World

Perhaps Gareth Morgan should take note of this

Gareth Morgan famously rode his motorcycle through the Potemkin villages of NOrth Korea, proclaiming the whole country to be enlightened and not as reported outside of the country.

The man is an idiot. There is ample evidence of the lack of freedom and deprivations suffered by the people of North Korea under the Kim regime.

Yeonmi Park spoke to Australia’s SBS about her defection from North Korea.

I lived in North Korea for the first 15 years of my life, believing Kim Jong-il was a god. I never doubted it because I didn’t know anything else. I could not even imagine life outside of the regime.

It was like living in hell. There were constant power outages, so everything was dark. There was no transportation – everyone had to walk everywhere. It was very dirty and no one could eat anything.

It was not the right conditions for human life, but you couldn’t think about it, let alone complain about it. Even though you were suffering, you had to worship the regime every day.

I had to be careful of my thoughts because I believed Kim Jong-il could read my mind. Every couple of days someone would disappear. A classmate’s mother was punished in a public execution that I was made to attend. I had no choice – there were spies in the neighbourhood.

My father worked for the government, so for a while things were relatively OK for me compared with some others in North Korea. But my father was accused of doing something wrong and jailed for three years. He being guilty made me guilty too, so whatever future I had in North Korea completely disappeared. I could no longer go to university, and my family was forced to move out of Pyongyang to the countryside on the border close to China.

After a few years, my father became very sick with cancer and he came out of jail for treatment. During this time, we decided to leave North Korea.

We had to cross a frozen river in the middle of winter to sneak across the border into China. I was very scared – not of being caught but of being shot. If they see someone escaping, they don’t ask, they just shoot them.  Read more »

The Special Ops wish list, laser rifles, pain rays and other cool stuff

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Who wouldn’t want a laser rifle, or a “pain ray”…these are just some of the wish list for US special operations forces.

Laser rifles. Canine air conditioners. There are lots of gadgets that U.S. commandos would love to have, except for the fact that these items don’t even exist.

That’s why the U.S. Army Special Operations Command (USASOC), which includes the Army’s Special Forces and Rangers, has published a long list of equipment that it wants private industry to develop and build.

What is fascinating about this list isn’t just that it tells us what capabilities U.S. special operations forces want. It also tells us what capabilities they don’t have.

But just as important, it’s a forecast of the kind of warfare that American commandos anticipate they will be fighting. Special operations forces, along with drones, have now become America’s preferred method of waging war. If commandos get a new weapon or sensor, it probably will be used on a real mission or battlefield. And when the special operators get new technology, then it sometimes trickles down to the rest of the military, and from there to the civilian world.  Read more »

The Faketivism epidemic

Social Media has led to the emergence of even more faketivism.

If you look at the recent examples of such activities, we can look at the hounding of the CEO of Mozilla out of a job, and in New Zealand the recent actions by Giovanni Tiso against Radio Live and also the jihad against Paul Henry when at TVNZ.

Fakectivism is social media activism by small numbers of people that is integrated into the news cycle because it matches the media’s political agenda.

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Fakectivism online multiplies the problems with media coverage of left-wing activism by completely distorting the number of people participating in a protest and their credibility in representing anyone except themselves.

In real life protests, the media routinely reported higher turnout for left-wing protests and lower turnout for conservative protests. Online, Fakectivism dispenses with head counts. If it’s a trending topic, then it’s news. And sometimes it’s news, even if it isn’t.

Fakectivism begins with left-wing agitprop sites selectively collecting tweets in support or against something. Invariably the handful of tweets are described in collective terms as “The Internet” being outraged or supportive of something. The use of the collective “Internet” is a staple of Fakectivism because it conflates a manufactured story with the impulses and opinions of billions of people.

Successful Fakectivism moves up the ladder to higher end left-wing websites searching for teachable controversies. These websites have enough status that they are monitored by producers and editors from the mainstream media looking for stories.

The mainstream media harvests content from sites such as Slate or the Huffington Post and reframes it in biased but credible language while disguising its sources. Twitter Fakectivism is invariably described as a “backlash” or a “firestorm”. Phrases such as “Twitter was lit up by outraged users” give non-technical readers the impression that the complainers represent the consensus of the site instead of a small number of overactive users.

The manufactured Fakectivism becomes a major news story by a successive filtering process that disguises the dubious source and the credibility of the originating event.  Read more »

Perhaps Hekia could implement this here

Michael Gove is by far the best minister of education that has ever lived in modern times.

Unlike Hekia, who like to attend conferences with union hacks, the UK has Gove who is tuned into what parents want and cares not a jot if it upsets the union barons, the politically correct, the right on social set or whoever…he cares about kiddies getting a great education.

On that note he has said that there will be professional consequences for crusading principals who continue to use children as political pawns in their political games.

Headteachers who brainwash children with green propaganda are breaking the law, Michael Gove has suggested.

The Education Secretary has read ‘with concern’ a report which accused ‘activist’ teaching staff of trying to turn pupils into ‘foot soldiers of the green movement’.

It found the marks children were awarded in exams depended on  ‘parroting’ the green agenda. And many widely-used textbooks included inaccurate examples.

A spokesman for Mr Gove said: ‘The Secretary of State read this report with concern.

‘Schools should not teach that a particular political or ideological point of view is right – indeed it is against the law for them to do so.’

The study, by a think-tank set up by former Tory Chancellor Lord Lawson, warned that ‘eco-activists’ in the education system were urging  children to use ‘pester power’ to ensure parents are forced to adopt lifestyle choices dictated in schools.

‘We find instances of eco-activism being given a free rein within schools and at the events schools encourage their pupils to attend,’ it said.

‘In every case of concern, the slant is on scares, on raising fears, followed by the promotion of detailed guidance on how pupils should live, as well as on what they should think.’

The Global Warming Policy Foundation report, by Andrew Montford and John Shade, described the teaching of climate science in British schools as ‘disturbing’.  Read more »

Lessons from Australia for the Labour party

I have had people ask me why I post on politics in the UK and in Australia.

My usual answer is because I believe them to be relevant. Those two countries provide a hint as to what happens in domestic politics. Especially with the Labour party.

Whilst National maintains loose ties with the Conservatives  in the UK and somewhat closer ties with the Liberals in Australia it is Labour that maintains very close ties with Labour in Australia and the UK labour party.

Many of David Shearer’s and now David Cunliffe’s strap lines and core policies come from UK Labour. So watching what happens in those countries leads to a closer and better understanding of what is going on here.

Which brings me to Labour’s problems in New Zealand…and the similarity between the problems the ALP is currently experiencing.

THE time has come for someone to take the Labor Party by the scruff of the neck and shake it until it recognises reality, truly admits defeat, reorders its priorities and changes key policies that have failed it repeatedly at the ballot box.

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Logic and survival dictate that the ALP must drop the convoluted arguments it has used for defending the carbon tax, the mining tax and its economic management for much of the past six years. Labor has to do what Tony Abbott did to the legacy of John Howard’s Work Choices, and bury and cremate the mining and carbon taxes.  Read more »

More evidence that Silly First Name Syndrome is detrimental

People like to attack me for looking at incidences of the sorrow that Silly First Name Syndrome causes.

But there is evidence that shows it is real and the effects are serious. Freakonomics has written about it and now the BBC reports on a two recent books that have looked at the effect of silly first names on children.

Over the last 70 years, researchers have tried to gauge the effect on an individual of having an unusual name. It is thought that our identity is partly shaped by the way we are treated by other people – a concept psychologists call the “looking-glass self” – and our name has the potential to colour our interactions with society. Early studies found that men with uncommon first names were more likely to drop out of school and be lonely later in life. One study found that psychiatric patients with more unusual names tended to be more disturbed.

But more recent work has presented a mixed picture. Richard Zweigenhaft, a psychologist at Guilford College in the US, pointed out that wealthy, oddly-named Americans are more likely to find themselves in Who’s Who. He found no consistent bad effects of having a strange name, but noted that both common and unusual names are sometimes deemed desirable.

[Dalton] Conley, who is a sociologist at New York University, says that children with unusual names may learn impulse control because they may be teased or get used to people asking about their names. “They actually benefit from that experience by learning to control their emotions or their impulses, which is of course a great skill for success.”

But for the main part, he says, the effect of a name on its bearer rarely amounts to more than the effect of being raised by parents who would choose such a name.

Conley would say that…him and his wife called their daughter E and wait till you read what they called their son.

Dalton Conley and his wife Ellen were halfway through this pleasant but painstaking process when their baby girl was born, two months premature.

“We had narrowed down the selections to a bunch of E- names, but we couldn’t ultimately decide,” says Conley, who lives in New York. “Then we came up with the idea of, ‘Let’s just constrain the first degree of freedom. Let’s just give her the first letter and then she can decide when she’s old enough what it stands for.’”

And so, E was born. Now 16, she hasn’t yet felt the need to extend her first name. “I think once you’re given a name, you get used to it – it’s part of you,” she says. E’s little brother, meanwhile, Yo Xing Heyno Augustus Eisner Alexander Weiser Knuckles, did take up his parents’ offer to change his name. He added the Heyno and Knuckles when he was four, and his parents made the changes official.  Read more »

What’s worse than corruption or cheating for politicians?

For a politician it is pretty bad to be accused of corruption, worse of cheating like Len Brown.

But there is something that voters take more seriously than both of those…hypocrisy.

Quinnipiac University did a fascinating — and remarkably well-timed – poll in which they created a fake Congressman (James Miller a 53 year old married man with 2 kids) and then asked voters how they would react to various piece of information about Miller. Those tidbits ranged from his carrying on an extramarital affair to his hiring of a family member unqualified for a job.  And, by a somewhat wide margin, the hiring of the family member was seen a a far more egregious — and fireable — offense than cheating.

Just one in four (24 percent) of voters say they would “definitely” or “probably” vote for Miller if  he “created a new, well-paid position on his staff in order to hire an unqualified family member as a favor.”    Contrast that with the four in ten (39 percent) people who say the would “definitely” or “probably” votes for Miller if he was “unfaithful to his wife with another woman.”

hypocrisy-chart Read more »

CNN decide a bit of racism is called for reporting on “The Royal Bummer”

Come on Ron. Time to come clean

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If Shane Jones can own up to watching a few porn flicks, when so can you Ron.   Come on now, you’re old enough, reclaim your man card and tell the Mrs it’s been you all along.

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Catholic Church takes responsibility for child abuse. Just Talk or will there be Justice?

Long term readers of Whaleoil will know that I have no love for the Roman Catholic Church.  Their despicable history of child abuse and the subsequent organised cover up of this abuse has been a global phenomenon.

Pope after Pope has made some high level PR speeches, but in the end the matter was always swept under the rug, with offenders moved, to other countries if needed, instead of handed over to the local Police.

By selecting the current Pope, the Vatican may have picked the first honest Pope in history.  But does he have the courage and administrative support to made a difference?

Pope Francis made his first public plea for forgiveness on Friday (local time) for the “evil” committed by priests who molested children, using some of his strongest words yet on the Roman Catholic Church’s sexual abuse crisis.

The Argentine-born pontiff said the Church, which last month named a high-level group on the scandal including an abuse victim, had to take an stronger stand on a scandal that has haunted it for more than two decades, and indicated there would be repercussions for perpetrators.

“I feel compelled to personally take on all the evil that some priests – quite a few in number, (although) obviously not compared to the number of all priests – to personally ask for forgiveness for the damage they have done for having sexually abused children,” he told members of the International Catholic Child Bureau.

“The church is aware of this … personal, moral damage carried out by men of the church, and we will not take one step backward with regards to how we will deal with this problem, and to the sanctions that must be imposed.

“On the contrary, we have to be even stronger. Because you cannot interfere with children,” Francis said in unscripted comments as he addressed the children’s rights body.

Indications are that this Pope may actually do  more than talk.  It will be interesting to see the actual outcome of this apparent shift in policy.  Unless priests are handed over to the local authorities and the Church assists by providing access to all information and other staff for interviews and court appearances, a great opportunity to lance this boil will be wasted.   Read more »