Monday, March 17, 2008

Tibetan unrest spreads despite massive show of force by China

Up to 80 protesters killed during rioting, aides to Dalai Lama say

Aileen Mccabe, Canwest News Service
Published: Monday, March 17, 2008

SHANGHAI -- A massive show of strength by Chinese security officials appears to have restored an eerie calm in the Tibetan capital, Lhasa, but the Dalai Lama said Sunday he feared the Chinese were intent on "cultural genocide" in Tibet.

Meanwhile, the anti-China protests spilled over into neighbouring Sichuan province Sunday, where there is a large Tibetan population. The Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy said it had confirmed reports of eight deaths in Ngaba County "after armed troops shot indiscriminately into the peacefully protesting Tibetans."

It also reported a second day of protests by ethnic Tibetans in Lanzhou, in China's northwestern Gansu province. Aides to the Tibetan spiritual leader told reporters their unconfirmed reports put the death count from Friday's rioting in Lhasa eight times higher than the 10 "innocent civilian" deaths the Chinese government is acknowledging. The Dalai Lama said he had "grave concerns" about what really happened when Buddhist monks and their supporters clashed with the Chinese security forces on Friday.

The Dalai Lama called China's response to protests in Tibet 'cultural genocide.'

Speaking from his headquarters in Dharamshala, India, the Nobel Peace Prize laureate told reporters: "Whether intentionally or not, cultural genocide is taking place" in Tibet.

He said the Chinese "simply rely on using force to simulate peace, a peace brought by force using a rule of terror."

The holy man pleaded for an international investigation into Friday's riots in the vast Himalayan state.

The Chinese, meanwhile, continued to insist "a handful of monks" -- the "Dalai clique" -- incited the violence and is responsible for the deaths of innocent shopkeepers and hotel workers. They maintain security forces handled the dangerous situation appropriately.

Chinese troops moved to tackle more unrest in ethnic Tibetan enclaves today, as a deadline loomed for "troublemakers" who took part in protests in Lhasa.

"We are completely capable of protecting the security of the Tibet people. Right now the overall situation in Tibet is very good," the mayor of Lhasa, Doje Cezhug, said from Beijing, in remarks posted on the Tibet government's website.

Xinhua, the official Chinese news agency, said senior official Sun Qian laid the blame for the unrest on a "scheme premeditated by the Dalai clique to separate Tibet from China and sabotage the normal, harmonious and peaceful life of people in Tibet."

Reuters reported that Wu Shuangzhan, commander of the People's Armed Police, said Sunday: "I can honestly tell you that none of the means we have adopted (in Lhasa) have exceeded the constitutional rights of the armed forces or international law."

Human rights groups around the world are skeptical. There are unconfirmed accounts of security forces using tear gas, cattle prods, live bullets and brute force to quell the demonstrations that began last Monday with a peaceful march by monks commemorating the 49th anniversary of a failed anti-Chinese demonstration in Tibet.

Reporters are not allowed into Tibet without special permission from Beijing and most of the foreign tourists who were providing eyewitness accounts of events earlier in the week have now been convinced by authorities to leave.

Up to 80 protesters killed during rioting, aides to Dalai Lama say
Aileen Mccabe, Canwest News Service
Published: Monday, March 17, 2008
Tour operators say existing travel permits have been cancelled and tourists are no longer allowed to enter the region.

The Chinese Communists annexed Tibet in 1951 and since then have systematically moved Han Chinese into the mountainous region in what many see as an attempt to wipe out dissent among the native population.

There have been short stories in the Chinese media about demonstrations by the "Dalai Lama clique," saying the situation is now under control and state TV showed pictures of people cleaning up the debris on otherwise deserted streets in Lhasa.

Around the world, leaders have called on China to exercise restraint in Tibet and in several countries demonstrators have marched in sympathy with the Lhasa monks.

The reaction is exactly what Beijing does not want to see as it counts down to the opening of the Olympic Games in August.

The Beijing Games have taken on an importance here far beyond their value as a sporting event.

They are supposed to be China's "coming-out party," as the newly prosperous nation wants to reposition itself in the world and show itself off as a modern forward-looking state. And the last thing it wants is renewed concern over its human rights record to overshadow its "re-launch."

Islamic Institution Turns Basic Banking Principles Upside Down

Craig and Marc Kielburger, Special to the Sun
Published: Monday, March 17, 2008

Pervez Nasim may look like an average businessman with his collared shirt, pressed slacks and neatly groomed beard, but when you begin to discuss finances with him it quickly becomes apparent that the similarities end there.

"Maximizing profit is not the most important," he tells us. "Charity and social responsibility are part and parcel with the bottom line."

Nasim is the Chairman of the Ansar Co-operative Housing Corp., a Toronto-based financial institution that strictly adheres to the rules of Islam. He's part of a rapidly growing faith-based financial industry that is turning the basic principles of banking upside down.

From North America to Asia, hundreds of Islamic-inspired banks offer interest-free services that emphasize charity and community over profit, in accordance with the Koran. Once found only in pockets of the Muslim world, growing Islamic wealth and a return to religious values has helped these banks multiply, skyrocketing them to a worth of $200 billion worldwide. "Your thinking has to change," Nasim says of Islamic banks. "Your focus has to change."

With interest forbidden by the Muslim holy book, Ansar turned to an approach that appears similar to a secular co-op, but like other Islamic business models, is rooted in religious beliefs. It purchases homes on behalf of customers, who then pay it back over time by buying shares in the company. Customers live in the homes and pay rent during the process, splitting any gain or loss in the home's value with Ansar.

"The whole Islamic concept of finance is sharing the risk and benefit together," Nasim says. "This is a community organization."

Since 1981 Ansar has sold 700 homes across the country. Despite not being able to charge interest, its success rate is nearly perfect. Nasim says the company only had trouble collecting its money once. He chalks this up to the fact that customers are driven by faith as much as they are by finances.

Ansar has been so successful that it now receives calls from financial institutions in the U.S., Australia and even Saudi Arabia looking to copy it.

Along the way, Ansar has not wavered from what Nasim calls another major tenant of Islamic banking -- social consciousness. It has regular investors looking to help first-time homebuyers, and when one of its customers died in a car accident while paying off his home, the co-op waived its remaining fees for four months to allow his wife to grieve.

"If there is a genuine need, it is our responsibility to help," Nasim explains. "As human beings, we have to look after each other and help each other."

Islamic banks are also careful not to invest in anything deemed unethical by the Koran, such as gambling or alcohol. Ansar soon hopes to invest in a senior citizens' home.

Nasim says the principles of Islamic banking used to draw laughter from those in mainstream banks, but with an annual growth rate topping 10 to 15 per cent, no one laughs any more. In fact, HSBC and other major banks are jumping on board and have opened their own Islamic financial institutions around the world. With stories of people losing their homes amid an impending recession in the United States, alternatives like this one will only become more attractive.

"It's sad," Nasim says of the U.S. mortgage crisis. "On a corporate level, they are on a different planet."

At the moment Ansar is open only to Muslims, a rule Nasim says is in place to cut down on fickle customers only looking to get a good deal on a house. That may change though, as Muslims and non-Muslims alike become increasingly committed to finding ethical ways of investing their money.

"There is a lot of opportunity [in Canada]," Nasim explains. "It's just a matter of time."

Craig and Marc Kielburger co-founded Free the Children. The primary goal of the organization is to free children from poverty and exploitation through education.

© The Vancouver Sun 2008


Published: Monday, March 17, 2008

Access to YouTube in China was denied on Sunday after footage of recent deadly protests in Tibet appeared on the video posting site.

Attempts to call up the site met with a blank screen and an error message saying the web page could not be displayed.

The access problems came after video clips began appearing on the site showing violent unrest in the Tibetan capital Lhasa that triggered a virtual lockdown of the city by security forces.

Chinese riot police march through the city of Kangding, located around 400 kilometres (250 miles) west of Chengdu in Sichuan Province March 17, 2008. Chinese officials declared a "people's war" of security and propaganda against support for the Dalai Lama in Tibet after the worst unrest in the region for two decades racked the regional capital Lhasa over the past few days.

China, which strictly controls access to information, has kept a tight lid on news out of Lhasa, with foreign journalists being denied access and foreign tourists ordered out of the city.

The only footage broadcast by state-run media so far has been a short clip showing Tibetan rioters in the city destroying Chinese shops, but nothing has been released on the resulting crackdown by police.

China's official death count puts the toll at 10, but the India-based Tibetan government-in-exile says at least 80 deaths have been confirmed.

China also has been regularly blacking out the domestic feed of CNN whenever it runs a story about the Tibet unrest.

Access to popular Chinese-language video posts such as were operational on Sunday but a search for videos of the Tibet violence came back with no results.

In late January, China introduced new restrictions on posting online video that critics saw as an extension of the Communist Party's tight noose on the nation's media outlets.

Amid China's information clampdown, the Internet has provided a rare window into the situation, with amateur video and pictures

Take Action: Tell your Congressional Representative to Support Tibet!

In Lhasa, the Chinese authorities have issued a notice to Tibetans who have taken part in demonstrations to give themselves up by midnight on Monday, March 17th. Not waiting for the deadline however, armed Chinese police have been conducting house-to-house searches and making arbitrary arrests. There is no reliable estimate of the number of detentions but reports suggest wide-scale raids and arrests across Lhasa. A curfew is now in place in Lhasa and the city is completely sealed off.

China's brutal clampdown on Tibetans continues as protests have spread throughout the country.

Please take immediate action by sending the letter below to your congressional representative urging him/her to speak out in support of Tibetans inside Tibet.

Dear [ Decision Maker ],

(Edit Letter Below)

As protests spread throughout Tibet, I am gravely concerned about China's continued brutal repression of Tibetans.

The Chinese authorities in Lhasa have threatened an increased crackdown after midnight Monday (12 noon EST) and according to Chinese state-run media, "Those who harbor or hide criminal elements shall be punished severely according to law upon completion of investigations."

Already, armed Chinese police have been conducting house-to-house searches and making arbitrary arrests. There is no reliable estimate of the number of detentions but reports suggest wide-scale raids and arrests across Lhasa. According to eyewitness reports received by the Tibetan Center for Human Rights and Democracy, "mothers and elderlies in the families helplessly plea at security forces upon seeing their sons and loved ones being beaten and dragged away."

Please, I am urging you to speak up for Tibet:

1) The U.S. should speak out forcefully against China's brutal crackdown in Tibet.

2) The U.S. government should strongly support the Dalai Lama's call for a United Nations team of investigators to go to Tibet as soon as possible.

3) The U.S. should do everything in its capacity to urge China to withdraw military and security forces, release those detained, and allow peaceful protest. China must halt house-to-house searches; and authorities must refrain from any further arrests of Tibetan protesters even after its so-called surrender deadline has passed on Monday at midnight. China must immediately allow foreign journalists back into all Tibetan areas (Tibetan Autonomous Region as well as the Tibetan areas of Gansu, Qinghai and Sichuan).

For five decades, the Tibetan people have suffered greatly under China's brutal rule. The Chinese government has swamped Tibet with Chinese settlers, poured money into mega-infrastructure projects like the railway that solidify its control, and ruthlessly attacked Tibetan culture and religion. As the Olympics approach and the world's eyes turn to Beijing, this outpouring of frustration is the natural consequence of China's ongoing repression in Tibet.

Please speak out now to help ensure that further violence against Tibetans is stopped.
[Your name]
[Your address

Friday, March 07, 2008


Good news for all Zenners and Zenners in waiting. Zentrepreneurism, the new groundbreaking book that is rocking the business world is now available in paperback at

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"I'm delighted to be called a"zenner" and have been for quite a few years now. My company "weapons of mass entertainment" has many entrepeneurial ventures in the works all of which will impact the planet in a positive way. I'm pleased to announce that after working hand in hand with Greenpeace we are now going into business together and in fact they are moving into my offices to share our space and business ideas together."

I hope the book launch goes well and that many of you get the same buzz I got when reading it. Life is too short to mess around doing other stuff...start zenning today

David A. Stewart
Weapons Of Mass Entertainment


Why the baby boom generation should be itching to reinvent retirement.

Marc Freedman | November 2007 issue of Ode Magazine

A fit, handsome sixty-something couple stretches out on a sandy beach. Another silver-haired pair steers a sailboat toward the sunset. A grey-templed golfer watches his drive soar down the fairway. This life of relaxation and luxury, in which every day is one big happy holiday, has long been a powerful part of the American dream of retirement. Depicted in so many advertisements for pension plans and retirement communities, these scenes have become an indelible feature of the landscape.

But wait a minute: Who looks forward to endless retirement anymore, 30 years of R and R? Who can afford it—even with the most diligent savings plan? For reasons of money and meaning, the golden-years vision being peddled by the financial and real estate industries is already obsolete. Stretched from a justified period of relaxation after the mid-life years into a phase lasting just as long, this version of retirement has been distorted into something grotesque, something that no longer works for individuals—or for society.

In the next couple of decades, more and more people will hit the traditional retirement age and become eligible for social benefits. This trend has experts worried: Soon a quarter (or more) of the population will be spending a third (or more) of the time in subsidized leisure, squeezing investments in education, environment and economy and threatening to bankrupt society as a whole. The prospect alone has led some pundits to predict that aging boomers will be remembered as a self-absorbed, self-serving horde of over-indulgers who used their votes and their dollars to shove their own interests to the forefront, posterity be damned.

But this troubling conclusion amounts to scenario-planning through the rear-view mirror. Retirement as we’ve known it is far from an eternal verity. In fact, it is already being displaced as the central institution of the second half of life, soon to be supplanted by a new stage of life and work opening up between the end of mid-life and the eventual arrival of true old age. Indeed, four out of five boomers consistently tell researchers they expect to work well into what used to be known as the retirement years.

The emerging trend toward extended productivity needs to be supported at every turn, as individuals seek to make ends meet over longer lifespans and societies seek to balance the fiscal ship. But we can go one important step further if we hope to make the most of the great gift of longevity. Aging boomers should be encouraged not only to continue contributing, but to rethink the purpose of that work—in short, to dust off their idealism of the ’60s and ’70s, and get to work making the world a better place.

It is the perfect opportunity for the generation that set out to change the world and got lost along the way. Now, as tens of millions of boomers careen toward what were once the golden years, I believe more and more people are interested in living out a distinct and compelling vision of contribution in the second half of adult life, one built around the ideal of an “encore career” at the intersection of continued income, new meaning and significant contribution to the greater good.

It is a dream with the potential to work for individuals, for employers, for our fiscal health and for the society at large. Never before have so many individuals had so much experience—and the time to put it to good use. While financial-service companies keep telling us the freedom from work will satisfy our desires, we’re better off looking for the freedom to work—in new ways, on new terms, to new and even more important ends.

Instead of accepting the notion of a career as an arc that rises in youth, peaks in mid-life, and declines into retirement, we stand poised to chart a new trajectory—one that for many will reach its apex of meaning and impact at a juncture when others in past generations were heading for the sidelines.

Marc Freedman is the founder and CEO of Civic Ventures, and author of Encore: Finding Work that Matters in the Second Half of Life. For more information:


In a recent editorial, the Wall Street Journal announced that ethics courses are useless because ethics can't be taught. Although few people would turn to the Wall Street Journal as a learned expert on the teaching of ethics, the issue raised by the newspaper is a serious one: Can ethics be taught?

The issue is an old one. Almost 2500 years ago, the philosopher Socrates debated the question with his fellow Athenians. Socrates' position was clear: Ethics consists of knowing what we ought to do, and such knowledge can be taught.

Most psychologists today would agree with Socrates. In an overview of contemporary research in the field of moral development, psychologist James Rest summarized the major findings as follows:

Dramatic changes occur in young adults in their 20s and 30s in terms of the basic problem-solving strategies they use to deal with ethical issues.

These changes are linked to fundamental changes in how a person perceives society and his or her role in society.

The extent to which change occurs is associated with the number of years of formal educaton (college or professional school).

Deliberate educational attempts (formal curriculum) to influence awareness of moral problems and to influence the reasoning or judgement process have been demonstrated to be effective.

Studies indicate that a person's behavior is influenced by his or her moral perception and moral judgements.

Much of the research that Rest alludes to was carried on by the late Harvard psychologist, Lawrence Kohlberg. Kohlberg was one of the first people to look seriously at whether a person's ability to deal with ethical issues can develop in later life and whether education can affect that development.

Kohlberg found that a person's ability to deal with moral issues is not formed all at once. Just as there are stages of growth in physical development, the ability to think morally also develops in stages.

The earliest level of moral development is that of the child, which Kohlberg called the preconventional level. The person at the preconventional level defines right and wrong in terms of what authority figures say is right or wrong or in terms of what results in rewards and punishments. Any parent can verify this. Ask the four or five year old why stealing is wrong, and chances are that they'll respond: "Because daddy or mommy says it's wrong" or "Because you get spanked if you steal." Some people stay at this level all of their lives, continuing to define right and wrong in terms of what authorities say or in terms of reaping rewards or avoiding unpleasant consequences.

The second level of moral development is the level most adolescents reach. Kohlberg called this the conventional level. The adolescent at the conventional level has internalized the norms of those groups among whom he or she lives. For the adolescent, right and wrong are based on group loyalties: loyalties to one's family, loyalties to one's friends, or loyalty to one's nation. If you ask adolescents at this level why something is wrong or why it is right, they will tend to answer in terms of what their families have taught her, what their friends think, or what Americans believe. Many people remain at this level, continuing to define right and wrong in terms of what society believes or what laws require.

But if a person continues to develop morally, he or she will reach what Kohlberg labeled the postconventional level. The person at the postconventional level stops defining right and wrong in terms of group loyalties or norms. Instead, the adult at this level develops moral principles that define right and wrong from a universal point of view. The moral principles of the postconventional person are principles that would appeal to any reasonable person because they take everyone's interest into account. If you ask a person at the postconventional level why something is right or wrong, she will appeal to what promotes or doesn't promote the universal ideals of justice or human rights or human welfare.

Many factors can stimulate a person's growth through the three levels of moral development. One of the most crucial factors, Kohlberg found, is education. Kohlberg discovered that when his subjects took courses in ethics and these courses challenged them to look at issues from a universal point of view, they tended to move upward through the levels. This finding, as Rest points out, has been repeatedly supported by other researchers.

Can ethics be taught? If you look at the hard evidence psychologists have amassed, the answer is yes. If you read the Wall Street Journal, you wouldn't have thought so.

What do you think? Can ethics be taught? Would like to hear your thoughts. Please respond to this blog entry? Let's start a dialogue on this critical issue in the business world.