Saturday, September 12, 2015

Fwd: Corbyn

'In 2010, Miliband won the leadership from his brother David by promising an end to the compromises of power and a return to the traditional left-wing comfort zone. Yet the narrative of his tenure was of an uneasy accommodation with electoral reality — a drift to the Left marred by lurches to the Right.

Labour's younger supporters, aghast at the cuts being inflicted by the Tory government in the name of balancing the budget, do not want someone who will make the party electable. They want someone who will articulate their outrage. And it is here that Corbyn has an advantage over his rivals: He is untainted by compromise.

Now aged 66, Corbyn was first elected to parliament in 1983. That year, Labour stood on a far-left platform promising unilateral nuclear disarmament and the nationalization of swathes of British industry. It was described by one of its own MPs as "the longest suicide note in history."

Over the next decade, Labour embarked on a gruelling march back toward the center ground. That reached its apogee in 1994, when Tony Blair rebranded the party as "New Labour" and declared it the natural home of the aspiring middle class. His MPs shaved off their beards, stopped singing "The Red Flag," revoked their symbolic commitment to "the common ownership of the means of production" and promised not to raise taxes. The result was three landslide victories.

A handful of MPs, however, kept both their beards and their beliefs — chief among them Jeremy Corbyn. And where Miliband promised in 2010 to "turn the page" on New Labour, Corbyn wants to go back and tear out the entire chapter.

The result is a policy platform which makes Hillary Clinton look like Grover Norquist. Corbyn would nationalize the railways, most of the energy companies and at least one of the banks. He would abandon austerity, raise taxes on the rich and force the Bank of England to print money to pay for houses, railways and wind farms. He would return schools to state control (undoing Britain's version of the charter school program, set up under Blair). He would slash defense spending and abolish Britain's nuclear deterrent. He might bring in a "maximum wage" to cap executive pay, or reopen the coal mines, or withdraw from NATO.

Then there are his views on foreign policy. Corbyn is one of those Europeans who blames the West for the bulk of the world's evils — and who therefore believes that anyone who hates America or Britain or Israel probably has something going for them. He befriends Venezuela, Bolivia, Russia, Iran, Palestine, Hamas, Hezbollah. He blames the Ukraine crisis on NATO. He befriended Sinn Féin, the IRA's political wing, even as it was blowing up British civilians. He opposed the Falklands, Kosovo, the first Gulf War and the invasion of Afghanistan — and, of course, Iraq. He was recently asked if there were any circumstances under which he would deploy British troops abroad. "I am sure there are some," he replied. "But I can't think of them at the moment."'

Refugees: Another One for the “Not Our Problem” File

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Fwd: Russia

'During Vladimir Putin's visit to Beijing this week, he will be at pains to downplay the ongoing chaos in Chinese financial markets, drop in global crude prices, and lackluster Sino-Russian trade figures. Taken together, these developments are a huge disappointment for a Kremlin that just a few months ago was betting on China to serve as an economic lifeline for the Russian economy in the wake of Western sanctions.

It wasn't supposed to be this way. After being frozen out of Western capital markets by waves of sanctions, a great many top Russian government and corporate players had loyally heeded the Kremlin's directive, "Go east, young man!" The Kremlin's pivot to Asia was intended not only to form a Russia-Chinese alliance of likeminded authoritarian states, but also to re-orient the Russian economy toward the East. This effort was intended to  provide Vladimir Putin with financial means to sustain himself in office and his current foreign policy course. Securing "a stable Chinese" alternative to Western capital markets was the key element in this game plan.

Friday, September 4, 2015

Fwd: China

'In China, drivers who have injured pedestrians will sometimes then try to kill them. And yet not only is it true, it's fairly common; security cameras have regularly captured drivers driving back and forth on top of victims to make sure that they are dead. The Chinese language even has an adage for the phenomenon: "It is better to hit to kill than to hit and injure."'


"Double-hit cases" have been around for decades. I first heard of the "hit-to-kill" phenomenon in Taiwan in the mid-1990s when I was working there as an English teacher. A fellow teacher would drive us to classes. After one near-miss of a motorcyclist, he said, "If I hit someone, I'll hit him again and make sure he's dead." Enjoying my shock, he explained that in Taiwan, if you cripple a man, you pay for the injured person's care for a lifetime. But if you kill the person, you "only have to pay once, like a burial fee." He insisted he was serious—and that this was common.

Most people agree that the hit-to-kill phenomenon stems at least in part from perverse laws on victim compensation. In China the compensation for killing a victim in a traffic accident is relatively small—amounts typically range from $30,000 to $50,000—and once payment is made, the matter is over. By contrast, paying for lifetime care for a disabled survivor can run into the millions. The Chinese press recently described how one disabled man received about $400,000 for the first 23 years of his care. Drivers who decide to hit-and-kill do so because killing is far more economical. Indeed, Zhao Xiao Cheng—the man caught on a security camera video driving over a grandmother five times—ended up paying only about $70,000 in compensation.

Security cameras have regularly captured drivers driving back and forth on top of victims to make sure that they are dead.

In 2010 in Xinyi, video captured a wealthy young man reversing his BMW X6 out of a parking spot. He hits a 3-year-old boy, knocking the child to the ground and rolling over his skull. The driver then shifts his BMW into drive and crushes the child again. Remarkably, the driver then gets out of the BMW, puts the vehicle in reverse, and guides it with his hand as he walks the vehicle backward over the boy's crumpled body. The man's foot is so close to the toddler's head that, if alive, the boy could have reached out and touched him. The driver then puts the BMW in drive again, running over the boy one last time as he drives away.

Here too, the driver was charged only with accidentally causing a person's death. (He claimed to have confused the boy with a cardboard box or trash bag.) Police rejected charges of murder and even of fleeing the scene of the crime, ignoring the fact that the driver ran over the boy's head as he sped away.'

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Fwd: welfare

"In 2012, 51 percent of households headed by an [illegal or legal] immigrant reported that they used at least one welfare program during the year, compared to 30 percent of native households," the report said.

The report found starkly different welfare rates among different groups, with 73 percent of immigrant households from Central America and Mexico and 51 percent of households from the Caribbean receiving welfare. Meanwhile, only 26 percent of immigrant households from Europe and 17 percent from South Asia received welfare in that period.



Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Re: 09-01-15 Supreme Court Turns Down KY Clerk who Won't Marry Gays


No doubt the resistance here is a deliberate organized movement to test the court ruling.  That has failed.

I am for gay marriage but it was never a hot political issue for me.  I felt that our society has much bigger problems to worry about.   I thought that the Supreme Court overstepped its bounds, and I thought that this should have been best resolved through the political process as 37 states had already done.  However, I am glad that gay marriage is legal.

I like the radio talk show host I heard in Indianapolis who said that he was for gay marriage because they should suffer as much as the rest of us.  I got a really big laugh out of that one.

Seriously, I think that gay marriage will lead to more stable relationships and guarantee rights that would have otherwise been denied.

If a person is strongly religious, their belief gives them no room to compromise.  Mildly religious people aren't as worried about it.  I think that it would be wrong to force someone to do something that they think would violate their religion.  That person thinks that they would go to hell, and would be forced to quit to avoid doing so.  And it won't make them any less bigoted.  It would probably make them more bigoted.   

​In the case of the instrangagent clerk, that person should be reassigned, or an alternate clerk should be made available.  

I don't believe in religion, but I do believe religious freedom.   I believe in all forms of freedom.  It is what makes us who we are.  To believe otherwise is to believe in some degree of dictatorship.


Fwd: Japan

'More Japanese school pupils commit suicide on September 1 each year than on any other date, according to figures collated by Japan's suicide prevention office over a period of more than 40 years.

The grim spike in the statistics is linked to the typical start date of the new school term after the summer holiday has ended.

"The long break from school enables you to stay at home, so it's heaven for those who are bullied," Nanae said. "When summer ends, you have to go back. And once you start worrying about getting bullied, committing suicide might be possible."..

Nanae thinks the Japanese education system's focus on collective thinking is at the root cause of the problem.

"In Japan, you have to fall in line with other people. And if you cannot do that, you're either ignored or bullied," she said. "You are required to have a unified opinion, and it crushes the uniqueness every person has. But that uniqueness is not something to destroy."

Some experts agree. Child psychiatrist Dr. Ken Takaoka said the suicide rate increases when school restarts because schools "prioritize collective (action). Children who do not get along in a group will suffer."'