12 January, 2006

naked news japan

Naked News, possibly Canada’s most internationally-watched newscast, will soon debut in Japan:

NakednewsSince making its debut in Canada in 1999, Naked News has become available via the Internet, television and mobile phones in North America, Australia and Europe.

“We believe there is a huge untapped market for the right kind of information if it was properly packaged,” Warga said. “So we created a news-entertainment program in which women, and later men, informed while removing their clothing.”

The service initially will be news that is provided for Naked News’ existing markets but with Japanese subtitles. The plan is eventually to produce content in Japan that will appeal to a larger percentage of the population.

AsiaPundit’s initial thought was that Naked News was prevented from making an earlier entry into to the country due to the prohibition on the depiction or display of pubic hair - a ban that AP understands was only recently lifted (while tentacle sex, guro and bukkake have long been acceptable in Japan, pubic hair was until recently illegal).

However, it seems that Japan’s Naked News will actually be Semi-nude News:

Disappointingly, the content will apparently be the same U.S.-centric mix of politics and sports news (sure, we’ve had the odd peek at the show) but with subtitles added for local readers. Oh, and there won’t actually be any nakedness — it’s underwear only, folks. Something’s gotta give in that plan if it’s to last.

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by @ 11:07 pm. Filed under Japan, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia, Media

cctv: the truth is out there!

AsiaPundit just turned on CCTV 9 tonight and China’s international news station is running a documentary on crop circles. After establishing them as one of nature’s unsolved mysteries, the show has shifted to a review of M Night Shyamalan’s Signs. The show concludes "We are no nearer to solving this particular mystery."*


To its credit, CCTV noted the evil Kitty circle.:

Kitty Aerial

*(Note, liveblogging CCTV causes poor grammar.)

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by @ 11:01 pm. Filed under China, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia, Media, Hello Kitty watch

et tu skype?

Fons noted, correctly, that it is odd that it is only US companies that get flack for aiding China’s censorship. With that, Businessweek reports that Hong Kong’s Tom.com and the Luxembourg-based Skype Technologies (now owned by eBay) agreed to censor Skype’s instant messaging service.:


Skype had a dilemma. The Internet telephony and messaging service wanted to enter China with TOM Online (TOMO), a Beijing company controlled by Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-shing. Li’s people told their Skype Technologies (EBAY) partners that, to avoid problems with the Chinese leadership, they needed filters to screen out words in text messages deemed offensive by Beijing. No filtering, no service.

At first Skype executives resisted, says a source familiar with the venture. But after it became clear that Skype had no choice, the company relented: TOM and Skype now filter phrases such as “Falun Gong” and “Dalai Lama.” Neither company would comment on the record.

Gordon noted at Rebecca’s groundbreaking post, that the MSN messenger service also seems to filter messages. AsiaPundit has not seen anything to indicate that Skype has implemented any means for state authorities to listen in to voice-over-internet calls. Although there is also no information to the contrary.

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by @ 9:43 pm. Filed under Blogs, China, Hong Kong, Asia, Northeast Asia, Censorship

hangzhou cabbies go awol

Seven Hangzhou taxi drivers stole their cars to escape indentured servitude.  Brilliant!

CabsHangzhou, the scenic capital city of Zhejiang Province, introduced more than 100 luxury Mercedes cabs starting in February 2005. Along with many other amenities, city government treats the Mercedes cabs as part of the city’s glorious "face", and forbids cab companies from raising prices.

Attracted by the government promises of high profits, many farmers from Henan Province came to Hangzhou, put down a 80,000 (US$ 10,000) as a safety deposit, signed a contract to pay the company 400 yuan a day as rent, and became some of the city’s first Mercedes cabbies. But reality slaps them hard in that leather-upholstered seat. The cars turn out to be no black Mercedes, but fat white elephants! On top of the 400-yuan rent, these pretty babes guzzle 200 yuan worth of gas a day, not to mention maintenance and parts that cost dozens of times more than ordinary cabs. The poor drivers work 18, 19 hours a day but still have no way of making ends meet, not to mention turn a profit. Finally, they want out: give the company back the cars and get 87.5%, or 70,000, of their deposits back. No way, says the company. The Hangzhou government, still happy with its sleek "face" but reluctant to raise prices, surely won’t uphold the out-of-town drivers’ cause.

So what do they do? They run — with the cars! Seven Henan drivers fled back home to Xihua, Henan with their cars on January 9, turn themselves and the cars in to local police, and asked the home government to help them negotiate with Hangzhou.

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by @ 9:20 pm. Filed under China, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia

have you seen this dictator?

At times, all reporters feel like they are working for the Onion.

MilkcartonNorth Korean Leader’s Whereabouts Unknown

SHANGHAI, China Jan 11, 2006 — The whereabouts of North Korean leader Kim Jong Il remained unclear Thursday, with a Hong Kong-based television network speculating he may be headed for the south Chinese city of Guangzhou, while other reports put him in Beijing or Russia.

Phoenix Television reported that three major hotels in Guangzhou known to be used for VIP visitors were largely empty and requiring guests to check out by tomorrow.

A sales department employee at Guangzhou’s famed White Swan hotel confirmed that they were expecting a "a very important visitor" beginning on Friday. She would not give her name, since she was not authorized to speak publicly.

Feng 37 endorses the Guangzhou theory in the comments here.

Curiously, the US pointman on North Korea has also made a hastily planned visit to China. But he said he had no plans to meet with the dictator who may or may not be in China.

Assistant U.S. Secretary of State Christopher Hill arrived in South Korea late Wednesday from Tokyo and said he would seek information in Beijing on the latest North Korean thinking from its closest ally.

He left for Beijing on Thursday after a closed-door session with his South Korean counterpart Song Min-soon.

"I must say the trip that Chairman Kim Jong Il took to China was a surprise to all of us," Hill said at a news conference in Seoul late Wednesday. "It’s a complete coincidence that I’m in the area at the same time."

Meanwhile, Itar-Tass, one of the few agencies to have a bureau  in Pyongyang (along with Xinhua and possibly Cuba’s Grandma) reports, the Dear Leader never left.:

MOSCOW, Jan 12 (Reuters) - North Korean leader Kim Jong-il is at present in his country and the mystery person said to have crossed into China may be a member of his family, Russia’s Itar-Tass news agency said on Thursday.

Tass quoted an unnamed informed source in the North Korean capital Pyongyang, where the agency has a correspondent, as saying: "The leader, as far as I know, is at present in North Korea."

The source said the person who crossed the border into China two days ago was probably someone close to the North Korean leadership and hinted he could belong to Kim’s family, Tass said.

Kim’s family? Train headed south? Could it be bound for Hong Kong? Perhaps Kim Jong-nam wants to see the new Disneyland?

UPDATE: Rebecca points to a German press item that says his train disappeared:

Beijing - North Korean leader Kim
Jong II has disappeared in China. His luxurious special train which
reportedly crossed the border into China Tuesday morning at Dandong was
nowhere to be found Wednesday.

‘We really would like to know where he is, but we simply don’t have a clue,’ said a South Korean military attache…

Forget the Hong Kong-Disneyland theory, AP’s new theory is that Kim has been abducted and is now being probed by aliens.


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by @ 8:45 pm. Filed under South Korea, China, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia, North Korea

cambodian arrests

‘Strongman’ Hun Sen is reverting to type:

Ribbon-TextA recent spate of arrests including journalists, trade unionists, and prominent human rights activists in Cambodia has had a chilling effect, as civil society organizations and others grow increasingly fearful of expressing opinions. Over the past three months, the Constitutionally-protected right to freedom of expression in Cambodia has come under grave threat from a series of criminal defamation lawsuits filed by the government. Five individuals have been arrested and detained on defamation charges related to criticism expressed of the government, and at least five more than fled the country to escape arrest.

The arrests have heightened long-standing concerns about executive government interference in the judiciary in Cambodia. All of the recent criminal defamation charges have been based on complaints filed by the government or its leaders. Most relate directly to opinions expressed about Prime Minister Hun Sen of the dominant Cambodian People’s Party (CPP), and criticisms over sensitive border issues with neighboring Vietnam.

The crackdown on freedom of expression, which follows three years of severe restrictions on freedom of assembly, marks a continuing backward slide in Cambodia’s democratization and efforts to promote human rights, rule of law and judicial independence. The hard-won steps which have been made toward human rights and pluralistic democracy – including an active civil society, a vibrant news media, and a political opposition which is a vital part of any democracy – are in danger of being lost.

(via GV)

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by @ 8:17 pm. Filed under Cambodia, Asia, East Asia, Southeast Asia, Censorship

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