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Hong Kong's "Tiger Parents" Face the Pressure

© Agence France-Presse
Since Amy Chua published her Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, it has dominated school-gate conversation in Hong Kong, with parents soul-searching over how much they demand of their children. The American mother's account of her Chinese-influenced, high-pressure parenting sounded more than a little familiar in the fiercely competitive city, where parents say they are also pushed to perform.
Hong Kong - Since Amy Chua published her Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother it has dominated school-gate conversation in Hong Kong, with parents soul-searching over how much they demand of their children.

The American mother's account of her Chinese-influenced, high-pressure parenting sounded more than a little familiar in the fiercely competitive city, where parents say they are also pushed to perform.

Jachinson Chan's daughters, aged 11 and 13, are ferried to an extracurricular activity every day of the week -- from Spanish to guitar, tennis and extra mathematics.

"People think we're crazy," he said -- but not because his children are too busy. "We're a joke among our friends because we don't have that many activities."

And not just any activity is good enough. "Piano is no longer considered a big deal," said Chan. "If your kid is in primary school and he or she can play the piano really well, the schools will yawn.

"You need trombone, for example -- something that not many people want to play. Parents are encouraging their kids to play the oboe."

OECD rankings generally place Hong Kong above the international average in education standards, and often near the top worldwide, but local universities only take 18 percent of school students.

So as parents climb the ladder in one of the world's most competitive economies, they and their children must also contend with the academic equivalent.

The results? A survey by retail group Plaza Hollywood in April said more than two-thirds of Hong Kong parents placed a higher premium on their child's grades than their health -- though the survey was unclear about its methods.

Media reports have said that children as young as three are being taught for 10 hours a day at some kindergartens.

Comment: Perhaps expectations in general should not be based on what society as a whole defines as success but rather what is healthiest for the child in the long term.

For more information regarding the effect of parental expectations on children, see this Sott link:

Parents' expectations, styles can harm college students' self-esteem

Star of David

Libyan 'rebels' (unlike Ghaddafi) will recognise Israel, Bernard-Henri Lévy tells Netanyahu

© AFP/Boris Horvat
Bernard-Henri Lévy, a leading French Zionist, seen here speaking at a rally in support of Iranian woman Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, helps galvanise people in favour of the Zionist World Revolution.
Libya's rebel National Transitional Council (NTC) is ready to recognise Israel, according to French philosopher Bernard-Henri Lévy, who says he has passed the message on to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The NTC "will be concerned with justice for the Palestinians and security for Israel" it it takes power, Lévy said after meeting Netanyahu Thursday.

"The future regime will maintain normal relations with other democratic countries, including Israel."

Netanyahu's office confirmed the meeting with Lévy but did not comment on the discussion. "The prime minister likes to meet intellectuals," a spokesperson said.

Bizarro Earth

Jewish Groups Blast "Foreskin Man" Comic Book's "Overly Anti-Semitic" Images on Circumcision

© Foreskinman.com
Front page of Foreskin Man comic, created as part of campaign to ban circumcision in California.
Los Angeles - A politically motivated comic book pitting a blond superhero called "Foreskin Man" against a sinister-looking "Monster Mohel" is causing a serious flap in California.

The colorful series was created by the "intactivist" group MGMBill.org as part of its campaign to ban circumcision through ballot initiatives.

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) is blasting it as overtly anti-Semitic.

"Foreskin Man, with its grotesque anti-Semitic imagery and themes, reaches a new low and is disrespectful and deeply offensive," Nancy J. Appel, ADL Associate Regional Director, said in a statement Friday.

The online series portrays a menacing-looking mohel - someone specially trained to perform the traditional Jewish circumcision ceremony - waving bloody scissors over a screaming baby laid out on a pool table.


US: Man Accused of Killing Florida Baby Arrested in Alabama

© Scripps Media, Inc.
Charles Colvin Jr
A man accused of killing a 6-month-old baby in the Florida Panhandle has been arrested in Alabama and is awaiting extradition.

Fort Walton Beach police say Charles Lenear Colvin Jr. was arrested Thursday in Opp, Ala.

The 24-year-old is charged with murder in the death of Xavier Boyd on Feb. 9.

According to a police report, Colvin told police the baby had choked on some formula and stopped breathing. The baby died at a Pensacola hospital.

A medical examiner concluded the baby died from blunt force trauma to the back of his head.

Fort Walton Beach police say Colvin fled after an arrest warrant was issued April 21.

Police spokesman Rick Hord says investigators recently received tips that Colvin was in Alabama.

Heart - Black

US: Boy, 12, Charged with Murder in Toddler's Death

Cristian Fernandez
A 12-year-old boy in Jacksonville has been charged with first-degree murder in the death of his 2-year-old half brother.

State Attorney Angela Corey says a grand jury indicted the boy on Thursday. Corey said the case poses questions about public safety that would be best decided in the adult court system, so the boy will be transferred from a juvenile holding facility where he has been held for months to the Duval County jail, where he will be held with other juveniles. It also means the boy faces a life sentence if convicted.

The boy is charged with beating the toddler to death in March at the family's apartment. Assistant Public Defender Rob Mason says the boy is a victim of sexual battery and other family turmoil. Mason says the defense team believes the boy can be rehabilitated.

Source: The Associated Press


Millions Fewer Girls Born Due to Nuclear Radiation?

Children in Ukraine
© Sergey Ponomarev, AP
Children in Ukraine take part in nuclear-safety training in 2006 near Chernobyl.

"Unexpected" findings suggest bomb tests, plant accidents boosted male births.

Nuclear radiation from bomb tests and power plant accidents causes slightly more boys than girls to be born, a new study suggests. While effects were seen to be regional for incidents on the ground, like Chernobyl, atmospheric blasts were found to affect birth rates on a global scale.

The result: Millions fewer females have been born worldwide than would otherwise be expected, researchers estimate. And given Japan's current nuclear troubles, another boy boomlet could be on the way, experts say.

For the new study, scientists analyzed population data from 1975 to 2007 for 39 European countries and the United States.

They found an increase in the number of male births relative to female births in all of the countries investigated from 1964 to 1975 - and in many eastern European countries for several years after 1986.


US: Three arrested, accused of illegally feeding homeless in Orlando, Florida

Members of Orlando Food Not Bombs were arrested Wednesday when police said they violated a city ordinance by feeding the homeless in Lake Eola Park.

Jessica Cross, 24, Benjamin Markeson, 49, and Jonathan "Keith" McHenry, 54, were arrested at 6:10 p.m. on a charge of violating the ordinance restricting group feedings in public parks. McHenry is a co-founder of the international Food Not Bombs movement, which began in the early 1980s.

The group lost a court battle in April, clearing the way for the city to enforce the ordinance. It requires groups to obtain a permit and limits each group to two permits per year for each park within a 2-mile radius of City Hall.


Syria Drops off the Internet Amid Turmoil

sorry, no internet
© n/a
In what appears to be the latest bid by a government to throttle access to news and information amid growing civil unrest, the Syrian government Friday shut down all Internet services.

Internet monitoring firm Renesys reported that starting around 7 a.m. EDT today, close to two-thirds of all Syrian networks were suddenly unreachable from the global Internet.

In just 30 minutes, routes to 40 of 59 Syrian networks were withdrawn from the global routing table, said Renesys' chief technology officer, James Cowie, in a blog post.

The shutdown has affected all of SyriaTel's 3G mobile data networks, as well as several of the country's ISPs, such as Sawa, iNet and RunNet.

Light Saber

Canada: 'Stop Harper' placard gets Senate page turfed from Throne Speech

page protest Canada Parliament
© Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press
A Senate page protests against the Harper government from the floor of the chamber as Governor-General David Johnston delivers the Speech from the Throne on June 3, 2011.
A Senate page disrupted the Speech from the Throne by taking out a sign saying "Stop Harper" in the middle of the opening of the new parliamentary session.

She was immediately removed from the Senate chamber and fired from her job.

Brigette DePape, from Manitoba, has been working in the Senate for a year. A statement issued in her name said she opposes the agenda of the Prime Minister Stephen Harper's government, which won a majority mandate on May 2.

"This country needs a Canadian version of an Arab Spring, a flowering of popular movements that demonstrate that real power to change things lies not with Harper but in the hands of the people, when we act together in our streets, neighbourhoods and workplaces," the statement said.

She went on to give a series of media interviews. She explained she feels the Conservative government's policies on the environment, social programs and the military are destructive, and that civil disobedience is needed to try and stop them.


US: Slow-moving economy runs into brick wall

© Randy Bish/Politicalcartoons.com
Policymakers, investors and economic forecasters are hoping that a sharp slowdown in economic growth last month was only a speed bump on an already bumpy road to recovery.

Because otherwise the ride could get a whole lot rougher.

Friday's jobs numbers showed that the economy produced a meager 54,000 new jobs in May with weakness across all sectors. The data capped a week of reports pointing to a sudden, unexpected slowdown in the recovery.

"It is now pretty clear that the economy ran into a brick wall last month," said Paul Ashworth, chief U.S. economist at Capital Economics.

Prior to this week most data had been pointing to a slow but steady increase in the economy's momentum. What took the wind out of the recovery's sails so suddenly, and will the doldrums last?

On top of the list is a surge in gasoline prices that has forced consumers to tighten spending on the rest of their household budget. Job growth in the retail, leisure and hospitality industries, which had been showing healthy advances, ground to a halt last month.

Comment: "On Thursday, a second major credit rating agency warned Congress and the White House that if they don't agree on a way to raise the nation's borrowing limit, the U.S. government could lose its top debt rating."

We're not economists, but how does raising the debt ceiling ("top debt rating") fix the credit rating of a country? At this point more debt equals more interest, equals less money (equals lower dollar value, equals hyper inflation, equals..).