Friday, March 08, 2019

China’s all-seeing social credit system stops actresses and academics

This seems pretty reasonable and unobjectionable as it stands. People SHOULD be embarrassed into paying their debts.  One can easily see, however, that the system could at a later time be used to oppress political dissent

Beijing: The vast scale of China’s evolving social credit system has been detailed by the government, with officials revealing on Wednesday that 3.59 million people had been forced to repay debts after being “restricted everywhere”.

Academics at universities who have plagiarised others' work have been blocked from promotions or receiving awards, and an actress was prevented from boarding a plane at Beijing airport because of an unpaid fine from a defamation case she lost in court, in just two examples to come to light.

Lian Weiliang, deputy director of the National Development and Reform Commission, which is overseeing the project, said all Chinese individuals and organisations now have a unique social credit code.

He said that "untrustworthy behaviour" had fallen by 60 per cent after 19 government departments began sharing the information on their black lists and enforcing punishments.

In the past year, reports on the social credit of individuals had been accessed two billion times.

The debts owed by blacklisted people totalled 4.4 trillion yuan ($931 billion). Of this, 10 billion yuan in unpaid taxes had been recovered, and 16 billion yuan in unpaid wages for migrant workers had been paid by employers after they were blacklisted.

First conceived in 2014, China's social credit system aims to harness data to reward good behaviour and punish rule breaking. Trials of the scheme have focused on punishing tax evasion, fraud, fine defaulters and unpaid court debts.

“Let the trustworthy travel smoothly and let the untrustworthy be restricted everywhere,” Lian told reporters on Wednesday, adding that implementation of the system would accelerate this year.

The Paper, a Shanghai newspaper, reported that actress Michelle Ye had been prevented from leaving China last month by border authorities after a Shanghai court put her on a blacklist in December for failing to pay a fine in a social media defamation case.

Ye was ordered back to Shanghai to submit an apology letter to the court and pay the 80,000 yuan fine, after being intercepted at Beijing airport.

Lian said academic misconduct was also covered by the system.

The National Development and Reform Commission, the Chinese government’s economic planning agency, has previously revealed that by the end of 2018, 5.4 million people had been banned from buying high-speed rail tickets, and 17 million people had been stopped from buying air tickets, because they were put on a black list by a court, the tax office or another government department.

Another 12,920 people have had financial restrictions imposed.

Lian told reporters on Wednesday that the “intensity of joint disciplinary action against the dishonest” will increase this year.

In a sign the Chinese government believes the system is working, incidents of migrant workers - commonly labourers who have travelled from rural China to the city to work - not being paid had fallen 40 per cent because of the social credit system, he said.

This year, incentives for good behaviour, such as lending credits and tourism credits, will be given.

The task of building the social credit system was arduous, but this year it would be perfected to “make trustworthiness valuable and trustworthiness useful”, he said.

Personal information would be protected under the system, he added.

The social credit system is due to be implemented nationally next year, under a pledge made in 2014, but is being used in different ways in various cities during its trial period.

Human rights groups have pointed out that people incorrectly placed on a blacklist have found delays and difficulties in having travel restrictions removed.


Google Finds It’s Underpaying Many Men as It Addresses Wage Equity

Bigotry against men

When Google conducted a study recently to determine whether the company was underpaying women and members of minority groups, it found, to the surprise of just about everyone, that men were paid less money than women for doing similar work.

The study, which disproportionately led to pay raises for thousands of men, is done every year, but the latest findings arrived as Google and other companies in Silicon Valley face increasing pressure to deal with gender issues in the workplace, from sexual harassment to wage discrimination.

Gender inequality is a radioactive topic at Google. The Labor Department is investigating whether the company systematically underpays women. It has been sued by former employees who claim they were paid less than men with the same qualifications. And last fall, thousands of Google employees protested the way the company handles sexual harassment claims against top executives.

Critics said the results of the pay study could give a false impression. Company officials acknowledged that it did not address whether women were hired at a lower pay grade than men with similar qualifications.

Google seems to be advancing a “flawed and incomplete sense of equality” by making sure men and women receive similar salaries for similar work, said Joelle Emerson, chief executive of Paradigm, a consulting company that advises companies on strategies for increasing diversity. That is not the same as addressing “equity,” she said, which would involve examining the structural hurdles that women face as engineers.

Google has denied paying women less, and the company agreed that compensation among similar job titles was not by itself a complete measure of equity. A more difficult issue to solve — one that critics say Google often mismanages for women — is a human resources concept called leveling. Are employees assigned to the appropriate pay grade for their qualifications?

The company said it was now trying to address the issue.

“Because leveling, performance ratings and promotion impact pay, this year we are undertaking a comprehensive review of these processes to make sure the outcomes are fair and equitable for all employees,” Lauren Barbato, Google’s lead analyst for pay equity, people analytics, wrote in a blog post made public on Monday.

To set an employee’s salary, Google starts with an algorithm using factors like performance, location and job. Next, managers can consider subjective factors: Do they believe the employee has a strong future with the company? Is he or she being paid on a par with peers who make similar contributions? Managers must provide a rationale for the decision.

While the pay bump is helpful, Google’s critics say it doesn’t come close to matching what a woman would make if she had been assigned to the appropriate pay grade in the first place.

Kelly Ellis, a former Google engineer and one of the plaintiffs in the gender-pay suit against the company, said in a legal filing that Google had hired her in 2010 as a Level 3 employee — the category for new software engineers who are recent college graduates — despite her four years of experience. Within a few weeks, a male engineer who had also graduated from college four years earlier was hired for Ms. Ellis’s team — as a Level 4 employee. That meant he received a higher salary and had more opportunities for bonuses, raises and stock compensation, according to the suit. Other men on the team whose qualifications were equal to or less than hers were also brought in at Level 4, the suit says.

The claim could become a class-action suit representing more than 8,300 current and former female employees.

The pay study covered 91 percent of Google’s employees and compared their compensation — salaries, bonuses and company stock — within specific job types, job levels, performance and location.

It was not possible to compare how racial minorities fared in terms of wage adjustments, Google said, because the United States is the only place where the global company tracks workers’ racial backgrounds.

In response to the study, Google gave $9.7 million in additional compensation to 10,677 employees for this year. Men account for about 69 percent of the company’s work force, but they received a higher percentage of the money. The exact number of men who got raises is unclear.

The company has done the study every year since 2012. At the end of 2017, it adjusted 228 employees’ salaries by a combined total of about $270,000. This year, new hires were included in the analysis for the first time, which Google said probably explained the big change in numbers.

Google’s work force, especially in leadership and high-paying technical roles, is overwhelmingly male and mostly white and Asian. Its efforts to increase diversity have touched off an internal culture war. In 2017, James Damore, a software engineer, wrote a widely circulated memo criticizing the company’s diversity programs. He argued that biological differences and not a lack of opportunity explained the shortage of women in upper-tier positions.

When Google fired Mr. Damore, conservatives argued that the company was dominated by people with liberal political and social views. Mr. Damore sued Google, claiming it is biased against white men with conservative views. The matter has been moved to private arbitration. Its status is unclear.

Google’s parent company, Alphabet, said it had 98,771 employees at the end of 2018. The company declined to provide the number of Google employees, but Google is by far the largest part of the company.


Kamala Harris' Crusade Against Freedom of Religion

Do you have a right to run your business in keeping with your moral and religious values? Or can the federal government force you to act against your conscience and the teachings of your faith?

Can the government force you — because you own a for-profit enterprise — to cooperate in the taking of an innocent human life?

Sen. Kamala Harris of California believes the government ought to have that power. She has made it one of her crusades.

After President Barack Obama signed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in 2010, his Department of Health and Human Services issued a regulation requiring all health insurance plans to cover sterilizations and all Food and Drug Administration-approved "contraceptive methods."

Some of these so-called contraceptives acted post-conception — aborting the life of a newly conceived human being.

Catholic moral teaching, of course, opposes sterilization, artificial contraception and abortion. Thus, no faithful Catholic could conscientiously obey this regulation.

Many other Christians objected to at least the abortifacients it required.

The controversy the regulation caused should have been settled by simply looking at the First Amendment.

It says, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof."

Clearly, a regulation that forces Christians to act against their faith violates the First Amendment.

Yet Congress had enacted a law in 1993 that expressly authorized the government to violate the free exercise of religion.

The ironically titled Religious Freedom Restoration Act says: "Government may substantially burden a person's exercise of religion only if it demonstrates that application of the burden to the person ... 1) is in furtherance of a compelling government interest; and (2) is the least restrictive means of furthering that compelling governmental interest."

In 2014, Hobby Lobby, a family-owned corporation, brought a case to the Supreme Court arguing that the Obamacare abortifacient mandate violated the free-exercise rights of its Christian owners by forcing them to provide insurance coverage for abortion-inducing drugs and devices.

Harris was then the attorney general of California. She believed Hobby Lobby should be forced to cover abortion-inducing drugs and devices.

She wrote a brief urging the Supreme Court to take up the case and, when it did, joined with the attorney general of Massachusetts to write an amicus brief arguing that the court should force Hobby Lobby to cover abortifacients.

This premise lurked at the foundation of her argument: When people start for-profit corporations, they must leave their "personal" religious beliefs behind.

In her amicus, Harris suggested that the free exercise of religion is a right created by manmade statutes — not God — and is a "personal" thing that should be kept in an "inner sanctum."

"Rights to the free exercise of religious beliefs, whether created by statute or by the Constitution, likewise protect the development and expression of an 'inner sanctum' of personal religious faith," she wrote. "Free-exercise rights have thus also been understood as personal, relating only to individual believers and to a limited class of associations comprising or representing them."

"Unsurprisingly," she continued, "there is no tradition of recognizing or accommodating the exercise of such inherently personal rights by ordinary, for-profit business corporations."

It would be better, in her view, to keep the "free exercise of religion" within the boundaries of "religious institutions."

"Individuals commonly practice their religions at least in part collectively, in or under the auspices of religious institutions," she wrote. "The term 'religion' itself connotes a 'community of believers.'"

"Religious organizations," she argued, "act as 'critical buffers between the individual and the power of the State,' giving individuals a space in which to exercise faith without state intrusion."

With the pro-Roe Justice Anthony Kennedy as the swing vote, the court ruled 5-4 in favor of Hobby Lobby.

Justice Samuel Alito wrote the court's exceedingly narrow opinion. It concluded that under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, the Obamacare abortifacient mandate did in fact "substantially burden" the free exercise of religion by Hobby Lobby's owners. It then assumed — without conclusively deciding the issue — that the regulation also furthered a "compelling government interest" in the distribution of contraception.

The regulation failed, however, because the five justices determined it was not the "least restrictive means" of advancing that interest. The government, the court said, could give private businesses the same accommodation it gives nonprofits — and have their insurance companies provide the contraceptives directly rather than through a company's insurance plan.

Sen. Kamala Harris was outraged. In 2017, she introduced the disingenuously named Do No Harm Act, which would, among other things, completely nullify any First Amendment protection for Christian business owners who do not want to be forced to act against their faith in providing abortion-inducing drugs and devices.

Last week, Harris re-introduced the bill in this Congress.

It says that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act would not apply "to any provision of law or its implementation that provides for or requires ... coverage for, any health care item or service."

In a press release promoting this bill last week, Harris indicated the First Amendment protects something she calls "freedom of worship."

"The freedom to worship is one of our nation's most fundamental rights," she said.

But she apparently will not tolerate American families who own businesses freely exercising any religion that teaches them it is evil to cooperate in the taking of an innocent life.


Double standards? Right-wing poster boy Milo Yiannopoulos is banned from Australia only DAYS after Muslim sheik who described September 11 as a 'comedy film' toured the nation

Right-wing activist Milo Yiannopoulos has been banned from Australia only days after a visiting Muslim cleric who described September 11 as a 'comedy film' toured the nation.

The 34-year-old British-born campaigner against radical Islam, feminism and political correctness had his visa rejected by the Department of Home Affairs on 'character grounds'.

Yiannopolous learnt earlier this week he had been barred from entering Australia, only days after Egyptian Muslim cleric Dr Omar Abdelkafy had toured Adelaide, Melbourne and Sydney.

In 2015, Dr Abdelkafy described the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in the United States as comedy. 'This play to which Muslims are subjected to ad nauseum across the world is the sequel to the comedy film of 9/11,' he said in a video translated from Arabic by the Middle East Media Research Institute.

'The first part took place in New York and the sequel is taking place in Paris.'

He made the comments in January 2015 shortly after 12 staff of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo were killed in Paris after it published a front-page cartoon mocking the Prophet Mohammad.

The 67-year-old sheikh with ties to the Muslim Brotherhood had described the French terrorist attack four years ago, by Muslim extremist brothers Saïd and Chérif Kouachi, as a sequel to September 11.

Controversial figures banned from Australia

English right-wing commentator Tommy Robinson denied a visa to enter Australia in January 2019

Canadian right-wing agitator Gavin McInnes, the founder of the Proud Boys and Vice Media, denied a visa in November 2018

American singer and songwriter Chris Brown barred in September 2015 over his 2009 conviction for assaulting his then girlfriend Rihanna, another singer

World champion boxer Floyd Mayweather banned in February 2015 over his history of domestic violence

American pick-up artist Julien Blanc forced to leave Australia in November 2014 following complaints he had advocated abusive behaviour towards women

U.S. rapper Snoop Dogg was banned from Australia in April 2007 because of drug and firearms convictions

Extremist Muslim sheikh Bilal Philips, a Canadian citizen based in Qatar, banned in April 2007 on the grounds he was linked to the 1993 World Trade Centre bombing in New York

English Holocaust denier David Irving denied a visa multiple times since 1993

Czech-born anti-fascist campaigner Egon Kisch prevented from disembarking from a ship in 1934 because of his communist views. He won a High Court appeal presided over by judge Herbert Evatt, who later became federal Labor leader

Despite that, he toured Adelaide, Melbourne and Sydney between February 22 and March 1, and was a guest of the Australian Egyptian Society.

The Department of Home Affairs declined to comment on his individual case but said it respected free speech.

'Any application lodged with the Department by visitors who may hold controversial views will be considered, balancing any risk they may pose with Australia's well-established freedom of speech and freedom of beliefs,' it said in a statement.

'All applicants are required to be assessed against and to meet identity, security, character and health requirements.' 

The 'well-established freedom of speech and freedom of beliefs' did not appear to apply to Yiannopoulos, who received a Notice of Intention to Consider Refusal in regard to his visa application, and was given 28 days to appeal.

His ban on entering Australia followed violent protests in Melbourne in 2017, as he embarked on a national speaking tour which required a significant police presence.

Disgruntled Liberal voters have expressed their displeasure on the party's Facebook page. 'For refusing Milo Yiannopoulos, my whole family will never vote Liberal Party again,' one woman said.  'NEVER. We will not forgive and forget. We wanted you to win the election, but now, will do a lot to prevent it.'

A self-described 'lifelong Liberal voter' and party member was also outraged at Prime Minister Scott Morrison. 'I cannot believe that you have denied Milo Yiannopoulos entry into Australia,' one man said. 'I truly though ScoMo had the goods but apparently not. I am disappointed and outraged beyond belief.'

One Nation leader Pauline Hanson was also outraged at Yiannopoulos being banned from Australia and has asked Immigration Minister David Coleman to reconsider.

'You may not agree with everything that they say as long as they don't go out there and advocate violence,' Senator Hanson told on Sky News Australia on Tuesday.

'If you actually want to stop someone, stop the protesters with their violence.'

Adelaide-based Shia imam Mohammad  Tawhidi, who campaigns against Islamic extremism, said he condemned the double standard of Yiannopoulos being banned as Dr Abdelkafy was allowed to preach in Australia.

'Extremist Pro-Jihad and 9/11 preacher Omar AbdelKafi banned from entering Australia? Nope, he’s still on tour,' he told his 171,000 Facebook supporters.

'Milo got the ban. I disagree with Milo on many, many issues, but this is very wrong. 'This country is called Australia, not Saudi Arabia.'



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, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and  DISSECTING LEFTISM.   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  Email me (John Ray) here


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