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Read this: Oba Mao, John Mayer, Norah Jones, that Sarah Palin book we keep hearing so much about

A Chinese woman holds up an "Oba Mao" T-shirt in Beijing. (Yi Caijing/The Washington Post)

Good afternoon, everyone. Following President Barack Obama's trip to China?

We are, and amid Obama's rejection of "non-censorship" (and stories of Chinese censorship of that non-censorship) there's another kind of censorship going on. It involves tchotchkes.

Specifically, T-shirts, mugs and magnets featuring the "Oba Mao" image -- "which takes a silk-screen likeness of Obama and dresses him in a green jacket and cap to resemble the late Communist leader Mao Zedong."

Oba Mao creator Liu Mingjie was selling things bearing the image like hotcakes, report Keith B. Richburg and Wang Juan, "even if no one could explain precisely what it meant." But then:

Suddenly last week, Liu had no more supplies, and no explanation why.
Liu nervously did not want to answer a reporter's questions. He also removed most of the Oba Mao articles and photos from his blog.
But neighbors in nearby shops reported that they were all visited last week by uniformed officers from Beijing's Industry and Commerce Administration and were told they were not allowed to sell anything with Obama's image, and particularly not Oba Mao items.

At least layered irony is alive and well.

Elsewhere in today's Style section: Oh yes, Sarah Palin's book is out today. Here are some things that different kinds of people think about it. Allison Stewart says that John Mayer and Norah Jones, "the reigning King and Queen of Minivan Rock, need to make peace with their amiable dullness, or do something about it." On respective new albums, only Jones succeeds. And Chris Richards reviews the first offering from Them Crooked Vultures.

By The Reliable Source  |  November 17, 2009; 12:11 PM ET
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