Monthly Archives: July 2012

In Sweden, Don’t Describe Criminals Appearances…

This is excellent… Police are apologizing for describing someone by the apparent ethnic background they seem to be from while they are conducting an investigation of a criminal… Such a thing is insensitive in Sweden:

“Our intentions were good but the result was not successful. We have taken on board a great many good points. Important discussion,” read a tweet on the @YBSödermalm Twitter account late Monday.

The controversy has its roots in a report concerning an elderly lady who was robbed of her handbag in the Frescati area of Stockholm on Sunday evening.

Viktor Adolphson, one of the two police officers behind the Twitter account, posted a description of the subject.

“Attention: bag snatching at Statoil Frescati at 11:10 Male, 20-30 years-old, black t-shirt, black shorts, black hair. ‘Romani appearance’ according to a witness.”

The use of the phrase “Romani appearance” to describe the suspect prompted swift criticism from other Twitter users, a storm which continued to rage on Tuesday.

Former Left Party leader Lars Ohly was among those questioning the witness description.

“Can you explain what I should look for when I’m looking for someone with “Romani appearance”?” Ohly asked.

Hans Calandras, a former director of the European Roma Cultural Centre in Stockholm also reacted to the tweet.

“What does a Roma look like? It’s as stupid as asking how a Swede looks. It is pure prejudice, and I do not understand what criteria they use. How would it look like if they said “looks Jewish?” he said according to the Mitt-i-Södermalm newspaper.

The Local

What makes it so funny is that people all generally do have a concept of what a gypsy would look like and it is impossible to appear as a stereotypical gypsy.

It is possible for someone to look Middle Eastern or to look like a typical Swede; it is possible for someone to appear to be a Korean and not a Japanese (if you are familiar enough with the area that you live).

This is political correctness brought to its absurd conclusions.

North Korea Uses Waittress-Spy-Prostitute Combo

North Korea, always to neer be outdone in being zany, insane and just generally wrong about everything, is even using waitresses in foreign restaurants to function as spies — apparently, there is hard evidence that this is being done and some concern amongst south Koreans:

The South Korean newspaper JoongAng Ilbo did a interesting article the other day about the use of sexy waitresses in swanky North Korean restaurants in South Korea being used as possible spies, after some customers complained they felt like the waitresses were “listening in on their conversations.”

“Whenever I visited the North Korean restaurant, I frequently felt that the waitresses were eavesdropping on what we were talking about behind the door,” one South Korean businessman told.

“They only let me in one specific room, even though there were a lot of vacant tables.”

The paper reports that one North Korean restaurant in Nepal was raided for tax-reasons, and a treasure-trove of documents about local South Korean guests was discovered.

This activity is why the restaurants tend to employ “young, good-looking women”, the paper reports.

“I witnessed that some North Korean restaurants’ waitresses offered sexual services to Southern businessmen working at conglomerates in the South in order to withdraw classified information on the companies,” the businessman told JoongAng Ilbo.

The Examiner

One thing to remember: the North has also on previous occasions had projects all about the use of sex. I was unable to find it off hand but there are famous cases like Won Jeonghwa (link) who functioned basically as a prostitute while being a spy — sleeping with officers in order to obtain information on the South. This is standard operating procedure.

There is something hilarious about this — the north is able to cajole any of their citizens into performing any of the tasks that they want for their leadership. The amount of control exerted by the north Korean government over their own people is ridiculous…

Well, it is hilarious only in the sense that it is profoundly dark humor…

It is hard to imagine a society being able to transform into such a ruthless nation. It almost doesn’t even register in my mind…

3 Million More Americans To Be Uninsured

In all things there seem to be blunders.

While Obamacare  may theoretically provide some sort of help for some Americans many may actually be lost in the shuffle and be in harder off positions:

WASHINGTON — The Congressional Budget Office said Tuesday that the Supreme Court decision on President Obama’s health care overhaul would probably lead to an increase in the number of uninsured and a modest reduction in the cost to the federal government, compared with estimates before the court ruling.

The court said, in effect, that a large expansion of Medicaid envisioned under the 2010 law was a state option, not a requirement.

As a result, the budget office said, it now predicts that six million fewer people will be insured by Medicaid, the federal-state program for low-income people. But half of them, it said, will probably gain private insurance coverage through health insurance exchanges to be established in all states.

On balance, the budget office said in a new report, “about 3 million more people will be uninsured’’ in 2022.

Ouch… 3 million more people than before will become uninsured in a system that was meant to make nobody fall through the cracks? Rough…

And, naturally, we all know that Republicans are going to try to repeal this so what are the ramifications of that?

In addition, the budget office said that repealing the new health care law, as House Republicans have repeatedly tried to do, would add $109 billion to federal budget deficits over the next 10 years. Specifically, it said, repeal of the law would reduce spending by $890 billion and reduce revenues by $1 trillion in the years 2013 to 2022.

The House has voted more than 30 times to repeal part or all of the 2010 law or to choke off money needed for various provisions, including coverage of the uninsured.

NY Times

Ah-ha… So repealing it would result in a huge amount of revenue loss for the government and would also be a disaster… And we know that this will be exactly what the Republicans will try to do…

Sounds like a lot of Americans will be losing in the next decade.

 

Hollande The Socialist Fighting Peugeot

There is something certainly beautiful about this — private companies attempting to become profitable but being prevented by the government saying that it’s not fair!.

Certainly, the economic environment in Europe can partly be blamed on the political atmosphere where overtaxation and other meddling simply creates situations where the businesses do not have that many places to turn to to really make profits — and now when Hollande, himself, is going to go and try to fix the problem I have to have a belly laugh at this approach:

PARIS—French President François Hollande scolded the management of Peugeot SA on Saturday, and urged the troubled car maker to renegotiate a massive layoff plan it announced earlier this week to slash costs and restore profitability.

Peugeot’s announcement Thursday that it will eliminate 8,000 jobs and close one of France’s biggest car factories near Paris sent a shock wave through the country, provoking ire from unions and confronting the newly-elected Socialist government with its first major industrial crisis, at a time when ailing economic growth has pushed unemployment above 10%.

Mr. Hollande accused the company’s management of lying and knowingly delaying the announcement of the restructuring plan to avoid irking politicians during the election campaign, and vowed to force the family-controlled business to rekindle its cost-cutting measures.

“I consider this plan unacceptable,” Mr. Hollande said in a TV interview broadcast on the country’s main channels after the celebrations of Bastille Day. “It must be renegotiated.”

As a government-appointed group of experts is appraising the plan to assess the legitimacy of Peugeot’s moves, Mr. Hollande said that talks with the company will be aimed at avoiding redundancies as well as at providing “alternative solutions” for all the workers concerned.

Peugeot’s troubles epitomize the challenges of car makers in the European market, where sales have fallen for four straight years and are on track for another decline in 2012. The weak demand has left many car companies with far more assembly plants and workers than they need. But powerful labor unions and most European governments have long fought any efforts to close factories.

Wall Street Journal

I wonder if anyone has pointed out that, in the long run, is it really useful overproducing cars, paying people for performing labor of no inherent value, etc.? Can this socialist idea of simply keeping the people’s incomes afloat with these artificial economic boosts actually hold out in the long run?

At the end of the day they complain that the Capitalists are destroying the earth with their wasteful approach to the market but the great irony is that the socialists in some sense end up having the necessity to do exactly the same thing of overproducing things that we do not need so workers can get some sort of wage for doing something that at the end of the day benefits no one.

Pipeline Built Bypassing Straits Of Hormuz

It was quite an interesting move by the UAE which I am surprised has not gotten more attention:

The pipeline, stretching from Abu Dhabi to the neighboring sheikhdom of Fujairah on the Gulf of Oman, was loading the first shipment of 500,000 barrels to the Pakistani plant, Mohamed Bin Dhaen Al-Hamli, oil minister for the United Arab Emirates, said yesterday at a ceremony to inaugurate the network. International Petroleum Investment Co. spent $4.2 billion building the 423- kilometer (263-mile) link, Khadem Al-Qubaisi, managing director of the Abu Dhabi-run fund known as IPIC, said at the ceremony in Fujairah.

Abu Dhabi, the U.A.E.’s capital and holder of more than 90 percent of its oil, built the link as an export route for crude that avoids Hormuz at the mouth of the Persian Gulf. Iran has threatened to block the strait, a chokepoint for tankers carrying a fifth of the world’s traded oil, in retaliation for sanctions targeting the country’s nuclear program. The U.A.E., the fifth-biggest oil producer in OPEC, pumped 2.61 million barrels a day in June, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Fujairah is one of the U.A.E.’s seven sheikhdoms.

An Iranian lawmaker, Mohammad-Hassan Asferi, said yesterday the pipeline’s limited capacity would keep it from obviating the need of regional suppliers to export most of their oil through the strait. He dismissed the project as “propaganda and political maneuvering guided by the Western countries, especially the United States, which aims to reduce the strategic importance of the Strait of Hormuz,” according to state-run Press TV. Asferi serves on the national security and foreign policy committee of Iran’s parliament.

Bloomberg

A fairly genius move for oil security by the UAE. However, such a pipeline does not have the capacity necessarily to really affect it, so says some of the Iranians, but it certainly can be a point of annoyance if such a threat were to be carried out but failed to be 100% effective.

It is certainly an interesting gesture which may even cut down on oil export costs in the UAE overall… But, remember: lots of crazy stuff can happen. The sky is the limit.

North Korea Army Chief Relieved

An interesting article — apparently, this could mean some sort of change though I remain entirely skeptical:

North Korea’s politburo removed army chief Ri Yong Ho from all his posts in the most significant power shift since Kim Jong Un took control of the country after the death of his father in December.

The Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea made the decision yesterday to “relieve” Ri from his posts as chief of the General Staff of the Korean People’s Army and a Vice Chairman of the party’s Central Military Commission “for his illness,” the official Korean Central News Agency said today, without providing details on Ri’s health or his replacement.

The downfall of Ri, the de facto second-in-command to Kim of the North’s 1.2 million-strong armed forces, stoked speculation over the course of one of the world’s most closed nations. South Korean President Lee Myung Bak last month urged the totalitarian state to adopt Myanmar’s example of political opening.

“All high-ranking officials customarily remain in service throughout, regardless of sicknesses, and hold their posts until they die,” said Yang Moo Jin, a professor at the University of North Korean Studies in Seoul. “The firing of Ri means the end of the country’s hawkish ‘military-first’ policy putting the troops before any other policy objective, and possibly the beginning of governance more focused on instead improving the economy.”

Business Week

I guess this departure potentially means that there could be some sort of change happening, and as the professor said a shift towards perhaps improving the economy… Well, wouldn’t that be the only other option? It is not as if they would have some campaign to improve the political system or some other social overhaul meant to benefit the people.

It is also entirely possible that this Army Chief managed to piss off other powerful members of leadership and thus will be relieved under the guise of him being sick… But even if it is some sort of real attempt at ‘changing’ the workings of the government it is clear from recent information that has been made known that the north has had an extremely difficult time struggling with their economy, and visibly has been trying to play the role of officer friendly.

It is likely all of this has been done for increasing the chances of survival of the strange, bizarre regime.

Arafat Poisoned

Interesting, indeed:

Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, sees no reason why Yasser Arafat’s body should not be exhumed following an Al Jazeera report that he may have died of poisoning, his spokesman said on Wednesday.

Nabil Abu Rudeinah said that the Palestinian Authority would use “Arab and international scientific expertise” to review the findings.

A nine-month investigation by Al Jazeera found that Arafat’s final belongings – his clothes, his toothbrush, even his iconic kaffiyeh – contained elevated levels of polonium, a rare, highly radioactive element.

Scientists at the Institut de Radiophysique in Lausanne, Switzerland, who studied Arafat’s personal items, said that his bones could offer more conclusive evidence that he was poisoned.

“There are no political or religious reasons that prevent researching this issue,” Abu Rudeinah said, “including the exhumation of Arafat’s body by a reliable and trustworthy medical and scientific authority.”

Saeb Erekat, the chief Palestinian negotiator, also called for an international committee to study Arafat’s death, similar to the one investigating the assassination of Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri in 2005.

“[It] is a must,” Erekat told Al Jazeera. “And we will do it first through the United Nations Security Council. We hope everyone will co-operate with us, because we seek the truth and nothing but the truth.”

al-Jazeera

I think that it is unlikely that this was caused by the Israelis. Arafat in a sense represented the pan-Arab nationalism crew, and was amongst one of the last figures of it. Such a movement, albeit juxtaposed against Israel, was never half the threat that international Islamic extremism posed.

One of the reasons why Hussein was so willing to lend support to the PLA/PLO was primarily because of a similar political heritage not entirely keen on Islamic extremism but a far more political revolution. Arafat’s existence guaranteed some in-fighting between general nationalists and the Islamists… There would be no interest in the Israelis of eliminating him in any long term scenario from a real-politik view.

It is likely Arafat was taken out not by Foreign Intelligence Services or Israeli interests but rather by Islamist groups who wanted radical Islam to be the primary focus of the resistance to Israel. In a sense, his death could be said to be one of the last nails in the coffin of Pan-Arab Nationalism.

Quite a development that highlights the ruthlessness and danger of Islamic extremism.