• Why I Love the Olympics Paid Member

    I have to admit that I have been glued to the TV in recent days watching the Olympics. I never realised before that I could care so much about cycling, gymnastics, or even sailing. The viewing experience has been sweetened by the fact that Team GB (Great Britain) has been winning many more medals than usual. My near obsession with the Olympics made me wonder why it is that I love sport so intensely. What is about watching someone run 26 miles in just over two hours or 100 metres in less than ten seconds (9.69 seconds in the case of Usain Bolt, the Jamaican gold medallist) that is so compelling? Is it vicarious exercise, enabling me to justify not bothering to keep fit? Or is it just a distraction, allowing me to live through the dreams and successes of others and so neglect my own aspirations? More »
  • More on China's lack of press freedom; Salzberg; Solzhenitsyn Paid Member

    More on China's anxious mix of almost-freedom (for foreigners) and increased repression (for its own citizens.) A German rights-group criticizes the IOC for its role in the press restrictions. Sharon Salzberg has a new blog post at Huffington Post. And the literary giant Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn has died. From his Times obituary: He wrote that while an ordinary man was obliged “not to participate in lies,” artists had greater responsibilities. “It is within the power of writers and artists to do much more: to defeat the lie!” More »
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    China Reiterates Pledge to Limit Internet Access During Games Paid Member

    China is angry that President Bush met with Chinese dissidents at the White House and accuses the U.S. of politicizing the Olympic Games. China reiterated they would limit internet access during the Games as well: The Chinese authorities also remained resolute about their decision to maintain a firewall on the Internet and limit access for journalists covering the Olympics. More »
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    Beijing to allow Olympic protests? (Not really.) Paid Member

    China has decided to allow protesters at the Olympics (but not really.) Beijing will permit public protests inside three designated city parks during next month’s Olympic Games, but demonstrators must first obtain permits from local police and also abide by Chinese laws that usually make it nearly impossible to legally picket over politically charged issues, the authorities announced Wednesday. The arrangement marks a break from normal practice in China’s authoritarian political system and seems loosely modeled on the protest zones created at previous Olympic Games and at many recent international political gatherings that attract large numbers of protesters. So the parks are nowhere near the Games, permits are given out or withheld on the whim of the government, and it's against the law to picket over issues that would bother the governme More »
  • Recent news from the China-Tibet Drama Paid Member

    Drama: No other word quite encapsulates recent happenings so well. It's only barely an irreverent choice of words, considering the almost comical amount of nothing changing. First off, belated, but... Happy Birthday, His Holiness the Dalai Lama! Apparently, that is about as exuberant as the actual celebrations were. "Tibetans all over the world will be praying today for the long life of the Dalai Lama. But as the situation in Tibet continues to be bad, we have decided to not hold any cultural song and dance event to mark the event," -Thupten Samphel, spokesman of the exiled government. More »
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    The IOC regrets Beijing "hardliner"'s statement Paid Member

    The IOC and China are having a gentle tiff. At a ceremony celebrating the torch's passage through Lhasa, "noted hardliner" Zhang Qingli said: "Tibet's sky will never change and the red flag with five stars will forever flutter high above it. . . We will certainly be able to totally smash the splittist schemes of the Dalai Lama clique." The IOC responded, "The IOC regrets that political statements were made during the closing ceremony of the torch relay in Tibet." And now that the torch has safely passed through Lhasa, Tibet will open to tourists again. More »