Sunday, 17 November 2019

Chinese troops on Hing Kong streets

‘Teeenshun! Preeesent brooms!  Chinese Special  Forces
leave their Kowloon barracks to help in the cleanup 
And how do I feel about this? Fine. Good, even. It was a very smart move. Soft power. 
The radicals didn’t throw petrol bombs at them. As they had with ordinary residents cleaning up. Maybe the fact that they were Special Forces had something to do with it.
Of course the pan-Dems are going ballistic. But the PLA have done this before. Last year they came out to help with the clean up after typhoon Mangkut.

Yes, we need a proper public opinion poll…

I had dealings with Matthew when he was Minister if Educations
Matthew Cheung, Chief Secretary, says we need a comprehensive international poll. Yes we do. 
I knew Cheung in my working days. A dour and unimaginative man. But keen to do the right thing.
I have wondered from the outset of these demos why the government didn’t carry out a detailed poll of public feelings. There have been a few though limited in size and scope.  But they haven’t done a comprehensive one. Carrie Lam is influenced by hardliners, who may be arguing against polling (why should we care what the people think?) and is herself stubborn.
Many people, including former chief justice Andrew Li Kwok-nang, have put forward in the Post sensible ways to resolve the ongoing crisis peacefully. All of this, as well as confidential pleadings within the administration, have fallen on deaf ears.
Lam is reputed to have been stubborn throughout her career in government. Her superiors in Beijing are convinced the Communist Party knows better than the people.
So, perhaps Cheung concluded that the public statement he chose to make in Legco was the only way for him to make powers above him rethink their stance. His message seems to be: conduct a public-opinion poll by an internationally reputed agency to figure out the source of public anger and what people think of the government’s policies.
Simple thing to do. But even this seems a road too far for this incompetent and pusillanimous government.

Related: Hong Kong government spurns chance to listen to the public

We Be Water… ‘keeping calm and carrying on’

That was the mantra of the protest movement early on, drawing on the wisdom of Bruce Lee. Be flexible, move around obstacles, "Be Water".

That's the mantra for the Hong Kong population now. We have apps to tell us where the blockages are and where the latest demos and violence are taking place. So, when I went into town the other day, I reported that "if you didn't know you wouldn't know"… i.e. that there are violent protests on the streets every weekend  

Now, of course, it's weekdays too. The mornings after, the public are getting out to clean up and clear the streets. With the PLA at their side! So perhaps the public have had enough. 

Saturday, 16 November 2019

‘Boris Johnson’s Wind Energy Pledge Threatened By Brexit’

Fear mongering in Forbes magazine:
"Worst case scenario: we slip into WTO rules and we're subject to significant tariffs on these products, and we're looking at very severe delays if U.K. companies are looking to hire the brightest and best people on the continent," Hannon said. "My view is it will really hurt the sector."
But (a) Britain has said import tariffs will be zero even in no-deal Brexit. (b) in any case, under WTO rules, tariffs on wind turbines are 4%, hardly a deal breaker, especially given the big price reductions the authors brag about. And (c) staff from Europe will be permitted into the UK. They’ll just have to stand in a different queue, the one for foreign nationals. Just as we do when we go to the UK. 
In short, there is no reason that Brexit with or without a deal should impact the wind power sector in the UK. 
This is obvious and baseless scaremongering. 

Interview: Ex-head of legislature Jasper Tsang says the gov’t is weakest player of four in Hong Kong’s struggle

For the HK troubles nerds. This is a good and insightful article. Especially how C-E Carrie Lam is taking advice mainly from hard liners. There are some potential solutions, bur tough to get them accepted.
Grim future…

'Hong Kong protests have taken the globe by storm. Now the world must stand up to China'

“Freedom for Hong Kong”: we have all the freedoms of a modern
liberal society
This article is all in with the protesters (the “yellow ribbons”). Two authors, all the way from Yale University....

A couple of comments:

The placard in the above photo, which heads their article, says in the top part: “Restore Hong Kong; Revolution of our Times”. Which I read as being separatist, pro Hong Kong independence.  Some of the yellow ribbons, like Joshua Wong, say they are not for “independence” for Hong Kong (an absolute red line for Beijing), but their acolytes surely do. Independence is simply a no-goer.  Not now, not never.

"Freedom for Hong Kong”: I’ve said many times that Hong Kong enjoys (enjoyed?) every freedom of a modern, democratic, pluralistic society. At least we did, until the “yellow ribbons”, because unless you agree with them, you have no freedom of speech and no freedom of assembly on pain of death or injury: being killed with a brick or burnt alive. If you speak freely, and they dont agree with you, they will doxx you and trash your business.  And thatFreedom and thats the Rule of Law, yellow-ribbon-style.

From the article:
  • "These events, like those in Hong Kong, have turned violent at times”: but the only cases of violence mentioned are those by pro-China students (“blue ribbons”).  By far the most violence has come from the yellow ribbons. By far.
  • The authors clearly think that the US’ Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act should be passed by the Senate. But it would be dire for Hong Kong, because it would remove our special status and only hasten the merger with Hong Kong, not protect us.
  • Carrie Lam calls the violent protesters “hooligans”, a term the authors clearly don’t approve of. But “Hooligans” is the perfect word: “A violent young troublemaker”. Exactly.
  • "The people of Hong Kong are making tremendous economic sacrifices for democracy.”  Well, yes, but how many are doing this willingly?  Increasingly not.
  • “... the struggle for representative government that was promised by Beijing will continue to reverberate throughout the world.” [my emphasis]. I had something to say about the “promise” on universal suffrage before.

'How Fake News and Rumors Are Stoking Division in Hong Kong'

Sent in by a reader: link to this article in Bloomberg. Bloomberg is centre to centre-left so it’s interesting that most of the examples are on the protesters’ side (aka “yellow ribbons”). i.e. they are responsible for most of the rumours and fake news.
Most people now get their news from the internet, which is bad news because it means social media the likes of LIHKG, which is a cesspit of paranoia and conspiracy theories. 
Better news source is Live Stream on cable. But many won’t have
the subscription or won’t be bothered with the time it takes
And in the meantime there’s still 2047 to look forward to (or worry about).  That ought to be where the efforts are put: talking to Beijing about post-47 (As Henry Litton has argued).  But now that’s unlikely.  Alex Lo is pessimistic, as am I:
Thoughtful people worry how Hong Kong’s institutions can survive after 2047 when “one country, two systems” expires. They needn’t worry; ours will have become so weak or non-existent the mainland will simply take over without worrying about a difficult institutional merger. [Here]

Friday, 15 November 2019

‘Campus chaos and central Hong Kong clashes'

This is from CNA*, my latest go-to for news. Singaporean. Tries hard to be neutral.
Check out the weaponry in the vid and below.  Javelins, bows and arrows. Someone could be killed. The aim is surely death or serious injury.  *[Originally SCMP video, via CNA].

The video is from this CNA report: Protesters blockade universities, stockpile bakeshop weapons as chaos grips Hong Kong.  Mostly at my alma mater (Class ’77), Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK).  These are the “future of Hong Kong” someone says, without irony.

That bows and arrows are no ‘homemade gears” [sic]

I heard about these office workers in Central yesterday. WTF are they
doing getting out there and supporting the vandalism?  Oh, yes
Democracy and Freedom.  Yay!

It was like this all over Hong Kong last night, Mongkok, Tsuen Wan,
Hung Hom, Sheung Shui, Harbour Tunnel.

Unnamed cleaner, 70, killed by protesters. Unmourned

The print version headline reads “Man hit in head by brick during clash dies”. (Who threw the brick? We are not told). Online version.
There will be no flowers, no tributes, no mourning for this poor anonymous man. The Unknown Victim.
To be clear: he was hit in the head by a brick thrown by protesters*. Yet they are silent. No apology, no regret. Let alone public mourning. Unlike the other day. When student Chow Tsz-lok fell down a car park storey and died later in hospital. Then an outpouring of grief, genuine and manufactured. Flowers laid in piles at the place of his tragic fall. Immediate and unquestioned blaming of the police (even though…). And so, of course, the direct cause of the latest spasm of mayhem on our streets.
But the cleaner? Nothing.
The same for the man who was set on fire by protesters. He remains in intensive care at Prince of Wales Hospital. He at least has a name, Leung Chi-cheung; father of two daughters. He is otherwise unlamented. Forgotten by these tribunes of Freedom and Democracy, and their lackeys and enablers, the pan-Dems.
Because, says Joey Leung, spokeswoman for the “movement”, they have a policy of “no splitting, no condemning”. This is a vacuous and immoral policy. If you can’t call out inhumane murder and torture of innocent  parents (44% of Leung’s body is burnt), who are you to lecture us about anything?

*LATER: RTHK Radio 3 is reporting that the man was not confronting the protesters.  He was hit by a brick that was thrown at him deliberately. RTHK is far from a government mouthpiece; in fact, if anything, it’s criticised for being too pro-protesters (aka “yellow ribbons”).
Alex Lo laments, more in sorrow than in anger … “The end of Hong Kong as we know it”.

We’ve been to the Hong Kong demos and sit-ins …

Nathan RD, Mongkok last night. Building a stone wall
barricade from bricks torn up from the footpath 
And a few weeks ago I went to the front lines in Kowloon, until violence and destruction broke out, which I watched for a bit, then went home. 

Now I watch the demos via Live Feed, NOW TV Channel 331. It casts its eyes unblinkingly on areas where demos are going on. You get to see what’s happening in real time, with no voice over and no editing. Hour after hour.

And it struck me that it’s a bit like the difference between going along to watch a cricket match at the Oval and watching it on TV. Different experiences, but you’re watching the same thing. If you want a fuller, clearer picture, you’re actually better off with the TV view. And so too with Live Stream because you can watch all the places at once. Last night it was Mongkok, Yuen Long, Sheung Shui, Hung Hom and the Harbour Tunnel. Above is Nathan Road, the main tourist street in Hong Kong. [ADDED: why do they keep the streets brightly lit, when they’re under attack?  Why not turn off the lights? Wouldn’t that dent some of the fun of vandalising? It’s greener, too].

It’s strangely addictive, this Live Stream. The soundtrack s the mutters and hums of the young crowd, (students, mostly), the occasional shout, the odd chant, but mostly it’s muttering and sputtering, punctuated with the rhythmic crash crash crash of metal bars on shuttered shopfronts and gated MTR stations. Which they then fire bomb as they did last night.

Just before the screenshot above they had a human chain passing bricks along, bricks that they’d torn from the footpath. Some, like ke Michael Chugani, would burble brightly about how wonderful, how peaceful, how communitarian they all are, these brave students. Right. Production lines to destroy our city. Breaking the law to fight for the Rule of Law. Ok Zoomers!

And we’re wondering: When will this stop? How will this stop? The passage of time alone? Or giving in to the Five Demands? Or will it take government crack down? With or without PLA involvement?

Quick prediction: Hard government  crackdown. Possibly with PLA involvement. Because…
Time won’t solve it. Protests have only got more frequent and violent with time. Giving in to the Five Demands (五大诉求) won’t do it because (a) they would press new demands and (b) at least one of the demands is impossible and another is illegal. (One, and arguably two, have already been granted).

So it seems inevitable, to me at least, that a tough crackdown is only a matter of time. But what do I know? I’ve a terrible record of prediction. And I’m recalling that back in June not a single person would have predicted where we are today. It would have been — it was — unthinkable. 

Thursday, 14 November 2019

‘City crippled for third straight day’

Post, 14 November 
So again no going in to town for me...
“Radicals”, as the Post calls them online (“vandals” or “rioters” also works) have torched toll booths, taken over roads in ten districts, blocked the cross-harbour tunnel and vandalised train stations. It’s a clear escalation. And it can’t end well (as I’ve said before). It’s impossible for it to end well.
So I’m kind of stuck here in my Discovery Bay bubble.
ADDED (2;00 pm HKT): Office workers in Central (Pedder and Connaught Roads) are holding hands and handing out umbrellas, supporting the protesters.  So the idea -- which I also had -- that Hongkongers are getting sick of it all, seems to be wishful thinking. For whatever weird (as I see it) reason they’re supporting all this self-destructive stuff.
True to the neutral stance of the Post, which I’ve praised before, it has articles and letters supporting both sides, the “blue ribbons” (pro-government and support police) and “yellow ribbons” (pro-protesters).  Me? I’ve tried all along to see both sides, but have certainly trended blue in recen months.  Ever since it got violent.
Not that I support the government necessarily, as they’ve made a real dog’s breakfast of the whole drama from day one. But the escalating violence of the protesters is something I just can’t abide.
Today there’s news of a 70-year old, just like me, who was hospitalised by a protesters who smashed him on the head with a brick. He’s fighting for his life. His crime? He was trying to clear up the road that the “radicals” — the vandals! — had torn up. And the guy who was set ablaze by protesters lies in a critical condition in hospital, forgotten by the media.
The police enter Chinese Uni (my alma mater Class of ‘77), where protesters were barricading roads and tossing petrol bombs, and it gets labelled: “Beijing backed police invade university”.
Want to see a trove of fake news? Go into the social media of protesters’ choice: LIHKG.
And I’ve had enough of the likes of Michael Chugani weeping for the brave, the caring protesters, as he frets over the “popping sounds” of the tear gas canisters. (Some comments).
I lean to Alex Lo’s Take:
It’s an unmistakable worsening of violence from targeting public to private property to people.
Rioters are now at the Rubicon as they prove ready to cross the line separating assaulting people to killing them. Pro-Beijing lawmaker Junius Ho Kwan-yiu was stabbed near the heart. A man angry with rioters for trashing his neighbourhood was set on fire and left in a critical condition.
All sorts of businesses, people and their families are being labelled by the protest/riot movement. If they express the “wrong” opinion, donate to the “wrong” cause, or support police, they may be attacked. These can range from online harassment such as doxxing and school bullying to assaults and attempted murder.
Some radical elements of the movement are starting to resemble extremism. Still, you can’t blame everyone in it. The trouble is, many peaceful protesters are sticking to their “no splitting and no condemning” position, which means they will continue to tolerate the most extreme violence.
Clear example of the “no splitting, no condemning” position, the Joey Siu interview I posted the other day. The more I think about that position the less I think it’s principled and the more I think it’s morally empty. I mean: Joey, are you not going to condemn setting a man on fire?? You’re not going to split from those who bash and hospitalise a 70-yo man?
Democracy and Freedom. Yay!

ADDED: also cancelled: Happy Valley horse racing last night. That costs $160 million to charity (the Jockey Club is the biggest contributor to HK charities). HK Cyclathon, also a charity event, cancelled. And next weekend’s world-famous Oxfam Trailwalker, which I did in 2002 with a team from our company. Trailwalker also raises money for charity and will be a big disappointment for the 16,000 registered participants — all the training, all the money raised for Oxfam. So, big losses to charities.  But, you know… Freedom and Democracy. Yay! 

Wednesday, 13 November 2019

City ‘on brink of total breakdown’

Post 13 November 2019
How’s that for a headline?!  “On the brink of breakdown”. Today’s print version of SCMP. (Here is the online version). 
This in the wake of running clashes last night at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, my alma mater (class of ‘77) and on the streets on Kowloon side. It seems the rioters are using any excuse for a bit of mayhem. And the police get blamed. 
TBF I think it’s a bit OTT. I mean, if you go to town today, as I’ll be doing shortly, it will seem normal, I’m sure. Thanks to the wonderful band of cleaners working overnight. Of course many people are feeling depressed and even PTSD: movie theatres and hotels are empty.
ADDED (12:15 HKT): Well, I was wrong. Things are not normal. Many schools and all universities are closed and roads blocked all over the place so if you want to get to Kowloon you have to go the long way around via Tsuen Wan in the west. Only 100 out of 650 bus services are operating and a number of MTR stations closed. So I’m not going to town. I’ll stay in our little Discovery Bay bubble and go for a walk to the monastery to meditate in peace…
The police and street cleaners must be feeling stressed out. And the quote above is from the police.
The report says “scores” of petrol bombs were thrown.
A report on “travel chaos”.
Meantime a bit of positive news: CNA is reporting that Hong Kong has regained the title of IPO capital of the world with the secondary listing here of Alibaba. $US 20 billion in money raised year to date. Said to be “a vote of confidence”  in Hong Kong. People are talking about Hong Kong’s continuing place as the major financial centre focussed in China. If that breaks down we really are in strife.

Tuesday, 12 November 2019

Mayhem at Chinese University of Hong Kong

Click for vid 
Happening now (11:00pm) at Chinese University Hong Kong, my alma mater (1977). Police went there because the students were trashing it*. Throwing petrol bombs, smashing classrooms. Are the police supposed to let that happen unhindered? But the western media frames it as “Beijing-backed police raid college”.
11:28 pm and there’s vandalising going on in town. At Prince  Edward and Mongkok. All this an escalation because before was weekends only. All because a student died in a tragic accident which they blame the police, but which the police had nothing to do with. The video evidence proves it. But they don’t care about evidence. The police are the hated enemy.
It’s all too depressing for words. There’s no way this can achieve anything good. Only bad. Only more repression by Beijing.
I live in constant apprehension that I’ll wake up one morning to find that something really horrible has happened either by the protesters or by Beijing.

*LATER (1.10 pm 13th Nov): someone on RTHK radio 3 just said that the police had gone into CUHK for "no reason", that there had been no protesters until the police arrived which triggered them.  I thought that a bit odd, as that’s not what it looked like last night. And indeed, even the protester-friendly HK Free Press reports that the police were there because "Masked protesters wearing all-black had put up roadblocks and thrown bricks as well as petrol bombs.  So there you have it. Fake news on one side or the other.  Im going with the evidence of my eyes last night, and of the HKFP report, and common sense.  So, I’m sticking with my comment above that police “went there [Chinese U] because the students were trashing it”. 
As Bloomberg says, fake news is fuelling the violence. The rioters dont need much encouragement to think the worst of the police. If they believe (clearly, wrongly) that the police “invaded” the CUHK for no reason, then that leads to more violence.

Monday mayhem rocks the city / Man set alight

Post 12 November 2019
Yes that’s a cop firing his gun at a protester. I’m generally on the side of the police (which makes me a “blue ribbon” supporter) who are trying to stem the violence (by “yellow ribbons”), yet are accused of all sorts of crazy, nonsensical stuff .  But I do wish they would give up their guns. The protesters don’t have any so there’s limited mortal danger.

Pic above, bottom left,  is Leung Chi-Leung, a 57 year old construction worker who got doused in lighter fluid and torched with a cigarette lighter. It’s on video. He’s in hospital fighting for his life.* His crime? Yelling at the rampaging protesters — who were vandalising the MTR and shops in the area — “you’re not Chinese”. To which they responded “We are Hongkongers”. And set him alight.
Freedom and Democracy. Yay!

*LATER (12th Nov, 5 pm): still no arrests for the setting alight of a man -- attempted murder, surely. Though there are apparently vids showing who did it. But the problem is… masks!

LATER STILL (13th Nov): Alex Lo on something that had also struck me: plenty of angst and anguish over wounded protesters (aka “rioters”, in proper parlance), but almost nothing about the guy that got set alight and is now in critical condition in hospital.  So Lo wonders “Is Hong Kong OK with man being set on fire?"

“Leaving the Faith”. Yasmine Mohammed on the dangers of leaving Islam

Her book is here
In this episode of the Making Sense podcast, Sam Harris speaks with Yasmine Mohammed about her book "Unveiled: How Western Liberals Empower Radical Islam”.
They discuss her family background and indoctrination into conservative Islam, the double standard that Western liberals use when thinking about women in the Muslim community, the state of feminism in general, violence, the validity of criticizing other cultures, and many other topics.
Sam wrote a blurb for Unveiled”, which he reads out on the podcast:
Women and freethinkers in traditional Muslim communities inherit a double burden. If they want to live in the modern world, they must confront not only the theocrats in their homes and schools, but many secular liberals – whose apathy, sanctimony and hallucinations of “racism throw yet another veil over their suffering. In Unveiled, Yasmine Mohammed accepts this challenge as courageously as anyone I’ve ever met, putting the lie to the dangerous notion that criticizing the doctrine of Islam is a form of bigotry. Let her wisdom and bravery inspire you.  
– Sam Harris, author of The End of Faith

Monday, 11 November 2019

Why Bjorn Lomborg is wrong about climate change

I’ve mentioned Bjorn Lomberg before. He’s not a climate “denier” or even a climate change skeptic.  But he does raise some issues and for that he’s worth listening to.  In the vid above, Mallen Baker takes on Lomborg, but even in this take down, he acknowledges that some of Lomborg’s points are valid.
Eg, Electric Cars: many people think, I guess, that EVs are great, because they don’t have any Co2 emissions.  But that’s not true.  It depends on where the electricity comes from. An Australian EV is much less green than a French EV, because we have mostly coal-fired electricity and they have mostly nuclear powered.  So in today’s Australia, an EV is only 10-30% better than a petrol engined car.  Baker’s point here is rather a quibble.
Ditto on the Arctic vs Antarctic ice loss issue.  Lomborg’s point was not to say that they balance out.  But do say that the climate alarmists say that ice is being lost in both, whereas (it seems) it’s being lost in the Arctic and gained in Antarctica (I seem to recall some debate on this but I’m not going to go there for now).

Sunday, 10 November 2019

Good video on US-Taiwan-China relations

Click here for the video.  46’20”.
It’s from Channel News Asia, recently my default cable for news. Pretty good. My key inference: it’s Xi Jinping who is responsible for China’s tougher foreign stance, in turn for Hong Kong demonstrations, in turn for Taiwan spurning One Country Two Systems (“dead on arrival” says Chin Hao Huang, above), in turn for Taiwan abandoning any thought of getting closer to China, let alone unification. (Closer ties and even reunification were a trend not so long ago).
President Tsai Ing-wen playing off this for political gain is nothing more or less than politics, which she seems to be playing skilfully to keep herself in office at next year’s election. 
Xi’s toughness may play well at home (even then one wonders) but in the region and the world it’s backfiring. Trust of China has plummeted around Asia. Ditto the world. He was talking about soft power at one time. He is a case study in how not to do it. He blew it.

“OK, Gen Zedder”

From “‘OK, Boomer’, Gen Z’s sassy dig at old-timers…”
Call it an eye-roll from the “snowflakes” to the old-timers they blame for climate change and student debt. “OK boomer” is the new rallying cry for Generation Z, and the meme-friendly put-down is suddenly everywhere.
“The reason it’s resonating so well with Gen Z kids right now is that it’s such a simple, short response, and it’s not aggressive,” said Nina Kasman, who sells “OK boomer” goods on website
“It’s passive. It means I’m not going to give you a full response because we know boomers haven’t been listening to full explanations anyway,” the 18-year-old student said.
“OK boomer” has become the retort of choice for Gen Z kids, or zoomers, exasperated with the views of their elders – and a potent resistance at those who dismiss today’s youth as easily offended “snowflakes”.
Let’s look at some of their gripes against we “old-timers”.

SCMP - Woody Allen settles US$68 million lawsuit with Amazon over cancelled movie deal

Allen has always denied the charges. The charges were investigated but no charges were filed against him.
Isn't it different if you change the "but" to "and"? 
Allen has always denied the charges. The charges were investigated and no charges were filed against him.
The former seems, to me at least, to leave a smidgin of suspicion. The latter that a process was gone through the result of which was that there was no evidence of the alleged abuse. Which is in fact what happened. And Mia Farrow, his then ex-wife, was hammered for persecuting Woodie against whom she had bitter animus. 
Meantime I've heard that Jeff Goldblum has been "cancelled" for observing about this case that people are "presumed innocent until proven guilty". That, in today's #MeToo milieu. Is hate speech, apparently. 

Saturday, 9 November 2019

Not all religions are the same

Musims”?? What the L ?....
Uncomfortable for many.  Nonetheless true.  Societies ordered under Christian principles are different from societies ordered under Islamic principles.  The former is better.  For all concerned.  I’m an atheist, worked in Christian and Islamic countries. I’ll take the Christian one any day. This is William Kilpatrick writing on a site I’ve never heard of before, LifeSite:
According to the Declaration of Independence, all men are created equal, but are all Supreme Beings equal? The Declaration states that men are "endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights," but which Creator is the Declaration referring to? It would make no sense to claim that Allah would qualify for the position, because in Islam all men are not created equal. Muslims, who are described in the Koran as "the best of people," are considered to be decidedly superior to non-Muslims. For example, under Shariah law a Muslim who kills another Muslim may have to pay with his life, but a Muslim who kills a non-Muslim need only pay "blood money" to the murdered man's relatives. Islamic charity isn't dispensed equally, either. It's only meant for other Muslims. During the recent flooding in Pakistan, police and local clerics refused aid and shelter to Christians and Hindus, despite the fact that the majority of relief money and supplies came from non-Muslim countries. "With charity toward all" is an alien concept in much of the Muslim world.The Supreme Being as depicted in the Koran is an entirely different sort of being from the one depicted in the Judeo-Christian tradition. Although a lot of Christians like to say that "We all worship the same God," the Koran explicitly rejects Christianity and the Christian notion of God. It does this on several occasions and in no uncertain terms. The Jesus of the Koran, for example, seems to have been introduced into it for the sole purpose of denying the claims of Jesus of Nazareth. etc....
These are not cherry-picked. The sentiments are shot through the Trinity of Islam, the core texts of Islam: The Koran, the Hadith and the Sirah (life of Muhammad). Moreover they are carried out in practice: eg Pakistan, as above; and to cap it off, Islamic sacred jurisprudence is codified in the Sharia (best summary: The Reliance of the Traveller).
See for example, my posts on “What Sharia says about charity” and “What Sharia says about non-Muslims”.  More generally, “What Sharia says about.... They show that William Kilpatrick is correct in his summaries. There are good exceptions....  Then again, they’re not all that keen on the LGBT thing in Islam.  Though slavery, fine... (it’s not just ISIS).

ADDED: Yasmine Mohammed talks about these issue in her recent podcast with Sam Harris (12 Nov 19)

Friday, 8 November 2019

“Will violence kill Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement?” | Joey Siu

Interview with Joey Siu, spokeswoman for Hong Kong protesters.
Interviewer Tim Sebastian founded and was first interviewer for BBC’s Hardtalk. He interviews now on Germany’s DW TV, its public broadcast service.
I wonder what people think about this interview. I find it pretty creepy, if not scary.
To me she did harm to the “movement” she represents. There’s nothing like a bit of intolerance and lack of self-awareness to do that to you. “Violence is wrong. But we won’t do anything about it.  We won’t be splittists”. As Sebastian repeats, she’s as inflexible and dogmatic as Beijing, doing harm to democracy. And she suffers some delusions: re Hong Kong’s rule of law, for example. Still, I’d be happy to hear other views.
LATER: (14 Nov): I’ve decided the “no splitting, no condemning” view is morally vacuous. Joey: you don't condemn setting alight a middle-aged man?. You don’t  condemn bashing a 70 year old in the head with a brick?? Really? And you want to lecture us ? 

If you didn’t know, you wouldn’t know…

… you wouldn’t know anything was amiss, here in Hong Kong.
I’m in town, in Central, and it’s just as busy, as frenetic, as ever. There’s even a film crew out setting up for the latest HK Kung-fu fest. You wouldn’t know that every weekend the protesters get out and systematically trash the city.
I’m sitting in the mobile phone store, waiting for my iPhone 11 Pro (kewl) to be set up, and around me customers are speaking Mandarin and not being bashed.
And while I wait I’m reading the latest from Cliff Buddle (free) pointing out that every time there are major demos in Hong Kong — 2003 anti-Sedition law, 2014 Occupy Central movement — Beijing has tightened its grip. And so again now. Beijing will tighten its grip.
This was predictable. And was predicted. By me, amongst many others. Other stick-in-the-mud conservatives like me (aka ”realists”)
So the questions about the protesters are:
  • Do they not know this? In which case they are ignorant or naive.
  • Do they know this, but don’t care? In which case they are one or more of: reckless, inconsiderate, selfish, millenarian. 
  • Do they know this, but think the result will be different this time? That Beijing will turn around and offer concessions? In which case they are fatally naive. (“Fatally” is correct because I’ve also just read the sad news that the young protester who fell down a ledge died this morning. There is no evidence that it was anything other than a tragic accident, but no doubt the police will be blamed. So sad).*
My guess is it’s the third. Fatally naive.
I still don’t buy the argument that it’s all the result of “foreign interference”, as Beijing and others claim. The evidence is not there, so it’s based on inference, which I grant can be powerful.  But still it seems to me that the protesters are more broadly-based. If foreign interference were the main factor we’d have had much more evidence of it by now.

*ADDED: Sure enough the protesters blame the police for the student’s death (Alex Chau) and are calling for blood. The police have put out a detailed statement of their movements on the night together with videotape of Chau. It’s clear the first they had to do with him was when they saw him in the ground and gave first aid. And they’re calling for an inquest. Bit to the demonstrators, none of that means anything. The police are guilty. Period. 

Thursday, 7 November 2019

We must challenge China on mistreatment of Uygurs

It’s very sad just how thoroughly money trumps human rights. T’were ever so, I suppose, but it’s horribly stark in the case if the Uygurs of Xinjiang. So much so that even the 57-members of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference can’t bring themselves to condemn the brutality against its fellow votaries. They care more about money. Brought to them by Xi’s “Belt and Road” program.
There is plenty of evidence that Han Chinese, that is to say Beijing, are carrying our systematic oppression, cultural genocide and harvesting human organs.
At the very least China ought be stripped of the 2022 Winter Olympic Games. More should be done the United Nations.
Why does China do this? Because it’s scared of Xinjiang turning into a breakaway province. Radical Muslim Uygurs make no secret that they want to establish the state of “Eastern Turkmenistan”. It would likely be Taliban-style. That would be a grave threat to China, for sure. There must be other ways to handle it, than mass incarceration. Which might only serve to increase “jail-bred jihad”.
ADDED: Jay Nordlinger in the National Review
LATER: A different view from an American professor who worked in China. Chinese way of handling radicals better than America’s. Makes some thought-proving points. In Quora, which tends to be left-leaning. 

Wednesday, 6 November 2019


And remember it’s perfectly safe to like this cartoon! It’s not bigoted.…

“Will Great Britain Become Little England?” Nicholas Kristof doubles down...

My article earlier today on this.
690 comments in the New York Times on Nicholas Kristof’s “Will Great Britain Become Little England? Kristof doubles down in response to this comment:
The union of England with Scotland, Ireland, and even Wales were forced weddings at best, with the English army holding the shotgun. Would it be that horrible if these people were in their own countries after all these centuries?
Northern Ireland shares much more, culturally, with the rest of the Irish people than it does with the English. Scotland existed as a distinct kingdom without the help of the English for a good long time. Yes, the dissolution would be harmfully in terms of the economy. As those opposed to Mr. Trump often say, there is more to life than a GDP.
Being neither a citizen of Great Britain or the EU, nor being English, I do not feel competent to venture a valid opinion of Brexit. I understand the economic arguments against it, and the arguments in favor in terms of self-determination. I think it is up to the British citizens to determine which has more weight, and up the the Scots, Irish, and Welsh to decide if the decisions of the English bear sufficient weight to convince them to stay united. If they do not, it would be hypocritical for the English to object to the dissolution of Great Britain after removing themselves from the EU.
Kristof response and my comments on Kristof:

It’s a bit rich for Americans, of all people, to trash Brexit

Above caption: not true. He will be responsible for implementing the  will
of the people, nothing more or less
“And now Britain has gone nuts.” says Nicholas Kristof.
How odd, how rich, for Americans to trash Brexit. America, which was born of a fight to separate from an Empire, derides the Brits for trying to separate from another empire. But to Kristof it has “gone nuts”.
What is more “nuts” is to imagine the United States in an equivalent of the EU, the “American Union" with its capital in Mexico City, its Central Bank in Panama, its Court of Justice in Venezuela and its currency, the mighty US$, replaced with the “Amerigo Peso”. And shifting to metric! (yikes!). And everything that Washington does, all its rules and regulations, all subject to the whims, controls and prevarications of the unelected bureaucracy in Mexico City.

We’ve got to show Beijing that political reform is a win-win

At their core, Hong Kong’s problems are not just economic. They are also to do with the administration’s political calcification frustrations about lethargic political reform and the handling of the extradition bill and protests.

Most protesters have genuine grievances about how the system operates. Yet, if our city is to make political progress, we cannot treat Beijing as a mortal enemy. We should make known our frustrations and demands, and make a case for why mutual interests can be aligned through genuine, systemic political reforms.

First, politics is constrained by realism – the livelihoods and businesses of millions are at stake. Hong Kong is undeniably a part of China, politically, legally and internationally. The mainland also has significant economic leverage, from our intertwined economies to our financial markets, from cross-border commercial interactions to tourism. China supplies 70% of our water, 23% of our electricity and 93% of our food. A switch to “off” is all it would take to being us to our knees.

Tuesday, 5 November 2019

Australia the platypus

Australia, the flying platypus

That hoary old Malaysian racist Mahathir is at it again. Here he is speaking to the Sydney Morning Herald:
"Whatever white Australians might think of it, the fact is geographically they are more in the Asian region than in Europe. They can try and sustain their culture, their language, but the inflow of Asians into Australia will certainly change the character and distribution of population in Australia. And in the future, they are going to be more Asian than European."
Now that all seems fine and dandy (or not, as you will), but it strikes me as racist. To suggest that the thing that determines how and what you are is the continent you come from - and the implied ethnicity - not the content and character of the country you go to. Emigrants to Australia tend to buy in to the culture, to the ways and means of Australia. That sure seems to me to be the case with all of the folks of Asian background living in Australia that I know.

And when I lived in China I wore Chinese clothes, spoke the language and started becoming Chinese. If I’d stayed for a generation I’d have been more Chinese than Australian, no doubt, kids brought up there would be Chinese not “white Australian”, which is what makes the Mahathir comment racist. (He’s also a shocking anti-Semite, but that’s another thing).

And look at this Asianness he talks about from the perspective here in Hong Kong. Where young migrant-age demonstrators, who are ethnically Chinese, identify not as Chinese, but as Hongkongers and the values they aspire to are the rule of law, universal suffrage, freedoms of speech, of press, of religion and so on. They fly the Stars and Stripes and the Union Jack (not that there’s nothing wrong with that). Not what Mahathir would take for “Asian” I imagine.

So I agree with Peter Hartcher: in Australia, with a population increasingly coming from the continent of Asia, and becoming part of Australia’s multicultural melting pot, we are an odd, unique hybrid, like the platypus.
…the metaphor for Australia today, prosperous and multicultural and enjoying the best of all possible worlds, is …the platypus. A unique creature, with features of a mammal and a bird, combining features of each, and perfectly adapted to its ecology.

Corbyn to ban wealth

Britain's GINI index is falling = getting more equal

Jeremy Corbyn says the the UK should have no billionaires. Dig a bit and it gets more alarming. Corbyn finds any wealth distasteful (his acolytes gush: “he rides a bike and has an allotment!"), and in power he and his self-described Marxist Chancellor John McDonnell will do their best to wipe out any wealth. For the sake of the poor, of course. Not at all for envy. And with “wealth” defined by them.
John Mc Donnell: “I’ll be straight with you -- I’m a Marxist" (June 2013), as clipped by Andrew Neil and the BBC:

[PShere’s a compilation of John McDonnell -- shadow Chancellor! -- saying repeatedly how he would like to punch, slap or jail people who don’t think precisely the way he does, and supporting violence and insurrection of all stripes]

Beware. The UK is headed for penury if Corbyn, McDonnell and the rest of their gang get into power. I saw it in the UK back in the seventies when I was there -- it led to the Three-Day Week -- and in China in 1976, when I lived as a student, and had ration tickets for food and clothing.  That’s what socialism does to you, never mind Marxism...
Income inequality according to the Labour party has become a “crisis".  But look at the chart above. The Gini index, a widely accepted measure of inequality, has gone down. Down = “good". That is inequality has declined, not become worse. (The above is for income, but wealth follows the same trend). Britain ranks in the 20% “best” countries in the world according to the index.
And yet the Labour party, that is to say, the Left, is stoking resentment and hatred for “worsening income and wealth inequality”.  Of course we know why they are doing this.  They want to gain electorally. But it remains the fact that in so doing they are stoking the increased division and bitterness in society.
In America the same is happening among the Democrat presidential candidates. All decry inequality.  But they don’t take account of income transfers. Transfers TO the poor in the form of various subsidies and direct hand-outs, and Transfers FROM the richest, in the form of taxes.
This is shown in the chart below, by economists Phil Gramm and John Early.
The candidates only talk big income differences (60 to 1) without including transfers and call that a “moral crisis”. But the difference between the poorest and the richest is 3.8 times after transfers, not 60 times.
Moreover, if more money is transferred to the middle quintiles (ie, the middle classes), then they would find it no longer worthwhile to work, as they already are only just above the net income of the poorest as it is, after accounting for transfers

Gramm and Early note in conclusion:
Any debate about further redistribution of income needs to be tethered to these facts. America already redistributes enough income to compress the income difference between the top and bottom quintiles from 60 to 1 in earned income down to 3.8 to 1 in income received. If 3.8 to 1 is too large an income differential, those who favor more redistribution need to explain to the bottom 60% of income-earning households why they should keep working when they could get almost as much from riding in the wagon as they get now from pulling it.  
WSJ link ($). My iCloud link

“Some inequality needed” | The Age, Jan 2018
When inequality is better than equality, Nov 2017

Boris extends his lead

From Britain Elects

From which aggregates all polls that are registered with the British Polling Council.
Clearly striking are the massive moves in April this year. Before that it was clearly two parties. Now it’s four with Brexit and the LibDems joining the fray. Also clear is the low polling of the Greens, no matter the time and no matter the shenanigans demonstrations of the Extinction Rebellion folks.
I just saw Tony Blair on Beebs saying that this election should not be a Brexit election. Which strikes me a rather odd, if not somewhat inane, given that the only reason, the single and overarching reason Boris went for an election was that Blair’s beloved Labour Party was consistently frustrating the will of the people by trying to re-litigate the referendum. Let’s remember this is Tony “Iraq has WMD capable of hitting London in 15 minutes” Blair. And Tony “mass immigration will win Labour perennial government” Blair. See how they worked out. Anyhow no doubt Boris has heard Tony’s views and given them the exact amount of shrift they deserve. Namely short - as short as the newly retired, unlamented John Bercow……
I say “Boris extends his lead” because it’s so clear from the chart that the Tories increased their lead only after he moved into Number 10.

Xi Jinping talking in Shanghai

10:00 am. Xi Jinping addresses delegates in Shanghai
Live in Shanghai at the China International Import Expo
My quick live notes, as Xi is speaking:

China will open up more to the world and increase imports.
Continue to reduce tariffs.
Develop demonstration zones for imports.
[LATER: is this a new policy? Or is it just more of the same tried (and failed) in the Shanghai FTZ?  What does it mean? Will there be new ones? Where will they be? Does ”demonstration zone” mean Free Trade Zone? What impact on HK which is an FTZ? This is the sort of thing I would have followed up in the embassy or China consultancy. Thus we made our living]
Will import more high quality goods and services from around the world.
We will ensure a free and orderly flow of goods and resources and deepen integration of markets.
Will continue to open up. All sectors. All-out opening up.
China will continue to encourage bold trials in free trade zones (FTZ). Especially Hainan free trade port. Whole of Hainan will be an FTZ.
Develop the “Three Great Areas”: Yellow River Basin, Yangtze River area and Greater Bay Area (GBA) of Hong Kong, Guangzhou, Zhuhai, Macau.
Improve business environment: China rose to 31st in World Bank “Doing Business Report”, up from 46th last year (applause).
[PF Comment: it’s still a lot tougher in China than Hong Kong].
IP protection: will improve legal protection and enforcement.
Deepen multi and bilateral cooperation. Support reforms to WTO so that it can play bigger role in promoting openness and development. Later today WTO Minster meeting.
RCEP: I am happy that yesterday 15 countries finalised Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership negotiations. Look forward to RCEP implementation.
[PF comment: more squeezing of US from the region, after Trump foolishly withdrew from TPP.  Not good for US or the world. Australia is a member of RCEP].
Want FTAs with more countries. ROK, Japan, Gulf Council.
Belt and Road (BAR) cooperation. 137 countries 197 agreements. Will pursue for joint benefits.
We value Peace and Harmony: shared future for mankind.
Thank you!

PF.  The overall impression of his speech: more opening up and more reform.
The Cynic’s take: the speech was just for international consumption, especially the US.
While these wax work dummies sit and applaud as required…
Standard issue suit, white shirt, blue tie. Applaud as directed

PS: Xi Jinping met last night with HK boss C-E Carrie Lam and reiterated 1C2S. Said had faith in the C-E to handle HK. So that’s good. Especially after the offices of Xinhua News Agency were badly trashed. 

Monday, 4 November 2019

On Media’s Planet Remain, Truth has become a “hard-right” concept

At the time of the referendum every major party committed to abide by the result.
Democracy requires “consent of the loser”, or chaos and damaged democracy
Me, myself? In the 3 years since the referendum, I’ve gone from squishy Remainer to WTO Leaver (aka “no deal” Brexit) because of two things.  (mind, I’m not UK citizen so my views count for ought).

(1) You have to abide by the results of referenda.  Referendums are rarely held in the UK and are only held when there’s an issue that needs to be resolved. In this case “should we stay or leave the EU?”  It was resolved in the Leave.  All parties committed to implementing the results.  The carry on in parliament and other hardline Remainers has been shocking and unprincipled.  So, I’ve been turned off by their antics as have many others in the UK, who actually have a vote.... Polls show Remainers switching sides to Leave. But in any case that is -- or ought to be -- irrelevant as the issue has been resolved and ought not be re-litigated. 
Related: the scare tactics of Remainers. They’ve focussed on the economy and claims that leaving will be hugely damaging.  The latest and best they could come up with was the Yellowhammer document.  I went through it, and it’s really so much scaremongering. (Meantime: every single one of the awful outcomes predicted simply for voting for Brexit has not come true).

(2) The equally shocking, unprincipled, arrogant and dismissive attitude of the EU throughout this process. There’s a long video “Brexit behind the scenes” that shows this clearly. 
They haven’t  changed at all that triumvirate of the sleazy: Tusk, Junker and Sassoli (who?).  In what other major power does the average joe on the street not know who the president is?  
I’ve got time for Melanie Phillips on this issue.  She’s a clear thinker. Used to write for the Guardian, till she saw the light... 
Melanie on the latest Brexit deal. Sobering reading if you think that the UK is best out of the EU, as do I and the majority of the British population.  
...the deal that Boris Johnson has done with the EU will damage the UK by preventing it from making beneficial trade deals with the rest of the world. It will keep the UK shackled to the EU but without the power to influence it. It will thus negate the point of Brexit altogether.

Extend One Country Two Systems (1C2S) beyond 2047

It’s a bit of a leap from the protesters’ Five Demands to assuming
that what they’re most worried about is ost ‘47. Maybe.
Mike Rowe reminds us that 2047 is not an “end by” date for 1C2S, as many think or have thought. There’s nothing in the China Constitution that says it has to end then. Indeed I recall that around 1990 China said Hong Kong would retain its social, capitalist and legal systems “at least” until 2047. 
Od course, the problem is that China needs to feel comfortable that things are going well, and right now things are going the exact opposite of well.
Yesterday the vandals trashed China’s Xinhua Office building in Wanchai. Bad move. China state media is already calling for a “tough line”. And we know what that can mean in Beijing’s view…
My comment on Rowse online:
1C2S for “…*at least* 50 years after reunification.” That’s key. I think many/most people, including me, have thought that 2047 is an “end by” date, so it’s useful for Rowse to remind us that it’s not. And even if we don’t know who will be in charge in China in 2047, a statement on post-47 continuation of SAR status would certainly be welcome. I believe there are things about Hong Kong that Beijing likes and would rather keep as is. 
That said, the demonstrations mean far LESS likely than more, that such a clarification could ever occur. Trashing the Xinhua offices! … What are they thinking?!
Meantime, given recent Beijing statements on HK, it’s clear that the “Beijing interference” protesters fear is actually being brought on by their very actions. The only Freedoms that are being squashed are being squashed by the protesters themselves (trashing “blue ribbon” shops for example.). Bitter irony.
Another sane comment:
 I think that prior to 2047 a lot of work needs to be done to prove that 1C2S can be beneficial to China and for such to happen compromises must be achieved to make sure Hong Kong and Macau do not pose a challenge to the rule in Beijing. Current unrest in Hong Kong and wide spread anti-China sentiment can only convince the Beijing government to tighten the control which would erode the power of self governance of the city. This process is already in place since politicians fail to see that only a win-win formula can lead Hong Kong to a better future.