Sunday, March 16, 2008


Just a quick update on censorship/Tibet – for those of you who are interested. Not that we can report anything newsworthy, as what we receive is fairly censored, but I thought the censorship itself might be interesting to write about. We get CNN and BBC on our television here and, every so often, when we’re watching TV the screen goes blank. Usually the censors are a moment too slow so we know the subject they’re speaking about. They’ve blanked out stories that are critical of the Olympics, and recently cut stories on the outbreak of a flu epidemic in Hong Kong, and inflation and how it affects the common person in China. Those are just a few I can think of off the top of my head. On average, we’d say that about once a week we notice a news story being blocked. But lately, with the ongoing repression in Tibet, the screen is blanking out ALL THE TIME. Even the lead story was blanked out the other day. Some major websites are blocked as well. But then tonight, they showed an entire news story that even featured the Dalai Lama. Can’t quite figure if the person pressing the “blank” button is sometimes sleeping, sometimes open-minded, or what. Besides, real news censorship seems to be virtually impossible – it’s just too easy to get news from proxy servers, email, and other methods that I probably don’t even know about. Of course, we could listen to the official Chinese English language news. I told Tal to turn it on the other night just for educational purposes. The news is always VERY positive, stories of previously uninsured people being thankful that they now have insurance, or new cabinet posts being created to tackle tough issues. But of course nobody will censor juicy news stories coming from other countries – so thank you Elliott Spitzer for ensuring that we are kept up to date about NY politics.

On a totally separate note – spring is here at least a month early. The heating has (thankfully) been turned off; the forsythia are past full bloom and magnolia trees are at their peak right now.. Here’s a picture of my parents with the boys in the courtyard near our apartment. We have been promised that the heat of the summer will be stifling, but now it’s very pleasant. But it doesn’t really smell like spring – I’m afraid after all these months it still just smells like pollution. I just can’t get used to it. Noam, on the other hand, recently told Yoni that he doesn’t even notice it anymore.

I'm also including another picture of my kids with my mother - you can see Xi'an's famous Bell Tower in the background. An important landmark in the middle of the ancient, walled city, right beside a new shopping mall, with a cascading water fountain flowing down the roof (it looks like glass in the picture, but it's water). Kind of symbolic of China today. The shopping mall has an indoor skating rink (but no zamboni!!!), a Walmart downstairs, and a Nike store that seems to sell the real product for real Western prices. In China a Walmart is a sign of true affluence . . go figure.