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San Francisco Leg of Olympic Torch Relay

Stateside With Rosalea Barker

San Francisco Leg of Olympic Torch Relay

The Year of the Yak

::YouTube Fiddles While Credibility Burns::
A recent blog post about Western media coverage of last month’s events in Tibet featured a screenshot of a YouTube page which had been viewed 328 times, but favorited 841 times, rated 1075 times, and commented upon 1622 times.

The writer of the blog says that the screenshot shows YouTube altered the number of views in order to make the video drop down the rankings. Impossible for me to verify now, of course. At time of writing, the video has had 1,143,913 views and the number of favoritings, ratings and comments number 5983, 10,203, and 32,025 respectively. Which is a far more plausible ratio.

You can see the video, entitled Riot in Tibet: True Face of Western Media, here.

::A Skin Pajama::
(With apologies to Ogden Nash)

The same blogger has posted these pictures (viewer discretion advised) about the nature of Tibet’s original social order.

It’s reminiscent of any colonizing country’s view of the poor benighted peoples it has saved from a terrible fate by magnanimously sharing its superior culture with them (usually while plundering their natural resources and occupying their land).

But there’s something to be said for the view of one commenter on the blog, who claims to be from Serbia, and says:

The Chinese are strong enough not to allow the same scenario as in Kosovo where "human rights" have been used as a tool to dismember an sovereign country Serbia, to be able to pursue it's own interests. If human rights are main West objective then the Western countries should start investing in Tibet as well as they invest in other China region. The reality is that “profit margin” is more important that human rights.
The “Human Rights” is just a political tool used by West with a purpose to weakening other countries and made them easier target in advancing its own political and economical interests.
There are even those who suggest that the Free Tibet movement is just doing overtly what the CIA used to do covertly, as this article by an Australian academic claims. And Michael Parenti, a favorite with the liberals in the U.S., gives this description of life in Tibet before the Chinese occupation in 1959:

The majority of the rural population were serfs. Treated little better than slaves, the serfs went without schooling or medical care, They were under a lifetime bond to work the lord's land--or the monastery’s land--without pay, to repair the lord's houses, transport his crops, and collect his firewood. They were also expected to provide carrying animals and transportation on demand. Their masters told them what crops to grow and what animals to raise. They could not get married without the consent of their lord or lama. And they might easily be separated from their families should their owners lease them out to work in a distant location.

All of which makes it a “puzzlement”, as the King of Siam so famously said in The King and I, why Tibetans seem to still acknowledge the Dalai Lama—who lived in the biggest palace, owning the most land and serfs—as their great hope of salvation. Better the devil that begot you than the devil that besieged you, I suppose.

All of which is a separate issue from indigenous peoples’ rights.

::This is Beijing::
I’ve tried to find an English-language page for BeijingTV’s weekly magazine program This is Beijing, but I can’t even find much about it on the website for Megahertz Worldview, which is the channel I watch it on here in California.

It’s a totally sweet program in that sort of pinkly cute way Chinese cartoon characters have about them. As a promotion tool for getting people to go to Beijing for the Games, it’s as good as it gets anywhere in the world.

Five international documentary makers were each given a word to use as the theme of a short film that showcased Beijing. Reunion took the theme of a school class reunion and wove into it the very different lives of all the kids, now grown up and working in a wide variety of occupations. Hope was about kids eyeing their sporting heroes—nearby heroes, like coaches and classmates—and striving to be as good as them.

In other segments, This is Beijing has shown extensive coverage of the greening of the city in advance of the games...all that kind of positive, promotional thing, breaking my heart every time I watch it because it may be all to no avail. The media here in the U.S., at least, shows nothing but houses being demolished and polluted air, and the controversy surrounding the torch run.

Which brings me to San Francisco, whose Chinese pictograph, I’m assuming, is at the top of this page.

::Feely-Touchy not Grabby-Torchy::
When San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom said in a TV interview about a week ago that the torch relay was an excellent chance for The City to show off its iconic landmarks, I doubt he had Monday’s unfurling of the banners on the Golden Gate Bridge in mind.

Or maybe he did. Perhaps a deal was done with protesters in order that they could get their message out loud and clear in exchange for not disrupting the torch route. It’s the kind of deal that’s not beyond the realm of possibility in a city that has protests as its lifeblood and has been pretty creative in its ways of dealing with them.

Not that you can see much in the videos from London and Paris, but it didn’t much look like Tibetans grabbing for the torch or trying to extinguish it. Just the caucasious protestorati, looking for something to text home about. Understandably, San Francisco is all a-quiver about what will happen on Wednesday.

After all, it’s the City of Love and Tolerance, so there’s a fine balancing act to be done in order to keep the touchy-feely spirit alive while not allowing anything to dampen the Olympic spirit embodied in the torch.

Reportedly, thousands of Tibetans have come to the Bay Area for events such as today (Tuesday)’s Tibetan Freedom Torch run and the candlelight vigil held in the United Nations Plaza. Speakers at the vigil included Richard Gere and Bishop Desmond Tutu, the latter in town to be presented with the OUTSPOKEN Award by the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender community tomorrow night.

::ABC Ditches Soaps::
As late as the midday news broadcast Tuesday, the local ABC station was saying it would carry the torch relay live only on its website and its digital channel, but by evening it had decided to flip the two big early afternoon soaps over to 2am and 3am timeslots so its main channel can carry the live feed, too.

Since local Fox affiliate KTVU had always been going to show it live, I’ll give you their website instead: The torch relay coverage begins at 1pm Pacific Daylight Time.



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