Archive for April, 2007

Democrat Hooked On Speed: Corzine Leaves Hospital After Accident: Motorcade Doing 70 in 55 Zone

April 30, 2007

Gov. Jon S. Corzine apologized to New Jersey residents Monday as he left the hospital 18 days after a devastating car crash in which he was not wearing a seat belt and was riding in a car traveling at more than 91 miles an hour on the Garden State Parkway.

“I set a very bad example,” said a contrite Mr. Corzine, who broke his left femur and 11 ribs in the accident, speaking from a wheelchair just outside Cooper University Hospital in Camden, N.J.

His voice breaking with emotion, he added: “I hope the state will forgive me. I will work very hard to set the right kind of example.”

Wearing a red Cooper T-shirt, black track pants and running shoes, Mr. Corzine, 60, spoke for less than a minute and refused to answer questions from reporters. The comments were his first public utterances since the accident, except for telling a photographer for The Associated Press last week that he felt blessed.

Mr. Corzine thanked his doctors at Cooper as well as the emergency medical technicians and helicopter pilots who tended to him immediately following the crash and who met with him Monday before his release. His son Jeffrey pushed the wheelchair and his daughter, Jennifer, walked alongside.

“I couldn’t be more grateful for all the support I’ve been given from people around the state,” said the governor, a Democrat who is in his first term.

“I don’t think people realize just how much people care and show their support,” he said. “There is nothing more important in life than those people who care about you all the time in the moments of joy and the moments of pain.”

Mr. Corzine was injured April 12 when his state vehicle crashed on the Garden State Parkway near Atlantic City. At the time of the accident, he was not wearing a seat belt, as state law requires, and the vehicle was exceeding the posted 65 m.p.h. speed limit by more than 25 miles an hour.

He broke 11 ribs, lost half of the blood in his body and also broke his left femur, a clavicle, his sternum and a vertebra in his lower back.

Today, after his brief comments, Mr. Corzine got into a dark GMC Savana van that he purchased in the last few days and had specially modified for his wheelchair. He left the hospital in a six-car caravan that included a black state police Crown Victoria, a Chevrolet Suburban like the one he had been riding in on April 12, a Mercedes station wagon and two other cars.

No one in the motorcade used emergency lights, as his driver had been doing at the time of the accident. They kept to a pace of about 70 miles per hour, even though the posted limit is 55 on the stretch of Interstate 295 that leads to Drumthwacket, the governor’s official mansion in Princeton, where Mr. Corzine will spend the next stage of his recovery.

It remained unclear when the governor might return to his official duties.

Richard J. Codey, the Democratic president of the State Senate, has been serving as acting governor since the crash.

The governor’s brief public appearance after he emerged from the hospital was a carefully stage-managed event. A lectern was brought into the hospital foyer in the late morning, but later taken away, when Mr. Corzine’s aides revealed that the governor would not attempt to walk or stand during his remarks. They said last week that he was able to take a few steps using a walker.

Mr. Corzine’s press staff rebuffed requests from reporters who wanted a chance to ask the governor about his recollections of the crash and his plans to return to work.

The administration did, however, accede to suggestions from some of the two dozen camera crews on hand that they relocate the press conference from its originally planned location, a shady spot just outside the hospital entrance. Photographers argued that the shadows and low light might ruin their shots and make Mr. Corzine appear pallid. So the governor’s aides agreed to set up the press conference 30 feet away, where the shade and sun met.

An X was marked on the pavement with duct tape, and one of the governor’s spokesmen, Andrew Poag, sat in a wheelchair to allow the photographers to adjust their camera settings.

Lori Schaffer, the spokeswoman for Cooper University Hospital, made certain that a banner with the hospital’s name and logo was strategically located in the background.

“He can’t wait to get out,” said Anthony Coley, Mr. Corzine’s communications director. “Just like anyone who’s just spent the last two-and-a-half weeks in the hospital.”

About 100 people gathered to watch the event, including hospital employees, visitors and pedestrians; there were some 25 news cameras on hand to record it.

Anne Theochrides, who works in the marketing department of a physical rehabilitation center across the street, said she had closely followed news accounts of Mr. Corizine’s progress during his time in the hospital and wanted to be there when he left.

“I was hoping he’d go to one of our facilities,” Ms. Theochrides said, “But I guess he wanted to go home to the mansion, where he could do business, too. I hope it works out for him.”

FLORENCE, N.J., April 30 —
The New York Times

John Holusha contributed for this article from New York.


Worldwide Terror Attacks Up By 25 Percent in 2006

April 30, 2007

But mostly not in the U.S. 

Monday, April 30, 2007

WASHINGTON (AP)—  Terrorist attacks worldwide shot up 25 percent last year, particularly in Iraq where extremists used chemical weapons and suicide bombers to target crowds.In its annual global survey of terrorism to be released Monday, the State Department says about 14,000 attacks took place in 2006, mainly in Iraq and Afghanistan.These strikes claimed more than 20,000 lives – two-thirds in Iraq. That is 3,000 more attacks than in 2005 and 5,800 more deaths.

Altogether, 40 percent more people were killed by increasingly lethal means around the globe.

The report attributes the higher casualty figures to a 25-percent jump in the number of nonvehicular suicide bombings targeting large crowds. That overwhelmed a 12-percent dip in suicide attacks involving vehicles.In Iraq, the use of chemical weapons, seen for the first time in a November 23, 2006 attack in Sadr City, also “signaled a dangerous strategic shift in tactics,” it says.With the rise in fatalities, the number of injuries from terrorist attacks also rose, by 54 percent, between 2005 and 2006, with a doubling in the number wounded in Iraq over the period, according to the department’s Country Reports on Terrorism 2006.

The numbers were compiled by the National Counterterrorism Center and refer to deaths and injuries sustained by “non-combatants,” with significant increases in attacks targeting children, educators and journalists.

“By far the largest number of reported terrorist incidents occurred in the Near East and South Asia,” says the 335-page report, referring to the regions where Iraq and Afghanistan are located.

“These two regions also were the locations for 90 percent of all the 290 high-casualty attacks that killed 10 or more people,” says the report, a copy of which was obtained by The Associated Press ahead of its official release.

The report says 6,600, or 45 percent, of the attacks took place in Iraq, killing about 13,000 people, or 65 percent of the worldwide total of terrorist-related deaths in 2006. Kidnappings by terrorists soared 300 percent in Iraq over 2005.

Afghanistan had 749 strikes in 2006, a 50-percent rise from 2005 when 491 attacks were tallied, according to the report.

However, it also details a surge in Africa, where 65 percent more attacks, 420 compared to 253 in 2005, were counted last year, largely due to turmoil in or near Sudan, including Darfur, and Nigeria where oil facilities and workers have been targetted.

The report says that terrorists continue to rely mainly on conventional weapons in their attacks, but noted no let up in an alarming trend toward more sophisticated and better planned and coordinated strikes.

For instance, while the number of bombings increased by 30 percent between 2005 and 2006, the death tolls from these incidents rose by 39 percent and the number of injuries rose by 45 percent, it says.

The report attributes the higher casualty figures to a 25-percent jump in the number of non-vehicular suicide bombings targetting large crowds that more than made up for a slight 12-percent dip in suicide attacks involving vehicles.

Of the 58,000 people killed or wounded in terrorist attacks around the world in 2006, more than 50 percent were Muslims, the report, says with government officials, police and security guards accounting for a large proportion, the report says.

The number of child casualties from terrorist attacks soared by more than 80 percent between 2005 and 2006 to more than 1,800, while incidents involving educators were up more than 45 percent and those involving journalists up 20 percent, the report says.

Twenty-eight U.S. citizens were killed and 27 wounded in terrorist incidents in 2006, most of them in Iraq, where eight of the 12 Americans kidnapped by terrorists last year were taken captive, it says.

Taiwan, China and Admiral Blair

April 30, 2007

By Wendell Minnick, Taipei — April 30, 2007
Armed Forces Journal

When a Chinese fighter jet collided with a U.S. EP-3 spy plane in 2001, the admiral at the head of U.S. Pacific Command was dismayed to discover that the two countries had not agreed on even the most basic procedures for cooperative maritime search-and-rescue operations. This should not be the case, Dennis Blair, now retired from the Navy, said recently.

The central problem, he said, is Taiwan.

“You can’t really have a normal military-military relationship like we have with other countries since you might end up shooting at each other tomorrow if the political decisions go that way,” he said. “That’s right in the middle of the relationship.”

Blair, who was here to lead a U.S. military delegation observing Taiwan’s annual Han Kuang military exercises, co-chairs a Council for Foreign Relations task force that recently released recommendations for better bilateral ties in a report, titled “U.S.-China Relations: An Affirmative Agenda, A Responsible Course.”

As PACOM chief from 1999 to 2002, Blair was frustrated by the state of military dialogue between the United States and China.

The Taiwan Issue

“When the underlying situation is fundamentally favorable to peace, it seems to me you should talk,” Blair said. “If a military conflict starts in the Taiwan Strait, both sides will be badly hurt economically, militarily and physically. There is going to be a lot of damage all around, and at the end of the day Taiwan is not going to be taken, and the PRC [People’s Republic of China] will be the greatest loser.”

Blair argues there are plenty of important issues beyond Taiwan that Beijing and Washington could work together on, starting with joint military exercises that would create “habits of cooperation” that help allay suspicions.

These could begin with search-and-rescue exercises, then add peacekeeping, humanitarian, anti-terrorism and anti-piracy exercises. Making China into a responsible strategic partner rather than a malicious aggressor nation would benefit everyone in Asia, he said.

“The path has been pretty well trod in relationships between sailors and soldiers around the world,” Blair said. “You start out at the tactical level with some very simple exercises, such as search and rescue. There are a whole lot of issues that we have common interests, such as combating terrorism and piracy, and humanitarian and peacekeeping missions.

“We can do all of those without giving up secrets, and the objective of that is developing habits of cooperation … because fighting each other over Taiwan is a very low-probability event that we both hope will never happen.” Much of the paranoia on the Chinese side stems from events such as the EP-3 incident and the accidental bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade, but the most important factor is Taiwan.

Threat of Force

“China says it might use force under certain circumstances, and the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) is clearly making military preparations in case they have to,” Blair said.

“U.S. policy under the Taiwan Relations Act is to oppose the use of force, and Pacific Command and U.S. military forces have a responsibility to make military preparations to do that. So the military forces on both sides are both getting ready to fight each other if necessary.”

This tension has made it difficult for Chinese and U.S. military officials to have a serious dialogue on anything other than Taiwan. “When U.S. and Chinese military officers get together, there is this really big issue of Taiwan in the middle of the conversation,” Blair said. “I have these conversations with the Chinese in which they say Taiwanese splittism is the greatest threat to peace, but I tell them that Chinese impatience is also a pretty big threat to peace.”

He acknowledged that military officers who get together are “trying to get a feeling for what kind of a military opponent the other side will be. … We might be shooting at each other soon. So what else do we have to talk about except that? And how do we talk about that without giving away secrets?

“The approach I try to take is to be honest about the military realities. The PLA cannot take Taiwan now, and if Taiwan keeps working on its skills and puts some resources into its defense budget and the U.S. keeps up military development, that military reality is not going to change … We don’t need to impress each other about how tough we are on the Taiwan issue — let’s put this issue in a box and talk about other issues where we have common interests.”

Blair said U.S. hawks who call China the next evil empire and push for China-containment strategies are hurting, not helping, U.S. security interests. “We don’t know what China’s future development is, and I don’t think that even the Chinese know,” he said.

“We can make them into an enemy who will try to expand in any way they can … and the way we do that is treat them like that now with the creation of a containment strategy on the lines of what was used to deal with the former Soviet Union. To say that China has grand ambitions in the world is simply completely premature and maybe wrong. You cannot conclude that they have this plan of building up their power to dominate Asia.”

Instead, Blair said, the United States should keep its military and economic strength while building alliances and other relationships — that means engaging with China’s military in a positive and open manner.

History of ‘Deception’

John Tkacik, senior research fellow in Asian studies at the Heritage Foundation, Washington, believes China has a long history of deception that should not be forgotten. “We must remember that Chinese armies since the time of Sun Tzu in the fifth century B.C. have never put any stock in ‘confidence building’ — except as a deception tactic,” he said.

“Chinese strategy relies on minimizing an adversary’s confidence. The PLA has not yet gotten to the point where they want to be predictable when dealing with the U.S. They like as much uncertainty as possible because it supports an overall military doctrine to leverage surprise and deception on the battlefield.”

Tkacik warned that China is taking advantage of wishful thinking at the Pentagon. “If the Pentagon believes that, somehow, PLA ‘intentions’ will become more transparent simply because generals in Washington have shaken hands with a few generals in Beijing, they are delusional,” he said. “The Chinese army will improve mil-mil exchanges when they feel like it, but of course, they are happy to take any gifts the Pentagon or U.S. field commanders might offer.”However, Larry Wortzel, commissioner of the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission, said engagement with China is the right move.

“Admiral Blair has taken the right tone with his advice to Taiwan recently and with his comments to the U.S. government on military-to-military contacts with China,” Wortzel said.

“The most important things that the United States should emphasize with China are contacts that aim at mutual threat reduction, confidence building on long-term intentions, and means of crisis management or crisis mitigation.

“What the U.S. must avoid are actions that make the People’s Liberation Army a more effective combat force, reveal weaknesses in our own military technology or capabilities, and avoid making the PLA a more effective force to further repress the Chinese people.”

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China’s Top Admiral Visits U.S., “Issues” Abound

China Complicates U.S. Foreign Policy

U.S. military buildup urged to counter China

China’s foreign minister out in early party purge

Fluorescent Bulbs Are Known to Zap Domestic Tranquillity

April 30, 2007

By Blaine Harden
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, April 30, 2007; Page A01

NESKOWIN, Ore. — Alex and Sara Sifford, who live here on the Oregon coast, want to do the right thing to save a warming world.

To that end, Alex Sifford, 51, has been buying compact fluorescent light bulbs, which use about 75 percent less power than incandescent bulbs. He sneaks them into sockets all over the house. This has been driving his wife nuts.

She knows that the bulbs, called CFLs, save money and use less energy, thus cutting greenhouse gas emissions blamed for climate change. She knows, too, that Al Gore, Oprah Winfrey and the Department of Energy endorse them. Still, the bulbs, with their initial flicker, slow warm-up and slightly weird color, bug her.

“What really got me was when my husband put a fluorescent in the lamp next to my bed,” recalls Sara Sifford, 53. She said she yelled at her husband for “violating the last vestige of my personal space.”

Experts on energy consumption call it the “wife test.” And one of the dimly lighted truths of the global-warming era is that fluorescent bulbs still seem to be flunking out in most American homes.

The current market share of CFL bulbs in the United States is about 6 percent, up from less than 1 percent before 2001. But that compares dismally with CFL adoption rates in other wealthy countries such as Japan (80 percent), Germany (50 percent) and the United Kingdom (20 percent). Australia has announced a phaseout of incandescent bulbs by 2009, and the Canadian province of Ontario decided last week to ban them by 2012.

The relatively glacial adoption rate of CFLs in most of the United States suggests continued stiff resistance on the home front, despite dramatically lower prices for the bulbs and impressive improvements in their quality.

“There is still a big hurdle in convincing Americans that lighting-purchase decisions make a big difference in individual electricity bills and collectively for the environment,” said Wendy Reed, director of the federal government’s Energy Star campaign, which labels products that save energy and has been working with retailers to market CFL bulbs.

“I have heard time and again that a husband goes out and puts the bulb into the house, thinking he is doing a good thing,” Reed said. “Then, the CFL bulb is changed back out by the women. It seems that women are much more concerned with how things look. We are the nesters.”

A key to the abiding grass-roots resistance to CFLs, Reed and other experts said, is indelible consumer memories of the hideous looks and poor quality of earlier generations of fluorescent lights. They were bulky. They were expensive, as much as $25 each. They had an annoying flicker and hum. They cast an icky, cold-white light that made people look pale, wrinkly and old.

“People remember them from 20 years ago and they are not going to forgive,” said Dave Shiller, vice president of new business development for MaxLite, a Fairfield, N.J., company that manufactures CFL bulbs.

A new breed of bulbs solves most, if not all, of the old gripes. The bulbs are smaller and much cheaper — often selling for as little as $1.50 each at big-box stores. Most bulbs pay for themselves in reduced power consumption within six months. They last seven to 10 years longer than incandescent bulbs. The hum and flicker are long gone, and many bulbs are designed to mimic the soothing, yellowish warmth of incandescent bulbs. (Most, though, still do not work on dimmers.)

“The new fluorescent bulbs aren’t just better for both your wallet and the environment — they produce better light,” declares the May issue of Popular Mechanics, in an exhaustive comparison test of the new breed of CFLs against incandescents.

Still, many consumers — especially women — do not seem to be buying in.

A Washington Post-ABC News poll released last week showed that while women are more likely than men to say they are “very willing” to change behavior to help the environment, they are less likely to have CFL bulbs at home. Wal-Mart company research shows a similar “disconnect” between the pro-environmental attitudes of women shoppers and their in-store purchases of CFL bulbs.

Wal-Mart launched a campaign last fall to sell 100 million CFL bulbs a year and is prominently displaying them in all its stores. That campaign, Wal-Mart says, has more than doubled the share of CFLs it has sold.

“Attitudes don’t always reflect behavior, and that is what was most surprising to us,” said Tara Raddohl, a Wal-Mart spokeswoman. “Customers may have in mind, yes, they want to support environmentally friendly products, but when they come to the shelf to buy, the data shows they are not always buying them.”

Utility company surveys show the same gender-based bulb-buying pattern in the Pacific Northwest, which has the highest CFL market share in the nation, about 11 percent. Men have been aware of CFLs longer than women, have bought them earlier and have installed more of them in the house than women, according to surveys that the Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance has been conducting since 2004.

In groceries and drugstores, where 70 percent to 90 percent of light bulbs historically have been sold and where women usually have been the ones doing the buying, CFLs have not taken off nearly as fast as they have in home-improvement stores such as Home Depot and Lowe’s, where men do much of the shopping.

“My gut feeling is that the last remaining factor that we have not cracked in selling these bulbs is the ‘wife test,’ ” said My Ton, a senior manager at Ecos Consulting, a company in Portland, Ore., that does market research on energy efficiency.

After a decade as a researcher in residential lighting, Ton said he has concluded that a major part of the CFL problem in penetrating the American home “is a lack of communication between the sexes.”

“The guy typically brings a CFL home and just screws it into a lamp in the bedroom, without discussing it with his wife,” Ton said. “She walks in, turns on the light and boom — there is trouble. That is where the negative impressions begin, especially when the guy puts it into the bedroom or the bathroom, the two most sacred areas of the home.”

Ton advises husbands and wives “to talk about it before the light bulb is screwed in.”

For Alex and Sara Sifford, the time for talking seems long gone.

Over the past nine years, Alex Sifford, who once worked for a utility as an energy-efficiency expert, has replaced nearly every incandescent bulb in the house. If his wife removes a new CFL, he simply waits a few weeks and screws it back in. As the bulbs have improved, he insists, his wife can no longer tell the difference.

Sara Sifford says that is ridiculous. But she has lost the will to fight. She also said she believes that using CFLs is “the moral, ethical and environmentally correct thing to do.”

“He has worn me down,” she said. “Honestly, the fluorescent bulbs still bug me.”

The Madam’s Sex List Has Washington Worried

April 30, 2007

By Cynthia Fagen
The New York Post
April 30, 2007

The bombshell sex probe of a Washington, D.C., madam that already has caught one Bush administration official with his pants down may soon focus on well-known political pundits who have appeared on TV.

“There are several thousand names, tens of thousands of phone numbers, from administration officials to lobbyists to advisers who are well known, people who appear on television,” said ABC News’ Brian Ross, to whom alleged madam Deborah Jeane Palfrey turned over her little black book.

In an interview with CNN, Ross refused to identify any more of the customers of Palfrey’s “escort service” and did not indicate whom he might name in a segment of ABC’s “20/20” scheduled to air Friday.

The explosive revelation of the list has had powerbrokers quaking in their boots since Palfrey was pinched by the feds last month.

Some names have already leaked out, including those of former Navy Cmdr. Harlan Ullman, a military strategist who developed the “shock and awe” combat theory, and political pundit Dick Morris, a former Bill Clinton adviser. Both have denied being clients.

On Friday, a former assistant secretary of state, Randall Tobias, 65, abruptly resigned in disgrace after admitting he had called the service.

Tobias, who is married, had once worked in a government job promoting abstinence and opposing prostitution as a way to stop AIDS in Third World countries.

Ross quoted Tobias as saying he had called the service “to have girls come over to the condo to give me a massage.” He denied having sex with any of the workers.

Ross said Palfrey “sees it as hypocritical that the government is going after her and the women who worked for her and not the men who paid them.

“The phone lists were in her home when the federal agents raided it,” he said. “But they were not interested in the names of the men, only the women . . . She thinks that it is hypocritical.

Palfrey has turned down a plea deal and has threatened to call some of her clients to the stand if the case goes to trial.

Palfrey, also known as “Miz Julia,” has denied charges that the girls she employed at the Pamela Martin & Associates escort service are hookers.

She’s accused of hiring more than 130 women over the years, charging clients $200 to $300 a session and generating more than $2 million. The women are said to include university professors, legal secretaries and military officers.

Ullman is a regular columnist for the Washington Times and wrote analyses of the Iraq war for the New York Post during the opening weeks of combat. Dick Morris also writes for The Post.

Constitutional experts ask for a Commission to resolve differences in Nepal

April 30, 2007


Monday April 30, 04:06 PM

Kathmandu, Apr 30 (ANI): While eight parties of the ruling coalition government in Nepal continue to have differences over holding Constituent Assembly elections, constitutional experts have expressed the need for a Constituent Assembly Commission to resolve the disputes.

“Commission is necessary in order to resolve disputes and debates that could arise during the elections and the process of writing the Constitution”, said Professor Yash Ghai, a constitutional expert and head of the United Nations Development Programme’s (UNDP) Constitutional Advisory Support Unit.

Delay in holding elections could encourage undemocratic trends, he added.

Since the Election Commission has expressed its inability to hold Constituent Assembly polls on the scheduled date of June 20, the parties have been undecided on new date for holding the elections.

In recent meetings, the eight parties have demonstrated lack of clarity regarding the purpose for holding elections, a senior cabinet minister and Foreign Minister, Sahana Pradhan said.

The ruling coalition partners, the Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist (CPN-M) and the Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist Leninist), have been demanding that the interim Parliament should declare Nepal a republic ahead of the Constituent Assembly polls.

The Maoists on Sunday launched a campaign to push for declaring Nepal a republic. The party said that it would take the message through the streets, the Parliament and the government.

The ruling coalition of eight-political parties had earlier decided that the Constituent Assembly in its first sitting would decide the fate of the monarchy.

Maoist leader Ram Bahadur Thapa had said since the Parliament does not seem inclined to declare Nepal a Republic, they will be launching an agitation on the streets. (ANI)

Don’t Forget: Mothers Day is May 13th

April 30, 2007

But check your local listing!  Mothers day is celebrated in most countries but not all follow the U.S. lead and celebrate this year on May 13th…..

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Gunman’s Wrath Divides a Community

April 30, 2007

Culture and the Korean American Community 

By Pamela Constable and N.C. Aizenman
Washington Post Staff Writers
Monday, April 30, 2007; Page A01

Victims have been buried and classes at Virginia Tech have resumed, but the Korean community where the killer was raised continues to struggle with deep generational differences and an unprecedented bout of soul-searching.

Young Korean Americans, more so than the children of many other immigrant groups, talk of leading a double life — immersed in American culture by day, then reverting to traditional Korean family life when they return home at night. One world encourages them to express emotions and explore new freedoms.
The other expects them to obey without question and keep their doubts and fears to themselves.

“As second-generation Koreans, we have two almost totally separate cultures lashing at us,” said Dan Kim, 19, a freshman at George Mason University. “It’s really hard to balance the Korean communal-identity culture and the Western individual-oriented culture.”

Many older Korean Americans, raised in a culture that assumes collective guilt for acts that shame their society, reacted with public apologies after a 23-year-old immigrant from South Korea killed 32 people at Virginia Tech. But now they are questioning whether their traditional values may be depriving their children of healthy emotional outlets.

“This incident has made us all very aware of the need to reach out and discuss these problems more,” said Esther Park, director of the Korean Community Service Center of Greater Washington in Annandale.

“But Korean people are good at hiding and pretending. It is hard to get them to talk.”

Korean Americans are among the Washington region’s largest and most established immigrant groups, with more than 143,000 members. The community has a solid reputation as hardworking and family-oriented.

Its breadwinners have found durable niches running dry cleaners, coffee shops and groceries. Its social life has focused around dozens of suburban churches and civic groups.

Yet area Korean American leaders say the community has remained insular, reluctant to examine or expose its problems and narrowly focused on economic and educational success. As a result, they say, tensions between the generations, and between old and new cultural ways, have tended to fester in silence.

Now, the Virginia Tech shootings have exploded that silence. The news that the campus gunman was raised in the local Korean community has gotten people talking about long-taboo topics such as mental illness and started them looking for a healthier balance between Korean and American values.

One immediate example of the generational divide was the starkly different way first and second-generation Koreans viewed the shootings.

“My first thought was for my son’s safety,” said Young Hee Kang, 47, a Fairfax County resident whose son is a freshman at Virginia Tech. “He and his friends, who are mostly Caucasian, kept on assuring me he would be fine. My son said, ‘Nothing bad will happen, Mom.
The gunman was a sick person. I am part of the American melting pot.’ ”

Many Korean American students said they not only felt no need to apologize for the actions of Seung Hui Cho, the gunman, but were resentful that older Koreans, including Seoul’s ambassador to Washington, had publicly expressed a sense of remorse for an atrocity that they view as bearing no relation to them or their origins.

“This was one person committing a horrendous act. This wasn’t someone representing the whole Korean community and culture,” said Jacob Kim, 22, a senior at George Mason University who immigrated at age 7. “It’s not something that we as Korean Americans need to feel ashamed or afraid about.”

Esther Chang, 36, a youth counselor at Korean Central Presbyterian Church in Vienna, said the apology issue has crystallized the generation gap between Korean immigrants and younger Koreans born or raised in the ultra-individualistic world of modern America.

“We are Western-born. Our parents want us to think collectively, but we also have to live independently. It is part of the tension of growing up here,” Chang said.

Although some young Koreans said they feel free to discuss their problems with friends and counselors at school or church, others said they are shy about confessing their troubles. Many said they found it particularly difficult to confide in parents who are not comfortable speaking English, work long hours and place extraordinary emphasis on their children’s academic success.

“My parents have made a lot of sacrifices and struggles to make sure we had financial stability. If I have even a physical problem, I’d be reluctant to mention it,” Jacob Kim said.

Kim said he felt it was important to outgrow some “negative aspects” of Korean heritage, especially “the idea that it’s so shameful to express emotions,” but that it was difficult for his generation to change.

“It’s hard because this has been in our blood for so long, but it’s something I’m working on,” he said. “When I have kids of my own, I’m going to show them that bottling things up is not good.”

Korean teenagers who have arrived recently in the United States, often pushed to immigrate by parents who are thinking solely of the educational opportunities here, say they often feel alone and disoriented and need extra help making the transition. At the Korean Community Service Center last week, two teenage boys, physically imposing but painfully shy, spoke hesitantly in English as they took a break from chatting online with friends in Korean.

“My Dad sent me here to get a better education. I didn’t want to say goodbye to my friends, but I didn’t have any choice,” said Younoo, 16, who didn’t want his last name used. Younoo, who arrived in the States four years ago, hid his face in his hands as he spoke. “I like it here now, but I miss my friends, and my grades aren’t good. I am getting B’s, but I should be getting A’s.”

Many Korean American professionals, who have long argued for a more serious effort to deal with the community’s psychological problems, believe there is a silver lining in the tragedy of Virginia Tech.

“People are stepping back now and looking at what we can do,” said Mihae Kim, a community activist. “We are all asking each other how we can communicate better with our kids, what programs are available, what to do if you see an incident or a troubled kid. We cannot isolate our children from these tragedies. We have to learn from them and teach them how to deal with reality.”

Related stories:
Seung-Hui Cho’s parents and sister grieve in isolation, share darkness with victims’ families

Unwitting Korean Victims of Virginia Tech Tragedy

Fried Asparagus Eating Contest

April 30, 2007

Where is the asparagus ice cream? 

In California hundreds turned out to watch some competitors chow down on stalks of asparagus.

The Deep Fried Asparagus Eating Championship was held in Stockton, California this weekend, and the contest was not for the faint of heart.

Participants raced to see who could eat the largest amount of deep-fried asparagus spears in the least amount of time.

The contest is part of the Stockton Asparagus Festival. Defending champion Joey Chestnut came in first place this year and won a cash prize of $1,500.

It’s a tradition of food festivals to marry unlikely ingredients into dubious foods. The local hero, asparagus, has been worked into ice creams and shortcakes in the past, but not this year.

An estimated 100,000 people attended Stockton’s 22nd annual Asparagus Festival this weekend.

In addition to the wildly popular deep-fried asparagus, there were asparagus burritos, pasta and sandwiches.

Self-proclaimed “master mixologist” Jeff Dossey was concocting Aspara-ritas – $4 blends of tequila, water, margarita mix and bright green spoonfuls of puréed asparagus.

Pan Fried Chicken with Asparagus, Peas, Tarragon and Cream


4 skinless chicken breast fillets, cut into 5cm cubes
2 bundles British asparagus, cut into 5cm lengths
1 tbsp olive or rapeseed oil
30g butter
2 shallots, peeled and finely chopped
1 clove garlic, peeled and finely chopped
100ml white wine
100ml chicken stock
100g frozen peas
2 tbsp creme fraiche
1 tbsp tarragon, finely chopped


1. Melt the butter with the oil in a heavy based frying pan over a medium heat. Add the shallots and cook for 2 minutes until starting to soften, taking care not to brown them. Add the diced chicken, and fry with the shallots until the meat is sealed but not browned. Add the garlic and fry for a further minute.2. Pour in the white wine and stock, bring to simmering point and cook gently for 5 minutes. Add the asparagus and cook for 3 minutes, then add the frozen peas and cook for a further 2 minutes. Add the creme fraiche and stir through well.3. Sprinkle with the chopped tarragon, season and serve with some plain boiled new potatoes or rice. Serves 4.

Recipe from:

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“Pakistan being ruled by five governments”

April 30, 2007


Monday April 30, 2007

Lahore, Apr 30 (ANI): Dr Mehdi Hassan, a noted columnist in Pakistan, has said that as many as five governments were ruling over Pakistan today.

According to him, they were – the federal cabinet of 76 ministers, the occupants of Lal Masjid, the Sufi of Malakand, the fourth in FATA which was directly controlled by the Taliban, and the fifth the Pakistan Army.

Taking a dig at Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf, he said that British history had Kings Edward I, II and III, but in Pakistan “we have had martial law administrators I, II, and III. Pakistan has a CEO just like a multinational company.”

Dr Hassan further said Pakistan came into being through a democratic process while the mullahs had objected to its establishment.

He said that Bengalis, who were the first to pass a resolution in support of Pakistan in their legislative assembly, were labelled traitors. The same was now being done to Sindhis who were the second to pass the resolution, the Daily Times quoted him as saying.

Hassan said this while addressing a seminar organised by the Commission for Peace and Human Development, in collaboration with Liberal Forum Pakistan and Christian Study Centre.

Speaking on the occasion, PML-N MNA Pervaiz Malik said that the civil institutions were deliberately weakened under military rule. In a truly democratic country, there were no minorities and every one had equal rights, he said and added that the military “had not learnt a lesson even after the separation of the East Pakistan”. (ANI)