When you can't live without bananas

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Saturday, August 20, 2016

Red Lights and Red Lines (Sex Workers and Legalisation)

BBC World Service - The Documentary, Red Lights and Red Lines

"I'm less concerned about sex tourism into Germany because I don't really believe that most European men do have the means to travel all the way to Germany just for sex. My constituency is at the German-French border and you know very often rumour has it that here is a high level of French men asking for sexual services in my constituency. But at the end of the day, it's the commuters. We have 11,000 French who work in Germany, you know. Just in my constituency. And of course, you know, French men aren't different from German men. They seek for sex during lunch break and after office hours, before they go home to their family. So no. When it comes to Germany being a major sex tourism destination I'm not concerned at all...

Just as prostitution can mean very different things for people who sell sex, I think that prostitution can mean a very different thing also for people who buy it...

[On Sweden's criminalisation of buying sex] The consequences for sex workers are much more severe because the police just sits outside your apartment and arrest your clients. We have 3 different laws that make you lose your apartment if you sell sex in it... The police was really active on the street arresting a lot of clients. Suddenly, they had to be really rushed into making this judgment that you have to do to sense if a client is safe or not and before they used to negotiate with the clients before getting into the car. Now they have to get into the car first and then they will negotiate when the car is already moving.

And also small safety things like sex workers will have their safe spots where they tell their clients to drive and now the clients have more powers and say no I don't want to go there because the police will know about it.

Point your finger at a group of people and say they are all victims and if they say otherwise they don't know what's good for them. Then something happens in society... gives an alibi for discrimination against this group...

'The clients are the ones that are best well-placed to find trafficking victims. And they will definitely think twice before going to the police. Because that would also mean they go to the police and basically say: I'm an evil man who violates women. And I think you know if we are really serious about the problem of trafficking, first of all we have to recognise the diversity of people that are being trafficked. The assumption that selling sex itself is part of the abuse is making a lot of people that are being exploited totally invisible'...

'In New Zealand, which has a decriminalised system, sex workers are much more empowered to organise on a smaller scale among themselves to form informal cooperatives etc and work together for safety, which is something that is not possible in Europe at the moment.

Many of the laws that have been introduced in Europe, sex workers have not been part of the consultation process in terms of developing those laws and sex workers have to be at the front and centre of any action that governments take to change laws on sex work. And that unfortunately is not happening in Europe at the moment'"

Links - 20th August 2016

Judge makes alleged rape victim pay $37,000 fine - "The woman pressed charges but a judge gave the men a light fine for the alleged assault while ordering the alleged victim to pay the equivalent of US$27,000 (S$37,000). The judge - whose name was not disclosed - offered a nuanced argument for the surprise ruling. The judge ruled that during the act, the alleged victim had said no to the filming but not to sex. Therefore, the model's claim of rape, the court said, was false. So, she was fined accordingly... Under pressure, German lawmakers are now moving to change laws to state that verbal resistance - for example, simply saying no - can be enough to make a case for rape... "Of course, a woman needs to be protected by the law, even if she looks like a Barbie doll," said writer Svenja Flasspohler this week in the Suddeutsche Zeitung daily. But she added that there is a danger that "men are accused out of revenge... or regret for the consummated act"."

Outrage over diphtheria deaths in Malaysia - "Two children have died in Malaysia from diphtheria this month, apparently because their parents did not vaccinate them against the infectious disease, believing the jabs contained elements of pig DNA."

The Brexit ballot is amazingly simple. Why can’t US ballots look like this? - "This isn’t just an aesthetic issue. Confusing ballots in the US — a category that includes obscure wording and bad design — lead to tens of thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands, of votes being thrown out without being counted... A study of more than 1,200 state-level ballot questions that voters across the US were asked to approve between 1997 and 2007 found that, on average, they were written at a 17th-grade level — in other words, you’d need more than a four-year college degree in order to understand what you were being asked to vote on."
Addendum: Ironically, after this, the ballot was bashed for being too simple since it didn't provide clear direction (e.g. if people were okay with No Deal). You can't have everything, I guess

The evil app that sends Game of Thrones spoilers to your enemies - "If your enjoyment of a TV programme solely lies in the basics of its plot twists – and not its artistry as a whole – then you shouldn’t be watching in the first place. A weekly set of bulletpoints is all you need."

More than 50 taxi drivers attack Uber driver, tourist couple - "A female tourist was left injured after more than 50 taxi drivers struck the Uber car she was traveling in at KL Sentral yesterday. According to the China Press, the incident occurred on Monday morning when the Iranian couple, who had recently touched-down in Malaysia, were using the Uber service. More than 50 taxi drivers, who were “hiding” in KL Sentral, pounced on them as soon as they entered the Uber car. The couple, along with the Uber driver, were pulled out of the car before the suspects used rocks to break the car window."
Swindling people is the birthright of Malaysian taxi drivers

How Americans pretend to love ‘ethnic food’ - "We want "ethnic food" to be authentic, but we are almost never willing to pay for it... Despite complex ingredients and labor-intensive cooking methods that rival or even eclipse those associated with some of the most celebrated cuisines — think French, Spanish and Italian — we want our Indian food fast, and we want it cheap... take my mother's attitude toward wine. She's only had a few sips in her life, and each time she says the same thing, which is that it kind of tastes like rotten grapes... Here in the United States, when you buy "ethnic food," you're essentially buying it from people who learn to cook it on the fly, mostly men, who have often never cooked back home. What ends up happening is they hide technical deficiencies behind salt, butter, and fat... I would ask people to think about what they mean when they say they want something authentic. Because most likely, they mean authentic according to their limited exposure to a country or cuisine... More than 70 percent of the Indian restaurants in New York City, for instance, are not run by Indians. They are run by Bangladeshi and Pakistani restaurateurs... German food, for the longest time, was frowned upon. German beer halls, where families would get together, were looked at with great disdain. But over time, as Germans climbed up in the social ladder, that changed, as it did for Italian food, and many others... Migration of poor people from your country and your culture has to end before America accords you prestige"

What I learned from a male sex surrogate - "I had tried online dating; clearly any woman can get laid if she really wants to. I didn’t experience any intimacy. It was more like something I was proving to myself. I felt like I was constantly lying, pretending to be someone I’m not. A confident, experienced, sexy woman. She’s not me. I needed a fundamental change in my character or attitude. How much can people change? How much can I? I have no idea. So I started to consider SPT"

Jodie Foster tired of 'the woman thing': There's no 'big plot to keep women down' - "Jodie Foster said she’s tired of people oversimplifying the issue of gender equality in Hollywood, declaring that there isn’t some major plot in the industry “to keep women down.”"

Man is sent abusive texts after REFUSING to sleep with a woman on their first date - "A man received a barrage of abuse over texts after refusing to sleep with a woman during a date... The unnamed woman even goes so far as to suggest that her date had no right to turn down the opportunity to sleep with her, asking him whether he was gay and telling him no only means no when a woman says it"

Nearly 300,000 people walk between Malaysia, Singapore daily: Malaysian Immigration Dept - "An average of 295,731 people use the two land crossings between Malaysia and Singapore daily... "These two crossings are among the busiest in the world""

Is God a Spaghetti Monster? That's a Serious Legal Question - "“It is no more tenable to read the FSM Gospel as proselytizing for supernatural spaghetti,” the court said, “than to read Jonathan Swift’s ‘Modest Proposal’ as advocating cannibalism”"

The complex circumstances that defined your gender - "“There may be hints of brain differences in transgender people, but you’d expect that because their life experience is going to have been quite different,” says Eliot. “How long they have identified as the other gender; the way they talk; who they played with as children; what sort of jobs they’re involved in – all of these things could affect those same pathways in subtle ways. There is certainly no proof of the Lady Gaga hypothesis that I was ‘Born This Way’”... Unfortunately, we can’t ask babies whether they identify as boys or girls, and it’s difficult to scan their brains because they move about so much. Instead, scientists have focused on studying their behaviour. A major clue is the toys they prefer to play with. “Play behaviour shows a big sex difference – at least as large as the sex difference in height,” says Melissa Hines, director of the hormones and behaviour research lab at the University of Cambridge... while identical twins are more likely to both be transsexual than non-identical twins, there are plenty of exceptions... “Quite a number of children have gender identity questions at early ages, but only 10% of them or so will develop along the trajectory of transsexualism”"
If gender differences are only caused by socialisation, transsexuals are problematic

Polyamorous relationships may be the future of love - "Even today monogamy is the minority relationship style around the world. Cultural estimates suggest that as many as 83% of societies around the world allow polygamy... polyamorous people tend to maintain more friendships as they keep a wider social network. They are also less likely to cut off contact after a break-up.Monogamous couples on the other hand, often withdraw from their friends in the first, loved-up stages of their relationship... overall relationship satisfaction can be higher in poly relationships... “Research shows that most children are really happy growing up with lots of adults, in fact most kids love it,” Pallotta-Chiarolli says. They benefit from added support and time from any additional parental role within their family unit. “These children are more insightful and wise, and open to understanding diversity and many forms of religion and culture”... For polyamory to be protected by law it will first have to be considered an orientation in the way that homosexually is. If, legally speaking, it is seen as an orientation, then the reasoning goes that poly individuals would be protected by similar anti-discriminatory laws... That some people choose polyamory in order not to cheat on their partner brings to light a striking contradiction about monogamy in the west: adultery is rife"

The Dalai Lama says ‘too many’ refugees are going to Germany - ""Europe, for example Germany, cannot become an Arab country," he said with a laugh, according to AFP, which quoted from an interview the spiritual leader gave to Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, a German newspaper. "Germany is Germany. There are so many that in practice it becomes difficult."... "From a moral point of view, too, I think that the refugees should only be admitted temporarily," the Dalai Lama said."

Blood ketones are directly related to fatigue and perceived effort during exercise in overweight adults adhering to low-carbohydrate diets for weight loss: a pilot study.

Talking To Frank Cho, Man Of Outrage, About Attracting Women - "As a life-long liberal Democrat and advocate for free speech and equal rights, it fascinates me to see when ultra-liberals become ultra-conservatives where they see injustices everywhere and cease to see reason, and start oppressing people who they disagree with. Thanks to the social media, we have entered into a dangerous era of Salem witch trials where no one is safe. Everything is being attacked everywhere in this hypersensitive atmosphere: The movie Grease (Sexualizes teenagers), Road Runner cartoons (Violence against animals), Game of Thrones. (Promotes rape and injustices against women.) The list goes on...
BC: So you’re not bothered by all the personal attacks online?
CHO: Naw. I actually enjoyed them. It spotlights the hypocrisy, unrealistic views and the victim mentality of these people. In my case, these critics of mine like most extremists and religious types, advocate mind control and censorship. They simply want to control what other people can and can not see. It’s similar to what the Republican party does to the LGBT community. They bully and shame people into what they should like or don’t like. I’m simply fascinated by how these few critics came riding in on their high horse and tried to paint me into a monster. In their eyes, I went from an artist who writes and draws strong independent female characters to a morally bankrupt pervert overnight simply because I drew a comic book character for a fan that they found offensive. It’s scary if you think about how much power the social media have given to these fringe voices. The comic book market is a vast and bountiful table. There’s a place for everyone. One group, because they don’t like something, should not dictate what others can see and enjoy. That’s simply wrong. If they don’t like something, then don’t look at it or buy it. As matter of fact, they should take all that hateful energy and create comics they want to read and art they want to see. Again, there’s a room for everyone at the comic table."

Married Japanese man claims he has finally found love with a sex doll - "The trend for intimate relationships with silicone dolls, which cost up to £4000 has been rising across Asia with China reported to have seen an increase. The dolls, which are non inflatable, are sold under the name 'Dutch Wives', a Japanese term for a sex doll, and adverts in the media boast that anyone who buys one will never want a real girlfriend again"

No, Palestinian Terrorism Isn't a Response to 'Occupation' - "since the beginning of 1996, and certainly following the completion of the redeployment from Hebron in January 1997, 99% of the Palestinian population of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip has not lived under Israeli occupation. As the virulent anti-Israel and anti-Jewish media, school system and religious incitement can attest to, during these years, any presence of a foreign occupation has been virtually non-existent. This in turn means that the presentation of terrorism as a natural response to the so-called occupation is not only completely unfounded but the inverse of the truth. In the two-and-a-half years from the signing of the DOP to the fall of the Labor government in May 1996, 210 Israelis were murdered – nearly three times the average death toll of the previous 26 years, when only a small fraction of the fatalities had been caused by West Bank- and/or Gaza-originated attacks due to Israel's effective counterinsurgency measures, the low level of national consciousness among the Palestinians and the vast improvement in their standard of living under Israel's control. Moreover, nearly two thirds of the 1994-96 victims were murdered in Israeli territory inside the "Green Line" – nearly 10 times the average fatality toll in Israel in the preceding six violent years of the Palestinian uprising (intifada)."

Bananas safe after kidnapping - "Two people are facing charges after B1 and B2, two large soft toys, were taken from the ABC's Collinswood building on Sunday during a break-in."

Swiss coffee joint also plans to serve oral sex - "The java-and-jollies joint is called, aptly enough, the Fellatio Cafe. You can’t say there isn’t truth in advertising. For about $61 bucks, guys can order a steamy beverage and some oral sex from an on-call licensed sex worker who stops by the establishment to perform the service"

Navigating a global order lacking in clarity - "Europe as a community of values was intended to be a new kind of global power. There was to be a new and superior pan-European identity based on an ideal of universal rights and a generous social model. This was as much a delusion as the communist dream of creating a "new socialist man". Nationalism cannot be wished away. The instinct to define oneself by distinguishing like from the "other" is an intrinsic and primordial part of human nature. Any political project undertaken in defiance of human nature is bound to eventually fail. In this respect, the EU stands as a prime example of the futility and danger of letting mental frameworks, however appealing or noble, outrun reality... young Europeans have embraced the idea of Europe far more enthusiastically than their parents or grandparents, he argued. Who are these young Europeans, I asked. Are they all middle-class, white, employed, at least nominally Christian or secular? He changed the subject... the main beneficiary of the end of the Cold War was not the "West" but China. Freed of the constraints imposed by its de facto membership of the US-led anti-Soviet alliance which it accepted out of necessity, but still largely a free rider globally and so without onerous international responsibilities, China has since the 1990s been free to single-mindedly pursue its own interests."

Norway: Parents Against the State

BBC World Service - The Documentary, Norway: Parents Against the State

"Eric's daughter was removed from her family on an emergency care order. Barnevernet - that's the child protection service - said she was suffering serious psychological harm because her parents couldn't meet her emotional needs. What they said was that her mother was depressed and her father Eric was 'simple'. That's actually the word... odd for a 21st century professional to use, scribbled on a social worker's note that I've seen. I'd say that Eric is a shy, slightly innocent seeming man and he's plainly clever enough to speak pretty fluent English which, despite what you might think from this program isn't what Norwegians normally speak...

What seems shocking was that Eric was never clinically examined by any health professional. And no doctor or nurse at the public health clinic saw any symptoms of harm to his child. On the contrary... the baby was reported to be doing well...

We trust the state... We are in many ways naive. We think that our state is good...

[There are] international reports that Norway is the best country to live. And when I analyse cases, normally you have to first investigate, then you analyse, then you decide, and then you act. What is really shocking is that too often they do exactly the opposite. They act first. They pick up the child, take it out of the home, and then they investigate. And then they take the formal decisions. Performing like police, being critical. Looking for mistakes in order to support the view that your child cannot remain with you...

[On a spiritual] When he once played it among other non-religious songs to entertain the children at his daughter's school, he was told it wasn't acceptable in a secular institution. And the couple say that there were other hints that the school thought that they were dangerous Bible-thumbers. 'We think they have some prejudice towards our faith. They have this idea that we're punishing our kids because of our belief. Or that we believe that we have to punish our kid or something like that...

What has shocked me in Norway is hearing from many parents - not just aggrieved ones who got into trouble - that they're scared to seek advice from health of welfare workers because they think that any sign of uncertainty will be used against them"

When you have a moral panic over children...

Friday, August 19, 2016

Links - 19th August 2016

Turkey's Erdogan - No Muslim family should engage in birth control - "No Muslim family should engage in birth control or family planning, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Monday, calling again on pious Muslims to have more children... Women's groups and opposition politicians have criticised Erdogan, a devout Muslim for telling women how many children to have and dismissing the Western idea of gender equality. He has previously equated birth control with treason."

Russian guard service reverts to typewriters after NSA leaks - "Each typewriter creates a unique "handwriting", allowing its source to be traced"
The Singapore Civil Service needs to do this - not just cut off the internet

Coincidence? For Months Lena Dunham Knew 'Barry One' Was Under Suspicion - And Said Nothing - "What we do know is that Random House, Lena Dunham, and her legions of high-powered representatives knew that the memoir they were responsible for plucked an innocent family man out of obscurity and held him up to the world as Lena Dunham’s rapist — and they said nothing until the media piled on and a lawsuit loomed."

Watch what happened when food critics were unknowingly served McDonald's - "The pair visited the annual food convention in Houten in The Netherlands, where they asked unwitting gastronomic experts to taste samples of McDonald’s food and offer their opinions on this “new, organic alternative to fast food”. “Delicious”, “fresh”, “tasty” and ”firm” are just some of the adjective used by the food critics in a video posted on YouTube. "“It’s nice and firm, it has a good bite,” says one. Another adds: “It rolls around the tongue nicely; if it were wine I’d say it’s fine. The foodies were then cajoled into making a direct comparison with McDonald's. Asked how the “organic” fare shapes up in comparison to the fast food giant, one individual says: “It’s definitely a lot tastier than McDonald's, you can just tell this is a lot more pure.””

Why Leftists Make Kids Say 'F***' to Push Their Agenda - "The new YouTube video from these intellectual heavyweights features a series of increasingly annoying children screaming vulgarities about Trump. “Republicans use offensive words,” says one grinning, braces-wearing boy. “So here’s a few of our own: ‘F*** you racist f***!’” A young girl then appears, shouting, “When you say Mexican immigrants are rapists, murderers and drug dealers, you know it’s racist code for words like: spics, wetbacks and beaners.” One of the kids screams, “If you don’t like our Constitution and what it stands for, get the f*** out of my country!” This isn’t an uncommon tactic on the left: just last year, FCKH8.com released a YouTube video with a set of cursing brats screeching false slogans about feminism between bouts of f-word diarrhea. These princess-dressed drunken sailors caterwauled, “Women are paid 23 percent less than men for the exact same f***ing work…My aspirations in life should not be worrying about the shape of my ass.” It is necessary to note here that these children – all of them – are reading from either cue cards or teleprompters. There is nothing spontaneous about these videos; the children do not suffer from a rare form of Tourette’s Syndrome. Their parents used them to push their agenda, and the children, being children, complied... children are a tool to be utilized in the battle against traditional moral standards. That’s why the left is so blasé about using cursing children to push its agenda. Childhood innocence isn’t something to be protected – it’s something to be exploited"

The four policy reasons why I support Hillary Clinton in the Democratic Primary. - "I think Clinton’s policy agenda is superior to Sanders’s for four main reasons:
Clinton’s agenda pushes the boundaries of the possible, making measurable change more likely.
Clinton’s proposals do a far better job of confronting trade-offs and setting priorities.
Clinton’s policies are rooted in evidence and data, even when the more popular position might have been otherwise.
Clinton’s ideas are based on building and improving, ensuring that risks to the most vulnerable and disadvantaged are minimized.
Just as it isn’t enough for a policy to be merely better than the Republican alternative, it also isn’t necessarily the case that the furthest-left policy is the most progressive. Policy is the means to an end, not the end itself... as the President of the United States, always going for the moon shot has real opportunity costs.... The Sanders plan has the luxury of not prioritizing because he fails to acknowledge any real constraints."

Series of studies first to examine acupuncture's mechanisms of action - "In a series of studies at Georgetown University Medical Center (GUMC), researchers are demonstrating how acupuncture can significantly reduce the stress hormone response in an animal model of chronic stress."

The Real Reason College Tuition Costs So Much - NYTimes.com - "public investment in higher education in America is vastly larger today, in inflation-adjusted dollars, than it was during the supposed golden age of public funding in the 1960s. Such spending has increased at a much faster rate than government spending in general. For example, the military’s budget is about 1.8 times higher today than it was in 1960, while legislative appropriations to higher education are more than 10 times higher. In other words, far from being caused by funding cuts, the astonishing rise in college tuition correlates closely with a huge increase in public subsidies for higher education"

Phone scammers cheat elderly woman out of $100,000 - "Ways to protect yourself from scammers
•Ignore the calls. Scammers may use Caller ID spoofing technology to mask the actual phone number and display a different one. Calls that appear to be from a local number may not be so. If you receive a suspicious call from a local number, hang up, wait five minutes, then call the number back to check the validity of the request.
•Ignore instructions to remit or transfer money. No government agency will inform you to make a payment through a call, especially if it is to a third party's bank account."
Don't tell people to protect themselves against scammers. Tell scammers to stop scamming people`

Roads.sg - "Apparently one user tried submitting a video online to Traffic Police and got this reply. Government disconnecting themselves from the internet will bring the whole reporting system back to 10 years ago. Where we need to save any electronic data into flash drives or burn a VCD then drive down and physically hand it over."
Smart nation!

CAIR: Supporters of Gun Control Bill Are Anti-Muslim
Gun control is Islamophobic!

Singaporean police accused of abusing their powers - "Despite their past experiences, both Ms Teo and Mr Ngerng were surprised when the police announced their homes would be searched and their electronic devices seized. "Before I was brought home, I saw Soh Lung's lawyer at the waiting area and tried to speak to her to know my rights. When the police did not allow me to, I felt lost and did not know my rights and as such, gave up resisting," Mr Ngerng said. The police seized his laptop, hard drives, memory cards and mobile phone. No warrants were produced during the process. Apart from Ms Teo and Mr Ngerng, the editor and publisher of The Independent Singapore were also questioned. Their homes and offices were also searched, and their electronic devices seized. "These investigations have brought to light how much power the police have," said Kokila Annamalai, an organiser of a forum this month examining due process in Singapore. "They don't need a warrant to search property, seize communication devices, and confiscate data, as long as the alleged offence is arrestable. These are very strong measures, with strong potential to intimidate."... The matter of early access to legal counsel has stirred the normally reserved Law Society of Singapore. "The practical application of 'reasonable' is fraught with ambiguity. There is inherent elasticity in the idea," Thio Shen Yi, president of the Law Society, said at the beginning of the year. "We appreciate that we must balance the rights of the accused with the ability of the police to do their jobs effectively. On the other hand, an accused may be detained for days, or even weeks, without access to a lawyer. "We need to re-evaluate whether this is fair or desirable.""

Harbi - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia - "According to three different sources on Islamic law—Shaybani’s Siyar: The Islamic Law of Nations by Majid Khadduri, Al-Hidayah, and Ibn Rushd’s The Distinguished Jurist’s Primer—the word harbi means “enemy". Drawing from the Siyar, Khadduri defines harbi as “a person belonging to the territory of war, equivalent to an alien in modern terminology, but may be regarded as an enemy as well since he was also in a state of war with the Muslims.” In War and Peace in the Law of Islam, Khadduri writes: It follows that the existence of a dar al-Harb is ultimately outlawed under the Islamic jural order; that the dar al-Islam is permanently under jihad obligation until the dar al-Harb is reduced to non-existence; and that any community accepting certain disabilities must submit to Islamic rule and reside in the dar al-Islam or be bound as clients to the Muslim community. The universality of Islam, in its all-embracing creed, is imposed on the believers as a continuous process of warfare, psychological and political if not strictly military."

The Decline and Fall of the English Major - NYTimes.com - "They can assemble strings of jargon and generate clots of ventriloquistic syntax. They can meta-metastasize any thematic or ideological notion they happen upon. And they get good grades for doing just that. But as for writing clearly, simply, with attention and openness to their own thoughts and emotions and the world around them — no... A technical narrowness, the kind of specialization and theoretical emphasis you might find in a graduate course, has crept into the undergraduate curriculum. That narrowness sometimes reflects the tight focus of a professor’s research, but it can also reflect a persistent doubt about the humanistic enterprise. It often leaves undergraduates wondering, as I know from my conversations with them, just what they’ve been studying and why... One, the rush to make education pay off presupposes that only the most immediately applicable skills are worth acquiring (though that doesn’t explain the current popularity of political science). Two, the humanities often do a bad job of explaining why the humanities matter. And three, the humanities often do a bad job of teaching the humanities. You don’t have to choose only one of these explanations. All three apply."

Kit Siang sheds tears for Malaysia - "a state mufti could classify non-Muslims Malaysians as “kafir harbi” who could be slain. I further cry for Malaysia that the state mufti’s statement was made a day after the Islamic State (IS) released a new propaganda video where a Malaysian identified as Mohd Rafi Udin from Negri Sembilan warned that there would be “no peace” for police personnel in the Bukit Aman headquarters. He also urged IS supporters in Malaysia to employ whatever means necessary to kill non-believers - “Kill them wherever you meet them...if you have a car, hit them...Use your weapon and knives to stab them in the chest”. The state mufti’s statement has prompted the reaction, “IS is already in Malaysia”, among many Malaysians. My third cry for Malaysia is that the mufti’s statement was made as part of a high-level Umno/BN political conspiracy after the Sungai Besar and Kuala Kangsar by-elections to incite hatred and animosity among the diverse races and religions to accumulate political capital. It was spearheaded by the Umno propaganda mouthpiece, Utusan Malaysia, as if there is no rule of law in Malaysia and in utter contempt of six decades of nation-building efforts."

Meet 10 Britons who voted to leave the EU - "The present leaders have failed to address the have-nots, preferring to placate the haves. Visiting London in 2014 there were no signs of a recession. The city has alienated itself from the rest of England. It felt obscene. I have worked in mental health for 30 years. In that time I have observed that society is reflected in the people who access our services. The biggest issues are feeling connected, or rather disconnected, in society. The majority are probably the people who have the smallest voice, but who rely on others to advocate for them. How much energy and financial support is offered to EU nationals who are vulnerable, when our own are ignored? I haven’t seen any EU benefits to mental health at all. I’m struggling to understand what they’ve done."

Firm eyeing electric taxis woos drivers with fixed salary - "HDT Singapore Taxi, which intends to run a fleet of 100 made-in-China battery-operated cabs, could be the first to pay cabbies a salary. Besides the 140 or so owner-operated yellow-top cabs, the rest of Singapore's 28,000-plus taxis are owned by firms and rented out to cabbies. Rentals range from $100 a day for a Hyundai Sonata to $180 for a Mercedes-Benz E-class. Together with fuel, cabbies face overheads of $3,900 to $6,300 a month. The Straits Times understands that HDT - which is awaiting approval from the Land Transport Authority (LTA) to start its taxi business - is offering monthly salaries of between $1,800 and $3,800."

Pool bans all refugees after sex attack in Austria - "An Austrian swimming pool has temporarily banned all refugees after a 13-year-old girl was allegedly followed into a women’s changing room and sexually molested... It also follows a separate incident at a pool in Vienna late last year, where an asylum seeker from Iraq raped a 10-year-old boy in toilet. Twenty-year-old Amir A., who is married with a child of his own - told police at the time that it had been a "sexual emergency" when he attacked the schoolboy."

Univision exclusive on Omar Mateen’s secret gay life comes under fire - "the Los Angeles Times supplied additional data on the reliability of this man. “Investigators do not consider the man’s account credible, according to one senior law enforcement official with access to the investigation.” Titled “FBI investigators say they have found no evidence that Orlando shooter had gay lovers,” the Los Angeles Times article by Molly Hennessy-Fiske raises a number of questions about the media’s various accounts of Mateen’s social life"
If it sounds too good to be true (like UVA, Jackie and Rolling Stone)...

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Being Intolerant of Intolerance


"Was buying dinner in a food court and heard a commotion. Some old local chinese fogey apparently said something nasty about Indians. A middle-aged local chinese guy started yelling at him, repeatedly shouting "This is Singapore! You can go back to China!"

Then middle-aged guy shouts "Say sorry!" Old fogey shouts back "No!" Middle-aged guy starts shouting "This is Singapore!" again. Old fogey shouts "Fuck you!" Middle-aged guy got really enraged and shouted repeatedly "You don't fuck me ok! You don't fuck me ok!" and started to move forward to shove the old guy.

Was going to intervene if they were coming to blows but someone else stepped in to lead the middle-aged guy away.

I can't decide who's the bigger racist and idiot."

I guess this is called "intersectionality".

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

BBW Spam

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Links - 17th August 2016

Contempt of court law passed after seven-hour debate - ""I'll tell you when someone sitting in a coffeeshop discussing a case could be in contempt. If you catch hold of a witness, have a beer with him, and try and influence him or threaten him in the coffeeshop, that will be contempt. But if you sit with your friends and talk to them about a case, how do you think it impacts on any case?," asked Mr Shanmugam, urging MPs to "get real"."
If sitting with your friends and talking to them about a case isn't contempt of court, why is discussing it online?

Singapore group conducts social experiment on how privilege affects standing in society - "Not everyone starts on an equal footing in society, as 16 young Singaporeans find out in a social experiment that has been making its rounds on Facebook. Conducted by social enterprise Unsaid, the experiment shows how factors such as gender, race and economic background can affect a person's standing in society - even in Singapore... As the participant who ended up last, Ms Alisa Maya Ravindran hopes the experiment will spur more constructive discussions on the topic. "I hope that people will not take it as a negative thing to discuss privilege," said the 22-year-old undergraduate from the National University of Singapore."
The SJW rot is well and truly taking hold in Singapore
If you're a young Literature undergraduate and you're still the most "underprivileged", that suggests that the concept is warped

Scots have not shifted to Yes over Brexit. It's the UK, come what may. - "The referendum result turned essentially on two issues -- the oil price and the currency. The former has been pretty decisively dealt with by the market. The collapse in prices from nearly $110 a barrel -- the basis for the independence White Paper's optimistic assumptions about Scotland's wealth -- to around $40 has dealt a visible blow to oil revenues which have fallen from nearly £10bn a year to £130m. The latest issue of GERS (Government Expenditure and Revenue Scotland) later this month will reinforce that stark fact. The latter has been dealt an even more devastating blow. For Scotland to join the EU once the UK has left will mean accepting the acquis -- which includes the euro... The most recent GERS showed the difference between public spending in Scotland and taxes raised here as £15bn. Of course, some of that is borrowed, so say that the transfer is currently £10bn. That is a lot of spending to cut -- some 7% of GDP, which is the equivalent of what was lost in the Great Recession"

Italy proposal to jail vegans who impose diet on children - "Such parents, the draft bill claims, are imposing a diet "devoid of essential elements for [children's] healthy and balanced growth". It has been proposed by Elvira Savino of the centre-right Forza Italia party. It follows a number of high-profile Italian cases where malnourished children have been taken into care. In four cases over the last 18 months, malnourished children were hospitalised in Italy after being fed a vegan diet."

Here's the Quote That Sums Up China's Huge Problem of Cheating in Schools - ""We want fairness. There is no fairness if you do not let us cheat." This was the chant of an angry mob of more than 2,000 people that had gathered, oddly enough, to protest a strict crackdown on cheating during China's college entrance examination earlier this month in Zhongxiang, Hubei Province"
Some Americans were slamming an article about the problem of overseas students cheating in American colleges as racist, as ignoring the fact that there are Americans who cheat etc. That's like saying that poverty exists in the US as well as in Somalia, so you can't say Somalia has a serious poverty problem

Riot after Chinese teachers try to stop pupils cheating - "By late afternoon, the invigilators were trapped in a set of school offices, as groups of students pelted the windows with rocks. Outside, an angry mob of more than 2,000 people had gathered to vent its rage, smashing cars and chanting"

The students who feel they have the right to cheat - ""It is our democratic right!" a thin, addled-looking man named Pratap Singh once said to me as he stood, chai in hand, outside his university in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh. "Cheating is our birthright"... Then there's another class of student altogether, who are so well known locally - so renowned for their political links - invigilators dare not touch them. I've heard that these local thugs sometimes leave daggers on their desk in the exam hall. It's a sign to invigilators: "Leave me alone... or else"... When pro-cheating rallies were held in Uttar Pradesh in the early 1990s, the state's chief minister gave in to demands and repealed an anti-copying act - he actually allowed students to cheat."

Foreign Students Seen Cheating More Than Domestic Ones - WSJ - "A Wall Street Journal analysis of data from more than a dozen large U.S. public universities found that in the 2014-15 school year, the schools recorded 5.1 reports of alleged cheating for every 100 international students. They recorded one such report per 100 domestic students. Students from China were singled out by many faculty members interviewed... Faculty and domestic students interviewed said it appears that substantial numbers of international students either don’t comprehend or don’t accept U.S. standards of academic integrity."

Straight Dope Message Board - View Single Post - Where did all the celiacs come from all of a sudden? - "Groups that skew toward membership with higher education levels and, usually, a more "liberal" or "left-leaning" tendency (environmental groups, women's groups, advocacy groups, Democrat Party fundraisers, any group where the women far outnumber the men, etc.) tend to have a much higher percentage of members with "special" dietary needs, including gluten-free, all manner of allergies, vegans/vegetarians, lactose-intolerant, etc., while lesser-educated, more conservative types of groups and groups with more men than women tend to cheerfully eat whatever the hell we put in front of them."

Gluten-Free Water? A Fad Without a Grain of Sense - WSJ - "the fad speaks to a long-held American tendency to value foods based on what they lack, rather than on, say, their taste, seasonality or overall nutritional value. That mind-set took hold during the fat-free frenzy of the 1980s and ’90s. Over time, being bombarded by nutritional claims on labels has taught Americans to reduce foods to tallies, loading up on or avoiding grams of this or that specific nutrient or ingredient. Gluten is only today’s demon... In 2014 the consumer-insights firm Hartman Group asked 1,728 Americangrocery shoppers why they purchased gluten-free foods. The most common answer, given by 35%, was “no reason at all.”... Because gluten is what gives dough its elastic consistency, it’s also important to recognize that once gluten is removed from a product, it usually needs to be replaced with something else. That something else tends to be tapioca starch, potato starch, rice flour and added sugar, which when consumed lead to blood-sugar spikes that don’t do the body any favors. Scan the package of a toaster pastry from Glutino, one of the industry’s leading brands, and you’ll see an excruciatingly long list of ingredients with polysyllabic chemical names. Ironically, the gluten-free movement was originally started about a decade ago by people who wanted to eat fewer processed foods... The gluten hysteria is a reflection of something much deeper and more concerning: a lack of food literacy."

The Death Of Expertise - "I fear we are witnessing the “death of expertise”: a Google-fueled, Wikipedia-based, blog-sodden collapse of any division between professionals and laymen, students and teachers, knowers and wonderers – in other words, between those of any achievement in an area and those with none at all... One of the greatest teachers I ever had, James Schall, once wrote many years ago that “students have obligations to teachers,” including “trust, docility, effort, and thinking,” an assertion that would produce howls of outrage from the entitled generations roaming campuses today."

Brown student protesters complain homework is interfering with their activism - "David, who spent many hours helping to organize the demonstrations, claims he reached out to both Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) and his academic deans for support, but told theDaily Herald that the therapy and deans’ notes requesting extended deadlines on his assignments were little more than “bandages” for the stress of balancing his activism with existing obligations to school, work, and friends. Other students expressed similar frustration with the university’s expectation that they keep up with their schoolwork during the protests, saying that some professors refused to grant extensions on homework and tests... Liliana Sampedro, one of the students who compiled the diversity ultimatum, argued that refusal to grant such accommodations “has systemic effects on students of color,” who she said may sometimes feel obligated to prioritize their activist work over their studies."

This new app lets you donate to buskers using a cashless online service

It's All Your Fault: The DOT Renders Its Verdict on Toyota's Unintended-Acceleration Scare - "The DOT concluded that, other than a number of incidents caused by accelerators hanging up on incorrectly fitted floor mats, the accidents were caused by drivers depressing their accelerators when they intended to apply their brakes. “Pedal misapplication” was the DOT’s delicate terminology  for this phenomenon... In most cases, the driver reported that the sudden acceleration began immediately after the driver applied the brakes. DOT engineers determined that there was no mechanism by  which applying the brakes could initiate acceleration. Additionally, they conducted tests to determine that, at low speed using normal pedal effort, the brakes could easily hold a car stationary or bring one to a stop even with the engine racing. A field examination of 58 vehicles said to be involved in unintended-acceleration crashes revealed no evidence of  brake failure or throttle malfunction. Moreover, these Toyotas were equipped with simple event data recorders (EDRs, or “black boxes”), as about 85 percent of new cars are. Of the 39 vehicles that fit the unintended-acceleration pattern and had usable EDR data, none showed sustained, pre-crash braking taking place and 35 revealed high or increasing accelerator position. The reported high-speed incidents were far more rare. After examining the various cases, most of them turned out to be related to alcohol use or drivers’ medical problems: The EDRs showed no pre-impact braking or substantial acceleration, suggesting drivers who were unaware of impending crashes... Based on the DOT report, it seems clear that the Toyota sudden-acceleration scare has little more substance than the one that came before it [see below]. Ultimately, driver error was the culprit."

Refugees in Norway - "Europe has seen a large influx of refugees and migrants over a long period of time, and the number is increasing rapidly (OECD 2015). Media coverage has centred around the Syrian refugees, many of whom will be granted asylum following their arrival in the country they want to flee to. Germany and Sweden seem to be prepared to grant asylum to all of the war refugees from Syria who apply. By doing so, they are effectively disregarding the Dublin Regulation, which gives countries the right to return refugees to the first EU or EFTA country they arrived in. The Syrians, however, do not make up the majority of the influx to Europe. OECD (2015) shows that only 14 per cent of asylum seekers who arrived in the EU in the first quarter of 2014 and 2015 were from Syria... Employment levels among immigrants are lower than among non-immigrants, with 63 and 69 per cent respectively (Statistics Norway 2015b). As expected, labour immigrants have the highest employment rate, while refugees have the lowest (see figure 7). Employment among refugees has declined somewhat in recent years, partly due to the increase in the share of new arrivals, and partly because there have been an increasing number from countries with a low employment rate (see figure 8). Employment shows a clear improvement the longer an immigrant has lived in Norway, but as we see in Figure 8, there are few refugee countries (only Bosnia and Herzegovina) that achieve 60 per cent employment for both sexes... even among Somalis who have lived here for more than 10 years, employment is barely 50 per cent"

Norway Digs Deeper Into $860 Billion Fund Amid Refugee Costs - "Just three weeks after announcing it will dip into its massive $860 billion piggy bank for the first time, the Norwegian government is at it again. The government will use 209 billion kroner ($24 billion) of its oil revenue in its budget next year, up from the 207.8 billion it planned to spend in its initial proposal released Oct. 7. It’s also scaling back planned income tax cuts and a reduction to its wealth levy to cover 9.5 billion kroner in extra costs from an expected inflow of about 33,000 refugees next year... Tapping the fund comes at a time when the custodians of the fund, set up to safeguard wealth for future generations, warn that it also faces diminished returns amid record-low interest rates... The government also proposed tightening requirements and benefits for asylum seekers as it sees potential costs of 85 billion kroner over the next six years from the inflow."

Scandinavians Split Over Syrian Influx - The New York Times - "This has put Sweden and Norway on opposite sides of an emerging debate: whether advanced welfare states designed for small and homogeneous societies in the mid-20th century are capable of absorbing large numbers of non-European foreigners. In Sweden, a closely patrolled pro-immigration “consensus” has sustained extraordinarily liberal policies while placing a virtual taboo on questions about the social and economic costs. In Norway, a strong tradition of free speech and efficient administration has produced a hard-nosed approach about which refugees, and how many, to take in. The Norwegian Foreign Ministry has calculated that because of all the social, health, housing and welfare benefits mandated by the state, supporting a single refugee in Norway costs $125,000 — enough to support some 26 Syrians in Jordan... This is just the kind of blunt talk that is strictly avoided in Sweden. Take the comments of the incumbent prime minister, Fredrik Reinfeldt, a few weeks before last Sunday’s election. He asked voters to “open their hearts” to Syrian refugees, even though the escalating cost of supporting them would preclude further welfare benefits for Swedes. The comment caused an outcry — not because it seemed to favor refugees over Swedes, but simply for suggesting that refugee policy needed to be considered on economic grounds... “Sweden is very puzzling,” said Grete Brochmann, a leading Norwegian immigration scholar. The Swedes, she said, “are extremely liberal toward immigration, but they have a very authoritarian attitude toward debate about it. In Norway the idea is, open discussion is basically good. If there’s hostility, better to get it out.”"

Not Everyone was Pleased by Joseph Schooling's Olympic Gold

In view of the elation over Singapore's First Olympic Gold, here is a sobering counterpoint from the mouth of the inimitable Sangeetha Thanapal:

"I really don't give a fuck about the Chinese people or Eurasian people or whatever people with state, societal and monetary support in the Olympics.

She's the ONLY thing from Singapore who is worth anything to me the Olympics (sic) this year

‘Unbelievable’: Singapore rower Saiyidah Aisyah on historic Olympic qualification - Channel NewsAsia"

Some possible takeaways (some of which we already knew or suspected):

- She hates Chinese
- She hates Eurasian people (perhaps Schooling's type of Eurasian in particular, since he is of predominantly white and Chinese descent, so he "benefits" from both "Chinese privilege" and "White privilege", which makes him doubly evil)
- She hates people with state support (given that Schooling's parents sold their house to fund his training, I'm not sure how little state support an athlete would have to get to receive her imprimatur)
- She hates people with social support (i.e. who are popular)
- She hates people with monetary support (i.e. rich people)

Given that Saiyidah Aisyah Rafa'ee won the Sports Excellence Scholarship (spexScholarship)*, that her mother didn't sell her house and that Sangeetha proclaims that all non-Malays in Singapore are immigrants**, one suspects that Sangeetha's support of her might be due more to the former's being "first Malay Olympian since shuttler Zarinah Abdullah competed at the 1996 Atlanta Games" than to her supposedly lacking state support, or any of the other factors she gives.

* - As a non-Chinese Singaporean sports commentator comments, "Saiyidah also has state and monetary support. SSC covers her expenses, make-up pay, facilities, diet guidance and medical help. She gets everything"

Of course, she has since removed the post from public view, which we could (perhaps) take as a tacit mea culpa. But then, the lack of a retraction (to say nothing of an apology) suggests that there is neither remorse nor sorrow on her part.

Though, more than her, I am worried that (at least) 116 people liked the post.

** - Sangeetha on Malay indigeneity:

On this Singapore National Day: I think about all the Indian people who have been called slurs and who have had Chinese people move away from them on public transport. I think about all the dark skinned women made to feel ugly and worthless. I think about all the minorities who knew better than to aspire, for they knew they will never have access to half the opportunities Chinese people have.

I think about all the Malay children who weren't born because of this country's eugenecist policies. I think of all the Malay boys in NS who are discriminated everywhere they turn but still do their duty to their land. I think about how this is Malay land, but Malay people are treated as outsiders and told to go back to Malaysia if they talk about racism.

On this National Day, I affirm that this always was and always will be indigenous land- belonging to Malay people and other indigenous peoples of the Nusantara. I affirm that we are here on their sufferance, and the rest of us better start remembering this.

I am also grateful to be far away from the overly fawning and facetious expressions of nationalism from people who lack empathy on a normal day. I am happy to not be on the receiving end of false advertising telling me to be grateful to live in this multi-racial country.

And if this makes me unpatriotic, if this makes me anti-national, then I welcome this label, for it puts me in the same company as one of the greatest men this country ever knew.


"Anti-National", they said
Lo, here is the proof.
Is this truly so?
To destroy the colonialists
To oppose to the end the imperialists
To eliminate oppression
To liquidate injustice
... this be "Anti-National"
Yes, I am Anti National!
To entomb the system of
All injustice all servitude
And bury feudalism
... this be "Anti-National"
Yes, once again my declaration is
"yes" and it's true
I am Anti-National!


[Ed: This is "Poem from Prison" by Said Zahari, 1963]

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Making Cybersecurity Fun

OneKey has games (Memory/Spot the Difference/HatSweeper/Beat the Blackhats) themed around their 2FA (Two Factor Authentication) device

Links - 16th August 2016

Black Lives Matter UK blocks Heathrow Airport
The fact that Black Lives Matter has popped up in the UK proves that the movement is not about what it says it's about - protesting police killings of blacks

Teachers let pupils get LAP DANCES after teens claim she is a lecturer

Icelandic 'anti-incest' app aims to stop families getting too close

The amazing history of Egypt | Podcast | History Extra - "[On old Pharaohs] A key part of kingship was the ability to maintain a powerful, godlike public image through traditional rites, like running the sacred race. Although the idea of Pharaohs actually having to sprint. They also had to ritually spear crocodiles and hippos to show their prowess and surely run the sacred race...
Egypt because of its military weakness, it lost control of the gold mines in Nubia and so the Priest-Kings needed other sources of wealth. And they didn't have far to look. They decided to target the royal tombs in the Valley of the Kings as part of official policy. And this is the very letter sent by the Priest-King Piank... given the euphemistic title: Opener of the Gates of the Necropolis. Official Thief, really. And he was told in his letter to go and perform for me a task on which you've never before embarked. Uncover a tomb among the tombs of the ancestors. Kind of dressing up what was actually state-sanctioned tomb robbery... [On the Nubians invading] There are now more pyramids in the Sudan - Ancient Nubia - than there are in Egypt"

Writing history in the 21st century | Podcast | History Extra - "'The great historiographical development over the past 30 years really but it's really started quickening over the past 10 is the application of methodologies that people would not think twice about applying to any other ancient civilisation to the origins of Islam and the emergence of the Caliphate. And in that context a book called Death of a Prophet by Stephen J Shoemaker seems to me to stand out... his background is in the study of the Bible... he applies those methodologies to the early stories that are told about Muhammed, in almost all of which Muhammed is described as leading the invasion of the Holy Land, whereas according to Muslim tradition he is dead before that happens and he teases out what might be going on... he demonstrates how contingent our understanding of early Islam is. And the chasm that separates the traditions that are told by Muslims and have been for hundreds of years and what the most contemporary cutting edge perspectives of contemporary historiography can provide on that. And I think that for all kinds of obvious reasons it's simultaneously the most sensitive but also the most thrilling area of historical research'
'But that sounds almost like it's doing now what was done for the origins of Christianity in the middle of the 19th century'...
'If the Rhodes must fall campaign goes on to its logical conclusion, will we be pulling down statues of Winston Churchill the racist?... in 100 years time if racism becomes the key distinguishing factor for good vs evil in society, then maybe even though of course Churchill was instrumental in destroying a far worse racism, an actual exterminationist racism, nonetheless, it will be impossible to present him as a positive figure because of his racism... we equally might all be judged on why on earth we allowed children to use mobile phones'"

Tudor monarchs and a medieval civil war | Podcast | History Extra - "One rather enterprising ambassador actually bribed a laundress to report on the state of Her Majesty's sheets so that he could see whether she was functioning normally as a woman... just how many things Elizabeth added sugar to that astonished me. So not just chocolates and sweetmeats and such things. She actually sprinkled sugar over her salads... that's taking sweet tooth just that little bit too far"

A Family-Friendly Policy That’s Friendliest to Male Professors - NYTimes.com - "The underrepresentation of women among the senior ranks of scholars has led dozens of universities to adopt family-friendly employment policies. But a recent study of economists in the United States finds that some of these gender-neutral policies have had an unintended consequence: They have advanced the careers of male economists, often at women’s expense. Similar patterns probably hold in other disciplines, too. The central problem is that employment policies that are gender-neutral on paper may not be gender-neutral in effect. After all, most women receive parental benefits only after bearing the burden of pregnancy, childbirth, nursing, and often, a larger share of parenting responsibilities. Yet fathers usually receive the same benefits without bearing anything close to the same burden. Given this asymmetry, it’s little wonder some recently instituted benefits have given men an advantage."
Equality only leads to equal results if people are the same. Would feminists support a sexist, non-gender neutral policy to achieve their aims?

Office cake culture is 'danger to health' - "Prof Nigel Hunt, from the Faculty of Dental Surgery, at the Royal College of Surgeons, says "cake culture" is fuelling obesity and dental problems. At the organisation's annual dinner for dentists, he will say workplace temptation stops people losing weight. And staff should be rewarded with fruit, nuts or cheese instead."

Images of child nudity found in Michael Jackson s secret closet - "Dolls, arcade games, life-sized mannequins and a huge train set decorate the rooms, along with books that allegedly contained images of adult and child nudity. Inside Jackson’s secret closet, a framed portrait of Macaulay Culkin was found, signed by child actor saying: “Don’t leave me alone in the house”. Tables covered with remote-control cars, stuffed animals and dolls were also found inside the room... Several books seized by police showed partially dressed and naked children, teenagers and adults, but accompanying documentation categorised the items as non-pornographic."

Tom Bradbury - The most perfect thing I have ever seen just... - "White man sat in front of a mother and her son. Mother was wearing a niqab. After about 5 minutes of the mother talking to her son in another language the man, for whatever reason, feels the need to tell the woman "When you're in the UK you should really be speaking English." At which point, an old woman in front of him turns around and says, "She's in Wales. And she's speaking Welsh.""

Some Muslims upset with Big Box for organsing durian fest during fasting month - "Some Muslim customers are unhappy because the mall is having the durian fest during the fasting month of Ramadan. Big Box, tried to explain that was why they were having two sessions. But some Facebook users said that since the fast typically ends past 7pm, they will have very little time to eat the durians, and so it is not fair."
All lunch buffets should be cancelled during Ramadan!

Some questions about the Orlando massacre - "Those who claim that Christianity is just as homophobic as Islam should adduce data comparable to that above, remembering to survey all Christians, not just fundamentalist ones. And don’t forget the laws... all too often I’ve seen the very first reaction of Muslims is to worry that this will lead to their further demonization in America. That may well happen, and I’ll decry it if it does, but now is not the time to worry about your own image... her main reaction seems to be not sorrow for the deaths, but the worry that they will arouse hatred of her group... It seems hypocritical for organizations like CAIR—the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a group that’s been criticized for ties to Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood and other extremist groups, and whose main mission is to minimize every malfeasance committed by Muslims while completely exculpating the religion—to now claim they’re allied with gays, and astoudingly, claim that the cause of gays and of “marginalized” Muslims are one... “Hatred” is so much easier to say than “religiously based hatred,” though Americans didn’t have trouble with the latter when Kim Davis refused to give marriage licenses to gay couples! Everyone speaks as if Omar Mateen really hated gay people. And perhaps he did, but we have to recognize that hating individuals for their behavior differs from hating the West as a whole for its supposed licentiousness—a major factor in Islamic terrorism. Did the men who flew planes into the Pentagon and World Trade Center hate the people they killed? I doubt it."

China's rich prefer female bodyguards - "Female bodyguards are mostly paid twice more than their male counterparts, usually 300,000 yuan per year, because of their special strengths - more psychologically stable, trustworthy and less eye-catching."

Homophobia is now met with the same silence given to anti-Semitism - "Peter Tatchell, about the most consistent defender of universal values I know, is regularly branded an ‘Islamophobe‘ because he will not confine his criticism to reactionaries with white skins. The National Union of Students recently decided that gay men did not need special protection because they ‘no longer faced oppression’... Tell MAMA, an embattled and authentically liberal campaign against genuine anti-Muslim bigotry rather than phoney Islamophobia, recently tweeted the sad words of Martin Luther King after receiving another stab in the back:
In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.
Many could echo that sentiment. Liberal Muslims and ex-Muslims have turned round looking for the support of their ‘friends’ in the West only to find that they had urgent reasons to be elsewhere. As have Jews on the left."

Most animal sex acts not against Canada's bestiality law: court - "Canada's bestiality law only bans sexual acts that involve penetration, the country's Supreme Court ruled"

Australian Cornish pasty region concerned about protected ruling - "Organisers of the annual Cornish festival in South Australia said the ruling threatens their heritage and want an exemption. The festival is held in the state's Yorke Peninsula region, which was populated by Cornish miners who came to work in the region's copper mines. "The area is peppered with Cornish pasty bakeries and cafés and the festival, which has been held since 1973, claims to be the world's biggest. But the European Commission ruling, imposed last month, means that only pasties cooked in Cornwall according to the traditional recipe can be called Cornish pasties."

Could Me Before You Have Avoided Alienating the Disabled Community? - "Some members of the disabled community have condemned the book and film, accusing both of promoting the message that a disabled life is not worth living. The hashtag campaigns #MeBeforeEuthanasia and #MeBeforeAbleism cropped up, and messages like the one below have peppered Twitter for the past few weeks... Disabled activist Ellen Clifford—a member of Not Dead Yet, a group that opposes assisted suicide—told BuzzFeed News that the film indicates “disability is tragedy, and disabled people are better off dead. It comes from a dominant narrative carried by society and the mainstream media that says it is a terrible thing to be disabled.”
Some people imagine only religious people were upset, as if religion were the only source of evil in this world

The surprisingly simple way Utah solved chronic homelessness and saved millions - "Give homes to the homeless... the state saves $8,000 per homeless person in annual expenses. “We’ve saved millions on this,” Walker said, though the state hasn’t tallied the exact amount."

Who Is More Anti-Science? Republicans? Or Democrats? - "Do Republican’s deny science more often than Democrats? Turns out they don’t. But Republicans are more vulnerable because a hostile media is more likely to ask GOP candidates questions that potentially put them at odds with their base. Take childhood vaccines. No doubt there are people on the right who are fearful of them. But there are a whole slew of Hollywood liberals who believe that vaccines cause autismand they are very vocal about it. Or consider fluoridation of the water supply. This used to be a bugaboo of the right. But more recently it was liberal Portland, Oregon that nixed the idea... The big problem for Republicans is not what they believe. Their problem is that anti-Republican reporters are asking the questions... we are missing the most important science politicians have to deal with: economics. And the party that ignores economic science the most is the party of the left. Take the minimum wage law. Economists differ on whether they support the law. But there is one thing they do not differ on. No reputable economist thinks there is free lunch. If the minimum wage makes workers better off, someone must be worse off. If there is a benefit, there must be a cost."

Scott Walker refuses to discuss evolution: There is no good reason to ask the Wisconsin governor about human creation. - "Who cares if Scott Walker believes in evolution? Why, exactly, does it matter?... there’s no need to ask about evolution if what you want to know are a politician’s views on disease control. All you have to do is ask about disease control. And that goes for the constellation of science-based issues. Want to know what Walker thinks about climate change? Ask him. Want to know if he thinks the government should do more to protect natural environments? Ask him that, too... Views on evolution don’t actually tell you anything about how a politician will act or how he’ll approach science-based issues. Neither do they give any insight into public attitudes toward science... The best example of this is the anti-vaccine movement, where young, educated, and evolution-believing parents refuse vaccines for their children, despite the direct connection between evolutionary science and the making and development of vaccines. If you want an actual heuristic for whether a given person is going to support science-based policy, your best bet is to ask their party affiliation. If he is a Democrat, then regardless of his views on evolution, he is likely to support action on climate change or want to strengthen environmental protections. And if she is a Republican, the opposite is probably true."

All Hail Science! - "In Elf, Santa’s sleigh no longer relies on flying reindeer. Instead it converts “Christmas cheer” into jet power. That’s how some of these people talk about believing in science. If we don’t project our positive emotions towards it, it won’t take off. I am typing this on a plane from Detroit, Michigan — on Friday the 13th, no less. What happens if I suddenly stop saying in a hopeful whisper “I believe in you, science!” or if I take a deist bent and hold out the possibility that there’s something more than the material world out there? Will my plane suddenly plummet? Will gremlins slowly emerge from behind the seat in front of me, like Miley Cyrus climbing over a toilet-stall door?... Democrats are more likely to believe in paranormal activity. They’re also more likely to believe in reincarnation and astrology. I have personally known liberals who think crystals have healing powers who nonetheless believe that the internal combustion engine doesn’t actually rely on magical horse power."

Re: The Anti-Science Smear - "Why does the Left get to pick which issues are the benchmarks for “science”? Why can’t the measure of being pro-science be the question of heritability of intelligence? Or the existence of fetal pain? Or the distribution of cognitive abilities among the sexes at the extreme right tail of the bell curve? Or if that’s too upsetting, how about dividing the line between those who are pro- and anti-science along the lines of support for geoengineering? Or — coming soon — the role cosmic rays play in cloud formation? Why not make it about support for nuclear power? Or Yucca Mountain? Why not deride the idiots who oppose genetically modified crops, even when they might prevent blindness in children?"

Human Rights and Universality

BBC Radio 4 - Are Human Rights Really Universal?, Episode 1

"There are lots of claimed universalisms in this world. Religions, political creeds, ideas of the common good. Why should this one - the language of universal rights - be adhered to above all others?...

For anyone, any institution, any person to speak on behalf of humanity, how is that possible? Because that presumes that the human race is actually a political entity, which it is not... indeed it is an act of hubris, perhaps, to speak for the human race. Not even the United Nations which after all is an institution which represents nation-states, can speak on the behalf of it. So I think there is a fundamental impossibility there. Human rights in particular is the most prominent attempt of this attempt, an impossible attempt to speak on behalf of the human... Rights are by no means a universal idea. They're a political invention and some would say a Western one...

'There's always been Linguas Francas around the world. I think what happened was that as the Western world lost its primacy and was forced to cooperate with the rest of the world, the language that needed to be used for people to engage in moral debates expanded. It could no longer be based on the Bible or the Christian God because so much of the rest of the world rejected those ideas and so a new moral vocabulary emerged. A vocabulary is one that is basically derived from Western history, Western institutions and Western norms'...

'If you look at how Confucianism would think about self, I think that the liberal democratic assumption is really prioritising these individual rights and individual liberty. And these assumption that it's the primary role of the government to assure this kind of individual liberty... The Confucianism idea is that the self is only defined through your communal ties, your social attachment'...

'A really illuminating way to see human rights is as a kind of secular replacement for religion. At the same time as through science and other forms of criticism, the idea that both moral and social answers are given by God begins to decline, various other ideas and philosophies come to fill that gap... The modern human rights, post Second World War takes a lot of religious symbols and iconography but gives it a secular twist. So candles and barbed wire, prisoners of conscience, these are all religious ideas. And at the core of that is for me this idea of innocence. That the sort of innocent Christ figure is replaced by the innocent child'...

'It's surely a pivotal moment when the Universal Declaration of Human Rights appears and is called a Universal Declaration... The first article reads all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights and it is a statement of a metaphysical position - human beings matter in virtue of being humans. They have a status based on their high rank, which is what dignity means, which entitles them to protection. And so whatever else it is, it is clearly a controversial moral view that most human beings we know would've rejected for most of history'...

'Of course there are exceptions in application. We know for example that in times of warfare it is lawful to kill someone and the right to life not universal in the sense that it applies at all times and in all places. So you need to go through the minimum rights, the core rights, and ask yourself the question in what circumstances, if any, may they be abrogated. I don't think you can say that all human rights are universal. Some are more universal than others'...

'There is a temptation in the world of human rights to be like a cuckoo, travelling around from nest to nest of greatest hits of the past, picking those bits and turning them into human rights bits. Oh, there's Jesus's Sermon on the Mount, that's a bit of human rights. Oh, there's Mohammed, that's a bit of human rights. Oh, look at that guy out in Babylon, he's produced a constitution. I'll take that as the Rule of Law. So you have to be a little careful... what the language of human rights today reflects are commitments to democratic. governance, to the dignity of all and the rule of law, which are reflected in ancient cultures from ancient times, but which were not necessarily called human rights advances when they were made. The threads transcend the current language of human rights and that's what we should be looking for and those threads are universal threads. Searches for representativeness in government and searches for the notion that the State has to be bound by law. These are persistent threads across the world'

'Every powerful movement finds its precursors. Christianity later cast Judaism as Christianity waiting to happen. Communism looked for its own origins not just in the workers' movements and Karl Marx but back in Prophetic Judaism and its call for redistribution or Plato's communism. And the same is now happening today with the human rights movement, which seeks a usable past, seeks to see itself as not a contingent recent creation but almost as if all history were paving the road for it, which is just not the case. Human rights have become more and more plausible for more and more people but that doesn't mean they've always existed or always will...

'The language that you're using is too abstract. People with radically different views may be able to agree abstractly that human dignity or human wellbeing is a worthy goal, but they have such different notions of what that means that in practice they can't live with each other'

'Today, human rights and its order are quickly losing grasp of humanity itself as a category. Where you find a really fulsome sense of human solidarity and of humanity is outside this language of laws. It's in ecological movements, in concerns and activism over climate change, rising sea levels, water scarcity'

BBC Radio 4 - Are Human Rights Really Universal?, Episode 2

"There was trouble from the start.

First they had to contemplate the metaphysical meaning of being human. Was it some moral community? Or a rights-bearing individual? For individual rights, it was pointed out, are far from a universal idea to be found in all cultures. They're surely a Western one, borne out of the Enlightenment and its revolutions: the American Declaration of Independence, the French Revolution and the Rights of Man. The universalism of 1948 drew on this history, expanding the political community from citizens to the whole of humanity...

The voices of truly religious Islam was absent. The voice of Africa was absent in customary law and so on. And therefore when we seek to say that this is about a universal set of values, we actually didn't really dig deeply into the traditions of many of the peoples of the world...

The years of 1947, many countries have not yet been granted the right to self-determination. In fact, the United Nations of 1947-1948 is not very representative. We had only about 50+ countries...

Are human rights universal because their foundations are actually buried deep in all human cultures? Are they universal because they declare themselves to be natural and inalienable? Or is universalism itself a political guise? A kind of neo-colonial endeavour presented as moral right?

'The idea of calling it universal. It is a way of legitimising a particular discourse. In other words, it was called the Universal Declaration in the same way that the Friends called their Déclaration des droits de l'homme et du citoyen - The Rights of Man of Citizen. In order to create these things. So if you in a sense adopt a particular term, a particular predicate universal - all the rights of man and citizen when you are creating something in order to give it a certain legitimacy. A certain symbolic status and prestige'...

'Julian Huxley, who was the director of UNESCO at that time, sent out a series of letters to eminent personages around the world asking their opinion on human rights. One of these letters went to Mahatma Gandhi... here is the apostle of non-violence who writes back to Huxley denying importance of human rights, saying that a rights - though we might claim them to be unalienable are in fact the most alienable of all things. That they are owned by states and removed by states. Duties were the only things that human beings possessed inalienably. No one can take away from you your duty. Your right can be stripped from you very easily indeed. Gandhi was interested in the human being. And for him this was the chief reason for suspecting any doctrine such as that of human rights. He said that you cannot have rights without duties. It is on the basis of duty that human beings actually are their most heroic'

Human rights has been compared to a universal secular religion. Drawing on the iconography of candles, vigils and barbed wire. A spiritual, reforming mission, calling for the committed and devout. But it also has all the other universalisms of the world to contend with. Religious thought and religious law...

'Islamic State's articulated position is: the United Nations, Universal Declaration on Human Rights, are something that they simply reject. That the individual has no rights. That there are no human rights at all. So the idea that everyone has accepted minimum human rights for all is plainly not accurate. And we've seen across time and even today, there are communities that simply don't accept the idea of human rights, period'"
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