"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, November 13, 2018

Links - 13th November 2018 (2)

I Paid $100,000, and All I Got Was This Lousy Degree - ""Your Money" columnist Ron Lieber asks us to feel the pain of Cortney Munna, a 26-year-old NYU graduate who owes $100,000 for "an interdisciplinary degree in religious and women's studies" that is not quite as lucrative as she expected. Munna "makes $22 an hour working for a photographer" in San Francisco (one of the most expensive cities in the country) and dreads the thought of "slaving away to pay for an education I got for four years and would happily give back," which she says "feels wrong to me." To his credit, Lieber assigns some responsibility for this state of affairs to Munna and her mother... Lieber also wants to blame Citibank (featured in a photo accompanying the column) for "handing over $40,000 to an undergraduate who had already amassed debt well into the five figures." That may turn out to have been a bad business decision, but is it a bank's job to tell a loan applicant what her priorities should be? Citibank made it possible for Munna to realize her dream of attending the college of her choice instead of various less expensive options, and Lieber is saying, in effect, that it should have told her to aim lower. Likewise, he faults NYU's financial aid office for not giving Munna better advice, which would have meant suggesting that she attend a different, cheaper school. Not only is it unrealistic to expect a college to send away a student who is ready to pay full tuition, but at the time Munna and her mother probably would have resented the suggestion."

Student Debt Is Worse for Women - "women hold almost two-thirds of the nation’s student-loan debt, nearly $900 billion of the $1.4 trillion total, with black women holding the highest average debt of any racial, ethnic, and gender group among graduates who completed bachelor’s degrees... Even knowing that fields dominated by women tend to pay less than fields dominated by men, Chandler saw social work as the right choice for her"

My Degrees Make Me Unemployable - "I did everything I was told; “Study hard, go to a good college. You’ll get a good job and not have to work for minimum wage.” I got a Master’s degree for good measure to ensure my career profitability. Sadly, nearing my 40’s I stare at a bleak job outlook. When I was younger, I told my Dad my plans for travel and saving the world and he warned me that I was too idealistic for my own good. My idealism translated into my college majors, English and History... I had a conversation with the Dean of Arts and Sciences who, in response to hearing I was an English major, said that I’d be “highly unemployable”. I was discouraged by his comment and realize now that I was too idealistic to appreciate its value... at 37, when most of my friends are well established in a career, can afford to take vacations and have a solid 401(k), I must say I am a bit envious. I know we sacrificed a lot so I could stay home with our children (something I would never change) but I did have brighter hopes for my future. I thought my degrees and past work experience would speak for themselves. I thought I’d seamlessly transition back into the workforce. But, I am highly educated in looking at perspectives, analyzing situations and problem-solving. I guess I’ll do just that."

WaPo Feels Really Sorry For Black, Transgender Rite Aid Shooter - "The media wants everyone to know this black, transgender mass shooter was a poet just ‘struggling to find her way.’
Details are still emerging as to what motivated a 26 year old temporary worker at a Rite Aid facility in Aberdeen, Md. to open fire late last week, killing three and injuring three others before turning the gun on herself. But in a move unheard of when mass shooters fit the straight, white male narrative, some mainstream media are running cover for the suspect, ignoring her transgenderism or insisting readers consider the suspect’s “struggle.” Harford County Sheriff Jeff Gahler told reporters Friday that suspect Snochia Moseley showed up to work on time Thursday morning, went home on a break and returned with a 9mm Glock pistol, pepper spray, and a pair of handcuffs."
If you assume straight white males have no problems in life, you can assume there're no mitigating factors when they shoot up places

China could be exposed in trade war as US allies choose compromise - "Trump pressure on partners pays off as they succumb to the art of the deal"

U.S. Near Bottom, Hong Kong and Singapore at Top of Health Havens - "Want medical care without quickly draining your fortune? Try Singapore or Hong Kong as your healthy havens. The U.S. will cost you the most for treatment, both in absolute terms and relative to average incomes, while life expectancy of Americans -- about 79 years -- was exceeded by more than 25 countries and territories"

As a Rotherham grooming gang survivor, I want people to know about the religious extremism which inspired my abusers - "Like terrorists, they firmly believe that the crimes they carry out are justified by their religious beliefs... Experts say that grooming gangs are not the same as paedophile rings. It’s something that central Government really needs to understand in order to prevent more grooming gang crime in the future. In November 2017, the Swedish government held a meeting where they stated that: “Sexual violence is being used as a tactic of terrorism”, and as such, it was recognised as a threat to Sweden’s national security... Religious indoctrination is a big part of the process of getting young men involved in grooming gang crime. Religious ideas about purity, virginity, modesty and obedience are taken to the extreme until horrific abuse becomes the norm. It was taught to me as a concept of “othering”."

Désirée Lim Harkins - "For chrissakes, let's stop worrying about the threat of 'foreign intervention'. At its mildest, this variant of xenophobia is alarmingly inconsistent. The kneejerk willingness to accuse other Singaporeans of treason exists in the very same space where international cooperation and diplomatic ties are lauded alongside the tireless flow of global capital. The interactions that are labelled 'treacherous' are, quite obviously, not all meetings between foreigners and Singaporeans, but only those meetings that are regarded threatening by the government. (By 'threatening', I don't mean a problem for security, but 'out of its control'.) The working definition of 'foreign intervention' essentially applies to those interactions between Singaporeans and foreigners that the state does not sanction - whether it's interviews with a famous statesman, funding from a wealthy non-Singaporean, or even attendance at a large-scale (legal) protest. At its most troubling, the narrative of 'foreign intervention' is deeply divisive. It asks us to treat foreigners as inherently suspicious. Of course, they are allowed to labour for us, be of economic benefit to us, but god forbid they have a social impact on the country they are embedded in. As the blatant suspicion towards Malaysian-born citizens indicates, it also creates a hierarchical notion of citizenship: Singaporeans are seen to exist along a continuum of 'more or less suspicious' depending on their birthplace or parentage... There is *nothing* categorically wrong with allowing oneself to be persuaded or influenced by a foreigner. It is not at all clear why this should be treated as a bad thing, unless we adopt the absurd position that we are not allowed to have views other than those held by 'our countrymen', whatever those may be... Political interactions with foreigners, on the other hand, can also have a democracy-ENHANCING effect: for example, if we band together with citizens from neighbouring countries to discuss how basic human rights can be improved throughout the region. The point is, there is nothing inherently wrong with adopting ideas suggested by foreigners, agreeing to cooperate with foreigners, or accepting their help"

Backlash builds against China as Belt and Road ties fray - "Many countries have taken note of the fate of the Hambantota port project in Sri Lanka, part of Belt and Road. The Sri Lankan government became heavily indebted to Beijing and was forced to lease the port to the Chinese for 99 years. That China often sends over the necessary labor for infrastructure projects, instead of employing locals, is another sore spot."

26th MEU battalion commander fired during deployment over equal opportunity concerns - "An infantry battalion commander sacked in the middle of a deployment with the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit, or MEU, was at least partially fired for allegedly using a term that could be disparaging to members of the LGBTQ community"
Comments: "Do people not understand that our military is trained to kill people and destroy things?"
"So, the Corps is telling me that if a LGBTQ Commander said something like: "Get that straight-assed vehicle out of here!" they would have been relieved?"


Why identity politics benefits the right more than the left | Sheri Berman - "Studies make clear, however, that racism has been decreasing over time, among Republicans and Democrats. (Views of immigration have also grown more favorable.)... Maureen Craig and Jennifer Richeson, for example, found that simply making white Americans aware that they would soon be a minority increased their propensity to favor their own group and become wary of those outside it. (Similar effects were found among Canadians. Indeed, although this tendency is most dangerous among whites since they are the most powerful group in western societies, researchers have consistently found such propensities in all groups.) ... In the past, the Republican and Democratic parties attracted supporters with different racial, religious, ideological and regional identities, but gradually Republicans became the party of white, evangelical, conservative and rural voters, while the Democrats became associated with non-whites, non-evangelical, liberal and metropolitan voters. This lining up of identities dramatically changes electoral stakes: previously if your party lost, other parts of your identity were not threatened, but today losing is also a blow to your racial, religious, regional and ideological identity. (Mason cites a study showing that in the week following Obama’s 2012 election, Republicans felt sadder than American parents after the Newtown school shooting or Bostonians after the Boston Marathon bombing.) This social sorting has led partisans of both parties to engage in negative stereotyping and even demonization... Once the other party becomes an enemy rather than an opponent, winning becomes more important than the common good and compromise becomes an anathema. Such situations also promote emotional rather than rational evaluations of policies and evidence. Making matters worse, social scientists consistently find that the most committed partisans, those who are the angriest and have the most negative feelings towards out-groups, are the most politically engaged... 'Paradoxically, then, it would seem that we can best limit intolerance of difference by parading, talking about, and applauding our sameness'... as one Trump supporter put it, every time Democrats attack him “it makes me angry, which causes me to want to defend him more” – potentially alienate wavering Republican-leaning independents, and help divert debate from policies, corruption and other substantive issues... Scholars consistently find that incivility spreads rapidly, generates anger and defensive reactions, demobilizes moderates and activates the strongest partisans, corrodes faith in government, trust in institutions and respect for our fellow citizens... identity politics is a both more powerful and efficacious for Republicans (and rightwing populists more generally) than it is for Democrats, since the former are more homogeneous"

Identity Politics Does More Harm Than Good to Minorities - "The fundamental objective of left-wing identitarians is to strengthen the weaker groups while simultaneously weakening the strongest (whites, especially cishetero white males) to achieve a more ‘equitable’ distribution of power... Evidence suggests that a group’s bargaining power is contingent on, among other things, the amount of resources – material and non-material – that it brings to the negotiating table. In light of this, feminism makes strategic sense. Women constitute roughly half the population of any given nation... racial identitarianism, in comparison, is less promising... Another difference between feminist identity politics and racial identity politics is that the rest of society does not always have strong personal, much less familial, ties to black folks, guaranteeing constant interaction... It is because he acknowledged this reality that Martin Luther King stressed non-violent resistance to Jim Crow laws... In his critique of black nationalism, MLK could be describing black identity politics today: a constant litany of grievances and bluster with no realistic strategy to eliminate the cause of those complaints... the main beneficiaries of racial identity politics are the identitarians themselves. They are the ones making good money selling books encouraging black people to scapegoat white people for all their problems. They play to the unfortunate human weakness for blaming your problems on other people – something that’s also exploited by right-wing demagogues encouraging the white working class to blame immigrants for their problems. Ironically, these snake-oil salesmen would not have achieved anything like the success they have without the complicity of guilty white liberals... Instead of reserving what was once a very effective tool at our disposal as a nuclear option – the stigmatizing power of the label ‘racist’ – identitarians are rendering it a blank bullet through overuse. Steven Bannon has said that he looks forward to the day when calling someone ‘racist’ has lost all power to stigamitize and he has no greater allies than racial identitarians and their guilty white devotees. The day is fast approaching when mainstream white society will react to accusations of racism with yawns and shrugs... It’s that kind of talk that will lead to Trump winning a second term."

What the World’s Emptiest International Airport Says About China’s Influence - The New York Times - "Mattala Rajapaksa International Airport, the second-largest in Sri Lanka, is designed to handle a million passengers per year. It currently receives about a dozen passengers per day. Business is so slow that the airport has made more money from renting out the unused cargo terminals for rice storage than from flight-related activities. In one burst of activity last year, 350 security personnel armed with firecrackers were deployed to scare off wild animals, the airport’s most common visitors... “We always thought China’s investments would help our economy,” says Amantha Perera, a Sri Lankan journalist and university researcher. “But now there’s a sense that we’ve been maneuvered into selling some of the family jewels.”... It’s tempting to see OBOR as a muscled-up Marshall Plan, the American-led program that helped rebuild Western Europe after World War II. OBOR, too, is designed to build vital infrastructure, spread prosperity and drive global development. Yet little of what China offers is aid or even low-interest lending. Much OBOR financing comes in the form of market-rate loans that weaker countries are eager to receive — but may struggle to repay. Even when the projects are well suited for the local economy, the result can look a bit like a shell game: Things are built, money goes to Chinese companies and the country is saddled with more debt. What happens when, as is often the case, infrastructure projects are driven more by geopolitical ambition or the need to give China’s state-owned companies something to do? Well, Sri Lanka has an empty airport for sale... “They take on loans like it’s a drug addiction and then get trapped in debt servitude. It’s clearly part of China’s geostrategic vision.”This charge conjures the specter of colonialism, when the British and Dutch weaponized debt to take control of nations’ strategic assets... In Sri Lanka today, Chinese tour groups often traipse through a Colombo museum to see the trilingual stone tablet the admiral brought here — proof, it seems, that China respected all peoples and religions. No mention is made of a less savory aspect of Zheng He’s dealings in Ceylon. On a later expedition, around 1411, his troops became embroiled in a war. Zheng He prevailed and took the local king back to China as a prisoner... it’s worth remembering that dredging deepwater ports and laying down railroad ties to secure new trade routes — and then having to defend them from angry locals — was precisely how Britain started down the slippery slope to empire."
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