’Oh, bother’: Chinese censors can’t bear Winnie the Pooh

Rabbit, Winnie The Pooh, Eeyore and Tigger pose for photos as Winnie The Pooh receives a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in Los Angeles. (AFP)
Updated 17 July 2017
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’Oh, bother’: Chinese censors can’t bear Winnie the Pooh

BEIJING: Has Winnie the Pooh done something to anger China’s censors? Some mentions of the lovable but dimwitted bear with a weakness for “hunny” have been blocked on Chinese social networks.
Authorities did not explain the clampdown, but the self-described “bear of very little brain” has been used in the past in a meme comparing him to portly Chinese President Xi Jinping.
Posts bearing the image and the Chinese characters for Winnie the Pooh were still permitted on the Twitter-like Weibo platform Monday.
But comments referencing “Little Bear Winnie” — Pooh’s Chinese name — turned up error messages saying the user could not proceed because “this content is illegal.”
Winnie the Pooh stickers have also been removed from WeChat’s official “sticker gallery,” but user-generated gifs of the bear are still available on the popular messaging app.
Comparisons between Xi and Pooh first emerged in 2013, after Chinese social media users began circulating a pair of pictures that placed an image of Pooh and his slender tiger friend “Tigger” beside a photograph of Xi walking with then-US President Barack Obama.
In 2014, a photographed handshake between Xi and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was matched with an image of Pooh gripping the hoof of his gloomy donkey friend Eeyore.
And in 2015, the political analysis portal Global Risk Insights called a picture of Xi standing up through the roof of a parade car paired with an image of a Winnie the Pooh toy car “China’s most censored photo” of the year.
Qiao Mu, an independent media studies scholar and former professor at Beijing Foreign Studies University, said the blocked bear content was unsurprising given the ruling Communist Party’s sensitivity to depictions of its leader.
It is a particularly sensitive year as Xi is expected to consolidate power at a key party congress this fall.
“It’s very murky what’s allowed and what isn’t, because officials never put out statements describing precisely what will be censored,” Qiao said, noting that many Winnie the Pooh photos were still proliferating on the Chinese Internet.
In other contexts, references to the staple Chinese breakfast food “baozi” have been taken down for evoking the president’s nickname: “Steamed Bun Xi,” Qiao said.
On Monday many Chinese social media users were testing the boundaries of the restrictions imposed on the bear who groans “oh, bother” when things don’t go his way.
“Poor Little Winnie,” one Weibo user wrote.
“What did this adorable honey-loving bear ever do to provoke anyone?“


Restaurant asks Trump spokeswoman Sarah Sanders to leave

Updated 24 June 2018
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Restaurant asks Trump spokeswoman Sarah Sanders to leave

  • The owner said many of her employees were gay and that Sanders had defended Trump’s wish to bar transgender people from the armed forces
  • Protesters chanted “shame! shame!” repeatedly at Nielsen, a frontline defender of the Trump administration’s practice of separating migrant children from their parents, until she left the restaurant

WASHINGTON: A Virginia restaurant was inundated with reviews from both ends of the political spectrum Saturday after White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said its owner asked her to leave because of her job.
On Friday, a Facebook user claiming to be a waiter at The Red Hen in Lexington, Virginia — around 70 miles southwest of Charlottesville — said he served Sanders “for a total of 2 minutes” before she and her party were asked to leave.
His post went viral when Brennan Gilmore, a musician, activist and former US diplomat, uploaded a screenshot to Twitter alongside an image of a handwritten note which read “86 — Sara Huckabee Sanders,” supposedly from the restaurant.
To “86” someone is a slang term meaning to refuse to serve a customer.
“Last night I was told by the owner of Red Hen in Lexington, VA to leave because I work for @POTUS and I politely left,” Sanders tweeted on Saturday, confirming the incident.
“Her actions say far more about her than about me. I always do my best to treat people, including those I disagree with, respectfully and will continue to do so.”
Chef-owner Stephanie Wilkinson said that politics were especially explosive in her small town which voted against Trump in a county that did not.
Given her own moral position that the spokeswoman serves in an “inhumane and unethical” administration, Wilkinson told The Washington Post, she could not accept a defender of the president’s “cruelest policies.”

“I’m not a huge fan of confrontation,” Wilkinson said.
“I have a business, and I want the business to thrive. This feels like the moment in our democracy when people have to make uncomfortable actions and decisions to uphold their morals,” she stressed.
The owner said many of her employees were gay and that Sanders had defended Trump’s wish to bar transgender people from the armed forces. And then, she said, she was stunned by the spokeswoman’s defense of Trump policies leading to migrant children being taken from their parents’ care.
“I explained that the restaurant has certain standards that I feel it has to uphold, such as honesty, and compassion, and cooperation,” the owner explained.
“I said, ‘I’d like to ask you to leave.’“
The restaurant continued to be flooded Saturday afternoon with five-star online reviews praising the restaurant’s stance — and one-star reviews accusing the owner of “discrimination.”
“Sarah, you’re a class act. I’m so sorry you were treated this way,” was State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert’s response on Twitter.
It comes after US Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen was heckled as she dined at a Mexican restaurant in Washington on Tuesday.
Protesters chanted “shame! shame!” repeatedly at Nielsen, a frontline defender of the Trump administration’s practice of separating migrant children from their parents, until she left the restaurant.
Two days earlier, according to the New York Post, White House adviser Stephen Miller was branded a “fascist” while dining at another Mexican eatery in Washington.