Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Saint Patrick's Week: The Life of Pie

A merry Pi Day to all y'all...

Enjoy some pie... 

North Korean workers in Malaysia will be deported:

Malaysia’s Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said Tuesday that the body of Kim Jong Nam, who was killed last month, has been embalmed to better preserve it, and that about 50 North Koreans whose work permits have expired will be deported.

News of the deportations was a surprise as the countries have barred each other’s citizen from leaving amid a diplomatic standoff over Kim’s death.
If the Malaysians were wise and compassionate, they would renew the visas of these slaves workers and use them for good publicity.

Malaysia doesn't kill North Koreans. North Korean leaders do.


U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson faces a tough first trip to Asia this week when the former oil executive will seek to reassure nervous allies facing North Korea's growing nuclear and missile threat and press China to do more on perhaps the most serious security challenge confronting President Donald Trump.

Tillerson will visit Japan and South Korea before heading to Beijing, where he is expected to firm up a U.S. visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping next month to meet Trump as the leaders of the word's two largest economies.

But the chances of Tillerson persuading China to do more to curb North Korea's weapons programs while in Beijing appear scant, given China's anger at the deployment of a U.S. anti-missile system in South Korea last week, and Trump's repeated threats to impose punitive tariffs on Beijing to correct a large trade imbalance.

Tillerson faces a delicate task in South Korea, which is in political turmoil after former President Park Geun-hye was ousted last week in a corruption scandal.

The prospects of a victory by South Korea's liberal opposition in elections to be held within two months, has raised questions about the future there of the U.S.-made Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile defense system, which China objects to as its radar can penetrate China’s territory.

Beijing has sought to pressure Seoul to drop THAAD. 

Beijing will convince North Korea to behave the way a fly will convince a spider not to consume it.

No one is willing to treat China as the instigator of global ill will, an exploiter of slave labour (which even those in the West turn a blind eye to) and an octopus. Even Japan is launching its largest warship in a sabre-rattling gesture against Chinese militarism. This as China continues building bases on islands in the South China Sea. As long as Asian countries rely on cheap Chinese labour and trade, they can expect more belligerence and a staunched economy as China's paper dragon inflates.


Acting President and Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn on Tuesday turned down senior presidential aides' resignation offers, citing the need to address urgent security and economic issues facing the nation.

That guy has a full plate.

Trust the Russians to deflect blame from themselves to anyone but them.

Who had a revolution again, one spearheaded by bloodthirsty tyrants?

The First World War was going badly (given the nature of that conflict, that is an understatement). Russia was in the midst of upheaval and Germany was in a stalemate. One way or another, Germany wanted Russia to withdraw.

In came Vladimir Lenin, financed by a bank in New York, hated by some of the people who shared his ideologies, who then went on to be one of the worst butchers in Russian history and then died of syphilis.

But don't let Russian Orthodox believers dissuade one from seeing this atheist butcher for what he was and the Russian people's culpability in letting him assume power:

Religious leaders have denounced Russia's 1917 communist revolution as a “Western plot” to destroy the country.

The Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (ROCOR), an autonomous branch of the Russian Orthodox Church, claimed that Russian elites brain-washed by “Westernism” plunged Russia into political turmoil.

“[Western-educated elites] pushed Russia into the abyss with suicidal persistence,” the ROCOR bishops' synod said in a statement. “They persuaded the Russian people to renounce their faith, their king and their homeland."

The church also called for the body of Soviet leader Vladimir Lenin to be removed from Moscow's Red Square as “a symbol of reconciliation” to mark 100 years since the revolution.

It said Moscow should be “liberated” from the body of “the greatest persecutor and tormentor of the twentieth century.”
The church isn't alone in suspecting the 1917 revolutions were part of a western plot. In an online poll conducted by Russia's Komsomolkaya Pravda newspaper, 32.7 percent of respondents said they believed that Western agents were the main cause of the 1917 February revolution, which triggered the abdication of Tsar Nicholas II.

ISIS commander killed in Mosul:

Iraqi government forces killed the Islamic State commander of Mosul's Old City on Tuesday as the battle for the militants' last stronghold in Iraq focused on a bridge crossing the Tigris river.

If people were serious about how their governments spent money, they would make politicians' pensions and payouts conditional to their service. That means someone like Justin Trudeau would still have to rely on daddy's money:

Capital gains taxes are imposed on the sale of assets, like stocks and property other than a principal residence, that have increased in value in non-registered accounts. Currently, 50 per cent of gains are included in taxable income, so that the rate is effectively half the marginal rate. The speculation is that the inclusion might be moved to 75 per cent, resulting in an alarming 50-per-cent increase in the tax rate. If it were increased instead to two-thirds, that would drive up the tax by one-third, still a brutal hike.

You would think that a government that professes to be concerned about the adequacy of retirement savings would avoid discouraging savings. Yet a capital gains tax does precisely that. The Liberals clearly prefer government pensions and income supplements to private savings, the nanny state over the private sector. Furthermore, a capital gains tax unfairly taxes appreciation resulting from inflation. People will see their net worth decline in inflation-adjusted terms because of a government whose profligacy has pushed up prices. Taxing capital gains also imposes double taxation. Alienating investors and job-creators is rarely conducive to economic growth.

The Liberal government is earnestly searching for funds for its ever-escalating social programs and much ballyhooed and elusive infrastructure spending, much of which has not been for infrastructure at all. The deficit has almost tripled from the “modest” $10 billion promised in the election platform. The Finance Department projects deficits continuing past mid-century, with debt ballooning to $1.5 trillion by 2045. Meanwhile, growth remains modest, in spite of the stimulus spending. So the minister of finance is in a squeeze and is looking avariciously at anyone who may want to realize a gain on their investments.

You voted for it, Alberta:

Fifty-eight per cent of Albertans think the government’s handling of the economy is “poor” or “very poor,” according to the poll for Postmedia by Mainstreet Research. The “very poor” category is fully 47 per cent.

Yes, Mrs. Kay. This is Islamophobic. Report to Nathalie Desrosiers and Iqra Khalid for corrective punishment:

Wood, an Arabic-speaking scholar of Islamic history, has spent years immersed in extended relationships with Islamic State (ISIL) jihadis in their “diaspora” — places like Egypt, Australia, America, England and Norway. In this instructive and often entertaining book exploring his experiences (an elaboration on his feature 2015 Atlantic magazine article, “What ISIS Really Wants”), Wood shares his impatience with the ostrich-like approach to contemporary jihadism exemplified in M-103.

Wood writes: “The reality is that the Islamic State (IS) is Islamic. Very Islamic.” The strain of Salafist Islam jihadists embrace derives “from coherent and even learned interpretations of Islam.” Salafis — all jihadis are Salafist, but not all Salafists are jihadis, who represent, it bears emphasizing, tens of  thousands out of 1.4 billion Muslims — “read the Koran attentively, and on certain matters, they occupy ground at least as solid as that of their opponents.” It therefore won’t do, he says, to pretend jihadists are misrepresenting their religion.

Unrepentant terrorist and scumbag Omar Khadr has Canadians pay for surgery on his shoulder, a shoulder he injured while killing American and Canadian soldiers:

Former Guantanamo Bay inmate Omar Khadr is recovering from a 19-hour operation on a shoulder that was badly injured in Afghanistan 15 years ago, his lawyer said Monday.

Putting a bit of perspective on how the government sees useless air-thief Khadr and children with autism:

Fourteen days. A Mississauga family believes if their son was born just two weeks earlier, he would be getting treatment for autism. Instead he’s receiving nothing.

Arman Baig turned five on April 28. Exactly two weeks later — after having to wait six months before he could see a specialist — he was diagnosed.

The timing is critical; if Arman was diagnosed before his birthday, he could have been put on a waiting list for Intensive Behavioural Intervention (IBI). Instead, he was put on a list for Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA), a less intensive therapy.

“We were left with no choice. So, he was put on the ABA list,” said his father, Sajjad Baig. “The wait time for that is at least two to three years. Now, there is no therapy for him.”

Arman’s parents can’t afford to pay for ABA on their own. His mother Snovia Jamil said there is no way the family can cover the cost which is about $3,000 a month.

Teen "cured" of sickle-cell anemia:

Doctors at the Necker Children’s Hospital in Paris achieved these results by first draining the 13-year-old’s bone marrow. They then “infected” the marrow with a virus containing genetic instructions to correctly manufacture healthy red blood cells, instead of the deformed ones that blocked blood flow.

After the insertion of the edited bone marrow into the teenager 15 months ago, the youth was able to stop taking medication and has shown no symptoms of sickle cell disease since.

Specialists are reluctant to call this procedure a “cure” since more tests need to be conducted, however the triumph has raised hope for millions of people suffering from the same disease.

Really? How is that working out for one?

Well-intentioned donor organisations working to assist the disabled often adopt an approach that is ineffectual in Cambodia, according to the doctoral research of Cambodian scholar Monyrath Nuth.
Based at RMIT University in Australia, Nuth authored an extensive case study examining whether the “rights-based” approach to disabilities promoted by international donors is applicable in developing countries like Cambodia. His research concluded that the situation of disabled people in the Kingdom was not effectively improved due to the prioritising of Western concepts of human rights and inclusion. 

“This unconscious privileging of Western assumptions embedded in policy practice resulted in program outcomes that were not sustainable and produced limited opportunities for Cambodians with disabilities to thrive,” Nuth wrote, adding that this “thwarted any hope Cambodians with disabilities may have had for realizing their rights and equality”. 

In developed countries such as the United States and Australia, an approach to disabilities known as the “social model” has been widely endorsed and adopted. This approach aims to separate the concept of disability from a person’s physical impairment, and instead focus on changing the ways relationships and interactions fail to enable the participation of disabled people in society. 

The UN’s Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), which came into force in 2008, obliges signatories to adopt this approach. 

But Nuth argues that traditional beliefs in Cambodia are often at odds with this agenda. 

For example, religious belief in Cambodia has helped form an understanding of disability as a limitation to physical or cognitive functions alone. A longstanding belief that disabilities arise from bad karma permits people to accept their impairments as fate, and to accept this as an abnormality. 

This belief also obligates family members to care for their disabled relatives. 

Hoping to shield their relatives from shame or judgment, many family members believe it is immoral to allow disabled relatives to engage in complex physical activities in public. 

“This view contradicts the dominant Western conceptions of social inclusion that put emphasis on employment and accessibility to all public spaces as a key aspiration relating to inclusion,” Nuth writes. 

Instead of lobbying for accessibility, some Cambodians instead perform ceremonies for their disabled relatives in order to improve their karma.
I respect that people draw on faith for comfort and strength but reason helps, too. A disability usually is the result of an injury or illness and should be treated as such, not something to be hidden.

People will believe anything:

 Pope Francis didn’t say that God had told him to revise the Ten Commandments as claimed in a widely shared story. Francis never made the purported comments and has not changed or added to the Ten Commandments. He has no authority to do that, given that the core moral teachings of Christianity and Judaism were said to have been revealed to Moses by God and are written in the Bible.

The story said Francis made the announcement July 6, 2015, in Guayaquil, Ecuador, during his first Mass at the start of a three-nation South American tour. It said Francis had revised the biblical teaching to cover children raised by same-sex parents and removed prohibitions on adultery. It said Francis had added new commandments to forbid genetic engineering and self-glorification and said the Vatican was having a new set of commandments etched into marble.

The pope did indeed celebrate his first Mass in Ecuador on July 6, 2015, but his homily focused on the Virgin Mary and the joy of families. At no time during the trip, or at any other point in his four-year pontificate, has Francis changed the Ten Commandments.

The story appeared on a site called Real News Right Now, which is listed on media watch lists as a hoax site. The purported author, R. Hobbus J.D., is identified on the website as an investigative journalist who has won awards that don’t exist, including the “Oscar Mayer Award for Journalistic Excellence.”

And now, finding your birthday in Pi:

Like, say, your birthday. To verify this, we wrote a program to scan the first million digits of Pi and identify the first instance of all 366 days of the year, represented like "314," with the month followed by the day ("704" for July 4th for example, or "1225" for Christmas Day"). The program found the final date — Dec. 3, or "1203" — beginning at the 60,873rd digit. 


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