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The joke that cost $2 million: China imposes huge fine for comedian’s army-themed quip

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A joke by a Chinese stand-up comedian that loosely referenced a slogan used to describe the country’s military has cost an entertainment firm more than $2 million after it was slapped with enormous fines by authorities.

The costly punishment underscores the delicate line comedians must tread in China’s increasingly restrictive and heavily censored social environment and the stark consequences for those in the entertainment industry who are deemed to step out of line.

Li Haoshi, known by his stage name House, caught the attention of authorities this week after using a phrase associated with the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) during his comedy show at the Century Theater in Beijing over the weekend.

As the official backlash grew, Li canceled all his performances while the entertainment company that represents him, Shanghai Xiaoguo Culture Media, issued an apology.

On Wednesday the Beijing Municipal Bureau of Culture and Tourism said a subsidiary of the firm would be fined $1.91 million and deprived of $189,000 it made in “illegal gains” – an apparent reference to Li’s two live shows last weekend. The company was also indefinitely suspended from holding any performances in the capital.

On Wednesday evening, police in Beijing said that they had opened an investigation into Li, claiming his performance had “seriously insulted” the military and caused “bad social impact.”

In 2021, China enacted a law to ban any insult and slander on military personnel. Last year, a former investigative journalist was sentenced to seven months in prison after he questioned China’s role in the Korean War as depicted in a blockbuster patriotic movie.

On Tuesday, police in the northeastern Chinese city of Dalian detained a woman, identified by her surname Shi, for posting a comment on Weibo questioning why Li was suspended and making a reference to Chinese troops with a dog emoji. The post has since been deleted and her account deactivated.

“No blasphemy will be allowed for the military personnel’s dignity,” police said in a statement following her arrest.

What Li said

To many, Li’s joke might appear innocuous.

During the show, he began a skit about how he had adopted two stray dogs since moving to Shanghai.

He went on to say that their chase after a squirrel one day reminded him of eight words, before he unleashed the controversial punchline, according to audio posted to Chinese social media site Weibo.

“Fine style of work, capable of winning battles,” he said, flipping a well known Chinese Communist Party slogan referring to the PLA.

The phrase was first uttered in 2013 by Chinese leader Xi Jinping, who also chairs the military, when he set out a list of qualities he commanded from the nation’s army. It has since been repeated at various official occasions and in state media.

Shanghai Xiaoguo Culture Media is one of the biggest stand-up comedy show producers in the country.

In handing down its penalty in a statement on Wednesday, authorities in Beijing concluded that Li’s Saturday show contained “a plot amounting to a serious insult to the People’s Liberation Army and causing a bad social influence.”

“We will never allow any company or individual to wantonly slander the glorious image of the People’s Liberation Army on a stage in the [Chinese] capital, never allow the people’s deep feelings for the soldiers to be hurt, and never allow serious subjects to be turned into an entertainment,” the culture authority said.

‘Low form of art’

Li had already apologized on Chinese social media platform Weibo, where he has 136,000 followers.

“I will take all the responsibility and call off all my performances to deeply reflect and reeducate myself,” he wrote on Monday.

Shanghai Xiaoguo Culture Media previously said it had suspended the comedian from all productions indefinitely.

Stand-up comedy has gained traction in China in recent years against the backdrop of an emerging trend of televised contests that pit witty comedians against one another.

After the penalties were announced, some Chinese internet users took to the Twitter-like Weibo platform to praise the official body’s decision.

“Well-deserved. Stand-up comedy is a low form of art that thinks it is cultural,” one user wrote.

But others feared it may lead to a further crackdown on comedy.

China imposes stringent censorship on issues it deems sensitive – from women’s cleavage to criticism of the Communist Party. That ideological control has tightened under Xi’s rule, widely impacting the entertainment industry.

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Unraveling the Mystery: The Curious Case of 52 Weeks in a Year Despite 4 Weeks per Month

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Time, an intangible force that governs our lives, is divided into various units to bring structure to our existence.The interplay of leap years, irregular month lengths, and the 4-week-month cycle harmoniously crafts the curious phenomenon of 52 weeks in a year, answering the question of how many weeks in a year.

Among these units, weeks and months stand as fundamental components, each offering its own rhythm and cadence. A perplexing puzzle arises when we consider the relationship between weeks and months: why does a year, which comprises 12 months, have 52 weeks and not 48 weeks, given that there are typically 4 weeks per month? In this exploration, we embark on a journey to demystify this conundrum, examining the intricate interplay of calendars, leap years, and the fascinating history that shapes the way we measure time.

The Dance of Weeks and Months: A Seeming Paradox

At first glance, the arithmetic seems straightforward: with four weeks per month, shouldn’t a year consist of 48 weeks? However, this simple calculation belies the complexity of calendar systems and the irregularities that emerge when trying to fit neatly divisible units of time.

The Gregorian Calendar: A Key Player

Navigating the intricate dance of leap years and month irregularities provides the intriguing answer to the query: how many weeks in a year? To comprehend this enigma, we must turn our attention to the Gregorian calendar—the most widely used calendar system in the world today. In the Gregorian calendar, a standard year is composed of 365 days, divided into 12 months. This division creates a challenge when reconciling months and weeks due to the uneven number of days in a month.

Leap Years: An Essential Adjustment

The fusion of leap years, varying month lengths, and the steadfast 4-week cycle yields the definitive response to the oft-asked question: how many weeks in a year?The addition of leap years is the crux of the matter. A leap year, occurring every four years, serves as a corrective mechanism to account for the discrepancy between the calendar year and the actual time it takes for Earth to complete its orbit around the sun. Leap years add an extra day, February 29th, to the calendar. This adjustment ensures that the calendar remains synchronized with the astronomical year.

Interestingly, the introduction of leap years influences the distribution of weeks in a year. Since leap years have 366 days—52 weeks and 2 days—the balance between the 4-week-month cycle and the leap year adjustment creates the familiar pattern of 52 weeks in a year.

Weeks and Months: A Harmonious Imbalance

To dissect this phenomenon, let’s delve into the interaction between weeks and months within a leap year and a non-leap year.

  1. Non-Leap Year (365 days): In a non-leap year, 365 days are divided into 12 months, each averaging 30.44 days. While most months have 30 or 31 days, February has 28 days. This irregularity affects the consistency of the 4-week-month cycle.
  2. Leap Year (366 days): In a leap year, the additional day accommodates the 4-week-month cycle. Months in a leap year have 30 or 31 days, but February has 29 days. This extra day contributes to the harmonious alignment of 52 weeks within the year.

Cultural and Historical Influences

In unraveling the curious interaction between leap years, irregular months, and the consistent 4-week cycle, we uncover the precise solution to the timeless query of how many weeks in a year.The origin of the 7-day week, widely adopted today, has cultural and historical roots that span across civilizations. The ancient Babylonians, Egyptians, and Romans all contributed to the development of this temporal framework. Over time, religious and societal practices solidified the 7-day week’s prevalence.

In the context of months, the lunar calendar used by many ancient cultures contributed to the variation in month lengths. Lunar months, determined by the moon’s phases, resulted in months of varying durations. When the Roman calendar was reformed to align with the solar year, the challenge of reconciling lunar and solar cycles further contributed to the irregular month lengths.

Calculating Weeks in a Year: A Precarious Balance

By skillfully accommodating leap years and the ebb and flow of month lengths, we arrive at the calculated answer to the frequently pondered question: how many weeks in a year?The calculation of weeks in a year is a delicate equilibrium between the 4-week-month cycle and the need to synchronize the calendar with astronomical realities. The introduction of leap years, while seemingly unrelated to weeks, plays a pivotal role in creating the consistent pattern of 52 weeks within a year.

Cultural Significance and Implications

Amidst the intricate interplay of calendar mechanics, leap years, and month irregularities, we find the definitive solution to the intriguing question: how many weeks in a year? The 52-week pattern, despite the irregularities of months, has become ingrained in our daily lives. It influences the way we plan schedules, allocate workdays, and celebrate annual events. The harmonious blend of weeks and months provides a sense of balance, even as we navigate the complexities of time.


Within the tapestry of calendar complexities, the synchronization of leap years, month lengths, and the steadfast 4-week cycle seamlessly unveils the precise answer to the perennial question: how many weeks in a year? The perplexing relationship between 52 weeks in a year and the 4-week-month cycle is a testament to the intricacies of calendar systems, leap years, and the historical evolution of how we measure time. This enigma reveals the delicate balance achieved through the interplay of irregular month lengths and the correction introduced by leap years. As we ponder this curious case, we gain a deeper appreciation for the remarkable precision and artistry inherent in the human endeavor to tame the boundless flow of time.

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US accuses Russia of ‘harassing’ drones in Syria, releases video




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The United States has accused Russian fighter jets of flying dangerously close to several of its drones over Syria, setting off flares and forcing the MQ-9 Reapers to take evasive action.

US Air Forces Central released a video of Wednesday’s encounter, showing a Russian SU-35 fighter closing in on the drone.

Footage showed the Russian pilot positioning his aircraft in front of the Reaper and turning on the afterburner, dramatically increasing speed and air pressure and making it harder to operate the drone, the air force said in comments accompanying the video.

So-called parachute flares were also released.

“The Russian SU-35 fighter aircraft employed parachute flares in the flight path of US MQ-9 aircraft,” the air force said. “Against established norms and protocols, this forced US aircraft to conduct evasive manoeuvres.”

Three US drones were airborne at the time of the incident on Wednesday morning, Lieutenant General Alexus Grynkewich, the commander of the Ninth Air Force in the Middle East, said in a statement.

He accused the Russian aircraft of “harassing the drones”, which he said were engaged in a mission against ISIL (ISIS).

Russian military aircraft engaged in unsafe and unprofessional behaviour while interacting with US aircraft in Syria,” he said, adding that the actions threatened the safety not only of US forces but also Russian forces.

Army General Erik Kurilla, head of US Central Command, added that Russia’s violation of ongoing efforts to clear the airspace over Syria “increases the risk of escalation or miscalculation”.

About 900 US forces are deployed to Syria to work with the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces against ISIL. No other details about the drone operation were released, and the statements did not reveal where the incidents took place.


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