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From the Washington Post:
Political protests? Not on this channel; no sir. Beijing’s fearful pollution? Maybe, but only if a marathoner coughs up a lung or it spoils a beauty shot. Doping scandals? In passing, perhaps. Tibet? China’s role in Darfur? Now, wait just a second. . . The aftermath of the Sichuan earthquake? Why be unreasonable. . . Tiananmen? Mao’s barbarities? No, and hell no…
For two nights running, NBC’s chief China promoter has been correspondent Mary Carillo, who has presented two of the glossiest travelogues imaginable. On Monday, she breathlessly reported on China’s wonders: Maglev trains! World’s tallest man! The Great Wall (which, Carillo said, can be seen from outer space — although it’s not clear if it can). She even oohed and aahed over the massive Three Gorges Dam, offering some astounding statistics about its construction but not a word on the 1.5 million people forcibly removed from their homes to build it. All that was missing was a feature on panda bears.
Carillo got to that on Tuesday night, first going all warm and fuzzy about the critters and then all wink-wink-wink about the Chinese program to mate them (awkward and non-hilarious moment: Her suggestion to a perplexed Chinese official that male pandas might offer “Whitman Samplers” to females during courtship).
Meanwhile, a Wall Street Journal blog picked up my item about NBC’s “expert” analyst, Joshua Cooper Ramo, how happens to be “on the payroll of Kissinger Associates, a consulting firm that trades on the strong China ties of former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.” Though NBC didn’t disclose that, which the Journal called “professional malpractice.”
The Journal item also said:
Mr. Ramo is a former Time magazine editor who set himself up as a China hand a few years ago, writing a vacuous book entitled “The Beijing Consensus” that purported to explain China’s brilliant, alternative model of development. (Hint: There is no consensus or model, they’re making it up as they go along.)
For instance, Mr. Ramo was asked by his co-presenters about Beijing’s decision to revoke the visa of American Olympian Joey Cheek, who planned to protest China’s role in the Darfur genocide. His response was that the government likes to “avoid conflict.” That would be one way to put it. Shutting up its critics would be another.
More from Ken Silverstein:
Perspective — October 23, 2013, 8:00 am
How pro-oil Louisiana politicians have shaped American environmental policy
Postcard — October 16, 2013, 8:00 am
A trip to one of the properties at issue in Louisiana’s oil-pollution lawsuits
On a Friday evening in January, a thousand people at the annual California Native Plant Society conference in San Jose settled down to a banquet and a keynote speech delivered by an environmental historian named Jared Farmer. His chosen topic was the eucalyptus tree and its role in California’s ecology and history. The address did not go well. Eucalyptus is not a native plant but a Victorian import from Australia. In the eyes of those gathered at the San Jose DoubleTree, it qualified as “invasive,” “exotic,” “alien” — all dirty words to this crowd, who were therefore convinced that the tree was dangerously combustible, unfriendly to birds, and excessively greedy in competing for water with honest native species.
In his speech, Farmer dutifully highlighted these ugly attributes, but also quoted a few more positive remarks made by others over the years. This was a reckless move. A reference to the tree as “indigenously Californian” elicited an abusive roar, as did an observation that without the aromatic import, the state would be like a “home without its mother.” Thereafter, the mild-mannered speaker was continually interrupted by boos, groans, and exasperated gasps. Only when he mentioned the longhorn beetle, a species imported (illegally) from Australia during the 1990s with the specific aim of killing the eucalyptus, did he earn a resounding cheer.
Percentage of Britons who cannot name the city that provides the setting for the musical Chicago:
An Australian entrepreneur was selling oysters raised in tanks laced with Viagra.
A tourism company in Australia announced a service that will allow users to take the “world’s biggest selfies,” and a Texas man accidentally killed himself while trying to pose for a selfie with a handgun.
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“Shelby is waiting for something. He himself does not know what it is. When it comes he will either go back into the world from which he came, or sink out of sight in the morass of alcoholism or despair that has engulfed other vagrants.”