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When I was new to Washington and interviewing for a job way back when, I asked a friend on the Hill to be a reference.

"Sure," he said. "I'll be for you or against you, whichever does you the most good."

It was an attempt at humor, of course, but humor is often a spoof on reality.

For example, when the Nixon administration complained about Dan Rather's reporting to his bosses at CBS News, Rather's career took off. He was controversial and high profile, a newsmaker himself, and a good candidate for news anchor to generate ratings and advertising dollars.

The other night an email flashed across my screen with a catchy subject line: "BBC: Oye." It could only mean one thing: the BBC had shot itself in the foot, again.

Two recent developments in China point to the tools of media and public opinion control available to the Chinese government and how they are used.

Most recently, Japan-China relations have deteriorated on the heels of an old dilemma: How Japan handles history.

SHANTOU, GUANGDONG PROVINCE, CHINA

In China there’s been a year’s worth of growth in the few months since my last dispatch.

You name it, and it has grown in China. Some examples: the Chinese trade surplus, the Chinese trade surplus with the U.S., and the Chinese trade balance with the rest of Asia, which has gone from deficit to surplus.

Business was brisk this month at the annual MIP international TV program festival in Cannes, France - the best of such fests.

MIP-TV is the global TV marketplace where the rage last week was "made-for-mobile" content for picture cell phones, so that kids can watch shows like Bob the Builder and Thomas the Tank Engine while strapped in their car seats or walking along the sidewalk.

Whether by divine providence or a quirk of fate, the most charismatic Pope ever, who was made for television, came along just at the right time, when technology would finally make him available to all of the people all of the time.

WASHINGTON, March 30 – One of Al Jazeera’s fiercest critics in the U.S. now says the Arab satellite channel has become a vehicle to spread democracy in the Arab world.

Acknowledging this reversal of his longtime criticism of the channel, Richard Perle this morning said Al Jazeera’s broadcasts of elections in Afghanistan and Iraq and anti-Syrian protests in Lebanon was advancing democracy in the region – just by the pictures it showed.

At the British Chihuahua Club's 2005 competition a little dog named Diella Blonde with Attitude won the "Limit Bitch (Longhair)" award, all of which just goes to show that our friends across the pond go about things by tradition in their own way. And also by tradition, we Yanks are often perceived by them as well, you know, uncouth.

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