Thursday, July 31, 2008

Zimbabwe - Samantha Power, Time Magazine, July 2008

The entire article in the July 3, 2008 Time magazine may be found by clicking.

As I have previously offered, I am deeply enamored by Samantha Power / and or by her brilliance and her passion. Her writing style is equally engaging and thought-provoking. She could have a huge wart on her nose and chin, and it would be overlooked.

Having clarified my bias, I have to disagree with her set-up of the Zimbabwe question.

Robert Mugabe, mass murderer, killer, thug, dictator, and monster, stole an election in which the majority of people in Zimbabwe (the ones who remained alive and were able and willing to vote) voted for Morgan Tsvangirai. Mugabe ignored the facts and continued on his merry path as dictator, living in a palatial property (I have previously posted links to it, while his country falls into ruin.

Power informs us that there are two approaches (simply put) to the Zimbabwe issue:
- mutlilateralists, and
- moralists

The multilateralists want to solve the issue through engagement, while the moralists are consequence-blind of the intended outcome.

Power does not believe either position will work. instead, we need a third option, and she provides her thoughts on that option:

Get Kofi Annan (remember Rwanda - he handled that one very well, and will spend eternity in working off the sins of his Rwandan contributions) involved as a representative of the UN.

Get each African leader to take a position on the election and ultimately amass a significant number of African leaders to recognize Morgan Tsvangirai as president. Those countries would then refuse Mugabe and his henchmen entry into their country.

Morgan Tsvangirai would set up a government in exile and carry on like any government from some other location, ultimately resulting onto UN states lining up with Mugabe or Tsvangirai. Forcing member states to face the difficult issue would ultimately force a change. nations tend not to appreciate having confrontational issues offered up for the world to watch, and we would humiliate (this is my term, but basically this is what would be hoped for) them into changing sides and supporting Morgan Tsvangirai.

I hope I summed it up reasonably well Ms. Power.

I understand all you have done in regard to the Rwandan Genocide. From the travels, book, lectures, articles, columns, lobbying, private conversations with government officials - I recognize all of that, but.

Your approach to Mugabe does not end Mugabe's rule this week, month, or even this year. The deaths will continue, the systematic rape, and murder of the innocent will continue. Your approach is more multilateral than not. You believe that the individual member states will do the right thing because. Yet Russia arms the worlds bad guys, while Israel, France, and Germany arm anyone who isn't armed, and the US fills in the gaps to governments in need. The right thing Ms. Power. Rwanda went on for 100 days, as you know, but it had gone on for decades in greater and lesser ranges of violence, Uganda, Burundi, Congo ... and those member states you believe will act ... never did and have yet to act. Sudan. What have the member states done as yet, but offer demands to a government that does not care, and platitudes to the dying.

I do believe Ms. Power that your approach will work, eventually. Do you think Mugabe cares that he cannot land in a few countries. His country will sell goods and import regardless. So he doesn't visit other despotic leaders for life, in other countries - what does he ultimately care? I do not think he does. He prefers countries where money buys access and I assure you, whatever public face is put on it; a few dollars will buy him access to wherever he wants to go - much like Saddam's bribes to various governments, to oppose the US in the UN.

Further, you assume Mugabe is in control. Recent revelations by someone in close proximity to him (the article/news of this is located within an article I have posted and listed under the label Zimbabwe), in attendance at a meeting called by Mugabe after the election at which time he told the attendees he was about to resign, at which time the military informed Mugabe, that he would not be permitted to quit. Imagine how your plan would work out Ms Power - he resigns and the military take control and a bloodbath ensues.

Your policy would perpetuate the actions in Zimbabwe just as Kofi aided indirectly in the genocide of Rwanda. He should not be a UN representative; he should be in the dock.

As I stated above, I do think your policy would work - eventually, and to expedite it, a more aggressive approach would be useful - the moralists, if you will.

Despite the fact you believe the moralists start from flawed assumptions, including the fact that moralists want to revive the Bush Doctrine, I wish you would stay off Iraq, but it is well worth a full discussion.

Ridiculing multilateralism - much like the Bengali approach to Rwanda, or perhaps the UN approach 101 days later. I refuse to ridicule the multilateral approach - I prefer condescension to ridicule. Pathetic is one word to describe multilateral efforts. UN peacekeepers a) end up killing/raping the innocent or, b) end up killed. There is the Bengali approach - we're here for training, not fighting.

I would suggest that world super-powers (the US) has an obligation to act in cases of genocide or comparable, with or without the UN, as provided for in the Rome Statutes.

Whether it is to indict the leader or remove him, demand he leave, force him to leave using all the resources available to the US short of war, while always keeping war as the final option available should all other options fail. You argue that the stick approach (or as you deem it, the Bush Doctrine) is, without a doubt on every level, wrong - I would suggest you have forgotten your book and a theme that ran through Problem from Hell. I feel very comfortable agreeing with Bishop Tutu on this issue, and I am pleased he recognizes the right of a nation to intervene (or the UN) in a member states domestic issues in specific cases. I don't recall where he was with Iraq, but at least he arrived to the party.

Bush offered Saddam 3 years worth of opportunities to leave, flee, go away - Saddam did not believe that Bush was serious due to the incoherence in the multilaterlalist Democratic congress / media, the French, the Germans, the Chinese, the Russians, and the world media.

Had he known what awaited him, that Bush was deadly serious - he would have left. We know he would, because until the last hours, he believed the US would ride in and save his life, put him back in control to stem al-Qaeda influence.

If the US spoke with commitment and determination to Mugabe - leave, take you baggage with you, go to wherever you wish, here is a suitcase of cash - go now. It is, in my opinion, more than likely that he would.

Use your approach, and the stick, and bang the bushes a bit, as you negotiate.

I want him gone as much as you do, for humanitarian reasons. I believe that your approach alone will perpetuate the death, and rape of Zimbabwe; while multilateralists will see Mugabe gone only when he dies of old age.

Samantha Power



Infatuated with Reading

I wonder if it is possible to be 'infatuated' with someone you have never met, through their writing. The ideas or thoughts, opinions, humor, or silliness, somehow take hold and develop a character we become interested in - whether it be a columnist for a paper or magazine, or a book.

I have, for the third time, read a book by Samantha Power 'A Problem from Hell: America and the Age of Genocide'. Each time I read it, I find myself more enamored with her writing style, ideas, and what I imagine as the person behind the written word/book. Her sense of justice, passion, intellect, and duty, compel me to want to act.

I happen to also be fond of Ireland (have that in common), and unfortunately she is now married, but alas, I can remain enamored by the ideas she propounds through her writing, that force us to think and act.

There are some issues - infatuation with someone we do not know based solely upon their writing ... potentially serious issues. Like electing someone based upon their ability to convince us of something we already believe. Power was won over by a candidate and did some work for that candidate until she was forced to quit (officially). Might our emotions cloud our judgment - our passion for something, whether a person or the written word (book) clouded by our desire to believe and our need to possess the particular thing/person? If so, and I believe the answer is yes, then how can reasonable people articulate objective arguments for a candidate based upon their love or hate (like/dislike) for that candidate. Particularly when they are infatuated with the person or the idea of the person!

I do not argue that it has ever been anything but this through our political history, rather, it is an observation, after I find myself wishing I had popped up in Ireland in 1978 before Power left to come to the US. I may have been a bit young at the time, but ... brilliance what it is, doesn't matter.

Interview with Power on her newest book - Chasing the Dream

Time magazine article on Zimbabwe, July 3, 2008

Samantha Power




China, the Olympics and Censorship

Something interesting.

The Olympic Committee gave in to the thugs in Beijing and censored themselves. China is one large censored society.

They don't allow discussion of Tiananmen Square, no searches on the internet of said event, no searches about censorship, nor any searches about censorship of censorship or anything to do with anything not condoned by Beijing.

So then who is it that visits the website from Beijing and reads about censorship?

Beijing should understand that you cannot control the will of liberty, for it will prevail inevitably. History has shown this. The fact Chinese history is so long and government plans are slow to fruition, or that your history books show something quite different - is regardless of the reality.

Thugs and dictators are washed away by history to face a certain future. The fact a bunch of spineless wimps from Europe and the rest of the world give in to your demands, does not alter the inevitability of what will be, for we cannot stop the tide of liberty - we can only slow it down. Dictators and tyrants may trample upon the tide of freedom, and oppress the people, but eventually those dictators will stand upon soil that will swallow them.

I have had 15 visits from Beijing.
- 16 visits
- 18 visits

-20 visits



Obama and the Wounded Soldiers

The WP Staff Writers, could have at least washed his feet when they were finished, or wiped off their faces.

McCain Charge Against Obama Lacks Evidence

Washington Post Staff Writers
Wednesday, July 30, 2008; Page A01

For four days, Sen. John McCain and his allies have accused Sen. Barack Obama of snubbing wounded soldiers by canceling a visit to a military hospital because he could not take reporters with him, despite no evidence that the charge is true.

The attacks are part of a newly aggressive McCain operation whose aim is to portray the Democratic presidential candidate as a craven politician more interested in his image than in ailing soldiers, a senior McCain adviser said. They come despite repeated pledges by the Republican that he will never question his rival’s patriotism.

The essence of McCain’s allegation is that Obama planned to take a media entourage, including television cameras, to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany during his week-long foreign trip, and that he canceled the visit when he learned he could not do so. “I know that, according to reports, that he wanted to bring media people and cameras and his campaign staffers,” McCain said Monday night on CNN’s “Larry King Live.”

The Obama campaign has denied that was the reason he called off the visit. In fact, there is no evidence that he planned to take anyone to the American hospital other than a military source spoke about the canceled stop on the condition of anonymity. The official said that the trip was canceled after the Pentagon informed a campaign official that the visit would be considered a campaign event.

Overnight, the Obama team issued two statements, one from senior campaign official Robert Gibbs and the other from retired Air Force Maj. Gen. J. Scott Gration, an Obama foreign policy adviser who was on the trip.

[The issue with the two statements is they were not consistent. The inconsistency, coupled with the fact the TRIP WAS POLITICAL negates the claim that going to the hospital would be regarded as political considering every senator who goes on congressional junkets GOES TO HOSPITALS to visit soldiers and Marines. The WP tries to defend Obama from McCain but they cannot amass enough of anything to do the job very well so they resort to attacks on McCain.]

Gibbs’s statement said the hospital visit, which had been on the adviser, whose status as a campaign staff member sparked lastminute concern among Pentagon officials that the visit would be an improper political event.

“Absolutely, unequivocally wrong,” Obama spokesman Tommy Vietor said in an e-mail after McCain’s comments to Larry King.

Despite serious and repeated queries about the charge over several days, McCain and his allies continued yesterday to question Obama’s patriotism by focusing attention on the canceled hospital visit.

McCain’s campaign released a statement from retired Sgt. Maj. Craig Layton, who worked as a commander at the hospital, who said: “If Senator Obama isn’t comfortable meeting wounded American troops without his entourage, perhaps he does not have the experience necessary to serve as commander in chief.”

McCain’s advisers said they do not intend to back down from the charge, believing it an effective way to create a “narrative” about what they say is Obama’s indifference toward the military.

McCain spokesman Tucker Bounds said again yesterday that the Republican’s version of events is correct, and that Obama canceled the visit because he was not allowed to take reporters and cameras into the hospital.

“It is safe to say that, according to press reports, Barack Obama avoided, skipped, canceled the visit because of those reasons,” he said. “We’re not making a leap here.”

Asked repeatedly for the “reports,” Bounds provided three examples, none of which alleged that Obama had wanted to take members of the media to the hospital.

The McCain campaign has produced a television commercial that says that while in Germany, Obama “made time to go to the gym but canceled a visit with wounded troops. Seems the Pentagon wouldn’t allow him to bring cameras.” The commercial shows Obama shooting a basketball — an event that happened earlier in the trip on a stopover in Kuwait, where the Democrat spoke to troops in a gym before grabbing a ball and taking a single shot. The military released the video footage.

A reconstruction of the circumstances surrounding Obama’s decision not to visit Landstuhl, based on firsthand reporting from the trip, shows that his campaign never contemplated taking the media with him.

The first indication reporters got that Obama was planning, or had planned, to visit the hospital came last Thursday morning, shortly after the entourage arrived in Berlin. On the seats of the media bus were schedules for his stop in Germany and the final entry — a Friday-morning departure — indicated that the senator’s plane would fly from Berlin to Ramstein Air Base.

When a reporter asked spokeswoman Linda Douglass that morning about the trip to Ramstein, she said that the trip had been considered but that Obama was not going to go. At that point, the campaign provided no other information.

Later that night, after Obama gave a speech in Berlin, a campaign internal schedule for several weeks, was canceled because Obama decided it would be inappropriate to go there as part of a trip paid for by his campaign. Gration said the Pentagon had told the campaign that the visit would be seen as a political trip.

Those two statements, while not inconsistent, did not clarify whether the visit was canceled in reaction to Pentagon concerns or because of worries about appearances. They also opened Obama’s camp to charges that it was offering slightly different reasons at different times.

Gibbs said yesterday that the campaign had planned to inform the traveling media members sometime on the morning of the flight to Ramstein that Obama was intending to visit the hospital but had made no plans to take reporters, including even the small, protective press pool that now accompanies him most places.

Reporters, he said, probably would have been able to get off the plane but not leave an air base facility close by. “We had made absolutely no arrangements to transport the press to the hospital,” he said.

On Friday afternoon, en route from Berlin to Paris, Gibbs briefed reporters traveling with Obama. He noted that the candidate had visited wounded soldiers several weeks earlier at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in the District and at a combat support hospital while in Iraq earlier in the week — both times without reporters.

At one point, a reporter asked, “Why not just say it is never inappropriate to visit men and women in service?” — a key McCain charge — “What is your response to that?”

Gibbs replied: “It is entirely likely that someone would have attacked us for having gone. And it is entirely likely — and it has come about — that people have attacked us for not going.”

On Saturday in London, Obama addressed the controversy during a news conference. He said Pentagon concerns about Gration’s status triggered the decision not to visit Landstuhl.

“We got notice that [Gration] would be treated as a campaign person, and it would therefore be perceived as political because he had endorsed my candidacy but he wasn’t on the Senate staff,” Obama said. “That triggered then a concern that maybe our visit was going to be perceived as political, and the last thing that I want to do is have injured soldiers and the staff at these wonderful institutions having to sort through whether this is political or not, or get caught in the crossfire between campaigns.”

Obama’s explanation, which came after more than a day of controversy, was the clearest in noting that it was Pentagon concerns about Gration accompanying him to the hospital that forced Obama to reconsider and, ultimately, cancel the visit.

Gibbs was asked yesterday about the continuing allegations from McCain that the real reason was a desire to bring a media entourage to the hospital.

“That’s completely untrue, and I think, honestly, they know it’s untrue,” Gibbs said.

No, Mr. Gibbs, we do not know it is unrtrue. What we do know is your campaign obfuscates and manipulates the facts, and when you can't, you use the media to do it for you. You simply tell a lie, and repeat it enough that soon everyone repeats it and it becomes the truth standard. That makes it difficult to criticize because criticizing a lie creates credibility for the lie.




Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Professor Obama

Some insight into his personality.

Obama as law professor

By Jodi Kantor
Wednesday, July 30, 2008

International Herald Tribune

CHICAGO: The young law professor stood apart in too many ways to count. At a school where economic analysis was all the rage, he taught rights, race and gender. Other faculty members dreamed of tenured positions; he turned them down. While most colleagues published by the pound, he never completed a single work of legal scholarship.

At the University of Chicago Law School, a formal institution, Barack Obama was a loose presence, joking with students about their romantic prospects, using first names, referring to case law one moment and "The Godfather" the next. He was also an enigmatic one, often leaving fellow faculty members guessing about his precise views.

Obama, now the junior U.S. senator from Illinois and the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, spent 12 years at the school. Most aspiring politicians do not dwell in the halls of academia, and few promising young legal thinkers toil in state legislatures. Obama planted a foot in each, splitting his weeks between an elite law school and the far less rarefied atmosphere of the Illinois Senate.

Before he outraised every other presidential primary candidate in American history, Obama marched students through the thickets of campaign finance law. Before he helped redraw the map of his own state Senate district, making it whiter and wealthier, he taught districting as a racially fraught study in how power is secured. And before he posed what may be the ultimate test of racial equality - whether Americans will elect a black president - he led students through African-Americans' long fight for equal status.

Standing in his favorite classroom in the austere main building, sharp-witted students looming above him, Obama refined his public speaking style, his debating abilities, his beliefs. "He tested his ideas in classrooms," said Dennis Hutchinson, a colleague. Every seminar hour brought a new round of "Is affirmative action justified? Under what circumstances?" as Hutchinson put it.

But Obama's years at the law school are also another chapter - see U.S. Senate, c. 2006 - during which he seemed as intently focused on his own political rise as on the institution itself. Obama, who declined to be interviewed for this article, was well liked at the law school, yet he was always slightly apart from it, leaving some colleagues feeling a little cheated that he did not fully engage. The Chicago faculty is more rightward-leaning than that of other top law schools, but if teaching alongside some of the most formidable conservative minds in the country had any impact on Obama, no one can quite point to it.

"I don't think anything that went on in these chambers affected him," said Richard Epstein, a libertarian colleague who says he longed for Obama to venture beyond his ideological and topical comfort zones. "His entire life, as best I can tell, is one in which he's always been a thoughtful listener and questioner, but he's never stepped up to the plate and taken full swings."

Obama had other business on his mind, embarking on five political races during his 12 years at the school. Teaching gave him satisfaction, along with a perch and a paycheck, but he was impatient with academic debates over "whether to drop a footnote or not drop a footnote," said

Abner Mikva, a mentor whose own career has spanned Congress, the federal court system and the same law school.

Douglas Baird, another colleague, remembers once asking Obama to assess potential candidates for governor. "First of all, I'm not running for governor," Obama told him. "But if I did, I would expect you to support me."

He was a third-year state senator at the time. Obama arrived at the law school in 1991 thanks to Michael McConnell, a conservative scholar who is now a federal appellate judge. As president of The Harvard Law Review, Obama had impressed McConnell with editing suggestions on an article; on little more than that, the law school gave him a fellowship, which amounted to an office and a computer, which he used to write his memoir, "Dreams From My Father."

The school had almost no black faculty members, a special embarrassment given its location on the South Side. Its sleek halls bordered a neighborhood crumbling with poverty and neglect. In his 2000 congressional primary race, Representative Bobby Rush, a former Black Panther running for re-election, used Obama's ties to the school to label him an egghead and an elitist.

At the school, Obama taught three courses, ascending to senior lecturer, a title otherwise carried only by a few federal judges. His most traditional course was in the due process and equal protection areas of constitutional law. His voting-rights class traced the evolution of election law, from the disenfranchisement of blacks to contemporary debates over districting and campaign finance. Obama was so interested in the subject that he helped Richard Pildes, a professor at New York University, develop what is now a leading casebook in the field.

His most original course, a historical and political seminar as much as a legal one, was on racism and law. Obama improvised his own textbook, including classic cases like Brown v. Board of Education, and essays by Frederick Douglass, W.E.B. Du Bois, the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X, as well as conservative thinkers like Robert Bork.

As his reputation for frank, exciting discussion spread, enrollment in his classes swelled. Most scores on his teaching evaluations were positive to superlative. In his voting rights course, Obama taught Lani Guinier's proposals for structuring elections differently to increase minority representation. Opponents attacked those suggestions when Guinier was nominated as assistant attorney general for civil rights in 1993, costing her the post.

"I think he thought they were good and worth trying," said David Franklin, who now teaches law at DePaul University in Chicago. But whether out of professorial reserve or budding political caution, Obama would not say so directly. "He surfaced all the competing points of view on Guinier's proposals with total neutrality and equanimity," Franklin said. "He just let the class debate the merits of them back and forth."

While students appreciated Obama's evenhandedness, colleagues sometimes wanted him to take a stand. When two fellow faculty members asked him to support a controversial anti-gang measure, allowing the Chicago police to disperse and eventually arrest loiterers who had no clear reason to gather, Obama discussed the issue with unusual thoughtfulness, they say, but gave little sign of who should prevail - the American Civil Liberties Union, which opposed the measure, or the community groups that supported it out of concern about crime.

"He just observed it with a kind of interest," said Daniel Kahan, now a professor at Yale University.

Nor could his views be gleaned from scholarship; Obama has never published any. He was too busy, but also, Epstein believes, he was unwilling to put his name to anything that could haunt him politically, as Guinier's writings had hurt her. "He figured out, you lay low," Epstein said.

As Obama built his political career, his students became an early core of supporters, handing out leaflets and hosting fund-raisers in their modest apartments. "Maybe we charged an audacious $20 a head?" said Jesse Ruiz, now a corporate lawyer in Chicago. Obama was sheepish asking for even that much, Ruiz recalled. With no staff, Obama would come by the day after a fund-raiser to stuff the proceeds into a backpack.

Obama never mentioned his humiliating, hopeless campaign against Rush in class (he lost by a two-to-one ratio), though colleagues noticed that he seemed exhausted and was smoking more than usual. Soon after, the faculty saw an opening and made him its best offer yet: tenure upon hiring; a handsome salary, more than the $60,000 he was making in the state Senate or the $60,000 he earned teaching part time; and a job for his wife, Michelle Obama, directing the legal clinic.

Your political career is dead, Daniel Fischel, then the dean, said he told Obama, gently. Obama turned the offer down. Two years later, he decided to run for the Senate. He canceled his course load and has not taught since.




China, Euros, the Olympics and Censorship

You bloody hypocrites.

Does it make you feel better attacking the US over perceieved violations of civil liberties, when confronted with gross violations in China - you bloody hypocrites. You chose China, you then have to defend your choice or look stupider than stupid with a brown mess on his face. So you agree to allow censorship, you regulate your athletes, you monitor ... to all those who say it couldn't happen, it just did - China didn't need to conquer you moronic Euros ... you agreed to censor yourselves for them. And while it all ends when the Olympics end, and you find ways around the walls, you have set a precedent.

IOC agrees to Internet blocking at the Games

By Andrew Jacobs
Wednesday, July 30, 2008

BEIJING: The Chinese government confirmed Wednesday what journalists arriving at the lavishly outfitted media center here had suspected: Contrary to previous assurances by Olympic and government officials, the Internet would be censored during the upcoming games.

Since the Olympic Village press center opened Friday, reporters have been unable to access scores of Web pages - politically sensitive ones that discuss Tibetan succession, Taiwanese independence, the violent crackdown of the protests in Tiananmen Square and the sites of Amnesty International, Radio Free Asia and several Hong Kong newspapers known for their freewheeling political discourse.

On Wednesday - two weeks after its most recent proclamation of an uncensored Internet during the Summer Games - the International Olympic Committee quietly agreed to some of the limitations, according to Kevan Gosper, chairman of the IOC press commission, Reuters reported.

Gosper said that he regretted the limitations but that "IOC officials negotiated with the Chinese that some sensitive sites would be blocked on the basis they were not considered Games related."

A government spokesman initially suggested the problems originated with the site hosts, but on Wednesday, he acknowledged that journalists would not have unfettered Internet use during the Games, which begin Aug. 8.

"It has been our policy to provide the media with convenient and sufficient access to the Internet," said Sun Weide, the chief spokesman for the Beijing Olympics organizing committee. "I believe our policy will not affect reporters' coverage of the Olympic games."

The Chinese government and the IOC had repeatedly suggested up until two weeks ago that the 20,000 journalists covering the games would have full Internet access. Jacques Rogge, the International Olympic committee president, declared that the foreign media would be able to report and publish its work freely in China and that the Internet would be uncensored.

The revelation that politically sensitive Web pages will be off limits to foreign reporters comes at a time of growing skepticism about the government's commitment to pledges made when it won the right to stage the games in 2001: that it would improve its record on human rights and provide athletes with clean air.
Despite a litany of measures that include restricting private vehicles and shuttering factories, Beijing's skyline in recent days has been shrouded in a thick haze, prompting some hang-wringing over whether the government can deliver on its promise of a "blue skies" Olympics.
In recent months, human rights advocates have accused Beijing of stepping up the detention and surveillance of those it fears could disrupt the Games. On Tuesday, President George W. Bush privately met with five Chinese dissidents at the White House to drive home his dissatisfaction with the pace of change. Bush, who leaves for the opening ceremonies in just over a week, also pressed China's foreign minister to ease political repression.

Concerns about free access to the Internet in Beijing had intensified Tuesday, when Western journalists working at the main press center in Beijing said they could not get to Amnesty International's Web site to see the group's critical report on China's failure to improve its human rights record ahead of the Olympics.

Journalist groups complained last week about treatment from security officials while trying to interview people waiting in line for Olympic tickets, according to Bloomberg News.
Jonathan Watts, president of The Foreign Correspondents Club of China, said he was disappointed that Beijing had failed to honor its agreement to temporarily remove the elaborate firewall that prevents ordinary Chinese from fully using the Internet. "Obviously if reporters can't access all the sites they want to see, they can't do their jobs," he said. "Unfortunately, such restrictions are normal for reporters in China, but the Olympics were supposed to be different."
Sandrine Tonge, the IOC media relations coordinator, said the organization would press the Chinese authorities to reconsider the limits.

Reporters Without Borders is encouraging journalists covering the Beijing Olympics to skirt censorship with tips on how to get around firewalls, lock computer files and find safe translators, The Associated Press reported from Paris.

In a guide published on the Internet on Wednesday, the organization advised reporters to conduct phone calls and write e-mail messages with the knowledge that they might be monitored.

The new guide will probably help only journalists who have not yet left for Beijing: The press freedom group says its Web site,, remains blocked in China. The country has backed away from a promise to lift all Internet blocks on foreign media.



Dana Milbank: WP: Obamessiah

Brilliant. It is catchy.

President Obama Continues Hectic Victory Tour

By Dana Milbank
Wednesday, July 30, 2008; A03

Barack Obama has long been his party's presumptive nominee. Now he's becoming its presumptuous nominee.

Fresh from his presidential-style world tour, during which foreign leaders and American generals lined up to show him affection, Obama settled down to some presidential-style business in Washington yesterday. He ordered up a teleconference with the (current president's) Treasury secretary, granted an audience to the Pakistani prime minister and had his staff arrange for the chairman of the Federal Reserve to give him a briefing. Then, he went up to Capitol Hill to be adored by House Democrats in a presidential-style pep rally.

Along the way, he traveled in a bubble more insulating than the actual president's. Traffic was shut down for him as he zoomed about town in a long, presidential-style motorcade, while the public and most of the press were kept in the dark about his activities, which included a fundraiser at the Mayflower where donors paid $10,000 or more to have photos taken with him.

His schedule for the day, announced Monday night, would have made Dick Cheney envious:
11:00 a.m.: En route TBA.
12:05 p.m.: En route TBA.
1:45 p.m.: En route TBA.
2:55 p.m.: En route TBA.
5:20 p.m.: En route TBA.

The 5:20 TBA turned out to be his adoration session with lawmakers in the Cannon Caucus Room, where even committee chairmen arrived early, as if for the State of the Union. Capitol

Police cleared the halls -- just as they do for the actual president. The Secret Service hustled him in through a side door -- just as they do for the actual president.

Inside, according to a witness, he told the House members, "This is the moment . . . that the world is waiting for," adding: "I have become a symbol of the possibility of America returning to our best traditions."

As he marches toward Inauguration Day (Election Day is but a milestone on that path), Obama's biggest challenger may not be Republican John McCain but rather his own hubris.

Some say the supremely confident Obama -- nearly 100 days from the election, he pronounces that "the odds of us winning are very good" -- has become a president-in-waiting. But in truth, he doesn't need to wait: He has already amassed the trappings of the office, without those pesky decisions.

The Atlantic's Marc Ambinder reported last week that Obama has directed his staff to begin planning for his transition to the White House, causing Republicans to howl about premature drape measuring. Obama was even feeling confident enough to give British Prime Minister Gordon Brown some management advice over the weekend. "If what you're trying to do is micromanage and solve everything, then you end up being a dilettante," he advised the prime minister, portraying his relative inexperience much as President Bush did in 2000.

On his presidential-style visit to the Western Wall in Jerusalem last week, Obama left a written prayer, intercepted by an Israeli newspaper, asking God to "help me guard against pride and despair." He seems to have the despair part under control, but the pride could be a problem.

One source of the confidence is the polling, which shows him with a big lead over McCain. But polls are fickle allies: A USA Today-Gallup poll released Monday found McCain leading Obama by four percentage points among likely voters. Another reason for Obama's confidence -- the press -- is also an unfaithful partner. The Project for Excellence in Journalism reported yesterday that Obama dominated the news media's attention for a seventh straight week. But there are signs that the Obama campaign's arrogance has begun to anger reporters.

In the latest issue of the New Republic, Gabriel Sherman found reporters complaining that Obama's campaign was "acting like the Prom Queen" and being more secretive than Bush. The magazine quoted the New York Times' Adam Nagourney's reaction to the Obama campaign's memo attacking one of his stories: "I've never had an experience like this, with this campaign or others." Then came Obama's overseas trip and the campaign's selection of which news organizations could come aboard. Among those excluded: the New Yorker magazine, which had just published a satirical cover about Obama that offended the campaign.

Even Bush hasn't tried that. But then again, Obama has been outdoing the president in ruffles and flourishes lately. As Bush held quiet signing ceremonies in the White House yesterday morning, Obama was involved in a more visible display of executive authority a block away, when he met with Pakistani Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gillani at the Willard. A full block of F Street was shut down for the prime minister and the would-be president, and some 40 security and motorcade vehicles filled the street.

Later, Obama's aides issued an official-sounding statement, borrowing the language of White House communiques: "I had a productive and wide-ranging discussion. . . . I look forward to working with the democratically elected government of Pakistan."

It had been a long day of acting presidential, but Obama wasn't done. After a few hours huddling with advisers over his vice presidential choice, Obama made his way to the pep rally on the Hill. Moments after he entered the meeting with lawmakers, there was an extended cheer, followed by another, and another.

"I think this can be an incredible election," Obama said later. "I look forward to collaborating with everybody here to win the election."

Win the election? Didn't he do that already?



Obama and Civil Liberties and My Awakening

Obama says he'll order review of executive orders

By JESSE J. HOLLAND, Associated Press Writer

July 29, 2008

WASHINGTON - Barack Obama told House Democrats on Tuesday that as president he would order his attorney general to scour White House executive orders and expunge any that "trample on liberty," several lawmakers said.

Presidents, as head of the executive branch of government, issue such orders to direct operations of executive branch agencies, like the Justice Department and the CIA. For example, President Bush used an executive order last year to breathe new life into the CIA's controversial terror interrogation program that allowed harsh questioning of suspects.

Obama "talked about how his attorney general is to review every executive order and immediately eliminate those that trample on liberty," said Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y.

"He indicated there would be a review in his administration," said Rep. James Clyburn, D-S.C., the House majority whip.

Obama did not mention executive orders when he addressed reporters who waited for him outside the closed-door meeting. He said only that he would be campaigning alongside members to win the presidency and help expand Democratic majorities in the House and Senate.

"I am looking forward to collaborating with everyone here to win the election, but more importantly to collaborate with everybody here and also some like-minded Republicans to actually govern and to deliver on behalf of the American people," Obama said.

During his presidency, Bush increasingly has relied on executive orders to dictate policies without seeking congressional approval. His orders have ranged from restrictions on striped bass fishing to sanctions against Myanmar's government.

Obama did not indicate who his attorney general would be, or any other member of his Cabinet. To lawmakers who asked about his Cabinet plans, Obama said: "Get me elected, and then I'll worry about the Cabinet," according to Nadler.

Clyburn added that Obama said there were "people in the room with more expertise than him."
Obama's meeting with the House Democratic caucus came hours after he spoke with both Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke about the faltering economy, part of his effort to refocus the campaign on domestic issues after last week's foreign trip.

Obama spokesman Michael Ortiz said the senator and Bernanke discussed the outlook for consumers and businesses, as well as the effect of rising home foreclosures on families nationwide. They also talked about the "strengths of Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and other financial institutions," Ortiz said.

Obama called Paulson as he rode to a meeting with Pakistan's new prime minister, the campaign said.

A campaign statement said Obama asked how the Treasury Department planned to use its new authority with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and whether the government had the tools it needs to address the challenges in the banking industry. As part of the government's effort to provide mortgage relief to hundreds of thousands of homeowners, Paulson has sought emergency power to rescue lending giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Congress approved a housing plan last week that would provide relief for 400,000 homeowners who can't afford their payments by allowing them to refinance their mortgages with more affordable, government-backed loans. President Bush has promised to sign the package into law.
In a day of meetings, Obama also met with Pakistan's new leader, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani.

At a fundraising luncheon, he said he told Gilani "the only way we're going to be successful in the long term in defeating extremists ... is if we are giving people opportunities. If people have a chance for a better life, then they are not as likely to turn to the ideologies of violence and despair."

Associated Press writer Mike Glover contributed to this report.

****** ****** ***** ****** **** ***** ********

******************* *********************

Personal revelations are not something I do, freely or easily. Neighbors or my interest in moats or travels to England or Canada are really not all that personal if you think about it. The following is. I make the revelation not for the 400 or so strangers each week from around the world who accidentally stop by, rather, it is for others who are directed here - students, let's say. Everyone in college would like to understand their professor a little better. It's easy - we're all pretending at something.

The nexus between these ramblings and the above column will become clearer, as I proceed.

Without hinting at age, I could not have any memory of President Kennedy, nor his administration, nor anything that happened for a decade or so after, but I did grow up hearing his name. My parents and or teachers, films, songs, a punk group in the 80s, a German female singer in the 80s - all of them propounded his name, and the myth, as did his remaining brother, and his son, and daughter. I was caught in the myth. I knew nothing else, but the myth.

In college, I had a professor who had a charcoal drawing of President Kennedy on his wall, and a lithograph of Robert Kennedy on an adjacent wall. The myth continued. The ideals, the dreams, the aspirations of a generation I was not part of, but it appealed to me because it was an aspiration all generations hoped for, wished for, dreamed of - wanted. Kennedy was our Arthur and it makes perfect sense the association White made with Camelot. Arthur would leave, but in Britain's darkest hour, it was believed, he would return. Kennedy was taken, but we kept hoping and praying another would rise to satisfy the unfinished dream.

Kennedy was brilliant, he read 1200 words per minute, he loved the arts, and his family - he was strong, courageous, brave - he stood up to the Soviets and led us through crisis after crisis. He awakened in us a desire to be better, to dream the impossible dream and make it possible.

It was all a lie.

Kennedy didn't read 1200 words per minute. Decades later we find out it was exaggerated to make him appear more erudite, more academic. He could muster 200 or so words a minute, and often grew tired of reading due to whatever ailment afflicted him at the moment. He was not brilliant - he was a C student. He hated opera, loathed Robert Frost and poetry, and he fell asleep through most of the musical performances at the White House.

He had no dream nor did he truly care deeply - his was a learned interest, events dictated what he believed and when - not the other way around. He entered the White House with very few solid ideas, and no clue. He was overwhelmed, and out of his league - and that inexperience led us into the crisis of 1000 days we endured with Kennedy. One crisis after another. He did get us through, but remember, the government is another 400+ people, not just the president.

On my college webpage, I had a section that listed various presidents and my thoughts (brief word association) on each. About Kennedy, I wrote that he was one of the greatest presidents we have ever had. I removed that statement a few days ago. I took down a lithograph I have had on my wall for several years. I bought it 15 years ago and have had it on one wall or another since that time. I liked it very much - it is really quite silly to keep it up now. I had a couple photos - one that he handed out during a stop at an aerospace factory in Los Angeles in 1962. I received it from a relative of someone who was at the factory that day and was given the photos from Kennedy. It had two photos - one side was him and the other was Jacqueline. I took it down, and put it in an envelope, and packed it away in a box in the garage. There were a couple others - one taken September 1963, during an interview at his Hyannis Port home. I took them all down, repainted the wall where needed, and put the paintings, pictures, and photos away.

It is very odd that it has taken me so long, at my age, to realize how foolish I was, how naive I was. Had anyone told me five years ago that I was naive or foolish for admiring the man, I might have punched them. Today, I would agree.

If I was unable to detach myself from the myth, I could very easily understand how I could support Obama. He is a replica of Kennedy, minus the wealth, and class.

That is not what we need - another person who has no fucking clue being president at a time when more than ever people wake up every fucking day and want to kill us, and those people ARE NOT POOR AND NEEDY WITH NO CHOICE, BUT TO HATE, AND KILL.

Of the hijackers who attacked the United States in 2001, all but a couple came from families of wealth and education, of opportunity and class. NONE were poor.


The majority of people who lead terrorist groups come from wealth and or privilege, and education. Providing for them with food or books or clothing, will not redirect their hate nor will it turn it into love and respect.

It shows a fundamental failure to understand a culture and a cause. It shows naivete - dangerous for a president who wants to remove the causes of terrorism. Foolish and ignorant.

Kennedy at least understood you negotiate from strength - and you use the stick to get the enemy to negotiate. It makes my actions even harder, knowing that I believe he acted reasonably on some issues, but failed on the major issues.

Obama doesn't understand. He believes that if we just help Pakistan, India, Indonesia, Philippines, or whatever place, and provide them with money and food for the poor, that the poor will not flock to al qaida.

Naive. Foolish and wrong.

Rather than expending the time to explicate this further - very simply put: Europeans do not like us (generalization) and it is not because they are poor. People join al qaida, not because they are poor, but because we are who we are and we support Israel.

Obama does not understand this very simple truth.

That truth, is why he is too naive and therefore, too dangerous, to serve as our president.

We can't do on the job training, and cannot afford to have him make mistakes, and learn from those mistakes at a time when it will cost billions, and untold numbers of American lives.

It is very difficult to reach this point, where the man I admired most, and believed to be the single greatest or near greatest president, was nothing more than mediocre at best. That everything was myth and no substance existed - that we had all been lied to, including his children who led the crusade. I had to, however, reach this conclusion or face an irreconcilable position concerning my opposition to Obama. How can I have Kennedy on my wall, and oppose Obama.

Back to the article - so Obama will have his Attorney General go through all the Executive Orders one by one and rip up any that trample on civil liberties. He is directly referring to Bush and his actions and he is ignorant and his platitudes are offensive.

Here are a few you should consider - 2000, the eve of leaving office, Clinton signs an executive order permitting dissemination of information from medical files be made available to 'interested parties'.

CALEA !!!! 1995, Clinton signed CALEA into law. A Congress, supported by the DEMOCRATS (same ones who cheered Obama when he said he would rip up any Executive Orders that infringed on civil liberties) passed the law. Forget the issue with protection of children or reimbursement of ... oh, well, maybe the whole law should be looked into a bit further. I think it infringes upon our right to privacy and the government requires the telecoms to make available to the government access to communications via new optics, which we the American people paid for, so we could be spied on. But it isn't an Executive Order, so I guess he won't rip it up.

There are a number of other requests made by Janet Reno, to the Congress to enable the FBI to enlarge its wiretap capabilities, trap 1% of ALL communications made in the United States in any given hour and record those details on a massive new computer system. That seems to me to be a HUGE violation of privacy AND THIS IS BEFORE anyone attacked us, sort of kind of.

I suppose Obama won't be ripping up those laws or acts.

Nor will he be ordering his Attorney General to rip up the authorization for the FBI to attach emergency wiretaps to your line - without court approval. Why? because it is done on an exigency basis, and you may flee in the time it takes to get a court order, so other than to count how many they do, no records are provided of who they tap/listen in on. The emergency basis is for 24 hours at a time. Safe enough I suppose. Democrats can't count past 24 so they don't mind 24 hours ... unless we remove the trap from your line and place it on the person you most often call, and thus avoid losing all conversations with you, and then replace it - doing so every 23 or so hours in perpetuity - without court authorization.

I suppose Obama won't be ripping that authorization up - as it would reveal the widest use was under Clinton, and his Attorney General authorized said use. It doesn't suit Obama's purposes.

The greatest infringement upon our privacy - whether Magic Lantern, or programs of similar nature - begun under Clinton, and implemented - used to monitor what you type 'real time' on your keyboard and what pages you visit. I suppose Obama will not rip those orders up. Nor will he dare to intrude upon the use of Echelon or whatever name it goes by today. That is way beyond a president's pay grade. So instead, Obama will pick on the actions Bush has taken, which, when taken in context, pale next to those taken by Clinton. Doesn't matter - instead, pick on Bush.

Petty and pathetic. The list goes on Mr. Obama. I kept a list and as I recall, it is many pages long. I doubt you would spend any time concerned about anything anyone did, but Bush, because the stupid squad hates him, and needs you to vindicate their having lived in 'darkness' for eight years.

Ignorant Mr. Obama, is what you are. Ignorant and petty. You play politics, and cheer on the stupid squad to get elected, and you have no idea what it entails to be a president, to be THE President. You make insipid comments about privacy issues, and have no fucking clue what you are talking about. I barely do, but apparently more than you do, and I am not running for any office.

It is not that I believe government should intrude on our privacy any more than absolutely required, and even then to err on the side of not ... rather, they won't stop. Obama will make a spectacle of ripping up Bush's actions, to the cheering throngs who are too stupid to understand everything Bush is doing, was done before, with the full consent of a Democratic Congress. Rather, the stupid squad will cheer Obama on, as if he truly is the Messiah come to save their privacy. The secret is, you moronic imbeciles - you lost the privacy before Bush even walked into the White House - it happened under your last Democratic president-cum savior Bill Clinton.

I do not care for McCain as I would place myself, far more extreme on issues of privacy (hence my interest in moats) and free choice in many other areas, but I trust him, and know his actions will not be based on politics, or what action he could take to achieve the loudest applause.

The box is put away, as is the naivete of a someone who wanted to believe in an ideal that never existed. Johnny We Hardly Knew Ya, I knew you even less. Obama, I hope we will never have to know you any more than we do.

Naive fool

Going on idiot

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Alzheimer's: A Cure? - 2 Articles

Experimental Alzheimer's drug shows early promise


July 29, 2008

CHICAGO (AP) — For the first time, an experimental drug shows promise for halting the progression of Alzheimer's disease by taking a new approach: breaking up the protein tangles that clog victims' brains.

The encouraging results from the drug called Rember, reported Tuesday at a medical conference in Chicago, electrified a field battered by recent setbacks. The drug was developed by Singapore-based TauRx Therapeutics.

Even if bigger, more rigorous studies show it works, Rember is still several years away from being available, and experts warned against overexuberance. But they were excited.

"These are the first very positive results I've seen" for stopping mental decline, said Marcelle Morrison-Bogorad, director of Alzheimer's research at the National Institute on Aging. "It's just fantastic."

The federal agency funded early research into the tangles, which are made of a protein called tau and develop inside nerve cells.

For decades, scientists have focused on a different protein — beta-amyloid, which forms sticky clumps outside of the cells — but have yet to get a workable treatment.

The drug is in the second of three stages of development, and scientists are paying special attention to potential treatments because of the enormity of the illness, which afflicts more than 26 million people worldwide and is mushrooming as the population ages.

The four Alzheimer's drugs currently available just ease symptoms of the mind-robbing disease.
TauRx's chief is Claude Wischik, a biologist at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland who long has done key research on tau tangles and studies suggesting that Rember can dissolve them.

He is an "esteemed biologist," and the research "comes with his credibility attached to it," said Dr. Sam Gandy of Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York. He heads the scientific advisory panel of the Alzheimer's Association.

In the study, 321 patients were given one of three doses of Rember or dummy capsules three times a day. The capsules containing the highest dose had a flaw in formulation that kept them from working, and the lowest dose was too weak to keep the disease from worsening, Wischik said.

However, the middle dose helped, as measured by a widely used score of mental performance.
"The people on placebo lost an average of 7 percent of their brain function over six months whereas those on treatment didn't decline at all," he said.

After about a year, the placebo group had continued to decline but those on the mid-level dose of Rember had not. At 19 months, the treated group still had not declined as Alzheimer's patients have been known to do.

Two types of brain scans were available on about a third of participants, and they show the drug was active in brain areas most affected by tau tangles, Wischik said.

"This is suggestive data," not proof, Wischik warned. The company is raising money now for another test of the drug to start next year.

The main chemical in Rember is available now in a different formulation in a prescription drug sometimes used since the 1930s for chronic bladder infections — methylene blue. However, it predates the federal Food and Drug Administration and was never fully studied for safety and effectiveness, and not in the form used in the Alzheimer's study, Wischik and other doctors cautioned.

On Monday at the International Conference on Alzheimer's Disease, other researchers reported encouraging results from a test of a different experimental drug that also targets tau tangles. That drug, by British Columbia-based Allon Therapeutics Inc., was tested in people with an Alzheimer's precursor, mild cognitive impairment.

The tau-drug results are in stark contrast to the flop of Flurizan, which was aimed at blocking enzymes that form the beta-amyloid clumps. Myriad Genetics announced in June that it would abandon development of Flurizan after the failure. Full results were presented at the conference Tuesday.

Also, fuller results were given from a closely watched test of bapineuzumab, an experimental drug that aims to enlist the immune system to clear out the sticky brain clumps.

Its developers — New Jersey-based Wyeth and the Irish company Elan Corp. PLC — previously announced that the 240-patient study missed its main goal of improving patients' mental performance at 18 months.

But the company found a silver lining — the drug appeared to help the roughly 60 percent of people in the study who did not have a gene that scientists think makes Alzheimer's disease more severe.

The results back up the company's claims of potential effectiveness in some patients, but now there are concerns about possible side effects. Twelve cases of a type of brain swelling occurred in those on bapineuzumab and none in the placebo group. The swelling caused few if any symptoms, company scientists said, but outside experts said it may have contributed to other side effects.

Those were two or more times more common in patients on bapineuzumab than people given the dummy drug. For example, cases of anxiety occurred in 11 percent versus 4 percent on placebo; paranoia, 7 versus 1 percent. Other complaints were vomiting, high blood pressure, weight loss, and back pain.

Three deaths occurred among the 124 patients given bapineuzumab, but they were not related to the drug, said Dr. Sid Gilman of the University of Michigan, who headed the study's data safety monitoring board. One death was due to pneumonia and two others to worsening Alzheimer's disease.

Investors reacted to the news by driving down Wyeth's shares $5.01, or 11.1 percent, in after-hours trading.

Wyeth and Elan have already said they will move on to late-stage testing of bapineuzumab in more than 4,000 patients.


Breakthrough Drug

Breakthrough drug takes new tack in battle against Alzheimers

by Rich Bowden - Jul 29 2008, 21:25

A new drug developed by British researchers against the onslaught of Alzheimer's Disease has shown significant promise, reducing the progression of the disease by as much as 81 percent, according to the study team.

The drug,named rember, is the first to act on the buildup of a specific protein called Tau that clog victims' brains. Led by the University of Aberdeen's Professor Claude Wischik, who also co-founded TauRx Therapeutics, the developer of the treatment, the researchers presented their findings at the International Conference on Alzheimer's Disease this week.

Patients were given either 30, 60 or 100mg of the drug or a placebo in the trial over 50 weeks. The 60mg dosage proved the most effective with a reduction of seven points on a scale used to measure the severity of dementia.

"This is an unprecedented result in the treatment of Alzheimer's disease," said Wischik. "We have demonstrated for the first time that it may possible to arrest the progression of this disease by targeting the tangles which are highly correlated with the disease."

"This is the most significant development in the treatment of the tangles since Alois Alzheimer discovered them in 1907."

The treatment has shown it is very possible to halt the progression of Alzheimer's in people who have mild to moderate cases of the disease and Wischik is confident that, following further trials, the treatment should be available for release by 2012.

"With the world population ageing globally and the enormous burden on health services and economies worldwide, we urgently need to confirm our findings in a larger trial with a view to making this treatment available as soon as possible," commented Professor Wischik.

"World Health Organisation (WHO) figures indicate that there will be more than one billion people aged 65 and over by 2050, of whom we calculate about half will have tau tangles in their brains. This makes it particularly important to develop new treatments to halt and prevent tangles forming in the brain."

However experts have cautioned against describing the treatment as a breakthrough until further trials have been completed.

"It's a phase 2 trial," said Dr. Sam Gandy, of Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York, who serves on an advisory council of the Alzheimer's Association.

"Predicting anything from a phase 2 trial is dangerous. All I can say is it is encouraging enough to move on to a phase 3 trial," Gandy said to Reuters.

Phase 3 trials look at whether a drug works amongst large groups of patients.

China - Olympics

It does get repetitive, boring even, to read, and post mounds of evidence to support why Euros who hoped for 9and some still do) and wished for (some still do) China to balance the US militarily - are fools and shirtlifters.

China dumps gold medallists from Olympics 'for political reasons'

By Our Foreign Staff
Last Updated: 2:27PM BST 29 Jul 2008

[Interesting that the TELEGRAPH would not name their staff!! One of the European papers, probably hoping that China will balance the US militarily, and they won't mention their staff members names. Hmm. Could it be there are just TOO many columnists engaged in this short article OR ARE THEY PETRIFIED OF LOSING CREDENTIALS AND OR BEING ARRESTED AND IMPRISONED. It is one of those possible answers! Pathetic.]

Although China is determined to top the medal tables at the Beijing Games next month, its sports administration has taken the draconian decision to drop 22 gold-medal winning athletes.

China won a total of 32 golds in Athens, and is hoping to top the 40 mark in Beijing.
Some of the athletes were forced out by injuries or strong competition, but the China Daily newspaper, thought to be the mouthpiece of the government, also said "politics" had played a part.

"There were some surprising exclusions ... who would have a realistic shot at winning gold next month," the paper said.

The most obvious political victim was Tian Liang, nicknamed the "diver prince" after winning gold medals in the ten-metre platform dive at both the Sydney and Athens Olympics.

Tian, 28, was kicked off the national team in 2005 for unashamedly endorsing everything from wooden floors to seafood snacks. "He was producing a negative influence on the preparation for the 2008 Olympics," said a sports official.

He also hit the gossip columns for his relationship with fellow diver Guo Jingjing and they were dubbed the "Posh and Becks" of Chinese sport. She managed to stay on the team after she publicly denounced her behaviour.

Since then, Tian has tried to rehabilitate his career by competing at provincial level and refusing to criticise the administration for what happened. He carried the Olympic torch as it passed through Xi'an. However, he was still left out of the team and has voiced his "regrets".

Other notable exclusions included Zhu Lin, the 2007 world badminton women's singles champion, and Zhu Ting, a forward in the Chinese football team. Zhang Guozheng, the reigning champion weightlifter in the 69kg category, and Yang Lian, the favourite in the women's 48kg weightlifting category, were also dropped.

Yang's family sold their house to pay for her training and expressed their bafflement to "She was on the list a few days ago. We do not know what happened at the last minute," said her father.

Other athletes have been forced to compete despite longing for retirement.

Yang Wenjun, the gold medalist in flatwater canoeing in Athens, has publicly complained that he has tried to quit the sport for a decade. Yang said the authorities had threatened to withhold his pension if he did not compete in Beijing.

Susan Brownell, the author of Beijing's Games: What the Olympics mean to China, said: "The situation is different from in the United States, where you simply have to finish in the top three in your discipline to qualify.

"Whenever you have athletes appointed by coaches you get accusations of politics and it has happened before in China."

However she said the motives for the cuts would be "to win more medals - I can't imagine that they would choose an inferior team because of politics".

Mao Zhe Xiong, a professor at Beijing Sports University said: “It is quite normal to have this number of gold medalists not making the cut.”

He added: “Zhong Guozheng has been declining since he won his gold medal and in some events his stomach almost failed to function. He felt under great pressure physically and mentally.

Zhu Lin was not chosen because she did not have any advantage over her rivals and the coaches made a strategic policy.

“There will be a little sadness that such a number has been left out but in the long run it is in the interests of the country and of the individuals.”


Rights abusers


Oil Prices Drop


Oil hits 7-week low on demand worries, dollar gain

[Why is it a DEMAND WORRY when the public is using less and there is less demand? What? Does the writer think we should be using more? ]

Tuesday July 29, 5:13 pm ET

By Stevenson Jacobs, AP Business Writer

NEW YORK (AP) -- Oil prices tumbled more than $2 a barrel Tuesday, finishing at their lowest level in seven weeks as a stronger dollar and beliefs that record prices are eroding the world's thirst for energy sparked another dramatic sell-off.

The drop -- which surpassed $4 a barrel at one point during the day -- was a throwback to oil's nosedive over the past two weeks and outweighed supply concerns touched off by a militant attack Monday on two Nigerian crude pipelines. It was oil's seventh decline in the last 10 sessions.

Light, sweet crude for September delivery fell $2.54 to settle at $122.19 on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It was the lowest settlement price for a front-month contract since June 10. Earlier, prices fell to $120.42, also the lowest level since June 10. Oil has now fallen more than $25 from its trading high of $147.27, reached July 11.

[A drop of $27 but lost $2 for a total of $25 drop in oil prices.]

More concerns that crude's run-up over the past year has pushed prices to unsustainable levels fed Tuesday's decline. The U.S. Transportation Department said Monday that U.S. drivers logged 9.6 billion fewer vehicle miles in May -- or 3.7 percent -- compared to the same period last year, the biggest drop ever for the historically busy summer driving month.

And demand for oil in the U.S. -- the world's thirstiest consumer -- continues to fall, dropping by 891,000 barrels per day in May compared the same month a year ago, the Energy Department's Energy Information Administration said Monday.

[The US imports (average and it is high as an average) 300,000 barrels of oil a month (that was a Dec 07 figure). Divide it by 30 (again, a very poor means of measuring but just to give us a very simplistic approach to understanding what we use on an average day (at its peak) = 10,000 barrels a day (In Dec 07 oil was much cheaper and we used more and it was cold. Therefore, this figure is exceeding high. It is more like 9,000 at the current time). The US uses between 9 and 10 thousand barrels per day. The worlds largest econcomy, producer of food to feed the world, exporter of technology to save lives, industrial giant of new technologies to makes lives better and healthier - and we use 9,000 barrels a day. The author of this article has fed in to all the stupid and eroneaous claims about the US and its consumption of oil. In any single minute, China consumes 210,000 gallons of crude oil. China - the oppressor of freedoms, the wall that holds back the tide of truth and information. The single most oppresive government on planet earth today and alone in the repression for the last twenty years, uses 200,000 gallons in a single minute = about 5,000 barrels per minute. ]

"We're seeing both statistical and anecdotal evidence of a very rapidly weakening demand picture," said Jim Ritterbusch, president of energy consultancy Ritterbusch and Associates in Galena, Ill.

The declines accelerated after oil briefly dipped below $122, a key resistance level that triggered technical selling by computers programmed to dump oil contracts once prices fall under a certain threshold.

"Once we break through $120, we could easily slide through to $100," said Darin Newsom, senior analyst at DTN in Omaha.

Also weighing on prices was a sharply stronger dollar compared to the euro, which made commodities less attractive to investors who have bought oil futures as a hedge against inflation and weakness in the U.S. currency.

The euro bought $1.5584 compared with $1.5752 late Monday in New York.

"It looks like oil is selling off today with the very, very strong dollar and nothing to drive it higher. Quiet seems to be bearish these days," said Tom Kloza, publisher and chief oil analyst at Oil Price Information Service in Wall, N.J.

In another sign that high prices are curbing Americans' consumption for fuel, retail gas prices fell further below the $4-a-gallon mark. The average price of a regular gas fell 1.7 cents to $3.941, according to auto club AAA, the Oil Prices Information Service and Wright Express.

Monday's attack in Nigeria targeted two pipelines believed to be owned by a unit of Royal Dutch Shell PLC and was the latest in a two-year campaign of attacks on the country's oil industry. Shell said a pipeline had been damaged in attacks and that some crude production had been shut down to prevent the oil from spilling into the environment.

The oil company said Tuesday it may not be able to fulfill some oil-export contracts because of the damage. Shell didn't specify how much oil production was cut by the attack or how long repairs would take.

The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta says it is acting to force the Nigerian federal government to send more oil industry funds to the southern region, which produces all of Nigeria's crude oil but remains impoverished after decades of corrupt and wasteful governance.
Analysts at JBC Energy in Vienna, Austria, estimated the repeated attacks on country's oil installations, Nigeria's output had fallen to just below 1.9 million barrels a day from more than 2.4 million barrels a day in 2005.

Oil market analysts are awaiting U.S. data later in the week for indications of how the world's largest economy could be expected to perform in coming months. Figures for gross domestic product for the second quarter will be released Thursday, while July auto sales and the July employment report are both due Friday.

In other Nymex trading, heating oil futures fell 8.98 cents to settle at $3.4722 a gallon while gasoline prices fell 6.23 cents to settle at $3.0077 a gallon. Natural gas futures rose 5.4 cents to settle at $9.217 per 1,000 cubic feet after trading lower most of the day.

In London, September Brent crude lost $3.13 to settle at $122.71 a barrel on the ICE Futures exchange.

Associated Press Writers Pablo Gorondi in Budapest, Hungary and Gillian Wong in Singapore and Edward Harris in Lagos, Nigeria contributed to this report.



Make Mine Freedom - 1948

American Form of Government

Who's on First? Certainly isn't the Euro.