A Maine Paper Mill’s Unexpected Savior: China – By Ellen Barry – The New York Times

By Ellen BarryPhotographs by Tristan SpinskiJan. 15, 2020, 5:00 a.m.

By 

Photographs by 

“OLD TOWN, Maine — During the deepest part of last winter, a van pulled off the highway and followed the two-lane road that skims along the Penobscot River, coming to rest beside the hulk of a shuttered pulp mill. The van’s door slid open and passengers climbed out: seven Buddhist monks from China.

Andrew Edwards, a mill superintendent from the nearby town of Lincoln, led them to a room where he had stockpiled the things they had requested for the ceremony: oranges, limes, apples and seven shovels, one for each monk.

Snow lay deep on the ground, two feet of gritty, frozen crust, and he remembers worrying a little about the visitors. “They were in their, I don’t know what they’re called, their Tibetan outfit,” he said. “With the sandals and whatnot.”

He stepped back and watched as the monks wandered from the boiler houses to the limekiln to the pulp mill, chanting, burning candles and gently tapping a gong.”

Source: A Maine Paper Mill’s Unexpected Savior: China – The New York Times

Posted in: Business and Finance, China, Decline and Renaissanace, United States

Leave a Comment (0) →

There Are No Children Here. Just Lots of Life-Size Dolls. – The New York Times

There Are No Children Here. Just Lots of Life-Size Dolls.

As Japan’s population shrinks and ages, rural areas are emptying out. In one childless village, two dozen adults compensate for the absence with the company of hundreds of giant handmade dolls.

A group of women touring the school in Nagoro, which was closed after the last two students, depicted as dolls, grew up.

By 

Photographs by 

“NAGORO, Japan — The last children were born in the remote mountain village of Nagoro 18 years ago.

Now, just over two dozen adults live in this outpost straddling a river on the Japanese island of Shikoku. The elementary school closed its doors in 2012, shortly after the last two students completed sixth grade.

But on a recent bright autumn Sunday, Tsukimi Ayano brought the school back to life.

It just so happened that she did it with dolls rather than humans.

Ms. Ayano, 70, had arrayed more than 40 handmade dolls in a lifelike tableau on the grounds of the shuttered school. Recreating a school sports day known as “undokai,” a staple of the Japanese calendar, she had posed child-size dolls in a footrace, perched on a swing set and tossing balls.

“We never see children here anymore,” said Ms. Ayano, who was born in Nagoro, and has staged an annual doll festival for the last seven years.”

Source: There Are No Children Here. Just Lots of Life-Size Dolls. – The New York Times

David Lindsay, Copmment to the NYT:

What a lovely, strange story by Motoko Rich and  Nadia Shira Cohen. Thank you. Dr of Nothing commented to this extraordinary piece: “What we are seeing here is a town at the end of its lifespan, but also a society and culture in significant decline. Japan is predicted to have half its current population by the end of the century, so this is more than just a retreat, its a collapse.”

I must disagree completely.  Japan is one of the most overpopulated places in the planet, and naturalists  are suggesting that for the life as we know it to be sustainable, and with other creatures, we need to reduce world population from 7.6 to perhaps 4 billion. That the Japanese are doing their part to bring their own country to more sustainable human numbers, to allow for other species, and clean air and water, and less climate change is magnificent.

Wikipedia reports, “According to the World Bank, the population of Japan as of 2018 is at 126.5 million, including foreign residents.[3] The population of only Japanese nationals was 124.8 million in January 2019.[4]

Japan was the world’s tenth-most populous country as of 2018. “  They showed that in 1910, the population was only about 51 million.

This fact that overpopulated states are going down in population is not bad news. It is good news, and a necessary part of our survival through a slowing of climate change and the sixth extinction of species.

David Lindsay Jr. is an author of “The Tay Son Rebellion”  and blogs at InconvenientNews.net.

Posted in: David Lindsay, Japan, Population Growth

Leave a Comment (0) →

Opinion | My Grandmother’s Favorite Scammer – By Frankie Huang – The New York Times

By 

Ms. Huang is a writer and illustrator.

“BEIJING — One day last winter my mother sent me an odd message over WeChat. “Has Laolao said anything strange to you today?” she asked.

I immediately sensed that something was amiss. My mother is a typical Chinese parent. She always feels obliged to withhold bad news from me until she has no other choice. Why was she worried about my grandmother?

I thought back to my most recent visit to Laolao’s shabby apartment here. She had just turned 88, and other than the usual age-related forgetfulness and grumbling about kids these days, she was her usual self.

My mother’s next message unnerved me even more. “Was she of sound mind?”

“You have to tell me what’s going on,” I messaged back.

I fought the urge to berate her and began to scour the internet for information on bank scams that involved sworn secrecy. My heart sank when results filled my screen, describing our situation exactly. I was in an airport, on a business trip, so I messaged Laolao’s assistant at her office and told her to freeze all my grandmother’s bank accounts. But it turned out the bank couldn’t do anything unless Laolao herself requested it.”

Source: Opinion | My Grandmother’s Favorite Scammer – The New York Times

Posted in: Bullies and Scoundrels, China

Leave a Comment (0) →

Opinion | My Grandmother’s Favorite Scammer – By Frankie Huang – The New York Times

By 

Ms. Huang is a writer and illustrator.

CreditCredit…Annie Jen

“BEIJING — One day last winter my mother sent me an odd message over WeChat. “Has Laolao said anything strange to you today?” she asked.

I immediately sensed that something was amiss. My mother is a typical Chinese parent. She always feels obliged to withhold bad news from me until she has no other choice. Why was she worried about my grandmother?

I thought back to my most recent visit to Laolao’s shabby apartment here. She had just turned 88, and other than the usual age-related forgetfulness and grumbling about kids these days, she was her usual self.

My mother’s next message unnerved me even more. “Was she of sound mind?”

“You have to tell me what’s going on,” I messaged back.

I fought the urge to berate her and began to scour the internet for information on bank scams that involved sworn secrecy. My heart sank when results filled my screen, describing our situation exactly. I was in an airport, on a business trip, so I messaged Laolao’s assistant at her office and told her to freeze all my grandmother’s bank accounts. But it turned out the bank couldn’t do anything unless Laolao herself requested it.”

Source: Opinion | My Grandmother’s Favorite Scammer – The New York Times

Posted in: Bullies and Scoundrels, China

Leave a Comment (0) →

Opinion | Trump’s Legacy Is Being Written Right Now – The New York Times

“With regard to Cambodia, the illegality of Nixon’s behavior was clear-cut. The potential fourth article of impeachment referred to the fact that for 14 months, before the United States’ invasion, the president approved hundreds of B-52 strikes on that country. The covert mission first came to light in July 1973, when retired Maj. Hal Knight testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee that in his capacity as the supervisor of radar crews in South Vietnam, he had helped falsify the records of at least two dozen missions by disguising American airstrikes in Cambodia as attacks inside South Vietnam.

By the time the Judiciary Committee was considering impeachment, the tragic consequences of America’s military intervention in Cambodia were clear. The relatively stable government of Prince Sihanouk had been overthrown, the society was consumed by civil war, an insurgent Khmer Rouge had morphed into a major force and thousands of Cambodian civilians had been displaced or killed.”

Source: Opinion | Trump’s Legacy Is Being Written Right Now – The New York Times

Posted in: Cambodia, Law and Order

Leave a Comment (0) →

Opinion | How to Survive as a Woman at a Chinese Banquet – By Yan Ge – The New York Times

By 

Ms. Yan is the author of 13 books, including, most recently, “The Chilli Bean Paste Clan.”

Credit…Lisk Feng

“A Chinese banquet can be many things, but it is never a gastronomic occasion.

It is more like a sport, one in which the primary goal is to drink a toast with each individual sitting around the table, in a rigid successive order, starting with the most prominent and proceeding clockwise. If that sounds straightforward, it isn’t: Bear in mind that everyone at the table is playing the same game simultaneously, which means just as you’ve homed in on your target and are ready to make your move, he could be raising a toast to another guest, who could very well be looking to drink with someone else.

Other rules: Make sure to turn the shot of baijiu bottoms up with every encounter; say flattering words in your toast, but nothing too flowery; appear cordial and personable; smile, but avoid inappropriate body contact. Finally, while you’re busy circling the table, don’t forget to eat.

At a Chinese banquet, the eating is the least important part. The problem, though, is that Chinese food is irresistibly delicious, especially if you’re someone who’s lived outside China for the last four years. And so this summer, when I returned to my home city of Chengdu for a visit, and a friend called to ask me to meet up at a local restaurant, I said yes without any hesitation.

On the day of, I arrived late. The restaurant had been revamped since the last time I’d visited, six years ago. A slim hostess in a red qipao welcomed me while I stood dazzled by the colossal crystal chandelier suspended from the high ceiling. I told her my friend’s name and was escorted to a private dining room at the end of the hall.”

Source: Opinion | How to Survive as a Woman at a Chinese Banquet – The New York Times

Posted in: Business and Finance, China, History and Literature

Leave a Comment (0) →

China Cracks Down on Fentanyl. But Is It Enough to End the U.S. Epidemic? – By Steven Lee Myers – The New York Times

“XINGTAI, China — An online pharmacy advertising itself as a seller of “high purity, real pure” fentanyl still responds right away to potential customers.

“Which products do you want to buy,” a salesperson replied within a minute to an inquiry in English on WhatsApp, the encrypted messaging service.

But when contacted from an American telephone number and asked about the availability of fentanyl, the synthetic opioid fueling an epidemic killing tens of thousands of Americans a year, the seller demurred.

“I don’t sell any more.”

Until recently, much of the illicit fentanyl that found its way to the United States came like this: easily ordered online from a source in China and seamlessly shipped by international delivery companies, including the United States Postal Service.

Fentanyl sourced from China accounted for 97 percent of the drug seized from international mail services by United States law enforcement in both the 2016 and 2017 fiscal years, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration.

Now, China’s Communist government is taking steps to stop the flood, as the country’s leader, Xi Jinping, promised President Trump he would do.

After the two leaders met in Buenos Aires at the Group of 20 summit at the end of last year, the White House released a statement saying that “President Xi, in a wonderful humanitarian gesture, has agreed to designate fentanyl as a controlled substance.”

Source: China Cracks Down on Fentanyl. But Is It Enough to End the U.S. Epidemic? – The New York Times

Posted in: China, Drug Wars, Trade and Trade Policy

Leave a Comment (0) →

Prime Mover: How Amazon Wove Itself Into the Life of an American City – The New York Times

Amazon just put this department store out of bussiness in Baltimore, and its largest hardware store, both owned by the same family.

“. . .  Ms. Black said she quit after two written warnings that she wasn’t meeting productivity standards, knowing a third would get her fired.

“The machines determine so much,” she said. “You’re clocked from beginning to end. They grind through people.”

When another employee told the National Labor Relations Board that he had been fired for complaining about working conditions, the company said he had it wrong: He had been fired for working too slowly.

In fact, an Amazon lawyer wrote to the N.L.R.B. last year, it had fired “hundreds of other employees” at the Baltimore warehouse for failing to make their numbers. The letter, obtained by The Verge, listed more than 800 workers fired in the previous year, but the company now says the correct number was 309.

Automated dismissals are a feature, the letter said, not a flaw. “Amazon’s system,” the lawyers wrote, “automatically generates any warnings or terminations regarding quality or productivity without input from supervisors.” Amazon says termination decisions are ultimately made by managers.

Workers at Amazon who run into that kind of trouble have no unions to represent them — a shift from Baltimore’s past. G.M. employees were represented by the United Automobile Workers. At the second warehouse, on the old Bethlehem Steel site, United Steelworkers held sway. At both plants, the pay was adequate to support a family.

Credit…Gabriella Demczuk for The New York Times

In the G.M. plant’s final years, line workers made an average of $27 an hour, equivalent to more than $35 today. G.M. workers could make $80,000 annually with overtime, according to contemporary news reports, equal to $102,000 in 2019 dollars.

The vehemently anti-union Amazon has raised its lowest hourly pay to $15.40, which is a little over double the federal minimum wage, the company points out. But even a veteran worker at its BWI2 warehouse would have to put in considerable overtime to get to $40,000 a year, less than half of what a G.M. worker could make in the past.

Nor are the job numbers comparable. The G.M. plant employed 8,000 at its peak; Bethlehem Steel employed 30,000. Amazon has a total of 4,500 workers at the two warehouses.”

Source: Prime Mover: How Amazon Wove Itself Into the Life of an American City – The New York Times

Posted in: Bullies and Scoundrels, Monopoly or Monopsony

Leave a Comment (0) →

Opinion | The World-Shaking News That You’re Missing – By Thomas L. Friedman – The New York Times

By 

Opinion Columnist

Credit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

“SINGAPORE — One of the most negative byproducts of the Trump presidency is that all we talk about now is Donald Trump. Don’t get me wrong: How can we not be fixated on a president who daily undermines the twin pillars of our democracy: truth and trust?

But there are some tectonic changes underway behind the Trump noise machine that demand a serious national discussion, like the future of U.S.-China relations. Yet it’s not happening — because all we talk about is Donald Trump.

Consider this: On Nov. 9, European leaders gathered in Berlin to mark the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. It was an anniversary worth celebrating. But no one seemed to notice that almost exactly 30 years after the Berlin Wall fell, a new wall — a digital Berlin Wall — had begun to be erected between China and America. And the only thing left to be determined, a Chinese business executive remarked to me, “is how high this wall will be,” and which countries will choose to be on which side.

This new wall, separating a U.S.-led technology and trade zone from a Chinese-led one, will have implications as vast as the wall bisecting Berlin did. Because the peace, prosperity and accelerations in technology and globalization that have so benefited the world over the past 40 years were due, in part, to the interweaving of the U.S. and Chinese economies.”

Source: Opinion | The World-Shaking News That You’re Missing – The New York Times

Posted in: China, Foreign Affairs and U.S.ForeignPolicy, Thomas Friedman

Leave a Comment (0) →

Opinion | Let’s Not Take Cues From a Country That Bans Winnie the Pooh – By Nicholas Kristof – The New York Times

By 

Opinion Columnist

CreditCreditAssociated Press

“What happens when China’s enforcers come after Winnie-the-Pooh?

Will we reluctantly hand over Pooh Bear? Really sorry about this, Winnie, but China’s an important market!

Winnie-the-Pooh has been banned in China online and at movie theaters because snarky commentators have suggested that he resembles the portly President Xi Jinping. But these days Xi doesn’t want to censor information just in his own country; he also wants to censor our own discussions in the West.

That’s the backdrop to China’s hysterical reaction to a tweet by Daryl Morey, the Houston Rockets’ general manager, sympathizing with Hong Kong’s pro-democracy demonstrations.

When the N.B.A. moved into China in the early 2000s, it made a plausible argument that engagement would help extend our values to China. Instead, the Communist Party is exploiting N.B.A. greed to extend its values to the United States.

China is also forcing American Airlines to treat Taiwan as part of China, and it bullied Mercedes-Benz into apologizing for quoting the Dalai Lama. It made Marriott fire an employee for “wrongfully liking” a tweet by an organization that favors Tibetan independence.

There’s not much we can do about a dictator like Xi bullying his own citizens, but we should not let him stifle debate in our country.

Let me interrupt this diatribe, however, for important context. Those of us who criticize Xi must also have the humility to acknowledge that child mortality is now lower in Beijing than in Washington, D.C., that China has established new universities at a rate of one a week and that Shanghai’s public schools put our own school systems to shame.

So, yes, let’s stand up to Chinese bullying — and speak up when China detains at least one million Muslims, in what may be the biggest internment of people based on religion since the Holocaust. But let’s also note that China has helped lift more people out of poverty more quickly than any nation in history. With China, it’s always helpful to hold at least two contradictory ideas in our heads at the same time.”

Xi’s anxiety about the internet, religion, Hong Kong protesters, even Winnie-the-Pooh underscores his own insecurities. Xi seems terrified that real information will infiltrate the Chinese echo chamber, undermining his propaganda department’s personality cult around a benign “Uncle Xi.”

Source: Opinion | Let’s Not Take Cues From a Country That Bans Winnie the Pooh – The New York Times

Posted in: Bullies and Scoundrels, China, Nicholas Kristof

Leave a Comment (0) →
Page 2 of 24 12345...»