Americans know little about China. What a surprise!

Americans know little about China. They think Singapore is a Chinese city and Samsung is a Chinese brand. A survey released Monday, called “A Study of American Perceptions on China,” was conducted by US-based Perspective Resources Inc. (PRI).

Two million U.S. citizens, all 18 years and older with different social and education backgrounds, were asked ten questions about China.

The survey said Jackie Chan is the most famous Chinese person followed by Bruce Lee, late chairman Mao Zedong, Confucius, Jet Li, Yao Ming, “Buddha”, Lucy Liu, Genghis Khan and Chow Yun Fat.

Chinese brand names are least familiar with Americans who named Samsung, Toyota, Nissan and Nike, which are not Chinese at all.

The survey was commissioned by the Blue Ocean Network (BON) International Communications Committee, a non-governmental media organization which aims to promote western understanding about China.

BON, a new, independent English-language television and media network about China, goes live on the air in the U.S. in spring 2009.

This is the first I’ve heard of BON. My family all enjoyed CCTV9 when it was available on DirecTV – yes, especially Biz China – and we all hollered when DirecTV stopped carrying the channel.

Hopefully, BON will fill some of that gap – if we can get DirecTV and other so-called independent sources to carry it. Poisonally, I’m still waiting for BBC World News and AlJazeera TV. I ain’t holding my breath.

McCain’s war story is a fading memory in Vietnam

For most Vietnamese, McCain’s story is an obscure artifact of a receding history. In a week of interviews around Hanoi, neither his imprisonment nor his presidential candidacy seemed to arouse much excitement. Vietnam’s relations with the United States are on an even keel, and Vietnam has little at stake in the election.

There is the little chunk of the prison, preserved as a museum when the rest of the building was razed to make way for a high-rise, with its half-hearted and anachronistic wartime propaganda.

At the edge of the lake in Hanoi where McCain parachuted from his crippled plane, there is a small concrete marker noting the event. It depicts a man on his knees with his arms in the air as if surrendering.

In his 1973 account, McCain said that he broke his right leg and both arms when his plane crashed and that he was surrounded by an angry crowd, “all hollering and screaming and cursing and spitting and kicking at me.”

Just like Brits surrounding a Nazi pilot shot down during the Battle of Britain. The Auslander, uninvited, bombing a civilian population.

Why should the Vietnamese have behaved differently?

Another arrogant politician who thought we would be welcomed with open arms in Iraq.

Eastern Europe welcomes their migrant workers returning home

Romania to launch a campaign to lure tens of thousands of its key workers and students back from Britain by telling them their long-term economic and professional prospects could be brighter in their homeland.

The action by the Romanian government – which is emphasising the high cost of living in the UK and the falling value of the pound – is the opening shot in a ‘competition for labour’ that could see UK companies and the NHS suffer a serious loss of manpower to former communist states over coming months.

Poland – with more than one million citizens in the UK – has drawn up similar plans to encourage so-called ‘reverse migration’, advertising the attractions of its own economy in English and Polish newspapers in this country and offering special loans to help those who return…

Already there is evidence that British industry is “suffering” as eastern Europeans begin to return home. A recent report by the Institute for Public Policy Research suggests that 540,000 of the adult migrants who have come from the EU’s new member states have already returned.

No surprise. Immigrants most often follow the dollar or pound – or Deutschmark or Euro. It’s the how and why of American immigration in the 20th Century. Europeans kept playing at war while the natural isolation of North America guaranteed the stay of most.

21st Century? A different tale. Many Asians who came to the U.S. to study – and stay – now contemplate return for all the right reasons including building their home country. The border states with Mexico see less and less need to fight competition with cheap labor for jobs – because the jobs are disappearing faster than the undocumentados.

A special email from the Canadian Prime Minister

The Prime Minister’s Office has asked Canada’s secretive electronic counter-espionage police to investigate how someone might have gained access to a government Internet service to send out spoof emails in Stephen Harper’s name.

The RCMP and the Communications Security Establishment have been asked to track down the source of at least two prank emails issued Sunday to scores of people signed onto the prime minister’s email service.

One begins with the greeting, “Hi The Average Canadian, Stephen Harper wanted to tell you” that he intends to destroy health care, make Canada the 51st U.S. state, is beholden to the Alberta tar sands, and dislikes all things green except for the almighty American dollar.

I imagine it’s unlikely the hacker will have a shot at sanctuary in the United States. Especially Alaska, eh?

Could sharing the catch save fisheries?

Amid the collapse of once-rich fisheries around the world, policymakers, fishermen and environmentalists have been debating a controversial question: Can a fishery be saved by giving those who harvest the sea a guaranteed share of its bounty, rather than having them compete to see who can extract the most the fastest?

A study published in the journal Science, conducted by two economists and an ecologist, suggests that the answer is yes. The authors — two from the University of California at Santa Barbara and one from the University of Hawaii — surveyed 121 fisheries worldwide where individuals receive a predetermined portion of a fishery’s catch limit and found that they were half as likely to have collapsed as those without a “catch share” system. In addition, the researchers found that when a fishery that had relied on traditional methods — such as seasonal limits or overall catch restrictions — was converted to using catch shares, the change did not just slow the fishery’s decline; it stopped it.

Once people are given a fixed share in a fishery, said lead author Christopher Costello, they are less likely to overfish, because they have a financial interest in having the species thrive

“We’ve moved well beyond theory into the realm of real experience and hard science that demonstrates the benefits” of an individual quota system, said James L. Connaughton… “This changes all the bad incentives to good incentives,” he added. “When fishermen own their share of the stock, they become partners in enforcement rather than bystanders.”

This is a problem I grew up with. The usual governmental response – when there is any response to good science at all – is to put all the energy into orders and telling fisherfolk what to do. Participation in regulation as well as harvesting is almost too sensible to believe that many governments will adopt the plan. I have a bit more faith in organized seafarers.

Saying that – this sounds like a sensible beginning.

Freight train crushes couple having sex on the tracks!

A couple in South Africa who were having sex on a railway track in Mpumalanga Province have been killed by a goods train, police say.

Spokesman Abie Khoabane said it took place on Friday evening and the victims were yet to be identified. He told local newspapers that the couple ignored the driver’s shouts as he moved the train into the disused station in Kinross town.

They continued with their business.”

But not for long.

Pakistani president and PM just missed Marriott bomb blast

Pakistan’s president, prime minister and other Cabinet members were supposed to have been at the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad when a massive truck bomb detonated outside, killing 57 and injuring 266.

Interior Minister Rehman Malik said their planned dinner was changed at the last minute, although did not say how far in advance it had been planned. The Speaker of the House, Fahmida Mirza, had planned the event for ministers, the president, their guests and various foreign dignitaries.

But at the last minute, President Asif Ali Zardari asked that the event be transferred to the Prime Minister’s compound, Malik told reporters during a handover service for Czech Ambassador Ivo Zdarek, who died in the blast.

No arrests have been made in connection with the attack. But Malik said suspicion is falling on militants in Pakistan’s tribal regions.

“I am not in a position to tell you who has done it, but (in) all the previous investigations, all the roads have gone to South Waziristan,” he said Sunday.

But Amir Mohammad, an aide to leader of the Pakistani Taliban Baitullah Mehsud, said he shared the country’s grief and was not involved.

Westerners in general don’t differentiate between Al Qaeda and Taleban. But, then, most Westerners don’t spend much time working at knowing the differences between radical Islamists and most Muslims.

I’m not certain if the habit of ignorance is nation-specific. Though my travels outside the United States pretty much found me among people who knew more about the United States – than a corresponding context in the United States.

Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley to be full-fledged banks

Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, the last two independent investment banks, will become bank holding companies, says the Federal Reserve, a move that will fundamentally alter the landscape of Wall Street.

The move alters one of the models of modern Wall Street, the independent investment bank, soon after the federal government unveiled the biggest market intervention since the New Deal. It heralds new regulations and supervision of previously lightly regulated investment banks, as well as an end to the outsize paychecks that helped shape the image of the chest-thumping Wall Street banker.

It is also the latest signal by the Federal Reserve that it will not let Goldman or Morgan fail. The move comes after the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers and the near collapses of Bear Stearns and Merrill Lynch…

Being a bank holding company would also give the two banks access to the discount window of the Federal Reserve. While they have had access to Fed lending facilities in recent months, regulators had planned to take away discount window access in January.

Should be an interesting morning in the world of bourses.

‘Tanorexia’ common among university students


Linked image NSFW

A new study conducted at a large university finds more than 25 percent of those surveyed reported symptoms of tanning dependence, including symptoms similar to alcohol and drug-addicted individuals.

Suggestively, the study also found those with a tanning dependence tend to be more likely to be thin and smoke cigarettes than others.

For the study, Carolyn Heckman, Ph.D., and her colleagues set out to understand what proportion of college students report problems with tanning dependence and whether there are shared behaviors among those considered to be tanning dependent and those with other forms of addiction…

Heckman adds: “We were surprised to find that 27 percent of those we surveyed were classified as tanning dependent. The finding that almost 40 percent of those surveyed had used tanning booths and that the mean age when tanning booths were first used was 17 is also alarming.”

Our ultimate goal is to find out more about the motivations for tanning so that we can develop interventions that would reduce tanning and hopefully skin cancer.”

Tanning is becoming as political as sex. Or is that as sexy as politics?