NJTransit sets record Ticket Sales, Ridership at all-time highs

NJTransit: A Successful Mass Transit Super Bowl

by Jersey Mike

On Super Sunday, thousands of satisfied fans were able to arrive and leave the MetLife stadium at record time.  NJTransit, which had spent months preparing for Super Bowl 48, touted their high ridership numbers as a key indicator of success in playing part to the first “Mass Transit Super Bowl” of its kind.

“This..set an all-time record for ridership, which was previously 22,000 for (the) September 2009 U2 concert,” said NJ Transit spokesman John Durso Jr.

The crowds was in surprisingly good spirits, and they continued the Seahawks and Broncos chanting that had started on the train.  Many fans were impressed by the large number of trains and mass transit networks.

“We live in the country,” a Broncos fan said. “We have cars — we don’t use subways or anything like that.”

Surprisingly, despite angry rumors of people fainting, NJTransit assured us that there are no incidents of people fainting or being addressed by local EMT services.

NJTransit said the crowds were being orderly and passengers were being moved out in a “safe and efficient” manner. Dozens of buses were later brought in to help shuffle fans out of the area and ease the congestion.

Thanks to NJTransit, New Jersey and many football fans were able to enjoy a green and safe “Mass Transit Super Bowl.”

“The number of people moved, not only on game day, but in and around New York City, the number of people moved to multiple events, in and out, I think that’s an extraordinary achievement,” said Eric Grubman, the league’s executive vice president of NFL ventures and business operations.

Grubman added that NJTransit successfully moved 30,000 people from the venue in a way that was safe and designed to be easy.

Once again, NJTransit has shown the rest of the country how a “Jersey Strong” mass transit system can benefit the state and the entire country.

China’s Paid Trolls: Meet the 50-Cent Party (Includes Hong Kong SAR)

China’s Paid Trolls: Meet the 50-Cent Party

The Chinese government hires people to distort or deflect conversations on the web. Ai Weiwei persuades an “online commentator” to tell all.

By Ai Weiwei [1] Published 17 October 2012

The Chinese government hires people to distort or deflect conversations on the web. Ai Weiwei persuades an “online commentator” to tell all.

New Statesman
(PHOTO: Marcus Bleasdale VII)

In February 2011, Ai Weiwei tweeted that he would like to conduct an interview with an “online commentator”. Commentators are hired by the Chinese government or the Communist Party of China to post comments favourable towards party policies and to shape public opinion on internet message boards and forums. The commentators are known as the 50-Cent Party, as they are said to be paid 50 cents for every post that steers a discussion away from anti-party content or that advances the Communist Party line.

Below is the transcript of Ai’s interview with an online commentator. As requested, an iPad was given as compensation for the interview. To protect the interviewee, relevant personal information has been concealed in this script.

Question: What’s your name, age, city of residence and online username?

Answer: I cannot make my name public. I’m 26. I have too many usernames. If I want to use one, I just register it. I won’t mention them here.

What do you call the work you do now?

It doesn’t matter what you call it: online commentator, public opinion guide, or even “the 50-Cent Party” that everyone’s heard of.

What is your level of education and work experience? How did you begin the work of guiding public opinion?

I graduated from university and studied media. I once worked for a TV channel, then in online media. I’ve always been in the news media industry, for four or five years now.Over a year ago, a friend asked me if I wanted to be an online commentator, to earn some extra money. I said I’d give it a try. Later, I discovered it was very easy.

When and from where will you receive directives for work?

Almost every morning at 9am I receive an email from my superiors – the internet publicity office of the local government – telling me about the news we’re to comment on for the day. Sometimes it specifies the website to comment on, but most of the time it’s not limited to certain websites: you just find relevant news and comment on it.

Can you describe your work in detail?

The process has three steps – receive task, search for topic, post comments to guide public opinion. Receiving a task mainly involves ensuring you open your email box every day. Usually after an event has happened, or even before the news has come out, we’ll receive an email telling us what the event is, then instructions on which direction to guide the netizens’ thoughts, to blur their focus, or to fan their enthusiasm for certain ideas. After we’ve found the relevant articles or news on a website, according to the overall direction given by our superiors we start to write articles, post or reply to comments. This requires a lot of skill. You can’t write in a very official manner, you must conceal your identity, write articles in many dif­ferent styles, sometimes even have a dialogue with yourself, argue, debate. In sum, you want to create illusions to attract the attention and comments of netizens.

In a forum, there are three roles for you to play: the leader, the follower, the onlooker or unsuspecting member of the public. The leader is the relatively authoritative speaker, who usually appears after a controversy and speaks with powerful evidence. The public usually finds such users very convincing. There are two opposing groups of followers. The role they play is to continuously debate, argue, or even swear on the forum. This will attract attention from observers. At the end of the argument, the leader appears, brings out some powerful evidence, makes public opinion align with him and the objective is achieved. The third type is the onlookers, the netizens. They are our true target “clients”. We influence the third group mainly through role-playing between the other two kinds of identity. You could say we’re like directors, influencing the audience through our own writing, directing and acting. Sometimes I feel like I have a split personality.

Regarding the three roles that you play, is that a common tactic? Or are there other ways?

There are too many ways. It’s kind of psychological. Netizens nowadays are more thoughtful than before. We have many ways. You can make a bad thing sound even worse, make an elaborate account, and make people think it’s nonsense when they see it. In fact, it’s like two negatives make a positive. When it’s reached a certain degree of mediocrity, they’ll think it might not be all that bad.

What is the guiding principle of your work?

The principle is to understand the guiding thought of superiors, the direction of public opinion desired, then to start your own work.

Can you reveal the content of a “task” email?

For example, “Don’t spread rumours, don’t believe in rumours”, or “Influence public understanding of X event”, “Promote the correct direction of public opinion on XXXX”, “Explain and clarify XX event; avoid the appearance of untrue or illegal remarks”, “For the detrimental social effect created by the recent XX event, focus on guiding the thoughts of netizens in the correct direction of XXXX”.

What are the categories of information that you usually receive?

They are mainly local events. They cover over 60 to 70 per cent of local instructions – for example, people who are filing complaints or petitioning.

For countrywide events, such as the Jasmine Revolution [the pro-democracy protests that took place across the country in 2011], do you get involved?

For popular online events like the Jasmine Revolution, we have never received a related task. I also thought it was quite strange. Perhaps we aren’t senior enough.

Can you tell us the content of the commentary you usually write?

The netizens are used to seeing unskilled comments that simply say the government is great or so and so is a traitor. They know what is behind it at a glance. The principle I observe is: don’t directly praise the government or criticise negative news. Moreover, the tone of speech, identity and stance of speech must look as if it’s an unsuspecting member of public; only then can it resonate with netizens. To sum up, you want to guide netizens obliquely and let them change their focus without realising it.

Can you go off the topic?

Of course you can go off the topic. When transferring the attention of netizens and

blurring the public focus, going off the topic is very effective. For example, during the census, everyone will be talking about its truthfulness or necessity; then I’ll post jokes that appeared in the census. Or, in other instances, I would publish adverts to take up space on political news reports.

Can you tell us a specific, typical process of “guiding public opinion”?

For example, each time the oil price is about to go up, we’ll receive a notification to “stabilise the emotions of netizens and divert public attention”. The next day, when news of the rise comes out, netizens will definitely be condemning the state, CNPC and Sinopec. At this point, I register an ID and post a comment: “Rise, rise however you want, I don’t care. Best if it rises to 50 yuan per litre: it serves you right if you’re too poor to drive. Only those with money should be allowed to drive on the roads . . .”

This sounds like I’m inviting attacks but the aim is to anger netizens and divert the anger and attention on oil prices to me. I would then change my identity several times and start to condemn myself. This will attract more attention. After many people have seen it, they start to attack me directly. Slowly, the content of the whole page has also changed from oil price to what I’ve said. It is very effective.

What’s your area of work? Which websites do you comment on? Which netizens do you target?

There’s no limit on which websites I visit. I mainly deal with local websites, or work on Tencent. There are too many commentators on Sohu, Sina, etc. As far as I know, these websites have dedicated internal departments for commenting.

Can you tell which online comments are by online commentators?

Because I do this, I can tell at a glance that about 10 to 20 per cent out of the tens of thousands of comments posted on a forum are made by online commentators.

Will you debate with other people online? What sorts of conflicts do you have? How do you control and disperse emotion?

Most of the time we’re debating with ourselves. I usually never debate with netizens and I’ll never say I’ve been angered by a netizen or an event. You could say that usually when I’m working, I stay rational.

When the government says, “Don’t believe in rumours, don’t spread rumours,” it achieves the opposite effect. For example, when Sars and the melamine in milk case broke out, people tended to choose not to trust the government when faced with the choices of “Don’t trust rumours” and “Don’t trust the government”.

I think this country and government have got into a rather embarrassing situation. No matter what happens – for example, if a person commits a crime, or there’s a traffic accident – as long as it’s a bad event and it’s publicised online, there will be people who condemn the government. I think this is very strange.

This is inevitable, because the government encompasses all. When all honour is attributed to you, all mistakes are also attributed to you. Apart from targeted events, are individuals targeted? Would there be this kind of directive?

There should be. I think for the Dalai Lama, there must be guidance throughout the country. All people in China hate the Dalai Lama and Falun Gong somewhat. According to my understanding, the government has truly gone a bit over the top. Before I got involved in this circle, I didn’t know anything. So I believe that wherever public opinion has been controlled relatively well, there will always have been commentators involved.

How do your superiors inspect and assess your work?

The superiors will arrange dedicated auditors who do random checks according to the links we provide. Auditors usually don’t assess, because they always make work requirements very clear. We just have to do as they say and there won’t be any mistakes.

How is your compensation decided?

It’s calculated on a monthly basis, according to quantity and quality. It’s basically calculated at 50 yuan per 100 comments. When there’s an unexpected event, the compensation might be higher. If you work together to guide public opinion on a hot topic and several dozen people are posting, the compensation for those days counts for more. Basically, the compensation is very low. I work part-time. On average, the monthly pay is about 500-600 yuan. There are people who work full-time on this. It’s possible they could earn thousands of yuan a month.

Do you like your work?

I wouldn’t say I like it or hate it. It’s just a bit more to do each day. A bit more pocket money each month, that’s all.

What’s the biggest difficulty in the work?

Perhaps it’s that you have to guess the psychology of netizens. You have to learn a lot of writing skills. You have to know how to imitate another person’s writing style. You need to understand how to gain the trust of the public and influence their thoughts.

Why can’t you reveal your identity? Why do you think it’s sensitive?

Do you want me to lose my job? Whatever form or name we use to post on any forums or blogs is absolutely confidential. We can’t reveal our identity, and I definitely wouldn’t reveal that I’m a professional online commentator.

If we do, what would be the purpose of our existence? Exposure would affect not just me, it would create an even greater negative effect on our “superiors”.

What do you mean by “superiors”?

Our superior leaders – above that should be the propaganda department.

Is your identity known to your family? Your friends?

No. I haven’t revealed it to my family or friends. If people knew I was doing this, it might have a negative effect on my reputation.

You say: “If I reveal inside information, without exaggeration this could lead to fatality.” Do you think that the consequence would be so serious?

With my identity, I’m involved in the media and also the internet. If I really reveal my identity or let something slip, it could have an incalculable effect on me.

If you say you want to quit, will there be resistance? Are there any strings attached?

Not at all. This industry is already very transparent. For me, it’s just a part-time job. It’s like any other job. It’s not as dark as you think.

How many hours do you go online each day and on which sites? Do you rest at the weekend?

I go online for six to eight hours nearly every day. I’m mainly active on our local BBS and some large mainstream internet media and microblogs. I don’t work over weekends, but I’ll sign in to my email account and see if there’s any important instruction.

In daily life, will you still be thinking about your online work?

Now and then. For example, when I see a piece of news, I’ll think about which direction the superiors will request it to be guided in and how I would go about it. It’s a bit of an occupational hazard.

Do you watch CCTV News and read the People’s Daily?

I usually follow all the news, particularly the local news. But I generally don’t watch CCTV News, because it’s too much about harmony.

Do you go on Twitter? Who do you follow?

Yes. I follow a few interesting people, including Ai Weiwei. But I don’t speak on Twitter, just read and learn.

How big a role do you think this industry plays in guiding public opinion in China?

Truthfully speaking, I think the role is quite big. The majority of netizens in China are actually very stupid. Sometimes, if you don’t guide them, they really will believe in rumours.

Because their information is limited to begin with. So, with limited information, it’s very difficult for them to express a political view.

I think they can be incited very easily. I can control them very easily. Depending on how I want them to be, I use a little bit of thought and that’s enough. It’s very easy. So I think the effect should be quite significant.

Do you think the government has the right to guide public opinion?

Personally, I think absolutely not. But in China, the government absolutely must interfere and guide public opinion. The majority of Chinese netizens are incited too easily, don’t think for themselves and are deceived and incited too easily by false news.

Do you have to believe in the viewpoints you express? Are you concerned about politics and the future?

I don’t have to believe in them. Sometimes you know well that what you say is false or untrue. But you still have to say it, because it’s your job. I’m not too concerned about Chinese politics. There’s nothing to be concerned about in Chinese politics.

What are some prominent Asian American issues?

If you’re referring to the political and social issues that Asian-Americans face today, these are a few that come to mind:

Combating the “model minority” stereotype

  • The myth that all Asian Americans are economically successful, and that other races should emulate them.
  • Due to this myth, many Asian Americans in need are denied access to public assistance programs.
  • It treats Asian Americans as a monolithic and homogeneous entity by aggregating statistics of several different groups.
  • The racism that Asian Americans face in society and their achievements in overcoming racism are often understated or ignored altogether.
  • It promotes divisiveness between Asian Americans and other racial minorities
  • It’s dehumanizing to base a people’s identity on little besides (often inaccurate) perceptions of high income level and education.
  • It promotes the notion that Asians are apathetic, apolitical, and okay with the status quo.
  • It creates even greater expectations of achievement out of Asian-American students, which can be psychologically harmful.


Breaking the bamboo ceiling

  • Asian Americans are often excluded from executive positions in the workplace or passed over for promotions because of negative stereotypes.
  • They are less likely to been seen as having leadership potential, charisma, or creativity.
  • They are assumed to be quiet and complacent, less likely to seek out raises and promotions (not “go-getters” or risk-takers, lacking in confidence).
  • They are often pigeonholed into certain roles based on stereotypes of being good at math or the “Asian nerd” portrayed in media.
  • Even American-born Asians are seen, for no reason based on fact, as having weaker English and communicative/interpersonal skills.
  • Those that try to break these stereotypes are often viewed negatively by the general American population for trying to deny their Asian-ness


Gaining political access and minority rights

  • As mentioned earlier, Asian Americans are often seen as politically apathetic due to the expectation that they be quiet and accepting, etc.
  • Likewise, there are fewer policies in place to protect the rights of Asian Americans than other minorities.
  • Because Asian Americans are relatively recent immigrants, they are less politically established with fewer role models in office.
  • Asian Americans are often treated as “perpetual foreigners” and unassimilable (“Where are you really from?”).
  • Many Asian Americans are not citizens, and never apply for citizenship.
  • Many Asian Americans don’t speak English well enough to feel comfortable exercising their right to vote, hence the push for more multilingual ballots and English language classes.
  • Asian Americans are far less represented in state and federal government than is proportionate to their population.
  • Some argue that the US still has racist immigration policies (I don’t know about the extent to which this is true).
  • Many Asian Americans feel helpless to change the system, and because the community is so diverse, it is hard to organize politically.


Addressing Media Stereotypes

  • Orientalism in Western art and literature.
  • The “Asian nerd” stereotype, social awkwardness (this is often the only role available to Asian American men; there are few AA men in television).
  • Asian Americans as misogynists or otherwise culturally “backward” (every plot with an Indian-American woman somehow involves an arranged marriage, for example).
  • “Geisha girl” and “China doll” stereotypes; exoticism of Asian women who somehow always fall madly in love with their white colonial oppressors.
  • Asian American women as submissive and obedient.
  • South Asians treated as “terrorists” (see baseless accusations against Huma Abedin, for example).
  • South Asians as call center workers or “job-stealers” due to outsourcing (still reflects negatively on Indian Americans).


Other issues: hate-based violence, these days often targeting Sikhs and others mistaken for Muslims post-9/11; in the past, there has been a long history of anti-Asian violence, extending from the murder of Vincent Chin to the LA riots, etc. Anti-Asian bullying in the military (and possibly schools) has also gotten more attention lately.

It’s OK to discriminate against Asians (for high school admissions)

When is a minority not a minority?

NEW YORK, NY – Last year, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund filed a civil rights lawsuit with the federal government to eliminate testing as the sole basis for admissions to top public schools in New York City, such as Bronx Science, Brooklyn Tech and Stuyvesant, since it discriminated against ethnic minorities. They argued that factors such as school grades, teacher recommendations and personal experience be taken into account, which would make the admissions process similar to university admissions. However, the majority of students admitted to these top NYC public schools are ethnic minorities. They’re Asians.

According to the New York Times, approximately 59% of the students enrolled in the eight specialized high schools are Asian. In 1971, the Stuyvesant High School student body was 10% Black, 4% Hispanic, and 6% Asian with the rest being White but is 72% Asian and around 4% percent are Black or Hispanic in 2012. Based on concerns about the lack of test preparation from minority groups, the city initially offered a free test-prep program to Black and Hispanic students and later to all students. However, it was still an issue because the majority of students enrolled in the public test program are Asians.

The Times article exploring this controversy spent considerable time profiling the Asian students who were accepted into the top NYC high schools. One account was about a son of Chinese immigrants who often sacrificed weekends studying for the high school entrance exam. He rarely saw his parents because they worked long shifts.

Other Asian students profiled came from families that either lived in Third World conditions or emigrated from countries experiencing violence. These families managed to pool their limited resources to ensure their kids had the time and money needed to do well in school and pass the high school entrance exam.

Although the writer made efforts to show these students made sacrifices and worked hard to be in these schools, he also made a point of emphasizing their “foreignness”. In the same article, the writer quoted Jerome Krase, a professor emeritus in sociology at Brooklyn College, suggesting Asian students are culturally obligated to do well since “[They] hold the honor of the family in their hands“, which implies they are different from Americans.

Moreover, the interviews with non-Asian parents were critical of the current admissions process. One parent agreed with expanding admissions to consider more than just the entrance exam results while another parent felt that it was abnormal for students to sacrifice weekends just to prepare for the entrance exam. Despite these criticisms, both parents have children who are preparing for the entrance exam.

While it is true that Asians make up the majority of students in the top specialized high schools in New York City, other groups such as Blacks, Hispanics and Whites also successfully passed the tests. Instead of just profiling Asian students and emphasizing their ‘foreignness’ and their family’s limited links to American culture, the writer should have also profiled Black and Hispanic students who successfully passed the exam to show that success is not limited to Asians.

Interviewing parents of successful Black or Hispanic students would give readers ideas of how non-Asian parents and their children worked around their respective challenges to succeed since they might be more relatable to readers than the Asian students and families profiled in the article. As a result, the article appears to perpetuate the idea that Asians are undermining the perceived character of New York City’s top public schools and unintentionally promoting tensions with other ethnic groups in the city due to their “foreign values”.

Another area the writer should have explored is the root cause for test prep programs.

It is strange that students have to enroll in test preparation programs to prepare for a high school admission exam that supposedly tests students on items they should have learned in the city’s primary and middle schools. If the primary and middle public schools are properly teaching their students, then there should not be a disparity between students enrolled in test prep programs and those that are not since the exam is based on things they should have learned in school.

Sadly, these disparities suggest there is an issue with the quality of public school education in the city, not of the race of students in the city’s top high schools.

The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund believes that changing the current admissions process into a holistic process would solve the problems with the current system that allegedly gives wealthier families an advantage due to their abilities to get better test preparation. However, this change would actually harm many poor immigrant Asian families and may not necessarily help the intended Black or Hispanic students in high school admissions.

If the city switches to a holistic approach, wealthier parents would still find ways to ensure their children have the means to join extracurricular activities, enroll in better primary or middle schools for improved grades, hire admissions counselors to develop strong admissions essays, and still send their children to test preparation programs. The less well-off, regardless if they are Black, Hispanic and Asian would still be at a disadvantage in the admissions process just like for university admissions. Most of all, in the midst of this controversy, the status quo for many wealthy families and their children would still be preserved.

Read more at TLR: It’s OK to discriminate against Asians (for high school admissions) | The Libertarian Republic http://thelibertarianrepublic.com/ok-discriminate-asians-high-school-admissions/#ixzz2jk3XymkV
Follow us: @LibRepublic on Twitter | LibertarianRepublic on Facebook

The Asian-American Experience & How to Deal With It

Asian-American is a constructed demographic by some California-based Asian-American activists and promoted by the majority group in the US of A.  However, a collective Asian-American experience doesn’t exist and never did despite being promoted by vocal Asian activists in an effort to unite the various ethnic Asian groups living in the US of A for greater recognition, greater rights, and greater social mobility.

In reality, ethnic Asians in America are broken up based on their language, nationality and sometimes religion. First generation immigrants separate themselves into their local ethnic communities, and their children partly define their racial identities from their original cultures.   On the other hand, descendants of first generation immigrants become disconnected with their ancestral cultures and start to think of themselves are “Americans”.  Regardless of generations, many Asian-Americans will make friends outside of their own little cultural group and often feel necessary to compromise their own identity, culture, second language to fit in.

Because there are Asian-Americans who are willing to compromise themselves and their self-respect to fit in, many non-Asian Americans believe that it is more socially acceptable to disparage Asians because they are a “model minority” and will not assert themselves for fear of being excluded in American society.  As a result, Americans believe they can get away with producing racist garbage such as the Asian Girls music video and song with excuses that it was done with an Asian model and because they have a “cute” token Indonesian-American as a band member.

I was also told by many White, Black and Latinos that the Asian Girlz video is not a big deal because it has incoherent humour and to just “lighten up“.  At the same time, they would change their tune by complaining that the George Zimmerman acquittal is racist and unfair. Despite what some people say, Asian-Americans are expected to tolerate this kind of abuse as they are compliant model minorities while others such as Blacks or Latinos are expected to assert themselves in the face of abuse or racism.  This perception in America is simply a blatant example of double standards yet it is somehow accepted in society.

Over time, these ongoing stereotypes give the majority population the impression they can get away with casual racism against Asians and arbitrarily judge Asian-Americans on an abnormally higher standard than other ethnicities. While the racial discrimination is nowhere near the levels of Chinese exclusion and Japanese internment during the 19th and 20th centuries, Asians are still seen as perpetual foreigners or by historic stereotypes.

With all these problems surrounding Asian-Americans whether it is culture shock, discrimination or a lack of clear identity, much of the ongoing dialogue in this so-called community are ultimately tied to racism or identity issues.  This is because the core of the Asian-American experience is the ongoing frustration of not being accepted in American society regardless of how hard they try to fit in whether that involves compromising one’s original identity; jettisoning the family’s native language or culture; or screwing over fellow Asians in a misguided attempt to avoid being seen as disloyal towards America. The point is no matter how hard Asian-Americans try, they will never fit in and it is better to be happy with who they are and accept their multicultural background.

Latinos had these kinds of problems for decades and managed to gradually destroy these labels by asserting and actually retaining their dual cultures regardless of stereotypes and without generally compromising to fit in.  These problems facing Asian-Americans were faced by Latinos living in America whether they are natural citizens or immigrants and eventually became an accepted and defining part of American society.

While other Asian-Americans claim they have little to learn from the Latino experience because they also face discrimination and because Asians have a supposed advantage via the “model minority” stereotype, Latinos did change America’s perception of being perpetual foreigners to being considered an integral part of American society.  Many Latinos have been increasing their presence in media, government, and in the workplace at various levels.  They are valued due to their multicultural background, many are functionally bilingual and most of all they are free from the “bamboo ceiling” that keeps Asians from reaching management levels due to ongoing perceptions by Americans that Asians are uncreative, compliant and lack individuality, which they believe is not the case with non-Asians.

Latinos who are US citizens are able to assert themselves and become recognised for being a major economic contributor and voting group in the country.  At the same time, I do not see this kind of solidarity among Asian-Americans in the US of A since it has become too easy for US politicians whether they are Democrat, Republican, Tea Party, Racist Party or Green party to divide and conquer the Asian-American community when it comes to elections (eg Taiwanese-Americans support any politician who gives lip service to Taiwan Independence and demonising China, Vietnamese-Americans support any politician who claims to demonise Communists, Laotian-Americans support anyone who claims to care about the overseas or Hmong community, Tibetan-Americans will throw their lot with any politician ranting about evil Chinese Commies or how they love the Dalai Lama, etc).

As long as the Asian community is divided and easily fractured, they will never have a voice in the American government and society at large. Also, Latinos generally assert themselves when they are mistreated or when they receive citizenship, which is not truly the case with Asian-Americans as seen by how Levy Tran took the gig without complaining about the Asian Girlz subject matter or when Marcello Lalopua, the band’s Indonesian member, did not speak out when the racist Asian Girlz song was being produced.

Most of all, many Latinos have learned they will never fit in American society no matter how they tried ranging from passing as white or abandoning Spanish as their second or foreign language. This is why many of them maintain a working knowledge of Spanish or express pride in their multicultural background unlike many in the Asian community. I still see the heavily Americanised Asians distancing themselves from the less Americanised Asians and labelling them as FOBs, weirdos, or Unamericans or becoming ignorant of their parents’ culture.

At the same time, I’ve also seen some Asian-Americans gravitating towards other Asian cultures that seem more popular than their own home cultures such as Chinese or Filipino-Americans learning Japanese and Japanese culture to the point they know more Japanese culture and history than their own or to the point Japanese becomes their second language instead of Chinese or Tagalog. This also applies to Asian-Americans who lean towards Korean culture or try to integrate themselves into the Korean-American community when they are not and never will be Korean.

I don’t see Cuban-Americans or Chicanos trying to pass themselves off as Puerto Ricans; or Colombians knowing more about Mexican culture and history than their own. I also don’t see many Latinos railing against other Latinos who recently moved into the US of A as FOBS or outsiders.

This is why it is would be better to look at how the Latino community went from being seen as perpetual foreigners to being considered part of America rather than dwelling on Asian-American frustration in a cultural bubble. It’s time Asians in the US learn from them and their struggles and victories to benefit the Asian-American community and to stop dwelling on these issues in a bubble.

Thank You Jack Hunter

Today I learned Jack Hunter has resigned from Randall Paul’s staff after allegations of his past as a Southern “Shock Jock” came to light from an obscure blog promoting neo-conservative and reactionary views.

The blog alleged that Jack used to hang around neo-Confederate groups when he was in his youth and used to make a series of off-colour antics as a “Southern Avenger” character in the spirit of stupid fun.  As a result of these allegations, the corporate media has used this to paint Mr. Hunter as a far-right reactionary with an intolerant worldview and as an attempt to smear Randall Paul through Jack Hunter’s past antics.

The Jack Hunter of the present is nothing like the Jack Hunter in his youth.  The person I met is articulate, open-minded, tolerant, and familiar with major issues in the country.  This seems a far cry from the naive youth who believes Lincoln deserved to be shot for winning the Civil War, different from the guy running around screaming off-colour comments while wearing a wresting mask decorated with the Stars and Bars and far from the stereotypical Southerner who fears venturing beyond the county line.

At the same time, it does show how individuals can mature and grow as they are exposed to more forward-thinking and open ideas.  Being exposed to universal ideas of liberty and of the possibility of an open society did bring out the best in Jack Hunter as seen in his book about the Tea Party and his contributions to the American public discourse.

That being said, his resignation, most likely at the advice of his colleagues and politicians, is a sad example of the consequences of past behaviour.  It’s a lesson that we should all be careful about how and what we say or write in public as it can be easily taken out of context or used against us in other ways.  This is even more relevant given that the NSA is currently recording all possible written or verbal communications on their massive cloud-based databases.

I can only hope Jack takes a break from all this nonsense to reflect, recharge and return to the scene when the time is right.

The Non-Financial Cost of Stagnation: “Social Recession” and Japan’s “Lost Generations”

The Non-Financial Cost of Stagnation: “Social Recession” and Japan’s “Lost Generations”   (August 9, 2010)

Japan’s stagnating economy and society are still operating on a postwar model which no longer makes sense. In response, its young generations are opting out of workaholic career paths, marriage and having children.

We in America are already getting a taste of the social costs of grinding economic decline. Young people who are graduating from college find a world of greatly diminished opportunities for full-time employment.

Many of the jobs that are available are free-lance/contract or other temp jobs, or part-time positions which pay one-third of what their parents earn.

Lacking sufficient income, young people are moving back home or staying at home because that is the only financially viable option open to them.

The cheerleaders cranking the hype machine shrilly claim that the U.S. economy will soon start growing smartly. But as this weblog and many others have documented over the past five years, that assumption has essentially no foundation in reality.

Much more likely is an “end to (paying) work” of the sort I have described here many times:

End of Work, End of Affluence (December 5, 2008)

End of Work, End of Affluence I: Cascading Job Losses (December 8, 2008)

End of Work, End of Affluence III: The Rise of Informal Businesses (December 10, 2008)

Endgame 3: The End of (Paying) Work (January 21, 2009)

Demographics and the End of the Savior State (May 17, 2010)

What happens to the social fabric of an advanced-economy nation after a decade or more of economic stagnation? For an answer, we can turn to Japan. The second-largest economy in the world has stagnated in just this fashion for almost twenty years, and the consequences for the “lost generations” which have come of age in the “lost decades” have been dire. In many ways, the social conventions of Japan are fraying or unraveling under the relentless pressure of an economy in seemingly permanent decline.

While the world sees Japan as the home of consumer technology juggernauts such as Sony and Toshiba and high-tech “bullet trains” (shinkansen), beneath the bright lights of Tokyo and the evident wealth generated by decades of hard work and the massive global export machine of “Japan, Inc,” lies a different reality: increasing poverty and decreasing opportunity for the nation’s youth.

The gap between extremes of income at the top and bottom of society– measured by the Gini coefficient — has been growing in Japan for years; to the surprise of many outsiders, once-egalitarian Japan is becoming a nation of haves and have-nots.

The media in Japan have popularized the phrase “kakusa shakai,” literally meaning “gap society.” As the elite slice of society prospers and younger workers are increasingly marginalized, the media has focused on the shrinking middle class. For example, a bestselling book offers tips on how to get by on an annual income of less than three million yen ($34,800). Two million yen ($23,000) has become the de-facto poverty line for millions of Japanese, especially outside high-cost Tokyo.

More than one-third of the workforce is part-time as companies have shed the famed Japanese lifetime employment system, nudged along by government legislation which abolished restrictions on flexible hiring a few years ago. Temp agencies have expanded to fill the need for contract jobs, as permanent job opportunities have dwindled.

Many fear that as the generation of salaried Baby Boomers dies out, the country’s economic slide might accelerate. Japan’s share of the global economy has fallen below 10 percent from a peak of 18 percent in 1994. Were this decline to continue, income disparities would widen and threaten to pull this once-stable society apart.

Young Japanese, their expectations permanently downsized, are increasingly opting out of the rigid social systems on which Japan, Inc. was built.

The term “Freeter” is a hybrid word that originated in the late 1980s, just as the Japanese property and stock market bubbles reached their zenith. It combines the English “free” a nd the German “arbeiter,” or worker, and describes a lifestyle which is radically different from the buttoned-down rigidity of the permanent-employment economy: freedom to move between jobs.

This absence of loyalty to a company is totally alien to previous generations of driven Japanese “salarymen” who were expected to uncomplainingly turn in 70-hour work weeks at the same company for decades, all in exchange for lifetime employment.

Many young people have come to mistrust big corporations, having seen their fathers or uncles eased out of “lifetime” jobs in the relentless downsizing of the past twenty years. From the point of view of the younger generations, the loyalty their parents unstintingly offered to companies was wasted.

They have also come to see diminishing value in the grueling study and tortuous examinations required to compete for the elite jobs in academia, industry and government; with opportunities fading, long years of study are perceived as pointless.

In contrast, the “freeter” lifestyle is one of hopping between short-term jobs and devoting energy and time to foreign travel, hobbies or other interests.

As long ago as 2001, The Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare estimates that 50 percent of high school graduates and 30 percent of college graduates now quit their jobs within three years of leaving school.

The downside is permanently downsized income and prospects. Many of the four million “freeters” survive on part-time work and either live at home or in a tiny flat with no bath. A typical “freeter” wage is 1,000 yen ($8.60) an hour.

Japan’s slump has lasted so long, a “New Lost Generation” is coming of age, joining Japan’s first “Lost Generation” which graduated into the bleak job market of the 1990s.

These trends have led to an ironic moniker for the Freeter lifestyle: Dame-Ren (No Good People). The Dame-Ren get by on odd jobs, low-cost living and drastically diminished expectations.

The decline of permanent employment has led to the unraveling of social mores and conventions. Many young men now reject the macho work ethic and related values of their fathers. These “herbivores” reject the traditonal Samurai ideal of masculinity.

Derisively called “herbivores” or “Grass-eaters,” these young men are uncompetitive and uncommitted to work, evidence of their deep disillusionment with Japan’s troubled economy.

A bestselling book titled The Herbivorous Ladylike Men Who Are Changing Japan by Megumi Ushikubo, president of Tokyo marketing firm Infinity, claims that about two-thirds of all Japanese men aged 20-34 are now partial or total grass-eaters. “People who grew up in the bubble era (of the 1980s) really feel like they were let down. They worked so hard and it all came to nothing,” says Ms Ushikubo. “So the men who came after them have changed.”

This has spawned a disconnect between genders so pervasive that Japan is experiencing a “social recession” in marriage, births, and even sex, all of which are declining.

With a wealth and income divide widening along generational lines, many young Japanese are attaching themselves to their parents, the generation that accumulated home and savings during the boom years of the 1970′s and 1980′s. Surveys indicate that roughly two-thirds of freeters live at home.

Freeters “who have no children, no dreams, hope or job skills could become a major burden on society, as they contribute to the decline in the birthrate and in social insurance contributions,” Masahiro Yamada, a sociology professor wrote in a magazine essay titled, Parasite Singles Feed on Family System.

This trend of never leaving home has sparked an almost tragicomical countertrend ofJapanese parents who actively seek mates to marry off their “parasite single” offspring as the only way to get them out of the house.

An even more extreme social disorder is Hikikomori, or “acute social withdrawal,” a condition in which the young live-at-home person will virtually wall themselves off from the world by never leaving their room.

Though acute social withdrawal in Japan affect both genders, impossibly high expectations of males from middle and upper middle class families has led many sons, typically the eldest, to refuse to leave the home. The trigger for this complete withdrawal from social interaction is often one or more traumatic episodes of social or academic failure: that is, the inability to meet standards of conduct and success that can no longer be met in diminished-opportunity Japan.

The unraveling of Japan’s social fabric as a result of eroding economic conditions for young people offers Americans a troubling glimpse of the high costs of long-term economic stagnation.

There is even a darker side to this disintegration of the social fabric and convention: child abuse is on the rise as well. Sadly, people under long-term stress often take out their multiple frustrations on the weakest, most marginalized people–including children:

Record 44,210 child abuse cases logged in ’09

Japan hit by huge rise in child abuse

Both Japan and the U.S. alike desperately need a peaceful revolution in expectations, financial justice (i.e. the absence of fraud, collusion, looting, gaming the system and parasitic leeching by financial and political Elites) and in the social definitions of wealth, security, community, “growth” as a measure of well-being and prosperity, and ultimately, what constitutes meaningful “work.”

In effect, postwar Japan grafted a mercantilist export economy based on insane work-hours onto a traditional patriarchal society in which women were expected to sacrifice their autonomy and ambitions for the good of their children, husband and the husband’s parents.

The male “salaryman” was expected to sacrifice his life up to retirement to his employer, via 60-70 hour work-weeks and killing commutes. Children were expected to sacrifice their childhood and teen years to study, in order to pass hellishly demanding exams on which their future livelihood, career and income depended.

These extremes of sacrifice might have made sense or seemed necessary to rebuild the nation after World War II. But now, 65 years and three generations after the war, these sacrifices make no sense and are destroying the social fabric of Japan.

Men who work 70 hours a week have no real role in their children’s lives, nor are they able to be husbands and fathers in any meaningful day-to-day sense. Understandably, many young Japanese men are opting out of that life of absurd, fundamentally meaningless sacrifice to corporations or the government.

For their part, young women are opting out of the burdens of being in effect a single parent who carries the immense responsibility of guaranteeing the academic success of her son(s) and the marriageability of her daughter(s). Further, as in standard traditional societies, she essentially leaves her own family and throws in her lot with her husband’s family, as she is expected to care for his aging parents as a daughter-in-law.

Given these burdens, it’s no wonder a third of Japanese young women have not married and have no plans to marry. According to one female author quoted in one of the above articles, Japanese men sometimes propose to women with lines like: “I want you to cook miso soup for me the rest of my life.” Quelle surprise that Japan’s increasingly educated and well-traveled young women are not impressed with this offer of lifetime menial servitude.

Japan’s youth are opting out of its stagnating economy and traditionalist society for good reason: the sacrifices demanded are inhuman and no longer make sense.What Japan needs is 35-hour work-weeks and shared jobs, not 70-hour work-weeks for some and dead-end jobs for half its youth.

If Japan wants to encourage families and women to have children, then it needs to recognize that the sacrifices demanded of young men and women no longer make sense in today’s world.

Hong Kong Healthcare vs. American Healthcare

Hong Kong Healthcare vs. American Healthcare

Earlier this week I caught the flu as a result of being exposed to the typhoon and from heavy use of air conditioners. The symptoms of the flu were different from the typical flu because although I didn’t get the fever, I was having a bad case of an infected throat, coughing, stuffy nose, and a stomach virus. The stomach virus didn’t come out until after I had a traditional Chinese dinner at the grim and gritty part of Kowloon.

When the symptoms started appearing, I was hesitant to go to a nearby clinic since I was uninsured. Instead I went to buy a bottle of Methodex cough syrup and drank hot water in the hopes this would stop the cough. After 2 days, I started getting feverish and decided to go to the local clinic after insistence from my relative. I honestly did not want to go for fear of being price gouged for just a few minutes of meeting with the doctor and for the fear of having to pay a great deal for the prescription medicines.

When I went to see the doctor at the clinic, he was able to diagnose my flu and proceeded to give me a list of medication to fight it. The final bill for the visit was at $240HKD, which is roughly $31USD, and the fee included the prescription medicine. If I had local health insurance in HK, the entire doctor’s fee would be fully covered. It was shocking that I only had to pay around $31 just for a doctor’s visit and prescription medication despite being uninsured. If this was America, I would have to pay around $20 just for the co-pay and then more funds to get the prescription medicine. Otherwise, I would be paying somewhere close to the $100s if I was uninsured.

One more thing to note is that in Hong Kong, the doctors and pharmacists only give the amount of medication prescribed by the doctor. For example, if the doctor only prescribed 3 days’ worth of medicine, the pharmacist would only give 3 days’ worth of medication with the assumption the patient would use all of it within that time. This is not only a way to prevent medication from being wasted but a great way to control costs of prescription medication. In America, doctors would simply prescribe the medicine and the pharmacist would give you the entire package with the assumption the patient would simply stopped using it when all symptoms disappear. The problem with this approach is that the patient is buying unnecessary amounts of medicine and is taking on extra costs instead of just getting exactly what he or she needs per the doctor’s prescription.

Later that week, I started getting abdominal pains and had to go to the hospital to see a doctor. When I arrived, the doctor took the time to diagnose me after waiting for at least an hour, then got the nurse to inject me with anti-viral medication and gave me prescribed medication to fight the stomach virus and pains. At the end of the hospital visit, my bill came out to $580HKD or $$75 for the doctor’s consultation, anti-viral injection and prescription medicine. Also, if I was insured, the majority of this fee would be covered by the health provider with no co-pay. However, if this happened in America, I would be stuck with at least $580USD in doctor’s fees and get hounded by the hospital to pay off the fees as soon as possible. Also, keep in mind that I went to a private hospital and I learned that the government hospitals charge no more than $50HKD for treatment despite longer wait times.

So I really am confused by Americans who keep claiming that US healthcare is the “best in the world”, when it simply isn’t true. Whether the healthcare system is managed by the government, such as in Canada or France; or it has a two-tier system with a variety of options such as Hong Kong, these arrangement seem to be far more efficient than what we now have in America. Despite all the sensationalised nonsense from American media about the extremes of state-controlled healthcare or fully private healthcare, people in those places are overall content with their system compared to those in the USA.

I don’t think forcing American taxpayers to pay more taxes for being uninsured and making it mandatory to buy healthcare is the best option. It’s really clear that US healthcare is broken with their medical fees and prescription fees that are nowhere near the real market value of these goods and services. Most of all, it is simply arrogant to believe that Americans do not need to learn how the world implements their healthcare system to actually improve American healthcare on the basis of the big lie that “America is the greatest [insert noun here] in the world”.

Obama is Exceptional

Obama is Exceptional
By liberal Taylor

I am proud of being an exceptional man in an exceptional country called the United States of America. This is a country that has the Bill of Rights, the New Deal and won world wars. I am even prouder of the fact that we finally overcame racism by electing Barack Hussein Obama as our President. I can now finally say that everything is going to be alright now that Obama is in charge.

One of the first things he did was pass a stimulus bill that saved the economy and jobs. Thanks to this stimulus, many Americans are no longer unemployed and are able to enjoy time to protest Republicans and corporations in the occupy wall street movement, which is supported by our president. Most of all, the stimulus bailed out the poor and wisely stopped the recession.

Another achievement under President Obama was fixing healthcare. We all know that President Obama cares about us and that’s why Republicans call the reform obamacare. Under his healthcare reform, prices for insurance premiums went down for everyone, healthcare corporations lost money, and our healthcare now is closer to what Europeans enjoy. His speeches on reform were also so inspiring. It is just depressing that so many people think this reform is so bad because of racist Republican propaganda.

Obama’s major victory was killing terrorists. I remember 9/11 like it was Tuesday morning when those horrible attacks were shown on CNN while I was at home in southern California. I still feel like I was in midtown New York City when those towers went down. Fortunately, no one I knew died from the attacks but I always dress in black every 9/11 to remember all those who died because I am a proud American.

I am writing a bit more about killing terrorists because I was deeply moved by the 9/11 attacks. While Bush stumbled in his attempts at getting Bin Laden, Obama was able to kill him as he promised and made better use of the Patriot Act and enhanced interrogation that Bush couldn’t do. This is how I know President Obama is a good leader; he was able to kill terrorists with great success and with style.

Our President is a good judge, legislator and avenger and this is why I trust him with the War on Terror, with managing my healthcare and most of all the economy. All of these things would be squandered if Republicans took over. For those whiners who think President Obama isn’t that great, I want to remind you that he avenged those killed in 9/11, makes great speeches and is part of the 99%.  Only Republicans are the country’s problem while President Barack Obama is the final solution.

That being said, vote for President Obama in the 2012 election. After all, he is the only one we can trust who will make America stronger and more secure from the corporations and terrorists.

“It’s OK because Obama is President”

Posted from WordPress for Android

HOW YOU CAN HELP RON PAUL WIN GOP PRIMARIES & CAUCUSES

HOW YOU CAN HELP RON PAUL WIN GOP PRIMARIES & CAUCUSES

Do you want to help Ron Paul win in 2012 but unable to make it over to 178 Mott Street?

Here are some details on Dr. Paul’s Phone from Home Program:

Hello! We just wanted to inform you about a great opportunity to help elect Ron Paul. We would appreciate it if you would consider spreading the word to your family, friends and local Ron Paul supporters.

The Phone From Home program is the best way to help Ron Paul right now by reaching voters directly in early primary states like New Hampshire. It’s easy to do because it is a Voter ID program, not a ‘sales’ call. We’re interested in finding out who will be voting, who they currently plan to vote for, and what top two issues helped them make their decision. By learning this information, we will be able to send them a message from Dr. Paul that speaks to their beliefs and concerns. This is a powerful tool and has other applications besides Voter ID. We can use it later on to persuade undecided voters, and get out the vote on primary or caucus day.

Would you please share this information with the people you know? The sign-up sheet can be found HERE: HTTP://Phone.RonPaul2012.com There is also an FAQ page that has a lot of useful info. This is really the best way to help the campaign because there is a literal army of Ron Paul supporters that can get on the phone and make an impact in this election. We need everyone to sign up and get familiar with this system. Even if you cannot make calls every night, we would at least hope you can devote some of your time to reaching voters in the states that matter most right now. By helping with this program you can increase the chances that Dr. Paul will be coming to your state in the future!

We need your help keep this campaign moving forward, and focusing on the early states is how we will do it!

With this in mind, you can help Ron Paul by setting up your Phone from Home account and calling right away.

Since New Hampshire is on the East Coast, we need the majority of calls to be made from 6:00 – 9:00PM Eastern. Those are the hours with the highest response rate when supporters call.

And keep in mind that whenever you receive an email from sender Ron Paul 2012 Volunteer, which will contain updates on what volunteers can do for Dr. Paul. Please check the regularly so you don’t miss any important information.

For those who are able to come to Liberty HQ, we’re open Mondays through Saturdays from 11:00 AM to 11:45 PM! We’re going to be phone banking everyday, except Sundays, until the Iowa Caucus, New Hampshire Primary and the Nevada Caucus.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 119 other followers

%d bloggers like this: