"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 07, 2019

Links - 7th March 2019 (1)

High-income earners paid $4.6-billion less in taxes in 2016 despite higher rate for top 1 per cent - "The Liberal government’s tax on Canada’s top 1 per cent failed to produce the promised billions in new revenue in its first year, as high-income earners actually paid $4.6-billion less in federal taxes."

The 20 Internet Giants That Rule the Web (1998-Today) - "Many of the top websites in 1998 were basically news aggregators or search portals, which are easy concepts to understand. Today, brand touch-points are often spread out between devices (e.g. mobile apps vs. desktop site) and a myriad of services and sub-brands (e.g. Facebook’s constellation of apps). As a result, the world’s biggest websites are complex, interconnected web properties. Today’s visualization, inspired by an earlier work published by WaPo, looks at which of the internet giants have evolved to stay on top, and which have faded into internet lore."

US has regressed to developing nation status, MIT economist warns - "Peter Temin says the world's’ largest economy has roads and bridges that look more like those in Thailand and Venezuela than those in parts of Europe... The economist describes a two-track economy with on the one hand 20 per cent of the population that is educated and enjoys good jobs and supportive social networks. On the other hand, the remaining 80 per cent, he said, are part of the US’ low-wage sector, where the world of possibility has shrunk and people are burdened with debts and anxious about job security. "

NAACP links earthquake signs in Oregon to white supremacy - "A new city policy requiring public signs on brick buildings warning they might collapse in an earthquake is part of a long history of white supremacy aimed at forcing black people to move out of neighborhoods, the NAACP of Portland, Oregon, says."
When the next earthquake comes and more black people die, that will be the fault of - yes, white supremacy

Anti-Americanism Drove 'Der Spiegel' Fabrications - "the star reporter Claas Relotius had fabricated information “on a grand scale” in more than a dozen articles... A motif of Relotius’s work is America’s supposed brutality. In one story, he told the macabre tale of a woman who travels across the country volunteering to witness executions. In another, he related the tragic experience of a Yemeni man wrongly imprisoned by the United States military at Guantánamo Bay, where he was held in solitary confinement and tortured for 14 years. (The song that American soldiers turned on full blast and pumped into the poor soul’s cell? Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the U.S.A.”) Both stories were complete fabrications. And they should have been easily invalidated. According to the Columbia Journalism Review, Der Spiegel’s fact-checking department is the largest in the world, besting that of the vaunted New Yorker... The fact that these blatant deceptions were not exposed until nearly two years after publication speaks to the ignorance about America that characterizes a wide swath of elite German society. Relotius, I submit, was able to get away with his con for so long because he confirmed the preconceived notions of people who fashion themselves worldly yet are as parochial as the red-state hicks of their imagination... The biases that Relotius stoked in his stories are ones that Europeans, and Germans in particular, have voiced about America since the first colonists set foot here hundreds of years ago. “European elites have consistently and passionately expressed the same negative sentiments about America for centuries,” the scholar Andrei Markovits observed in his 2007 book Uncouth Nation: Why Europe Dislikes America. “In both substance and tone, what stands out is this continuity, rather than change.” Among the negative traits Europeans have long associated with America, Markovits writes, are “venality, vulgarity, mediocrity, inauthenticity,” along with the perception that the country is a “threatening parvenu.” America’s frontier spirit and radically democratic ethos frightened European elites, who distrusted their own masses with political power"

In South Africa, 'Decolonizing' Mathematics - "Exactly what decolonizing math would entail isn’t entirely clear: Curriculum revisions that promote non-Western contributions to the field, new teaching methods rooted in indigenous cultures, and greater openness to ideas outside the academic mainstream are all under discussion. Some want to go further, challenging the philosophical foundations of mathematics itself. That notion strikes many mathematicians as odd. After all, the patterns and equations that underpin our knowledge of the physical world would seem to have little to do with power dynamics. Math simply is... Unlike the arts and humanities, mathematics is generally understood to be universal and objective. Necessary truths are discovered through a process of logical deduction — with proofs as the cornerstones of the discipline. “What makes mathematics valuable, what makes it powerful, is that you can communicate mathematics without any change to a huge range of cultures,” says Laurie.He is among those who are concerned that the decolonization movement could disadvantage young South African mathematicians on the international stage if curricula were changed or alternative methodologies take hold"

A New Cold War Has Begun – Foreign Policy - "For several decades, China’s breakneck development was seen positively in the United States, and the relatively enlightened authoritarianism of Deng Xiaoping and his successors was easily tolerated, especially by the American business community. But under Xi Jinping, China has evolved from a soft to a hard authoritarianism. Rather than a collegial group of uncharismatic technocrats constrained by retirement rules, there is now a president-for-life with a budding personality cult, overseeing thought control by digital means—including facial recognition and following the internet searches of its citizens. It is becoming rather creepy, and American leaders of both parties are increasingly repelled by it. This is also a regime that in recent years has been imprisoning up to a million ethnic Uighur Muslims in hard labor camps. The philosophical divide between the American and Chinese systems is becoming as great as the gap between American democracy and Soviet communism... What we really have to fear is not a rising China but a declining one. A China whose economy is slowing, on the heels of the creation of a sizable middle class with a whole new category of needs and demands, is a China that may experience more social and political tensions in the following decade. A theme of the late Harvard political scientist Samuel Huntington’s 1968 book, Political Order in Changing Societies, is that as states develop large middle classes, the greater the possibility is for political unrest. This will encourage China’s leadership to stoke nationalism even further as a means of social cohesion."

China’s Muslims Brace for Attacks – Foreign Policy - "“I’m a Hui person,” he said, referring to China’s largest Muslim minority group. “And among the community in China, they are very afraid that they will be next, after the Uighur. There are already ‘anti-halal’ groups attacking us and breaking the windows of our restaurants. What do you think will happen?” The news for the Hui, and other Chinese Muslims, isn’t good. In mid-December, several provinces removed their halal food standards, a move heralded by government officials as fighting a fictional pan-halal trend under which Muslim influence was supposedly spreading into secular life. That’s a severe contrast with previous government policies, which actively encouraged the development of the halal trade for export. This week, meanwhile, three prominent mosques were shut, sparking protests. Many mosques across the country have already been closed, or forced to remodel to a supposedly more Chinese style, and the Communist Party presence there has been strengthened, with pictures of Xi Jinping placed in prominent locations and the walls covered in Marxist slogans... Islam isn’t the only religion being targeted. Beijing demands state control and oversight of all faiths... Originally, the People’s Republic of China, like the Soviet Union from which it drew its model, envisaged itself as a multiethnic state. As with Russians in the Soviet state, though, Han Chinese massively dominated—but at least in official statements, Han chauvinism was condemned from the very top.Today, however, Han nationalism is openly on the rise, both among ordinary Chinese and in state policy. Minority language education, once guaranteed, has been vastly restrained; even for minorities largely viewed in a positive light, such as Koreans, the number of schools offering their own tongues has shrunk from dozens to a handful. State rhetoric increasingly pushes a purely ethnonationalist line."
So much for China apologists claiming only Uighers were targeted - because of their separatism

Saudi Arabia Declares War on America’s Muslim Congresswomen – Foreign Policy - "The midterm elections have amplified an existing suspicion in Middle Eastern media of Muslim political activism in the United States. Academics, media outlets, and commentators close to Persian Gulf governments have repeatedly accused Omar, Rashida Tlaib (another newly elected Muslim congresswoman), and Abdul El-Sayed (who made a failed bid to become governor of Michigan) of being secret members of the Muslim Brotherhood who are hostile to the governments of Saudi Arabia and the UAE."
Islamophobia?

Trump’s China Policy Is a Triumph – Foreign Policy - "U.S. President Donald Trump’s aggressive approach to China has been the most credible and consistent policy of an often-criticized White House. The president’s assertions of Chinese malfeasance in trade matters are undeniably true. Even CNN’s Fareed Zakaria, no fan of the president, has said, “Donald Trump is right: China is a trade cheat,” going on to praise the U.S. trade representative’s exhaustive report on China’s World Trade Organization noncompliance as a rare example of a quality document from this administration... The current trade policy has demonstrated its effectiveness, and it is undermining the Communist Party’s only source of legitimacy: ill-gotten economic growth. And on the U.S. side, it’s going to be easier to maintain than most people think... a recent European study by EconPol concludes, “A 25 percentage point increase in tariffs raises US consumer prices on all affected Chinese products by only 4.5% on average, while the producer price of Chinese firms declines by 20.5%.” And don’t forget that the entire 25 percent goes into the U.S. Treasury, feeding America’s economy, not China’s. If Chinese prices eventually do increase, the same system will force distributors and retailers to absorb the cost before consumers. Their suppliers are already moving to non-China sources... Knowing that China would quickly move to disguise its products in transshipments, the Trump team expertly renegotiated complex deals with South Korea, Mexico, and Canada in record time... If you are under any delusion that this time, the Chinese government will take a trade agreement with the West seriously, I encourage you to read Articles 33 through 41 of the Chinese Constitution, which reads like the U.S. Bill of Rights. This document specifically protects human rights, freedom of religious beliefs, freedom from illegal arrest, freedom from unreasonable search, freedom of speech, and the right to vote and protest. None of these things actually exist. Like the regime’s official name, the “People’s Republic,” rule of law in China has always been a lie the West agreed to accept. The Chinese Communist Party does not respect the rule of law—it respects strength and power."

Chicken Bones May Be the Legacy of Our Time - "Some experts say we are now in the era of the “Anthropocene,” a term used to describe humans’ unprecedented influence on the planet. When our civilization is long gone, the Earth will continue to bear the effects of the time we spent here—effects like nuclear isotopes in sedimentary rock, and the fossilized remains of plastic on the ocean floor and concrete on land. But perhaps more than anything else, according to a new study, the great legacy of our time will be chicken bones. Lots and lots of chicken bones. Writing in Royal Society Open Science, a team of researchers argues that the remains of domesticated chickens (Gallus gallus domesticus) will be a major and unique marker of our changing biosphere. For one thing, there are just so many of them... “In one study, increasing their slaughter age from five weeks to nine weeks resulted in a sevenfold increase in mortality rate,” the study authors write. “The rapid growth of leg and breast muscle tissue leads to a relative decrease in the size of other organs such as the heart and lungs, which restricts their function and thus longevity. Changes in the centre of gravity of the body, reduced pelvic limb muscle mass and increased pectoral muscle mass cause poor locomotion and frequent lameness.”These chickens are, unsurprisingly, unlike any the world has seen before"

Chris Pratt Is "Problematic" Now. Guess Why. - "The listed problems (seriously):
1) he gave a cat away once
2) he hunts for food and raises food on his farm
3) he “mocked outrage culture”
4) he offended the hearing impaired by using “turn up the volume, don’t just read the subtitles” as a metaphor...
guys like Weinstein got away with being complete and absolute SCUMBAGS for DECADES.But you know… CHRIS FREAKING PRATT is what Hollywood considers “problematic.”

Men are more disadvantaged than women in the UK, US and most of Europe, scientists claim - "Researchers from the University of Missouri and University of Essex in the United Kingdom said previous ways of measuring inequality are ‘biased to highlight women’s issues’.Their Basic Index of Gender Inequality (BIGI) instead measures three factors: educational opportunities, healthy life expectancy and overall life satisfaction.The academics calculated scores for 134 nations and used the results to suggest men are more disadvantaged than women in 91 nations... the gravest disadvantage facing men was often heath, particularly in countries with high levels of alcohol consumption, which tends to lower men’s lifespan."
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