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Friday, March 22, 2019

Links - 22nd March 2019

Police Say Jussie Smollett Paid Two Men By Check To Stage Attack; ‘This Publicity Stunt Was A Scar That Chicago Didn’t Earn’ - "Smollett, who is black and openly gay, had told police he was attacked as he was walking home around 2 a.m. on Jan. 29. He claimed two masked men – one of them also wearing a red hat – shouted racist and homophobic slurs as they beat him, put a noose around his neck, and poured a chemical on them.Police said, in reality, Smollett had paid those two men, Ola and Abel Osundairo, $3,500 by check to stage the attack. CBS 2’s Charlie De Mar has reported Smollett also directed the brothers to buy the noose at a hardware store and the hat and masks at a store in Uptown. Johnson said police have the check... The two brothers allegedly told police Smollett also was behind creating a racist letter sent to the show, according to two sources with first-hand knowledge of the investigation.At Smollett’s bond hearing, prosecutors said the letter was coated in a white powder that turned out to be crushed ibuprofen pills."
According to many liberals, the police made up the evidence

Chicago police say 'Empire' actor Jussie Smollett refuses to hand over cellphone to them - ""Empire" actor Jussie Smollett has refused to turn over his cellphone to detectives, who are investigating the alleged attack that sent him to the hospital earlier this week, Chicago police said Thursday.The actor declined to share telephone records that could show he was speaking with his manager just as the alleged assault happened early Tuesday morning in Chicago... Police have reviewed hundreds of hours of footage from more than 20 surveillance cameras in the area, according to Guglielmi. They have not found any images of the alleged attack"

More Strange Details in the Jussie Smollett Case - "Smollett underwent a vicious beating by two attackers that apparently lasted less than 60 seconds, since that is the reported gap in surveillance footage between an image of him without a rope around his neck and an image of him with the rope. Smollett now says he fought back, but apparently he lost neither his Subway sandwich nor his cell phone in this brawl. Also he didn’t immediately call the police on that phone to describe the suspects and inform the police which way they had gone when they suddenly ran away from him, but instead waited about 40 minutes to inform the police."

Jussie Smollett Reportedly Held Onto Sandwich Throughout Racist Attack - "Smollett was seen in the footage still carrying the sandwich as he returned to his building after being attacked... Skeptics have already questioned how the star of Fox’s “Empire” kept a grip on his sandwich while, by his account, being beaten, having a noose put around his neck, and getting doused with bleach."

Chicago Police Superintendent: 'Empire' Star Jussie Smollett 'WILL Be Held Accountable' If He Made A False Crime Report - "Although two individuals were pictured on security cameras near where Smollett says he was attacked, sources close to CPD told local media that those two individuals appear to be homeless... police have filed a series of subpoenas in order to compel the production of Smollett's phone records from the night of the attack"

Behind the Scenes, It's Clear Chicago Media and Police Doubt Jussie Smollett's Story - "because of Smollett’s persona and the nature of his allegation, no one in law enforcement or the news media wants any part of publicly questioning his story. Everyone knows that if they make any sort of negative implication against a black, gay, liberal, celebrity, victim of a horrible hate crime, that they will be roundly and severely attacked, regardless of whether they turn out to be correct."

Jussie Smollett update: Brothers regret roles in alleged fake attack - "The two brothers who allegedly helped "Empire" star Jussie Smollett stage a fake homophobic and racist street assault in Chicago say they have "tremendous regret" about it and know the impact it will have on true victims of hate crimes... The brothers were arrested on Feb. 15, detained and interrogated for nearly 48 hours, and finally told police that Smollett had paid them to stage the attack"
Black White supremacists!

Attorney for the brothers involved in the Jussie Smollett case says they were 'betrayed' by the celebrity - "Smollett, an actor on the Fox drama "Empire," was recently indicted on 16 felony counts of disorderly conduct by a Cook County grand jury."

This LGBT Activist’s House Was Burned Down. Police Now Suspect He Set the Fire Himself. - "In 2017, prominent Michigan LGBT activist Nikki Joly, a transgender man, was the victim of an apparent hate crime: An unknown arsonist burned down his house, which had two dogs and three cats trapped inside. Some presumed the act was retaliatory—a response to Joly's successful campaign to persuade the government of Jackson, Michigan, to adopt an anti-discrimination law, for which a local newspaper declared him "Citizen of the Year."Now the police finally have a suspect in custody: Joly... He may have suggested to friends that he was upset about the diminished attention being paid to his advocacy in the wake of the anti-discrimination law's passage—a possible motive, according to the police."

Hate Crime Hoaxes are More Common than You Think - "hate crime hoaxes aren’t new or unusual. In our book The Rise of Victimhood Culture: Microaggressions, Safe Spaces, and the New Culture Wars, we discuss a number of cases of people falsely reporting or even staging hate crimes. In 1997 two black students at Duke University hung a black baby doll from a tree near the spot where the Black Student Alliance was planning a protest. In 1998 a St. Cloud State University student slashed her own face and claimed that two men had assaulted her and yelled anti-gay slurs. In 2004 a visiting professor at Claremont McKenna College slashed the tires of her own car and painted ethnic slurs and a swastika on it. In 2011 a University of Virginia law student published a letter in the law school’s newspaper in which he falsely claimed to have been mistreated by two white police officers... Strange, implausible details don’t mean an attack didn’t occur, but they’re enough to raise questions. Yet many celebrities and Democratic presidential candidates immediately accepted the story at face value and offered their support for Smollett, sometimes placing the blame for the attack on Republicans... Real hate crimes happen, of course. We’re not arguing that all or even most alleged hate crimes are hoaxes. But the ones dominating the headlines in recent years have often been false or misleading, possibly because fake cases are better designed to push the buttons of drama and partisanship. Real hate crimes don’t necessarily have offenders who conveniently announce themselves to be members of your political outgroup, or display a stylized iconography of evil, like nooses and swastikas. The hoaxes, by contrast, often read like political-struggle fan fiction, with the hoaxers making themselves Mary Sues and their adversaries stock villains... Something like a hate crime hoax would make no sense in an honor culture... In a victimhood culture, even when hate crime hoaxes are exposed, they are excused as an attempt to raise awareness of a real problem or as the understandable reaction of someone suffering from so much unrecognized oppression."

Smollett lies expose a culture of lying to — and about — the police - "In 2012 in the city of Rialto, California, with a population of approximately 100,000, cops were randomly assigned body cameras based on their shifts. Over the next year, a follow-up analysis showed use-of-force incidents on the shifts with body cams were down 59 percent compared to those without cameras. But something else rather extraordinary also happened. Complaints against all Rialto police officers — with or without body cams — were down 87.5 percent from the prior year. Why? It was not because officers changed their behavior. They applied the same training they used before body cams. It was the civilians who changed their behavior. It turned out that when civilians knew they were being recorded, they behaved better and stopped making false accusations. Civilians — aware that they might be taped — became less confrontational, followed officers' instructions more readily and did not engage in the kind of resistant behavior as before random cops were required to use body cams. As a result, officers did not have to use the kind of force previously needed... The city of Rialto is not alone in experiencing an almost 90 percent drop in officer complaints as a result of body cams. A 2016 Cambridge University study of five police stations in the U.K. (in England and Northern Ireland) and two in the U.S. (including Rialto) found the same result. Complaints against the police fell 93 percent when some officers were randomly assigned body cams... the drop in complaints against police translated into a savings of $4 in complaint litigation for every $1 spent on the installation of body cams."
Addendum: The phenomenon of aggroing the police then pretending you're a victim when they enforce the law seems uniquely American

Body-Worn Cameras: What the Evidence Tells Us - "the use of body-worn cameras led to increases in arrests, prosecutions, and guilty pleas. From an efficiency standpoint, the use of the technology reportedly enabled officers to resolve criminal cases faster and spend less time preparing paperwork, and it resulted in fewer people choosing to go to trial... officers with body-worn cameras were more productive in terms of making arrests, had fewer complaints lodged against them relative to officers without body-worn cameras, and had higher numbers of citizen complaints resolved in their favor... officers with body-worn cameras generated fewer use-of-force reports and complaints from citizens compared to officers without body-worn cameras. Additionally, officers with body-worn cameras issued higher numbers of arrests and citations compared to officers without body-worn cameras"

BBC Radio 4 - Moral Maze, Gang Culture - "More than 70,000 young people admit, boast of being in gangs. Roughly half of them under 15. Who are they? They tend to be poor, more than half convicted of carrying knives would qualify for free school meals if they went to school. Most have been excluded. Many are from broken families. A third of those in young offenders’ institutions have been in care. And black youths are disproportionately likely to be both the offenders and the victims. A young black man is 10 times more likely to be stabbed to death than a white one...
This is not all about gangs. If you're interested in preventing knife crime, you need to look at the way young people are behaving and the way society is treating young people. And they're not necessarily members of gangs are carrying knives. They are young people who think that they will be safer if they have a knife. We need to get the message across to them. Actually you're more likely to become a victim of knife crime if you’re carrying a knife...
If you look at a kind of correlation across countries between different levels of enforcement of drug prohibition then what you end up finding is actually not much of a relationship either way [with drug use]...
‘I won't put it down to any one thing. I would also put into perspective also historical things that affects the black community around slavery and around the Willie Lynnn [Ed: Lynch?] syndrome that still affect us’...
'In certain areas, I think it's idle to pretend that it's not a black issue. It's black children killing other black children. I remember myself going to America and meeting people in the black community in I think it was Philadelphia who said, we have spent all this these years blaming white society and racism and then we realized it's our children being murdered. And it was when the black community took charge of that as a community and started to act on its own children, they brought down the murder rate and I think that's what's required in certain areas. I think it's an abandonment of black children to say that this is nothing to do with the black community… The police went down that road and stopped stop and search on that basis, that they thought it was racist, as a result, more black children have been murdered.'"
More knifes, less crime
The only thing that stops a bad guy with a knife is a good guy with a knife
Maybe the UK had Jim Crow too

BBC Radio 4 - Best of Today, Life in Gaza - "‘They have a blockade, of course, but it happens for a reason. People are trying to shoot at my house. I needed to give my dog away because I couldn't took him for walks. I couldn't do that. I was scared. They chose it, they had elections, they chose Hamas’
‘I feel like most of them are being brainwashed’...
‘I think mostly this is their problem cos every time that Israel or Hamas wants to have a break, Israel is 99% of the time says yes. So most of the time we act out of their rules, their condition.’...
‘Those Palestinians who protested peacefully as part of what they call the Great Return March… What do you think of them demanding their right to return or calling for their rights to be recognized?’
‘What do you mean by peacefully? Truly, I'm asking’
‘People who've been inside the fence. They haven't thrown stones or rocks, who've been part of peaceful protests’
‘Ok, from the information I get from the IDF, the Twitter, the Facebook, everything. We don't see any peaceful protest. Truly I don't really care because my Friday nights are in the shelter because I'm scared to go out to the synagogue and to eat dinner with my friends. I can't do it.’ ‘My name is Talia. I’m 17. I live less than two kilometres away from the border. I didn't see any peaceful protests. I can see Gaza from my bedroom window. And all we heard and all we saw on all of the news updates and everything was people rioting. It wasn't peaceful protests. It wasn't anywhere close to peaceful protests. It was riots.’"

BBC Radio 4 - Best of Today, Chidera Eggerue guest edits Today - "She wants to promote body positivity. But what is that exactly?
‘It's about kind of giving a voice to people who haven't been able to see themselves represented on the big ,screen on billboards, etc. and beauty products.’
‘Why does that matter?’
‘Well, it matters because everybody has a right to feel beautiful. And beauty is something that is not something that should be dictated’...
[On Ancient Greece] We see a very very powerful stress on male body image too. And I think one of the definitions of the male citizen was that he was kalos kai agathos. He was beautiful and good. That ultimate equation between someone who looks good and someone who is good...
‘She tells me she does get work but usually as a peripheral character’
‘So one of my first jobs, it was for a music video. And then all the other girls who got opportunities were of lighter skin, big curly hair, skinny, tall. And then it was just me who was curvier, dark skin, and just an extra. And I was just thinking am I not worthy of being a main girl, am I not worthy of being in front of the camera more?’...
According to Agaroo [sp?] it's men who are over represented at the top of the music advertising and fashion industries that are to blame"
If everybody is beautiful, no one is
If your sense of worth is based on other people, apparently everyone else has to change to accommodate you
Too bad they don't mention that most of these men are probably gay

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Links - 21st March 2019 (Guns)

Firearms and suicides in US states - "This study investigates the relationship between firearm prevalence and suicide in a sample of all US states over the years 2000–2009. We find strong, positive effects of gun prevalence on suicide using OLS estimation, across a variety of measures for gun possession, and with several sets of controls. When using instrumental variable estimation, the effect remains significant, despite also finding significant evidence that gun ownership causes substitution towards gun-suicide rather than other methods of suicide. There is also evidence for non-linearities in the effects of guns on suicide."

A history of violence - Free Exchange - "even as the number of guns in America has grown, the share of households with a gun has dropped steadily. Research published in 2000 by Mark Duggan of the University of Chicago concluded that the homicide rate had been falling in tandem with the proportion of households where guns were kept. What’s more, the homicide rate was falling with a lag, suggesting that reduced gun ownership was causing the decline, and was not simply a side-effect of a falling crime rate. Other studies have reached similar conclusions. An analysis published in 2014, for example, using detailed county-level data assembled by the National Research Council, a government-funded body, suggested that laws that allow people to carry weapons are associated with a substantial rise in the incidence of assaults with a firearm. It also found evidence that such laws might also lead to increases in other crimes, like rape and robbery. A recent survey of 130 studies concluded that strict gun-control laws do indeed reduce deaths caused by firearms... Australia has suffered only two shooting sprees since [stricter gun control], claiming a total of seven lives. A decline in the rate of killings with guns, which was already under way before these rules came in, accelerated rapidly. Total gun deaths including suicides also fell. Before the change in the law the rate of deaths from firearms in Australia was about a quarter of that in America; afterwards, it fell to about a tenth of the American rate. In 2014 America suffered about 10.5 fatal shootings per 100,000 people; Australia recorded just 1... It is not just the relationship between gun ownership and gun violence that is becoming clearer. Evidence is also building that even relatively modest gun-control measures reduce gun deaths. An analysis published in 2015 in the Annual Review of Public Health noted that state laws banning possession of a gun by individuals under a restraining order for domestic violence reduce the incidence of “intimate partner homicide” by 10%. The same analysis reports that firearm homicide rates rose by 25% in the five years after Missouri repealed its law requiring permits to purchase a gun, even as the national rate nationwide fell."

Switzerland has a stunningly high rate of gun ownership — here's why it doesn't have mass shootings - "Swiss authorities decide on a local level whether to give people gun permits. They also keep a log of everyone who owns a gun in their region, known as a canton, though hunting rifles and some semiautomatic long arms are exempt from the permit requirement.But cantonal police don’t take their duty dolling out gun licenses lightly. They might consult a psychiatrist or talk with authorities in other cantons where a prospective gun buyer has lived before to vet the person... People who’ve been convicted of a crime or have an alcohol or drug addiction aren’t allowed to buy guns in Switzerland.The law also states that anyone who “expresses a violent or dangerous attitude” won’t be permitted to own a gun.Gun owners who want to carry their weapon for “defensive purposes” also have to prove they can properly load, unload, and shoot their weapon and must pass a test to get a license."
Would gun lovers who claim Switzerland has lax gun laws like to be denied the 'right' to bear arms by a 'tyrannical' government?

Arms and the man - "The state of Massachusetts counted all privately owned guns on several occasions. Until 1840, at any rate, no more than 11% of the population owned guns—and Massachusetts was one of the two centres of gun production in the country. At the start of the war of 1812, the state had more spears than firearms in its arsenal. What was true at the state level was true nationwide. “It would appear,” says Mr Bellesiles, “that at no time prior to 1850 did more than a tenth of the people own guns.” So, contrary to popular belief and legend, and contrary even to the declarations of the founding fathers, gun ownership was rare in the first half of America's history as an independent country. It was especially low in parts of the countryside and on the frontier, the very areas where guns are imagined to have been most important. By no stretch of the imagination was America founded on the private ownership of weapons... Militias, it seems, were neither adept nor well-armed... guns were rare. Perhaps the fact should not surprise. Gunpowder and firing mechanisms had to be imported, so a gun cost about a year's income for an ordinary farmer. (For comparison, a basic rifle now costs the equivalent of three days' work at the average wage.) And guns were hard to maintain: muskets were made mostly of iron, which rusted easily and needed constant attention. Many busy farmers had better things to do with their time... So when did mass ownership of guns begin to develop, if not at the start? It was during the civil war, from 1861 to 1865, and the agent of change was industrialisation... The civil war thus transformed America from a country with a few hundred thousand guns into one with millions of them. It was this war, rather than any inherent belief in the right of individuals to carry guns, that first armed America—and then created the first crime wave to go with it. In the decade immediately after the war, murder rates soared, and guns became the murder weapon of choice
More guns, more murder

New Evidence Shows that Regulating Underground Gun Market is Crucial for Reducing Gun Violence - "While most guns are initially purchased legally, many enter the underground market and end up in the hands of dangerous offenders, such as gang members and convicted felons... laws designed to regulate legal gun sales also significantly affect the underground market.
Laws that require handgun purchasers to obtain a license can reduce criminals' access to guns.
After Maryland's passage of the Firearm and Safety act in 2013, 41 percent of surveyed parolees in the state reported that it was more difficult to obtain a handgun due to increased cost, lack of trusted sources, or people being less willing to buy handguns on their behalf.
Laws that restrict firearms buyers to one gun per month can reduce illegal sales of guns."
So much for claiming that criminals will get guns regardless - as if the black market were Star Trek's replicator

Analysis: Lost, stolen guns used in thousands of crimes - "The yearlong investigation found more than 23,000 lost and stolen guns were recovered by police from 2010 to 2016, the vast majority connected to crimes.The black market of weapons has increased in size as more weapons are reported stolen from lawful owners year after year, leading some law enforcement officers around the country to ask gun owners and gun dealers to better protect themselves and lock their weapons"
So much for gun control only depriving law abiding gun owners of their gun while not hurting criminals

Mental illness not to blame for gun violence study finds - "Counter to a lot of public opinion, having a mental illness does not necessarily make a person more likely to commit gun violence. According to a new study, a better indicator of gun violence was access to firearms... individuals who had gun access were approximately 18 times more likely to have threatened someone with a gun. Individuals with high hostility were about 3.5 times more likely to threaten someone"

How Often Do People Use Guns In Self-Defense? - "The only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.It's a common refrain touted by gun rights advocates, who argue that using guns in self-defense can help save lives. But what is the actual number of defensive gun uses? ... The latest data show that people use guns for self-defense only rarely. According to a Harvard University analysis of figures from the National Crime Victimization Survey, people defended themselves with a gun in nearly 0.9 percent of crimes from 2007 to 2011. David Hemenway, who led the Harvard research, argues that the risks of owning a gun outweigh the benefits of having one in the rare case where you might need to defend yourself."The average person ... has basically no chance in their lifetime ever to use a gun in self-defense," he tells Here & Now's Robin Young. "But ... every day, they have a chance to use the gun inappropriately. They have a chance, they get angry. They get scared." But the research spread by the gun lobby paints a drastically different picture of self-defense gun uses. One of the most commonly cited estimates of defensive gun uses, published in 1995 by criminologists Gary Kleck and Marc Gertz, concluded there are between 2.2 and 2.5 million defensive gun uses annually.One of the main criticisms of this estimate is that researchers can't seem to find the people who are shot by civilians defending themselves because they don't show up in hospital records."The Kleck-Gertz survey suggests that the number of DGU respondents who reported shooting their assailant was over 200,000, over twice the number of those killed or treated [for gunshots] in emergency departments," crime prevention researcher Philip Cook wrote in the book Envisioning Criminology... if people don't go to the hospital to treat the original gunshot wound, they will inevitably end up there "with sepsis or other major problems."... "The researchers who look at [Kleck's study] say this is just bad science," Hemenway says. "It's a well-known problem in epidemiology that if something's a rare event, and you just try to ask how many people have done this, you will get incredible overestimates." In fact, Cook told The Washington Post that the percentage of people who told Kleck they used a gun in self-defense is similar to the percentage of Americans who said they were abducted by aliens... Even if someone wanted to use a gun in self-defense, they probably wouldn't be very successful, says Mike Weisser, firearms instructor and author of the blog "Mike The Gun Guy." He says many people who carry a gun aren't properly trained to use it in this way, and there is no performance validation standard for police officers"

Guns, testosterone, and aggression: an experimental test of a mediational hypothesis. - "We tested whether interacting with a gun increased testosterone levels and later aggressive behavior. Thirty male college students provided a saliva sample (for testosterone assay), interacted with either a gun or a children's toy for 15 min, and then provided another saliva sample. Next, subjects added as much hot sauce as they wanted to a cup of water they believed another subject would have to drink. Males who interacted with the gun showed significantly greater increases in testosterone and added more hot sauce to the water than did those who interacted with the children's toy. Moreover, increases in testosterone partially mediated the effects of interacting with the gun on this aggressive behavior."
Having a gun makes you more aggressive

Terrorism in the EU in 2017

Across Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom, right-wing terrorists were responsible for 5 failed, foiled and completed attacks in 2017 - out of a total of 205. That's 2.4% of the total.

Separatist, jihadist and left-wing terrorism were responsible for 137 (67%), 33 (16%) and 24 (12%) failed, foiled and completed attacks.

Clearly, for all the moral panic about the "threat" of the "far right", it is actually the least significant source of terrorism.

Notably, left-wing terrorists were responsible for 5 times as many attacks. Which might explain why the left obsesses so much about the "far right" "threat".

There're also tables for arrests and verdicts by affiliation, but unfortunately, the UK does not report affiliation. Given that it represents a significant proportion of the arrests and verdicts, any conclusions would be caveated.


Links - 21st March 2019

BBC Radio 4 - Best of Today, Is this the end of DUP support? - "‘Normally free trade deals take a long time because you got to get rid of 11,000 characters… on average, they take 28 months. But-’
‘Well, the Canada deal took seven years’
‘Yes, but that's because they started with 10,000 tariffs and they had to negotiate the removal not just with the other side, but with their domestic industries that had become protected behind them. We start with zero tariffs, we want to end with zero tariffs. Tell me how that can take more than 10 minutes to negotiate. The other thing that you have to do negotiate is to get your rules and regulations equivalent and remove any artificial barriers to trade. That normally takes years and it's very difficult. We start with identical rules and regulations, how can that take very long to end up with identical rules and regulations? All you've got to negotiate is a system for dealing when one side or other changes their rules and regulations. That could be done in months. If not, we leave on World Trade Organization terms as we trade with America and many other countries and start negotiating then just as Canada did but we start with Canada ended up so it can be done quite quickly... if it were so hugely damaging, you would expect - being in a free trade area rather than a customs union - you would ask yourself, well why don't countries like Canada which has a free trade agreement with America, Switzerland, Norway which have free trade agreements with the the European Union and similar bodies in Asia. Why don't they want to convert it into a customs union to avoid these problems you've just raised? They don't. So they don't find it too much of a problem. I don't think British businesses are less competent than Swiss businesses or Canadian businesses'...
‘Can you remind me of an occasion when the CBI ever got it right? They were wrong about the Euro, they were wrong about going into the ERM, they were wrong about coming out of the ERM, they were wrong about dealing with the financial crisis a few years ago’
‘They speak for business’
‘Well they claim to. Ask them how many paid up members they've got. They wouldn't tell you’"

BBC Radio 4 - Best of Today, Quakers disinvest in Israel - "We did a major research study last year of 20 years of work by charities and NGOs, to bring about peace between Israelis and Palestinians. And we found that the most effective action was dialogue, coexistence, projects bringing Israelis and Palestinians together to talk about the painful compromises that are needed in the conflict. And I think sadly, the Quaker decision like this is the latest in a long line of policies where they are placing themselves on the margins, they are taking themselves out of that very important dialogue, listening to both sides. And I think that's tragic...
‘Are you saying that you would not invest in other places where governments are, in your view oppressing people? Or is it just in Palestine?’
‘If we had the sort of eyewitness and lived experience that we have in Palestine, that would be something we could consider. We're a small organization, we don't cover the whole world.’
‘But you know what’s going on in the world, don’t you?’
‘We know what’s going on at second hand as everyone else does. And this is something where we feel we have personal connections with people there’...
‘I'm afraid that's nonsense. I mean, they operate in many, many countries. And, you know, they, that they, for some reason, have singled out the situation on the West Bank, which, which I think is you know, they're placing themselves in a very dangerous situation where people are asking them, why they’re singling them out. And I think on the point about non violence, it's important to point out that the boycott movement against Israel is a very well organized movement within the West Bank led by Palestinians who condone extreme violence and their rhetoric is very, very toxic and I think if the Quakers are putting themselves on the side of that that is also deeply problematic’"

BBC Radio 4 - Best of Today, Trump, Putin and G20 - "‘The irony is that the most friendly American president towards Russia is pursuing the most unfriendly, hostile to Russia policy. Reproducing the sanctions. Every time much more destructive for Russian economy. And increasing military support to Ukraine. Russia doesn't get anything substantial from Trump.’
‘Now it doesn't even get a meeting with him.’...
The angry [Russian] newsreader accuses Trump of flip flopping like a roller coaster and prescribes sedatives for him. So much for Donald the Genie"

BBC Radio 4 - Best of Today, International trade post-Brexit - "Is there really appetite for another referendum? Look in John Curtice, you know, the very eminent psephologist, has said amongst voters at large there's still neither consistent nor substantial majority support for another ballot"

BBC Radio 4 - Best of Today, Brexit: ‘Norway plus’ option - "I think if you look at the around 10 studies that we've had, of why people voted for Brexit to begin with, there's absolutely no dispute that freedom of movement was a core driver of that vote. Not only by the way only among leavers, about half of Remainers also wanted to see that issue reformed. Norway would not really respond in a meaningful way to that request from the public"

BBC Radio 4 - Best of Today, You and AI - "AlphaGo, alpha zero, all these famous programs beating the world's best go players, they actually don't understand anything about go. I can build a phenomenally sophisticated AI to find giraffes in every photograph, and it understands absolutely nothing about giraffes. Even as it outperforms us in our ability to find them. These are algorithms for turning enormous quantities of numbers into a decision. And it does it in a completely different way than we do it today - without core understanding. And in that sense, what we need is to stop talking about artificial intelligence and talk about augmented intelligence. How do we take the best of what people can do and make it even better by leveraging what machines can do? How do we make AI that challenges us to be better people?"

BBC Radio 4 - Best of Today, The Bible and humour - "Have you heard the one about the guy who said: how can you offer to take the speck out of somebody’s eye you've got a log in your own? That according to a new book is an example of how funny Jesus and the Bible were. That is, before the church lost its sense of humor and got scared of offending people. The author of the sacred art of joking is the BBC comedy writer James Cary joins us on the line…
‘We don't have we don't have a tradition of finding the Bible funny. But it's interesting how the funny the Bible actually is when you when you get into it, and you read it properly. So you could argue a lot of Shakespeare's comedies aren't funny, but actually, they are funny. You got to work a little bit to get into that mindset. And so, you know, Jesus, Jesus, Jesus is funny. And also the, one of the points of the book is he offended people. And actually, he went out of his way to offend people… his stories made people incredibly angry. And all of his jokes were, were, many of them were made at the expense of the Pharisees who were actually very popular and deemed to be good religious people, and all those kinds of things. So he continually, almost everything, he says, make them furious and even he heals people on the wrong day and he knows that he's going to get into trouble for it. And they, and they hate him so much that they kill him. I mean, that's a tough crowd. I mean, he knew what he knew what he was doing. And so, and so one of the points of my book is that whether you're offended or not, is a really bad way of judging whether a joke should or should not have been told...
They used to tell jokes in church. On Easter, there was a thing called Easter laughter. And right up until the Reformation in the 16th century, priests used to tell jokes, because the great joke is that the joke was on the devil because he had Jesus crucified, and he'd been tricked. And so people told lots of jokes, but they actually unfortunately, got a bit obscene and rude. And actually, yeah, the early reformers, even Martin Luther, I think, was rather scandalized by some of the jokes that used to be told from the pulpit...The Bible offends people, Christianity offends people, and therefore Christians in particular who often complain and are quick to complain about being offended want to be a little bit careful about that because if if offense is the hallmark of what is and what should or shouldn't be said, as is now the law very worryingly, Christians are going to find themselves squeezed out of the public square because you know the very message of the gospel of Jesus Christ is in itself offensive...
‘Thought for the Day is that the people who can't take a joke who tend to crucify people’"

BBC Radio 4 - Best of Today, Kamila Shamsie guest edits Today - "Imran Khan was the fast bowler back then. Like other fast bowlers, he would rub the ball on his white trousers, sometimes lazily, sometimes furiously to get that extra shine. Dr. *something* issued a fatwa saying that by rubbing that ball on his trouser so close to his crotch, Imran Khan was turning our women into depraved sinners. Cricket should be banned on TV and only men should be allowed in stadiums...
This is an industry where most of the people working within it are women. Most of the readers of fiction are women. So it should be the industry in which actually you have no incidence of, or very few incidence of, gender imbalance. And the fact that there is still all this gender imbalance in terms of who is taken more seriously in the way men writers get talked-"
"Gender imbalance" = whatever disadvantages women, since most of the people in the industry being women isn't a gender imbalance - only who gets recognised

Japan's Supreme Court rules transgender people still have to get sterilised
Mischievous headline, but then it's from Pink News after all. They only need to get sterilised if they want to change their official sex

Al-Jabari Ahmed - Even as a palestinian without Israeli or any... - "Even as a palestinian without Israeli or any other citizenship I have more rights inside Israel than in the place I was born & raised in. Even as a palestinian I have more rights inside Israel than in every other arab state. Even as a palestinian I don't have to fear to get killed from Israelis but from my own people. #fckBDS"

Mudi Al-Ababneh - "As a Palestinian, especially as a gay Palestinian, I have a way more rights in Israel than in Gaza or other Arabic countries.
I lived in Jordan in a refugee camp for 8 month before I was allowed to move to Europe and the Jordanian people treated us like a piece of shit BDS doesnt care about Palestinians in Arabic countries like Jordan, Egypt or Lebanon. That's hypocrisy and it shows the true face of BDS because they are just interested in demonizing Israel"

Mudi Al-Ababneh - I'm getting tons of hateful messages but this... - "I would like to have sex with u. I'm submissive and having sex with a Palestinian traitor like u would make me feel really bad and submissive. Are you top ?"
"I'm getting tons of hateful messages but this message is the weirdest one ever. I dont even know what to say 🤦🏽‍♂️ and yes he send me a nudes of his That's a new level of wtf"

BBC Radio 4 - In Our Time, The Thirty Years War - "We now think of the 30 Years War as really not primarily motivated by religious division, but primarily as a conflict about the nature of governance in the German land, and about the balance of power in Europe."

BBC Radio 4 - In Our Time, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight - "Christmas seems to be something of a convention of Middle English romances. They like setting their stories at Christmas, the French poets like setting their stores at Springtime, at Easter"

BBC Radio 4 - Moral Maze, The Morality of Suspicion - "I would just like to push back on the idea of these sort of PREVENT referrals that are onerous or heavy handed. We had, it mentioned earlier about the free Palestine wristband. That specific case wasn't about the wristband, it was about literature being distributed in a school by a group whose leader supports Hamas. Now, that would be a red flag to me… we're not talking about these PREVENT referrals truthfully... 90% of the programs done under PREVENT fail. And they mainly fail because they are trying to be done in a liberal way. The only two programs that worked were the ones that tackled them on religious grounds - so I'm a former theologian, I'm a former university lecturer, I strongly believe that that you can use conservative traditional Islamic teaching against IS teaching. But people are too frightened even to do the religious work... The only other PREVENT that worked was where they had the actual values discussion and values debate and and that's what we need. And now what I'm saying is the real social, the real security for our country is redefining British values in a way we can defend them...
My concern about the schools point and this is the problem with the PREVENT policy, is that nobody will know what that. Everybody wants to say, we don't want anyone to accuse us of Islamophobia. So there's a panic. So then they say anyone who goes against British values, which then broadly get defined as anyone who disagrees with gay marriage, just as an example. That's been used, by the way, in schools on number of occasions. From extreme religious families, you know, Jewish families, Catholic families, Muslim families, everyone. Because nobody wants to say what it is that we're fighting. And the reason I get anxious about that is because then actually liberty is at risk and you create a climate of suspicion that doesn't have any proportion...
‘I always thought one of the basic principles of being British was privacy'"

Enlgish for International Opportunity

On: TRF Verification and Electronic Score Download Website Demonstration, IELTS website

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Links - 19th March 2019 (2)

The Atlantic - Posts - "The Gender Politics of Pockets: A man can simply swipe up his keys and iPhone on the way to a rendezvous with co-workers and slip them into his pocket. A woman on the way to that same meeting has to either carry those items in her hand, or bring a whole purse with her—a definitive, silent sign that she is a woman."
Comments: "Listen, I’ve heard men given shit for having cargo shorts full of pockets for years"
"If women really wanted pockets, clothes would come with pockets. Capitalism isn't great for a lot of things, but it's pretty good at meeting demand for clothing styles."
""Gender politics waddle further into irrelevance" ~ The Atlantic"
"So, I am married to a designer, and the issue isn't always that designers are not putting pockets in, or that the pockets are too small. The issue is that when pockets are put in many clothing items, complaints come back in that the pockets ruin the line of the dress or pant. So, it is up to each person to decide whether they want the look to be streamlined, or whether they want to have an actual utilitarian pocket. I will admin that there are pants I wear that I either don't put anything in my pockets, or only minimal things, because it makes the pants look terrible, and that there are pants I have that look really good, but I can't actually put my phone or keys in the pockets because they are too small."
"It's important to make sure that you politicize everything in order to keep people irritated."
"Right, because we couldn't tell otherwise"
"Man between this and the bathroom article we’ve really reached the bottom of the barrel for issues facing women."
"Pockets ruin the lines of clothing. Happy with a purse. You don’t need to bring an overnight bag - just enough for basics"
"I wear a suit or blazer. I have pockets. 🤷🏻‍♀️ This is not difficult."
"I carry a wallet, keys, glasses, a phone, and an inhaler pretty much everywhere. Pockets don't cut it but a small belt bag works just fine. It's really not an inconvenience."

BBC Radio 4 - Best of Today, US mid-terms elections - "Often they don't particularly like him as a person, but they like what he's doing. And they like the way the nation is being run...
The priorities of the Democratic Party, of her party, of elite America don't really match those of her constituents.
'When you're working one or two jobs, or you're a single mom, which 52% of the women here are and have more than one child. You're not thinking about climate change, you're not thinking about the environment. You're thinking about: how am I going to get my kids to school this morning? How am I going to feed them in the afternoon and I'm gonna be late because I have nobody to get them at the bus.'...
'Do you resent people who are super rich in America?'...
Here's where American attitudes get very interesting and troubling for those looking for an alternative to Trump. They don't blame the rich for their troubles. But they do have a tendency to blame the upper middle classes, the hectorers, the lecturers
'They feel like - and rightfully so - that that class of people talk down to them and basically tell them that they're wrong and that they, they're not smart enough to figure out that Donald Trump isn't the right person... What's funny is the Democratic Party is made up the elite people that have money and tend to be, you know, fairly educated. And then you've got this big drop off to the people that are less economically fortunate. So you have this big hole in the middle, the middle class, and then you've got the Democrats on the other side saying, well, you don't care about, you know, eliminating plastic straws in California, because it's killing ocean life out in the middle of the Pacific, or, you know, the transgender bathroom issues in Washington and Oregon'...
What's happening here? Why is the anger at the elites greater than anger at the rich? In part, according to Richard Reeves, senior fellow at the Washington think tank Brookings and author of Dreamhoarders: how the American upper middle class is leaving everyone else in the dust, in part, he says it's because of politics. But also it's because of real grievance
'Part of the political skill of Donald Trump has been to turn the anger into an anti elite anger rather than anti rich anger. And to persuade people that the issue here is upper middle class professionals, those who are kind of condescending to them... obviously, the famous comment from Hillary Clinton about deplorables and all that sort of speaks to was a sense of being judged, being kind of looked down on by the upper middle class, the people who are winning in the meritocracy, the people who are embracing immigration, free trade etc, and flourishing in that world. And so it's actually as much a kind of sense of the anger at the disdain with which people felt they were being treated with.'...
The figures for the people who have already voted. I mean, I think it's something like over 35 million Americans have voted early. Just give you one state in Texas, more people have already voted early than voted in total turnout for years ago. That is the level of interest that has been generated on both sides. One thing that no one can argue about Donald Trump has made politics exciting"

BBC World Service - The World This Week, US Now Eyes 2020 - "These elections underlined one thing above all others. Donald Trump dominates the politics, the thinking, the life of his nation like few other presidents in modern times. He galvanises people to back him, to oppose him. And assuming he chooses to run for reelection in 2020, his chances are enhanced, not diminished by what happened in America's midterm elections... The fact is that in race after race, though, in states where Donald Trump is popular, and campaigned hard, the candidates he supported won. That's why the Senate Majority for the Republicans has actually gone up - highly unusual in a midterm election...
‘Commemorating World War One has, if anything become more significant, even as the events themselves have become more remote.’
‘Well, each generation has reinterpreted the history of the First World War in the light of its own values. So for example, in 1928, 10 years after the end of the war, when Earl Haig, the Field Marshal who lead British troops in France and Flanders from 1915 to 1918, when he died, his funeral procession, the streets of Edinburgh, the city of his birth, and London were lined with hundreds of thousands, perhaps as many as a million people. He was buried as a national hero, the man who delivered National Salvation to a grateful nation. And yet by the 1960s, he's a villain, he's the Butcher of the Somme, the man who sent hundreds of thousands of young men to their deaths needlessly in what became known as the futility narrative. So each new generation looks afresh at the First World War. So it's in 1968, for example, then the 1960s for example, that the war poetry of Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon gains popular traction really for the first time. Those poets were known in the 1920s and 1930s, but they weren't known popularly, didn't enter the national consciousness, the national discourse until the 1960s, a time of exploding youth culture, Vietnam, protest, growing anti war sentiment, and that's when those poems, that poetry found its time. And so since then, in the 50 years since the 1960s, that interpretation of futility narrative, the horror, the pity of war, has again receded. And again, there’s a generation now of revisionist historians who are saying, wait a minute, the song was not futile, the Somme was the beginning of the path to victory, and the process by which the Allies delivered Europe from German militarism...
How do you remember your own war dead when you belong to a nation that turned out twice to be on the wrong side of history [like Germany]? How do you grieve for those you lost without appearing to whitewash the crimes committed in their name, or in some cases by them, or indeed condoning those crimes? And this has been problematic for Germany since the end of the Second World War in particular, and I think one of the great achievements of post war Germany is it did not seek scapegoats. It did not seek to blame others for its plight, but it reconciled its own guilt to the new world and as a symbol of the way in which Germany has been transformed since 1945 that it's at peace with all nine nations with whom it shares a land border. And that's never been true in German, since the unification of Germany at the beginning of the 1870s. It's an achievement I think, many German diplomats before the Berlin Wall came down, would not have believed that they would live to see'"

BBC World Service - The World This Week, No laughing matter: the truce on trade - "‘There's a very real fear that because of the close ties between the Chinese government and Chinese business and the fact that there is a law there that says, at any point, if there's a private individual or an institution that is asked to hand over information to the government, they may well be obliged to do. It's that fear that many companies, countries who are now seeing Huawei being caught up in this crossfire of the US-China trade war, this other war, as you mentioned earlier, which is making them very reluctant to do business with Chinese companies like Huawei’…
‘Huawei can't be classified effectively as a private institution, in a sense that a company in the United States might be private in that it's received billions of dollars of investment from the Chinese government. As you said, there are laws requiring it to hand over information. And of course, we can't forget that the founder of Huawei was at one point a member of the Chinese military. Is this a sort of a wider problem for Chinese companies?’
‘Yeah, I think it's always going to be an issue because, you know, we are looking at Chinese companies through the prism of how the Western world operates. And you can't do that. There are a number of reasons why the Chinese economy is so different from anything else in the world. It operates within its own ecosystem and try as much as they might these companies, I think it would be fair to say, they operate in a very global way, they are very innovative, they are proceeding ahead with technological advances that far outpaced in many ways, the ability of Western companies, but the reality remains that they operate under the auspices of the Chinese government. And there is that fear, although I think it is important to stress that so far, we haven't seen any credible evidence of that. But that possibility that if they were asked to hand over data, they may well be obliged to do so.’...
The report on religious freedom tries to understand why religious persecution is on the increase and how it's not higher on a list of public priorities. It suggests that the rise of ultra nationalism is contributing as many countries opt for populist politicians and policies. But it ultimately concludes that religious violence has fallen down the list of human rights priorities. Because there are now so many competing concerns. The #metoo movement that's championed the rights of women. LGBTQI communities, who are demanding equality of opportunity, having faced centuries of discrimination. And these are the Human Rights priorities that tend to dominate social media."
Another reminder of how obsessing over non-issues means real problems get ignored

BBC Radio 4 - Best of Today, Robotic surgery - "Every single heart operation risks a life. It's different with robotic prostate surgery or surgery on the bowel. Every time you stop a heart and try and restart it it does risk that patient’s life and the smallest of mistakes can cascade into disaster. There was an old saying in cardiac surgery: this operation should be awfully simple, but I've made it simply awful…
‘If you… had a heart problem and needed an operation would you allow it to be carried out by somebody operating a robot?’
‘No, no, I will take the standard saw up the middle of the breastbone and heart surgery was made safe by doing it under direct vision in controlled circumstances that were highly reproducible. When I did mitral valve repairs, usually the operations took between two and three hours and the patient left hospital in between five and seven days with a valve that would last them forever. The sternotomy incision, though intimidating to look at, is nowhere near as painful as some other surgical incisions. I think it's wrong to trade off the length of a surgical incision for the safety and longevity of an operative procedure."

BBC Radio 4 - Best of Today, Lords sexual harassment - "‘To even think of being cross examined by the alleged perpetrator is absolutely, it was horrendous, and a horrendous thought for me.’
‘But where, can we look at one inconsistency in in particular… a week after these alleged events, you signed a copy of your book for Lord Lester with this inscription: Anthony, thank you so much for your love and support. It has been my pleasure to meet you. Love and admiration’
‘When this happened to me at that time, I was absolutely shocked and horrified. And one of the things I did as a victim of sexual harassment was to go into autopilot.’...
‘I sign many books in that way for many people. I was trying to be normal, I just wanted to carry on as normal’
‘But you could have signed it in a very basic way, couldn't you, but instead, to put in an inscription that says, thank you so much for your love and support now’
‘Because I have to say, and I'll be very clear here, I do have admiration for Lord Lester’s work, absolutely. But what I don't have admiration for is what he did to me. And I was trying to be normal. Many victims of sexual harassment do do that. Otherwise, they draw attention to that harassment. And I was just trying to get on with things. It was the most debilitating experience and for me to draw attention to do something differently, would have made me happen to accept that I was a victim and I was trying to get on with it’
‘But it took you 12 years to come forward’"
Due process is horrible and there's no way to tell credible from non-credible accusations

BBC Radio 4 - Best of Today, Religious freedom - "‘Martin gave us some horrific examples of Christians being persecuted, Coptic Christians being persecuted in Egypt. Is there though a general view here that Islamophobia is a bad thing, anti-Semtism it a bad thing. And of course they are. But we don't hear the same sort of talk about anti-Christians’
‘I think the problem is that Christianity is seen as a Western development whereas we know it started in the Middle East. And so we tend to have a sensitivity in the West because we are talking about people coming into the communities. Of course, that is no longer true. People are moving across each other's paths all the time. And because there is in my mind, a certain expression for it, a concept of it, then it's left to happen. Of course, people express their support and they try to do things, but it's not seen as a phenomenon, which we know it is. We know it’s a phenomenon in many countries. It is just as deplorable as anti semitism, Islamophobia and anything else that targets people precisely for their faith. And so it therefore must be addressed at the same level’
‘Is part of the problem that we don't have a word for it? We have a word for anti semitism. We have a word for Islamophobia. We don't have a word for being, not liking Christians, I don't know what the word is.’
‘Well, in the world of 280 characters on Twitter and very quick newsfeeds I think that is part of the problem. You can't have a hashtag that says persecution of Christians. Christ knows that. So that's one concept. The other thing is, it's more than a word, there isn't a concept for it. And so that, therefore there's a greater sensitivity to speak about it. But then there isn't a way of collaborating or called creating a coalition of people who speak against it. And I think that's what, when there is a concept, a word and ethos, it's much easier to bring people around it.’"

Performative Anti-Racism in Singapore

Joshua Chiang - A couple of weeks ago, a non-Chinese made a...

"A couple of weeks ago, a non-Chinese made a twitter post criticizing Chinese weddings while saying how weddings of other cultures are more fun. The post went moderately viral, and drew flak from some Chinese people seeing it as racist.

And some of arguments went like, eh how come Chinese people cannot criticize non-Chinese weddings but the reverse can? DOUBLE STANDARDS WOR!!!!

Cut to the weekend that just passed. This Rice Media article highlighted an issue that's been going on for quite some time, which is that of people speaking Singlish mis-spelling loan words from non-Chinese language. Of course got people say, but it's SInglish!

Then this Super Woke Asian (no relation to the person who posted on Twitter about Chinese weddings), did some sibeh tokong social experiment where he purposely mangled common Singlish words originating from Chinese dialects, and predictably people who don't get it tried correcting him.

The point of course is HAHAHA SEE DOUBLE STANDARDS.

(Which is kinda weird cos were the people who tried correcting him OUTRAGED?)

Which is applicable only when you see people only for their group identities. When you think that the actions of a person from one race is representative of everyone in that group.

Because, in the first example given, what makes you think that the Chinese people who criticize the weddings of other races are the same people who will get offended if people criticize Chinese weddings?

And do you think the people who defended the mispelling of non-Chinese words used in Singlish context would be the same people who get upset if Chinese words were (and had been btw) similarly mangled within Singlish?

You'd think that someone who is privileged enough to have an education at RI would be able to know that.

Public intellectual some more."

Links - 19th March 2019 (1)

Shane Sim - At this rate my wall will be filled with soldiers that... - "I was deployed to NZ myself, I was from the artillery unit too.
The truth about safety in saf is that we are told and briefed about safety, but intrinsically they instilled fear for failing to meet expectations or positive reinforcement if you meet expectations. Everybody is pressured to break safety procedures for the sake of meeting expectations.
They told us to do things proper, do the safety checks and what not. But on the other hand they expects us to unload a truckload of bombs and deployment equipments within 12 to 15 mins which also includes deployment ground setup. Many of us succumbs to stress and peer pressure and crossed safety boundaries to achieve this.
Detachment that failed their timing gets confined on top of informal derogatory punishments. You or your teammates' weekend anniversary with his mum or girlfriend depends on your actions. It's a sad battle between safety and psychological torture.
The system would probably change for the better, but in the due process, how many more injuries and deaths are we going to witness?"
On the death of Aloysius Pang

Donald Low - Someone sent me this; I think it makes a lot of... - "As for Aloysius Pang, the news articles talking about whether Aloysius was able to move fast enough to get out of the way of the moving gun breech. This is bullshit. Why wasn't the gun locked out so it could not be moved? And if the task requires that the gun be elevated, or depressed surely there must be a safer way to do this as a matter of both machine and process design. Many industrial machines have a service or test mode where actuators are only allowed to run at a reduced speed while sounding a warning that movement is about to begin. This is something that would not cost much to implement. I would not be surprised if the drive system for the gun already comes from the factory with this capability installed but is not in use. As above, the average NSman has very little authority to make the changes that reduce risk for himself."

BBC Radio 4 - Best of Today, What is going to happen in Venezuela? - "‘President Maduro is doing everything wrong. I'd rather have the United States invade to sort out this damn mess. We're tired and people are hungry. And the President is not thinking of the people of Venezuela’...
You can hear people shouting here because one man went by praising the president and a whole crowd of people around the banana store started shouting at him and telling him to leave...
‘What about broader support for Maduro, around the world from individuals? And I'm thinking of the British Labour Party’...
‘They do not understand what is going on in Venezuela unfortunately. They do not understand there are literally people are starving, because of shortages of food. There are people are dying of diseases that were ready kill like malaria, tuberculosis, diphtheria because of shortages of medicine’
‘But what some of them say is that's the fault of the Americans. That's the embargo’
‘That’s not true, because I mean, we've been having this humanitarian crisis since 2014. How do you explain that 3.3 million Venezuelans have fled the country, which is the biggest migration and refugee crisis in the region and the second largest refugee population just behind Syria? I mean it has happened with no water and no natural catastrophe. How would you explain the last year we did not have a free and fair elections that political parties have been illegalized, that main leaders of the opposition are in jail or in exile like my case. The human rights violation where you have more than 400 political prisoners. So this is beyond ideology. I mean Venezuela has become unfortunately a mafia state, a criminal state. It was a country that used to produce more than 3 million oil barrels, now it’s producing not just 1 million barrels. Where you have high officials that are linked to drug trafficking, terrorism, illegal mining. So Venezuelans are completely unprotected and not only the US is regarding the interim President, we're having Brazil, we’re having Columbia, we have our neighbors, the majority of the country of Latin America. Also the majority of the countries of Europe, Morocco, Australia, Israel. So the majority of the international community supports why the interim President? Because they have understood that Maduro’s regime is not only a threat to Venezuela, it’s a threat to the region’"

BBC Radio 4 - Best of Today, Brexit may go into 'extra time' - "In the case of Venezuela, this is not an ideological crusade. You know, Juan Guido is a member of the sister party to the Labour Party. I doubt that he agrees with President Trump on very many policies at all and and that is why it is rather extraordinary that Maduro continues to get such strong support from Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonald and I would just simply say that simply because they share Maduro’s anti-Western worldview is not a reason to turn a blind eye to someone who has driven his people into poverty, where 70% of children in some areas are facing malnutrition"

US condemns arrest of journalist Cody Weddle in Venezuela - "The United States has condemned the arrest of an American journalist, Cody Weddle, who was seized by Venezuelan military intelligence in an early morning raid on his Caracas home."
Damn US sanctions!

The Left Keeps Getting Venezuela Wrong – Foreign Policy - "Anti-imperialists prefer a Russian-backed dictator to a public revolt... Venezuela is engulfed in a government-inflicted economic crisis twice the size of the Great Depression, which has provoked the largest movement of refugees in the recent history of Latin America... If you’re familiar with Cuban politics, the so-called Bolivarian Revolution begun by Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez has been ringing alarm bells for many years now. The idolization of a charismatic leader, the unwillingness of the regime to brook any opposition, the gross economic mismanagement, and blaming every failure on the machinations of the United States—all are familiar tropes for Cuba watchers... Yet much of the Western socialist left has persisted in ignoring the trajectory of Venezuela in order to sustain a fantasy of “21st-century socialism.” It’s reminiscent of the Western apologists for the Soviet Union that Arthur Koestler once compared to peeping Toms “who watch History’s debauches through a hole in the wall” while not having to experience it themselves... what is really frightening are those who, under the guise of anti-imperialism, consistently favor dictators—as long as they mouth anti-American platitudes... much of the anti-imperialist left has had a bad habit of putting itself on the side of the powerful, as long as they conduct their atrocities at home... Take Euromaidan in Ukraine, the struggle against Assad in Syria, and the ongoing protests in Venezuela. In each case, many on the left failed to offer solidarity to the people of these countries as they risked their lives confronting brutal regimes. In fact, the opposite has occurred: In most cases, prominent leftists have rushed to smear the rebels as “fascists,” “head choppers,” and, in Venezuela, “right-wing extremists.” Take Euromaidan in Ukraine, the struggle against Assad in Syria, and the ongoing protests in Venezuela. In each case, many on the left failed to offer solidarity to the people of these countries as they risked their lives confronting brutal regimes. In fact, the opposite has occurred: In most cases, prominent leftists have rushed to smear the rebels as “fascists,” “head choppers,” and, in Venezuela, “right-wing extremists.”... If imperialism is the “highest stage of capitalism,” as Vladimir Lenin once observed, then the perversion of anti-imperialism bandied about by the contemporary Western left is the most sordid incarnation of contemporary socialism... A center-left figure like newly recognized Venezuelan President Juan Guaidó—literally a member of the Socialist International—is smeared as a member of the “far-right opposition” simply because he’s backed by the United States. Trump doesn’t like Maduro; ergo, the latter’s crimes must be excused away or attributed to the actions of the United States."

Lucas Lynch - My Venezuelan friend, who I just found out was... - "My Venezuelan friend, who I just found out was tortured by the Chavez regime, expounding on yet another leftist defending the regime.
"I’m telling you man, having endured physical torture, electrocution, permanent nerve damage, death threats, etc, was in a way more tolerable than having to withstand the denial and manipulation by the hard left. Maybe they should have lobotomized me, then I’d be happily be eating kale salad and posting bullshit all day.""

Lucas Lynch - Had a meeting today with a whole bunch of developers... - "Had a meeting today with a whole bunch of developers and business people in the mix. Met a bunch of young guys, one of them a recently graduated student originally from Venezuela. At one point, a very confident developer in the corner, obviously a white American, started going on about how Venezuela's problems were obviously caused by decades of American intervention in the region.
The Venezuelan piped up - "Actually, not every problem in the region is America's fault..." The original kid kept interrupting him to tell him more about all the terrible things America has done. Another guy started chiming in. He tried again. "Yes, but really, we have problems that are totally our own..."
They kept interrupting him and telling him essentially he was wrong.
Now I don't necessarily hold up 'experience' as the be all and end all. I think anyone with a capacity for empathy and data collection really can walk a mile in someone else's shoes and come to understand where they are coming from. So I wouldn't tell someone to listen to a Venezuelan in such a discussion just because.
Watching these two American shout over a Venezuelan and tell him, despite his protestations, that actually everything is our fault was delicious to behold.""

Blogger, 24, paralysed after stroking stray cat while on holiday in Portugal - "A blogger was left paralysed from the hips down after she contracted a bacterial infection from a stray cat. Gemma Birch, 24, of Southport, Merseyside, grew fond of the stray animal, named Catarina, during an all-inclusive stay at holiday resort in Albufeira back in 2014. Unbeknown to her, the animal was carrying a potentially deadly infection which ultimately left her wheelchair-bound for months."

A Blueprint for Education Reform | Facebook - "all schools need to be financially resourced the same. This means cutting all funding from private sources (in effect ending the aided-schools policy), and furthermore banning all schools from fund-raising or accepting donations... school infrastructure and other physical resources (e.g. sports facilities, science labs, special educational rooms and equipment) should also be identical or very close to identical... staffing and student-to-teacher ratio should be kept very close to identical to all schools. In other words, all schools should have around the same number of students, around the same number of teachers and around the same number of classes... Subject offerings in each school should all be identical also... all schools should take in a similar mix of students with my proposed system. When the mix of students in schools are very similar, and with tighter control over secondary school curriculum (see section 5) the O level results of the schools are expected to be similar as well...
I am also against overseas trips for students at the school level. I am of the view that such trips must be for the whole cohort (not for a select group of elite students), but doing so requires a large financial expenditure and high teacher workload & liability that is not worth the small marginal educational benefits for the child. A short local adventure camp (for the whole cohort) is acceptable I think.
The best way to remove inequality is to make everyone equally bad/poor/miserable (I've been told in the past that no one actually says that but...)

HIV-positive status of 14,200 people leaked online - "The HIV-positive status of 14,200 people – and confidential information such as their identification numbers and contact details – has been leaked online... The records were those of 5,400 Singaporeans diagnosed with HIV up to January 2013 and 8,800 foreigners, including work and visit pass applicants and holders, diagnosed with HIV up to December 2011.The leaked information included their names, identification numbers, phone numbers, addresses, HIV test results and medical information. The details of another 2,400 of their contacts – identified through contact tracing – up to May 2007 were also leaked... The information is in the possession of an “unauthorised person” – Mikhy K Farrera Brochez, a US citizen in Singapore. Brochez was deported from Singapore in April 2018, after he was convicted of fraud and drug-related offences and sentenced to 28 months’ jail... Brochez was a partner of Ler Teck Siang, a male Singaporean doctor who was also head of MOH’s National Public Health Unit from March 2012 to May 2013. Prior to resigning in January 2014, Ler had access to the HIV Registry as required for his work, the ministry said.Ler is believed to have mishandled the information and did not comply with policies on the handling of confidential information, MOH said."
The HIV registry leak doesn't inspire confidence in Singapore's no opt-out National Electronic Health Record
Conveniently, the government is exempt from the PDPA because, we are told, government regulations are even stricter than the PDPA

Philippines AirAsia, Cebu Pacific among world's least punctual airlines - "Punctuality seems to be an issue for Asian airlines in general, as they make up the majority of those on the 10 least-punctual list"

'Starting to make a turn back? Great!': Trump advocates for 'Bible literacy classes' in US schools - "a growing number of US states are introducing bills that would allow more students in public high schools to study the Bible. There are proposals in at least six states that would make public schools offer optional classes on the Bible’s literary and historical significance"
Given that Richard Dawkins supports something similar, the outrage is hilarious.
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