Friday, August 27, 2010

Muhammad cartoons to return in new book

THE Danish editor who published 12 cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad in 2005 that caused outrage across the Muslim world said today that he will soon republish the drawings in a new book.

The book - written by Jyllands-Posten cultural editor Flemming Rose and titled The Tyranny of Silence - will be published on September 30, five years to the day since the cartoons first appeared in the newspaper.

The publication of the cartoons provoked angry, and in some cases deadly, global protests by Islamic extremists.

In an interview with Danish newspaper Politiken, Rose said he was not trying to be provocative, stressing that he simply wanted to "tell the story of the 12 drawings and put them into a context of (other) pictures considered offensive."

"I am sure that a lot of people don't know what I think of these drawings. My concerted wish is to explain myself. I have nothing but words to do so, but once people have read the book ... maybe they will be able to see the broader context. Words should be answered with words. That's all we have in a democracy, and if we give that up, we will be locked in a tyranny of silence," he said.

Rose, who received numerous death threats after first publishing the cartoons, said he wanted to launch "a broad European debate ... about how we should live in the 21st century. The cartoon crisis shows what we can expect in the 21st century."

Danish cartoonist Kurt Westergaard, who drew the most controversial drawing - featuring the Prophet Muhammad wearing a turban shaped like a bomb with a lit fuse - will also publish a new book in the coming months containing his cartoon, Politiken reported.

Earlier this month, Jyllands-Posten said it erected a barbed-wire fence around its offices for protection from terrorist attacks.


China not in denial about IQ

Chinese outsourcer seeks U.S. workers with IQ of 125 and up

A Chinese IT outsourcing company that has started hiring new U.S. computer science graduates to work in Shanghai requires prospective job candidates to demonstrate an IQ of 125 or above on a test it administers to sort out job applicants.

In doing so, Bleum Inc. is following a hiring practice it applies to college recruits in China. But a new Chinese college graduate must score an IQ of 140 on the company's test. An IQ test is the first screen for any U.S. or Chinese applicant.

The lower IQ threshold for new U.S. graduates reflects the fact that the pool of U.S. talent available to the company is smaller than the pool of Chinese talent, Bleum said.

In China, Bleum receives thousands of applications weekly, said CEO Eric Rongley. Rongley is a U.S. citizen who founded Bleum in 2001; his career prior to that included stints working in offshore development in India and later in China.

The company employs about 1,000 and hires about 1% or less of the people who apply for jobs there. "It is much harder to get into Bleum than it is to Harvard," Rongly said.

Shanghai-based Bleum has been recruiting new computer engineering graduates in the Atlanta, Chicago and Denver areas. If a student meets the minimum requirement on an IQ test, he then take a skills test, similar to the hiring process Bleum follows in China.

Bleum has already hired its first U.S. recruits -- a group of five people who left for Shanghai this month, said Rongley. They will work in China for year and then return to the U.S. to work.

Many employers do measure intelligence to cull candidates from pools of applicants, but they typically call the exams aptitude tests, said Dennis Garlick, a post-doctoral researcher at the University of California, Los Angeles, and author of an upcoming book called Intelligence and the Brain.

An IQ of 140 is extremely high, representing about the top 1% of the population, said Garlick. But he said that even though some studies have shown a correlation between IQ and job performance, IQ is a "crude assessment tool" when it comes to sorting out job applicants. [It depends on the work. IQ is highly relevant to computer programming -- JR]

IQ tests tend be inaccurate at the upper end of the scale as the questions become more complex and it becomes "debatable what is a correct answer," he said. [True. They can put people into the top 2% accurately enough but discriminating WITHIN that 2% is unreliable. But putting people SOMEWHERE within the top 2% is still very valuable information -- JR]

IQ is also an indirect measure of job performance; a high IQ doesn't necessarily mean a worker will achieve a certain level in job performance, "because an IQ test measures abstract reasoning in a general context, and on-the-job performance requires abstract reasoning in a specific context," said Garlick.

But for a person who does score high on an IQ test, "you can reasonably say that the person is likely to be able to understand typical abstract concepts as they are applied in business, understand instructions, follow them, and then generalize them in a new situation," said Garlick.

Mark Finocchario, national director for recruiting at the Eliassen Group, said that his IT staffing and recruiting firm in Wakefield, Mass., administers technical skill tests, but not IQ tests, for some clients. The importance of the skill tests varies depending on the client. Most clients view the skill tests as academic and rely mostly his firm's assessment of a candidate's experience. "Experience is huge," he said.


Lifting the embargo would entrench Cuba's rulers

by Jeff Jacoby

IS IT TIME to unplug the restrictions on trade and travel between the United States and Cuba? The prospect seems to tempt more people than ever, but it's a temptation to be resisted.

The New York Times reported last week that the Obama administration intends to expand opportunities for Americans to visit Cuba, loosening the rules under which academic, religious, and cultural groups are allowed to travel there. The new regulations are seen as a signal of presidential support for legislation sponsored by US Representative Collin Peterson of Minnesota that would repeal the travel limitations altogether.

The chorus calling for an end to the travel strictures and an increase in trade with Cuba is considerable. Peterson notes that his bill is backed by a coalition of more than 140 organizations, "including Human Rights Watch, the US Chamber of Commerce, the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, and the American Farm Bureau Federation." House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says she has "always been a supporter of lifting the travel ban to Cuba." The Brookings Institute recommends "vastly" expanding US-Cuba travel and other "people-to-people contacts," calling them "a strategic tool to advance US policy objectives."

In an editorial, The Los Angeles Times backs the Peterson legislation not, it says, because the Castro regime deserves it, but because "engagement is more productive than confrontation." The Boston Globe goes further, repeating its call for ending the US embargo -- which it calls a "mindless" and "stultifying" relic of the Cold War -- once and for all.

Especially compelling is a recent letter to members of Congress supporting the legislation that was signed by 74 Cuban dissidents, among them the noted blogger Yoani Sánchez; Miriam Leiva, a co-founder of the opposition group Ladies in White; and Guillermo Farinas, who ended a 140-day hunger strike in July when the Castro regime agreed to free 52 prisoners of conscience.

"We share the opinion that the isolation of the people of Cuba benefits the most inflexible interests of its government," the letter said, "while any opening serves to inform and empower the Cuban people and helps to further strengthen our civil society."

But other Cuban dissidents take a very different view, and 494 of them signed a separate letter opposing any change in US policy that would reduce pressure on the regime.

"The tragedy of Cuba does not reside in the right to travel of a people who are already free, such as the American people," they wrote. "The main problem resides in the absence of liberty for Cubans. . . . At a moment such as this, to be benevolent with the dictatorship would mean solidarity with the oppressors of the Cuban nation." The signers of this letter included Ariel Sigler, a pro-democracy activist who spent seven years behind bars before being exiled from Cuba last month, and Reina Luis Tamayo, whose son Orlando Zapata Tamayo died after fasting for 82 days to protest the abuse of prisoners in Cuban jails.

Clearly, there are men and women of good will and moral authority on both sides of the Cuban embargo debate. And clearly the end of the cruel Castro reign, now going on 52 years, is a consummation devoutly to be wished. But will that day really be brought closer if Washington abandons the embargo and allows American tourists, exports, and cash to pour into Cuba?

The argument might be more plausible if Cuba were a Caribbean North Korea, cut off from contact with the world. It isn't. Ordinary Cubans may live with poverty and repression, but the government has turned the island into a major tourist attraction, complete with deluxe hotels and beach resorts. Some 2.4 million tourists visited Cuba last year, more than 800,000 of them Canadians. For that matter, tens of thousands of Americans make it to Cuba each year, despite the restrictions. Yet for all that exposure to foreign citizens, money, and ideas, the power of the Castro brothers is undiminished.

By the same token, if international commerce had the power to undo the regime, wouldn't it have been undone by now? The US embargo, after all, doesn't stop Cuba from trading with any other country in the world. Indeed, even with the "embargo," the United States is one of Cuba's top five trading partners.

The transformative power of free trade is not to be denied, but trade with Cuba isn't free. There is no Cuban parallel to the economic openness and flourishing private sector that has transformed China. Jerry Haar, a dean of business administration at Florida International University, observes in the Latin Business Chronicle that one unavoidable fact of life faces exporters to Cuba: "The entire distribution chain is in the hands of the Cuban military and intelligence services." Foreign investors are compelled to deal with the state and its subsidiaries, since they control the "hotels, foreign trade operations, equipment sales, and factories."

As long as the Castros maintain their stranglehold on the Cuban economy, enriching that economy enriches -- and entrenches -- them. The travel ban and embargo have not ended Cuba's misery, but lifting them unilaterally will only make that misery worse. Rewarding the dictators who keep Cubans in chains is not the way to set them free.


Victoria’s Jewish community leaders slam the bias at Australia's most Leftist major newspaper

Jewish Community Council of Victoria President John Searle and Zionist Council of Victoria President Dr Danny Lamm have again strongly criticised Melbourne broadsheet The Age for its ongoing anti-Israel bias over a number of years.

The leaders of Victoria’s peak Jewish bodies jointly observed that during the tenure of Andrew Jaspan and particularly that of his successor Paul Ramadge, The Age had increasingly engaged in a war of words against Israel. Apart from steering its readership to a more anti-Israel position, Searle and Lamm consider that The Age’s strident line had also had the hopefully unintended by-product of legitimising antisemitism in this country.

“There is no particular reporting or opinion piece that has prompted our criticism at this time. Frankly, our community has simply just had enough of The Age’s lack of balance”, Searle noted. ”Despite our best efforts to present Israel’s case, there have been too many instances of anti-Israel statements to count, ranging from the blatant such as Michael Backman’s ugly smear job in 2009 to the more subtle and insidious”, Searle continued.

“An example of the latter includes a recent article reprinted from The UK’s The Daily Telegraph which stated “Netanyahu will come under fierce pressure from Obama to extend a 10-month freeze on Jewish settlements in the West Bank”. The Age’s version made the following insertions “illegal Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank” (The Age, 070710). Such changes make a world of difference.”

“We make this statement with regret”, Lamm continued. “However we have spoken to Mr Ramadge on a number of occasions, both privately and in public forums. While he is adept at making the right noises about The Age’s impartiality, his follow through leaves a great deal to be desired. We believe that The Age’s record speaks for itself. Quite simply The Age is not a friend of our community.”

A recent matter of concern was the reportage of Israel’s response to a flotilla of so-called peace activists that broached Israel’s territorial waters in an attempt to reach Hamas-ruled Gaza. The ZCV and JCCV addressed strong letters of complaint to Mr Ramadge which were ignored. Searle’s subsequent phone call to Ramadge was not returned.

As Searle concluded in his letter, “The JCCV has had ongoing communication with you for a number of years on The Age’s bias. Predictably you have consistently stated that The Age is even-handed and that your door is always open to the Jewish community. I will remind you that these were your exact words when you addressed an audience at the Beth Weizmann Jewish Community Centre on 5 October 2009. You soberly assured audience members that The Age was interested in their concerns and that you would always be responsive to them. In this regard, I will also remind you that you took certain such concerns away with you.

To this day, you have not responded, despite our follow-up request that you do so. And indeed, I am still awaiting your reply to my telephone call to you of 4 June 2010. Your attitude bespeaks scant respect for the Jewish community.

I am not requesting your response to this letter – because frankly your assurances are no longer seen as credible by our community – other than a clear policy change to even-handedness as evidenced in The Age’s future content. Until this is forthcoming I have no doubt that those of your readers who value Israel receiving a fair go will dwindle even further.”

Both Searle and Lamm concluded that the JCCV and ZCV will continue to monitor The Age and take any steps they consider appropriate.



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here or Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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