When you can't live without bananas

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Saturday, July 25, 2020

Links - 25th July 2020 (2)

Who gets tattoos? Demographic and behavioral correlates of ever being tattooed in a representative sample of men and women. - "A total of 14.5% of respondents had ever been tattooed, and 2.4% of respondents had been tattooed in the year before the interview. Men were more likely than women to report a tattoo, but the highest rates of tattooing were found among women in their 20s (29.4%). Men and women ages 20-39 were most likely to have been tattooed, as were men with lower levels of education, tradesmen, and women with live-out partners. Tattooing was also associated with risk-taking behaviours, including smoking, greater numbers of lifetime sexual partners, cannabis use (women only) and ever having depression (men only).
Tattooing has increased in popularity during the past decade. Yet tattoos still appear to be a marker for risk-taking behavior in adults."

Kazakh bodybuilder, actor calls off wedding to sex doll due to Covid-19 pandemic (VIDEO) - "A Kazakh bodybuilder and actor who was set to tie the knot with his life-like sex doll this month had to postpone his plans due to the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.Yuri Tolochko took to Instagram to inform his fans that he has decided to postpone his wedding to his silicon companion, Margo, due to self-isolation.He also assured that he plans to make the event bigger and better once the health crisis is over... When the pair is officially united, Yuri hopes to purchase a family home to live with his doll.It was reported that he is currently searching for properties in the Kazakh cities of Almaty or Nur-Sultan."

Coronavirus: German zoo may have to feed animals to each other - "the lockdown was costing a typical German zoo about €500,000 weekly in lost turnover... Some zookeepers have also warned that the crisis has an emotional cost for certain animals, because they miss the attention they would usually get from the public.Ms Hachmeister at Berlin Zoo said "the apes especially love to watch people".She said seals and parrots were also fascinated by their visitors, and "for them now it's really pretty boring".Last week Moscow Zoo also said its two giant pandas were "missing something now"."They've started to much more actively approach every single person who walks past their enclosure," it said."

Canadian town drops 'land of rape and honey' slogan - "The western Canadian town of Tisdale is no longer the “land of rape and honey,” it announced as it dropped a slogan that had been a constant source of complaints. The slogan referred to rapeseed, also known as canola, a major product of Tisdale and the surrounding region along with honey.But over the years many who misinterpreted the meaning have complained, said Sean Wallace, the town’s economic development director."

PALESTINE UNITED | Morning Star - "wreaths were laid at the graves of those who died on that day and on the graves of others killed by Mossad agents in Paris in 1991"
Amusingly, someone who was trying to defend Corbyn claimed that his participation in the wreath laying ceremony for Black September was 'clutching at straws' and like claiming he supported the IRA because he "passed by one of their murals in Belfast once". I quoted Corbyn in his own words and this got dismissed as "the worst tankie rag going" since it was Morning Star. So I observed that since Jeremy Corbyn wrote that article for them, he was scum, and got a laugh in return

Fmr. Sheriff Mark Curran (R-IL) on Twitter - Nancy Pelosi: "To say “People will die, so be it” instead of a science & testing-based path to reopening the economy is deeply frivolous & wrong. Every life is precious. Each death is heartbreaking — for a family & for a community. This is something we are all in together."
"Okay. Now do abortion."

The rightwing groups behind wave of protests against Covid-19 restrictions
If Nazis support habeas corpus, it means we need to suspend it
I like how Koch money is "dark money" but if you question what Soros does you're anti-Semitic and/or a conspiracy theorist

From Your Mouth to Your Screen, Transcribing Takes the Next Step - The New York Times - "data compression had made it possible to capture the speech conversation of a person’s entire life in just two terabytes of information — compact enough to fit on storage devices that cost less than $50... Speech transcription potentially pushes traditional privacy concerns into new arenas both at home and work, he said.It will almost certainly pose new privacy questions for corporations. Mr. Liang said that companies were interested in capturing all of the conversations of employees, including what goes on around the water cooler... “Humans and machines will work together for the foreseeable future”... In the medical field, automated transcription is being used to change the way doctors take notes. In recent years, electronic health record systems became part of a routine office visit, and doctors were criticized for looking at their screens and typing rather than maintaining eye contact with patients. Now, several health start-ups are offering transcription services that capture text and potentially video in the examining room and use a remote human transcriber, or scribe, to edit the automated text and produce a “structured” set of notes from the patient visit... Speech scientists emphasize that while the automated transcription systems are significantly improved, they are still far from perfect. While 95 percent accuracy may be obtained by automated transcription, it is possible only under the best circumstances. An accent, a poorly positioned microphone or background noise can cause accuracy to fall.The hope for the future is the emergence of another speech technology known as natural language processing, which tries to capture the meaning of words and sentences that will increase computer accuracy to human levels. But for now, natural language processing still remains one of the most challenging frontiers in the field of artificial intelligence."

A post by Sad Cina Memes for Malaysian Teens on April 17 - "How to enjoy Singapore food: *put in trash*"
Malaysians being insecure again as usual

Emil Gustoff - "These are great. Wiki How articles with new captions. 🤣"

Why are US houses made of wood? - "US builders keep building houses with wood because it is the most inexpensive material, and they also lack the manpower and knowledge to take up this kind of work. Also, the labor costs are extremely high for using brick and concrete which will increase the prices of these already expensive US houses. Also the concept of tearing down a house every few decades and re-building them comes very naturally to people in US
Is this a price we are willing to pay to protect ourselves from a natural calamity?"

Understanding the Elevated Prevalence of Intimate Partner Violence in Interracial Relationships - Douglas A. Brownridge, Tamara Taillieu, Ko Ling Chan, Caroline Piotrowski, - "Results showed that individuals in interracial relationships faced elevated odds of IPV victimization relative to monoracial relationships in the 5-year reporting period prior to the study (odds ratio [OR] = 2.37; 95% confidence interval [CI] = [1.40, 4.02]; p < .001). This was similar to what Brownridge found in the 2009 GSS data, indicating that the elevated risk of IPV in interracial relationships had remained stable in Canada over a 10-year reporting period. Risk factors from three levels of an ecological model were explored, and logistic multiple regression analyses showed that characteristics of the partner (young age, drug use, and jealous behavior) fully accounted for the significantly elevated odds of IPV victimization in interracial unions. Although the leading speculation for this relationship implicates stressors that are unique to these relationships, the current study suggested that this phenomenon is mostly due to characteristics of individuals with whom those in interracial relationships are more likely to be coupled." What if there is endogeneity?

The Forgotten Uses of 8 Everyday Objects - "1. The Tiny “Extra” Pocket on Your Jeans
2. The Hole in Your Pot Handle
3. The Loop on the Back of Your Dress Shirts
4. The Glove Compartment
5. The Holes in Your Box of Aluminum Foil
6. The Drawer Under Your Oven
7. The Additional Holes on Your Converse Sneakers
8. The Loop on the Side of Your Carpenter Jeans"

Americans willing to pay to fight climate change (but only a little) - "Seventy-one percent want the federal government to do something about global warming... If the cost of fighting climate change is only an additional $1 a month, 57 percent of Americans said they would support that. But as that fee goes up, support for it plummets. At $10 a month, 39 percent were in favor and 61 percent opposed. At $20 a month, the public is more than 2-to-1 against it. And only 1-in-5 would support $50 a month."
Talk is cheap

The Truth About Hydration: Should You Drink Eight Glasses of Water a Day? - "“Nowadays this is not considered sensible,” says Stuart Galloway, an associate professor in physiology, exercise and nutrition at the University of Stirling. “As humans, we have this homeostatic system, so when we need water, we feel thirsty.” Drinking when you are thirsty, he says, maintains your body’s water level within about 1-2% of its ideal state. “For most people, this is absolutely fine. Even for athletes, a loss of around 1% is considered to have negligible impact upon performance. So, although thirst may not kick in until you have lost some body water, this is not necessarily a bad thing.” As we get older, our sense of thirst can get fuzzier and that is when dehydration can become a threat. It is a similar story for children, too. So perhaps the advice to drink water before you feel thirsty was originally aimed at parents and the elderly but now healthy adults are putting away gallons of water in a quest to be their best selves.  There is a dearth of facts when it comes to hydration. Pharmaceutical companies aren’t interested in researching the benefits of a free resource and dehydration isn’t a pressing public health issue requiring government funding. This leaves a profitable grey area for the drinks industry to exploit.Water is, it would have us believe, a purifying fast-track to glowing skin, bright eyes and bags of energy. Galloway says detoxing with water is “a load of rubbish. Your kidneys do a very good job of sorting out what you need to retain and what you need to get rid of.”... drinking too much water can kill. Water intoxication occurs when the amount of electrolytes in the body becomes imbalanced by excessive water intake, disrupting brain function. Dehydration is said to be the most common cause of headaches and in 2015, Burls wrote a critical appraisal of the evidence. She concluded: “Chronic mild dehydration may trigger headaches. Increased water intake could help. A small trial shows modest benefit; however, a larger, methodologically sound, randomised controlled trial is needed to confirm efficacy.”... Galloway tested the hydrating potential of a range of drinks and found a litre of beer was no less hydrating than a litre of water. Similarly, a litre of instant coffee, containing 212mg of caffeine, was as hydrating as water. Milk was even more hydrating, and effective as a hydration solution for people with diarrhoea"

How to Persuade People to Change Their Behavior - "if telling people to do doesn’t work, what does? Rather than trying to persuade people, getting them to persuade themselves is often more effective.  Here are three ways to do that.
1. Highlight a gap...
Health officials in Thailand used this approach in anti-smoking campaign.  Rather than telling smokers their habit was bad, they had little kids come up to smokers on the street and ask them for a light.  Not surprisingly, the smokers told the kids no. Many even lectured the little boys and girls about the dangers of smoking. But before turning to walk away, the kids handed the smokers a note that said, “You worry about me … But why not about yourself?” At the bottom was a toll-free number smokers could call to get help.  Calls to that line jumped more than 60% during the campaign.
2. Pose questions...
“Do you think junk food is good for you?” If someone’s answer is no, they’re now in a tough spot. By encouraging them to articulate their opinion, they’ve had to put a stake in the ground — to admit that those things aren’t good for them. And once they’ve done that, it becomes harder to keep justify the bad behaviors...
3. Ask for less."

History According to Bob - Napoleon: Elba to Death

Rumours of Escape:

[On Napoleon on Elba] "British tourists of course came in large numbers and were always very well treated... there is an embarrassing situation that lots of British naval officers would visit Elba on their British Warships. This forced Admiral Hollowell to issue orders to stop the pilgrimages to Elba on British Warships"

The Fatal Decision:

[On the Duke of Orleans] "During the French Revolution that is a man known as Philip Egalité and he knew that for a while... Louis XVI needed to be circumcised so he actually told Marie Antoinette that they probably wouldn't have any children. But the Duke d'Orleans sent a nasty little present to Marie Antoinette. And that was a beautiful hand carved baby cradle with a note saying 'Just thought you'd like to have something you never would use'. And when Louis XVI found out about it, he had himself circumcised and he had 3 children"

End of Waterloo Part 2:

"Blücher's not gonna be with us too much longer. Once they go back into Paris, he erm, he falls off his horse. The story goes he was showing off his horsemanship for a group of French prostitutes when he pulled his horse up to rein it up and fell off, hit his head on the cobblestones and developed a brain hemorrhage on the brain. So the way it goes but he had a good time"

Napoleon is Informed of His Fate Part 2:

"In Saint Helena I should not live three months. My habits and constitution, it would be immediate death. I am used to riding 020 leagues a day. What am I to do on this little rock at the end of the world? The climate is too hot for me. No, I will not go to Saint Helena. Botany Bay is better than Saint Helena. If your government wishes to put me to death, they may kill me here, it is not worthwhile to send me to Saint Helena. I prefer death to Saint Helena. And what good is my death to you? I can do you no harm, I am no longer a sovereign. I am a simple individual"

Napoleon Defended:

"During war time, or times of emergency, the British government would violate the Habeas Corpus act and then what would happen, Parliament then after it was all over and done with, would pass one of these bills, an indemnity bill, which basically says we forgive the government for violating all these various laws and incarcerating people without trial, and all this kind of stuff so that they wouldn't get sued"

Napoleon Leaves the Bellerophon Part 3:

"If you follow English History, into the 1848 period where we have the rapid transition of various governments. We have the collapse of the French Government of Louis Philip and the fleeing of the various officials. We have the collapse of the Austrian empire, and the change of Emperors. And the wonderful character Mr Metternich flees the country. In most of these places, whenever the leadership of the conservative governments - that is the kings, the monarchies, whenever they decide to leave and dodge the mob if you will, they go to England.

When I taught Advanced Placement European history, it was so bad that I made the comment in class, many times that, surely England had a street, that was just for exiles from European leadership. And you just said, ‘Oh we've got a new prime minister, from such and such a country. You get house number 42. Oh, here’s ex-king from such-and-such a country. Sorry, you were overthrown by a popular revolt - here you get this building.’ So it is kind of strange."

British Watchful Eye:

"A lot of times daily routines don't survive to us. We have a daily routine for Ivan the Terrible for example that survives. He would get up in the morning at 530, go to morning services. After services, he'd have breakfast. After breakfast, they would take what was left over of the food and give it to the poor. Then he would dictate what was going to happen during the day: who would get executed, what mistress he was going to visit so forth and so on, did all that stuff. Then at noon, they'd have noon service. Again, you'd have lunch, leftover food went to the poor, and then the afternoon he would then sometimes nap sometimes play around with his his women or execute people that he would do what was going on that he decided to do in the morning. Then 530 to six o'clock, it's evening Vespers. Again religious services, dinner, and the leftover food goes to the poor and after that he went to bed with usually three priests reading or reciting from the Bible until he went to sleep. And then the next day it would start over again"

Napoleon's Daily Routine Part 3:

"He was well aware of the fact that he thought that women like to talk about themselves. So he would ask questions such as, did you, was this your first sea voyage? Did you get sick on the voyage? Had she been bored on the voyage? Did she do embroidery and all sorts of other types of questions?"

Lowe and his spies:

"He was violently disliked because of his mania for inspecting the contents of the laundry baskets at Longwood, looking for messages. This included looking at the women's underwear. Blakeney was then replaced by Captain Nichols... basically spent his whole time playing hide and seek to try and get sight of Napoleon. Eventually got tired of the whole thing and simply asked to be relieved... Captain Lutyens, he stayed until April of 1821. Now he would have been there to the end. Unfortunately, he was forced to resign because he accepted a book from Napoleon which was on the life of Marlborough, which was destined for the regimental library of his unit and that made Lowe unhappy"

Sex & St Helena Pt 1:

"The Longwood bachelors whether they were master or servant had a great deal of affairs with women. Naturally involving some jealous quarrels but the man who was watched and spied on by everyone, Napoleon, preserved an imperial indifference. He was being surrounded by licentiousness.
‘Some men of 48 still behave like young men’ purred de Montholon"

St Helena Society Pt 1:

"The big whites took a more active part in the daily life of the island. Its members were in a position to defend their interests with some flexibility. They were the descendants of the English who had settled on St. Helena and that would be during the last 200 years and as their families grew, they schemed to acquire the most important posts for them. If the father in law was a judge, his son in law would be a sheriff. When the older brother was an apothecary, the younger brother would be a chemist. If a daughter married a councillor, her older sister would then throw herself into the arms of the commanding officer of the St Helena regiment"

Arsenic and Old Napoleon Part 1:

"Well, Napoleon has left a lot of hair. It’s very common to give hair as souvenirs. And we know that on the island of St Helena that he had given a sample of hair as a souvenir to [people]... over the years they found I think, 40 some different samples of his hair that had been given out at different times... So you have sometimes people say, well, he’s been being poisoned over a long period of time. Well, that doesn't work, because arsenic is one of those poisons, that if you take it bit by bit, you build an immunity up.

We have a gentleman in the ancient world Mithradates the Fourth who was one of the greatest experts on poison, and he came up with the idea that if you took little bits of poison every day, you could build an immunity to it. And he created what is called a Mithradatium, of which every day he took 22 different poisonous substances. Of course he tested it out on prisoners in his prisons, but it worked because when he was overthrown by his son, he tried to commit suicide with poison and was unsuccessful. He had to stab himself…

Arsenic workers, people who work in mines, where you find arsenic naturally have this huge tolerance to it... Napoleon had several doubles. And we have examples where authenticated boxes of material from people who wrote letters to their descendants, that this was a lock of hair of Napoleon, when it's tested, it comes up negative, so they end up being his doubles. Because he took arsenic all his life, he was scared to death of dying, of what his father did was stomach cancer. So he had stomach trouble, he took a lot of that."

Links - 25th July 2020 (1) (China's 'Peaceful' Rise)

Is China preparing for war? - "Fuelled by our desire for ever cheaper goods, the world has collectively sleepwalked into a supply-side dependency on the People’s Republic.The gamble had been pitched as a trade-off. China was expected to evolve democratic norms and embrace relations with the international community, while we got richer from globalisation. But we have been played... At the same time as it was busy taking control over our manufacturing, China was busy cloning western software, via her lackadaisical respect for international copyright rules.And while the world relies on China for hardware, China avoids software dependency on outsiders by creating substitutes: TikTok to replace snapchat, Weibo instead of Twitter, WeChat & RenRen for Facebook. Indeed, there is an alternative Chinese version for almost any platform... Over decades, we have naively outsourced or lost manufacturing, software, natural resources and critical infrastructure to China. The economic benefits of globalisation are well trodden, yet as Covid-19 has shown, it has left our society vulnerable during a major crisis, unable to manufacture the most basic of necessities such as PPE. Meanwhile, China has achieved self-sufficiency... Considering what we know of colonial history, there is little room for doubt that China is at a pre-colonial stage. States at this stage attempt to centralise domestic power under a strong leader, dominate global supply chains and monopolise industry, all the while expanding abroad to secure natural resources. China is aggressively pursuing total national self-sufficiency, and the question arises as to why. My conclusion is that China is preparing for war: total, not limited war. The kind that seeks to rebalance the world order, tipping it in her favour by replacing the US as the dominant global power. Historically, major conflicts have arisen when the leading global power is challenged by a rival, a problem known as the Thucydides trap — and China is expected (by some metrics) to overtake the United States as the world’s largest economy this decade.Also, and crucially unlike us, China is preparing for the next type of war. The People’s Republic knows that she cannot beat the US militarily — and she knows that type of ground war is almost over.Instead, by securing global supply chains, maintaining IT independence, and having a cast-iron grip over her own population, China can focus on building her cyber and biological war capabilities while remaining relatively safeguarded against the same herself. Considering all of this, from steel to nuclear to telecoms, our policy towards China until 2020 can best be described as one of miserably failed economic appeasement. From China’s perspective, she has successfully gifted us a Trojan Horse... For too long, China has had a strategy for dealing with us, while we have had no strategy for dealing with China. We must urgently pivot our strategic relationship, one that entails assuming that China is in a Cold War with us already, and ends our current naivety.We must minimise our total global supply-chain dependency on China, or any one nation for that matter. Trade with China, yes, but we must ringfence critical infrastructure: nuclear, telecoms and natural resources such as steel.  As recent politicisation of the WHO highlights, the post-war international community — supposedly governed by the UN — is no longer serving its purpose, and perhaps more than ever the UN faces a crisis in moral authority. Instead, NATO-style, we must reorder our strategic and military alliances around the Pacific and build an international consensus against the broader expansionist desire of the Chinese Communist Party"

Suspicions Grow in South Korea Over China’s Online Influence Operations - "In February, one post caught the eyes of online users in South Korea. The uploader, who claimed to be a Korean Chinese, said Chinese “agents” were playing a major role in manipulating online opinion and disseminating pro-government and pro-China content to encourage social division among South Koreans with different political views. One of strategies is to flock to online communities with ongoing debates to promote ideas that could cause further friction among users, according to the post uploader, who claimed that the Chinese government is behind the operation.In response, some online users conducted an experiment. They threw out “bait” by creating a fake online debate. They posted in prominent online communities in South Korea a link supposedly connected to a discussion board where the debate is happening. Instead, however, the link went to websites that are banned in China, such as Free Tibet or Free Hong Kong.The idea behind this experiment was to catch Chinese people who pretend to be South Korean online users, since such websites are heavily censored in China.The result was bizarre but interesting. A massive number of active online users who clicked the link began to give the same response. They all left a comment to say, “I am an individual” in Korean. That reaction raised further questions among South Korean online users. The phrase “I am an individual” sounds unnatural in Korean language and is not commonly used in the South.Some theorized that it was a way for Chinese people to express that they are not associated with websites banned in China. They left such a comment to prove that they were tricked into connecting to those websites, and it was against their intention... He also cited media reports that raised suspicion over China’s online influence operations in foreign countries, saying that there is no guarantee South Korea could be an exception.For instance, the Sydney Morning Herald reported in November last year that the Chinese government was seeking to “take over” Australia’s political system through its “insidious” foreign interference operations.At the time, the paper quoted former intelligence chief Duncan Lewis as saying that the Chinese government was trying to place themselves in a position of advantage through such operations. He added that Chinese authorities were working to win influence in social, business, and media circles as well as targeting politicians.Back in 2015, Hong Kong-based daily Ming Pao also reported that China was recruiting “online agents” who specialized in online opinion-rigging activities, adding that there were about 10 million of them, including 4 million university students."

Chinese Agents Helped Spread Messages That Sowed Virus Panic in U.S., Officials Say - The New York Times - "The alarming messages came fast and furious in mid-March, popping up on the cellphone screens and social media feeds of millions of Americans grappling with the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.Spread the word, the messages said: The Trump administration was about to lock down the entire country... Chinese operatives helped push the messages across platforms... The amplification techniques are alarming to officials because the disinformation showed up as texts on many Americans’ cellphones, a tactic that several of the officials said they had not seen before... Chinese agents also appear to be using texts and encrypted messaging apps as part of their campaigns. It is much harder for researchers and law enforcement officers to track disinformation spread through text messages and encrypted apps than on social media platforms... The propaganda efforts go beyond text messages and social media posts directed at Americans. In China, top officials have issued directives to agencies to engage in a global disinformation campaign around the virus... Some American intelligence officers are especially concerned about disinformation aimed at Europeans that pro-China actors appear to have helped spread. The messages stress the idea of disunity among European nations during the crisis and praise China’s “donation diplomacy,” American officials said. Left unmentioned are reports of Chinese companies delivering shoddy equipment and European leaders expressing skepticism over China’s handling of its outbreak."

Chinese Hackers Attacked Foreign Health Care, Military, Oil Networks as Coronavirus Hit China - "As the coronavirus epidemic reached crisis level in Wuhan, China, in January, a known group of state-backed cyber hackers launched attacks at healthcare companies and other key industries outside the country... there was a dropoff in the group’s cyberattacks five days later, around the Chinese New Year, which occurred on Jan. 25, which is common among China-based threat groups"

Exclusive: Internal Chinese report warns Beijing faces Tiananmen-like global backlash over virus - "An internal Chinese report warns that Beijing faces a rising wave of hostility in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak that could tip relations with the United States into confrontation... The report, presented early last month by the Ministry of State Security to top Beijing leaders including President Xi Jinping, concluded that global anti-China sentiment is at its highest since the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown... The report was drawn up by the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations (CICIR), a think tank affiliated with the Ministry of State Security, China’s top intelligence body... the presentation of the report shows how seriously Beijing takes the threat of a building backlash that could threaten what China sees as its strategic investments overseas and its view of its security standing... anti-China sentiment sparked by the coronavirus could fuel resistance to China’s Belt and Road infrastructure investment projects, and that Washington could step up financial and military support for regional allies, making the security situation in Asia more volatile"

Hong Kong’s autonomy, dying in full view - "Hong Kong’s Basic Law, the mini-constitution that has regulated China’s relations with the city for 23 years, says that ‘no department of the Central People’s Government … may interfere in the affairs’ of Hong Kong. The clear principle of non-interference was never in dispute, until now.In a stunning turn on 17 April, Beijing’s Liaison Office in Hong Kong issued a broad new interpretation, saying that it and the companion Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office in Beijing ‘most definitely’ had the right to get involved in local issues, including commenting on political disputes. The liaison office said it was ‘authorised by the central authorities to handle Hong Kong affairs’. In other words, the principle of non-interference no longer applies.Even more shocking for many residents, their China-appointed leaders agreed... This change came after the liaison office warned that elected opposition lawmaker Dennis Kwok of the Civic Party was abusing his office by filibustering the appointment of a key committee chair to vet government-proposed bills. The filibuster has for centuries given minority politicians some sway over decision-making. Beijing sees it as a weapon for political subversion.In further evidence that autonomy is now effectively dead, top Hong Kong judges complained about mainland interference in judicial affairs after the Chinese state-run media warned them not to ‘absolve’ protesters. And pro-Beijing voices have begun referring to the protests as ‘terrorism’. The new, hardline head of the liaison office, Luo Huining, said on 15 April that Hong Kong needed to quickly pass a long-stalled law against subversion that would give police sweeping new powers. Early on 18 April, 15 prominent opposition figures and pro-democracy leaders were arrested, purportedly for their roles in ‘unauthorised protests’ in August and October. They included media tycoon Jimmy Lai Chee-ying, whose newspaper, Apple Daily, is the most openly pro-democracy, and 81-year-old lawyer Martin Lee, a former head of the Democratic Party known as the ‘father of democracy’. The timing, as the liaison office stepped up attacks, appeared suspicious... Beijing and the local government appear to be using the coronavirus ‘lull’ to clear the decks, hoping to prevent another landslide defeat. They may seek to pass the anti-subversion law before losing control of the legislature.In the process, they have shown that they’re willing to forgo what’s left of the idea of Hong Kong as an autonomous city... Everyone observing the transition knew Beijing’s leaders wouldn’t be able to refrain from meddling for that long. Hong Kong, after all, was anathema to China’s communists, who prize obedience and control while crushing dissent.The experiment has ended quickly... The 2015 booksellers case, in which five members of a local publishing house were kidnapped by Chinese agents, showed that mainland security officials were willing to breach local autonomy to snatch someone they considered a threat.Then came the unprecedented de facto expulsion of Financial Times journalist Victor Mallet, who was denied a visa to work in Hong Kong, out of retribution for a luncheon talk at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club by a local pro-independence activist, which infuriated Beijing.Since then, Hong Kong immigration authorities appear to have weaponised the right to deny entry in order to enforce mainland political priorities, a common practice in China but one unheard of in Hong Kong. This shift was underlined in March when Beijing expelled American journalists from the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Washington Post, and then stipulated that they wouldn’t be allowed to work in Hong Kong.For decades, journalists forced to leave China have found Hong Kong a safe haven.The Hong Kong government refused to comment on immigration matters, saying only that cases were decided ‘in accordance with the law’... The death of Hong Kong is happening in plain sight, if anyone is paying attention."

Hong Kong government capitulates to Beijing office - "The Liaison Office, too, denounced pan-democratic legislators for “malicious filibustering” and especially Dennis Kwok of the Civic Party, who has been chairing the committee for the election of a new chairman.Mr Kwok said that everything he did was consistent with the legislature’s rules. Pan-democrats argued that the election of a committee chairman was a Hong Kong internal affair and the Liaison Office should not interfere, as stipulated in Article 22 of the Basic Law. This provides that “No department of the Central People’s Government … may interfere in the affairs which the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region administers on its own in accordance with this law.”... the government ostensibly set up to run a highly autonomous Hong Kong ended up agreeing that Beijing’s office enjoys a virtually unrestricted right to intervene in local affairs. If that office is going to run Hong Kong, what is left for Chief Executive Carrie Lam to do besides carrying out orders?"

Exclusive: Beijing completely broke their promise on Hong Kong, says veteran democrat Martin Lee - ""At the time Beijing was worried that people would all leave.  To win their hearts, it (promised to allow) Hong Kong people to rule Hong Kong and to have a high degree of autonomy,” reminisced Martin Lee, the founding chairman of the Democratic Party and senior counsel, in an interview before his arrest... In stark contrast with the current strained Hong Kong-China relationship, there was a high level of trust between Hong Kong and China at the time.  Lee described his time drafting the Basic Law from 1985 to 1989 as a “very happy” time, until he quit in protest following Beijing’s 1989 crackdown on the Tiananmen pro-democracy movement.“There was mutual trust at the time – Hong Kong people trusted the Chinese government,” said 81-year-old Lee. “We hoped they would abide by this international agreement. We put all our hopes in the Basic Law and hoped it would safeguard everything over the next 50 years.”... Lee said one of the biggest blows to the Basic Law came in June, 2014 on the 30th anniversary of the Joint Declaration, when a Beijing policy white paper asserted that the Chinese government had “comprehensive jurisdiction” over Hong Kong and the city’s “high degree of autonomy… comes solely from the authorisation by the central leadership.”“This was totally different from what they said before,” Lee said. “They were now saying very clearly that the Party would rule Hong Kong, not Hong Kong people ruling Hong Kong. So we have to do whatever they tell us. This has completely broken their promise.”Basic Law articles 45 and 68 state that the Chief Executive and members of the Legislative Council should be elected through universal suffrage and article 22 says the mainland government cannot interfere in affairs in Hong Kong. China rejected the election of the chief executive and legislators by universal suffrage in 2007 and 2008. In August 2014, the National People’s Congress Standing Committee ruled that Hong Kong voters could only elect its top leader by “universal suffrage” from two or three candidates endorsed by the majority of a 1,200-strong largely pro-Beijing nominating committee. Lee sees the landmark ruling as a violation of the two elements most crucial for the success of the “one country two systems” policy: universal suffrage and prohibiting Chinese government interference in Hong Kong affairs.“‘One country two systems’ has not materialised even for one day.  They said all along that Hongkongers would be their own masters so why won’t they give people rights to elect?”... China’s Liaison Office in Hong Kong declared on Friday that it is not subject to Basic Law restrictions in article 22 that bar central government departments from interfering in local affairs – insisting it has the right to comment on Hong Kong matters... “The Communist Party is fully in charge and they give however much freedom they want to give and can take it away any time they like,” Lee said. “They want a goose that lays the golden eggs but they can’t tolerate it if the goose doesn’t obey them.”“This is not a long term solution.”... Did Lee foresee while drafting the Basic Law in the 80s that the Communist Party – with its authoritarian history – would refuse to grant genuine democracy to Hong Kong and frustrations would snowball into the current political crisis?Lee said the Basic Law was created precisely to address that uncertainty, knowing that the “one country two systems” policy would be difficult to implement. “It was a solution where there was no solution,” said Lee.“We hoped it wouldn’t come to this. You can’t say I believe the Communist Party and things would be okay. That’s why we had to put these [guarantees] in legal language in the Basic Law”... “It’s very upsetting, and the saddest part is that China is such a big country – how can you renege on your promises, telling the whole world that the Chinese government, the world’s second largest economy, is not to be trusted?”... “Violence is not a solution.  Foreign countries can only support us when there is no violence,” he said, stressing that the international community has a duty towards upholding the Basic Law as the Joint Declaration was a legally-binding treaty registered with the United Nations... Today, Lee’s name is nowhere to be seen in official documents that celebrate the Basic Law.  He was not invited to an online seminar organised by Beijing to mark the 30th anniversary of the promulgation of the Basic Law.  There was no mention of him in a Hong Kong government promotional video which featured only pro-government figures."

Thursday, July 23, 2020

Links - 23rd July 2020 (2) (George Pell acquittal, The complications of VAT)

George Pell: Court quashes cardinal's sexual abuse convictions - "Cardinal George Pell has been freed from jail after Australia's highest court overturned his convictions for child sexual abuse.The ex-Vatican treasurer, 78, was the most senior Catholic figure ever jailed for such crimes.In 2018, a jury found he abused two boys in Melbourne in the 1990s... A full bench of seven judges ruled unanimously in Cardinal Pell's favour, finding that the jury had not properly considered all the evidence presented at the trial."I see many people upset about this. Anti-catholic and anti-"pedo" sentiment combine to make Pell a perfect villain, regardles of the facts of the case

Details of Cardinal Pell's trial have emerged, after a guilty verdict - "Only one of the alleged victims was present in court to give evidence against Pell. The other alleged victim, according a 2017 report from The Australian newspaper The Age, died of a drug overdose in 2014.Before his death, the deceased man reportedly told his mother at least twice that he had not been a victim of sexual abuse. The other former choir member reportedly told the deceased man’s mother only after the man died that both had been abused by Pell... According to the prosecution, Pell and the choir members “went missing” from a recessional procession at the end of a Mass celebrated by the archbishop. Pell is alleged to have abused the choristers somewhere within the cathedral sacristy immediately following that Mass... In June 2017, a priest who says he was with the archbishop every time Pell celebrated Mass at Melbourne’s cathedral was questioned by police about a timeframe that seems to match the one identified by prosecutors. The priest told police that there was no occasion when Pell would have been alone with choir members. “At no time before, during or after Mass was the Archbishop in direct contact with anyone except that I was present,’’ the priest said, according to The Australian. “I was always standing next to him and usually at an arm’s length away.’’... Melbourne’s cathedral was undergoing restoration work at the time of his installation in August 1996, which prevented Pell from being installed in the cathedral building itself or from regularly celebrating Mass there for several weeks.In fact, during the pre-trial committal hearing in March 2018, records were produced showing that during the period between August and December 1996, Pell only celebrated the cathedral’s 10:30 Sunday Mass twice.According to a source present for the pre-trial hearing, on both of the occasions on which Pell celebrated the cathedral’s 10:30 Mass during the designated period, the choir held practices for the taping of a Christmas performance immediately following the 10:30 Mass, when the absence of two choristers would have been immediately noticed.Cathedral and choir leaders and former members testified at the pre-trial hearing that choir leaders kept a close eye on the children and would have noticed if any slipped away. Former choir director Peter Finigan testified at the committal hearing that while it would have been possible for two choir members to break from their group, he did not remember that it had ever happened... a pastoral associate at the cathedral, Rodney Dearing, told the court that Pell required help to remove his vestments after every Mass, and it would have been nearly impossible for the archbishop to expose his genitals while fully vested, or to commit other sexual acts in the vestments.Dearing also told Victoria police that the layout of the cathedral did not align with the accusations... the court heard witness testimony that Pell had been with guests immediately following Mass on one of the two Sundays. Sources close to the trial underscored to CNA that cases of sexual abuse often rely on the persuasive testimony of the victims, and that due to the nature of sexual abuse crimes, corroborating evidence is difficult to present. In such cases, the relative reliability of the victims can be a crucial factor. During Pell’s trial, the judge reportedly excluded both the prosecution and the defense from disclosing to the jury or discussing in court anything which could bear upon the credibility of the accuser. The Melbourne trial began in June, ending first in a hung jury and a mistrial, with jurors reportedly siding 10-2 in favor of Pell’s innocence. A second hearing with a new jury began in November, delivering a unanimous conviction...Prior to the institution of the gag order, questions were raised by Australian media and legal figures about the possibility that jury pools could be tainted by years of negative coverage of Pell.In other Australian states, high-profile cases like Pell’s have the option of being tried by a judge only, without a jury, called a bench trial. Victoria, where Pell is on trial, is one of the only jurisdictions in Australia not to have this option."

Dallas Beaufort - "In the 1980s and early ’90s, I say without the slightest hesitation that these allegations would have been given short shrift by competent, experienced Crown Prosecutors. They lack any corroboration, are fanciful beyond rational belief and contain within them internal inconsistencies of an irreconcilable nature as to time, Opportunity, practicality, place and circumstance. To contemplate that approximately twenty years after the alleged offending, a complainant came forward following an advertisement by the police about St Patrick’s Cathedral defies every tenet of the maintenance of purity in the criminal justice system. That unprecedented process aligned the police with complainants whereas they must have a degree of separation in order to afford fair trials. In advance of this debacle, in my legal experience: a political change developed in the late ’80s and has continued up to this date when it comes to allegations of a sexual nature. Certain mandatory common law judicial directions, seen as protections for a fair trial, such as warning the jury that, “… it’s dangerous to convict on the uncorroborated evidence of a complainant”, that “allegations of a sexual nature are the easiest to make and the hardest to refute”, and “… in complaints Of a sexual nature experience has shown that complaints are sometimes made for a reason and other times for no reason at all, which is why the evidence of a complainant must be carefully scrutinised …” and the importance of “fresh complaint” (absent in most cases these days) have been abrogated by Statute. This despite the fact that due to the introduction of State-sponsored criminal compensation schemes (let alone church compensation packages and extending limitation periods for civil actions), there are in modern times reasons of a financial nature that could prompt the making of such complaints... I found in the ’90s and thereafter defending clients, predominantly, though not entirely, men accused of historical sex offences, had morphed into an inversion of the venerable onus of proof and thereby debrided the standard of prove required. Thus, when a trial started and the Crown opened, my client had an evidentiary onus to rebut a presumption that had arisen that he was guilty despite every warning to the contrary. (viz. “all complainants must be believed”.) Then, if he wasn’t a good witness, as most defendants, even competent lawyers, aren’t, it became a ‚toss-up, “who do we believe”‚ scenario rather than, “if there is any doubt whatsoever, that is if, having weighed the evidence, you as a jury retain a reasonable doubt, your absolute duty is to acquit”.

Budget 2012: Greggs sausage rolls to be hit - "Currently, most hot takeaway food such as meals bought from a restaurant or fish and chip shop are subject to VAT. However, a small number of items have managed to avoid the tax, including rotisserie chickens sold in supermarkets and sausage rolls and hot bakes sold by some outlets, notably Greggs.In the Budget it was announced that: "VAT will also apply, to the extent that it does not already do so, to the sale of hot food, cold food consumed on the supplier’s premises, sports drinks and holiday caravans, and to the rental of hairdressers’ chairs. This will have effect from 1 October 2012."Greggs, which has more outlets in Britain than any other takeaway company, sells 140m sausage rolls every year. It has successfully argued – following a lengthy and complex VAT tribunal – that the products are baked in store, and just happen to be hot. As a result its hot pastry products have been free of VAT. A source at the Treasury said: "We want to remove all these anomalies. This is a big step towards simplifying the VAT system." They added that anything that a normal consumer would consider hot, would be deemed by the Treasury to be so and subject to the tax. Most tax experts believe the definition of "hot" is above room temperature... Other companies affected by the VAT simplification are many of the self-storage companies, such as Big Yellow and Access, which do not charge VAT to their customers, under rules which allow them to be classified them as property companies... Static caravans, an their more upmarket versions such as "log cabins" have for many years being zero rated, while their wheeled versions have been subject to VAT. The static versions will now be hit by the full rate of VAT."
VAT exemptions are politically popular, but lead to this sort of rubbish, which raises compliance costs. At least the confusion is transparent to the consumer though

Budget 2012: Sausage roll VAT row turns unsavoury - "It is the not the first time that food has fallen foul of the taxman. In the 'biscuit tax wars', McVitie's won a lengthy legal fight to have Jaffa cakes reclassified as cakes rather than chocolate-covered biscuits."

Catering, takeaway food (VAT Notice 709/1) - GOV.UK - "If you supply food that your customers must prepare themselves before it can be consumed, this is not a supply in the course of catering. This will apply whether the food is delivered to, or collected by, your customers... For these purposes, ‘preparation’ includes:
thawing frozen food
cooking food
reheating pre-cooked food
arranging food on serving plates...
If you make a service charge, it’s standard-rated. But if the customer freely gives a tip above your total charge, no VAT is due on the tip...
Certain supplies of education, training and research are exempt from VAT. Where an educational institution provides exempt education to its own pupils and students, then the supply of catering they make is also exempt... You must account for VAT on supplies of catering to staff and visitors (except visiting students)... You must always charge VAT at the standard rate if you make a supply of food and drink for consumption on the premises that it’s supplied in... ‘premises’ are the areas occupied by the retailer or, any area set aside for the consumption of food by the food retailers’ customers, whether or not the area may also be used by the customers of other food retailers... The definition of premises does not include areas with tables and chairs provided for general use by members of the public who are not customers of one or more food retailer... Where you make sales of cold food to be taken away from your premises, but also have on-site facilities where food can be consumed, you’ll need to apportion your sales of cold food between those consumed on the premises (standard-rated) and those taken-away (zero-rated).If you are unable to ascertain the correct liability at the point of sale, see paragraph 5.6, you must keep satisfactory evidence to support a fair and reasonable apportionment...
The sale of food is standard-rated if the food (or any part of it) is hot at the time that it’s provided to the customer (the precondition), and one or more of the following 5 tests are satisfied, it’s:
been heated for the purposes of enabling it to be consumed hot
been heated to order
been kept hot after being heated
provided to a customer in packaging that retains heat (whether or not the packaging was primarily designed for that purpose) or in any other packaging that is specifically designed for hot food
advertised or marketed in a way that indicates that it’s supplied hot...
If you sell food to be taken away for consumption elsewhere, but you make a microwave oven available for your customers to heat up the food, either before or after the till point, you’re making a supply of hot food which must be standard-rated. This is the case whether or not you make a charge for the use of the oven... If you sell a mixture of standard-rated and zero-rated items for an inclusive price for consumption off the premises, you’ll have to work out the tax value of each item in order to calculate how much VAT is due on the standard-rated item. You can do this on the basis of cost or market values"

Food products (VAT Notice 701/14) - GOV.UK - "Vegetable oils, maize (corn), rapeseed, groundnut (arachis), olive (including olive oil BP), almond (but not bitter almond oil), sesame seed, sunflower seed, palm kernel, walnut, soya and blends of these
Zero rate
Even if they’re used as massage or cosmetic oils, provided they’re of a type and grade suitable for culinary purposes, and they don’t contain any substance, such as perfume, that would make them unsuitable for culinary use...
Monosodium glutamate
Standard rate
Not a food product in its own right...
Although most traditional bakery products, such as bread, biscuits and cakes, are zero rated, some confectionery is standard rated including:
biscuits wholly or partly covered in chocolate (or some product similar in taste and appearance)
any item of sweetened prepared food, other than cakes and non-chocolate biscuits, which is normally eaten with the fingers...
Flapjacks - Zero rated
Cereal, muesli and similar sweet tasting bars - Standard rated"

The Cognitive Dissonance of TDS: A Case Study

Here is an example of the cognitive dissonance of people with Trump Derangement Syndrome and their post-truth attitudes and how fast the hamster wheel spins.

NPR: "President Trump downplayed the danger of the coronavirus, claiming in an interview that many cases are simply people who "have the sniffles.""
(even ignoring the fact that "A majority of people with COVID-19 are expected to have relatively “mild” symptoms that resolve at home", so the premise is already wrong)

Jean Krause: So Donny has zero empathy or sympathy for the he people who's loved ones have died, or for the people that are fighting for their lives in the ICUs of hospitals, and I have never heard him mention one word honoring the super hero hospital staffs that care for the sick ! He must've forgotten that they ALL vote. Donald Trump disgusts me.

Lori Hadlock: Jean Krause trump is devoid of any emotions. And he is the epitome of a sociopath

Wanda Bryant: Jean Krause sociopaths are incapable of emphaty

Carol Clarke: Jean Krause you’re not the only one he disgusts, believe me. Can’t stand the orange squattoad!

Susan Sparkman: Yes Jean you are absolutely correct.
He just does not have those abilities. Every ounce of energy must be focused on himself. Exhausting; he sucks up all the oxygen in the room, and NO, even in pandemic, he can’t bring himself to share any!

Jodie Anne Huntley: 45 is incapable of empathy or sympathy.

Me: Donald Trump grateful to health workers for Covid-19 fight: White House - world news - Hindustan Times

US president Donald Trump is tremendously grateful to all the doctors, nurses and healthcare professionals, including Indian-Americans, who have selflessly risen to the occasion to combat the coronavirus pandemic, the White House has said.

Dean Love: “The White House said”? So he doesn’t say it in a speech, but they release a press release saying he is grateful. They are trying to cover for his lack of empathy by putting words in his mouth. Pitiful.

Renee Michele: is this a joke? He doesn't care about anything.

Arnold Ho: Lori Hadlock He exhibits alot of narcissistic tendencies. In a graph, sociopathic tendencies overlap with narcissistic tendencies.

Me: Dean Love I look forward to seeing how you dismiss this

Remarks by President Trump and Vice President Pence in a Briefing with Nurses on COVID-19 Response | The White House

"today I welcome the great nurses of our country to the White House and express our gratitude for those on the frontlines in our war against the global pandemic."

Dean Love: Wow he can read a teleprompter! I was sure he couldn’t read! He next said it would go away fast, that was in March. How can you actually try to defend this embarrassment in the WH? 🥴

Me: Dean Love I guess facts don't matter

Dean Love: Oh well that explains it, they matter to me. 😆

Gaye Horn: yeah after he got called out this called damage control..

Me: "Issued on: March 18, 2020"

Carol Clarke: Hindustan Times?? Really?

Me: Hindustan Times - Wikipedia

"Hindustan Times is an Indian English-language daily newspaper.[2] Inaugurated by Mahatma Gandhi in 1924, it played integral roles in the Indian independence movement"

Carol Clarke: ok but couldn’t you find a news source a bit closer to home? Or do you live in India?

Jim Kehoe: Hindustantimes? That's your source?

Me: Jim Kehoe I like how fake news started out as just fox. Isn't it racist to discount a brown publication from a brown country?

Carol Clarke I don't live in the US either. Isn't it natural Indian media would be interested in news pertaining to Indian Americans? There're other Indian sources which reported this. Why does the geographical location of the news source matter?

Jim Kehoe: If that's the only source, then it is suspect.

Charlotte Parker Perkins: they hear what they want to hear!

Me: Jim Kehoe

I don't know if this will change your mind, but here are some other sources

Trump grateful to healthcare workers, including Indian-Americans, for combating Covid-19: White House - Times of India
Trump grateful to healthcare workers, including Indian-Americans, for battle against COVID-19: White House - Connected To India

Lori Ellen: That article is sheer comedy! His press secretary said he was grateful. We all know that his press secretaries all lie for him, or risk being out of a job.

Jim Kehoe: So you cite 2 indian sources. Show me where Fox, CBS, NBC, NPR, ABC, NYT, WAPO or any US news source says this.

Ann Williams: He said in the same interview that he wouldn’t honor the vote if he loses.

Charlotte Parker Perkins: Ann Williams the interview I heard he said “if I lose I will go back to my life.”

Me: Charlotte Parker Perkins 2016:

"I'm not sure you're ever going to see me there. I don't think I'm going to lose, but if I do, I don't think you're ever going to see me again, folks. I think I'll go to Turnberry and play golf or something."


""Certainly, if I don't win, I don't win." The president added he would "go on, do other things.""

Ann Williams

Jim Kehoe: Charlotte Parker Perkins Even if he did say it. After 4 years of a baffling amount of dishonesty, which has been cited on every news source (left and right), you would believe him? I feel sorry for you. I have a bridge in Brooklyn for sale if you're interested.

Me: Jim Kehoe I'm sure you believe whatever he says if it makes him look bad

Links - 23rd July 2020 (1)

Wyatt Huey Long
Political compass: "Boot licker!" x4 (probably Stonetoss comic)

NHS spending data: necessary spend per person is falling and demand cannot be met as a result - "This looks like a steady increase, but it is not population adjusted... the data does not tell the whole story. The figures are in 2017/18 prices but that's adjusted by normal inflation. However, as the Institute of Actuaries have noted (and they're good with numbers)  medical inflation is higher than CPI... The number of expensive people in the population is growing: averaging by head doesn't give a true picture in that case... the right wing ideologues who have deliberately created this situation argue that all is well as absolute spend is rising. That reveals either remarkable economic illiteracy, or remarkable indifference, or both, on their parts. But however looked at the data also shows that they are wrong. And that's why it's worth noting."
i.e. While the NHS budget rose, once you account first for population growth, then for medical inflation and an ageing population, real spending per person fell

Canadian unlimited data plans ranked first among G7 countries: report - "unlimited data plans in Canada are actually a huge boost for people across the nation because they eliminate overage fees and bring up data consumption.Canada is in a particularly strong position among other G7 countries regarding PwC ranking it as the number one unlimited data offering considering its analysis across speed, latency, the price per GB and access.PwC finds that the Canadian plans from Bell, Rogers and Telus are expected to reduce overage fees by 80 percent by the end of 2020, increase subscribers’ overall data usage, increase overall data affordability by six percent and reduce the average price per gigabyte by 50 percent compared to 2018...
users with unlimited data plans watch a lot more video on their mobile devices. When the U.S. began offering data plans a few years ago, people generally used 89 percent of their unlimited data for watching videos. In Canada, Netflix and YouTube are the most popular video streaming platforms."
I wonder if they accounted for selection bias - those who switched to unlimited data are more likely to use a lot of it

Daily chart - Who are the biggest bullshitters? | Graphic detail | The Economist - "Bluffers seem to be everywhere: the share of Americans who believe that most people can be trusted has fallen from 48% in 1984 to just 31% today.A new study of the phenomenon has found that North America is especially prone to speaking bull... Canadian and American teenagers were especially likely to profess knowledge of these bogus topics, whereas the Scots and Irish were perfectly happy to admit their ignorance. In news that will shock nobody, in every country men claimed to be experts more often than women. The rich were more boastful than the poor. More surprising was the finding that immigrants were generally more likely to bluff about maths than native students were... blaggers over-estimated their own knowledge. They also tended to rate themselves highly when it came to gauging their own popularity, perseverance on academic tasks and problem-solving ability. The data suggest that they might not be consciously lying, but instead be weaving their own fantasies."
Interestingly Canadians were bigger bullshitters than Americans
Sadly this study was only carried out in the UK, Australia and New Zealand and North America

The economics of self-service checkouts - "it isn’t clear that self-service is an easy win for businesses.Self-checkouts aren’t necessarily faster than other checkouts and don’t result in lower staff numbers. And there are indirect costs such as theft, reduced customer satisfaction and loyalty... Wages represent around 9.5% of supermarket revenue in Australia, and reducing wages is one of the reasons proposed for the uptake of self-checkout.But from a business perspective, moving from “staffed” checkouts to self-serve machines isn’t cheap. A typical setup costs around US$125,000. On top of that there are the costs of integrating the machines with the technology already in place – the software and other systems used to track inventory and sales – and the ongoing costs of breakdowns and maintenance.But the biggest direct cost to retailers of adopting self-service checkouts is theft. Retail crime in Australia costs the industry over A$4.5 billion each year... everyday customers – those who would not normally steal by any other means – disproportionately steal at self-checkouts.Studies also show that having a human presence around – in this case employees in the self-checkout area – increases the perceived risk of being caught, which reduces “consumer deviance”. This is why retailers have been adding staff to monitor customers, absorbing the additional losses, or passing them on to customers in an “honesty tax”... people are less likely to steal from a human employee than an inanimate object. This is not only because they are more likely to get caught, but because they feel bad about it.On the other hand, consumers have plenty of justifications to excuse self-checkout theft, which is leading to its normalisation."

Supermarket self-checkout service quality, customer satisfaction, and loyalty: Empirical evidence from an emerging market - "SCS service quality positively influences loyalty through the customer satisfaction path"

An LAPD officer accidentally filmed himself putting cocaine in a suspect’s wallet - "Previously, Baltimore police officers were caught doing this — twice. That led the local prosecutor to drop dozens of cases involving the officers."
The "All Cops Are Bastards" group seems to have a high overlap with the "stereotypes are bad" group

'Epstein didn't kill himself' float rolls through Mardi Gras parade in New Orleans - "A third sign also named several other celebrities, including President Donald Trump, Kevin Spacey and Alec Baldwin.There were other signs on the float that read,'I'm as innocent as OJ,' and 'Sorry Mum', which is believed to have alluded to Prince Andrew."

UK to close door to non-English speakers and unskilled workers - "Labour’s shadow home secretary, Diane Abbott, said the demand for immigrants to speak English was “dog-whistle stuff”.“Most people who come here to work can already speak English,” she said. “But are we really going to block maths geniuses whose English isn’t great? It’s inhumane and damaging.”"
Apparently Australia and Canada are racist countries

Vice Media Raised Money at a Sky-High Valuation. Now the Bill Is Coming Due. - WSJ - "Vice, by far the largest new-media company, has struggled to turn a profit. It lost about $50 million last year, people familiar with its financials say. The company was targeting revenue of $650 million in 2019 but brought in roughly $600 million... Instead of growing, Vice’s revenue shrank and its losses mounted. In 2018, rather than become profitable, the company lost more than $150 million"
Get woke, go broke

America’s Hottest New Dating Sites: Business School Campuses - WSJ - "“I teach how to work well as a team, manage conflicts, solve problems,” he said, “and that’s what marriage is all about.”

Why Are College Students So Afraid of Me? - WSJ - "Few things upset American college students more than being told they aren’t oppressed. I recently spoke at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Mass. I argued that American undergraduates are among the most privileged individuals in history by virtue of their unfettered access to knowledge. Far from being discriminated against, students are surrounded by well-meaning faculty who want all of them to succeed... The protesters drowned out my response before filing slowly out of the room, still loudly announcing their victimhood and leaving dozens of seats empty that could have been filled by students who had been turned away for lack of space. (The protesters had hoped to occupy the entire auditorium before vacating it, so no one else could hear me speak)... a senior claimed that I came to Holy Cross to “discredit, humiliate, and deny the existence of minority students.” In fact, I came to urge the entire student body to seize their boundless opportunities for learning with joy and gratitude.The maudlin self-pity on display at Holy Cross doesn’t arise spontaneously. It is actively cultivated by adults on campus... faculty and administrators at Bucknell University in Lewisburg, Pa., convened a therapeutic “scholars” panel to take place during another talk of mine. The goal was to inoculate the university against the violence that I allegedly represented... Students and faculty were then invited to join in painting “self-care” rocks.This craft activity, in which participants write feel-good messages on stones, was originally designed for K-5 classrooms. It may not be what parents paying Bucknell’s $72,000 annual tuition and fees had in mind... The interim associate provost for diversity, equity, and inclusion said that the administration’s willingness to let my talk proceed shows that it values free speech more than the community’s trauma... student journalists had claimed that “‘free speech’” merely amplifies “hate speech,” and that hate speech such as mine was intended to “attack students of color” and “survivors of sexual assault.” An English professor cheered them on. The Bucknell Faculty and Staff of Color Working Group urged colleagues to support those whose “first-hand experiences with injustice” at Bucknell were “invalidated and perpetuated” by my arguments.Bucknell’s Democratic Socialists of America organized a protest at which participants—in between chants of “Hey hey! Ho Ho! Heather Mac has got to go!” and “No justice! No peace!”—were encouraged to share their personal experiences of injustice at Bucknell. Sadly, there is no available record of what the protesters came up with. Students who can be persuaded to see oppression on an American college campus—where traits that still lead to ostracism and even death outside the West are not just tolerated but celebrated—can be persuaded to see oppression anywhere. The claim that American universities, and the U.S. in general, are defined by white supremacy is the one unifying idea on college campuses today, in the absence of a shared curriculum dedicated to civilization’s greatest works. And that idea is spreading. School systems across the country are training teachers and administrators that colorblind standards and the work ethic are instruments of white privilege. Any private institution without proportional representation of minorities and females is vulnerable to attack, since bigotry is the only allowable explanation for the lack of sex and race “diversity.” The promiscuous labeling of disagreement as hate speech and the equation of such speech with violence will gain traction in the public arena, as college graduates take more positions of power. The former managing editor of Time has already advocated in the Washington Post for allowing states to define and penalize hate speech; potential censors wait in the wings.Certain ideas are now taboo in the academy—above all, the idea that behavior and culture better explain socioeconomic disparities in the U.S. than bigotry. A Bucknell student protester claimed that my sin is to force “this elementary conversation about whether structural racism even exists.” Most Americans are eager and ready for a post-racial country. The perpetual invocation of racial oppression on college campuses and beyond, however, keeps race relations fraught."

BBC Radio 4 - Best of Today, Tuesday's business with Dominic O'Connell - "The problem with cutting interest rates is as you said before, you know, you cut interest rates, it’s not going to make me go on a plane, not gonna make me go do anything, spend any money. They really need to think of more targeted measures. More, you know, fiscal policy, interest rates are a waste of time."

Phil Libin - "I was just on a Zoom call that ended automagically after 40 minutes because the organizer was on a free tier. This is the single greatest advance to meeting productivity that I’ve ever seen. Would pay extra for this feature."

Tmastt - Reloaded - Posts - "We no longer go for looks. We go for maturity, stability, loyalty and peace."
"If only you had this mindest before you became a single mom"

70% vs 91% Isopropyl Alcohol: Which Rubbing Alcohol Disinfects Better? - "70 percent alcohol is probably more effective than 91 percent for disinfecting—depending on what kind of germs you’re trying to kill... lower percentages, like 70 percent, have more water in them. Turns out, the water is actually an important ingredient here. Basically, a 90 or 91 percent alcohol solution is too powerful in some cases: It fries the outside of the cell before it can get into the inside and kill the actual germ. 70 percent alcohol is just the right proportion of water and alcohol to zap the entire cell... this rule of thumb only applies when you’re attempting to fend off bacteria. Alcohol’s effectiveness against viruses depends on the unique virus. Viruses with an envelope structure—including the flu virus, the common cold, HIV, and the new coronavirus—can be deactivated by alcohol solutions (like hand sanitizer) of 60 percent or more, while others like norovirus won’t be effectively targeted by any concentration of alcohol. (Hand-washing helps to physically remove every type or virus and bacteria from your hands, and is an important part of any hygiene routine.)... If you’re cutting raw chicken on the counter and want to effectively disinfect the surface to prevent cross-contamination of E. coli and salmonella bacteria, you’d want to opt for 70 percent alcohol. But if you’re trying to disinfect a surface that might have viruses lingering on it—for example, if someone in your house has the flu—any dilution of alcohol will work as long as it’s above the recommended 60 percent.In any case, it’s important to focus on hygiene practices like thorough hand washing (20 seconds of scrubbing each time!) and targeted hygiene (regularly disinfecting high-traffic hand-contact areas in your home, especially if someone sick has touched them)"

BBC Radio 4 - From Our Own Correspondent Podcast, America's Health Insurance Hell - "Chinese media have rolled out positive footage about volunteers in Hubei, helping those who are homeless. The government has sought to assure people that they have a handle on the situation. Anyone who claims otherwise has been punished."

Monday, July 20, 2020

Links - 20th July 2020 (2) (China's 'Peaceful' Rise)

David Paulk 波大卫 on Twitter - "THREAD about how Douyin, the Chinese version of #TikTok, is banning livestreamers for speaking Cantonese instead of Mandarin. 1/"

TikTok Told Moderators: Suppress Posts by the “Ugly” and Poor - "The makers of TikTok, the Chinese video-sharing app with hundreds of millions of users around the world, instructed moderators to suppress posts created by users deemed too ugly, poor, or disabled for the platform, according to internal documents obtained by The Intercept. These same documents show moderators were also told to censor political speech in TikTok livestreams, punishing those who harmed “national honor” or broadcast streams about “state organs such as police” with bans from the platform."

Melissa Chen - "Zoom is looking to be a huge security risk. The company has been caught sharing data with Facebook, lying about end-to-end encryption, and routing data from calls through China.Zoom's software is written in their vast outsourced R&D offices in China.Elon Musk’s SpaceX and New York City's schools have previously banned the use of Zoom. Now Taiwan's Cabinet, in an order today, bans all official use of Zoom.All governments should too but Boris Johnson, just before being hospitalized, used Zoom for a virtual Cabinet meeting. And top officials in India and even the Pentagon are still using Zoom.Expect that whatever you say/show on Zoom is open to Chinese spies (not to mention your face - this is a techno surveillance state).My advice: Don't use Zoom."

Thais Beat China's Online Warriors - "What might at first look like a pointless spat is exposing the weaknesses of China’s propaganda efforts when they cross the firewall.Battles over national honor led by online pop fans are nothing new... Chinese keyboard warriors insulted the Thai king, the Thai prime minister, and dismissed the country as poor and backward.They were surprised to find Thais did not seem to care. In fact, many were exultant to have someone else lend a hand in disparaging their government, which many Thais despise, and even their infamously thuggish king, who is far less popular than his father despite harsh lèse-majesté laws. Soon the hashtag #nnevvy, which now has over 2 million posts, was full of Thai Twitter users making self-deprecating and often hilarious memes about themselves. In response to Chinese taunts of “NMSL,” which means something like “hope your mother dies,” Thais retorted that they have 20 mothers, a reference to the Thai king’s supposed harem. Chinese users were baffled by this, and some attempted to lecture their Thai enemies on the meaning of patriotism... Chinese fans had unearthed one of Weeraya’s Instagram posts from a few years ago in which she had responded “Taiwanese” to a commenter asking what style of clothing she was wearing. This supposed recognition of a separate Taiwan from China was taken as another piece of evidence against Bright. (Chinese media uses absurd politicized circumlocution to avoid admitting the existence of Taiwan.) Thai warriors thus became fevered supporters of the sovereignty of Taiwan and Hong Kong, both of which China claims as its own. Moved by this show of solidarity, netizens from Hong Kong and Taiwan, as well as the Philippines, Malaysia, Vietnam, and other Asian countries that have long-standing anxieties about Chinese territorial bullying, mobilized to join the #nnevvy war. A widely shared meme took a still from the classic anime Sailor Moon and overlaid various Asian flags on each of the magical warriors. The #nnevvy war reflected a growing awareness and resentment outside the firewall, at least in Asia, of how exactly China seeks to influence public discourse. Thai users and their allies referred to their opponents as “wumao,” the word used in China for internet warriors paid by the government (supposedly 50 cents a post, thus the name) to bombard platforms like Weibo with pro-Communist Party comments. In recent years, an increasing number of reports suggest, the Chinese government has been sending wumao over the firewall to post on Twitter—although, as a new investigation by ProPublica finds, the wumao may not be people at all but a collection of algorithms. In fact, the Chinese partisans hopping the firewall to battle Thais were probably spontaneous rather than paid or organized. In the August expedition over the firewall, the keyboard warriors had enjoyed explicit encouragement and support from the Chinese government. But this time the Chinese government seemed to be encouraging netizens to hold back. On Weibo, the hashtag #ThailandInsultsChina mysteriously disappeared from the hot searches bar, and Diba, the Reddit-like forum partially responsible for organizing the August expedition, posted on Weibo explicitly discouraging Chinese from hopping the wall, saying that it would only embolden Hong Kong and Taiwan separatists. Clearly the Chinese censors felt it was a war not worth fighting, especially at a time when the authorities are trying to put out fires on multiple public relations fronts, from the mistreatment of Africans in southern China to the Communist Party’s culpability in spreading the coronavirus to articles claiming Kazakhstan for China. Regardless of the actual authenticity of their opponents, Thais cheerfully enjoyed portraying their opponents as monolithic, insincere, and humorless. One meme showed a computer lab of men in army fatigues all typing “China #1” “Democracy also has problems” “CIA plant” and other staples; another simply changed the stars in the Chinese flag to NMSL. Memes also poked fun at the fact that Chinese have to use a virtual private network, which is illegal in China, to defend their country on most social media platforms. In one cartoon, a group of Chinese keyboard warriors surreptitiously climb over the firewall, yell about China’s superiority at a Thai sipping tea unimpressed, and hurriedly climb back over. Overall, the memes painted a picture of Chinese as simply unequipped to withstand warfare outside of the firewall, having been coddled all their lives by the one-sided ideological bent of the Chinese internet. Some tweets noted Chinese trolls’ poor command of English and uncreative insults. In image after image, Chinese warriors were shown breaking down at the slightest mention of Taiwan’s independence, the Tiananmen Square massacre, or the coronavirus originating from their country... China’s sound defeat in the #nnevvy war did not go unnoticed at home. While the #ThailandInsultsChina hashtag on Weibo was full of the usual outraged nationalism, just as many posts shared the memes from Twitter, praised the Thai sense of humor, and admitted that they contained some truth. Even self-identified patriots denigrated the keyboard warriors’ “uncivilized” tactics. “When you go over the wall to defend our country and all you can say is ‘NMSL,’ who is really shaming China?” one widely shared post asked. Other posters reprimanded their compatriots for being too “glass-hearted” or thin-skinned, noting that “the world has 7 billion people, not every one of them has to love China.”The incident also prompted a degree of self-reflection on Weibo about Chinese internet culture. Many scolded the keyboard warriors for not understanding how online discourse works outside of the firewall, noting that Chinese attempts to report slanderous Thai memes to the Thai government were of no use because the outside internet is not as rigorously monitored as the Chinese internet. (“I guess we really are exporting our values,” one account reflected sarcastically about the reporting attempts.) Moreover, Chinese netizens explained, it was normal for Thais to say whatever they want about their government. Many shared “Prathet Ku Mee,” a popular Thai rap video in which the rappers curse the military government as evidence of this fact. “Only Chinese and North Koreans don’t dare to curse their government”... The self-reflection exercised by ordinary Chinese citizens on Weibo may not make it to the highest levels of the Chinese state. The Chinese government is only becoming more aggressive, and it is investing increasingly in propaganda outside the firewall. But the #nnevvy war shows that no amount of investing in propaganda is effective if not coupled with a sophisticated understanding of the dynamics of the outside internet. It may be time to bring in some meme consultants."

Drew Pavlou on Twitter - "Hey everyone, it is with a heavy heart I inform you The University of Queensland will be considering my expulsion on April 27th before a secret hearing due to my posts criticizing the university’s links to the CCP and supporting Hong Kong."

China asks India to revise new FDI rules, says they violate WTO free trade norms - "India’s new rules for foreign direct investment (FDI) violate WTO principles of non-discrimination and are against free and fair trade, a Chinese embassy spokesperson in New Delhi said"
Of course, if you criticise China for the same you're a brainwashed CIA asset

BBC Radio 4 - From Our Own Correspondent Podcast, America's Health Insurance Hell - "Chinese media have rolled out positive footage about volunteers in Hubei, helping those who are homeless. The government has sought to assure people that they have a handle on the situation. Anyone who claims otherwise has been punished."

All the evidence suggests that China is an untrustworthy partner - "If the definition of madness is doing the same thing over and over again while expecting a different outcome, the West’s policy towards China has for many years been insane... In the midst of a global emergency, this is not the conduct of a responsible regime. But it is consistent with the actions of a state that breaks international laws and norms as a matter of policy. For while Brussels seems willing to have its silence bought by investment and trade with China, and many British advocates of “operation kowtow” stick quietly to their guns, too, an examination of Beijing’s behaviour in international institutions tells us that China cannot be considered a trustworthy partner. Take the WHO. In 2007, after the first SARS outbreak, the WHO introduced new International Health Regulations. These regulations – to which China signed up – require countries to “notify WHO … within 24 hours … of all events which may constitute a public health emergency of international concern within its territory”. And once notified, the regulations demand that countries “continue to communicate to WHO timely, accurate and sufficiently detailed health information” including test results and the number of cases and deaths. China failed to comply with these regulations – quite deliberately – and yet the WHO has remained silent. Perhaps this is because of the loyalties of its director general. China orchestrated the election of Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus to run the WHO in 2017. Under Tedros, who as Ethiopia’s health minister was accused of covering up cholera epidemics, the WHO has parroted China’s version of events about Covid-19, repeating Beijing’s early lines about the transmissibility of the virus and praising the Chinese response.Then there are China’s obligations as a member of the World Trade Organisation. When China joined the WTO in 2001, it agreed to participate in good faith, rejecting mercantilism and accepting the open market principles upon which the organisation was founded. Yet in practice it has done no such thing. China has engaged in state-sponsored and cyber-enabled industrial espionage, forced technology transfers from Western companies to Chinese firms and pursued policies that block foreign businesses from its markets... Then there is the United Nations, where Beijing has captured a number of key positions. Already, four of the UN’s 15 specialist agencies are led by Chinese officials. Beijing uses the International Telecommunication Union, which sets regulatory standards for communications networks, to push Huawei into different countries’ 5G networks. Critics claim Beijing also uses the Department for Economic and Social Affairs to promote its own Belt and Road Initiative under the guise of UN sustainable development goals. And there is no doubt that China uses its economic muscle to pressure countries to vote to change international human rights standards and cover up its own abuses. And those abuses go on. While the world has been focused on fighting the pandemic, China announced new “research stations” on its military bases in the South China Sea, and earlier this month sank a Vietnamese fishing vessel in disputed waters. It has sent fighter planes on sorties near Taiwan, in which its pilots reportedly “locked onto” a Taiwanese jet but did not fire their missiles. And of course it has rounded up democracy activists in Hong Kong, including many retired lawyers and politicians... that is the reality of dealing with communist China. It will abrogate its treaty responsibilities. It will cover up the truth. It will bully and intimidate its neighbours. It will capture international institutions and use them for its own purposes. It will abuse international laws and norms until it gets what it wants. It cannot be trusted, it is a danger to the world: it is time for us to get real."

Sweden Closes Its Last Remaining 'Confucius Institute' amid Strained Relations with China - "The Chinese government in 2004 launched Confucius institutes at various foreign universities, with the stated goal of promoting Chinese language and culture. However, U.S. officials have stated that the institutes are a propaganda tool meant to enhance China’s “soft power.”Sweden at one time had generally cordial relations with China, with automaker Volvo accepting Chinese ownership in 2010 and welcoming Europe’s first Confucius Institute at Stockholm University in 2005. However, Sweden closed that institute in January 2015.“Generally speaking, establishing institutes that are funded by another nation, within the framework of a university, is rather a questionable practice,” then-vice chancellor Astrid Soderbergh Widding said at the time. Sweden is now the first European country to close all of its Confucius Institutes. Sweden-China relations had already soured before the coronavirus pandemic. In November 2019 China arrested Swedish publisher Gui Minhai for printing texts critical of Communist Party premier Xi Jinping. The Swedish chapter of PEN International, a global association of writers, awarded Gui its Tucholsky Prize for persecuted writers or publishers, after which China imposed trade restrictions on Sweden.There are 86 Confucius Institutes currently operating in the U.S., including at elite institutions such as Stanford University and Tufts University. Former FBI director Christopher Wray testified to Congress in 2019 that the institutes “offer a platform to disseminate Chinese government or Chinese Communist Party propaganda, to encourage censorship, to restrict academic freedom.”"

From 'perfect Chinese daughter' to Communist Party critic, why Vicky Xu is exposing China to scrutiny - ""If something happens to me you know I've been murdered." It's a joke journalist Vicky Xiuzhong Xu makes in her stand-up comedy routine, but the reality is she's had a lot of death threats.She was, not so long ago, a model Chinese citizen; loyal to her government and its ideology... Her family has warned her not to return to China; she may never see them, the people she loves, again. It is a searing separation that causes deep conflict and pain... Being an investigative journalist criticising the Chinese Government is a lonely place to be. Her closest friends in China have cut contact.Isolation is a heavy price to pay, she says, for "just doing my job"... She was one of the first journalists in Australia to lift the lid on the incarceration of Uyghurs in China, convincing members of the Australian-Uyghur community to go on the record with their stories of missing relatives... As the lead author of a report released last week, Xu has exposed the forced labour of tens of thousands of Uyghurs and other oppressed minority Muslims, detained, "re-educated" and despatched to work in factories outside of Xinjiang that supply Nike, Apple, Adidas and 80 other well-known clothing, automotive and technology brands... For her single-minded persistence in breaking these stories, there is an emotional toll and considerable turmoil. She is trolled, called a traitor and monitored by the authorities... What led a young woman, one of her country's "best and brightest", to turn away from her government's ideology, but not her people? It's been an uneasy, sometimes agonising passage.There was a time, she says, of "cognitive dissonance" as she sought to reconcile two different worlds; childhood indoctrination about China with what she was hearing."The popular belief is that if you don't love China, you're not one of them. So, who am I anymore?"... Xu well understands why "many people are just very angry" with her. Her old self would have been angry with her too.But she says, "What they don't know is that just a few years back I was just like them."... she interviewed dissidents from China. One of them was Lebao Wu: "I thought he was a fraud and I was going to interview him and write and expose him."He had been a maths teacher who made jokes about China's leaders online and was put in prison and forced to do manufacturing labour for 14 hours a day.When he was released and settled in Australia he was diagnosed with PTSD and a variety of mental health issues.His story of injustice changed Xu's life. She was shaken. "I was very touched by his story, and it made me rethink a lot of my previous positions."... Xu received face-to-face warnings over an article she was writing that alleged government inaction following a flood. Authorities later stopped her at a train station and warned her again. When Xu returned to China to visit her sick grandmother last year, a government official told her to stop her journalism work. When she arrived at the airport to return home, her boarding pass was withheld for a worrying length of time... Xu persisted in writing stories, often about the Uyghurs. This time her father received a warning during a phone call from police. It was a call that would rupture her relationship with her family."My dad has stopped speaking to me""

Why America desperately needs a 'hard decoupling' from China - "Chinese officials said their country’s economy shrank by 6.8 percent from January to March 2020, compared with one year ago.The “China Dream” of dictator Xi Jinping is now on life support, in grave danger of succumbing to the same novel coronavirus that he and his fellow Communists have unleashed upon the world.I say we turn off the ventilator.This sentiment seems to be even more infectious than the disease itself. A Harris poll released on April 6 found that 77 percent of the US population believes China is to blame for the pandemic. Before this thing has run its course, most of the world’s 7 billion-plus people will likely agree as well. It was just three years ago that Xi made a triumphal entry into Davos, celebrated as the new champion of free trade by Europeans leery of Trump’s America First policies.Today, it is hard to imagine an invitation to Davos — or an invitation to anywhere, frankly — being extended to the Chinese dictator, whose campaign of silencing and intimidating medical whistleblowers allowed the virus to flourish and eventually spread across the world... British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is said to be furious with China as he recovers from the coronavirus, which nearly killed him... How well-disposed do you think the leaders of Spain, Turkey, the Netherlands, Australia and the Czech Republic are toward China at the moment? All of those countries have been on the receiving end of defective PPE and test kits, Chinese medical supplies that failed to contain the virus. Even an official in Iran, China’s closest ally in the Middle East, has bitterly complained about the Chinese lies that cost the lives of thousands of his fellow citizens.The epidemic has also revealed our dangerous dependence on China for many of our most common drugs and medical supplies. You might think that no country would ever threaten to withhold life-saving medications in the midst of a global pandemic. But, shockingly, China already has. We have no choice but to add such things as penicillin and PPE to the list of products that, like steel and silicon chips, we must be able to manufacture here... In the next year, the Chinese economy will suffer a death by a thousand cuts: a resumption of the Trump tariffs, supply chains relocating to other countries, factories moving to freer climes, consumers around the world rejecting China’s wares. No single cut will be fatal. But taken together, they will bleed China’s economy dry. They may also, it is to be hoped, shake the corrupt and incompetent Chinese Communist Party to its very foundations."

Coronavirus news: Dominic Raab tells China there will be NO 'business as usual'

Exclusive: Warning Over Chinese Mobile Giant Xiaomi Recording Millions Of People’s ‘Private’ Web And Phone Use - "his Redmi Note 8 smartphone was watching much of what he was doing on the phone. That data was then being sent to remote servers hosted by another Chinese tech giant, Alibaba, which were ostensibly rented by Xiaomi.The seasoned cybersecurity researcher found a worrying amount of his behavior was being tracked, whilst various kinds of device data were also being harvested, leaving Cirlig spooked that his identity and his private life was being exposed to the Chinese company. When he looked around the Web on the device’s default Xiaomi browser, it recorded all the websites he visited, including search engine queries whether with Google or the privacy-focused DuckDuckGo, and every item viewed on a news feed feature of the Xiaomi software. That tracking appeared to be happening even if he used the supposedly private “incognito” mode.The device was also recording what folders he opened and to which screens he swiped, including the status bar and the settings page. All of the data was being packaged up and sent to remote servers in Singapore and Russia, though the Web domains they hosted were registered in Beijing... cybersecurity researcher Andrew Tierney investigated further. He also found browsers shipped by Xiaomi on Google Play—Mi Browser Pro and the Mint Browser—were collecting the same data. Together, they have more than 15 million downloads, according to Google Play statistics.Many more millions are likely to be affected by what Cirlig described as a serious privacy issue, though Xiaomi denied there was a problem... there appear to be issues with how Xiaomi is transferring the data to its servers. Though the Chinese company claimed the data was being encrypted when transferred in an attempt to protect user privacy, Cirlig found he was able to quickly see just what was being taken from his device by decoding a chunk of information that was hidden with a form of easily crackable encoding, known as base64. It took Cirlig just a few seconds to change the garbled data into readable chunks of information... a spokesperson confirmed it was collecting browsing data, claiming the information was anonymized so wasn’t tied to any identity. They said that users had consented to such tracking.But, as pointed out by Cirlig and Tierney, it wasn’t just the website or Web search that was sent to the server. Xiaomi was also collecting data about the phone, including unique numbers for identifying the specific device and Android version. Cirlig said such “metadata” could “easily be correlated with an actual human behind the screen.”Xiaomi’s spokesperson also denied that browsing data was being recorded under incognito mode. Both Cirlig and Tierney, however, found in their independent tests that their web habits were sent off to remote servers regardless of what mode the browser was set to, providing both photos and videos as proof... Both Cirlig and Tierney said Xiaomi’s behavior was more invasive than other browsers like Google Chrome or Apple Safari. “It’s a lot worse than any of the mainstream browsers I have seen,” Tierney said. “Many of them take analytics, but it’s about usage and crashing. Taking browser behavior, including URLs, without explicit consent and in private browsing mode, is about as bad as it gets.” Cirlig also suspected that his app use was being monitored by Xiaomi, as every time he opened an app, a chunk of information would be sent to a remote server. Another researcher who’d tested Xiaomi devices, though was under an NDA to discuss the matter openly, said he’d seen the manufacturer’s phone collect such data. Xiaomi didn’t respond to questions on that issue... It’s the second time in two months that a huge Chinese tech company has been seen watching over users’ phone habits. A security app with a “private” browser made by Cheetah Mobile, a public company listed on the New York Stock Exchange, was seen collecting information on Web use, Wi-Fi access point names and more granular data like how a user scrolled on visited Web pages. Cheetah argued it needed to collect the information to protect users and improve their experience.Late in his research, Cirlig also discovered that Xiaomi’s music player app on his phone was collecting information on his listening habits: what songs were played and when.One message was clear to the researcher: when you’re listening, Xiaomi is listening, too."
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