"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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Friday, March 01, 2019

Links - 1st March 2019

America’s .. Duopoly (Ep. 356) - Freakonomics Freakonomics - "GEHL: In fact, John Adams said at one point, “There is nothing which I dread so much as a division of the Republic into two great parties, each arranged under its leader and concerting measures in opposition to each other.” And if you take a look at George Washington’s farewell address, which he wrote in 1796, he talks about dangers, which could come in front of the Republic in the future. And he specifically focuses on two. One is foreign influence, and the other is partisanship. The other danger is the formation of strong parties...
our political parties work well together in one particular area, and that is actually colluding together, over time, behind the scenes, to create rules and practices that essentially erect barriers to entry, ways to keep out new competition.
In their report, Gehl and Porter identify the “five key inputs to modern political competition: candidates, campaign talent, voter data, idea suppliers, and lobbyists.” Here’s what they write: “Increasingly, most everything required to run a modern campaign and govern is tied to or heavily influenced by one party or the other, including think tanks, voter data, and talent.”...
The lack of vigorous competition, they argue, has allowed the Democrats and Republicans to carve out diametrically opposed political bases, fairly narrow and extremely partisan.
GEHL: So years ago, we created partisan primaries in order to actually take the selection of a candidate out of this “smoke-filled back room” and give the selection of the party candidate choice to citizens. So that was designed to give more control to citizens. It turns out it has had a very deleterious effect on competition, and has increased the power of the parties.
And the parties, Gehl and Porter argue, use those partisan bases to support the desires of the political industry’s true customers, and its wealthiest: special interests. Industries like healthcare, real estate, and financial services; also, labor unions and lobbyists. In this duopolistic business model, polarization is a feature, not a bug.
PORTER: We have a chart in our report that just selects some, what we call landmark-type legislation over the last 50, 60 years. And if you go back even 20 or 30 years ago, the landmark legislation was consensus.
For instance: the Social Security Act of 1935 had 90 percent Democratic support and 75 percent Republican. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 had 60 percent Democratic support and, again, 75 percent Republican...
Think back to the 2016 presidential election. You had one national party, the Democrats, that tried as hard as it could — to the point of cheating, essentially — to pre-select its candidate, Hillary Clinton, who then lost. And you had the other national party, the Republicans, try as hard as it could to keep a certain candidate off the ballot — but they failed, and he won."

Donald Trump Moves to Deport Vietnam War Refugees - "The Trump administration is resuming its efforts to deport certain protected Vietnamese immigrants who have lived in the United States for decades—many of them having fled the country during the Vietnam War."
Mischievous article by the Atlantic. If you didn't read the article you wouldn't find out that these Vietnamese are “violent criminal aliens.”. And if you didn't read the whole article you wouldn't know that they have been convicted - so it's not just Trump's allegations

Undocumented Irish Caught In Trump's Immigration Dragnet - ""It's really indiscriminate. ICE, in their aggressive tactics of detention, are going after the Irish as much as they're going after any other nationality," says Ronnie Millar, director of the Irish International Immigrant Center in Boston... Millar, director of the Irish International Immigrant Center in Boston, says that Irish immigrants are "on high alert." "They have no confidence that the color of their skin provides any protection for them," he says. O'Riordan didn't necessarily think being white would save him from deportation orders. He thought staying out of trouble would keep him under the radar. He says other detainees are surprised he was arrested."
White privilege!

Green card doctor faces deportation 26 years after committing minor offence as a teen - "A doctor who has lived in the US for almost 40 years has been arrested and threatened with deportation over minor offences he committed as a teenager. Polish national Lukasz Niec was living in Kalamazoo, Michigan, on a permanent green card with his wife and two daughters when immigration agents stormed into his home last week and took him into custody. His detention stems from two minor crimes he committed as a 17-year-old: destruction of property worth less than $100, and receiving and concealing stolen goods"
Strange, I was told this only happens to non-white people

Why Are Immigrants Being Deported for Minor Crimes? - "Sylvain is one of thousands of immigrants who have been charged with “aggravated felonies” by the U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The term, first introduced in the 1988 Anti-Drug Abuse Act, applies specifically to immigrants and asylum-seekers: If they’re convicted of any of the crimes in this category, they can be deported and prohibited from reentering the U.S. for 20 years. In 1988, the list of aggravated felonies was limited to serious crimes such as murder and drug trafficking. But Congress expanded the definition over the years, most extensively in 1996."
It's all Trump's fault

I fit the description.... - ""We had someone matching your description just try to break into a woman's house." A second police officer stood next to me; white, tall, bearded. Two police cruisers passed and would continue to circle the block for the 35 minutes I was standing across the street from the burrito place. "You fit the description," the officer said. "Black male, knit hat, puffy coat. Do you have identification."... "You fit the description so we just have to check it out." The first cop returned and handed me my license. "We have the victim and we need her to take a look at you to see if you are the person." It was at this moment that I knew that I was probably going to die... I was going to resist arrest. This meant that I was not going to let the police put their hands on me."
"Chief: so it really was the first guy you questioned?
Sgt: yes sir!
Chief: good work Sgt! Where’s the guy now?
Sgt: uh... we let him go sir.
Chief: what?!
Sgt: no worries sir! We have a photo of him, and his address.
Chief: why’d you let him go?
Sgt: well he showed us his ID and car keys. So we knew he worked where he claimed, and that he definitely drove a car! Seemed legit.
Online people: *in agreement* what exceptional police work!"
It is better that ten guilty persons escape than that one innocent be questioned by the police
Even according to the account of someone who obviously is inclined to view everything through racial lenses, the police behaved exceptionally

Clara Sorrenti⚙️ on Twitter - "Whether you like it or not, Joseph Stalin was one of the greatest anti-fascists in the history of the anti-fascist movement. Under Stalin's command, the Red Army defeated the nazis and saved several ethnic groups from nazi extermination. This is a legacy we cannot forget.

h on Twitter - "When you say Stalin was good, you're standing with:
W.E.B. DuBois
Frida Kahlo
Albert Einstein
Che Guevara
Nelson Mandela
Huey P. Newton
When you say he was bad, you're antagonizing these people, their supporters and readers, their ideas, and standing with Nazis."

Tim Pool - Childish Gambino makes a video where he kills a ton of... - "Childish Gambino makes a video where he kills a ton of people with guns.
Monetized, approved.
Youtuber makes Edgy Humor?
Heeeellll no
Independent News Content?
No fucking way
If you arent a mainstream corporation Youtube will come for you eventually"

How the Weighted Blanket Became a Must-Have Holiday Gift - "the triumphant story of the Gravity Blanket and many of its new contemporaries sounds more like a story of appropriation—a story about the sale of the special-needs community’s promise of life-changing comfort to the meditation-app-using, Instagram-shopping masses... the mainstreaming of the weighted blanket seems to imply a conflating of chronic anxiety or sensory issues with feelings of stress—or, perhaps more ominously, the repackaging of a coping strategy that originated in a marginalized community as a profitable relaxation fad at a moment when people feel particularly stressed.
We knew the grievance mongering wouldn't stop at "cultural appropriation"

BBC Radio 4 - In Our Time, Augustine's Confessions - "Famously, the time he stole pears as a child, not because he wanted to eat them, but because he wanted to steal...
Essentially, there had been this belief that if they could convert the Roman Empire, if Christianity could convert the Roman Empire, basically if paganism could be got away with... then surely this would bring Christ back. And this is the great trauma of the early churches. Jesus says in the Gospels, or it's reported that he says: before some of you here die, I will return. When they die, that was a bit of a crisis. What had happened? So there was this whole debate, well, is it because we're not good enough? Is it because we haven't converted enough? Is it because we're still grappling with the powers of Satan and paganism and so forth? And then gradually you get this sense as it heads up towards Constantine's conversion and his legitimation of Christianity in 312, that maybe this is the turning point, maybe this sort of existential dimension of Christianity, at last, we're gonna have control, at last the Kingdom of God can come on earth, at last Christ can return. And he doesn't because frankly he screws up. Well, what happens is the moment the church actually gets its hands on a great deal of money, a great deal of prestige, an awful lot of people suddenly decide they want to be Christians who to be absolutely honest are a bit iffy...
Up until that time, people in the Latin speaking world had tended to see the Bible as a kind of source of folk wisdom... it's the wisdom of fishermen. But what Ambrose does... a super literate, fluent in Greek, philosophically trained mind whose leisure time seems to be spent reading third century Greek philosophers, and among them, critically is the philosopher, Christian philosopher Origen of Caesaria, who's the person who really developed the idea of allegory in the New Testament, taking an idea that's already there in the Platonic tradition, but really bringing it over to Christianity, not only the New Testament, but also those lascivious stories of the Hebrew Bible as well. He finds that it's really an allegory. The Book of Kings, they're all having war back and forth. How can this be religious? Of course, the answer is it's an allegory for the war within the soul...
In the City of God, Book 14, he talks about the sin of Adam... he specifically goes back and he says, you think that the sin of Adam was sex because they are fruitful and multiply after they eat the fruit of the apple, but... that's not how it works. The sin of Adam is that moment of pride where he sets himself apart from god. And he actually says that the real sign of that is male impotence. It's not the fact that men are constantly lusting when they don't want to lust. It's the fact that their body won't always follow them when they do want to lust. That's the real sign of the human will being torn out of the divine unity."

BBC Radio 4 - In Our Time, The Iliad - "There are critical readings that say the tragedy is, ever since the Second World War, people have read it as a great pacifist polemic about the pain and the suffering of violence. I'm afraid we're talking about an ancient Greek warrior society, whether it's the 13th, the eighth or the fifth century BC, which is almost always at war, where men are trained for war and men are excited by war, and there may well have been lots of women who wished they'd hang it up and stop it. But that was all the aristocrats, aristocracy knew what to do and it's how they spent their whole time training. And I think they found the poetry of it very exciting...
My take is that the genius consists, whoever it was, in not describing the fall of Troy, in the Iliad. Why is the Iliad called the Iliad? It's a nonsense because Iliad means the poem about Ilios or Ilion, Troy. And actually Troy doesn't fall in the Ilios. And it's not about the death of Achilles, which is the most interesting and exciting aspect because of what was then thought about the fact that he lived so shorter life and yet he lives on eternally in memory. So those two absolutely cardinal facts about the Trojan War story excluded though adumbrated, referred to, and so on - brilliant. Absolute genius that whoever it was, I imagine there was one guy, I call him the monumental, I call him the monumental composer...
‘Is there any consensus about the relationship between Achilles and Patroclus?’
‘There is no homosexual sex whatsoever between them in the Iliad. There's plenty outside the Iliad. Whoever put that thing together in the form it's in not only decided not to but actually makes sure he tells us that they’re each sleeping on opposite sides of the tent with their own woman. That is a detail that someone has gone out of their way to put in. And I think that makes it much more profound. And if you do actually read, I'm not one of these people who thinks that Iliad is about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. However, when you read about what happens to ordinary soldiers, especially when they got a weak commander they don't trust, that not trusting commander is a crucial thing. In a passionate way, they get just one other soldier in an intense friendship, not at all sexual, but they call each other mom, they call each other pop, they bathe each other. Because when you're stuck in some swamp in some part of the world that you don't know, that one intense relationship, and I actually think by not making it sexual, he has completely trumped the relationship with Briseis'"
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