"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, April 11, 2019

Links - 11th April 2019 (1)

Opinion | Why Girls Beat Boys at School and Lose to Them at the Office - The New York Times - "From elementary school through college, girls are more disciplined about their schoolwork than boys; they study harder and get better grades. Girls consistently outperform boys academically. And yet, men nonetheless hold a staggering 95 percent of the top positions in the largest public companies.What if those same habits that propel girls to the top of their class — their hyper-conscientiousness about schoolwork — also hold them back in the work force?"
Or: how to commit the apex fallacy and ignore that men get more first class honours degrees than women

NYT Writer: Cancel Office Christmas Parties So Women Avoid Harassment

Some Words Defy Translation. Angela Merkel Showed Why. - The New York Times - "Speaking at a technology conference on Tuesday, Ms. Merkel, known as a staid, no-drama politician, told a self-deprecating anecdote about being widely mocked online five years ago after she described the internet as some mysterious expanse of “uncharted territory.”She chuckled at the memory of the digital blowback.“It generated quite a shitstorm,” she said, using the English term — because Germans, it turns out, do not have one of their own."

Microsoft Is Worth as Much as Apple. How Did That Happen? - The New York Times - "Microsoft has become a case study of how a once-dominant company can build on its strengths and avoid being a prisoner of its past. It has fully embraced cloud computing, abandoned an errant foray into smartphones and returned to its roots as mainly a supplier of technology to business customers... When Microsoft acquired Nokia’s mobile phone business in 2013, Mr. Ballmer hailed the move as a “bold step into the future.” Two years later, Mr. Nadella walked away from that future, taking a $7.6 billion charge, nearly the entire value of the purchase, and shedding 7,800 workers."
Bold business moves are only brilliant in retrospect

BBC Radio 4 - Moral Maze, The Morality of International Diplomacy - "The CIA apparently nicknamed Kim Jong Un the cute leader. Black humor of course, this is a tyrant who reportedly fed his uncle to a pack of dogs and blew one of his ministers to eternity from an anti aircraft gun. He runs North Korea as a nuclear armed slave state, where according to the World Food Program, four out of five people are undernourished. So much so the average adult is nearly six inches shorter than those in the south...
Usually the G7 passes without incident. Or in fact we know nothing about it. Kind of self serving club, get together, chat, declare what they're going to do us. You know, anything that comes along and disrupts that and turns international relations upside down can be welcomed, even in the form of Donald Trump… moralizing foreign policy over the last few years has generally lead to disaster. So I don't think Trump's the worst thing we face...
‘You're judging him by that because the way the media will generally present it. Look, Donald Trump can walk on water, and all of the articles and the responses will come out about what a lousy swimmer he is’...
‘For 500 days in office, he has reduced the food stamp recipients by 20 million, he has created the lowest unemployment rate for the black and Hispanics, that wages have gone up for the blacks and Hispanics. His policies to get rid of regulations have made it much easier-’"

BBC Radio 4 - Moral Maze, The Morality of Politics - "‘I don't think they have tried to see Brexit through. What I find astonishing is how distant the political class is from public opinion. 75% of MPs voted remain. The cabinet is now almost entirely remain. 95% of Labour MPs voted remain. In contrast with 52% of the public who voted Brexit. We, it's hard to, I can't remember any time in my life when the political establishment has been so astonishingly distant from ordinary people's opinions’"

BBC Radio 4 - From Our Own Correspondent Podcast, Why people join Boko Haram - "She made the disturbing discovery five years ago when working on a deradicalization program for the wives of jailed Boko Haram commanders. Far from being traumatized or suicidal, some regarded their days with the group as the first time they'd had any kind of female empowerment. They’d often be in command of a harem team of women themselves, sometimes hundreds of them and they'd learn how to use weapons as well... they felt the power that they never normally have in their own communities, where they usually get married at age 12, and where their husbands would then dictate their lives...
Dr. Hussain al Husseini... lifts the cover of his piano and begins to play, performing the Greek singer Yanni’s 1990 hit Reflections of Passion. The Shia cleric... when he posted a video online of himself performing in his religious attire earlier this year, he received a barrage of criticisms. Hussein al Husseini wears a black turban, indicating descent from the Prophet Mohammed. Some conservatives in Lebanon believe pious figures should not be playing music, especially modern songs…
‘I did this to say to people that religious men are normal people… a religious man can practise his hobbies normally. I wanted to show that Islam is not against any sophisticated art form’. He insists he received a lot of public support even from the people in his conservative part of town. But then he adds rather suddenly, now I basically don't have any friends because of the music problem. I don't have any friends left. He felt forced to leave his hausa, his Shi’ite seminary because of his colleagues’ disapproval. A divorcee, al Husseini used to provide for [his daughter] from his stipend, but he has now been without it for months... He is now looking for any chance to leave Lebanon...
Al Husseini no longer feels welcome in traditional religious circles. All the other houses and religious institutes said no, there was a problem with this man playing the piano and this and that...
This country is often brought up as a rare example of liberal tolerance in the Middle East and true, the signs are there, especially in the summer when much of the nation strips off and heads to the coast. Women show off their impressive plastic surgery at flashy beach clubs. Inland, millennials with elaborate ear piercings pile into bars and clubs until the small hours. The drinks of choice are whiskey, Lebanese beer and arak, a potent aniseed spirit. But conservative attitudes pervade. Bus drivers have been known to turn down the music that rattles through their rattling vehicles in Beirut's conservative southern suburbs which are controlled by Hezbollah. Music, especially the sort of loud pop songs that said drivers prefer is frowned upon. Even further south, residents of Sayda must head to off-licenses in surrounding villages. Alcohol is not sold in the Old City."

BBC Radio 4 - From Our Own Correspondent Podcast, France's Forgotten French - "[On the gilets jaunes] It's the kind of condescension and contempt in which they believe they're held by their enemies, the ruling class, the sophisticates of the capital. Because this is a conflict that like a lot of what's happening in modern day Europe is about big cities, the Metropole, and the rest - the periphery. The people who are protesting can't stand the fact that that the government in Paris is imposing attacks on diesel whose effects the people in Paris will never have to suffer because they don't drive very much and all to clean up the air quality, which is nice for Parisiens, because air quality there is bad, but which no one else cares so much about because outside of Paris, the air is fine. In other words, for them the people of the periphery are having to pay for the comfort and the conscience of the Parisian Metropolitan. I say periphery rather than the countryside because the social geography of France is so different from what is widely conceived by nostalgics. Watching the protests on television over the last week, I noticed the curious thing - in practically every shot of every place where there was a roadblock, there in the background was a big KFC sign. Kentucky Fried Chicken. The protests were in places where people who live outside the cities happened to go a lot, that is to the Lego style shopping districts, consisting of vast warehouse stores and cheap eateries that exist on the outskirts of all small towns across the country. You get there by car, of course, because there's nowhere to shop in your village. Not even to buy a baguette, just as you use your car and your wife uses hers and your children if they're grown up use theirs to get the 30 miles to work every day and back, it all adds up. And then along comes yet another tax...
One recent study showed that environmental pollution kills more people each year than die in wars"

BBC Radio 4 - From Our Own Correspondent Podcast, Thoughtcrime in Xinjiang - "Xinjiang is the target of the world's most comprehensive and sophisticated police state. One of the first things that strikes any visiting reporter are the ranks of cameras that watch people's every move every few meters. Many are fitted with facial recognition technology. DNA samples have been taken from the population en-masse. Mobile phones have to be unlocked and handed in at police checkpoints. At one of them I watched as officers plugged their scanners into the collected phones, searching them for legal content. The checking is constant anyway. Every Xinjiang resident has been forced to download an official spyware app. Failure to do so is an offence. All of this, the authorities say, helps combat the threat of Islamist terror. And the primary focus of the extreme surveillance are the Uighers. Big Brother is not just watching them, he is living with them too. A program called becoming kin has sent over a million Chinese government officials to stay for regular periods in Uigher homes. The officials monitor their adopted families for signs of devout religious behavior or other indicators of potential disloyalty to Chinese rule. A negative assessment can mean being sent to a reeducation camp... As our police minders made it impossible to speak to anybody openly, we later called phone numbers in the town at random. There are tens of thousands of people there now, one shopkeeper told us. They have some problems with their thoughts. It was Orwell’s 1984, of course, that popularized the term thoughtcrime… There are no dissenting voices left at all. Those who simply once studied or defended Uigher culture, university lecturers and prominent intellectuals, have been taken to the camps."

BBC Radio 4 - From Our Own Correspondent Podcast, Off Target - "There are signs that people are starting to challenge the idea of Nelson Mandela's Rainbow Nation built above all on forgiveness. I was planning to attend a book festival this weekend, a big up and coming event in Soweto, the old black township on the outskirts of Johannesburg. But when I found the organizer, there was an awkward pause on the line. The festival is for black people. Oh. Only black people. Yes, that includes journalists. On the festival’s Facebook page, that policy had plenty of supportive comments, the assertive voices of a new generation of black South Africans who are looking around 24 years after the end of racial apartheid and asking some uncomfortable, important questions. We may have political power people say but the white minority still controls the economy. Black people have been patient, stuck to Mandela's mantra of reconciliation. But it's not enough. Not anymore. This week, that same mix of frustration and radicalism bubbled up in Parliament too. Amid much singing and cheering, MPs from the governing ANC pushed ahead with plans to change the constitution so that it explicitly authorizes the government to seize white owned land without paying any compensation. You can probably guess what the critics are saying. That a failing government is looking for scapegoats, distracting attention from its own mistakes by playing the race card. That the real problem is a stagnant economy and record unemployment. That South Africa is in danger of following Venezuela and Zimbabwe down a steep populist path that leads to ruin. There’s some truth in all of that, but the bigger truth is that public frustration is growing...
Malema has denied any wrongdoing [for corruption]. But as usual, he's gone a lot further than that. Blaming Indians, blaming whites, blaming racist journalists. Wallowing in violent language, sending EFF activists to physically attack businesses... his party is expected to double its share of the vote next year...
[On Paris] Amidst the information overload and political infighting, another campaign is being waged in support of the rats’ right to life. An online petition has garnered 26,000 backers and counting and recently pastel colored posters on the metro proclaimed: Rats are not our enemies, and featured cute photos of cuddly rodents, their delicate front claws clutching little signs, promising free kisses. Back where I live, someone on a neighboring boulevard took the law into their own hands the other day with a liberal scattering of now-illegal old fashioned rat poison. Several dogs were casualties. Two died, whereas the rats, now largely immune, survived"
This just shows that claiming that it's only politicians playing the race card and most people want to live in harmony is dishonest
More evidence of the slippery slope - in another age without animal rights no one would've defended rats


Black South African Andile Mngxitama politician says 'kill whites' - "The leader of a South African political party has called for the killing of white women and children in a row over the taxi industry.Andile Mngxitama, president of Black First Land First (BLF), was speaking at a rally on the weekend in Potchefstroom near Johannesburg when he made the violent comments.He tells the cheering crowd: 'For each one person that is being killed by the taxi industry, we will kill five white people.'For every one black person we will kill five white people... 'We'll kill their children, we'll kill their women, we'll kill their dogs, we'll kill their cats, we'll kill anything.'"

BBC Radio 4 - From Our Own Correspondent Podcast, #SaveRahaf: Last night a retweet saved my life - "[On Tanzania] As we walked the local village we stopped to watch men making fishing nets out of charity donated curtains which are meant to keep mosquitoes out and malaria at bay."

A prison where the inmates have to go and find jobs - "he was lonely, her family had left her. Their neighbours wanted to set them up and arrange their marriage, so she wouldn't be a woman living alone, so he would have someone to take care of him, cook for him and make him rotis. "I can make my own rotis," he says. He married her because he fell for her. There's seemingly little out of the ordinary about their house, or their story. Except that Ramchand and Sugna are both convicted murderers and they live in prison.Their house is in Sanganer Open Prison, in Jaipur, the capital city of India's western state of Rajasthan. This prison has no bars or walls, no security guards at the gate, and prisoners are allowed - even encouraged - to go out into the city and work every day. This prison, which has been open since the 1950s, is home to 450 prisoners and is one of about 30 such institutions in the state of Rajasthan... When I ask them why they're in prison, many simply say, "302," referring to Section 302 in India's Penal Code which dictates the punishment for murder. They call the open prison "the farm," and gush about how easy it is to live here, how happy they are. To get to Sanganer, they all have to have served at least two-thirds of their sentences in closed prisons, and they say that compared to those places, this is freedom. In fact, the government in Rajasthan has had to evict prisoners who didn't want to leave. They had set up lives - stable jobs, schools for their children - in this neighbourhood, that they didn't want to give up at the end of their sentences."
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