"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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Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Links - 26th September 2018 (2)

Halfway to boiling: the city at 50C - "It is the temperature at which human cells start to cook, animals suffer and air conditioners overload power grids. Once an urban anomaly, 50C is fast becoming reality"

Spies through the ages - History Extra - "What Ivan the Terrible did was use it to exterminate not merely all his opponents, but everyone he thought might be one of his opponents, most of whom weren't, and that's what Stalin it. And that is why, one of the things that Stalin did when he came to power was to ask the greatest filmmaker of the age Eisenstein to make a film on Ivan the Terrible, and to show that the purges and the killings which Ivan the Terrible had been responsible for were actually essential to the survival of the Russian state, which they weren't. And that's what Stalin said about his own purges, and they weren't necessary then either...
[On forgetting what was learnt about espionage] 'Quite often it's a bit like talking to economists who have never heard of the industrial revolution.'
'Something I found really interesting was your suggestion about ideology, and that when we saw the rise of extremist Islamist terrorism, that the security services weren't prepared to grapple with the ideology, and they didn't understand the consequences of that.'
'That's something which, at the end of the 20th century, we were worse at than we had been during the Cold War [and] the Second World War... people in intelligence services knew about Nazi fascist ideology, people in the Cold War knew about Communist ideology in its style and its form amongst others. But the problem with Islamist extremism is that this is religious extremism, and what you need to understand that is not political scientists. You need theologians. And it never occurred... that they should have hired theologians... understanding Osama bin Laden and Al-Qaeda and for that matter, Islamic State without understanding their ideology is a bit like attempting to understand Stalin without knowing about communism, and a bit like attempting to understand Hitler without bothering to read Mein Kampf...
Non-Muslims have a very feeble understanding of the Koran and what is in the Koran. So far as Mohammad is concerned, those biographies of Mohammad that are most widely read by Muslims in England and elsewhere, I'm thinking of the single most popular one, a very good one in many ways, describe him as the greatest General in the world. Well, if the account in the Koran is to believed, which all Muslims believe is to be believed, that's absolutely right. He won all 27 battles that he fought and he was engaged in lots of smaller conflicts. And one of the things that he used, as any good general would have done, was military intelligence. So the idea that there is an intelligence dimension to the life of Mohammed I think would surprise most people."
If you think Islamist terrorism is a reaction to Western Foreign Policy, you conveniently have no need to hire theologians

Britain’s refugee camps - History Extra - "The refrain that I heard constantly while I was doing the research for the book was, we left with 55 pounds in a suitcase, because that is what Idi Amin allowed people to leave Uganda with. And then within one generation, we had become entrepreneurs and successful business owners in Britain, so there's a very strong Ugandan Asian narrative as well as a white British narrative about the Ugandan Asian expulsion and it's very much a narrative of success and upwards mobility and entrepreneurship."
Some people respond better to adversity than others

Nelson Mandela’s extraordinary life - History Extra - "Blacks could do the under-coat when decorating or painting a house, but could not do the top coat. Black building workers could pass a brick to a white bricklayer but could not lay the bricks even though they're quite capable of doing it themselves...
The history of the Afrikaans people is a very interesting one, and quite a tragic one. They were themselves oppressed by the British. Remember, the first ever concentration camps were not in Nazi Germany. They are actually during the Boer Wars when the British fought the Afrikaaner whites for dominance and control of the gold fields and the mines and so on. That is about the traditional colonial objective of plundering the assets of the country, and it resulted in two bloody wars and concentration camps, I think 25,000 Afrikaans women and children were killed, and then died in miserable, horrible unsanitary conditions in those concentration camps. And that's very much part of Afrikaaner folklore, that this will never happen to us again. And therefore we have to have a strong state that defends our people...
They came to see [Mandela, who took the trouble to understand them] not as the Prisoner, the terrorist only but actually as a person and as a formidable person and then beyond that is actually somebody that could save them from the fate that South Africa was beckoning for it... He went into prison as a burly freedom fighter, and with a touch of arrogance and vanity and he became increasingly humble, but strong...
The irony is people tend to forget... There was... more violence in between him walking out of prison and him becoming President in those four years, than at any time under apartheid, the previous fifty years... because De Klerk... still believed they could hang on to power despite some accommodation to the black majority... deliberate divide and rule policy"
Too bad Mandela didn't just yell at them for being racist

Rethinking 20th-century Britain - History Extra - "The United Kingdom as an economic, political, ideological unit separate from, that emerges from the British Empire. So, the basic idea of the book is just like as India or Australia, or Canada, had become independent from the British Empire, so does the United Kingdom. It is a genuinely post-imperial nation that emerges after 1945...
One of the most remarkable things about the history of 20th century Britain is that we don't have nationalism. We have perhaps some idea that was some great national feeling in 1940, this perhaps the idea that Enoch Powell or Margaret Thatcher were nationalists, but nationalism as a notion doesn't exist. Nationalism in British history is the ideology of opponents whether Nazis or Italian fascists, or Irish Republicans, or Indian anti-imperialists. You can't really be a British nationalist in the British way of thinking about nationalism... ... the dominant ideas for at least the first half of the 20th century were either Imperial in which the British empire encompassed lots of nations or liberal in which the idea of nationalism was repugnant. Nationalism implied breaking up the world economy into national economies...
Many people think that Brexit is nostalgia for Empire and I think that's wrong. If there is a nostalgic element it's a nostalgia for a national economy, where the nation's politicians control the economy, control industry. Now that's, gone has gone since that since the 1970s and the people who voted to remain in the EEC in 1975 are the people who today have voted to leave. People that were brought up in a national economy, and I think don't much like the new liberal economy...
That welfare state was actually remarkably un-generous in the 1940s... the moment of its glory was the 1970s. And while Thatcherism has made the welfare state much less generous, less universal, it is the case that welfare spending today is higher than it's ever been in both absolute and relative terms. So we are living peak welfare."

Catholics in Elizabethan England - History Extra - "Elizabeth's reign has more recorded torture than any other in English history. It's not something we necessarily associate with her, but her name is on the warrants. You see her signature, that beautiful signature on the torture warrants"

Britain’s foreign policy secrets - History Extra - "When Britain wanted to use propaganda against the IRA, which they did, and the examples include famously trying to portray the IRA as satanic worshipers by constructing upside-down crosses in fields in Northern Ireland... This was particularly controversial because it was so close to home, and the Foreign Office justified this by trying to play up the foreignness of the IRA. So they're playing up the links to Ireland, playing up the links to the Soviets, saying Soviet inspired, and perhaps most oddly playing up the links to Vatican City... they're foreign inspired, and therefore they can be subject to British covert operations"

BBC Radio 4 - Best of Today, 'Predators are attracted to aid work' - "'It would appear that the reputation of the organization has been put first, ahead of the protection of the vulnerable, and that is completely unacceptable. It has to stop'
'They tried to cover it up, because we saw that happening after the Times... story on Haiti'...
'[Hopefully] this time we don't just have a flurry of interest in this, in 2018, and then it quiets down... This wasn't addressed properly in the first place... the vast majority of people who work in aid are not involved in sexual exploitation and abuse but we do know, and we were told this in evidence that predators are attracted to aid organizations'...
[Since] Haiti... there has been a seemingly endless stream of stories exposing incidents of abuse across the world in many of the big international aid charities. Today, a committee of MPs in Westminster is delivering a report that says sexual abuse in the aid sector is endemic across organizations, countries and institutions and there has been an abject failure to deal with it. There has been complacency verging on complicity"
The Catholic Church is not unique

BBC Radio 4 - Best of Today, The UK's gender pay gap - "'Looking at the data though, isn't it possible that some of it could be misleading? That's certainly the view of the think tank the Institute for Economic Affairs. They say that it leads to worthless statistics because it rather than making comparisons with like-for-like roles they instead measure pay across organizations altogether irrespective of different roles, age or hours worked.'
'That's exactly what the statistics are doing. They are looking at the average pay in organizations and seeing where it's going'
'That's the point being made by the IEA'
'I know, but yes'
'Be more forensic about it than being so broadbrushed'
'But you can't do that sort of analysis of looking at every individual job. We already have legislation fifty years ago, that legislated for equal pay, but we're taking half a century later there is still a page of almost 20 percent and what this data is showing is that in organizations, most of the wages are going to men. There's a whole variety of reasons for that, but now that this data is out there, it gives women an opportunity to say to their bosses, why aren't we being paid as much as men?'...
'Smaller businesses complain often about how much red tape, bureaucracy, they have to deal with.'"
Looks like feminists like generalisations and broad statistics when they suit their agenda
Feminist logic - a male CEO must be paid as much as a female janitor

BBC Radio 4 - Best of Today, Could human beings be hacked? - "I don't know if people believe that without nationalism, we would be living in some kind of liberal paradise but much more likely we would have been living in tribal kills. Nationalism makes you care about millions of complete strangers whom we, you have never met before, and this has been quite good for humankind, until today... until today, most of our major problems could be solved on the national level, but this is no longer the case. The three biggest problems facing humankind in 21st century are nuclear war, climate change, and technological disruption, and you simply cannot solve any of these problems on the national level."

BBC Radio 4 - Best of Today, Tuesday's business with Dominic O'Connell - "'The fear of falling foul of US sanctions is so powerful that almost literally anything the European Union does won't have much effect'...
'The so-called blocking legislation which has been in force since the mid 90s but this is the first time we see it's extended. And it's specifically now as of today going to prohibit EU businesses, or anyone else subject to EU jurisdiction from complying effectively with the US secondary sanctions'...
'Sort of a double jeopardy. If you comply to US sanctions you might fall foul of the European Union'..
'In the UK it's a criminal offense'
'It's a criminal offence to obey US sanctions'"

BBC Radio 4 - Best of Today, British Identity at the V&A: Boscobel Plaque of Charles II - "They effectively preserved the monarchy putting their own lives at risk, and also foregoing the possibility of enormous riches because there was a thousand pound reward for anybody giving information for the capture of the king after the Battle of Worcester. They kept him alive, he was there to come back and take the crown. Five brothers got a hundred pound pension to be paid in perpetuity, going to the eldest son of the eldest son, and I believe until recently, it was still being paid. Sadly, not Index linked"

BBC Radio 4 - Best of Today, Trump reimposes Russia sanctions - "'More than 20 nations around the world, not just Britain, not just the United States: Norway, Canada, Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Sweden. I could go on, have all held Russia responsible for the attempted murder and the use of Novichok.'
'They're making this under the pressure, and I want to repeat, if you want. Russia would cooperate with you, with Great Britain, United States in colonial style, it's exactly as China cooperated with the British and France in the beginning of 20th Century. It will be no.'"

BBC Radio 4 - Best of Today, A tale of two birds - "'Let's go back to the name, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds. Crows are birds. If they want to be a curlew protecting organization, then be clear about that.'
'So in other words you'd be happy to have the curlews wiped out by the crows'
'No, absolutely. Well, yeah. Well, absolutely, if that was necessary... we would welcome them protecting curlews, not at the expense of a native species, which is the crow... Animals aren't aware of whether they face extinction. They're aware if they're suffering'"
Extinction is a good thing in certain contexts apparently

BBC Radio 4 - Best of Today, 'End immigration targets after Brexit' - "'Even as she [from Poland] worries about her own future Paulina wants tougher rules for new migrants. She thinks Britain can for EU citizens be a soft touch.'
'At the moment there's no control like immigration and I fully understand that. Maybe because I have just classed UK as my home, but the UK government is too easy.'"
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