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Best of Blogs Round-Up: Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Quote of the day: "Interestingly, the administration seems to want to use the same approach to the problem of income inequality as they use with respect to Iraq: their goal is to change the American public's perceptions of each issue, rather than to change what's actually happening. I suspect that their new PR offensive on the issue of income inequality will probably meet with the same success as their efforts to convince people that things are going well in Iraq."—Kash, Angry Bear


Featured Blog, I: Ignoring the Rest
Poverty in America, circa 2006

Here are some cold, hard facts about poverty in this country.  Did Katrina really change things, are we at a time in our history when we will change the way Americans look at the poor, will we do something about this fucking disgrace?

If we don't do something now when we have seen images that speak of a third world country, when we have seen bodies of the poor floating in feces filled waters, when we have seen houses marked with a big X which signifies a dead person inside, when we have heard of how so many poor people died horrendous deaths as the water rose up until they had no air left, no place to go, no life left in their bodies, if that isn't enough to make us pay attention and do something about the poor in this country then we will be a nation without a soul.  We will lose our pride, our honor, our dignity and our integrity.  We will be walking shells of people with nothing left but pure and simple greed in our hearts.  We will have lost our humanity.

We haven't identified or found all of the dead people in New Orleans.  We saw, day after day, the dead bodies sitting in wheelchairs or lying on the side of the road or on the roofs of their homes, decaying before our eyes and we had a government that didn't see fit to treat them with respect or dignity.  We saw what our government has become from local to state to federal and it made us sick, it outraged us, it filled us with venomous rage.  We owned that rage, we had a right to feel that rage, we carry that rage with us still but I say we have a place to put that outrage and that is with the living poor, all 37,000,000 of them.

37,000,000 people live at or below the poverty level in this country.  37,000,000 people struggle each and every day to stay warm, to be housed, to be clothed, to be fed.  One in every nine people in this country live in abject poverty.  How long does it take you to walk down the street or through the aisles of a grocery store before you have looked into the eyes of nine people?  Count them as you pass and see how many people living at or below the poverty line you see every single day.  Go to a park and count the children, how many are there, how many poor children do they represent?

In Detroit one in three live below the poverty line.  Detroit now has an unemployment rate of 15%.  There are 10,000 people who are homeless every single night in Detroit.

In Hartford, Connecticut, a city where wealth and good living is the image that immediately comes to mind, 43% of the children, 43% of the CHILDREN, live below the poverty line.  The average income is $365. a week.  Joe Lieberman makes $1700. a day so far in the year 2006, $213 an hour.  That means that Joe Lieberman makes more in an hour than the average minimum wage worker at $5.15 an hour makes in a week.

In the Appalachians, 65% of the people live below the poverty line. In Pembroke, Illinois, just 70 miles outside Chicago, 60% of the people don't have running water.  There are no sewage lines in the town.  They say they are the forgotten people in this country. Read the rest at My Left Wing...

Featured Blog, II: Urgent Call to Action
Free Hao Wu!

We appeal to the Chinese government for Hao Wu’s immediate release! What happened to Hao?

Hao Wu (Chinese name: 吴皓), a Chinese documentary filmmaker who lived in the U.S. between 1992 and 2004, was detained by the Beijing division of China’s State Security Bureau on the afternoon of Wednesday, Febuary 22, 2006. On that afternoon, Hao had met in Beijing with a congregation of a Christian church not recognized by the Chinese government, as part of the filming of his next documentary.

Hao had also been in phone contact with Gao Zhisheng, a lawyer specializing in human rights cases. Gao confirmed to one of Hao’s friends that the two had been in phone contact and planned to meet on Feb. 22, but that their meeting never took place after Gao advised against it. On Friday, Feb. 24, Hao’s editing equipment and several videotapes were removed from the apartment where he had been staying. Hao has been in touch his family since Feb. 22, but judging from the tone of the conversations, he wasn’t able to speak freely. One of Hao’s friends has been interrogated twice since his detention. Beijing’s Public Security Bureau (the police) has confirmed that Hao has been detained, but have declined to specify the charges against him.

The reason for Hao’s detention is unknown. One of the possibilities is that the authorities who detained Hao want to use him and his video footage to prosecute members of China’s underground Churches. Hao is an extremely principled individual, who his friends and family believe will resist such a plan. Therefore, we are very concerned about his mental and physical well-being.

More about Hao: From Scientist to Computer Guy to Filmmaker.

Hao began his filmmaking career in 2004, when he gave up his job as a senior product manager at Atlanta-based Earthlink Inc. and returned to China to film Beijing or Bust, a collage of interviews with U.S.-born ethnic Chinese who now live in China’s capital city. Before working for Earthlink, Hao worked as a product manager for Internet portal Excite from 2000 to 2001 in Redwood City, CA Before that, Hao had also worked as a strategic planning and product development director for Merchant Internet Group, an intern for American Express Co. and a molecular biologist with UCB Research Inc.

Hao earned an MBA degree from University of Michigan Business School in May 2000 and a Master of Science in molecular and cell biology in July, 1995 from Brandeis University, where he was awarded a full merit-based scholarship. Before studying in the U.S., Hao earned a Bachelor of Science degree in biology from the China University of Science and Technology in Hefei, Anhui province in June, 1992. Hao has also been an active blogger, writing as “Beijing Loafer” on his personal blog, Beijing or Bust, named after his film. Due to Chinese government internet blocking of his blog hosting service, he also has a mirror version of the site on MSN Spaces. In early February Hao began contributing as Northeast Asia Editor to Global Voices Online, an international bloggers’ network hosted at Harvard Law School’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society. Writing under the pen name Tian Yi, Hao’s contributions aimed to bring citizens’ online voices from China and the rest of North East Asia to readers in the English-speaking world.

Why didn’t we speak out about his detention earlier?

Hao’s family and friends in China have deflected questions about his detention for the past month, as authorities in contact with people close to Hao have urged them not to publicize the case. There had been hope that his detention was only for a short period of time, in which case publicity would not have been helpful.

For more information…

Hao’s family and friends inside China do not want to be interviewed directly by the media at this time, and thus we will not provide journalists with their contact information. This website will be updated regularly with new information that emerges about Hao’s situation.

All further queries can be e-mailed to:


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