Saturday, 25 April 2015

How I Got Converted to G.M.O. Food - NYTimes.com

Mark Lynas again...  But there seems no amount of science will convince the GMO deniers. 
As Lynas says:

After writing two books on the science of climate change, I decided I could no longer continue taking a pro-science position on global warming and an anti-science position on G.M.O.s.

There is an equivalent level of scientific consensus on both issues, I realized, that climate change is real and genetically modified foods are safe. I could not defend the expert consensus on one issue while opposing it on the other.

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/25/opinion/sunday/how-i-got-converted-to-gmo-food.html?_r=0


Sent from my iPad

Cool pic: Chinese models in a rice paddy, Hunan

Promoting Earth Day....
http://www.scmp.com/sites/default/files/galleries/2015/04/24/mask-field.jpg

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Muslims and Jews on the Seine - NYTimes.com

Roger Cohen is a thoughtful and incisive commentator in the New York Times. He's sometimes off-beam (that is, when I disagree with him...), but here again he's spot on. 

Islam is in crisis, a religion at war with itself. The West is a spectator to this internal conflict and a victim of it. Up to now, the reaction of Muslims to the horrors committed in the name of an ideology of hate and death drawn from a certain reading of Islamic texts has been pitiful. The resolution of the crisis of Islam can only come through denunciation from within of the slaughterers — and recognition, rather than denial, of their Islamist inspiration.

It's easy and facile to see all Muslims as the enemy. Some Jews in France now do. This is a path to ruin. Just as in the Holy Land, Jew and Muslim must not imagine the other will go away.

http://mobile.nytimes.com/2015/04/21/opinion/muslims-and-jews-on-the-seine.html?referrer=

Sent from my iPhone

Monday, 20 April 2015

The Problem With Garry Trudeau's Polk Award Speech on Charlie Hebdo — The Atlantic

First Justin Trudeau (in the post immediately before this one), now the cartoonist Garry Trudeau, Frum again skewers the false moral equivalence....  
And the fact that in Europe -- as in the US and Australia -- it's Jews, *not* Muslims, who are the greatest victims of hate crimes. (Even atheists like me, are subject to more hate crimes than Muslims). 
/Snip:
<< Which brings us back to Garry Trudeau. As with Godkin's Southern whites, it's hard to ignore that many whom Trudeau regards as European victims are simultaneously engaged in large-scale violence against people they regard as their enemies. As Jeffrey Goldberg reported in a disturbing cover story for last month's Atlantic, Europe is witnessing a surge of violent anti-Semitism.

About 40 percent of all hate crimes recorded in France in 2013 were committed against Jews, and 95 percent of those crimes were committed by people of Middle Eastern or North African origin.

Hate crimes against European Muslims, thankfully, appear to be comparatively rare. (I tried to compile a tally here.) In response to this violence at the hands of their Muslim neighbors, Jews are again emigrating from Europe.>>

http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2015/04/why-garry-trudeau-is-wrong-about-charlie-hebdo/390336/

Sent from my iPad

David Frum: Trudeau didn’t just defend the niqab. He defended the niqab by trivializing the Holocaust | National Post

I was looking for a link to David Frum's criticism of cartoonist Garry Trudeau's lecture at the George Polk awards on the Charie Hebdo massacre, but found this critique of another Trudeau: Justin, the liberal opposition leader in Canada. This Trudeau had made the bogus moral equivalence argument of Muslims being treated like German Jews in the 1930s.
/Snip:
<< Trudeau's analogy turned history upside-down. The European Jews who sought refuge in Canada in the 1930s and 1940s were fleeing an ideology that defined them as inferior and demanded they wear special identifying badges of inferiority. Trudeau now urges Canada to enable and assist those who define women as inferior — and who require women to wear special identifying badges of their inferiority.>>
http://news.nationalpost.com/full-comment/david-frum-trudeau-didnt-just-defend-the-niqab-he-defended-the-niqab-by-trivializing-the-holocaust#__federated=1

Sent from my iPad

Sunday, 19 April 2015

Islam Must Find Its Own Peace

Especially relevant to Turkish President Erdogan's idiotic statement that there's no difference between Sunnis and Shias.
Why is Saudi Arabia suddenly concerned about Iran getting a nuclear weapon? Why are the Saudis fighting Houthis in Yemen? Why is Iran helping Iraq fight ISIS in Tikrit?
There are two sects in Islam. Sunni comprise about 85 percent and Shia about 15 percent.
The Sunni-Shia split lies in the schism that occurred when the Islamic prophet Muhammad died in the year 632. The dispute was over succession to Muhammad.
Sunnis believe that Abu Bakr was Muhammad's rightful successor. Shias believe that Muhammad ordained his cousin and son-in-law Ali in accordance with the command of God to be his successor. 
Read the rest.

Saturday, 18 April 2015

Five arrested in counter-terrorism raids in Melbourne's south-east

The wonders of our vibrant Aussie multiculturalism....
Just now on BBC World News here in Hong Kong, an Aussie Police representative claimed that the potential mass murderers had "nothing to do with ethnicity, religion, or culture...".
No I suppose not. The murderous attacks -- planned for Anzac Day, Australia's secular/sacred day --were just because these guys had had a bad hair day. Or something.
Nothing to do, nothing I tell you, with the religion of peace.
http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/five-arrested-in-counterterrorism-raids-in-melbournes-southeast-20150418-1mns9h.html

Sent from my iPad

Friday, 17 April 2015

Teaching ‘Western Values’ in China - NYTimes.com

As I was saying... Despite all the crap going on in China, censorship, corruption 'n all, I share professor Bell's special affection for China. I've been here and there in China for 38 years now. It's maddening, yes, but lovable too. 
And note what I said in an earlier post about the curiosity and openness of the average Chinese folk which is reflected in Bell's article in the amount of freedom in his Peking classrooms to discuss anything, no matter how sensitive. 
Clip from the article:
<<It's worth asking why I continue to work in an academic environment with such constraints. Half of my family is Chinese, and I have special affection for the place. It helps to have great students and colleagues. Mr. Fukuyama's "end of history" thesis put his finger on another key reason: A world where nobody argues about political ideals may be peaceful, but it's boring. China is not boring. 
Chinese-style democratic meritocracy is the only viable alternative to liberal democracy, and I have front row seats to China's experiment. What else could a political theorist ask for?
That said, I am in favor of free speech in universities. And my views are widely shared in Chinese academia: Whatever people say in public, I haven't met a single Chinese intellectual — socialist, liberal or Confucian — who argues in private discussion for censorship of scholarly works. Censorship only serves to alienate intellectuals.>>
http://mobile.nytimes.com/2015/04/17/opinion/teaching-western-values-in-china.html?referrer=

Sent from my iPhone

Thursday, 16 April 2015

A Call to Look Past Sustainable Development - NYTimes.com

I like a Farmer's Market as much as the next man. The main reason is the fun of chatting with the purveyors, as I do when I visit our monthly market here in DB, Hong Kong.  There's the "cheese lady" and the "sausage lady",  and the "home-made beer bloke".
But as I chat with and buy from these folks,  I don't kid myself that they're the saviours of our planet. I know that's nonsense. 
Now we have the "Eco-modernist manifest" that aims to use our smarts, not our gut-feelies, to feed our growing population, while reducing our environmental impact. 
A nice quote from the article linked below, in the International New York Times (a left-of-centre paper, let's recall). 
<<This new framework favors a very different set of policies than those now in vogue. Eating the bounty of small-scale, local farming, for example, may be fine for denizens of Berkeley and Brooklyn. But using it to feed a world of nine billion people would consume every acre of the world's surface. Big Agriculture, using synthetic fertilizers and modern production techniques, could feed many more people using much less land and water.>>

Sent from my iPad

What’s Up With You? - NYTimes.com

I share Friedman's scepticism...
<<President Xi seems to be betting that China is big enough and smart enough to curb the Internet and political speech just enough to prevent dissent but not enough to choke off innovation. This is the biggest bet in the world today. And if he's wrong (and color me dubious) we're all going to feel it.>>
http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/15/opinion/thomas-friedman-whats-up-with-you.html

Sent from my iPad

Survey maps China's political split -- NYTimes.com

It's what I always say to people who look at China from the outside and see just a monolith; a communist dictatorship; a repressed populace; a police state, even.
I say the reality is different, more complex, more nuanced and way more positive.
Chinese folk are wide awake, knowledgeable, funny, curious, able to speak their minds about anything save criticism of senior leaders (just the senior leadership is out of bounds; people can and frequently do criticize and mock government officials).
They are also dramatically better off than they were 38 years ago when I first went to Peking to study Chinese.
Then the average monthly wage was US$10. Now it's US$1,000, *one hundred times* greater. That's a massive 13% growth in wages every single year, compounding for 38 years. A remarkable achievement, that's hauled 600 Million people out of poverty. Is it any wonder I'm a Confucianist!...
And that wealth has spread even to the countryside, as we saw on a recent trip to rural Yunnan Province.
The New York Times article linked below by Michael Forsythe (no relation; at least as far as I know...), gives a bit more colour, as it were, to this picture of the diversity in China's population.
One thing I'd dispute: in the last para he says many would dispute the finding that Xinjiang is the most conservative in China since more than half its population is "ethnic minority".
But we know what most of that ethnic minority is, don't we? It's Muslim. And Muslims, even moderate ones, are notoriously conservative in their outlook. So that explains that and I wouldn't dispute that particular finding at all.
Clip from Forsythe's piece:
<<A Chinese conservative supports the teachings of the philosopher Confucius, backs a strong state and wants the government to have a strong role in running the economy. Chinese liberals yearn for more civil liberties, believe in free-market capitalism and want more sexual freedom.>>
[If I were Chinese in China, I'd be a Chinese liberal].
The link>>
http://sinosphere.blogs.nytimes.com/author/michael-forsythe/
Sent from my iPhone

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

All-Female Jihadi Brigade Releases Training Video

How can this not be scary?

Black-clad ninja female jihadis, fanatical, determined, unafraid to die -- indeed eager to die.  And they want the rest of the world to submit, as they have.

And what are they driven by?  By Allah, by Muhammad, by Islam, by Sharia.

[H/T Clarionproject.org]

Paris - January 11: A Disturbing Event > Shmuel Trigano

A longish, but rather interesting article, contemplating the Charlie Hebdo murders in Paris in January, and the deeper meanings of the mass demonstrations that followed. Note the comment in the second excerpted para below, that French sympathy morphed from the victims of the murders to Muslims in France.
/Snip...
The "pas d'amalgame" syndrome
Once again, as following all recent attacks in the West, the "pas d'amalgame" syndrome was immediately reactivated. "Pas d'amalgame" can be translated as "let's not blur distinction" or "let's not conflate" or "lump together," it being understood, though not expressly stated, that the object of this confusion is between terrorists and Muslims. What I mean by the "pas d'amalgame" syndrome is the automatic, almost ritualistic warning against blurring the distinction between terrorists and Muslims that is formulated in the same breath as the condemnation of the attack, if not beforehand; so much so that attention is first focused on the general Muslim population rather than on the victims of the attack or on the Islamic motivation for the crime. So instead of showing support for the victims, the weight of public opinion is thrown behind innocent Muslims. In this way the Muslim population became once again the focus of public debates. A "special attacks" evening of broadcasts on M6 the day of the rally, featured first a report on "Muslims families in France, caught in the storm," and then, only in second position, a report on the Jews of France. During the debates, Tarek Oubrou, Imam of Bordeaux and an adherent of the Muslim Brotherhood, invited to comment on the departure of Jews, declared that Muslims too were leaving France, in a very typical attitude that can be described as a form of symbolic ping-pong. Then there were calls to bestow the legion of Honor on "the Muslim [expressis verbis] Malian hero of the kosher supermarket." Six days after the attack, the president himself stated that, "Muslims are the first victim of fanaticism, fundamentalism, and intolerance." And, in response to the threats against Jews coming from fundamentalist mosques, the government extended security measures to mosques. The "pas d'amalgame" syndrome thus serves to position Muslims in the category of victims and collaterally stamp out any consideration of a specifically Islamic form of anti-Semitism.
The fact is that the blurring of distinctions is widespread amongst political leaders on the highest level (Cameron, Hollande, Obama, and others). After every attack they repeat the selfsame profession of faith, asserting urbi et orbi that the publicly stated reason for the attacks – namely, Islam – is being falsely cited by the assailants whose acts are actually "unrelated to Islam." It is obvious to everyone, however, that Islam is the unique motivation of the attackers, a fact that is corroborated by the rapidity with which some new converts to Islam commit terrorist acts for which they had no grounds prior to their conversion. The blurring of distinctions is thus surreptitiously reproduced whenever political leaders speak of Islam as an absolute or of the betrayal by these Islamists of Muslims as a whole. Their very need to defend Muslims as a whole, when there is no reason why they should ALL be held accountable for the fundamentalists among them (even if the latter claim to be motivated by Islam), is a sign that at bottom they believe there's a reason for suspicion..../end snip.
http://www.newenglishreview.org/Shmuel_Trigano/Paris_-_January_11:_A_Disturbing_Event/

Sent from my iPad

The Closing of the Campus Mind | The Weekly Standard

Having just written about the closing of the Muslim mind, it's ironic and disturbing to read about the closing of the campus mind. That is, the stultifying enforced conformity taking hold across the U.S. academy, especially on liberal arts campuses.
Having been to school in China at the fag end of the Cultural Revolution, I can say that the atmosphere described in the thoughtful article below sounds eerily similar to that I experienced in that chilly, bare classroom in Peking back in the seventies.
One time an essay I wrote in Chinese was marked down a few points, not because of any grammatical mistake, but because I'd made a politically incorrect statement -- albeit inadvertently. I'd described the Gang of Four (remember them?), as "ultra leftist", when at the time they were being described as "ultra rightist". (In my defence, there had been a bit of to-ing and fro-ing on whether to describe them as rightist or leftist and it was a sensitive political issue; I just happened to pin yesterday's label on them, rather than today's.
The G4's label was later re-amended, once and for all, by the rehabilitated Deng Xiaoping, as "ultra leftist", but too late for me to get my marks back...
Read on in the link, for similar inanities on the American academy.
This link is thanks to David Thompson's blog, the source of much poking fun at the frequent silliness of the left. A favourite target is The Guardian...
http://www.weeklystandard.com/articles/closing-campus-mind_899943.html?page=3

Sent from my iPad

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

What Is Islam's Oldest Religious Institution Afraid Of?

Hiam Nawaz asks, at the end of this article, "is it just me or is there something bewilderingly wrong with this picture?" [Of Islam's oldest University gagging a popular radio satirist].
No, it's not just you, Hiam. There is indeed something wrong with this picture.
But it is not bewildering.
If you read scholarly books such as Robert Reilly's "The Closing of the Muslim Mind" one learns that the battles between reformers on the one side, and on the other side the conservatives who wished no change, no "bidah", or innovation, was won centuries ago. In favor of the latter. Modern Muslims are in danger of death if they try to open the debate again.
http://m.huffpost.com/us/entry/7047412

Sent from my iPhone

Erdogan: the Denier-in-Chief

Just in the last week Turkish President Erdogan got upset by the Pope (correctly) describing the mass killings of Armenians by Turks as "genocide".
Then, in a talk in Istanbul on 12 April, he claimed (as have Obama, Cameron, Kerry and various other Islamopologists), that ISIS has nothing to do with Islam, that it is causing "devastation" to Islam, that it is the "greatest enemy of Islam".
No analysis by Erdogan of what it is, within the doctrines of Islam, that is driving the likes of ISIS, the sort of honest analysis, for example, of Ayaan Hirsi Ali.
No, none of that.  Just some thoroughly duplicitous statements.
Take this, for example:
He [Erdogan]  explained that neither the Prophet Muhammad nor Muslims had ever used force and this was evident by the fact that no society had been forcibly converted to Islam.
In the official biography of Islam, the Sirah (link at left) written by Ibn Ishaq and accepted as canonical by all Muslims, Muhammad is recorded as having personally taken part in 27 battles, and having personally taken part in the beheading of hundreds of Jews.
Moreover, the growth of Islam in the years after Muhammad was all "by the sword".  That's official Islamic history.  So Erdogan's claim is simply false.
And this:
"We do not have a Sunni or Shia religion. We only have a single religion and that is Islam" the Turkish president noted, saying that not acknowledging this fact will result in more pain and suffering.
Well, the mind boggles.  That's just utter nonsense. If a non-Muslim were to make that statement they would be judged ignorant.
Erdogan is certainly not ignorant of these issues.
He is, quite simply, a liar.
To be fair to the man, he has said: "There is no such thing as moderate or immoderate Islam.  Islam's Islam and that's it.".
Which is pretty revealing and uncomfortable for those who insist on dividing Islam into the "tiny minority" of extremists, who have 'hijacked", or "misunderstood" Islam, and the rest of Muslims who hew to the "Religion of Peace".   
And recall that Erdogan has quoted approvingly a poem, that says:

The mosques are our barracks, 
The domes our helmets, 
the minarets our bayonets 
and the faithful our soldiers..
Hardly a recipe to live peaceably in this world....

The Interview: Ayaan Hirsi Ali on reforming Islam

In her new book, Ayaan Hirsi Ali argues the rise of Islamist extremism presents moderate Muslims with an opportunity for reform
They call her "controversial".  But she shouldn't be.  Not for what she says: of which she knows well, having been brought up a Muslim, having undergone FGM, been married off at the age of a minor, and having seen through all this to a fine and thoughtful critique of the tenets of Islam (The Trinity of Islam).
She comes up with five reforms that Islam needs to go through to be able to live in 21st century society.  They're logical, though tough. Especially the non-literal reading of the Koran, for that's blasphemy to the majority of Muslims, even the "Mecca Muslims" she identifies as the most "moderate", or even "dissident".
It's an interesting interview with Maclean's magazine in Canada, a magazine that's not been scared to scrutinise Islam.

Sunday, 12 April 2015

Whose fault is the jihadi bride? Certainly not her astonishing dad » The Spectator

Another corker from Rod Liddle.
As he's said elsewhere on his blog, let those who want to go help ISIS go. And don't let them back. That's a pretty widely shared feeling I reckon.

Saturday, 11 April 2015

Ayaan Hirsi Ali: Islam's most devastating critic - The Independent

I love this woman. Such bravery, intelligence and integrity.
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/people/profiles/ayaan-hirsi-ali-islams-most-devastating-critic-10169031.html

Sent from my iPad

My Unveiling Ceremony - NYTimes.com

Eltahawi has a bit a mixed history in counter-Jihad (eg in 2012 she was arrested for spray painting over a subway ad of the American Freedom Defense Initiative), but she's spot on here in her criticism of the hijab and burka. It's all the more authoritative coming from a Muslim woman who used to wear the hijab.

Sent from my iPad