"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, December 28, 2017

Links - 28th December 2017 (1)

BBC Radio 4 - Best of Today, India and Pakistan: Partition 70 years on - "As is the wheels of history turn, the cycles move on. You will find that history is its own revenge. And watching Theresa May come cap in hand to Indian businesses looking for Indian money to revive her post Brexit economy is to my mind the best kind of revenge you could possibly want"

BBC World Service - The World This Week, Increasingly isolated: Trump on Russia - "Researchers of the UK's Office for National Statistics went to great trouble some years ago when they were told they had to include the value of illegal drugs and prostitution in the national accounts. In order to work out how much is earned by sex workers they had to use websites that the agency's firewall would normally block. There was talk some time ago that burglaries in the crime survey for England and Wales were falling because flat screen televisions and DVD players were getting cheaper while CCTV was becoming more common so the risks were greater and the potential rewards smaller. Also presumably the fact that the really expensive television are absolutely enormous must make a difference both when you are trying to get them out of a house and when you are trying to sell them on later"

Thai prince orders British takeaway - "Staff at a Thai restaurant in the central English town of Stratford-upon-Avon have been surprised to receive an order from the Crown Prince of Thailand. Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn asked them to fly 350 classical Thai ingredients more than 9,000 km to Bangkok. A spokesman for the Thai Kingdom restaurant said the unusual request followed a visit by the 49-year-old prince to the English town last month. "It may seem a long way to fly food, but I suppose that what the prince likes, he gets," the spokesman said... A Thai embassy official in London said the prince had been impressed by the food during his visit. Embassy officials who travelled to Stratford from London to collect the delicacies said that they had been prepared, but left uncooked."

BBC World Service - The World This Week, Trump stumped on healthcare - "From quite a early age Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn as he was then was very unpopular in Thailand. There's a lot of reasons for that. He seemed to be very arrogant, he seemed almost a throwback to a medieval style Thai monarch and he was a notorious womaniser. He was married off to one of his cousins, a princess, in the nineteen seventies but quickly abandoned her for an actress whose second wife with whom he had four sons and a daughter. He then banished his second wife and the sons from the palace and they live in exile the United States now and have no contact with him for years. He found a third wife who he met in a Thai night club. Now she was featured in a notorious video that was leaked in two thousand and seven showing her birthday party in two thousand and one in which she was basically wearing a very sheer negligee and nothing else in the presence of a lot of servants and so on. She had to eat birthday cake off the floor beside her poodle. The King's famous for carrying a white fluffy poodle called Fu Fu around who was promoted to the rank of Air Vice Marshall and Fu Fu died a couple of years ago and was given a four day state funeral. He's now living most of the time in Munich in Germany with his fourth wife who hasn't been officially announced plus several mistresses who he's sometimes photographed with and for reasons that are not entirely clear he likes to go cycing semi clothed so he's been photographed cycling in his underpants around Bavaria. He's been photographed in shopping malls with strange clothes - little crop tops that's covered in tattoos. Beneath that the darker stories really are about his cruelty. He's onto his fourth wife now when he divorced his third wife he put almost all of her relatives in prison including her elderly parents...
Netflix is even commissioning programs based on viewing habits. It even knows when to put in a cliffhanger or a car chase based on when people lost interest in previous dramas. The problem is, I miss the programs I don't like. Schedules used to be filled up with stuff that was there because it filled up schedules and people had time to kill. Someone out there ought to be creating a museum of lost TV formats. A quick scan of the BBC schedule of this week thirty years ago reveals a world of televised crown green bowls - which is bowls with a lump in the middle of the green, a documentary on the Jamaican approach to playing dominos. How to make a model railway and fifteen minutes of light hearted brass band tunes and I think I probably watched it all

BBC World Service - The World This Week, Change at the top in China - "Xi Jinping has so many enemies now. Now imagine, according to official figures more than a million members of the Communist Party have been found guilty in some way in his anticorruption crackdown. They all have family members, a lot of those have been sent to prison or have said some sort of punishment and the feeling is that he couldn't afford to leave at the end of this next term because if he did the knives would be out for him. And so again the feeling is that at this meeting we're coming up to he's going to be laying the groundwork for him to stay on for who knows how long. And in order to do that he needs to put all his own own people in place and get rid of anyone who's seen as a threat"

BBC Radio 4 - Best of Today, Is Artificial Intelligence sexist? - "Researchers at Virginia took two large sets of data. Images of men and women. One from Microsoft, from Facebook. Trained a machine on these. They were very large and when they tested with a new picture of a man in the kitchen it labeled it a woman in the kitchen. And then another one, another really one I like... trained a machine on text collected from Google News and when they asked the software to complete the statement men is to computer programmer as woman is to x it replied homemaker...
'I think it's an interesting you use the word bias. So I think that there's the media and the word bias have been slightly conflated. So when I think data scientists talk about bias they mean ways in which the data analysis was indeed to be imperfect. When I think the media talks about bias what they really mean is prejudice... the data sets themselves might not be representative of the population that you are trying to operate within... Big data in these data sets are really a social mirror. They do reflect the the biases and the inequalities we have in society'
'And therefore you could argue that they are accurate. You know that nurses for example overwhelmingly women. Should you correct a data set about nurses that goes in so men and women are equally represented?'
'So I think there's a degree to it. If you want to change that you are going to have to not just reuse historical data'...
'The data's at fault here. It's historical data. A,nd but the thing about big data is that it's very very difficult to handle by ordinary computational means. So that's why they're fed into these big machines and they kind of ossify the values that we have rather than progressing as our society progresses... There is I have to say a lot of attempts to try to change this... There are new laws in Europe now saying that if you have problems with the algorithm making decisions about you the company responsible have to explain exactly how the algorithm worked and this is not going to work with deep learning algorithms'
It is apparently more important to use inaccurate data and algorithms to socially engineer society than to have more accurate algorithms

BBC Radio 4 - Best of Today, Today at 60: How attitudes to disabilities have changed - "One of the few moments of unkindness I really had was in a queue to get in an aeroplane in Charles de Gaulle... in the sort of gangway down to get on the plane a family barged past me, just would not wait for a disabled wheelchair and it was, it was really pretty horrible but then if you follow Peter's argument then that's just people acting normally treating me as if I wasn't in a wheelchair. That I didn't deserve any extra space if you like'
'And that's a real dilemma in a way because we press for changes and we want to be treated normally but actually when we're treated completely normally as Melanie is describing we don't like that'...
'We can't any longer I think say you are disabled. We can say you are differently abled'
'Oh that's nonsense. It completely misses the point which is within the if you like to call the disabled movement, the disabled tribe there is this huge apartheid. There's a whole forgotten about people who who aren't the lobbyists. They're the unseen ones. The old, the frail and the incontinent who are just as disabled as we are but they get completely forgotten about. I just get irritated by the disability tribe sometimes... some of the lobbyists obsess about the wrong things I think'...
Some people myself included struggle to push twenty yards very slowly in a wheelchair. And when paralympians make it look so easy whizzing round there is this sense that we just don't try hard enough and you almost become a traitor to the cause if you're not doing your absolute best"

BBC Radio 4 - Best of Today, US troops in Afghanistan - what next? - "[On Trump] I was very pleased with it actually. His instinct was to was to depart Afghanistan, altogether. Yet he then sat down with his advisors and worked closely with the commander in Afghanistan and as a result of that concluded to take a different route. At the highest level for me this was an indication that this president is capable of sitting down with competent advisors and coming to the conclusion that we, I believe he needed to make. And then beyond that there were a number of stipulations that I thought we were excellent. First and foremost being that follow on decisions will now be conditions based versus time constrained. In other words we'll look for an end state instead of an end date... this was the first occasion where Afghans welcomed a long term foreign presence... This was a presidential speech and he stayed on message, he stayed on the teleprompter and from my perspective this was a presidential speech for him"

BBC World Service - The Food Chain, Hunting with the Hadza - "Theirs is a world shaped by the simple fact that no one has any control over their food supply.
'The Hadza, they're a non hierarchical egalitarian society. They have no leadership structures. So the basic tenets are egalitarianism and that means there is no leaders. They might call a camp by the name of an elder but that elder has no more say in decision making than just about anybody else in the camp, even the kids or the young, young people. The second thing is that it's an obligate sharing society. For example when a hunter shoots something that meat is divided equally among all who are present and the hunter has no say in that division. He's given his, his share and the failure to share like that, it means you're pretty much ostracized as a Hadza and socially it's not acceptable...
'These animals because they are very fatty it probably gives them a naturally fatty liver that makes it particularly tasty. There's a very delicate flavour, the porcupine liver. So soft.'
'They're going for the innards, they're going for the vital organs that have more than just straight meat. You know everybody goes, we in the West we go: meat, meat. You know what they're really after is the fat. That's what you crave if you're on this kind of a diet'"

BBC World Service - The Food Chain, Health lessons with the Hadza - "Dennis Burkitt.
'After working for twenty years in a large teaching hospital in Africa I came back to England and I began to do war rounds in hospitals in America and in England and I was immediately struck by the fact that the majority of beds were filled with patients suffering from diseases which are rare or unknown in the third world'... Dennis Burkitt believed the Western diet characterized by ever lower levels of fiber and increasing amounts of refined carbohydrate explained everything, a conclusion he would reach without any of today's insights into the workings of the gut microbiome...
They eat so fast. On certain days I think I've roughly calculated ten to fifteen thousand calories from honey in one sitting... If you went to your dietician and said this is how I'm going to get to a twenty bmi. Imma eat nothing but honey for weeks on end and then I'm on a shift and Imma eat nothing but meat, you know for a couple of weeks. And then I'm not gonna eat for like one day at a time here. Just if you start describing the Hadza diet and the seasonality of that diet there's not a dietitian on Earth that would recommend that to anybody...
Never again think of an ingredient or nutrient in isolation"

BBC World Service - The Food Chain, Upper Crust? - "You have folks who would never at least not publicly use racial or class derogatory language, feel perfectly comfortable critiquing the behaviors of poor or people of color based on their dietary choices or their bodily shape. And there's a way in which that seems like it's okay to do because it's an objective scientific critique...
The whiter the bread is the more expensive it is until you get to the high socio economic level where then the brown bread becomes more expensive...
There is quite an history of a food punditry in the United States at least is a history of moralizing about individual food choices. And the idea that if we could only change what people eat we could somehow change society for the better. Typically though that moralizing about food choices doesn't end up making society better, in fact it ends up reinforcing hierarchies of difference"

Witchcraft through the ages | Podcast | History Extra - "Europe looks pretty normal with the rest of the world except in two respects. The first is the bad news, that Europe's the only place which associated witchcraft with a demonic anti religion, a fully developed religion worshipping the devil which was pitted against the established religion. And the second is the good news: that Europe's the only area on the planet whose peoples have mostly traditionally believed in witchcraft that have lost the belief... the early modern witch trials were themselves a short lived scientific experiment... in the fifteenth century Christian theologians developed this paranoiac idea of a satanic conspiracy to destroy the human race using evil people and giving them magical powers through demons and this caught on and it was employed as a solution to problems. In other words if you wiped out the presumed witches in your area you could stop being unlucky and it didn't work...
Overwhelmingly Europeans traditionally associate with with magic naturally rather than men. Men are believed to be able to learn magic from books or from teachers but women just have it in them. Which is why women in European culture traditionally feature as prophetesses, as sybils, as oracles. They come in when the men can't figure out what's going on. And therefore women just do magic then they can also work evil magic far more spontaneously than men and this belief goes right back to the ancient world. But there are areas of Europe - Iceland, Normandy, some of the Austrian lands where overwhelmingly the people suspected of witchcraft are men and this is because the ancient traditions in those area, of those areas tended to think that men were the more dangerous sex magically... Outside of Europe its extremely varied [in gender, age and wealth level]... Egypt spectacularly doesn't have a belief in witchcraft and doesn't fear it"

Watch: 'Antifa' attack disabled man in wheelchair - "A disturbing video has surfaced showing radical 'Antifa' members bullying a disabled man in a wheelchair this past weekend in Berkeley, California. The video shows a motorcycle helmet-wearing left-wing activist taking the disabled man's water bottle and pouring it over him. Others heckle him, while some try to put a halt to the abuse. Members of the anarchist 'Antifa' had descended onto a park in Berkeley in order to stop a 'No to Marxism' rally."

How liberal attacks on Antifa uphold white supremacy - "White supremacy isn’t just burning crosses on a Black person’s lawn; it’s also attitudes, norms, and institutions (including police) that reinforce white privilege.
This is from the Daily Kos

Professor will flunk students who refer to students as ‘male’ or ‘female’ - "White students in another Washington State class will also be penalized if they do not “defer” to their non-white peers. And in another, they will have their grade lowered one point for each use of the terms “illegal aliens” and “illegals.” In Michael Johnson Jr.’s “Race and Racism in U.S. Popular Culture” class students are required to “acknowledge” existence of various oppressions, including “heterosexism.” The effort on the part of faculty or other leadership on college campuses to curb traditional and Christian attitudes in favor of political correctness is not a new phenomenon. A Marquette University student was prohibited from articulating his Biblical view of marriage last year, and a tenured professor was fired from there last year as well for voicing his view in support of marriage. Johns Hopkins University denied a pro-life student organization recognition in 2013 until threatened with legal action. Religious freedom banners were prohibited at Sinclair College in Ohio a year earlier. A lawsuit was filed against Los Angeles Community College District in 2009 after a professor censored and threatened to expel a student who had given a speech on marriage and his Christian faith in a public speaking class. The professor had also told his class they were a “fascist (explicative)” if they voted for California’s Proposition 8 in defense of marriage."

'Kill all white people,' suspect in 5 shootings said in 2014 - "A black man suspected of fatally shooting five white men, four of them along Kansas City biking and hiking trails, once threatened to "kill all white people"... Fredrick Demond Scott, 22, made the statement in January 2014 while threatening to carry out a "Columbine-style" school shooting... Police said they don't know if the killings were racially driven and are still searching for a motive"

'We die or they die': Rohingya insurgency sparks fresh violence in Myanmar - "Hashem, who is 26, says he belongs to the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (Arsa), a military organisation waging war in Myanmar’s Rakhine state... “Just by the virtue of their existence and activities and antagonism towards the military they for the last nine months have been the single biggest threat to stability in Rakhine,” says Gabrielle Aron, a Myanmar-based consultant who has lived and worked in northern Rakhine. Analysts and aid workers say recruitment in the villages of northern Rakhine and the camps in Bangladesh surged after October 2016, when hundreds of fighters attacked border posts in Maungdaw township, prompting a massive army crackdown, with troops accused of rape and indiscriminate killings... Rohingya rebellions – which have a history dating back to the 1940s – have a history of factionalism and analysts believe Arsa may have splintered or spawned offshoots. It is a viewpoint supported by Hashem, who talks of “many leaders” and multiple groups. In recent months, the group has been accused by the government of murdering scores of Rohingya leaders suspected of informing to the authorities or opposing the violent struggle, and kidnapping others. The Guardian has seen video of masked men making death threats in the name of the group."
Background on how the Rohingya are not entirely blameless
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