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Thursday, July 20, 2017

Links - 20th July 2017 (2)

It's Time For Congress To Privatize The Welfare State - "George Gilder and Charles Murray did pioneering work showing that the welfare state was not benignly helping people in temporary need. It was subsidizing a lifestyle. With the passage of time the case for that position has gotten stronger and stronger... University of Chicago economist Casey Mulligan estimates that half the excess unemployment we are experiencing can be directly tied to the incentive effects of entitlement programs. In other words, half the people who should have a job don't have one because we are paying people not to work."
People respond to incentives

From Hock Lam’s Beef Noodles to Funan’s Computers - "The Hainanese styled beef noodles are typically served dry with beef tendons and beef balls. Two pioneering Hainanese beef noodle hawkers Lee Suan Liang and Kian Teck Huan were credited in popularising the dish before the war. On the other hand, the Teochew beef noodles are generally soup-based, topped with slices of beef and innards. Tan Chin Sia was one of Singapore’s earliest beef noodle hawkers when he set up his stall at Hock Lam Street in 1921."

Actually, epistocracy might have helped Clinton defeat Trump - "various epistocracy proposals likely would have helped Clinton over Trump. But such proposals would have especially helped Romney over Obama. (In fact, before anyone on the left gets too mouthy about the average political knowledge of Trump voters, they should note that the 2016 ANES data suggest that Trump voters were at least as knowledgeable on average as Obama voters.) And it’s entirely more difficult to say what the implications would have been for a contest pitting President Romney against challenger Clinton in 2016, though the ANES sample suggests that epistocracy proposals would have perhaps given a small boost to Romney."

Mary Ellen Wilson - Wikipedia - "Laws preventing cruelty to animals were used to remove her from the home, as laws preventing cruelty to children were yet to be created then. Hers was the first recorded child abuse case in the United States"

How the Times failed you - "After concluding that the best thing about America is its “diversity” (i.e. the fact that it no longer practices genocide on its minority residents), Krugman would return to the patriotism theme in October, asking: “why does the modern right hate America?” (During the Bush years, Krugman would have been the first to point out the juvenility and repulsiveness of the “X hates America” formulation.)"

Taking a nap in the house of God - "For men, however, prayer houses have long served in Indonesian Islam not only as the places of worship but also as places for taking a rest. They are typically spacious and their floors are regularly cleaned. The temperature in mosques and other prayer houses is also usually pleasant, thanks to the high ceilings and the natural or mechanical wind that blows from outside or from fans and air conditioners. Add thick carpets, and they offer a free and comfortable space to lie down and relax for a short while after prayers."

Justin Bieber Linux

Gaunt and weak, the sham diet guru who refuses to see the light - "Jasmuheen, who is about to tour Britain, recently agreed to be closeted in a hotel room by an Australian current affairs programme, 60 Minutes. She was watched day and night by a female security guard to ensure she took neither food nor water, and her medical condition was checked regularly by Berris Wenck, a doctor who is president of the Queensland branch of the Australian Medical Association. Deprived of conventional sustenance, Jasmuheen, 42, became dehydrated and lost weight. Her speech slowed, her pupils dilated, she appeared listless and gaunt... To have seen this self-styled prophet of the Breatharian Movement, as it is known, exposed as a mere mortal on national television might have been considered entertainment, were it not for the fact that the deaths of three people have been linked to her theories - and that thousands more deluded disciples around the world are putting those same theories into practice... Jasmuheen claimed on 60 Minutes that the dice were loaded against her during the trial because city pollution from the road outside the hotel limited the nutrients that she was able to derive from fresh air. Two days into the fast, producers moved her to a mountain retreat, but 48 hours later Dr Wenck warned that Jasmuheen faced kidney damage if she persisted... An American Breatharian guru, Wiley Brooks, who claimed not to have eaten for 19 years, was discredited in the 1980s after he was spotted emerging from a fast food shop clutching a chicken pie."

The Feminist Leader Who Became a Men's-Rights Activist - "[Karen DeCrow] endorsed Serpico’s argument on feminist grounds. “Just as the Supreme Court has said that women have the right to choose whether or not to be parents, men should also have that right,” she told The New York Times, calling this “the only logical feminist position to take.”... Quite a few feminists disagreed... she wrote that since men have no legal power to either veto or compel an abortion, it is only just that they shouldn’t have to pay for a woman’s unilateral decision to bring the pregnancy to term: “Or, put another way, autonomous women making independent decisions about their lives should not expect men to finance their choice.” DeCrow also championed men’s rights as fathers, arguing for a “rebuttable presumption” of shared custody after divorce... DeCrow framed her position as a feminist one, arguing that getting men more involved in parenting was essential if women were to achieve equality in other pursuits... Plenty of feminists have endorsed this idea when it comes to things like equal parental leave or shared responsibility for housework and child care; Gloria Steinem has said that “women are not going to be equal outside the home until men are equal in it.” But few were willing to take the extra step of framing custody in terms of men’s rights, or siding with men against women who wanted sole custody. DeCrow was willing to do it, and to say that many divorced mothers whose professional lives would benefit from shared custody were unreasonably opposed to this option—not only because of the social stigma of being viewed as “bad moms” but out of sheer hostility toward their ex-husbands... she applauded Katie Roiphe’s critique of “rape-crisis feminism,” The Morning After, as a courageous challenge to a “new puritanism” that depicted women as perpetual victims of male predation. Recalling the bad old days when girls were taught to deny both their brains and their sexuality, DeCrow was tangibly impatient with the idea that “being whistled at, or even slurped at” amounted to “oppression.” There were other heresies, too. DeCrow, who started her feminist journey by fighting sex discrimination in the workplace, contributed a foreword to Warren Farrell’s 2005 book, Why Men Earn More, which argued that the pay gap is due largely to men’s and women’s different workplace behavior and career choices; understanding these patterns, DeCrow believed, could help women’s advancement... NOW was openly hostile to the fathers’-rights movement, arguing that women were the real victims of bias in family courts. An “action alert” issued at the group’s 1996 annual conference compared fathers’-rights activists to batterers seeking control over women; a resolution three years later made it NOW’s official policy to champion women’s interests in divorce and custody cases and counter the “undue influence” of fathers’ group"
"Not all feminists" doesn't mean much when only a minority follow through on their supposed ideals
You either die a feminist or live long enough to see yourself become a bigot (see: Germaine Greer)

Swordfight after man robs shop with sword but shopkeeper pulls out huge scimitar

Becoming an expert takes more than practice - "Deliberate practice may have less influence in building expertise than previously thought, according to an analysis by researchers at Princeton University, Michigan State University and Rice University... the amount of practice accumulated over time does not seem to play a huge role in accounting for individual differences in skill or performance in domains including music, games, sports, professions and education... deliberate practice — activities designed with the goal of improving performance — accounted for only about 12 percent of individual differences observed in performance."
More evidence against Malcolm Gladwell's rubbish 10,000 hour rule

1 in 3 Singaporeans suffer from sleep apnea: Study - ""Interestingly, the study showed that the Chinese have high OSA rates among the three major ethnic groups even though they have the lowest obesity rates. This study, done in the local context, collaborates with previous studies performed in the West, which also found that Chinese appear to be more at risk,” Dr Tan noted. She added that craniofacial structure is one of the key determinants of predisposition to OSA, and the Chinese have been shown to have more severe craniofacial restriction as compared to Caucasians in previous studies"

Philippines only country in Asia where teen pregnancy rising - "The Philippines is the only Asia-Pacific country where the rate of teen pregnancies rose over the last two decades and the slow decline of its overall fertility rate may deprive the country of the faster economic growth expected in places that have more working-age people than younger and older dependents"

What’s causing Malaysia’s ethnic Chinese brain drain? - "“Every country has its own political and welfare issues, Australia included, but I feel that I get more rights as a second-class citizen here in Australia. My religion and ethnicity do not come into play.”... of the 56,576 Malaysians who renounced their citizenship between 2006 and 2016, 49,864 were Chinese... almost half of ethnic Chinese had a strong desire to leave Malaysia... “Malaysia is getting more backwards and religious,” she said, citing the persecution of transgender women by Islamic authorities, laws governing conversion and apostasy, and the recent tabling of a bill in parliament that would enable sharia courts to hand out harsher punishments. Ethnic Chinese in Malaysia have long complained of discrimination. Various politicians have exhorted the Chinese to “return to China”, pro-Malay groups have urged them to “be grateful”, and state-linked media have produced advertisements depicting the Chinese behaving inappropriately during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan. And, in 2013, when the last general election saw increased support for the opposition, one newspaper ran a headline asking apa lagi Cina mau (what more do the Chinese want?)... The number of Malaysian professionals overseas returning home has dropped by more than half since 2013"

Victoria Coren: My dad's memorial service was going so well. Then the ghouls turned up - "I could never prove that the members of this gang, whoever they were, had not met my father at some stage in his 70-year life. But I could damn well prove that they had never met Sir William, because I invented him. The broadsheet classifieds announced a memorial service "and drinks reception" for Sir William Ormerod on 14 August 2008... They would turn up to Sir William's service, they would sit through the Bible story of the thieves who beset the grieving family (which wouldn't take me long to write), and then the doors would be locked and they would be told, in front of 100 fake mourners, just how evil they were."

My-Ngoc To's answer to What are some top Harvard admissions essays? - Quora - "Sometimes, when I found myself too big for the current one, I was either unable to or unwilling to get another because of the implications behind the transition—if every new bra meant the death of another star, then the adult world was nothing to me but a lifetime of darkness. I tried so hard not to kill any more stars, but my resistance was not enough, and I found myself adding layer after layer to the ever-increasing pile of bras. With this mindset, I prepared myself for the end, for the moment in which my entire universe would be engulfed by the black hole forming in my closet."

irememberSG » Two is Enough: Salleh Sariman - "Kandang Kerbau Hospital was a hive of activity and I noticed the staff were under tremendous pressure to show declining birth-rate figures to their big bosses. During filming, whatever was said and done in front of the camera was carefully crafted — but what was being said behind the camera to mothers who were delivering their third child was totally unpleasant to hear... Those mothers who were considered ‘uncooperative’ were chided by doctors, nurses and hospital attendants. The stigma of having more than two children was so strong that many of my office colleagues and friends did stop at two... Our family doctor showed his displeasure when he knew my wife was conceiving our third child. So we stopped seeing him. Whenever we took our three children for an outing at public places, we did notice the disapproving look on people’s faces. Such was the effectiveness of this campaign in slowing down the growth of our population"
It is significant that even in 1972, 7 years after independence, social engineering was already so powerful. Suggesting that Singaporeans only became after decades of PAP rule are misleading

Men who are physically strong are more likely to have right wing political views - "Men who are strong are more likely to take a right-wing stance, while weaker men support the welfare state, researchers claim. Their study discovered a link between a man’s upper-body strength and their political views... The researchers found no link between upper-body strength and redistribution opinions among women"

Indonesian police arrest 141 men over 'gay sex party' - "Indonesian police have arrested 141 men attending what they called a "gay sex party" at a sauna in the capital Jakarta late on Sunday. Police said attendees, including a Briton and a Singaporean, paid 185,000 rupiahs ($14; £10) to attend... Homosexuality is not illegal under Indonesian law, except in conservative Aceh province. But Jakarta police spokesman Raden Argo Yuwono said some of those detained could be charged under Indonesia's harsh anti-pornography laws... Earlier this month, Indonesian police arrested 14 people in the city of Surabaya for allegedly holding a gay party. They could also face charges under anti-pornography laws."
These aren't even Aceh so people can't make that excuse
The homophiles will still make noise about 377A in Singapore
Where is Reza Aslan?

The Smart Are MORE Biased To Think They Are LESS Biased - "we examined bias blind spots connected to some of the most well-known effects from the heuristics and biases literature: outcome bias, base-rate neglect, framing bias, conjunction fallacy, anchoring bias, and myside bias. We found that none of these bias blind spot effects displayed a negative correlation with measures of cognitive ability (SAT total, CRT) or with measures of thinking dispositions (need for cognition, actively open-minded thinking). If anything, the correlations went in the other direction."

Evie is an affordable AI personal assistant - "It works as advertised. Include her in your email thread, and say something like “Hey Evie, please schedule a Skype call with John and Amy.”"

Why I turned down $500K, Pissed off my investors, and Shut down my startup - "The business had what I considered to be an unfixable flaw. My investors and my team wanted us to take the funding and figure out how to fix the problem before the money ran out. I’ve started four companies in the past with a mixture of exits and bankruptcies, so I understand that this is what startups are supposed to do, but I just couldn’t do it this time."

PA and Fatah quick to honor murderer who killed 13-year-old girl in her sleep - "Fatah’s official Facebook page immediately posted his picture, declaring him a Martyr - “Shahid,” the highest honor achievable in Islam according to the Palestinian Authority. WAFA, the official PA news agency, likewise honored the terrorist, referring to him as a Martyr - “Shahid.” According to Palestinian Authority law, the family of today’s murderer will immediately start receiving a monthly PA stipend that the PA pays to the families of all the “Martyrs.” The mother of the terrorist told a local Hebron news network that her son was “a hero” who made her “proud”"

No, Palestinian Terrorism Isn't a Response to 'Occupation' - "If occupation was indeed the cause of terrorism, why was terrorism sparse during the years of actual occupation? Why did it increase dramatically with the prospect of the end of the occupation, and why did it escalate into open war upon Israel's most far-reaching concessions ever? To the contrary, one might argue with far greater plausibility that the absence of occupation – that is, the withdrawal of close Israeli surveillance – is precisely what facilitated the launching of the terrorist war in the first place; just as it was the partial restoration of security measures in the West Bank during the 2002 Operation Defensive Shield and its aftermath (albeit without reassuming control over the daily lives of the Palestinian population there) that brought the Palestinian war of terror to an end."

Video Game Violence and Pseudoscience: Bad Science, Fear, and Politics - "Hall, Day and Hall (2011) warned that the scholarly community risked a credibility crisis by making increasingly extravagant claims about the alleged dangers of violent video games, much as the alleged dangers of “immoral” comics purported by psychiatrists in the 1950s are now generally considered a cautionary tale about moralistic excess in science... some of the serious methodological issues that have limited much video game violence research. These have included aggression measures that bear little resemblance to the types of behaviors of interest to the general public (for example filling in the missing letters of words such that kill is more aggressive than kiss, or giving consenting opponents in a reaction time game bursts of annoying noise), the unstandardized use of aggression measures (which potentially allow researchers, even in good faith, to select outcomes that best fit their hypotheses while ignoring those that don’t), and the failure to control carefully for variables such as gender and family violence that might explain correlational relationships between video game violence and aggression (or failure to inform general audiences that controlling for these other variables reduces correlations to trivial levels). Unfortunately, to a great degree, these problematic issues persist in the field. The field continues to ignore the warnings of Hall, Day, and Hall (2011) by making big claims based on weak and inconsistent data"

When being Malay is no longer good enough - "Resentment and distrust against non-Malays’ economic advancement, and increasingly, of other Malays’ success... DAESH are their Muslim brothers and sisters. They have to… sort of support them, no? “Being Malay is equatable to being bad, lazy, corrupt. So the only (identity) we have is being a Muslim.”... Trust fund babies of Taman Tun Dr Ismail, working-class young Malays of Gombak, aspiring middle-class professionals in Bangi and not forgetting the youth we met in Kedah and Terenganu – they all said the same thing. They felt as if they were under siege. They have been told at school, in college and university, by their families and teachers that everyone hated them for being Malay"

The Nakba

"[A] contention is that most of the Israeli actions involving violence against Palestinian civilians were carried out by local commanders acting on their own initiative, and that there was consequently no grand Zionist design for the expulsion of Palestine's Arabs. This claim is at least partially supported by recent research, moreover, most notably by Morris's important study which documents many specific abuses by Jewish forces but nonetheless concludes that there was no explicit or official “expulsion policy."” Morris reports that until April 1948, by which time the first wave of refugees had departed, “there was no Yishuv plan or policy to expel the Arab inhabitants of Palestine, either from the area destined for Jewish statehood or those lying outside it.”" Further, the continuing Arab exodus of the next two months “caught the Yishuv leadership, including the authors of Plan D, by surprise.” And even during the fighting in July that brought Arab departures from Lydda, Ramleh, and other areas, “there was no Cabinet or IDF General Staff—level decision to expel. . . . [There was in fact] an explicit IDF General Staff order to all units and corps to avoid destruction of Arab villages and expulsion of Arab communities without prior authorization by the Defense Minister." Thus, despite his documentation of Zionist actions that contributed to the Palestinian exodus, Morris’s general conclusion is that “the Palestinian refugee problem was born of war, not by design, Jewish or Arab. lt was largely a by-product of Arab and Jewish fears and of the protracted, bitter fighting that characterized the first Israeli-Arab war.

In discussing the issue of atrocities, Israelis often assert that the use of violence against civilians was actually more common among the Arabs during the 1947-48 War, and that instances of so-called Jewish terrorism were consequently limited in relative as well as absolute terms. Those who make the case for Israel note that Arab spokesmen in 1948 threatened to carry out massacres against the Jews. They also point out that these words were in some instances accompanied by deeds. As a result, such analyses conclude, it was in reality the Arabs who waged a campaign of psychological warfare and who both threatened and practiced terrorism. Eban cites the following statement by the secretary-general of the Arab League as an example of Arab rhetoric and, presumably, of Arab intentions: “This will be a war of extermination. It will be a momentous massacre to be spoken of like the Mongolian massacre and the Crusades." An example of an act which gave tangible expression to such threats was the ambush of a Jewish convoy traveling to Hadassah Hospital and the Hebrew University, both in Jerusalem, under the protecting colors of the Red Cross. Seventy-seven Jewish doctors, nurses, teachers, and students were killed in the attack, which took place on April 11. Another was the massacre a month later of prisoners at Kfar Etzion, a Jewish community east of Jerusalem. According to one Israeli account, the Arab Legion’s conquest of the area was followed by the arrival of Arab villagers, “who massacred [Jewish] prisoners, both men and women being lined up and shot in cold blood: three men and a girl, who managed to escape under cover of darkness, were all who survived from the entire population to tell the tale."

Although some sources suggest that these attacks were an attempt to take revenge for the slaughter at Deir Yassin, there were atrocities committed by Arabs even before the Deir Yaxin episode. A vivid account is given by Uri Avnery, an Israeli journalist and politician who is highly critical of Zionist policy on most accounts. Avnery, who was himself a soldier in 1948, writes that in the early stages of the lighting “Arab irregulars and primitive villagers . . . killed and mutilated every Hebrew who fell into their hands. We all saw the pictures of the severed heads of our comrades paraded through the alleys of the old city of Jerusalem. . . No one can quite understand what happened later on without realizing the impact of these pictures on the small Hebrew community.” A related consideration is that such episodes may also have had a psychological impact on the Palestinians and heightened their own fears of Jewish terrorism, since Jews would naturally be expected to take revenge for real or threatened Arab atrocities. As Sykes suggests, “The terror was all the more since many Palestine Arabs had a bad conscience about atrocity toward the Jews." This point is also emphasized by Morris, whose account includes the statement of an English sergeant about the surrender of Jaffa: “The Arabs were frightened to death when they imagined to themselves that the Jews would do to them half of what they would have done to the Jews were the situations reversed."

Returning to the question of the Palestinian exodus, Israeli sources emphasize that the fear and panic which caused many Arabs to abandon their homes were to a large extent the result of rumors or exaggerated reports about Zionist atrocities that were circulated by the Arabs themselves, rather than by the Jews. This point is made by Sykes, among others, who adds that such behavior was highly counterproductive from the Arab point of view.

The Arab radio-propaganda dwelt on atrocity stories and exaggerated them. Unknowingly, the Arab propagandists did the work of the Irgun and the Sternists for them. The aim was to inflame men with hatred of the Jews; the effect was to fill them with terror of Arab readiness to take flight . . . became greater every day after the news of Deir Yassin had been first broadcast. It was reputed with inflated figures and invented vileness in excess of the vileness of the deed itself.

A similar assessment is made by Furlonge, who writes from a viewpoint sympathetic to the Arabs. He notes that news of Israeli atrocities was disseminated “by word of mouth and through Arab radios." He states also that “Arab governments, by trying to raise world indignation against the Israelis by spreading word of their misdeeds, caused panic amongst the unwarlike Palestine peasantry." This can be seen in the testimony of one of the refugees interviewed by Nazzal, for example. “We heard about the massacre of Deir Yassin," he recalled. “Arab newspapers and radios said a great deal. It encouraged us to arm ourselves, but it also scared us."

The conclusion to be drawn, Israeli spokesmen reiterate, is that there was no grand Zionist design for the expulsion of Palestine‘s Arabs. Actions involving violence against Arab civilians were far less extensive than charged by Israel's enemies; those abuses which did occur, while serious, were in many cases carried out by local commanders acting on personal initiative; and the panic sown among Palestinians by exaggerated accounts of “Zionist terrorism” was the result of Arab propaganda much more than a Jewish campaign of psychological war- fare. As noted above, the analyses of Morris, reflecting research rather than propaganda, are among the most serious attempts to demonstrate that there was no Israeli master plan for expelling the Arabs from Palestine. Morris repeats this conclusion in a recent exchange with critics, carried out, interestingly, in the pages of the journal of Palestine Studies, and he supports his argument with an account of Israel’s capture of the upper and central Galilee pocket in October 1948. The operation had been thoroughly planned weeks in advance, and upon its complexion “the IDF had full control of the territory, the fog of battle thoroughly covered the whole area, and Israel/the IDF could have done . . . whatever it wanted with impunity." Accordingly, Morris asks, “Why is it, then—if a policy of expulsion was in place and being implemented—that more than half the pocket's [6o,ooo Arab] inhabitants, many of them Muslims, were left in place?”

Supporters of Israel often add to their denials of a systematic expulsion policy the claim that Jews in some instances sought to prevent the Palestinian exodus. Zionists point out that Israel’s very Declaration of Independence calls upon the Arabs to remain in the country. “Even amidst the violent attacks launched against us for months past,‘ the document declares, “we call upon the sons of the Arab people dwelling in Israel to keep the peace and to play their part in building the state on the basis of full and equal citizenship and due representation in all its institutions.” Zionists argue that they had every reason to work for the realization of these ideals. It was in Israel’s interest to demonstrate that the United Nations had proposed a workable as well as a fair compromise, and that a Jewish state could be established without preventing Palestinians from realizing their own aspirations for independence and statehood. This was particularly important in light of the Arab world's rejection of partition and Israel's need for international recognition.

The case of Haifa is cited most frequently to support the claim that Jews sought to persuade Arabs to remain in their communities of origin. Three weeks before independence was declared, the Jewish Workers’ Council of Haifa issued a proclamation urging the Arabs of the city not to flee. It stated, in part, “Do not fear . . . and do not bring upon yourself tragedy by unnecessary evacuation and self-imposed burdens. . . . In this city, yours and ours, Haifa, the gates are open for work, for life, and for peace for you and your family." In addition, once Arabs began to flee, the city’s Jewish mayor, Shabtai Levy, made a personal appeal to Palestinian authorities, urging them to call for a halt to the exodus. They refused, however, and Levy then went into the streets and implored the departing Arabs to remain, again without success.'” An independent account of these events mentioned by pro-Israeli sources is a British police report which declares that “every effort is being made by the Jews to persuade the Arab populace to stay and carry on with their normal lives, to get their shops and businesses open and to be assured that their lives and interests will be safe." Another account is an article in the Economist, from October 2., 1948. It states that “Jewish authorities . . . urged all Arabs to remain in Haifa and guaranteed them protection and security."

Although they applaud the efforts of the city's mayor and a number of other local Zionist officials, pro-Arab sources insist that events in Haifa are not indicative of Zionist policy elsewhere. They also point out, correctly, that supporters of Israel tend to generalize from the case of Haifa without presenting comparable documentation pertaining to other area. Nevertheless, there are at least a few other instances in which Jew: sought to prevent the Palestinian flight. During the early stages of the war, Jews sometimes distributed leaflets calling upon Palestinians to remain in their homes. Indeed, according to a credible Israeli observer, the Hagana in some cases risked the lives of its soldiers to distribute these leaflets to Arab villagers.” A few of Nazzal’s respondents also give accounts that support Israeli claims. According to a refuge from Hittin, for example, “We were not threatened by our Jewish neighbors at Kfar Hittin. As early 5 November . . . they approached us and assured us they did not want a war with us. Another, from El Khalisa, reports that the Jews distributed leaflets saying they wanted peace and asking villagers to remain in their homes, although he adds that most Arabs thought this to be a trick."

--- A History of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict / Mark A. Tessler

Links - 20th July 2017 (1)

South Korea’s Jeju Island, paradise with a dark side - The Washington Post - "Islanders have a reputation for being more laid back than mainland Koreans, but Jeju also has a long tradition of fiercely resisting outside pressure"

He robbed banks and went to prison. His time there put him on track for a new job: Georgetown law professor. - The Washington Post

Guns, sex and arrogance: I hated everything about America — until I moved here - The Washington Post

Is the American diet too salty? Scientists challenge the longstanding government warning - The Washington Post - "according to studies published in recent years by pillars of the medical community, the low levels of salt recommended by the government might actually be dangerous. “There is no longer any valid basis for the current salt guidelines,” said Andrew Mente, a professor at McMaster University in Ontario and one of the researchers involved in a major study published last year by the New England Journal of Medicine. “So why are we still scaring people about salt?”... To understand how divided scientists are on salt, consider that even authorities with the American Heart Association, one of the organizations promoting the current salt limits, don’t agree."

New website allows white people to offer ‘reparations’ directly to people of color - The Washington Post - "the site isn’t about atoning for slavery, says its creator, Seattle-based artist Natasha Marin. “It’s about reparations for things that happened earlier today, for yesterday, for last Thursday,” she said. “This is for the present tense.”"
As if the Original Sin of Slavery wasn't enough

Quiet nights and dark homes at Sentosa Cove - ""There are usually more people around in the day. At night, the place does feel quite empty when the non-residents return home. "If I just look at my block alone, I'd say it is probably around 70 per cent occupied.""

Scientists have discovered the exact dance movements that catch a woman’s eye - The Washington Post - "women rated dancers higher when they showed larger and more variable movements of the head, neck and torso. Speed of leg movements mattered too, particularly bending and twisting of the right knee... arm movement didn't correlate with perceived dancing ability in any significant way."

University Of Washington Cheerleading Infographic Creates An Uproar - "The infographic says women should have a “bronze, beachy glow” and their hair should be “down” and “curled or straight” which is easy to pull off when you’re Caucasian. Plus, potential cheerleaders should have a “natural tan or a spray tan,” instead of just showing up with their god-given skin colors. Women are also required to have an “athletic physique,” when athletic ability should be the only requirement"
Somehow it's okay to discriminate based on nail polish, though

Scientists have discovered what causes Resting Bitch Face - The Washington Post - "One particular emotion was responsible for the jump: “The big change in percentage came from ‘contempt,’” Macbeth said."

Young South Koreans call their country ‘hell’ and look for ways out - The Washington Post - "Almost two-thirds of the young people who got jobs last year became irregular workers, according to Korea Labor Institute figures... “My boss always said, ‘The company comes first; your family comes second.’ ”... Most frustrating of all, many young people say, is that their parents, who worked long hours to build the “Korean dream,” think the answer is just to put in more effort."

A dangerous myth about who eats fast food is completely false - The Washington Post - "America's love for fast food is surprisingly income blind. Well-off kids, poor kids, and all those in between tend to get about the same percentage of their calories from fast food"

The zombie statistic about women’s share of income and property - The Washington Post - "“Women provide 66% of the work, produce 50% of the food, but earn only 10% of the income and own 1% of the property. We can change this.”
— graphic image promoted on Twitter and Facebook by Oxfam, citing the U.N. Development Program... the statistics are too good to be true. Oddly, these statistics have circulated for decades, persistently, despite the efforts of researchers to debunk them as ridiculously inaccurate. One reason is because the statistics have been promoted by supposedly reputable organizations, such as Oxfam and UNDP. But people also often want to believe facts that appear to confirm their own biases... she relied on “various UN statistics,” “available global data,” and “fragmentary indicators at the time.” As Cohen put it, the statistics turned out to be “a guess based on an extrapolation wrapped round an estimate.”... despite ample evidence that these are fishy figures, various organizations have willy-nilly cited them, often without attribution. And when attribution is provided, it usually leads back to a report by some U.N. agency, which then itself provided no attribution. It’s like a constant feedback loop... for the first time Oxfam and UNDP have acknowledged that they have peddled false information"

Women and money: Why is talking about and dealing with finances still weird for us? - "women comprise half the U.S. workforce and control more than 50 percent of the country’s wealth... 'I remember being a young girl and thinking that I could pick any career, regardless of how it paid, because I wouldn’t have to worry about making or managing money; I’d eventually have a boyfriend or husband who did that. And I was raised in a feminist household with two breadwinners.'"
At least this doesn't blame men

Maryland parents investigated by the police for letting their kids walk home alone. - "Danielle and Alexander Meitiv explicitly ally themselves with the “free range” parenting movement, which believes that children have to take calculated risks in order to learn to be self-reliant... Perhaps if they had been black and lived in South Carolina, they would have been arrested like Debra Harrell, the single mother who let her daughter go to the playground while she was working at McDonald’s. As white suburban professionals, the Meitivs experienced a lower level of intrusion, but still one that would make any parent bristle. The police asked for the father’s ID, and when he refused, called six patrol cars as backup. Alexander went upstairs, and the police called out that if he came down with anything else in his hand “shots would be fired,” according to Alexander. (They said this in front of the children, Alexander says.) Soon after, a representative from Montgomery County Child Welfare Services came by and required that the couple sign a “safety plan” promising not to let the children go unsupervised until the following week, when another CPS worker would talk to them. At first, the dad refused, but then the workers told him they would take the kids away if he did not sign... “Abductions are extremely rare. Car accidents are not. The number one cause of death for children of their age is a car accident.”"
If the parents had been black, doubtless the treatment received would've been called racism. But now it is cited as evidence of racism

Scientists are Creating Wolverine's Healing Factor IRL

The #BoycottByron mob don't want facts on immigration, just righteous fury - "In the post-fact world in which so many of us now languish contentedly (ignorance is, after all, bliss), Twitter blazed with accusations that Byron was happy to “exploit” illegal workers before throwing them to the wolves when it looked like it might get found out – the company was painted as a sort of Pied Piper of Hamburgers, leading innocents to their doom while posting handsome profits. This despite there being no evidence for these claims. Byron fulfilled its legal duty by checking its workers’ documents, which turned out to be false. The fakes fooled Byron but were picked up by the Home Office, which has the final responsibiliy to verify immigration status. The system worked. But the Boycott Byron movement is emblematic of a knee-jerk society where there is now only black and white, good versus evil; where you are right and anyone who doesn’t agree with you is not just wrong but wicked. Reality, of course, is more complicated than that, more nuanced than 140 characters will allow, but who wants nuance? For the Left, all immigrants are angels, even the illegal ones, while on the Right, all immigrants are criminals not to be trusted, even the legal ones"

Mainland manufacturer for MTR secretly recalls 35 trains from Singapore due to cracks - "problems have been found with C151A trains since they began service in 2011. Sources said the trains are of poor quality and that the glass next to passenger seats has repeatedly shattered due to shoddy workmanship. In 2011, one of the trains’ Chinese-made uninterruptible power supply batteries exploded during repair. While there were no injuries, Kawasaki Heavy Industries-CSR Sifang replaced all of the batteries made in China with ones made in Germany."

iPhone factory 'threatened to cut funding for disabled man' - "it called for a worker who was brain-damaged in an accident at its Shenzhen plant to report back for a disability assessment and threatened to cut off funding for his treatment if he didn't comply."

Pachelbel - Canon in D: the facts - "even before the public got hold of the piece, classical composers knew Pachelbel was on to a good thing – Handel, Haydn, and Mozart all used the iconic bass line in some of their compositions in the following years."

Since when were science toys just for boys? - "Toysellers today are sending out strongly gendered messages to an unprecedented degree. More toys are on the market than ever before and gender targeted selling is seen as profitable, but there's a high social cost. It's hard to measure the extent to which toy marketing affects children, but we can be certain that it affects them"
I like how they allege there's a high social cost, but are forced to admit that they have no idea what it is

Toys get a sex change - "There’s no gender equality on the toy shelf. Boys accounted for 90% of Lego sales — that is, until the Denmark-based company sold a version designed explicitly for girls. Though some questioned the need for a version with pink blocks, “Lego Friends,” introduced in January 2012, proved to be a huge hit. Girls now account for 25% of purchases... Lego is not the first toymaker to give a popular product a sex-change operation in an effort to boost sales. Nearly half a century ago, toymaker Hasbro found a way to sell dolls to boys: call them something else. “G.I. Joe” and Star Wars dolls were dubbed “action figures.”
Unlike feminism, profit numbers reflect reality
Feminist dilemma - is it better to market toys to girls based on "stereotypes" or to leave them gender neutral and have girls not play with them?

Wealth and sexual behaviour among men in Cameroon - " men in the richest third of the population were less likely to have used a condom in the last sex with a non-spousal non-cohabiting partner (OR 0.43, 95% CI 0.32–0.56) and more likely to have had at least two concurrent sex partners in the last 12 months (OR 1.38, 95% CI 1.12–1.19) and more than five lifetime sex partners (OR 1.97, 95% CI 1.60–2.43). However, there was no difference between the richest and poorest men in the purchase of sexual services. Regarding education, men with secondary or higher education were less likely to have used a condom in the last sex with a non-spousal non-cohabiting partner (OR 0.24, 95% CI 0.16–0.38) and more likely to have started sexual activity at age 17 years or less (OR 2.73, 95% CI 2.10–3.56) and had more than five lifetime sexual partners"

Brain training turns recall rookies into memory masters - "Just six weeks of training can turn average people into memory masters. Boosting these prodigious mnemonic skills came with overhauls in brain activity, resulting in brains that behaved more like those of experts who win World Memory Championships competitions"

Why China Can't Be Trusted - "The presence of offensive weapons contradicted Beijing’s public statements that the reclaimed islands are mainly for civilian purposes. Van Jackson at the Center for a New American Security calls the apparent disconnect between China’s words and actions, “strategic double speak.” But the worsening strategic environment of the South China Sea requires a more thorough reassessment of China’s diplomacy and security overtures. One key question must be answered: is this something new or do China’s words and actions frequently diverge? A brief review of how Beijing engaged its neighbors in the past two decades reveals the latter to be the case... Instead of looking at how Chinese actions have worsened the region’s security environment, it resorts to blaming other countries."

How AI will change the shape of organizations - "It will still need human workers to review the machines’ output and make decisions AI can’t, but the greater need will be for the middle-level employees who have the experience to make judgment calls. Here’s the problem, Engelbert says: “Where do [those middle-level employees] get that experience and judgment? That’s probably the number one thing I worry about as we shift our model”... All that grunt work is actually instructive for workers. And without any experience in the trenches to draw upon, that training will be hard to replicate."

Blacks Killed More Blacks than the KKK Did - "in one year, Blacks have murdered more of their own than the KKK killed in a century and a half of lynchings... While Black demagogues like to prattle on about white racism as the major problem for Blacks in America, as if the KKK is alive and well, the real problem is Black on Black crime... I picked the year 2004 because in that year Bill Cosby told Black parents that if they wanted to see their children succeed then they must educate their children on the many different aspects of American culture, not on "being Black" or blaming whitey for all their problems"
This is like how Saddam Hussein can kill tens of thousands of Iraqis in cold blood with nary a protest but the moment the US kills one by accident...

Does High Home-Ownership Impair the Labor Market? - "rises in the home- ownership rate in a U.S. state are a precursor to eventual sharp rises in unemployment in that state. The elasticity exceeds unity: a doubling of the rate of home-ownership in a U.S. state is followed in the long-run by more than a doubling of the later unemployment rate. What mechanism might explain this? We show that rises in home-ownership lead to three problems: (i) lower levels of labor mobility, (ii) greater commuting times, and (iii) fewer new businesses"

Repeat After Me (or Lose Your Job): 'White Men are Not Being Persecuted. And They Deserve It.' - "The Huffington Post ran a column by “Shelley Garland” that argued for depriving white males of the vote... after Roodt was outed, he lost his job. No, not the editors who published the outrageous article, thinking it was dead serious and a pretty good idea. They’re still working, still shaping American minds. But Roodt was stripped of his livelihood for daring to mock the pieties of the church of multiculturalism. His employer publicly denounced him. And The Huffington Post took down the post, under the rationale that it had turned out to be hate speech. Have you got that? At first, the article seemed to call in all seriousness for hundreds of millions of people (rich and poor, including coal miners and war veterans) to be denied the right to vote because of their sex and their race. So The Huffington Post had no problem with it. They defended it, in fact. But when it came out that the piece was in fact a satire of that position, now it amounted to hate speech. Wrap your mind around that. Try “mansplaining” that to yourself. No wonder some white guys are paranoid. People really are out to get them."

Why We Lost the War on Poverty - "From the end of World War II until 1964 the poverty rate in this country was cut in half. Further, 94% of the change in the poverty rate over this period can be explained by changes in per capita income alone. Economic growth is clearly the most effective antipoverty weapon ever devised by man... But we didn’t continue the trend. In 1965 we launched a War on Poverty. And as the graph shows, in the years that followed the portion of Americans living in poverty barely budged... We now know a lot about how behavior affects poverty. In fact, if you do these four things, it’s almost impossible to remain poor:
Finish high school,
Get a job,
Get married, and
Don’t have children until you get married...
So how does welfare affect behavior?...
The number of hours worked dropped 9% for husbands and 20% for wives, relative to the control group. For young male adults it dropped 43% more.
The length of unemployment increased 27% among husbands and 42% for wives, relative to the control group. For single female heads of households it increased 60% more.
Divorce increased 36% more among whites and 42% more among blacks. (In a New Jersey experiment, the divorce rate was 84% higher among Hispanics.)"

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

I've Worked with Refugees for Decades. Europe's Afghan Crime Wave Is Mind-Boggling.

I've Worked with Refugees for Decades. Europe's Afghan Crime Wave Is Mind-Boggling.

"[There was a] large and growing incidence of sexual assaults committed by refugees against local women. These were not of the cultural-misunderstanding-date-rape sort, but were vicious, no-preamble attacks on random girls and women, often committed by gangs or packs of young men. At first, the incidents were downplayed or hushed up—no one wanted to provide the right wing with fodder for nationalist agitation, and the hope was that these were isolated instances caused by a small problem group of outliers. As the incidents increased, and because many of them took place in public or because the public became involved either in stopping the attack or in aiding the victim afterwards, and because the courts began issuing sentences as the cases came to trial, the matter could no longer be swept under the carpet of political correctness. And with the official acknowledgment and public reporting, a weird and puzzling footnote emerged. Most of the assaults were being committed by refugees of one particular nationality: by Afghans.

Actually Afghans should not even have been part of the refugee tide, at least not in significant numbers. It was the Syrians who were expected. Afghanistan, a place of lingering and chronic conflict, is no longer on the official refugee roster—that’s reserved for acute political and military emergencies... they were committing sex crimes to a much greater extent than other refugees, even those from countries that were equally or more backward, just as Islamic and conservative, and arguably just as misogynist.

This is not an article that has been fun for me to write. I have worked on issues related to refugees for much of my professional life, from the Pakistani camps during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan to Yemen, Sudan, Thailand, Ethiopia, Djibouti, Lebanon, Bosnia, Nicaragua and Iraq, and have deep sympathy for their plight. But nowhere had I encountered a phenomenon like this one...

A few weeks ago, the Austrian city of Tulln declared a full stop to any further refugee admissions. As the mayor made clear, that decision was aimed at Afghans, but for legal and administrative reasons it could only be promulgated in a global way. That had not been the city’s intention—to the contrary, it had just completed the construction of an expensive, brand-new facility for incoming asylum seekers, which would now, the mayor declared, be given over to another purpose. His exact words: “We’ve had it.” The tipping point, after a series of disturbing incidents all emanating from Afghans, was the brutal gang rape of a fifteen-year-old girl, snatched from the street on her way home, dragged away and serially abused by Afghan refugees.

And that was just one in a string of outrage-inducing occurrences, all of them going to the account of Afghans...

It took a while for the pattern to be recognized because, until recently, western European media deliberately refrained from identifying an assailant’s refugee or asylum status, or his country of origin. Only when the correlation became so dramatic that it was itself newsworthy did this policy change. At that point, it became clear that the authorities had known about, and for political reasons had deliberately covered up, large-scale incidences of sexual assault by migrants...

[The most] compelling and quite disturbing theory—the one that my Afghan friend, the court translator, puts forward. On the basis of his hundreds of interactions with these young men in his professional capacity over the past several years, he believes to have discovered that they are motivated by a deep and abiding contempt for Western civilization. To them, Europeans are the enemy, and their women are legitimate spoils, as are all the other things one can take from them: housing, money, passports. Their laws don’t matter, their culture is uninteresting and, ultimately, their civilization is going to fall anyway to the horde of which one is the spearhead. No need to assimilate, or work hard, or try to build a decent life here for yourself—these Europeans are too soft to seriously punish you for a transgression, and their days are numbered.

And it’s not just the sex crimes, my friend notes. Those may agitate public sentiment the most, but the deliberate, insidious abuse of the welfare system is just as consequential. Afghan refugees, he says, have a particular proclivity to play the system: to lie about their age, to lie about their circumstances, to pretend to be younger, to be handicapped, to belong to an ethnic minority when even the tired eye of an Austrian judge can distinguish the delicate features of a Hazara from those of a Pashtun...

Western legal systems are meticulous and procedural, operate on the basis of rules and rights and forms and documents, and consider you innocent until proven guilty. It didn’t take the refugees long to figure out how to leverage this to their advantage. “They’ll stand right there, balding, grey at the temples, and insist that they’re eighteen,” an exasperated Austrian prosecutor told me. Having “lost” their documents, the only way to refute even the most patently absurd such claim is through expensive lab tests. If you have no documents and no shame, you can assert just about anything and then lean back and wait for the system to try and prove otherwise. If you are rejected, no problem: you can launch multiple appeals. Once you have set foot in Europe, it will be almost impossible to get rid of you; indeed, you can literally commit murder. If a court finds you guilty of rape, you need only argue that if you are sent home, your conservative society will kill you for the dishonorable act—then you can’t be shipped out, because EU law forbids extradition if doing so puts the individual’s life at risk. And murderers cannot be sent back to countries that have the death penalty or a judicial system known to be harsh...

Established middle-class diaspora Afghans are understandably upset and embarrassed to see their nationality thus disgraced by these uncouth newcomers. And yet they are part of the problem. Many of their actions and reactions, however natural or unintended, amount to complicity. They cover up, make excuses for, advise on best ways to wriggle out of consequences, and even directly abet the deceptions, illegal acts and disgraceful manners of friends, relatives and random unknown fellow Afghans...

The relevance to U.S. refugee policy is sadly obvious. It will require rigorous vetting indeed to weed out such deeply disturbed, degenerate young males whose willingness to be deceptive is so pronounced and whose motives are so irrational.

Which brings me to a final theory being vented in Austria: that these destructive, crazed young men are being intentionally infiltrated into western Europe to wreak havoc: to take away the freedom and security of women; change patterns of behavior; deepen the rifts between liberals, who continue to defend and find excuses, and a right wing that calls for harsh measures and violent responses; to inflict high costs and aggravation on courts and judicial systems and generally make a mess of things...

The Left has to do a bit of hard thinking. It’s fine to be warm, fuzzy and sentimental about strangers arriving on your shores, but let’s also spare some warm, fuzzy and sentimental thoughts for our own values, freedoms and lifestyle. Girls and women should continue to feel safe in public spaces, be able to attend festivals, wear clothing appropriate to the weather and their own liking, travel on trains, go to the park, walk their dogs and live their lives. This is a wonderful Western achievement, and one that is worth defending."

Another one lost to the "alt-right"!


"I just looked at Cheryl Benard's bio - her husband is from Afghanistan, which should also lend her some credibility on this, as well as head off any nonsense accusations of "racism.""

"Cheryl Benard is apparently willing to accept the fact that Syrians commit "only" 10% of rapes. Somehow, I suspect that ethnic Austrians are committing rape at a far lower per capita level.
So Syrians look "good" only in comparison to Afghans who are so much worse."

Keywords: Afghani

Links - 18th July 2017

Pourquoi le deuxième fils est-il appelé le « cadet » ? - "« Cadet » est la traduction de « capdèth », mot qui en occitan gascon voulait dire « capitaine » ou « chef ». Il pouvait donc être utilisé pour désigner les officiers. Or à cette époque dans la noblesse, notamment en Gascogne, selon la tradition l’aîné devait hériter des terres et des titres, alors que ceux qui venaient ensuite devaient plutôt entrer dans l’armée."

No such thing as 'fat but fit', major study finds - "While BMI results for particular individuals could be misleading, the study showed that on a population level, the idea that large numbers of people can be obese and yet metabolically healthy and at no risk of heart disease was wrong."
I doubt the health at any size crowd will listen

$2k fine for man who beat up a credit card promoter… for asking if he was Singaporean or a PR

University of Hawaii Professor Demands White Men Quit Their Jobs - "A University of Hawaii math professor has urged every white man to quit their job or take a demotion and deemed those who disagree with her proposition as racist, sexist and transphobic. Piper Harron, an assistant professor at the University of Hawaii who holds a PhD degree in mathematics from Princeton University, has penned an article for the American Mathematical Society (AMS) blog, calling on white men to “Get Out The Way”."
And some people claimed the SJW rot wouldn't spread to STEM

Math Professor Who Wants White Men to Quit Jobs Has a Bats**t Crazy Resume - "Harron even wrote her PhD while caring for children and pregnant. Her actual doctoral thesis contains a few maternity-themed drawings to remind everyone. Other parts of the thesis are just summarizing Wikipedia entries."

Canadian Student Association Apologizes For Playing ‘Transphobic’ 'Take a Walk on The Wild Side’ - "When an individual pointed out the song is considered revolutionary and one of the first to actually support transgender acceptance, the student union responded by saying the song is “understood to be transphobic” because it “devalues the experiences and identities of trans folks” and “minimizes the experiences of oppression” by talking about a person who transitioned by changing his appearance."

Do sea monsters exist? Yes, but they go by another name … - "Animals that have the audacity to wash up on beaches in various stages of decay can never, ever, be familiar creatures. They are always required by journalists to fit the narrative of a grog-induced pirate yarn. And so last year, when a dead marine mammal washed up on a Welsh beach, it quickly became the Beast of Port Talbot. Similarly, a bit of a sperm whale’s head that washed up on a beach in Mexico became the Mexican Sea Monster. Likewise, in New Zealand in 2013, a decomposing killer whale couldn’t just be a killer whale, it had to be a monstrous species of moray eel (although 10,000 scientists on Twitter were saying: “That is a dead killer whale”), or a bizarre prehistoric beast (“No, that is a killer whale”). Incredibly, against all odds, it turned out to be a rotting killer whale."

Russia's Top Religious Official Sprays Holy Water on Computers to Fend Off Ransomware Virus - "Apparently, it’s some sort of custom in Russia for Orthodox priests to bless server rooms and other bits of modern technology"

University of Michigan Students 'Marginalized' by 'Masculine' Dark Wood Paneling - "At a March student government meeting, one student reportedly told administrators that, when the Union is refurbished, the lush wooden paneling, a prized feature of the building dating back to around 1910, should come down because it makes some students feel unsafe. “[M]inority students felt marginalized by quiet, imposing masculine paneling” students claimed, according to the meeting minutes. They didn’t elaborate on precisely why the paneling was so problematic, but logic rarely comes into play in these kinds of complaints."

British Student Writes College Thesis on Pepe The Frog

All work and no pay: creative industries freelancers are exploited - "To this day, there is still an expectation that I will work for either an extremely low amount, or nothing at all. I love filming, but I have a bigger passion for, you know, being able to afford the rent and having enough to eat. It’s a source of ongoing frustration for creative contractors that, after years of training and hard graft, we’re told that our profession isn’t worth paying for. I firmly believe legislation should be introduced to stop exploitative free work where the client clearly profits financially."
If you can't compete, seek rent. Maybe we should ban charity and volunteer work too

20 million people are starving and the media only cares about Trump, says UN - "Twenty million people around the world are starving to death and the United Nations said the world is only paying attention to the latest scandal of Donald Trump. “If you turn on ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, CNN — it’s nothing but Trump, Trump, Trump, Trump, Trump, Trump, Trump!,” said the director of the UN’s World Food Programme (WFP). Director-General David Beasley, a former governor of South Carolina, said the famine affecting Yemen, South Sudan, Somalia, and Nigeria is “not fake news, this is reality.”"
How many virtue signallers actually do something good?

Military healthcare paying more than $400 for a $46 can of baby formula

Gay porn studio under fire for using a didgeridoo as a dildo - "Entitled ‘Didgeridoo Me’ (because of course it is), the Men.com scene sees two roommates with one having recently gotten back from Australia. While they do not go into detail of the frustrations of getting it through customs, his playing wakes his roommate up. Frustrated, his roommate decides to take out his frustration by penetrating his roommate with the instrument."

10 questions for the 'world's most feared' restaurant critic Jay Rayner - "The vast majority of what matters in restaurant cooking lies in the preparation. There is very little they can change to make the experience better. Or as another critic once said, there is very little a bad restaurant can do to become a good one just because I walk through the door. In any case I watch the way I am being treated to make sure it is not at odds with what is going on around me"

The New Burma Is Starting to Look Too Much Like the Old Burma - "Upon taking power, the NLD promptly proposed legislation that would reinstall some of the junta’s draconian restrictions on peaceful protest. And while many political prisoners have been released, the new government continues to pursue charges against some of the country’s most dedicated activists — such as Harn Win Aung, who has led resistance to a notorious copper mine built on land grabbed from displaced farmers. The NLD even censored a film at a human rights festival for portraying the military in a critical light... the party is systematically ignoring the non-governmental sector. When I recently interviewed more than two dozen activists — from large national civil society organizations to grassroots campaigners — all lamented Aung San Suu Kyi’s unwillingness to include them in developing plans to address the country’s problems. Many of those I spoke with reported that she conveyed disdain for their work, raised doubts about their ethics, and questioned their relevance in the new “democratic” Burma. This seems a particularly disturbing irony in light of the important role the country’s civil society played in challenging the military regime."

RIP Turkey, 1921 – 2017 - "Turkey’s Islamists have long venerated the Ottoman period. In doing so, they implicitly expressed thinly veiled contempt for the Turkish Republic. For Necmettin Erbakan, who led the movement from the late 1960s to the emergence of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) in August 2001, the republic represented cultural abnegation and repressive secularism in service of what he believed was Ataturk’s misbegotten ideas that the country could be made Western and the West would accept it. Rather, he saw Turkey’s natural place not at NATO’s headquarters in Brussels but as a leader of the Muslim world, whose partners should be Pakistan, Malaysia, Egypt, Iran, and Indonesia... Erdogan, who would wield power not vested in Turkish leaders since the sultans, is actually a neo-Ottoman... Erdogan is simply replacing one form of authoritarianism with another. The Law on Fundamental Organization and the republic that followed were expressions of modernity. The Turkish Republic has always been flawed, but it always contained the aspiration that — against the backdrop of the principles to which successive constitutions claimed fidelity — it could become a democracy. Erdogan’s new Turkey closes off that prospect."

Barack Obama Was a Foreign-Policy Failure - "The crisis of 2008-2009 was the ideal moment to abandon the failed strategy of liberal hegemony that the United States had been pursuing since the end of the Cold War, but in the end Obama never broke with that familiar but failed approach. The result was a legacy of foreign-policy missteps that helped propel Donald Trump into the White House... “He who defends everything defends nothing,” warned Frederick the Great, and Obama’s inability to develop a clear set of strategic priorities hurt him throughout his presidency."

Does Chinese Civilization Come From Ancient Egypt? - "He conceived of this connection in the 1990s while performing radiometric dating of ancient Chinese bronzes; to his surprise, their chemical composition more closely resembled those of ancient Egyptian bronzes than native Chinese ores... “There’s a chauvinistic desire to push the historical record back into the third millennium B.C., putting China on a par with Egypt. It’s much more a political and a nationalistic urge than a scholarly one.” Others criticized the project’s methods and results. The Stanford archaeologist Li Liu, for instance, took issue with the fact that it regarded the Xia as historical and fixed dates for it, when there is still no conclusive archaeological evidence for its existence... Since the 1990s, most Chinese archaeologists have accepted that much of the nation’s Bronze Age technology came from regions outside of China. But it is not thought to have arrived directly from the Middle East in the course of an epic migration. The more prosaic consensus is that it was transmitted into China from Central Asia by a slow process of cultural exchange (trade, tribute, dowry) across the northern frontier, mediated by Eurasian steppe pastoralists who had contacts with indigenous groups in both regions."

The Case Against Peace - "prolonged periods of peace may also have a downside: They allow divisions within different societies to grow and deepen. Even worse, they may eventually drive the world back toward war."

Why drivers in China intentionally kill the pedestrians they hit: China’s laws have encouraged the hit to kill phenomenon. - "if you cripple a man, you pay for the injured person’s care for a lifetime. But if you kill the person, you “only have to pay once, like a burial fee.” He insisted he was serious—and that this was common."

Beijing seeks loyalty from ethnic Chinese with foreign passports - "The Chinese government wants to make use of foreign politicians who happen to be of Chinese extraction to support its causes, such as in its territorial dispute with Japan."
If ethnic Chinese are viewed with suspicion in the light of this, is it really totally unjust?

I've worked in foreign aid for 50 years—Trump is right to end it, even if his reasons are wrong - "Aid has resulted in remarkably few significant shifts in economic growth and poverty reduction. The truth is much of aid’s promise has come up empty. It is striking that the aid establishment has not dug deeper into the reasons why... outsiders cannot “nation build,” that development must be led by the people in the poor countries themselves, that dependency has been one of the few tangible results of the trillions we have spent, that the complexity and the context-specific nature of each country’s politics, social structure, and culture cannot be easily understood by outsiders and thus the short term three to five year aid “project” is a wildly inappropriate vehicle for aid... aid has become an industry, and is rapidly moving towards what a present day Eisenhower might call an “aid-industrial complex”... if aid is cut—even for the wrong reasons—to those nations where the evidence of its ineffectiveness goes back decades (almost half of the 48 countries on the UN’s Least Developed Countries list have been on it since the list began in 1971, e.g., Haiti, Malawi, Guinea, Benin, Niger, and others), there is a good chance that at least some of these countries will have a real incentive to take charge of their own future."

How Does China’s Imperial Past Shape Its Foreign Policy Today? - "Chinese exceptionalism rests on several hoary myths, but perhaps the most perplexing is that of China as the ultimate pacifist nation, the victim of all and an aggressor toward none. In this narrative, China, as presently constituted, emerged fully formed from the mists of history and expanded to its current size by entirely (or mostly) peaceful means. It is a view of regional history that often bemuses and frustrates China’s immediate neighbors, not the least Vietnam where the phrase “1000 Years of Chinese Domination” holds near as much resonance as “100 Years of Foreign Humiliation” does here in Beijing... my students, undergraduates from several different U.S. colleges and universities who are studying in Beijing, are looking at the legacy of Qing imperial expansion in the 17th and 18th centuries during which the Qing Empire fought wars in both Burma and Vietnam on the pretext of enforcing regional order. The Sino-Burmese Wars of 1765-1769 began, ironically enough for historians of the Opium Wars, when a local official escalated a trade dispute into an ill-fated attempt to expand Qing imperial power and prestige"

Foreign protesters' bark unleashes Chinese dog eaters' bite - ""Because of the protests, more people know that Yulin has a dog meat festival, so everyone comes and tries it," said the dog meat seller, surnamed Lin. "As we get closer to the dog meat festival, all Yulin’s hotels are completely full."... Andrea Gung, the Taiwanese-American founder of California-based Duo Duo, a group that organised a 2.5 million-signature petition against the festival, says that the fury she has encountered forced her to change approach. "Everyone hated us," she said of last year’s festival, noting that dog-lovers receive such animosity in Yulin that they no longer identify as activists. Now her group is sponsoring animal welfare programmes in schools, hoping to turn the next generation against dog eating by making it "uncool". "We want to come up with some slogan like, 'Cute girls don’t date dog eaters,'" she said, adding that most afficionados in Yulin are men, who believe the meat increases virility."

Foreign workers ‘served unappetising, stale food’ - "Foul-smelling curry, rock-solid fish with scales still intact, and roti prata so hard that it feels like one is “chewing on plastic” — these are how some foreign workers describe the food catered for them at work sites... “If you come by construction sites or shipyards early in the morning, you will see how packs of food are left along the roadside. By the time workers have their meals, often the plastic bags would have been broken (by cockroaches or rats). The food is so smelly it has obviously gone bad.”... there are no cooking facilities in many dormitories. “Employers and dormitory management urge the workers to eat the catered food,” he said."

The Business Habits of Highly Effective Terrorists | Foreign Affairs - "managers of terrorist organizations face the same basic challenges as the managers of any large organization. What is true for Walmart is true for al Qaeda: Managers need to keep tabs on what their people are doing and devote resources to motivate their underlings to pursue the organization’s aims. In fact, terrorist managers face a much tougher challenge. Whereas most businesses have the blunt goal of maximizing profits, terrorists’ aims are more precisely calibrated: An attack that is too violent can be just as damaging to the cause as an attack that is not violent enough. Al Qaeda in Iraq learned this lesson in Anbar Province in 2006, when the local population turned against them, partly in response to the group’s violence against civilians who disagreed with it. Terrorist leaders also face a stubborn human resources problem: Their talent pool is inherently unstable... as the alleged chief of the Palestinian group Black September wrote in his memoir, “diehard extremists are either imbeciles or traitors.”"

Recep Tayyip Erdogan caught on video watching his guards beat up Kurdish protesters in Washington DC
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