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Thursday, April 21, 2016

Links - 21st April 2016

How I hit the headlines on Siberian TV - "we're making a news report about life outside Moscow. "Is that a problem?" I ask. "Yes it is," he replies, "judging by the kind of programmes the BBC makes." In the hotel that evening, I switch on the TV to see what kind of programmes Siberian Television makes - rather imaginative ones, judging by its main evening bulletin. "BBC in Novosibirsk" is headline news. But it's more fairy tale than fact. The newsreader introduces us - incorrectly - as the same BBC team that made that Panorama programme about the Kremlin. "Now they've received a new assignment straight from BBC headquarters!" says the reporter, as if this is some kind of spy thriller. The reporter says that we've been filming things which we haven't. And, at the end, the newsreader makes this announcement: "Tune in tomorrow to find out what the BBC's report is really about... As relations between Russia and the West have deteriorated, the amount of anti-Western reporting on pro-Kremlin TV channels has risen. The Russian authorities, too, often complain about what they see as increasing anti-Russian rhetoric in the Western media. But I wonder how effective this message is in Russia? Next day, out on Lenin Square, I interview some pensioners who are protesting against the government's economic policies. "Hang on, I saw you on TV last night. You're that British journalist aren't you? You're bad!" one woman suddenly says to me. "Do you believe everything you see on pro-Kremlin channels?" I ask. "You've come on to the street to criticise your authorities. So why are you so ready to believe that the BBC is bad?" "Well, it's all right for us to criticise our government," she replies, "but if we complain to you about our government, that's not patriotic.""

Man who killed 64-year-old praying in park jailed 16 years - "When he saw Loo chanting Buddhist prayers in the park, Sumanthiran attacked the victim and challenged him to make Buddha appear before them. He also used an umbrella that he found nearby to strike Loo on his shin... She noted Sumanthiran’s string of offences in five months in 2010 — including slashing victims with a parang and breadknife, punching and kicking victims — and risk of future violence. In mitigation, defence lawyer Sunil Sudheesan said his client had had a “bad year” after failing to make it to the Youth Olympics Games team, as he was in contention to join the national track and field team."
How come no one raised the racial-religious harmony angle?

BBC Radio 4 - From Our Own Correspondent, Poles Apart - "[On Poland] The government said it was biased, so it introduced a law making it more difficult for the court to review legislation. Likewise with the public media, which according to the foreign minister Witold Waszczykowski, has been promoting a Marxist worldview. One filled with cyclists, vegetarians and renewable energy"

BBC Radio 4 - From Our Own Correspondent, The Colonel's Cameraman - "[She] was referred to the [geriatric] centre after becoming depressed but didn't want to come because, as she told me, 'All old people do is moan about their diseases'. Her children insisted and now she loves it. So do people moan about their illnesses, I ask her. When they start boring on I just change my seat. I say you're complaining because you need something else. You need a husband. When the men complain I ask them if they want to marry me. That soon stops them. I'm struck by how much"

When is a fine a bribe? - "Of course then we realised we didn't have enough money on us. So the police offered to drive us to a cash machine. It was then I started feeling a bit suspicious. Police taking us to a hole in the wall? I'm sure this wouldn't happen back home. But it was the first time I'd been in trouble with the law here, and the truth is they did it so professionally it didn't even feel like a bribe... As we chatted about Mexico's corruption problems, I compared them to Britain's parliamentary expenses scandal. "Yes," said Pardinas. "I followed that story and we Mexicans thought it was really sweet. I mean, a British politician claims for a satellite TV subscription in his house - come on - a Mexican politician would claim the whole house," he laughed"

How China guards the Xi creation myth - "The propaganda chief had started threatening to confiscate our recordings. President Xi may have left his heart in Liangjiahe but I didn't want to leave all the material I'd gathered there. That night we made a sudden bolt, driving 200 miles (320km) to an airport from which we could get our work out of China. Strange exploits when you consider that the cave years are possibly the most positive chapter of Xi Jinping's life even without persuasion and threats from the propaganda department."

Chávez’s revolution was more successful outside of Venezuela than at home - "behind the rhetoric and grand programs, Chávez’s record was spotty. In 2011, 8.5% of the population lived in extreme poverty, compared to 23% in 1999, according to government figures. Yet the country’s official murder rate has doubled according to official figures, and may be even higher in reality. Crime in the hillside barrios the president sought to uplift has risen. Prisons, hospitals and public schools are still some of the worst in the region, and trade unions have been left weak. “He kept hope for a revolution to come. After 14 years, we’re still waiting for the revolution,” said Diego Moya-Ocampos, an analyst at the consultancy firm IHS, at a recent panel discussion in London’s Frontline Club. Instead, Chávez honed his international image and forged alliances with countries in his attempt to build a multipolar world that could exist outside of the grip of the United States. “Never has a Latin American leader wasted so much money, misspent so many resources and misused such power. Chávez could have transformed the country, but instead used those resources to build a personality cult, push a failed ideology and decimate the country’s economy”"

BBC Radio 4 - From Our Own Correspondent, Opting to go lower caste - "The private sector is estimated to only employ some 12% of India's workforce, and the slowdown in the global economy has not helped either. So for many Indians, the most secure form of employment is to land a government job... He's been a staunch Sisi supporter as long as I've known him. Not anymore. Don't ask me about him, he practically shouted when I last saw him. At least under Morsi, I could breathe, I could express an opinion. Under his successor, freedom has been sucked from Egyptian life like oxygen being drained from a closed room"

Human Races Exist: Refuting 11 Common Arguments Against the Existence of Race - "No Credible Scientists Believe in Race
This is false and usually stated with no proper citation. As reviewed in (Liebermann et al. 2004), surveys show that many researchers around the world believe in the existence of human races...
There Hasn't Been Enough Time for Races to Evolve
The Moose has evolved several subspecies in the last 100,000 years (Mikko and Andersson 1995), 2 subspecies of waterfowl evolved in less than 100,000 years (Wilson et al. 2011), 8 subspecies of tiger evolved in roughly 72,000 years (Lou et al. 2004), the Lizard Laudakia stellio evolved 2 subspecies in 12,000 years (Brammah et al. 2010) and, finally, the polar bear has only been evolving separately from the brown bear for 70,000-100,000 years (Lindqvist et al. 2010). Moreover, it only took 200,000 years for Neanderthals and modern humans to evolve into separate species (or perhaps subspecies)...
Races Cannot Be Important Because We All Share 99% of Our DNA
We also share 95-98% of our DNA with chimps and, yet, there are some pretty big differences between us and chimps (Varki and Altheide 2009)"

Vlad The Impaler - "Dracula was very concerned that all his subjects work and contribute to the common welfare. He once noticed that the poor, vagrants, beggars and cripples had become very numerous in his land. Consequently, he issued an invitation to all the poor and sick in Wallachia to come to Târgoviste for a great feast, claiming that no one should go hungry in his land. As the poor and crippled arrived in the city they were ushered into a great hall where a fabulous feast was prepared for them. The princes guests ate and drank late into the night, when Dracula himself made an appearance. 'What else do you desire? Do you want to be without cares, lacking nothing in this world,' asked the prince. When they responded positively Dracula ordered the hall boarded up and set on fire. None escaped the flames. Dracula explained his action to the boyars by claiming that he did this, 'in order that they represent no further burden to others so that no one will be poor in my realm.
Nobody was immune from his cruelty. Another widely disseminated tale involves the arrival in his court of two foreign ambassadors:
"Some Italian ambassadors were sent to him. When they came to him they bowed and removed their hats and they kept on the berets beneath them. Then he asked them why they did not take their caps off, too. They said it was their custom, and they did not even remove them for the Emperor. Dracula said, 'I wish to reinforce this for you.' He immediately had their caps nailed firmly on their heads so that their caps would not fall off and their custom would remain. Thus he reinforced it."
In other versions, the ambassadors are Turkish and the caps are turbans. But the essence of the story remains the same. "

Angary Definition - "Angary includes the alleged right to seize the goods - property and money - of neutral states on payment of compensation, where such seizure is necessary for the defence of the seizing state"

You've been eating Toblerone wrong your entire life

Russia Shows What Happens When Terrorists’ Families Are Targeted - NYTimes.com - "“There is systematic abuse of the family members of insurgents,” Ekaterina Sokirianskaia, an analyst at the International Crisis Group, and an expert on the Caucasus, said in a telephone interview. “There can be short-term results, but I wouldn’t call it success,” she said. “You can prevent some episodes of violence at the moment, but you are radicalizing whole communities.” “When innocent Muslims are targeted for the expediency of security services, this legitimizes the jihadist cause,” she said. Ms. Akmedova explained how the sense of injustice and outrage develops. After her younger son was killed in 2013, she said, the police came by and told her and her son’s widow that the grandchildren, despite being in kindergarten and elementary school, would be put on watch lists."

Moshi Moshi - What Does It Mean?

20 readers who lost fluency in their language

Belief in scientific–technological progress and life satisfaction: The role of personal control - "belief in scientific–technological progress is a stronger predictor of life satisfaction than religious beliefs in a nationally representative sample of the Dutch population (Study 1) and across 69 out of 72 countries (Study 2). Additional analyses highlighted the role of personal control beliefs as the mechanism driving this effect: a strong belief in scientific–technological progress was associated with an enhanced sense of personal control, which in turn contributed to higher life satisfaction. Consistent with previous research on “shared reality” and person–culture fit, the beneficial consequences of an individual's belief in scientific–technological progress were enhanced when this belief was widely held within a specific culture."

Block ads? That only makes you more attractive to advertisers - "people who block ads could generate more money for publishers because they are likely to be tech savvy and in the “millennial” age range that advertisers want to reach, are less likely to be bots (computers posing as humans), and are likely to see fewer ads overall."

Science Kombat Arcade Game Featuring Eight Science Legends is Playable Now - "If you dig what you see here, you’ll probably enjoy some of the other Superinteressante newsgames, like Filosofighters, which is basically the exact same thing, except with legendary philosophers like Karl Marx and Jean-Jacques Rousseau. Because man is born free, but everywhere he will be IN PAIN!"

BBC World Service - The Food Chain, Food Waste: How Low Can it Go? - [On France] 'I want to say you the truth, Manuela. And I want to say the truth to all the person that will listen you. Supermarkets lie. Why? Because when they throw out their unsold food, they obtain again the tax'
'You're saying they get a tax rebate on the food they throw away'
'Exactly. On the same thing, the harmony, thanks to their food, they sell at the same time. Because they lie about the expiration of the date of the food. Everybody know that this is not an expiration to consume, but only an expiration to sell'...
It's easy to see the problem of food waste as a tale of greedy supermarket beavers exploiting innocent consumers, but... [the UN food agency says] it's consumers who waste the most"
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