Editorial
Published: April 30, 2008

Zimbabwe’s voters have waited more than four weeks for the results of the March 29 presidential election. A recount was supposed to begin on Tuesday, but it was again postponed. The only explanation for the delay — and the mounting attacks against the opposition — is that President Robert Mugabe and his henchmen are still trying to figure out a way to fix the vote.

Mr. Mugabe has wreaked havoc on his country — inflation is more than 100,000 percent and life expectancy has dropped to below 40 — and most Zimbabweans are eager, indeed desperate, for a change.

An official recount of the parliamentary election showed that the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, known as the M.D.C., won a majority of seats. Meanwhile, independent election observers say that the M.D.C.’s leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, came in first in the presidential vote, with 49.4 percent to Mr. Mugabe’s 41.8 percent. We would have preferred a clean count in which the presidential election results were officially certified and accepted by all sides. At this point, the government has had more than enough time to stuff as many ballot boxes as it wants. So it is time for an imperfect solution.

South Africa and other African nations must put aside their hero worship and find ways to persuade or pressure the 84-year-old Mr. Mugabe — who helped lead his country to majority rule in 1980 — to allow a peaceful transfer of power to Mr. Tsvangirai. Whether that means Mr. Tsvangirai enters into a power-sharing deal, serves a full term or temporarily holds office until a new — fair — election takes place should be decided by Zimbabwe’s new Parliament.

South African dockworkers who refused to unload a shipment of Chinese arms bound for Zimbabwe’s military deserve praise for supporting the democratic process in Zimbabwe. Unfortunately, the South African president, Thabo Mbeki, who has the most potential influence, is still refusing to get involved.

We don’t know if there is any way to get through to Mr. Mugabe. But his cronies and his army generals are vulnerable to outside pressure. Mr. Mbeki and other African leaders must tell them that any further manipulations and thuggery will be punished — with restrictions on their bank accounts and denial of visas.

We applaud the United Nations Security Council for taking up the issue. A U.N. envoy could help ease the transition. And if Mr. Mugabe continues to resist, the Security Council will need to ratchet up the pressure, starting with an arms embargo. This charade must end.

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坐看云起时
2008/04/24

英国小说家艾彻尔(Jeffrey Archer)来香港推销他的小说新作《诞生的囚徒》(The Prisoner Of Birth),在文华酒店的豪华套房里,艾彻尔比起二十年前我初见他时苍老了不少,但一对眼睛闪闪有神。
  
  艾彻尔曾经是保守党副主席,戴卓尔夫人的宠儿。如果不是八十年代一宗涉嫌买通妓女的案件,案情转折,无端让他坐了四年牢狱,罪名是发假誓,艾彻尔可能成為今日的首相。
  
  艾彻尔是英国当代最有魅力的小说家,一个说故事的圣手。拿起他的一本小说,只要翻开第一页、第一段、第一句,说故事的技巧,磁力四射,这时把读者拉扯进他的小说世界。
  
  艾彻尔的小说擅写政治斗争、商界风云、政海波涛、商界诡异。艾彻尔几十年来,纵横英国上流社会,阅人无数,凭着一份锐利的触觉和观察力,加上玩世不恭的生活态度,艾彻尔的小说作品一本接一本,如梦如魅,令人爱不释手。
  
  最新的作品,几天前我才收到,读了三分一。这本最新的小说,人物背景安排為之一变,主角是伦敦下层的一个机械工人,无端遭到陷害,坐了几年牢。出狱之后,他找律师报仇。
  
  「我的新作你看完了吗?」艾彻尔把一对脚搁在茶几上,哈哈一笑。
  
  「只读了三分一,主角还在牢狱裡,这是你的《基度山恩仇记》。」我答。
  
  「看下去吧,结局会令你意外的。」艾彻尔说。
  
  艾彻尔出身寒微,在牛津大学主修体育。这种学科,在牛津不属主流,但年轻的艾彻尔却有本事在牛津大学都结识贵族名流的子女,為自己铺好一条青云路。
  
  读牛津的时候,已经是英国奥运队的长跑好手,在奥运為国家赢了金牌。从此向上爬,加入保守党,三十岁不到,成為国会议员。在英国,从政一定要当后排议员,这是第一步。怎样从后排挤到前排,当影子内阁的候任官员,就要看党魁看不看得起你,以及自己的造化。
  
  艾彻尔发迹的过程,本身就是一部小说。他春风得意,他的一些手段和行為,攀上保守党权力的上层,如何令戴卓尔夫人视他如契仔。他做生意曾经失败,凭小说又从破产的边缘重生。在政治事业如日方中的时候,他却搭上了伦敦的一个妓女。妓女勒索他,他约了这位性工作者在伦敦的维多利亚车站秘密见面,交给她一个信封,里面是几千镑现金。狗仔队不知何故,埋伏现场,图片曝光,政治事业告吹。
  
  但这还不是结局。因為妓女勒索案排期审讯,艾彻尔又涉嫌发假誓,结果被重判入狱四年。这几年来,出狱之后,艾彻尔住在西班牙,重拾创作之笔。他的小说写得出,出一本,热卖一本,今日凭版税,已经是亿万富翁。
  
  艾彻尔的小说我大部分都看过。成名作《该隐和阿伯》(Kane & Abel)不必说,是他广為人知的一本,有如金庸的《射雕英雄传》。《第四权》(The Fourth Estate)乾净利落,讲的是梅泽和麦士维斗法的故事。从两人年轻时第二次世界大战的经历讲起,到他们在报业一决雌雄。我认为这是艾彻尔的经典。此见或许有点偏颇,因為我读这本小说的时候在做新闻工作。
  
  「梅泽看了这本小说吗?」我问。
  
  「他看过,觉得很有趣。梅泽和麦士维我都很熟悉,书中的情节,有七成都是真的。」在小说中,麦士维是坏蛋,工於心计,又非常幸运。艾彻尔的本事,是把坏人写得富有魅力。很多人都说,因為他自己手段精明,是一个上流的古惑仔。
  
  对於这一点,我没有异议。小说写得精彩,只写好人,是很沉闷的,坏人的角色要写得生动,才是上天赐予的才华。金庸小说裡,许多坏蛋角色鲜明,像《笑傲江湖》里的岳不群。
  
  世上伟大的小说家,都是一样的。艾彻尔的小说中有许多现实情节。另一个短篇小说集,叫做《别有洞天》(A Twist in the Tale),悬疑故事,看到最后才拍案惊奇:是写作技巧的纯表演,也像是两部钜作之间小息之间的随意之作。十二个短篇小品全是精品,像打开一盒锦绣朱古力。「《别有洞天》我觉得有几个故事完全可以化为长篇来写。实在太精彩了,令人觉得有点可惜。」我说。
  
  「也不一定,」艾彻尔说:「短篇就是短篇,话不必说尽,留给读者想像的空间更大。」我想:果然是当今英语世界的第一才子。一九八八我在保守党的年会,初见艾彻尔,他坐在台上,与戴卓尔夫人并排。那时他五十不到,还是一位金童子。从权力的宝座跌下来,英国记者落井下石,在他受审期间,对他的报导言词尖刻,令人不忍卒睹。
  
  「你出狱后,那些记者还遇到过你吗?」
  
  「当然,」他不在乎地一挥手:「他们在报上骂我,以后在鸡尾酒会上却与我一见如故,态度亲热,就像三十年阔别的老友:『Oh Hello. Jeffrey,你好吗?我一直都想念你……』真他妈的作呕。但这种事情,我都见惯了。」
  
  艾彻尔的一些小说角色,其实就是他自己。有血有肉,呼之欲出。我可以大胆讲一句:今生当其懂中文而不读金庸与懂英文而不读艾彻尔一样,都是无法弥补的缺陷。小说首先是娱乐品,然后才是文学。艾彻尔不会得到诺贝尔文学奖,但他的小说比许多文学奖作品传世。艾彻尔是一个人物也是角色,虚实相融。
  
  活成另一种境界,因为身为作家,他把一生活成一部笔下的小说。近年读什麼《哈利波特》,总觉得淡然无味,曾经沧海,原来吃过鱼翅,粉丝就进不了肚,我终於明白了。

最新一期的经济学人写了中国的示威浪潮,其中有两个段落写得很是直接:

“The display of outraged patriotism serves the interests of China’s government in ways both obvious and subtle, at least up to a point. It naturally prefers to see people united behind government policies and cross at foreigners than to have them complaining about corruption, inequality, environmental degradation and the many other problems at home. And the government will be pleased if its people turn against foreign forms of democracy and freedom of expression that they have sometimes been tempted to argue it might consider adopting.”

“Mixed in with all the nationalist bluster have been a few voices of moderation. But a bit of calm and wisdom could go a long way, as could a more nuanced understanding among Chinese nationalists of the outside world that so frequently angers them. Chinese protesters who were so incensed by Mr Cafferty’s comment might, for example, be surprised at some of the venom he’s poured on America’s own leaders. And they might be even more surprised at just how little anybody cares.”

无论是中国境内的人们还是海外的华人,是时候我们以更成熟的心理来面对在一个言论自由的社会里所有的种种现象。更大的包容力才是一个民族强盛的体现,而不是奥运会的表面成功。这才不负汤恩比对中国儒家思想和大乘佛教所给予的极高评价。

By ELISABETH ROSENTHAL
Published: April 26, 2008

Cod caught off Norway is shipped to China to be turned into filets, then shipped back to Norway for sale. Argentine lemons fill supermarket shelves on the Citrus Coast of Spain, as local lemons rot on the ground. Half of Europe’s peas are grown and packaged in Kenya.

In the United States, FreshDirect proclaims kiwi season has expanded to “All year!” now that Italy has become the world’s leading supplier of New Zealand’s national fruit, taking over in the Southern Hemisphere’s winter.

Food has moved around the world since Europeans brought tea from China, but never at the speed or in the amounts it has over the last few years. Consumers in not only the richest nations but, increasingly, the developing world expect food whenever they crave it, with no concession to season or geography.

Increasingly efficient global transport networks make it practical to bring food before it spoils from distant places where labor costs are lower. And the penetration of mega-markets in nations from China to Mexico with supply and distribution chains that gird the globe — like Wal-Mart, Carrefour and Tesco — has accelerated the trend.

But the movable feast comes at a cost: pollution — especially carbon dioxide, the main global warming gas — from transporting the food.

Under longstanding trade agreements, fuel for international freight carried by sea and air is not taxed. Now, many economists, environmental advocates and politicians say it is time to make shippers and shoppers pay for the pollution, through taxes or other measures.

“We’re shifting goods around the world in a way that looks really bizarre,” said Paul Watkiss, an Oxford University economist who wrote a recent European Union report on food imports.

He noted that Britain, for example, imports — and exports — 15,000 tons of waffles a year, and similarly exchanges 20 tons of bottled water with Australia. More important, Mr. Watkiss said, “we are not paying the environmental cost of all that travel.”

Europe is poised to change that. This year the European Commission in Brussels announced that all freight-carrying flights into and out of the European Union would be included in the trading bloc’s emissions-trading program by 2012, meaning permits will have to be purchased for the pollution they generate.

The commission is negotiating with the global shipping organization, the International Maritime Organization, over various alternatives to reduce greenhouse gases. If there is no solution by year’s end, sea freight will also be included in Europe’s emissions-trading program, said Barbara Helferrich, a spokeswoman for the European Commission’s Environment Directorate. “We’re really ready to have everyone reduce — or pay in some way,” she said.

The European Union, the world’s leading food importer, has increased imports 20 percent in the last five years. The value of fresh fruit and vegetables imported by the United States, in second place, nearly doubled from 2000 to 2006.

Under a little-known international treaty called the Convention on International Civil Aviation, signed in Chicago in 1944 to help the fledgling airline industry, fuel for international travel and transport of goods, including food, is exempt from taxes, unlike trucks, cars and buses. There is also no tax on fuel used by ocean freighters.

Proponents say ending these breaks could help ensure that producers and consumers pay the environmental cost of increasingly well-traveled food.

The food and transport industries say the issue is more complicated. The debate has put some companies on the defensive, including Tesco, Britain’s largest supermarket chain, known as a vocal promoter of green initiatives.

Some of those companies say that they are working to limit greenhouse gases produced by their businesses but that the question is how to do it. They oppose regulation and new taxes and, partly in an effort to head them off, are advocating consumer education instead.

Tesco, for instance, is introducing a labeling system that will let consumers assess a product’s carbon footprint.

Some foods that travel long distances may actually have an environmental advantage over local products, like flowers grown in the tropics instead of in energy-hungry European greenhouses.

“This may be as radical for environmental consuming as putting a calorie count on the side of packages to help people who want to lose weight,” a spokesman for Tesco, Trevor Datson, said.

Better transportation networks have sharply reduced the time required to ship food abroad. For instance, improved roads in Africa have helped cut the time it takes for goods to go from farms on that continent to stores in Europe to 4 days, compared with 10 days not too many years ago.

And with far cheaper labor costs in African nations, Morocco and Egypt have displaced Spain in just a few seasons as important suppliers of tomatoes and salad greens to central Europe.

“If there’s an opportunity for cheaper production in terms of logistics or supply it will be taken,” said Ed Moorehouse, a consultant to the food industry in London, adding that some of these shifts also create valuable jobs in the developing world.

The economics are compelling. For example, Norwegian cod costs a manufacturer $1.36 a pound to process in Europe, but only 23 cents a pound in Asia.

The ability to transport food cheaply has given rise to new and booming businesses.

“In the past few years there have been new plantations all over the center of Italy,” said Antonio Baglioni, export manager of Apofruit, one of Italy’s largest kiwi exporters.

Kiwis from Sanifrutta, another Italian exporter, travel by sea in refrigerated containers: 18 days to the United States, 28 to South Africa and more than a month to reach New Zealand.

Some studies have calculated that as little as 3 percent of emissions from the food sector are caused by transportation. But Mr. Watkiss, the Oxford economist, said the percentage was growing rapidly. Moreover, imported foods generate more emissions than generally acknowledged because they require layers of packaging and, in the case of perishable food, refrigeration.

Britain, with its short growing season and powerful supermarket chains, imports 95 percent of its fruit and more than half of its vegetables. Food accounts for 25 percent of truck shipments in Britain, according to the British environmental agency, DEFRA.

Mr. Datson of Tesco acknowledged that there were environmental consequences to the increased distances food travels, but he said his company was merely responding to consumer appetites. “The offer and range has been growing because our customers want things like snap peas year round,” Mr. Datson said. “We don’t see our job as consumer choice editing.”

Global supermarket chains like Tesco and Carrefour, spreading throughout Eastern Europe and Asia, cater to a market for convenience foods, like washed lettuce and cut vegetables. They also help expand the reach of global brands.

Pringles potato chips, for example, are now sold in more than 180 countries, though they are manufactured in only a handful of places, said Kay Puryear, a spokeswoman for Procter & Gamble, which makes Pringles.

Proponents of taxing transportation fuel say it would end such distortions by changing the economic calculus.

“Food is traveling because transport has become so cheap in a world of globalization,” said Frederic Hague, head of Norway’s environmental group Bellona. “If it was just a matter of processing fish cheaper in China, I’d be happy with it traveling there. The problem is pollution.”

The European Union has led the world in proposals to incorporate environmental costs into the price consumers pay for food.

Switzerland, which does not belong to the E.U., already taxes trucks that cross its borders.

In addition to bringing airlines under its emission-trading program, Brussels is also considering a freight charge specifically tied to the environmental toll from food shipping to shift the current calculus that “transporting freight is cheaper than producing goods locally,” the commission said.

The problem is measuring the emissions. The fact that food travels farther does not necessarily mean more energy is used. Some studies have shown that shipping fresh apples, onions and lamb from New Zealand might produce lower emissions than producing the goods in Europe, where — for example — storing apples for months would require refrigeration.

But those studies were done in New Zealand, and the food travel debate is inevitably intertwined with economic interests.

Last month, Tony Burke, the Australian minister for agriculture, fisheries and forestry, said that carbon footprinting and labeling food miles — the distance food has traveled — was “nothing more than protectionism.”

Shippers have vigorously fought the idea of levying a transportation fuel tax, noting that if some countries repealed those provisions of the Chicago Convention, it would wreak havoc with global trade, creating an uneven patchwork of fuel taxes.

It would also give countries that kept the exemption a huge trade advantage.

Some European retailers hope voluntary green measures like Tesco’s labeling — set to begin later this year — will slow the momentum for new taxes and regulations.

The company will begin testing the labeling system, starting with products like orange juice and laundry detergent.

Customers may be surprised by what they discover.

Box Fresh Organics, a popular British brand, advertises that 85 percent of its vegetables come from the British Midlands. But in winter, in its standard basket, only the potatoes and carrots are from Britain. The grapes are South African, the fennel is from Spain and the squash is Italian.

Today’s retailers could not survive if they failed to offer such variety, Mr. Moorehouse, the British food consultant, said.

“Unfortunately,” he said, “we’ve educated our customers to expect cheap food, that they can go to the market to get whatever they want, whenever they want it. All year. 24/7.”

Daniele Pinto contributed reporting.

nucifera: 这篇研究结果有点惊人,但是就nucifera这一两年来的观察,这确实是非常有可能。

………………………………………………………………………………….

By KENNETH CHANG
Published: April 25, 2008

One train leaves Station A at 6 p.m. traveling at 40 miles per hour toward Station B. A second train leaves Station B at 7 p.m. traveling on parallel tracks at 50 m.p.h. toward Station A. The stations are 400 miles apart. When do the trains pass each other?

Entranced, perhaps, by those infamous hypothetical trains, many educators in recent years have incorporated more and more examples from the real world to teach abstract concepts. The idea is that making math more relevant makes it easier to learn.

That idea may be wrong, if researchers at Ohio State University are correct. An experiment by the researchers suggests that it might be better to let the apples, oranges and locomotives stay in the real world and, in the classroom, to focus on abstract equations, in this case 40 (t + 1) = 400 – 50t, where t is the travel time in hours of the second train. (The answer is below.)

“The motivation behind this research was to examine a very widespread belief about the teaching of mathematics, namely that teaching students multiple concrete examples will benefit learning,” said Jennifer A. Kaminski, a research scientist at the Center for Cognitive Science at Ohio State. “It was really just that, a belief.”

Dr. Kaminski and her colleagues Vladimir M. Sloutsky and Andrew F. Heckler did something relatively rare in education research: they performed a randomized, controlled experiment. Their results appear in Friday’s issue of the journal Science.

Though the experiment tested college students, the researchers suggested that their findings might also be true for math education in elementary through high school, the subject of decades of debates about the best teaching methods.

In the experiment, the college students learned a simple but unfamiliar mathematical system, essentially a set of rules. Some learned the system through purely abstract symbols, and others learned it through concrete examples like combining liquids in measuring cups and tennis balls in a container.

Then the students were tested on a different situation — what they were told was a children’s game — that used the same math. “We told students you can use the knowledge you just acquired to figure out these rules of the game,” Dr. Kaminski said.

The students who learned the math abstractly did well with figuring out the rules of the game. Those who had learned through examples using measuring cups or tennis balls performed little better than might be expected if they were simply guessing. Students who were presented the abstract symbols after the concrete examples did better than those who learned only through cups or balls, but not as well as those who learned only the abstract symbols.

The problem with the real-world examples, Dr. Kaminski said, was that they obscured the underlying math, and students were not able to transfer their knowledge to new problems.

“They tend to remember the superficial, the two trains passing in the night,” Dr. Kaminski said. “It’s really a problem of our attention getting pulled to superficial information.”

The researchers said they had experimental evidence showing a similar effect with 11-year-old children. The findings run counter to what Dr. Kaminski said was a “pervasive assumption” among math educators that concrete examples help more children better understand math.

But if the Ohio State findings also apply to more basic math lessons, then teaching fractions with slices of pizza or statistics by pulling marbles out of a bag might prove counterproductive. “There are reasons to think it could affect everyone, including young learners,” Dr. Kaminski said.

Dr. Kaminski said even the effectiveness of using blocks and other “manipulatives,” which have become more pervasive in preschool and kindergarten, remained untested. It has not been shown that lessons in which children learn to count by using blocks translate to a better understanding of numbers than a more abstract approach would have achieved.

The Ohio State researchers have begun new experiments with elementary school students.

Other mathematicians called the findings interesting but warned against overgeneralizing. “One size can’t fit all,” said Douglas H. Clements, a professor of learning and instruction at the University of Buffalo. “That’s not denying what these guys have found, whatsoever.”

Some children need manipulatives to learn math basics, Dr. Clements said, but only as a starting point.

“It’s a fascinating article,” said David Bressoud, a professor of mathematics at Macalester College in St. Paul and president-elect of the Mathematical Association of America. “In some respects, it’s not too surprising.”

As for the answer to the math problem at the top of this article, the two trains pass each other at 11 p.m. at the midway point between Stations A and B. Or, using the abstract approach, t = 4.

nucifera: 五十颗子弹射向一个手无寸铁的黑人,这绝对是悲剧。

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Editorial
Published: April 26, 2008

A State Supreme Court justice’s decision to acquit three police detectives in the November 2006 death of an unarmed man was stunning in its thorough absolution of the officers who fired 50 bullets at Sean Bell and two companions as they sat in a car outside a strip club.

Justice Arthur Cooperman found the three — even one officer who reloaded his gun to squeeze off 31 rounds — not guilty of all charges of manslaughter, assault and reckless endangerment.

As all New Yorkers should, we respect Justice Cooperman’s verdict, but we do not believe all questions of accountability were resolved. Mr. Bell’s family has said it plans to pursue a civil lawsuit, and federal prosecutors are examining the case. We hope they bring answers.

Large questions remain about the New York Police Department. In recent years, when police have killed unarmed men, they have been, almost without exception, black. The detectives on trial said that they believed Mr. Bell, Joseph Guzman and Trent Benefield had a gun, and based on that suspicion they fired away. No gun was found. Similarly, in 1999 police fired 41 bullets at Amadou Diallo, an unarmed African immigrant who was just reaching for his wallet. The acquittal of four police officers after that killing, which occurred during the racially challenged leadership of Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, set off unrest in which scores were arrested.

Anger and disappointment are understandable now, but New York’s leadership has changed, and community activists need to absorb that fact before they attempt to heat up reaction. Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly are trying to correct the conditions that led to the Bell shooting, changes that take time and good faith on all sides. Both men have kept a schedule of outreach to minority communities.

Progress has been steady. After the Bell shooting, Mr. Kelly ordered an independent study of department firearms training by the Rand Corporation. The results should be available soon. The commissioner hopes to prevent “reflexive shooting” after one officer fires an initial shot. Detective Michael Oliver alone managed to fire 31 of the 50 rounds toward Mr. Bell’s car — all in the few seconds following an initial shot from Gescard Isnora.

The commissioner is also reforming undercover operations, including requiring breathalyzer tests after an officer fires a weapon. In the Bell shooting, undercover officers said that they stayed within the allowed limit of two alcoholic beverages, but they were not tested.

The margin of error once shooting begins has become distressingly small. The police have come to favor fast, easy-to-fire weapons like 9-millimeter semiautomatics. The rule that an officer is to pause and reassess after three shots can be forgotten in the heat of gunplay.

We also wonder why the police continue to put themselves and others in harm’s way with undercover operations at places like strip clubs. The club where Mr. Bell spent the night before his scheduled wedding was reputed to be a haven for prostitutes, drug dealers and gun traders. We suspect that it and others like it have health- or fire-code violations that could shut them, without deadly risk.

In his verdict, Justice Cooperman indicated that he found no carelessness or incompetence that rose “to the level of criminal acts.” We respect that judgment as a matter of law, but we see both carelessness and incompetence in the behavior of the police officers that must be corrected as a matter of public policy.