Every story can always get more interesting


Photo credit: Channel 9 60 Minutes/Associated Press

I first heard about the story while driving in the car and hearing it on the radio: an Australian couple had abandoned their biological baby who had come from a surrogate mother in Thailand because the baby had Down Syndrome. I thought that maybe it was an example of Western exploitation, a case in which rich Western parents had hired a poor Asian surrogate and then jumped at signs of trouble.

Jose Antonio Vargas detained

Jose Antonio Vargas has been detained. He was detained at an airport in Texas while trying to travel to LA. He thought that he might have trouble since he was leaving from a border area. He was right. Vargas is the Pulitzer Prize winning journalist who came out as an undocumented worker three years ago. Since then, he has been traveling the country and talking with other undocumented workers.

The Hobby Lobby debate and Biblical companies

People are angry at the recent Supreme Court decision concerning Hobby Lobby and its refusal to pay for insurance that includes contraception for female workers. The NY Times reports:

The Supreme Court ruled on Monday that requiring family-owned corporations to pay for insurance coverage for contraception under the Affordable Care Act violated a federal law protecting religious freedom. It was, a dissent said, “a decision of startling breadth.”

Ukraine and Russia: Return of the Cold War?

This whole controversy with Russia and Ukraine makes our issues with Iran and North Korea look like kids play. Putin has taken over the Crimean Penninsula, and one wonders who can stop him. Russia is still armed to the teeth with nukes, and their leader is a former K.G.B. colonel, a guy who even went as far as to give out bugged goody-bags at a G-20 summit.

Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany told Mr. Obama by telephone on Sunday that after speaking with Mr. Putin she was not sure he was in touch with reality, people briefed on the call said. “In another world,” she said.

2014 State of the Union

From what I’ve been hearing, most of the country had a lukewarm response to Obama’s State of the Union last night. The main speculation heading into the speech was that Obama would make inequality a big part of his theme. While he did speak about inequality, the part which caught the most attention was his vow to bypass a gridlocked Congress with his executive power. I haven’t yet turned on the radio, but I have a feeling the conservative pundits are going to go crazy over this.

Chinese thrive in falling Spain


Chr just posted this (older) article: Spain’s Chinese Immigrants Thrive in Tough Economy. According to the article, Chinese immigrants are doing well in Spain, despite the failing Spanish economy. They’re doing this by using family/national relations, as well as by keeping prices and margins low. So far, according to the article, there hasn’t been a backlash.

One Chinese immigrant woman shares her view:

Her family’s story is telling of the ways many of Spain’s 170,000 Chinese immigrants have managed not only to weather a tough economy but even to thrive, aided by intense labor and a strong Confucian model of family loyalty, while joblessness and cuts to government services have left other Spaniards struggling.

Gary Locke leaving ambassadorship to China



But the article doesn’t say much, other than he’s going back to Seattle and that the Chinese may not have appreciated his style:

Mr. Locke’s early informal style drew attention even before he landed in Beijing, when he bought his own Starbucks coffee at the Seattle airport with his young daughter, creating a flurry of interest among the Chinese public.


That informality, including wearing a backpack on his inaugural trip to Beijing, may not have helped his standing among the protocol-conscious Chinese leadership, Chinese and American officials said.

Informality? He’s from the Pacific Northwest!