Archive for September, 2010

Baseball makes its pitch in China

September 30, 2010

In the US, Independence Day on July 4th features barbecues, fireworks and baseball. October 1 marks the anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China, featuring parades, speeches and, maybe someday, baseball, too. Major League Baseball began promoting baseball in China by training China’s team for the 2008 Olympics. With baseball out of the Olympic movement after the Asian Games in November, critics say MLB has squandered its best chance to build grassroots support, sell merchandise and win TV audiences. As I reported in Asia Times, MLB officials say they’ve barely begun their quest to win Chinese hearts and minds and find baseball’s equivalent of NBA star Yao Ming. Earlier this year, China’s designated professional sports entrepreneur Kenny Huang issued press releases about branching into baseball, so it may be the early innings of a contest between MLB and the home team in the world’s fastest growing consumer economy.

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, financial crisis, and cheap lingerie.

Crackpot threatens book burning

September 25, 2010

Hello. I’m Muhammad Cohen, and I have a stark warning for the American people.

My novel of Hong Kong On Air, a story of TV news, love, betrayal, high finance and cheap lingerie, is now on sale at bookstores throughout the US and online. If you don’t buy my book, then I’ll have to burn it, and for the security and tranquility of America, you don’t want me to do that.

I’m a Muslim – Muhammad Cohen – and burning my book will offend the 2.1 billion Muslims across the world. It will offend Muslims in Afghanistan, where America’s finest are in harm’s way. So if you don’t buy my book and make me burn it, you’ll be putting our troops at risk.

I’m also Jewish – Muhammad Cohen – and burning my book will offend the world’s Jews. If you don’t buy my book and make me burn it, you’ll be inviting trouble from the powerful American Jewish lobby, not to mention thousands of doctors, lawyers and accountants.

My book is Hong Kong On Air – Hong Kong, like in China – and burning it will offend 1.3 billion Chinese. China already makes just about everything we buy, we’re in hock to China up to eyebrows, and they’ve got nuclear weapons. Burning my book is bound to get on China’s bad side, and that’s no where to be.

Hong Kong On Air is about the global media, especially big, family controlled global media that reaches across television and newspapers. Burning my book will get the powerful global media angry, and give them another reason to tap your cell phone.

I’m originally from Queens, the New York City borough that’s closest to America’s heartland. If you make me burn my book, Jerry Seinfeld will haunt you, and Sarah Palin will never stop tweeting you.

If you don’t buy my book, you’ll offend America’s sense of humor because Hong Kong On Air is the funniest book you’ll read this year. You don’t want to get on the bad side of the comedians who make America laugh every night, guys like David Letterman, Jay Leno, Glenn Beck and John Boehner.

I used to be a baseball writer, and I’ve still got plenty of friends in the game. Burning my book will anger people who make their living swinging wooden clubs and throwing rock-solid objects at great velocity with pinpoint accuracy – they could come looking for you. And, rest assured your ballpark nachos will never have jalapenos again. Besides, baseball remains America’s national pastime and if I burn my book… well, you can do what you want to me, but I’m not going to stand for you insulting the United States of America.

So, buy Hong Kong On Air, tell your friends to buy it, and give it as gifts. After you read it, post a review on Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble, and wherever else you can think of. Or the smoking book could turn out to be a mushroom cloud.

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, financial crisis, and cheap lingerie.

Shame on Laura Bush and fellow 9/11 liars

September 11, 2010

Watching the 9/11 commemorations stirred appropriately somber memories and emotions of that tragic day, until I saw Laura Bush speaking at the Shanksville, Pennsylvania, memorial to Flight 93 passengers. The National Parks Foundation, which organized the memorial, must’ve invited Bush because Osama bin Laden and shoe bomber Richard Reid sent regrets. No telling where Bush found the gall to attend.

Bush, of course, is the wife of former president George W Bush, who held office when al Qaeda struck on September 11, 2001. Yet Bush shoulders none of the blame for the attacks, even though his administration downgraded the fight against al Qaeda, and Bush’s national security advisor, serial incompetent Condoleezza Rice, ignored an August 2001 memo titled “Bin Laden determined to attack inside the United States.”

Despite all that, plus the administration’s botched conduct of the operation to capture bin Laden that’s become the nine year war in Afghanistan, Bush evades responsibility for this monumental tragedy. Moreover, he and fellow Republicans wear 9/11 as a badge of honor, using it as a political weapon to bludgeon opponents. By contrast, the Obama administration came under a firestorm of criticism over an attempted attack where the primary fault was overseas airport security failing to detect explosives.

Laura Bush is no innocent bystander but an active part of the Bush propaganda squad. As first defender of her husband’s administration, two years ago at the Republican National Convention, Mrs Bush fibbed, “Let’s not forget, President Bush has kept the American people safe.” That’s not true, Laura, unless 9/11 is your idea of safe. Maybe it is, since you and W came out okay.

Today in Shanksville, Bush even had the temerity to mention Iraq, the misbegotten war her husband’s team justified by abusing 9/11 and telling other, bigger lies. The invasion of Iraq cost more Americans lives than 9/11, killed hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, and extinguished any opportunity for the US to build on the global goodwill the attacks created.

For future 9/11 anniversaries, let’s hope that memorial organizers have the good sense to keep members of the George W Bush administration off the podium, and that administration members, starting with Laura and her husband, have the good taste to spend that day, and every day, with their heads bowed in shame and regret, at least until they take responsibility for their errors and apologize to the families in America and beyond that lost loved ones due to the administration’s incompetence, malfeasance and arrogance.

Make no mistake, Bushies, you’ll find Osama. You’re all guaranteed to meet him in hell.

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, financial crisis, and cheap lingerie.

Speak up, moderates!

September 8, 2010

It’s a busy week, full of competing ideas and emotions. Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year, kicking off the high holiday season begins at sundown Wednesday. Ramadan, the Muslim fasting month, ends Friday, giving way to the celebration of Id ul-Fitri. Saturday marks the ninth anniversary of the al-Qaeda attacks on the US that left more than 3,000 dead. Amid the controversy over Cordoba House, an evangelical Christian pastor with a congregation of 50 in Florida has created an international furor with plans to commemorate the day by burning copies of the Qur’an.

On all sides, extremists have seized control of the debate. Moderates must raise their voices to be heard over the radicals and take back the conversation. In this last shared holy season between Muslims and Jews until the 2030s, Palestinians and Israelis have restarted peace talks; perhaps negotiators will be infected with the spirit of the season, as I suggested last year in The Guardian. It may not help to be hopeful, but as the old joke* instructs, “It couldn’t hurt.”

*For those who don’t know the joke: The legendary actor of the Yiddish theater Boris Tomashevski dies during intermission of a performance. The producer comes out from the closed curtain and tells crowd, “Ladies and gentlemen, it breaks my heart to inform you that the great man, Tomashevski has passed away in his dressing room.”

From the back of the theater, a woman’s voice calls out, “Give him an enema.”

The producer ignores the cry and continues, “Of course, the performance will not continue, and we will refund your money. I’m sure you join me in sending deepest condolences to the family of the great man…”

“Give him an enema,” the woman repeats.

The producer can’t contain himself any longer. “Lady, Tomashevski is dead. An enema can’t help him.”

“It couldn’t hurt.”

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, financial crisis, and cheap lingerie.


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