(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)
Moscow – Asharq Al-Awsat
Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz stressed that science and knowledge are the basis for the renaissance of nations.
Tthey factor in through the formation of educated generations leading communities, promotion of tolerance and coexistence among peoples, and preservation of achievements of civilization.
In a speech delivered after receiving an honorary doctorate from the Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO), King Salman said that education and knowledge are the key promoting tolerance and coexistence.
“I am honored today to be with the scientists and scholars of the Russian Federation and I would like to express appreciation to the institute for granting me this doctorate,” he said.
“We proudly commend the efforts of our Islamic nation in different scientific fields. In the Kingdom, we give a lot of importance toward raising new generations capable of facing today’s challenges. I call on universities and scientific institutes in the two countries to communicate and cooperate in order to serve the Russian and Saudi people, and the whole world.”
MGIMO granted the king the doctorate in honor of his role in promoting peace and stability, and strengthening Saudi-Russian relations.
The celebration was attended by the king’s Saudi delegation, and Russian academics and officials presided over by the institute’s rector, Anatoly Torkunov, and Russian Minister of Education Olga Vasileva.
The institute is one of the most important educational institutes in Russia, and is internationally known in the diplomatic and international relations fields. In 1944, it was founded on the basis of the recently established School of International Relations of the Lomonosov Moscow State University.
In 2016, MGIMO signed a cooperation agreement with the Prince Saud Al-Faisal Institute for Diplomatic Studies at the Saudi Foreign Ministry.
The Guinness Book of World Records acknowledged MGIMO for the number of languages it teaches — 53.
Since its establishment, the institute has graduated more than 40,000 students in all fields, including 5,500 foreign students and some well-known politicians and journalists.
The institute was dubbed the “Harvard of Russia” by former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger because it educates so many of Russia’s political, economic and intellectual elite. It has the lowest acceptance rate and highest test scores of any university in Russia.
Most people look forward to a high school dance. Some people, like myself, appreciate the ask more than the actual dance. Knowing someone actually said yes to you does wonders for your self-esteem.
But for 17-year-old Daniel, he didn’t get that yes he was hoping to receive. In fact, he was turned down by several girls. The reason? He has Down syndrome.
But just as he began to give up hope, 10th grader Kylie asked Daniel for the honor of taking him to the dance. Kylie sees Daniel as Daniel and nothing less. “I don’t think of kids that have a disability… I don’t think of them as being different,” She said. “I hope I can make his night fun.”
Kylie’s actions left Daniel’s mom, Tonya, jaw dropped. Asking Daniel out of sympathy is one thing, but Kylie is actually encouraging and joyful about the whole event. “It’s not about that Daniel has a disability. Its Kylie didn’t see any disability. That is what your heart wants as a mom.”
The entire ordeal exploded when FOX5 Surprise Squad caught wind of Kylie’s act of kindness. Just before the dance, Fox5 showed up with a night FULL of surprises, most of which left Tonya in happy tears. The night began with the couple being driven in a beautiful Rolls Royce and went out to be majestic.
Check out the video below to see all the other incredible things they were able to do and please SHARE this uplifting story with your friends and family!
Kuala Lumpur (CNN) At least 21 students have been killed after a fire broke out at a school in the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur early Thursday morning.
When emergency responders first arrived on the scene, “almost 90% of the building was already on fire,” a Fire and Rescue department official told reporters. Two adults also died in the blaze.
“The firemen could hear cries for help from inside the building,” spokesman Soiman Jahid said. “The first team from (the) fire station managed to save five of the children from the lower level.”
Fire damage at the school.
Jahid said firefighters found bodies in three different locations, all of them badly burned. A large number of victims found were piled on top of each other, while another was discovered in front of the main door.
“Based on my observation, the building has grills that could not be opened from inside,” he said. “Because of the grills, they could not escape through the windows, except for the five students who escaped through the door and sought help from the firemen.”
Photos from the scene showed fire damage to the top floor of the three-story Tahfiz Darul Quran Ittifaqiyah school. Emergency services were still at the scene mid-morning local time.
Norhayati Khalid talked to CNN on her way to hospital to identify the body believed to be her son, 11-year-old Amin Ashraf.
She said she’d last seen Amin on Wednesday afternoon when she’d given him some food and drink and he’d passed her a note to say he loved her and his siblings.
School should not have been in operation
Malaysia’s Minister of Urban Wellbeing, Housing and Local Government, Noh Omar, said there have been 29 similar incidents in the past involving fires at religious schools.
The school’s license was being reviewed by the authorities and it should not have been in operation, Noh told reporters.
Six students and a member of the public were injured in the incident, Malaysia’s official Bernama news agency reported.
Firefighters at the scene of the fire
Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak expressed his sympathy for those affected on social media.
“Deeply saddened to hear Darul Quran Ittifaqiyah Tahfiz Center burned and that more than 20 lives were lost. May their souls be blessed by Allah SWT. Al Fatihah,” he wrote on Twitter.
Malaysian media earlier reported that 25 people were killed, 23 students and two wardens.
All I Can Give To You Is My Beliefs From My Understanding Of Biblical Scripture
Every time I start to write an article here in the blog I always first spend a few moments in prayer asking God to please guide my every thought and key stroke through the power of His Holy Spirit. I have studied the Scriptures now for a little over 50 years and I know a lot about all of the Canonized Books and several of the Non-Canonized ones as far as the Protestant and Catholic Churches are concerned. Yet, I make no claim to know absolutely everything about anything, yet I refuse to lie to you concerning anything, especially concerning the Scriptures. The following is my best understanding from my years of study concerning the question that is the title of this article.
My first thoughts were to answer the title question with a simple ‘No.’ But, is that really a ‘totally’ correct answer? I think that the technically correct answer would have to be yes. The reason for the yes is in my attempt not to be a Judge of anyone. My belief is that if a person is a racist when they die that they will without a doubt be condemned to Hell at their Judgement before the Judgement Seat of Christ. When a person is submerged in Baptism they are raised a ‘New Creature’ and ones old sins are washed away. But if a person rises out of the watery grave of Baptism still holding onto their old life and old hatreds all they accomplished in the Baptism was to get themselves wet. Racism is hatred, there is nothing ‘love’ about racism. If our heart is not filled with the love of God then our bodies are not the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit of God. Why do you think that the Lord Jesus says that His own know His voice? The reason is because the Holy Spirit is His and of course He knows His own voice.
For those folks who say they hate the Jewish people because they ‘killed Jesus’ they do technically make a great error. All people of the world should rejoice that the Jewish/Hebrew people fulfilled Scripture 2,000 years ago and had the Christ ‘Jesus’ killed. The reason that the Jewish people of the time did this was because God ‘hardened their hearts’ so that they would do this and in doing so fulfill the teachings and prophesies written in the Old Testament. If the Jewish people had not done this event then you and I would not have any chance of salvation, none! Everyone who was not of 100% pure Hebrew blood was a Gentile, which before the Resurrection of Christ was not considered “a people’ even by Jesus, we were all ‘unclean.’ If you will read the tenth chapter of the Book of Acts you will gain a better understanding of what I just wrote to you. At the very end of the last chapter (28th) of the Gospel of Matthew is written what is called Jesus’s ‘Great Commission’ to His Apostles to go into all the world and teach all nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father the Son and the Holy Spirit. Only after the Resurrection of Christ Jesus were people like you and I eligible for salvation. Please take a few moments to read the fifth chapter of the Book of Matthew where Jesus gives a sermon known as the ‘Beatitudes’ in the first twelve verses. Jesus taught us that if we hate our brother without a cause that we are condemned already. Without a cause, as in something that a person has absolutely no say so over. If you hate a person because you think they are to ugly or to short or to tall or because they were born in another country or even in a different part of your own country, you are acting like an idiot and you are sinning. The same would stand if you hate all men or all women, or even hate them because their skin color is different from yours. These are all things that not a single one of us have had any say so in what so ever, none!
Jesus told the Apostles to go into all Nations to all people to all tongues and to teach them salvation. Jesus died on that Cross so that low life Gentiles like you and I could have a chance at the same salvation that before His Resurrection we had no avenue to. Jesus went through with all of that pain so that us non-Jews could be saved, all of us, from all Nations, all tongues, all people. Who in the heck do you or I think that we are to hate anyone of God’s children over something that they have no say over, like what skin color they were born with. When we are filled with this hate it is not those that we hate that we are condemning, it is ourselves. So yes, a person can be baptized and call themselves a Christian, a follower of Christ and also be a racist. A person can call themselves King Kong but that does not mean that they are. People can say anything they want to say but we all need to understand that our words can and will condemn us just as a hate filled heart will condemn us. This is true even if we do not act out our hatreds because God does know what is in our hearts and what our thoughts are. If you say that you are a Christian yet you are a racist, a person who hates their brother without a cause, they are in effect walking up to Jesus as He is hanging on that Cross and spitting in His face and telling Him He is wrong and it is you who are correct. After all, remember, Jesus was a Jew.
I have never met the man Elon Musk but I have read quite a bit about him during this past year or two. So, I do not know him personally so the best I can do is to garner what I can from him through his quotes. Personally I have no doubt that the man is a genius as far as his IQ is concerned. I have learned during my time here on this Earth that a person can be brilliant yet still do and or believe things that are just plain stupid. I also have learned that a person with a very low IQ can sometimes come up with great ideas, sometimes things in life simply are defined by the angle or the light in which one looks at the issue in question. This article today is going to be my opinions that I have taken from an article that I read this morning in ” livescience.com “. This article is one that I reblogged earlier this morning if you wish to read it before or after you read this article. When I write articles it is always my wish and attempt to get folks to think, to stretch their minds beyond their everyday plain, this article will be no different. I am not really saying that you need to agree with me but I hope you will take a couple of moments to consider what I am laying out for you to think about. This article today is one that does concern every ones life and their Soul.
The Science article I mentioned to you a moment ago is concerning a company that Mr. Musk owns that is called ‘Neuralink’. Mr. Musk’s ambition with this company is to develop a “Ultrahigh-Bandwith Brain-Computer Interface.” Mr. Musk says one of the purposes is to ‘accelerate human evolution.’ He is not seeking to create pure machines like you see in the Terminator movies or even in the Will Smith movie simply called, AI. Mr. Musk says that “he sees a real danger in Artificial Intelligence” he has called AI a “fundamental risk to the existence of human civilization.” I believe that he is correct there as science, which is often pushed by military government funding seeks to have pilot-less aircraft, not just Drones, but also big Jets, folks the Navy has a sailor-less battle ship! Of course that will then lead to commercial airlines getting rid of all of their pilots. Think about it, driver-less cars, tractor-trailer units, driver-less trains. O yes, we already have this technologies don’t we? Think about factory jobs for a moment please. When I was in my teen years my Dad worked at a Chrysler Assembly plant in northern Illinois, back then the assembly line had far more employees putting together the units than what you see these days. Now machines directed by computer brains have replaced most of those ‘human’ jobs. Machines, computers don’t have Unions, don’t ask for pay raises, paid days off, overtime pay, medical benefits and that list goes on and on. Why let a human do what a computer can do much cheaper, and in most cases, better?
Evidently Mr. Musk is concerned that we humans, starting with the poorest, weakest, least educated will only be a burden on society (the wealthiest people), if you are not a positive to society, why should you be allowed to live off of someone else (the rich)? What was Arnold’s phrase, ‘you have been Terminated’? Mr. Musk believes (and he is trying to accomplish this through his Neuralink Company) “that the best way to keep pace with the machines intelligence is to up grade human intelligence.” In the good ole days wasn’t that called going to school and getting the best education that you were able to get?
From a pure science perspective Mr. Musk is correct on a couple of different plains. I believe that he is correct about his concerns regarding AI. Do you not believe that the servant can become the master? Could the humble public servant (politicians/bureaucrats/police) ever dare to become the master over the people? We already have, and we have had for many years now the integration of computer chips for people. It started out with chips for our pets so that they don’t get lost from us. Then we went into chips for new-born babies, just in case they ever got lost or stolen. Then came the chips for employees and their convenience. We have had little ‘brain’ chips for well over a decade now. Neuralink and Mr. Musk are now simply trying to stretch the human-computer ‘interface’ as he puts it. There will soon be a day where if you are an employee or if you are an office supervisor of importance that the company will require you to have mandated chip technology in your hand or you can’t get the job or the promotion. If you don’t think that what I am saying to you is logical or true, my friend it is you who are living in a fantasy world, not me.
This last paragraph is going to be from my Christian Biblical viewpoint. We are told several times in the book of Revelation about the ‘Mark of the Beast’ being put into our hand or into our head, we are told that if we humans allow this that when Christ and His Angels return that we will die twice. The first death is when this body dies, the second death is when God severs His relationship with us and cast’s us into Hell for all eternity. Many will say things along the lines of ‘what has the Mark of the Beast got to do with computer chips’? I know that most folks still do not realize what ‘Armageddon’ really is. Scripture is very plain that Armageddon is when the Nations of the Earth and their Armies fight against God and His Angels at the Second Advent of Christ. We are also told that the people who are found to have the mark of the Beast in their hand or in their head will be totally crushed as if in a wine-press. Friends think about it for a moment, it is the governments which at that time will be led by Demons and Satan Himself that are going to fight against God, so yes, the governments will be even more wicked than they are now. Friends the mark of the ‘Beast’ is not the number 666, no where does Scripture say that it is. Simply there will come a time when 10 governments will control almost all of the globe and these 10 governments will sit upon the 7 Continents. Then the power will be consolidated into 3 all-powerful governments, then into one. Six is the sign of man, three is the sign of God. The world will have 3 all-powerful governments that are ruled by 3 of Satan’s top Generals. 3 Men who will try to take the place of God, as if they are God’s. Then they will give up their power to the 1 true Anti-Christ, Satan Himself. 3 Men (6’s) who would be God (3’s) if they could. Friends, all I can say to you as I close this article today is please for no reason ever allow anyone to ever put any kind of chip into you, please.
A group of China’s top universities have set up Communist Party departments to oversee the political thinking of their teaching staff after the colleges were criticised amid the government’s tightening ideological control on campuses.
The Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, the party’s powerful disciplinary watchdog, last week published “rectification reports” on eight top-tier universities it inspected this year.
Seven have set up a “teachers’ affairs department” under their Communist Party committees to improve “ideological and political work” among teaching staff.
The inspection teams toured 29 of the best universities across mainland China, including the prestigious Peking University and Tsinghua University in Beijing, for a “political check-up” earlier this year.
Some universities were criticised after the months-long inspections for their weakness in promoting ideology, while party committees were also chastised for weak leadership and failing to toe the party line.
Dalian University of Technology in Liaoning province has pledged to make annual training plans to improve the ideological and political education of teachers, according to its rectification report.
Beijing Normal University said the “virtues” of teachers, which include their ideological and political thinking, were included in their appraisals this year.
All universities and colleges in China are under the control of a party committee, which oversees party affairs on campus and the running of the schools.
Most committees already have two departments supervising undergraduate and graduate students to monitor their ideological and political thinking.
The inclusion of teaching staff for supervision under the party committee is the latest move by the authorities to tighten ideological control on campuses.
Universities were ordered four years ago to steer clear of seven topics while teaching, including universal values, press freedom and civil rights.
Outspoken professors who have openly criticised the communist authorities or its leaders have been punished or silenced.
Deng Xiangchao, a communications professor at Shandong Jianzhu University, was forced to retire in January after criticising Mao Zedong publicly on the eve of the anniversary of the late leader’s birth.
Some more liberal universities have already moved to tighten control of their teaching staff to toe the party line.
Many universities – as well as the seven inspected – have set up teachers’ affairs departments this year, including Shanghai Jiao Tong university and the Central University of Finance and Economics in Beijing.
Peking University was the first to set up a similar teachers department in 2015.
Twenty-one other universities inspected by the commission have yet to release their “rectification reports”.
Police Bid to Hoist Tri-Colour Sparks Student Unrest
Anantnag—Agitating students at the Boys Degree College here went on a rampage, setting afire the stage set by police for a sports festival to protest against hoisting of Indian national flag in the college premises.
The inaugural match of T20 cricket tourney, sponsored by the J&K Police, began in the morning without any hassle, eyewitnesses said.
While the match was in progress some policemen hoisted Indian tricolor on the stage meant for dignitaries. This enraged the students present who resented the move by shouting pro-Azadi slogans. Soon other students joined in and all hell broke loose.
Agitating students resorted to heavy stone-pelting forcing cops to take down the tricolor. This did not pacify the protesting students who continuously raised Azadi slogans prompting police to lob tear smoke shells transforming the cricket field into a battle ground .
College sources said that the match was abandoned after the clashes.
As cops left the premises, protesting students set the stage on fire and ransacked the chairs and other items.
Reports said that students also attacked the fire services vehicles with stones. Police again rushed to spot and charged the students with canes.
Videos of the incident, which had students setting hoardings and banners ablaze, went viral on the social media.
The institute authorities had reportedly asked the police to refrain from holding the event during college hours because it could lead to a law-and-order problem. “But the police did not pay any heed to our suggestion that the programme be held after 4 pm,” according to a media report.
Reports said that the police later conducted the match in the evening and the first match was played without any disturbance.
The Government Degree College at Anantnag, established in 1950, is affiliated to Kashmir University. As many as 5,000 students are enrolled there.
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Until now, foreign academic presses were largely immune to this sort of censorship. In recent years, the websites of most foreign news organizations have been blocked in China, as have social media sites, including Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, and the search engine Google.
But because of their small readership, and high subscription costs (one China Quarterly article costs more than $20), academic journals were not targeted.
The new measures seem in line with announcements made by President Xi Jinping in February 2016 that all media content on any platform must come under the Communist Party’s “guidance.”
“The same rules apply to any foreign content, academic or otherwise, that is accessible within China,” said David Bandurski, the co-director of the China Media Project and a fellow at the Robert Bosch Academy in Berlin. “Given Xi Jinping’s determination to rein in dissenting views in the information space, foreign publishers are misleading themselves if they believe they can escape pressure like that facing China Quarterly.”
Searching for the word “Tiananmen” at the journal’s main page yields 50 results, with the top two relating to the “Tiananmen Papers,” a 2001 compilation of secret documents that is widely considered essential for understanding the events of 1989. Other top hits include an assessment of China’s universities in the aftermath of the student-led movement, and the effect of the crackdown on relations with Taiwan.
Performing the same search within China, however, yields only five hits, either tangential mentions or urban-planning articles about the square.
The block appears to go beyond Cambridge University Press’s website to include searches through third-party databases, including JSTOR, a digital library that academics around the world use to perform full-text searches of nearly 2,000 journals, including China Quarterly.
As of Friday night, it was unclear whether all JSTOR access was now blocked in China.
After news of the censorship spread, academics inside and outside China expressed alarm.
Money talks. At least it did for Eddie Chen and, presumably, for many of the 420,000 of his Taiwanese compatriots who opted to earn a higher salary by working in mainland China.
Chen, 26, moved from the Taiwanese capital, Taipei, to Beijing in 2014, first to study a Masters on a full scholarship, and then to work in PR for a major international company.
He earns double what he would in his native Taiwan, where starting salaries for graduates have barely risen since the late 1990s. “China has a bigger market and there is more globalization here,” he explains. “Taiwan does not offer many opportunities for young people.”
Official government statistics reveal that by 2015 over 720,000 out of Taiwan’s roughly 10-million strong workforce, 72.5% of them with an undergraduate degree or higher, had moved overseas for better job opportunities.
Unsurprisingly, neighboring China, with its common language, has absorbed the majority.
But it is also actively luring Taiwan’s best talent, contributing to an acute brain drain that not only threatens the Taiwanese economy, but has prompted fears that Beijing, which claims the island as its own territory, is using its economic clout to try to buy political influence.
A recent flow of mainland initiatives to recruit Taiwanese students and entrepreneurs has jangled nerves in the self-ruled democracy that China is expanding efforts to win the loyalty of the younger generation with financial sweeteners, taking advantage of Taiwan’s sluggish economy.
China has targeted Taiwan’s educated elite for years, but a recent uptick in job and education incentives suggests a shift in tactics since cross-strait relations soured over Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen’s refusal to accept Beijing’s policy that the island of 24 million is part of ‘One China’.
Its attempts to punish Taiwan through international isolation, blocking it from United Nations meetings and poaching from its small remaining pool of diplomatic allies, appears only to have fortified Taiwanese resolve to forge their own identity.
The young in particular identify more acutely with Taiwan as their home country and China as a giant neighboring state. But the long term impact of offering millennials a higher standard of living is hard to predict.
China has made no secret of its belief that financial benefits can, over time, dilute, and eventually displace national identity and advance its unification agenda.
Reports emerged in April that Beijing would appeal to business grass-roots through the All China Federation of Taiwanese Compatriots, led by Wang Yifu, a former advisor to President Xi Jinping on Taiwan.
The plan to offer attractive study and work opportunities was followed this summer by invitations to Taiwanese local leaders and youth groups to mainland camps and cultural activities.
Last month, China’s education ministry announced it would halve the quota of Chinese students in Taiwan while relaxing entrance rules for Taiwanese at mainland universities, fueling suspicion of attempted social engineering.
Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council, which oversees cross-strait relations, urged China to “cherish and maintain” educational exchanges, warning against “interference or restrictions.”
It reminded Taiwanese students of “major differences” between the two countries’ education systems.
But politics is the last thing on Ling Kuang-hsuan’s mind as the postgraduate student, 22, excitedly prepares to start a two year Masters course in human resources at Peking university this September.
She believes Peking’s top reputation will improve her job prospects and, like Eddie Chen, she sees her future in China.
“I hope I can stay in China and find a job…Most of my friends also hope that they can work there after they graduate,” Ling adds. “There are many international companies that don’t have a franchise in Taiwan but they do have one in China.”
Her chances are good. China’s major cities offer a thriving scene of multinational companies and lucrative incentives for start-ups.
In 2015, Chinese e-commerce magnate, Jack Ma, announced a $330 million fund for Taiwanese entrepreneurs.
Just last month, the Taipei-based China Times reported an award of almost $400,000 for a business start-up contest for Taiwanese youth in Shanghai.
Chen admits that China’s vibrant business climate lured him back after his studies when he struggled to start a PR company in Taiwan.
“It was easy to start, but not to survive,” he says. “In Taiwan they play more a short term game. They want their investment back soon.”
The Chinese, however, treated him like a “star”, offering an office and financial incentives. “The Chinese government want people to start-up. They want this trend,” he says.
Chen sold his stake in his company to advance his career in a large international firm.
In China, ambitious Taiwanese professionals also find they can progress quicker than they would at home. “Our company is willing to give younger people more of a chance,” says Chen.
China may feel like a foreign country where “we still understand that we are different culturally and politically”, but for now it is Chen’s home. “Taiwan is much more a place for retirement,” he adds.
The roots of Taiwan’s talent deficit lie in its slow export-reliant economy and the failure to make tough reforms to attract foreign investment and to shift from previously successful labor-intensive industries towards high technology and services.
Meanwhile, neighboring China enjoys high growth. In July it reported an annual pace of 6.9% while Taiwan hovers at around 2%.
To add to Taiwan’s woes, graduate salaries have stagnated. In 1999, a university graduate could expect an average monthly salary of around $900. By 2016, this had risen to just $925.
“If China is growing at 6 percent a year and Taiwan is growing at 2 percent a year, which is going to be the most attractive place to go to stake out your career?” asks Michael Zielenziger, Asia expert and a managing editor at Oxford Economics, a U.K.-based economics and research consultancy.
“It’s very difficult for a young, bright Taiwanese student to ignore the bright lights, big city appeal of either China or the States. It’s a challenge to the government to make the country more attractive, to keep people at home and bring them back,” he says.
Caught in a vicious cycle, low wages have left young people less inclined to start a family, contributing to declining birthrates.
Youth are resentful that Taiwan’s generous state pension system leaves, for example, retired high school teachers on a monthly stipend of around $2,250, while they struggle to make ends meet.
The resulting exodus leaves less workers to support the swelling ranks of the old, pushing the pensions system towards the brink of bankruptcy.
Gordon Sun, director of the forecasting center at the Taiwan Institute of Economic Research, says the nature of the brain drain is exacerbating Taiwan’s economic troubles.
“They are high level managers, engineers, they are rich, their income is high,” he says.
“Most of their spending or consumption is in China. So in Taiwan our consumption cannot grow,” he argues. “We need them to come back and live here and spend here.”
But the notion of China presenting itself as the land of opportunity in exchange for Taiwanese loyalty is misguided, believes Taipei-based analyst Michael Cole, a senior fellow at Nottingham University’s China Policy Institute.
Firstly, China has no clear strategy to win over Taiwan. “Right now, they don’t know what to do,” he argues.
“They’ve long been infatuated with notions of economic determinism. They tried that with Tibet and they tried that with Hong Kong to an extent,” Cole says.
“They still don’t seem to realize the pragmatism with which people are dealing with China, in which they recognize the opportunities for their career or for investment, but very rarely does that translate into a shift in self-identification or support for unification.”
Lo Chih-cheng, a legislator with the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), agrees that young people will see through attempts to politically manipulate them.
“They want to show especially to young people, that China is their future, and Taiwan has nowhere to go to but to turn to China. That’s their strategy: Taiwan has to depend on China for economic development,” he says.
“I don’t know whether it works or not but I don’t think it will change their identity,” Lo adds. “There is a huge difference between the way of life in Taiwan and China that will reinforce their views about themselves being Taiwanese not Chinese.”
Others are more concerned that the long term impact of offering financial security to an entire generation, could slowly erode resistance to China’s political ambitions.
Unlike Hong Kong, freedom of speech and democracy is not directly under threat for now in Taiwan, giving the young fewer reasons to push back. Taiwanese identity is strong, but willingness to advocate independence less so.
Rex, 36, a Taiwanese banker, moved to Guangzhou, southern China, two years ago as he did not want to lose his job in Taiwan in middle age. “I don’t see a future for my work in Taiwan,” he says.
He now prefers the dynamism of China compared to the more regulatory business culture at home.
Politics plays little role in Rex’s personal life, but he believes that “Taiwan and the Chinese are going to merge some day in the future, 50 or 100 years from now” for more practical reasons.
“China is just too big and in Taiwan you cannot live without China being involved in your business,” he explains.
For many who opted to stay home, the steady drip of China’s economic influence over those who left has become a touchy subject.
Earlier this year, a Taiwanese man, Jeremy, 25, who works in Shanghai was denounced online as a “communist bandit” after he urged young people to leave and seek a better life overseas.
“I have friends in Taiwan who work inconceivably hard every day. They’re up at 5am and don’t finish up with work until 9 or 10pm at night. And what for? They have no future and no hopes,” he said in a video that went viral.
Dr Yang Tzu-ting, a research fellow at the Institute of Economics at Taiwan’s Academia Sinica, believes that a large Taiwanese labor force in China could “threaten our national security” and encourage some to become advocates for unification.
The best way for the Taiwanese government to counter this is to create better jobs and to boost the services industry, he argues.
An example would be to remove stifling annual quotas on medical training to create a health tourism sector, he says. Another would be to make universities more competitive to prevent academics escaping centralized, and low, wages.
Ross Feingold, a Taipei-based lawyer and public policy analyst, agrees that the Taiwanese government is not doing enough to stem the brain drain.
“One way to look at it is if China succeeds in getting young people to remain there during election time and not return home to vote for the DPP, that that would also work to China’s advantage,” he says.
“I think it’s just a transactional relationship where people want to have jobs that pay better and offer opportunities for promotion. Whether it builds personal affinity remains to be seen.”
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. Photo: Screenshot.
Six years ago, a teenager in Newton, Massachusetts — Shiri Pagliuso — asked her father if it was true that Israel tortures and murders women activists in the Palestinian resistance movement.
Then a high school freshman, Shiri had learned the information from her textbook — the Arab World Studies Notebook, a 540-page volume so riddled with unabashed bias that it had garnered a scathing 30-page report from the American Jewish Committee (AJC).
Back in 2011, Shiri’s father — Tony Pagliuso — wasn’t yet aware of the AJC’s report. But he knew outright propaganda when he saw it.
He contacted his daughter’s teacher, the head of the high school’s history department, the principal, and eventually the superintendents — who all defended the Arab World Studies Notebook as essential for sharpening critical thinking skills. They also praised the book for providing a “balanced perspective” and an “Arab point of view.”
Roger Waters isn’t given the opportunity to discuss his anti-Israel activism in the US media or on late-night talk shows…
Pagliuso realized that he was being stonewalled, which got him thinking: If he looked at Shiri’s other course materials, what other dreadful stuff would he find?
Determined to expose the extent of the problem, a bitter multi-year battle ensued that pitted Pagliuso — who was soon joined by a group of other parents and Newton residents — against a shockingly hostile school district.
Together, the parents and residents fought to get school officials to acknowledge their legitimate concerns, provide access to all the curriculum materials as required by law, and to pull the Arab World Studies Notebook and other academically unsuitable materials.
Now, in a new study by CAMERA (the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America), researcher Steven Stotsky carefully traces how these partisan materials — many with scant scholarly value — seeped into a nationally prominent public school system.
The 108 page monograph, Indoctrinating Our Youth: How a U.S. Public School Curriculum Skews the Arab-Israeli Conflict and Islam, is the most comprehensive analysis to date of the Newton curriculum controversy.
Piecing together local media coverage, transcripts of school committee meetings and multiple interviews, Stotsky recounts the key events, including the run-around that Pagliuso and the ad-hoc group of concerned parents and residents got from school administrators.
Several chapters are also devoted to a thorough analysis of World History course materials, which the school district was ultimately forced to disclose in 2014 via a court order.
As Stotsky describes, the curriculum included materials rife with erroneous information, such as a radically doctored translation of the Hamas charter, and a handout identifying Tel Aviv as the capital of Israel — and Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine.
And a lot of the materials glossed over controversial topics.
Stotsky’s report demonstrates how the religious components of the Israeli-Arab conflict were concealed from students, including the fact that for many Arabs, the conflict is a holy war — with Jews seen as infidel interlopers on sacred Islamic lands.
Course materials about Islamic history also downplayed negative societal practices. Woefully simplistic expositions and misleadingly rosy texts portrayed Muslim conquerors as tolerant toward their subjects, and presented embellished descriptions of the status of women in many Muslim-majority societies. The inferior status and often precarious situation of non-Muslims under Islamic rule wasn’t presented at all.
Stotsky relates how one textbook (Early Islam) even preposterously asserted that Muslim rulers were “especially liberal with the Jews and Christians” — as if they had equal rights and opportunities, and were free from discrimination.
In short, Indoctrinating Our Youth is a deep-dive into what went so very wrong in Newton, and Stotsky is right to come down hard on headstrong school administrators and an uncooperative elected school body.
These individuals created a bewildering degree of obstruction that exacerbated the controversy and made a timely removal of the problematic materials difficult. There’s some indication that local Jewish organizations –including the JCRC and, at least initially, the local chapter of the Anti-Defamation League — were also less than helpful to the parents than they might otherwise have been.
Still, the teachers shouldn’t be let off the hook.
After all, they chose the curricula materials in the first place, and were inexcusably dismissive of the parents. (In an interview, Pagliuso admits that had Shiri’s 9th grade history teacher been more responsive to his concerns about the Arab World Studies Notebook passage, he probably wouldn’t have pursued the curriculum issue any further).
This brings me to the CAMERA monograph’s most sobering insight about how anti-Israel and pro-Islamist propaganda is working its way out of higher education, and into US public schools.
The process often starts with federally-funded university centers for Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies, many of which have also been generously supported for years by multi-million dollar gifts from Saudi Arabia and the Gulf Arab states, and are top-heavy with faculty at the forefront of the anti-Israel movement, and who favor anti-Western perspectives.
In Newton, as Stotsky documents, Harvard’s center had an outsized influence on high school educators. But these gown-to-town collaborations are well-established in other places, and in some cases, they’re likely having a similar disastrous impact on the public school curriculum.
How many people are aware that pushing vehemently anti-Israel and pro-Islamist materials into K-12 educational programming is now the BDS movement’s new frontier? It’s hard to say, but most Jewish American organizations have yet to take up the issue as a matter of major concern.
Indoctrinating Our Youth is a warning that this problem can no longer be ignored. What happened in Newton was especially appalling, but it’s really just another instance of a trend that’s already well underway in public schools, where students are increasingly “learning” from textbooks and supplemental readings that are horribly slanted against Israel, and in some instances, even by classroom lectures and lesson plans that traffic in blatant antisemitic tropes.
For years high schoolers in Newton, Massachusetts, were taught a tale of Jewish-inflicted misery. But then they got lucky. A discerning classmate flagged a troubling reading assignment, and her stalwart dad was willing to raise hell. Will the rest of America’s school kids be as fortunate?
Note: an earlier, separate version of this article was featured in Legal Insurrection on July 23, 2017. To access it, click here.
Miriam F. Elman is an Associate Professor of Political Science and the Robert D. McClure Professor of Teaching Excellence at the Maxwell School of Citizenship & Public Affairs, Syracuse University. Follow her on Twitter @MiriamElman.
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