Monday 25 December 2017

The Corporate Tax-Cut Dividend - WSJ

Merry Christmas to US workers!
I'm agnostic on the tax cuts as I don't enough about them. And the commentary is irredeemably partisan. All good to republicans and all bad to democrats.
But one thing no one seems to have been expecting. That major companies would hand out $US 1,000 cheques for Christmas as a direct result. Or that they would up the minimum wage to $15/ hr, a figure the likes of Bernie Sanders have called for.
But the democrats led by Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer are incensed anyway.
Says the Journal:
If Nancy Pelosi ever did anything in her political career that produced this result from corporations, she'd be dancing down the aisles of the House of Representatives in a Santa Claus suit. Instead, the Democrats are dripping bile on the entire bill. "There are only two places where America is popping champagne," said Sen. Schumer, "the White House and the corporate board rooms."

Saturday 23 December 2017

What on Earth is Italy doing?

They're now airfreighting in economic migrants direct from Libya. Airfreight because coming by sea was drowning too many.
And they hope that there "will be many more" such airfreights.
I must say my flabber is gasted. Do they have the agreement of the Italian people to do this? They do not. How do we know this? Because of poll after poll that shows upward of three in four Italians do not want an increase in this sort of undocumented immigration.
Empathy and sympathy, yes. But not just for the illegal immigrants. Also for the poor Italian people - and I mean poor in the literal sense - who are most impacted by unskilled immigrants. What about them?
I find it amazing and sad that Italian politicians are complicit in their own suicide.
The alternative would be to set up and support safe spaces in Libya. That's the approach of the UK and strikes me as far more sensible and more humane too. Keep the people near where they would rather be if all were well. And that's in North Africa. Not to bring North Africa to Europe. Why would you want that? Italian virtue-signalling elites apparently. The Left

Friday 22 December 2017

Stephen Sackur and so-called “Hard Talk”.

To the BBC:
So now the BBC won't even mention Christmas?
A "Happy New Year", that's all were wished by Stephen Sackur. Shame. Hardly Hard Talk.
Remind me: what is this holiday next week? Something starting with "C"...?
Yet you'll happily wish the world a Happy Eid or peaceful Ramadan.
What a mockery of your repeated claims  of fearless truth telling. The "most trusted name in journalism".  Sure. 
The truth of Christmas wiped. 
(I'm atheist, BTW, so I've no Christian skin in this game). 
Shame on you all for that pusillanimous decision. 
"Inclusion". Hah!

P F etc...

Thursday 21 December 2017

The Conflict over Jerusalem Is ALL Obama's Fault

A powerful piece by Alan Dershowitz, all the more credible not only because he is professor Emeritus of Law at Harvard, but also because he's a long-term Democrat, supporter of Obama and Hillary.

Harry's Place » Palestinians don’t know what winning looks like

A good article by The Zionist, with some equally good comments

Tuesday 19 December 2017

Muslim Views on Morality | Pew Research Center

Pew does research on Muslim morality, here

Emotion and Feeling Beat Critical Thinking - WSJ

A good  explanation for the rise of the snowflake generation. 
Letter to the WSJ Editor:
As a 30-year educator of American university students, I can summarize the reason in one word: ideology.
In his essay on education, Bertrand Russell wrote: "The prevention of free inquiry is unavoidable so long as the purpose of education is to produce belief rather than thought, to compel the young to hold positive opinions on doubtful matters rather than to let them see the doubtfulness and be encouraged to independence of mind. Education ought to foster the wish for truth, not the conviction that some particular creed is the truth."

Monday 18 December 2017

Re: The 'snowflakes' again

Haha that's funny!  Though to be fair there's not so much snowflakery in STEM.
I read the other day that snowflakes are triggered by the term "snowflake"...
A recent podcast, with Dave Rubin, iirc, has his guest, an academic, saying that university administrations are starting to push back against the snowflake pretensions and demands.  Mainly because alumni are saying they're not going to continue donations if the SJW thing continues. Money talks. Snowflakes melt. 
The pendulum effect kicks in again. 

“A war Trump won” | NYT

Good morning P!
Yes I read that and had sent to you last night also, but it disappeared from my Outbox before it went....
I had commented that part of the reason for the win (which Douthat doesn't mention) was Trump Admin's changed rules of engagement (ROE). The generals were given flexibility to get on with the job. I'd read about that somewhere last week.  Under Obama they'd only been allowed to be defensive. Under Trump ROE they can go on offensive. Made all the difference according to the generals. 
(Obama really was a pusillanimous prick on foreign policy. Can't forgive him - and neither do commentators from all political sides - for the Syria "red line" bungle-cum-catastrophe). 
This article was spot on the timing that Scott Adams predicted for this phase. The phase being "acknowledge his effectiveness even if you don't like what's being done". He'd predicted it way back as December. 
Also note what Douthat says about the Trump admin Jerusalem decision. No major push back from the Arab world because they've got other things going on including getting along better with Israel. I'd add heightened Sunni v Shia competition.  Saudi v Iran. 
From a chilly Hong Kong — 10 degrees.

Sunday 17 December 2017

The Uncomfortable Truth About Swedish Anti-Semitism - The New York Times

Finally in the MSM news about Sweden that those in the blogosphere have known for many years: that immigrants to Sweden of Islamic background are creating havoc, with rapes and murders skyrocketing and, as reported here, rising and violent anti-semitism. 
But the media and politicians in Sweden have studiously looked the other way. Until now... perhaps. As this article by the pulchritudinous Paulina Neuding (above) suggests. I hope she's right. 
Let's get this out of the way: of course the majority of Muslim immigrants in Sweden, as elsewhere, are law abiding and want to get on with life just like the rest of us.  But large minorities are involved in violence (10-25% according to various polls). 
And as for anti-semitism that would be close to 100% of Muslims pretty much wherever they are. It's deeply ingrained in the doctrines of Islam, especially the Koran and Hadith. 
I would guess that the average Leftie who doesn't follow the issue closely would say that anti-semitism is a thing of the Right. Well, yes it used to be.  But now it's mostly from Muslims. And the second largest anti-Semitic group in Sweden are those on the Left. Presumably these "left-wing extremists" have bought the idea that Palestinians should be handed over all lands between "the river and the sea", that is to say all of Israel, and that if this were to happen peace and good fellowship  would prevail in the world. 
Historically, anti-Semitism in Sweden could mainly be attributed to right-wing extremists. While this problem persists, a study from 2013showed that 51 percent of anti-Semitic incidents in Sweden were attributed to Muslim extremists. Only 5 percent were carried out by right-wing extremists; 25 percent were perpetrated by left-wing extremists.

Wednesday 13 December 2017

35,000 jihadists now present in the UK, almost two full World War II divisions

UK's defence secretary Gavin Williamson said in an interview  that ISIS fighters and other jihadists who take up arms against the Sovereign should be eliminated. He said that they are legitimate targets for the military and that nobody who voluntarily joins an organization or a state which is at war with the United Kingdom, should be allowed back into the country. He's not alone.

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 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.
P F etc..

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.

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 being 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. 

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. [from here]

Uber v taxi industry

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. 

P F etc...

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

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.

P F etc

Wednesday 6 December 2017

Veiling is compulsory in Islam, debate unacceptable: Al-Azhar - Egypt Independent

Egypt’s Al-Azhar, the Sunni Muslim world’s main religious institution, asserted on Monday in a fatwa, or religious decree, that it is compulsory for women in Islam to wear the veil, while those who deny this are “extremist” and “abnormal”

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.

P F etc

Western Feminists Snub an Iranian Heroine - WSJ

Photo of Dorsa, above, from Toronto Sun

The story was in the Wall Street Journal, but behind a paywall, so you can see it here, at Ruthfully Yours.  It's a truly shameful story -- all too common -- of western feminists abandoning their sisters in the middle east, because, one assumes, the care and concern for an "opressed" Islam trumps their care for women's rights in the middle east.  These feminists are brutal in their response to anyone calling them out on this

Sent from my iPad

Monday 4 December 2017

Muslim Population Growth in Europe | Pew Research Center

This is Pew Research -- the unimpeachable -- saying that the number of Muslims in Europe will ineluctably grow, even if there is no more migration, which of course there is, in unprecedented numbers.  It is now nearly 5% of the population of Europe.  I have shown elsewhere that there is no country in the world with more than 6% Muslim population that is fully free and democratic.

In Defence of Jordan B. Peterson - Quillette

In the left-of-centre Quilette magazine, a defence of the firebrand Jordan Peterson.

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 the latter 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.
The battle between Free speech and “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. 

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?
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. [Wayback archive]
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.