Thursday, August 28, 2008

Yerba Buena Island Fire

Yerba Buena Island at the end of the Bay Bridge was alight this afternoon, sending fire boats and trucks and engines to the rescue.

Fire in scrubland started just after 2 pm according to NBC news this evening, and sent smoke billowing down the bay obscuring part of the coastline, as the pic shows.

Helicopters hovered overhead and some lanes on the bridge were closed causing long queues around city streets for several hours for motorists needing to cross the bridge.

The concern of firefighters, according to NBC's report, was to make sure that the ground was sufficiently damped down to prevent any reigniting given the high temperatures and drought conditions around the Bay Area.

These pics were taken at about 4 pm.

Monday, August 18, 2008

George Barantseff - Adventures in the Coast Guard Auxillary!

'I wondered, "what shall I do with my time?"' said George Barantseff on retirement, little knowing that that simple thought would lead him to embark on a second career that would thrill even a much younger man with adventures of a lifetime!

In retirement George has saved lives, brokered international diplomacy, protected America's waters riding waves of Hollywood blockbuster size - and beyond! - and flown over 130,000 air miles during more than 4,000 hours of voluntary service in the Coast Guard Auxiliary.

We met George in calmer waters in the bay during the Festival of Sail as he welcomed people aboard the US Coast Guard Cutter Eagle...see blog Festival of Sail - USCGC Eagle at

Initially, contemplating his years of service in the National Guard Reserve from which he retired as Colonel, and experience of sailing, he thought the Coast Guard Auxiliary might be the place for him.

He was more right than he realised! He joined to teach boating safety and to continue serving his adopted country.

Being able to speak four languages fluently - Russian, Japanese, French, and English of course! - meant he could also help with interpretation.

But then in 1998, the Auxiliary established an International Affairs - Interpreter Corps. George immediately signed on as a Russian linguist and life from then on was anything but plain sailing.

Using his linguistic and radio communication skills, he has helped to save the lives of Russian seamen for when a ship's crew couldn't speak English, George became the voice that directed ships, medical and rescue personnel.

On one occasion a Mayday call came through to the US Coast Guards from the MV Marazli and George was hastily contacted to deal with the emergency. It turned out that a seaman had sustained such a severe head injury his brains were visible. George calmly coordinated communication between the ship's doctor, the USCG Flight Surgeon, a helicopter pilot and his base.

'My proudest achievement was helping to save that man's life aboard Marazli because everyone was able to communicate through me and the operation went very smoothly,' he said.

Another time his skills saved the life, albeit on land, of a USMC Military Attache. George had travelled to the port of Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky in the Russian Far East on board the Coast Guard Cutter Mellon. On board the U.S. Ambassador to Russia, Alexander Vershbow, had hosted a farewell reception upon relinquishing his portfolio, recounted George.

In a reciprocal reception hosted by the Russians in a hotel, the unfortunate attache 'inadvertently ate some calamari - he was highly allergic to shellfish - and was rushed to the hospital. Our Pharmacist's Mate and I were sent to care for the stricken Lieutenant Colonel,' he said.

'Whenever there is a language barrier between physician and patient, it's like practicing veterinary medicine: how is the patient able to explain where and how does it hurt, what happened, etc?,' he said.

When it comes to diplomacy, George has only just returned from Washington DC where he helped to rewrite and update the original radio navigation system treaty between America and Russia that was negotiated by Reagan and Gorbachev. Known as the LORAN/CHAYKA Treaty - Long Range Aid to Navigation - he was involved as both an interpreter and expert in the field.

He has also made several visits to Russia, been among the first-ever group of US Coast Guard Officers to make a flight aboard a Russian AN-72 patrol jet, and acted as both a consultant and interpreter in diplomatic meetings including one with the highest-ranking American and Russian Coast Guard Officers, as well as engaging in the quieter activity of translating documents.

On one occasion, too, he used his Japanese to interpret in a conference call with the Commandant of Japan's Coast Guard service. This was for an international forum regarding the sharing of information on combined operations, exchange of information, illegal drug trafficking, maritime security, fisheries enforcement, illegal migration and maritime domain awareness.

What might be considered as more of a buccaneering activity are the times when he has gone out on Alaskan patrols on the North Pacific and Bering Sea, and braved huge seas and freezing conditions - 'think 'Perfect Storm' movie and 'Deadliest Catch' TV programme!' said George - to monitor radio communications of Russian and Japanese fishing fleets. This to ensure, said George, that they didn't poach on our side of the Maritime Boundary Line or use high seas drift nets to illegally catch marine life.

Or when he worked with the Russian Border Service to chase and catch an illegal foreign fishing vessel.

Once he endured incredulous 100 ft waves, 60 knot winds and minus 22 degrees F wind chill factors during the infamous winter storms of 1999.

He faced nature's ire at some of it's deadliest moments: wild seas fomented by violent winds in bone-chilling temperatures that rose in malevolent cliffs of water and surged against a small boat and its courageous crew.

'I think that riding out those magnificent Arctic storms aboard a '378' out on the Bering Sea will never be forgotten!' he said.

At the heart of all this is George's considerable linguistic talents, which stem from an unusual background. He was the son of Russian emigres who fled their homeland after the Revolution and was born and raised in Japan. He added French and English to his repertoire with school studies.

Does he prefer one language to another?

'I am equally comfortable speaking the language required during the conversation. I don't struggle through thinking in two different languages,' he said.

'In essence, linguistically speaking, I'm like the contents of a pot of tea: I fit into which ever container I am poured. Because I am Russian Orthodox Christian by religion, Russian was the language spoken at home and at church. We also spoke Japanese, but Japanese was mostly spoken at school and with playmates. I had no difficulty speaking either language,' he said.

Into his busy life he has also managed to fit in other sports. He is a 3rd Dan in karate and a Ist Dan in judo in black belt rankings and has fenced with a saber.

At the age of 68 years, his life is slightly slower now. He lists his favourite TV shows as Japanese soap operas, especially the semi-documentary historical samurai dramas, Jeopardy, Wheel of Fortune and 'of course, Monday night football during the season!' He also crews for yacht owners.

But his exciting and highly successful life has not been without tragedy. His beloved second wife, Laura, died of cancer last year. As he nursed her through the final stages of her illness, he resigned from his post as National Staff Branch Chief - Pacific Area, but is still attached to the Golden Gate station.

On the first anniversary of her death in May of this year, George wrote an obituary that was published in the San Francisco Chronicle.

'She was her husband's best friend and gave him tremendous support and encouragement in all of his endeavors throughout the more than 21 years that they were together....Laura - I miss you, honey, more than words can tell.'

***For Laura's obituary click here: When page shows, click on 'Full Archive' at top. Her obituary is the second listing.

Pics show: George on board the USCGC Eagle during the Festival of Sail answering questions from visitors; speaking at a forum in Vladivostok - 'another great adventure!'; as a karate black belt; as a Lieutenant Colonel in the National Guard Reserve with his wife, Laura, and receiving his silver eagles on promotion to Colonel.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

16th Korean Day Festival

Hundreds of people joined in celebrations in Union Square today of the 16th Korean Day Festival.

It was an extravaganza of Korean culture in music, dance, song and martial arts with an array of beautiful national costumes that kept the audience enthralled and the square packed.

It also brought members of the 160,000-strong Bay Area Korean community together.

There were opera singers, pop music with Jennifer Chung, and many drummers playing a wide variety of drums including the colourful fire drums.

Also a feast of dancing including exquisite fan dances, a skilful sword dance, and ribbon dance where a ribbon attached to a hat twirled with movement of the dancer's head.

From Korea was a martial arts group that put on a magnificent show of martial arts combined with theatre. Their acts included Batman, Unrequited Love, and Girl Power when two girls felled four guys! The crowd appreciated their skills and comic performances.

The group, and another team from Berkeley, across the Bay, also gave agile displays of attack, defence and tumbling with many pieces of wood deftly chopped in half!

One performer from Berkeley pinned an apple to the end of a sword, only for it to be kicked in half moments later and sent spiralling towards an applauding audience.

Another hugely popular group were African American drummers who had been specially invited. Not only were they great with rhythm but they tossed giant cymbals and gave a cameo display of break-dancing.

Of the many beautiful dancers, a fan troupe from the Defense Language Institute in Monterey were stunning with their synchronised routine and bright red and yellow costumes. Two of the fan dancers were Kim, in the airforce, and Claudia in the navy.

The girls are half Korean and studying their own language. For them, contributing in the event which is filmed for Korean television, is very important.

'This is the reason why we joined the fan dance team at our school. Our mothers will be watching it on TV,' said Kim. 'It's a very big deal among Koreans.'

Watching the festival, too, was Michelle, who has lived in California all her life and who is half Mexican and half Korean. She was there with dad, Fidencio, who is Mexican, mum, Hye, who is Korean, and her friend, Charlie, who is Irish American.

The family were holding lotus flowers made in the square by the Korean American Youth Bhuddist Association.

'I'm not well connected with Korean culture because it's not such a large force here as it is in LA,' said Michelle, 'so it's really good to be here today.'

Around Union Square were stalls selling Korean food and advertising ethnic organizations like the Korean Community Health Services, and the Korean Times and Korean Daily newspapers.

As the festival drew to a close there was a grand finale with a medley of drummers playing both on the stage and parading around the excited crowd.

'We not only celebrate ourselves, we are showing our culture,' said one of the organizers, Jean Seo, Executive Director of the San Francisco Bay Area Korean Culture Centre.

'I have lived in America longer than Korea but still my blood is Korean...if any generation, any race can pick up the good part (of a country) through culture we will have a better community.

'We can be one, we can love each other, we can carry each other, respect each other,' she said.

Next year, she added, they were hoping to invite more groups to represent different cultures and so reach out across cultural boundaries.

***click here for an album of pics - many by Chris. Click on pics to enlarge

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Chinese Embassy- Falun Gong Protest

Sue is a professional pavement sitter.

At 79 years of age she has spent part of every week for the last eight years sitting on a pavement outside the Chinese embassy.

She unrolls a little mat and together with a few friends sits in meditative silence. It is a quiet, persistent protest against the cruelties of the Chinese government especially as wrought on those who practice a meditation known as Falun Gong or Falun Dafa.

Sue - an Anglicisation of her Chinese name - said the persecution of Falun Gong practitioners inside China had risen hugely in the run-up to the Olympics.

'The Olympics is too terrible. Everywhere is the policemen,' she said in her broken English. 'They don't like us. Over several months they arrest us... just because of the Olympics.'

She is not against the Games themselves. 'The Olympic Games is good because the idea is good. But China are changing the original idea because of who controls it, just like in 1936 in Germany. Hitler do the same thing.

'They (China) promise to change human rights but it (the abuse) is more serious, more worse,' she said.

She is handing out a newspaper, Falun Gong Today, which publishes horrific articles documenting evidence about the harvesting of donor organs from living prisoners, and imprisonment, torture and abuse of people.

In one article it says that the president of Beijing's Olympic Organizing Committee, Liu Qi, was found liable for torture by the District Court in San Francisco in 2004.

Under a legal system that allows victims of torture to bring their cases to a US court, Liu was sued by two Chinese nationals, two Swedes, one French woman and a dual US/Israeli citizen, according to a report by the Center for Investigative Reporting,

The court held Liu liable for 'torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, and arbitrary detention.' This despite the fact that Liu made no response and the Bush administration urged the court to dismiss the case, said the report.

Nearly all of the group with Sue are over 60 years of age, with one man aged 80 years and another of 85 years. This is because, said Sue, younger people are at work.

They were sitting almost beneath the balcony where the protester with Students for a Free Tibet had fallen controversially last week after rappelling down the wall. They used to sit across the road, but after three years the residents there, although friendly, had had enough of listening to the meditation music and having to negotiate their way round the group into their homes.

So the police found them some spots alongside the embassy, a move that was strenuously opposed by embassy officials. 'But this is America!' said Sue.

They also have a poster site in China Town.

She was once asked by a passer by if they were paid for sitting there. The offense of the question rankles as strongly now as it did then.

'I am very sad to think just money on their mind! Our friends in China suffer so much we have the responsibility to come out to stop the persecution,' she said.

Pics show Sue, top lt in brown jacket; front entrance of Chinese embassy; Shao, who has protested for six years

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Tropic Thunder Film Protest

Image:Tropic thunder ver3.jpg

Disabled people are not a joke.

Which is why the release of Ben Stiller's new film, Tropic Thunder, has caused hurt and outrage amongst the disabled community of San Francisco.

So much so that members of The Arc, a resource group for disabled people, gathered it's members and supporters today to placard outside the Metreon cinema and are asking people to boycott the film.

Also represented were Bay Area People First, an organization set up by and for disabled members of the community.

At the heart of their campaign is the 'R' word...'retard'. In the film, Robert Downey Jr and Ben Stiller in character are discussing a movie within a movie. They are wondering how to win an Oscar. Ben Stiller's advice is: 'Never go full retard,' ie characterization of a disabled person would never win an Oscar.

Tim Hornbecker, Executive Director of The Arc of San Francisco, said, citing as examples people with Downs Syndrome and autism, 'that is so demeaning, and so stereotypical and so disrespectful.'

'A lot of disabled people can't speak for themselves,' he said. 'We are people first. We are people with a disability. We are not our disability or disease.'

He acknowledged that the film was a comedy that also threw out disparaging lines about other minority groups but said, "I think they went over the top.'

He said that Fox had stopped using the R-word and similar offensive language and jokes about disabled people in 2006. His goal now was to get Dreamworks and Paramount, who made Tropic Thunder, to do the same.

The film, released today, is a Hollywood satire based on an action war setting in Vietnam. Stiller is writer-director-producer and the film is R-rated.

A review by: says the following:

'Robert Downey Jr.'s character is a Caucasian actor who undergoes a skin-darkening procedure to play an African-American soldier; while in character, his demeanor is purposely racist. There's also a running gag about "retards" regarding Ben Stiller's character's portrayal of a mentally challenged man.Both of these issues are meant to illustrate the movie's theme: that Hollywood is full of self-absorbed prima donnas who need to stop being so insecure and egotistical.'

Elsewhere the same review says: 'It's all meant to drive home the movie's points about Hollywood, but you may need to explain that to teens.'

The Arc members were handing out a sheet explaining their viewpoints. To the anticipated question 'Shouldn't people with intellectual disabilities just lighten up? It's a joke!' they answer 'NO!' in capital letters!

Disabled people, they say, have had a history of institutionalism and genocide, of being regarded as 'less than human.'

They are the group with the highest levels of unemployment, significant physical, mental and sexual abuse - one in three disabled children are victims - and limited rights.

And The Arc say that these problems continue 'in large part' due to 'discriminatory portrayals in the media and pervasive prejudice.'


In his wheelchair on the pavement was Joseph Flanagan, Client Advisory Committee President. His criticism of the film was that 'it gives the general public a bad impression of people with disabilities.'

'It's giving people the idea that people with disabilities can't work, don't want to work,' he said. 'I feel that people with disabilities need a chance to work. We are trying to get them the help that they need if they want to work.'

He is helping to bring about a new piece of legislation in California that will establish an advocacy training programme, where people will be trained to represent individual disabled citizens with specific difficulties, for example, use of wheelchairs on city buses.

And he has had positive talks with California's governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger.

'I believe Governor Schwarzenegger is an excellent governor. He has a retarded person in his he knows what people go through,' said Joseph.

Joseph himself who is South African and has a developmental disability, has had long stays in the past in a state hospital and endured the humiliation of being called a 'retard' and a 'moron.'

The Arc call the 'R' word 'hate speech'.

'Hate speech occurs when a majority group freely makes jokes about a minority group including negative stereotypes and negative images, not just language. It is commonly seen as harmless by the majority, but it sets the stage for more severe outlets for prejudice, harm and abuse.'

Click for further pics. Click to enlarge:

***for info on The Arc and their work:
***Bay Area People First , Advisor Denis J Craig, 1515 Clay Street #300 S, Oakland, CA 94612(510) 286-0761

Friday, August 8, 2008

Tibet Protests at Golden Gate Bridge (3)

This Tibetan family, pictured above left, living in the Bay Area took part in a peaceful protest walk across the Golden Gate Bridge today as China celebrated the Opening Ceremony of the 2008 Beijing Olympics....see first reports and pics in earlier blogs

Life as a third generation refugee is hard, says mum Tashi pictured far right.

'The hope and the effort to gain our own country, I feel it more strongly than my mother feels it,' she said.

She has never seen her homeland. 'I would love to see it,' she said.

Tibet is still her home country even though her family have not lived there for so many years. Her grandfather was the first refugee in her family. He fled to India, his wife - Tashi's grandmother - having died in Tibet.

Tashi is pictured with her mother, Yangkar, sister Jampa, daughters ten-year-old twins Kunsang and Lhamo, and 11-year-old Yiga, and ten-year-old nephew Tsepal.

She was born in India but left the country in 1988 at the age of 19 years to come to the States to do a nursing degree.

Today she has no direct contact with anyone in Tibet, but has friends whose parents still live there. Communication is difficult, she said. As a member of the Tibetan Association of Northern California, she is in touch with fellow countrymen.

'People are so excited about the 2008 Games but the thing is, people in Tibet are so afraid to practice their religion or to keep a picture of His Holiness the Dalai Llama in their home,' she said.

'They don't have the freedom to pray or express their pain. We know that Tibet was a free country. China is so big and powerful people think we should give up. We don't want to give up,' she said.

Pictured are from left to right, back: grandmother Yangkar, nephew Tsepal (10), sister Jampa, mum Tashi; in front: twins Kunsang and Lhamo (10), Yiga (11)

Free Tibet Protests at GG Bridge and Chinese Embassy

As celebrations of the Opening Ceremony of the Olympic Games took place in Beijing today, several hundred Tibetan people from around the Bay Area staged a peaceful protest at the Golden Gate Bridge....for first report see earlier blog...

The rope holding the protester rappelling down the side of the Chinese Embassy on Wednesday WAS cut by embassy officials, a leader of the Students for a Free Tibet said today.

Seldon, Regional Coordinator for the protest group, said one of the two girls on the embassy roof had pleaded with officials, 'please don't cut the rope because my friend could be in danger.'

But instead, officials cut the rope allowing 26-year-old Brihnnala Morgan to fall breaking a wrist and bruising her back. They then hustled 22-year-old Nyendak Wangden into the embassy. Nyendak is also claiming that staff beat her up. Certainly she has bruises, said Seldon today.

She was speaking by the Golden Gate Bridge after a peaceful Free Tibet protest walk across the bridge and back had finished.

On Wednesday the two girls on behalf of Students for a Free Tibet had scaled the embassy wall in San Francisco. Brinhnnala had then rappelled down from the roof as a black robed and hooded figure in a hanging scene to symbolise Tibetans who have died at the hands of China.

But then embassy officials ran onto the roof. Nyendak had been ready to comply with the officials' requests and pull Brihnnala back up to end the protest but despite her warnings of the danger the rope was cut, Seldon said.

Seldon witnessed some of the event. 'I was there. I saw her (Brihnnala) fall down,' she said.

A video film of part of the event was shot by chance by someone who overlooked the roof from a nearby building. Screened by NBC11 in their news broadcast, it shows embassy staff hustling Nydendak off the roof. But by then the rope had already been cut and there is no film of that. There is, however, news film of Nydendak shouting out as she got into a police car that the rope had been cut.

There has been some query as to whether the rope could have snapped.

Seldon says the rope could not have snapped because it was 'extremely strong and sturdy.'

If the rope had snapped, she said, it would have had to have been because Brihnnala had mishandled it and 'that is not possible because Brihnnala is an extremely trained professional who has done many acts of civil disobedience.'

It was somehow fitting that she was talking at the Golden Gate Bridge, for Brihnnala's last spectacular act was when she scaled the stanchions of the bridge in April. With two other protesters she hung 'One World, One Dream' and 'Free Tibet 08' banners between the cables prior to the Olympic Torch run in San Francisco.

On that occasion, though, there had been a problem with a rope when according to the report in the San Fran Chronicle a rope had become entangled.

Neither girl took part in today's protest. Nyendak was recovering from her injuries and Brihnnala from the experience of having been held in police custody until yesterday.

According to the San Fran Chronicle.... the girls have been charged with 'forcibly thrusting' themselves onto a building used for diplomatic purposes to 'intimidate, coerce, threaten or harass.' They have been released on $25,000 bail each and have been ordered to stay away from the embassy and its staff. Their next hearing is on August 20 and if convicted they face up to six months in prison or a $5,000 fine.

There are no reported comments so far from either the embassy or police who are investigating.

Another protester at the bridge yesterday, Gurmey, who was standing with a group of fellow supporters, megaphone in hand, said of the girls, 'It is good that they sacrificed themselves for the good of Tibet.

They just want to put the Olympic light on Tibet.'

Seldon was also excited about the Students For a Free Tibet protest that occurred earlier today at the Opening Ceremony of the Games in Beijing. Three protesters, Kaalayan, Jonathan and Caesar had unwound their tee-shirts and pulled out a Tibetan flag which they were able to wave for 40 seconds, she said, before they were pounced on by Chinese Olympic officials.

'It is an achievement to be able to do that!' she said

She and many of the Tibetans at the Golden Gate Bridge then moved on to the Chinese embassy to join other protesters mid-afternoon for a repeat protest.

Tonight a prayer vigil at the BART station across the bay in Berkeley is being held.

Other protests are planned including a rally that will be held at the end of the Olympic Games, said Tenzin Tethong, protest leader.

***Seldon has posted her own report of the embassy incident on the Students for a Free Tibet website.

Pics show Seldon, Regional Coordinator of Students for a Free Tibet, and Gurmey, (far left) with fellow supporters.

For an album pics click here. Click on pics to enlarge.

Free Tibet Protest at Golden Gate Bridge

As celebrations of the Opening Ceremony of the Olympic Games took place in Beijing today, several hundred Tibetan people from around the Bay Area staged a peaceful protest at the Golden Gate Bridge.

They gathered at the bridge at midday and, led by Bhuddist monks, walked across it, circled the viewing area on the opposite end and then returned.

Some were draped in the bright Tibetan flag, some wore national costume, many wore sloganed yellow tunics...'One World, One Dream, Free Tibet'... or the black sweatshirts of Team Tibet.

Tenzin Tethong, one of the protest leaders, said there were only about 1,200 Tibetan people in the Bay Area, so to see about half of them there was a significant percentage for a small community.

'I really feel very strongly that everyone needs to come out and show their feelings for Tibet,' he said.

'The intensity of China's harshness and crackdown in Tibet is considerable. Thousands of people have been arrested recently in Tibet and about 200 killed, although the Chinese say officially about a dozen died.

It's always like this. They put out propaganda and unfortunately it works,' he said.

China, he added were accusing Tibetan people of causing the deaths of Chinese people in Tibet. 'Even if that's true, countered Tenzin as we walked across the bridge at the back of the line, 'that's tens of people. What about the thousands of Tibetans who are killed?!'

What he does take issue with is the way China are using the Games as a publicity tool.

'It's not being used primarily for sport,' he said, but to present an image of a 'stable, harmonious, peaceful society, which is really misinformation.'

What effect, I asked him, did he think the protests in the run up to the Games had had?

'I don't think any immediate effect,' he said candidly. 'The Chinese mindset says that if you want to be in control, you'd better be in control!'

Visitors to the bridge looked on happily as the protest walked by.

Catherine, Philippe and Bruno were from France.

'I think it is good,' said Catherine. But between the three of them, discussing the issue in French, they felt that it would not have any effect on 'the machine of China.'

'Tibet has no chance,' said Bruno. 'It has minerals and water. And China needs minerals and water!'

As the protests reached the far side of the bridge and more TV and press cameras were there to greet them the chants started up again.

'Olympics in China! Genocide in Tibet!'

'Olympics in China! Torture in Tibet!'

A crowd on a passing open-top tour bus turned their cameras on the procession.

One of the cheer leaders was 19-year-old student Tenzin of Team Tibet.

'I am a full-blood Tibetan but I've never been there,' she said. Her family links with Tibet go back to her great-grandparents.

'We want our country back. We want freedom,' she said.

Rob and Emma, in their twenties from England, watched from the viewing area.

I asked Rob what he thought of the protest.

'I agree completely,' he said. 'I think the IOC (International Olympic Committee) and the UN should use their influence more strongly in order to try to pressure the government to soften its stance on human rights.

Unfortunately, economics talks!'

Emma agreed with him. About the athletes, she added, 'I don't think people should boycott it (the Games). They should have made a statement beforehand. But now that they're there, they should support it.

It's not fair. If you're an athlete you only have a certain peak period when you are at your optimum. You shouldn't have to sacrifice that to make a statement.'

The problems for Tibetan families living outside of the country are acute. Sitting on the grass back over the bridge at the end of the walk were one such group. They have not been in contact with family members for a few months, especially because China has made telephone links very difficult.

Wrapped in her Tibetan flag, Sonam said they are not even sure if their family members are still alive after the March 10 crackdown when many people were imprisoned and tortured.

For further interviews, including what happened at the Chinese Embassy protest when a protester fell, and more pics, see next blogs.

For album pics click here. Click on pics to enlarge

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Drawbridge at China Basin

A small drawbridge at Mission Creek attracted a lot of attention yesterday when it spent most of the day pointing up into the air!

The bridge, for trains, vehicles and pedestrians, was having a thorough check up from a team of city workers. What one workman described as 'heavy duty maintenance,' everything from bolts upwards.

Residents were fascinated to see the bridge raised as this is an infrequent event. The creek is a home to houseboats and usually attracts only canoeists and kayakers that sail under it.

The city workman said the work had been scheduled for two months ago but was delayed due to the extensive Muni work that they had also done.