- Created on 26 October 2012
Chinese authorities have blocked The New York Times' main websites in response to the newspaper's extensive story about Premier Wen Jiabao and his extended family's control of assets worth at least $2.7 billion, The Guardian reports.
The newspaper's main site and Chinese-language site have been blocked and searches have been banned for "New York Times" in English and Chinese on microblogs.
A spokesman for China's foreign ministry said the Times report "blackens China's name and has ulterior motives"..
"China manages the internet in accordance with laws and rules," Hong told reporters at a daily news briefing when asked why the sites were blocked.
The Times' detailed and extensive report that was published on Thursday draws on company and regulatory filings. It found that several close relatives of the premier had become extremely wealthy since he rose to top leadership, but that many of the holdings have been masked by layers of partnerships and business relationships.
Wen''s 90-year-old mother, Yang Zhiyun, a retired schoolteacher, had a single investment in her name worth $120 million five years ago, The Times reports.
Here is an excerpt from The Times' article by David Barboza, headlined 'Billions in Riches for Family of Chinese leader.':
"In many cases, the names of the relatives have been hidden behind layers of partnerships and investment vehicles involving friends, work colleagues and business partners. Untangling their financial holdings provides an unusually detailed look at how politically connected people have profited from being at the intersection of government and business as state influence and private wealth converge in China's fast-growing economy.
Unlike most new businesses in China, the family's ventures sometimes received financial backing from state-owned companies, including China Mobile, one of the country's biggest phone operators, the documents show. At other times, the ventures won support from some of Asia's richest tycoons. The Times found that Mr. Wen's relatives accumulated shares in banks, jewelers, tourist resorts, telecommunications companies and infrastructure projects, sometimes by using offshore entities"
The BBC reports that China's Twitter-like weibo platform has also blocked such keywords as Wen Jiabao and The New York Times. One post by a user in Japan that did make it through was removed 11 minutes later, the BBC says.
- Created on 24 October 2012
By James Clingman
"There appears to be no reason in logic why 99 percent of the businesses in the country are forced to squabble over 20 percent of the Federal purchase dollar, when a select 1 percent continue to capture their 80 percent market share largely undisturbed." United States Commission on Minority Business Development, 1992. (The History of Black Business in America, Juliet E.K. Walker)
While the 20 percent cited above may now be 30 percent in some areas of the country, the issue raised in 1992 is still valid. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, small firms with fewer than 500 employees represent 99.9 percent of the total number of businesses in this country. This statistic is relevant not only to the political discussions regarding taxes but also to the disparities in the system, especially those pertaining to African American owned businesses.
One of the problems is the definition of "small." Depending on the category and product, a "small" business can employ up to 1,500 persons, and they may have receipts as high as $21.5 million. General and heavy construction companies can be classified as "small" with annual receipts as high as $17 million, depending on the type of construction, and special trade construction annual receipts may not exceed $7 million. This is one aspect of the minority hustle game – and "minorities" are losing every day.
The "minority" business sector has been thrust into a game in which all of the businesses classified as such, and as "small," must compete against one another. To make matters even worse, their small share is steadily eroding because large companies are playing the "front company" and "pass-through" games. So much for fair competition.
It is unfortunate that some Black owned companies are willing subjects in the front and pass-through games and allow their small businesses to be used by larger ones. They agree to alliances where all they do is sign checks or allow their names to be used in a partnership agreement that is purported to be 51 percent "minority" owned. Control? Well, that's something else again; the small Black firm has little or no control or say-so when it comes to the actual business dealings. After all, it's just a "front" company.
That same scenario takes place every day with White owned firms as well. A husband and owner of a large business puts his wife's name on a business, gets it certified as a WBE (woman owned business) and he's off and running after a cut of that 30 percent piece of the pie. Sad thing is virtually everyone in the industry knows this occurs, and many of them know exactly who is committing these misdeeds. The small firms are afraid to tell for fear of being excluded from future deals, and the large firms won't tell because they are raking in the profits.
Other tactics that especially affect small Black construction firms include "bid shopping," unpaid change orders, high bonding costs, tying up bonds for an inordinate period of time, setting and holding high retainer percentages from contract amounts, unions that steer certain employees to the jobs while passing over qualified Black union workers, and prime contractors taking 60-120 days, and longer, to pay their subcontractors, despite having already been paid themselves.
I am very proud to say, however, that through the cooperative efforts of the Cincinnati branch of the NAACP, the Cincinnati African American Chamber of Commerce, and the Cincinnati City Council, along with major construction company partners, developers, and project owners, we have made significant gains by pointing out and stopping unethical practices that plague the construction industry, in both the public and private sectors.
Yes, the games continue and others are being invented all the time. But we have had tremendous success relative to the problems not only in construction but also in the professional services and supplier industries; and we acknowledge and celebrate the firms and individuals that are working with us to grow our small businesses.
Rock Ventures, Caesar's Horseshoe Casino, Cincinnati Center City Development Corporation, the Metropolitan Sewer District, Mercy, Children's, and Christ Hospitals, Princeton School District, the Cincinnati Public Schools, and many of their prime contracting firms have led the way to significant increases in revenues for small Black businesses, as well as other businesses legitimately classified as "minority" and "women-owned."
Across the nation the hustle goes on, but we must continue to fight against it by calling out the offending companies and even our own brothers and sisters who participate in unfair practices. We must also be resolute in our stance against those union officials who perpetuate the inequities that exist, particularly in the construction industry. If we work together to bring fairness to the game, our businesses will have every opportunity to grow into large businesses, rather than having to stay in that "small" and "minority" category. How does your city measure up?
- Created on 15 October 2012
If you need an example of “taking one for the team,” read no further than the story below.
Secretary of State, Hillary Rodham Clinton, has taken all responsibility for the terrorist attack in Benghazi that killed U.S. ambassador, Chris Stevens and three others. According to Clinton, President Barack Obama and Vice-President Joe Biden had no way of knowing that a threat was imminent, but that she should have, reports Reuters.
“I’m in charge of the State Department’s 60,000-plus people all over the world,” Clinton said in an interview on CNN.
“The president and the vice president wouldn’t be knowledgeable about specific decisions that are made by security professionals. They’re the ones who weigh all of the threats and the risks and the needs and make a considered decision.”
Clinton says that she hopes her admission will avoid the partisan politicizing of the tragic event:
“I know that we’re very close to an election. I want to just take a step back here and say from my own experience, we
- Created on 23 October 2012
(Huff Post) -- Instant reaction polls after the third and final presidential debate showed a strong performance for President Barack Obama, following a resounding Romney victory in the first debate and a small victory for the president in the second.
A text CNN poll of registered voters who watched the debate found that 48 percent said Obama won and 40 percent said Romney did.
Debate watchers in the CNN poll were more likely to say Obama outperformed expectations than Romney did, perhaps reflecting expectations based on Obama's poor performance in the first debate. Fifty-nine percent of respondents said Obama performed better than expected, 15 percent worse than expected, and 23 percent said he performed the same as expected. Romney outperformed the expectations of fewer respondents: 44 percent said he did better, 26 percent worse, and 26 percent the same as they expected.
CNN's survey found Obama and Romney scoring similarly on whether respondents thought they could handle the job of commander in chief. Respondents said that Romney could handle the job by a 60 percent to 38 percent margin, and that Obama could by a 63 percent to 36 percent margin. Obama scored better when respondents were asked to rate which candidate would be a stronger leader, 51 percent to 46 percent.
The CNN poll found little impact on the vote intentions among respondents, 24 percent of whom said they were more likely to vote for Obama and 25 percent for Romney. Debate watchers are less likely to be undecided voters and more likely to have already been paying close attention to the race, compared with voters overall.
CNN surveyed registered voters who had participated in an earlier CNN poll, said they watched the debate, and had agreed to be re-interviewed for the post-debate poll. The margin of error of the poll is 4.5 percentage points. CNN had not yet reported the sample size of the survey, but did note that the sample leaned somewhat more Republican than its usual polls.
Uncommitted voters in a CBS poll gave Obama a clear victory in the third round, with 53 percent saying he won the debate, while 23 percent said Romney won and 24 percent said it was a tie. In the first debate, 46 percent of uncommitted voters told CBS that Romney won.
CBS reported on the air that only about 11 percent of likely voters qualify as uncommitted voters in its screening. That suggests that in spite of a clear victory among those voters, neither Obama nor Romney have much room to move voters at this point in the campaign.
Uncommitted voters' trust in both candidates on foreign policy improved during the debate. The percentage believing Romney could handle an international crisis rose three percentage points, from 46 percent pre-debate to 49 percent post-debate. Obama saw a far more dramatic jump, from 58 percent to 71 percent.
Voters also said Obama would do a better job on terrorism, by a 64 percent to 36 percent margin. The two men were equally trusted on China, with 50 percent of uncommitted voters favoring each to deal with the country.
Before the debate, 24 percent said they leaned to Obama and 20 percent to Romney, with 54 percent completely undecided. After the debate, 46 percent said they would support Obama, 32 percent Romney and 19 percent were undecided.
The CBS News post-debate poll was conducted using the GfK KnowledgePanel, a representative Internet panel, among 521 uncommitted voters who watched the debate. The survey's margin of error is four percentage points. Uncommitted voters in the CBS poll include those who were either totally undecided before the debate or who were leaning to a candidate, but said they may still change their minds.
A poll of 500 swing state debate watchers, conducted by the Democratic firm Public Policy Polling for Americans United for Change, also declared the debate a win for Obama. Fifty-three percent of voters said he did a better job, while 42 percent said Romney did.
Opinions largely followed party lines -- nine out of 10 Democrats thought the president won and 81 percent of Republicans thought Romney won, with independents splitting 55 percent for Obama and 40 percent for Romney.
Post-debate, 51 percent of the swing state debate watchers said they trusted Obama more on foreign policy, while 47 percent preferred Romney.
The PPP poll surveyed voters in Colorado, Florida, Michigan, Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin.
Foreign policy has been a public opinion strong point for Obama throughout his presidency, and to the extent that this debate makes a difference it's likely to be in shoring up Obama's strength after a potentially weak stretch during which news coverage focused on the aftermath of the consulate attack in Benghazi, Libya. HuffPost currently estimates Obama's approval on foreign policy at 50 percent approval and 45 percent disapproval.
Photo Credit: Scott Audett/Reuters
- Created on 12 October 2012
Raddatz, Biden, Ryan (Getty)
As Biden and Ryan spar, a moderator shines, and yet too many Americans are ignored.
Finally. After the disappointment that was Jim Lehrer’s performance as moderator during the first presidential debate of the 2012 election (which was widely panned) viewers, and voters, were graced with a debate moderator who was cool, calm, collected and in control. Martha Raddatz of ABC News had faced pre-debate criticism from conservative corners because President Obama was a peer of her ex-husband at the Harvard Law Review and subsequently attended the couple’s wedding decades ago. (Wouldn’t the fact that the president is friends with her ex-husband -- as in former spouse -- arguably work in the GOP’s favor in the present? But I digress.) For the most part, however, her performance at the vice presidential debate last night has been received widespread praise.
Also receiving high marks? Vice President Joe Biden, who in the eyes of many progressives did what President Barack Obama did not last week: forcefully question the honesty and accuracy of the Romney/Ryan ticket’s policy claims.
It appeared the vice president had actually been sent to a debate boot camp where he was coached in using as many synonyms for the words “liar” and “lying” and “lies” as possible. Some we heard tonight: “Not true,” “Not mathematically possible,” “This is a bunch of stuff,” and my new personal favorite “malarkey” an Irish expression, as Rep. Paul Ryan explained to those of us who aren’t of Irish origin. (Both vice presidential candidates are.)
At times Biden let his passion get the better of him. I question whether there were female viewers who were as uncomfortable as I was with his continued pointing at the moderator for emphasis. It’s rude to do with any gender, but somewhat menacing when a man does it to a woman.
But when it comes to the question of which of the two candidates won the debate it was no contest, particularly on foreign policy. There were moments when Rep. Ryan looked almost as in over his head as Sarah Palin did four years ago -- only she’d never held Congressional office. He has.
As they sparred over foreign policy there was a clear knowledge and experience gap. For instance, when the vice president referred to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as “Bibi,” this demonstrated a level of comfort in that arena Ryan simply cannot match and his expression seemed to indicate that he knew it. When it came to domestic policy, however, at times the gap was much closer. Ryan is, after all, chairman of the House budget committee.
Anyway, Ryan didn’t blow it and since people don’t vote for vice presidents separately from presidents, not blowing it was really all Ryan had to do. It was the same four years ago: No one watching that debate left it believing Sarah Palin was ready for the presidency -- even many Republicans didn’t believe that -- but she wasn’t a total disaster, and that, frankly, was enough for that night.
I doubt few people listened to Ryan debate foreign policy and believed that he would be ready to assume the presidency should the need arise any time soon. But after the president’s performance last week, which wasn’t good, Ryan’s less-than-impressive foreign policy grasp is not likely at the forefront of voters’ minds. A possibly overwhelmed, overmatched and underwhelming president is.
To be clear, while there were two clear victors tonight -- Raddatz and Biden -- Ryan wasn’t really the biggest loser. People of color and the poor were.
Yes, the words “poor” and “poverty” were actually mentioned tonight—an improvement over the last debate. Interestingly, they were mentioned by Paul Ryan while the vice president referred to, “people like my parents” and similar phrases to denote the working class.) But, there was little substantive discussion of how to help those in poverty move up, or even survive, while the middle class received a number of mentions. Ryan gets credit for referencing the fact that “fifteen percent of Americans are in poverty” but what do we do to help them? Neither candidate addressed that satisfactorily.
It’s an omission that is especially relevant to communities of color, where poverty has a greater impact and the income disparity with whites is persistent. According to the National Poverty Center, in 2010 27.4 percent of blacks and 26.6 percent of Hispanics were poor, compared to 9.9 percent of non-Hispanic whites and 12.1 percent of Asians. While the Obama administration recently celebrated news that the unemployment rate has finally dipped below 8percent for the first time in four years, unemployment for black Americans remains at a staggering 13.4 percent. And yet if you were to listen to watch the first two debates these statistics might come as a shock to you, because people of color have been treated virtually invisible, even in the age of a black president.
I previously speculated about the questions I thought a black debate moderator might ask, something about which I can only speculate because there will not be one this election season. While I applaud Martha Raddatz’s performance for the most part, the vice presidential debate served as a powerful reminder that the diversity of moderators can affect the diversity of the policy topics discussed in a debate. For instance, in this debate there was a question specifically relating to women, when Raddatz asked about abortion, thus sparking a conversation about it and contraception.)
Here’s hoping people of color will not be losers for the third time in next week’s town hall-style debate between President Obama and Mitt Romney.