Skeptical comments

Posted in: Virgin Hyperloop shows off the future: mass transport in floating magnetic pods See in context

Before you step onto (or for that matter, anywhere around) a working Mag Lev demonstration, always remember to ask what its average and peak magnetic field strength are measured in Gauss. Most of the doctors that prescribe or implant your medical device(s) will always tell you how much you should have; generally the industry standard is between 5 and 10 Gauss, maximum.

If the Mag Lev people don't want to tell you, or show you their safety threshold studies, ask them what type, grade, size, or overall dimensions the magnets are, and how far you will actually be from those magnets while they are functioning. You can then work out the Gauss through several handy Internet magnetic field strength calculators on you own.

There are guidelines for everyone towards recommended exposure to Gauss in specific, and all EMF in general, See, for example, , AND . Sorry: some are behind paywalls (I like you folk, but not that much).

If they don't want to talk to you about any of it, seriously think about why you are there. And if you need to be.

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Posted in: People in Japan can now earn ¥10,000 bounties for scamming scammers See in context

Phone scams. Global victims and global perpetrators.

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Posted in: China criticizes Japan, U.S. for creating exclusive group on supply chains See in context

When Mr. Wenbin checks in with his economist planners, they can brief him that choices made between states to ensure critical supplylines are, in fact, an enterprise choice of strategy.

The commitment of capital, and time, to secure necessary resources for a nation's economy (or their national defence, for that matter) in a micro manner (state-to-state or state-to-cooperative), means to be able to continue to function effectively in a timely manner without unnecessary disruptions. To do otherwise - to do so broadly and globally - brings questionably unstable elements or actors into calculations, and invokes unnecessary and unacceptable risks that a nation's leadership may not wish to undertake.

Strategic decision making is really all about success or failure. Failure, unfortunately, often cannot be reversed.

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Posted in: Voters flock to Johnson's party as Labour loses bastion See in context

Reconsidering a Lib/Lab coalition, and my pig flying analogy. Some sort of temporary truce just for a short time to block another Tory victory.

I thought that I remembered some hurt feelings dating back in the Blair days, but mergers talks and gentleman's agreements never seemed to develop into much. And sporadic talks between the parties going back a decade or two before that, without much in the way of results.

Could all be philosophical. But it could be historic, too, since I remember lots of hard feelings that Libs played the part of wrecker towards many of Labour’s ambitions for many years.

Still, its hard to ask rank and file True Believers to hold their noses just long enough to vote for a hybrid as the least loathsome of the choices. Alternative, though, could result in Labour eventually going the way of the Dodo. Maybe a peace treaty? No distaste of former merger, and putting aside talk about pacts with so-called pseudo-lefts or a red/green or green/red (according to your individual taste) arrangements; just a temporary alliance of convenience and necessity?

Ambitious, if not practical.

Sorry, returning to the flying pigs analogy.

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Posted in: Voters flock to Johnson's party as Labour loses bastion See in context

openDemocracyUK -  Opinion:

The biggest danger for the party might not be the loss of councillors and vote share – damaging though that is to its presence in communities and its ability to campaign and recover in future. It’s that – as one party insider told me yesterday – “the movement has moved on” . . .

Many of those who coalesced around former leader Jeremy Corbyn have simply run out of patience with Labour’s timidity on policy and vision. And Labour seems to have little idea how to bring these voters back, and is unsure if it even wants to. Other, newer, climate and anti-racism activists speak of their resentment at clumsy attempts to co-opt them into the party machine from party figures intimating they need the protection and support of the ‘big boys’ who ‘know how to do politics properly’. Newer activists might not always encounter the hostility that some sections of Labour demonstrated towards the Momentum movement from the start – but the patronising stance doesn’t tend to go down too well with anyone – those knocking on the doors and those answering them alike.

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Posted in: New Zealand declines to call China's Uighur treatment genocide See in context

Explains much:

Over the past decade, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has overseen a dramatic expansion of efforts to shape media content around the world, affecting every region and multiple languages. Leveraging propaganda, disinformation, censorship, and influence over key nodes in the information flow, these efforts go beyond simply “telling China’s story.” Their sharper edge often undermines democratic norms, erodes national sovereignty, weakens the financial sustainability of independent media, and violates local laws. No country is immune: the targets include poor and institutionally fragile states as well as wealthy democratic powers.


But today it is imperative that anyone engaged in the media space—be they journalists, regulators, technology firms, press freedom groups, or even news consumers—acknowledge the influence exerted by China’s authoritarian regime on the news and information circulating in their print publications, radio broadcasts, television programs, and social media feeds. They need to be aware of the CCP’s tactics, alert to the pitfalls inherent in media engagement and partnerships with Chinese state-run outlets, and prepared for the economic and political pressure they may face to adjust content or otherwise submit to pro-Beijing propaganda, disinformation, censorship, or self-censorship.

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Posted in: Voters flock to Johnson's party as Labour loses bastion See in context

Back to the salt mines. From The Sun:

Finally breaking his silence nine hours after the bombshell Hartlepool defeat, Sir Keir admitted he had failed to “connect” with voters. He added the “bitterly disappointing” defeats show Labour is hopelessly out of touch with working class Brits . . . Sir Keir said the party must stop “quarrelling” and tell Britons what it stands for. He said: “The Labour Party has to rise to the challenge of reconnecting with working people.

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Posted in: Where is everybody? See in context

Yea! We are now, "Where is everybody?"

Get lost, Waldo.

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Posted in: Where is everybody? See in context

Oh, I get it. This is like Where's Waldo. Is that Ever in the window, top center, just above all those power lines crossing the street?

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Posted in: U.N. says global midwife shortage putting lives at risk See in context

Midwifery wasn't mentioned in their last 13 world's most urgent health challenges list. Climate change and health care equity were added over the past several years. Looks like we're now up to fourteen global funding priorities. Or did they slip another one onto the list since the first of the year? Hard to keep up.

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Posted in: Free your smile with this clear mask See in context

Just my luck someone will see that I just had broccoli for lunch and I didn't have time to brush.

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Posted in: Facebook confronts human rights dilemma on political speech See in context

I really want to see what FB comes up with over Myanmar.

This should be interesting.

At last count: one heavily armed military juanta (reported by some to be increasingly and disturbingly mentally unstable) , one civilian government in exile (creating its armed coalition army), twelve (at least by last count) heavily armed factions, some almost exclusively motivated by religion). All with differing levels of blood on their hands.

Add to this mess a huge humanitarian crisis in an almost failed state, crackdowns on journalists (the likes of which hasn't been seen in many years), a dozen major NGOs competing for media and world attention, a regional association of governments that was not designed for handling a mess like this, at least half a dozen large multinational corporations who seem to be making anything they touch on the ground worse, multiple nations in the region with their own civilian versus military problems of their own, and four superpowers (three with UNSC vetos) with a stake in the outcome.

And now FB wants to figure out who is the terrorist and who is the freedom fighter? Who is saint and who is the sinner? Who gets airtime and who doesn't?


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Posted in: 4 Central Europe countries seek Japan's support for infrastructure plan See in context

This is the Visegrád Group (V4). They are collectively positioned at strategic crossroads between Russia, the EU, Romania, and the Ukrane. They are also part of Visegrad Group+Central Asia, joint venture (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan). They are pledged to cooperate in wide issues of energy, health, the environment, trade, water resources, justice, education, and the rule of law. They also have pledged to coordinate resources in international terrorism, illicit trafficking in drugs, and weapons and cybercrime

This is well worth considering.

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Posted in: Voters flock to Johnson's party as Labour loses bastion See in context

This is the Hartlepool by-election, what is seen by many to be a reliable thermometer of upcoming UK politics.

This is pretty big. Up until now only one Conservative has ever represented the town; since the formation of the Labour Party.

It is in the north east of England. Jill Mortimer, the winner, is a farmer who, when once asked if she had ever even visited Hartlepool before, she replied that she had once visited its battery museum.

Of the 18 seats that Labour still holds in the north east, a further seven are vulnerable in future elections. Next one to watch: race for mayor of London.

Talk of the near future being the death of the Labour Party is likely exaggerated and missplaced; but many political scientists also think that, for the forseeable, without a good working and practical power sharing agreement merger with the Liberal Democrats (yeah, right! and there's another pig flying over Manchester Square!) Labour will be too weak to win much and too strong to die completely.

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Posted in: Over 3-meter-long pet python on loose after escaping in Yokohama See in context

Oh, that's just my pet snake, Reggie!

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Posted in: New Zealand declines to call China's Uighur treatment genocide See in context

evian1: ""independent" legal experts . . . utter western lies and fabrications"

Yet another review of the list of panel experts clearly shows that they are at the top of their professions; extremely experienced and authoritative experts in their given fields of endeveaour. To even insinuate that these experts and their deliberations are somehow tied to a "sugar daddy" is little short of libelous and defamatory, which usually could be reviewed by the JT Moderator; likely not necessary in this case, however, as the comment was followed by the usual tired party rhetoric to any criticism: "utter western lies and fabrications."

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Posted in: Bill to amend law on Constitution revision referendum likely to pass Diet See in context

Complicated process. Complicated history. Highly political.

I'd recommend a Council on Foreign Relations summary, entitled: Constitutional Change in Japan; A CFR InfoGuide. Available at . It is a good working framework.

The bibliography, alone, is worth reviewing as a information resource treasure: .

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Posted in: More young Japanese look to Marx as pandemic, climate crisis magnify economic inequalities See in context

To any young people who may still be around reading this , if your university, college or academy offers courses in comparative studies in philosophy, theology, education, the law, literature, the arts, politics, and media, please take one. You will be glad for it.

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Posted in: With ambassador picks, Biden faces donor vs diversity test See in context

Or, for something completely different, they could try picking people with training and /or experience in foreign affairs, international relations, diplomacy, mediation and international law? After all, ambassador must be a tough job to perform well while you are learning how to do it.

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Posted in: China rejects G7 criticism on human rights See in context

One more thing to ponder on the perception index is that social media, journalists and social media which are perceived generally poorly towards a negative impact on democracy, are also the forums and medium that allow opinions by ordinary people to be shared on a global basis. Like here. Ironic.

Ever spent time at Speakers' Corner in Hyde Park? There are a few others around the surrounding metro area as well. I understand that Sydney has their own version as well. You should try one some day. It is not always pretty to watch and listen to, but then, again, democracy is frequently like that.

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Posted in: China rejects G7 criticism on human rights See in context

a growing threat to global peace and prosperity.

This will be part of the annual Democracy Perception Index (DPI), still under embargo until next week's Copenhagen Democracy Summit 2021. (Proprietary property, don't you know). I've seen the one released last June (compiled in 2019) though:

54 countries surveyed, representing 75% of the world’s population, 79% of people said democracy was important for them to have in their country, ranging from 92% in Greece to 55% in Iran. However, only half of the global population surveyed thinks their country is currently democratic, ranging from 78% in Switzerland to 20% in Venezuela. Even across the countries that are officially considered democratic by the Freedom House, only 55% of the population (on average) perceives their country as democratic today.

U.S. didn't fare well that year, either: The countries where people think that the US has had the most negative impact on democracy around the world are: Austria (66% negative), Germany (62%), Denmark (59%), Switzerland (58%) and Canada (58%). But neither did banks and social media. Go figure.

Note: Their surveys are conducted entirely online through internet-connected devices, such as smartphones, tablets and computers. China wasn't mentioned anywhere in the poll last year (no word on whether the poll made it through their Internet censorship), so let's wait and see if they slipped into this years poll.

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Posted in: China rejects G7 criticism on human rights See in context

Anyone here expected them to admit anything? Accept any critique whatsoever? Even say, in public, that any policy of theirs that adversely affects others may have been ever so slightly misguided?

Wow, China, you have a problem.

The real world problem: few trust you.

The impact of your government propaganda - as amply shown in brief detailed in this article - will be ignored and thus largely branded ineffective as long as it is not supported by sincere deeds driven by true self-critique and introspection; some deeds, no matter how small, to show that you can play the part of a respectable member of the international community. Something that shows everyone that you are NOT all authoritarian all the time.

Frustrated that you are misunderstood, you grow impatient with your use of soft power, and want to substitute it with hard power. This at the very time that the world is witnessing the largely repressive nature of your political system. Domestically, public protests against your political initiatives are non-existent, as they are suppressed by authoritarian laws. The world views evidence of re-education camps in Xinjiang of between 800,000 and 2,000,000 Muslims, including many thousands of Kazakhs and Kyrgyz. And the world views evidence of the immense suffering of the Uighurs in the hands of the C.C.P, constituting the crime of genocide. And your unrelentingly continuous support of a brutal military government in Myanmar by supplying lethal arms and vetoing any international sanctions?

You persist in facing any adverse press copy or diplomatic initiative with the same tired old rhetoric , 'you lie,' 'you slander,' and (my favorite), 'you should talk.'

And you can still wonder why the world is understandably apprehensive of your motives and still doesn't want to give you that which you desire most? Respect?

Helmsman? Want to be a Legacy Helmsman? For all of the world? You know how.

But no, probably not. Too bad.

By any reasonable standard, by any self-respecting democracy, you are, and will likely continue to be viewed as an undeniable large economic power whose clumsy use of your weight and influence is increasingly seen by others as rather unbalanced. And a growing threat to global peace and prosperity.

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Posted in: Japanese company releases bamboo toothbrushes in campaign against plastic waste See in context

I will try it.

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Posted in: Biden says he plans to back WTO IP waiver for COVID-19 vaccines See in context

WTO decisions require a consensus of all 164 members.

Bloomberg reported that German Chancellor Angela Merkel is opposed to lifting IP protections on vaccines, saying it would create "severe complications" for vaccine production, "The limiting factor for the production of vaccines are manufacturing capacities and high quality standards, not the patents," a government spokeswoman told the news service. "The protection of intellectual property is a source of innovation and this has to remain so in the future."

Germany has been a WTO member since 1 January 1995.

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Posted in: New Zealand declines to call China's Uighur treatment genocide See in context

evian1: no genocide in Xinjiang

The independent international legal experts disagree.

Quote: "the evidence presented in this report supports a finding of genocide against the Uyghurs in breach of each and every act prohibited in [Genocide Convention] Article II (a) through (e)." [FNs omitted].

Hard to spin this away from anything else but genocide.

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Posted in: Japan bans removal of prized agricultural seeds, seedlings abroad See in context

As long as the new laws are consistent with with long-standing legal obligations under the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGRFA), the Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from their Utilization to the Convention on Biological Diversity, and Article 19 of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and Other People Working in Rural Areas. After all, the rights of farmers under international law IS important.

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Posted in: Working from home 'doesn't work for those who want to hustle' - JPMorgan CEO See in context

He is kind of an interesting guy. Reputation for high octane mornings for those in his building. He reportedly told Bloomberg some years back:

"I always tell people, "There's a book on everyone." I get some of that book before I do anything. If I want to deeply understand someone's reputation, I'll talk to their friends, their former bosses, their peers, and I'll learn a lot about them. I want them to be respected. I want them to give a s - -. Then there are the intangibles: physical and emotional stamina, the ability to confront issues. I can ask all I want about those things, but I also have to see a lot of it.""

I'm sure that anyone working for him - who knew him at all - knew NOT to invest in expensive home office furniture over the past year.

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Posted in: New Zealand declines to call China's Uighur treatment genocide See in context

[Typo corrected] voiceofokinawa: something very unusual is going on in Xinjiang Uighur . . . [China] casting off traditional multiracial-nation policy and trying to revive old Sino-centrism


Instead, we must finally face the facts of the case. Best that I've read so far is the results of the first independent report by more than 50 global experts in international law, genocide and the China region by the Newlines Institute for Strategy and Policy from March 2021:

This report concludes that the People’s Republic of China (China) bears State responsibility for committing genocide against the Uyghurs in breach of the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (Genocide Convention) based on an extensive review of the available evidence and application of international law to the evidence of the facts on the ground.

Acts of Genocide. While commission of any one of the Genocide Convention’s enumerated acts with the requisite intent can sustain a finding of genocide, the5evidence presented in this report supports a finding of genocide against the Uyghurs in breach of each and every act prohibited in Article II (a) through (e)

China’s Responsibility for Genocide under the Genocide Convention. China is a highly centralized State in full control of its territory and population, including XUAR, and is a State party to the Genocide Convention. The persons and entities perpetrating the above-indicated acts of genocide are all State agents or organs — acting under the effective control of the State — manifesting an intent to destroy the Uyghurs as a group.

[Footnotes omitted].

Since a UN Security Council Resolution will be stymied by a veto from China, this matter must be officially referred to the UN’s Human Rights Council in Geneva and to the UN General Assembly, where China can't stop it from finally happening.

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Posted in: Diplomatic dance or standoff? N Korea and U.S. tread cautious line See in context

On topic, I am inclined to agree with a well-reasoned article from Robert Einhorn, a senior fellow in the Arms Control and Non-Proliferation Initiative and the Center for Security, Strategy, and Technology, from the Brookings Institution. In his article, The rollout of the Biden administration’s North Korea policy review leaves unanswered questions, Einhorn reasons:

[The] Biden team would “offer relief for particular steps” with the “ultimate goal of denuclearization.” This suggests that the administration remains committed to the U.N.- mandated goal of totally eliminating Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons capability — and is unwilling to accept North Korea as a permanent nuclear-armed state, as some observers have recommended — but is planning to pursue that goal in an incremental manner, offering partial sanctions relief in exchange for partial steps toward denuclearization.

the Biden administration has so far relied mainly on generalities in publicly outlining the results of its review of North Korea policy, using language like “calibrated, practical, measured approach” and similar formulations intended to be reassuring and unassailable.

This is understandable. The details of the administration’s approach will evolve as it continues its consultations on North Korea, first and foremost with allies South Korea and Japan as well as with other interested and influential states, especially China.

He continues:

[T]he administration’s gradual and selective rollout of its policy review makes sense. It needs more time to consult with other states, seek their support for its policies, and make any needed adjustments. It wants to give itself some negotiating flexibility with the North Koreans.

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