Was Just a Warm-Up

IN the 1980s, the United States faced an unnerving challenge from a rising economic powerhouse and export dynamo. It was an impressive challenger, to be sure, but one that often bent rules of global competition unfairly to its advantage by handing out financial subsidies to domestic companies, discriminating against foreign suppliers in government contracts, pilfering Western technology and keeping its currency cheap.

A General Electric engine in China. Tensions over America’s trade gap recall the debate about Japanese competition in the 1980s.

Pool photo by Alex Wong

President Obama and President Hu Jintao, in background, met with executives last week. China has done more than Japan to invite investment.

Toru Hanai/Reuters

I.B.M.’s offices in Tokyo. Because technology was seen as such a crucial sector, Washington stepped up efforts in the 1980s to help companies compete.

Three decades later, Americans are hearing an echo of the past. Yet this time, the object of admiration and angst is not Japan Inc., but China Inc.

“We’ve seen this movie before,” says Clyde V. Prestowitz Jr., president of the Economic Strategy Institute and a former United States trade negotiator with Japan in the 1980s. “Like Japan, China is climbing up the ladder of economic and technological development, and using every means at its disposal to do so.”

China, of course, is different from Japan in the 1980s in many ways — larger, less affluent, ruled by a Communist government and yet in some respects culturally more entrepreneurial. Silicon Valley venture capitalists, for example, have begun setting up offices in China to forge links with entrepreneurs there, as they never really did in Japan.

Economic events and market trends are notoriously unpredictable. In the early 1980s, the Japanese high-technology assault on the American computer and semiconductor industry seemed scary. “What are our kids supposed to do?” asked Walter F. Mondale, the former vice president, speaking to a group of electrical workers. “Sweep up around the Japanese computers?” It captured the economic pessimism of the time, even if it serves as a laugh line today because, after all, how often do you see a Japanese computer?

So, applying equal doses of humility and hindsight, a look anew at the economic challenge symbolized by Japan — and the American response — might offer perspective on the China challenge today.

First, a reality check on Japan. Yes, that nation’s big-business culture missed the personal computer revolution and the Internet, producing no rivals to Microsoft, Apple,Google or Facebook. But Japan is no basket case. It is a world leader in autos, machine tools, flat-panel displays and other parts of the consumer electronics industry. Some of Japan’s policies did indeed prevail, and America still runs a sizable trade deficit with the country.

Japan, which lacks natural-resource wealth like oil, has a per-capita income of more than $42,000, compared with about $47,000 for the United States, according to theInternational Monetary Fund. China’s per-capita income is less than $4,300.

In America, the 1980s were Ronald Reagan’s decade, a time that celebrated free markets, free trade and tax cuts. “Government is not the solution to our problem, government is the problem” was his famous distillation. Yet, for certain industries, the Reagan administration took steps that amounted to a measured approach to industrial policy. Washington negotiated so-called voluntary export restraints with the Japanese in the automobile industry. That forced Japanese automakers to build factories in the United States that now employ many thousands of American workers. And a semiconductor trade agreement helped pry open the Japanese market.

“People often forget that we did a lot of things to address the Japanese challenge,” says Robert D. Atkinson, president of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, a nonpartisan research group in Washington.

IN the 1980s, the United States government’s semiconductor policy focused the minds of industry leaders facing the demise of their industry. There is still considerable debate over the effectiveness of a consortium, created by the federal government and several companies. Called Semiconductor Manufacturing Technology, or Sematech, it shared the costs and risks of developing computer chip-making skills. But the partial lifting of antitrust and collusion restrictions gave companies a chance to innovate.

I.B.M., for its part, was worried that a vital supplier, the chipmaker Intel, was in danger, so it invested in it. That gave Intel — under siege from Japanese companies in the market for memory chips, which store data temporarily — the breathing room to risk making the jump to microprocessors, which process data and serve as the brains of personal computers. Intel made the move to the more profitable chips before the PC industry really took off — but when it did, Intel never looked back. The Japanese didn’t make that innovative leap and became stuck in a commodity business that South Korean and Taiwanese companies eventually dominated.

“In semiconductors, we got organized to defend and stay ahead,” says William A. Reinsch, a foreign trade expert and the chairman of the United States-China Economic and Security Review Commission, a bipartisan advisory group to Congress. “In that industry, there was a considerable amount of cooperation between the U.S. government and business. The computer chip industry was deemed too important to lose, not least because of all the military applications of computer chip technology.”

One big reason that Japan posed a threat in the 1980s in computer chips and large computers was the technology transfer that had occurred years before. In order to sell in the Japanese market and repatriate profits, I.B.M. and Texas Instruments, an early leader in chips, had to share technology with the Japanese. They set up factories there, too.

In China these days, the details may differ, but the government imposes the same kind of requirements to share technology and set up manufacturing plants in joint ventures for preferred access to the domestic market.

China has a lengthy list of industries where it has long-term ambitions. They include commercial aircraft, telecommunications equipment, high-speed trains, clean-energy goods like solar panels and wind turbines, and even automobiles.

“The bet for I.B.M. in Japan, as it is for companies like Boeing and General Electric today in China, is that they can stay ahead, innovate faster than the potential competitors they are helping,” says Edward J. Lincoln, professor of economics at the Stern School of Business at New York University, and director of its Japan-U.S. Center for Business and Economic Studies.

In China, however, American companies are making a much larger bet that they can stay ahead in the intellectual property race. In some fields, particularly computer software, China has a well-earned reputation for theft, though Beijing has pledged to curb the practice in government agencies and state-owned companies. And in China, many more Western companies are engaged in technology-sharing joint ventures than was ever the case in Japan.

Japan sharply limited direct investment by foreign companies, while China has welcomed it. And in China, the terms and conditions of investment have evolved over the years. Beginning in the 1980s, China opened up “special economic zones,” mainly in the southern part of the country, where foreign companies could set up factories and export goods. In the 1990s, China opened up more broadly to foreign investment, allowing companies to sell in the domestic market.

In the last couple of years, the Chinese government, analysts and executives say, has prodded foreign companies to transfer more advanced technology for the inside track in its market. The government effort to accelerate China’s technological climb is called “indigenous innovation.”

“The campaign is focused on employing China’s fast-growing domestic market and powerful regulatory regime to decrease reliance on foreign technology and develop indigenous technologies,” explains a report on the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Web site.

C. Fred Bergsten, director of the Peterson Institute for International Economics, says: “China was much more clever than Japan with its investment policies. It invited foreign direct investment and then took the American corporations hostage.”

The lure of tapping the fast-growing Chinese market — far larger than Japan’s — gives China a lot of leverage with American companies, which mutes complaints in Washington, Mr. Bergsten says. Most American corporations, he says, have resisted trade restrictions on China because they hope to tap the Chinese market and produce goods there.

Yet American corporations are worried about China’s innovation policy, since it means potentially jump-starting Chinese rivals. Business leaders pushed that to the top of the agenda for President Hu Jintao’s trip to the United States last week, Mr. Bergsten says. And, indeed, in meetings during the week, the Chinese delegation gave American executives assurances that China would be flexible in pursuing its innovation initiative.

The Chinese currency, the renminbi, took a back seat as an issue during the state visit. But Mr. Bergsten estimates that the renminbi is undervalued by 20 percent or more — the Chinese central bank’s purchases of dollars depress the Chinese exchange rate and the subsequent lower value of the renminbi makes Chinese exports less costly abroad. “It’s an across-the-board export subsidy,” he says.

THERE will be ceaseless currency and trade issues with China, as there were with Japan. Still, as China grows wealthier, economists predict, it will buy more of the high-value, high-technology products and services at which the United States excels.

The real answer to the China challenge, like the competition from Japan in the 1980s, must come from the United States, the industrial policy thinkers say. A mix of several ingredients will undoubtedly be sought: skillful government policy, smart private-sector strategies, national investment in research and development for long-term innovation, and improved performance of the American education system. In short, all the things the United States should be doing anyway, but with an added measure of urgency because of the global competition that China epitomizes — an economic Sputnik.

20 January 2011

Constitutional Crisis: Was Obama Born in the USA?

Liberal Hawaiian governor UNABLE to produce Obama's Certificate of Live Birth.


Hawaii governor can't find Obama birth certificate

Suggests controversy could hurt president's re-election chances

Posted: January 18, 2011
8:05 pm Eastern

By Jerome R. Corsi
© 2011 WorldNetDaily

Neil Abercrombie
HawaiiGov. Neil Abercrombie suggested in an interview published today that a long-form, hospital-generatedbirth certificate for Barack Obamamay not exist within the vital records maintained by theHawaiiDepartment of Health.

Abercrombie told theHonolulu Star Advertiserhe was searching within theHawaiiDepartment of Health to find definitive vital records that would prove Obama was born inHawaii, because the continuing eligibility controversy could hurt the president's chances of re-election in 2012.

Donalyn Dela Cruz, Abercrombie's spokeswoman in Honolulu, ignored again today another in a series of repeated requests made by WND for an interview with the governor.

Toward the end of the interview, the newspaper asked Abercrombie: "You stirred up quite a controversy with your comments regarding birthers and your plan to releasemore informationregarding President Barack Obama's birth certificate. How is that coming?"

In his response, Abercrombie acknowledged the birth certificate issue will have "political implications" for the next presidential election "that we simply cannot have."

Get the free, in-depth special report on eligibility that could bring an end to Obama's presidency

Suggesting he was still intent on producing more birth records on Obama from theHawaiiDepartment of Health vital records vault, Abercrombie told the newspaper there was a recording of the Obama birth in the state archives that he wants to make public.

(Story continues below)

Abercrombie did not report to the newspaper that he or theHawaiiDepartment of Health had found Obama's long-form, hospital-generated birth certificate. The governor only suggested his investigations to date had identified an unspecified listing or notation of Obama's birth that someone had made in the state archives.

"It was actually written, I am told, this is what our investigation is showing, it actually exists in the archives, written down," Abercrombie said.

For seemingly the first time, Abercrombie frankly acknowledged that presidential politics motivated his search for Obama birth records, implying that failure to resolve the questions that remain unanswered about the president's birth and early life may damage his chance for re-election.

Read more:Hawaii governor can't find Obama birth certificatehttp://www.wnd.com/?pageId=252833#ixzz1BeTWPYmK

Mandarin Chinese = Beautiful Language, Even Americans Speak It

the real mandarin Chinese (not your racist ching chong)

Hear how beautiful Mandarin Chinese -- the idiom of emperors -- is...

Dedicated to racist fatsos Rush Limbaugh and Rosie O'donnell

Listen to the enunciation!

Down with Fat, Racist, Xenophonic Rush Limbaugh

How dare this fat white boy made fun of the most beautiful language in the world! Mandarin Chinese is tonal and therefore very pleasant to the ear, except to those of barbarians who only have 1,000 years of history. (China's civilization is about 7,000 years old.)

And to make fun of the leader of the most powerful country in the world?!

16 January 2011

Sunday Girl: Zhang Zetian (张则天) as sweet as yelai xiang

China's Zhang Zetian (则天)... So beautiful...So adorable

Hu's on first

from the Christian Science Monitor

The Chinese often speak in numbers, as in the "four pillars of destiny," Mao's "five-anti" campaign, or the Three Gorges Dam. (That was the Three-Examples List.)

Skip to next paragraph

In this spirit, here is the Four Things to Watch For list to help anyone who might be watching the Jan. 18-21 visit of Chinese President Hu Jintao to the United States (notice they also all start with "B" – which also helps in remembering them):

1. Bonding buddies: How cozy have President Obama and President Hu become after their many summits? Personal relations matter in diplomacy, even more so as these two giant countries try not to clash with each other. Will they smile at each other, stand close, share intimacies? First names, perhaps? (Or is it last names, in China?)

2. Big protocol oops: Hu's last official visit in 2006 was marred by at least two incidents. An interpreter mistakenly announced the Chinese national anthem as that of the "Republic of China," the official name of Taiwan. Then, in a White House press conference, a Chinese dissident raised a flag of protest. Similar mistakes this time would force Hu to lose face as he prepares to leave office next year.

3. Bearing gifts: In Chinese tradition, Hu will likely come bearing gifts. He already gave one: a promise of closer military-to-military ties made during the recent visit to China by Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. Gifts during Hu's visit may simply be the dozens of business contracts expected to be signed with American firms on his trip to Chicago. Why is that such a gift? Well, Obama is looking for job creation, right? And by the way, China needs to deflect criticism in Congress about its currency manipulation and export subsidies.

4. Bring it home: The closing moments of such state visits usually include a joint press conference and a joint statement. Will the two men have more agreements than disagreements – on North Korea, currency, Taiwan, climate change, security issues, etc.? Or no joint statement at all (unlikely)? How will Hu handle questions from the troublesome American press? Will Obama (the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize laureate) embarrass his guest by mentioning jailed dissident Liu Xiaobo (the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize laureate)?

There, see how numbering things makes its easy to get a handle on important stuff? Maybe this state visit by Hu will be as simple as 1-2-3.

15 January 2011

Yet again, the West is making love to China for her $$$

from the Los Angeles Times

China moves to prop up Europe's economy

The Asian nation pledges to buy billions of dollars' worth of bonds in European Union governments to restore confidence in the debt-ridden region. The EU is China's biggest trading partner.

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Growing into its role as a global economic power, China is pledging to buy billions of dollars' worth of bonds in European governments to help restore confidence in the debt-ridden region.

The move is the latest evidence that the giant Asian nation is developing ties with strategically important trading partners and expanding its influence in areas where it has long played a minor role.

Save 50% on today's deal: $10 for Comfort Fare at Dinah's in Glendale. Tasty and delicious.

In what European media have dubbed a charm offensive, Chinese Vice Premier Li Keqiang was all smiles on a recent swing through the continent, assuring the Germans that their economy was complementary to China's and praising the Spanish as good friends.

He also dispensed plenty of largess, promising to aid the souring economies of Spain and Portugal — pledges that were seen as more than just goodwill.

If Beijing wants its economy to keep flourishing, China can't afford the collapse of the euro any more than the nations that use it. The European Union is China's biggest trading partner, and China is the EU's second-biggest export market.

That adds impetus for helping the Spanish consumers who buy Chinese-made clothes and other exports or the German firms that provide Chinese manufacturers with the sophisticated equipment they need.

"There are mutual benefits behind China's diplomacy where both sides can win," said Huo Jianguo, president of the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation, a think tank under the Ministry of Commerce.

China already has significant holdings of European debt. In Spain alone, it owns 43 billion euros ($57.3 billion) in that country's debt — about a fifth of existing Spanish bonds.

On Thursday, Spain easily raised 3 billion euros ($3.9 billion) in a debt auction that was a key test of investor confidence, and Italy sold 6 billion euros ($7.8 billion) in medium- and long-term bonds. The offerings came a day after Portugal conducted a successful bond sale.

It wasn't immediately known how much debt China bought, but the nation wasn't alone. Japan, for instance, also has said it would buy European government debt.

Still, China's foray into the European crisis underscores the growing influence that Beijing's deep pockets play.

Portugal's finance minister, Fernando Teixeira dos Santos, met with Chinese banking and finance officials in Beijing last month to promote the sale of Portugal's debt. The heavily indebted country has resisted calls for an EU bailout despite record yields for its bonds — a sign of how risky investing in Portugal remains.

In Spain, where unemployment hovers at 20%, domestic media reported that China had offered to buy 6 billion euros more in government bonds. On Li's trip this month the two countries signed business deals worth more than $7 billion.

Alfredo Pastor, an economics professor at the IESE Business School of the University of Navarra in Barcelona, said China's intervention to help prop up Spain sent a strong signal to other investors that Spain was a safe bet.

"China has very deep pockets," Pastor said. "If you can see on the other side somebody who's willing to sustain the paper, then your urge to short it may be lower, [and that] may contribute to stabilizing the situation."

Experts warn, however, that China's largess alone is not large enough to resolve the worsening state of many European balance sheets.

"This can help on the margins, definitely, but that's not what's going to shift the balance," said Antonio Garcia-Pascual, chief economist for southern Europe at Barclays Capital in London. "While the Chinese announcement is welcome, it's not a solution."

Countries on the EU's so-called periphery, such as Ireland and Greece, in addition to Spain and Portugal, are deeply troubled financially. Reversing their downward spiral would require not only hundreds of billions of dollars but also new growth drivers to build the nations out of debt.

"It's a solvency crisis," said Michael Pettis, a senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and a professor at Beijing's Peking University specializing in financial markets. "And you can't keep borrowing yourself out of insolvency.

The stakes are far lower for China, which stands to gain a great deal from stronger political ties with Europe but risks only a small portion of its foreign reserves, which amounted to a record $2.8 trillion at the end of 2010.

Beijing has been trying to diversify its foreign holdings after being criticized both at home and abroad for sinking too much into U.S. Treasury bills. An estimated two-thirds of its investments are denominated in dollars, with the rest in Japanese yen and euros.

On China's wish list is an entree into European markets. The U.S. has often proved to be unfriendly territory, evidenced by failed bids by Chinese firms to gain inroads in oil and telecommunications.

Beijing wants Europe to lift its arms trade embargo and give China access to leading technology to boost its domestic producers. Beijing also hopes to win so-called market economy status from the EU to help fend off any accusations that it is dumping exports.

Chinese commitments in Europe also could defuse complaints among the EU states about Beijing's persistent trade surplus and human rights record.

Liu Baocheng, a professor at the University of International Business and Economics in Beijing, said China's vows to help Europe could "win favorable opinions of the Chinese government's image and Chinese companies."

"China wants to show it is doing its part to stabilize the global economy and help partners in difficult times," he said. "They think the current financial difficulties experienced by EU countries will be over. The risk is not that high."

Not everyone in Europe is sold. An article last month in the Italian financial daily Il Sole 24 Ore echoed a less sanguine view held in parts of the continent. "Guaranteeing financial support to the whole of Europe in its hour of need, China offers a blank check to Brussels — a hefty one which sooner or later will require payment with interest, and one that Europe cannot refuse to honor."