When you can't live without bananas

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Saturday, July 18, 2020

Links - 18th July 2020 (2)

BBC Radio 4 - Best of Today, Wednesday's business with Dharshini David - "‘You talk about the brand names, you talk about the marketing through social media, these are all important factors in promoting vaping, as long as they're done in a responsible way. And we are marketing thing only to adult consumers, which is exactly what our marketing Code of Practice suggests we should do’
‘Would you accept though that using platforms like Instagram, they do have appeal to younger people?’
‘Well, that's not actually the case. If you think about, for instance, paid social media, we’re able to segment through age, cohort data. So I would actually argue that social media is a more closed environment. It's a more age restricted environment than probably some of the marketing practices from many years ago. For instance, billboards, TV commercials, and so on. So I actually think there's a very responsible side of social media that we will do well to leverage to accelerate our transforming tobacco journey.’"

BBC Radio 4 - Best of Today, Is Iran a threat? - "‘You talking about the Americans, let's just look at the pattern of behavior from Iran and the actions it has taken in, in recent weeks. Apparently, attacking commercial vessels. Shooting down an unmanned US surveillance drone. Saying that it's going to boost uranium enrichment above a cap set under the deal, confronting merchant vessels as we have just seen’
‘Yeah. On, on enriching, I mean, these are child play, frankly. I mean, these are just a symbolic reaction by a country that cannot import medicine right now, because of the gruesome sanction by the US. So they are trying to scream for help, as I see it. I mean, all what they are doing is increasing the risk... They are a country under absolute distress, that the people have no access to food and medicine. And if any country in their position, they will just, to me, it just somebody who is crying for help’"
Maybe when jihadists kill people that's a 'cry for help' too

BBC Radio 4 - Moral Maze, Moral Character - "Politics is a tough business. Boris Johnson may be just one step away from Downing Street, but he's currently homeless having been forced to flee his girlfriend's flat after last week's all too public bust up made it the focus of left wing demonstrations. It could be worse. His great grandfather, also an ex minister and journalist, bidding for power in post First world war Turkey was kidnapped at his barber’s, handed over to the mob, strung up in a tree and stoned to death... A long list of famous philanderers, we regard as great statesman. Lloyd George, Franklin Roosevelt, John Kennedy, Nelson Mandela. Leadership is not an ethical beauty contest. It's about effectiveness, not virtue, they say...
‘Something can be a vice in the private life and a virtue in the public life. And I think that might be the case, because we require, we lie to ourselves about this all the time., but we require often our politicians do our dirty work for us, and why I dislike the self righteousness about this so much. It's like, we vote for them. And then we pretend that we can all be so clean about it and often the case is, this is just a way of protecting ourselves from the fact that we sort of subcontract some of the sort of rather nasty business that running a state has to involve to other people and then pretend that that we have no part in it.’
‘But people, especially at this level, in public life have huge privileges that go with that status. Surely the public has a right to, to hold them accountable. It's not a matter of being self righteous, the public aren’t saying that we’re morally clean, and that we don't make mistakes. But the higher up you go, and all the privileges that come with that office, surely you should be accountable’…
‘I was slightly confused by the whole nature of a different moral universe. But I think that what I want to question is this idea that a prime minister, a figure of high political office, is somehow supposed to be a moral role model. I mean, God help you if you're looking to politicians for your, for moral advice, because they're usually not very good at it’"

Rationally Speaking | Official Podcast of New York City Skeptics - Current Episodes - RS130 - The Atheists Own 10 Commandments - "‘This is often cited as the problem with objectification. Like the problem with ogling a stripper or whatever, that you're, in objectifying that stripper, you are valuing her only for her sexual appeal and not for, you know, her other values and features as a human being right. Not just qua stripper. But there's so many other examples that most of us find completely unproblematic, in which, you know, I'm valuing my barista in that moment only for her ability to provide me with the drink that I bought. And no one seems to find that problematic. So never quite understood how that principle applied. But if the way you're interpreting it is, you know, even if you're not thinking about that person's essential humanity, at the same time as you're buying a coffee or you know, watching a strip dance, as long as like you, on some level, recognize and value that humanity such that if there ever came to be some kind of trade off that needed to be made you would like not ignore the person's humanity. That seems good. Like that seems like a good rule to follow... Kant cited this principle as justification to prohibit masturbation’...
‘Kant was a prude, very well known’...
There are some philosophers and certain a number of scientists, prominent scientists who think that even if the world behaved according to supernatural principles, you could still do science about it. Now, I actually happen to be fairly skeptical of that idea. But I don't think it's a closed, you know, it's an open shut case. That the idea you know, Jerry Coyne’s famous, I think it was 30 feet tall Jesus or something like that. If a 30 feet tall Jesus started walking the streets or if the stars rearranged themselves all of a sudden, and said, you know, here's your God, or something like that. Well, that will clearly be very obvious empirical evidence for the existence of the supernatural. And presumably, as long as the supernatural follows some kind of logic, the idea goes, it would be actually possible to investigate it scientifically. So I'm not so sure that bringing up science as a way as the best way to understand the natural world is necessarily endorsing mythological naturalism...
We can write hundreds and thousands of laws, there's always going to be some exceptional situation that clearly, technically speaking, falls within a certain certain description of the law, but in fact if you actually acted accordingly, you would be doing an unjust thing, which is why the law needs to be interpreted. It's why, you know, there has to be latitude about things. And that's why also, by the way, laws are changed over time. They're dynamic documents. I mean, if there is one thing, that I would object to this project, although I realized what word the term is coming from, is precisely the term commandment. Because the term commandment implies, especially of course, to the religious minded, but in general implies that sort of an absolute rule where there are no objections and no possibilities of alteration in the future"

Rationally Speaking | Official Podcast of New York City Skeptics - Current Episodes - RS118 - Live From Baruch College With Dr. Steven Novella - "'People who are very intelligent and very committed will never, almost never change their mind even though they are presented with the evidence that clearly they are wrong about whatever the specifics was.Because they're - the reasoning there is that apparently they are not only very ideologically committed, but they're also very intelligent, so they can come up with all very smart ways of rationalising what they're *something*, which is perhaps not surprising but disturbing.'
'Yeah, intelligence actually doesn't predict whether you're going to stick to your guns or bend to the evidence. It's the passion with which you hold the ideological position.'
'It's how much you are invested emotionally'...
We all have a limited amount of energy and, you know, and resources and time available. And so the issue might be well, you know, you have to pick your fights. As they were saying earlier, you know, which is probably astrology at this point is not exactly the top of my list, even though I'm completely befuddled by every time that I walk in the village and see how many psychic shops there are there. And you know, they only charge $10 a session. And if you do the calculations from and have any idea of how much it cost them probably, to rent that shop is like, how many people do these people see. You know, the consulation must last a microsecond for them to be viable, but it's not. Like I'm not too concerned about that. I am concerned about things like climate change, or vaccine denial, and that sort of stuff. So I think it's more of a matter in my mind, it's more about picking your fights, where both the topic is important, because it has consequences. And also where you may be more able to make some leeway...
If you take on issues that are politically or ideologically dominated… if there is a, an ideological aspect to what you're promoting, the risk is, is that you will confuse your value judgments for objective skeptical analysis or critical thinking analysis. And I do see this happen within the movement, you know, is that you have people at one end of the political spectrum think that that approach, that political approach to skepticism is the correct approach. And they kind of mix in their political ideology with the skepticism and critical thinking… I try to not get into issues of my own political value system. And I consider myself successful if people like don't know where I fall on the political spectrum. And I think most people don't, because you shouldn't be able to infer my personal politics from my skeptical activism, if I'm doing my job the way I want to do it, I'm saying that's the way you should do it. And that's the way I personally choose to do it. And I certainly, you know, see what I feel are a lot of examples of people who are promoting critical thinking and skepticism, but they're doing it from a very particular ideological point of view, which unnecessarily narrows their audience. And then they eventually get to the point where they're confusing their values, with empirical objective claims. And I think that's counterproductive... What's important to do as skeptics is to be sort of the neutral, politically neutral arbiter of the evidence and the empirical claims in the logic, rather than aligning the critical thinking science with a political value, because then you're actually, first of all, you're you're giving a reason for half of your audience to dismiss your opinion. And and I don't think we should be trying to disconnect empirical claims from value judgments. ,And but the hardest thing to do is to separate it from your own values, especially when it seems reasonable to you, you know"

Skittles released white candies for Pride. Now, the Internet is accusing them of white supremacy. - "Since the dawn of delicious tarty candies, Skittles’ motto has been “Taste The Rainbow,” except when it comes to honoring Pride month.To commemorate the occasion, the candy company decided to ditch their usual Roy G. Biv color palette, opting instead for all-white pellets of sugary goodness...
“During Pride, only one rainbow matters. So we have given up ours to show support.”"
When you virtue signal - but other people virtue signal back

Man stabs teenager for killing computer character - "Mr Daniel Tan Thiam Soon (21) stabbed a fellow player in the back after the 16-year-old stabbed his character to death in the game.District Judge Rahim Jalil has sentenced Tan to six years in prison and six strokes of the cane. Unemployed Tan was playing Counterstrike in a computer gaming centre at Tampines."

I tried 5 signature burgers from major chains. This meaty beast was the winner. - "I taste-tested signature burgers from McDonald’s, Burger King, Five Guys, Wendy’s, and Shake Shack to see how they compared.Each burger brought something unique to the table, but Five Guys won out overall.Its juicy meat and fresh, flavorful toppings contributed to a classic burger taste that demolished its competition."

Class 95 DJs The Muttons’ Restaurant Fook Kin Caught Fire, 40 Diners Safely Evacuated - "Fook Kin’s post also reminisced about Da Shi Jia helping them out when they ran out of pork lard: “This good neighbour of ours offered to give us a big container of it and gave us great advice that we definitely kept in mind.”"

Jesse Singal on Twitter - "So I get on the train and this white woman immediately covers her mouth with a scarf when she sees me. I thought it would be interesting to fake cough and see how she reacts. The racism is showing Jan! (Too bad we couldn’t hear her mumbling under that racism!)"
"Why in the name of God do people help stuff like this go viral??? You have no idea who the tweeter is, you have no idea if she's telling the truth, you have no idea what the context is, you have no idea about anything. You're trying to ruin someone's life... why???"
"When someone posts "Twitter, do your thing," they mean, "Strangers, ruin this other stranger's day/week/life."

Positive fantasies about idealized futures sap energy - "Positive fantasies allow people to mentally indulge in a desired future. Whereas previous research found that spontaneously generated positive fantasies about the future predict poor achievement, we examined the effect of experimentally induced positive fantasies about the future. The present four experiments identify low energy, measured by physiological and behavioral indicators, as a mechanism by which positive fantasies translate into poor achievement. Induced positive fantasies resulted in less energy than fantasies that questioned the desired future (Study 1), negative fantasies (Study 2), or neutral fantasies (Study 3). Additionally, positive fantasies yielded a larger decrease in energy when they pertained to a more rather than a less pressing need (Study 4). Results indicate that one reason positive fantasies predict poor achievement is because they do not generate energy to pursue the desired future."
i.e. Motivational bullshit is self-defeating and so is The Secret

The end of the road for street food?

BBC World Service - The Food Chain, The end of the road for street food?

"‘Is it quite common to eat out all the time in Bangkok?’

‘Yes, it is. Most people really, constantly eat out. There is a large number of apartments that actually do not have a kitchen because the assumption is that people either go out to eat or buy the food from the street and bring it home. So it's very, very common, regardless of which, you know, income level you are.’

‘But about six years ago, the local authority began to clamp down on street food vendors’...

‘In terms of the stalls, he has decreased from around 20,000 to 8,000. So that's a decrease of around 60%. Now this is the register vendors. Eh, it's very difficult to estimate the number of the informal vendors, but an organization here that works with domestic workers, informal workers, etc. Their estimation is that there were around 300,000 to 400,000 street vendors in Bangkok. And they estimate that about anything between 150 to 200,000 have lost their source of income. They've been removed, they don't do that anymore.’...

‘If street food was not available regular consumers of street food would need to spend 350 baht  more per month. At the moment 350 baht is around nine pounds.’

‘Okay, and is that like a day's wage? How much is that?’

‘Exactly. That's, that's the point. So we're talking about the equivalent of a full day of work extra just to get the same amount of food’…

‘Easy access to inexpensive food is one of the reasons that the formal employment sector can pay low wages. And so I wondered whether actually this goes way beyond the street vendors and the customers but actually has a knock on effect to the economics of a city more broadly’

‘The way that I see it is, you know, is the best kept secret of the urban economies, not only of Bangkok, but most Southeast Asian cities. An entry level salary in a formal economy. It's around 13,000 baht. Around 400, 450 US dollars. With that, unless you get, you know, things like street food from informal vendors. Informal transport, otherwise you couldn't survive on that. So you're absolutely right. Having these access to these food that is so inexpensive in a sense, subsidizes and is maintains this very low wages.’...

'The Bangkok Metropolitan administration has pledged to build Hawker centers, where vendors can set up shop with better access to amenities like running water and toilets. This transition from selling food on the streets into malls has already happened over 1000 kilometers south in Singapore'...

'[Hawkers in Singapore] used to sell what's, what they could decently or properly do on a street car devoid of all these facilities. Now that they have this mini little full fledged kitchen, they can cook anything they want. And the new generation is very, very receptive to new things that work'...

[On Penang] ‘Given what you've just said about being this big melting pot of cultures, it seems like an unusual decision to then say, actually, foreign workers who may have influenced Malaysian cooking over the years can't now make what is considered Malaysian food.’

‘Actually, I agree with you because I'm a cooking class teacher and I do not care where my students come from, as long as I can teach them a proper way of making traditional food. They can make it as good as what my grandma used to make if they follow the technique and they use the right ingredients. So I think one of the reasons why certain *people* and certain hawkers are ver-, there’s a word, proprietary, the sense of possessiveness, they don't want to share and also maybe to gain some popular votes.

But last year in 2019, the Minister of Human Resources also enforced the law all over Malaysia about food not being cooked by foreigners. And this law had a lot of opposition from the association of restaurant owners who, most of them have to hire workers from South India, for example, for Indian restaurants, because there's simply no enough local people who are willing to do the job at a certain salary that's being offered. So that's another, you know, way of looking at it… the wage for the foreign workers have a certain minimum wage, which is not what the locals are willing to take’

‘In a nutshell, what has been the fallout from this new bit of legislation?’

‘I would say some business, businesses actually have to close because they are afraid to be fined. But some still do it, you know, secretly, but if some of the clients notice and make a report, then the officials will go and investigate and they will get fine. So that's my, *laughs*’

‘But you've noticed a decline in hawker stalls. I mean, and they're citing the reason for that is that they just at one end of the spectrum, they can't employ low paid workers, they have to do the work themselves. They're struggling to make ends meet, but on the other side, they're being squeezed from customers who aren't willing to pay a higher price for the food that reflects their living standard. It sounds like a really difficult situation.’

‘Yeah, I will say within the next 20 years. I will say there'll be not much, many hawkers left who's doing all this traditional food’...

‘I also worry because the culture of street food will be lost. Then what we will have we just be like Singapore with only like spanking clean hawker centre in air conditioned. Nobody is like squatting by the roadside anymore. So you lose that, you know, the intangible heritage’"

Samuelson on the limits of Libertarianism

Love That Corporation - The New York Times
December 26, 1970

"Last Christmas I wrote a column on economics and love. Under the mistaken preconception that these, like oil and water, cannot mix, several people applauded either my innovation or my recantation.

Illustrative of this widespread misconception is the following typical query:

“Professor Samuelson, is it really a finding of economics that corporations should solely maximize, their profits, disregarding any special obligation to the public interest or to the humanitarian needs of their workers and consumers?”

I was glad to be able to reply, “Yes, Virginia, a large corporation these days not only may engage in social responsibility, it had damn well better try to do so.”...

It is true that Henry Ford II cannot operate today like Henry Ford, his grandfather. But neither can he operate like St. Francis of Assisi. The several hundred large corporations react to, and set, an evolving code of social conduct. So long as anyone does not depart too markedly from the ruling norm, it will not be penalized out of existence by market competition.

Thus, if International Harvester attempted by itself to solve the problem of general inflation, or even inflation, in farm equipment prices—or if its board set out, by wage and price policy, to rectify the inequitable distribution of incomes in the United States —after a very few years International Harvester would be eliminated from the roster of Galbraithian giants. The elimination process would be a bit slower, but none the less inexorable, if Allis-Chalmers, Deere, Caterpillar, Dodge Trucks, and General Motors joined it in this unilateral crusade for social justice.

To advance the good cause, one must not expect too much of altruism. It is nonsense to look to General Motors, or even the Big Three, for voluntary solution of the problem of air pollution. It's only good sense to impose by the force of law—by regulation and taxation—an obligation for the auto makers to produce exhaust systems that lessen pollution of the environment.

Corporations, I am afraid, are persons, born like the rest of us imperfect and subject to sin. Thus the small man is no better than the General Electric board. When I drove into a Los Angeles service station recently, I noted that the lead‐free gas pump was neglected. I soon found out why. Good people, men who love their wives and never fail to contribute to the collection plate; are not willing to pay more for gasoline which, if they alone use it will only imperceptibly purify the atmosphere for the rest of the community...

I quote a final example from the recent book by William F. Buckley Jr. Lapsing for once into good sense, Buckley is arguing that coercive limitations can in ‘such good causes as quarantine against plague add to total welfare and the algebraic total of human freedom:

“I asked Professor [Milton] Friedman, ‘Is it your position that, assuming the community decided to license the whores, it would be wrong to insist that they check in at regular intervals for health certificates? Yes, he thought that would be wrong. After all, if the customer contracts a venereal disease, the prostitute having warranted that she was clean, he has available a tort action against her.”

In response to a number of letters using this reductio ad absurdum as a reason for indicting economics, my reply is simply to demur. There is nothing in economics that leads to such a conclusion. Economics cannot tell us what to believe; it can help us to sort out the costs and benefits of various arrangements, as those costs and benefits are defined by the ethical value systems that we bring to economics.

Using civil suits to penalize undesired behavior after it takes place is indeed often a better social device than expensive and unpleasant inspection prior to behavior. But I cannot imagine a worse case to illustrate this purely tactical precept.

Thus, in principle, a veneral disease could be of irreversible type. Second, the courts would undoubtedly come to apply the doctrine of caveat emptor, let the buyer beware, to transactions such as these—what does it mean for a prostitute to warrant that she is “clean”? Finally, what are the assets against which the victorious plaintiff can levy? The mind boggles.

Hard cases are said to make bad law. Paradoxes cannot be counted on to define good economics—not on Christmas or any other day of the year."

Links - 18th July 2020 (1) (China's 'Peaceful' Rise)

Coronavirus and the Blindness of Authoritarianism - The Atlantic - "How did Xi Jinping—the general secretary of the Communist Party of China, who has been consolidating his power since taking over the post in 2012—let things get to this point?It might be that he didn’t fully know what was happening in his own country until it was too late.Xi would be far from the first authoritarian to have been blindsided. Ironically, for all the talk of the technological side of Chinese authoritarianism, China’s use of technology to ratchet up surveillance and censorship may have made things worse, by making it less likely that Xi would even know what was going on in his own country... Xi would not even be the first Chinese ruler to fall victim to the totality of his own power. On August 4, 1958, buoyed by reports pouring in from around the country of record grain, rice, and peanut production, an exuberant Chairman Mao Zedong wondered how to get rid of the excess, and advised people to eat “five meals a day.” Many did, gorging themselves in the new regime canteens and even dumping massive amounts of “leftovers” down gutters and toilets. Export agreements were made to send tons of food abroad in return for machinery or currency. Just months later, perhaps the greatest famine in recorded history began, in which tens of millions would die because, in fact, there was no such surplus. Quite the opposite: The misguided agricultural policies of the Great Leap Forward had caused a collapse in food production. Yet instead of reporting the massive failures, the apparatchiks in various provinces had engaged in competitive exaggeration, reporting ever-increasing surpluses both because they were afraid of reporting bad news and because they wanted to please their superiors. Mao didn’t know famine was at hand, because he had set up a system that ensured he would hear lies. Smart rulers have tried to create workarounds to avoid this authoritarian dilemma... For a few years, it appeared that China had found a way to be responsive to its citizens without giving them political power. Researchers have shown, for example, that posts on Weibo (China’s Twitter) complaining about problems in governance or corruption weren’t all censored... A corrupt official was even removed from office after outraged netizens on social media pointed out the expensive watches he wore, which were impossible to buy on his government salary... Since taking power in 2012, Xi has shifted back to traditional one-man rule, concentrating more and more power into his hands. He has deployed an ever-more suffocating system of surveillance, propaganda, and repression, while attempting to create a cult of personality reminiscent of the Mao era, except with apps instead of little red books. Unlike books, though, apps can spy on people... An earlier hint that Xi’s China was falling into authoritarian blindness came during the ongoing Hong Kong protests... the Beijing insiders miscalculated. They genuinely believed that the real cause for the Hong Kong unrest was the high rents on the densely populated island, and also thought that the people did not support the protesters. Authoritarian blindness had turned an easily solvable problem into a bigger, durable crisis that exacted a much heavier political toll, a pattern that would repeat itself after a mysterious strain of pneumonia emerged in a Wuhan seafood market... Given exponential growth dynamics of infectious diseases, containing an epidemic is straightforward early on, but nearly impossible once a disease spreads among a population. So it’s maximally important to identify and quarantine candidate cases as early as possible, and that means leadership must have access to accurate information... [SARS] should have made it clear that cover-ups are futile when it comes to pandemics, because viruses don’t respect borders. (The Soviet Union learned that radiation doesn’t either, when Sweden alerted the world to the Chernobyl accident.)It’s hard to imagine that a leader of Xi’s experience would be so lax as to let the disease spread freely for almost two months, only to turn around and shut the whole country down practically overnight... Xi would say he gave instructions for fighting the virus as early as January 7, implying that he knew about it all along. But how could he admit the alternative? This is his system... During the Ming dynasty, Emperor Zhu Di found out that some petitions to the emperor had not made it to him, because officials were blocking them. He was alarmed and ordered such blocks removed. “Stability depends on superior and inferior communicating; there is none when they do not. From ancient times, many a state has fallen because a ruler did not know the affairs of the people”"

China sentences Swedish bookseller Gui Minhai to 10 years in prison - "A court in eastern China has sentenced a Swedish seller of books that took a skeptical look at the ruling Communist Party to 10 years in prison for “illegally providing intelligence overseas,” in a further sign of Beijing’s hard line toward its critics.Gui Minhai first disappeared in 2015, when he was believed to have been abducted by Chinese agents from his seaside home in Thailand. He and four others who worked for the same Hong Kong publishing company all went missing at around the same time, only to turn up months later in police custody in mainland China... The court claims that Gui, who was born in Ningbo, applied to reinstate his Chinese citizenship in 2018. That would mean renouncing his Swedish citizenship, as China does not officially allow dual citizenship."

Virus Latest: Millions of Chinese Firms Face Collapse - Bloomberg - "A survey of small- and medium-sized Chinese companies conducted this month showed that a third of respondents only had enough cash to cover fixed expenses for a month, with another third running out within two months. Only 30% of such firms have managed to resume operations due to a complicated local government approval procedure as well as a lack of employees and financing... Many of China’s businesses were already grasping for lifelines before the virus hit, pummeled by a trade war and lending crackdown that sent economic growth to a three-decade low last year."

Don't let China start dominating UN agencies - Nikkei Asian Review - "Developments at the International Telecommunication Union are a case in point. A recent analysis by the Center for a New American Security, a U.S. think tank, finds that the ITU has tended to curry favor with Beijing since its top post was filled by a Chinese official about five years ago."

How China Sees the Hong Kong Crisis - "[Xi] spelled out what he sees as the proper way to proceed: “Economic development is the only golden key to resolving all sorts of problems facing Hong Kong today.”... Beijing considers disaffection among Hong Kong’s residents a natural outgrowth of the territory’s colonial British past and also a result of the continuing influence of Western values. Indeed, during the 1984 negotiations between China and the United Kingdom over Hong Kong’s future, the Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping suggested following the approach of “one country, two systems” for 50 years precisely to give people in Hong Kong plenty of time to get used to the Chinese political system... At first, Hong Kongers seemed to accept their new role as citizens of a rising China. In 1997, in a tracking poll of Hong Kong residents regularly conducted by researchers at the University of Hong Kong, 47 percent of respondents identified themselves as “proud” citizens of China... By this past June, only 27 percent of respondents to the tracking poll described themselves as “proud” to be citizens of China... Still, Chinese leaders do not blame themselves for these shifts in public opinion. Rather, they believe that Western powers, especially the United States, have sought to drive a wedge between Hong Kong and the mainland... Wrecking Hong Kong’s economy by using military force to impose emergency rule would not be a good thing for China. But the negative effect on the mainland’s prosperity would not be strong enough to prevent Beijing from doing whatever it believes is necessary to maintain control over the territory."

Taiwan says China forced Malaysian state to ban Taiwanese entry on COVID-19 fears - "Taiwan's foreign minister said on Thursday (Mar 5) that China had forced the Malaysian state of Sarawak to reinstate a ban on travellers from the island as part of coronavirus control steps, saying Beijing was taking "joy" in the measures. Taiwan says the World Health Organization's (WHO) inclusion of the island as part of China's virus area has mislead countries into believing the island's virus situation is as serious as China's... "Guess what? China forced Sarawak into banning Taiwan again! China takes joy in shoving Taiwan around & then expects gratitude for its Wuhan sacrifice. That's sickening."In Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said Taiwan's ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) had "politicised" the issue."China has always opposed the politicisation of the issue of prevention and control of the epidemic. We care about our Taiwan compatriots' health and wellbeing. The DPP has politicized this issue, and really should be held in contempt," he said, without elaborating. China has expressed displeasure with countries that ban Chinese travellers... This is not the first time Taiwan has faced travel exclusions because of what Taiwan says is a mistaken link to China.Vietnam and the Philippines both lifted flight or travel bans on Taiwan after Taipei complained. Taiwan has been less successful in the case of Italy, whose ban on Chinese flights includes Taiwan.Taiwan is separately ruled from China and China has no say in the island's health policy."

Bloomberg News Is Said to Curb Articles That Might Anger China - The New York Times - "“He said, ‘If we run the story, we’ll be kicked out of China,’ ” one of the employees said. Less than a week later, a second article, about the children of senior Chinese officials employed by foreign banks, was also declared dead, employees said... Bloomberg News infuriated the government in 2012 by publishing a series of articles on the personal wealth of the families of Chinese leaders, including the new Communist Party chief, Xi Jinping. Bloomberg’s operations in China have suffered since, as new journalists have been denied residency and sales of its financial terminals to state enterprises have slowed. Chinese officials have said repeatedly that news coverage on the wealth and personal lives of Chinese leaders crosses a red line... As the article on Mr. Xi’s family was published, in June 2012, Chinese officials ordered the Bloomberg News website blocked. Today, it remains inaccessible on Chinese servers. No Bloomberg journalist trying to enter China on a new long-term assignment has received a residency visa.Most important for the larger Bloomberg company’s bottom line, financial news terminal subscriptions, which cost more than $20,000 per year and are the main revenue generator for Bloomberg, slowed for a spell in China, after officials issued orders to some Chinese companies to avoid buying subscriptions... An article by Cathy Chan, another reporter in Hong Kong, ran into similar problems within a week. The article was halted after a conference call with New York, employees said. The article outlined how children of Chinese leaders, or “princelings,” had secured jobs at foreign banks. The hiring practice has come under scrutiny: In August, American newspapers reported that the Securities and Exchange Commission was investigating whether JPMorgan Chase had hired the children of senior Chinese officials to win business in China."
China is so keen to crack down on corruption that you can't report on how rich its leaders are

China hints at denying Americans life-saving coronavirus drugs - "The disturbing threats made during a global pandemic as well as the scary consequences if that threat becomes real highlight just how tight China's grip is on the global supply chain... As the rest of the world scrambles to contain the virus and protect its citizens, China has been busy casting itself in the role of global hero going so far as to demand a thank you for containing the virus as long as it did."

Friends Don't Let Friends Become Chinese Billionaires - "it seems to me that a Chinese billionaire dies every 40 days.China Daily reported Friday that unnatural deaths have taken the lives of 72 mainland billionaires over the past eight years... Mortality rate notwithstanding, what's more disturbing is how these mega wealthy souls met their demise. According to China Daily, 15 were murdered, 17 committed suicide, seven died from accidents and 19 died from illness. Oh, yes, and 14 were executed... I find it somewhat improbable that among such a small population there could be so many "suicides," "accidents" and "death by disease" (the average age of those who died from illness was only 48). I'm only speculating but the homicide toll could really be much higher."

Chinese property tycoon 'disappears' after criticizing Xi Jinping's coronavirus response: report - "A Chinese property tycoon is missing after criticizing Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak that originated in the country in December, the New York Times reported Saturday.Ren Zhiqiang, known as “The Cannon,” in the past has been one of the most prominent critics of Xi. Saturday morning his friends reported him missing... His disappearance comes amid a campaign from the Chinese state to eliminate criticism of the government... In 2016, the party put Ren on a year’s probation for denouncing Xi’s propaganda policies in comments online. He has also reportedly previously been banned from leaving the country and forced to delete his social media accounts because of his frustration with the government's authoritarian policies"

China's rise may not be inevitable - "Actually, China identifies with the world, is the world, distinct from the rest of the world. It is a curious – for us Westerners, inconceivable – form of universalism. And yet, it is the perspective of a giant who really never stopped thinking of himself as the center of the world, even when, from the second half of the 19th century to the Thirties of the 20th century, he was forced into practically complete introversion.The Middle Kingdom has never internalized a perception of the globe coming from outside. It did not open during the course of its two historic moments of failure: in the 17th century, culminating in the collapse of the Ming dynasty in 1644; and exactly two centuries later, in the 19th century, from the Opium Wars (the first was in 1841, almost exactly 200 years after) to the collapse of the Qing dynasty in 1911. China’s worldview has not changed much in the current phase of strong external projection, with the present attempt to objectively oppose the US/Western brand of globalization.This reveals an incomprehension rooted in cultural asymmetry between Americans/ Westerners and Chinese, fueled in communist China by the idea of the wounds inflicted by the Western colonial powers as well as an old sense of superiority. The result is an incomprehension of the “world as it is out of China,” which is also evident in the difficulty implementing the project of the new Silk Road or Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), announced and imbued with special impetus by President Xi Jinping.By reversing the existing paradigm of globalization, intentionally or unintentionally, the Communist Party of China (CPC) means to impose its vision of the world with the BRI brand. China is doing so without, however, taking into account the still evident prevalence of the North American continent, the nerve center of global affairs, and the overall Westernization of most of the world... Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan all developed because they accepted a culturally different world vision, the Western one... the rise of the communist party occurred not because Mao or the Soviets threw around cash. The CPC won in China because it had more attractive ideas, which defeated the far richer nationalists. This happened when most Chinese were extremely poor. This is how the underdogs manage to win, and why religious organizations are important: they have power through influence... Countries do not think in Chinese terms and do not – or do not want to – understand what tianxia really is, especially as defined by the CPC... In general, the West boasts a superior historical continuity and a formidable ability to overcome critical phases, especially evident in the American case. The 2008 financial crisis was perceived by Beijing as a sign of an inevitable eclipse of the US as a superpower, rather than what it actually was – an accident on the way, although its structural causes are still present. It is precisely because this continuity generally escapes America’s enemies that the US has become the latest incarnation of Western civilization... The power equation cannot end in the economic variable. The United Kingdom lost the role it held before the translatio imperii between Anglo-Saxon powers, but thanks to its media, its cultural and scientific excellence, and its global financial role, a century later it continues to exert a certain degree of worldwide influence. Constantinople, after it was sacked by Venice in 1204, for centuries was a beacon of geopolitical-cultural influence in the West and East. Italy, which long lost its Roman imperial preeminence and the influence and wealth of the Renaissance, still draws attention worldwide. Power is more subtle... Nonetheless, Western declinist literature has taken hold on the new and old continents, placing emphasis on China’s inevitable return to the center of the global scene... The People’s Republic has also attempted to leverage its diaspora in propagating the national myth. For this purpose, Beijing has played for years on the distinction between zhongguoren (Chinese citizens in the PRC, irrespective of their nationality) and huaren (in the current sense, individuals of Han ethnicity, irrespective of their citizenship), in an attempt to identify the former with the latter, to appropriate the Chinese living abroad, and to erode the identities of other ethnic groups, as in the case of the Uyghurs.This effort tried to bank on the fact that overseas Chinese tend to settle in communities that are firmly tied to their home and motherland, a phenomenon encouraged by the often exclusionary policies of the host states. This strengthens the myth of tianxia... the second health crisis in less than 20 years conveys and corroborates the image of a country that is unreliable in terms of health but above all politically."f

China permanent residency proposal: Racist backlash spills onto Twitter - "A proposed law that would make it slightly easier for foreigners to get a permanent residency in China set off a slew of racist and xenophobic backlash on Chinese social media, that eventually spilled over to Twitter... Several tweets, directed at black people and Africans, used the “N word.”"
Diversity is only for the West

Chinese soldiers spotted hauling baby formula onto warships in Sydney Harbour - "Speculation has been rife ever since three Chinese warships docked in Sydney Harbour earlier this week.Prime Minister Scott Morrison insisted the trip was "no surprise" despite the government not publicly announcing the visit.What the PM didn't announce was an apparent military-level baby formula raid.Dressed from head to toe in their camouflage uniforms, officers from the People’s Liberation Army couldn't avoid the cameras as they loaded boxes of Aptamil and A2 baby formula onto their warships... The Australian-made formula has been in hot demand by Chinese nationals after contamination to their own product ultimately led to the death of several children in recent years.Frustrated Australian shoppers have been filming baby formula raids for years, with Chinese shoppers often caught working in teams to beat the limitations put in place by supermarkets. Premium products can fetch more than six-times the price overseas, with some "daigou" shoppers revealing they can earn up to $100,000 a year by reselling the formula online."

It’s time to practice social and economic distancing from China - The Washington Post - "China’s dictatorship bears ultimate responsibility for the pandemic lockdown that is crushing our economy... the ensuing crisis has also exposed just how dependent we have become on China in key sectors of our economy. Case in point: In recent days, the Chinese state news agency Xinhua warned that if the Trump administration is not careful, China could ban pharmaceutical exports and plunge the United States “into the hell of a new coronavirus pneumonia epidemic.” The threat is real. China supplies more than 90 percent of antibiotics used here. It also produces many other drugs and biologics that Americans depend on, including heparin, HIV/AIDS medications, chemotherapy drugs, antidepressants, and treatments for Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, epilepsy and Parkinson’s disease. Rosemary Gibson, author of “China Rx: Exposing the Risks of America’s Dependence on China for Medicine,” told the New York Times this month, “If China shut the door on exports of core components to make our medicines, within months our pharmacy shelves would become bare and our health care system would cease to function.” We also depend on China for respirators, surgical masks and other protective gear that doctors and nurses need to deal with the coronavirus. Since the pandemic began, China has ramped up production, but the government has taken over factories that make masks for U.S. companies such as 3M and is hoarding the supply, leaving Americans at greater risk. Our dependence on China is not just for medicine and devices to deal with this pandemic but also for technology that is critical to our long-term economic and security interests. Take the development of next-generation 5G networks, super-fast cellular technology that the Wall Street Journal reports will soon enable “a world of robot-run factories, remote surgery and driverless vehicles to power a ‘fourth industrial revolution.’ ” The market for 5G technology is dominated by Huawei, a company linked to the Chinese Communist Party... my American Enterprise Institute colleagues Derek Scissors and Dan Blumenthal have recommended that the “United States should change course and begin cutting some of its economic ties with China.” This economic decoupling, they say, “should be limited to areas that are genuinely vital to national security, prosperity and democratic values.” The U.S. government should bar Chinese companies that steal U.S. intellectual property from doing business with U.S. firms, and block access to American capital markets — including listing on American exchanges — of any Chinese company that is tied to espionage, the People’s Liberation Army or internal repression. Such actions may raise costs for U.S. consumers in the short term but are vital to their health and safety in the long term."

Friday, July 17, 2020

Links - 17th July 2020 (2) (Joe Biden Sexual Assault Allegations)

Joe Biden Sexual Assault Allegation Made Alyssa Milano Backtrack on ‘Believing All Women’ - "In September 2018, when Christine Blasey Ford came forward to accuse Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct, actress Alyssa Milano did not hesitate to support her. On the same day that The Washington Post published its interview with Ford, Milano tweeted: "I stand in solidarity with Christine Blasey Ford. #MeToo."But in the wake of an equally if not more serious sexual assault allegation against former Vice President Joe Biden, the Democratic Party's presumptive presidential nominee, Milano has remained silent. Tara Reade, a former Biden staffer who claims that her boss digitally penetrated her in 1993 without her consent, received no tweet of solidarity from the self-described feminist activist... What a difference the partisan affiliation of the accused makes!Milano also explained that she would be remaining quiet about the accusation in part because "the mainstream media would be jumping all over this…if they found more evidence." The implication being that the failure of mainstream media to do reporting on the Reade allegation means that it ought to be doubted and dismissed.This speaks to the power of silence: The New York Times, The Washington Post, CNN, MSNBC, and other media outlets generally trusted by moderates and liberals have all refused to cover Reade's story. Indeed, thus far they have essentially pretended that it does not exist, declining to acknowledge Reade in the most basic way and refusing to question Biden about it, even in interviews with the candidate. This mainstream media blackout has evidently provided cover to people like Milano, allowing them to ignore an inconvenient political development. Yet it's difficult to see the media's treatment of this story as anything other than blatant hypocrisy because there's nothing novel about the Biden accusation when compared to the Kavanaugh accusation. At the time of Milano's tweet in support of Ford, there was no evidence of Kavanaugh's guilt beyond what Ford had claimed in her statements (and little corroborating evidence of Ford's claims ever materialized, given how long ago the incident had unfolded). The Reade allegation is at exactly the same stage: She is speaking up about what happened to her, and asking to be believed. But this time, Milano—who attended an anti-Kavanaugh rally while draped in a banner that read, quite literally, "believe women"—thinks it's not enough... aside from the hypocrisy, the disparate treatment of Reade really shows that popular variations of the #MeToo catchphrase—believe all women, believe all victims, etc.—are incoherent. Journalists, policymakers, and an informed public cannot simply default to automatically believing every person who claims to be a victim. De facto presumptions of belief are constantly weaponized by liars and frauds against a gullible populace. Those who work in the business of telling other people's stories—be they reporters or activists—must be skeptical and discerning. They must gather facts and contextualize allegations. They must operate within the broad framework of generally assuming innocence until guilt is proven. Believing everything they hear is a recipe for disaster—it's religion, not journalism. Ironically, Milano's impulse to protect her preferred candidate may have inadvertently helped her arrive at the correct default."I sent the #MeToo tweet two years ago, and I never thought it would be something that would destroy innocent men," she said in the Cohen interview. "So we have to find this balance in the 'believe women' movement, and also giving men their due process and realizing that we are destroying lives if we don't go through the right steps."If that's actually her standard, then good. But I suppose we won't know for sure until another high profile Republican is accused of wrongdoing."

'Due process': Alyssa Milano uses conservative argument from Kavanaugh hearings to defend Joe Biden - "According to Reade, Biden ran his hand underneath her skirt and penetrated her with his fingers... Fellow #MeToo activist Rose McGowan slammed Milano, tweeting, "You are a fraud. This is about holding the media accountable. You go after Trump & Kavanaugh saying Believe Victims, you are a lie. You have always been a lie. The corrupt DNC is in on the smear job of Tara Reade, so are you. SHAME." Some supporters of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders also asserted that Milano's position was hypocritical, while others called it "disqualifying.""Which is more sexist: people calling out media bias, or throwing the #metoo under the bus the moment it’s politically inconvenient?" tweeted Sanders campaign spokeswoman Briahna Joy Gray."

Madelyn on Twitter - "@PatTheBerner @Alyssa_Milano @JoeBiden She explains her silence on the allegations against Joe Biden? “You can’t pretend to be the party of the American people and then not support a woman who comes forward with her #MeToo story.” I guess you CAN pretend? 🤷🏻‍♀️"

Imm⊕r†αレZεη on Twitter - "“You can’t pretend to be the party of the American people and then not support a woman who comes forward with her #MeToo story,” @Alyssa_Milano previously remarked. Alyssa even removed her #MeToo Hash from her profile. So much for that."

Biden Says We Must ‘Believe All Women’ – Except The Woman Who Accused Him - "The response from the Biden campaign is a clear contrast to the statements Biden has made over the past few decades, in which he insists women making sexual misconduct allegations must be believed. In 2018, for example, Biden was asked about whether he believed Anita Hill’s claims in the 90s that her then-boss Clarence Thomas sexually harassed her. Biden said he thought Hill “was telling the truth at the beginning.” He then spoke generally about women’s allegations.“For a woman to come forward in the glaring lights of focus, nationally, you’ve got to start off with the presumption that at least the essence of what she’s talking about is real, whether or not she forgets facts, whether or not it’s been made worse or better over time"... What Biden’s communications director said is true, media outlets do need to “rigorously vet those claims,” however, Biden has never made such an insistence until the allegations were made against him. When dubious allegations were made against political rivals, powerful businessmen and celebrities, or male college students, Biden sings a different tune"

Glenn Greenwald on Twitter - "Do you think people won't notice that liberal institutions and media outlets spent months maligning Brett Kavanaugh's defenders as misogynistic rape apologists, only to now invoke all their arguments to defend Joe Biden & demean Tara Reade? Do you think people are that dumb?"

Robby Soave on Twitter - "NYT columnist on Kavanaugh accuser: Hero
NYT columnist on Biden accuser: What to do with this inconvenience"
Yup, it's the same columnist

New York Times deletes tweet about Biden sexual assault allegation - "No other allegation about sexual assault surfaced in the course of our reporting, nor did any former Biden staff corroborate Reade’s allegation. We found no pattern of sexual misconduct by Biden, beyond hugs, kisses and touching that women previously said made them uncomfortable"

Addendum: Weird how narrowly sexual misconduct is defined here
New York Times Editor Excuses Paper’s Slow Tara Reade Coverage: ‘Kavanaugh Was a Running, Hot Story’ - "New York Times media columnist Ben Smith asked his boss—Executive Editor Dean Baquet—to explain why it took the paper 19 days to acknowledge Tara Reade's sexual assault allegation against Joe Biden.Smith should be commended for raising tough questions about why Reade was handled so differently than Brett Kavanaugh's accusers. Baquet's defense of this disparate treatment collapses under the most basic scrutiny... Simply noting that Reade, a former Biden staffer, has claimed that he sexually assaulted her in 1993, was less important than getting the story "as close to right as we could."That's all well and good, though, as I have noted several times, this was not the approach the Times took with Kavanaugh's accusers, whose allegations were publicized by the paper as they came to light, generally without additional or original reporting... The accusations against Kavanaugh were a "running, hot story" in part because the media covered them aggressively from the outset. Reade's story might well be running and hot if the Times treated her as it treated Christine Blasey Ford.Case in point: In the midst of the Kavanaugh cycle, Times columnist Michelle Goldberg thanked Ford for her heroism... Goldberg has now weighed in on Reade's allegation. The words "hero" and "sacrifice" do not appear in this column, which is titled "What To Do With Tara Reade's Allegation Against Joe Biden?" The tone makes clear that Goldberg views Reade as an inconvenience who must be dealt with. And the villain of this story is not Biden but "those using this strange, sad story to hector feminists into pretending to a certainty they have no reason to feel." Goldberg asserts that they are "trolling the #MeToo movement" and acting in bad faith.I'm not so sure. Is it trolling to hold feminist activists, for whom "believe all women" is an important slogan, to their convictions? Perhaps feminist organizations—recall that Planned Parenthood and NARAL both tweeted "We still believe Julie Swetnick #BelieveSurvivors" weeks after her allegation fell apart—should have anticipated being called out for this obvious double standard... Goldberg comes off as quite skeptical of Reade, in large part because Reade previously expressed kooky pro-Russia views... no one has articulated a particularly compelling case for why Reade's political views are relevant to her accusation about Biden...
Related: This is hardly the first time Baquet has failed to acquit himself well in a question of double standards. Read Matt Welch on the Times' handling of images that are offensive to Muslims vs. images that are offensive to Christians."
Trolling is when you tell a liberal he's wrong

Reminder: 'Groping' And 'Unwanted Kissing' Is Definitely Sexual Assault | HuffPost Canada
From 2016, when it was Trump being accused. Plus they outright lie - if women let you grab them by the pussy, that's consent. So much for consent being sexy

Why has the media ignored sexual assault allegations against Biden? - "You know who has talked publicly about the importance of taking women seriously? Biden. During the Brett Kavanaugh hearings, Biden stood up for Dr Christine Blasey Ford, noting: “For a woman to come forward in the glaring lights of focus, nationally, you’ve got to start off with the presumption that at least the essence of what she’s talking about is real.”Does this presumption not apply when the guy being accused is a Democrat running for president? It would seem that way. In January, according to reporting from the Intercept, Reade asked for help from the Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund, which has supported accusers of high-profile people like Weinstein. Reade was reportedly told by the National Women’s Law Center, the organization within which the Time’s Up fund is housed, that it couldn’t assist with accusations against a presidential candidate because it would jeopardize their non-profit status. The Intercept further notes that “the public relations firm that works on behalf of the Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund is SKDKnickerbocker, whose managing director, Anita Dunn, is the top adviser to Biden’s presidential campaign”."

Joe Biden accuser Tara Reade says mother called into 'Larry King Live' after alleged sexual assault - "Newly surfaced video from 1993 appears to feature the mother of Tara Reade, a woman who accused presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden of sexual assault, calling into a cable TV show to seek advice around the time of the alleged assault... Last year, multiple women publicly came forward to say that Biden had made them feel uncomfortable in the way that he physically interacted with them... several of them said they believed Reade's new allegation."

on Twitter - "Upvoted ️: CNN removed the August 11th, 1993 Larry King Episode from Google Play, the episode featuring a call from Tara Reade's mother. CNN is actively colluding with the Biden campaign to cover up evidence of Biden's sexual assault"

Joe Biden’s Female VP Pick Is Already Caught in a Trap - "Biden, who has long been dogged by criticism on feminist grounds (stemming from his history of bad stances on abortion, his having permitted the ill treatment of Anita Hill during the Clarence Thomas hearings, and allegations that he has spent a career touching women in ways that have made them feel uncomfortable), has promised that his running mate will be a woman. (Will she be short or tall, big or small, black or white, left or center? Who is to say, really. She will be A Woman™.)... audio emerged of Reade’s late mother, whom she says she told about the assault, calling in to Larry King’s television show in 1993 to complain about how her daughter had a problem with a prominent politician’s staff but was rebuffed when she complained, strongly corroborating the claim that Reade expressed dissatisfaction and suffered professional consequences, an allegation supported by the New York Times, which reported that two former interns recalled Reade abruptly ceasing to supervise them. On Monday, Lynda LaCasse, Reade’s former neighbor and a Biden supporter, told Rich McHugh, Ronan Farrow’s former producer, that Reade had confided to her in detail about having been assaulted by Biden, while another former colleague confirmed to McHugh that Reade had told her she’d complained of harassment and been fired by a prominent politician

Common Sense Extremists - Posts - "I would vote for Biden if he raped 100 women at gun point. The stakes are high in this election."

Common Sense Extremists - Posts - "Xeni Jardin: "Believe women.""
Xeni Jardin on Twitter - "I don’t buy the Tara Reade shit. I’m not here to defend any man whose shortcomings and past dumb moves are widely known. I’m here to karate-chop disinfo and dirty tricks in an election year."

#FireChrisHayes trends after MSNBC host covers Biden sexual assault allegations - "MSNBC host Chris Hayes sparked backlash from the left when he became the first prime-time host on the network to cover a former aide's sexual assault allegations against presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, with the hashtag "FireChrisHayes" trending on Twitter."

Eva Murry Says Joe Biden Sexually Harassed Her When She Was 14 - "Biden complimented her on the size of her breasts at the First State Gridiron Dinner & Show in 2008, a long-running roast of and party for politicians... One friend and her sister said that Murry told her details of the alleged incident more or less immediately after it happened. Four other friends of Murry’s said they were told about the incident, with the same details, between two and three years after it originally occurred... Anstey, 25, describes herself as a feminist, animal lover and a Democrat. She confirmed that Murry told her about the comments in 2008 when they were both teens. Anstey said Murry identified the man as Biden and said that hearing about the incident left her feeling angry... Eva Murry’s older sister, Jenna Murry, also says she was told about the alleged incident “within a week or so of the dinner.”... Murry also noted that she encountered Biden “about three times after that” at similar such events and that “his eyes never were on my face.”"

Lisa Bloom on Twitter - "I believe you, Tara Reade. You have people who remember you told them about this decades ago. We know he is "handsy." You're not asking for $. You've obviously struggled mightily with this. I still have to fight Trump, so I will still support Joe. But I believe you. And I'm sorry"

Escape The Echo Chamber - Posts - "The New York Times Editorial Board has bravely gone on record saying that the Tara Reade accusations are too important to be investigated by the press but, instead, must be investigated by the Democratic National Committee.I don’t believe they’ve ever made that argument before; that it’s better for a political party to investigate their own than have the press do it."

Maria Cardona on Twitter - "My new column @thehill. Investigate fully or withdraw Kavanaugh’s name- NOW."
Maria Cardona on Twitter - "My new column @TheHillOpinion - Republicans' dangerous weaponization of Tara Reade's allegation against Joe Biden"
Replies to the latter: "Is this you? *4 tweets bashing Kavanaugh*"
"Are you sure this isn't for @TheOnion?"
"It’s amazing how Democrats always spin bad news about them into an attack on Republicans."
"Kavanaugh warned you that you're weaponization would have consequences.Welcome to that moment."
"Believe all women (but only if they’re accusing Republicans)"

Document says Tara Reade told of harassment in Biden’s office - "A court document from 1996 shows former Senate staffer Tara Reade told her ex-husband she was sexually harassed while working for Joe Biden in 1993."

Siraj Hashmi on Twitter - "Tara Reade now has corroboration from 6 people (her mother, brother, former neighbor, former coworker, and two of her close friends) in addition to court documentation. And yet, all the Democrats who sought to bring down Kavanaugh only had Ford’s therapist’s notes from 2012/13."
A more credible accusation, with more corroboration, means nothing in liberal land

Christine Blasey Ford’s Credibility Under New Attack by Senate Republicans - The New York Times - "The former boyfriend told the Judiciary Committee that he witnessed Dr. Blasey helping a friend prepare for a possible polygraph examination, contradicting her testimony under oath. Dr. Blasey, a psychology professor from California who also goes by her married name Ford, was asked during the hearing whether she had “ever given tips or advice to somebody who was looking to take a polygraph test.” She answered, “Never.”... Mr. Merrick took issue with Dr. Blasey’s professed fear of flying and of confined spaces, noting that they once traveled around the Hawaiian islands in a propeller plane. “Dr. Ford never indicated a fear of flying,” he wrote. “To the best of my recollection Dr. Ford never expressed a fear of closed quarters, tight spaces, or places with only one exit.”While she testified that she once insisted on building a second front door in her house because of the trauma of her encounter with Judge Kavanaugh, Mr. Merrick said he helped her find a place to live in California “in a very small, 500 sq. ft. house with one door.” He also wrote that they broke up “once I discovered that Dr. Ford was unfaithful” and that she continued to use a credit card they shared nearly a year before he took her off the account. “When confronted, Dr. Ford said she did not use the card, but later admitted to the use after I threatened to involve fraud protection”"
Establishing alleged victims as unreliable character witnesses is "victim blaming" - unless it helps liberal political causes

Letter: The problem with Tara Reade - "Neither Claire Noble, nor I, for that matter, know the truth behind Tara Reade’s allegation that Joe Biden sexually assaulted Ms. Reade when she worked for then-Sen. Biden in the early 1990s.What I do know, for a fact, is that neither Justice Kavanaugh nor President Trump has the slightest thing to do with the validity of Reade’s claim against the Democrats’ likely presidential nominee. Yet, Claire Noble introduces both of these men into her judgment of Reade’s allegation and Biden’s defense as if the Kavanaugh/Trump situations somehow exonerate Biden. Even more deserving of disbelief is her speculation that Reade might be “a Russian orchestrated attempt to take out Biden.” I fear Noble has been listening to too much of Adam Schiff.To demean Reade’s veracity, Noble asserts that she has spoken favorably of Vladimir Putin and, purportedly, “has a history of financial difficulties.” Neither of these accusations remotely foreclose the possibility that Tara Reade was, indeed, grossly assaulted by Joe Biden. They are offered, instead, merely to sully Reade’s reputation."
Irrelevant claims and poisoning the well are not "victim blaming" when it helps liberal political causes. Then again, calling Reade a Putin stooge rallies the liberal base and makes them less inclined to believe her, so I can see the logic behind that

Tara Reade Has a High-Profile New Lawyer - "Douglas Wigdor, whose law firm represented several victims of Harvey Weinstein, told members of the press on Thursday that he now represents Tara Reade... Wigdor has a long career representing victims of sexual harassment and assault in high-profile cases. He prominently defended the credibility of Christine Blasey Ford during the Kavanaugh hearings. He represented Nafissatou Diallo, a former Sofitel hotel maid, in her case against Dominique Strauss-Kahn in 2011, and later represented several victims of Harvey Weinstein. He is also known for going after Fox News"

Andrew Sullivan: By Biden’s Own Standards, He Is Guilty - "Some trust for all women is vital.But just as vital in a liberal society is verification. I believe strongly in due process, especially with grave allegations of sexual assault... The problem with defending due process in a case like Biden’s with respect to Tara Reade is that Biden himself, when it comes to allegations of sexual abuse and harassment, doesn’t believe in it. Perhaps in part to atone for his shabby treatment of Anita Hill, Biden was especially prominent in the Obama administration’s overhaul of Title IX treatment of claims of sexual discrimination and harassment on campus. You can listen to Biden’s strident speeches and rhetoric on this question and find not a single smidgen of concern with the rights of the accused. Men in college were to be regarded as guilty before being proven innocent, and stripped of basic rights in their self-defense. Harvard Law professor Jeannie Suk Gersen noted the consequences of Biden’s crusade in The New Yorker last year. “In recent years,” she wrote, “it has become commonplace to deny accused students access to the complaint, the evidence, the identities of witnesses, or the investigative report, and to forbid them from questioning complainants or witnesses … According to K.C. Johnson, a professor at Brooklyn College and an expert on Title IX lawsuits, more than four hundred students accused of sexual misconduct since 2011 have sued their schools under federal or state laws — in many cases, for sex discrimination under Title IX. While many of the lawsuits are still ongoing, nearly half of the students who have sued have won favorable court rulings or have settled with the schools.” On Friday’s Morning Joe, Biden laid out a simple process for judging him: Listen respectfully to Tara Reade, and then check for facts that prove or disprove her specific claim. The objective truth, Biden argued, is what matters. I agree with him. But this was emphatically not the standard Biden favored when judging men in college. If Biden were a student, under Biden rules, Reade could file a claim of assault, and Biden would have no right to know the specifics, the evidence provided, who was charging him, who was a witness, and no right to question the accuser. Apply the Biden standard for Biden, have woke college administrators decide the issue in private, and he’s toast. Under Biden, Title IX actually became a force for sex discrimination — as long as it was against men. Emily Yoffe has done extraordinary work exposing the injustices of the Obama-Biden sexual-harassment regime on campus, which have mercifully been pared back since. But she has also highlighted Biden’s own zeal in the cause. He brushed aside most legal defenses against sexual harassment. In a speech at the University of Pittsburgh in 2016, for example, Biden righteously claimed that it was an outrage that any woman claiming sexual assault should have to answer questions like “Were you drinking?” or “What did you say?” “These are questions that angered me then and anger me now.” He went on: “No one, particularly a court of law, has a right to ask any of those questions.” Particularly a court of law? A court cannot even inquire what a woman said in a disputed sexual encounter? Couldn’t that be extremely relevant to the question of consent? Or ask if she were drinking? It may be extremely salient that she had been drinking — because it could prove rape, if she were incapacitated and unable to consent and sex took place... In 2014, the Obama administration issued another guidance for colleges which expanded what “sexual violence” could include, citing “a range of behaviors that are unwanted by the recipient and include remarks about physical appearance; persistent sexual advances that are undesired by the recipient; unwanted touching; and unwanted oral, anal, or vaginal penetration or attempted penetration.” By that standard, ignoring the Reade allegation entirely, Joe Biden has been practicing “sexual violence” for decades: constantly touching women without their prior consent, ruffling and smelling their hair, making comments about their attractiveness, coming up from behind to touch their back or neck. You can see him do it on tape, on countless occasions. He did not stop in 2014, to abide by the standards he was all too willing to impose on college kids. A vice-president could do these things with impunity; a college sophomore could have his life ruined for an inept remark... As Ezra Klein, a thoroughly mainstream liberal, has explained, the broader fact of sexual abuse on campus required a few broken eggs to make the liberated omelette. In discussing a new “affirmative consent model” in California, Ezra famously wrote:
Critics worry that colleges will fill with cases in which campus boards convict young men (and, occasionally, young women) of sexual assault for genuinely ambiguous situations. Sadly, that’s necessary for the law’s success. It’s those cases — particularly the ones that feel genuinely unclear and maybe even unfair, the ones that become lore in frats and cautionary tales that fathers e-mail to their sons — that will convince men that they better Be Pretty Damn Sure."

beth, murder hornet enthusiast on Twitter - ""he pointed his finger in my face and told me I was nothing.." Given what we've seen from Biden publicly, these words ring true. There's dozens of pictures of him touching women inappropriately, and putting his finger in people's faces bullying them. I'm not voting for this."

Biden says he'll reverse DeVos rule bolstering protections for those accused of campus sexual assault - "The Trump campaign gathered a roundup of criticism of Biden’s support for strengthening Title IX regulations in favor of survivors from prominent public intellectuals, such as Andrew Sullivan, Emily Yoffe and Bret Stephens."
Due process is only for Democratic politicians

Biden, in resurfaced 'View' video, said no need to prove case against Kavanaugh beyond 'reasonable doubt' - "The Washington Free Beacon released a montage of prominent Democrats who all argued that the confirmation process for Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh in 2018 was a "job interview" instead of a trial, suggesting that the presumption of innocence did not apply to him when he fought allegations of sexual misconduct.Included in that montage was Biden... "A Supreme Court hearing is not a trial. It's a job interview. It's a job interview," Biden said. "And, you don't have to prove a reasonable doubt anything as to why you shouldn't put so and so on the court."... remarks he made during a February primary debate resurfaced when he slammed former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg for not releasing female ex-employees from non-disclosure agreements."

Jill Filipovic on Twitter - "This from Susan Faludi is so important. Feminists never said "believe all women" - the right inserted the "all." Feminists said "believe women": that is, start with the assumption that women are telling the truth instead of reflexively doubting them." - May 18, 2020
NPR on Twitter - ""Believe all women" has been the rallying cry of the #MeToo movement - a mantra embraced by some but dismissed by others as naive. The tension over the credibility of women is nothing new, especially in rape investigations." - Feb 7, 2018

Opinion | ‘Believe All Women’ Is a Right-Wing Trap - The New York Times

Hillary Clinton Sexual Assault Page Edited to Remove 'Right to be Believed'? - ""To every survivor of sexual assault...You have the right to be heard. You have the right to be believed. We're with you." —Hillary... Cached versions of Hillary Clinton’s campaign site from 29 January 2016 display the following quote... But by 4 February 2016 that page had been revised, and in the process the quote attributed to Clinton was altered, retaining “you have the right to be heard” portion but eliding “you have the right to be believed, and we’re with you” tag"
Turns out the liberal obsession with "gaslighting" is Freudian projection. But since to them presenting facts, data and statistics they don't like is gaslighting, this is just reflective of their view of reality as socially constructed (which explains their obsession with controlling language too)

Biden: Presume the 'essence' of sexual assault accusations are 'real' - "For a woman to come forward in the glaring lights of focus, nationally, you’ve got to start off with the presumption that at least the essence of what she’s talking about is real"

The Nation Columnist Defends Joe Biden From Tara Reade: ‘I Would Vote For Joe Biden If He Boiled Babies And Ate Them’ - "Columnist Katha Pollitt would vote for Joe Biden even if she believed Reade’s allegations of sexual assault, she wrote in her Wednesday column. “Fortunately, I don’t have to sacrifice morality to political necessity”... "Four more years of Trump will replace what remains of our democracy with unchecked rule by kleptocrats, fascists, religious fanatics, gun nuts, and know-nothings""
Strange how we were told that if Trump won, the US would have unchecked rule by kleptocrats, fascists, religious fanatics, gun nuts, and know-nothings. Naturally, this time it's different
Presumably having the US ruled by baby eaters would be better than having it ruled by kleptocrats etc

TW: rape, CSA #VoteBlueNoMatterWho - "Joe Biden could rape ME in the middle of Fifth Avenue and I would still vote for him before I would vote for Trump or Sanders.”
"@JoeBiden could rape someone on camera & still get my vote"
"Biden could rape, pillage, plunger, murder, basically anything! Even if he dies before the election, we are voting for him!"
"If Biden had raped my child, yes I'd still prefer him over trump as POTUS"

Shaun King on Twitter - "As a rule, be so consistent that a sexual assault allegation about a Democrat bothers you just as much as one about a Republican."
"Joe Biden could rape me right now and he will still get my vote. Fuck Trump and anyone who aides this existential threat to humanity."
When liberals expose their hypocrisy for all to see

Peter Wright - "The new #MeToo movement:
"I support Joe Biden"
"Me too x4""

Gad Saad on Twitter - "NYT not only deleted the tweet but stealth edited their piece to remove their own findings about Biden & other women. They also suggest an alleged victim may be breaking the law by making a police report. Toxic clusterfuck.
The #MeToomovement & “believe all women” was never about ALL women.There’s no evidence that Christine Blasey Ford ever met Kavanugh but she was celebrated as a heroine. Former staffer accuses Biden & she’s attacked/ignored by the same media. Toxic."
"Well the "believe all women" only applies if the alleged perpetrator is despised. If the alleged perpetrator is part of the woke in-group then suppress the story. This is literally social JUSTICE."

The paucity of the anti-pornography literature

The anti-porn literature is full of weak, misleading and/or mendacious claims.

A Medium article, 3 Reasons Why Watching Porn Is Harmful (And Research Is Proving It) by Fight the New Drug makes many extravagant, mostly vague claims about pornography, but it does not source any of its claims (at least on the article itself)

But many of their claims are contradicted by actual research.

1) "In a 2012 survey of 1,500 guys, 56% said their tastes in porn had become “increasingly extreme or deviant.”"

Since this was a very specific claim, I tried looking for its source. Not surprisingly, I was led to Fight The New Drug, where it turned out that the source for this claim was... reddit.

Specifically, the subreddit /r/NoFap. The post (/r/NoFap Survey Data - Complete Datasets : NoFap) has since been removed, but consider that /r/NoFap describes itself thus:

"We host rebooting challenges in which participants ("Fapstronauts") abstain from pornography and masturbation for a period of time. Whether your goal is casual participation in a monthly challenge as a test of self-control, or whether excessive masturbation or pornography has become a problem in your life and you want to quit for a longer period of time, you will find a supportive community and plenty of resources here."

Casual reflection would make one realise that there is extreme selection bias here. If you ask people who think pornography is bad whether they think pornography is bad... chances are, they will say it is.

Similar methodology could involve, say, going to an ex-Christian forum and asking the participants whether they thought Christianity was healthy for their self-esteem. One would likely find that a majority thought Christianity hurt their self-esteem. One could then trumpet a claim that a "survey" found that Christianity was bad for self-esteem.

In contrast, real research done finds that,

“Harder and Harder”? Is Mainstream Pornography Becoming Increasingly Violent and Do Viewers Prefer Violent Content?: The Journal of Sex Research: Vol 56, No 1

"we tested two related claims: (1) aggressive content in videos is on the rise and (2) viewers prefer such content, reflected in both the number of views and the rankings for videos containing aggression. Our results offer no support for these contentions. First, we did not find any consistent uptick in aggressive content over the past decade; in fact, the average video today contains shorter segments showing aggression. Second, videos containing aggressive acts are both less likely to receive views and less likely to be ranked favorably by viewers, who prefer videos where women clearly perform pleasure."


Do People Who Watch Porn Seek More Extreme Content Over Time?

"Two studies have emerged finding that there really isn’t any support for the idea of a porn “tolerance” effect. The first, published in 2017, involved a sample of over 2,000 adults who were asked to rate how arousing they found 27 different categories of porn to be, ranging from the more vanilla end of the spectrum to the kinkier end.

Those who were aroused by kinkier stuff were actually aroused by pretty much all porn categories, which is inconsistent with the idea that porn exposure leads to a “satiation” effect that requires more extreme content for arousal...

The other study, published in 2019, was a longitudinal study of about 250 high school students who were surveyed about their porn habits five times, each separated by about six months.

It turned out that porn viewing practices remained pretty stable over time and, further, there was actually a decrease in preferences for extreme content over the course of the study—which, again, is inconsistent with the content progression thesis...

what the available data suggests is that, at least at the aggregate level, porn users don’t develop more extreme tastes over time. Rather, the more plausible explanation appears to be that people who tend to be into kinkier or more “extreme” porn just have more diverse tastes and enjoy more variety in the porn they watch."

The second study, being a longitudinal survey, is perfect to test the claim that pornography users seek out more and more extreme content, since it looks at consumption throughout the period.

So instead of looking at preferences at one period of time and making conclusions about that (the problems with glibly concluding that people look for more and more extreme stuff are noted in the extract), one can explicitly test the claim - and find that it is false.


This claim is extremely vague and the supporting statements are full of general statements that are hard to fact check.

But this is also contradicted by the literature, which finds that,

Effects of Pornography Use and Demographic Parameters on Sexual Response during Masturbation and Partnered Sex in Women

"On average, women using pornography were younger, and reported more interest in sex... During masturbation, more frequent pornography use predicted lower arousal difficulty and orgasmic difficulty, greater pleasure, and a higher percentage of masturbatory events leading to orgasm. Frequency of pornography use predicted only lower arousal difficulty and longer orgasmic latencies during partnered sex, having no effect on the other outcome variables. Pornography use frequency did not predict overall relationship satisfaction or sexual relationship satisfaction. Overall, more frequent pornography use was generally associated with more favorable sexual response outcomes during masturbation, while not affecting most partnered sex parameters. Several demographic and relationship covariates appear to more consistently and strongly predict orgasmic problems during partnered sexual activity than pornography use."

So pornography *improves* women's sex lives, and if one wants to look at factors affecting one's sex life, porngraphy use is a relatively minor one.

Meanwhile, in men,

Pornography, preference for porn‐like sex, masturbation, and men's sexual and relationship satisfaction

"The data did not support the notion that pornography negatively impacts sexual or relationship satisfaction via preference for porn‐like sex. In fact, it may bolster sexual satisfaction by promoting sexual variety. The data were consistent with a model in which pornography negatively, indirectly affects sexual and relationship satisfaction via masturbation frequency. Pornography use may have multiple opposing influences on sexual satisfaction"

So the effect seems to be due to masturbation, not pornography.

3) "people that regularly watch porn are more likely than others to feel poorly about how they look"


Self-perceived effects of Internet pornography use, genital appearance satisfaction, and sexual self-esteem among young Scandinavian adults

"A hypothesized relationship between self-perceived positive effects of pornography use and a higher level of sexual self-esteem was found for men but not for women. This result was partially due to higher satisfaction with genital appearance among the men who mainly watched mainstream pornography. Genital appearance satisfaction was linked to higher sexual self-esteem for women, but it was not related to the self-perceived effect of pornography use. The results indicate that pornography may expand personal sexual scripts for both men and women, and may have a positive, although modest, influence on the sexual self-esteem of young male adults."

Impacts of Pornography Acceptance and Use on Self-esteem, Sexual Satisfaction, and Overall Relationship Satisfaction

"frequency of pornography use resulted in increased self-esteem for men and not for women... acceptance of pornography use positively predicted sexual satisfaction for both men and women. Self-esteem as impacted by pornography was found to have no significant relationship with relationship satisfaction although sexual satisfaction was positively related to relationship satisfaction"

Internet Pornography Use, Body Ideals, and Sexual Self-Esteem in Norwegian Gay and Bisexual Men

"viewing Internet pornography in longer sessions... made a unique contribution to higher self-esteem as a sexual partner. Preferring to watch pornographic actors with ideal bodies was not related to sexual self-esteem."

In general, a big problem with anti-porn claims is the issue of causality. Even if one finds that people who consume more pornography are more sexually dissatisfied, say, it doesn't mean that the pornography consumption caused the sexual dissatisfaction. For example, it could be that people who are more sexually dissatisfied are more likely to consume pornography as a way of coping with their sexual dissatisfaction.

Even if one is not convinced by studies showing that pornography has positive or neutral effects, one must acknowledge that anti-porn crusaders make misleading claims that research shows that pornography is an unequivocally bad thing.

In any event, even if pornography has negative effects, it doesn't mean that shutting it down is justified. Fast food, alcohol and tobacco have negative effects too, but they are still accepted in polite society.

Links - 17th July 2020 (1) (China's 'Peaceful' Rise)

China enraged by ‘Sick Man of Asia’ headline, but its origin may surprise many - "the derogatory term was not first used by what Beijing calls “imperialist forces”. It was coined by renowned Chinese thinker, scholar and translator Yan Fu, who introduced Western ideas including Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection to China in the late 19th century.In 1895, Yan wrote an article describing China as the “Sick Man” following its humiliating defeat in The First Sino-Japanese War (1894-1895)... Hong Kong author Leung Man-tao, now a frequent commentator on mainland Chinese talk shows, wrote in a 2015 article that Chinese people are more likely to use the epithet... The person who put the term into the wider public consciousness in modern times was action star Bruce Lee, who, in his 1972 movie Fist of Fury, yells “Chinese are not the sick man of East Asia” as he battles a group of Japanese judo fighters... Since Fist of Fury’s release, the term Sick Man of East Asia has taken on deep racist connotations that instantly raise Chinese hackles... “Liang Qichao was the first to associate ‘Sick Man’ with the Chinese people’s physical health. Due to his great influence … the use of the term was extended from its description of a weak country to that of the population’s weak state of health,” he wrote.“[When North China Daily News used the term], they were not talking about Chinese people’s health. They used it as a metaphor for poor Chinese governance and the Qing dynasty’s failed military and political reform, hoping that the corrupt Qing government would be prompted to mend its ways before it was too late.”... [The WSJ article] could then be taken as a wake-up call to the government to overhaul bureaucratic and health care system failings exposed by the coronavirus pandemic."
Yan Fu was a racist Han traitor!
seeing racism everywhere is a self-fulfilling prophecy

Macau: lessons for Hong Kong from Beijing’s ‘good student’ | Financial Times - "The former Portuguese colony, which was returned to Chinese rule 20 years ago this week, was praised by a senior official on December 3 for having grasped the “spirit of the central government”. The implicit message was that Hong Kong, after months of often violent pro-democracy protests, had not. On the surface Macau and Hong Kong have a lot in common. The two former colonies are the only parts of China governed under “one country, two systems”, which grants them a “high degree of autonomy” including freedom of speech, a free press and a more robust legal system than mainland China. But during the past 20 years, Macau — one of the richest places on earth in per capita terms — has trodden a different path to its neighbour, which is experiencing its worst political crisis in decades... Government officials from mainland China have long used Macau to hide and launder money, says Icy Kam, head of the pro-democracy group New Macau Association. That role acts as an added incentive to pacify local residents... “In theory we can criticise the government, but in reality we don’t,” says one veteran Chinese journalist in Macau who spoke on condition of anonymity. “We’ve learnt that criticising the [Macau] government, the Chinese Communist party and Beijing only brings us trouble. They can pull advertising or send the triads to beat us up; it’s been really bad since Xi came to power.”... Local activists have tried to hold demonstrations in Macau in support of the Hong Kong protests on four separate occasions this year. All were banned, including one against alleged police brutality. Macau’s Court of Final Appeal ruled in September that allowing such a demonstration would interfere with Hong Kong’s internal affairs.“The ruling was totally absurd. If a group of people want to demonstrate in favour of or against the police, they are not interfering in decisions made by the Hong Kong government,” says Paulo Cardinal, who was the chief legal adviser specialising in constitutional affairs in Macau’s Legislative Assembly for 26 years before his contract was cancelled last year. “This is the first time we saw a CFA decision rely on such weak legal grounds. It’s a decision that worried many in Macau’s legal and academic communities.” Neither Hong Kong nor Macau has universal suffrage so freedom of protest plays an outsized role in enabling residents to voice their discontent. The last large-scale protest in Macau, in 2014 against lavish retirement packages for top officials, forced the then chief executive to withdraw the proposal. Mr Cardinal and Paulo Taipa, who was the chief legal adviser on gaming laws, were both dismissed last year by Ho Iat Seng, the then head of Macau’s legislature, who said their departures were due to “restructuring”... “The two Paulos were excellent, brilliant advisers. These were political sackings, no doubt about it,” says Mr Menezes. “Neither of them were able to find jobs anywhere in Macau afterwards, not at casinos, not in the government, not in law firms, not at universities.” Mr Taipa, who helped write many of Macau’s gaming laws in the 1990s, is now an adviser to the Portuguese government. “How could Paulo Taipa not find a job in a casino? He’s one of the best gaming lawyers in Macau. It’s because the casinos were all afraid because politics and business are one and the same here”... In 2013 Mr Menezes was the victim of a premeditated attack as he walked his son to school. The assault, which he blames on the triads, almost cost him his life. One person was convicted and Mr Menezes subsequently moved his family to Portugal. “The police never investigated the person who ordered the attack because this person was too powerful to be investigated”... Multiple pro-democracy lawmakers, lawyers, activists and scholars from Hong Kong have been barred from entering the territory. Immigration officials in Macau even blocked a baby who shares the same name someone on the blacklist. Two senior figures from the American Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong were also prevented from entering Macau this month following the passage of legislation in Washington to scrutinise China’s human rights record in Hong Kong. “The people in power in Macau are more loyal than the king himself and will go an extra step just to please the powers that be. It happens all the time,” says Eric Sautede, a politics professor sacked in 2014 from a university in Macau for expressing his political views. “I was told that my outspokenness was preventing the university from receiving HK$50m of government funding to develop part of the campus.” Macau’s 1966 riots — an anti-colonial uprising influenced by the cultural revolution — is now widely seen as a victory for the Chinese Communist party, with the Portuguese authorities in effect succumbing to Beijing and the CCP chapter in Macau becoming the territory’s de facto rulers. Similar riots the following year in Hong Kong resulted in a different outcome: the British colonial government consolidated its power.As a result, says Ching Cheong, a veteran China watcher, Macau’s mini constitution, known as the Basic Law, has no provision outlining a path towards universal suffrage, in contrast to Hong Kong’s version of the legislation... “The young generation here isn’t like the young generation in Hong Kong,” says Mr Sou, who studied public administration at National Taiwan University. “Most of them don’t know about the importance of critical thinking, democracy and the protection of human rights.”More than half of Macau’s residents were born in mainland China and a University of Hong Kong survey conducted in 2018 showed a strong sense of identity as citizens of the People’s Republic. A separate HKU poll found the number of people in Hong Kong who identified only as Chinese dropped to a record low in 2019. “The most important event in Macau over the past 20 years has been the way it has improved its social welfare policies to deal with the excesses of casino capitalism, which is highly exploitative and highly socially divisive,” says Mr Lo, the political scientist.Since 2008, Macau has offered annual cash handouts to its residents. Those who live there permanently received 10,000 patacas ($1,245) each in 2019. But many in Macau, where unemployment is less than 2 per cent, still feel they have not been able to share in the city’s rapid economic growth, according to Mr Sou, and Ms Kam, as inadequate and unaffordable housing, poor public transport and skyrocketing medical costs — among the same ingredients that have fuelled the anger in Hong Kong — remain problems. “If Beijing thinks 100 per cent control over society means it has been successful, this is a good lesson for the people of Hong Kong,” says Mr Sou. “Despite having a national security law and being totally obedient to Beijing, we still don’t have universal suffrage here. Why obey Beijing when Macau, the so-called ‘good student’, doesn’t get good results?”"

The unease of the Chinese diaspora | Spectator USA - "Ever since it embarked on its modernization program, China has been subtly cultivating and influencing the Chinese diaspora to its cause... The word ‘Chinese’ can refer to the citizenry of a country, a race, a language, and even a culture, ambiguities that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) exploits in order to appeal to the diaspora via the sentimental heartstrings of heritage via ‘flesh and blood’. It exports and reinforces the concept that there is only one politically-correct way of being Chinese: loyalty to the party first and foremost, above all else. In effect, it’s like the ummah, an Arabic term that describes the supra-national global community that unites all Muslims as one. Only this one is based not on religion but on ethnicity, where Tibetans, Uigher Muslims, Chinese dissenters, Hong Kong protesters, are excluded and marginalized like infidels. Almost nothing embodies the scope of China’s attempts at a global soft power offensive more as the Chinese government-funded Confucius Institutes, where there are 480 branches operating on six continents around the world... These institutes ostensibly offer language classes and promote cultural education and diplomacy, but in reality they are de facto fronts for generating good Public Relations and patriotism to the CCP. In 2014, the American Association of University Professors issued a report urging colleges to close the institutes or renegotiate their mutual agreements to guarantee a certain degree of academic freedom and control... It is in this climate of deep mistrust and risk of alienation that the CCP engages in endearing itself to the Chinese diaspora, no matter how far removed, to cultivate ties and perhaps even an obligation to the ‘Motherland’. Even in Singapore where by now, generations of Han Chinese have grown up as Singaporean, China has launched study abroad programs, visits to ancestral villages and even ‘roots-seeking camps’ for Singapore youth. For those like me who are Chinese but who have spent our entire lives outside of China, it’s important to keep pushing back on the CCP-endorsed narrative of the ‘Chinese ummah’, that we share in the dreams of the People’s Republic and her perpetuation of a techno-utopian authoritarian surveillance state who has yet to reckon with the moral failings of her past and present. It’s up to us to show that our ideas and views transcend ethnic and national boundaries.Sometimes, the party uses terms like ‘Chinese values’ to appeal to cultural relativism, carving out a rationale for the government to embrace blatant cultural exceptionalism that directly undermines universal aspirations. ‘Chinese’ may be my hardware, but my software is decidedly not Chinese, at least as far as how the CCP defines it. I embrace pluralism, freedom of expression, freedom to fail and not be surveilled, freedom of association, freedom of religion and universal suffrage. And until China has space for differing Chinese identities, then count me out of the Chinese ummah."

China's Looming Class Struggle - "Since 1978 the country’s GINI ratings—a system that measures inequality—have gone from highly egalitarian to more unequal than Mexico, Brazil, and Kenya, as well as the United States and virtually all of Europe. In avowedly socialist China, roughly 1300 individuals constitute roughly 20 percent of the country’s wealth, and top one percent roughly one-third. Initially, China’s progress lifted up all classes, raising as many as 850 million people out of extreme poverty in 40 years, one of the greatest economic accomplishments in history. Yet the boom has been less successful in creating a Western-style mass middle class which analyst Nan Chen estimates at roughly 12 percent of the population. “Rather than replicating the middle-class growth of post-World War II America,” she observes, “China appears to have skipped that stage altogether and headed straight for a model of extraordinary productivity but disproportionately distributed wealth.” Overall, two-thirds of all Chinese are either migrant laborers, peasants, industrial workers, or agriculture laborers—all groups unlikely to make it into the Chinese middle class... These migrants threaten to swell into a massive, and potentially politically disruptive, urban underclass. As notes Leeds University’s Li Sun has noted, Chinese migrants unable to claim residency in the city generally lack access to education, healthcare, and most forms of insurance. Although they perform many of the most dangerous tasks in society, notably manufacturing and construction, barely one in four has any form of insurance if they get injured. But they are largely excluded from other, less dangerous jobs... This vast class of poor and often powerless migrants, peasants, and factory workers represents a far greater threat to the Chinese regime than isolated intellectuals on the mainland or even the brave protesters in Hong Kong. Chinese history lacks examples of successful rebellions launched by a middle class informed with democratic ideals; no equivalent to the distinctly bourgeois American Revolution, the French Third Estate’s drive to destroy feudalism, or even a reformist movement akin to Japan’s Meiji Restoration.Instead, Chinese history consists largely of an interplay between hierarchical regimes and occasionally rebellious peasants... Rather than rule by proletarians and peasants, the leadership is increasingly dominated by so-called “red princelings,” such as President Xi himself, who trace their roots to generals and top officials of the initial Maoist regime. Even the entrepreneurial class, a force for reform in many cultures, has been subsumed by the Communist Mandarins. Some 90 percent of China’s millionaires, notes Australian political scientist David Goodman, are the offspring of high-ranking officials. This alliance with the Communists extends to the far more populous and well-established professional and managerial classes, which staffs the bureaucracies of the all-powerful party-dominated state. Goodman suggests that, rather than run to the barricades, these fortunate individuals would likely oppose any democratic transition that could allow the less privileged masses to threaten their status... the most serious long-term threat to the Chinese regime stems from the lower classes. Like laborers elsewhere, these workers are faced with a broader global trend of weakened prospects and fewer protections, such as those provided by the Maoist-era “iron rice bowl.” These workers are particularly vulnerable to China’s slowing economic growth rate—in 2018, its growth rate was 6 percent, 50 percent below the 9 percent average since 1989—and stagnant industrial production, now at the lowest level since 2004... most kids left behind in the rural villages are sick or malnourished and up to two-thirds struggle with combinations of anemia, worms, and uncorrected myopia that set them back at school. More than half the toddlers, he predicts, are so cognitively delayed their IQs will never exceed 90—portending a future as the gammas and epsilons of Huxley’s Brave New World... there is evidence of growing labor unrest, particularly among the new generation of migrants... There are now efforts nationwide to harvest biometric data, track smartphones, and install compulsory satellite-tracking systems for vehicles. Brain monitoring devices are becoming increasingly common in Chinese factories, ostensibly to improve productivity but actually to tap into and shape the thoughts of their potentially rebellious workers... Being able to improve the lives of the people was always seen as a critical element assuring the Imperial “mandate of heaven.” Right now, the Communist regime seems more interested in surpassing the West in elite industries and building grandiose urban landscapes"
It is easy for those who keep gushing about China's success to pretend that those they cannot see do not exist, and that the Chinese they meet who benefit from the system represent all Chinese

When the Lion Wakes: The Global Threat of the Chinese Communist Party - "Chinese citizens have been indoctrinated for decades with the idea that Party is country. The idea was introduced by paramount leader Deng Xiaoping soon after the Tiananmen Square Massacre of 1989. He realised that as long as the state and the people were seen as separate entities, then the door would remain open for recognition of the Party’s many historical crimes—and also for recognition of the ongoing subjugation of the people by the Party. He wanted to make sure that citizens would never again rise up as they did in 1989. As China-watcher Clive Hamilton explains: “For many new Chinese arrivals in the West, one of the hardest concepts to understand is the distinction, essential to democracies, between the nation and its government. When they do grasp the difference, they are open to becoming critics of the party-state without feeling they are betraying their homeland.” The problem is that people in the West don’t always understand the distinction themselves, and so they will regularly criticise “China” when referring to the authoritarian policies of the Communist Party. This leads firstly to defensive reactions from patriotic Chinese, and secondly to criticism from Westerners highly attuned to issues of racism. Accusations are flung back and forth, confusion reigns in both East and West, and all the while the Communist Party quietly extends its influence across the globe... Today, the Communist Party stifles criticism and dictates policy far beyond Chinese borders, controlling NGOs and businesses, silencing dissidents, and filling Western university boards with CCP sympathisers... The Party’s thugs have physically assaulted journalists in the US for publishing anti-CCP content... and they have attempted to murder independent journalists in Australia... The Chinese authorities apparently believe that the citizens of all countries come under their jurisdiction. This is more than aggressive nationalism, this is imperialism... Pressure is now being applied to foreign governments to deport Uyghurs to China... Incredibly, the governments of Malaysia, Egypt, Thailand, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Pakistan, Cambodia, Vietnam, and Laos have all complied, sending their Uyghurs to China for torture and incarceration... He Yafei, deputy director of the Overseas Chinese Affairs Office, told senior Party cadres that “China” (by which he means the Communist Party) will “carve out a bloody path and smash the West’s monopoly and public opinion hegemony.”... The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor Project has provided the perfect cover for the Chinese authorities to introduce their own video surveillance system to most of Pakistan’s major cities. In fact, CCP-controlled Hikvision cameras can now be found scattered throughout Stansted and Glasgow airports and the London Underground. The Party has direct access to the data from any one of these camera systems. The same issue has cropped up with regard to China’s telecoms infrastructure—Huawei has been banned in many parts of the world because of fears that “backdoors” in the equipment could allow Beijing to carry out unauthorised surveillance. Tourists to the western Chinese province of Xinjiang must now submit their phones to border guards, who install surveillance apps and download personal information before allowing the tourists to move on... Lee Kuan Yew told Graham Allison that hundreds of Party officials came to him over the years to seek his advice, and they all shared the same nostalgia for “a world in which China was dominant and other states related to them as supplicants to a superior, as vassals came to Beijing bearing tribute.” Graham Allison knows of a Shanghai deputy mayor who says he looks forward to the day when every upper-middle class family in Shanghai has an American houseboy... Successive Western governments have dealt softly with their counterparts in Beijing, hoping for the gradual emergence of a Western-style democratic regime. We convinced ourselves that if you leave lions alone then they will become completely different animals. Now we must deal with the consequences of that mistake. The Communist Party will never change, it will only get worse—and already it begins to threaten the liberty of people all over the world. We need a new approach. Wang Dan, one of the exiled student leaders from Tiananmen Square, has found cause for hope in the recent US-China trade war. “In the 1990s,” he told the New York Times, “when Washington linked the granting of China’s most favourable trading status with human rights, the Chinese government bowed to the pressure by relaxing its political control and releasing me and several other dissidents. But once trade and human rights were delinked, the situation there deteriorated drastically.”... But equally important is the support of the Chinese populace. We must decouple Party from people, making it clear that the former threatens us, not the latter. Language is crucially important here. If ‘the Communist Party’ and ‘China’ are separated in the political discourse, then Chinese citizens will be liberated to criticise the Party themselves, just as Deng Xiaoping feared. Another Tiananmen Square movement will become possible... If we provide continual support and coverage, ignoring the Party’s inevitable barrage of bribery and bullying, then we may be able to avoid the Orwellian future that Xi Jinping has planned for us all."

Justice, China-style: The British businessman drugged, caged and forced into a televised confession - "Drugged, handcuffed, and locked in an iron chair inside a steel cage – this is how Briton Peter Humphrey says he was forced to confess to crimes in China... Appropriate responses included expressing repentance and apologising to China’s ruling Communist Party. “He would say things like, if you say this, it will help you get lenient treatment.” Cameras captured Mr Humphrey’s slurred, sedated words; soon, a heavily edited version made to look like an ‘interview’ with a bombshell ‘confession’ was broadcast around the world by Chinese state media... This is China’s legal and judicial system from the inside, and it’s these abusive practices that many in Hong Kong fear being exposed to, bringing an estimated one million people to the streets in recent days to protest plans by city leaders to allow extraditions to the mainland... One-third of Chinese lawyers are Communist Party members; the rest are required to swear loyalty to the country. Most law firms now also have Party cells... Not a single witness was called to the stand by the prosecution that day. Instead, written statements were presented as evidence. The defence, however, wasn’t allowed to produce witnesses or sworn statements... State-controlled bar associations even require lawyers to report when they plan a not-guilty defence in some cases. In practice, “the vast majority of Chinese defence lawyers stay away from risky cases,” he said. “Even in routine cases, they often are not willing to mount a rigorous defence against the prosecution.”“You have to be very savvy about how you present your defence in a way that is not fundamentally challenging the system,” said Ms Lewis. “You can advocate for your client within bounds, and those bounds restrain you from directly taking on the state.” The United Nations Committee Against Torture has expressed “grave concern” over provisions in China’s criminal procedure laws.In some situations, it is legal for individuals to be detained for up to six months without access to a lawyer; there are also no requirements for family to be told why, and where that person is being held.All this “may amount to incommunicado detention in secret places, putting detainees at a high risk of torture or ill-treatment,” found a 2016 UN report, the most recent one to date on the issue... “I was simply given a piece of paper with answers and questions, told to memorise it, and later the same day brought into a room near my cell to record it,” he said. A dozen of state security officers were in the room as the lead interrogator directed him, “instructing retakes, telling me to change my phrasing, tone, posture…it went on for hours”."

Chinese propaganda app doubles as new spying tool for authorities, report says - The Washington Post - "The Chinese Communist Party appears to have “superuser” access to the entire data on more than 100 million Android-based cellphones through a back door in a propaganda app that the government has been promoting aggressively... Use of the app in China is not exactly voluntary. The Communist Party has issued directives to its members to download the app, as have many workplaces.Organizations from the Beijing Chaoyang Lawyers’ Association and Peking University to the Hunan Vocational College of Science & Technology and a bus company in Jinan province have ordered their members to use the app. Starting this month, about 10,000 reporters and editors in Beijing will take part in a pilot test that is expected to extend nationwide, in which they will be tested on their knowledge of Xi Jinping Thought through the app.The Propaganda Department’s media oversight office made it clear that only those who passed would get new press cards, which are required to work as a journalist in China... some entrepreneurial types have started services where they will log app hours on a customer’s behalf. “Sometimes even when I’m very tired and have put my baby to sleep, I still have to complete my Study the Great Nation, otherwise my pay will be cut,” one disgruntled app user wrote on Weibo, the Chinese answer to Twitter. Another complained about having to write a 2,000-word self-criticism because that person didn’t earn enough points on the app.l
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