Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Why does Singapore do well despite "authoritarianism"?

Here is a question and set of answers on Quora about Singapore and why it seems prosperous and desirable despite being authoritarian? 

There are some good points here: Singapore is a city-state that has to be stable to be a good harbor port for international business.  And there are some specific points about history and culture.  Fareed Zakaria has pointed out that Singapore forces housing to be diversified by ethnic group.

But there also seems to be an emphasis on “rightsizing” individuals according to their karma, so to speak, so that others have faith in the system and the country remains stable. Sometimes discipline comes down to the personal level.
Yup, I remember the hype about the canings and the chewing gum. There has been controversy about birth rates and forced family values.

Wikipedia picture of stadium in Singapore 
By L.M. Ramamuthusamy - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, Link

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Deportation of arriving Harvard freshman over friends' social media posts stirs outrage; Trump admin. will deport some with ongoing medical care

The Harvard Crimson reports that an incoming freshman from Lebanon, Ismail B. Ajjawi, was had a visa canceled and was deported from Boston Logan Airport by Customs, apparently because of information about his friends’ social media use and hostile political opinions. 

I would sound as if the government believed he should have unfriended or unfollowed persons expressing hostile opinions before entering the U.S.  I have never heard of this before.

David Hogg called this out today on his own Twitter feed, just as he was moving in to start his Freshman year after a gap year.

Of course, it will be necessary to verify the facts carefully. Harvard and other organizations are providing legal assistance trying to get the visa restored.

In the ABC video the coverage starts at 9:00.

Here’s a paper by Alex Nowrasteh of Cato on the risks of crime from immigrants: even for illegal, they are lower than native born Americans. 

Time (and other sources) report that the Trump administration is ending protections from undocumented immigrants regarding medical care, and possibly their children, story by Philip Marcelo of the AP.  The deportations are in the Boston area, which seems to correspond to the deportation of the Harvard student.

Update:  Sept. 2

Sophia Cope and Saira Hussain talk about social media border searches for Electronic Frontier Foundation.  It doesn't seem to talk about the "other people" issue. 

Friday, August 23, 2019

Does Bolsonaro's behavior with respect to the Amazon threaten the entire planet? It's lungs?

Naomi Klein describes Bolsonaro’s election as a “crime scene” in a tweet thread, here.

So here is CNN’s coverage of the wildfires in the Amazon rain forest.  Except, they aren’t wild.  They may very well be set by landowners for agriculture, encouraged by Bolsonaro’s right wing regime.
Bolsonaro claims the fires were set deliberately to make him look bad.

And how to do you deal with a sovereign country if it endangers “the lungs of the planet”?

The rain forest could eventually change into a dry savannah permanently.
Would man’s survival be endangered by the loss of 20% of its oxygen generating possibility?  

But look at Tim Pool's findings on these stories (Saturday), surprising.
By Ibama from Brasil - Operação Hymenaea, Julho/2016, CC BY 2.0, Link

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Facebook and Twitter remove fake accounts from China's government intended to spread propaganda over Hong Kong

Both Facebook and Twitter have uncovered fake bot accounts apparently set up by mainland China’s government to spread propaganda in Hong kong.

The Verge (aka Vox, Makena Kelly) has a detailed story
The incident resembles the “Facebook Purge 3.0” which led to a coordinated Twitter purge in October 2018 over “coordinated inauthentic behavior” intended to increase clickbait, apparently.  But this time the social networking companies were thanked.  Be careful what you wish for. 
It's ironic that China complains now when it bans US social media in its own country.  

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

One-child policy in China, now rescinded, has led to kidnapping of young women from other countries as potential brides

Hannah Beech has a very disturbing story in the New York Times, about sex trafficking in China.

Wealthier men have potential brides kidnapped from nearby countries, especially Myanmar, because of the shortage of young women in China as a result of the previous one-child policy, which went away in 2015 and was replaced with a two-child policy. 
This certainly reminds one of the FOSTA sex-trafficking law in the US.  The practice in China results in the cultural fear of men of not having a lineage. 

Monday, August 19, 2019

Zakaria explains South African land expropriation as simply returning land that had been taken wrongfully

Fareed Zakaria spoke an interesting “What in the World” segment Sunday where he discussed the land expropriation problem in South Africa.

Zakaria noted that back in the 1970s under apartheid, native land had been taken away from the original population and given to whites.  So this casts the expropriations as reparations, or of returning what should have belonged all the time.

Imagine if such an idea could be implemented for native Americans.
The Nation has a similarly analytic article by Jon Alsop (paywall). 

But as a matter of ideology, expropriation is the ultimate death ray against “privilege”.
Wikipedia attribution link for photo by Profberger CCSA 3.0 

Saturday, August 17, 2019

Explosion in Russia leads to radiation in Scandinavia, seems to comprise multiple incidents in different locations?

Vladimir Isachekov of the Associated Press reports on the mysterious explosion near Nyonoska in northwest Russia, near Archangelsk., Aug. 14  
A story on CNN by Nick Paton Walsh discusses Skyfall, a nuclear-powered cruise missile and doomsday weapon, I guess the same explosion resulting in   radioactive contamination in Scandanavia.  US had good conventional cruise missile technology in 1991 during the Persian Gulf war, which had huge political impact now forgotten (like enabling Clinton to open a debate on gays in the military in 1993 -- things are so connected!)
The explosion near Achinsk seems to be a different event (LA Times). 

It seems that radiation may be coming from more than one incident.  Fact patterns are confusing. This is obviously a developing story.  It may fit into my novel!!  Why does Russia keep sensitive nuclear stuff so close to its NW border?  (This idea was covered in a 2011 Russian film "The Return" -- movies blog, Dec. 28, 2011.) 
Wikipedia attribution  (commons).

Friday, August 16, 2019

India demonstrates the "effectiveness" of its Internet "kill switch" in Kashmir

James Groffiths of CNN reports on the tendency for some governments to implement Internet blackouts in some regions to control political unrest.  Business Insider has a story indicating locals didn’t know India had rewritten its constitution. 
The most obvious example is the Indian government’s blackout of Kashmir and Jannu, bordering Pakistan. Troops have cut off service at the “core” level.

Other examples include Sri Lanka after Easter Sunday attacks.
It’s harder to do this in the US, Canada and Europe because of the multiplicity of router connections.

By CIA -, Public Domain, Link

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Trump urges Israel to deny entry to two of "The Squad"; do Americans really want the jobs of undocumented persons?

The Israeli government and prime minister have denied US representatives Ilhan Omar (D-MN) and Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) permission to visit Israel, under pressure from Trump (in a tweet) and supposedly justified by Israeli law barring persons who have advocated boycotting Israel from entering.

Here is the Washington Post story (Hudson et al) and NBCThink op-ed.

Trey Yingst, Fox foreign correspondent, shared a Hamas statement on twitter (labeled by Twitter as "sensitive material") .  Trey also interviewed Rashida's grandmother (Tlaid refused an Israeli allowance to allow her to visit if she agreed not to mention boycotts). 

It’s all pure tribalism.
Trump is also claiming that Americans applied for jobs at Koch foods after an ICE raid (Breitbart).  I thought these were menial “dirty work” jobs Americans didn’t want.

Friday, August 9, 2019

UN Climate report on food supply gets many different interpretations

Umair Irfan somewhat softens the tone of a recent UN climate report in a Vox article by re-stressing the value of land conservation (as known in the 50s) and by criticizing wasting of food in modern consumption habits, link

But Nature emphasizes the consumption habits of people in richer countries, eating meat. 

But the most dangerous problem seems to be the attitude of right-wing politicians, most of all Bolsonaro in Brazil, who still is deforesting the Amazon for short term gain.

Thursday, August 8, 2019

Russian trolls are trying to get intellectually weak Americans to fight each other in the streets (NBC story)

Richard Engel et al of NBC news report that Russian trolls have selected videos of private citizen “accidents” or behaviors in public places and made them go viral, and have sometimes urged doxing of private Americans.

The idea is to create physical conflict and disruption and show “no one is immune”. 
The main NBC link is here

It is pretty easy to collide with someone on a subway.  But a troll might photograph it and then try to cause it to go viral.
Another grave risk from foreign trolls might be hacking ordinary Americans to frame them for crimes (although this can be a known threat with identity theft already).

Russian trolls seem to be attacking “individualism” and stirring up “populist” resentment against and bullying of individuals, “hecklers’ veto” or mob mentality. Trolls may also be amplifying the “white supremacy” narrative by calling people names when they clearly do not advocate supremacy by normal speech interpretation.
This goes along with Tim Pool’s narrative of coming domestic “insurgencies” by extremists on both sides.

Friday, August 2, 2019

Trump tariffs China again, may hit US consumers; China jails major dissident Trump cancels Russian missile treaty; climate change hits Siberia

Suddenly, there are a lot of potentially important international items, and they will all need more detailed followup.

First Trump announced that apparently everything else not already targeted for tariffs will face levies on September 1, 2019.  I am looking to see how this would affect my own plans for a new apple Macbook for a music project.  Apparently these items still have final assembly in China but I it is not quite certain from what I can find. Would the tariffs start when these items arrive in stores?  CNBC is talking about China’s retaliation already. 

Next, China has sentenced another human rights activist, Huang qi, to twelve years in prison, story. Huang is a founder of the Tianwang website awarded a “reporters without borders” prize in 2016.  China believes that dissenting speech strokes tensions among its citizens and we have been seeing more about how that works in the US since Trump won.

Russia has generated a couple items.  Trump is withdrawing from a Reagan-era intermediate range ballistic missile treaty with Russia, over concerns of Russia’s “cheating” (CBS).

This morning, CNN showed shocking video of sinkholes in eastern Siberia resulting from permafrost melting, threatening entire towns, as well as rampant wildfires.  Climate change is affecting polar areas much more quickly than those closer to the equator. Here is a recent BBC story.  Putin has been paying Russian families to settle Siberia and have lots of kids to raise his birthrate and support nationalism.