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James Powderly of Graffiti Research Labs Detained In China 337

Posted by timothy
from the many-eyes-might-help dept.
An anonymous reader writes "News from Free Tibet 2008 that internationally known artist, technologist and co-founder of the Graffiti Research Lab, James Powderly, was detained in Beijing early on August 19th while preparing to debut a new work and technology of protest, the L.A.S.E.R. Stencil. According to a Twitter message received yesterday by Students for a Free Tibet at approximately 5 pm Beijing Standard Time, Powderly had been detained by Chinese authorities at 3 am. His current whereabouts remain unknown. Powderly was the inventor of throwies." (Powderly's detention was also mentioned at Make Magazine's blog.)
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James Powderly of Graffiti Research Labs Detained In China

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  • Whoops (Score:5, Funny)

    by Ethanol-fueled (1125189) * on Wednesday August 20, 2008 @02:45PM (#24678553) Homepage Journal
    He made the mistake of catching the wrong bus [usatoday.com] to the olympics.
    • Re:Whoops (Score:4, Insightful)

      by The Ancients (626689) on Wednesday August 20, 2008 @02:53PM (#24678653) Homepage

      from that article:

      The switch from gunshots to injections is a sign that China "promotes human rights now," says Kang Zhongwen, who designed the Jinguan Automobile death van...

      So they're starting to look at how people die? Me - I would have thought looking at how people live would have been a more useful step in promoting human rights. But then what do I know - I don't control the lives of over a billion people...

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        "I'm most proud of the bed. It's very humane, like an ambulance," Kang says. He points to the power-driven metal stretcher that glides out at an incline. "It's too brutal to haul a person aboard," he says. "This makes it convenient for the criminal and the guards."

        So, basically, it makes it easier to ignore the fact that you're killing someone.

        I'm not against capital punishment, but I think that there should be a certain amount of raw reality involved in it. No coat of sugar.

        • Re:Whoops (Score:4, Interesting)

          by jollyreaper (513215) on Wednesday August 20, 2008 @03:26PM (#24679281)

          "I'm most proud of the bed. It's very humane, like an ambulance," Kang says. He points to the power-driven metal stretcher that glides out at an incline. "It's too brutal to haul a person aboard," he says. "This makes it convenient for the criminal and the guards."

          So, basically, it makes it easier to ignore the fact that you're killing someone.

          I'm not against capital punishment, but I think that there should be a certain amount of raw reality involved in it. No coat of sugar.

          Whenever someone is exulting over inventing an instrument of punishment or death like this, I always wonder if they ever entertain the thought that they might have it used on them. I believe the story of Dr. Guillotine being serviced by his own device was a myth but this idea is a popular one, recurring throughout history. It just seems like poetic justice.

          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            by NoMaster (142776)

            I believe the story of Dr. Guillotine being serviced by his own device was a myth ...

            If it wasn't for the tragic story of Sir Henry Blunt-Instrument, myths like that would never have arisen...

            (OK, so it's a Pratchett line. If you're gonna steal, steal from the masters! ;-)

      • Re:Whoops (Score:5, Interesting)

        by jollyreaper (513215) on Wednesday August 20, 2008 @03:21PM (#24679183)

        Wow, Death Vans. That's creepy as hell. I mean, I know that there's been state-sanctioned capital punishment since the beginning of civilization but it just seems creepy when combined with the mobile approach. I'm used to seeing mobile clinics, mobile libraries, mobile law offices, not mobile death chambers. It reminds me of all the creepy art from the christian apocalypse stuff at my church when I was a kid. Once the UN ushered in the New World Order and the Antichrist became the General Secretary, all people now professing to be Christians post-rapture would be put to death, always by guillotine. This was absolutely agreed upon, just the same as the Antichrist working through the UN. Jack Chick had creepy little moto-guillotines in his drawings where smartly-uniformed motorcycle cops would drive up in an open-cab vehicle that looks like a landscaping utility tractor, the guillotine in the flatbed. They would then line up the Christians for the day's executions and lop off their heads. This part really freaked me out because the public works dept. of the city I lived in used tractors of exactly the same design. I was convinced that they had mounting brackets for the guillotines and were just waiting for the order to install them. Yeesh. Freddy Krueger never did anything for me but my religion scared the shit out of me.

    • by DeadDecoy (877617)
      Wow, read the little bit on speculation about the organ trade and iit seems like China's just a step or two away from soylent green. All they have to do is turn the bus into a mobile cantina and give out free food to the populace.
      • ..."PEE-POLE"...

        But, I wonder about:

        "Injections leave the whole body intact and require participation of doctors. Organs can "be extracted in a speedier and more effective way than if the prisoner is shot," says Mark Allison, East Asia researcher at Amnesty International in Hong Kong. "We have gathered strong evidence suggesting the involvement of (Chinese) police, courts and hospitals in the organ trade.""

        Is the lethal cocktail an air injection? How do they remove the toxic lethal injection from any black

  • Wow (Score:2, Funny)

    by elrous0 (869638) *
    The Chinese must be really serious about fighting graffiti in their country.
  • Was? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Quiet_Desperation (858215) on Wednesday August 20, 2008 @02:50PM (#24678619)

    Powderly was the inventor of throwies."

    Was? You're writing him off already? Geez! And people say *I'm* a pessimist.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by 2short (466733)
      He was, until it was pointed out that taping an LED to a battery was a bit thin to really call an "invention". Mind you, the fact that Powderly is (IMHO) a self-promoting attention monger of limited substance does not excuse any otherwise inappropriate actions of the Chinese government vis-a-vis Tibet and or Powderly.
  • His current whereabouts remain unknown.

    Anyone got a feeling they'll remain that way?

    • by eln (21727) on Wednesday August 20, 2008 @03:12PM (#24679037) Homepage

      He's an American citizen being detained during the Olympic Games. He's not going to disappear. They'll question him for several hours, probably including sleep deprivation and a lot of yelling, and then kick him out of the country. There was another guy earlier on in the Olympics that got detained for trying to protest, and that's pretty much what happened to him.

      The Chinese are trying to look good in front of the world, "disappearing" a foreign national, especially an American, during the Olympics would not be in line with that goal.

  • Anyone else think that China's human rights record doesn't affect them just because they're not Chinese citizens?

    Consider him lucky if we hear from and about him ever again.

    (Granted, going to China for the express purpose of protesting is going to get you in hot water with the Chinese authorities, but is that the sign of a healthy society?)

  • You know... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Otter (3800) on Wednesday August 20, 2008 @02:51PM (#24678633) Journal

    I've never heard of most of these "activists" before the Olympics and I've got a feeling we won't be hearing much from them afterwards. If people have been involved with pro-Tibet, pro-Darfur, pro-democracy, pro-whatever stuff all along, then good for them. But most of these loudmouths getting press recently seem to only be interested in complaining when their neighbors are taking pleasure in something China-related.

    It reminds me of all those goofs who are so indignantly outraged every Thanksgiving, but never lift a finger to help American Indians on the other 364 days a year. Or even on Thanksgiving, for that matter.

    • Re:You know... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by FooAtWFU (699187) on Wednesday August 20, 2008 @02:58PM (#24678741) Homepage

      Perhaps this speaks more of the level of attention that the world pays to activists (during major events versus otherwise) than it does to the level of commitment of activists to causes.

      Seriously, this guy been around a while. Your ignorance is not evidence that he's a mere opportunistic attention-grabber.

      • Re:You know... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Otter (3800) on Wednesday August 20, 2008 @03:05PM (#24678921) Journal

        Seriously, this guy been around a while. Your ignorance is not evidence that he's a mere opportunistic attention-grabber.

        Feel free to convince me otherwise. The Wikipedia page linked here certainly makes him sound like an opportunistic attention-grabber. As I said, I have all the respect in the world for serious activists on this front, but this guy sounds like a self-promoting jackass who assumes (correctly, probably) that his white skin and US passport are Get Out Of Jail Free cards.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by db32 (862117)
      American Indians?! Fuck them, what about the turkeys! Turkey Genocide Day and you are worried about American Indians (They are Native Americans by the way, they never were and never will be Indians. Indians are from India).
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by maxume (22995)

        There is little point in complaining that one European word does not properly describe them, and then insisting that another European word be used instead.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by ksd1337 (1029386)

      It reminds me of all those goofs who are so indignantly outraged every Thanksgiving, but never lift a finger to help American Indians on the other 364 days a year. Or even on Thanksgiving, for that matter.

      I'm not offended (I'm Indian myself), nor am I one of those ultra-politically correct, don't-want-to-offend-anyone types of people, but it would be more accurate to say Native American instead of American Indian. American Indian can also refer to people of Indian descent who were born in the US, and that can get a bit confusing for people who don't know US history.

      • by Firehed (942385)

        and that can get a bit confusing for people who don't know US history.

        Americans, then? Don't worry, most of us are more than confused enough that this extra tidbit won't make a difference ;)

    • Re:You know... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Sir_Real (179104) on Wednesday August 20, 2008 @03:28PM (#24679325)

      Yes those do-nothing loudmouth liberal hiptards should just die in a fire. It's almost like they're doing nothing at all... what with all that thinking about this stuff.... and talking about it...

      Since when did communication become a stoning offense? Bringing ideas to the fore without some kind of action attached to it isn't a crime.

      And regarding those loudmouths who talk about the Native Americans on Thanksgiving, they are doing something. They are doing more than you sound like you're doing (which is simply whining about people who talk about what they feel strongly about).

      Enjoy yourself a nice tall cup of STFU. On the house. With my compliments. You seem to be serving enough of it. Perhaps now would be a good time to have a drink yourself.

    • Then you've been sleeping with your head up your ass. They've been around a lot longer than the time since China was awarded the Olympics.

    • One of the major reasons that the IOC chose to allow China to host the games was in the hope that it would draw attention to China's human rights abuses. Ideally, China would address them before the game and everyone would be happy. Alternatively, for two weeks, the world will see a shadow of what China really is.

      So far, we've seen one terrorist incident (before the games started and not widely reported), dozens of protesters arrested and deported, at least one Chineese citizen 'dissappeared' for his reli

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by blind biker (1066130)

      I've never heard of most of these "activists" before the Olympics and I've got a feeling we won't be hearing much from them afterwards. If people have been involved with pro-Tibet, pro-Darfur, pro-democracy, pro-whatever stuff all along, then good for them. But most of these loudmouths getting press recently seem to only be interested in complaining when their neighbors are taking pleasure in something China-related.

      I can just picture you, sitting on your ass and posting these comments on Slashdot, criticizing someone who did at least something, however little (and did indeed risk imprisonment by an oppressive regime), spewing your self-righteous shite.

      And for this feces of yours, you get the highest reward you can expect - being "Modded Up" - but that's also all the reward cowards like you can expect. You'll go to sleep tonight without having achieved anything of interest in your squalid little existence, save for a p

  • Well then (Score:3, Informative)

    by prelelat (201821) on Wednesday August 20, 2008 @02:53PM (#24678657)

    I'm sure he knew what might happen when he decided to protest in China about Tibet. I commend him for that, it might get some attention to people around the world to his cause. I think he either had to have had some seriouse balls or have been a little nieve to think of what would happen if he was detained by athorities. I don't think hes a dumb man he knew what he was doing and he knew what would probably happen.

    Hopefully they just ship him home after a couple days or weeks and this doesn't get too ugly for him.

    On another note "I know hippies. I've hated them all my life. I've kept this town free of hippies on my own since I was five and a half. But I can't contain them on my own anymore. We have to do something, fast!" hehe China is Cartman

  • by ucblockhead (63650) on Wednesday August 20, 2008 @03:03PM (#24678859) Homepage Journal

    Going to foreign countries run by totalitarian governments to protest is a bit on the unwise side regardless of how just the cause.

  • Your rights online (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Matt Perry (793115) <perry.matt54@yahoo.DALIcom minus painter> on Wednesday August 20, 2008 @03:20PM (#24679161)

    What does this have to do with my online rights? Shouldn't this be filed under politics?

  • by Anita Coney (648748) on Wednesday August 20, 2008 @03:31PM (#24679375) Homepage

    Tibet has been part of China since 1792. Yes, for over two freaking centuries! You might not like it, but tough shit. And guess what, if a bunch of Chinese students came to the US and flung banners around Stanford demanding we give California back to Mexico, we'd probably tell them to get their butts back to China and mind their own business. Heck, we'd probably even detain a couple of them.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Colonel Korn (1258968)

      Tibet has been part of China since 1792. Yes, for over two freaking centuries! You might not like it, but tough shit. And guess what, if a bunch of Chinese students came to the US and flung banners around Stanford demanding we give California back to Mexico, we'd probably tell them to get their butts back to China and mind their own business. Heck, we'd probably even detain a couple of them.

      1) At Stanford they'd probably get a few hundred locals supporting their idea.

      2) Some idiots would yell things at them about going back to China, some would defend them, and the government and 95% of the population would think of it as normal. People express dissent in the United States. It's no longer all that attention-grabbing.

      • Yeah, you're probably right. And I love your sig line!

      • You are right on that particular example, but that's just because there is no danger of California seceding or being annexed by Mexico any time soon. Nobody cares about a few crackpots protesting over a lost cause. But what would happen if there is a massive campaign of protest, civil disobedience and occasional violence by a future Mexican majority say in southern California or Arizona or whatever, supported by a parallel government located in Mexico who claims the territory for itself, and who is covertly
    • by Hatta (162192) on Wednesday August 20, 2008 @04:51PM (#24680957) Journal

      If California wanted to go back to Mexico, what right would we have to stop them?

    • You're funny. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by microbox (704317) on Wednesday August 20, 2008 @04:54PM (#24681009)
      Tibet has been part of China since 1792. Yes, for over two freaking centuries! You might not like it, but tough shit

      Tibetans don't think they've been part of China since 1792. They thought they were running Tibet. And they did, until they were invaded in 1959. You might not like it, but tough shit

      And guess what, if a bunch of Chinese students came to the US and flung banners around Stanford demanding we give California back to Mexico, we'd probably tell them to get their butts back to China and mind their own business.

      NONSENSE! We'd laugh. That's it. We'd laugh and laugh and laugh.
    • by rtechie (244489) * on Wednesday August 20, 2008 @08:55PM (#24683951)

      Tibet has been part of China since 1792.

      Tibet was ruled by Imperial China from 1642 to 1913. At which point the Tibetan Dali Lama, with support for Western backers, declared independence from China due to China's demands for greater political control of Tibet (basically eliminating the Lamas). From 1914 to 1950 Tibet was a completely independent kingdom.

      Communist China, not being a representative government and not being a legitimate successor of the Ch'ing Dynasty, has no legitimate claims on Tibet, just as they had no legitimate claims on Korea. The invasion was just another communist power grab.

    • by The Breeze (140484) on Wednesday August 20, 2008 @09:07PM (#24684061) Homepage

      Strictly speaking, if you're talking about continuity of government, the "Chinese Government" is a robust democracy in Taiwan - they are the heirs to the traditional Chinese government. The murderous thugs ruling mainland China don't have a pedigree going back past 1949.

      I've always wondered if there would have been a war in 1997 if England had said, "Ok...our 100 year lease on Hong Kong is up. Time to give Hong Kong back to China...here you go, TAIWAN!"\

  • Should be in Chinese, not English!!!

  • "Technologist" (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Newton IV (666922)
    These "technologists" without any actual techincal knowlege are only popular in the decaying United States as it strips off manutacturing assets and sells them off to China. What replaces technology in the US are MBAs on one side, and these "artists"/ "technologists" on the other (in reality, they are socialists, political activists). In China, these "technologists" go to jail. Technologists WORK, they do spread their peacock tails.
  • Wired ran an article in 2005 about American jailed in China for pirating IP. Its kind of rough when your own government hates you too. (He should have been released about now)
  • by melted (227442) on Thursday August 21, 2008 @06:09AM (#24687181) Homepage

    GWB goes over there and raises a stink about "human rights", now this clown, too. You're not going to change anyone's mind over there. They're doing this on purpose, economic freedoms are given to the Chinese people first, political will follow. Compared to 4 year cycle of US politics, they think in a span of 50 years or so - way too long an attention span for an average US politician to be able to muster.

    It's not like there are no problems here at home, either. Infrastructure is crumbling, economy is in the toilet, military budget is astronomical, high schools put out idiots who need remedial courses to even be able to study further, space program is lagging behind, middle class is being raped with taxes, etc, etc.

    It sure as heck is much easier to just bash foreign governments for their perceived shortcomings. Fixing problems here would actually require a brain and quite a bit of work.

  • Ugly (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Godji (957148) on Thursday August 21, 2008 @07:51AM (#24687639) Homepage
    OK, first of all stop saying detained and call it by its name: arrested. Second, what the hell was this guy doing in China? He should've seen it coming.

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