"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, June 11, 2019

Links - 11th June 2019 (1)

Chinese man fails breathalyser on eating durian fruit - "He failed his breathalyser test, but was filmed by police protesting: "I've just eaten durian fruit!" A follow-up blood test proved that there was no alcohol in his system, putting the man in the clear... Pear Video showed a police officer being breathalysed after eating some of the stinky fruit, and confirmed that his alcohol level directly after eating durian was 36mg per 100ml. Three minutes after taking the test, police officer Yu Pengxiang was retested and the breathalyser showed a negative result.Pear Video subsequently warned users against eating the fruit while driving, along with other products that might show a positive result, including certain brands of mouthwash and lychee... This is not the first time that breathalysers have come under scrutiny for showing positive results for non-alcoholic products.In January, an Australian lorry driver went viral with a video showing that eating a hot cross bun could generate a positive reading."

Rain saves Prague witch-burning festival - "Burning witches is a popular tradition, especially among children, and it is of course always sad when they are disappointed... The Prague witch-burning festival is a symbol of getting rid of the cold weather, as the earth welcomes spring.The root of the ceremonial bonfire goes back to pagan times, and it is marked in many central and northern European countries.It is known as Walpurgisnacht in German-speaking countries after Saint Walpurga, who was celebrated by German Christians for fighting pests, rabies and witchcraft... The Czech capital provides the perfect setting for the witch-burning festival, given its history as a centre for black magic going back to Holy Roman Emperor Rudolf II, who invited Europe's leading practitioners of the occult to Renaissance Prague"

Women and Men in Sport Performance: The Gender Gap has not Evolved since 1983 - "A stabilization of the gender gap in world records is observed after 1983, at a mean difference of 10.0% ± 2.94 between men and women for all events. The gender gap ranges from 5.5% (800-m freestyle, swimming) to 18.8% (long jump). The mean gap is 10.7% for running performances, 17.5% for jumps, 8.9% for swimming races, 7.0% for speed skating and 8.7% in cycling. The top ten performers’ analysis reveals a similar gender gap trend with a stabilization in 1982 at 11.7%, despite the large growth in participation of women from eastern and western countries, that coincided with later- published evidence of state-institutionalized or individual doping. These results suggest that women will not run, jump, swim or ride as fast as men."

EXCLUSIVE: Website targeting black Americans appears to be elaborate Russian propaganda effort - "shortly after Facebook and Twitter had removed hundreds of accounts attributed to Russian operatives, a statement appeared on the White House’s petition site. Created by “F.B.,” the petition called to “[p]rotect the rights of minorities in Social Media,” complaining that “Facebook, Twitter and Instagram suppress the rights of African American minority by systematically censoring the black free speech [sic].” As evidence, the petition pointed to a handful of “African American pages” recently taken down, including the “Blacktivist” and “WilliamsandKalvin” accounts outed by CNN and The Daily Beast, respectively, for their ties to Russia.The petition, however, listed one other Facebook page taken down: “blackmattersus.mvmnt,” which the petition described as one “of the most popular public pages among the young African Americans.” An Internet archive search reveals that the page, which hasn’t been covered elsewhere, was known as “Black Matters US.”"

BBC Radio 4 - Best of Today, Can Labour and the Tories work together? - "‘Venezuela... has it not given you serious doubts about socialism ever working?’
‘No, not socialism. Because I think the mistakes that been made in Venezuela by the Maduro government in particular, have not been socialist at all. I think the mismanagement of their currency and at the same time not really following some of the lines that Chavez was introducing, which about diversifying the economy. I think has been caused a lot of the suffering. I have to say also, the application of sanctions by the US has been particularly, cause of particular hardship too, and you have to learn lessons from that.’"
Maybe it's not just Communism - true socialism has never been tried either

Venezuela Economic Collapse Has Lessons for America's Socialists - "Chavez’s so-called Bolivarian revolution took a peaceful, middle-income country and transformed it into a nightmare that puts the ruinous Soviet Union of the 1980s to shame... The Bolivarian revolution’s defenders often make excuses for the Chavez-Maduro regime by claiming that the country’s penury is the result of outside forces. For example, some argue that it was the fall in oil prices in late 2014 and 2015 that sunk the country. Venezuela is a petrostate — petroleum products constituted about 95 percent of the country’s exports in 2014, so the price decline was naturally a blow.But although lower oil prices undoubtedly made things harder for Venezuela, they can’t be the primary culprit in the collapse. Venezuela stopped releasing many of its economic numbers in 2014. But other petrostates — Saudi Arabia, Russia, Nigeria, Angola and Kuwait — saw their incomes stagnate or even fall after 2014, but they didn’t experience anything remotely like the devastation that has hit Venezuela. Nor did the country come under attack by capitalist powers. Under President Barack Obama, the U.S. did impose sanctions against a few of the country’s officials in 2015, and President George W. Bush refused to sell arms to Venezuela, but these weren’t broad sanctions that had the power to seriously affect the country’s economy. No reactionary armies or bombers devastated Venezuela’s cities; the country’s impoverishment is all of its own making. Venezuela’s critics can also be too sloppy. It’s easy to wave one’s hands and declare that socialism always fails. But Bolivia, another resource-dependent Latin American country, elected a socialist president, Evo Morales, in 2006. And Bolivia has been doing great. The country’s living standards, which had stagnated for 30 years, have grown rapidly and steadily since Morales took power. And at the same time, Bolivia has managed to reduce inequality dramatically... It’s hard to identify the exact policy mistakes that Chavez and Maduro made, but three failures loom large — macroeconomic mismanagement, nationalization of industry and interference in the state-owned oil company"

Venezuelan troops blockade bridge to stop aid from Colombia - "Venezuelan troops have barricaded a bridge on the country’s western border with Colombia in an apparent attempt to prevent the entry of humanitarian aid... Maduro has repeatedly denied his economically devastated country is facing a humanitarian crisis"
It's all the fault of the USA!

U.S. Navy Sends Hospital Ship To Colombia To Treat Venezuelan Migrants - "All told, medical personnel provided free treatment for nearly 5,000 patients (most of them on shore) and performed 116 surgeries for everything from cataracts to hernias to foot defects... "There were power outages in the operating room and no air conditioning," he said. "The clinic kept deteriorating. You can't live in Venezuela anymore.""
Proof of US interference in Venezuela's affairs. No wonder the country is in such a mess

Hugo Chavez in 2008: Venezuelan socialism won't become tyrannical like Russia - "Chavez vows that his path to socialism will avoid the mistakes made in Russia in the early 20th century, which he himself admits was socialism turned tyranny... Ten years after Chavez vowed not to make the same mistakes, Venezuela is a country where people are starving, millions are fleeing, opposition leaders wind up in military prisons, and roving death squads are sent to terrorize people to keep them from protesting the socialist party."

Rub and Tug May Get Canceled Following Scarlett Johansson's Exit - "The future of the Rub & Tug movie is in doubt. Scarlett Johansson had initially been cast to play Dante "Tex" Gill, a massage parlor owner who was a major part of the Pittsburgh crime scene in the 1970s and 80s. Gill's story is complex and seems like something that could have a lot of cinematic value. However, Gill was trans and identified as a man, whereas Johansson is a cisgender woman, which made her casting subject to a lot of criticism from those in the trans and larger LGBTQ community. The actress dropped out of playing Gill as a result of the backlash, but now the movie may not be happening at all."
Diversity and representation mean films don't get made in the end

The fight against clothes line bans - "There is a new protest movement sweeping the US and at its heart are two sticks and a piece of string.Upon the humble clothes line, a battle line has been drawn that embodies a uniquely American clash of ideas about class, liberty and the environment.Rules imposed by community associations and landlords forbid tens of millions of home owners to dry their washing outside because, they say, it's unsightly and even lowers property prices.But a number of clothes line rebels have risked legal action by disobeying these rules, saying it is the duty of Americans to reduce their carbon footprint and leave their energy-hungry tumble dryers idle... "If a buyer goes down a neighbourhood and they see clothes hanging on a line, they would question the lifestyle that they would be buying into, because it might suggest that person can't afford a dryer... A few associations in the UK also restrict line drying, and many British people would endorse the view that clothes flapping in the wind can look unsightly. But it doesn't have the same stigma in the UK, where only 45% of households own a tumble dryer, compared with 79% in the US.For many Americans, clothes lines are an unwanted reminder of a more frugal age... Many people are attracted by the these communities because of the rules governing how they look, he says, and in the same way that many residents don't want to open their curtains - front or back - to see rubbish or an abandoned car, they might not want to see a bunch of laundry hanging on a clothesline either. The same rules prohibit statues, fountains and motor boats."

Why Conservatives Hate Warren's Loan-Debt Relief Plan - "When the Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren put forth a sweeping plan to cancel student debt last week, she also exposed the deep divide between how liberals and conservatives think—and, inadvertently, why liberals often have so much trouble getting their ideas enacted into law.Under the plan that Warren announced, about 42 million Americans would have up to $50,000 in outstanding debts canceled... There is more than one way to decide who is deserving of what.One is by need: Some people have more than they need, and others need more than they have... Still, there are other ways of judging what’s fair. Conservatives tend to value equity, or proportionality, and they see unfairness when people are asked to contribute more than they should expect to receive in return, or when people receive more than they contribute. Consider a hypothetical comparison of two people who graduated from college five years ago with equal amounts of debt. Jessie successfully implemented a plan to pay off the debt in five years, while Sam still has much to repay. Warren’s plan forgives Sam’s debt, but offers nothing to Jessie, despite her industriousness and self-discipline. To add insult to injury, Jessie must contribute tax dollars to the $640 billion fund necessary to forgive outstanding loans, including Sam’s. Pundits on the left often argue, using survey data as evidence, that a majority of Americans hold liberal values. For example, a majority of Americans support specific programs, like Social Security and Medicare, that have been created and defended by Democratic politicians. However, although Social Security and Medicare are motivated by the need principle (they do much to prevent poverty among the elderly), they are also motivated by the equity principle (what people receive in retirement is related to what they contributed while working). In other words, widespread support for such programs does not demonstrate a majority preference for need-minded values.Liberal commentators’ failure to understand these dynamics was evident in the many condescending responses to the Tea Party cry “Keep your government hands off my Medicare!” To many liberals, this cry was a simultaneously hilarious and horrifying reminder of the Republicans’ ignorance: OMG, they don’t even realize Medicare is a government program! To me, it was a reminder that Medicare, funded by a payroll tax, is an equitable program, treated rightfully by working people—as in Aesop’s fable about the ant and the grasshopper—as the wintertime fruit of their summertime labor. This conservative version of fairness is wired deeply in the human brain, and liberals ignore it at their peril... American liberals looking fondly over their northern border often misunderstand why policies considered left-wing in the United States are so popular in Canada. Middle-class Canadians support their health-care system not because it’s good for the needy, but because it’s good for themselves. When they get angry about threats to their health-care system, it is because they take the threat personally—they are defending their own interests rather than those of some underprivileged stranger."

Stories that prove Marvel actors don’t shy away from challenges while making their films - "MCU actors are also prohibited from engaging in any stunts that are too dangerous... Some actors take pride in the fact that they do their own stunts, and don’t like the idea of sitting on the sidelines while someone else performs a stunt they feel they can do. Marvel doesn’t like to take chances though, because they might need the actor for future movies."

Who’s Your Daddy? - "Many efforts to trace male ancestry using DNA terminate at what geneticists delicately call a “non-paternity event.” According to Bennett Greenspan, whose company, Family Tree DNA, sponsors proj­ects that attempt to link different families to common ancestors, “Any project that has more than 20 or 30 people in it is likely to have an oops in it.”... The problem would not loom so large if non-paternity were rare. But it isn’t. When geneticists do large-scale studies of populations, they sometimes can’t help but learn about the paternity of the research subjects. They rarely publish their findings, but the numbers are common knowledge within the genetics community. In graduate school, genetics students typically are taught that 5 to 15 percent of the men on birth certificates are not the biological fathers of their children. In other words, as many as one of every seven men who proudly carry their newborn children out of a hospital could be a cuckold. Non-paternity rates appear to be substantially lower in some populations. The Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation, which is based in Salt Lake City, now has a genetic and genealogical database covering almost 100,000 volunteers, with an overrepresentation of people interested in genealogy. The non-paternity rate for a representative sample of its father-son pairs is less than 2 percent. But other reputed non-paternity rates are higher than the canonical numbers. One unpublished study of blood groups in a town in southeastern England indicated that 30 percent of the town’s husbands could not have been the biological fathers of their children... Genetic counselors have been struggling with the issue of non-paternity for years. When a child is born with a genetic disorder, the parents may go to a counselor to learn whether they should try to have more children. If tests reveal that the presumed father of the child is not the biological father, most counselors will tell only the mother. But a vocal minority insists that paternity should be known to all"

Once a Forbidden Tradition, Mummering in Newfoundland Is Alive and Well - "Mummering has its roots in European rituals, but over centuries, isolated Newfoundland developed its own unique variation. Mummers would conceal their faces, bodies, and voices before making the rounds of neighbors’ houses, where hosts tried to identify the increasingly drunken masked figures. On those same nights, a hobby horse, sometimes made from the bones of a real horse, would haunt the streets."
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