Sunday, March 20, 2011

Friends within and without

The Arab League, Russia and China are now criticizing the use of air strikes and a no-fly zone in Libya. Apparently they don't like how force is being deployed to drive back Qaddafi's tanks, soldiers and heavy artillery. (You know, heavy artillery, those weapons used to bombard cities?)

According to The New York Times:
A commentary in China’s state-run People’s Daily newspaper said that the Western actions violated international law and courted unforeseen disaster. “It should be seen that every time military means are used to address crises, that is a blow to the United Nations Charter and the rules of international relations,” the commentary said.
Funny words coming from the CCP, who thinks that power grows out of the barrel of a gun. (Oh wait, those international principles mean nothing within borders, because governments have the shield of sovereignty. My mistake!) Anyway, I decided to look for this People's Daily (人民日報) editorial, but lo and behold, that quote was nowhere to be found via Google! However, I spotted another similar article, which was the "official" English translation:
"It should be noted that attempts to resolve the crisis using military means affects the U.N. Charter and the norms governing international relations."
Hm... awfully soft and weasel-y. Did the NY Times just spice things up for a quote? So I went to the original Chinese:
It looks like The New York Times went to the original Chinese-language editorial, and translated it, pretty spot on. I know that Chinese state media tailor their editorials for different target audiences. Chinese pieces are for domestic consumption, English pieces are for Western audiences. (Seriously, how many times have you seen something in Global Times and thought, "Wow, that's refreshing/novel/encouraging!" but then recalled that the target audience is primarily Western ex-pats in China and realized you're being had?)

But what's the rationale here for such soft criticism abroad and harsh critique at home? This is just a reminder that the conflict in Libya is being spun in a particular way to Chinese audiences. If you look at the headlines, it's the ol' "imperialist West intervening in other countries' affairs" again. Sigh.

The world finally unites to stop a madman from plunging the eastern half of his country into a bloodbath of reprisal killings, and Beijing is scoring political points, while doing nothing to help? The West isn't perfect, but I hope Arab publics remember which societies are willing to reach across borders to help them in the fight against tyranny.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

How's that for "American manners"?

Blog post by David Brooks today:
"Are new immigrants weakening the social fabric? By one measure they are not. In fact, America seems to be corrupting them. In the journal Addictive Behaviors, Mildred Maldonado-Moline, Jennifer Reingle, Wesley Jennings and Guillermo Prado looked at drunk driving arrests among new immigrants and U.S.-born young adults. Recent immigrants had low DUI arrest rates. Second generation Americans had higher arrest rates than first generation Americans, and third generation had higher rates than the second generation. The same pattern applied to arrests for marijuana use."
I'm just going to let that speak for itself. Seriously, who are the "lazy" "morally lax" "permissive" "complacent" people in this country? Um... I'm pretty sure it's not the recent immigrants who work hard and run strict/relatively traditional households.

This is also an additional reason to find that "Asians in the Library" rant laughable. I mean, as a commentary on social priorities, the title of the video speaks for itself: the Asians are in the flippin' LIBRARY. We should be happy those people are there, focusing on their studies.

(I wonder if this relates to my earlier post on the low status of teachers in this country and how Americans view education...)

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

As for Libya, we'll sit on our hands.

RE: Diplomacy Stalls as Libya Rebels Face Pro-Qaddafi Forces

So we are willing to let a tyrant retake power and will do nothing to stop him. We will not attempt to halt the violent attacks against civilians; we will sit silently by at the massacres that will ensue, once his forces roll in. Bravo, the West! Bravo, Russia! Bravo, China!

As for those countries that are blocking the no-fly zone in the UN Security Council -- since when is it your prerogative to decide what happens to the Arab world and its people? The Arab League wants a No-Fly Zone. The leaders of the free area of Libya (now) want a No-Fly Zone. But you still refuse to authorize it.

Do you actually *want* Qaddafi to come back to power?!?

The world screws over the democrats (or at least the more democratically-oriented faction) time and again, claiming that we "can't get involved." Spain 1936. China 1937. We let the fascists roll through (literally fascists in these two cases -- domestic ones like Franco, and external ones like the Imperial Kwantung Army) -- and then what happens next?

dBut perhaps that is too dramatic. In this case, I suspect the rammifications for the world in Libya will be far less. There will just be tremendous suffering for the Libyan people who have the yoke of dictatorship cast over their lives again. And maybe some higher oil prices (oh dear) for a while, until we cast our lot in with this megalomaniac, because we are such wh-res for crude oil that in time we'll deal with his regime, we'll deal with any regime.

It's frustrating because this isn't Hungary, this isn't Prague -- there's no Soviet Union looming over a geopolitical battlefield. There's just one somewhat unhinged man, and his supporters with a ton of arms, unafraid to unleash these weapons on his own people. And still, we can do nothing -- or at least we choose do nothing. What does it mean to live in a post-Cold War world? Just what are the implications of referring a case to the ICC? We won't even take a stand when we know there's a murderous dictator on the rampage, seeking retribution, and hammering towns with his iron fist (backed up by artillery and attack helicopters), lobbing explosives into the midst of innocent civilians and resistance fighters. It doesn't even make political sense to allow this to happen, unless you want Qaddafi to return to power and re-establish control over the whole country -- which it is starting to seem like he is apt to do.

One of the leaders of the National Council (on the free Libyan side) pointed out that it's better for the conflict to an end in the favor of the rebels sooner rather than later. Otherwise, if Qaddafi reasserts himself, and the conflict becomes a protracted battle or a "guerilla war", then jihadists will make their way to Libya -- and then you have Afghanistan again. Why can't we support the democratic forces and let them emerge victorious? Don't we want to prove that democracy can work? Or do we want to hand the jihadists another battlefield, another recruiting ground?

In the end, I get a little bit of a sinking feeling that we actually *want* events on the ground to overtake diplomacy. If we keep dithering, then eventually a No Fly Zone will do no good -- or as the article puts it, "With the advances made by loyalists, there is growing consensus in the Obama administration that imposing a no-flight zone over Libya would no longer make much of a difference." And then we won't have to take it on. We'll have conveniently washed ourselves of the responsibility to act. Wait it out -- that's Russia and China's strategy for events like this, and it's starting to feel like it's Obama's strategy too. Wait it out, and there will no longer be agency, and then what's done is done.

How bleak. How cynical. How irresponsible. How pragmatic.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Tzu Chi Kicks Off Street Fundraising for Japan Earthquake Relief

Starting tomorrow, Tzu Chi volunteers across the US will be collecting donations for disaster relief in Japan, including our Bay Area chapters. Volunteers have already contacted store owners in nearby Mountain View, who have given permission for Tzu Chi to set up charity stations. If you want to help out with fundraising, here is the list of locations close to campus:

Shift times: 10-12 PM, 12-2 PM, 2-4 PM
1. Kyo-Po Supermarket (3379 El Camino Real, Santa Clara)
2. 99 Ranch Market in Mountain View (1350 Grant Road, Mountain View)
3. Nijiya Market (143 East El Camino Real, Mountain View)

Shift times: 11:30-1:30 PM, 1:30pm-3:30 PM
4. New Mongolian BBQ (304 Castro St, Mountain View)
5. Queen House 元寶之家 (273 Castro St, Mountain View)
Tzu Chi volunteers will be recognizable in their blue and white uniforms. If there's interest in going to help out, just send us an e-mail. ( and

Another way you can help is to make a donation online:
Visit for our local Tzu Chi chapter; you can use PayPal or Google Checkout to make a contribution to relief efforts.
and by keeping the people of Japan in our thoughts and prayers.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Japan Earthquake: DaAi TV News Clips 大愛電視台

*In Chinese. English-language clips soon.

Relief Center Opens in Japan, Provides Hot Meals
日本分會開放 提供熱食飲水

Earthquake Command Center to Coordinate Relief
日震災協調中心 任務分組愛馳援
Conference with Tzu Chi's founder, Dharma Master Cheng Yen
上人開示 天地負重大不調 戒慎祈福遠災難

Video from major earthquake in Japan; Tzu Chi plans to raise funds for relief
日本強震視訊 慈濟規劃募款

Japan Earthquake: Status updates from Tzu Chi HQ and Japan

Hi all,

Here are some status updates from Tzu Chi HQ and Tzu Chi Japan. In the US, Tzu Chi volunteers will begin street fundraising to support the relief efforts on Sunday (March 13). Please stay tuned for how we can help!

Global Headquarters (Hualien, Taiwan)
  • An emergency command center at Tzu Chi headquarters was established on March 11 to coordinate earthquake relief efforts
  • Command center staff held a video conference with Tzu Chi's Japan branch to find out what aid was needed
  • Tzu Chi headquarters has prepared 50 tons of instant rice and 17,000 environmentally-friendly blankets to be delivered as soon as flights can take off

Tzu Chi Japan
  • Tzu Chi members distributed 500 hot meals to people stranded on Tokyo streets because of power outages and traffic jams
  • The foundation’s Tokyo branch has opened a relief center to help those affected by the biggest earthquake in the history of Japan. Located on the branch’s first floor, it began operations at 6.30 p.m. on Friday, less than four hours after the quake.
  • The center is providing people with hot food, snacks, Internet service to contact their loved ones, a place to rest and sleep, and comfort for those in shock.
  • Volunteers checked on the safety of their fellow Tzu Chi members in the affected areas. All those in Tokyo, Kanagawa and Kansai reported in safely. But it was impossible to contact those close to the epicenter of the quake, in Utsunomiya and Gunma and Yamanashi prefectures. The volunteers will continue to try to make contact with them.

Related Articles
Tzu Chi Japan Opens Relief Centre after Catastrophic Earthquake (March 12)
Tzu Chi begins distributing warm food to earthquake victims (March 12)
Tzu Chi set up Earthquake Command Center (March 11)

Friday, March 11, 2011

Japan Earthquake and Tsunami - Disaster Relief Coordination Center

Hi everyone,

As you've probably heard, Japan just experienced a major earthquake, followed hours later by a tsunami. Tzu Chi volunteers in Asia are mobilizing, and the CEO of Tzu Chi USA's Northwest Region just sent a status update. Please stay tuned for how we can help.

Dear Sisters and Brothers,

Last night, Japan experienced its largest-ever earthquake. A Tzu Chi Relief Center was rapidly set up and reported in to Tzu Chi global headquarters and Dharma Master Cheng Yen. The US Emergency Response Team is also in contact with Taiwan HQ for status updates. (The disaster briefing they presented to Master Cheng Yen is attached.)

Let us wish for the road to recovery to be smooth and quick. We are awaiting instructions from headquarters for any support that we can provide.

Let's also raise our awareness and level of alertness to be prepared for earthquakes, which can strike anywhere without notice.

Minjhing Hsieh

Japan Earthquake Briefing (in Chinese):

[Original Chinese]


日本於加州時間昨晚 9:46 PM 發生大地震,引發海嘯,「慈濟日本強震海嘯賑災協調中心」隨即成立,向 上人稟報災情。總會 ERT 立即與本會聯繫,了解狀況,附上賑災協調中心簡報。讓我們戒慎虔誠,祈願災情早日得以控制,生命財產損失降到最低,我們會配合本會採取協助,並自我提高警覺,為地震的可能性做好準備。


Monday, March 07, 2011

ABC's, Represent!

Gary Locke (駱家輝) will be nominated as the new U.S. Ambassador to China! He's an ABC, so this is a first for an American of Chinese heritage (美籍華裔). Woot! He was the first Chinese-American governor -- of Washington State -- and currently serves as Secretary of Commerce in the Obama Administration (also a first).

接駐華大使 歐巴馬提名華裔駱家輝

By Amy Lee
台灣英文新聞 記者
2011-03-08 11:20 AM

美國政府一名高級官員說,美國總統歐巴馬計劃提名華裔商務部長駱家輝成為下一個中國大使。 預計星期二會正式公佈。 駱家輝將取代洪博培,而後者將於下個月辭職。

據悉,洪博培可能會爭取共和黨總統候選人提名。 駱家輝是第一個出任商務部長的美籍華裔,他的父親和祖父都出生在中國。

駱家輝擔任了兩屆華盛頓州的州長。 他是第一個美籍華裔美國州長。 在他任職期間,他大力提倡與中國的貿易,促使一些貿易代表團前往中國。 他的任命需經美國參議院的確認。2011/03/08

English article here =P

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Tzu Chi in South Africa

By working with and empowering the local population, Tzu Chi activities in South Africa are becoming more sustainable and rooted in the community. For example, volunteers in Durban provide lunches every day to more than 5,000 AIDS orphans, often their only full meal of the day.

(Photos by Huang Chun-kai. 11/18/2010)

Since beginning the lunch program, the volunteers have also established more than 120 "vegetable gardens of love," which they cultivate themselves. They use the produce at 120 food stations for the lunches for the orphans. They also provide rice, corn flour and other foods to supplement the vegetables.

Tzu Chi volunteer Bathobile Maphumul cares for a "Vegetable Garden of Love"
(Photo by Yuen Ya-chi, 10/9/2010)

The most classic illustration of this "long-term sustainability" approach is Tzu Chi's job training program, which teaches Zulu women vocational skills, such as how to operate a sewing machine to sew clothing. The first training center was set up in Durban in 1995, and to date, several thousand women have participated in the trainings, which allow them to make an income and support their families. The city now boasts 524 such centers.

In 2004, the “Blue Bank Project” was launched near Ladysmith. Like the sewing training centers, the Blue Bank Project also assists local residents to become self-sufficient by providing them with cloth, sewing machines and needles so that they can make clothing for sale. ("Vows and Commitments in South Africa")

Furthermore, as one woman noted, the benefits are not just material: the independent income is personally empowering, because the women no longer have to beseech the male head of household for money to buy basic necessities like salt.

Many of these Zulu women went on to become Tzu Chi volunteers, returning to train others and most notably, beginning outreach projects in the larger Zulu community, such as caring for AIDS patients. Today, they form the backbone of Tzu Chi's volunteer corps in South Africa. They have moved from being the recipients of aid, to giving to aid to others even more impoverished or marginalized. In this way, the cycle of caring continues onward, with Taiwanese and Zulu volunteers working hand in hand to spread the seeds of love.

Video: Tzu Chi in South Africa

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Empowering Women & Girls in South Africa

"Love Without Borders" - Empowering Women in South Africa

In post-apartheid South Africa in the early 1990s, Taiwanese businessmen and Tzu Chi volunteers started a job-training program to empower Zulu women and help them overcome poverty. Thousands eventually took part, and not only did these women emerge from poverty -- they also uncovered the power of unconditional giving. As they began to care for AIDS patients and orphans in impoverished Zulu communities, their actions sparked a movement that continues to spread the seeds of love.

Cooking hot meals for orphans

Two of these legendary Zulu women, Gladys Ngema and Tolakele Mkhize, recently led a workshop at the UN Commission on the Status of Women. Please join us for a special evening, where Gladys, Tolakele and businessman Michael Pan will share their inspiring life stories and discuss their humanitarian work with the Tzu Chi Foundation (慈濟基金會) in South Africa.

Tzu Chi, whose name means "compassion and relief," is the largest NGO in the Chinese-speaking world. Founded in 1966 by the Venerable Master Cheng Yen, it has over 10 million members and chapters in over 40 countries. The group's core activities span Charity, Medicine, Education and Disaster Relief, and it provides aid to all people regardless of race or religion.

7:30 PM at San Jose State University (March 8)
2 PM at Bayview Opera House, SF (March 9)

Free and open to the public. For more information or to RSVP, please visit: or call (408) 666-0624.

Video: About the Event

PHOTO: Tzu Chi volunteers gathering donations for charity work