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Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Links - 18th February 2015

Environmentalists Applaud Army Move To Replace Humvee Fleet - "It’s extremely quiet. You could drive this car right up the ass of al Qaeda and they wouldn’t even hear you until you it was all over"

This Is What Happens When You Tell Men To Peel The Potatoes... - "This guy peels a few pounds of potatoes in less than sixty seconds using a power hose, a bucket, a drill, and a cheap (NEW) toilet bowl brush."

Why Illinois has banned exfoliating face washes - "They may feel good when they're exfoliating your face, but the tiny plastic beads found in cosmetics are seriously bad news for the environment"

Game of Thrones Reenvisioned as Feudal Japan - Imgur

Life Extension May Add Just Bad Time - "increased life span did not usually come with a prolonged period of health and strength. Indeed, the “good times” for each of the worms was roughly the same, regardless of their overall life span. In other words, the longer-living worms spent a greater proportion of their lives in a diminished state—with less mobility and stress resistance."

Saving old information can boost memory for new information - "The simple act of saving something, such as a file on a computer, may improve our memory for the information we encounter next, according to new research published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science. The research suggests that the act of saving helps to free up cognitive resources that can be used to remember new information"

Nobel Prize-winner Shuji Nakamura to Japan’s young people: “Get out of Japan” - "Although Nakamura praised the Japanese culture of cooperation, hard work and honesty, he called out the education system for focusing too much on the limited goals of exams and getting into big companies. He pointed out that it is failing to give young people the English skills they need to function on a global level... He also said that lack of exposure to foreign cultures breeds a parochial ethnocentrism and makes young Japanese susceptible to “mind control” by the government. Nakamura slammed Japan for failing to ensure that inventors are fairly compensated for their work, something that stifles innovation and provides “zero incentive” for employees to be creative. Article 35 of the patent law says that patent rights belong to the inventor, but in practice, companies dictate the terms of compensation to their employees. In fact, Nakamura’s former company paid him the equivalent of just US$180 for his Nobel-winning invention. Nakamura sued in 2001 and a Tokyo court determined that his patent had generated about US$1 billion in revenue. Nakamura settled with the company for US$8 million... “The most important thing is to go abroad and they can see Japan from outside the country. And they understand, …oh, now I can understand bad thing of Japan. That’s the most important thing, no? Japanese people have to wake up about Japanese bad things, you know. I think that’s very important.”"

The Economist pulls out cartoon - "Social and Family Development Minister Chan Chun Sing said in a Facebook post: "We must never attack the religious beliefs that people hold dear.""
What about extremist religious beliefs that people hold dear?

Denmark: Prosecution of Free Speech Advocate May Prompt Changes to Racism Laws - "On August 4, 2010, the Public Prosecutor for Copenhagen charged International Free Press Society (IFPS) president Lars Hedegaard with racism. The IFPS describes itself as an organization "exclusively devoted to defending the right of free expression." The basis for Hedegaard's prosecution was an interview from December 2009 in which he made controversial statements about Islam. These assertions included critiques of what Hedegaard saw as Islam's permissiveness regarding child abuse and bearing false witness, as well as Islam's general intolerance concerning apostacism and critical speech... Hedegaard's statements earned him a hate speech charge under Danish law. While Denmark's constitution ostensibly protects freedom of expression and forbids censorship (see Section 77), the Criminal code provides that "expressing and spreading racial hatred" is a criminal offense punishable with up to two years imprisonment. (Article 266b) Indeed, notwithstanding Section 77, article 266b has already been deployed against defendants who, like Hedegaard, dare to criticize Islam. On June 16, 2010, the Danish parliament voted to strip a lawmaker of immunity so that he could face charges over anti-Muslim comments. The politician, Jesper Langballe, is a veteran member of the Danish People's Party (PPD) and a crucial ally of the center-right government. In January 2010, he penned a newspaper column discussing the status of women in Islam and the "Islamisation of Europe." Included was the statement that "Muslims kill their daughters over crimes of honour and turn a blind eye while they are raped by their uncles." He is currently awaiting trial for violating Article 266b—the same hate speech statute that will likely be applied to Hedegaard... Justice Minister Lars Barfoed announced that Denmark's hate speech and blasphemy laws should be reexamined. The Copenhagen Post explains that Barfoed is "preparing the ground for changes to laws criminalising racist and blasphemous speech on concerns they could be misused as political instruments to restrict free speech."

How a ban on hate speech helped the Nazis - "Modern hate speech leg­islation was born from World War II. There was a feeling that hatred needed to be curbed to prevent another outburst of fascist hysteria. But it wasn’t Western governments calling for laws against hate speech — it was the authoritarian Soviet Union... Eleanor Roosevelt said a hate speech qualification would be “extremely dangerous” since “any criticism of public or religious authorities might all too easily be described as incitement to hatred” (how prescient she was)... The Weimar Republic of the 30s had laws against “insulting religious communities”. They were used to prosecute hundreds of Nazi agitators, including Joseph Goebbels. Did it stop them? No. It helped them. The Nazis turned their prosecutions for hate speech to their advantage, presenting themselves as political victims and whipping up public support among aggrieved sections of German society, their future social base. Far from halting Nazism, hate speech legislation assisted it."

Meet the woman who's 'too fat to work' refused NHS weight-loss surgery so she can stay on benefits - "‘I’m not going ­under the knife for ­anyone because I don’t think I’m doing anything wrong,’ the 28-year-old said... Despite being advised by several doctors to have gastric band fitted, Ms Sinclair, who uses a mobility scooter to get around, insists her size is due to fluid retention – not poor diet or lack of exercise. She also believes she should be entitled to a free cleaner because she’s ‘too big’ to keep her home hygienic."

Naser Khader and Flemming Rose: Reflections on the Danish Cartoon Controversy - "Many Muslim members dropped out of the Democratic Muslims of Denmark because they were threatened. One board member was attacked physically. Young females are especially vulnerable. I remember a woman board member, a Somali, who said that she could not continue on the board because she was intimidated. When I went to visit her with a bodyguard, I encountered five to ten Muslims who were hostile to me. When I got out of the car and went to her flat, they smashed the police car. Extra police protection was brought in to help us... The publishing of the cartoons was a wake-up call to many of Denmark's neighbors—particularly the Swedes who are inclined to ignore such problems—that they have to pay attention to radical Islam. They cannot go on blindly with their multicultural hopes. Instead, they must come to terms that there are radical extremists in their midst who need to be dealt with... Business owners realized that there are Danish Muslims loyal to the Danish state and society. Those who had hitherto been skeptical of employing Muslims, worried that they would be getting Islamists, now understand that there is a segment—something on the order of 15 percent, one‑sixth of the Muslim population—that is overtly, strongly loyal and would be great hires... it is discriminatory toward Muslims to say that we should not make fun of their religion when we are making fun of everybody else's religion... the cartoons were an act of inclusion because we were not asking more or less of Muslims but exactly the same as of everybody else. Danish Muslims should be treated as adults, not as a weak minority needing special treatment like small children... We have in Western Europe this kind of self-hatred stemming from our colonial past and things like that... I spoke to [historian of Islam] Bernard Lewis about this, and he said that the big difference between our case and the Rushdie affair is that Rushdie is perceived as an apostate by the Muslims while, in our case, Muslims were insisting on applying Islamic law to what non-Muslims are doing in non‑Muslim countries. In that sense, he said it is a kind of unique case that might indicate that Europe is perceived as some kind of intermediate state between the Muslim world and the non-Muslim world...
MEQ: If you knew the outrage that publishing the cartoons would generate, would you still have commissioned them?
Rose: That's like asking a rape victim if she regrets wearing a short skirt at the discotheque Friday night. I have been asked that question many times, and no matter how you answer, it is problematic."

Quebec government opposes expanded access to French language instruction - "The Quebec government has appealed to the Supreme Court of Canada to prevent expanding access to French language education for Francophone minority communities in the rest of Canada. Quebec has argued that expanding access to French language instruction outside Quebec may result in having to also expand access to English language instruction in Quebec, which the provincial government argues may result in potentially ‘grave consequences’ here in La Belle Province."

Malaysian Muslim group demands Catholic Church to stop using Malay in newspaper

Norwegian Reality Show Sends Fashion Bloggers to Work in Cambodian Sweatshop

Are Cambodia's Sex Workers Being Forced Into the Garment Trade? - "Is Cambodia’s aggressive anti-trafficking campaign forcing sex workers into an even worse trade? A video exposé from Vice News claims that Cambodian authorities are “rehabilitating” former prostitutes in garment sweatshops, where conditions and pay are even more deplorable... Sex workers brought into police custody are given a simple choice, according to Alvi: accept training for a new career or remain behind bars, where they’re vulnerable to abuse and shakedowns by corrupt police, indefinitely. More often than not, the women accept the retraining, nearly always for Cambodia’s garment industry, which employs half a million Cambodians and accounts for 80 percent of the Southeast Asian country’s exports. Since the crackdowns began in 2008, the Cambodian government says it has given thousands of sex workers a fresh start. The truth is a little grayer, however. “We soon learn that many of these women didn’t want to be rescued at all,” Alvi says... “They convinced me that NGOs could change my life,” Pholly tells him. “That place was like a prison. They closed the door and wouldn’t let me out”... Not all sex workers are victims of trafficking, Alvi says. In fact, a surprisingly number are entering brothels of their own free will. And there’s the rub."
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