Monday, September 26, 2005

“You may be Third World, if …”

1. If either “Tuborg” or “Carlsberg” (or both) are Number One selling beers in your country
2. If there is a two-tier pricing system in your country, i.e. things cost differently for locals and foreigners
3. If men in your country wear Capri pants
4. If you have a Michael Schumacher poster in your house
5. If on your vehicle, you voluntarily display stickers advertising Coca Cola/Adidas/Nike, etc. without being compensated
6. If your watch is the most expensive thing you own
7. If you love going abroad because of the Duty Free shops
8. If Nescafe means “coffee” in your country
9. If the majority of women in your country use henna or are unnaturally blonde after the age of 35
10. If almost everyone in your country smokes
11. If taxis in your country do not have set fares and your fare depends on your negotiation skills
12. If you know of such bands and performers as Ottawan, Boney M, Chenghis Khan, Susie Quattro, Chris Norman, Army of Lovers and Bacarra
13. When you watch DVDs bought in your country, sometimes you notice people getting up to get popcorn on your TV screen
14. If the number of knockoffs in your country is almost equal to the number of legitimate brands
15. If shops in your town feature portraits of young Tom Cruise
16. If Gillette shaving cream costs as much as a full meal in your country
17. If you are an adult person but still get excited about downloading melodic ring-tones of popular tunes into your phone
18. If you spend your whole month’s salary on a cell phone
19. If you don’t use deodorant but know the latest fashionable smell
20. If people in your country hate the USA but immensely enjoy McDonalds, Starbucks, Hard Rock Café, and Levi’s
21. If Latin American soap operas are popular in your country
22. If you walk to the gas station
23. If you call the gas station the “petrol” station
24. If all the canned goods in your pantry are from Bulgaria
25. If you still have a public place for executions
26. If you have to specify “Café Americano” to order a coffee that’s NOT freeze-dried in a jar
27. If you’ve had more than three sick days this month due to malaria
28. If ice in your drink is an unthinkable luxury
29. If the filtered cigarette was only recently introduced to your smoking populace
30. If you’ve run out of burial plots in your land-strapped country
31. If all your national heroes never existed
32. If you get your daily vitamin allowance from mineral water
33. If you have more endangered species than schools
34. If your claims to being “European” are based on only the most liberal interpretations of geographic reality
35. If no doctors in your country speak the national tongue
36. If you can still pay cash for a Lada straight from the dealer’s showroom
37. If you have a relative that died of diphtheria
38. If your village has an AOL account
39. If the most exotic animal in your nation’s circus is a dog and two trained cats
40. If Egypt and Cyprus are premiere vacation spots for your country’s residents
41. If the national beverages are buttermilk and/or Efes
42. If you were formerly a colony owned by the losing side in WWII
43. If your favorite pizza toppings include canned peas and corn niblets
44. If your country is a major vacation destination for Russians
45. If your hometown has a Luna-park
46. If the words “executive” and “super” are overused by your countrymen
47. If restaurant menus in your country have more than two spelling mistakes
48. If the people in your country are described in guide-books as “easy-going” which really means they are irresponsible, lazy, and slow
49. If you wear “seasonal” colognes and buy things from a “fall collection” of no-brand name companies
50. If you think that Budweiser is cool

-Vadim and Boris

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Seeing as I live in Shenyang, a city in northern China that is only a stone's throw from the North Korean border, I got this evening about as close as I'll ever realistically get to North Korea this evening - without needing a visa, that is.

I was invited by a couple of Chinese friends for dinner at a place on Nanjing Road calling itself "Korean Barbecue". Yes, that's the name of the restaurant, in 10-foot high neon letters (oddly enough there's a restaurant on Lawrence Avenue in Chicago with the same name, only written on a peice of paper taped inside the front window).

Greeting us at the front door of the Najing Road establishment were two young Chinese men in fairly authentic North Korean military dress uniforms. Kinda freaked me out at first. Ya know? The only thing missing was a portrait of Kim Il Sung on the wall (a picture of Kim Jr. would have put me off my meal).

Even the guy who came to take away the coals was dressed in fatigues and had dyed blond hair and looked a little like Rick Yune in Die Another Day, where 007 sneaks into North Korea by high-tech surf boards.

The staff were quite good at explaining the menu in English and Chinese and even Korean, but one thing they failed to mention was that the soup I ordered, normally made with pork, this time contained dog. Yes, that's right, dog. Uh huh. Lassie. Bowser. Man's best friend. Etc. Mind you, this was only casually mentioned by one of my dining companions, "oh, by the way, that's dog you just took a bite of."

Needless to say, I stuck with the beef (bulgogi) BBQ.Afterwards (and sometimes during the meal) the staff brought us dessert, which consisted of sliced watermelon, melon ice cream, and some little fried bits of dough liberally coated in sugar. Midway through the meal they brought us damp towels, which I think you actually use before the eating starts (or after, I think).On the way out the door the immaculately attired North Korean soldier turned waiter gave us some fake Wrigley's "peppermint" chewing gum.

I would definitely recommend this restaurant to anyone who loves Korean food (including the occasional canine - the sign outside should be a poster for that John Cusack movie, which by the way is already on DVD at Walmart here), or has a good command of Chinese, and dosen't mind attentive staff to the point of being slightly overbearing. I had a good experience, if nothing else for the atmosphere and some good bibimbap.

Thursday, September 8, 2005

Greetings from land of the fake watch


I'm in Kowloon,Hong Kong. Seems you can get a fake anything here, ifyou believe the swarms ofIndian men who approach you on the street outside Chunking Mansions. Youknow, theres's a REASON companies like Rolex, Burberry, etc. have the NAME that they do - it's not just a name, it's a standard of quality. Hence, to sell a fake version seems a bit of an oxymoron, like military intelligence, friendly fire, Hong Kong weather, or American food.

Been seeing ads in Chinese for "The Brothers Grimm" on the subway.

I don't know whostarted the idea of putting condensed milk in tea and coffee here, but they should be shot.

Enough ranting for now, I leave for China first thing tomorrow.

Monday, September 5, 2005

Leaving tomorrow

I leave tomorrow for ong Kong, where I'll pick up my visa and continue on to Shenyang by train. I will post updates to this website and probably some pictures as well.

Stay tuned.

Richard Vaughn
c/o Green Island School

No.42, Jinqiansong Road,
Sujiatun District, Shenyang
Liaoning Province 11000
PR China

rickvaughn @

Friday, September 2, 2005

So They Caught George W. Bush

The complete unedited address of Elit Davros, UN Coalition Forces commander, speaking at a press conference from the UN mountain headquarters near Colorado Springs:

Good afternoon. Today, January 28th, 2006 at around 7:00 a.m. Mountain Time, United Nations military forces captured George W. Bush alive. He was found near a farmhouse outside the city of Crawford, Texas in a swift raid conducted without casualties. And now the former dictator of America will face the justice he denied to millions.

The capture of this man was crucial to the rise of a free America. It marks the end of the road for him, and for all who bullied and killed in his name. For the Republican holdouts largely responsible for the current violence, there will be no return to the corrupt power and privilege they once held. For the vast majority of American citizens who wish to live as free men and women, this event brings further assurance that the torture chambers and the secret police are gone forever.

And this afternoon, I have a message for the American people: You will not have to fear the rule of George Bush ever again. All Americans who take the side of freedom have taken the winning side. The goals of our coalition are the same as your goals -- sovereignty for your country, dignity for your great culture, and for every American citizen, the opportunity for a better life.

In the history of the United States, a dark and painful era is over. A hopeful day has arrived. All Americans can now come together and reject violence and build a new America.

The success of yesterday's mission is a tribute to our men and women now serving in America. The operation was based on the superb work of intelligence analysts who found the dictator's footprints in a vast country. The operation was carried out with skill and precision by a brave fighting force. Our servicemen and women and our coalition allies have faced many dangers in the hunt for members of the fallen regime, and in their effort to bring hope and freedom to the American people. Their work continues, and so do the risks. Today, on behalf of the world, I thank the members of our International Armed Forces and I congratulate them.

I also have a message for all Americans: The capture of George W. Bush does not mean the end of violence in America. We still face terrorists who would rather go on killing the innocent than accept the rise of liberty in the Western Hemisphere. Such men are a direct threat to the peace-loving people of the world, and they will be defeated.

We've come to this moment through patience and resolve and focused action. And that is our strategy moving forward. The war on terror is a different kind of war, waged capture by capture, cell by cell, and victory by victory. Our security is assured by our perseverance
and by our sure belief in the success of liberty. And the United Nations will not relent until this war is won.

May God bless the people of America, and may God bless the International UN Coalition. Thank you.

Sad, but true...

China issues human rights record of the US
China slams US human rights report

BEIJING, March 3 (Xinhuanet) -- China issued the Human Rights Record of the United States in 2004 Thursday in response to the Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2004 issued by the U.S. on Feb. 28.

Released by the Information Office of China's State Council, the Chinese report listed a multitude of cases to show that serious violations of human rights exist on the homeland of the United States.

"In 2004 the atrocity of US troops abusing Iraqi POWs exposed the dark side of human rights performance of the United States. The scandal shocked the humanity and was condemned by the international community. It is quite ironic that on Feb. 28 of this year, the State Department of the United States once again posed as the 'the world human rights police' and released its Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2004. As in previous years, the reports pointed fingers at human rights situation in more than 190 countries and regions (including China) but kept silent on the US misdeeds in this field. Therefore, the world people have to probe the human rights record behind the Statue of Liberty in the United States," said the report.

The report reviewed the human rights record of the United States in 2004 from six perspectives: Life, liberty and Security of Person; Political Rights and Freedom; Economic, social and Cultural Rights; Racial Discrimination; Rights of Women and Children; and Infringement of Human Rights of Foreign Nationals.

This is the sixth consecutive year that the Information Office of the State Council has issued human rights record of the United States to answer the Country Reports on Human Rights Practices issued annually by the State Department of the United States.

American citizens are threatened by rampant violent crimes and severe infringement of civil rights by law enforcement departments. "Violent crimes pose a serious threat to people's lives," said therecord.

The record quoted the Department of Justice of the United States on Nov. 29, 2004 as saying that in 2003 residents aged 12 and above in the United States came across about 24 million cases of crimes, including 1.38 million violent crimes like murders and robberies, averaging 475 cases per 100,000 people.

"Police violence and infringement of human rights by law enforcement agencies also constitute a serious problem," the record said.

Chinese citizen Zhao Yan was handcuffed and severely beaten onJul. 21, 2004 while she was in the United States on a normal business trip. She suffered injuries in many parts of her body and serious mental harm, according to the record.

Boasted as "a paragon of democracy," the United States' democracy is actually manipulated by the rich and malpractice, said the record.

Referring the elections in the United States are in fact a contest of money, the record said, the presidential and Congressional elections last year cost nearly four billion US dollars, some one billion US dollars or one third more than that spent in the 2000 elections.

According to the U.S.' official website, the 2004 presidential election has been listed as the most expensive campaign in the country's history, with the cost jumpingto 1.7 billion US dollars from 1 billion US dollars in 2000.

Poverty, hunger and homelessness have been haunting the United States, the world richest country, according to the record.

The report stressed the United States refuses to ratify the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural rights and took negative attitude to the economic, social and cultural rights of the laborers.

According to the statistics released by the US Census Bureau in2004, the number of Americans in poverty has been climbing for three years. It rose by 1.3 million year-on-year in 2003 to 35.9 million, the report said.

Racial discrimination has been deeply rooted in the United States, permeating into every aspects of society, said the record

The record said that the colored people are generally poor, with living condition much worse than the white. According to a report of The Guardian of Britain on Oct. 9, 2004, the average netassets of a white family is 88,000 US dollars in 2002, 11 times of a family of Latin American ancestry, or nearly 15 times of a family of African ancestry.

Racial prejudice is ubiquitous in judicial fields, the record said. The proportion for persons of colored races being sentenced or being imprisoned is notably higher than whites.

In accordance with a report published in Nov. 2004 by the US Department of Justice, colored races accounted for over 70 percent of inmates in the United States.

The situation of American women and children was disturbing. The rates of women and children physically or sexually victimized were high, said the report.

According to FBI Crime Statistics, in 2003 the United States witnessed 93,233 cases of raping. Virtually 63.2 in every 100,000 women fell victims. Statistics released by the US Labor Departmentin Jan. 2004 showed a woman who worked full time had the median earning of 81.1 percent of that for a man, according to the report.

In addition, according to the report, child poverty was a serious problem. A story released from AP Washington on Oct. 12, 2004 said that about 20 million children lived in "low-income working families" -- with barely enough money to cover basic needs.

Children were also victims of sex crimes. Every year about 400,000 children in the US were forced to engage in prostitution or other sexual dealings on the streets.

The atrocity of US troops abusing Iraqi POWs exposed the infringement of human rights of foreign nationals by the United States, said the record.

According to US media like the Newsweek and the Washington Post,as early as several years ago, in US forces' prisons in Afghanistan, interrogators used various kinds of torture tools foracquiring confession, causing many deaths.

The International Committee of the Red Cross believed that abuse of detained Iraqis in the notorious Abu Ghraib Prison was not a single case and it was a systematic behavior, the report said.

The report pointed out that the United States frequently commits wanton slaughters during external invasions and military attacks. A survey on Iraqi civilian deaths, based on the natural death rate before the war, estimates that the US-led invasion might have led to 100,000 more deaths in the country, with most victims being women and children.

Jointly designed and conducted by researchers at Johns Hopkins University, Columbia University and the Al-Mustansiriya University in Baghdad, the survey also finds that the majority of the additional, unnatural deaths since the invasion were caused by violence, while air strikes from the coalition forces were the main factor to blame for the violence-caused deaths.

Despite tons of problems in its own human rights, the United States continues to stick to its belligerent stance, wantonly trample on the sovereignty of other countries, and constantly stage tragedies of human rights infringement in the world, said the report.

At last, the report said that the United States should reflect on its erroneous behavior on human rights and take its own human rights problems seriously instead of indulging itself in publishing the "human rights country report" to censure other countries unreasonably.