Tuesday 30 April 2019

Q: How much land is left for a Palestinian State after all the Israeli settlements? Can there ever be a Palestinian State now?

Jewish homes and other private Jewish developments (what are commonly called “settlements” take up roughly TWO percent of the land area of the “West Bank.” That leaves roughly 98% of “West Bank” land available for a Palestinian state, plus, of course, 100% of the Gaza Strip EVEN IF the Jewish towns that currently exist remain in place and remain under Israel’s sovereignty and control as they are now.
Something many people forget, or never heard of, is that this situation is not simply a kind of limbo that came into existence in the aftermath of the 1967 war, where Israel re-captured the West Bank from illegal Jordanian occupation, in addition to capturing Gaza, Sinai, and the Golan in self-defense. In 1993, Israel and the Palestinian Arabs — represented by Yasser Arafat, then the universally recognized sole legitimate negotiating representative of the entire Palestinian Arab people worldwide — signed a treaty called the Oslo Accords. Oslo drew up a TEMPORARY set of borders, to allow NORMAL LIFE to go on under a recognized sovereign, pending the future day when Israel and the Palestinian Arabs would sign a FINAL status agreement making peace and resolving all competing claims and issues.
Oslo gave the Palestinians full civil AND security control over the parts where 97% of the Arabs of the territories lived, which was designated Area A. Israel, in turn, had BY AGREEMENT WITH ARAFAT full civil AND military control over certain thinly populated parts of the “West Bank,” mostly adjacent to the pre-1967 “Green Line” (actually, the Armistice line set by the 1949 Rhodes cease-fire agreement) and in the strategic Jordan Valley. A relatively small buffer zone between Arab Area A and Israeli Area C was under full Arab civil governance but remained under temporary Israeli military and security control; this zone is known as Area B. Most of the remaining 3% of “West Bank” Arabs live in Area B.
The current Area A (under the Oslo Accords) plus Gaza, is the FIRST TIME in world history that a Palestinian Arab political entity has ever had self-government and full civil autonomy. Also, the idea is that the land area under full Palestinian Arab control will almost certainly INCREASE, not decrease, in the course of further direct negotiations between the parties, as required by the Oslo formula that Arafat signed, on the way to a final peace agreement that would resolve all outstanding claims and issues.
In the meantime, the Palestinian Arabs have NO cause to complain that Israel, which was given FULL civil and military sovereignty over Area C by Arafat per the Oslo Accords, pending such final status agreement, actually takes those words seriously and treats Area C as if it were fully part of Israel, at least to the extent of allowing Jews to buy land and live there. Nobody FORCES Jews to buy homes in Area C; those who do so are simply exercising their innate human right to buy and own property obtained from a willing seller, or from non-privately-owned “state land” that is put up for sale or lease by the current sovereign — in this case, Israel.
ALL of the Jewish towns and businesses in the “West Bank” are in Area C; the Palestinian Authority, which governs Area A fully and has civil jurisdiction over Area B, demands that no Jew may live in lands under their control, and imposes the death penalty on any Arab who sells land to a Jew. Those who “oppose settlements” are essentially insisting that Israel discriminate against its own Jewish citizens by denying them this basic human civil right to own property. And it IS only the Jews that the anti-settlement forces are condemning for living in the “West Bank,” since nobody raises a fuss whatsoever if an Israeli Arab buys land in, or moves into, the “West Bank.”
Nevertheless, no settlement is irreversible or permanent. Israel is willing to trade land for peace. To achieve peace with Egypt, Israel dismantled several Jewish towns in Sinai and forcibly moved thousands of Jews — every single one of them who lived in Sinai — out of the peninsula, and also withdrew all military forces. For the unilateral Israeli withdrawal from Gaza that was undertaken in hopes it would “prime the pump” toward peace negotiations even without any commitment from the Arab side, Israel did the same thing, removing ALL civilian AND military Israeli presence from the Gaza Strip. A lot of good it did peace-wise, though.
So any arguments that “settlements” are “in the way” of a final peace agreement and creation of a real Palestinian state are pure hogwash. What is in the way of a final peace agreement, and statehood for Palestinian Arabs, is Palestinian Arab unwillingness to make peace with Israel. If it were not the “settlements” that they claimed were an “obstacle,” they would find some other excuse. If that’s all it was, why did not the Arabs make peace with Israel during the 19 years between 1948 and 1967, when Jordan, not Israel, occupied the “West Bank” and Egypt occupied Gaza? Why did the Arab nations start an aggressive war against Israel’s existence in the first place, in 1948? And why was the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) created in 1964, 3 years before the 1967 war led to the Israeli recapture of the so-called “Palestinian territories?” Because, in all instances, they wanted Israel GONE, that’s why. When the Palestinian Arabs stop calling Israel’s existence illegitimate and demanding that it be dismantled — that’s what “Palestine shall be free, from the river to the sea” MEANS — then making peace, and drawing permanent boundaries for a two-state solution, will be the relatively EASY part. It’s changing those hate-filled attitudes of the Arab leadership that is hard, and which make a two-state solution nigh impossible at present and for the foreseeable future.
Thanks Michael

“If older means wiser why is world a mess” | Letters April 29

As an elder, let me challenge V. Krishnan on two matters ("If older means wiser why is world a mess" | Letters April 29). 
First, who ever said oldies thought that we "always got it right"? Baby Boomers and Gen-Xers have critiqued everything their generations did from Vietnam to Iraq and climate change.  Vigorous disputation has been a defining feature of our cohorts. 
Second, who says the "world is a mess"? Certainly not careful observers like Harvard professor Steven Pinker. In his monumental works "Better Angels of our Nature" and "Enlightenment Now" Professor Pinker shows how deaths from war and terrorism are down, how poverty has declined to historic lows, how diseases are down, how we are living longer and healthier lives in all countries. Gun crimes in the US are down and even climates change shows glimmers of being solved. 
The daily diet of bad news blinds some folks to these happy realities. 
The "world in a mess"? Pshaw!

Pf, etc

“China’s quest for clean energy heats up with ‘artificial sun’ project” | SCMP

Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST)
This looks like new news, but is actually old news — the experiments reported here were done in 2017. 
But still. It's part of an international effort which may bring fusion to our tables by 2050. That's thirty years on and cynics would say that fusion is always "thirty years away".
Maybe now it is…
Buried in this China-boosting article: America and Japan are still ahead of China in tokamak tek.
But China is catching up fast. As it does.

“A personal take on China’s resistance to gay relationships and surrogate births” | SCMP

This article reminds me of an evening with gay colleague, an Australian I'll call Terry, back in the early nineties at a bar in Taipei. 
"Sino-Soviet friendship
is a perpetual spring
Terry told me that it was more difficult to be gay in Australia, where it was legal, than it was to be gay in China where it was not legal. (It was decriminalised in 1997). Terry was then living happily in Taiwan, with his Chinese boyfriend. 
Terry's point was that there was still hostility to gay folks in Australia, despite its legality. Whereas in China there was a long history of tolerance to the gay community despite its illegality[*]. I nodded in agreement, thinking of the number of famous Chinese poets, artists and calligraphers who have waxed eloquent over millennia about Sapphic and Uranian pleasures, painting provocative peaches and plums.
And I recalled to Terry an experience I'd had at a pub in Canberra, ten years prior. I had been chatting with another colleague, also gay and his boyfriend. The three of us were discussing a question I'd asked them: would they miss not having children? This was back in the early eighties, before gay couples could have children by surrogacy, as in the article below. So, yes, my gay interlocutors said, having children was something they would sadly miss. 
It was loud in the pub, so we were sitting close in, heads nearly touching to hear each other, and I guess we looked like three comfy cosy gay guys. 
The next thing is a big yute rolls up, clearly drunk, and says with a snarl in his best Strine "aaahh, whyncha fuck off outa here, ya fuckin poofters!"  
At which point I stood up. Normally this sorts things out because I'm 6'4" and built — was, then! — fit and young (ahh, youth…). But this bloke, drunk, punched me. The punch landed fair on my face. My head flicked back but I didn't fall. Mass and inertia.  I was about to say something - not to hit back because I've never hit anyone in my life - but the pub Manager came up very quickly. Impressively quickly.  I thought the manager might have a go at me, but no, he kicked out the lout who'd hit me, kicked him out of the pub, and apologised to us; we three "poofters". Good man. 
My comment to my mates: "How ironic. I'm the only straight guy here and I'm the one who gets poofter-bashed".  
("Poofter bashing": good old Aussie term for what was in those days distressigly common, bashing up gays for sport and fun...). 
So… read on, and see in this article that it's by no means easy in China either, despite Terry's observations.
[*]:Social acceptance of homosexuality has been slow in China despite the nation's long history. Written references to homosexuality date back to the Shang dynasty (circa 1600-1050 BC) some 3,000 years ago, with same-sex relationships considered relatively normal, until around 1840 when China increased contact with the then-prudish West, according to historian Bret Hinsch with Taiwan's Fo Guang University, although other scholars dispute this.
Disapproval started to soften in the 1980s, homosexuality was decriminalised in 1997 and it stopped being classified as a mental disorder in 2001, according to Equaldex, a website for data on global LGBT rights. And a Taiwanese draft law in February to make same-sex marriage legal following a 2017 Taiwan constitutional court ruling has fuelled a quiet debate in mainland China.

SCMP - “World must unite against America’s hegemonic behaviour”

"Hegemony"? Hegemony?! What next? Why not go full-on Maoist while you're at it?
"…dig tunnels deep, store grain everywhere, and never seek hegemony…"
South China People's Post strikes again. The rising voice of Beijing…
(Just as well no one reads your editorials. Beijing aside, that is…).

(PS: not a Letter to the Editor, just a comment)

Monday 29 April 2019

No, it wasn’t God

Four men were rescued from a cave in Virginia. It was a tough job, apparently. Requiring high levels of expertise, fitness and commitment from the rescuers.
Saved and out in the open air one of the rescued men told CNN: "the Lord was watching over us".
No, he wasn't, you idiot.
It was 100% due to the aforesaid expertise, fitness and commitment of the rescuers.
How do they feel, now that you've put your rescue down to a supernatural being? How do they feel??
Perhaps they feel that they should have not bothered, stayed in bed, and left God to rescue you, you deluded, ungrateful cave man.

Sunday 28 April 2019

Small modular reactors


“Rogue cleric urged slaughter of infidels” | NYT

Men praying at Badhriyya Jumah Mosque, Kattankudy, Sri Lanka
The subject headline is that in the print edition of the New York Times of April 27-28. 
Note the word "rogue". So the Islamic cleric is not kosher, as it were. 
But let's see how often various words were used, by my own personal manual check of the print edition:
"Radical" 2
"Crazy" 1
"Failing true Islam" 1
"Extremist" 3
So the picture being painted by the New York Times is that this is out of the norm, that the cleric is "rogue", "crazy", "extremist". But check the Koran, the inerrant word of God:
"Kill them wherever you find them" (Qur'an 2:191, 4:89);
"Kill the idolaters wherever you find them" (Qur'an 9:5).
No one can say anything that contradicts the Koran.
So this cleric is "extreme"? Only if Islam itself is extreme. 

Sent from my iPhone

Censorship in NOW cable TV

Could someone from the HK government or from NOW Cable TV please explain why we adults in Hong Kong have to be subject to censorship by bleeps (or silence) and pixelation in our Cable TV shows?
No matter that shows warns us at the beginning of "Adult Content", they still go ahead to block our ears and cover our eyes for us. I find it annoying and demeaning. 
The other night watching a movie that clearly had a lot of swearing, the cuts made the conversation virtually unintelligible. I watched a cooking show where they blurred the cleavage of one of the presenters! Truly ridiculous. 
I've read somewhere that the reasons for this severe censoring are that the packages are bought for the Asian Region and that we have to bear the brunt of the most restrictive regional censorship which is Malaysian. If that's true, then we in HK are being subjected to the most stringent sharia-compliant censorship. 
This reason gains some credence from a recent show of "Forged in Fire" on NOW's Hostory Channel, which showed two hanging pig carcasses, but with the heads of the pigs pixilated. (pigsillation?)
If that is the reason, why can't NOW TV buy programs from other jurisdictions than the one including Malaysia? Buy the antipodean package, for example, as Australia and New Zealand certainly don't bleep and blur. 
Meantime a NOW On Demand show like "Game of Thrones" has no censorship, is full-on, swear words and all. 
So I don't get it. Why some and not others?
I come back to my original question:
can someone in this Asian World City of ours please explain why adults are treated as children, on censored Cable TV shows? 
LATER: edited version published on 5 May 2019.

“This is honestly sick”, by Shireen Qudosi on Twitter

For "Europe", read America ...

Shireen Qudosi (@ShireenQudosi)
This is honestly sick. Be warned America. Be very warned. Your values, your culture, your America is circling the rim. #IlhanOmar twitter.com/anthemrespect/…

Not commented on is the number of young girls, very young girls, wearing hijab, as "modest" clothing.

Saturday 27 April 2019

Spain’s VOX

It's possible to be concerned about mass immigration from cultures inimical to those in the west without being a knuckle-dragging member of the far right, without being against gay marriage, or anti-feminism and all the rest.
Polls show 75% of British are worried about mass immigration. There's a reason for that. About time the BBC recognised that rather than dismissing it as ignorant or racist.
The fellow you just had on World Service, talking about Spain, he's half Spanish etc, was a classic example of the arrogantly dismissive attitude of those that call themselves of the "progressive" left.
Well I live in China and I know all about what crazy leftism can do as well. (China 1949-79).
And I know how good cultures can be swamped by those less good. (Rome, by the barbarians from Germania...)

Peter Forsythe
Hong Kong, China

Sent from my iPhone

2020 20

Officially 20 democrats lining up for the 2020 primaries. Including Sleepy Joe Biden who announced yesterday in a video that retailed the Charlottesville "Fine People" hoax and made Althouse mad.
Above are 23 by my count. Have fun working out which three should not be there (at least yet)...
What fun the campaign's gonna be!

“Xi sets Belt and Road Initiative on a firmer path for global good”

The "Belt and Road Initiative" is well-designed and expanding, making the second forum on the ambitious infrastructure and development project about fine-tuning and enhancing. President Xi Jinping, in his keynote address on Friday to dozens of world leaders, focused on cooperation and how the benefits are for all involved.

Congratulations People's Daily, good, strong lede! Great headline!

Whoops… did I say "People's Daily"? Silly me…

Friday 26 April 2019

“The Chinese Anzacs: to fight for Australia, they had to fight racism first” | SCMP

Another nice story on Australia-China relations. After the one of a different Peter married to a different Beijinger, with a live-in mother-in-law doing a garden makeover, a story I posted the other day. 
Some crappy comments to this nice story. One comment saying that the Chinese Australians "fought in the wrong side", they should have fought with the German-Turkish Axis, because the Ottomans "never sold opium to China". 
Right. It was the Ottomans who took the cover of WWI to commit the world's first genocide.  The word "genocide" was invented to describe what these Ottomans did — namely kill 1.5 million Christian Armenians. And then to lie about it, to deny they did it, right down until today. Today it's a crime to even mention the Armenian genocide in Erdogan's Turkey. 

Read the rest …

Thursday 25 April 2019

How not to fight a war on terror | Spectator

Sri Lanka will do itself a favour if it treats the Easter Sunday attacks as straightforward attacks of extreme criminality and refuses to indulge the ideology of the attackers.
Is this right? Is this how we defeated the nazis and the communists?
Actually I'm still wondering.
Is it right?

What ISIS wants

First: see Sam Harris podcast on "what ISIS really wants". He just the other day re- posted it.
Second: "Our only real defence against them and other terror groups is eternal vigilance." Maybe, but also tackling the ideology is surely needed.
Third: how can you or why should you ignore the ideology of those attackking you. China’s Sun Zi would not have done so and neither did the Allies fighting nazism.


China’s Leninist bureaucrats really are a bunch of shits

A yacht race that's been going for over ten years, perfectly fine, with about 30 yachts racing from Hong Kong to Daya Bay in China waters is now cancelled.  Because of "new restrictions on border control".  How crappy and unnecessary.  
They do other crappy stuff too. Like not allow foreigners to rent cars in China, when all other countries in the world do. Or they don't allow us to drive our cars from Hong Kong to China (don't forget, it's "an inalienable part of the motherland"). And so it goes on.
This nasty pettyness will be down to Emperor Xi Jinping, in some way.
Well done, China leninist bureaucrats!
Email from the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club.
According to the latest information published on the China Cup International Regatta website, the traditional Day 1 Passage Race from Hong Kong to Shenzhen (Daya Bay) will NOT be part of the 2019 event.
The current plan is 5 days of inshore racing in Daya Bay which means that HK entries will need to be delivered their boats there on Tuesday.
This morning the Big Boat Committee has made contact with Lily, a staff of the event organizer. We have been told that the change was due to new restrictions put in place by China border control. We asked whether a race could be held in HK waters that gets the fleet half way there to make it more interesting. Lily said that she requires more input from individual HK sailors in order to present this to her superiors.
Therefore, we need sailors to send emails to Lily (lily.li@chncup.com) regarding the race format and suggestions.
Best regs,


Quite right, too
And remember it’s perfectly safe to like this cartoon! It ain’t bigoted.…

"Why modern China is most misunderstood” | SCMP

Alex LoThis is Alex Lo in his daily column-ette "My Take". Lo is anti-American and pro-Beijing. So this is interesting in being upfront about China's dictatorship. 
Short version: China is both authoritarian AND vigorously capitalist. 
Here he is quoting Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Zizek:
"Let me bring together the three notions from the title [of today's debate]: happiness, capitalism and communism in one exemplary case: China today. China in the last decades is arguably the greatest economic success story in human history. Hundreds of millions were raised from poverty into middle class existence. How did China achieve it? The 20th century left was defined by its opposition to the two fundamental tendencies of modernity: the reign of capitalism with its aggressive market competition and the authoritarian bureaucratic state power.
"Today's China combines these two features in their extreme forms: strong authoritarian state and wild capitalist dynamics. They do it on behalf of the happiness of the majority of people. They don't mention communism to legitimise their rule. They prefer the old Confucian notion of a harmonious society."

Wednesday 24 April 2019

A tale of two narratives

Two narratives:
  1. Christchurch. Non-Muslim kills Muslims: it's all to do with white suprematism and we must spread the blame to all non-Muslims especially white people. Critics of Islam are islamophobes and have blood on their hands.
  2. Sri Lanka. Muslims kill non-Muslims: it's nothing to do with Islam or the broad mass of peaceful Muslims and to suggest otherwise, to suggest a motive from within Islam is to be an islamophobe. Shame on you, racist hater. We must all beware of the "backlash" against innocent Muslims.
Shorter narrative: when non-Muslims kill Muslims the victims are Muslims. When Muslims kill non-Muslims the victims are Muslims.
Perfect symmetry.
Reminds me of the Soviet-era joke. An American and Soviet meet in a bar. American boasts "we are a free country. We're free to criticise, even our president."
Soviet guy answers "we are also free. We're also free to criticise your president."
Shorter still: Heads I win; tails you lose.

Am I too bigoted? But... but... Maajid Nawaz, liberal reforming Muslim, says the same.

LATER: Another bit of symmetry....
Essentially, the Left’s rule is that nothing bad — no matter how true — may be said about Muslims or Islam and nothing good — no matter how true — may be said of Christians or Christianity.

Dear BBC: why are ISIS “so-called” ...

... Islamic State?? (according only to the BBC).
If the Islamic State are so-called" why not "so-called" anything?... so-called Labour Party, so-called People's Republic of China...
"So-called BBC"??
Since it's a term used by every single one of your announcers, and *ONLY* for ISIS, the rule must have come down from on high. Clearly a political decision to obfuscate the Islamic content of ISIS ideology.
Bur don't forget the ISIS leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, is an Islamic scholar. ISIS is every bit as Islamic as the local mosque. Who is the BBC to gainsay?
Why pick Islamic State as the ONLY group you label "so-called"?? You're the only so-called MSM outlet to do so.
Some of you clearer thinking BBC folk ought to push back.

Pf, etc...

LATER: Sam Harris re-ups his podcast on ISIS, What do the terrorists really want.  Good listening.

Tuesday 23 April 2019

The slippery slope is bullshit

Cry for the crazy Bern
Bernie Sanders has gone full on crazy.
Asked at a recent town hall if he approved of terrorists in jail having the vote he said yes. Because not to allow them the vote would be “chipping away” at human rights and that’s a bad “slippery slope”.
But the slippery slope argument always been a slippery argument itself. If we accept the “slippery slope” analogy, we would not have any laws at all. Why limit cars to 50 mph?  That’s a slippery slope to zero cars. Why limit voting to over 18? That’s a slippery slope to voter disenfranchisement. Why have any laws? They are only slippery slopes to dictatorship.
Bernie is a loopy old Marxist. Sad that the audience applauded.
Imagine: people who killed innocent Americans because they hate America should get a vote?! Get a brain Bernie!

”No one should be shy of learning Chinese” From Peter Forsythe, Discovery Bay, Hong Kong

Above is Jpeg, so links won't work..

Looking for something else I came across this letter of mine published a couple of years ago in the Financial Times. I hadn't seen it before because it was behind a paywall but I guess they drop the wall after a certain time.  Which makes sense. Get people engaged then hit them with a subscription request when they're looking at something more current. 

I guess I gilded the lily a bit re my German which was always nicht so fliessend. But the rest would pass fact check and I needed to say what I did about French, Italian, etc, because I was making the point that knowing a European language is no hindrance to learning Chinese. 
I stick by my conclusion: "Chinese repays study, in spades". 


Monday 22 April 2019

CNN more neutral than Fox? Not

I’ve just watched Fox’s Chris Matthews interview Rudi Giugliani. It was hammer and tongs. Matthews hit Giugliani hard, coming across every bit as a partisan democrat. Then he had Adam Schiff in, “ pencil neck”, per Teump and a TDS-afflicted chair of the judiciary committee who has said he had “hard evidence” of collusion, none of which was found by Mueller.
And I’m recalling the CNN panel after the report dropped last week, nine CNN operatives, all repeating the talking points their boss had told them.
The contrast is startling. In short: if you want a balanced view, it’s Fox, not CNN.
Matthews has gone on to discuss the Mueller Report with a panel made up 50/50 Dems/GOP. Including Bob Woodward. You just don’t get that on the liberal media.
LATER: actually three out of four Dem supporters on his panel. That would be unheard of on CNN. (To have three out of four Reps).
Related: folks like Dave Rubin and Ben Shapiro repeatedly invite liberal politicians on their shows, usually they don’t even respond let alone show up.
So, where’s the bubble?

How ‘Little Devils’ helped the battle for HK freedom

I know another person who was here when the Japanese invaded in 1941. Judge John, so called by me because he played the judge in "Enemy of the People" the Ibsen play he and I were in in 1994, in which I played Captain Horster. 
John was jailed by the Japanese in the Stanley internment camp. 
John is a keen sailor and fellow member of the Royal HK Yacht Club. 
I did not know about these "little dragons”,  HK children who helped fight the Japanese here in HK. 
And now the story of Lam Chun who was a little dragon. 
Good on the SCMP for telling us these little-known stories: Fighting for the future: the history of Hong Kong through the eyes of those who lived it 

Sunday 21 April 2019

I wonder how long...

... before the bombings in Sri Lanka are blamed on white suprematism. On the Christchurch killings.
"Christchurch mosque massacre leads to killing of 140 170 190 200 290 people in 7 church bombing."
How long? And will it have any logic?
LATER: BBC is saying “ we have no idea of who did this”. Hmmmm. One of the suicide bombers, the one who blew himself and dozens around him up, at the Cinnamon Grand Hotel, was called Mohamed Assam Mohammad. Hmmm.

“Australian Family's ‘east-west cultural differences’ draw thousands of viewers in China” | SCMP

Peter and his mother-in-law Li Jinshan
Well here's a funny and cute little Australia-China story, basically a happy one, though you might not think so if you look only at the video embedded in the post: Peter wandering around what used to be his pretty little flower garden, converted to a vegetable garden by Li Jinshan.
And it's good to see that some China-based commenters thought the mother-in-law, Li Jinshan, had gone a bit too far in digging up Peter's garden and planting vegetables without, it seems, even asking him. If so, she had!  In the end though, Peter seems pretty philosophical about it all. He makes rather a big drama out of the "stinky bean curd" (chou doufu, 臭豆腐). It's not that bad, an acquired taste, like smelly cheese would be to many Chinese. 
As in this story: I'm also a "Peter", also a dozen years older than my also Beijing-born wife, and she's also a "Li", like the folks in this story. 
But we'd never have my mother-in-law living with us as they don't get on…
We wish Peter, Yang Yang and Li Jinshan well!
The cultural differences experienced by a New Zealand-Chinese family living in Sydney, Australia, have attracted hundreds of thousands of viewers in China, amused by the interactions between the Kiwi son-in-law and his Chinese mother-in-law.
Family's 'east-west cultural differences' draw thousands of viewers in China

Saturday 20 April 2019

“Meat needs to justify its place on our tables” | Financial Times


You could have mentioned the term "flexitarian" in your leader ("Meat needs to justify its place on our tables", 20/21April).
I've just recently discovered that I am, myself, a flexitarian.  That is, largely vegetarian, but not manic about it. I'll happily chow down on the occasional snag or chicken wing. 
The reason I morphed to flexitarianism is for all three of the reasons you mention: human health, animal welfare and the environment. 
Bill Gates admitted recently[*] that he'd been talking a lot about "cow farts". His point being that carbon emissions from the agricultural sector as a whole are about as large as from the electricity generating sector. Yet it's electricity that grabs most of the attention. We should be talking more about soil and animal husbandry, says Gates. 
To that point, you might also have mentioned "Clean Meat". That is meat — actual, real meat — that is grown in the lab. For now it's far too expensive. But the hope is that, not too far in the future, we can manufacture actual real meat in the laboratory and enjoy its unrivalled taste without the worry of mistreating animals or damaging the environment. Sadly we spend only tens of millions per year on the Clean Meat project compared with the trillions we spend on renewables. 
Meantime, if I, a septuagenarian gent, can become flexitarian, anyone can. This has benefits all round: for animals, for the planet and for ourselves. 

Pf, Hong Kong

“Is This the End of the Line for Nationalism in Australia?” | NYT

Waleed Aly conflates criticism of Islam as an ideology with islamophobia, racism, ultra-right nationalism and white supremacy. 
The Christchurch mosque massacre gives him the chance to push this line. 
Shorter Aly: Criticism of Islam leads to massacre of Muslims. 
Maybe he believes this. Or maybe he's duplicitous. He's a Muslim and a key duty of its votaries is to protect the religion of peace. 
In either case, he's wrong. Wrong to conflate criticism of Islam with islamophobia. Wrong to conflate criticism of Islam with racism. Wrong to conflate criticism of Islam with ultra right nationalism and white supremacy. 
I quote below a couple of misleading paras in the online version. The online version, unlike the print edition where I first saw this article, has links to his sources. These references are dodgy, to say the least. 
.... Earlier that year, Tony Abbott, then the prime minister, suggested that Muslim leaders were insincere when they said Islam was a religion of peace. 
Check out the "insincere" link. Abbott was saying that Muslim leaders ought to call out their extreme jihadist co-religionists and mean it when they do. Not quite the same as suggesting they were insincere, given the obfuscation and dissimulation that have followed past jihadi atrocity attacks. Meantime, the same calling out of white suprematists is demanded in the wake of Christchurch, a call which was largely superfluous given the unanimous condemnation from all quarters, white,  black and brindle, and from politics, right, left and centre. 
By the way, an Intelligence Squared debate a few years ago concluded in the negative (by audience vote) the proposition that "Islam is a Religion of Peace". 
Next para:
Indeed, such was the hostility of numerous parliamentarians' rhetoric toward Islam that the head of Australia's top intelligence organization advised them to moderate their language.
Have a look at the link at "advised" in this para. The advice was because Australia's internal security agency, ASIO, was worried that criticism of Islam might turn its Muslim "allies in the war in terror" all… how to put this? …all jihady-like. You gotta wonder what sort of allies these are that are put off by critiques of radical Islamists, of jihadis, the very people that ASIO its Muslim allies are working together (apparently) to neutralise.
When we were tackling organised crime in Australia in the seventies, did we worry that robust criticisms of the crims would be taken amiss by the Italian community at large who would then become organised crims themselves? Did we have the same worries about criticising terrorist IRA tactics? That god-fearing Irish would then turn all bomb-ey? We did not. And to treat our Muslim Australians as if they would, is the racism of low expectations. 
And just what was the alleged "hostility" (Aly's term) of the rhetoric? 
At the "advised" link, take this example:
… Queensland Liberal National party backbencher George Christensen, who has made forthright remarks about the "war against radical Islam", said while he had not personally received a call [from ASIO DG] he would be concerned if legitimate debate was being curtailed.
"Where do we draw the line with that? If we can't say there's a problem within Islam and it needs to be sorted out by the moderate Islamic leadership and that is somehow anathema and will cause national security issues, well goodness me, where do we stop next," Christensen told Guardian Australia.
Is there a single word there that any Australian, moderate Muslim or otherwise, ought to offended by? Well, "no" is the answer. There is not. 
BTW: the  "call" that Christensen says he'd not received is a call from Duncan Lewis, head of ASIO, warning Australian politicians to use "moderation" in their comments in Islam. "Moderation"!
No way any ASIO DG would ask Australians to "moderate" their talk about Christianity. To argue that that's so because Christianity is the dominant religion is irrelevant. The principle is equality of treatment is paramount. 
To repeat for the millionth time "Islam" is an idea. It's an ideology. Like Christianity, or Hinduism, or atheism, or communism, it is, and should be, subject to open debate and robust criticism in a free society. 
And those that don't like that, for those that are determined to take offence at anything said, well… tough. 
The Christchurch atrocity must not be the excuse to excuse. 
An excuse to excuse the horrid elements of an ideology. 
As Aly does in his article. 
If this political moment lasts, the country's conservative movement could be transformed.

Let’s get one thing straight...

Love Trump or hate Trump the facts are these:
The Mueller Report of Special Counsel Robert Mueller:
1.  Finds insufficient evidence of collusion (aka criminal conspiracy) with Russia by Trump, by his Administration or by any American person. [LATER: another way of saying this: "Not Guilty"]
2. Finds insufficient evidence of obstruction of justice (aka corrupt obstruction) by Trump, by his Administration or by any American person.  [LATER: another way of saying this: "Not Guilty"]
And if you don't believe me: read the Report.
Democrats and the left media are misrepresenting the second point. I'm reading the New York Times and the Financial Times (UK), awa watching CNN and CNBC. They have latched onto the notion that because the second part of the MR did not "exonerate" then that's where we can pound on Trump. That the literal words "insufficient" evidence means "some" evidence and so... keep on truckin'. Never mind that the SC himself, and his partisan committee finds not enough ("insufficient") evidence after two years of digging. 
A prosecutor is not about "exonerating".  It's like this keen amateur lawyer (aka me, myself, I), has long known from watching legal procedurals:  judgements are only ever "guilty" or "not guilty". 
Not "guilty" or "innocent".  
If Mueller had had the sufficient evidence of criminal conspiracy or obstruction of justice, he would have presented it on his report and the justice department could then make a case. But the Special Counsel — and his committee of mainly and plainly partisan  Democrats — did not have the sufficient evidence and so did not report what it did not have. 
"Exoneration" be damned. 
[Which does make Trump's claims of exoneration rather begging a bagging. He'd have been better off saying the finding are "not guilty". But then he's Trump. And he's president. And I'm not.]
Trump did many silly things and many bad things, in his campaign and after. Mueller's Report recounts these. But criminal? No. It's not there and no amount of jumping up and down is going to change that simple fact. 

I do hope the Dems head down the impeachment path nonetheless, as Pocahontas is calling for. With her mates AOC and Rashida Tlaib. 
It'll be fun to watch them sink into the mud. 
Pelosi is finger in the dam for now. Fun to watch that battle with Pocahontas' progressive tribe play out, too.

Mueller report looks bad for Obama

Wow. This is CNN. Trump haters and Obama lovers.
CNN)The partisan warfare over the Mueller report will rage, but one thing cannot be denied: Former President Barack Obama looks just plain bad. On his watch, the Russians meddled in our democracy while his administration did nothing about it.
Scott Jennings
The Mueller report flatly states that Russia began interfering in American democracy in 2014. Over the next couple of years, the effort blossomed into a robust attempt to interfere in our 2016 presidential election. The Obama administration knew this was going on and yet did nothing. In 2016, Obama's National Security Adviser Susan Rice told her staff to "stand down" and "knock it off" as they drew up plans to "strike back" against the Russians, according to an account from Michael Isikoff and David Corn in their book "Russian Roulette: The Inside Story of Putin's War on America and the Election of Donald Trump". 
    Why did Obama go soft on Russia? My opinion is that it was because he was singularly focused on the nuclear deal with Iran. Obama wanted Putin in the deal, and to stand up to him on election interference would have, in Obama's estimation, upset that negotiation. This turned out to be a disastrous policy decision.

    Friday 19 April 2019

    Lowering the Barr

    The Special Counsel (SC) Mueller Report dropped last night (and why is now “dropped”, instead of published or released? A minor mystery).  Peer and I watched AG Bill Barr’s press conference before the “drop”. Barr came across as sound, knowledgeable. He didn’t suffer fools, of whom there were several deranged examples in the press pack.
    Then switched over to see how CNN was handling things. In the face of an SC report that had found no collusion with Russia by anyone in the Trump administration or indeed by “any American”. As Barr noted, all Americans ought to be pleased by that finding.
    So, CNN. They had a panel of nine chaired by Jake Tapper. Jake is sane and sensible. The rest were all CNN operatives, not a voice out of line. And, oh boy! They were discomforted, discombobulated, disoriented, driven mad — almost literally — by the Mueller findings. Or lack of findings. They seemed gripped by a fever, which they couldn’t control, even on live international Cable. It was so horrible to watch, we had to switch to BBC, which had a more balanced take, dare I say at, a “neutral” take.
    What they, the CNN folk, were clutching at amounted to two things: (1) that Trump hadn’t allowed himself to be interviewed by the Mueller team, and (2) that there had been no exoneration of Trump for “obstruction of justice”.
    On the first point: so what? He was well advised (by his personal counsel) not to attend, as the Mueller team had shown a clear propensity to set perjury traps. And who, TBF, is more likely than Trump to all into such a trap? (Answer: no one). Mueller had already caught that good man, General Flynn, in a grossly unfair perjury trap, with the connivance of the FBI.
    On the second point, non-exoneration for obstruction of justice, again, so what? It’s not the task of the Special Counsel to exonerate. The SC is to present the evidence for wrong-doing if any. To expect “exhoneration” is to expect the verdict of “innocent” which a court never does. They simply find guilty or not guilty. Seeking exoneration is seeking the proof of a negative. It’s to upend two thousand years of Roman, Judaeo-Christian, British-American common law.
    Another point: there’s a legal — and indeed a common sense — difference between charges of obstructing justice for a crime committed and for a crime not committed. To the extent that there may or may not have been obstruction in this case, it was for a lack of a crime: there was no collusion.
    So, calls to hammer Trump because he was not “exonerated” of obstructing justice is lowering the bar. And Barr lowered his boom on that.
    CNN are crazy at the moment.
    I just remembered another “so what” moment from last night’s CNN panel. One of their panel said that the White House had had a week to review the redacted report before it dropped. The WH was not permitted to seek any changes, and it didn’t. But to the CNN Person, it was somehow unfair and suspicious that they’d had an advance copy.  Peer and I looked at each other: “so what?…”
    Let’s also recall, by the way, that the Mueller team was made up almost exclusively of Democrat lawyers one of whom had been legal counsel to the Clinton Foundation. Biased, much? Turn it around and imagine a Republican SC investigating the Democrats having a lawyer from the Trump Tower on it. Hmmmm.
    We may just find out something along those lines as the campaign to “investigate the investigators” gains momentum.
    Quis custodiet ipsos custodes

    Thursday 18 April 2019

    Peer with a peer

    Peter and Peer.  China Sea Race, HK to Philippines, 2016
    Arriving in Sinica Bay’s zephyr 
    Interview here. We discuss his arrival in Asia from Denmark, sailing, Trump.
    It’s in Dropbox. (I’m not sure if a Dropbox App is needed; I think not).

    Wednesday 17 April 2019


    Thanks, God.
    And remember it’s perfectly safe to like this cartoon! It ain’t bigoted.…

    When Geese go Jerk

    The elephant:

    Websites banned in China

    The one-tweet proof that China is a horrid dictatorship.  And Trump right to take them on.
    China bans all these then sets up its own versions behind the firewall.  Blatant theft of intellectual property.

    Sunday 14 April 2019

    Robert de Niro proves again why he should just shut up

    De Niro famously doesn't like to talk in interviews. It'd be best if he had the same reticence about his political pronouncements. Which are both impassioned and incoherent. Overall just a word salad.
    Take a look at this
    Give it a break, Bob!
    During an interview with The Hollywood Reporter released earlier this week, De Niro was pressed about his thoughts on Attorney General William Barr's four-page summary of special counsel Robert Mueller's report on the Russia probe.
    De Niro called the summary "pathetic" and suggested that it downplayed Mueller's report to make the president look more favorable.
    "It's pathetic," De Niro said. "You know what's interesting is that Democrats are trying to do the right thing and say, 'We're waiting for justice to come,' and then it doesn't come. Or it will come in a way, Mueller presented it in a way that's up to us and Congress to make, come up with the results, but now it's being barred by Barr. And that's to be seen now what Congress will do and how effective they're going to be."

    Friday 12 April 2019

    What would Tamara Smith Say? The Greens and Uranium

    Hi xy,
    NSW had their state elections yesterday [23 March]. One of my old friends, xx, is active with the Greens whose Tamara Smith won the seat of Ballina NSW.....
    I read their policies and want to send xx a question. Which is a serious question. A draft below which I did without resorting to google. So can you, also without resorting to google, tell me your thoughts?
    Draft follows....

    Hi xx, well done to you all and to Tamara! And tx for the photo! Nice.
    I’ve read the NSW Greens policies and agree with most of them. I have a few questions. Here’s one, on their energy platform:
    The NSW Greens are against nuclear power.
    [Me]: To be expected, even if 4G nuclear power is the safest and quickest way to get to zero emission electricity production. Ok, that’s arguable to be sure, but anyway ignored entirely in their policy platform. [LATER: It's hardly arguable. The Gen4 Nuclear means no chance of meltdown and using spent nuclear fuel as its fuel].
    That aside, the Greens also want to “prohibit” the export of uranium ore. (Energy, Principle #9).
    Some quick maths (I haven’t gone to Google for this, it’s off the top of my head, but the figures are broadly correct).
    Australia provides about one-fifth of world uranium ore needs. (LATER: 16% but let’s not quibble)
    There are about 400 nuclear power plants in the world with capacity of about 1Gw each. (LATER: 410+ but let’s not quibble)
    Let’s assume that if we banned the export of Australian uranium ore it would not be made up by other countries.  We must assume this, otherwise what would be the point of banning Australia’s sale of it?
    So about 80 nuclear stations (one-fifth of 400) around the world would have to close, for lack of uranium feedstock.
    That’s a global loss of roughly 80 GW of clean energy.
    Australia has a capacity of about 60Gw of electricity production and the Greens want 100% of that to be renewable by 2030. (Attainable? Let’s not quibble).
    But the Greens’ policy of banning the sale of uranium ore would reduce the amount of clean energy in the world by 80Gw or 33% more than Australia’s total electricity production.
    In summary: even if Australia manages to convert all electricity production to clean renewables by 2030, banning Australian uranium or exports would add 133% of non-clean electricity to the world.
    IOW, Principle 9 goes against the whole rest of the Greens policy platform of reducing carbon emissions.
    How does that make sense?
    What would Tamara Smith say? (just about the uranium ore issue. Nuclear plants are a whole ‘nother issue).
    Maybe: the nuclear plants would not close down because they would get the ore somewhere else. Just not Australia. But then why reduce the employment and income Australia gets for exporting uranium ore, while doing a net nothing for the environment?
    Or she might say: the closed nuclear stations could be replaced by renewables. Well... maybe.... But recent experience shows the opposite. When Germany and Japan closed down nuclear power stations in the wake of Fukushima,in both cases -countries with strong Green movements - the result was quick building and recommissioning of coal-fired plants to replace the nuclear, with a resultant jump in carbon dioxide emissions.
    Or she might say: I’m only talking about the exploration and mining of uranium ore in NSW. Ok, but then what I say above still holds, but just for NSW. And it may well be that the policy is the same at the National Greens level and I can’t tell without googling which I can’t be arsed to do right now....
    In sum: given the magnitude of the likely global loss of carbon-free energy from prohibiting uranium ore exports, it strikes me as odd that it’s a Greens policy platform “Principle”, seemingly without question.
    Yours etc...