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Suspected smuggler caught at China border with iPhone ‘armor’

Many American consumers had to jump through hoops to buy a new iPhone 6 when the device was released in September.

But waiting in lines and paying huge no-contract penalties pale in comparison to the challenges faced by Chinese fans of Apple’s latest must-have phone.

The New York Times’ China reporter Chris Buckley and the Sina News service first reported yesterday the story of a man caught at the China/Hong Kong border with 94 of the phones taped to his body.

Initial reports indicate authorities were tipped off when the man approached a metal detector walking stiffly. The man reportedly made no attempt to avoid the detector before he walked through, tripping the alarm.

Sales of the new phones were delayed several weeks in China after first going on sale in America in September. A flourishing black market emerged, with some paying as much as $2,400 for the devices, according to technology news outlet CNet. Smugglers at one point even included schoolchildren.

Media reports have not identified the man or indicated what criminal charges, if any, he faces.

Is there any gotta-have-it device that you would tape to your body and risk arrest to own or sell? I’ve always wanted a mint condition Virtual Boy, but I don’t think it would fit inside my overcoat.

Inslee staying in China extra day

OLYMPIA — Gov. Jay Inslee will return from his belated trade trip China on Tuesday, rather than today.

Inslee's office said this morning the governor was extending his stay in China an extra day to make a trip to Beijing for meetings that were postponed last week because of the special session. He'll meet with Gary Locke, his gubernatorial predecessor who is now U.S. ambassador to China, and receive a briefing on China's clean energy efforts.

Inslee delays China trip

OLYMPIA — Gov. Jay Inslee is postponing his trade mission to China.

Inslee was scheduled to leave Saturday on a previously arranged trade mission. But with the Legislature in a special session he called earlier this week to pass proposals aimed at convincing the Boeing Co. to build the 777X in Washington, it was expected he'd need to stay in the state.

Inslee's office announced the trip will be rescheduled but "at this point we do  not have a new departure date planned."

Travel: Family Travel Gives Children the Gift of Independence



   As we were driving across mountain passes and through a wide Montana valley to take her to college, my youngest daughter sat in the back seat, surrounded by the boxes she’d packed. The three of us fell into a familiar and comfortable pattern, with her teasing us, making us laugh, as the miles flew by.


   For a moment I managed to forget that we were taking her to leave her, to start her new life as a college student. I forgot that with her went our last child, leaving us with an empty house. I forgot that I have no clear idea of what comes next. For a few hours It was just the family off on an adventure. There was an easy affection in the way we spoke to one another and all of the stresses and irritations of the last few months disappeared.


   When we got to the campus we checked her into her dorm. We hauled the boxes out of the car and shopped for what else she would need. We went out to dinner and then shopped some more. We unpacked the books and bedding and keepsakes she’d taken with her, plugged in the small refrigerator, put her clothes in the closet and we were done. I realized she was being very patient with us but she was clearly ready to be on her own.


  Moving to college is a journey into the unknown, but watching my daughter I realized she was uniquely prepared for this new life. She is no stranger to foreign places. 


 I reminded myself that this is the girl who ran ahead, turning around to tease me for being a slowpoke as we climbed the Great Wall in China. This is the girl who stood up to and challenged the arrogant and vaguely threatening transit officer who bullied us in Prague. This is the girl who didn’t let the man on the flight to Budapest get away with taking an aisle seat that wasn’t his; he was in her father’s seat and she made him move. This is the girl who lost her way for a few minutes in Rome and managed to find us on her own before we even realized she was gone. This is the girl who led us through Vienna and this is the girl who ordered our meals on our last trip to Paris—in passable French—and who, judging from the way she walked blocks ahead of me as we moved around the city, would clearly have preferred to been there on her own.


I didn’t think of it at the time, when I was planning vacations and saving for tickets to faraway places, but our travels did more than open her eyes to other people and other lands. She came back from each trip with confidence in herself. She may not know it’s there, but I know she’ll find it when she needs it.


She may be anxious and a little unsure now, college is a big leap, after all. But I have confidence in her. This is the girl who can find her way.



Cheryl-Anne Millsap is a travel writer whose audio essays can be heard on Spokane Public Radio and on public radio stations across the country. She is the author of ‘Home Planet: A Life in Four Seasons’ and can be reached at catmillsap@gmail.com


Travel: Kicking the Bucket List

    So often when the subject of travel comes up, someone will invariably mention their 'bucket list.' They will talk about a city or continent, a monument or some kind of natural wonder or even an event they want to see before they die. Before, as the cliché goes, they kick the bucket.

    I heard the phrase whispered several times last year as I stood on the deck of a small ship in Alaska, watching humpback whales swim so close I could hear them breathing. I heard it just a few weeks ago watching the Northern Lights undulate across the spring sky over Manitoba, standing in a night so dark and cold it was as if I’d floated out into space.

    I never actually put my list down on paper, I’m not that organized, but it wouldn’t have mattered anyway. Instead, I have carried a kind of mental itinerary in my head, images of places I want to see and things I want to experience. But that mental list, like the Northern Lights, is not constant. It shifts and changes, shining on one landscape and then another as I add and subtract. Every time I see a great photograph or read an exceptional travel story, I pencil in new locations. Sometimes the world changes and war, weather or political upheaval get in the way and a destination drops off.

    Of course, the truth is there will never be enough time to see it all, and not just because I got a late start at the second half of my traveling life, staying home to raise a family and then working around that family to build a career. Even if I’d started on a round-the-world trip the day I was born, there still wouldn’t be time enough to experience it all because the more I learn about the world around me, the more I want to see and do. But life is short so I try to treat every trip—large or small— like it will be my last. I remind myself stop and savor the moments instead of pushing to do more and see more. I have learned it’s important to appreciate where you are and where you’ve been, before hurrying on to the next adventure.

     Several years ago, as my daughter and I walked along the Great Wall in China, navigating the ancient, uneven steps, I suddenly remembered a photo of the wall in one of my school Geography books. At that time, China was still a closed and shuttered place. I’d studied the photo with interest but it never once occurred to me that I might one day stand at the place pictured in it, especially with a child of my own. But I did. And in that moment, watching my daughter focus her camera on one of the marvels of the world, I felt a swell of gratitude for the rambling path my life had taken to put us both there.

    So, no real list for me. When my time is up I want more than a column of checkmarks to define my wanderlust. Instead, I want to be the woman who didn’t always know where she was going but always took the time to appreciate where she was.

Cheryl-Anne Millsap is a travel journalist  whose audio essays can be heard on Spokane Public Radio and on public radio stations across the country. She is the author of ‘Home Planet: A Life in Four Seasons’ and can be reached at catmillsap@gmail.com

Chinese exports case lands in Spokane

A Canadian man suspected of sending United States defense materials to China is in jail in Spokane.

Kevin Zhang, alias Zhao Wei Zhang, 41, was arrested by the U.S. Border Patrol near Metaline Falls on Monday. He’d been wanted since January 2011 on a sealed warrant in federal court in San Diego that accuses him of conspiring to send devices used in tactical missiles and drones to the Chinese.

The charge of conspiracy to export defense articles without a license accuses Zhang, who is a naturalized Canadian citizen living in Calgary, of finding U.S. citizens to legally purchase gyroscopes and send them to China or send them to Canada, where they would then be shipped to China. Zhang has family in China, according to court documents.

Gyroscopes are classified defense materials, which are regulated by the U.S. Department of State. Though available for purchase in the U.S., shipping the material abroad requires a license. U.S. policy prohibits exports of such materials to China.

Investigators say Zhang contacted a man in San Diego on April 6, 2010, and discussed purchasing Gyroscopes “at a premium price for the purpose of circumventing United States export laws and illegally shipping the Gyroscopes to China,” according to court documents.

Zhang also emailed an unnamed co-conspirator and client in China the next day and instructed him to find an export/import agent who does not “play by the rules” to help them get the Gyroscopes into China, the indictment alleges.

Zhang sent another email to the man in San Diego on May 25, 2010, suggesting that he find someone to smuggle the Gyroscopes on an airliner. An agreement was finalized on Oct. 1, 2010, for Zhang to ship three Gyroscopes to China in exchange for $21,000, according to the indictment.

A federal grand jury in Southern California indicted Zhang on Jan. 14, 2011.

He was booked into jail Tuesday about 8:20 p.m. and ordered to stay there to await transportation to California after he appeared Tuesday before U.S. District Magistrate Cynthia Imbrogno.

Court documents say Zhang faces a maximum of 5 years in prison if convicted.

Program: Hike, bike and paddle in China, Turkey

 ADVENTURING — Spokane Mountaineer Connie Connelly is set to share highlights of recent far-flung outdoor trips in a free slide show program tonight.

Follow Connelly biking the rice paddies of Southern China and hiking, kayaking, snorkeling and biking Turkey.

The program starts 7 p.m. at the Mountain Gear Corporate Headquarters, 6011 E. Mansfield (go north on Fancher Road from Trent and turn right just before the tracks).

Gregoire going to China, Japan

OLYMPIA — Gov. Chris Gregoire is racking up the frequent flier miles this month. She's in Washington, D.C., right now for a National Governors Association meeting. Next week, she'll be going to China and Japan.

Gregoire is leading an NGA delegation to Beijing that leaves Monday, a spokeswoman said. That organization is paying the cost of the trip for her and an aide. She'll also have a couple state patrol officers accompanying her for security, which will be covered by the state.

Also making the trip will be governors from Georgia, Hawaii, North Carolina, Guam and the Northern Mariannas Islands.

After finishing in Beijing, Gregoire, her aide and security folks will make a brief side trip to Tokyo where she will meet with two Japanese companies that have manufacturing facilities in Washington and are looking to expand. One company makes carbon fiber parts for Boeing and is thinking of expanding into the automobile field; another makes silicon wafers.

The group is scheduled to return to Washington state on Friday.

Total cost to the state for the trip is still being calculated.

Otter at Women’s Day on selling Idaho to China: ‘We have not, we will not’

An array of female state government officials, including state Controller Donna Jones, state Department of Agriculture Director Celia Gould, state Appellate Public Defender Molly Huskey, state Historical Society Director Janet Gallimore, and many more, are gathered in the Capitol Auditorium for today's second annual "Women's Day at the Capitol." Gov. Butch Otter told the group, "Women have been intricately involved in the history of Idaho."

The governor, First Lady Lori Otter and the officials are taking questions from the roughly 70 attendees; the first was from the owner of a very small business, inquiring what the state is doing to help the state's smallest businesses, like hers with just herself and one part-time employee. Otter said, "I would tell you in Idaho, small business is our economy." Bibiana Nertney from the Idaho Department of Commerce discussed loans and other programs her department offers. The next question, submitted in writing and read by moderator Natalie Hurst, was, "Can you explain the Chinese situation - are you really selling part of the state?"

Otter said, "No - that's the answer. I don't know how that got so convoluted, but I guess it had to do with poor timing on our part. The first lady and I led a trade delegation to China." He noted that Idaho's international sales have risen dramatically since 1987, when he first became lieutenant governor, and touted that growth. "Somehow the connection was made between a visit that was made to the state of Idaho by a Chinese group and my trip to China," Otter said. "I have never ever talked to anyone or got into a discussion with anyone that wanted to buy 50,000 acres right next to Gowen Field, which we don't have, by the way, and open up a free trade zone, which we only have one in Idaho, and it's actually up on the Canadian border with Canada. … We have not, we will not."

China Furor Lighting Rod Dietrich Quits

Idaho Department of Commerce Director Don Dietrich (pictured) is resigning from his post effective Sept. 2. Dietrich, a former executive with Aspen Technology and Cargill Inc., said he plans to return to the private sector. He's also been a lightning rod as rumors have circulated that Gov. Butch Otter's “Project 60” trade-building initiative is really a plot to sell Idaho's sovereignty to China; the John Birch Society has been pushing the theory and using quotes from Dietrich about trade with China. The furor even spread to the Idaho Republican Party's Central Committee, which passed a “China Beachhead” resolution last month calling on the Legislature to look into it/Betsy Russell, Eye On Boise. More here.

Question: What role did paranoia over China investment in Idaho play in this resignation?

Trib: Believing Lies, Obscuring Truth

Accuse Idaho Gov. C.L. (Butch) Otter of selling the state out to the Chinese and people will believe it. Tell them the governor puts big corporations and special interests at the front of the line, however, and they're incredulous. What would you call people who buy a conspiracy theory but ignore their own reality? Republicans. Meeting in Moscow Saturday, the state GOP Central Committee gave credence to the China story by directing Otter to go slow. The GOP resolution says in part: "The stability of our form of government is being undermined by strategies used by the Chinese state-government-controlled entities through investments, corporate takeovers, intelligence operations and rare-Earth monopolization"/Marty Trillhaase, Lewiston Tribune. More here.

Question: Why do partisans of all stripes, and not just Idaho Republicans, believe lies & obscure truth of their elected party leaders?

The China thing…

It turns out that the John Birch Society, through its magazine, “The New American,” has been whipping up the swirl of online outrage over Idaho being sold off to the Chinese, Idaho Statesman reporter Rocky Barker reported on Sunday; you can read his full article here, which included this tidbit: Last week, the online frenzy bumped a six-month-old Statesman story about about an effort to court Chinese investment in Idaho to the most-viewed article on the Statesman's website, drawing tens of thousands of viewers. Barker's article includes a Q-and-A “fact check” on the claims, noting that the Chinese have not bought 50 square miles of Idaho, nor would a possible free-trade zone exempt the Chinese from American laws; Idaho has a free trade zone for Canada now in Boundary County.

In the latest “New American” article on June 9, writer Joe Wolverton blasted Idaho Gov. Butch Otter's “Project 60,” a plan to increase the state's gross domestic product while Otter is governor, as “an extraordinary display of misdirection all designed to lull the citizens of the sovereign state of Idaho into a stupor while their state is sold to the Chinese.” Barker reports that Otter fielded questions from concerned Idahoans about the reports at his recent Capital for a Day event at Castleford.

Symphony Associates “Upscale Sale” This Weekend

This weekend is your chance to find a treasure at the Third Annual  Spokane Symphony Associates “Upscale Sale.”

I’m a big fan of the sale and try to never miss it. (I wrote about last year’s favorite finds here.) 

This year’s sale is bigger and better than ever thanks to Carol Worthington-Borodin’s donation of more than 10,000 pieces of fine china and 1,000 pieces of fine crystal. Worthington, a noted appraiser and antiques dealer, donated pieces from her former pattern-matching business. If you've ever wanted to add to your china collection, or you're looking for pieces to complete a set, this is a perfect opportunity.

Other always-wonderful-to-find items include furs, silver, musical instruments, books, linens and holiday decorations.

The Upscale Sale has become the place for scoring great deals on antiques, designer clothing, brand-name furniture as well as vintage rugs, costume jewelry and household items. More than 150 individuals have contributed to the sale.

For a $5 admission, early Birds can take advantage of the 5:30 - 7pm Thursday evening preview sale and shop before the sale opens to the public Friday morning at 8am.

All proceeds benefit the Spokane Symphony.

See you there?

Spokane Symphony Associates “Upscale Sale.”
Where: 1027 W. 3rd Ave. (Between Monroe & Madison Streets.)
When: Early Bird sale Thursday, June 2, 5:30 - 7pm.
Regular Hours: Friday, June 3, 8am-5pm, and Saturday, June 4, 8am-3pm.

Today’s fun video: Who’s hawking chicken in China


KFC's ad for a chicken sandwich in China seems to have an endorsement of the highest order…

Gregoire at Hu’s dinner

At the risk of sounding like an old Abbott and Costello routine, Hu's coming to dinner at the White House, and Gov. Chris Gregoire is invited too.

Who's coming to dinner? Hu's the president of China.  I don't know who's the president of China but who's coming to dinner? Yes, Hu's president of China and he's coming to dinner. 

OK, so it's been done before, and better. So without further foolishness, Chinese President Hu Jintao is attending a state dinner at the White House Wednesday night.  Washington's status as a major exporting state, and the fact that China is one of our biggest overseas markets, and the fact that Gregoire was in China a few months ago on a trade mission may all have combined to get the governor an invitation to dinner.

Also on the list: Former Gov. and now Commerce Secretary Gary Locke and his wife Mona; actor Jackie Chan, musician Yo Yo Ma; Barbara Streisand and James Brolin; Microsoft honcho Steve Ballmer; skater Michelle Kwan.

No word yet on who Gregoire gets to sit next to, the governor's office said.

Wiki Leaks: Manas, China, Russia — and Prince Andrew

The U.S. ambassador to Kyrgyzstan, Tatiana Gfoeller, is in the international spotlight for her detailed description of a 2008 meeting in Bishkek with a surprisingly candid Prince Andrew and British business representatives in a communique that’s among the thousands of secret diplomatic cables disclosed online this week by the Website Wiki Leaks. It’s a fascinatingly amusing inside glimpse of the intertwined world of politics and business.

But equally interesting, though drawing substantially less attention, is a 2009 cable describing a Feb. 13 meeting in which Gfoeller astutely notes that China Ambassador Zhang Yannian ridiculed by never “categorically” denied assertions that the People’s Republic would give Kyrgyzstan a $3 billion aid package to shut down the U.S. tanker base at Manas. A digital copy of the confidential cable can be found at the link above, but here’s an interesting passage:

After opening pleasantries, the Ambassador mentioned that Kyrgyz officials had told her that China had offered a $3 billion financial package to close Manas Air Base and asked for the Ambassador’s reaction to such an allegation. Visibly flustered, Zhang temporarily lost the ability to speak Russian and began spluttering in Chinese to the silent aide diligently taking notes right behind him. Once he had recovered the power of Russian speech, he inveighed against such a calumny, claiming that such an idea was impossible, China was a staunch opponent of terrorism, and China’s attitude toward Kyrgyzstan’s decision to close Manas was one of “respect and understanding.”

At the time of the meeting, the U.S. military base had been served with an eviction notice, which was later withdrawn after the Pentagon agreed to nearly quadruple the annual rental rate to
$60 million, accompanied with other U.S. aid. Diplomats also had heard that Russia, which also has a military base in Kyrgyzstan, had offered the Kyrgyz a $2 billion financial aid package as well in exchange for expulsion of the U.S. air base.

Zhang, according to the cable, went on to suggest that the eviction notice was little more than a ploy by the Kyrgyz to squeeze more money out of the United States, leading to a somewhat candid exchange:

“This is all about money,” he said. He understood from the Kyrgyz that they needed $150 million. The Ambassador explained that the U.S. does provide $150 million in assistance to Kyrgyzstan each year, including numerous assistance programs. Zhang suggested that the U.S. should scrap its assistance programs. “Just give them $150 million in cash” per year, and “you will have the Base forever.” Very uncharacteristically, the silent young aide then jumped in: “Or maybe you should give them $5 billion and buy both us and the Russians out.” The aide then withered under the Ambassador’s horrified stare.

NI Blogs: Commish Shirtless In China

“There’s a contingent of local folks in China this week with the chamber tour group, and Pam Houser’s been keeping me updated on their travel experiences,” posts Kerri Thoreson/More Main Street. “She noted that Commissioner Todd Tondee might run out of clean clothes before they leave Beijing for Shanghai.” More here.

Hucks Online numbers (for Thursday): 9729/6347, and (for Wednesday): 9461/5694, and (for Tuesday): 9982/5784.

Spate of UFO’s appear over Mongolia…

Good morning, Netizens…

For decades our country has been “blessed” with various reports and pictures of unidentified flying objects (UFO’s) ranging from the incredibly-detailed movies to grainy pictures that wouldn’t fool your grandmother for a moment. This picture, taken from ABC News is a picture shot by a citizen in Mongolia, China recently. During the time this UFO was flying through the area, Chinese aviation authorities refused to allow aircraft to take off or land at their airports.

All Chinese authorities could say sounds so familiar to UFO fans in the United States as, “the matter is under investigation”.

According to Chinese authorities, this was the eighth time in several months that UFO’s have been sighted in the Mongolian airspace. If the Chinese authorities had a real answer as to what this craft was, don’t you think they would have gone public with the information by now?

I know people who say, “Phooey!” when they hear such reports; I also know people who get wide-eyed and hysterical whenever new sightings are reported. One thing remains fairly certain: there have been UFO sightings for decades now, nobody seems to have lucid explanations for their presence in our skies and yet these sightings persist. Now the Chinese are having visitations. We do not know why they persist. As this picture, shot by a man and his wife shows, something was there.

In the interim, all we can do is imagine when or if these strange craft will land and announce their intentions.


China: Ancient tools on a Modern Road

    At four in the morning, in a dark hotel room in Beijing, a grim city that performed cosmetic surgery on itself to shine in the world’s biggest pageant, still fighting the effects of flying across the world, I found myself awake while the rest of the world slumbered. Or so it felt.

    Perched on the edge of a chair I’d pulled up to the wide window, within view of the still-shining construction from the 2009 Olympics, I watched cars and trucks move along one of the ring roads that circle the city. In spite of the fact that Bejing is home to more than 15 million, there was very little traffic at that hour and what few vehicles were out moved leisurely, merging and passing.         
    The hotel, like the city, was quiet and I could hear my daughter’s soft breathing as she slept in the bed beside mine.

    My mind raced but it was more than being jittery from too many cups of tea. More than the effects of crossing time zones and lack of sleep. Mentally, I was working to fit together the puzzle pieces of the journey. Trying to make a clear picture out of shards and fragments; sorting the sights, sounds and scents of a place unlike any I’d visited before.

     We had walked along the Great Wall, climbing the uneven stone steps to the broad lane at the top of the wall, looking out over the valleys and rolling hills below. I could hear a rooster crowing at a farm in the distance and I thought of the textbooks I’d had as a school girl, never imagining at that age that one day I would be able to reach out and touch the rough, worn, stones with my fingers.     Standing at the top of a flight of steps, overlooking the sprawling, mysterious, Forbidden City, I had tried to imagine the lives of its inhabitants when it was a bustling, populated place closed to the outside world.

    Under the watchful gaze of the portrait of Mao that still hangs at the gate, we strolled through Tiananmen Square - a place still haunted by the image of tanks and a lone figure -  and I could feel the lingering frisson of tension as guards, wary young men in oversized coats, patrolled.

    Riding along the narrow streets of a hutong, one of the Walled neighborhoods built with centuries-old clay bricks that had escaped the pre-Olympic wrecking ball, I watched children - one per family - play.

    Wherever we went the persistent “mosquitoes” hawked their wares, stacks of knock-off designer bags, fake silk scarves, postcards and chopsticks.

    All around us, at every step, there was a collision of culture and history. Faux Gucci bags on the steps of the temple.

    Still sitting at the window, lost in thought, I was pulled back into focus by a figure moving in the street below, a modern arterial connecting the new Crown Plaza hotel built for the Olympic crowds to the ring road. He was walking slowly, moving from the glow of one streetlight to another.   

    The man swayed from side to side and I could see he was sweeping the broad pavement with a big broom made of willow branches and leaves.

     I watched him as he moved, stooped and bent over the willow boughs, along the length of the the long road. I couldn’t look away. This man, I thought, is the answer to the riddle.

    I don’t think I slept more than an hour or so that night, but it was not the first time I’ve felt fortunate to have been wide awake, looking out on a view that those tucked into their beds might miss.

    By day, China is a crowded, noisy, almost overwhelming collage of contradictions. Trying to make sense of what you see is difficult.

    But at night, in a black and white world, the answer is as plain as a man walking through pools of lamplight, a man carrying an ancient tool on a modern road.

Cheryl-Anne Millsap is a freelance columnist for The Spokesman-Review. Her audio essays can be heard on Spokane Public Radio and public radio stations across the country. She is the author of “Home Planet: A Life in Four Seasons” and can be reached at catmillsap@gmail.com.

Murray blogging from China

U.S. Sen. Patty Murray heads up a congressional trip to China this week, and has decided to blog about it.

This is not some travel-blog that talks about the best Peking Duck and sight seeing spots. The trip involves meetings between U.S. and Chinese officials on things like trade, human rights and energy, so those who are interested in those topics can check in.

The rest of us will just have to wait to see whether there’s a description of eating birds nest soup or a photo of Murray at the Great Wall.

The blog can be found by CLICKING HERE.

Another Green Monday

Welcome to Thanksgiving week readers.  It’s a strange thing when you find something from the past that’s every bit as relevant now as it was when it originated - it really makes you put time into perspective.  2007 seems like ages ago, and our world today is certainly a lot different than it was then, but some things never really change.  And that’s not always a good thing.  Take a look at the following post we wrote on November, 21, 2007 - just over two years ago.  Nothing’s changed really - the economy is worse, our environmental priorities less serious, and there’s probably better links to information on greenwashing, but aside from that - this post reads the same today as it did back then. 

“There is a sufficiency in the world for man’s need but not for man’s greed.” - Ghandi

As a little kid, Thanksgiving meant three simple things, hanging out with cousins you didn’t get to see regularly, sitting at the kids table, having kid conversations, essentially living in our own kid world, and knowing that leftover turkey in a sandwich would be lunch for about a week. Oh, the good old days.

As a perceptive adult, and a conscious consumer, Thanksgiving regretfully has taken on a whole new meaning. The week leading up to the big meal now breeds more cynicism than excitement. And sadly, it’s not even the week before anymore; it’s the whole month of November. The month where Thanksgiving becomes secondary to the corporate mega-event that is Christmas shopping. Thanksgiving is being burdened with a bad reputation simply by association with Christmas shopping, turning festive Americans into worrisome scrooges. It’s an all out turf war with Christmas wanting to have its cake and eat it too. Thanksgiving has become the opening act you must sit through before the headlining act takes the stage.

Mall Santa’s are lining up for duty earlier this year than ever before (Santa at Riverfront Mall has been stationed since last week). City Christmas tree displays are erected before Halloween cavities have had time to set in. And worst of all, Wal-Mart jumpstarted the post-Thanksgiving shopping insanity three weeks before the official Black Friday.

Now, consumers across America rush through Thanksgiving dinner so they can make it home and get a little bit of sleep before lining up at the mall at 3 a.m. Pumpkin pie, forget about it, doorbuster deals are just as sweet.

Corporate America has taken Thanksgiving hostage and in an uncertain economy with an unstable dollar, Black Friday may just lead us back to Black Thursday. Do yourself a favor and take a little time to enjoy Thanksgiving, enjoy those around you and by all means, relax The Christmas overdose that is sure to ensue is one more example, one of many, of America out of control; an America that thinks green, just the wrong kind of green.

So how is this concerning for the environment you ask? The entire “consumerism will save the world” mentality that exists is creating a complete greenwash of ideas that are creating more of a problem than they perceive to solve. Buying an $80 dollar shirt because it’s made from eco-material in theory is better but it’s beside the point. This is what is meant by greenwashing.

Bill Clinton said it best, “The totality of consumption is what the problem is, the totality of impact on the earth. And that’s why we speak so much of conservation being the key rather than better consumption. Using less stuff rather than manufacturing things in a better way. So cut back and power down and use less of the materials of the earth.”

There isn’t a way to buy our way out of energy consumption or buy our way into environmental consciousness. What it takes is being aware of your consumer actions. And what better time than during the mecca of consumerism, Christmas.

Take the time to watch the following video called “Greensumption.” It is one of the smartest looks at America and its “shop to save the planet” mentality.

After the jump you’ll find some stories you might have missed last week.

The magic halo…

Good morning, Netizens…

In our picture of the day, a halo appears off the sun above a statue of Communist leader Mao Zedong in Taiyuan in north China’s Shanxi province, Sunday. Photo: AP

Now I want to see President Obama perform the same halo while balancing the U.S. Budget.