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Author Topic: What Not to Teach about the Olympics  (Read 4783 times)

Acjade

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What Not to Teach about the Olympics
« on: February 13, 2008, 07:28:44 AM »
Steven Spielberg has resigned as artistic adviser to the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, in protest at China's failure to distance itself from genocide and human rights abuses in Darfur.

The Oscar-winning director, who had been working since last year to help choreograph the games' opening ceremony, had previously warned Beijing that he would withdraw unless it did more to distance itself from the violence.

In a statement released last night, the director said: "I find that my conscience will not allow me to continue business as usual. At this point, my time and energy must be spent not on Olympic ceremonies but on doing all I can to help bring an end to the unspeakable crimes against humanity that continue to be committed in Darfur."

Hollywood stars have been at the forefront of an international campaign linking China to violence in the Darfur region of Sudan, saying that money and weapons from Beijing have helped fuel a conflict which has claimed 200,000 lives and forced 2.5 million people from their homes.

Spielberg, who directed the Holocaust drama Schindler's List and founded an educational foundation dedicated to teaching young people about the genocidal crimes of the Nazis - has also come under criticism from Darfur activists, who have accused him of double standards for working so closely with a partner of the Sudanese government.

Last year the actor Mia Farrow wrote an editorial for the Wall Street Journal saying the director risked becoming a modern-day Leni Riefenstahl - the German film director who became one of the Nazis' chief propagandists.

In April, Spielberg wrote a letter to the Chinese president, Hu Jintao, calling on China to take firm action to stop the violence in Sudan, but received no response to his request for a meeting.

The director has donated about $1m (£500,000) to aid groups working in Darfur to protect the mainly non-Arab civilian population, which has been targeted by pro-government Arab militias.

In yesterday's statement, Spielberg said Sudan's government bore most
responsibility for "these ongoing crimes" and said China "should be doing more to end the continuing human suffering there".

China, which buys two-thirds of Sudan's oil, has blocked punitive moves by the UN security council, and according to Amnesty International it has sold tens of millions of pounds worth of weapons.

Addressing a protest outside the Chinese mission to the United Nations in New York, Farrow said: "China hopes that these games will be its post-Tiananmen Square coming out party. But how can Beijing host the Olympic Games at home and underwrite genocide in Darfur?"

Earlier yesterday, nine Nobel Peace Prize laureates - including Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Elie Wiesel and Jody Williams - wrote to Hu urging China to uphold Olympic ideals by pressing Sudan to stop atrocities in Darfur.
« Last Edit: February 13, 2008, 07:30:54 AM by Acjade »

contemporarydog

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Re: What Not to Teach about the Olympics
« Reply #1 on: February 13, 2008, 08:31:36 AM »
Forgive me for being thicker than the offspring of a village idiot and a TV weather girl, but what, precisely, is the difference between Beijing's involvement in Darfur and America's involvement in various civil wars in central and south america, or its support of the sick fucker Soeharto, responsible for half a million deaths, in Indonesia?
It is too early to say.

AMonk

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Re: What Not to Teach about the Olympics
« Reply #2 on: February 13, 2008, 08:57:04 AM »
Television reports (with pictures) and celebrities speaking out.
Moderation....in most things...

Stil

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Re: What Not to Teach about the Olympics
« Reply #3 on: February 13, 2008, 08:58:26 AM »
Don't be so thick.

Of course America are the good guys. So it's ok.  bfbfbfbfbf

contemporarydog

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Re: What Not to Teach about the Olympics
« Reply #4 on: February 14, 2008, 01:49:11 AM »
The Daily Nail was making a hilariously OTT comparison between China and Nazi Germany.  I don't think I'm living under the Third Reich right now.  I haven't been gassed yet, at any rate. 
It is too early to say.

Granny Mae

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Re: What Not to Teach about the Olympics
« Reply #5 on: February 17, 2008, 03:23:46 AM »
I think AMonk has answered the question. We only know what "they" want us to know. If we really knew the truth about most issues, I think we would have many reasons to be afraid!

Con ate dog

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Re: What Not to Teach about the Olympics
« Reply #6 on: February 18, 2008, 09:16:05 AM »
Hey, ease off, guys!  Spielberg will move his movie studios out of America in protest of Yank atrocities shortly.

Just you wait...


and wait...
And there is no liar like the indignant man... -Nietszche

Nothing is so fatiguing as the eternal hanging on of an uncompleted task. -William James

englishmoose.com

Con ate dog

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Re: What Not to Teach about the Olympics
« Reply #7 on: February 19, 2008, 06:35:04 AM »
This doesn't excuse China.  "Everybody does it" is pretty thin morality.  And selling guns to folks you know are killing, raping and terrorizing is indefensible.  At least the Soviets and Americans had th (aruguably very lame) excuse that they were helping people defend themselves from each other.

I suppose one could cut chalk Darfur up to a rookie mistake by China.  But I hope they get the message quickly.
And there is no liar like the indignant man... -Nietszche

Nothing is so fatiguing as the eternal hanging on of an uncompleted task. -William James

englishmoose.com

Lotus Eater

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Re: What Not to Teach about the Olympics
« Reply #8 on: February 22, 2008, 04:49:17 PM »
Darfur is about resources for China. How is that any different to other nations actions?

Con ate dog

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Re: What Not to Teach about the Olympics
« Reply #9 on: February 24, 2008, 02:33:18 AM »
Sadly, it's not.  But I criticise other countrie for doing this.  Why should Chna get a bye?
And there is no liar like the indignant man... -Nietszche

Nothing is so fatiguing as the eternal hanging on of an uncompleted task. -William James

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tingbudong

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Re: What Not to Teach about the Olympics
« Reply #10 on: March 20, 2008, 04:40:20 AM »
Quote
This doesn't excuse China.  "Everybody does it" is pretty thin morality.

Agreed.  I have always felt that China was in a position (starting later than everyone else) which provided them with the unique opportunity  to do things differently, do things better, and perhaps learn from the messes that the Western World has managed to create over the past century.

Unfortunately their path doesn't seem to be deviating significantly and I suspect that they will fall into rut similar, if not the same, to that which the Western world finds itself currently in.  I fear that this window of opportunity is closing quickly.  Or it might have already closed.

The apparent un-checked growth of private automobile ownership, the national marketing and adoption of a 'sexy' and 'family-orientated' car culture, the design of automobile orientated land developments and the massive investments in a fossil-fuel economy infrastructure is a good example of lost opportunity.

Urban trends in North American and Europe are stressing denser, walkable communities and the market is quickly responding to these meet these demands.  China is on its way to Suburbia ala 'Leave it to Beaver' and it didn't have to be this way. The government here has proven their ability to spend huge amounts of money on development...cost concerns regarding cutting edge urban theory isn't an excuse IMO (although I will concede that the political environment of Chinese cities makes them very difficult to plan properly).

I feel that this argument seems to be a prevailing theme among educated Chinese to whom I have spoken to regarding the development of China.  It is also a theme used routinely by the government in regards to criticism of a variety of their policies, both domestic and foreign. "You guys did it, so don't tell us we can't"

Maybe that is the problem...we shouldn't be telling them the "can't" but rather gently suggesting they "you shouldn't, but you can do this".

Curse of a World Power?
« Last Edit: March 20, 2008, 05:21:30 AM by tingbudong »

Lotus Eater

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Re: What Not to Teach about the Olympics
« Reply #11 on: March 20, 2008, 09:29:38 AM »
This whole one is tricky.  Why shouldn't people in developing countries have the same access to comfort and resources that those in developed countries do?  Because we of the developed countries say 'No, look at the problems it caused us"? 

At the same time, we don't see the developed countries depriving their citizens of those cars, airconditioners, computers, daily comforts we all take for granted to ameliorate the sitaution.  So we 'suggest' that China doesn't take this route because of the mess that we've been in - but we still maintain our living standard.  Just expect the Chinese (or any other developing country) to maintain lower standards of living for their population to save the world??

Walkable communities are good - when the jobs are within walking distance, or you can work from home via your computer.  But walkable communites when you job is in a noxious factory?  How many westerners want to live that life? 

China already has a 'dense' system of housing, already it is mixed in with industry.  No way do I blame people for wanting to move away from their work spaces and into less dense, hopefully safer, less toxic living conditions.

So the industries should clean up. Too right.  But the cost of ONE underground coal gasification plant that will increase the efficiency of coal usage from the current 25% to close to 50% is 16,000,000Y.  Nuclear power?  China is already one of the biggest  consumers.  But some of it's plants are, like western plants , getting to the 'use by' date and need decommissioning. Cost of correct decommissioning - 1 BILLION+ British pounds. Some of the eastern provinces (Shnaghai, Shenzhen, Beijing etc) have a fair financial capacity.  But the western provinces - Qinghai, Ningxia, Gansu etc - do NOT have the capacity to pay for the installation or clean up of 'cleaner' energies and pollution controls. 

If they did, what is the outcome?  Increased electrciity prices, workers laid off, and increased home coal use - with vastly increased health risks and increased air pollution.  If you're too poor to pay the electricity bill - it's back to burning coal for your water and food.

China is still a highly agricultural, highly industrial economy.  Western economies are for the most part based on the service industry - not agriculture and industry. So the differences and difficulties are far deeper than the answer of "do as we say, not as we do" would solve.

tingbudong

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Re: What Not to Teach about the Olympics
« Reply #12 on: March 20, 2008, 12:39:37 PM »
Quote
Just expect the Chinese (or any other developing country) to maintain lower standards of living for their population to save the world??

I never suggested that and I'm a firm believer in increasing living standards without following a hydro-carbon based approach. There are other paths to development. I don't prescribe to the notion that is often attached to this as "keeping the developing countries down".  A major point of my argument centered around the rapid growth of an oil economy driven largely by increasing automobile use.    I don't know why car ownership needs to be regarded as a symbol of a higher standard of living. That money can be better spent on computers, air-conditioners, education, living conditions etc... I drove a car in my home country because I bloody had to.  My parents lived on acreage 30km from the nearest town.  I didn't choose to live there and I didn't choose to drive a car.  The same is for many who live in suburban environments.  They are slaves to an urban design perpetuated by the automobile and which created a nasty dependence on foreign oil.

Quote
Walkable communities are good - when the jobs are within walking distance, or you can work from home via your computer.  But walkable communites when you job is in a noxious factory?  How many westerners want to live that life?

Walkable communities are not created under the assumption that one lives close to work and the commute is via foot or bicycle (although that would be the 'ideal' situation).  The point of a walkable environment is to reduce vehicle trips for 'errands' and other daily activities, which under a suburban dichotomy, require numerous vehicle trips.  Walkable, livable, affordable, sociable.  Work places are to be linked with public transit, preferably a light rail system.  A goal is also to create a closer knit community with mixed used land zoning, smaller roads and numerous public spaces.  Get people out of their cars and walking around...something that most older Chinese communtities excel at. Many of the new suburban developments I've visited in my city score points for public transit integration, but large boulevards, box store development and ample car parking encourage automobile ownership and use and discourage social walking trips (people don't talk when they are in their cars).  They also score poorly (IMO) on mixed use.  A lot of these residential developments consist of up to 50 or so apartment complexes with ample green space, but rely largely upon box store consumption.  Many of them are far removed from anything...and can't even come close to resembling the diversity of the street that I live on in the old city.

Obviously densities are high but densities will hardly assist in creating a more sustainable community if people have little reason to stay. 

I personally believe that China is THE place to implement mixed use new urbanism.  Many of the underlying foundations are already present.  My street is practically a text book example.  I feel that in many cases suburbs are nothing more than higher density examples of what exists in North America. It doesn't have to be like that.  Gulou, Xuan Wu districts in Nanjing are testament to high density, diverse, mixed use urban environments.  The 1990's mixed use suburb of Long Jiang is amazing.  The new stuff in the southern burb' of Jiang ning are not much more than enclosed compound deserts completely designed for the automobile.   

I also support people wanting to move away from polluted areas, but the places they move to should represent the best possible conditions and the reason I can think of that bar this are largely political (fragmented land-use and ambiguous government land use - which government agency, company, unit, organization has use rights) and promotion of an automobile culture...not practical or financial limitations.

I'm am with you on coal, electricity generation and pollution though.  Energy IS required and coal is what China has.  Clean energy tech transfer, I suppose.

My issue with crude  and private automobile useage is it is something that is not terrible necessary if you design your cities properly.   Foreign Oil dependancy is a bad thing...I wouldn't wish this upon any country.   
« Last Edit: March 20, 2008, 01:20:23 PM by tingbudong »

Lotus Eater

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Re: What Not to Teach about the Olympics
« Reply #13 on: March 20, 2008, 01:27:09 PM »
A major point of my argument centered around the rapid growth of an oil economy driven largely by increasing automobile use.    I don't know why car ownership needs to be regarded as a symbol of a higher standard of living.   


We can't prescribe what will be considered to be a symbol of higher standard of living for other countries.  Car ownership here - maybe because it is something that is within reach for the growing middle class. Housing is pretty expensive here, and many people have housing provided by their work anyway. For a fair while it was fancy mobiles (I had one of my American mates working for a Chinese subsidiary decide not to buy the mobile he wanted because it was better than his bosses and would make the boss lose face!) But we are still only looking at 10+% of the population owning cars at the moment.  The vast majority of people use public transport, walk and ride.  Motorbikes and trucks have an ascendancy in the far rural/regional areas - you can round cattle and sheep up with a motorbike, you can transport your tents and goods with a truck.

The business people have computers and laptops and air-conditioning. The people without tertiary education want something that will make their lives easier - TV's and cars.

The only time I miss my car here is when I am out in the wilds and want to be able to stop and camp beside a lake, take side tracks and explore places.  I would love a 4x4 for those times.  In the city - no way.  BUT .. I can't tell other people that what they see as good and a symbol of their progress is wrong.

And we as a foreigners can't impose this belief on others when getting your license and a car are seen as steps of adulthood.  That having more than one car per family is the norm. (We had 5 in my family - my 3 daughters have a car each, my ex had 2 - one for driving on the farm and one for city driving and I had mine).

Oil dependency is bad - definitely.  And hybrids are fairly common around here - especially for the taxis and buses.  Maybe that is a better way to go.

contemporarydog

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Re: What Not to Teach about the Olympics
« Reply #14 on: March 20, 2008, 06:24:47 PM »
Were you a town planner before you came to China, tingbudong?
It is too early to say.