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Valar Qringaomis

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Saturday, August 27, 2016

Singapore: The Cardinals of the Kremlin

Episode 32: The Cardinals of the Kremlin

"Can you believe the hypocrisy of Lee? He is the one who suggested and pushed for the subversives clause, and he lied about opposing it, and now he is not just campaigning as the person opposing the clause, but attacking Marshall as the champion of the clause! What an utter amoral basket.

Lee attacked the subversives clause, declaring ‘the fight is not over’ and pledging to carry the fight ‘back to London, when necessary.’ It is amazing how hypocritical Lee is. But you can see his political skill. He thoroughly outmanoeuvred Marshall in parliamentary politics...

It is one of the paradoxes of the PAP’s narrative of history that Marshall and the PAP left had almost the same outlook and the same political agenda but are depicted as polar opposites. Both Marshall and the PAP left opposed the ISC, demanded its abolition, demanded the release of political detainees, and wanted the independence of Singapore as soon as possible either on its own or with the Federation of Malay as an equal state.

But Marshall is painted with adjectives like ‘bold’, ‘principled’, ‘passionately anti-colonial’, ‘firmly anti-communist’ with a ‘firm commitment to liberal democratic values’ and ‘playing by the rules’ but at the same time ‘unrealistic’, ‘naive’; and yet the same set of policies espoused by the PAP left, with similar directness, boldness of action, and principles, is declared to be evidence of their ruthless efficiency, and an almost fanatical devotion to communism.

The history peddled by the PAP is full of flaws and contradictions like this...

When the PPSO – the law which permitted detention without trial - came up for renewal, Lee carefully contorted himself into a position that enabled him to be on both sides of the argument. He said he was in favour of it, that it was necessary because of the importance of keeping the Federation happy to enable reunification and merger. But he said he was against the law because it was in the hands of the unelected officials. He then voted against its extension.

In his response, Lim Yew Hock parodied Lee, saying: ‘This law is all right, if we operate it. This law is not all right, because the other side is operating it. We will support any such law because the situation in the Federation demands it, but we cannot support it now because it is still a semi-colonial administration that is running it.’ Lee replied, ‘it is true.’

So the PAP left were sick of Lee’s shenanigans. The party membership knew that Lee was talented and capable, but he was also following his own agenda that conflicted with the party’s...

Voting rights within the party were limited to a new class of “cadre members”, who would be chosen only by the CEC. The origin of this structure is disputed. Lee Kuan Yew says he came up with the idea on a visit to Vatican City. Toh Chin Chye says it was his idea, his suggestion.

But I think there is also another influence which neither man wanted to admit, an influence much much closer at hand. And that is the Malayan Communist Party. Remember, at this point the MCP still remained a feared opponent. Even Special Branch, for all the evidence that the MCP is broken and dysfunctional in Singapore, won’t believe their own evidence and remain convinced that somewhere out there the MCP is plotting, plotting, plotting to destroy them all. Likewise, there’s no doubt Lee and Toh are terrified of the myth of the MCP.

And Lee gives this away in his own autobiography when he says that he was learning from the communists and adopting and adapting communist techniques in how he ran the PAP. One of the examples he cited was to fix the outcome of meetings beforehand. Another, probably, was to fix the leadership of the party to ensure complete control. Why is part of the reason, I think, why he adopts the language of communism, and calls the inner circle, cadre members. It was a combination of the Cardinals and the Kremlin.

It was an action which would presage Singapore’s own future. Because the conflict between Lee and the PAP left was not just about the party. It was about the future of Singapore. It was not just about how you organise and run a party, it was also about how you would then organise and run a government.

Do you believe in debate, constructive criticism, working by consensus and committee, in transparency and accountability, and democracy? Or do you believe in authoritarianism, in the enlightened despot, in one man imposing his will on the people without checks and balances and accountability for his mistakes? That was really what this conflict was about.

And we can see how it happened, twice.

First in the PAP. Once Lee’s rivals were arrested and he had unchallenged control, he rewrote the constitution to ensure that he had total control and could never lose, no matter how wrong or misguided he was.

Then, likewise, in the government of Singapore. After independence, once Lee’s rivals were arrested and he had unchallenged control, he would rewrite the constitution to ensure that he had total control and could never lose, no matter how wrong or misguided he was.

And perhaps you can make the argument that Lee has been, overall, a positive force for Singapore. But you cannot make that same argument about his successors, who have made serious mistakes that could have been avoided through proper oversight and checks and balances. And so the system that Lee imposed has been, sadly, to Singapore’s detriment."

Links - 27th August 2016

Etika snags PepsiCo franchise in S'pore - "Malaysian beverage and dairy manufacturer Etika Beverages, formerly known as Permanis, will be PepsiCo's new exclusive bottling partner serving both Singapore and Malaysian markets starting Nov 1... The termination of the YHS deal with PepsiCo marks the end of a long history where Coke and Pepsi were both bottled by Singapore companies. Fraser & Neave (F&N) had produced, bottled and sold Coca-Cola's drinks in Malaysia for 75 years while Coca-Cola did the same for F&N in Singapore.
First Coke stops bottling in Singapore. Now it's Pepsi. Ah well.

Episode 31: The Big Kelong - "Citizenship, in particular, was a real worry for the Chinese. This was reinforced on 20 February with the release of the Reid Report on the constitution of the independent Federation of Malaya. The Nanyang Siang Pao and Sin Pao noted that that the Report did not offer universal qualifications for citizenship based on place of birth – that was contrary to the four proposals jointly submitted by 1,094 registered Chinese public bodies in the Federation. This discriminated against the Chinese. Also, Malay and English were to be the official languages. The combined Chinese public bodies had declared they would accept Malay as the sole official language, or all four languages as official languages, but promoting English alongside Malay was a continuation of colonial discrimination... Lee met with Lennox-Boyd to discuss a clause in the constitutional agreement to prevent the left-wing leaders from running in the election... Lennox-Boyd, Lim Yew Hock, and Lee Kuan Yew performed a big wayang. Lennox-Boyd announced the requirement of the clause. Lim and Lee pretended to be angry and denounced it as an act of fascist repression. Lee protested, ‘There is no guarantee that the Government in power would not use this procedure to prevent not only Communists but also democratic opponents of their policy from standing for election’... The entire left-wing leadership remained behind bars and none of them would be able to run in 1959. It would be another 40 years before Lee Kuan Yew admitted, in his autobiography, that whole thing had been fixed all along. You thought a bunch of people fixing football games was huge? Lennox- Boyd, Lee Kuan Yew, and Lim Yew Hock kelong’d an entire election."

Episode 33: The Apogee of Democracy - "Not only did Lee no longer need Lim, but the Labour Front was now an electoral liability. Lee had managed to escape the events of the previous year without taking any responsibility for the repression. Indeed, the voting public thought he was a victim of the repression, since he was leader of the PAP, which had been the target of much of the arrests. They did not know he had colluded in the repression with Lim Yew Hock... this fact is perhaps the greatest hypocrisy of the official PAP history of Singapore. Lee would go on to have his political opponents arrested on the basis that they were communist or at least communist sympathisers. But the government has never produced any proof that any of the detainees were participating in a communist conspiracy. And declassified Special Branch files show that there was never any evidence that any of them were taking part in a conspiracy. We need to be clear about this. Yes, a small number of left-wing politicians and activists believed in communism. Yes, a few might have called themselves communists. But they were not working with the Communist Party; they were not taking part in any conspiracy to violently overthrow the government; they were not breaking any laws. There was no reason to arrest any of them. The only politician that we know of who we have definite proof was secretly collaboration with the Malayan Communist Party was Lee Kuan Yew. And when the truth came out, the British did nothing. Worse, they backed him for Prime Minister and helped arrest more people to keep him in power. That is the hypocrisy at the heart of the PAP narrative of Singapore history. It proves that the situation was never about communism; it was about power. It was about protecting British interests"

BBC Radio 4 - Best of Today, Tuesday's business news with Dominic O'Connell - "If we stay in Europe, we'll be subject to one monster bureaucracy. One set of rules which actually helps big companies, hurts little ones... They can afford the staff and the people that can actually implement those regulations. Small companies can't"

In U.S., Socialist Presidential Candidates Least Appealing - "The news is likely worst for Sen. Bernie Sanders. At one point, Americans might have withheld their votes from him because of his Jewish faith -- fewer than half said they would support a Jewish candidate in 1937 -- but today his socialist ideology, given Americans' views on voting for a socialist candidate, could hinder his candidacy more. To a lesser degree, evangelical Christian candidates may suffer, in that one in four Americans say they will not vote for an evangelical Christian"

ST forum letter lacks inclusivity - "As a rambling protest letter about how a music video for NDP must be more inclusive, the letter should have best been penned by a paraplegic bisexual septuagenarian of mixed race in all four national languages who has consulted with and represented, with quotes, people from all walks of life. Instead, it was penned by a male, Chinese professional, in English, without consulting the feelings and thoughts of all the various segments of our society – including Donald Trump supporters... In future, all such videos should allocate screen time in proportion to the size of a community or interest group in our great nation. About 74 per cent of screen time should feature a Chinese person, 13 per cent a Malay person and 9 per cent an Indian person. “Others” can be represented by a five-second clip of a plate of rojak (with chili). About 52 per cent of screen time should be given to females and 48 per cent to males, although everyone will have to have their sexual orientation either printed on their shirt or tattooed on their forehead."

Helmut Kohl calls on EU leaders to take 'one step back' after Brexit vote - "instead of taking steps towards further centralisation and “mistaking a unified Europe with a standardised Europe”, Kohl wants European leaders to pay more respect to national and regional differences."

Why Does Everyone Hate Flying? And Other Questions Only a Pilot Can Answer - Freakonomics Freakonomics - "the average jet today actually flies a little bit more slowly than it did in 1965. But it flies more efficiently. And there’s kind of a conundrum here where the faster you go, the more energy you need... I think the most important thing we could do is stop looking at every single person who flies as a potential terrorist. It’s just an unsustainable approach in a country where 900 million people fly every year. We have to come up with something better. I’m talking about a system that takes in a whole number of data points and constructs a profile that way. I wish meanwhile, though, that TSA would get away from its preoccupation with little pointy objects and whether you have 3 ounces or 3.6 ounces of toothpaste and so on. That obsessing on minutiae just drags the whole system down. It’s a waste of resources, it’s a waste of time, a waste of money. Also I think people need to remember that even with all of the emphasis on terrorism and security today that we used to see bombings and hijackings and airport attacks so much more frequently than we do now... why can’t I have my laptop on my lap during takeoff or landing?
DUBNER: I think I know the answer to that one. Because that’s a heavy sucker, and if it flies through somewhere, it will hit me or someone else in the back of the head and that could hurt."

BBC Radio 4 - Best of Today, EU referendum: Osborne and Hunt on what happens next - "The political climate in Europe is changing very fast. And it is not sustainable to have a system where Denmark for example has to cope with hundreds of thousands of Syrians that have been given German passports by the German government. And that was one of the reasons why voted to leave the EU so I think the desire to change those freedom of movement rules is in the European interest as well as the British interest, but we need to give it some time and therefore wait before we invoke article 50"

BBC World Service - The Food Chain, Is Junk Food the New Smoking? - "When fast food, Western soft drinks and sweets starting appearing in the Soviet Union and then Russian market, our citizens of course initially saw consumption of these products as a way to psychologically get closer to the way of life of those countries. The thing is that products of high calorie count and low nutrition value have traditionally been the basis of diet for Soviet citizens as well. These habits didn't go away. There were simply more opportunities to buy the same food, but with better consumer qualities... Recently there have been many proposals aimed at changing those food habits. One MP proposed *something* carry images on food packages in the same way as they are now put on cigarette packs"

BBC World News - Our World, China's Family Planning Army - "[On fines for multiple children] In the many cases, the team who were actually conducted this brutal behaviors to collect social maintenance fees were actually conducted by the local mafias who were hired temporarily as part-time family planning officials. What they mainly do is to arrest, to beat and to scare people."

BBC Radio 4 - From Our Own Correspondent, The Opium Field - "Turks like strongmen leaders. Their founding father Ataturk was one, as fervently secular as Mr Erdogan is religious... Turkey's all-powerful president is tightening his grip still further. He's pushed through a law to strip MPs of their legal immunity, widely seen as a way of prosecuting dozens of opposition pro-Kurdish MPs so he'll have more support for changing the constitution. The party he founded has been purged of dissent. It's becoming a one man outfit that serves only his wishes, says a former MP, now a fierce critic. When he moved from being Prime Minister to President, Mr Erdogan was said to have pulled a Putin. At the party congress the new Prime Minister was in full flow. 'We are comrades of Erdogan', he said. 'Your passion is our passion, your cause our cause, your path our path'. So rapturous was he, so passionate, so emotional, that he promptly lost his voice, cutting short the speech. I wonder what the man pulling the strings made of that...
In the 17th century the [Venetian] ghetto became a centre of learning and culture. 1/3 of all Hebrew books printed in Europe before 1650 were made in Venice...
We must not be paralysed by the Holocaust... the real problem today is that the ghetto, like the rest of Venice, is becoming a museum"

Big litter woes in Choa Chu Kang - "According to Chinese daily Lianhe Wanbao, rubbish chutes from the second to eighth floors at Block 817A, Keat Hong Link, were jammed full of litter on Monday, causing a foul smell and attracting flies. The Housing Board also found that refuse-handling equipment attached to the central chute on the ground floor had malfunctioned."
"If the Opposition were to win in your wards the rubbish bins would not be and would pile up 1 to 2 storeys high" - Lee Kuan Yew (attr)

Now Muslims Are Offended By People Saying 'F*ck ISIS' And Police Are Calling It 'Incitement' - "Police have charged Tommy Robinson, a PEGIDA UK organiser, with “inciting racial hatred against Muslims” after he was pictured with a flag with “Fuck ISIS” written on it"
I thought ISIS isn't Islamic. And Muslims aren't a race, much less ISIS

Gaming a Russian Offensive | Stratfor - "For defensive purposes, Russian planners would have to recognize the risk of NATO coming to Kiev's assistance. Were that to happen, Russia would have to expand the defensive force to 40,000-55,000 troops to hold the territory... a compliant populace would require a force of only around 4,200 troops, while an extreme insurgency could spike that number to 42,000. In this particular case, no extreme insurgency is expected, as it would be in cities such as Dnepropetrovsk, Kharkiv or Kiev. The defensive force could overlap with the counterinsurgency force to some degree if there were no external threat, but if such a threat existed the forces would have to be separate, potentially doubling the manpower required to secure the territory."
The projected buffer zone is 46,000 square kilometers, has 2 million people and 450km of defensive lines. Johor is 7,500 square kilometers and has 3.5 million people, but the defensive lines will be much less than Ukraine due to West Malaysia being a peninsula and not a long, flat stretch of territory. In view of this, the SAF's strength is clearly overkill.

Belligerent Anti-Racism

A: What does Muslim-owned mean? - The Middle Ground

I think the author dissected the various issues very well.

It's clear from the writing that the issue of halal food is not a simple black and white case, and most non-Muslims don't know enough about the issues, so this is a pretty informative article with good points made.

Unfortunately, for people who wear racially tinted glasses all the time, the first thing that comes out of their mouth is to question people's intent.

B: that's very innocent statement but you have to clarify especially when in other posts you have passed racial judgements and insensitive remarks on minority. I can't see your post as defending the Muslims. Everyone here don't get it either. Most of them don't read it too. So your intent becomes questionable since I just had an argument with u on rscism a while ago. Please clarify that "brothers don't misunderstand when u come across this restaurant.." etc in the opening statement. Then yr intent is clear. I just feel you are misleading.

You see people bring in comparison to other religions too . It becomes a topic of religious debate. And possibly lead to haterad towards Muslims.

A: Your reply shows clearly who's the one with racial agenda. This post isn't even about defending Muslims. It's about a Muslim expressing interpretations of what halal means.

C: Surely we can have a rational discussion. Why should it lead to hatred against anyone?

A: Good question. I don't have the answer, though.

B: Your intentions are not true. I will have to point it out to you. If it is true you would have apologised for misleading the crowd.

A: Get a life, seriously.

B: Why? So that you can get away with whatever you said about minorities on line and no one would throw back at u?

I am having my life here. How about u? You got no other topic to discuss other than minority issues it seems? How about do something for Social Peace if not Social Justice? People like me could rest my thumbs rest assured you r a good citizen?

D: In what way did he mislead anyone by sharing an article about the differences between the signs that was written pretty damn factually by a Muslim?

B: U read some comments in defence? If one reads just the headliner it's being misinterpreted. A is opening a discussion inviting this. He is sort of manipulative . Unless u have been following his posts u can't tell from just one. D. U have to analyse where that person's ideas are coming from before u even "like" their posts. These people would put up information that could be offensive anyone time then will put up another one fr global view to show exactly opposite. This why they r trying to confuse everyone. So far Gabriel has been A's supporter. She and him are the on-line anti SWJs. But under SWJs close watch every post will be analysed. Never mind if you don't get it. Just keep a close tab on their posts and also comments.

D: I read the headline. I know their views. I know both the fellas are anti-SJW(and can't quite blame them, the way so many are) - although with Gabriel, it's less being anti-SJW and more just poking and prodding at all logic all the time.

Also, what is wrong with putting up stuff that's on opposite ends of the spectrum? This is why so many people have issue with SJW's, they expect everyone to just conform to one line of thought, and if you don't then you're baaad baad baad.

People aren't anywhere as simple or binary as that.

E: Actually, being able to understand and appreciate views from the opposite ends of a spectrum is called "being objective".

No one says you have to adopt contrasting views, but at least give them a fair chance to be evaluated and understood.

B: It's not simply as putting up. I wouldn't have any problems with it. But personally I want to know why always put up things on minority issues when he or she don't respect them? Luckily u read the whole thing but in this climate the headliner with such picture would only give anti Muslim feelings by most who scroll after reading the heading. If you can't support the Muslims openly or the minorities openly I simply don't think your "nice efforts" are appreciated. So I can't get past the feeling the intent is any good. D

A: Then why don't you criticise the Muslim writer's intent in writing such a potentially misleading article? Why am I being blamed?

A: E when people like A or Gabirial putts up info. You can't be all the time be objective. One gets defensive if it affects them . U can be objective if u are not affected. Freedom of expression with out responsibility to anticipate all sorts of response from all sorts of people is irresponsible. Knowing it's hurt someone knowingly or unknowingly requires an apology. That will reverse the others thinking from subjective to objective. Feeling subjective is not wrong. BTW. Feeling objective is not good all the time either.

D: How on earth does the headline give anti-Muslim feelings?!

A: So the problem at the end of the day, you don't need reason. Your suspicion is the gospel truth. If I call someone a witch, she must be one and therefore we must hunt her down and kill her.

D: And why are you blaming A for the headline when that's the news organisations "fault"?!

B: since u supported him by putting it up you have to do that. I don't have issues with the article. But issue is your intent. I rest my case here. May be in the future consider what people like me will shoot at - intentions. Bye for now.

D: You're shooting at intentions based on what you THINK they are - that's different from what the intentions ACTUALLY are.

And it's perfectly fine to try and ferret out what someone's intentions are, but there usually has to be more grounds to it than just "it's what I think".

B: that's my personal view to A. I am not suspecting your intentions here. So no problem if u want to say something else
I don't need to justify to u weather my assumption needs to.pass your test do I?

D: I don't care if you suspect my intentions or not.

But your assumption has led to you accusing someone of having a nefarious ulterior motive in posting an entirely neutral and informatonal news article. So no, it's not about passing my test, but the reasonable grounds test to ensure you don't wind up anyhow tekaning people for nothing, and thus getting taken less seriously - which is bad in the long run, especially when you do have salient points.

A: Lol. Basically she's saying she can call me racist and that's her entitlement to opinion, but if I call her racist, I have no such entitlement to opinion. It's only fair if she gets her way.

D: Shit like this is why people are so fucking extra skeptical when we do experience bad shit, I swear.

we have to work extra hard to prove something actually racist/bigoted happened to us cos of all the stupid rubbish that gets thrown around clouding up the issues.

B: that's exactly what A has been denying. That racism exists. That bigots don't live in Singapore. That since I defence my stance am a racist SWJ. So u can't get him or people like him to understand these things at all. U can't support a bigot just because he chose an article and claims his intent is good by not at all staying his intent clearly - giving room for misjudgedment. So what if he has been a senior here. That only shows no one seriously looked at his posts from different perspective. Don't worry about not being able to work hard to prove to racists/bigots. They will not understand you but they can be challenged to keep their feelings to themselves.

D: Actually, A hasn't denied either of those. I know this through my own discussions with him.

In fact, he's very discerning about racism, and has more than once come down on actual bigots and racists who've popped up on this forum.

A: For the very last time, and I have repeatedly written, racism exists but not everything is about race.

In fact this article perfectly illustrates my position because such a sign is not about race, but about deeper issues of what it means to be halal and the practicalities of getting MUIS certification.

But you have to keep on insisting my intention is to make it racially divisive. You are entitled to your opinion but I'm not. That's how racial harmony is to you it seems.

D: You're the one assuming he's racist. You're the one assuming his intent. What if sharing a neutral article like this would have opened up the room for dialogue and changed his mind, if he were actually harbouring bigoted thoughts? Well done, you just shut down the conversation instead of building on the foundation the article gave. *applause*

B: D so your friendship has clouded your judgement. You are there needing to defend your friend. Well hope A understands that we offer friendship to everyone without bias. I hope when he said he is "race blind" he doesn't just assume it means accepting others regardless of race. It would also mean " I want homogeneity in Racial representation" . The latter sounded more accurate in my discussion. Yes if he had change of heart great! Let's see the changes in his next posts. Bye D. I need to do my full time job

A: Whatever la B. People called me anti-Semite for putting the Palestinian flag on my profile pic for almost a year. Now you call me a Chinese racist. I don't need to prove any thing to you.

B: I never said it. But was shocked when u responded like one.

A: [Quoting A critiquing the SAF uniform]: "what a racist you are??? Are u wearing that uniform? You better run naked back to where your ancestors came from cos that uniform is for the soldiers who is supposed to protect its people. You are a traitor in your racist" skin! Your comments I have been following too all these while Aaron. Silence is tolerance and there's last straw do you too."

F: What we can learn from all this is how a persecution complex can make a person behave in all sorts of belligerent ways to other people and think they are perfectly justified in doing so.

What's more interesting- we can observe how A insults the very people who put their blood and sweat into providing the very freedoms and security that she lives off to be able to spew her venom in the first place.

Apparently she thinks she is an arbiter of who deserves to wear the uniform or not, without having even walked a meter in their boots.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Deobandi Islam

BBC Radio 4 - The Deobandis

"'This place is associated with a sort of back to basics kind of Islam. What is the Islam that you're teaching here?'

'Our Prophet had a beard and he ordered us to keep a beard. As we follow each and every thing done by our Prophet, so we feel it necessary t keep a beard. Television is banned here because our religion says that you can't have images of human beings. You can take images of trees but not people because it's banned in Islam. These are things which are proven in the Koran and what we've been taught by our elders'...

'The department of rejection of Christianity... they have couple of... 2 or 3 departments. Rejection of Shi'ism, rejection of Barelvi ideology, which basically underscores that other sects have strayed and do not represent pure Islam as opposed to Deobandi ideology'

'People here just think: we're right. Everybody else is wrong'

'Yes. More or less'...

'[On asserting that Mohammed was the final prophet and Ahmedis being infidels] This is important because it keeps Muslims within their faith. This makes them continue to believe in the finality of the Prophethood of Mohammad in such a way that there is no question that there are any more prophets after him. It's obvious that if anyone makes claims against these beliefs, they'll harm the religion'...

'[On persecuting Ahmedis] This death sentence, described by the Kardyanis (sp?), it can't be regarded as persecution against them. This is in reaction to the oppression of Muslims by the Ahmedis. Oppression against Muslims and Islam. If there's some infection in a wound, then you have to carry out surgery to cure it...

'Whatever happens, they should be answerable to Pakistani law. So it's not really for me to answer. But the probably go to the extreme with their made-up beliefs. And that's why people react against them in this way'...

'There is a danger from Christianity. Wherever they've gone, they've converted people and they've been robbing people of their religion. Even here. So we'll be telling our children what sort of dangers they're facing and how to safeguard against it'

'How would you feel though if you went to a Christian seminary. A monastery, and saw a department for the rejection of your faith. You wouldn't like that, would you?'

'No. Everyone is free to do that. But they won't find much to say against Islam. But we have material against them. We've not changed. There's purity in our religion and and in our faith whereas on the other side there are changes in the religion.'

'It's the kind of attitude that if expressed by Christians about Deobandis would be angrily denounced as Islamophobic'...

'[On Deobandis abjuring violence] You might think that the Deobandi leaders in India would try to stop their Deobandi brethren in the Taliban killing women and children. But they don't. So perhaps the policy is really: say the right things, keep your head down and let the groups in Pakistan kill whoever they want'...

'They won't really feel too much worried about it. They think it's their problem, not ours. When you talk to Deobandi scholars, they say that most important according to them, it's local social, political conditions mold a particular kind of version of Islam. They understand the situation in Pakistan completely different as a Muslim majority country. It should be governed by Islamic laws. And therefore madrasahs there have a much more active role than in India. Therefore it's possible to have more hardline version of same ideology'


BBC Radio 4 - Analysis, The Deobandis: Part 2

"[On an Ahmedi place of worship] 'We can't call it a mosque... I can't call it a mosque. It's always referred to as 'my place of worship'... because then they say that I'm imposing myself to be a Muslim'

'Even though the Ahmedis consider themselves Muslims, it's actually against Pakistani law for them to describe themselves in that way. Or to call their religious buildings mosques. Today, they're among the most persecuted communities in the country, and have regularly been targeted by Deobandi sectarian groups'...

'I am a specialist civil engineer... but there are areas where my loyalty to the state is in doubt and therefore I will never be cleared to work in those areas and those are areas where business can be good

Is this Islamophobia?

Links - 26th August 2016

Stilettos to the rescue of Japan’s ‘waddling ducks’ - "Feminists, look away! Fashion police in Japan want to ‘empower’ women by persuading them to wear high heels, insisting the country’s historic ‘kimono culture’ has led to many women having poor posture. The Japan High Heel Association (JHA) is calling on women across the country to trade sensible shoes for a pair of stilettos, insisting that standing tall will give them ‘confidence’ — and improve their gait. “Japanese women walk like ducks,” JHA managing director ‘Madame’ Yumiko told AFP in an interview at her plush Tokyo salon."

Istanbul riot police disperse 'Trans Pride' march - "Istanbul riot police fired tear gas and rubber pellets on Sunday to disperse a march for transgender people banned after ultra-nationalists said that "degenerates" could not demonstrate... Authorities have banned transgender and gay pride marches this month, citing security concerns after the ultra-nationalist warnings against any such events on Turkish soil... The annual gay pride parade, described as the biggest in the Muslim world, was due to take place on June 26. Istanbul has held gay pride parades since 2003, attracting tens of thousands of marchers, but last year's was broken up by police... Unlike many other Muslim countries, homosexuality is not a crime in Turkey but hostility toward gays remains widespread... The assault by the riot police targeted protesters angered by an attack on a record store launching the new Radiohead album on Saturday.
A group of men armed with sticks and bottles attacked the store late on Friday, apparently in protest at people drinking beer during Ramadan, video footage on social media showed"
LGBT Against Islamophobia!; is it better to be LGBT in Singapore, where gay sex is technically illegal, or in Turkey?

From snail soup to deep-fried dumplings: Hanoi's 10 essential street foods

China to implement 2.5-day weekend this summer

$2,225 a month claim for undergrad expenses 'inflated' - "The couple split 10 years ago and he has been paying $950 a month for his daughter's expenses since 2010. But his former wife applied to court last year to increase the sum to $1,450, in addition to him paying all of their daughter's annual university fees. District Judge Lo Wai Ping was not convinced and, in judgment grounds released yesterday, ordered the man's maintenance sum for his daughter to remain at $950 and reduced his contribution towards her $17,563 annual tertiary fees to a maximum of 75 per cent. The judge noted that the father, who has since remarried, "has been struggling" since last October to pay his former wife $2,300 a month for their daughter, comprising $950 for living expenses and $1,350 for tertiary fees. He also pays his former wife $500 in monthly maintenance... His lawyer Lim Poh Choo supplied data on the monthly expenses that an undergraduate may incur at NUS, Singapore Management University and Nanyang Technological University. Ms Lim argued these figures showed an undergraduate would need about $750 in monthly living expenses. The judge found that some of the monthly expenses claimed by the mother for her daughter "were indeed inflated and exaggerated". Among other things, the mother explained that her daughter needed $200 a month for clothes, shoes and handbags as she was required to wear office attire when giving presentations in school and attending court... the research presented by the father included food prices at the NUS Bukit Timah campus, and accepted that prices at campus canteens would be cheaper, reducing the $600 a month sought for food to $350 a month. The father is currently a sole breadwinner who sends $2,000 monthly to his China-based wife and six-year-old child, in addition to what he now pays for his daughter and former wife."
No wonder people don't want to have kids - it's so expensive

Students should be allowed to sell sex to fund university, say academics - "Their 2015 report, The Student Sex Work Project, indicated that 5 percent of students, more than 100,000, are engaged in the sex industry, principally to fund their higher education or a better lifestyle at university, while 22 percent had considered providing sexual services for money. The survey of 6,750 students also found that more male than female students were making money in sex-related occupations. Most were involved with “indirect” sex work, and the most popular activities for men included acting as a “naked butler”, stripping, erotic dancing and performing in porn films... “creative” students had seized an opportunity in the expanding market for sex. “What’s the difference between doing webcam work and working in a bar?” she said... the proliferation of hen parties meant there was a greater need for more male strippers... money was not the only motivation for students working in the sex industry. Fifty-nine percent of respondents thought they would enjoy the work, while 44 percent said they were motivated by sexual pleasure."

Father forced to give police 24-hours notice before he has sex claims it is because he visited 50 Shades of Grey style club - "The 45-year-old IT worker, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, has accused the police of deliberately trying to ruin his life... Thought to be a legal first anywhere in the world the order meant he had was forced to give police the details of his intended sexual partner at least 24 hours before allowing officers to visit her and inform her of the situation."

Farid al-Din `Attar | "Shaikh San'an beneath the Window of the Christian Maiden", Folio18r from a Mantiq al-tair (Language of the Birds) | Islamic | The Met - "A celebrated shaikh named San'an went from Ka'ba to Greece and fell in love with a Christian maiden. At her suggestion, he became a Christian and even looked after swine, which are considered unclean in Islam. When his disciples heard about this, they came to Greece and prayed to God that Shaikh San'an would return to the right path. Due to the disciples' prayers, he revived his Muslim faith and returned to his home in the Hijaz. Then, repenting of her deed, the Christian maiden followed him and converted to Islam. Shaikh San'an sensed that she had true faith in Islam and turned back to seek her with his disciples. When she saw Shaikh San'an, she fainted and this made him cry. Later, when the Christian maiden recovered consciousness, she begged his pardon and died."

Plaque: The Christ Child as Navigator - "Here the Christ Child is shown as a sailor, steering the ship representing the church. The mast of the ship is formed as a cross. He holds a globe with a cross, symbolic of his role as Saviour of the World. Many details relate to the Crucifixion, foreshadowing his fate. Across the deck are disks, each of which contains an emblem representing the agonies of Christ's trials, including the flagellation, crown of thorns, and nails used in crucifixion."
Interestingly, this is an Asian innovation and European iconography followed the appearance in the Asian variety

Dear Jimmy Kimmel, Megan Fox's Pregnancy Is None Of Your Business
Comments: "A comedian made a joke. Alert the authorities. You guys are too much sometimes.I'd hate ot live in your world, where everything is taboo. If Megan Fox didn't like it, I'm sure she would have told him to shove it. She doesn't appear to need your "defense," aka sniveling over everything"
"This is a really stupid thing to get mad about. Those interviews have pre-planned questions and she was promoting a movie. I feel stupider for having read this article."


Facebook will start scanning 10,000 posts a second to make comments less terrible - "It’s the technology behind the scenes that can distinguish the words “I need a ride,” in which case Messenger might prompt you to order an Uber, versus “I was going to get a ride,” in which case the moment has already passed. Not to mention “I like to ride a donkey,” which is a whole different thing entirely."

Why Giving Captain America A Boyfriend Makes Sense
Comment: "The thing is that the Marvel universe desperately needs:
a feminazi super hero,
a MRA superhero,
a racist superhero,
a junkie super hero (for every hard drug there is)
a greedy poiltician superhero,
a communist, a fascist superhero, why not?
a foot fetishist superhero...
a superhero that just want's to jerk it off by himself,
a sado-masochist super hero,
a transexual superhero,
a rapist superhero,
a bestiality lover superhero,
a pedophile superhero...
Should we also make religious fanitic superheroes for every religion?
Yes, I thought so... cause you know, people nowadays needs something to identify with.


Women in Refrigerators - "most of my favorite female comics characters had met untimely and often icky ends"

X-Men: Apocalypse — a spoiler-filled post-film chat - "they're planting that conflict here so they can pay it off in some future movie. The fact that they forgot to give Quicksilver any kind of satisfying arc in this film just speaks to the borderline contempt Apocalypse has for its audience. It's not so much a movie as it is a random sensory experience designed to support a marketing campaign, and if that means using fistfuls of dated tropes, taking huge leaps of logic, or ignoring even the basics of storytelling… well, the film itself certainly doesn't seem to care. "I'm an X-Men movie," Apocalypse appears to be saying, "and you're going to come see me whether I'm good or not.""

The perils of percentages - "In the late 1970s, the Mexico city government increased the capacity of the Viaducto, a four-lane motorway, by re-painting lines to make it six lanes wide—in effect, a 50% increase in capacity. Unfortunately, this also resulted in an increase in fatal accidents. After a year the Viaducto was changed back to a four-lane road—a 33% capacity reduction. The government, casting around for facts to support its claims of social progress, subtracted that 33% reduction from the 50% increase to claim a net increase in capacity of 17%."

The Wealthy in Florence Today Are the Same Families as 600 Years Ago - "The entire top 33% of the income distribution in 1427 is likely to be wealthier today. This is a far broader group than Medici princes and dukes, with castles and estates to hand down through the centuries. This suggests that some 25 generations later, the hundreds of descendants of comfortable — but far-from-regal — leathermakers are likely to be doing quite well, and it’s not because they inherited great(x25)-grandpa’s shoes and belts, let alone his palaces."

A slave in Scotland: ‘I fell into a trap – and I couldn't get out’
As I suspected, the shockingly high number of modern day "slaves" is because of a very generous definition of slavery

Why Is Marijuana Banned? The Real Reasons Are Worse Than You Think - "alcohol prohibition finally ended — and Harry Anslinger was afraid. He found himself in charge of a huge government department, with nothing for it to do. Up until then, he had said that cannabis was not a problem. It doesn’t harm people, he explained, and “there is no more absurd fallacy” than the idea it makes people violent. But then — suddenly, when his department needed a new purpose — he announced he had changed his mind... What evidence did Harry Anslinger have? It turns out at this time he wrote to the 30 leading scientists on this subject, asking if cannabis was dangerous, and if there should be a ban. Twenty-nine wrote back and said no. Anslinger picked out the one scientist who said yes, and presented him to the world. The press — obsessed with Victor Licata’s axe — cheered them on. In a panic that gripped America, marijuana was banned. The U.S. told other countries they had to do the same. Many countries said it was a dumb idea, and refused to do it. For example, Mexico decided their drug policy should be run by doctors. Their medical advice was that cannabis didn’t cause these problems, and they refused to ban it. The U.S. was furious. Anslinger ordered them to fall into line. The Mexicans held out — until, in the end, the U.S. cut off the supply of all legal painkillers to Mexico. People started to die in agony in their hospitals. So with regret, Mexico sacked the doctor — and launched its own drug war."

Why migrant workers can't make S'porean friends - "Barely two days after news of the recent arrests broke, Mr Jahangir and his Bangladeshi peers were jeered at by migrant workers of other nationalities. At his workplace, where he is a site engineer, he tells TNPS that many of his colleagues have been making fun of them during meal times.
What do you do when a "minority" oppresses another?

Giant swimming, venomous centipede discovered by accident in world-first
Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water...

Islamophobia in Egypt

Egypt drafts bill to ban burqa and Islamic veils in public places

"The Egyptian parliament is drafting a law banning women from wearing the niqab veil. The ban will apply to wearing the clothing in public places and government institutions, it has been reported.

The full-face veil is worn by some followers of Islam and typically covers all of the wearer’s face other than their eyes. The clothing is common in Egypt which is a predominantly Muslim country.

MP Amna Nosseir, professor of comparative jurisprudence at Al-Azhar University, who has backed the ban, said that wearing the veil is not a requirement of Islam and in fact has non-Islamic origins. She has argued that it is a Jewish tradition which appeared in the Arabian Peninsula prior to Islam and that a variety of Quran passages contradict its use. Instead, she has advocated that the Quran calls for modest clothing and covered hair, but does not require facial covering.

A number of restrictions have been placed on wearing the niqab in Egypt in recent years. In February, Cairo University banned nurses and doctors from wearing it in medical schools and in teaching hospitals, arguing the ban would: “protect patients’ rights and interests.”

In September of last year, the university also banned academic staff from wearing the niqab in classrooms in response to complaints from students that it was too difficult for niqab wearers to communicate effectively with students."

***

Sheik of Al Azhar bans face veil

"In Egypt, the senior cleric at one of the Muslim world’s pre-eminent centers of Sunni Islamic teaching has banned female students and teachers from wearing the niqab – the full-face veil – in classrooms and dormitories.

The Grand Sheik of Al-Azhar, Mohammed Sayyed Tantawi, says the niqab has nothing to do with Islam and is a sign of radicalism. Other Egyptian universities have taken similar positions, prompting civil rights activists to complain that the ban violates students’ rights.

Many Islamic scholars believe that full-face coverings are not a religious requirement, but the modern expression of tribal customs and traditions that predate Islam. Such coverings are common in conservative states such as Saudi Arabia and Yemen, though not in Egypt...

Dia Rashwan, an analyst with the government-run Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies, says this is part of an ongoing struggle to define Egypt’s cultural references. In the early 20th century, he says, the debate was over the hijab, the headscarf that is now quite common in Egypt, but was controversial at the time...

“Egypt has many cultures. Some of them come from the Islamic era, others from the Mediterranean, others from the pharaohs. We have to respect them,” he says.

The niqab debate has produced strange bedfellows, with civil rights advocates standing with the Islamists in defense of a woman’s right to cover her face."

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Fish Fight

BBC World Service - The Food Chain, Fish Fight

"An Indonesian patrol vessel... did seize a 300 ton Chinese trawler. And arrested their crew for illegal fishing. But as Indonesia was trying to bring that trawler in, Chinese coastguard vessels entered the scene and rammed the trawler free, pushing it back out of Indonesian waters. The Captain here is saying that's not the first time that something like that has happened.

'The Chinese coastguard come with the fishing boats from the Chinese mainland. They are always on standby near the Spratley islands. We move in and try to arrest the Chinese vessel that is fishing in our waters, the Chinese coastguard moves in to try and free them'
'Often they make threats, he says'
'You must release my ship. If not, we will shoot you'...

'You're actually not helping the wild fish stock when you eat a farmed salmon. Why is that? Farmed salmon is a carnivore. In order to farm that fish, you gotta feed it wild fish. The salmon farmers of the world are voracious customers for wild ocean fish that are caught and ground up into little pellets that look like dog food but smell like fish and are fed to the farmed salmon. In the process you put about 4 pounds of wild fish in, and you get about 1 pound of farmed salmon out. Completely inefficient. In fact it's reducing and is a very big way, the amount of healthy wild ocean fish that humanity could be eating by a factor of at least 4:1. In fact it's called a reduction fishery - that's the technical term for that reason.

Now at the other end, the quite good end of farmed fish is the farming of oysters, clams, mussels, why are these good? Because what do they eat? They eat algae. They're filter feeders. And so when you eat a farmed oyster, you're eating something that's made a really tasty and healthy marine protein for you out of algae. And in the process it's even helped to clean the water.

And so I encourage our listeners to eat as many farmed clams, oysters and mussels as they can stomach, and feel very very virtuous in the process...

[Fish stocks] build so fast compared to so many things in nature... if you do the right things, which are quite simple: set quotas and catch limits that are in scientific boundaries, within a 5 or 10 year period in many species you can get a full recovery. It's one of the wonderful things about ocean conservation and the ocean food opportunity is that this is not like waiting 100 years for the rainforest to rebuild. Fish are an incredibly resilient and robust part of nature'...

'Andrew describes fish as the perfect protein'"

China's peaceful rise...

Links - 24th August 2016

Meet Fu Yuanhui, The Most Lovable Athlete At The Rio Olympics - "There are lots of great athletes at the Rio Olympics ― Lilly King, Michael Phelps, Simone Biles. The list goes on. But the best Olympian this time around doesn’t represent the USA. She hasn’t even won a gold medal. But neither of those things matter. For there is no one as great, as funny and as instantly lovable as Fu Yuanhui. Oh, there she is on the right. Hi there"

Chinese actress Angelababy's face examined for court case - "Doctors who examined her on Thursday said that her looks were genuine. It came a week after her widely-publicised wedding to actor Huang Xiaoming, who has defended her, saying she "sometimes looks quite ugly". A Beijing judge had suggested that her face be examined by medical professionals to certify its authenticity. The 26-year-old actress, whose real name is Yeung Wing, went through a series of X-ray scans and tests - which at one stage involved a doctor prodding her face - at a plastic surgery hospital... Angelababy, who first shot to fame as a model and actress in Hong Kong, has long been dogged by rumours that she had plastic surgery, with pictures purportedly showing her natural face circulating online in recent years. She is suing Beijing beauty clinic Ruili for carrying an article on its website in 2012 alleging that she had plastic surgery, and is seeking 500,000 yuan (£51,000; $79,000) in compensation."

'Flawed' study casts doubts on mixed-gender units in US marine corps - "women were not expected to pose problems for ground-combat units, so long as clear standards, diligent screening of candidates and good training and leadership were in place. According to the data shared with the Guardian, the study also showed that some women excelled during tests such as hiking quickly with heavy loads and firing artillery under simulated enemy attack, while mixed marine units showed superior morale and problem-solving and better discipline than units composed only of male marines. Furthermore, though the report found all-male units were better at hiking, shooting, gorge-crossing and cliff-climbing, and males suffered fewer injuries, in one section of tests a mixed-sex unit out-marched three all-male units, progressing at five kilometres an hour (kph). The marine corps requirement is 4kph, carrying heavy packs and equipment."

Male Erection Frequency | SexHealthMatters.org - "Another type of non-sexual erection is the reflex erection, which can happen when a man is nervous, scared, angry, or under stress. Reflex erections can also be caused by an enlarged prostate condition, some recreational drugs, and the need to urinate."
More corroborating information on how the "homophobes are secretly gay" claim is not 100% confirmed

Florida lawyer disbarred after having sex with clients in jail, and a lot of drug use - "A Florida lawyer who had sex with her jailed clients so much the warden had to restrict her visitation access has been disbarred. When physical sex wasn't an option, Linda Hadad, 43, would apparently have phone sex with her imprisoned clients."

East Village mall finds a niche among affluent Muslims - "The mall has organically grown to serve a niche market: the Muslim smart set with money to spare. Mr Nio said the shoppers at East Village tend to have greater spending power, who drive and who prefer avoiding the crowded bazaars of Geylang Serai."
If I apply to sell bak kwa there and they turn me down saying "We are not so keen to sell bak kwa as our target audience are mainly Muslim", can I make a police report?

Richard Morin - The Ugly Face of Crime - ""We find that unattractive individuals commit more crime in comparison to average-looking ones, and very attractive individuals commit less crime in comparison to those who are average-looking"...
* "Post-It Note Persuasion: A Sticky Influence" by Randy Garner. The Journal of Consumer Psychology. Vol. 15, No. 3. A Sam Houston University professor finds that people were more likely to complete a survey questionnaire and give more complete answers if the researcher attached a Post-it note. The reason: People interpreted the note as a request for a personal favor.
* "Binge Drinking in the Context of Romantic Relationships" by Judith L. Fischer, et al. Addictive Behaviors Vol. 30, Issue 8. Researchers led by a Texas Tech University professor discover that students who drink too much aren't the best lovers.
* "Women Who 'Do Elvis': Authenticity, Masculinity and Masquerade" by Francesca Brittan. Paper to be presented Sunday at the Study of Popular Music conference in Nashville. A Cornell University researcher studied female Elvis Presley impersonators such as Janice K and Elvis Herselvis and finds them to be "campy, cheeky, and often disturbingly convincing."

Photos Tagged as Art Linked to Rising Property Prices

Dear "Skeptics," Bash Homeopathy and Bigfoot Less, Mammograms and War More - "I’m a science journalist. I don’t celebrate science, I criticize it, becausescience needs critics more than cheerleaders. I point out gaps between scientific hype and reality. That keeps me busy, because, as you know,most peer-reviewed scientific claims are wrong. So I’m a skeptic, but with a small S, not capital S. I don’t belong to skeptical societies. I don’t hang out with people who self-identify as capital-S Skeptics. Or Atheists. Or Rationalists. When people like this get together, they become tribal. They pat each other on the back and tell each other how smart they are compared to those outside the tribe. But belonging to a tribe often makes you dumber... He documents the huge surge in prescriptions for psychiatric drugs since the late 1980s. The biggest increase has been among children. If the medications really work, rates of mental illness should decline. Right? Instead, rates of mental disability have increased sharply, especially among children. Whitaker builds a strong case that medications are causing the epidemic. Given the flaws of mainstream medicine, can you blame people for turning to alternative medicine?"

Married Couples Pack On More Pounds - "Both men and women gained weight but when it came to race, black women had the most rapid weight gain, followed by white women and then black and white men... married men and women may be less concerned about their body weight because they’re no longer actively seeking a mate"
Given that women gain more than men...

How Did 'Angry Birds' Become the Years Divisive Immigration Movie? - "This film is not just another saccharine kids flick but a parable of immigration. Depending on whom you ask, it’s either a racist screed against the migrants flooding into Europe, or a ripoff of Avatar that celebrates the defeat of a band of would-be conquistadores... The Angry Bird Movie clearly has delights for the whole family. Children of all ages, racists, anti-colonialists and SJWs who love spotting heavily buried racist themes will be walking out of the theaters asking for more. Hopefully box office receipts will be strong and we get to see an Angry Birds 2, tackling a new hot button issue like abortion or the right to die."

The Dumbledore Problem: A Post about LGBTQ Characters - "Would it have pleased anyone if Dumbledore had slipped into a stereotype to prove a point and camped and queened his way around Hogwarts Castle, perhaps making passes at male students and teachers and slinging feather boas over his shoulders and generally being terribly offensive? Still, it would have had it in his characterisation! This is the thing, you see: a person’s personality and actions, especially in the wider frame of things where, say, there are magical beasts roaming around, dark wizards wreaking havoc and bloody living paintings and staircases that move, are not really affected by their sexuality... how could we have known he was gay? We couldn’t, and we didn’t, and in the end it didn’t matter in the slightest. That’s kind of how it works in real life."
If you don't write any LGBTQ characters, you'll get bashed. But you'll get bashed no matter what you do, so you might as well save yourself some bother while you're at it

The knowledge economy is a myth. We don’t need more universities to feed it - "The majority of jobs being created today do not require degree-level qualifications. In the US in 2010, 20% of jobs required a bachelor’s degree, 43% required a high-school education, and 26% did not even require that. Meanwhile,40% of young people study for degrees. This means over half the people gaining degrees today will find themselves working in jobs that don’t require one... The occupations most likely to be automated out of existence are knowledge-intensive ones such as auditor, insurance underwriter and credit analyst. Those least at risk of automation are hands-on jobs such as masseuse and fire fighter. The stark mismatch between the number of people with degrees and the number of jobs requiring degrees has created a generation of bored employees who feel like they are working “bullshit jobs”. It’s no surprise 37% of UK employees think their jobs make no meaningful contribution to the world at all... It’s uncertain whether universities are delivering on their core purpose. One recent study tracked thousands of students during their time at university. It uncovered a rather disturbing picture: after two years at university, 45% of the students showed no significant improvement in their cognitive skills. After four years, 36% of students had not improved in their ability to think and analyse problems. In some courses – such as business administration – students’ cognitive abilities actually declined in the first few years."

Unlimited paid leave: there's no such thing as a free lunch - "Your employer is gifting you something, and it’s not precisely clear what you need to give in return. This lack of clarity, coupled with the obligation to reciprocate – so as to clear the debt created by the gift – brings to mind an Innuit phrase that is often quoted in anthropology: “by gifts one makes slaves”... While at first glance such an arrangement may seem liberating for employees, the reality is that without strong cultural guidance from senior management, unlimited paid annual leave is a policy that plays on known behavioural principles to make employees work longer and harder for the same amount of pay. Companies that have trialled schemes like this have found that instead of encouraging employees to take more time off, unlimited paid annual leave resulted in people taking less annual leave"

Disney Will Alter Song in 'Aladdin' : Movies: Changes were agreed upon after Arab-Americans complained that some lyrics were racist. Some Arab groups are not satisfied. - "The lyrics in the film's opening song "Arabian Nights," originally were:
Oh, I come from a land
From a faraway place
Where the caravan camels roam.
Where they cut off your ear
If they don't like your face
It's barbaric, but hey, it's home.
The altered lyrics, which were written as an alternate version by Ashman, are:
Oh, I come from a land
From a faraway place
Where the caravan camels roam.
Where it's flat and immense
And the heat is intense,
It's barbaric, but hey, it's home...
'Barbaric' refers to the land and the heat, and not to the people.""
Today, this would not happen. They'd revamp the whole song

Nulla poena sine lege - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia - "Nulla poena sine lege (Latin for "no penalty without a law") is a legal principle, requiring that one cannot be punished for doing something that is not prohibited by law. This principle is accepted and codified in modern democratic states as a basic requirement of the rule of law"

Japan's plan to drop swastikas as temple symbol sparks backlash - "So if terrorists hang up the Union Jack, does this mean the UK should change its flag? Or the USA or Australia?"

The Road to Wigan Pier, by George Orwell : chapter6 - "I think it could be plausibly argued that changes of diet are more important than changes of dynasty or even of religion. The Great War, for instance, could never have happened if tinned food had not been invented. And the history of the past four hundred years in England would have been immensely different if it had not been for the introduction of root-crops and various other vegetables at the end of the Middle Ages, and a little later the introduction of non-alcoholic drinks (tea, coffee, cocoa) and also of distilled liquors to which the beer-drinking English were not accustomed. Yet it is curious how seldom the all-importance of food is recognized. You see statues everywhere to politicians, poets, bishops, but none to cooks or bacon-curers or market-gardeners. The Emperor Charles V is said to have erected a statue to the inventor of bloaters, but that is the only case I can think of at the moment."

Star Wars in Italy

Why Chinese couples are having their wedding photos taken in London - "It's a Chinese custom for couples to have their wedding photos taken before they are married, rather than on the day of the nuptials... While London is growing in popularity as a location for pre-wedding photography, Crystal says it still lags a long way behind Paris and Santorini in Greece - partly due to the fact that a separate visa is needed for travel to the UK... While the average tourist spends £640, each Chinese tourist will typically contribute £2508 to the British economy... Tao reveals that many of his clients will only consider using a Chinese photographer - but not just because of the language barrier. "Chinese people judge beauty differently from Europeans," he suggests. In his view, European couples prefer more "natural looking" pictures, whereas his Chinese clients prefer what he describes as a "natural, plus post-production" style. For Tao this means not only changing the colour on some photos, but digitally removing "clutter" from the background, such as litter on the ground or people who have wandered into the frame."

Paul Bloom on Empathy

Rationally Speaking | Official Podcast of New York City Skeptics - Current Episodes - RS142 - Paul Bloom on "The case against empathy"

"Empathy is a very bad moral guide. It's narrow, it's parochial, it's biased. It leads you to help the wrong people. It leads you to focus on the wrong concerns. The argument I make is that we're far better off to use a more cold-blooded cost-benefit calculation and use more distant compassion. We should care about other people, but we shouldn't put ourselves in their shoes...

It's because of empathy that societies and governments care so much more about that little girl stuck in a well than they do about the crisis of climate change. It's because of empathy that often we will enact grotesque laws or engage in unnecessary wars because we feel tremendous empathy for the suffering of some individual we care about.

It's because of empathy that the lives of one or two people often matter so much more than the lives of thousands or millions. It distorts your judgments and this leads to all sorts of mistakes...

Wonderful work done by the neuroscientist Tania Singer and the Buddhist monk Matthieu Ricard, which nicely pulls apart empathy and compassion. They find, for instance, that when you get people to feel empathy for other people, to put themselves in their shoes, this causes suffering on the part of the empathizer. It causes withdrawal, bad feelings, and burnout.

On the other hand, if you get people to engage in contemplative practices that involve caring about other people, so-called “loving kindness”, without absorbing their pain -- you see the person in pain, you don't feel their pain, you care for them but you don't feel their pain -- this actually leads to increased helping, increased happiness, no burnout...

Empathy is bizarrely innumerate. In that, empathy works by putting yourself in somebody's shoes. If you feel empathy for my suffering, you'll feel my suffering. We have this connection. You could do that with me. Maybe you could do that with another person at the same time, but you can't feel empathy for 10 people or a hundred people or a thousand people...

There's actually no good evidence that people with high empathy are in any sense nicer than people with low empathy. Despite everything you might hear about psychopaths and all of that... it's just not the case that being high empathy makes you more helpful. In fact, it might make you not want to engage with people who are suffering because it's too painful for you.

Nor is it the case that being low empathy makes you cold-blooded and mean. Some of the people who scored lowest on empathy are people with Asperger's syndrome or on the autistic spectrum, and they don't tend to be bad people. They often are caring people, rule-abiding people and so on. They just don't put themselves in the shoes of other people...

If you've just felt humiliated and you're explaining to somebody you care about that you felt humiliated, do you want that person to feel empathy for you in a sense that they themselves now feel humiliated?...

Most people want… what Peter Singer calls warm-glow altruism. They like the buzz...

A book by Linda Paulman. Where she once asked warlords in Africa, I forget exactly where, why they chopped off children's limbs. It was such a grotesque horrible thing to do, and like, why would they do it? The answer, and she got this answer from multiple people, was, "We do it for you. NGOs and American and European organizations don't come to our country unless we give you atrocities. The atrocities energize people"... the NGOs pay taxes to the warlords...

Empathy pushes me to care more about white people than black people, pretty people more than ugly people, Americans more than Mexicans... It cause me to value the one over the ten...

There are far more people who were enraged by the guy killing this African lion than there would have been if he killed an actual African...

One of the psychiatrists -- who was also a murderer played by the woman who played Scully in The X-Files -- turned to the main character and said very carefully, "Great acts of cruelty require an immense capacity for empathy."

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Red Lights and Red Lines (Sex Workers and Legalisation)

BBC World Service - The Documentary, Red Lights and Red Lines

"I'm less concerned about sex tourism into Germany because I don't really believe that most European men do have the means to travel all the way to Germany just for sex. My constituency is at the German-French border and you know very often rumour has it that here is a high level of French men asking for sexual services in my constituency. But at the end of the day, it's the commuters. We have 11,000 French who work in Germany, you know. Just in my constituency. And of course, you know, French men aren't different from German men. They seek for sex during lunch break and after office hours, before they go home to their family. So no. When it comes to Germany being a major sex tourism destination I'm not concerned at all...

Just as prostitution can mean very different things for people who sell sex, I think that prostitution can mean a very different thing also for people who buy it...

[On Sweden's criminalisation of buying sex] The consequences for sex workers are much more severe because the police just sits outside your apartment and arrest your clients. We have 3 different laws that make you lose your apartment if you sell sex in it... The police was really active on the street arresting a lot of clients. Suddenly, they had to be really rushed into making this judgment that you have to do to sense if a client is safe or not and before they used to negotiate with the clients before getting into the car. Now they have to get into the car first and then they will negotiate when the car is already moving.

And also small safety things like sex workers will have their safe spots where they tell their clients to drive and now the clients have more powers and say no I don't want to go there because the police will know about it.

Point your finger at a group of people and say they are all victims and if they say otherwise they don't know what's good for them. Then something happens in society... gives an alibi for discrimination against this group...

'The clients are the ones that are best well-placed to find trafficking victims. And they will definitely think twice before going to the police. Because that would also mean they go to the police and basically say: I'm an evil man who violates women. And I think you know if we are really serious about the problem of trafficking, first of all we have to recognise the diversity of people that are being trafficked. The assumption that selling sex itself is part of the abuse is making a lot of people that are being exploited totally invisible'...

'In New Zealand, which has a decriminalised system, sex workers are much more empowered to organise on a smaller scale among themselves to form informal cooperatives etc and work together for safety, which is something that is not possible in Europe at the moment.

Many of the laws that have been introduced in Europe, sex workers have not been part of the consultation process in terms of developing those laws and sex workers have to be at the front and centre of any action that governments take to change laws on sex work. And that unfortunately is not happening in Europe at the moment'"

Links - 20th August 2016

Judge makes alleged rape victim pay $37,000 fine - "The woman pressed charges but a judge gave the men a light fine for the alleged assault while ordering the alleged victim to pay the equivalent of US$27,000 (S$37,000). The judge - whose name was not disclosed - offered a nuanced argument for the surprise ruling. The judge ruled that during the act, the alleged victim had said no to the filming but not to sex. Therefore, the model's claim of rape, the court said, was false. So, she was fined accordingly... Under pressure, German lawmakers are now moving to change laws to state that verbal resistance - for example, simply saying no - can be enough to make a case for rape... "Of course, a woman needs to be protected by the law, even if she looks like a Barbie doll," said writer Svenja Flasspohler this week in the Suddeutsche Zeitung daily. But she added that there is a danger that "men are accused out of revenge... or regret for the consummated act"."

Outrage over diphtheria deaths in Malaysia - "Two children have died in Malaysia from diphtheria this month, apparently because their parents did not vaccinate them against the infectious disease, believing the jabs contained elements of pig DNA."

The Brexit ballot is amazingly simple. Why can’t US ballots look like this? - "This isn’t just an aesthetic issue. Confusing ballots in the US — a category that includes obscure wording and bad design — lead to tens of thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands, of votes being thrown out without being counted... A study of more than 1,200 state-level ballot questions that voters across the US were asked to approve between 1997 and 2007 found that, on average, they were written at a 17th-grade level — in other words, you’d need more than a four-year college degree in order to understand what you were being asked to vote on."

The evil app that sends Game of Thrones spoilers to your enemies - "If your enjoyment of a TV programme solely lies in the basics of its plot twists – and not its artistry as a whole – then you shouldn’t be watching in the first place. A weekly set of bulletpoints is all you need."

More than 50 taxi drivers attack Uber driver, tourist couple - "A female tourist was left injured after more than 50 taxi drivers struck the Uber car she was traveling in at KL Sentral yesterday. According to the China Press, the incident occurred on Monday morning when the Iranian couple, who had recently touched-down in Malaysia, were using the Uber service. More than 50 taxi drivers, who were “hiding” in KL Sentral, pounced on them as soon as they entered the Uber car. The couple, along with the Uber driver, were pulled out of the car before the suspects used rocks to break the car window."
Swindling people is the birthright of Malaysian taxi drivers

How Americans pretend to love ‘ethnic food’ - "We want "ethnic food" to be authentic, but we are almost never willing to pay for it... Despite complex ingredients and labor-intensive cooking methods that rival or even eclipse those associated with some of the most celebrated cuisines — think French, Spanish and Italian — we want our Indian food fast, and we want it cheap... take my mother's attitude toward wine. She's only had a few sips in her life, and each time she says the same thing, which is that it kind of tastes like rotten grapes... Here in the United States, when you buy "ethnic food," you're essentially buying it from people who learn to cook it on the fly, mostly men, who have often never cooked back home. What ends up happening is they hide technical deficiencies behind salt, butter, and fat... I would ask people to think about what they mean when they say they want something authentic. Because most likely, they mean authentic according to their limited exposure to a country or cuisine... More than 70 percent of the Indian restaurants in New York City, for instance, are not run by Indians. They are run by Bangladeshi and Pakistani restaurateurs... German food, for the longest time, was frowned upon. German beer halls, where families would get together, were looked at with great disdain. But over time, as Germans climbed up in the social ladder, that changed, as it did for Italian food, and many others... Migration of poor people from your country and your culture has to end before America accords you prestige"

What I learned from a male sex surrogate - "I had tried online dating; clearly any woman can get laid if she really wants to. I didn’t experience any intimacy. It was more like something I was proving to myself. I felt like I was constantly lying, pretending to be someone I’m not. A confident, experienced, sexy woman. She’s not me. I needed a fundamental change in my character or attitude. How much can people change? How much can I? I have no idea. So I started to consider SPT"

Jodie Foster tired of 'the woman thing': There's no 'big plot to keep women down' - "Jodie Foster said she’s tired of people oversimplifying the issue of gender equality in Hollywood, declaring that there isn’t some major plot in the industry “to keep women down.”"

Man is sent abusive texts after REFUSING to sleep with a woman on their first date - "A man received a barrage of abuse over texts after refusing to sleep with a woman during a date... The unnamed woman even goes so far as to suggest that her date had no right to turn down the opportunity to sleep with her, asking him whether he was gay and telling him no only means no when a woman says it"

Nearly 300,000 people walk between Malaysia, Singapore daily: Malaysian Immigration Dept - "An average of 295,731 people use the two land crossings between Malaysia and Singapore daily... "These two crossings are among the busiest in the world""

Is God a Spaghetti Monster? That's a Serious Legal Question - "“It is no more tenable to read the FSM Gospel as proselytizing for supernatural spaghetti,” the court said, “than to read Jonathan Swift’s ‘Modest Proposal’ as advocating cannibalism”"

The complex circumstances that defined your gender - "“There may be hints of brain differences in transgender people, but you’d expect that because their life experience is going to have been quite different,” says Eliot. “How long they have identified as the other gender; the way they talk; who they played with as children; what sort of jobs they’re involved in – all of these things could affect those same pathways in subtle ways. There is certainly no proof of the Lady Gaga hypothesis that I was ‘Born This Way’”... Unfortunately, we can’t ask babies whether they identify as boys or girls, and it’s difficult to scan their brains because they move about so much. Instead, scientists have focused on studying their behaviour. A major clue is the toys they prefer to play with. “Play behaviour shows a big sex difference – at least as large as the sex difference in height,” says Melissa Hines, director of the hormones and behaviour research lab at the University of Cambridge... while identical twins are more likely to both be transsexual than non-identical twins, there are plenty of exceptions... “Quite a number of children have gender identity questions at early ages, but only 10% of them or so will develop along the trajectory of transsexualism”"
If gender differences are only caused by socialisation, transsexuals are problematic

Polyamorous relationships may be the future of love - "Even today monogamy is the minority relationship style around the world. Cultural estimates suggest that as many as 83% of societies around the world allow polygamy... polyamorous people tend to maintain more friendships as they keep a wider social network. They are also less likely to cut off contact after a break-up.Monogamous couples on the other hand, often withdraw from their friends in the first, loved-up stages of their relationship... overall relationship satisfaction can be higher in poly relationships... “Research shows that most children are really happy growing up with lots of adults, in fact most kids love it,” Pallotta-Chiarolli says. They benefit from added support and time from any additional parental role within their family unit. “These children are more insightful and wise, and open to understanding diversity and many forms of religion and culture”... For polyamory to be protected by law it will first have to be considered an orientation in the way that homosexually is. If, legally speaking, it is seen as an orientation, then the reasoning goes that poly individuals would be protected by similar anti-discriminatory laws... That some people choose polyamory in order not to cheat on their partner brings to light a striking contradiction about monogamy in the west: adultery is rife"

The Dalai Lama says ‘too many’ refugees are going to Germany - ""Europe, for example Germany, cannot become an Arab country," he said with a laugh, according to AFP, which quoted from an interview the spiritual leader gave to Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, a German newspaper. "Germany is Germany. There are so many that in practice it becomes difficult."... "From a moral point of view, too, I think that the refugees should only be admitted temporarily," the Dalai Lama said."

Blood ketones are directly related to fatigue and perceived effort during exercise in overweight adults adhering to low-carbohydrate diets for weight loss: a pilot study.

Talking To Frank Cho, Man Of Outrage, About Attracting Women - "As a life-long liberal Democrat and advocate for free speech and equal rights, it fascinates me to see when ultra-liberals become ultra-conservatives where they see injustices everywhere and cease to see reason, and start oppressing people who they disagree with. Thanks to the social media, we have entered into a dangerous era of Salem witch trials where no one is safe. Everything is being attacked everywhere in this hypersensitive atmosphere: The movie Grease (Sexualizes teenagers), Road Runner cartoons (Violence against animals), Game of Thrones. (Promotes rape and injustices against women.) The list goes on...
BC: So you’re not bothered by all the personal attacks online?
CHO: Naw. I actually enjoyed them. It spotlights the hypocrisy, unrealistic views and the victim mentality of these people. In my case, these critics of mine like most extremists and religious types, advocate mind control and censorship. They simply want to control what other people can and can not see. It’s similar to what the Republican party does to the LGBT community. They bully and shame people into what they should like or don’t like. I’m simply fascinated by how these few critics came riding in on their high horse and tried to paint me into a monster. In their eyes, I went from an artist who writes and draws strong independent female characters to a morally bankrupt pervert overnight simply because I drew a comic book character for a fan that they found offensive. It’s scary if you think about how much power the social media have given to these fringe voices. The comic book market is a vast and bountiful table. There’s a place for everyone. One group, because they don’t like something, should not dictate what others can see and enjoy. That’s simply wrong. If they don’t like something, then don’t look at it or buy it. As matter of fact, they should take all that hateful energy and create comics they want to read and art they want to see. Again, there’s a room for everyone at the comic table."

Married Japanese man claims he has finally found love with a sex doll - "The trend for intimate relationships with silicone dolls, which cost up to £4000 has been rising across Asia with China reported to have seen an increase. The dolls, which are non inflatable, are sold under the name 'Dutch Wives', a Japanese term for a sex doll, and adverts in the media boast that anyone who buys one will never want a real girlfriend again"

No, Palestinian Terrorism Isn't a Response to 'Occupation' - "since the beginning of 1996, and certainly following the completion of the redeployment from Hebron in January 1997, 99% of the Palestinian population of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip has not lived under Israeli occupation. As the virulent anti-Israel and anti-Jewish media, school system and religious incitement can attest to, during these years, any presence of a foreign occupation has been virtually non-existent. This in turn means that the presentation of terrorism as a natural response to the so-called occupation is not only completely unfounded but the inverse of the truth. In the two-and-a-half years from the signing of the DOP to the fall of the Labor government in May 1996, 210 Israelis were murdered – nearly three times the average death toll of the previous 26 years, when only a small fraction of the fatalities had been caused by West Bank- and/or Gaza-originated attacks due to Israel's effective counterinsurgency measures, the low level of national consciousness among the Palestinians and the vast improvement in their standard of living under Israel's control. Moreover, nearly two thirds of the 1994-96 victims were murdered in Israeli territory inside the "Green Line" – nearly 10 times the average fatality toll in Israel in the preceding six violent years of the Palestinian uprising (intifada)."

Bananas safe after kidnapping - "Two people are facing charges after B1 and B2, two large soft toys, were taken from the ABC's Collinswood building on Sunday during a break-in."

Swiss coffee joint also plans to serve oral sex - "The java-and-jollies joint is called, aptly enough, the Fellatio Cafe. You can’t say there isn’t truth in advertising. For about $61 bucks, guys can order a steamy beverage and some oral sex from an on-call licensed sex worker who stops by the establishment to perform the service"

Navigating a global order lacking in clarity - "Europe as a community of values was intended to be a new kind of global power. There was to be a new and superior pan-European identity based on an ideal of universal rights and a generous social model. This was as much a delusion as the communist dream of creating a "new socialist man". Nationalism cannot be wished away. The instinct to define oneself by distinguishing like from the "other" is an intrinsic and primordial part of human nature. Any political project undertaken in defiance of human nature is bound to eventually fail. In this respect, the EU stands as a prime example of the futility and danger of letting mental frameworks, however appealing or noble, outrun reality... young Europeans have embraced the idea of Europe far more enthusiastically than their parents or grandparents, he argued. Who are these young Europeans, I asked. Are they all middle-class, white, employed, at least nominally Christian or secular? He changed the subject... the main beneficiary of the end of the Cold War was not the "West" but China. Freed of the constraints imposed by its de facto membership of the US-led anti-Soviet alliance which it accepted out of necessity, but still largely a free rider globally and so without onerous international responsibilities, China has since the 1990s been free to single-mindedly pursue its own interests."

Norway: Parents Against the State

BBC World Service - The Documentary, Norway: Parents Against the State

"Eric's daughter was removed from her family on an emergency care order. Barnevernet - that's the child protection service - said she was suffering serious psychological harm because her parents couldn't meet her emotional needs. What they said was that her mother was depressed and her father Eric was 'simple'. That's actually the word... odd for a 21st century professional to use, scribbled on a social worker's note that I've seen. I'd say that Eric is a shy, slightly innocent seeming man and he's plainly clever enough to speak pretty fluent English which, despite what you might think from this program isn't what Norwegians normally speak...

What seems shocking was that Eric was never clinically examined by any health professional. And no doctor or nurse at the public health clinic saw any symptoms of harm to his child. On the contrary... the baby was reported to be doing well...

We trust the state... We are in many ways naive. We think that our state is good...

[There are] international reports that Norway is the best country to live. And when I analyse cases, normally you have to first investigate, then you analyse, then you decide, and then you act. What is really shocking is that too often they do exactly the opposite. They act first. They pick up the child, take it out of the home, and then they investigate. And then they take the formal decisions. Performing like police, being critical. Looking for mistakes in order to support the view that your child cannot remain with you...

[On a spiritual] When he once played it among other non-religious songs to entertain the children at his daughter's school, he was told it wasn't acceptable in a secular institution. And the couple say that there were other hints that the school thought that they were dangerous Bible-thumbers. 'We think they have some prejudice towards our faith. They have this idea that we're punishing our kids because of our belief. Or that we believe that we have to punish our kid or something like that...

What has shocked me in Norway is hearing from many parents - not just aggrieved ones who got into trouble - that they're scared to seek advice from health of welfare workers because they think that any sign of uncertainty will be used against them"


When you have a moral panic over children...
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