"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, March 21, 2019

Links - 21st March 2019

BBC Radio 4 - Best of Today, Is this the end of DUP support? - "‘Normally free trade deals take a long time because you got to get rid of 11,000 characters… on average, they take 28 months. But-’
‘Well, the Canada deal took seven years’
‘Yes, but that's because they started with 10,000 tariffs and they had to negotiate the removal not just with the other side, but with their domestic industries that had become protected behind them. We start with zero tariffs, we want to end with zero tariffs. Tell me how that can take more than 10 minutes to negotiate. The other thing that you have to do negotiate is to get your rules and regulations equivalent and remove any artificial barriers to trade. That normally takes years and it's very difficult. We start with identical rules and regulations, how can that take very long to end up with identical rules and regulations? All you've got to negotiate is a system for dealing when one side or other changes their rules and regulations. That could be done in months. If not, we leave on World Trade Organization terms as we trade with America and many other countries and start negotiating then just as Canada did but we start with Canada ended up so it can be done quite quickly... if it were so hugely damaging, you would expect - being in a free trade area rather than a customs union - you would ask yourself, well why don't countries like Canada which has a free trade agreement with America, Switzerland, Norway which have free trade agreements with the the European Union and similar bodies in Asia. Why don't they want to convert it into a customs union to avoid these problems you've just raised? They don't. So they don't find it too much of a problem. I don't think British businesses are less competent than Swiss businesses or Canadian businesses'...
‘Can you remind me of an occasion when the CBI ever got it right? They were wrong about the Euro, they were wrong about going into the ERM, they were wrong about coming out of the ERM, they were wrong about dealing with the financial crisis a few years ago’
‘They speak for business’
‘Well they claim to. Ask them how many paid up members they've got. They wouldn't tell you’"

BBC Radio 4 - Best of Today, Quakers disinvest in Israel - "We did a major research study last year of 20 years of work by charities and NGOs, to bring about peace between Israelis and Palestinians. And we found that the most effective action was dialogue, coexistence, projects bringing Israelis and Palestinians together to talk about the painful compromises that are needed in the conflict. And I think sadly, the Quaker decision like this is the latest in a long line of policies where they are placing themselves on the margins, they are taking themselves out of that very important dialogue, listening to both sides. And I think that's tragic...
‘Are you saying that you would not invest in other places where governments are, in your view oppressing people? Or is it just in Palestine?’
‘If we had the sort of eyewitness and lived experience that we have in Palestine, that would be something we could consider. We're a small organization, we don't cover the whole world.’
‘But you know what’s going on in the world, don’t you?’
‘We know what’s going on at second hand as everyone else does. And this is something where we feel we have personal connections with people there’...
‘I'm afraid that's nonsense. I mean, they operate in many, many countries. And, you know, they, that they, for some reason, have singled out the situation on the West Bank, which, which I think is you know, they're placing themselves in a very dangerous situation where people are asking them, why they’re singling them out. And I think on the point about non violence, it's important to point out that the boycott movement against Israel is a very well organized movement within the West Bank led by Palestinians who condone extreme violence and their rhetoric is very, very toxic and I think if the Quakers are putting themselves on the side of that that is also deeply problematic’"

BBC Radio 4 - Best of Today, Trump, Putin and G20 - "‘The irony is that the most friendly American president towards Russia is pursuing the most unfriendly, hostile to Russia policy. Reproducing the sanctions. Every time much more destructive for Russian economy. And increasing military support to Ukraine. Russia doesn't get anything substantial from Trump.’
‘Now it doesn't even get a meeting with him.’...
The angry [Russian] newsreader accuses Trump of flip flopping like a roller coaster and prescribes sedatives for him. So much for Donald the Genie"

BBC Radio 4 - Best of Today, International trade post-Brexit - "Is there really appetite for another referendum? Look in John Curtice, you know, the very eminent psephologist, has said amongst voters at large there's still neither consistent nor substantial majority support for another ballot"

BBC Radio 4 - Best of Today, Brexit: ‘Norway plus’ option - "I think if you look at the around 10 studies that we've had, of why people voted for Brexit to begin with, there's absolutely no dispute that freedom of movement was a core driver of that vote. Not only by the way only among leavers, about half of Remainers also wanted to see that issue reformed. Norway would not really respond in a meaningful way to that request from the public"

BBC Radio 4 - Best of Today, You and AI - "AlphaGo, alpha zero, all these famous programs beating the world's best go players, they actually don't understand anything about go. I can build a phenomenally sophisticated AI to find giraffes in every photograph, and it understands absolutely nothing about giraffes. Even as it outperforms us in our ability to find them. These are algorithms for turning enormous quantities of numbers into a decision. And it does it in a completely different way than we do it today - without core understanding. And in that sense, what we need is to stop talking about artificial intelligence and talk about augmented intelligence. How do we take the best of what people can do and make it even better by leveraging what machines can do? How do we make AI that challenges us to be better people?"

BBC Radio 4 - Best of Today, The Bible and humour - "Have you heard the one about the guy who said: how can you offer to take the speck out of somebody’s eye you've got a log in your own? That according to a new book is an example of how funny Jesus and the Bible were. That is, before the church lost its sense of humor and got scared of offending people. The author of the sacred art of joking is the BBC comedy writer James Cary joins us on the line…
‘We don't have we don't have a tradition of finding the Bible funny. But it's interesting how the funny the Bible actually is when you when you get into it, and you read it properly. So you could argue a lot of Shakespeare's comedies aren't funny, but actually, they are funny. You got to work a little bit to get into that mindset. And so, you know, Jesus, Jesus, Jesus is funny. And also the, one of the points of the book is he offended people. And actually, he went out of his way to offend people… his stories made people incredibly angry. And all of his jokes were, were, many of them were made at the expense of the Pharisees who were actually very popular and deemed to be good religious people, and all those kinds of things. So he continually, almost everything, he says, make them furious and even he heals people on the wrong day and he knows that he's going to get into trouble for it. And they, and they hate him so much that they kill him. I mean, that's a tough crowd. I mean, he knew what he knew what he was doing. And so, and so one of the points of my book is that whether you're offended or not, is a really bad way of judging whether a joke should or should not have been told...
They used to tell jokes in church. On Easter, there was a thing called Easter laughter. And right up until the Reformation in the 16th century, priests used to tell jokes, because the great joke is that the joke was on the devil because he had Jesus crucified, and he'd been tricked. And so people told lots of jokes, but they actually unfortunately, got a bit obscene and rude. And actually, yeah, the early reformers, even Martin Luther, I think, was rather scandalized by some of the jokes that used to be told from the pulpit...The Bible offends people, Christianity offends people, and therefore Christians in particular who often complain and are quick to complain about being offended want to be a little bit careful about that because if if offense is the hallmark of what is and what should or shouldn't be said, as is now the law very worryingly, Christians are going to find themselves squeezed out of the public square because you know the very message of the gospel of Jesus Christ is in itself offensive...
‘Thought for the Day is that the people who can't take a joke who tend to crucify people’"

BBC Radio 4 - Best of Today, Kamila Shamsie guest edits Today - "Imran Khan was the fast bowler back then. Like other fast bowlers, he would rub the ball on his white trousers, sometimes lazily, sometimes furiously to get that extra shine. Dr. *something* issued a fatwa saying that by rubbing that ball on his trouser so close to his crotch, Imran Khan was turning our women into depraved sinners. Cricket should be banned on TV and only men should be allowed in stadiums...
This is an industry where most of the people working within it are women. Most of the readers of fiction are women. So it should be the industry in which actually you have no incidence of, or very few incidence of, gender imbalance. And the fact that there is still all this gender imbalance in terms of who is taken more seriously in the way men writers get talked-"
"Gender imbalance" = whatever disadvantages women, since most of the people in the industry being women isn't a gender imbalance - only who gets recognised

Japan's Supreme Court rules transgender people still have to get sterilised
Mischievous headline, but then it's from Pink News after all. They only need to get sterilised if they want to change their official sex

Al-Jabari Ahmed - Even as a palestinian without Israeli or any... - "Even as a palestinian without Israeli or any other citizenship I have more rights inside Israel than in the place I was born & raised in. Even as a palestinian I have more rights inside Israel than in every other arab state. Even as a palestinian I don't have to fear to get killed from Israelis but from my own people. #fckBDS"

Mudi Al-Ababneh - "As a Palestinian, especially as a gay Palestinian, I have a way more rights in Israel than in Gaza or other Arabic countries.
I lived in Jordan in a refugee camp for 8 month before I was allowed to move to Europe and the Jordanian people treated us like a piece of shit BDS doesnt care about Palestinians in Arabic countries like Jordan, Egypt or Lebanon. That's hypocrisy and it shows the true face of BDS because they are just interested in demonizing Israel"

Mudi Al-Ababneh - I'm getting tons of hateful messages but this... - "I would like to have sex with u. I'm submissive and having sex with a Palestinian traitor like u would make me feel really bad and submissive. Are you top ?"
"I'm getting tons of hateful messages but this message is the weirdest one ever. I dont even know what to say 🤦🏽‍♂️ and yes he send me a nudes of his That's a new level of wtf"

BBC Radio 4 - In Our Time, The Thirty Years War - "We now think of the 30 Years War as really not primarily motivated by religious division, but primarily as a conflict about the nature of governance in the German land, and about the balance of power in Europe."

BBC Radio 4 - In Our Time, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight - "Christmas seems to be something of a convention of Middle English romances. They like setting their stories at Christmas, the French poets like setting their stores at Springtime, at Easter"

BBC Radio 4 - Moral Maze, The Morality of Suspicion - "I would just like to push back on the idea of these sort of PREVENT referrals that are onerous or heavy handed. We had, it mentioned earlier about the free Palestine wristband. That specific case wasn't about the wristband, it was about literature being distributed in a school by a group whose leader supports Hamas. Now, that would be a red flag to me… we're not talking about these PREVENT referrals truthfully... 90% of the programs done under PREVENT fail. And they mainly fail because they are trying to be done in a liberal way. The only two programs that worked were the ones that tackled them on religious grounds - so I'm a former theologian, I'm a former university lecturer, I strongly believe that that you can use conservative traditional Islamic teaching against IS teaching. But people are too frightened even to do the religious work... The only other PREVENT that worked was where they had the actual values discussion and values debate and and that's what we need. And now what I'm saying is the real social, the real security for our country is redefining British values in a way we can defend them...
My concern about the schools point and this is the problem with the PREVENT policy, is that nobody will know what that. Everybody wants to say, we don't want anyone to accuse us of Islamophobia. So there's a panic. So then they say anyone who goes against British values, which then broadly get defined as anyone who disagrees with gay marriage, just as an example. That's been used, by the way, in schools on number of occasions. From extreme religious families, you know, Jewish families, Catholic families, Muslim families, everyone. Because nobody wants to say what it is that we're fighting. And the reason I get anxious about that is because then actually liberty is at risk and you create a climate of suspicion that doesn't have any proportion...
‘I always thought one of the basic principles of being British was privacy'"
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