University of London secrecy over Tsai Ing-wen’s thesis goes to court

Screenshot (232)
Tsai Ing-wen, President of the Republic of China in-exile, and her controversial 1984 PhD thesis. (credits: Voice of America/Hwan Lin)

In an effort to bring readers news they cannot get anywhere else, I have submitted a Notice of Appeal against the Information Commissioner of the United Kingdom for upholding the University of London’s secrecy about Tsai Ing-wen’s controversial 1984 PhD thesis. Tsai filed the thesis entitled “Unfair Trade Practices and Safeguard Actions” with the London School of Economics in 2019, thirty-five years late, setting off a firestorm of suspicion about academic fraud. Tsai is President of the Republic of China in-exile.

The appeal was submitted to the General Regulatory Chamber of the First-tier Tribunal, known as the Information Review Tribunal. The Freedom of Information Act case against the Information Commissioner, Elizabeth Denham, was brought in response to her June 11, 2020 decision upholding the University of London’s refusal to name the thesis examiners that approved Tsai’s thesis. The appeal asks the court to compel the Information Commissioner to require the University of London to provide the examiner names and the date they approved the thesis. The court has also been asked to order the disclosure of the thesis examiner’s viva report and to require both the University of London and the London School of Economics to submit plans of correction for violation of the Freedom of Information Act.

The language of the Notice of Appeal tells the story. Commissioner Denham is the Respondent. Denham undertook a “Balancing test” to weigh the facts of the case in order to reach her decision.

“Respondent did not consider that President Tsai Ing-wen released her student record sheet and that the student record constitutes related information in the public domain thus raising public interest in disclosure.”

“President Tsai Ing-wen has waived her right to privacy and has no reasonable expectation of privacy of her student record. Further, her selective disclosure hinders the whole picture of what had happened providing an unbalanced view of events.”

“President Tsai Ing-wen’s student record exhibits inconsistencies that undermine confidence in the integrity of the thesis and raises the question whether her PhD degree was properly awarded.”

“President Tsai Ing-wen’s student record states: “10/11/82 WD from course—financial difficulties.”

“President Tsai Ing-wen’s student record does not list her as a student with fees paid for the 1982-1983 school year or name an adviser for that school year.”

“President Tsai Ing-wen’s student record does not list her as a student with fees paid for the 1983-1984 school year or name an adviser for that school year.”

“President Tsai Ing-wen’s Date of Entry of application to submit a thesis for examination was “June 83” after she purportedly withdrew from the course and when she is not listed as a student with fees paid.”

“Respondent did not consider her own Guidance for Suspicion of misrepresentation or wrongdoing which states: “ In some circumstances, related information in the public domain may actually increase the public interest in disclosure – eg if there is independent reason to believe that existing information provides an unbalanced view of events. This may be true even if the new information wouldn’t actually reveal anything further, as it could still allay the suspicions of spin or wrongdoing.”

“Respondent failed to consider Tsai Ing-wen’s academic career in applying the Balancing test by offering the following rationale: “It is not a requirement for the role of President of the Republic of China to have a PhD. If it were, and President Tsai’s PhD was not legitimate, that might be a concern.”

“That Tsai submitted her personal copy of the PhD thesis to the LSE Library and placed her LSE student record, diploma and other documents in the public domain for the purpose of ending the speculation of and proving her PhD while she was campaigning for her reelection.”

“That before entering politics Tsai Ing-wen used her PhD to obtain a teaching position at Soochow University. If the PhD was not legitimate, Tsai would have violated ROC criminal fraud laws. Whether or not a statute of limitations would preclude prosecution does not diminish President Tsai’s culpability for academic fraud in the event the thesis was not legitimate and her University degree was improperly awarded.”

“That Tsai Ing-wen also used her PhD to obtain a teaching position at National Chengchi University.”

“That Tsai Ing-wen used her PhD for commercial purposes, founding and operating TaiMed Biologics.”

“That use of Tsai Ing-wen’s PhD, if not legitimately earned, would be a concern to TaiMed Biologics investors.”

“That in applying the Balancing test Respondent repeats speculation about the absence of the thesis: “It is unfortunate that the copy of President Tsai’s thesis that the University library held was lost or misplaced between the mid-1980s and 2010, during various restructuring changes to the library. This may or may not have been why that version was not published in the period after 1984. However, in response to a request for it from the LSE, President Tsai provided LSE with a copy of the thesis that she held.”

“That in applying the Balancing test Respondent stated, “[T]he University has explained that recipients of PhD degrees in almost all cases have their thesis listed in the publicly searchable University library and therefore the confirmation of a qualification can be determined via this route.”

“That in applying the Balancing test Respondent has relied on an IALS Index concerning the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies as evidence that the thesis had been completed and assessed.”

“That the IALS Index, relied upon by Respondent, is not an Institute for Advanced Legal Studies publication and not an official IALS record.”

“That the academic protocol for a PhD thesis was for the thesis to be filed with three libraries, the LSE library where President Tsai studied, the Senate House library at the University which issued the degree, and IALS library which is the national law library.”

“That the LSE library never received the thesis until 2019.”

“That the fact the LSE library never had a copy of the thesis explains why the thesis was never published in digital form, and not publicly accessible, as were the other theses of President Tsai’s class.”

“That the Senate House library never received the thesis.”

“That the fact the Senate House library never had the thesis explains why no microfilm version is existent or publicly accessible.”

“That the failed attempt by an unidentified person to submit President Tsai Ing-wen’s thesis to Senate House library in 2011 undermines public confidence that the thesis was properly assessed and raises the question of academic fraud.”

“That the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies never received the thesis.”

“That the unsigned copy of the thesis submitted by President Tsai to the LSE library in 2019 appears to be a draft document, with pagination problems, footnote issues, and handwritten entries.”

“Respondent has ignored the precedent that LSE has previously released the identity of thesis examiners stating as follows: “That a different public authority in a different set of circumstances released examiners names in the past is not relevant here.”

“That a privacy exemption for the examiners was not raised by President Tsai, nor LSE, nor the University, nor the examiners, thus waiving the issue in this case.”

“That LSE has disclosed to Appellant the purported date of the thesis viva, 16 October 1983.”

“That the University refuses to disclose the date/s of the thesis approval although such disclosure would cause no more distress to the examiners than disclosure of the viva date. Further, the disclosure of the date/s can in no way be considered personal data of the examiners.”

“That LSE and the University refuse to disclose the examiners’ identity and the date/s they purportedly approved the thesis calls into question the legitimacy of President Tsai’s degree.”

“Respondent misapplied the Balancing test overruling the critical need for strict transparency. President Tsai’s teachers are known, as is her adviser. The two individuals who purportedly approved the thesis must, of necessity, be identified to protect the integrity of the University of London degree.”

“That lack of publication of the thesis, the absence of the thesis from the LSE library, the absence of the thesis from the Senate House library, the absence of the thesis from the IALS library, and the draft appearance of the 2019 thesis, in combination with LSE’s willful violation of FOIA, requires a heightened level of public review.”

“That because the London School of Economics could not issue its own degrees, the University issued PhD degrees to LSE students which requires strict transparency of process.”

“That to protect the transparency of the University degree process and the integrity of the PhD degree, the qualification of legitimacy must, of necessity, outweigh any distress the examiners or President Tsai may suffer from the disclosure of the requested information.”

“That the examiners are the gatekeepers of the University degree which mandates their exclusion from any personal data exemption as they are in fact the qualification certification and absolutely essential to the integrity of the University degree overriding any individual privacy concern.”

Tribunal rules provide that the Information Commissioner will have 28 days to respond.

Black Votes Matter asks Nebraska Pardon Board to release Ed Poindexter

Pardon Board
Preston Love of Black Votes Matter asks the Nebraska Pardon Board to release Ed Poindexter (credit: Diane Topolski)

Preston Love, Chairman of Black Votes Matter, appeared before the Nebraska Pardon Board and requested the release of Ed Poindexter from the Nebraska State Penitentiary where he is serving a life sentence for the 1970 murder of an Omaha policeman. Poindexter, former head of Omaha’s Black Panther affiliate chapter called the National Committee to Combat Fascism, was convicted at a controversial trial in 1971 for the bombing death of Patrolman Larry Minard.

Poindexter had been targeted by Operation COINTELPRO, an illegal program of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and was convicted after the FBI Laboratory withheld a report on the identity of an anonymous caller who lured Minard to his death in a bomb ambush at a vacant house. The confessed bomber, Duane Peak, never served a day in prison in exchange for implicating Poindexter who steadfastly maintains his innocence. The trial was marred by conflicting police testimony and six different versions of Peak’s confession.

Love and six other people addressed the Pardon Board comprised of Governor Pete Ricketts, Attorney General Doug Peterson, and Secretary of State Bob Evnen.

Love told the panel, “I am not here to argue the innocence, or guilt, of Ed Poindexter. I am here to appeal to common sense, decency and humanity.”

Here we are, in 2020, with a call for reform and change, and the reality of aggravated policing, and the anger and hurt of the African American community.”

Fifty years ago, in 1970, we were in the same place, with calls for reform and change, anger and rage. May I remind you, that in 1969, a policeman murdered a 14 year-old Black girl, Vivian Strong. We painfully remember that, we have moved on.”

The shooting death of Strong triggered a three-day riot in North Omaha. Poindexter, then active in the Black Panther Party, helped protect local residents with a community safe house when police refused to patrol the ravaged neighborhood. The Panthers received a commendation from the Greater Omaha Community Action agency for their efforts. Patrolman James Loder, who killed the teen with a bullet in the back of her head, was later acquitted of manslaughter although fired from the police department.

Love spoke quietly, “Mr. Poindexter and I grew up together in the segregated and red-lined Logan Fontenelle public housing complex in the 50’s. Ed Poindexter has paid a debt with his entire adult life, whether or not he is guilty of the crime, he has paid a debt. He is no threat to society. I appeal to humanity, the human side of this parole board.”

I hope that this parole board will recognize that his parole board is not isolated from the realities of this complex world and a benevolent release will go a long way in mending the racial division in our community.”

Omaha physician Diane Topolski spoke about the need for justice. “Ed did not receive a fair trial in 1971 and was wrongly convicted of a crime in which he had no involvement. In 2020, it is too late for justice. Not only that, but, at 75 years old, with ailing health in the setting of a pandemic, Ed can’t wait any longer. Thus, I stand before you today requesting a commutation of sentence.”

If I were in your position, especially in light of recent events, I would find it quite relevant to consider the possibility that an innocent Black man, aptly referred to as a political prisoner by an Amnesty International working group in 1978, is coming up on his 50th anniversary of incarceration.”

The Parole Board unanimously recommended commutation of sentence based on excellent behavior, accomplishments and recommendations as early as 1993. Ed’s behavior, accomplishments and recommendations haven’t become any less excellent, impressive or positive in the last 27 years.”

Ed is 75 years old with multiple life-limiting medical conditions and resides in a high-risk residential facility in the setting of a global pandemic. He is at increased risk of death if he were to contract COVID-19. I hope you appreciate the sense of urgency associated with this decision.”

Finally, if I could borrow the words of former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark, who, after visiting Ed and Mondo in 2012, stated “I think these two men are certainly innocent of the acts for which they’ve been accused and by our system convicted. But I don’t think that’s the real question. The real question is – what kind of people are we that we would incarcerate two such valuable citizens for life?” He went on to say “If you could see them, you would be inspired. When you see someone who has been in there a long time who still understands who he is….They are our hope.”

Governor, Attorney General, Secretary – you are Ed’s last hope.”

For more information see FRAMED: J. Edgar Hoover, COINTELPRO & the Omaha Two story, in print edition at Amazon and in ebook. Portions of the book may be read free online at NorthOmahaHistory.com. The book is also available to patrons of the Omaha Public Library.

Information Commissioner claims Tsai Ing-wen’s thesis lost during remodeling

Screenshot (251)
Elizabeth Denham, Information Commissioner for the United Kingdom, says Tsai Ing-wen’s controversial 1984 thesis was lost during library restructuring (credit: Information Commissioner’s Office)

Elizabeth Denham, the Information Commissioner for the United Kingdom, says the University of London was within the law to withhold the identity of Tsai Ing-wen’s 1984 doctoral thesis examiners. Denham also offered up an explanation why Tsai’s thesis was missing from the London School of Economics Library claiming the phantom document was lost during restructuring of the library. Tsai Ing-wen is the president of the Republic of China in-exile and has been dogged for the better part of a year with allegations of academic fraud.

Although the LSE Library maintains the thesis was never filed until 2019, thirty-five years late; according to Denham, the University of London story is different with the thesis being timely submitted but then lost by the LSE Library. On June 11, 2020, Denham’s office issued a decision upholding the University of London secrecy. The twelve page decision explains the secrecy rationale and provides new information about LSE’s alleged loss of thesis during restructuring.

“The examiners’ names are clearly the personal data of those individuals; their names relate to those individuals and they could be identified from their names….However, this information can also be categorised as President Tsai’s personal data as it concerns the thesis she produced. It therefore relates to her and, since she is named in the request, she can be identified from it.”

“The complainant is interested in the legitimacy of President Tsai’s 1984 thesis. He is concerned that the thesis was not filed with the LSE’s library until 2019 and that the filed copy appears to be a draft document. He says that this graduate had a non-Doctoral instructor as an Advisor, which he also considers casts doubt on the thesis’ validity. In the Commissioner’s view, the legitimacy or otherwise of President Tsai’s thesis is a private concern for the complainant. However, given the position of one of the data subjects – President Tsai – there may be some broader public interest in the matter.”

“In its submission to the Commissioner, the University has explained that recipients of PhD degrees in almost all cases have their thesis listed in the publicly searchable University library.”

“The University has told the Commissioner that it holds a copy of the examination report for the thesis and the thesis copyright submission form. There is also a record of the individual and the thesis on the University’s pass list published in that year.”

“The original copy held by the University library was lost or mis-shelved sometime between mid‐1980s and 2010s over which period there were numerous structural changes to the library.”

“The University has advised that, in its responses to separate FOI requests, it has stated that it holds records of the viva and the pass list in regard to this graduate – President Tsai – and can therefore confirm the award of the degree.”

“The University’s position is that the validity of President Tsai’s 1984 thesis is confirmed because the thesis is published and available online. Other information is held – such as the viva associated with the thesis and the University’s contemporaneous pass list containing President Tsai’s name – that also supports a position that the thesis is legitimate. In addition, a public statement to that effect has been made by the college at which President Tsai was registered.”

“It is necessary to balance the legitimate interests in disclosure against the data subjects’ interests or fundamental rights and freedoms. In doing so, it is necessary to consider the impact of disclosure.”

“The University says that, like all PhD graduates, the individual in this case has a reasonable expectation that their qualification will be a matter of public record via a library or other public register. There is no expectation that records of the examination process will be disclosed.”

“It is not a requirement for the role of President of the Republic of China to have a PhD. If it were, and President Tsai’s PhD was not legitimate, that might be a concern. What is of issue here is whether the University’s process for assessing and awarding PhDs is valid in all cases.”

“It is unfortunate that the copy of President Tsai’s thesis that the University library held was lost or misplaced between the mid-1980s and 2010, during various restructuring changes to the library. This may have been why that version of the thesis was not published in the period after 1984. However, in response to a request for it from the LSE, President Tsai provided LSE with a copy of the thesis that she held. The LSE has published a copy of this thesis that it received from President Tsai, since 2019.”

“It may or may not be a draft version, but this is the version of her thesis that President Tsai still held, some 35 years after first writing it. The Commissioner understands that the paper copy of the thesis that the University received from President Tsai and which it has converted to an electronic version and published is the only paper copy it has been able to locate at this point.”

“At issue here is whether President Tsai’s PhD was valid and properly awarded by the University and, more generally, whether the public can trust the University’s processes. The complainant has his particular concerns, but the Commissioner considers that the University has demonstrated sufficient transparency in the matter of this PhD thesis.”

The next step of appeal to learn the identity of the thesis examiners is a court proceeding before the Information Rights Tribunal. However, Tsai Ing-wen can end the whole matter by instructing the University of London to reveal the examiners’ identity and make the viva report available to the public.

If the thesis examiners approved the thesis, Tsai will suffer no distress from their identity being revealed. If the examiners liked her thesis as much as she has claimed she should be glad to let them speak.

This report has been updated to reflect the University of London’s clarification that “restructuring” meant reorganization not remodeling.  Thus the University’s speculation about the thesis absence from the library now implies the fault is that of Senate House librarians not construction workers.  The University has not offered a theory why the thesis was also missing from the London School of Economics library or the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies library.

Fifty years ago Black Panthers targeted after bombing at police station in Omaha

Screenshot (304)
Bomb damage outside of the North Omaha police assembly building in 1970 (credit: Omaha Police Department)

Fifty years ago, June 11, 1970, just before midnight roll-call, a bomb exploded outside the North Omaha police assembly building. Nearly two dozen officers were inside preparing for shift change. The crime was never solved.

Although no arrests for the bombing were ever made the police believed the local Black Panthers, known as the National Committee to Combat Fascism, were responsible. Captain Murdock Platner testified before two Congressional committees about the bombing in testimony that went unreported in Omaha.

“A bomb was exploded in the North Assembly Area, which is an outlying police station….This occurred as rollcall was being held, around 11:30 that night. There were 20 police officers at this rollcall. This bomb was set off on the back side of the building, and if it had been set on the other side, it probably would have collapsed that whole part there, and no telling how many officers would have been injured. There was no officer actually severely injured, just their hearing, and some of the uniforms were dirty and what-not. This bomb was of such force that it cracked this building from end to end, clear from the back toward the front….which I heard, through informants, was done by the Black Panthers.”

“They became very active, and they met very frequently, traveled back almost weekly, Des Moines, Kansas City, and on occasion two of these people went to California to speak with members there. They started in, repeatedly, forcing confrontations with the police which then resulted in several misdemeanor arrests, which they made the most of, saying that we were persecuting these people. This was the type of thing where a Black Panther would be in a car driving alongside of a police car and point a gun at the officer and say, “You are going to die,” with a few slang words thrown in with it. We know that they were buying at this time quite a few pistols, rifles, shotguns, and ammunition. We had information, received from maybe not too confidential a source, that they possessed dynamite, that they possessed hand-grenades, and so far as we know they were trying to buy machine-guns.”

“All of the information we have indicates that these militants were taught in Des Moines or Kansas City or San Francisco about how to make an ambush, how to make the weapon, and then how to put it into practice. It is my opinion that the Omaha militants were pushed into doing something drastic in Omaha because they were trying to regain their standing in the national organization. There definitely are connections between militants in Omaha and many other cities in other States.”

Platner moved on to the topic of informants. “As you probably know, informants are pretty hard to come by in this business. They know if anything happens, or their status is revealed, that they will be done away with in some form or another, either beaten unmercifully or killed. The information we get from these people, they tell us, but we are unable at anytime, have been unable to get somebody who will go to court and testify. They are in fear for their life. We did have, at one time, where we hired informants, but we could not get them to risk their lives, and we did hire people to feed us the information as they could get it. We never got anybody who was in the inner circle of this organization. We could get people to hang around and tell us what was said in the meetings, and so on, but we never could get anybody to tell us what actually happened, and getting your information third and fourth hand, you are handicapped because to get a search warrant, there has to be probable cause, and it has to be from a reliable person. I am not sure we could have found anybody we could have used in this.”

In other words, Platner’s informants did not know who placed the bomb yet he was willing to name the Black Panthers in his testimony.

The bomb immediately turned unwanted attention on Edward Poindexter, chairman of the NCCF chapter. Already the subject of a police harassment campaign, Poindexter was also on the Federal Bureau of Investigation “Security Index” detention list. Poindexter recounted what the heat was like.

“I’d spend the night at different homes so that the cops couldn’t pick up a pattern. Each night I was at a different safe house to sleep. Since it was unusually quiet…in terms of police harassment, I decided to walk north on Twenty-fourth Street instead of cutting through alley ways as usual.”

“Mama’s house was only a few blocks from headquarters, and I’d expected to be there within five minutes. But as I got two blocks from headquarters a cop cruised by and looked at me with surprise. I instantly knew there was going to be some stuff, so as they turned off Twenty-fourth and out of sight I took the opportunity to jet north to Spaulding and cut west before the cops had a chance to double back for an assault on me. Pity the poor soul caught alone on a side street with no witnesses.”

“About half way up the street I looked back to see the patrol car screech around the corner in pursuit of me. I ducked between two houses and cut through an alley. I heard the patrol car halt, the door open and slam shut, and the familiar but frightening sound of a riot pump shotgun lock and load.”

“When I reached Twenty-seventh Street, I decided not to enter the house, but instead duck behind the hedges and wait for the cops to pass. I kneeled on the lawn and felt the salty sweat dripping down my face. My forearms and hands even glistened with it.”

“Moments later the patrol car cruised slowly past the house with its searchlight passing over the hedges and house. That was the longest ten seconds of my entire life.”

Although Poindexter was not charged with the police station bombing he was later blamed for the August 17, 1970 bomb murder of Patrolman Larry Minard. Convicted in April 1971 after a controversial trial marred by conflicting police testimony, perjured testimony, unreliable scientific evidence, planted evidence, and a withheld FBI Laboratory report, Poindexter was sentenced to life at hard labor without parole. Poindexter, who denies any role in Minard’s death, is imprisoned in the maximum-security Nebraska State Penitentiary, where he approaches a half-century behind bars for a crime he continues to claim he did not commit.

The article contains excerpts from FRAMED: J. Edgar Hoover, COINTELPRO & the Omaha Two story, available in print edition at Amazon and in ebook. Portions of the book may be read free online at NorthOmahaHistory.com. The book is also available to patrons of the Omaha Public Library.

Taiwan Civil Government included in new Taiwan political history book

Keating cover
Jerome Keating’s new book on Taiwan political history is Taiwan: The Struggle Gains Focus (credit: Jerome Keating)

The organization Taiwan Civil Government, ignored by the news media, was included in a new Taiwan political history book. The new book, Taiwan: The Struggle Gains Focus, is Jerome Keating’s fifth book on Taiwanese history. The book picks up where Keating’s other books ended and covers the Republic of China in-exile administrations of Ma Ying-jeou and Tsai Ing-wen. Keating’s showpiece book is The Mapping of Taiwan, a collection of historical maps of the island.

Keating is an American living in Taipei where he made his home many years ago after accepting an engineering assignment during construction of the subway system. Keating has been an independent voice in Taiwanese politics and is a frequent contributor to the Taipei Times. Keating did not like Ma but does like Tsai although he well knows the job of a historian is to keep one’s bias out of the story. Keating continues to see China as Taiwan’s biggest threat as the island tries to find its way to national identity.

Keating provides a summary of TCG in his book, giving readers just a peek at the controversial group.

“There is a group in Taiwan that challenges the ambiguity of the San Francisco Peace Treaty; that group is the Taiwan Civil Government. Formed by the now deceased Roger C. S. Lin, this group has brought cases before the US Supreme Court to legitimize the fact that Taiwan citizens are still under the jurisdiction of the US Military Government. At issue is how the SFPT never stipulated a recipient to whom Japan would surrender its colony of Taiwan.”

“The US Supreme Court heard the cases but did not rule on them; it stated that the issues were more political than legal.”

“The TCG is under investigation by the Taiwan (ROC) government for defrauding citizens with its claim to represent their interests. These cases are pending.”

“I have visited the TCG headquarters and training area which have since been destroyed by the Taiwan government and likewise met with Roger Lin a week before his death. The group is now split in its leadership since that death, but in my experience the rank and file are people who are dedicated Taiwanese.”

“Whether the Taiwan government can prove fraud remains to be seen. However what lies behind this whole issue is the unresolved matter of the SFPT. It is a chicken that still needs to come home to roost and all those involved, the United States, the People’s Republic of China, Taiwan (Republic of China) etc. remain reluctant to face it squarely and sort it out.”

“In my past discussions with the TCG group, they desired a status of Taiwan vis-à-vis the US as that of Canada to the United Kingdom. What will come of this? It remains a hot potato that most don’t want to touch; they wish it would go away.”

Keating is a little off on the litigation, the Supreme Court did not hear the Lin cases on their merits but instead allowed lower decisions to stand, however he is correct the San Francisco Peace Treaty raises issues no one wants to talk about.

Roger Lin, before his death, was charged with cheating his group members with false claims about the United States. Lin’s widow, Julian Lin, remains charged with fraud as does her current rival Tsai Tsai-yuan, who split with Julian after Roger’s death.

Taiwan Civil Government struggles along, split in two factions, each trying to hold on to a dwindling membership base. The split and Roger Lin’s death have done more to break the TCG than two years of investigation, trial, and property destruction by the ROC. Keating’s book does not explore the behind-the-scenes story of the TCG fraud case, it may be interesting to see exactly what role Tsai Ing-wen has played in the ongoing political fraud case.

Excerpts from Taiwan: The Struggle Gains Focus are courtesy of author Jerome Keating who was the last journalist to interview Roger Lin before his death. Further information about the book is available from the publisher SMCBook.

Fifty years ago Black Panther David Rice arrested in Omaha for going to church

Screenshot (299)
David Rice (later Wopashitwe Mondo Eyen we Langa) was arrested in 1970 after attending the Zion Baptist Church in Omaha, Nebraska (credits: Omaha Police Department/Omaha World-Herald)

Fifty years ago, May 3, 1970, David Rice, who later became Wopashitwe Mondo Eyen we Langa, attended the Sunday service at the Zion Baptist Church in Omaha, Nebraska. Rice, raised as a Catholic, was not in seek of salvation but was at Zion instead to awaken the congregation of Reverend Rudolph McNair.

McNair had been a subject of attention from Rice in the newsletter he edited for the National Committee to Combat Fascism, Freedom By Any Means Necessary, for hypocrisy in McNair’s personal life. Rice later talked about his public battle with McNair. “I was working on our newsletter when I got a call from this dude who said a particular preacher had beat his wife in the Safeway parking lot. I got the lowdown. Now here was somebody church people had been trying to get rid of for years. I did know he had been active in the so-called civil rights movement, very active, and then he had gone quiet. Later on I found out that he turned to the mayor about his church receiving funds to operate certain programs. So for a time his quietness had been purchased.”

I guess he was with his girlfriend and the wife busted him and she didn’t take too kindly to it and he assaulted her in the parking lot. This is somebody preaching sermons to his congregation about sin and goodness and evil.”

Rice wrote an article for the newsletter about McNair and decided to attend McNair’s church. “Myself and another Party member went to the service next Sunday, right around service time. After people found out what was in it, all kinds of people just rushing, practically knocking us over to get these newsletters. Well, we ran out of newsletters but it was kind of fruitful we had The Black Panther newspapers with us. When we ran out of our newsletters the people bought the Black Panther Party newspaper. Maybe a week or two after that the police came and a number of us were arrested. I was the only one from the chapter that was arrested.”

Rice and seven church members were charged with disorderly conduct. Several were elderly members of the church. Reverend McNair told police he was pushed and grabbed by members of a group who blocked his way as he walked to the pulpit. McNair said the group shouted during the church service.

The eight people arrested went to court in June. Rice and the seven others were fined one dollar each for disturbing a church service. Municipal Judge Simon A. Simon told the eight, including several women, that church was not the place to “settle grievances.” Several of the defendants testified they only grabbed McNair to restrain him after he clenched his fist as though to strike one of the women.

In August, McNair, used his new appointment to the Greater Omaha Community Action anti-poverty agency to fire Rice who was a community outreach worker. McNair gave Rice a termination notice. “I have noted a continuous recalcitrance on your part to comply with these directives….and in addition, the excessive time I have observed you spending in the headquarters of another organization, and the time wasted in conversation in this office…and the tardiness without explanation are unacceptable.”

Rice understood McNair was intent on firing him. “The moment I heard Rudolph McNair was to be hired to be my supervisor I thought I’m about to not have a job and the day he was hired he came by my office and told me to pack up my stuff.”

That week, on August 17, 1970, a bomb exploded in a vacant house killing Patrolman Larry Minard. The Black Panther affiliate chapter members were suspected by police with Rice and Edward Poindexter the primary suspects.

Rice was fighting for his job at GOCA and appealed for an Equal Opportunity Commission hearing. Rice recalled he was preoccupied with lining up witnesses to get his job restored. “I believe it was a matter of days after the bombing we had the personnel hearing. McNair shows up at the hearing drunk. Somebody had to drive him home in fact. There were a bunch of people there testifying in my behalf. Anyway, needless to say, from in jail I couldn’t work for GOCA anymore.”

The two Panther leaders were arrested for the bombing and convicted in April 1971 after a controversial trial marred by conflicting police testimony; perjured testimony by Duane Peak, the confessed bomber; and a withheld FBI Laboratory report on the identity of the anonymous caller that lured Minard to his death. The pair were closely monitored by DirectorJ. Edgar Hoover, who personally oversaw the manipulation of the police investigation. Federal Bureau of Investigation agents working under the clandestine COINTELPRO counterintelligence operation targeted the two men months earlier.

Rice and Poindexter received life without parole sentences. After imprisonment Rice changed his name to Wopashitwe Mondo Eyen we Langa, a composite name he created out of four African languages. Mondo died in the Nebraska State Penitentiary in March 2016 while serving his life sentence. Poindexter remains locked up at the maximum-security prison, a half century after his arrest for a crime he denies any role in.

Both Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts and Douglas County Attorney Don Kleine have been asked to reopen the murder investigation in light of documented FBI tampering. Ricketts will not answer the request. Kleine says he is waiting for new evidence. Neither man will acknowledge the known role of the FBI in seeking a wrongful conviction.

This article contains excerpts from FRAMED: J. Edgar Hoover, COINTELPRO & the Omaha Two story, in print edition at Amazon and in ebook. Portions of the book may be read free online at NorthOmahaHistory.com. The book is also available to patrons of the Omaha Public Library.

University of London deluged with questions about Tsai Ing-wen’s thesis

Screenshot (240)
Rosalind Frendo, Secretary to the Board of the University of London, is tired of answering questions about Tsai Ing-wen’s 1984 thesis. (credits: Hwan Lin/University of London)

Questions about Tsai Ing-wen’s 1984 London School of Economics thesis just will not go away and the University of London is growing tired of the “large number of enquires”about the controversial thesis. Tsai, President of the Republic of China in-exile, kicked a hornet nest last summer when she filed her doctoral thesis with the London School of Economics Library, thirty-five years late.

Tsai’s thesis, entitled Unfair Trade Practices and Safeguard Actions, was not filed in 1984 with the LSE Library as required. Last year, after public pressure, Tsai submitted the tardy thesis but initially kept it under copyright restriction with no online version, unlike other LSE thesis papers which were posted. After multiple scholars raised questions about the thesis, Tsai relented and permitted it to be available to the public online. Careful academic scrutiny that followed did not disclose plagiarism but did reveal what appears to be a draft document with various fonts, pagination and footnote issues, and handwritten marks, raising the question whether Tsai actually completed her thesis.

The academic controversy fueled Freedom of Information requests to the London School of Economics and the parent University of London. Rosalind Frendo, Secretary to the Board of the University of London, says Tsai Ing-wen controls information about the thesis and refuses to name the examiners who approved the thesis.

In response to a scholar’s recent request about the thesis oral examination, Frendo says, “I do not believe that the requirements for transparency outweighs the privacy of individuals in the context of this request.”

“In regards to formal verification, this is provided by the University Transcripts Office and it generates a new record, the official “Confirmation of Award” letter. This is distinct from Freedom of Information, which relates to information held by the University at the point of the request. To fulfill its obligations under FOIA, the University has confirmed it holds records of Dr. Tsai’s award. Letters of confirmation can be requested from the University but require signed authorization from the student and a fee.”

“The University and the London School of Economics have received a large number of enquiries across multiple channels regarding this subject. There are some other details disclosed in similar requests that may be relevant.”

“The University can confirm its records state that the examiners reviewed the thesis and examined the candidate orally on the subject of the thesis.”

“Dr. Tsai was recorded on the University’s 1984 pass list.”

“I have reviewed the Information Commissioner’s guidance…”Dealing with vexatious requests”. Whilst I do not feel the threshold has been reached by your request alone, the volume of requests and enquiries for information across multiple requesters does suggest that it may be in the near future, especially in light of current events.”

Although Tsai has bragged the two thesis examiners were so impressed with her thesis they wanted to award her a double degree she refuses to name them and will not permit either LSE nor the University of London to disclose their identity. The LSE refusal to name the examiners is contrary to precedent where the examiners’ identities have been previously disclosed, thus creating a double standard favoring Tsai Ing-wen.

There is a pending complaint against the University of London over the refusal to name the thesis examiners in the Information Commissioner’s Office. No date for an ICO decision has been announced.

Information Commissioner to continue investigation of University of London secrecy about Tsai Ing-wen’s thesis examiners

Screenshot (232)
Tsai Ing-wen and her 1984 London School of Economics thesis (credits: Voice of America/Hwan Lin)

The Information Commissioner’s Office of the United Kingdom will proceed with an investigation of the University of London over Tsai Ing-wen’s 1984 thesis examiners. The ICO recently issued a preliminary assessment of a complaint about the withholding of the examiners’ identities by the University, finding that Tsai Ing-wen may suffer “damage or distress” if the examiners were identified.

Last summer, Tsai belatedly filed her 1984 thesis with the London School of Economics Library, thirty-five years late. Briefly an issue in her recent reelection campaign, Tsai avoids talking about the controversial thesis entitled “Unfair Trade Practices and Safeguard Actions.”

The tardy thesis caused a number of Taiwanese scholars to raise questions about the thesis and whether or not Tsai actually earned the degree bestowed upon her. Because LSE could not issue its own degrees, the University of London awarded a diploma on the recommendation of two thesis examiners, which the school now refuses to name.

Lead Case Officer Cressida Woodall initially suggested terminating the complaint because the ICO has previously declined to force graduate schools to name thesis examiners and the possibility of damage or distress to Tsai. However, Woodall has now renewed the ICO investigation after learning that LSE had disclosed the identity of other thesis examiners, thus creating a double standard for Tsai, the president of the Republic of China in-exile.

In 2011, LSE revealed the thesis examiners of Saif Gaddafi after it was learned that the Libyan student had to be privately tutored and the authorship of his thesis was called into question. The examiners, Meghnad Desai and Anthony McGrew, were named in the Woolf Inquiry Report, an independent investigation commissioned by LSE, into the circumstances of Gaddafi’s thesis and significant donations to LSE by the Libyan government headed by Saif’s father.

While the ICO probe will go forward, the Corona virus emergency will likely delay completion of the investigation. Woodall explains, “This will mean that the process of investigating your case further is likely to take considerably longer than usual and a formal decision notice may not be issued for some weeks after the investigation process has concluded.”

The effort to identify the thesis examiners began in September 2019 with a request to the London School of Economics. LSE declined to identify the examiners and said it was the University of London’s responsibility. The University refused to name the examiners, citing Tsai’s right to privacy. A six-week internal review upheld the disclosure exemption leading to the pending ICO complaint.

Tsai Ing-wen declines to name her thesis examiners keeping alive an ongoing controversy over her Ph.D. degree.

Information Commissioner’s preliminary finding is that release of Ph.D. thesis examiners’ identity likely to cause “damage or distress” to Republic of China President Tsai Ing-wen

Screenshot (232)
Tsai Ing-wen and her 1984 London School of Economics thesis may be shielded by the Information Commissioner’s Office. (credits: Voice of America/Hwan Lin)

The Information Commissioner’s Office of the United Kingdom is poised to uphold the University of London’s refusal to name Republic of China in-exile President Tsai Ing-wen’s 1984 Ph.D. thesis examiners. Lead Case Officer Cressida Woodall authored a preliminary assessment agreeing with the University of London.

The requested information is associated with an individual in a private/personal capacity. I am satisfied that the individual concerned (the student) would have the reasonable expectation that their personal data – that is; specific information about their thesis – who examined it and when – would not be disclosed to world at large in response to a FOI request.”

Woodall wrote, “I consider it likely that disclosing this information would cause that individual a degree of damage or distress.”

The tempest in a teapot over the thesis periodically boils over into the news media although has been a social media topic since last summer when Tsai belatedly filed her 1984 thesis with the London School of Economics Library, thirty-five years late. Briefly an issue in her recent reelection campaign, Tsai prefers to avoid talking about the controversial thesis entitled “Unfair Trade Practices and Safeguard Actions.”

The London School of Economics says the thesis examiners conducted Tsai’s “viva” on October 16, 1983, a Sunday. LSE cannot or will not identify the two thesis examiners that approved the thesis and directs all questions to the parent University of London.

The University of London, after a six-week internal review, concluded that the names of the thesis examiners was exempt from public disclosure because their names could be found in Tsai’s student records.

Meanwhile, a number of Taiwanese scholars have raised questions about the thesis and whether or not Tsai actually earned the degree bestowed upon her. Because LSE could not issue its own degrees, the University of London awarded a diploma on the recommendation of the two thesis examiners, at least that is how it was supposed to work. The Sunday viva and Tsai’s refusal to name the thesis examiners, along with the silence of both the London School of Economics and the University of London on the examiner identities keeps alive the ongoing question, was there really a thesis oral examination?

Woodall explained: “I note that the thesis in question was examined approximately 35 years ago. Any concern about this one, thesis is therefore historic at this point. Other than UL demonstrating that it is open and transparent, the specifics of your request do not have a wider societal legitimate interest. You have not presented evidence that there are long-standing and systemic irregularities with UL’s examination of theses.”

The preliminary assessment included reference to two other cases. In 2019, the University of Leicester refused to name the entire roster of outside examiners for an eight-year period and the refusal was upheld. In 2018, The Open University refused to name two Ph.D. thesis examiners but did offer a general description of their qualifications.

If the Information Commissioner adopts the preliminary assessment as a final decision the next step is a Tribunal appeal. The ICO has indicated the corona virus has altered the agency timeline and when a final decision will be issued is unknown.

Now, Woodall has entered a new question into the controversy. What kind of “damage or distress” could Tsai possibly suffer from disclosure of the identity of her examiners if they actually approved the thesis?

 

Request to Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je and Republic of China President Tsai Ing-wen to close Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall to respect 228 Massacre victims

Screenshot (273)
Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je, Chiang Kai-shek statue, and Republic of China in-exile President Tsai Ing-wen. Ko and Tsai are being asked to remove the statue from public display. (credits: Zhenghu Feng/Adam Jones/ROC Presidential Office)

I’m adding my voice to that of the families of 228 Massacre victims that have pleaded in vain for the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall to be closed. Neither Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je nor Republic of China in-exile President Tsai Ing-wen have agreed that it is wrong to have the man who ordered the Kuomintang crackdown on Formosans that led to the 228 Massacre of thousands in 1947 to be revered with a ROC color guard. Chiang Kai-shek’s soldiers and police inflicted murder, rape, torture, and harsh imprisonment on innocent island residents after a spontaneous revolt against the brutal KMT government imposed on the people followed by four long decades under White Terror martial law.

The Chinese hero worship of a brutal dictator who inflicted the White Terror crimes on the public is a gross insult to the memory of Chiang’s many victims. The building and statue inside is iconic for historical reasons to be sure. The hall no doubt cost a lot of tax dollars. However, each day that it is open, each changing of the guard, where respect is extended to the Chiang idol, is offensive to the memory of the many deaths caused by Chiang Kai-shek.

Mayor Ko showed up at the 228 Memorial Peace Park to listen to President Tsai’s remarks. One year Ko skipped attending Taiwan’s most somber holiday ceremonies to go jogging and received considerable criticism for the disrespect. Ko flagged criticism from some at this year’s event.

Hsu Shih-hsiung called Ko an “opportunist” and said that Ko has lost his sense of what Taiwanese values truly are. “This kind of person should never be the country’s leader; families of the White Terror victims and I will never support Ko.”

Tsai said, “We believe that by remembering history and reflecting on the past, we can make our society more united, make democracy more consolidated and move Taiwan forward,”

One simple way to “move Taiwan forward” would be to end the outrageous public worship of Chiang Kai-shek. I challenge you Mayor Ko, to host 228 ceremonies next year at the Memorial Hall. I challenge you President Tsai, to honor your words and move Taiwan forward, away from Chiang hero worship. The two of you should work together to clean house. While meeting to discuss building renovation, give some consideration to substituting Taiwanese history for Chinese history in the building museum.

Oh, more thing. Those other statues. Taiwan is littered with over a thousand Chiang statues in public places. There are many in Taipei. They need to go away too. The longstanding “strategic ambiguity” that has clouded Taiwan’s international status has left many people confused.

Memorial Hall was build by the dictator’s son, Chiang Ching-kuo, to honor his father in 1980, while Taiwan was still suffering under martial law and it was a crime to mention the 228 Massacre. A goose-stepping honor guard saluting the statue of a dead dictator has no place in modern Taiwan.