Sunday, 19 November 2017

Trump’s Asia tour reinforced America’s declining influence, but China still has reason to worry | SCMP

In the print edition this morning the headline for this article is "Don't write off U.S. in Asia yet", which gives a different flavour than the headline in the online version of the very same article (above), don't you think? 
Anyway, what's interesting about this article is that Philip Bowring, a long-time observer in Asia, is a bit of a Leftie and usually anti-American. Here he says don't write off the US in Asia. And on that point I surely agree. 
By the way I don't know why newspapers insist on giving different headlines for print and online editions. What gives? I don't get it. 

Saturday, 18 November 2017

Nearly Half of Canadians Have Negative Feelings Towards Islam: Poll - VICE

"Twice as many Canadians say the presence of Islam in their country's public life is damaging as say the same about any other religion..."
And they'd be right...
https://www.vice.com/en_ca/article/gyj97x/nearly-half-of-canadians-have-negative-feelings-towards-islam-poll

Sent from my iPhone

China isn’t a big threat to the US - The Boston Globe

Good article by a mate in Boston.

I agree with pretty much all of it, though wouldn't be quite so worried about US debt, for a variety of reasons, that I may get around to spelling out, or not….


Friday, 17 November 2017

“Benign America?” | SCMP

This article (*) by Jean-Pierre Lehmann really annoyed me.  Sure, make the case in the online headline ("Why fears over a malign China replacing a benign America are a gross distortion of history").
No good to be in thrall to America and unduly suspicious of China.
But it's wrong to go to the other extreme, equating the US to the Soviet Union and China purely as a victim of the west's perfidy.  American has indeed been the guarantor of post-war wealth creation.  And China has indeed remained a Leninist dictatorship, despite all the economic growth.  People voting with their feet still prefer the US to China.

Specific things that annoyed me:

"Harping on US leadership through "western values" is to delve into mythology".
Western values in scare quotes and some kind of "mythology"??  This is west-bashing lunacy of the first order. I'm not sure I can even be bothered to counter it, it's so absurd. Since the Renaissance, there has been a growing set of values, that summed up can be called "western values".  They include tolerance, open enquiry, the scientific method, freedom of speech, of thought and of conscience.  Of course, they're often followed in the breach.  But as a set of understood values (that's what values are, "understood", not set out) they are still the driving force in the west.  They are set out  most clearly in the US Declaration of Independence, in its Constitution and in its Bill of Rights. All of which is mockingly dismissed by Lehmann as "extolling a gospel of freedom".

"Britain's rise to wealth and power depended initially on the slave trade...".
It's arguable, but let's concede and move on to the point that at the time slavery was common throughout the world and Britain was the first country in the world to abolish it.

"Ta-Nehisi Coates has pointed out [that] America is a nation founded by slaveholders...".
Same point as above. Slavery was common then, as it had been throughout history, and the US fought a Civil War to end it.  No acknowledgement of that.  Coates has been taken to task by other African Americans who find his negativity about America corrosive and unhelpful.  See professor Jason D. Hill for example, in "An Open Letter to Ta-Nehisi Coates".  Sam Harris has called his writing the "pornography of anger".  I've now come to think that quoting Coates is pretty much like quoting Noam Chomsky.  You know it's going to be virulent anti-Americanism.  (yet they choose to stay).
So: America followed the UK in abolishing the slave trade.  In short: it was the WEST that abolished the slave trade.  A trade that continues to this day in numerous Islamic and Asian countries.

"It was never really expected that Trump might .. apologise on behalf of the US  for all the appalling suffering caused to the Vietnamese...".
This assumes that it was the US that went into Vietnam to cause suffering to the Vietnamese.  Forgotten, or not mentioned, that the US went into Vietnam with the Vietnamese.  Those in the South who were fighting against the Viet Communists.  It was not American vs Vietnamese, but some Vietnamese vs some other Vietnamese who had the US on their side.  But enough of that; it's been litigated again and again.  Just that Lehmann's wording is misleading and the Vietnamese of today would not be expecting an apology.

"China was treated abysmally, from the opium wars to the liberation."
Yes, indeed it was.  But "liberation"? From what? From would-be democrats, that's what. And what followed?  Over 100 million deaths, that's what.  Chinese killing Chinese.  Does Lehmann ignore that because they were "only" Chinese killing Chinese, and doing so in China?
The fact remains that in terms of democide the US the UK and the West don't hold a candle to what the Chinese have done to themselves.
***************

(*) The online headline is "Why fears over a malign China replacing a benign America are a gross distortion of history".  (Why do they do that?? Have different print and online headlines?)

Australia’s Refugee Policy of Cruelty - The New York Times

Not refugees, but economic migrants.
Whenever have "refugees" been young men only?
LETTER TO NEW YORK TIMES:
No, Lisa Pryor, Australia is not "providing inspiration for far-right movements in Europe and North America" by its refugee policy. (Australia's Refugee Policy of Cruelty, 17 November). 
The reverse is true. We are implementing a policy that the majority of Australians support and Europeans would love to implement to avoid further Lampedusa-like chaos. 
If European politicians had acted more robustly to halt the flow of economic migrants that the majority of the so-called "refugees" are, the rise of the far-right would have been halted not enabled. It's precisely the elitist views of the likes of Ms. Pryor that forced frustrated voters to the right.  
Let the people have power over the policy on who comes to our country. That's democracy, not populism. 
Pf, etc...

The Secret to Long Life? It May Lurk in the DNA of the Oldest Among Us - NYT

The most "polite" photo when I googled "a nice-looking backside"
Mr. Sisnett, who grew his own food until he was 105, was "still fascinated by seeing a nice-looking backside" when he was in his 110s, his daughter, Everine Carter, 88, recalled in a telephone interview.
["The Secret to Long Life",  New York Times, 17 Nov]
Mr Sisnett.... "still fascinated by seeing a nice-looking backside"....  As was our dear old Dad, bless.

Is the US retreat from Asia drawing China, Japan and South Korea closer together? | SCMP

Abe and Xi, cooking up regional hegemony?
Stories like this every day since Trump went back home and hard to gainsay them. Good or bad? Rather depends on your views on values. If you're happy with the mild despotism of China, the acquiescence in that despotism of neighbours Korea and Japan and believe economic growth is the only thing that matters then you're fine with all this.
The US, despite recent anti-US articles in the Post, maintained for 70 years the rights of feee navigation in Asia for all and the primacy of democracy and free trade.
Until Trump, that is.
So that's a loss if those values are more important to you.

Thursday, 16 November 2017

Britain’s most hated man isn’t all that hateful | The Spectator

Tommy is well-read on the Koran. How many of his critics are?
I've always thought Tommy Robinson is neither racist nor far-right. And I've seen a lot of his videos and writings. 
But he's been "un-ticked" on Twitter for being "far right" in a Twitter change of policy in which they've now taken it on themselves to police the thought, not just the authenticity, of their users. Big mistake. 
Anyway, Tommy has been served badly by Twitter here. People ought to read and watch him themselves not rely on the smears by MSM. 
Here is James Delingpole making the same points in The Spectator
It's time Tommy was treated fairly. 


"Let food trucks be powered by market forces” | SCMP

Food trucks: not rocket science, but HK government can't get it right
They published my letter in today's South China Morning Post.  Hardly an earth-shattering subject, nothing like the geo-politics in my immediately preceding post.
But still, it reflects just how incompetent this government has become.  Timid, do-nothing.  How much have they done nothing about? The west Kowloon cultural centre; a post-Octopus cashless payment system; a rational system to run the cross-harbour tunnels; delays in starting the third runway; support for local technology; driverless cars; and so on.
The food trucks fiasco is just an example.  It ought to be easy to fix.  But they won't fix it, is my bet. I hope I'm proven wrong, for the sake of the remaining operators.
The editorial in today's SCMP also takes the government to task for lack of innovation.
My letter:
Let food trucks be powered by market forces
Food trucks have been in the news again for all the wrong ­reasons, with some having failed and only a few remaining.
Niall Fraser excoriates the government’s handing of them, and he’s right to do so (“Food trucks hard to stomach after glory days of street stalls”, ­October 31), but what should be done? To abandon the ­scheme now would punish the remaining truck operators who have ­invested millions of dollars. Surely the solution is easy.
Food trucks are successful in other countries, why not here? The answer is simple – the dead hand of bureaucrats. Get them out of the way.
Allow the trucks to be located where they want to (with limited exclusion zones). Scrap the ­requirement for a backup ­kitchen. Let more trucks operate without the ridiculous tests the first batch had to go through (only a bureaucrat would think of that). In short, let market ­forces bloom.
Get the dead hand of government off the trucks. And, while we’re about it, how about letting those wonderful street stalls back in our city?
Everyone loves them, residents and visitors alike.
Peter Forsythe, Discovery Bay 

Home Truths: China, US and Asia


Hugh White is a Canberran and Australian National University alumnus (as am I) and we worked together at the Office of National Assessments in 1983. So, kind of colleagues of old. 
He's now professor of strategic studies at the ANU. 
I always read his articles which are reliably robust and hard-nosed, if somewhat too pro-Chinese and anti-American for my taste.(If pressed I'd allow that this latter judgment may be a touch too strong). 
He is widely read and influential in Australian policy-making circles. 
This is his latest in the South China Morning Post today. 
He makes some good points in this article about the difficulties of Quad countries (America, India, Japan and Australia) face in countering China's rise in the region. Basically that each has too much to lose in doing so.  
Oh... and that Trump's recent visit didn't help.  As I said before: people are looking for some strategy; yet see nothing but sartorial posturing (those fancy shirts) and hearing nothing but empty words (those communiques). 
It remains to be seen what may come out of his talks with China on North Korea. I'm doubtful, but maybe... 

LATER : I just read the online comments on the article and see that they mostly agree with my view that White is somewhat too pro-Chinese. / anti-American. “Capitulationist” even. And that he’s “not going down too well down under “...

Sunday, 12 November 2017

“Tariq Ramadan, a star of Europe’s Muslim intelligentsia, confronts accusations of rape” | Economist

Ramadan confronts accusations of rape
In addition to a few of Ramadan's "conservative views" mentioned here The Economist fails to mention that he does not condemn the stoning of women to death for adultery. He said there should be a "moratorium" on stoning until we "considered it"!
This is the man lionised on the Left for being, they claim, the voice of "moderate Islam". 
Yeah, right. 
Ramadan is a thoroughly oleaginous character who speaks with two tongues. One for the western lefties and useful idiots, smooth and comforting. Another for his Muslim audience, in Arabic, explaining the ultimate aim of Islam, its supremacy over the world.
That is all documented in detail in the book "Brother Tariq" which one should read if interested in the topic of Europe, Islam and the Islamisation of Europe.
LATER: Ramadan really is a POS. I’ve known this for ages, about his apologia for Islam. He speaks with forked tongue. But I didn’t know until just now about his nasty sexual predator side which appears damning. Hugh FitzGerald gives a lot of detail about what his accuses are saying he did. Scary and horrible stuff. Yes, I know, innocent until proven... and all that....
(I’d never heard the word “degringolade”, used in Hugh’s headline. It’s a sudden downfall. French etymology. Nice word)

Friday, 10 November 2017

The Chinese love Trump, because.....

NYT yesterday.  The next day's cartoon has Trump saying to Xi:
"I knew walls worked. I don't see any Mexicans around here."
.... an old mate and colleague living in Beijing, says....
Yes, he sort of enjoys some popularity here. A multitude of reasons,including:

a) they hate blacks, and sense Donald is a racist which he is
b) they hate paying taxes and therefore reckon Donald is probably brilliantif he is setting out to bring tax rates down
c) they have the Great Wall here which is an icon of national pride andtherefore think it is probably a solid idea if Donald wants to build one onthe southern border
d) every day in the press the subtle messaging is that Donald sort of agreeswith all of the things which China considers are its core interests including being the dominant regional player
e) they admire so called self-made men who have lots of pretty women floating around
Forse, it is all pretty underwhelming stuff!
I can confirm that Chinese, in China, are racist.  At least that it's extremely common. I have very close people who are.  It's the sort of lazy, casual racism that used to be common in the west of the fifties, and which we wouldn't dare to express today.
Though I'm not really sure that Trump can be called a racist.  Not even for his trash talk about Mexicans.   It's at least an arguable proposition, not a flat out fact.

When inequality is better than equality

My notional chart: not real figures; illustrative only
(but roughly correct!)
Lest people think from my previous post that I'm anti-equality or that I'm pro-inequality, let me state: of course I'm pro-equality.  Who is not?
The problem is that darned thing: actual experience.
Which tells me: there are times and situations in which inequality is better than equality.
China, in the chart above, is an example.
NOTE: this chart is created by me on Excel using purely notional figures.  I haven't gone off to Google to find that actual info, partly because I'm too lazy and partly because I know the basic story.
I lived it. 
I arrived in China in 1976, towards the end of those "years of equality" (in chart above), observed and reported on China and its economy (for the Australian government, then for business clients) for decades, and still do so, from time to time, from my eyrie here in Hong Kong, now an inaliable part of our dear mother country, China.
So that's why there's no label on the Y-axis. I wouldn't want anyone to think that it's based on actual figures or indices.  It's not. It just illustrates a principle. It just tells a story.
And here's the quick story:
Mao and his communists took control of China on October 1, 1949.
After a short quiet period, Mao began movements to instill communism, that is the equal treatment of all, in fact the punishment of rich people and anti-revolutionaries: The Anti-Rightist Movement, The Great Leap Forward, The Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution.
That's all summarised on the left-hand side of the chart above.
  • The rich, or sometimes merely "rich" (as in peasants with some land), became poorer.
  • The poor also became poorer.
In short:

Everyone got poorer.  Until equality was achieved. Hurrah!

That was the time I arrived in China as a student of the Chinese language.  (This period became known as "the final years of the Cultural Revolution").
When I arrived in China, a factory worker earned 100 yuan a month.  A teacher 105 yuan a month. A Minister of State 110 yuan a month. (all worth, on average, about $US10 a month).
Pretty equal, right?
But you couldn't buy consumer goods, and everyday stuff like rice, cotton, meat and even bicycles were all rationed.  I still have my ration book from my time as a student there.
Then came the resurgence of Deng Xiaoping, the Four Modernisations (started in 1979), and the rest is history. Have a walk down any Chinese street and ponder: this is what capitalism, the free market, has done (known in China, for political reasons, as "Socialism with Chinese characteristics").
In short:

Everyone got wealthier. But inequality resulted.  Booh!

Inequality "resulted" not "was achieved" because it's not the aim of capitalism to create inequality.  But it does seem to be a result, rather all too often.
Still: according to the  World Bank, 500 Million Chinese were lifted out of poverty, in the period from 1980 to 2010.
So: which would you prefer?
  • Poverty with equality?    Or...
  • Wealth with inequality?
Of course, we want both.  But if it's a choice? Would you rather be on the left-hand side of the chart above, or on the right-hand side?
Also, it strikes me that understanding this might lead to different questions about how to tackle inequality.
The standard answer from the Left is to squeeze the rich. "Redistribution".  Like the Institute of Policy Studies, in my previous post.
Another answer would come from asking: how can we make the poor richer? How did the rich become rich and how can the poor learn from that?

****************
[NOTE: Here I'm looking at income.  The earlier post on a report from the Institute of Policy Studies was based on wealth.  Yes, I'm clear on the difference, but would make the point that one is a proxy for the other.  In China, for example, as incomes have increased, so has wealth.  This morning's BBC reported that China now has 95,000 millionaires (wealth) a result of the increase in the gap in incomes]

In defence of billionaires



LATER: Ben Shapiro also hates The Guardian article: above.

LETTER TO SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST:
The three richest people in the US — Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, and Warren Buffett — own as much wealth as the bottom half of the US population or 160 million people. 
That's the eye-popping opening of The Guardian article reprinted in your paper today ("Top three in US own more than bottom half", 10 November). 
One's first reaction is likely: "my goodness that's a moral crisis!"
Indeed, those are the very words of the report's author, the progressive Institute for Policy Studies. The growing wealth gap, it asserts, is "not just bad economics, it's a moral crisis."
But is it? 
These three billionaires have committed to use for charity or to donate fully 99% of their wealth before they die (that’s a quarter of a Trillion dollars). 
Both Gates and Buffett have started that process. Think Gates' anti-malaria campaigns in Africa and Buffet's massive donations to the Gates Foundation (the largest ever). They are donating immense wealth and expertise to the poorest people in the world, not just to those in the bottom half of America, the world's richest country. 
Can we really assume that a government, any government, would make better use of the money than these three wealth-creating, wealth-distributing geniuses?  
The opposite is likely the case. 
Or imagine instead that they gave away all their money to these 160 million Americans. Do we really think $1,550 per person would alleviate poverty? 
The opposite is likely the case. Organisations such as the IPS seem to assume that billionaires' wealth is simply lying around, idle. But it is used to the immediate benefit of millions of employees and billions of the world's poorest. 
What would the IPS have us do with the money if it were not under the control of these storied philanthropists?  
The IPS doesn't say. But we can infer its intentions from its past support of communist governments. It would no doubt welcome "radical redistribution".  That is, radical appropriation, aka communism. 
We have seen where that can lead: think Mao's China or today's Venezuela and North Korea. 
It is such countries that are "bad economics"; it is such countries that create a "moral crisis". Not the careful stewardship and charitable spending by billionaires for the benefit of humankind. 

Pf, etc

Wednesday, 8 November 2017

Qatar wants to buy “our airline”. This can’t be good.

These are described as "unique Qatari women" on the website.
LETTER TO SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST:
Let's see. Cathay Pacific, a private airline still viewed fondly as our "flag carrier", has allowed the sale of 10% of its shares to Qatar Airways, an arm of the Qatari government.
And we're OK with that?
Cathay is OK with that?
Our government is OK with that?
Qatar runs its country according to sharia law. Polygamy is permitted. Women's testimony is half that of a man's. Apostasy and blasphemy are punished by jail or death.
Qatar stones people to death. It flogs people for consuming alcohol or having "illicit"sexual relations. These are their sharia-mandated hudud punishments.
In short: Qatar is run by Wahhabi sharia law and Qatar Airlines is 98% owned by this horrid government.
So now we have an entity aiming to take over "our Cathay" as a direct part of a hardline Wahhabist sharia government.
Do we think that Qatar will balk from pursuing its Wahhabist agenda when it is part owner and would-be majority owner of Cathay Pacific?
If so, we must think again.
It is foreigners in Qatar who are often the brunt of their odious hudud punishments. This includes the virtual slavery in which they keep their foreign workers as they prepare for the World Cup, a Cup handed to them by the corrupt FIFA.
Why should it be any different when they own Cathay Pacific?  They may not pursue sharia in Hong Kong, but will certainly use their ownership of a flag carrier to blunt our criticisms of their more odious practices.
We must be more careful and less naive. We must not let one of the truly great and free airlines of the world become an arm of a Wahhabist sharia state.

Pf, etc

Eating more meat MAY increase your risk of stomach cancer by 4 thousandths of one percent. Yikes!


Thus raising the risk by 4 thousandths or one percent.  0.004%.
From 0.0211% to 0.0248%. Yikes!
Is the above not the most blatant misrepresentation?
LATER (10 Nov): I changed the headline of this post, reporting the results of research on the relationship between processed meats and stomach cancer rates. They had headlined it with the much more sexy, newsworthy, accurate but misleading. eating processed meats increases cancer risk by 18%.
If you increase something tiny by a tiny percentage point it’s still tiny. That’s the nub of it. That’s the real risk of stomach cancer from meat eating: tiny. 

Full disclosure: I've used all meat and not just processed meat (PM) in my analysis here.  That's because finding world figures for PM are, for me at least, hard to find.  And for sure there's going to be increased risk from PM vs all meats, if only because of the salt content. To balance that, though, I've used figures for only the top 20 countries for stomach cancer rates.  If we took all countries' rates, they would be lower, so this balances out.  In any case, I'm after a illustrative pattern here, not exactitude.  I'd be surprised if the real figures were very different from these.  And the sum of that it this: the risk of stomach cancer increase through normal use of PM is tiny and insignificant.
********
I got talking with a friend recently about "The China Study".
I recalled the book, and think I may even have it somewhere.
It hit the world's bookshelves with a great thwack in 2005 and was an immediate hit.
Its a book about diet; specifically in China.
It looks at the diets of tens of thousands of Chinese in different counties.  The difference in their health and longevity are assumed to be due to diet, since all other factors -- ethnicity, smoking and drinking rates, etc -- are taken to be the same.
Its strongest conclusion was that the more plant-based diet, the better health and longevity the population.
Bill Clinton bought into it, just after his heart operation, and became vegan.
I took issue with some of the study; but before getting to that, a related matter.
Around a year ago, a study by the American Institute for Cancer Research and the World Cancer Research Fund purported to show the danger of eating processed meats (PM) like salami and ham.
The study showed, it was breathlessly reported, that if you ate a lot of PMs you were 18% more likely to get stomach cancer.
Many people vowed they would henceforth avoid PMs.
My own first thinking about this was to have a look at the stats.
Specifically for stomach cancer.
What is the rate of stomach cancer in our societies and what does a 18% increase mean?
The short answer is:
NOT MUCH.
The average rate of stomach cancer in the 20 worst countries in the world: 21.09 per 100,000.
That's 0.0211%. (rounded to the nearest 10,000th percent)
If that increases by 18%, the rate of stomach cancer becomes 24.9 per 100,000.
That's 0.0248%.
From 0.0211% to 0.0248%, is the true story. We're talking hundredths of a percent here.
If you put it that way, does that cause you any worries, any stomach pains?
I'm guessing not.
Yet the organisations that reported the findings decided to report: 18% increase.
Everyone saw that headline figure, freaked out, and sales of PMs plummetted.
I'm not sure whether they were being duplicitous or naive, but I'm going for duplicitous.
After all, to report the incidence of stomach cancer may (and yes, it was only "may") go up from 0.0211% to 0.0248% is not very earth-shattering.
I did my own bit of excel spreadsheeting.


Here are a few charts I generated, to show how the figures can be represented or misrepresented:


Chart 1 shows the relationship between meat consumption (not just PM), and stomach cancer rates, for the 20 countries in the world with the worst stomach cancer rates.
The correlation coefficient is 0.26, which is below "moderate", tending towards "none".  That is, there is marginal to no correlation.  The trendline above reflects this in the moderate slope: you can double your meat consumption, from, say 40 kg/year to 80 kg and the result may be an increase from 21 to 23 per 100,000 or 0.021% to 0.023%.  That is, an insignificant increase in risk.


Chart 2 shows the same info as that above, but this time I've removed the three Outliers:, Japan, Korea and Mongolia.  Why do that? Well, because an outlier is usually an outlier because of different factors than those affecting the overall correlation.  In the case of those three countries, because of high rates of smoking and salt intake, both of which identified in the study as factors in stomach cancers.  In other words, if you live in one of the 17 worst countries in the world for stomach cancer (20 minus the three outliers) and you eat more meat,  it will have exactly zero effect on the rate of stomach cancer.
The correlation above = zero.


Chart 3: is just to highlight the percentage rate of stomach cancers, in percent instead of per 100,000 terms.  And changes the meat consumption from Kg per year to grams per day.  Feel better?


Chart 4: is the same as the Charts 1 & 2, but with the axes inverted and with no trendline. When you just eyeball it, you're going to judge, I'd guess, that there's not much effect on stomach cancer by the amount of meat eaten.

Note: that I'm using figures for meat (not just PM) consumption, because I couldn't find figures for PM.  But meat is still a proxy for processed meat consumption. Moreover, the organisations doing the study have admitted that they used virtually unrealistic figures for PM consumption, something like salami and ham eaten in large amounts every day of the year.

In sum: I think that the whole business of PMs give you stomach cancer is a crock. Yes, there's an increased risk. But the risk increase is tiny, insignificant.

So how does all that relate to the China Study?

I'll get to that in a later post.....

Tuesday, 7 November 2017

Open door to migrants makes Germany terror hub of Europe | World | The Times & The Sunday Times

Those 76% are not refugees by UN definition, but economic migrants.
Still, they harbour some refugees, according to police.
How amazing. No one could have predicted this:
Intelligence sources have revealed to The Sunday Times that more than 9,000 suspected terrorist plots against European countries have been discovered in recent years. Many were foiled before the attackers reached Europe.
But most of the recent cases are linked to the migration of late 2015, when Germany opened its borders to Syrian and other refugees to avoid a humanitarian emergency.
Since then police have received more than 1,900 reliable tip-offs about terrorists among the refugee population. More than 70 investigations are under way, with authorities carrying out an average of three to four house searches a week.
Many of America's considerable intelligence resources in Germany are focusing on terrorist threats, a majority of them emanating from migrant communities. Germany, say intelligence sources, has become Europe's prime "terror hub".
Read on... 

Monday, 6 November 2017

Swedish photographers.... who...

How ironic! This triptych is in Gothenburg, Sweden. Usually a warning not to
be complicit by silence, in Sweden they now represent its willful blindness 
(and willful deafness, willful muteness) to the issues facing it after
decades of mass Islamic immigration
LETTER TO BBC

…. who see nothing…. (hear nothing, say nothing)

Sweden is facing major issues from Islamic immigration.  

If you took your BBC boasts of fearless factual reporting, you would not air puff pieces like the one this morning (HK time) on the BBC World Service, an interview with two Swedish photographers who found everything in Sweden absolutely fine.  "Nothing to see here".

It's anything but fine, as I can personally attest after a recent visit there.

Just one example, the Australian 60 Minutes team, gets attacked.    (https://youtu.be/OmUcbHf7hC4es)

You should not be complicit in the willful blindness of Sweden's bien pensants.  

Those who point out the problems are not "extreme right wing".  They're genuinely concerned folk who are rightly concerned that their fine and open society is being subverted. That's not nativitst, racist or xenophobic and shame on you all at the BBC for suggesting so.

Where's the BBC in the struggle to uphold liberal, tolerant values??

Peter F,
etc...



Food trucks

LETTER TO SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST:

Food trucks are much in the news again for all the wrong reasons.  Several have failed and the remaining few are in a parlous state.
Niall Fraser excoriates the government's handing of them, and he's right to do so. ("Food trucks hard to stomach after glory days of street stalls", 1 November0
But what to do now? To abandon the program would punish the remaining trucks, which have invested millions of dollars.
Surely the solution is easy. This is not rocket science!  Food trucks are successful in other countries, why not here?
The answer is simple: the dead hand of bureaucrats.
Get them out of the way. Allow the trucks to locate where they want to (with limited exclusion zones).  Scrap the requirement for a "back up kitchen".  Allow more trucks to operate without the ridiculous tests the first batch had to go through (only a bureaucrat….)
In short: Let market forces bloom.
Get the dead hand of government off the trucks.
And while we're about it: how about letting those wonderful street stalls back in our city? Everyone loves them, residents and visitors alike.  Bring back the "glory days"!


Peter Forsythe
9 Siena One
Discovery Bay
+852 9308 0799




“Countries in region fearful of China’s rise” | SCMP 6 November


Xi's China has the region and markets spooked.
A Letter to the Editor headline caught my attention in this morning's South China Morning Post. The letter seemed familiar; then realised it was mine....

Niall Ferguson is right to cast doubts on the West's fawning encomiums of President Xi Jinping ("Western praise for Xi Jinping seemingly knows no bounds", October 31).
More telling are the views of China's Asia-Pacific neighbours towards Xi and to China's rise.
A recent Pew poll reveals that only 34 percent expect Xi to "do the right thing" regarding world affairs.
Nine in 10 believe China's increased military spending is a "bad thing" and 47 percent believe that its rise is a "major threat" to their country.
Despite Xi's authoritarian tendencies, the rise of social media means he has to take more notice of the Chinese people. So he vows to "develop consultative democracy".
Let us hope that he will also take notice of the people in our region and aim to develop "consultative democracy" with them as well.
Peter Forsythe, Discovery Bay
************
LATER: Related: "Why Xi's Chinese dream is a far cry from the American one".  South China Morning Post, 2 November.  This article reminded me of a comment I made years ago:
America has One Big Idea; China has none.  
The American Big Idea is "Freedom".  What's China's?  Communism? certainly not; not anymore.  Socialism? Not when it's "socialism with Chinese characteristics".  Freedom? no way. Equality? neither for gender equality (99 out of 145), nor income (120 out of 150).
That's what Michael Chugani explores in this article.  Interesting, for Chugani is normally a bit of a US-hating leftie.

Sunday, 5 November 2017

Global Gender Gap Report 2016 — Islamic countries sweep the pool


One thing jumps out — to me, anyway — from the latest report of the World Economic Forum on gender equality:
Each and every one of the bottom twenty countries in the rankings, that is the countries with the worst record for gender *IN*equality in the world — each and every one is an Islam-dominated country. Each one is a member of the Organisation of the Islamic Congress.  To restate: 100% of the bottom 20 countries are Islamic controlled.

Correlation is not (necessarily) causation. We know that.
But it is causation in this case: because the dominant ideology of Islam is at core misogynist. The reason these countries have no gender equality is because their prophet Muhammad told them women are stupid, silly and worth only one half of a man. Look at hell, he said, and you'll find it filled with women.  See my tag: what Islamic law (Sharia) and the Koran teach about women, here.
That's why these countries are at the bottom of a gender equality index.
Yet women like Linda Sarsour praise Islam. Women who are made to wear hoods.
That's the woman in the Left in the New Yorker cover above.

If we go to the bottom 50 countries, 82% are Islam dominated. The rest are large majority Catholic, and catholicism is hardly known for its beneficent view of women.
That's the woman on the right in the photo above.

The countries with the best records of gender equality are atheist countries.
That's the woman in the middle in the photo above.
But western feminists bow to the one on the left.

Which do you like? Me, I go for the babe in the middle. The one empowered by having no belief in a supernatural being. The one not under the foot of male misogynists, enthralled by their revered prophet.

LATER:
Despite the clear link between Islam and lack of women's rights, note that in the details of each country in the WEF report, many factors are considered as to what affects gender equality.  Signally missing is, you guessed it, religion!  The single biggest reason for women's poor level of gender equality in the bottom 50 nations, is not even mentioned, let alone discussed.

Saturday, 4 November 2017

‘Allahu Akbar’: An Everyday Phrase, Tarnished by Attacks - The New York Times

I'm sorry Mr Ali, but you can't have your "Allahu akbar" back ("I want 'Allahu akbar' back", 3 November).
Any more than the Japanese could have back their "Banzai" from WW2, which literally means "long life", but presaged their suicide attacks.  Just like today's jihadis.  
Or any more than we can take back "gay" as meaning "happy".  Or "fake news" from meaning, well, literally, fake news. 
That's just the way it is, I'm afraid. Jihadis call on their god just before they kill innocents, and we infidels are going to connect the two.
And, By the way, why is it that your primary concern after the death of 8 innocents is about your religion?  And not about them? 
As Maajid Nawaz said to Linda Sarsour on the same topic, on Twitter: "You. Are. Not. The. Victim".
Many will think this of your self-pitying article: How dare you?

Pf

Friday, 3 November 2017

“The West’s history of interference has fuelled Iran’s distrust”, October 27

LETTER TO SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST:
So now we know.  The South China Morning Post thinks the United States is a terrorist state.  Just like Iran.
How do we know this?
Because they [you?]  have run a featured letter by one of their [your?] correspondents, Andy Smailes, without revealing the a fact that he is employed by the paper. ("The West's history of interference has fuelled Iran's distrust", October 27).
Smailes is the Post's music critic.  Yet his letter expatiates on international affairs.  Very well, he's entitled to do so, as we all are. But we, the readers, are entitled to know that he is a regular correspondent for the paper.
According to Smailes, the United States "leads the pack by a clear mile", as a "terrorist state", a term he defines for his own agenda.
But "Let's get one or two things straight", to quote Smailes.
Terrorism is not defined by outcome, but by intent.  The LA shooting was not a terrorist act (zero intent).  The Saipov Manhattan murders were (jihadist intent).
Accidentally killing patients in a hospital is not the same as killing patients deliberately.
Iraq invading the "sovereign country" of Kuwait in 1990 is not the same as the US invading the "sovereign country" of Iraq to stop Iraq and to save Kuwaitis.
Surely this is obvious.
But apparently not to Smailes, nor to the SCMP who ran his anti-American, anti-western diatribe of bogus moral equivalence.
The whole of Smailes' last para is a farrago of nonsense about the alleged moral equivalence of America as a major terrorist state.
It's nonsense. America is hardly perfect; nor are its intentions perfect.  But it's not by a long chalk a "terrorist state".  To say otherwise is a calumny, and harms the spread of tolerance and democratic ideals.
The music critic of the Post strikes the wrong note in his letter.

Pf

Thursday, 2 November 2017

The Muslim Manhattan murderer murders because....

... because he's Muslim.
Saipov kills because he reads the Koran
Trump tweeted that Sayfullo Saipov, the murderer of 8 innocent New Yorkers, was "sick and deranged".
Well...
Yes and no.
"Yes", if we accept that Islam is itself sick and deranged.  (which, let's be frank, it is).
"No", if we think that his sickness and derangement were some form of physical or mental problem.
Saipov's motive for mowing down New Yorkers is clear.  It's reading the Koran and believing the inerrant word of god to kill unbelievers "wherever you find them".
That's precisely why he shouted "Allahu Akhbar".
NYPD say they are "still looking for motive". It's clear: Islam.
This man killed precisely, clearly, uniquely, scripturally, proudly and godly, only because he is Muslim. (and of course, of course, of course, not all Muslims are mass murderers.  For goodness sake).  He killed because he belives -- correctly -- that his god, Allah, tells him to do so and offers him a fine after life if he does.
Here is the brave and sensible Raheel Raza, a Sunni Muslim, talking about the need to combat the ideology of violent jihad.  To so many others, on the Left in particular, we can't speak of these things for fear of being racist or islamophobic.

LATER: BBC now saying that Saipov followed "almost to a T" the instructions on social media on how to go about killing with a vehicle the most number of "infidels".  Why is that info available on social media -- on Facebook and Twitter, let's say --  while they can quickly ban someone like Milo Younoppoulis or Roger Stone?

Wednesday, 1 November 2017

The malevolent guest at London's Balfour dinner | MelaniePhillips.com

Balfour allowed for creation of a Jewish state on land that had long been Israel


By wrapping herself in the Palestinian cause,  [Labour's shadow foreign secretary Emily] Thornberry is associating her party once again with an agenda of colonialist aggression (the Palestinians remain committed to the destruction of Israel), racist ethnic cleansing (the Palestinians repeatedly declare that no Jews would be allowed to live in a state of Palestine) and antisemitism (the Palestinians attempt ceaselessly to write the Jews out of their own history and religion and use Nazi-style imagery and blood libels to incite their children to anti-Jewish hatred).

And of course, a Palestine state alongside Israel has been on offer repeatedly since 1936 [PF, eg: 1948, 1967, 2001, 2002, 2008] – yet it has been the Arabs and "Palestinians" who have refused it while the Jews have always accepted it. There could be a state of Palestine tomorrow if the Palestinians would accept Israel's right to exist alongside it. Instead, they want such a state solely in order to destroy Israel altogether.

Tuesday, 31 October 2017

“Western praise for Xi Jinping seemingly knows no bounds” | SCMP October 31 | Niall Ferguson

LETTER TO SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST
Niall Ferguson is right to cast doubts on the west's fawning encomiums of Xi Jinping ("Western praise for Xi Jinping seemingly knows no bounds", October 31). 
More telling are the views of China's Asia-Pacific neighbours towards President Xi and to China's rise. 
A recent Pew poll (reveals that only 34% expect Xi to "do the right thing" regarding world affairs. 
Nine in ten believe China's increased military spending is a "bad thing" and 47% believe that China's rise is a "major threat" to their country. 
Despite Xi's authoritarian tendencies, the rise of social media means he has to take more notice of the Chinese people. So he vows to "develop consultative democracy ". 
Let us hope that he will also take notice of the people in our region and develop "consultative democracy" with them as well. 

Pf

Monday, 23 October 2017

Trump the “master persuader”; but persuading to what?

Scott Adams, creator of "Dilbert" cartoon and analyst of
Donald Trump
Scott Adams identified Trump as a "master persuader" way back in late 2015, and one who would win the election because of this skill (he sure was right there).
Here he is talking to Dave Rubin and predicting a win for Trump (by a "landslide", which it really wasn't*); here he is talking to Joe Rogan and to Sam Harris, all essentially the same story: how he, Adams, apart from having invented "Dilbert" -- which made him rich, is still going and is an amusing story of how he made it successful -- apart from that he is a qualified hypnotist and student of persuasion (persuasion being a key skill of the hypnotist).  I enjoyed these talks.  And I've enjoyed watching Scott ever since, on his daily Periscope talks.  He's fun, amusing, witty, intelligent, often with a unique take on issues of the day.
But I remain to be convinced of his signature claim about Trump: that he's a "master persuader".
Adams says he recognised early on Trump's ability as a master persuader.  And before mocking that concept, it's well worth listening to one of the videos linked above.  He makes a strong case.
I don't think, by the way, that Adamis is a natural Trump supporter -- he is very liberal in many areas that Trump is not. Rather he's an "explainer" of Trump and why he won.  He enjoys Trump, his sense of humour, his turning things upside down in America and the world.  But a supporter? I'm not sure.  He says he didn't vote for Trump, as he is, by inclination (Scott, that is) a classic liberal and a libertarian.
Anyway, I've enjoyed listening to his case for Trump the persuader.
But in the end, I don't really buy it.  After all, it's one thing to persuade enough people to vote for him, by a combination of cunning and subterfuge (which is what it amounts to).  It's another thing to persuade members of Congress -- the majority of whom are from your own Party! -- to pass laws that you told your adoring public you would. And if he can't do that, even with his own party members, that counts as not much of a persuader, in my books.  At least not a persuader in the area that really matters.
Even allowing -- which I don't -- the concept that he is indeed a "master persuader", then one could and should make the obvious point that there have been plenty of master persuaders in world history and they haven't always persuaded people to do good things.  Stalin, Mao, Pot Pot, come to mind, let alone the amusingly mustachioed Austrian, whose name we daren't mention for fear of being accused of having broken (or proven?) Godwin's Law.
So, a quick review of what Trump "persuaded" his followers were good ideas, with my severely curtailed comments in purple:
  • Pull out of the TPP.  Bad idea; gives China strategic advantage
  • Obamacare, repeal and replace.  Nothing happening.  Also: bad idea, better to improve it.
  • Gorsuch.  Good only if you're in favour of conservative judges.
  • Tax reform.  Nothing happening.  Failure of persuasion
  • Build a Wall. Bad idea; useless
  • Pull out of Paris climate accord.  Probably bad idea
  • Muslim ban.  Bad idea and useless.
  • North Korea. A curate's egg.  No advance
  • ISIS.  Yes, some good marks on this one, for having them on the run
So that's about it from me on that one.
In sum:
I'd not convinced that Trump is a persuader, let alone a master one.
Even if he is a great persuader, most of the ideas he persuaded people to vote him in for, are bad or useless...
Still!  I'm not for the hysteria of many on the left about Trump. I'm more like Ann Althouse, who says she neither loves Trump nor hates him (which binary is the current Rep/Dem split, by and large).
And in the meantime, yes, he's amusing.  Think of what things would be like with Hillary.
Well, yes, do think about that.  More boring, for sure, but more constructive likely too.
****************
Trump's win was not a landslide.  In the electoral college, his win margin is 46th out of 56 elections.
In the popular vote, he lost by the largest margin, by a long way, of any president who won the election.  Six times more than George W!
Adams says Trump won in "the only vote that matters" -- the electoral college.  Sure, but.... Clearly Trump himself was upset by his popular vote loss, as he kept banging on about it after the election -- "voter fraud" and so forth...

Sunday, 22 October 2017

"Burqa Ban is Just Another Way of Oppressing Women and Restricting Freedoms” | Huffpo, Atif Rashid

This is the photo that fronts Rashid's story. Note that it's not even a burka
nor taken from the front.  As if he's embarrassed to show the burka,
as he should be, as HuffPo should be.  It's a horrid item
Yea, right. And banning chains is just another way of oppressing slaves. 

I hadn't heard of this guy Atif Rashid, so I googled and found he's the font of many a lie in the name of Islam. He's a serial apologist and serial liar about the contents of Islam.
Some of these other posts of his have so many lies, that I just don't have the patience to go through them all. Save to say that you pretty much can't believe one word of his apologist nonsense.
There's a bunch of his writing over at the Independent, here.  But if you are taken in by any of his duplicity, shame on you. You need to read more: specifically of the Koran. And the Sirah: the life of Muhammad (Contumely be upon him).
The Independent, by the way, has fallen low. Their recent story about Islam being the saviour of sexual predation received well-deserved scorn.
Meantime, here's a rather more rational take on the burka/niqab issue, from Qanta Ahmed, a female Muslim, who wears (or used to wear) a burka. In the Speccie:
Rigid interpretations of the veil are a recent invention. They’re derived not from the Quran or early Islamic tradition but from a misogyny which claims a false basis in the divine. So when the ECJ  [European Court of Justice] supports employers who ban the hijab, it is categorically not impinging on anyone’s religious freedom. The veil has more to do with a set of quite new cultural mores. 
The Islamists wish to say: we Muslims are different from the West. Increasingly, we don’t look like you, or act like you. For Muslim families who have lived in Europe for generations, this is a strange and ugly trend. The men and women agitating for the right to wear headscarves in Europe would do well to remember our own history in the Muslim world. In the 1920s, with the rise of secular states in Egypt and Iran, Muslim women began to organise in pursuit of their rights. In 1922, these activists, led by Huda Shaarawi, founded the Egyptian Feminist Union, and discarded their veils. Within a decade, countless women followed suit, and slowly, they forced their way into the Egyptian academe. Eventually Iran and Turkey forced women to de-veil as official policy. Link. [PF: but then things changed back].....
Which brings to mind the (in)famous diptych:
Cairo University graduates 1978

Cairo University graduates 2005
From Nonie Darwish

Thursday, 19 October 2017

One Hundred Years of Evil

Oh, you poor, naive young ones!  Spend time in a communist country
to cure you of this delusion!
The indefatigable, the redoubtable Douglas Murray, chases the question of why communism still exerts its baleful allure.
My cure for it: spend time in a communist country.  In my case, it was China in the last days of its Cultural Revolution. You couldn't get any consumer goods; staples, like rice, flour and cotton, were rationed. And look what happened to China when it took the dead hand of the State off the economy.  It roared, in an unprecedented creation of wealth: the World Bank estimates 500 million Chinese have been lifted out of poverty in the Great China Boom, which began when I was there, in 1979 (ironically, the same time as the Iranian revolution did the opposite and took that country from secular sanity to stifling theocracy).
I'm well aware of the extent to which China is still a Leninist control system -- often nasty -- awere of its censorship 'n all --  what the BBC credits Xi Jinping with calling "socialism with Chinese characteristics" (the phrase was actully coined by the brilliant Deng Xiaoping in 1978).  But China did loosen up a lot. Contrary to what's going on in places like Venezuela, where the socialists call for it to move even further left!  As if it wasn't socialism, would be communism, that impoverished it...
Over to the felicitous pen of Douglas Murray:

Angela Merkel & Europe: Legacy Includes Brexit, Rise of Far Right | National Review

Merkel at the EU summit in April this year


Her legacy includes Brexit, the rise of far-right parties, and border walls


Merkel has practiced what Business Insider's Josh Barro calls "no-choice politics." During the euro crisis, she relied on there being no choice to exit the currency union. During the run-up to Brexit, she relied on the fact that Cameron had no choice but to argue for Remain, no matter how little she offered. She relied on there being no choice to her right in Germany. It hasn't worked. Merkel took responsibility for Europe over the last decade. And Brexit, her party's diminished majority, the border walls rising, and the advent of populist alternatives are her legacy.

I've excoriated Mad Mutti Merkel before.  And here, Merkel ignores the problems of ordinary Germans, in favour of virtue-signalling for refugees. 
Why the Germans continue to vote for her is beyond me.