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Thursday, November 15, 2018

Ignoring grooming gang victims

I saw an interesting quote online recently regarding the UK grooming gangs, attributed to ex-chief prosecutor Nazir Afzal who allegedly said the Home Office told police forces in 2008 that “as far as these young girls who are being exploited in towns and cities, we believe they have made an informed choice about their sexual behaviour and therefore it's not for you police officers to get involved in."

I tried looking for the provenance of the quote, but only found the usual "far right" sources.

Fortunately, UKIP sourced the quote as coming from:

"Mr Nazir Afzal on the BBC's PM programme 19/10/2018 (quoted comment spoken at approx. 34 minutes 10 seconds): https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/m0000sf1"

Indeed, I have verified that the very same words were spoken on the programme. Readers are invited to verify this themselves - the programme is available to listen to till 18th November. To forestall the inevitable accusations of this being taken out of context, I have transcribed the relevant bits of this programme dealing with grooming.

The quote, of course, is also compatible with one theory that I've heard - that this isn't specifically a problem when dealing with "Asian" men, but that there is a long history in the UK of dismissing allegations of sexual abuse of working class girls (I have been unable to pull up historical data on the relative scale of the problem).

However, given that it is documented (in the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Exploitation in Rotherham (1997 – 2013) among other places, no less) that "diversity" considerations played a part in the coverup, it is simplistic to pretend that the current round of allegations are the same as the others; history, after all, doesn't repeat itself but it often rhymes.


'They threatened them with violence. They plied them with alcohol and drugs.'

'The men who have been convicted of these appalling crimes deliberately targeted their victims because of their vulnerability.'

'Details can be reported for the first time about a group of 20 men, mainly of Pakistani heritage, who targeted 15 girls in Huddersfield over a period of seven years, we get reaction.'...

'Details can be reported for the first time about a gang of 20 men who groomed and sexually abused vulnerable girls in the Huddersfield area. The men were convicted in a series of trials of subjecting more than a dozen girls to what one judge described as a campaign of violent wicked abuse. Danny Savage reports from Leeds Crown Court'

'Over a period of seven years ending in 2011, 15 girls were sexually abused by scores of older Asian men. One of the victims was only 11 years old. A consistent theme heard in court is that girls would be driven up onto the remote moors above West Yorkshire towns late at night, and abandoned if they didn't comply with sexual demands from the men. One sheep farmer living in a remote Pennine house has told the BBC how he found distressed girls on his doorstep on a number of occasions. Victims and their families say they repeatedly told West Yorkshire Police what was happening, but no arrests were made until years later.'...

'A pattern of vile and wicked abuse carried out over a period of seven years. 15 girls sexually abused and raped by a group of men, mainly of Pakistani heritage. Now a judge has ruled that 20 men convicted of the offenses in a series of trials at Leeds Crown Court can be publicly named. The men were convicted more than 120 offenses against 15 girls, some as young as 11. Their identities can now be revealed and reporting restrictions lifted after a legal challenge by the BBC and other media organizations. DCI Ian Mottershaw from West Yorkshire Police said the investigation had been complex with tireless work over five years.'

'We welcome the convictions and the sentences which have been passed down throughout this year to those individuals who subjected vulnerable young children to unthinkable sexual and physical abuse. Child sexual exploitation is one of the most important challenges facing the police. Safeguarding the vulnerable and protecting victims is West Yorkshire police's top priority is totally unacceptable and it is the responsibility of all agencies, communities and individuals to identify those responsible and help bring them to justice'

'Michael Quinn from the Crown Prosecution Service emphasized the vulnerability of the victims upon whom these men had preyed'

'The men who have been convicted of these appalling crimes deliberately targeted their victims because of their vulnerability. They groomed them and exploited them for their own sexual gratification. Sometimes they used threats of violence. Typically they plied them with alcohol and drugs. At the heart of this case, is the victims who have all showed immense courage in coming forward to assist the investigation and support the prosecution case. I sincerely hope that the convictions of their abusers will go some way to helping these young women rebuild their lives.'

'The BBC's Johnny Savage has been following the case and Danny, just explain why these names are emerging today.'

'Well, Carolyn, basically there was a reporting restriction so we couldn't talk about any of these trials, which have been ongoing for months now, because they were all connected to each other. So these men, there was such a large number of them, they had to be tried over a period of three trials if you like. So we had the first the second and the third trial. Now that they finished we can talk about what has happened, the concern was that anything reported about the first may have influenced the second or third. Now what we know is that the men groomed these girls either by making them feel special or plying them with alcohol. It's a, it's a familiar story for anybody who's heard about these sort of cases before. They gave them cannabis and other drugs. They then used violence and threats to control them. On one occasion threatening to bomb a girl's family home, threatening to physically attack other family members also kept the gills in line if you like. The victims in this case, and they were often taken to parties where they were given drink and drugs and then forced to engage in sexual activity with men who were sometimes decades older than them. On other occasions they were assaulted in carparks above takeaways, at snooker clubs, and we've heard consistently throughout these cases of victims being taken up onto the wild moors about the West Yorkshire towns like Huddersfield, in Bradford and if they didn't comply with what their abusers wanted to do they were beaten up and threatened with being left there. And sometimes, we've heard from one victim who was actually dumped up on the Moors late at night when she didn't want to do what her abusers wanted her to. We also heard from a farmer, I've talked to a farmer over the last few days who has found girls abandoned up on the moors in the past and has had to take them to safety. So it is backed up by the experience of people living in the area and victims and their families say they repeatedly told police and the authorities what was happening at the time. One woman says she even wrote to the Prime Minister at the time but said it had fallen on deaf ears and one girl said when she tried to tell two officers who took her to hospital after she was assaulted by one of our abusers the police said to her you must have wanted it. Now I tried to get a question into West Yorkshire Police today about the fact that their actions were described as disgraceful by the prosecution during one of the trials here, but the police were only giving a statement today, they weren't answering any questions. Carolyn'

'What can you tell us about the perpetrators and why there were several trials?'

'Well, there were 20 perpetrators in all. They're mainly of Pakistani heritage. They were from Huddersfield, Bradford, Dewsbury and Sheffield, aged now between 27 and 54, one of the youngest victims was just 11 years old, the ringleader Amir Singh Diwali was jailed for life and told he must serve a minimum of 18 years. The judge said his treatment of the girls was inhuman. Other abusers had terrifying nicknames such as Bully, and Dracula which just intimidated their victims even more. Now, so far, 16 of the 20 men convicted have been jailed. The judge said to, Judge Geoffrey Marson said to some of them on conviction, the way you treated the girls defies understanding, the abuse was vile and wicked, and so far as the 16 men have been jailed for a total of 221 years if you add their sentences together but there are still four more other men who are due to be sentenced next month who have been found guilty already but are awaiting sentencing so we don't know how long they're going to prison for yet.'

'Tony Savage, thank you. Well Barry Sheerman is the Labour MP for Huddersfield. Just before we came on air, I asked him how long he'd been aware of the problem'

'Way back, long time ago. I was calling for action in 2007, made a major, major speech in Westminster Hall in Parliament in January 2009. But I'd been dealing with constituency cases that I knew that it was going on. And of course people, you know, they think this is just Huddersfield and Kirklees of the North, but yet these cases now have been in Rochdale and Birmingham in Burnley, Leicester, Peterborough, Newcastle, Oxford, Telford, Norwich, High Wycombe, Middlesborough, Bristol and more. So, this was a national crime, these gangs were in all these big towns and cities in Britain, and we were slow, slow to react'

'And these girls were calling out this behavior for a long time. it was drawn to your attention, why didn't the authorities pay attention?'

'Well, Carolyn, you got to be careful about authorities. I couldn't get the BBC or the media to take any interest. When I did my 2007, I put it on record, they were protected by Parliamentary privilege to report what I said, I got almost no coverage. Everyone thought it was too difficult and too disturbing. When I went to see my local police, who's in charge, a very nice man in charge of child protection, he said, Mr. Sheerman, it's so difficult to get evidence These girls are in love with or in fear of the perpetrator. And we haven't got the resources for surveillance and proper investigation. So you know, there were a lot of people aware, but there weren't the resources or the willingness really to grapple'

'And all the girls being looked after now, have they received the care that you are calling for?'

'I don't think anyone yet knows. Many of these cases are we know current, very recent, and that is why I like us to have a serious inquiry. You know, the government could appoint a very serious independent, someone like the Children's Commissioner, someone of that caliber, to look about why this happened, what the roots of it were, why these men got into these gangs and thought they could do this to young girls. And secondly, what has happened to the victims and how they've been treated.'

'Of course there was the Alexis J report wasn't there into Rotherham, but you want more''

'I'll certainly want more because this is such a deep concerning pattern of behavior in all our major, nearly all of our towns and cities, it's just quite overwhelming that the amount of activity that was going on. We must get this sorted'

'Barry Sheerman. Well Simon Bailey is the Chief Constable of Norfolk Police and the National Police Chiefs' Council lead for child protection. So Bailely you heard there the list of towns and cities cited by Barry Sherman. Cases like that, he said, too difficult, too disturbing it seemed to deal with. That's just not good enough is it?'

'I think when Professor Alexis J shone a light on the horrific abuse in Rotherham in 2014, it was a wake up call for the whole of the country. And increasingly over the last four years, there have been more and more cases. We've become increasingly aware of this particular pattern of abuse. And we are coming to terms with the fact that this is taking place in towns and cities, hamlets up and down the country. And unfortunately, today is just another example of the scale of the challenge that we face. And we as a country have to start asking the very difficult question as to what culturally drives this, what makes it all right in the eyes of these particular groups to abuse some of the most vulnerable children in society in the way that, in the way they do'

'You're pointing towards the point that has been made, been made before. Concerns about being labeled racist if you call out this action, is that what you're saying?'

'Look, I think Barry Sheerman mentioned it, he was raising in Parliament years ago, and it was being ignored, as he said by the media and other agencies. I think there has been a problem, I think it's a less of a problem. We've invested a significant amount of money in tackling the threat. But we would also recognize that there is so much more to be done. And we genuinely at this moment in time don't understand the cultural drivers behind this particular model of abuse.'

'Alexis Jay said, by far, the majority of perpetrators were described as Asian by victims, yet throughout the entire period counselors didn't engage directly with the Pakistani heritage community to discuss how best they could jointly address the issue. Now, are you saying that you want to address it, but what do you do? And how can you come to a point where any girl in future coming forward isn't going to just fear that they won't be believed?'

'Well, let me, let me address that issue first and foremost. The police service in the last four years since Professor J's report has taken some really significant steps to improve the response. And, and I believe in the vast majority of cases, young girls, young children, because they are children coming forward now will be dealt with very, very differently indeed. And whilst I recognize it's difficult, officers have now been trained to understand, to spot the signs of abuse, and the police service has taken some really significant steps forward in understanding some of those vulnerable children who have had difficult upbringings, in lots of cases have found themselves socially isolated, are no longer being dealt with as a problem. And they are recognized as being the victims that they are. The biggest challenge for us is, is actually asking the difficult questions, of saying: right, why is it that we are seeing this model of abuse? Why is it becoming so prolific? Why are we seeing such appalling acts being performed on these, on these children?'

'Why do you think it is?'

'I don't know. And that's the question that we have to ask ourselves as a country. We have to now lift the lid off this, we have to be bold, we have to ignore the allegations that we are being racist because we are not being racist. We have to really challenge ourselves to ask the question: how is it that this model of abuse that has become so prolific, it's still there and undoubtedly there will still be incidents taking place up and down the country, is being allowed to continue?'

'Simon Bailey, thank you.'...

'A judges ruled that details can be reported about 20 men who were convicted of child sexual abuse in a series of trials. The men who are mainly of Pakistani heritage lived in Yorkshire. They targeted 15 girls over a period of seven years. between 2004 and 2011. Reporting restrictions were lifted following a legal challenge by the BBC and other media organizations. Nazir Afzal is former chief crown prosecutor in northwest of England. He was the main prosecutor in the case against the Rochdale grooming gang in 2012. And Nazir Afzal, you hear the case here we heard from the local MP listing the towns and cities that have experienced similar cases. How do you respond?'

'Good afternoon, Carolyn, I think there's about 20 now, 20 towns and cities that have had this type of model of street grooming prosecuted, and it is sadly no surprise, I suppose there's one silver lining, namely the fact that these individuals are now being prosecuted, we've now got I think more than 200 men have now been prosecuted over the last five, seven years for this type of behavior. But the reality of course, is this has been going on for perhaps two decades. And so we're now having a reckoning in effect. And in large part, it is about the failure of authorities. It's the failure of all agencies, all agencies, to not listen to what these young girls invariably were going through. And yes, we've learned, they, they all keep talking about learning lessons. But the reality of course, is they should have got it right first time, and the only person that knew they weren't going to be listened to was the perpetrator, the offender, and he knew that and therefore he was able to carry on being, abusing them in the way that he did.'

'And in the meantime, these vulnerable and brave young women suffered and tried to give evidence that, that the wider issue these girls were calling out this behavior for a long time before anything was done.'

'Absolutely, Carolyn. If you think about it, you may not know this but back in 2008, the Home Office sent a circular to all police forces in the country saying 'as far as these young girls who are being exploited in, in towns and cities, we believe that they've made an informed choice about their sexual behavior. And therefore it's not for you police officers to get involved in'. That's the landscape coming from the top down in 2008, rest assured all agencies are gonna listen to it. It only changed because of the work that we did. And the work the Times newspaper did in 2010, 11. The fact that we were able to bring the prosecution in Rochdale led to this investigation in West Yorkshire opening, it only opened in 2013 and the series of prosecutions that followed indicate to me that the agencies are getting it right now. But the reality of course, is that we've lost a generation of young girls who've been left behind and abused.'

'And looking back at the Alexis J report into Rochdale staff describing nervousness about identifying the ethnic origins of perpetrators for fear of being thought racist, erm how do you counteract that suspicion and that fear because, it's very difficult for people to come forward if they think that they're going to be tainted or tarred or labeled in some way?'

'Carolyn, 2011, 12, maybe it's easier for me because I'm from a British Pakistani heritage, that I was able to say these things. The reality of course, is that it's not their gender - sorry it's not their race or ethnicity that drives their behaviors, it's the fact that they are men and the fact that they think they can get away with it that drives it. And you have to call it what it is. The reality is that most victims of child sexual abuse will be harmed in the home or online or institutions. And the vast majority of offenders are British white men. But when it comes to street grooming of the type that we're dealing with here, the British Pakistani men and South Asian men generally are sadly the group that are disproportionately involved. Let's not forget, the, the ringleader of this particular gang in Huddersfield was born in India, of Sikh heritage. So the reality is, it's much wider than we think, it's much worse than we think, but we have to listen, you start by listening to victims and survivors, and you therefore improve your services. And I don't buy political correctness, I believe that we've just been incompetent. If we did our job properly, this generation of girls would not have suffered'

'Nazir Afzal, thank you'...

'Over a period of seven years ending in 2011, 15 girls were sexually abused by scores of men, mainly of Pakistani heritage. One of the victims was only 11 years old. The ringleader, Amere Singh Dhaliwal, was jailed for life and told he must serve a minimum of 18 years. He was found guilty of 54 offenses, including 22 rapes involving 11 girls. The judge said his treatments of them was inhuman. Other abusers had nicknames, such as Bully, and Dracula. Victims and their families say they repeatedly told police and the authorities what was happening, but no action was taken. One mother said she even wrote to the Prime Minister. Another parent, whose words are spoken by a producer, described what life was like.'

'She would come home disorientated, scratches, bites. On one occasion, she came home and her neck was completely black with bites from one side to the other. A taxi had just pulled up outside and pushed her out. I could see another girl in the back and then it just drove off"

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Links - 14th November 2018 (2)

Camille Paglia on Movies, #MeToo and Modern Sexuality: "Endless, Bitter Rancor Lies Ahead" - "no profession has been more shockingly exposed and damaged than the entertainment industry, which has posed for so long as a bastion of enlightened liberalism. Despite years of pious lip service to feminism at award shows, the fabled “casting couch” of studio-era Hollywood clearly remains stubbornly in place. The big question is whether the present wave of revelations, often consisting of unsubstantiated allegations from decades ago, will aid women’s ambitions in the long run or whether it is already creating further problems by reviving ancient stereotypes of women as hysterical, volatile and vindictive... Expecting the artist to be a good person was a sentimental canard of Victorian moralism, rejected by the “art for art’s sake” movement led by Charles Baudelaire and Oscar Wilde. Indeed, as I demonstrated in my first book, Sexual Personae, the impulse or compulsion toward art making is often grounded in ruthless aggression and combat — which is partly why there have been so few great women artists... It was overwhelmingly men who created the machines and ultra-efficient systems of the industrial revolution, which in turn emancipated women. For the first time in history, women have gained economic independence and no longer must depend on fathers or husbands for survival. But many women seem surprised and unnerved by the competitive, pitiless forces that drive the modern professions, which were shaped by entrepreneurial male bonding. It remains to be seen whether those deep patterns of mutually bruising male teamwork, which may date from the Stone Age, can be altered to accommodate female sensitivities without reducing productivity and progress. Women’s discontent and confusion are being worsened by the postmodernist rhetoric of academe, which asserts that gender is a social construct and that biological sex differences don’t exist or don’t matter. Speaking from my lifelong transgender perspective, I find such claims absurd. That most men and women on the planet experience and process sexuality differently, in both mind and body, is blatantly obvious to any sensible person."

Camille Paglia’s Sexual “Realism” - "she, a mother, rails against the absence of any positive account of children who are at most “a management problem to be farmed out to working-class nannies” or day-care centers when they haven’t been “dealt with” ahead of time. Paglia, who is by no means a “pro-lifer,” exposes the callousness of the feminist sine qua non that does not reckon with the violence of abortion. Paglia’s insistence on looking at the evidence of things and “getting back to nature” shows up most prominently in her dealings with sexual desire. Being a lapsed Catholic of Mediterranean extraction, she is allergic to the “pinched, cramped, body-denying Protestant culture” that runs through so much of American feminism... By denying all this and throwing social cautions to the wind, telling women “they can do anything, go anywhere, say anything, wear anything,” it is feminism, declares Paglia, that has made them vulnerable, not patriarchy. “A girl who lets herself get dead drunk at a fraternity party is a fool. A girl who goes upstairs alone with a brother at a fraternity party is an idiot. Feminists call this ‘blaming the victim.’ I call it common sense.”... much of Paglia’s pro-man talk is driven by the fact that men are the ones chiefly responsible for “transcending” nature through art, science, and politics, by virtue of their general capacity to project (a talent expressed in their very physiology). She famously wrote in her Sexual Personae: “If civilization had been left in female hands, we would still be living in grass huts.”"

Laura Kipnis on the Future of Seduction - "Coaxing people into things they’re initially reluctant (though might secretly yearn) to do in the realm of sex and romance, though a time-honored ritual of literature, movies, and perhaps a few well-burnished memories, has become rather suspect... even in the classic gender arrangement, the seduced wasn’t a passive bystander: Her resistance was critical. Yielding too soon dooms the whole enterprise (as does not yielding at all). From this point of a view, a seduction is a joint project between two people collaborating in the weakening of one’s defenses, watching them melt like chocolate in a double boiler... The dismal truth is that none of us is particularly unique, but it’s a solace to occasionally be persuaded otherwise, even temporarily. It does, of course, mean that the people we’re best at conning will be ourselves — and never more than in the reassuring fables we tell of preyed-upon innocence and virtue wronged."

The Dangers of Ignoring Cognitive Inequality - "IQ scores tested during conscription were a significant and robust predictor, not only for APD or CD, but for all categories of mental disorders. Conscripts with low IQ were substantially more likely to be diagnosed with one or more mental disorders, to suffer from mood and personality disorders, and to be hospitalized for mental illness. Those in the lowest band—like Bryant—were most at risk of severe psychological disorders... A 2016 study by four psychologists using data from the Danish Conscription Database (containing 728,160 men) revealed low IQ to be a risk factor for almost all causes of death... Because the role of cognitive ability is de-emphasized in childhood success, and often treated as a function of effort, children in these circumstances can find themselves trying harder than every other child in the classroom, while still being admonished to ‘try harder.’ While wise caregivers abstain from blaming these children outright for their failures, a taboo on acknowledging the importance of intelligence means that low IQ individuals themselves may be unaware of their condition or its full ramifications, making them likely to engage in repeated self-blaming injurious to self-esteem and mental stability."
So much for IQ being a useless concept

Too hungry, too destructive, too many: South Africa to begin elephant cull - "Amid words of protest and expressions of relief environment minister Martinus van Schalkwyk announced the elephant had been a victim of its own success with numbers growing from 8,000 to nearly 20,000 in national parks and private reserves in just over a decade... Supporters of culling point to growing difficulties in managing elephants in the country's biggest and most famous game reserve, Kruger National Park. It has more than 12,500 elephants, 5,000 more than is sustainable, according to park officials. Ecologists say the animals' huge appetites and fondness for "habitat re-engineering" - reducing forests to flatland by uprooting trees and trampling plants as they feed and roam - threaten the park's biodiversity... A national park or private reserve will only be allowed to cull with the approval of the authorities and an elephant management specialist, who must be satisfied all other options are not viable. These include contraception, a tricky process that can cause females much distress, and relocation of entire elephant families, which can be stressful for the animals and is expensive... Rob Little, conservation director at WWF in South Africa, welcomed the announcement. He said the country's rapid elephant population growth of 6% - mainly due to the absence of natural predators of mature animals - was unsustainable"

Rutgers may discipline professor who made anti-white Facebook posts - "A longtime Rutgers University history professor could be facing disciplinary action after an investigation by the university concluded he violated its discrimination and harassment policy when he posted on Facebook that he hates white people, a comment he argues was “satirical.” Rutgers’ decision, the professor says, threatens the tradition of academic freedom at public institutions. But the university argues it needs to maintain a discrimination-free environment... Livingston’s original post was blocked by Facebook. Facebook alerted him at the time that it violated its community standards. Still, Livingston wrote follow-up posts reiterating his comments. “I just don't want little Caucasians overrunning my life,” he wrote . “Remand them to the suburbs, where they and their parents can colonize every restaurant.”"

San Francisco's sidewalks are covered with human feces, so the city is launching a 'Poop Patrol' to deal with the city's No. 2 problem - "a team of five Public Works employees will take to the streets of San Francisco’s grittiest neighborhood, the Tenderloin, in a vehicle equipped with a steam cleaner. They will ride around the alleys to clean piles of poop before city denizens have a chance to complain about them... the NBC Bay Area Investigative Unitspent three days surveying 153 blocks of downtown San Francisco to see what they would find. Their search turned up drug needles, garbage, and feces in concentrations comparable to some of the world’s poorest slums... In Los Angeles, an outbreak of hepatitis A was linked to the city’s 50,000 homeless people, who sometime defecate in the streets and spread disease."

Dutch Culture Taught Me to Be Brutally Honest: The Dutch Directness - "we Americans fuck ourselves over -- in our relationships, in the workplace -- by pretending to be so damn nice all the time... To the Dutch, the truth is productive. Honest feedback changes your perspective on yourself and the situations around you. Now comes my favorite anecdote of all. When Geske was nervous about going into labor, her Dutch doctor took her to a window, pointed at a woman, and said, “Look at that woman over there. Does she look overly intelligent? No. Even idiots can have children.”... On the flip side, the Dutch find Americans confusing and passive aggressive "

Homoeopathy as a Feminist Form of Medicine
I can certainly see the similarities

The Tech Industry’s Psychological War on Kids - "the core of some UX research is about using psychology to take advantage of our human vulnerabilities. That’s particularly pernicious when the targets are children... Self-inflicted injuries, such as cutting, that are serious enough to require treatment in an emergency room, have increased dramatically in 10- to 14-year-old girls, up 19% per year since 2009."

Jeremy Michael Robins - "As a mother of 4 boys, I find it extremely disturbing that all that is required today to ruin a young man's life, is a decade's old accusation. Even when all of the accusers "witnesses" have all claimed that they have no recollection of the incident. The presumption of innocence is no more. Now, men are guilty until proven innocent and it seems that no amount of reason, common sense or plain old facts will matter in the face of an accusation. Almost every woman I know has had a drunken one night stand that they regretted the next day. Now, those women can claim to have been raped, simply because they were intoxicated. It doesn't matter if the man was even more intoxicated, it doesn't matter if it was the woman who pursued the man, the presumption of guilt lies squarely at his feet. Whatever happened to personal responsibility? Women are not delicate flowers that need to be protected from every potential interaction they have with a man. This is absolutely absurd. I have read some very disturbing cases of very young men having their lives ruined, men who were expelled from college because the college failed to investigate claims thoroughly... Is this good enough, is this the future we want for our boys, is this the culture we want them growing up in? It's not good enough for my boys and it shouldn't be good enough for anyone else's. Be careful what you blindly support now, it will be too late to affect change 15 years from now, when it is your own sons on the receiving end of baseless accusations. This goes far beyond the realm of dirty politics, this has permeated into the lives of ordinary young men, everywhere. I refuse to raise my boys to believe that all masculinity is toxic, that all men are potential rapists, or worse, that all men are just inherently "bad"."

Why You Shouldn’t Open a Restaurant (Ep. 347) - Freakonomics Freakonomics - "Kenji LÓPEZ-ALT: If you use vodka in place of some of the water in your pie crust, you end up with a dough that is much flakier and much lighte
He investigated whether the key ingredient in New York pizza really is the water.
LÓPEZ-ALT: So I did a full double-blind experiment where I got water — starting with perfectly distilled water and up to various levels of dissolved solids inside the water. And what we basically ended up finding was the water makes almost no difference compared to other variables in the dough.
He found that the secret to General Tso’s chicken lay in geometry.
LÓPEZ-ALT: The geometry of food is important because one of the big things is surface-area-to-volume ratio.
And he explored the relationship between meat and salt; he proved why it’s important to salt a hamburger at the last minute, on the surface of the meat"

The extraordinary history of ordinary things - History Extra - "You find the most amazing stuff in [chimneys]... we find the most extraordinary things up chimneys. Shoes, cats. But letters. Wonderful collection of childhood letters to Father Christmas which have been burnt, semi-burnt. Been whipped up the fire and then got stuck.. And so builders have been finding them… someone found a early 17th century map of the world stuck up their chimney… There are not four of these things on earth. And it was found in pieces up a chimney. And loads of legal documents. Chimneys are basically archives and I reckon wells are as well."

Biology Matters - "Regardless of how often we hear, “it doesn’t matter who raises a child as long as they are safe and loved,” the data reveals that being raised by both biological parents is one of the strongest predictors of whether or not a child will actually be safe and loved... 'if a stepfather joins a family headed by a lone mother, then the children are likely to grow up with the same problems as children from families that continue to be led by a lone mother.'"
Interestingly, this militates against the claim that single mothers are worse for kids only because of a lack of money and a lack of manpower - since adding a stepfather (who can provide both) doesn't appreciably improve outcomes

CDC: Children do best with two biological parents - "Two biological parents provide the safest environment for a child, according to a study released last week by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) National Center for Health Statistics. The study is the first to look specifically at biological and non-biological parents, rather than married, cohabitating, or same-sex parents"

Helen Dale - "2. A left-wing friend has written to me saying s/he is really worried about writing something critical of a currently popular left position because s/he is frightened of losing all his/her left-wing writing gigs.
3. A right-wing friend with regular gigs in right-wing outlets thinks economic inequality matters more than most conservatives and classical liberals think it does. He’s at no risk of losing his gigs, but if he wants to write on that topic he’s been directed to ‘publish it elsewhere’.
4. Every day, I encounter people who boast that they don’t read anything published by individuals ‘on the other side’. Often entire outlets are written off (The Australian, the Guardian, etc, depending on politics).
5. I have leftie friends - personal friends - who didn’t know I had a new book out because, well, I wrote about it (and other people wrote about it) in The Australian, Spectator, Quillette etc."

On the death of Moderate Islam in Pakistan

Strangely, this great 2011 article I previously linked in 2011 was hard to find via Google - and after I added keywords to make it easier to find, it became impossible to find via them.

Hopefully making a dedicated post will make it easier to locate in future.

Blasphemy Law and the Marginalisation of Pakistan’s Moderate Muslims | Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses

"Blasphemy Law and the Marginalisation of Pakistan’s Moderate Muslims
Sushant Sareen

In a country where the man in charge of maintaining law and order and fighting Islamic terrorists, Interior Minister Rehman Malik, has no compunctions in declaring that he would personally shoot anyone committing blasphemy, where a minister for religious affairs justifies suicide bombings in Britain because of the knighthood given to author Salman Rushdie, and where the chief justice of Lahore High Court enunciates a new principle of jurisprudence under which the courts don’t require any witness to establish a case of blasphemy against an accused, a Mumtaz Qadri (the assassin who murdered Punjab Governor Salman Taseer for calling the infamous Blasphemy Law a ‘black law’) is pretty much par for the course. The real significance of Taseer’s murder lies in what it exemplifies viz. radicalisation has seeped far too deep into Pakistan’s society and is today the norm, while the liberals and moderates with whom the rest of the world interfaces are the exception.

The outpouring of grief, condemnation and soul searching by liberal and moderate writers has conveyed an impression that there is widespread revulsion over the assassination. Nothing can be farther from the truth. According to Pakistani journalist Rahimullah Yusufzai, the ‘moderates’ have a strong presence only in the editorial pages of the English language press, the readership of which is not more than a few hundred thousand in a nation of close to 180 million people. More than anything else, the deluge of write-ups on Taseer’s killing in the English media illustrates the panic being felt by sections of the Pakistani elite, which until now had been unaffected by the tide of religious fanaticism sweeping Pakistan.

The times when this tiny elite used to set the social, cultural and political agenda of Pakistan are long gone. Over the last couple of decades, street and state power has been steadily shifting away from this marginalised section, as is evident from million man marches in support of Qadri, the showering of rose petals on Qadri by Pakistani lawyers, and the difficulty of finding a cleric willing to read Taseer’s funeral prayers. Even worse, leading lights of the lawyers movement, who never tired of telling the world that they were fighting in defence of rule of law and a more liberal state, flatly refused to publicly condemn Qadri.

If this was the ‘civil society’s’ reaction, the response of the state was no better. From the Prime Minister down all senior government functionaries distanced themselves from Taseer’s stand against the death sentence to Aasia Bibi for allegedly committing blasphemy. Interior Minister Rehman Malik advised a ruling party lawmaker, Sherry Rehman, to leave the country if she wants to live. Her crime: moving a private member’s bill seeking amendments in the blasphemy law to prevent its abuse and misuse. The mullahs are baying for her blood, issuing fatwas that hold her murder a righteous and obligatory act for Muslims. But there has been absolutely no response from the state against this blatant incitement to murder. What is worse, many police officials, including those involved in anti-terrorist operations, are reported to have voiced support for Qadri and justified his actions.

With the Pakistani state leaning over backwards to appease the Islamists, the latter have latched on to the blasphemy law to stamp their domination on the social, political, cultural, legal and constitutional discourse. They have felt further emboldened by the judiciary’s complicity with, if not capitulation to, Islamism. To quote Pakistani columnist and Member of National Assembly, Ayaz Amir: “lower-tier judges go out of their way to look for loopholes when dangerous terrorists are on trial, thus giving them the benefit of the doubt, and...close all loopholes and don spectacles of the utmost strictness when it comes to the trial of a poor Christian...charged with blasphemy, on the flimsiest of evidence...” The attitude of the superior judiciary is no better, with the Chief Justice declaring that the court couldn’t be a mute bystander and let Pakistan become a secular state, and the Lahore High Court forbidding the government from granting any clemency to Aasia Bibi.

The seriousness of the systemic crisis confronting Pakistan can also be gauged from the fact that the mullahs who are in the vanguard of extolling Qadri’s act belong to the anti-Taliban Barelvi sect which is being touted as the face of moderate Islam and is being propped up by the Pakistani state as a counterforce to the pro-Taliban Deobandi sect. But as is clear from the Taseer murder, when it comes to fanaticism, there is little to choose between the Barelvis and the Deobandis. In other words, the struggle in Pakistan is no longer between moderate and radical Islam, but between two competing versions of radical Islam.

What has contributed to the unbridled rise in power and influence of the Islamists is the absence of a convincing and credible religious and ideological narrative that can counter them. The best that the ‘moderates’ can come up with is that the fundamentalists do not represent the ‘silent majority’, something that has been proved by the consistently poor performance of religious parties in successive elections. But as Hajrah Mumtaz writes, “the phrase ‘silent majority’ in Pakistan can only be used in the context of its original meaning — it originates from Homer’s Odyssey, and refers to the dead who are in the majority as compared to the living...if Pakistan has a ‘silent majority at all, it is in this manner.” What the ‘moderates’ cannot or don’t want to understand is that the extremists don’t need to win a majority in Parliament to push for what they want; they can easily force their way through the use of their street power and firepower.

By concentrating only on the inequities of the blasphemy law, the Pakistani ‘moderates’, as also the rest of the world, are missing the woods for the trees. The real battle to be fought is the one against radical Islamic thought and not for some minor changes in law. But this is a battle that has still not been joined in any serious manner."

Links - 14th November 2018 (1)

11 Foods That Shouldn't Ever Need An Expiration Date - "Honey keeps indefinitely. It may change color and become crystalized, but it will stay safe to eat. If your honey does crystallize, just place the open jar in warm water and stir until the crystals dissolve."

Rosenhan experiment - Wikipedia - "The Rosenhan experiment or Thud experiment was an experiment conducted to determine the validity of psychiatric diagnosis. The experimenters feigned hallucinations to enter psychiatric hospitals, and acted normally afterwards. They were diagnosed with psychiatric disorders and were given antipsychotic drugs. The study was conducted by psychologist David Rosenhan, a Stanford University professor, and published by the journal Science in 1973 under the title "On being sane in insane places"... While listening to a lecture by R. D. Laing, who was associated with the anti-psychiatry movement, Rosenhan conceived of the experiment as a way to test the reliability of psychiatric diagnoses. The study concluded "it is clear that we cannot distinguish the sane from the insane in psychiatric hospitals" and also illustrated the dangers of dehumanization and labeling in psychiatric institutions... Despite constantly and openly taking extensive notes on the behavior of the staff and other patients, none of the pseudopatients were identified as impostors by the hospital staff, although many of the other psychiatric patients seemed to be able to correctly identify them as impostors"
Perhaps this is why today people think mental illness isn't as 'real' as physical illness, despite the protestations of people trying to elevate them to the same level

Brown University Releases a $100 Million Plan to Increase Inclusivity - "Glenn Loury, a professor of economics at Brown and a prominent critic of the graduate students’ statement, recently declared on Facebook that during his decade at the institution as a black faculty member doing scholarly work on race, ethnicity, and inequality, “I have found the university to be an extremely warm, welcoming, supportive and open environment to undertake my work. I know well the people who run this institution, and the notion that they are racially insensitive is a shameful slander with no basis in fact.” Noting that “the administration has lavished resources on me, and has enthusiastically supported any number of initiatives that contribute to promoting a just and decent society, both within the United States and throughout the world,” he expressed these specific misgivings:
The notion that Brown needs a revolutionary reshaping in order to become hospitable to "students of color," the idea that "anti-black pedagogy" at Brown needs to be countered with some mandatory indoctrination of faculty, the proposal that external student committees should review purportedly "racist" departmental appointment processes, the initiative of creating "specialty positions" in academic departments to ensure their openness to hiring "faculty of color"—these are all mischievous intrusions on the academic prerogatives of a distinguished faculty which no self-respecting scholar of any color should welcome. They are a step onto a slippery slope that slides down into intellectual mediocrity, and I will have nothing to do with them...
It could be considered “insensitive” for a feminist scholar to probe whether the transgender community is helping to ossify the notion that there are inherently masculine and feminine traits; or for a scholar of transgenderism to probe whether radical feminism denies real gender identities (to reference one heated disagreement on the left). Are those still legitimate areas of inquiry? Is sensitivity really a primary value that a university ought to instill in its faculty and graduate students? (The work of Darwin and his successors in biology was extremely insensitive to the feelings of several generations of religious believers. Isn’t it good that they pressed forwards anyway?) Perhaps it would be better to inculcate humanism or tolerance or inherent dignity, values that help communities flourish without stigmatizing the search for truth."

God's Foreknowledge and Man's Free Will (2) - "The question is an ancient one. Even in Augustine’s day (354-430), the question had to be faced. In those days, the Pelagians and Semi-Pelagians taught that man had a free will and that God saved only those who wanted to be saved by their (alleged) free will. Augustine most emphatically denied it. The Roman Catholic Church most emphatically taught it and killed those who denied it. All the Reformers, without exception, denied free will, as did the Reformed and Presbyterian churches throughout Europe... The only answer that anyone can give is that the church of Christ since Pentecost to today, including Paul’s epistles to the Galatians and the Romans, all the great creeds of the church and all the greatest theologians, have held to this one position: Man’s fall resulted in his total depravity, that is, his total inability to do any good and his ability to do only what is evil. This includes his will: the will of fallen man is totally unable to do anything pleasing to God; it is totally unable to contribute even 0.001% to a man’s salvation; it can do nothing but hate God (Rom. 1:30)."
Basically Protestants don't believe in free will, Catholics do

Foreign parents of Singaporean boys worry over national service issues - "“If you benefited from the government, you had education here or used up government benefits, you should be liable for NS. But for the case of the Thai kid, he didn’t go through the Singapore education system. I feel like it’s unfair for him, for the family,” said Tee, whose wife is a Singapore permanent resident. Tee is among a number of parents with foreign spouses who face the possibility of their sons violating NS obligations should they migrate to other countries. These parents spoke to Yahoo News Singapore about the implications of any long-term move overseas for their sons in the wake of Ekawit’s case, and urged flexibility from the authorities on the issue... The case has also put a spotlight on the dilemma that Singaporean males face should they wish to renounce their citizenship. Ekawit’s mother told Singapore authorities that she wished to renounce her son’s Singapore citizenship but was told that Ekawit could do so only after turning 21... Many netizens who have followed Ekawit’s case questioned why a Singaporean male who could only renounce his citizenship at 21 is obligated to do NS before that. Under the law, Singaporean males are liable for NS registration from the age of 16.5 years old... Loy pointed out that there are some misconceptions that NS defaulters are typically punished with fines and not imprisonment. He said that the High Court set out new sentencing benchmarks last year that peg the penalties for NS dodgers to the length of their default period... Thuraisingam noted that of particular interest is that the extent of an NS defaulter’s connection to Singapore is not a factor in the sentencing process. “This is because the assessment of the degree of the defaulter’s connection to Singapore is within the prerogative of the Ministry of Defence (Mindef), and as such, is a matter of Mindef policy, not law,” he said."
Basically don't register your sons for Singapore citizenship. Or they will be punished for their parents' crimes

After Ekawit Tangtrakarn, Singapore NS obligations need clarity - "I remember clearly the phone conversation I had this year with a Ministry of Defence (Mindef) officer who was supposed to answer my questions about dual citizenship and NS. The call was as informative as it was confusing... I was concerned about the bond. Four children at $75,000 each is the price of an apartment. The officer assured me that the bond was only for exit permits longer than two years. As long as I was happy to renew the exit permit every two years, I needn’t worry about the bond. Finland allows dual citizenship and for minors to renounce their citizenship. It also has mandatory national service. Should my children serve in the Finnish Army first, would they also be able to serve in the SAF? Or vice versa? The answer was yes – there is no restriction against serving in multiple militaries, at least from Mindef’s point of view. That answer struck me as oddly pragmatic for a country that doesn’t allow dual citizenship. I asked specifically if any of my sons, especially considering that one of them is only a year old, could theoretically give up their citizenship without serving NS. I don’t recall the precise answer, but I was given the clear impression that it was a negative.. In 2006, Deputy Prime Minister and then Defence Minister Teo Chee Hean said that “only those who have emigrated at a young age and have not enjoyed substantial socio-economic benefits are allowed to renounce their citizenship without serving national service.” Given that one cannot renounce citizenship until the age of 21, and that NS liability begins at age 16 and a half, it is unclear how this is accomplished, and the authorities are tight-lipped on how a Singaporean might access this conditional right to renounce their citizenship without serving NS... something is already broken: boys like Ekawit Tangtrakarn are paying the price for our neuroses. And if Singapore cannot do right for this one estranged former son, all the future sons of Singapore, especially those with a choice of which nationality to identify with, would think twice before joining the family."

The Great Chinese Art Heist - "In each case, the robbers focused their efforts on art and antiquities from China, especially items that had been looted by foreign armies. Many of these objects are well documented and publicly known, making them very hard to sell and difficult to display. In most cases the pieces have not been recovered; they seem to simply vanish... When an eight-person team arrived at New York's Metropolitan Museum, it was led by an archaeologist and largely composed of employees from Chinese state media and Beijing's palace museum. As the group poked around and asked about the art on display, one participant, a researcher named Liu Yang who had gained some notoriety for his zeal in cataloging China's lost treasures, sleuthed through the museum's long corridors, looking for objects he might recognize. The visit ended without incident, but the shift in tactics was evident: China was no longer content to sit back passively and hope for the return of its art. The hunt was on. Soon, all across Europe, thefts began... “When we are young, we are indoctrinated to believe that the foreigners stole from us,” Liu once told The New Yorker. “But maybe it's out of context. Whatever of ours [the foreigners] stole, we can always snatch it back one day.”
Maybe China will give up all of the land it has stolen since the Qin Dynasty

It’s not science I don’t trust – it’s the scientists | The Spectator - "The study by Nathan Cofnas et al — Does Activism in the Social Sciences Explain Conservatives’ Distrust of Scientists? — pours scorn on the idea that conservatives are any more anti-science than lefties. It’s not science they distrust so much as scientists — especially ones in more nebulous, activism-driven fields like ecology or sociology... ‘Take any politicised issue that is connected to some disagreement about scientific fact. I do not believe there is a single case in the last couple of decades where a major scientific organisation took a position that went against the platform of the Democratic party.’ He added: ‘What an odd coincidence that “science” always, without exception, supports the liberal worldview.’... In 2014, a paper was published in Science called ‘When contact changes minds: An experiment on transmission of support for gay equality’. This demonstrated that instinctively homophobic, buttoned-up conservatives were more likely to become liberal on meeting a gay man. Their study showed that ‘a 20-minute conversation with a gay canvasser’ increased their acceptance of same-sex marriage nine months later. Great! Except as two graduate students subsequently demonstrated, no study was ever conducted. To the chagrin of the social scientists who had welcomed this paper and its heartwarming message, it had to be retracted. Where are the peer-reviewers who are supposed to vet these things? Well, it turns out they’re generally willing to give a free pass to any thesis that accords with the liberal narrative. For example, over the course of more than a decade, Diederik Stapel ‘published dozens of sensational papers on such topics as how easily Whites or men can be prompted to discriminate against Blacks or women’. When exposed as a fraud, Stapel explained that he was merely giving social scientists what they were ‘waiting for’. Stapel probably had a point. If research supports a liberal shibboleth — say, the notion that violence is a learned behaviour rather than innate — then it will be given huge prominence. In 2000, the American Academy of Pediatrics testified to Congress that ‘more than 3,500’ studies had investigated the link between exposure to media violence and actual violent behaviour. This was a lie. Even those few studies — fewer than 1,000 — that purported to find a causal link often did so on the flimsiest of evidence. For example, one established the elevated ‘aggression’ caused by watching an exciting film by asking a child ‘whether he would pop a balloon if one were present’. If the evidence doesn’t accord with the correct ‘woke’ narrative then right-thinking social scientists tailor it till it does. This is what happened to a 2007 study showing racially diverse communities are more suspicious, withdrawn, ungenerous, fractured and fractious. Such an incendiary refutation of the well-known truth that ‘diversity is strength’ could not go unedited. So it didn’t. Publication was delayed until the author could ‘develop proposals to compensate for the negative effects of diversity’. To publish the facts on their own would be ‘irresponsible’... every time some unhelpful conservative type cites it to back up their argument that diversity causes social problems, he accuses them of selectively citing his findings because they’ve ignored the bit at the end where he explains that diversity will be good one day."

E Pluribus Unum: Diversity and Community in the Twenty‐first Century The 2006 Johan Skytte Prize Lecture - Putnam - 2007 - "In the short run, however, immigration and ethnic diversity tend to reduce social solidarity and social capital. New evidence from the US suggests that in ethnically diverse neighbourhoods residents of all races tend to ‘hunker down’. Trust (even of one's own race) is lower, altruism and community cooperation rarer, friends fewer"

The simple but ingenious system Taiwan uses to crowdsource its laws - "On Pol.is, a topic is put up for debate. Anyone who creates an account can post comments on the topic, and can also upvote or downvote other people’s comments. That may sound much like any other online forum, but two things make Pol.is unusual. The first is that you cannot reply to comments. “If people can propose their ideas and comments but they cannot reply to each other, then it drastically reduces the motivation for trolls to troll,” Tang says. The second is that it uses the upvotes and downvotes to generate a kind of map of all the participants in the debate, clustering together people who have voted similarly. Although there may be hundreds or thousands of separate comments, like-minded groups rapidly emerge in this voting map, showing where there are divides and where there is consensus. People then naturally try to draft comments that will win votes from both sides of a divide, gradually eliminating the gaps."

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Links - 13th November 2018 (2)

I Paid $100,000, and All I Got Was This Lousy Degree - ""Your Money" columnist Ron Lieber asks us to feel the pain of Cortney Munna, a 26-year-old NYU graduate who owes $100,000 for "an interdisciplinary degree in religious and women's studies" that is not quite as lucrative as she expected. Munna "makes $22 an hour working for a photographer" in San Francisco (one of the most expensive cities in the country) and dreads the thought of "slaving away to pay for an education I got for four years and would happily give back," which she says "feels wrong to me." To his credit, Lieber assigns some responsibility for this state of affairs to Munna and her mother... Lieber also wants to blame Citibank (featured in a photo accompanying the column) for "handing over $40,000 to an undergraduate who had already amassed debt well into the five figures." That may turn out to have been a bad business decision, but is it a bank's job to tell a loan applicant what her priorities should be? Citibank made it possible for Munna to realize her dream of attending the college of her choice instead of various less expensive options, and Lieber is saying, in effect, that it should have told her to aim lower. Likewise, he faults NYU's financial aid office for not giving Munna better advice, which would have meant suggesting that she attend a different, cheaper school. Not only is it unrealistic to expect a college to send away a student who is ready to pay full tuition, but at the time Munna and her mother probably would have resented the suggestion."

Student Debt Is Worse for Women - "women hold almost two-thirds of the nation’s student-loan debt, nearly $900 billion of the $1.4 trillion total, with black women holding the highest average debt of any racial, ethnic, and gender group among graduates who completed bachelor’s degrees... Even knowing that fields dominated by women tend to pay less than fields dominated by men, Chandler saw social work as the right choice for her"

My Degrees Make Me Unemployable - "I did everything I was told; “Study hard, go to a good college. You’ll get a good job and not have to work for minimum wage.” I got a Master’s degree for good measure to ensure my career profitability. Sadly, nearing my 40’s I stare at a bleak job outlook. When I was younger, I told my Dad my plans for travel and saving the world and he warned me that I was too idealistic for my own good. My idealism translated into my college majors, English and History... I had a conversation with the Dean of Arts and Sciences who, in response to hearing I was an English major, said that I’d be “highly unemployable”. I was discouraged by his comment and realize now that I was too idealistic to appreciate its value... at 37, when most of my friends are well established in a career, can afford to take vacations and have a solid 401(k), I must say I am a bit envious. I know we sacrificed a lot so I could stay home with our children (something I would never change) but I did have brighter hopes for my future. I thought my degrees and past work experience would speak for themselves. I thought I’d seamlessly transition back into the workforce. But, I am highly educated in looking at perspectives, analyzing situations and problem-solving. I guess I’ll do just that."

WaPo Feels Really Sorry For Black, Transgender Rite Aid Shooter - "The media wants everyone to know this black, transgender mass shooter was a poet just ‘struggling to find her way.’
Details are still emerging as to what motivated a 26 year old temporary worker at a Rite Aid facility in Aberdeen, Md. to open fire late last week, killing three and injuring three others before turning the gun on herself. But in a move unheard of when mass shooters fit the straight, white male narrative, some mainstream media are running cover for the suspect, ignoring her transgenderism or insisting readers consider the suspect’s “struggle.” Harford County Sheriff Jeff Gahler told reporters Friday that suspect Snochia Moseley showed up to work on time Thursday morning, went home on a break and returned with a 9mm Glock pistol, pepper spray, and a pair of handcuffs."
If you assume straight white males have no problems in life, you can assume there're no mitigating factors when they shoot up places

China could be exposed in trade war as US allies choose compromise - "Trump pressure on partners pays off as they succumb to the art of the deal"

U.S. Near Bottom, Hong Kong and Singapore at Top of Health Havens - "Want medical care without quickly draining your fortune? Try Singapore or Hong Kong as your healthy havens. The U.S. will cost you the most for treatment, both in absolute terms and relative to average incomes, while life expectancy of Americans -- about 79 years -- was exceeded by more than 25 countries and territories"

As a Rotherham grooming gang survivor, I want people to know about the religious extremism which inspired my abusers - "Like terrorists, they firmly believe that the crimes they carry out are justified by their religious beliefs... Experts say that grooming gangs are not the same as paedophile rings. It’s something that central Government really needs to understand in order to prevent more grooming gang crime in the future. In November 2017, the Swedish government held a meeting where they stated that: “Sexual violence is being used as a tactic of terrorism”, and as such, it was recognised as a threat to Sweden’s national security... Religious indoctrination is a big part of the process of getting young men involved in grooming gang crime. Religious ideas about purity, virginity, modesty and obedience are taken to the extreme until horrific abuse becomes the norm. It was taught to me as a concept of “othering”."

Désirée Lim Harkins - "For chrissakes, let's stop worrying about the threat of 'foreign intervention'. At its mildest, this variant of xenophobia is alarmingly inconsistent. The kneejerk willingness to accuse other Singaporeans of treason exists in the very same space where international cooperation and diplomatic ties are lauded alongside the tireless flow of global capital. The interactions that are labelled 'treacherous' are, quite obviously, not all meetings between foreigners and Singaporeans, but only those meetings that are regarded threatening by the government. (By 'threatening', I don't mean a problem for security, but 'out of its control'.) The working definition of 'foreign intervention' essentially applies to those interactions between Singaporeans and foreigners that the state does not sanction - whether it's interviews with a famous statesman, funding from a wealthy non-Singaporean, or even attendance at a large-scale (legal) protest. At its most troubling, the narrative of 'foreign intervention' is deeply divisive. It asks us to treat foreigners as inherently suspicious. Of course, they are allowed to labour for us, be of economic benefit to us, but god forbid they have a social impact on the country they are embedded in. As the blatant suspicion towards Malaysian-born citizens indicates, it also creates a hierarchical notion of citizenship: Singaporeans are seen to exist along a continuum of 'more or less suspicious' depending on their birthplace or parentage... There is *nothing* categorically wrong with allowing oneself to be persuaded or influenced by a foreigner. It is not at all clear why this should be treated as a bad thing, unless we adopt the absurd position that we are not allowed to have views other than those held by 'our countrymen', whatever those may be... Political interactions with foreigners, on the other hand, can also have a democracy-ENHANCING effect: for example, if we band together with citizens from neighbouring countries to discuss how basic human rights can be improved throughout the region. The point is, there is nothing inherently wrong with adopting ideas suggested by foreigners, agreeing to cooperate with foreigners, or accepting their help"

Backlash builds against China as Belt and Road ties fray - "Many countries have taken note of the fate of the Hambantota port project in Sri Lanka, part of Belt and Road. The Sri Lankan government became heavily indebted to Beijing and was forced to lease the port to the Chinese for 99 years. That China often sends over the necessary labor for infrastructure projects, instead of employing locals, is another sore spot."

26th MEU battalion commander fired during deployment over equal opportunity concerns - "An infantry battalion commander sacked in the middle of a deployment with the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit, or MEU, was at least partially fired for allegedly using a term that could be disparaging to members of the LGBTQ community"
Comments: "Do people not understand that our military is trained to kill people and destroy things?"
"So, the Corps is telling me that if a LGBTQ Commander said something like: "Get that straight-assed vehicle out of here!" they would have been relieved?"

Why identity politics benefits the right more than the left | Sheri Berman - "Studies make clear, however, that racism has been decreasing over time, among Republicans and Democrats. (Views of immigration have also grown more favorable.)... Maureen Craig and Jennifer Richeson, for example, found that simply making white Americans aware that they would soon be a minority increased their propensity to favor their own group and become wary of those outside it. (Similar effects were found among Canadians. Indeed, although this tendency is most dangerous among whites since they are the most powerful group in western societies, researchers have consistently found such propensities in all groups.) ... In the past, the Republican and Democratic parties attracted supporters with different racial, religious, ideological and regional identities, but gradually Republicans became the party of white, evangelical, conservative and rural voters, while the Democrats became associated with non-whites, non-evangelical, liberal and metropolitan voters. This lining up of identities dramatically changes electoral stakes: previously if your party lost, other parts of your identity were not threatened, but today losing is also a blow to your racial, religious, regional and ideological identity. (Mason cites a study showing that in the week following Obama’s 2012 election, Republicans felt sadder than American parents after the Newtown school shooting or Bostonians after the Boston Marathon bombing.) This social sorting has led partisans of both parties to engage in negative stereotyping and even demonization... Once the other party becomes an enemy rather than an opponent, winning becomes more important than the common good and compromise becomes an anathema. Such situations also promote emotional rather than rational evaluations of policies and evidence. Making matters worse, social scientists consistently find that the most committed partisans, those who are the angriest and have the most negative feelings towards out-groups, are the most politically engaged... 'Paradoxically, then, it would seem that we can best limit intolerance of difference by parading, talking about, and applauding our sameness'... as one Trump supporter put it, every time Democrats attack him “it makes me angry, which causes me to want to defend him more” – potentially alienate wavering Republican-leaning independents, and help divert debate from policies, corruption and other substantive issues... Scholars consistently find that incivility spreads rapidly, generates anger and defensive reactions, demobilizes moderates and activates the strongest partisans, corrodes faith in government, trust in institutions and respect for our fellow citizens... identity politics is a both more powerful and efficacious for Republicans (and rightwing populists more generally) than it is for Democrats, since the former are more homogeneous"

Identity Politics Does More Harm Than Good to Minorities - "The fundamental objective of left-wing identitarians is to strengthen the weaker groups while simultaneously weakening the strongest (whites, especially cishetero white males) to achieve a more ‘equitable’ distribution of power... Evidence suggests that a group’s bargaining power is contingent on, among other things, the amount of resources – material and non-material – that it brings to the negotiating table. In light of this, feminism makes strategic sense. Women constitute roughly half the population of any given nation... racial identitarianism, in comparison, is less promising... Another difference between feminist identity politics and racial identity politics is that the rest of society does not always have strong personal, much less familial, ties to black folks, guaranteeing constant interaction... It is because he acknowledged this reality that Martin Luther King stressed non-violent resistance to Jim Crow laws... In his critique of black nationalism, MLK could be describing black identity politics today: a constant litany of grievances and bluster with no realistic strategy to eliminate the cause of those complaints... the main beneficiaries of racial identity politics are the identitarians themselves. They are the ones making good money selling books encouraging black people to scapegoat white people for all their problems. They play to the unfortunate human weakness for blaming your problems on other people – something that’s also exploited by right-wing demagogues encouraging the white working class to blame immigrants for their problems. Ironically, these snake-oil salesmen would not have achieved anything like the success they have without the complicity of guilty white liberals... Instead of reserving what was once a very effective tool at our disposal as a nuclear option – the stigmatizing power of the label ‘racist’ – identitarians are rendering it a blank bullet through overuse. Steven Bannon has said that he looks forward to the day when calling someone ‘racist’ has lost all power to stigamitize and he has no greater allies than racial identitarians and their guilty white devotees. The day is fast approaching when mainstream white society will react to accusations of racism with yawns and shrugs... It’s that kind of talk that will lead to Trump winning a second term."

What the World’s Emptiest International Airport Says About China’s Influence - The New York Times - "Mattala Rajapaksa International Airport, the second-largest in Sri Lanka, is designed to handle a million passengers per year. It currently receives about a dozen passengers per day. Business is so slow that the airport has made more money from renting out the unused cargo terminals for rice storage than from flight-related activities. In one burst of activity last year, 350 security personnel armed with firecrackers were deployed to scare off wild animals, the airport’s most common visitors... “We always thought China’s investments would help our economy,” says Amantha Perera, a Sri Lankan journalist and university researcher. “But now there’s a sense that we’ve been maneuvered into selling some of the family jewels.”... It’s tempting to see OBOR as a muscled-up Marshall Plan, the American-led program that helped rebuild Western Europe after World War II. OBOR, too, is designed to build vital infrastructure, spread prosperity and drive global development. Yet little of what China offers is aid or even low-interest lending. Much OBOR financing comes in the form of market-rate loans that weaker countries are eager to receive — but may struggle to repay. Even when the projects are well suited for the local economy, the result can look a bit like a shell game: Things are built, money goes to Chinese companies and the country is saddled with more debt. What happens when, as is often the case, infrastructure projects are driven more by geopolitical ambition or the need to give China’s state-owned companies something to do? Well, Sri Lanka has an empty airport for sale... “They take on loans like it’s a drug addiction and then get trapped in debt servitude. It’s clearly part of China’s geostrategic vision.”This charge conjures the specter of colonialism, when the British and Dutch weaponized debt to take control of nations’ strategic assets... In Sri Lanka today, Chinese tour groups often traipse through a Colombo museum to see the trilingual stone tablet the admiral brought here — proof, it seems, that China respected all peoples and religions. No mention is made of a less savory aspect of Zheng He’s dealings in Ceylon. On a later expedition, around 1411, his troops became embroiled in a war. Zheng He prevailed and took the local king back to China as a prisoner... it’s worth remembering that dredging deepwater ports and laying down railroad ties to secure new trade routes — and then having to defend them from angry locals — was precisely how Britain started down the slippery slope to empire."

Fetishising failure and hating success - power relations means never having to say you're wrong

A: Poynter chimes in

CNN's Jim Acosta's actions to Trump don't represent the best of journalism | Poynter

B: I’m calling stuff like this out every time you post it, because I want to highlight to you that you inevitably take the side of the powers that be and leave them uncriticised or make the infractions of the powerless or less powerful bigger than it is. As if they are on the same level, which they are not.

Example - you post about a suspected kidnapping of a Muslim woman by her family at an airport. You don’t criticize the family/society but immediately try to score points against liberals/leftists by saying we aren’t protesting it enough.

I don’t know if you realise it, but when your primary aim to score points against activists/liberals and criticise them and you do so without addressing the oppression, the real winners are the oppressors. Congrats, you are their best spokesperson now.

C: Always entertaining to read your triggered responses to A's FB posts. Just to clarify, did you just twist some unrelated post to call him a spokesman for kidnappers of Muslim women? Cause that's what it looks like.

B: I am talking to A, not you.

Me: the taliban did nothing wrong. They are powerless compared to the USA. We must always side with the oppressed

A: I think I understand how you think now and I suppose our differences are a reflection of the different ways we see the world.

You see me as taking the side of someone or some group that is more powerful and oppresses another group.

I don't see society as comprising fixed groups that have power and that don't, because I think that oppression hierarchy is nonsensical. To me, oppression is when the truth is twisted in service of an agenda. And Trump does that precisely because the "social justice" set have done that for so long and paved the way for him to do so. There's no objective truth, only power and feelings, and that's what Trump harnesses in his tribe.

B: i don’t agree with your comment on oppression but let’s move past that.

I don’t have a problem with you pointing out when truth is twisted or misreported or something.

But when you post only when you think one side (hint: not the oppressors) is twisting the truth, and there is no nuance or more than on one dimension to your commentary. For eg, “the White House is awful in how it treats the press but Acosta isn’t a hero either”. It is fair comment, I won’t agree with you on the substance but I can agree it is a fair comment.

When you post “Jim Acosta is no hero because he didn’t subscribe to the very highest standard of journalism”, the implication is that he deserved what he got. So guess who you are empowering then?

A: I didn't think it was necessary to point out that Trump twists the truth because everyone knows it. I'm pointing out that everyone acts as though he's the only one doing it, when nobody else has clean hands.

D: the rest of us who ain't partisan noted the presence of this para critical of the White House grounds of decision in your link as we ain't selectively blind.

"That said, The White House accusation that Acosta manhandled the intern trying to retrieve the microphone is nonsense. It makes us wonder if the White House was looking for an opportunity to pick a fight."

E: It may or not represent the best of governance, just as the journalist's actions may or may not represent the best of journalism. A wrong is a wrong, and calling out one wrong does not mean endorsing the wrong that wasn't called out.

F: succinctly put

B's comments are very revealing.

Basically the liberal modus operandi is to find the supposedly powerless and blindly take their side.

When did a concern for protecting the weak turn into fetishising weakness and hating success?

In the liberal view, morality is just power relations rather than being based on more transcendental principles.

As Murakami puts it, "Between a high, solid wall and an egg that breaks against it, I will always stand on the side of the egg. Yes, no matter how right the wall may be and how wrong the egg, I will stand with the egg".

A very explicit example of this is the headline condemnation of the John Roberts court as protecting the powerful - the legal merits of its decisions seem secondary to its ostensible effects and their implications for power relations.

This view of the world through the lens of power relations helps to explain why leftists have turned against Israel - Palestinians are seen as the marginalised ones and must be supported, whereas previously the Holocaust and Arab attacks meant Israel was the victim.

This is an inversion of Thrasymachus's conceptual of justice as might makes right - into might makes wrong. The former at least has some form of logic to it (e.g. the strong have succeeded and deserve to define justice, or perhaps that what the strong do helps them succeed so we should learn from them, or their principles have been vindicated by their success in a form of the Mandate of Heaven).

Liberal logic seems to be that no one can succeed without having had some unfair advantage.

Yet this logic only works if everyone is identical - which they are not. And even if they are, random chance means some people will succeed and others fail.

On a practical level, loving failure and weakness and hating success and strength means you're encouraging people to fail, and discouraging them from succeeding. Which besides being unhealthy for personal development is also not sustainable for a flourishing society.

It also views success as a zero sum game (if one group is ahead, others must be behind) and pits everyone against each other, ergo the poison of identity politics.

Links - 13th November 2018 (1)

Episode 97: Art History BB: Ai Weiwei's Sunflower Seeds — The Art History Babes - "‘His father had been imprisoned by the nationalist government on suspicion of being a leftist after the People's Republic of China was founded, his father was again accused - this time of being a rightest under Chairman Mao’s anti-intellectual campaign’
‘No wonder he has such a great sense of humour.’"

BBC Radio 4 - Moral Maze, Moral Progress - "It was the late Tory MP Alan Clark whose louche reputation was hard earned. Taken to task on this program, I think, for making unwanted approaches to women famously replied: How do I know they’re unwanted until I make them?...
‘I don't think we want to confuse moral progress with puritanical intolerance and I fear that that's one of the things that's emerged at the moment. You can feel as though you're kind of on the side of virtue, if you shout burn the witch and identify things as evil and you can feel better about yourself, but whether it makes you a morally autonomous responsible person, I doubt it.’...
'I don’t think there’s any such thing as moral progress. Where do we get the idea from that motion is forward? Where is this strange -ometer which allows us to tell whether something is progress or just change? It seems to me the only way you can tell is whether things deteriorate in a serious way in the long run as a consequence.'"

BBC Radio 4 - Moral Maze, Elite Universities - "‘All it will lead to is patronizing working class kids and people from disadvantaged backgrounds and I hate to say it, but now we have a situation where we put BAME into that. So ethnic minority, disadvantaged - so we categorize people in the worst possible way. And I also think it represents a degraded understanding of what going to university was. At least when I went to Warwick, I felt as though I competed with my equals, and got there intellectually as an equal, and I didn't feel inferior that way even though I didn't quite know what fork to use.’...
Predictive analytics and the facts shows that candidates who've been admitted on the basis of contextual offers tended to just as well in that final degree class. And if it's all about learning and getting the best possible students then what you have to do is find those with the greatest potential. Just looking at headline grades is not scientific, it's not what the university is doing, nor should they...
‘I grew up in a severely cash-limited working class household in Hackney, I went up to Lincoln College, Oxford to take their entrance exams in 1962 before A levels and they awarded me an exhibition. Had Lincoln College said to me, Geoffrey, you haven't done terribly well in our exams, but because your father is a packer in a Whitechapel warehouse we're going to lower the bar for you, I would have felt angry and deeply insulted...
I've got the 2016 figures in front of me for Oxford. In 2016, a UK-domiciled BME students admitted to Oxford as undergraduates represented 15.1% of the total admissions but the UK BME population is only 13 percent so Oxford's doing better than that particular benchmark...
[On the class divide in admissions] It's not a problem that you can reasonably expect Oxford or any other university to address by lowering the bar"

BBC Radio 4 - Moral Maze, Moral Complicity - "In my experience, when you enter certain institutions, you hang your ethics on a peg outside and when you're in, you don't speak up because it's not just you who knows what’s going on. Everybody knows what's going on. I think this was the case in Hollywood and that includes, I expect, a lot of young hopefuls who chose to keep silent about what had happened to them because they were more interested in advancing their careers than in advancing feminism...
‘I spoke to my wife yesterday and she said that reading about Weinstein had just kinda reminded her of how many times in her life that she'd been subject to casual sexual harassment, verbal and physical. Should I hae told her not to be such a wuss?’
‘I think that you have to be careful in talking about sexual harassment. It’s interesting that she said casual sexual harassment. I think that sexual harassment means something very serious. It's quite a weighty term. It's not… what some people describe as you know, glances at the bar being called perhaps unpleasant names, being told to do rude stuff or being shouted at, catcalled - that kinda thing... that can be classed as bad behavior… tell women that they're not strong enough to deal with it themselves, but that they have to have the authorities or some celebrity tweet about it. That's very negative, I think.’...
‘She's quite... self confident person, but I suspect I think she suggests that people who were less self-confident would have found that very difficult.’...
The idea that every woman, especially every young woman is faced with sexual harassment, deviant sexual behavior and terrible things happening to them, is absolutely untrue. There's no evidence for it... What's now being classed as sexual harassment. And again it’s sort of unwelcome glances at the bar, it's being asked out on a date, it's being told that you look pretty. I'm really paraphrasing stuff that I've read on Twitter and that people have claimed against people. It has gone so far now that we can't have a serious conversation about sexual harassment and rape which are very serious issues, which I think potentially, we do need to have a conversation about, but the mass hysteria in this case is completely clouding any sensible argument… I think that banter, can sometimes be very enjoyable. It completely depends on how you deal with the situation. I think what you're in danger of arguing is that we should come to every relationship, every new encounter with each other, sceptically. That we need to completely distrust the other person in our relationship… We argued and women argued for years that we were strong enough and capable enough and ugly enough to deal with the public sector...
What often gets characterized as boorish behavior is just general flirting'
There's an interesting parallel with censorship where people think they are resilient enough to deal with controversial ideas, but other people need to be protected

Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz: Continually Mistaken, Chronically Admired - "In 2006, Nobel Prize–winning economist Joseph Stiglitz praised the economic policies of Hugo Chávez... Stiglitz’s mistake is “consistently to downplay the possibility of human error—that is, to deny that human beings (or at least uncorrupt human beings such as himself) are fallible.”... Stiglitz had plenty of company among progressives in endorsing Chávez, but this hardly absolves him. When he met with the Venezuelan president in October 2007, there might have been no point in confronting the “endearing” leader with the civil rights abuses cited against him at the time. (In May, the Americas director of Human Rights Watch had publicly protested Chávez’s decision to shut down a television station critical of his policies.) As an economist with prestige and influence, though, Stiglitz might have urged that Chávez loosen his government’s chokehold on the private sector before it did lasting damage to the economy... Chávez wasn’t the only economic strongman and human rights abuser who won Stiglitz’s endorsement. Meles Zenawi, Ethiopia’s dictator from 1991 until his death in 2012, hosted the Nobel laureate in September 2007"

Socialism Is So Hot Right Now - "S ocialism is on the march! It’s just that nobody quite knows what it is. A Gallup poll in August found that 57 percent of Democrats said they view socialism positively, while only 47 percent had a favorable view of capitalism. Only 16 percent of Republicans thought well of socialism... its chief utility is as a romantic indictment of the capitalist status quo... “Listen to today’s socialists, and you’ll hear less the language of poverty than of power,” Robin says. He’s right. But this has always been the case. As a matter of practical politics, socialism’s durability as a concept owes almost nothing to economics and almost everything to the desire for power—power for the poor, for the left-out, for the “workers of the world”—and for the intellectuals who claim to speak for them... To the extent that the labels “conservative” and “liberal” or “left” and “right” mean anything in this context, the difference stems from which authority the combatants cite. Möser looked to established tradition to legitimize his arguments. Marx (and those like him) looked instead to the future, to an idealized and utopian Shangri-la at the end of History. What unites both worldviews is that each is based on a fiction. Möser defended feudalism by resorting to wholly literary and folkloric tales of an imagined past. Marx invoked not just an imagined past, but more important, an imagined future. What ties these visions together is that they seek to impose one coalition of elite preferences on all of society... We can debate how much socialism there was in Hitler’s National Socialism. It is remarkable, however, that many of the people insisting that Norway or Sweden is obviously socialist even though they both are more free-market than Hitlerite Germany are aghast at the suggestion that the National Socialists were…socialists"

The business of voluntourism: do western do-gooders actually do harm? - "Save the Children looked at orphanages in Sri Lanka in 2005 and found that 92% of children had a living parent. A 2006 survey by Unicef in Liberia found that 98% of children living in orphanages were not orphans... the last thing a Guatemalan highland village needs is imported unskilled labour. People are desperate for jobs. Public works serve the community better and last longer when locals do them. Besides, long-term change happens when people can solve their own problems, rather than having things done for them... A study of 162 Americans who travelled to Honduras to build houses after Hurricane Mitch in 1998 found that years later, this work had made no difference to their giving or volunteering. And even if the houses they built didn’t fall over, they were expensive. The houses in Honduras built by international volunteers cost $30,000 apiece, including airfare, while local Christian organisations could build them for $2,000. If well-wishers had contributed money instead of labour, 15 times more houses could have been built. The helpful choice would have been to stay at home. Money goes far in poor countries. Two thousand dollars can pay for a week-long trip by an unskilled American volunteer – or it could pay the salary of a village teacher for four months... governments don’t have – or are not willing to spend – money for anti-poverty work. Funding for orphanages, by contrast, just drops from the sky. In many poor countries, it dwarfs funding for every other kind of relief or development work... Every single boy in that institution already had abandonment issues. If it was hard for me to leave these boys behind, how much harder was it for them to see me go? And the next adult who came for a few weeks? And the next one? They might have learned that there are people who love them and will take them on walks. But they also learned that these people always leave... the Australian parliament is considering a law to label orphanage tourism as child trafficking and ban it entirely"

Human dignity is an ideal with remarkably shallow roots

Eating meat, possessing child pornography: The dilemma of consumer responsibility - "an individual's decision whether or not to eat meat has no noticeable effect on the meat industry... In the second story, involving Simon and the judge, the judge represents society's attitude toward the possession of child pornography. In most Western societies, the mere possession of child pornography is considered a serious crime. In Australia and the United Kingdom, for example, maximum penalties for the possession of child pornography lie between two and five years. In the United States, in 2010, the average sentence for "non-production" child pornography offences was 95 months. Offenders are typically regarded as deserving such serious punishment because their activities contribute to the suffering of children... The argument given for making possession of child pornography a serious crime is a consequentialist one, directly analogous to the consequentialist argument for vegetarianism... our society sees the possession of child pornography as morally wrong, but generally sees nothing morally wrong with the consumption of meat."

How Misinfodemics Spread Disease - "Misinformation based on discredited studies continues to mutate and spread online—in memes, articles, and videos, through platforms including Pinterest, Instagram, and Facebook. Like the germs running through the River Thames, toxic information now flows through our digital channels."

Ditch the almond milk: why everything you know about sustainable eating is probably wrong - "In South America, soy farming (mostly for animal feed), is driving deforestation and the destruction of Brazil’s Cerrado grasslands. “Both release huge amounts of carbon dioxide and are a biodiversity disaster,” says Dr John Kazer, footprint certification manager at the Carbon Trust. Usually 90% less, tofu originating from deforested Brazilian pastures has a carbon footprint twice that of chicken...
Cooking in industrial food manufacturing is more efficient than cooking at home, which makes using pre-cooked rice or tinned chickpeas over dried an energy saver. (Don’t worry about the can: there is healthy demand for recycled steel.) Think about using a microwave, too, advises Kazer: “For smaller portions for one or two, compared to the hob, the energy use is a lot lower.”...
A Danish government study worries some experts. “There’s a fear people are not reusing heavier bags enough,” says Hemingway, “to the extent the volume of bag-plastic in circulation could actually be increasing.” As we all accumulate bags, could this be creating an eco-anomaly?"

Why Men Are the New Minority in College - ""at most college campuses the attitude is that men are the problem. … I’ve had male students tell me that their first week in college they were made to feel like potential rapists.” Added Maloney: “There’s a lot of attention on empowering girls. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with that, but males are the ones in crisis in education.” Jackson thinks there’s a surprising racial component. There’s not much work being done to encourage boys to go to college, he said, because not all of those boys are from racial and ethnic minorities society regards as disadvantaged. A lot of them are white."
Alternatively, as a feminist I know proclaimed, if women can overcome patriarchy and outperform men in college/university, it just shows that men are inadequate and it's their fault that there's a gender gap and they deserve to be unsuccessful

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