Thursday, 27 April 2017

Neuralink and the Brain's Magical Future - Wait But Why

Via Sam Harris (my hero), comes this wonderful report of Elon Musk (my 'nother hero) and his latest mind-bending company, Neuralink >>

[Reminder of Musk: PayPal, Tesla, SolarCity, SpaceX. They may be just for starters!]
http://waitbutwhy.com/2017/04/neuralink.html

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The Papal Propagandist for Islam Heads to Egypt | The American Spectator

I recall the Pope's shameful comment in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo massacres : "if you criticise my mother, I will hit you". Unimaginably bad. And that did it for me.  Frank: go home!
Below link to a good critique of a papal idiocy in The American Spectator.
/Snip:

As the prototypical progressive Jesuit, Pope Francis prides himself on his "ecumenism." He oozes enthusiasm for every religion except his own. At the top of his list of favorite religions is the Church's fiercest adversary — Islam.

He often sounds more like a spokesman for CAIR than a Catholic pope. After jihadists cut off the head of a French priest in July 2016 — yelling "Allahu Akbar" over the priest's slit throat — Pope Francis rushed to the defense of Islam. "I don't like to talk about Islamic violence, because every day, when I read the newspaper, I see violence," he said, before ludicrously blaming the rise of terrorism on the "idolatry" of free-market economics: "As long as the god of money is at the center of the global economy and not the human person, man and woman, this is the first terrorism."

.... read the rest at the link below:



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Palestinians: The Secret West Bank

The article linked below wonders about Mahmoud Abbas' thinking: does he really want a "comprehensive and just peace" with Israel? Or does he bend to Hizb-ut-Tahrir and their aim to eliminate Israel? 
I recall reading Abbas speeches in Arabic to his domestic audience, which make clear he's an Israel (and Jew) eliminationist -- "from the river to the sea".*
Whatever Abbas' secret thoughts, it's clear many Palestinians ache for Israel's destruction. And then the destruction of Jews everywhere. 
Opinion polls suggest it's a majority of Palestinians think like this. The minority who favour a genuine peace with Israel won't be encouraged to speak their minds by the likes of Ramallah's murderous mobs reported below. 
Meantime Abbas will speak these sweet words into Trump's ear. Which will lodge there until the next person gets his ear (like a pillow, Trump bears the impression of the last person to lie on him -- "lie" in both senses of the word). 
/Snip
According to PA officials, Abbas is scheduled to affirm during the meeting with Trump his commitment to the two-state solution and a "comprehensive and just peace" with Israel.
As Abbas and his advisors prepare for the May 3 meeting with Trump, however, thousands of Palestinians gathered in Ramallah to call on Arab armies to "liberate Palestine, from the (Jordan) river to the (Mediterranean) sea." The Palestinians also called for replacing Israel with an Islamic Caliphate.
https://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/10276/secret-west-bank

* Speeches translated by the Middle East Media Research Institute, but can't at the moment put my finger on the links. 

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

"On a High", This week in Asia, April 23-29, 2017

LETTER TO SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST:
I enjoyed reading Chow Chung-Yan's informative article on the medical and recreational use of marijuana worldwide (On a HighThis week in Asia, April 23-29, 2017). 
He notes Ronald Reagan's crusade against marijuana which led to the "war on drugs", arguably the most socially destructive policy of the 20th century.  
"Marijuana was listed together with heroin and cocaine as the most dangerous drugs -- even though there was no evidence suggesting that its effect could be anywhere as hazardous as the other two. 
To this day, there is no single proven case of death caused by marijuana overdose.  The drug dependency rate of marijuana is low. Only 9 per cent of marijuana users will develop withdrawal syndromes after they quit, on par with caffeine."
And yet the U.S. "War on Drugs" continues and we slavishly follow it here in Hong Kong. For example, our police recently arrested two people with five marijuana plants.(Couple arrested over Discovery Bay cannabis farmTrending, March 4). 

I recently attended the 50th anniversary of my high school Class of '67 in Australia. Every one of we now elderly men had experimented with smoking pot in the nineteen sixties. By our 50th reunion we had become husbands, fathers, grandfathers. We had been (some still were) farmers, teachers, headmasters, lawyers, doctors, diplomats, businessmen, novelists and artists. None of us smoked tobacco anymore and none of us took marijuana. And none of us was any worse for our experimentations 50 years ago. 
Imagine instead if the police 50 years ago had arrested us. We would have been jailed and imprisoned. The cost to the state would have been enormous. The cost to each one of us enormous: ruined lives with no hope of professional careers. All for a drug now recognised as medically beneficial, nowhere near as hazardous as cocaine and heroin, and with no proven death caused by its consumption.
Chow's insightful article attests to the need for our laws to change before more lives, more police time and more money are wasted. 

PF

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Islam Has Already Taken England and France - Live Trading News

I know a couple of folks here in Hong Kong who are refugees from Birmingham, England. They fled Islamic takeover of their suburbs by Islam. Not that they are in any way intolerant islamophobes like me. Over time their suburbs had more and more Muslim neighbours. At first fine. Then they found that their lovely front yards, with little lawns and gardens, maintained proudly, were cemented over. Then the local pubs were closed down because of Islam's teetotalitarianism. Then more and more ghosts in bags (aka burkas).
Their suburbs became just like the TWS* that their neighbours had fled.
Time to leave.
How can this be good for England? Or France?
http://www.livetradingnews.com/islam-already-taken-england-france-38777.html

*Third World Shitholes, mainly from Pakistan and Bangladesh.
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Guest Post: Muhammad hijacked Judaism to create Islam – Whale Oil Beef Hooked | Whaleoil Media

As I've said: Islam is the greatest reverse takeover in history. The takeover, the appropriation of Judaism. And bits of Christianity. To create a fraudulent, twisted and malevolent copy by theft of intellectual property.
(From a site I've never heard of).
https://www.whaleoil.co.nz/2017/04/muhammad-hijacked-judaism-create-islam/


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I've worked in foreign aid for 50 years—Trump is right to end it, even if his reasons are wrong — Quartz

Back in 2011 I did a car trip from Cape Town to Cairo. Countries became visibly poorer the further north we went. And aid agencies -- United Nations and other NGOs -- visibly proliferated in their tinted-windowed Land Cruisers. I spoke to some of their staff, in Addis Ababa and Khartoum. I was shocked at their self-serving attitudes. They were there just as a career step. Each of these expatriates cost $US 500,000 per year when their accommodation, home visits, salaries and allowances were added up. Imagine that half a million instead given direct to women. I thought at the time that would be a better use of the money and it turns out from reading since that other observers of the foreign aid scene believe the same. 
I'd read at the time how ineffective aid agencies were in addressing the problems they'd identified to be tackled. All this I noted in a blog at the time ("cape to Cairo 2011"). 
Below a link to a damning report by a long-term foreign aider.  Ore the massive drops in poverty rates in China and India. In both cases from their own efforts, economically based, and not from foreign aid. 
Despite many reports and books on the failures of foreign aid programs, western countries treat their foreign aid budgets as sacrosanct, immune from criticism. 
Not only is foreign aid costing us. It's costing recipients as well. 
/Snip
By far the most dramatic growth and consequent shift in poverty has occurred in China. The World Bank, looking at several countries during the quarter century between 1981 and 2005, concluded that poverty rates for China went from 84% to 16%—a drop of 81%, and for India from 60% to 42%—a drop of 30%. At the beginning of this period (1981) only four countries had a worse poverty rate than China—Cambodia, Burkina Faso, Mali, and Uganda. But decades later these four countries remain more or less where they were, while China moved ahead. Why? India began to move ahead rapidly after 1991. Why? The answer is complex—a mix of culture, changes in government policy, and changes in arrangements in the political economy. But what most of these dramatic changes don't correlate with is foreign aid. Aid has resulted in remarkably few significant shifts in economic growth and poverty reduction. The truth is much of aid's promise has come up empty.


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Saturday, 22 April 2017

Why We Are on Hunger Strike in Israel’s Prisons - NYTimes.com

LETTER TO NYT:
Shame in you for printing -- front page, no less -- an article by a convicted murderer. [link below].
In his last sentence Barghouti says:
> "Only ending the occupation will end this injustice and mark the birth of peace."

If only.
Sadly there's plenty of evidence -- opinion polls and statements by Palestinian leaders to their own people -- that ending the occupation is seen by Palestinians as only the next step to taking over the whole of Israel ("From the River to the Sea").
Still, ending the occupation is something to which most Israelis aspire. But there has to be a deal: recognition of Israel's right to exist. The last time land was unilaterally handed back, Gaza, there was no deal and it just created a base for continued attacks on Israel.
Barghouti's heartfelt rhetoric includes nothing of that recognition. Until then he's just a convicted murderer with a pen. To which you shamefully gave voice.

Peter Forsythe
9 Siena One
Discovery Bay
HK
93080799

https://mobile.nytimes.com/2017/04/16/opinion/palestinian-hunger-strike-prisoners-call-for-justice.html

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Amid Venezuela Protests, G.M. Plant Is Seized, and Company Exits - NYTimes.com

LETTER TO NEW YORK TIMES:
A whole article [link below] on Venezuela's economic woes without a single mention of socialism?
You say Venezuela suffers...
"... violent street protests against the government of President Nicolas Madura and a deepening economic crisis fueled by Venezuela's heavy foreign debt and the retreat of world oil prices, which have slashed the country's main source of income."
Well, yes, but. 
The reason for the "heavy foreign debt" is that Madura continued Chavez's failed socialist experiment, the so-called "Bolivarian Revolution". It was socialism that led Chavez to fritter away Venezuela's oil windfall by domestic give-always and grants to would-be client states in Latin America. It was socialism that led to expropriations of industry in the belief that the state can do better (it can't). It was socialism that led to the "heavy foreign debt". It is socialism that's taking foreign companies to the exit door. 
As for the "retreat of oil prices",  that hasn't affected Norway, another recipient of an oil bounty. In contrast to Venezuala, Norway saved and invested its oil income; it can now survive on the income from those investments even without a dollar more in oil income. 
In short to ascribe Venezuela's economic problems to oil's price drop is to excuse its mismanagement, a mismanagement due entirely to the ideology of socialism. 
Socialism has failed everywhere it has been tried, from the Soviet Union and China in the past to North Korea in the present. 
About time this was acknowledged in the New York Times

Peter Forsythe
9 Siena One
Discovery Bay
HK
+852 93080799 



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Monday, 10 April 2017

Breaking the Palestinians' Will to Fight :: Daniel Pipes

I don't think it is widely understood amongst the well meaning commentators in the west that the majority of Palestinians have no desire at all to see a two state solution. They want one: from the river to the sea.
Those who excoriate Israel for dragging its feet on a two-state solution ignore this, wilfully or otherwise.
As long as the Palestinians remain rejectionist and simply aim to wipe Israel off the map there can be no negotiations in good faith.
Daniel Pipes sees some hope in the prospect of raising the 20% of Palestinians who are willing to live in peace with Israel to around 60%.
I wonder.
Of course it would be hugely to their benefit -- to Palestinians, that is -- were they to harness their energy and skills to Israeli know how and technology. Switzerland of the Middle East!
Still, I wonder.
http://www.danielpipes.org/17469/breaking-the-palestinians-will-to-fight?utm_source=Middle+East+Forum&utm_campaign=18507362d7-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2017_04_10&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_086cfd423c-18507362d7-33857013


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Hussein the taxi man

Coming in from Auckland to Sydney airport, thence to Bondi beach the other day my cabbie was Hussein. Very well, from his name I know his faith. But I don't say nothin'.

Instead, we chat and I ask after his family. He has a wife. No kids. What does his wife do, I ask. She's a housewife, he says. So what does she do all day? I ask. I do nothing all day and I'm often bored. How about a young woman?

Well, says Hussein, she's still in Pakistan. So, I ask, is this an arranged marriage? Yes he says.

Well, you know, I say, feeling like I shouldn't, like I should leave it, but cheeky all the same: you know we used to do arranged marriages in the west until maybe a hundred years ago. Bit we decided it was better to let marriage happen through love.

Yes, said Hussein, I know. No argument there or upset from him. Impressive.

We talk about this -- the issue of arranged marriages -- for a bit then he informs me that his wife is his first cousin. Well, I say, first cousin marriage has higher incidence of birth defects than non-relation births.

Yes, I know, he says. To my incredulity. But, he claims that he's heard the problem is less with first cousins than with second or third.

I'm not sure about that, I say.

Well, it will all be ok, Hussein says, Insh'Allah.

That does it for me. This whole insh'Allah thing really creeps me out. Nearly as much as the howl of Allahu Akhbar! before the next mass murder of infidels.

So I say: it's not insh'Allah, it's not the will of god. It's down to whether you the science. Whether you decide to go ahead to have children. Whether when you do have them, the lottery of genetics favours you or not. And if it doesn't favour you -- and you believe in your god -- what does that say about his feelings towards you? What have you done to make him harm you? No, Hussein, it's not insh'Allah.

We then cover, in no particular order:

What's good about Islam. Or not.

I say I'm an atheist. Have been since nine. So I don't believe, or really like any religion at all. But they're not all the same. And Islam's clearly the worst (IMHO).

No, says Hussein, it's the best because it's the latest and everything has been corrected.

But, I say, the Koran has been put together by stealing and mish-mashing bits of the Bible and bits of the. Bible. That's clear.

Hussein reckons that Islam is the best religion towards all other religions.

How can that be, I say, when the prayer said five times a day, by pious Muslims, the equivalent to Christianity's Lords Prayer, is the first Surat of the Koran which asks to be "rightly guided" unlike those who have "gone wrong", which refers to the Jews, and unlike the "hypocrites", which refers to the Christians. How can Islam be so caring about other religions when they spend five prayers a day cursing them?

You've misunderstood it, says Hussein. Thus bringing Into play for, the first time, that classic of apologia: the "misunderstanders", of which I'm now allegedly one.

So far so much verbal tennis. Both of us bashing from the baseline. Keeping our cool though.

The place of women in Islam

Hussein reckons women are treated better by Islam, than other religions.

You mean like not being allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia? Like the Koran permiTting husbands to beat them? Like only getting half the inheritance of men?

Bish-Bash.

Death for gays in Islam.
I drop a soft ball just over the net. Hussein doesn't quite get to it.

Islamic law says gays must be killed, I say. It's in the Hadith of Bukhara and in the Umdat al-Salik, the standard manual of Islamic jurisprudence.

That shouldn't be, says Hussein.

Death for apostates in Islam

A carbon copy shot as for gays and again Hussain says it shouldn't be.

But it is, even here in Australia, I say. Having just posted about it, I can quote the imam's name Hatham Badar. He said death to apostates is clear in Islamic doctrine (which it is). Hussain says this fellow can't be a proper Muslim. Or he is "misunderstanding". Another one of those.

Saudi Arabia and Iran: who are Muslims and who not?

So what about other places then? Are they Islamic, I ask Hussein. No, and no, he says of those two. And adds, of curse, ISIS. They have "perverted Islam", he says, but we don't have time to get in why. I just get in a quick shot about Graeme Woods piece in The Atlantic, which shows conclusively just how Islamic they are, it that just fizzes by to the keeper, if I may mix the metaphors and change horses mid stream.
I ask if he knows what is the Constitution of Saudi Arabia. He does not, so I inform him that it's the Koran. In its entirety. In which case, says Hussein, they must be misinterpreting the Koran. I say that a Saudi princess was beheaded a some years back because she had committed adultry, and her punishment was in accordance with the Koran. They've misread it, he repeats.

So then I ask him about others: according to Hussein, Saudi Arabia is not Muslim, neither is Iran or Iraq. And of course ISIS is not Mulim. I ask him why does he get to say who's Muslim, when they themselves say they are. No real answer to that, except along the lines of the "not true Scotsman" fallacy. 

Hussein adds Al-Qaeda to the list of those that aren't Muslim. Do you know, he asks me, that Hillary Clinton "admitted" America had funded Al-Qaeda? Well, yes, I did know that. It was no secret that during the Cold War the US funded and armed the Mujahideen in Afghanistan, to fight the Soviets. Osama bin Ladin was there and happily shared in the funds. That doesn't make them less Muslim. Just as the Chinese communists were no less communist for having taken money from French intellectuals.

Islam's view of non-Muslims: Hussein says that Islam is the most tolerant and peaceful religion that cares for all people. I say that the Koran says: be nice and kind to Muslims. It doesn't mention non-Muslims, except to curse them and to say "to you your religion, to me, mine", and worse: "between us there shall be hatred and enmity for all time". No discernable answer from Hussein.

Charity in Islam: we go onto this somehow, and I say that charity in Islam, the zakat, is mandated for Muslims at a rate of 12.5% of their income. But it had to go to Islamic causes, and could not be given to we infidels. Hussein says that he gives money for charity for all sorts of people, not just Muslims. I say, good on you. But it's not Islamic. Still, good on you.

Al Q'aeda are not Muslims, says Hussein.... He quotes Hillary Clinton, saying that they'd paid for arms for Osama bin Laden and the Mujihadeen in Afghanistan. I say that's well known, and in retrospect a strategic error -- done because we were in a cold war with the Soviet Union -- but didn't mean that OBL and the Mujis were not Muslims, fighting then and now a holy war. For they were and are.


Reading the Koran in translation: Hussein tries for a little bit the line that if you don't read the Koran in Arabic, then you don't know it property. But I cut him off on that: what about him, a Pakistani, has he read it in Arabic? (no). What about Indonesians, Malaysians? Indeed the majority of Muslims who don't speak Arabic. I also say I speak and read Chinese, a more complex language (I reckon) than Arabic to translate, especially its classic versions, yet there are plenty of fine and understandable translations. So that's a furphy. He didn't pursue this, recognising it as a loser. (it's often run by other apologists, however, and I haven't seen anyone to whom it's aimed, come back with a decent answer, even though there are good comebacks, and it's a nonsense).

Moral equivalence between Christians and Muslims

Is Hussein a good Muslim or a bad Muslim? Given all he's said, I say congratulations, Hussein, you're not really a Muslim. You're actually a "good Muslim" according to we non-Muslims, for you don't want to force your religion on the rest of us, you give charity to non-Muslims, you're very tolerant of gays, women, etc. But you're a "bad Muslim" according to pious Muslims. He doesn't much like this thought, but seems to accept it...

Why are you a Muslim, Hussein? He says he's a Muslim because it's the latest revelation and therefore the perfection of all the previous monotheistic ones, Judaism and Christianity. I say: no you're not a Muslim because of that; you're a Muslim because your parent told you you were. Just as you believed them, as a baby and young boy, when they told you fire burnt, so you believed them when they told you the only true religion was Islam and Muhammad his prophet.

The treaty of Hudaybya. Battle of Badr. He reckoned Islam had no problem with Jews. Because he did not have a problem with Jews, so he told me. I said that Islam hated Jews and that it went right back to early battles against them, by Muhammad, who personally beheaded hundreds of them in the Battle of Badr. Hussein said: right and why did Muhammad fight them? Well, cause I know this, because Muhammad thought they'd abrogated the Treaty of Hudabya. But history shows that he was after any pretext. What he hated about the Jews was they didn't accept his prophethood and laughed at him -- they're still doing that, says I -- the best stand-up comedians in the world! I said that Christopher Hitchens had noted Muhammad's rage at the Jews laughing at him and that this was the main reason he fought them and reviled them.

**************
This was a torrid discussion. But it was in good humour and at the end he helped me out with my bags and gave me a warm handshake. If all Muslims were as open to discussion, yet as moderate and tolerant as Hussein, we'd have no objections to Muslim immigration.
Sadly, he's one in a dozen, or one in a hundred. There are many more along the lines of the convert in the CNN video, Behind the Mask, in the immediately preceding post.

ISIS Behind the Mask | CNN

This is a fascinating video of a Belgian Jihadi: like so many, a convert to Islam.
It's also scary.  This is going on all over Europe, and the reactions are muted to none.  And to the extent that there are reactions, they're disturbingly naive.

Why Israel Is Nothing Like Apartheid South Africa | New York Times International Edition

I also lived in South Africa, in 1967 for a year, when it was deeply apartheid.  And know, therefore, that Israel, for all its faults, is not an apartheid state.
Here, Benjamin Pogrund does the job: from the point of view of one who lived in both countries.
JERUSALEM — Among critics of Israel, it has become ever more common to accuse the Jewish state of imitating apartheid South Africa. This month, an obscure United Nations agency, the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia, whose membership comprises 18 Arab states, caused an uproar when it issued a report accusing Israel of applying the same racism in its conflict with Palestinians that made South Africa an international pariah. The United Nations secretary general swiftly repudiated the report, and it was removed from the agency’s website.
Read on....

Islam’s Most Eloquent Apostate | Wall Street Journal

A long article on one of my favourite women: Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the apostate from Islam, and brave spokeswoman for liberal values.  For that she's smeared often by those on the "regressive left" and various other Islamapologists and fellow travellers.
I've pasted the whole article here, rather than the link to the Wall Street Journal, in which it appeared today, because it's for subscription there.

Sweden faces new reality of heightened security and vigilance | Financial Times

The Sweden Democrats party are almost always prefaced by "far right". That label is pinned on them by the MSM because of their stance on immigration, especially Islamic immigration.
The clear fact is that the more Muslims immigrate, the more likely a terrorist act. Of course most muslim migrants are peaceable. But a non-trivial number are pious, which requires, by clear doctrine, "fighting the infidel wherever you find him." (Koran 2:191, et al).
Thus the connection between Muslim immigration and terrorist acts is clear and inevitable. It's neither racist nor xenophobic to note this.
Sweden may be willing to bear that price for the sake of helping refugees or economic migrants. But at least that price, that cost of Muslim immigration has to be made clear.
The Sweden Democrats try to make it clear. And get pilloried for it by les bien pensants de Sweden.
/Snip
However, the Sweden Democrats are already seizing on this incident to bolster their anti-immigration argument. "Sweden used to be a harmonious society, but if these [security issues] continue, our values, our open society, will be destroyed," says Richard Jomshof, the Sweden Democrats party secretary. 

To be fair: hard to argue with that.
https://www.ft.com/content/7b220c24-1cff-11e7-a454-ab04428977f9
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Saturday, 8 April 2017

Canada: The Niqab Enters the Nursery « Clarion Project

Oh dear....
Another mark, in my mind, against the photogenic phool M. Trudeau. 
"Inclusive" says the lady, about a niqab in the nursery. 
But the whole point about the niqab is that it's *not* inclusive. It says: "I want to be apart from you. I don't want you to know anything about me or be at all close to me". 
/Snip
Asked afterward when the YMCA started hiring women in niqabs, senior vice-president for child and family development Linda Cottes said the "Y" has never excluded women wearing the niqab. Asked again when such hiring started, she said only, "We are inclusive."

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"Jihadists doing true Muslims no favours" SCMP, April 8

LETTER TO SCMP 
I was about to put metaphorical pen to paper, predicting that in the wake of the latest terrorist killings in Sweden we would soon have the usual gurus assuring us that jihadis have "nothing to do with Islam", that they have hijacked the "religion of peace" and so on. 
I didn't have to wait long: you printed one such today.  ("Jihadists doing true Muslims no favours",  April 8). *
Shuntaro's effort is a classic "no true Scotsman fallacy". (Example: "Scotsmen don't eat cold porridge". "But Hamish eats cold porridge". "Well, Hamish is not a true Scotsman".)
By analogy: Muslims don't commit terror acts. But these Muslims carried out a terror act. Well, they aren't true Muslims. By definition. 
It ought to be obvious that this is nonsense. But not to the likes of Shuntaro and his ilk. As a result they never have to explain explain how "such people [jihadis] are not real followers of Islam". They are simply not, by definition. 
Another tactic in exonerating Islam is moral equivalence. Thus correspondent Bazarwala will say that  non-Muslims are equally culpable. 

("Christians and atheists can be misguided, too". March 4). 

But Bazarwala should be careful about his sources. In support the "nearly four million citizens" allegedly killed by the US and its allies in the Middle East, he quotes the Centre for Research on Globalisation.  This is an infamous "false facts"  site that promotes conspiracy theories about 9-11, about vaccines and most recently about Syria's chemical attacks (they were false flag operations by the US and Jews -- didn't you know?). This outlet lacks all authority; a fascist/Kremlin funded propaganda site that should not be quoted. **
It would be wonderful to see Muslims and  non-Muslims face up to the doctrinal aspects of Islam that motivate so many attacks of jihadi violence. If jihadis are misunderstanders of "true Islam", there are an awful lot of misunderstanders in the world!
Per contra Shuntaro bemoans Muslims who were inconvenienced (briefly) as a result of Trump's travel bans. Surely the sympathy would more properlybe directed to the victims of jihadi terror attacks. 
Peter Forsythe
9 Siena One
Discovery Bay
Hong Kong
9308 0799

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* https://www.google.com.hk/amp/m.scmp.com/comment/letters/article/2085777/letters-editor-april-7-2017%3Famp%3D1
** https://www.quora.com/Journalistic-Ethics-and-Norms-How-legitimate-is-The-Centre-for-Global-Research

Thursday, 6 April 2017

Australia needs to seriously rethink the way we treat our allies

I was in Ambassador Steve FitzGerald's embassy in Beijing in 1976 then his partner in his China consulting business 1983-89.
Here he discusses important issues. How close should we be to the United States and to China?
Trump perturbations aside, I'm still with being closer to the US... Steve leans more to closer with China. These choices are consequential.
In April 1973, I went to Beijing with what's now an historic Whitlam document tucked under my arm; an eight-page letter from Gough to me as ambassador. It's what might now be called a narrative – how the relationship with China was imagined, and our goals for the long term.

"Christians and atheists can be misguided, too". SCMP, March 4 2017.

While I was away Sidiq Bazarwala answered my letter in the South China Morning Post
I can't be bothered answering, mainly because I doubt the Post will run a letter from me as it would be the fourth in a tit-for-tat between Bazarwala and me. "Enough", will think the Post, I'm sure, as that's been the way in the past. 
That said, I may get to challenging some of Bazarwala's assertions. 
Note the headline to the letter. A case of 
tu quoque. And who would deny that Christians and atheists can be misguided?

Anyway, here's his letter, a month old already:
Christians and atheists can be misguided, too
I refer to Peter Forsythe's letter ("Moderate Muslims should not deny Islam terror links", February 25) in reply to my letter ("Singling out Muslims as the main terrorist threat is grossly unfair", February 16).
He acknowledges, "white supremacists kill more people" than Muslims but interestingly cites "if you don't count the 9/11 attacks (3,000 deaths) and Orlando shootings (49 deaths)" but why start counting on 9/11 when white extremism and Muslim militancy has been a mainstay since the 1990s, if not earlier?
Also, why not encompass the "nearly four million civilians killed during the War on Terror by America and its allies since 9/11", according to the Center for Research on Globalisation?
Mr Forsythe, however, insists, "The issue is not body count but intent…Killings in the name of Islam are usually accompanied by shouts of "Allahu Akbar" and white supremacists don't murder while shouting "Jesus is Lord". In November 2015, an evangelical Christian, Robert Dear killed three and injured nine at an anti-abortion clinic in Colorado. He even praised people who attacked abortion providers, saying they were doing "God's work". In court, he praised the Army of God, a Christian terrorist group that is responsible for similar killings, such as Atlanta Olympic bomber Eric Rudolph, who also bombed a lesbian bar.
Then there's Paul Jennings Hill, Scott Roeder, Micah Johnson and many other Christians with ­similar motives .
Atheists don't fare well, either. Stephen Hicks, of the Chapel Hill shootings of Muslims, and Chris Harper-Mercer, of the Oregon killings of Christians, are but two examples of proud atheists with zero tolerance for religion, illustrating how religion is not always the cause of violence.
It seems the rules for media condemnation are different when misguided Christians or atheists commit acts of violence.
White Americans are never asked to publicly condemn their actions but an unfair perpetual finger is pointed at Muslims demanding that "moderate Muslims" deny, condemn and disavow the actions of a minority of deviant Muslims who commit acts of violence.
Mr Forsythe is ill-informed. If the Koran, Bible or Torah said nothing but "do good and avoid evil", you can be sure there will be people who will still misconstrue its true meaning and commit acts of violence.
Siddiq Bazarwala, Discovery Bay

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

"French court overturns burqini ban as struggle between secularism and religious liberty rages"

My letter that ran in the South China Morning Post last year, that I didn't get around to posting, but which remains as relevant as ever (just found it, while cleaning up my desktop).
Indeed, female Islamic sartorial matters are arguably worse, as there's been a fetishisation at least of the hijab: witness the fashion parades of veiled women, for example by Vogue Magazine in New York. And here.
This is not right.  Bottom line, it's a suppression of women's freedom, not a "freedom of choice" for them (whatever they may think: there were slaves who loved their chains).

LETTER TO THE SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST:
It’s nonsense to say that wearing a “burqini” is a matter of “freedom of choice”.  (Tug of War Over Faith Played Out On Beaches, [print version of headline] August 28, 2016).  It reflects instead the wishes of elderly Islamic theocrats. When Khomeini overthrew the Shah in 1979 he demanded that Iranian women wear the hijab. Thousands of women took to the streets in protest. Their counter-revolution was quickly crushed. Khomenei’s regime described them as ‘Islamophobic’ for refusing to wear the hijab.
 The results have been dire for Muslim women. I travelled the Middle East in the seventies.  I rarely saw a veil-covered woman. I travelled there in the 2010s and rarely saw an uncovered one.
 Can we seriously think that’s because they want  “freedom of choice”? Of course not.  It reflects the growth of more assertive Islam. The burqini is just the next step from hijab, niqab and burqa. Burqini supporters trash the aspirations of Iranian women who fought their theocratic patriarchy, but were crushed by it.  They trash the aspirations of today’s secular Muslim women who object to religious coverings, but are mocked for it. Burqini wearers and their sartorial fellow travellers support a theocratic religiously mandated gender-based cover-up. And by deploying the nonsense term “Islamophobia” they echo the theocratic patriarchs. Where is the feminism, the liberalism, the toleration in that stance?