"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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Thursday, April 07, 2016

Links - 7th April 2016

Hillary Clinton wants to end the loophole that lets disabled workers earn less than minimum wage
There go employment rates for the disabled

Don’t Dismiss Poverty’s Role in Terrorism Yet - "A 2006 study on terrorism for 96 countries between 1986 and 2002 found no link between its economic measures and terrorism. In 2002, Alan Krueger, a professor of economics and public affairs at Princeton, and Jitka Malecková, an associate professor at the Institute for Middle Eastern and African Studies at Charles University, made the argument in The New Republic against poverty’s role in terrorism with a wide-ranging presentation of evidence including evidence gathered from Hezbollah and Hamas suggesting that upper class and more educated individuals are slightly over-represented in among terrorists because terror groups actively select for those individuals from large populations of potential recruits’... some scholarly literature documents a relationship though not necessarily a causal one—between poverty and some terrorism. A 2011 study (notably disputed by Krueger and Malecková, among others) found a positive relationship between unemployment and right wing extremist crimes committed in Germany. A 1977 study of terrorist profiles which supported the conclusion that terrorists are generally middle or upper class noted that the Provisional Irish Republican Army constituted an exception both in terms of social class and educational attainment. The Basque terrorist group ETA provides another interesting example: Goldie Shabad and Francisco Ramo point out in the edited anthology Terrorism in Context that over time, membership in ETA grew among working class individuals while it declined among the upper classes. These examples demonstrate a fundamental structural problem in method and approach. By treating terrorism as a single category that can be examined across multiple countries and decades rather than focusing on particular groups or individuals, we overlook patterns that exist in some but not all cases."

Poverty and Low Education Don't Cause Terrorism - ""Any connection between poverty, education, and terrorism is indirect, complicated, and probably quite weak," the authors note in Education, Poverty, Political Violence, and Terrorism: Is There a Causal Connection? (NBER Working Paper No. 9074). "Instead of viewing terrorism as a direct response to low market opportunities or ignorance, we suggest it is more accurately viewed as a response to political conditions and long-standing feelings (either perceived or real) of indignity and frustration that have little to do with economics... About 10 percent of the 3,100 counties in the United States are currently home to a hate group, such as the Klu Klux Klan, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. A study by Phillip Jefferson and Frederic Pryor found that the likelihood that a hate group was located in a county was unrelated to the unemployment rate in the county, and positively related to the education level in the county. Similarly, Krueger and Jrn-Steffan Pischke found that in Germany neither average education nor the average wage in the country's 543 counties was related to the amount of violence against foreigners. Turning to terrorism, the authors' analysis of the results of a public opinion poll conducted in the West Bank and Gaza Strip in December 2001 indicates that support for violent attacks against Israeli targets does not decrease among those with higher education and higher living standards... Economists have found a link between low incomes and property crimes. But in most cases terrorism is less like property crime and more like a violent form of political engagement"

The Relationship between Democracy and Development: Implications for Policy - "According to data collected and analyzed for the book, there has been no advantage for autocracies over democracies for the past 40 years in terms of development. Both developing country democracies and non-democracies have grown at approximately 1.5% of GDP per capita per year during that time. When East Asia is removed from that sample, democracies have actually performed better – growing at 0.5% per capita per year faster than autocracies and mixed polities. What is more, there is no data on about 25% of autocracies – countries such as North Korea, Iraq, Afghanistan (for most of its rule), and Cuba – so actual growth figures for autocracies would likely be substantially lower if the performance of these additional countries were included. More than simply growing at a faster rate, democracies have outperformed autocracies in the consistency of their growth. An analysis of the 80 worst economic performers of the last 40 years reveals that all but three have been autocracies. In addition, democracies have performed substantially better than autocracies in the social welfare dimension of development (life expectancy, child mortality, literacy, etc.) – in some cases up to 50% better. It is important to note that there has been a variety of development experiences among democracies. This can be attributed to the differing success with which any country can develop institutions of accountability – checks on the chief executive, separation of politics from the civil service, independence of the judiciary, freedom of the press, and independence of the private sector, for example – which are the foundations of democratic systems of governance. Both autocracies and democracies that have developed these institutions have had better rates of economic development than countries without well established institutions of accountability. For this reason, there are some autocracies that have performed better than some democracies; the East Asian "tigers" fall into this category."

Yanis Varoufakis is a rock star in Greece, not just because he rides a BMW - "Add to that the motorbike had become part of his signature style. It was Varoufakis’ regular mode of transportation fo who turned up to meetings on this as well. He was mostly spotted dressed in loose shirts, even leather jackets but never a tie or a suit like the rest of the team. There’s even a Facebook fan page titled “V for Varoufakis” that has over 73,000 likes. The page name is a pun on the popular novel V for Vendetta where the character ‘V’ helps a dystopic and fascist Britain get back on the path of freedom and democracy. While Greece’s V might have resigned, the page is reflection of the cult status he’s managed to build in his short span as a Finance minister. On the page, there’s a video of Varoufakis walking into the square with Greek protestors being welcomed and hugged by the crowd. It’s unlikely that any minister anywhere in the world will just walk in with a protesting crowd and expect that kind of response."

#GiveYourMoneyToWomen - Giving Feminism a Bad Name - "Maybe I am totally missing a trick here and it's some kind of faux-femininst, ironic social media experiment, but if it's not, and let's presume it's not - then this isn't an act of feminism, it's an embarrassing attempt for 'feminists', and self-pitying women to drag men through the mud again - a social media witch hunt, once again victimizing all women and vilifying all men, and it makes my blood boil. Is it any wonder women are sheepish about calling themselves feminists, when this is the kind of nonsense that it's associated with? Aside from anything else, I struggle to see how a smile in the street should be 'fined' to fund somebody's dental bill or an 'unsolicited hello' contribute towards a woman's art fund. Yes, I understand that a lot of the links are metaphorical but nonetheless, linking money to 'harassment' (subjective in many cases, I personally have no issue with being smiled at in the street) infuriates me. You want money? Cut out the bitching and moaning and go the f**k out and earn it. Men don't owe you anything and believe me, the last way you're going to get it is demanding it from strangers on Twitter, because you've been so hard done by, and life is just so unfair. What are you, f***ing twelve? No wonder, women are so often branded as difficult and irrational when this is what we, as women, put out there to represent ourselves, and our apparent injustices... Feminists who create, encourage and promote such madness genuinely make me recoil in embarrassment and only go towards reinforcing the gender stereotypes people have worked so hard to dissolve. Do I feel like without these screaming feminists sexism would be worse? No, I feel like running to the first man in the street, grabbing him by the ankles and begging him to believe that not all women are this angry and irrational - that I do believe in equality but don't hate men, or, believe that they owe me anything, monetary or otherwise."

The Reality of #GiveYourMoneyToWomen - "In addition to being inexplicably accused of racism, my tweet was also labeled as “ableist.” Because apparently, being a woman is a disability – according to one self-identified feminist at least... Never before have I felt more cheap, more interchangeable, more needy than when other women decided I, and others like me, deserved unearned money just for existing-while-female"

How a corporate cult captures and destroys our best graduates - "I watched it happen to my peers. People who had spent the preceding years laying out exultant visions of a better world, of the grand creative projects they planned, of adventure and discovery, were suddenly sucked into the mouths of corporations dangling money like angler fish. At first they said they would do it for a year or two, “until I pay off my debts”. Soon afterwards they added: “and my mortgage”. Then it became, “I just want to make enough not to worry any more”. A few years later, “I’m doing it for my family”. Now, in middle age, they reply, “What, that? That was just a student fantasy.”"

Remembering Lee Kuan Yew: A leader who was ruthless in demanding honesty - "To call Lee Kuan Yew my friend would not be quite right. More accurately, we were colleagues. I don't think he had many friends, because he was so focused on doing what was good for the nation, and that would require him sometimes to act against his friends. If he was too friendly with anyone, that could colour his decision, so he was very careful...
I resigned from Cabinet (in 1992) because I had a great difference of view over the use of the Internal Security Act in the 1987 arrests. (In 1987, 22 people - many linked to the Catholic Church - were arrested and detained without trial under the ISA for alleged involvement in a "Marxist conspiracy".)"

Shakespeare to Blame for Introduction of European Starlings to U.S. - "We move on to the late 19th century, when a group called the American Acclimatization Society was reportedly working on their pre-environmental-impact-statement project to introduce to the U.S. every bird mentioned in Shakespeare’s scripts. Clearly, the Bard abided birds—his works include references to more than 600 avian species. A Bronx resident, drug manufacturer Eugene Schieffelin (a street bearing his name isn’t far from my house) seems to be particularly responsible for the starlings’ arrival here. Well, his chickens have come home to roost. Pop. (The society also brought the house sparrow to our shores, a pair of which nest in a vent on the front of my other, human, next-door neighbor’s house.) The Acclimatization Society released some hundred starlings in New York City’s Central Park in 1890 and 1891. By 1950 starlings could be found coast to coast, north past Hudson Bay and south into Mexico. Their North American numbers today top 200 million. As bird-watcher Jeffrey Rosen put it in a 2007 New York Times article, “It isn’t their fault that they treated an open continent much as we ourselves did.” Zzzt."

Milk of human kindness | Stuff.co.nz - "Breastmilk is a source of life, yet is little discussed publicly. It's in the news at the moment though, as milk sharing, both formal and informal, gains in popularity. Milk banks allow mothers to donate breastmilk for others to use. In a formal context, the banks are predominantly used in intensive care units to help feed premature or sick babies whose mothers can't supply sufficient milk. But there's also a burgeoning informal exchange, in which women use social networking sites to share milk."
Only in New Zealand?

Singled Out: Are Unmarried People Discriminated Against? - "Activists say that unmarried people are systematically discriminated against. They pay more for health and car insurance than married people do. They don’t get the same kind of tax breaks. Co-op boards, mortgage brokers, and landlords often pass them over. So do the employers with the power to promote them. “Singleism—stereotyping, stigmatizing, and discrimination against people who are single—is largely unrecognized and unchallenged,” says activist Bella DePaulo, the author of Singled Out... Singles may also be contributing more at the office, without being compensated for it, activists say. “Studies have shown that singles are often paid less than married people, even if they share the same title, responsibilities, and years of experience,” says Langburt. “And if you agree that time equals dollars, then it doesn’t stop there: there’s maternity leave, all the time off leading up to the pregnancy for doctors’ visits, and sick days.” On top of that, it’s de rigueur for companies to provide benefits for spouses and children—without providing equivalent perks for singles. The prejudicial treatment can also be more blatant, activists say. An unmarried friend of Klinenberg’s with a high-power job at a social-justice organization was informed in no uncertain terms that she wouldn’t be getting a raise—because her married co-workers needed the money more than she did. “One of her partners told her, ‘We all have families to take care of, and you don’t,’” Klinenberg says. “These are people whose life work is social justice.”"

Grog : un bon rhum bien chaud pour soigner son rhume

The Likely Cause of Addiction Has Been Discovered, and It Is Not What You Think - "the Vietnam War. Time magazine reported using heroin was “as common as chewing gum” among U.S. soldiers, and there is solid evidence to back this up: some 20 percent of U.S. soldiers had become addicted to heroin there, according to a study published in the Archives of General Psychiatry. Many people were understandably terrified; they believed a huge number of addicts were about to head home when the war ended. But in fact some 95 percent of the addicted soldiers — according to the same study — simply stopped. Very few had rehab. They shifted from a terrifying cage back to a pleasant one, so didn’t want the drug any more... If you get run over today and you break your hip, you will probably be given diamorphine, the medical name for heroin. In the hospital around you, there will be plenty of people also given heroin for long periods, for pain relief. The heroin you will get from the doctor will have a much higher purity and potency than the heroin being used by street-addicts, who have to buy from criminals who adulterate it. So if the old theory of addiction is right — it’s the drugs that cause it; they make your body need them — then it’s obvious what should happen. Loads of people should leave the hospital and try to score smack on the streets to meet their habit. But here’s the strange thing: It virtually never happens... you can become addicted to gambling, and nobody thinks you inject a pack of cards into your veins. You can have all the addiction, and none of the chemical hooks... Ironically, the war on drugs actually increases all those larger drivers of addiction... An independent study by the British Journal of Criminology found that since total decriminalization, addiction has fallen, and injecting drug use is down by 50 percent. I’ll repeat that: injecting drug use is down by 50 percent. Decriminalization has been such a manifest success that very few people in Portugal want to go back to the old system. The main campaigner against the decriminalization back in 2000 was Joao Figueira, the country’s top drug cop. He offered all the dire warnings that we would expect from the Daily Mail or Fox News. But when we sat together in Lisbon, he told me that everything he predicted had not come to pass — and he now hopes the whole world will follow Portugal’s example... The rise of addiction is a symptom of a deeper sickness in the way we live — constantly directing our gaze towards the next shiny object we should buy, rather than the human beings all around us.
The writer George Monbiot has called this “the age of loneliness.”"
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