Thursday, July 31, 2008

Nearly Half of Employers Have Caught a Lie on a Resume, Survey Shows

CHICAGO, July 30, 2008 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ -- Is your resume more fiction than fact? Experts warn bending the truth can cost you the job. Although only 8 percent of workers admitted to stretching the truth on their resumes, nearly half (49 percent) of hiring managers reported they caught a candidate lying on their resume. Of these employers, 57 percent said they automatically dismissed the applicant. This is according to's latest survey of more than 3,100 hiring managers and over 8,700 workers nationwide conducted from May 22 to June 13, 2008.
Thirty-six percent of employers who received falsified applications said they still considered the candidate, but did not hire him/her. A small percentage (6 percent) ended up hiring the applicant.
The most common lies discovered on a resume, according to the survey, include:
    -- Embellished responsibilities -- 38 percent
-- Skill set -- 18 percent
-- Dates of employment -- 12 percent
-- Academic degree -- 10 percent
-- Companies worked for -- 7 percent
-- Job title -- 5 percent

Industries experiencing higher incidences of resume fabrications included Hospitality, Transportation/Utilities and Information Technology. Sixty-percent of employers in Hospitality, 59 percent in Transportation/Utilities and 57 percent in IT reported they found lies on resumes. Government had the lowest incident at 45 percent.
"Even the slightest embellishment can come back to haunt you and ruin your credibility," said Rosemary Haefner, Vice President of Human Resources at "If you're concerned about gaps in employment, your academic background or skill sets, invention is not the answer. Use your cover letter strategically to tell your story, focusing on your strengths and accomplishments and explaining any areas of concern if needed." asked hiring managers to share the most memorable or outrageous lies they came across on resumes. Examples include:
    1) Claimed to be a member of the Kennedy family
2) Invented a school that did not exist
3) Submitted a resume with someone else's photo inserted into the document
4) Claimed to be a member of Mensa
5) Claimed to have worked for the hiring manager before, but never had
6) Claimed to be the CEO of a company when the candidate was an hourly
7) Listed military experience dating back to before he was born
8) Included samples of work, which the interviewer actually did
9) Claimed to be Hispanic when he was 100 percent Caucasian
10) Claimed to have been a professional baseball player

Haefner recommends the following tips to make your resume memorable for the right reasons:
Apply early. Nearly one-in-ten employers receive more than 50 applications for open positions on average and one-in-five said they are receiving more resumes than last year. Get your foot in the door before other candidates by signing up for job alerts that automatically email job listings to you as they become available.
Stand out from the crowd. Forty-three percent of hiring managers said they spend one minute or less looking at a resume when first reviewing applications; 14 percent spend less than 30 seconds. Make sure you are highlighting specific accomplishments, quantifying results whenever possible, to showcase how you put your skills into action and benefitted previous employers.
Use keywords. Hiring managers often use electronic scanners to rank candidates based on a keyword search of applications, so make sure to pepper keywords from the job posting into your resume as they apply to your experience. The terms employers search for most often are:
    -- problem-solving and decision-making skills (50 percent)
-- oral and written communications (44 percent)
-- customer service or retention (34 percent)
-- performance and productivity improvement (32 percent)
-- leadership (30 percent)
-- technology (27 percent)
-- team-building (26 percent)
-- project management (20 percent)
-- bilingual (14 percent)

Survey Methodology
This survey was conducted online within the U.S. by Harris Interactive on behalf of among 3,169 hiring managers and human resource professionals (employed full-time; not self-employed; with at least significant involvement in hiring decisions); and 8,785 U.S. employees (employed full-time; not self-employed) ages 18 and over between May 22 and June 13, 2008, respectively (percentages for some questions are based on a subset U.S. employers or employees, based on their responses to certain questions). With a pure probability sample of 3,169 and 8,785, one could say with a 95 percent probability that the overall results have a sampling error of +/- 1.74 percentage points and +/- 1.05 percentage points, respectively. Sampling error for data from sub-samples is higher and varies.
About is the nation's largest online job site with more than 23 million unique visitors and over 1.6 million jobs. Owned by Gannett Co., Inc. (GCI:
Sponsored by:
, , )
, Tribune Company, The McClatchy Company (MNI:
Sponsored by:
, , )
and Microsoft Corp. (MSFT:
Microsoft Corporation
Last: 26.23+0.12+0.46%
4:00pm 07/30/2008
Delayed quote data
Sponsored by:
26.23, +0.12, +0.5%)
, the company offers a vast online and print network to help job seekers connect with employers. powers the career centers for more than 1,600 partners, including 140 newspapers and leading portals such as AOL and MSN. More than 300,000 employers take advantage of's easy job postings, 28 million-plus resumes, Diversity Channel and more. and its subsidiaries operate in the U.S., Europe, Canada and Asia. For more information, visit
     Media Contact:
Jennifer Grasz
Original here

INSTANT VIEW - WTO talks collapse amid farm stand-off

GENEVA (Reuters) - Marathon talks on a new wave of trade liberalisation collapsed on Tuesday after nine days of intense but ultimately fruitless negotiations.

Following are some reactions, with latest at top:


"Obviously, we are disappointed that the talks came this far only to break down.

"We are not sure what is going to happen next in terms of WTO. We don't want to sound alarmist, because we have seen this kind of crush in the past.

"Considering how close the talks were to reaching an agreement, it would be foolish to let everything fall apart."


"This deal did not collapse over small technicalities. It was doomed to fail from the start. There is no political support for what is on the table: not from India or France or Argentina or South Africa. Following the same WTO model is impossible now: governments are no longer willing to sacrifice other concerns strictly for the sake of trade. People are on the streets rioting over food and energy prices. The business world is in a state of shock over the financial crisis. These are the problems that governments have to focus on. And the Doha Round cannot help them."


"We applaud the stand that developing countries have taken throughout the talks in defending the livelihoods of the poorest and most vulnerable farmers. We hope that any future talks can place development firmly back on the agenda."


"The time for developing countries to strike a deal over agriculture was now, not later. This year's high prices created a window for lower rich-country subsidies and tariffs that may not open again, and it's unfortunate that the big developing countries didn't take the opportunity."

"This fourth collapse after Cancun, Hong Kong and Potsdam suggests that the WTO members may need to rethink the agenda rather than try again with the same program. In particular, they might move agricultural reform out of the center for a few years, and focus instead on big newly emerging industries - energy/environmental industries and medical equipment for example - where attitudes are less entrenched and emotional."


"The underlying problem from the U.S. perspective is the readiness of developing countries, such as India, to open their markets to higher levels of agriculture imports. In the current environment of understandable anxiety in the American workforce about trade, neither this (Bush) Administration nor the next one, whether Democrat or Republican, will accept terms for a Doha deal that does not expand significantly market access for both farm and industrial goods as well as services. And that means strong resistance against `special safeguards' in poor nations that can prevent such access from taking place."


"The impact on the U.S. economy and on the U.S. dollar for now will be an indirect one. The dollar has benefited in the past from globalization and freer trade. If this means that more barriers will be imposed and countries will take the side of protectionism, it may hurt exports and therefore the economy and the dollar."


"Life goes on. The WTO talks have broken down for so many years that the surprise will come if they succeed not when they break down."

"The breakdown is not a change, only a breakthrough would have been one."


"I think it's a strong negative and it really follows on the heels of a retreat from globalization and trade that were really the building blocks for the prosperity of the last several decades. It's scary.

"The last thing that we need right now, as we are dealing with the unwinding of a massive credit bubble, is to turn our backs on trade and move into a protectionist stance. It would be a huge blow to the global economy and very negative for the world's poor."


"These agricultural trade issues have been in talks for years. It's really a tough situation because of the large trade protection offered to the farm sector in various forms and guises for many years. It's hard to rein in these subsidies."

"There doesn't seem too much progress on this. It's more important now with some of the shortages of global food supply. Something's got to be done to improve this to reduce price distortions."

"The progress on (agricultural) ag-trade is incremental. It's not going to be revolutionary. Frequently there are these breakdowns. They often go back to it again. There is a higher sense of urgency."

Original here

Bush Signs Sweeping Housing Bill


WASHINGTON — President Bush signed into law on Wednesday a huge package of housing legislation that included broad authority for the Treasury Department to safeguard the nation’s two largest mortgage finance companies and a plan to help hundreds of thousands of troubled borrowers avoid losing their homes.

Mr. Bush signed the legislation, which Congress approved last week, shortly after 7 a.m. in the Oval Office, the deputy White House press secretary, Tony Fratto, said.

The law authorizes the Treasury to rescue the mortgage finance giants, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, should they verge on collapse, potentially by spending tens of billions in federal monies. Together, the companies own or guarantee nearly half of the nation’s $12 trillion in mortgages.

Partly to accommodate the rescue plan for the mortgage companies, the bill raises the national debt ceiling to $10.6 trillion, an increase of $800 billion. The bill also creates significant liabilities and risks for taxpayers, that are virtually impossible to calculate.

“We look forward to put in place new authorities to improve confidence and stability in markets, and to provide better oversight for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac,” Mr. Fratto said. “The Federal Housing Administration will begin to implement new policies intended to keep more deserving American families in their homes.”

A half-dozen top advisers to the president, including the Treasury secretary, Henry M. Paulson Jr., who was the leading advocate of the legislation in the administration attended the signing. But it was not a particularly auspicious occasion given the precarious state of the nation’s financial system, and the pressure that Mr. Bush came under to sign a bill that contained provisions he had opposed.

Though the legislation was the product of months of intensive work by lawmakers in both parties and has been hailed as the most aggressive intervention by the government into the housing market in more than a generation, perhaps since the New Deal, no members of Congress were invited to the signing.

The enactment of the legislation comes in the same week that the administration announced that Mr. Bush would leave behind a record $482 billion deficit, which will probably grow substantially if home values continue to decline and if there are further reductions in corporate and personal income as many economists are forecasting for the rest of the year. Because of the growing deficit, Democrats said, the debt ceiling had to be lifted regardless of the housing bill.

The new housing law includes a plan aimed at helping as many as 400,000 homeowners pay off their troubled mortgages and replace them with more affordable, government-insured loans. The program is voluntary and the lenders must agree to take a sizable loss, reducing the principal of each loan, before they can be refinanced.

The law authorizes the Federal Housing Administration to insure up to the $300 billion in such loans but the Congressional Budget Office has estimated that only $68 billion of that authority is likely to be used. The original lenders will have to pay upfront fees into an insurance fund, and borrowers will pay continuing insurance premiums of 1.5 percent a year to insulate taxpayers against losses from defaults.

The budget office has estimated that 35 percent of the refinanced loans will end up in trouble again.

The authority for the Treasury Department to help Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac is limited only by the debt ceiling. The budget office has said that a $25 billion expense should appear on the federal budget for the next two fiscal years, representing its best estimate of how much the program will end up costing taxpayers.

But the budget office said there was a better than 50 percent chance that the rescue authority would not be used, and there would be no cost, while there was a 5 percent chance that one or both of the mortgage giants would lose another $100 billion or more, costing taxpayers a vast sum.

Some experts have said that the law was wrong-headed in its effort to retain the hybrid nature of the mortgage finance giants, which are private companies with publicly traded stock, but which now have an explicit guarantee of help from the government — an arrangement that critics say privatizes the profits but socializes the risk and any losses.

David M. Walker, the former comptroller general of the United States and head of the Government Accountability Office who is now president of the Peter G. Peterson Foundation, said that Mr. Bush might have been unwise to sign the measure.

“Providing authority to the secretary of the Treasury to extend credit or to buy stock is one that will end up costing the taxpayers tens of billions of dollars,” Mr. Walker said in an interview earlier this week.

Mr. Walker noted that other government interventions in the private market, including a rescue of the Chrysler automobile company had provided an opportunity for taxpayers to profit. But when it comes to the mortgage giants, he said, there is no upside.

“The way this is structured,” he said. “It’s only a matter of how much the taxpayers are going to lose.”

Supporters of the legislation — including Senator Christopher J. Dodd, Democrat of Connecticut and Senator Richard C. Shelby, Republican of Alabama, the leaders of the banking committee, and Representative Barney Frank, Democrat of Massachusetts, the main author of the legislation in the House — say the law represents the best way to help stabilize the housing market, potentially putting a solid floor under declining prices.

The bill includes an array of other aid for troubled borrowers, and about $15 billion in housing-related tax breaks. It also includes nearly $4 billion grants to local governments to buy and refurbished foreclosed properties, which Mr. Bush had opposed even as he signed the measure. The White House views that provision as a giveaway to banks and other lenders who own the seized properties.

Original here

10 Skills You Need to Succeed at Almost Anything

What does it take to succeed? A positive attitude? Well, sure, but that’s hardly enough. The Law of Attraction? The Secret? These ideas might act as spurs to action, but without the action itself, they don’t do much.

Success, however it’s defined, takes action, and taking good and appropriate action takes skills. Some of these skills (not enough, though) are taught in school (not well enough, either), others are taught on the job, and still others we learn from general life experience.

Below is a list of general skills that will help anyone get ahead in practically any field, from running a company to running a gardening club. Of course, there are skills specific to each field as well – but my concern here is with the skills that translate across disciplines, the ones that can be learned by anyone in any position.

1. Public Speaking

The ability to speak clearly, persuasively, and forcefully in front of an audience – whether an audience of 1 or of thousands – is one of the most important skills anyone can develop. People who are effective speakers come across as more comfortable with themselves, more confident, and more attractive to be around. Being able to speak effectively means you can sell anything – products, of course, but also ideas, ideologies, worldviews. And yourself – which means more opportunities for career advancement, bigger clients, or business funding.

2. Writing

Writing well offers many of the same advantages that speaking well offers: good writers are better at selling products, ideas, and themselves than poor writers. Learning to write well involves not just mastery of grammar but the development of the ability to organize one’s thoughts into a coherent form and target it to an audience in the most effective way possible. Given the huge amount of text generated by almost every transaction – from court briefs and legislation running into the thousands of pages to those foot-long receipts you get when you buy gum these days – a person who is a master of the written word can expect doors to open in just about every field.

3. Self-Management

If success depends of effective action, effective action depends on the ability to focus your attention where it is needed most, when it is needed most. Strong organizational skills, effective productivity habits, and a strong sense of discipline are needed to keep yourself on track.

4. Networking

Networking is not only for finding jobs or clients. In an economy dominated by ideas and innovation, networking creates the channel through which ideas flow and in which new ideas are created. A large network, carefully cultivated, ties one into not just a body of people but a body of relationships, and those relationships are more than just the sum of their parts. The interactions those relationships make possible give rise to innovation and creativity – and provide the support to nurture new ideas until they can be realized.

5. Critical Thinking

We are exposed to hundreds, if not thousands, of times more information on a daily basis than our great-grandparents were. Being able to evaluate that information, sort the potentially valuable from the trivial, analyze its relevance and meaning, and relate it to other information is crucial – and woefully under-taught. Good critical thinking skills immediately distinguish you from the mass of people these days.

6. Decision-Making

The bridge that leads from analysis to action is effective decision-making – knowing what to do based on the information available. While not being critical can be dangerous, so too can over-analyzing, or waiting for more information before making a decision. Being able to take in the scene and respond quickly and effectively is what separates the doers from the wannabes.

7. Math

You don’t have to be able to integrate polynomials to be successful. However, the ability to quickly work with figures in your head, to make rough but fairly accurate estimates, and to understand things like compound interest and basic statistics gives you a big lead on most people. All of these skills will help you to analyze data more effectively – and more quickly – and to make better decisions based on it.

8. Research

Nobody can be expected to know everything, or even a tiny fraction of everything. Even within your field, chances are there’s far more that you don’t know than you do know. You don’t have to know everything – but you should be able to quickly and painlessly find out what you need to know. That means learning to use the Internet effectively, learning to use a library, learning to read productively, and learning how to leverage your network of contacts – and what kinds of research are going to work best in any given situation.

9. Relaxation

Stress will not only kill you, it leads to poor decision-making, poor thinking, and poor socialization. So be failing to relax, you knock out at least three of the skills in this list – and really more. Plus, working yourself to death in order to keep up, and not having any time to enjoy the fruits of your work, isn’t really “success”. It’s obsession. Being able to face even the most pressing crises with your wits about you and in the most productive way is possibly the most important thing on this list.

10. Basic Accounting

It is a simple fact in our society that money is necessary. Even the simple pleasures in life, like hugging your child, ultimately need money – or you’re not going to survive to hug for very long. Knowing how to track and record your expenses and income is important just to survive, let alone to thrive. But more than that, the principles of accounting apply more widely to things like tracking the time you spend on a project or determining whether the value of an action outweighs the costs in money, time, and effort. It’s a shame that basic accounting isn’t a required part of the core K-12 curriculum.

What Else?

Surely there are more important skills I’m not thinking of (which is probably why I’m not telling Bill Gates what to do!) – what are they? What have I missed? What lessons have you learned that were key to your successes – and what have you ignored to your peril?

Original here

$10,000,000,000 Now $1 in Zimbabwe

HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) -- Zimbabwe will knock 10 zeros off the country's hyper-inflated currency next month, making 10 billion dollars one dollar, the nation's central bank governor said Wednesday.

President Robert Mugabe immediately warned in a televised address that he will impose a state of emergency if profiteers take advantage of the change on Aug. 1.

''Don't drive us further. If you drive us even more we will impose emergency measures. We don't want to place our country under emergency rule,'' Mugabe said.

Zimbabwe suffers the highest inflation rate in the world. Inflation is constraining operations of the country's computer systems, central bank Gov. Gideon Gono said.

Computers, electronic calculators and automated teller machines at banks have not been able to handle basic transactions in billions and trillions of dollars.

Just last week Gono introduced a new 100 billion-dollar note that is not enough to buy a loaf of bread.

Gono said on Aug. 1 the bank will issue a 500-dollar bill equivalent to 5 trillion dollars at the current rate.

Original here

Olmert announces will step down after Kadima primaries

Photo: Alex Kolomoisky
Olmert - Won't intervene in Kadima elections

In dramatic public address, Olmert announces Wednesday evening he will not seek reelection in upcoming Kadima primaries. Confirming he will step down once new chairman is elected, Olmert pledges fight to clear his name

Attila Somfalvi

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert announced on Wednesday evening he would not seek reelection in the upcoming Kadima primaries. Olmert said he would step down after a new chairman is elected within his party on September 17th.

"I have decided I won't run in the Kadima movement primaries, nor do I intend to intervene in the elections," Olmert said in a surprise announcement from his official residence in Jerusalem.

"When a new (Kadima party) chairman is chosen, I will resign as prime minister to permit them to put together a new government swiftly and effectively."

"I want to make it clear – I am proud to be a citizen of a country where the prime minister can be investigated like a regular citizen," Olmert said. "It is the duty of the police to investigate, and the duty of the prosecution to instruct the police. The prime minister is not above the law."

"I will step aside properly in an honourable and responsible way, and afterwards I will prove my innocence," he said.

'You can't run a country this way'

Man watching Olmert's address (Photo: Reuters)

"From my first day in office I was forced to defend myself against relentless attacks from self-appointed 'fighters for justice' who sought to depose me from my position, when the ends sanctified all the means.''

"I continue to believe with all my heart that the achievement of peace, combating terror, strengthening our security, and the realization of a different type of relationship with our neighbors are all necessary goals for the future of the State of Israel."

Timing is everything

A senior law enforcement official said in an interview with Ynet that one of the reasons for the timing chosen by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to announce his resignation may have to do with the new investigation against him.

"It's going to be a serious investigation; perhaps the most serious investigation so far. Olmert will have to handle questions and facts he has not dealt with so far," the official said.

Another official added that Olmert did not receive additional investigation material because he would have a difficult time dealing with questions he knew he was going to be asked during the investigation.

The official claimed that police were prepared to submit the cases formed by the two investigations against Olmert to the State Prosecutor's Office within the next few weeks, along with a recommendation to indict the prime minister.

Olmert is scheduled to undergo a fourth round of questioning by the National Fraud Unit on Friday at 10 am. Questions are expected to focus on new material gathered for the 'Olmertours' investigation in the US.

Prior to his announcement on Wednesday, Olmert became enraged in the Knesset and said, "This is terrible, you can't run a country this way." According to coalition members, the prime minister was angry

at the recent losses suffered by the government and coalition in recent bill proposals, the costs of which are estimated at billions of shekels.

Olmert's associates claimed that "the Labor Party got on his nerves," and senior Kadima Party officials slammed the Labor's behavior. "Their behavior is lawless. You can't act this way. The Labor is every coalition's nightmare," one official said. Their grievances were based partly on the party's bill proposals, such as the recent bill calling for the extenuation of maternity leave, which may cost the State millions.

"These laws will cost a fortune," Olmert said during the Knesset discussion. "Who will pay for this? Where is the social responsibility?" Sources said the prime minister appeared infuriated, but neglected to point out the steps he planned to take in order to remedy the situation.

'I will prove my innocence,' Olmert on Wednesday (Photo: Avi Ochion, GPO)

Olmert has denied wrongdoing with respect to the police probes, but has said he would resign if indicted.

Olmert is currently under two separate criminal investigations. One involves suspicions that he took bribes from American businessman Morris Talansky and the other, dubbed 'Olmertours' by the media, charges him with submitting duplicate claims for travel expenses during his former office as trade minister and mayor of Jerusalem.

The prime minister has chosen to address the nation while his chief political opponents are away. Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz, and Defense Minister Ehud Barak are currently visiting the US.

Livni had planned to make a press statement following her meeting with US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and the head of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' negotiating team, but has recently announced that she would postpone it, apparently due to Olmert's public address.

Original here


Tesla #6 crash disturbs the sound of silence

The Tesla roadster goes from 0 to 60 in 3.9-seconds (by December anyway) and costs $100,000 if you're lucky enough to get dibs on the 10 or so electric cars delivered so far. Come to find out, it also goes from 30 to 0 in a nausea-filled second when ground to a halt of twisted carbon-fiber beneath a Mercedes. The image above was snapped by Alex Volkov at the scene of a Friday evening accident in San Francisco. Of course, this isn't the first wrecked Tesla we've seen. According to Fortune, ousted co-founder Martin Eberhard suffered further distress when his Tesla rear-ended a truck en route for delivery to Eberhard's home. While the cause of the new accident isn't official, a few eye-witnesses said that Tesla #6 -- driven and owned by an unidentified man -- had gone "unnoticed" as it went "bumper-to-bumper between the cars." Interestingly enough, the Tesla's air-bags never deployed. One thing seems obvious: we expect to see more crashes from the silent, ultra-low-profile Tesla street-racer as it attempts to compete for space on roads dominated by SUVs, Hummers, and Testosterone.

Original here

Before Guests Arrive, Beijing Hides Some Messes

BEIJING — Tourists leaving the west gate of the Temple of Heaven next month will probably not notice Song Wei’s home across the street. Nor are spectators along the Olympic marathon route likely to stop by Sun Ruonan’s restaurant nearby.

Mr. Song and Ms. Sun live along Beijing’s central axis in neighborhoods that have been gutted to make the city look clean and orderly for the Olympics. Both have held on despite pressure to move. They will spend the Olympics behind walls or screens erected to keep their property out of public view.

A veil of green plastic netting now covers Ms. Sun’s restaurant. Mr. Song’s house and several shops that he rents to migrant families were surrounded by a 10-foot-tall brick wall last week, part of a last-minute beautification campaign. The authorities deemed his little block of commerce an eyesore.

“We all support the Olympics,” said Mr. Song, 42, a Beijing native who lives along the cycling and marathon routes. “But why are you building a wall around us?”

A mysterious notice appeared beside the shops on July 17, typed on white paper and signed by no one. It read, “In keeping with the government’s request to rectify the Olympic environment, a wall will need to be built around No. 93 South Tianqiao Road.” The next morning, several bricklayers showed up with a police escort.

Now a wall conceals a little cove of entrepreneurship where several migrant families sell socks, book bags, pants, noodles and shish kebabs cooked in a spicy soup. One family behind the wall sells ice cream, popsicles and cold drinks from a refrigerator on wheels.

Zhao Fengxia, a neighbor who owns three shops, said she believed that officials and developers were using Olympic beautification as a pretext to strangle their business and put pressure on them to leave. Feng Pan, 18, who helps her parents run a noodle shop, accepted the official view less critically. “We influence the city’s appearance,” she said.

A planning official, Zhi Wenguang, said, “We extended an existing wall to improve the overall environment for Olympic events.”

Many cities have sought to remake their image when hosting global events like the Olympics. Beijing is polishing off one of the world’s most expensive makeovers with a whitewash. Along the historic central axis of the city that runs from the Yongdingmen Gate due north to the Drum Tower, the authorities are doing their best to give the old city a new face. Beijing has spent $130 million to restore buildings, many of them temples along the five-mile axis, according to the city’s cultural relics bureau.

The Olympic Stadium was built on a northern extension of the traditional axis — a nod to the event’s historic importance. On the wide boulevards leading up to the stadium, roadblocks have been set up and flowers, grass and trees planted.

The southern part of the axis has proved more difficult to beautify. It cuts through densely populated neighborhoods south of Tiananmen Square that are home to many of the city’s migrants and working poor. To hide neighborhoods leveled for redevelopment in recent years or anything else the government considers unsightly, officials have put up walls.

Mr. Song and his wife and 8-year-old daughter now live behind one. They have lived here since 1994, Mr. Song said, renting out his shops to families from the provinces.

They live in close quarters. The Songs’ room is barely big enough for a double bed on which the couple and daughter sleep. Two pet birds live in metal cages by the door. The birds, brown starlings with dark feathers and orange beaks, can parrot human speech. Mr. Song taught the birds one of the most famous poems of the Tang Dynasty. Every few minutes, it squawks lines from the poem: “The white sun falls over the mountains” or “The Yellow River flows into the sea.”

Behind the room is a moonscape of weeds and rubble that used to be a slum. Mr. Song’s place survived while the city razed the poor Tianqiao neighborhood and transformed it with shopping malls, wider streets and subdivisions. Mr. Song’s predicament is familiar in the churn of this changing city. The developers want him to go, but he is holding out for more money.

On July 17, several workers left a pile of red bricks on the sidewalk. The next morning, they returned, wearing sandals and straw hats, accompanied by the police and local officials. They set to work laying brick at 8:30 a.m.

The wall did not go up easily. After a brief shoving match, a little demonstration unfolded. Mr. Song hung three Chinese flags from the trunks of trees — and three white flags emblazoned with the 2008 Olympic logo. A migrant worker climbed a ladder and stuck up a poster that said, “Need Human Rights!!!”

To scare away the officials, Mr. Song brought out a large poster with a famous photograph of Mao sitting in a wicker chair. “He thought Mao might be able to do something for us,” joked Ms. Zhao, the neighbor, who was there that morning.

The bricklayers worked through a hard rain. As a crowd of sympathetic morning commuters gathered, the police strung up a police tape around the poplar trees. A dozen men in slacks and polo shirts stood around, keeping the situation under control.

“One person shouted, ‘So you’re not going to allow people to feed themselves!’ ” Ms. Zhao recalled. “A lot of families earn their livelihoods from these shops — even though they’re small.”

Gu Dahua, 47, a farmer from Anhui Province, came here with his wife three years ago. They sell combs, mirrors, socks and other small commodities all priced at 1 yuan, or about 15 cents. The wall has not been good for business.

“It’s hard now,” Mr. Gu said.

Two blocks north, another store along the axis has been closed for the Games.

Sun Ruonan’s ancestors opened a bakery on the axis south of Tiananmen Square in the 1840s. The city tried to tear down the building last year to plant grass and ornamental shrubs beside the Olympic marathon route. Ms. Sun and her younger sister, Ruoyu, an Australian citizen, refused to vacate.

Last Tuesday, Ms. Sun, 57, sat alone in the dining room of the restaurant, surrounded by her cats. Festive paper lanterns hung in the dining room, which smelled of cat litter and decay. It was 4 p.m., and Ms. Sun was still in her pajamas.

“I don’t really want to oppose the government,” she said, breaking into tears. “For those of us who have lived through the Cultural Revolution, this life is like heaven.”

The city has bullied her to leave. One night last year, a bulldozer slammed into the building. Neighbors are paid to keep watch over her, and they notify the police when she has guests. Ms. Sun said officials pressed her doctor into refusing to give her care.

Her building is falling apart. The government, for the sake of appearances, has put up scaffolding with green netting around it. As the runners pass her home in August, it will be easy for spectators to miss the posters, begging for help, taped to the door.

“I’m hanging here like a nail,” she said.

Original here