Still no friends of the earth

April 23, 2014

Another Earth Day, another year marked by climate disasters across the globe, another year without meaningful action on climate change, another year of the failed UN process on climate change droning on. No wonder Mother Nature is so angry.

Totally globalized native New Yorker and former broadcast news producer Muhammad Cohen is a blogger for Forbes and author of Hong Kong On Air, a novel set in his adopted hometown during the 1997 handover about television news, love, betrayal, high finance, and cheap lingerie. See his bio, online archive and more at www.muhammadcohen.com; follow him on Facebook and Twitter @MuhammadCohen.

Adios, Gabriel Garcia Marquez

April 18, 2014

Calling Gabriel Garcia Marquez one of the all-time best Spanish language writers is as silly as calling Babe Ruth one of the all-time best English language baseball players. Love in the Time of Cholera is the greatest love story ever told by one of the greatest story tellers ever.

Garcia Marquez’s work will enrich our world as long as there are readers. Muchas gracias, senor.

Totally globalized native New Yorker and former broadcast news producer Muhammad Cohen is a blogger for Forbes and author of Hong Kong On Air, a novel set in his adopted hometown during the 1997 handover about television news, love, betrayal, high finance, and cheap lingerie. See his bio, online archive and more at www.muhammadcohen.com; follow him on Facebook and Twitter @MuhammadCohen.

Macau wannabes court Singapore model

April 8, 2014

Asian governments licking their chops over Macau’s casino driven budget surpluses, high visitor numbers, and low unemployment turn to Singapore’s development model to try their luck.

Totally globalized native New Yorker and former broadcast news producer Muhammad Cohen is a blogger for Forbes and author of Hong Kong On Air, a novel set in his adopted hometown during the 1997 handover about television news, love, betrayal, high finance, and cheap lingerie. See his bio, online archive and more at www.muhammadcohen.com; follow him on Facebook and Twitter @MuhammadCohen.

Macau March casino revenue rises 13%

April 4, 2014

March was a pretty slow month for Macau. But its casinos raked in $4.4 billion, about two-thirds of what Las Vegas casinos make in a year.

Totally globalized native New Yorker and former broadcast news producer Muhammad Cohen is a blogger for Forbes and author of Hong Kong On Air, a novel set in his adopted hometown during the 1997 handover about television news, love, betrayal, high finance, and cheap lingerie. See his bio, online archive and more at www.muhammadcohen.com; follow him on Facebook and Twitter @MuhammadCohen.

Please follow me on Forbes.com

April 2, 2014

I’ve begun to blog for Forbes.com about the casino business in Macau and around Asia, which I’ve been covering for nearly a decade, now as editor at large for Inside Asian Gaming. Please follow my blog and visit my site and posts early and often since Forbes.com pays by the click.

If you are interested in the gaming business in Asia as an industry executive, player or investor, I hope you’ll find the blog pieces interesting. Even if you don’t care about gaming in Asia, I hope you’ll click to help me earn some money. Unlike playing in the casino, you can’t lose.

I’ll still post some non-gaming items here, so please stay tuned. I know how busy our lives are and how crowded the online world has become, so I truly appreciate your attention and support. I hope you’ll keep taking your chances with me.

Totally globalized native New Yorker and former broadcast news producer Muhammad Cohen is a blogger for Forbes.com and author of Hong Kong On Air, a novel set in his adopted hometown during the 1997 handover about television news, love, betrayal, high finance, and cheap lingerie. See his bio, online archive and more at www.muhammadcohen.com; follow him on Facebook and Twitter @MuhammadCohen.

Simferopol on the Hudson

March 20, 2014

International fulminating over Russia’s takeover of Crimea brings to mind a scene in Woody Allen’s film Manhattan. At a cocktail fundraiser in the Museum of Modern Art Sculpture Garden, Allen’s character, Isaac, speaks to one of the pretentious limousine liberal guests.

Issac: Has anybody read that Nazis are gonna march in New Jersey? You know, we should go there, get some guys together. Get some bricks and baseball bats and explain things to ‘em.

Guest: There was this devastating satirical piece on that in the Times.

Isaac: Well, a satirical piece in the Times is one thing, but bricks get right to the point.

Guest: But biting satire is better that physical force.

Isaac: No, physical force is better with Nazis. It’s hard to satirize a guy with shiny boots.

The West’s threats of sanctions and other so-called “dire consequences” against Russia won’t work with a guy like Vladimir Putin, who satirizes himself, toting a rifle through the bush bare chested. Ukraine’s territorial integrity may not be worth a full-scale conflict with Moscow, but only diplomatic and economic sanctions backed with the threat of force, precisely targeted and eminently credible, seem likely to reverse Russia’s blatant land grab.

There is one potential diplomatic solution that has been left unexplored amid the blustering, sprung from Crimea’s flawed referendum on independence or union with Russia. Ukraine and its allies should insist on a fair vote under UN supervision and protection, preceded by the peaceful withdrawal of all troops under UN oversight. That would let the people of Crimea express their real preference, be it union with Ukraine, joining Russia, or becoming independent, in the language of democracy. But a fair vote will only happen with the threat of bricks and bats, the language in which Putin appears far more fluent.

Totally globalized native New Yorker and former broadcast news producer Muhammad Cohen is author of Hong Kong On Air, a novel set in his adopted hometown during the 1997 handover about television news, love, betrayal, high finance, and cheap lingerie. See his bio, online archive and more at www.muhammadcohen.com; follow him on Facebook and Twitter @MuhammadCohen.

Oscar night warning

March 4, 2014

In Bangkok, video clips play relentlessly on SkyTrain platforms and inside the cars. As I found myself staring, it was clear that nothing captures our attention like moving pictures. And nothing kills our own creativity like watching them. I fear we’re doomed to a future of moving pictures of continuously diminishing substance in which the medium becomes the only message.

I don’t watch the Academy Awards, and the only movie I saw among the major contenders was American Hustle, which I found thoroughly entertaining.

Totally globalized native New Yorker and former broadcast news producer Muhammad Cohen is author of Hong Kong On Air, a novel set in his adopted hometown during the 1997 handover about television news, love, betrayal, high finance, and cheap lingerie. See his bio, online archive and more at www.muhammadcohen.com; follow him on Facebook and Twitter @MuhammadCohen.

Shutdown Shutdown Bangkok

February 23, 2014

I came to Bangkok for my annual medical checkup, despite the deadly confrontations last Tuesday. On Thursday afternoon, I inadvertently shopped my way through two of the Shutdown Bangkok, Restart Thailand protest sites. I’m told that the demonstrations really get going during the evening hours, spending the daytime in a holding pattern. By 4:30pm at a protest site in the midst of Bangkok’s Chitlom shopping mall cluster, the stage was busy with speakers, singers and a rock band, ignored by all but a handful of the hundreds of protestors in the tent village under tall temporary roofs. The stage scenes were broadcast around the protest sites, extending to the dozens of vendors selling tee-shirts, bags, whistles, even tents, a veritable street fair in the middle of what would normally be some of Bangkok’s busiest streets.

Walking through the protest area, a profound sense of sadness swept over me. It’s not only that the opposition’s proposals to break the power of former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra and oust his sister and proxy Yingluck Shinawatra, are predicated on thwarting democracy, since the opposition can’t win at the ballot box, and that neither side seems ready to response to what other observers say is the end of Thais’ willingness to tolerate rule by their purported betters.

I hoped that Tuesday’s deadly violence, including the explosion of a grenade in front of a police line and gunfire from both sides that left five dead and dozens injured, would have woken up leadership. I hoped they’d ask themselves whether the nation shown on that stunning BBC footage of the grenade explosion was Thailand they wanted to live in and the one they want the world to see. My old Thai hand friends assured me that the leaders don’t care about such things. Friday night’s explosion at a protest site, injuring six, and Saturday’s night’s attack on an anti-government rally in eastern Thailand indicate my friends understand the situation better than I do.

What made me sad at the Bangkok protest sites was the unseriousness of the scene, despite the specter of violence and the high stakes. Reforming Thailand’s basic governing institutions is difficult and serious work and it won’t get done sitting in a tent in the middle of a boulevard or selling key chains any more than it will by throwing grenades. Shutdown Bangkok is no way to run a revolution.

Totally globalized native New Yorker and former broadcast news producer Muhammad Cohen is author of Hong Kong On Air, a novel set in his adopted hometown during the 1997 handover about television news, love, betrayal, high finance, and cheap lingerie. See his bio, online archive and more at www.muhammadcohen.com; follow him on Facebook and Twitter @MuhammadCohen.

King, Hong Kong rabbi offer hopeful praver

February 18, 2014

My Hong Kong rabbi, not a euphemism in this case is, wrote to our congregation about a recently unearthed speech by Dr Martin Luther King, delivered in 1962 on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation.

Receiving the email was a reminder of the historic ties between blacks and Jews, in part due to a shared heritage of slavery. In the US, many Jews joined hands with blacks in the struggle for equality, perhaps most famously and tragically in the 1964 murders of civil right workers James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner near Philadelphia, Mississippi. The killings by members of Ku Klux Klan formed the basis of the film Mississippi Burning, galvanized mainstream US public opinion in favor of civil rights legislation, and began a 40 year fight to convict the killers, vividly recounted in Howard Ball’s Murder in Mississippi and Justice in Mississippi.

Long before the final conviction, black-Jewish ties had frayed, as my friend Jonathan Kaufman explains in his book Broken Alliance: The Turbulent Times Between Blacks and Jews in America. Nelson Mandela’s passing provided reminders that Jews were also active in the African National Congress, even though Israel collaborated with South Africa’s apartheid regime. I thank United Jewish Congregation of Hong Kong’s Rabbi Stanton Zamek for giving our members a subtle reminder of the historic affinity between these two minorities. During Black History Month, it’s especially appropriate to remember Dr King and his struggle for equality and justice for all.

Though segregation remained a fact of life in much of the US in the US in 1962, Dr King powerfully stated the case for equality.

In the final analysis, racial injustice must be uprooted from American society because it is morally wrong. It must be uprooted because it stands against all of the noble precepts of our Hebraic-Christian heritage. It must be done because segregation substitutes an I-it relationship for the I-Thou relationship, and relegates persons to the status of things.

The struggle against discrimination was being waged in the equivalent of hand-to-hand combat and trench warfare in 1962, yet Dr King elevated the discussion to a higher level. His words provide a stirring reminder of work that remains undone on so many fronts, perhaps even more relevant today than they were a half-century ago.

We are at one of history’s crossroads. Our technological creativity is almost boundless. We can build machines that think. We can dot the landscape with houses and super-highways teeming with cars. We can now even destroy our whole planet with the nuclear weapons we alone possess. We have wrought distance and placed time in chains. And our guided ballistic missiles have carved highways through the stratosphere. In short we have the capacity to re-build our whole planet, filling it with luxury – or we are capable of destroying it totally. The shocking issue of our age is that no one can confidently say which we will do. Whether we survive indeed depends upon whether we build moral values as fast and extensively as we construct material things.

Like the great man of faith he was, despite the dark days ahead, Dr King left listeners with a hopeful prayer.

And so I close by quoting the words of an old Negro slave preacher who didn’t quite have his grammar right, but uttered words of great symbolic profundity and they were uttered in the form of a prayer: “Lord, we ain’t what we oughta be. We ain’t what we want to be. We ain’t what we gonna be. But, thank God, we ain’t what we was.”

Amen.

Totally globalized native New Yorker and former broadcast news producer Muhammad Cohen is author of Hong Kong On Air, a novel set in his adopted hometown during the 1997 handover about television news, love, betrayal, high finance, and cheap lingerie. See his bio, online archive and more at www.muhammadcohen.com; follow him on Facebook and Twitter @MuhammadCohen.

‘Going, going, gone, goodbye’ to Ralph Kiner

February 7, 2014

A Hall of Fame slugger who dated Hollywood stars and made it big in New York, Ralph Kiner, who died Thursday at age 91, lived a life that others dream about. Yet unlike so many other big name athletes, Kiner knew the world wasn’t all about him. Like his baseball royalty contemporary Yogi Berra, Kiner had an innate sense of humility that comes not just from excelling at game where failing seven out of ten times makes you a star but from being comfortable enough with who you are that you don’t need to prove anything.

One of the most revealing things about Kiner, which I didn’t see in any of the tributes to him, was the story he told about an autograph seeker who asked him, “Didn’t you used to be Ralph Kiner?”

Kiner led the National League in home runs for his first seven seasons with the lowly Pittsburgh Pirates. After one season, Pirates general manager Branch Rickey presented Kiner with a contract calling for a pay cut. According to Kiner, Rickey told him, “Son, we can finish last without you.” Kiner became an ardent campaigner for improved pensions for players,

I grew up with Kiner in his role as one of the New York Mets original broadcasters, along with Lindsey Nelson and Bob Murphy. Referring to a Philadelphia Phillies outfielder, Kiner made another lasting addition to the baseball lexicon: “Two-thirds of the earth is covered by water. The other third is covered by Garry Maddox.”

There wasn’t any aspect of baseball and good living that Ralph Kiner didn’t cover, and the game was greatly enriched by his association with it. Now, stay tuned for Kiner’s Korner.

Totally globalized native New Yorker and former broadcast news producer Muhammad Cohen is author of Hong Kong On Air, a novel set in his adopted hometown during the 1997 handover about television news, love, betrayal, high finance, and cheap lingerie. See his bio, online archive and more at www.muhammadcohen.com; follow him on Facebook and Twitter @MuhammadCohen.


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