"Malaysia Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad and the Sultan of Johor are seen in a blue Proton Saga... "When asked whether there is any tension with the sultan, Dr Mahathir said: “No, I don’t see anything because I went to see him and he drove me to the airport. I don’t want to comment on the sultans because if I say anything that is not good then it’s not nice because he is the sultan”"

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Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Links - 18th August 2015

Crusade logistics and the battle over the slave trade | Podcast | History Extra - "Ryan Cronin: It's very easy to paint it as a very sort of black and white issue, of how in these days very wealthy, influential figures campaigning to keep slavery for their own interest. But when you actually get under the surface there's a lot more complexity to it because someone like *name* employed estate managers and farmhands, and sailors and dockhands to work for him. He didn't manage the plantations himself. So all of these people, this kind of vast workforce, as well as the slaves to him were dependent on that trade. If you were a relatively poor sailor and you made your living shipping slaves, you were dependent on that. Likewise if you were a dock worker or you worked in a factory that required one of the products that was produced by slavery: cotton or sugar, you could be earning a pittance yourself, but without the slave trade you would also be out of a job. Which is why there was a lot of popular opposition to it. It isn't just as straightforward as thinking it's the rich versus the abolitionists.
Host: Because it's quite easy in hindsight to see this as a simplistic good versus evil, almost, story"

BBC World Service - The World This Week, Can America's Green Initiative Bring China and Others with it? - "I think some of the things that Trump said last night were, should not be taken seriously. Absolutely for show. And his comments about women were offensive but I mean I can't even be that offended, it's so silly. And so I think we need to look past all that and think, you know, when is Trump finally gonna be put on the spot about some of these serious policy issues. And that is when we will see him fail."

BBC World Service - Forum - Sixty Second Idea to Improve the World, Make Chinese pedestrians safer by turning brake pedals into car horns - "In China, rights of way are completely inverted. Rather than yield to pedestrians or cyclists, Chinese drivers simply make liberal use of their horns and expect people to give way. Honking is so incessant that people joke it's the Chinese brake pedal. All the noise and reckless driving threatens quality of life and public safety so I propose we actually connect the car horn to the brake pedal. Now drivers can't honk unless the brake pedal is engaged. And to solve the noise issue, I propose that all car horns play a recording that says 'I'm a selfish jerk who doesn't care about peace and quiet." This potential loss of face every time you press the horn will drastically reduce frivolous honking"

Cop to Call Girl: Why I Left the LAPD to Make an Honest Living As a Beverly Hills Prostitute: Norma Jean Almodovar - "I was willing to pay them for their services, which included screening those to whom they referred me, and they also knew where I was and when I was with a client. Under the law, they are pimps too, but if I wanted to hire them and pay them for their services, what business is it of yours or the government? Can't grown women who are sex workers have agents and managers just as people who are writers, artists, in show business, sports, music industry and others do? Would you think it appropriate for some young athlete to try to negotiate a contract with a sports franchise by him or her self? Do some of those young people get ripped off by a manager or agent? Yes, and when they do, they have legal recourse, which is something that sex workers would like to have as well."

Celebs Protest Amnesty International Call to Decriminalize Prostitution - "Despite the celebrity letter's assertion that "growing evidence shows the catastrophic effects of decriminalization of the sex trade," New Zealand—which decriminalized everything from street prostitution to escort services, living off the proceeds of prostitution, and brothels in 2003—has seen safer and better working conditions for sex workers on a number of levels; increased levels of condom use; and no increase in overall prostitution levels or instances of criminal sex trafficking. Kudos to Amnesty for embracing an evidence-based, harm-reduction-centered, rights-respecting approach to sex work instead of the empty rhetoric of saving women and children by using state violence against them."

Global Movement Votes to Adopt Policy to Protect Human Rights of Sex Workers | Amnesty International - "The resolution recommends that Amnesty International develop a policy that supports the full decriminalization of all aspects of consensual sex work. The policy will also call on states to ensure that sex workers enjoy full and equal legal protection from exploitation, trafficking and violence. “We recognize that this critical human rights issue is hugely complex and that is why we have addressed this issue from the perspective of international human rights standards. We also consulted with our global movement to take on board different views from around the world,” said Salil Shetty. The research and consultation carried out in the development of this policy in the past two years concluded that this was the best way to defend sex workers’ human rights and lessen the risk of abuse and violations they face... The policy has drawn from an extensive evidence base from sources including UN agencies, such as the World Health Organization, UNAIDS, UN Women and the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Health. We have also conducted research in four countries. The consultation included sex worker groups, groups representing survivors of prostitution, abolitionist organizations, feminist and other women's rights representatives, LGBTI activists, anti- trafficking agencies and HIV/AIDS organizations."

D.C. Police Prioritize Stopping Theoretical Sex Over Solving Actual Crimes - "Between May 1 and June 25, nearly 30 people were killed in what are believed to be homicides in the Distict of Columbia... So what have D.C. cops been busying themselves with this summer? Well, between July 14 and today, they've arrested 50 men for soliciting prostitution... e says both the bill and the police efforts are in response to a massive influx of street-based prostitution in his neighborhoods around Logan Circle. Yet Evans offers no evidence for this claim, and it seems especially unlikely considering the trend just about everywhere has been toward more web-advertised sex sales and fewer women walking the streets. But whatever: We don't have to fully believe Evans' claim to see that even were it true, D.C. cops are not actually addressing the problem. If they really wanted to stop street-based prostitution in Logan Circle, they would either go after street-based sex workers or go after people they witness purchasing sex from them. (Not suggesting cops should do more of either, but these actions would at least make sense in regard to their stated goal.) Instead, police have been posting online ads posing as sex workers, arranging to meet men at area hotels, and then arresting the men for solicitation when they show up."

Child sexual abuse and adolescent prostitution: a comparative analysis. - "In several studies, child sexual abuse has been identified as a characteristic of adolescent prostitution. The implication of these findings, especially for girls, is that the two phenomena are related in that childhood sexual abuse perhaps leads to prostitution. The present study explored the relationship between sexual abuse and adolescent prostitution by comparing 70 sexually abused children with 35 prostitution-involved children on 22 variables. Findings suggest that the relationship is not directed, but involves runaway behavior as an intervening variable. It is not so much that sexual abuse leads to prostitution as it is that running away leads to prostitution"

Sexual Abuse as a Precursor to Prostitution and Victimization Among Adolescent and Adult Homeless Women - "the findings indicate that early sexual abuse only indirectly affects the chances of victimization by increasing the likelihood of a life-style based on participation in risky activities and events"
In other words, the claim that prostitutes are only prostitutes because they were sexually abused as children is wrong

Children's TV pretends disability doesn't exist - "Connolly has a plea for writer and producers: go beyond wheelchairs. “Only one in seven disabled people are wheelchair users. So it’s important to present disability in all its diversity … [and] for the disabled person to be presented not as the vulnerable member of the band, but as the leader, the person who finds the solutions to challenges the group face. We need more stories like that.”"
Comments: "I think that at least childhood has the right to be as carefree as possible."
"And you reckon that's what children turn on the telly to watch?"
"One option is that Guardian journalists finance a children's programme with a disabled character, rather than hoping that a private TV company does so."
""What gets counted as a disability such that 1 in 20 children supposedly count as disabled?"
"Being a bit more sensitive than the other kids?""
"How about having some fat, black, disabled lesbian characters?"
"I'm sure that a child who has problems socialising with other children, has behavioral issues issues and has learning difficulties, who is in a wheelchair, or at least crutches, would be popular with children. But people who make children's TV programmes are just afraid to make the leap. Perhaps the character could also be dumb and deaf. Would that be going too far?"
"Also a lack of representations in toys of disability. I was looking for a miniature wheelchair recently (doll size) and found it really hard and the only ones found were very expensive. Barbie in a wheelchair was discontinued - loved a blog that said this was because she could not access a doll's house - and you just don't get blind Action Men. I did find a picture of a bear in a racing wheelchair that looks great but it seems not to be available any more either."
"Maybe Horrid Henry and Dennis the Mennace actually have ADHD. I'm dyslexic but no one would ever know unless I told them." (in other words, disability isn't always visible so activists can't have their cake and eat it)

Taking the Mickey? Disneyland Paris accused of overcharging foreign visitors - "“Too often, consumers seeking to buy services or goods in another member state are prevented from getting the best price,” she added. The Financial Times newspaper reported that Europe’s biggest amusement park was under investigation for overcharging British and German customers. It said that Disney was charging French consumers €1,346 euros (US$1,487/£955) for a premium package, while Britons were charged €1,870 euros and German visitors a whopping €2,447 euros. France now has the responsibility to ensure that Disneyland Paris is complying with EU fair trading laws, an EU source said, adding that Brussels was expected to contact Paris about the case."
This must be why I don't get swindled in Europe - only in Asia

Hackers take a page (literally) from Jane Austen - "Researchers from Cisco Security said in a report released Tuesday that literary passages are becoming a new way to hide malicious code that allow hackers unlawful entry into computers and networks... Cisco researchers said encountering references to Austen characters on a webpage "may be perplexing but not a cause for immediate concern." Jason Brvenik, a Cisco engineer, said it remains a mystery about who is behind the literary hacking or why that novel was chosen over others. "It is a seemingly random selection but it always from that book," he told AFP."

Poverty Can Trump a Winning Hand of Genes - WSJ - "When psychologists first started studying twins, they found identical twins much more likely to have similar IQs than fraternal ones. They concluded that IQ was highly "heritable"—that is, due to genetic differences. But those were all high SES twins. Erik Turkheimer of the University of Virginia and his colleagues discovered that the picture was very different for poor, low-SES twins. For these children, there was very little difference between identical and fraternal twins: IQ was hardly heritable at all. Differences in the environment, like whether you lucked out with a good teacher, seemed to be much more important. In the new study, the Bates team found this was even true when those children grew up. IQ was much less heritable for people who had grown up poor... Richer children have similarly good educational opportunities, so genetic differences among them become more apparent."

Genetic influence on family socioeconomic status and children's intelligence - "we show significant genetic influence on family SES, and on its association with children's IQ at ages 7 and 12... Our analysis provides the first DNA-based evidence that the well documented association between family SES and children's cognitive development, routinely interpreted as an environmental effect, is substantially mediated by genetic factors... it should be recognized that from a genetic perspective, equal opportunity will result in relatively greater genetic influence, as reflected in greater parent–offspring correlations: As environmental differences diminish, variation that remains between children in their outcomes will be due to a greater extent to their genetic differences. In other words, heritability can be viewed as an index of meritocratic social mobility."

Poor Little Rich Kids? The Determinants of the Intergenerational Transmission of Wealth - "Among own-birth children (Column 1), the rank-rank coefficient is approximately 0.35. Among adoptees (Column 2), we find that child's wealth is predominantly associated with that of adoptive parents and has a much weaker relationship with biological parents’ wealth. The rank coefficient for biological parent wealth is 0.11 but that for adoptive parent wealth is 0.27... it appears that, even in a relatively egalitarian society like Sweden, wealth begets wealth... the pathway through which parental wealth affects child wealth does not appear to be primarily parental schooling and income or child human capital accumulation and greater labor earnings. Taken together, our findings suggest potential roles for intergenerational transmission of preferences (children of wealthier parents may choose to save more or invest in assets that have higher returns) or for financial gifts from parents to children. Unfortunately, we do not have information on savings behavior or on financial gifts so this evidence is only suggestive"
The conclusion is not that simple and doesn't demolish the idea of meritocracy: if rich parents teach their kids how to be rich this is still something the children have "earned"
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