Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Hunt Elephants to Save Them? Some Countries See No Other Choice (or print edition: "...? An endless debate”)


This is an interesting and I think pretty balanced article in today's New York Times, International Edition.
Just to be clear: I'm certainly not pushing trophy hunting. I'm now neutral about it. I wouldn't do it myself, and can't imagine why people do. But they do, and that helps some conservation. But, as the print version of the headline above says, it is "An endless debate".
As the article points out, trophy hunting is handled well in Namibia and Zimbabwe; not so well in Tanzania.
The International Union for the Conservation of Nature is in favour of it; other Wildlife bodies against.
Whether you're for or against, the main issue remains poaching and trafficking. Trophy hunting is only 0.01% to 0.23% of the total killings. And still brings in up to 20% of revenue for some countries (figures in the article).
From the end of the article:
"We're talking about the wrong thing right now," said Dan Ashe, president of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and former director of the Fish and Wildlife Service.
"Trophy hunting is not the issue. We should be focused on wildlife trafficking and the broader plight of elephants."
And it's certainly not the clear-cut evil issue that Avaaz would have us believe, with its breathlessly hyperbolic petition.
You can read the article online here.  Or archived here,  Or here in pdf.
It's worth a read, very interesting.

Trump’s folly to cut corporate tax will change nothing | South China Morning Post

Hi Jake,
Re your article below in today's paper:
Not to mention the fact that corporate *effective* tax rates are usually much lower than nominal.
And... slightly OT: should we be taxing revenue not profit? The latter much easier to manipulate than the former.
Ex Aussie Liberal (ie conservative) leader John Hewson was supporting this last night on Australia Plus TV. After all, he points out, it's how we're taxed personally.
Regards,
Peter Forsythe
WhatsApp 93080799

http://www.scmp.com/business/companies/article/2123840/trumps-folly-cut-corporate-tax-will-change-nothing


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Monday, 11 December 2017

Christmas markets without armed police are now a thing of the past | Coffee House

Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear.
This is all too true as I can personally vouch. First in London in 1972 and many times since. Just last year I walked around... half of London is now Baghdad.
London is lost.
And they brought this on themselves. At least, the Labour Party did. And especially Blair's.
https://blogs.spectator.co.uk/2017/12/christmas-markets-without-armed-police-are-now-a-thing-of-the-past/

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Should the US Criminalize Radical Islam? | Clarion Project


Short answer: YES!  Not only in the United States, but a also in my own country, Australia, and the whole of Europe, for that matter.

Interesting idea.  Seems obvious in retrospect.  The answer being "yes" we should criminalise radical Islam.  It's not against religious freedom to do so. Because we have not only "freedom of religion" but also "freedom from religion".  And the problem with radical islam is that it seeks to impose itself on all others.  And that's not freedom from religion.





Of Course Jerusalem Is Israel’s Capital

From The New York Times:  This says it all. 

Of Course Jerusalem Is Israel's Capital

President Trump is going to formalize what all Israelis know.
Note the comments. Some vicious and deranged...

US policy on Jerusalem as capital of Israel is consistent Democrat and Republican

Clinton (the W one) in 1992, Bush (the W one) in 2000, Obama in 2008 and again in 2008, all said exactly what Trump said in 2016: That Jerusalem is the undivided capital of Israel and that the US would move its embassy there.  And so did the Congress in 1995, and again in June this year (vote 90-0).
The only difference is that Trump did it.
From Ben Sharpiro podcast # 433

Sunday, 10 December 2017

Amazing Chinese toilets

This one is in Guizhou province SW China.  
Presumably taken by a drone. Wonder if drones will be allowed once these are bing used...
Xi Jinping wants a "clean toilet revolution" to boost tourism.  
There have been some pretty weird and wonderful Chinese toilets festered recently in the South China Morning Post. 

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Saturday, 9 December 2017

Donald Trump's Jerusalem Decision: Democrats Accuse President of Playing Politics | National Review

> Trump may know no more about Middle East policy than he knows about most other issues. But his instinctual resistance to playing by existing rules has led him to the realization that the policies of his predecessors failed to foster peace and encouraged the Palestinians to believe that no one will ever hold them accountable for their intransigence and support of terrorism.

> Unlike every previous president, he has grasped, even if by accident, that the necessary predicate for peace must be Palestinians' acceptance of Israel's permanence and legitimacy as well as an end to their financing of terror.


http://www.nationalreview.com/article/454486/donald-trump-jerusalem-democratic-critics-hypocrisy


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Uber v taxi industry

LETTER TO SCMP:
You ask your readers: "do you support the taxi industry in its warning to sue the Hong Kong government if Consumer Council recommendations urging the city to legalise ride-hailing services are accepted?" (Opinion, December 9). 
No, this reader does not. Nor should anyone. 
Simply put, the "warning" is by thuggish taxi owners who seek to sue their way to an entrenched and inefficient monopoly. 
Taxi owners invested, or speculated, in taxi plates. Like any investment they must be subject to market forces. Remember Netscape? Or MySpace?  Better products came along and wiped them out. They were not allowed to sue their way to monopoly. That is the way of an efficient market economy, what's known as "creative destruction". 
The main objections to Uber appear to be that they don't have commercial licences or third party insurance. These are surely easily fixable. Even so, I haven't seen a single report that a passenger of Uber has been injured and not covered by insurance despite their having operated ("illegally") for several years. 
So, no, taxi operators don't get to sue their way to monopoly. Or at least they ought not be allowed to. 
The rights of the public for more efficient services trump the demands of greedy taxi owners. 

Peter Forsythe 
9 Siena One
Discovery Bay 
9308 0799


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Elderly need helpers as well as more clinics | SCMP

Letter published last Thursday. Not my usual subject...
The only bit they cut was a comment I'd made at the end refuting the claims of Kammerer and his ilk that domestic helpers in Hong Kong are "slaves", a claim I called hysterical hyperbole. 
Do domestic helpers in Hong Kong wish they were not allowed to work here because some self-righteous prats think they're being exploited? Of course they don't. They want the jobs. And they're free to stay at home, in the Philippines or Indonesia if they wish. 
More: by taking up jobs overseas they reduce the labour pool at home and put pressure on the upward movement of wages there which is, after all, the only way that regional salaries will ever  be equalised, the ultimate aim of the do-gooders. And of mine as well. Let there be greater equality (equity!) regionwise! But it won't happen by restricting working opportunities in high wage Hong Kong. 
Anyway, the letter: 
Elderly need helpers as well as more clinics
Your columnist, Peter Kammerer, says Hong Kong needs more clinics, health and social workers trained in geriatrics to cope with the rise in the city's elderly population ("Trained professionals needed to care for young and old, not more maids", ­December 5).[*]
He is surely correct. But, just as surely, he is incorrect in saying that boosting the number of helpers is "laughable".
The fastest-growing demographic in Hong Kong is the over-80s; I will soon be in that cohort myself.
Some of us may need specialised geriatric care in clinics. But many are mobile and fit for their age, and would welcome a helper-cum-companion, to ­assist with mobility, cooking and other household chores.
My mother is 96 and still healthy and mobile. She lives in Australia and manages on her own, with family help.
She would certainly welcome a helper; but sadly Australia does not allow special domestic helper visas, as Hong Kong does.
As one of the 1.16 million over-65s, please let us keep the mixed system we have in Hong Kong. By all means more clinics and trained social workers. And by all means more helpers.
Peter Forsythe, Discovery Bay

[*] http://m.scmp.com/comment/insight-opinion/article/2122756/hong-kong-doesnt-need-army-maids-care-its-young-and-old-it

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Friday, 8 December 2017

The opioid crisis

Your experts on the BBC World Service, moderated by Tulip Mazumdar, say China is getting only 16% of the morphine it needs, India only 4%, Nigeria "a measly 0.2%" (iirc).
Why no mention of a possible solution to this shortage? From poppies to pain killers: Palliative morphine for Africa and elsewhere from Afghanistan's poppies.
If the US were to spend a fraction of the amount it now spends on trying to destroy opium poppies, on buying up the crop instead - and then manufacturing them into morphine (providing income for farmers and local manufacturing jobs), it could give the palliative morphine away for free to countries that are desperately short of it. Everyone would be in front.
I'm surprised this concept was not even touched on.
Bearing in mind that the theme was "are we facing an even bigger opioid crisis?" (i.e. bigger than that in the United States). And bearing in mind that one of your experts pointed out that the pain suffered by those unable to get palliative morphine is equivalent to the pain of torture.

Peter Forsythe
Hong Kong

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Thursday, 7 December 2017

Tuesday, 5 December 2017

Trained professionals needed to care for young and old, not more maids | December 5

Peter Kammerer says Hong Kong needs more clinics, health and social workers trained in geriatrics to cope with the rise in the elderly cohort.   ("Trained professionals needed to care for young and old, not more maids", December 5).  In this he is surely correct. But just as surely he is incorrect to say that boosting number of helpers is "laughable".
The fastest growing sector in Hong Kong is the over 80s; I will soon be in that cohort myself.  Some of these folks may need specialised geriatric care in clinics. But many are mobile and fit for age.  Many would welcome a helper-cum-companion, to assist with mobility, cooking and other household chores. My mother is 96 and still healthy and mobile. She lives in Australia and managers on her own, with family help. She would certainly welcome the help of a helper; but sadly Australia does not allow the special domestic helper visas as does Hong Kong.
As one of the 1.16 million over-65s please let us keep the mixed system we have in Hong Kong.  By all means more clinics and trained social workers.  And by all means more helpers. Those who claim, as Kammerer has done, that our domestic helper system is  "slave labour" are clearly caught up in hysterical hyperbole.  There is no compulsion to work here.  And of course we must ensure that any mistreatment of domestic helpers is strictly punished by the law.

Peter Forsythe
9 Siena One
Discovery Bay
+852 9308 0799









Western Feminists Snub an Iranian Heroine - WSJ

https://www.wsj.com/amp/articles/western-feminists-snub-an-iranian-heroine-1488413022


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Monday, 27 November 2017

Wilfrid Laurier and the Creep of Critical Theory - Quillette

"Water-lilies spring from mud;
from the cow-dung sprouts the lotus-bud"
This is our own, in our own koi carp pond

I found this article, The Creep of Critical Theory, most enlightening. 
It certainly helps — at least it helped me — understand what is going on with the young horrors, the Social Justice Warriors at American universities. Their de-platforming, their shouting down different views, their "punch a Nazi" rhetoric. 
The author sums it up as the battle between Mill and Marcuse. With Marcuse winning. 
The battle between critical thinking and Critical Theory; with the latter winning. 
The battle between bottom-up debate and top-down diktat; with the latter winning. Free speech vs "fighting oppression"; with the latter winning. 
Marcuse's influential essay was called Repressive Tolerance. Sounds creepy to me. But it's what Marcuse was after and it's what he's getting.  Repression by the Left of any but their opinions, all with the goal, apparently, of fighting oppression.

Misunderstanding Capitalism - Quillette

Ben Shapiro, viewed as of the Right, is actually a libertarian, liberal
on issues like drugs, same-sex marriage, mental health funding, 6'00"
Great article, Misunderstanding Capitalism, in Quilette, a moderate left-ish site, and on the right side of this question!
Only those that have not lived and worked in a socialist economy could be so deluded as to think socialism has anything to add to human happiness. Apart from their own shivers of feel-good.
I've lived in socialism -- what many called communism at the time -- namely mid-seventies China, when it was in what later became known as "the last stages of the Cultural Revolution".  The Cultural Revolution, that is, that killed millions and impoverished tens of millions in its quest to establish perfect socialism.  That's always the way if you look around: from the Soviet Union to Venezuela via Vietnam and North Korea.
Read on...

Sunday, 26 November 2017

Why Israel is the new promised land for Chinese investors | South China Morning Post

Get in on the action! Two of the most successful business cultures join hands: "Israel is the new promised land for Chinese investors".
China's total investment in Israel almost tripled last year to US$16 billion (HK$125 million), largely driven by a surge in funding in Israel's hi-tech industry, according to ZAG-S&W, a Tel Aviv-based law firm specialising in cross-border transactions. Meanwhile, the number of deals involving at least one Chinese investor in Israel's hi-tech sector also increased by 16 percent year-on-year, shown in data from Israel's IVC Research Centre.

Attack on Egyptian mosque shows Islamic State remains a deadly threat but may also be a sign of desperate infighting | SCMP

Sufis having fun but hated by all other Muslims...
The headline in the print version of this article in the South China Morning Post was different:
"Motive for mosque murder a mystery"
It's only a "mystery" to those who are thoroughly ignorant of Islam. As the authors of this article in the left-leaning Washington Post clearly are. 
As soon as you see that it was a SUFI mosque that ISIS attacked, all is clear. 
Under the concept of Takfir, Sufis -- actually a sect of mainly Sunni  Muslims -- are considered non-Muslims by mainstream Sunni and Shi'a alike, and which together amount to about 98% of Muslims. 
Worse: Sufis are considered Apostates. Apostates are the worst of the worst and the crime of apostasy is worse than murder. 
So killing them is natural for the likes of the Sunni-based ISIS. 
One despairs at the ignorance in the western media, fully 16 years after 9/11. 
A related article in Bloomberg states that Muslims are often the first victims of Muslim terrorism. As if that somehow excuses the horrid doctrines of Islam. 
But that fact — and it is a fact — is about as relevant as this one: most people killed by Maoism were Chinese. Or most victims of the Nazis were Germans. Both true and both irrelevant to the nastiness of both doctrines. 
On the Bloomberg site I said in the comments:
Those murdered at the mosque? they were Sufis. They are considered non-Muslims by Sunni and Shi'a alike. Apostates. The only group Sunnis hate more than westerner infidels are Sufis. Then Shia. Then Jews and Christians. Etc, etc...
The concept of "Takfir" is alive and well. But not mentioned in this ignorant article.
Btw: Islam is a "religion of peace" as much as I am my Labrador Basil.

How this Israeli internet star captured Chinese hearts | SCMP

Screen grab from video at the site below, by Raz Gal-Or
This is fun! "How Israeli internet star captured Chinese hearts", in the South China Morning Post
Born in Tel Aviv, Raz Gal-Or's dad moved the family to China when he was 13... where he has thrived.

Friday, 24 November 2017

Good riddance mad mutti Merkel

Merkel, the mad mutti of Berlin. Sympathiser of Islamism
I've often had a go against "Mad Mutti Merkel".  She's responsible -- she, she alone -- for the uncontrolled immigration into Europe of millions of Muslims, many of whom are anti-western and some of whom ("some" being a not insignificant number) are violently anti-western.
Ross Douthat, in today's New York Times says:
That [leader-of-the-free-world] mystique is undeserved because it is too kind to her decision, lauded for its idealism but ultimately deeply reckless and destabilizing, to swiftly admit a million-odd migrants into the heart of Europe in 2015. No recent move has so clearly highlighted the undemocratic, Berlin-dominated nature of European decision making and the gulf between the elite consensus and popular opinion. And no move has contributed so much to the disturbances since — the worsening of Europe’s terrorism problem, the shock of Brexit and the rise of Trump, and the growing divide between the E.U.’s Franco-German core and its eastern nations.
Read the rest here.

I've said before: Germany had two goes at ruining Europe in the 20th Century.
Their third go, thanks to Mad Mutti Merkel in the 21st Century, may just be the one that ruins Europe. For a Europe dominated by Islam is not Europe.  It's Al-Andalus writ large.  And that's the best it could be: Muslims in charge, non-Muslims treated as dhimmis.
Way to go, Angela; not.

Wednesday, 22 November 2017

"Muslim Anti-semitism Threatens France's Democracy” | Newsweek

Bostom's book, The Legacy of Islamic Antisemitism
Here we have the threat of Muslim antisemitism in France, reported in the left-of-centre Newsweek, so it must be right.
There's a lot more of academic research about the deep roots of Muslim jew-hate, which goes back to the days of Muhammad.  See Andrew Bostom's book, cover above, which sits in my library, and is a damning recital of how Muslims have hated the jews since they launched themselves out of the Middle East.
Christopher Hitchens believed that it was all down to the fact that the Jews laughed at him when he went around claiming to be the new prophet.
Just recently someone in France got hauled in by the plod, because he had said that Muslims in France are anti-semitic.  They are.  So he was collared for stating a fact.

Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Why don’t we convert prime waterfront land at Hong Kong’s shrinking port into housing? | SCMP


Well, this is a good idea that Jake has been pushing for some time. 

It seems the key step is for Beijing to repeal cabotage rules: rules that currently prohibit foreign ships taking goods between mainland China ports. According to Jake that's very much on Beijing's agenda and is being pushed by foreign shippers. 

This would be clearly better than yet more reclamation or yet more bubbling away at country parks. 

Let's see and cross fingers for the demise of cabotage...

Monday, 20 November 2017

Muslim Women Must Speak for Ourselves - The New York Times

"Islamophobia and racism are real." says Mona Eltahawy (Let's call out patriarchy, #DearSister, iNYT, November 20). 
Maybe so, but these terms are now routinely used as verbal kill shots to shut up any opponent. 
"Islamophobia", for example - a term invented by Islamists [Muslim Brotherhood] -  is used to shout down any critic of Islam (an idea) whether Muslim or not and no matter how valid the criticism. We don't talk of "Cathophobia" when we criticise that Catholicism. 
A better term would be "anti-Muslim bigotry". That defines a pernicious bigotry about people that certainly exists, which I assume is what Ms Eltahawy is referring to, and which must surely be called out. 
DearSister, could you not change to using that term [anti-Muslim bigotry]? Instead of the tired and inaccurate "Islamophobia"?   Ditch a term of the Islamist patriarchy that we share in deploring. 
Pf

Three steps to tackle Hong Kong’s traffic chaos, and avoid pointless consultations on tunnel tolls | SCMP

Spot on Mike!
Three more examples  of what I pointed out recently about this government: its "do nothing" proclivity. I don't think Chief Executive Carrie Lam is a "do nothinger", but she's frustrated by the system. Neither run by single party, nor fully democratic, the "opposition" in HK can't attain government and so spends its time obstructing pretty much everything.
Here Mike points out three things it could do which would have public support. No need for more consultations or studies.
Just do it!
But it probably won't. The key requirement: "courage". Don't hold your breath for any government to show "courage", as Sir Humphrey points out in a famous episode of "Yes, Minister".
Amazingly though, Carrie Lam did sign a deal over the weekend that gives mainland officials the right to handle, here in Kowloon, passengers going to China on fast trains. Much objected to by the some in the Legislature, for concern over sovereignty. But it's going to be great and once implemented no one will want to reverse it.
What it means is we can take the MTR subway or bus or taxi to Kowloon and hop on a super fast train to Shanghai or Beijing or places between. I became a fan of fast trains on my last trip to Europe and will be hopping on them from here when they get going in the next few months.
By the way, I know Mile Rowse from our days in government. He was head of the HK government's inward investment arm and I was head of Austrade which also has an inward investment arm. We used to meet from time to time at functions around town. He's turned into a capable and interesting analyst of local matters.

Sunday, 19 November 2017

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

From an Anti-American article. People forget the importance of the US
protecting maritime freedom of movement world-wide.
In the print edition this morning the headline for this article in the South China Morning Post 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

Angus Reid polling, via this site
"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...

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

China GDP per capita is one-eighth of the US'
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….


LATER: Debt "not a problem" (per me, and without googling):

1.  The market for US debt tells us it's not.  If it were, US Treasuries would be sold off leading to higher interest rates.  Rates remain at historical lows, indicating the HUGE (bigger than the share markets) international fixed-interest market has no concerns.  

2.  The US $ is the world's reserve currency. So no exchange rate risk in the increasing debt.  

3.  U.S. Debt/GDP ratio -- iirc -- is middling to high, not the highest and not in the concern area. 

4.  Most debt is domestic: money the US owes to itself. 

Friday, 17 November 2017

“Benign America?” | SCMP

The illustration at the article below.  Hmmmm.... leftie, but sure, I'll grant
an element of truth, though another reading is:
to maintain freedom you need strength 
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" 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: wealth and equality. 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.....