Pension system reform most urgent issue for government: President


Taipei, June 23 (CNA) President Tsai Ing-wen said Thursday that reformingTaiwan‘s nearly bankrupt retirement pension system is the most urgent issue for the government and requires immediate action.

Several surveys have found that reform of the pension system tops the list of issues the people of Taiwan are concerned about, Tsai said, adding that the system is facing a bankruptcy crisis, due to the impact of changes in the country’s demographics and industrial structure over the past years.

She made the remarks during the first meeting of a national pension reform committee under the Presidential Office, which is headed by Vice President Chen Chien-jen.

The reform of the pension system is so urgent that it needs immediate action from the government to deal with it, she said.

The problems with the pension system have been around for many years, Tsai said. The system is facing bankruptcy due to an aging population and a low birth rate in the country, which she said have resulted from a lack of a sustainable financial model.

She pledged that her administration will make every effort to ensure that the right of citizens to enjoy retirement pensions will be protected.

Although the previous governments had tried to reform the pension system, their “unilateral” approach did not work out, Tsai said.

That is why her administration is now going with a “bottom-up” strategy that aims to expand civil participation in the reform of the pension system, she said, adding that representatives from all sectors will be able to express their opinions through a dialogue set up under the national pension reform committee.

To establish a sustainable system, Tsai said that the design of the system must take into account factors such as the government’s fiscal stability and the people’s financial abilities, while taking care of disadvantaged groups, narrowing the gaps in pension benefits given to people of different occupations, and ensuring a democratic and transparent policy-making process.

Pension reform is one of the five major reforms that Tsai has proposed during her presidential campaign. (By Lu Hsin-hui and Elaine Hou)

Upper house race sees younger electorate, redrawn boundaries


Japan’s House of Councillors election on July 10 is set to be slightly fairer and more inclusive than past races, following the redistribution of electoral districts and the extension of suffrage to 18- and 19-year-olds.

Under amendments to the Public Officers Election Law, four electoral district boundaries have been redrawn to address a long-running disparity in the weight of votes between constituencies, largely along an urban-rural divide.

The issue has built up over decades to the alarm of the Supreme Court, which labeled the last upper house race in 2013 “in a state of unconstitutionality.”

The sparsely populated prefectures of Tottori and Shimane on the Sea of Japan coast, previously electing two seats each, have been merged into a single two-seat constituency, as have Kochi and Tokushima prefectures on the island of Shikoku.

The change also halved the number of seats in Miyagi, Niigata and Nagano prefectures, while adding seats to Hokkaido, Tokyo, Aichi, Hyogo and Fukuoka.

The total number of seats in the upper house has thus remained unchanged at 242, half of which are contested every three years. Official campaigning for the July election kicked off Wednesday.

The changes are unlikely to rattle Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party, which rules in a coalition with junior partner Komeito. The party, which has maintained a near-constant grip on the Diet since the end of World War II, tends to fare well in Japan’s agricultural heartland.

According to Michael Cucek, an adjunct professor at Temple University in Tokyo, the reforms are a drop in the bucket.

“This is a makeshift measure the LDP thinks is the minimum it can do to meet the standards set by the Supreme Court,” Cucek said.

Article 81 of Japan’s Constitution gives the top court the power to determine the constitutionality of any law, order, regulation or official act.

But there are practical limits on how the court’s rulings are enforced, and “the LDP has never been encumbered by the Supreme Court,” Cucek said.

In the first place, there is no need for Japan’s bicameral Diet to require a proportional representation system in both houses, according to Corey Wallace, a visiting postdoctoral fellow at the Free University of Berlin’s Graduate School of East Asian Studies.

“A system where the lower house has a one-to-one vote value and is thus a popular representation of the national electorate, and where the upper house acts as a break on this ‘popular’ house by giving some power to the regions, would make sense,” Wallace said.

“The public has not really paid much attention to this issue, thus the incentive for the LDP to do something radical to resolve the issue once and for all is very low,” he said.

To the candidates now tasked with campaigning in the merged constituencies, the change is plenty radical.

Tokushima native So Onishi, 53, has rented an apartment in Kochi since February for his upper house campaign as an independent, but complains the two-hour, 30-minute drive between the prefectural capitals puts a damper on his productivity.

Onishi’s rival, 36-year-old incumbent LDP lawmaker Yusuke Nakanishi, has enlisted his wife as a surrogate campaigner. Treating the race as a “simultaneous battle for two constituencies,” he has designed two distinct sets of pamphlets.

While the regional disparity is far from solved, the amended electoral law has also injected some youth into an electorate growing grayer year by year as Japan’s birthrate flounders.

Nationwide, an estimated 2.4 million people aged 18 and 19 will be able to vote in a Diet race for the first time next month after the amendment lowering the minimum age from 20 took effect Sunday.

The age was last lowered from 25 under the post-war U.S. occupation in 1946, the same year women gained the right to vote.

The education ministry repealed in October last year a 1969 ban on people aged 18 or older participating in campaigning and other political activities while they are still attending high school.

The move brings Japan into line with its international peers regarding legal recognitions of adulthood, and is a welcome step to counter the sheer demographic might of middle-aged and elderly voters, Cucek said.

“But you may see a lowering of the overall percentage of people who turn out to vote, if the rate of 36 percent of those in their 30s is anything to go by,” Cucek said.

The effect of the change on election outcomes and policymaking depends on whether young people actually make the trip to the polling booth, he said.


Page and Plant cleared of plagiarism charge in Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven” copyright infringement trial


Rock giant Led Zeppelin did not lift music that formed the basis for their iconic hit “Stairway to Heaven,” a jury found Thursday, clearing the iconic rock band of accusations that it stole the opening riff of one of rock music’s most celebrate songs.

The unanimous decision by the panel of eight men and women came after a week-long trial in which Zeppelin’s guitarist Jimmy Page and singer Robert Plant took the stand to rebuff the claim of thievery and tell how they wrote their most famous song nearly half a century ago.

Guitarist Jimmy Page and singer Robert Plant hugged members of their defense team after the clerk read the verdict from the four-man, four-woman jury.

At issue in the current case was whether the British band nicked  the opening passage of “Stairway” from “Taurus,” an instrumental song by singer Randy Wolfe, who wrote and performed with his L.A. rock outfit Spirit. Although largely forgotten today, Spirit gained some popularity in the late 1960s and 1970s for their novel fusion of rock with jazz and other styles of music. Wolfe, who as a teenager played regularly with Jimmy Hendrix, was considered a masterful guitarist.

The verdict was a departure from another high-profile infringement case last year in which R&B-soul singer Marvin Gaye’s family was awarded $7.4 million by a jury that decided pop stars Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams’ monster hit “Blurred Lines” had infringed on Gaye’s “Got to Give It Up.” A judge later reduced the award to $5.3 million.

God and Man at #Skepticon: Atheist @RichardCCarrier Gets Banned

“I am a feminist because feminism is simply the belief that women should be treated as fairly as men, and there is no factual or rational reason to want the world to work any other way.”
Richard Carrier, 2012

“The accusations specifically against Richard Carrier are, sadly, not so surprising to the Skepticon organizers. . . . What has been made clear by the recent discussions is that our attendees’ well being and comfort is put at an unacceptable risk by Carrier’s presence, and so we are officially prohibiting Richard Carrier from attending any future Skepticons.”
Lauren Lane, “Keeping Skepticon Safe Richard Carrier to Be Banned,” June 20, 2016

Women who hate God also usually hate men and sex, and the influence of feminism has proved the undoing of the “New Atheist” movement, as Ph.D. scientist Phil “Thunderfoot” Mason said in a December 2015 video: “Make no mistake, it wasn’t the religious who effectively destroyed the atheist movement, it was feminists, who infiltrated, derailed and effectively destroyed what, until then, had been an exciting and vibrant new atheist movement.” This was a subject I wrote about a few years ago after Rebecca Watson denounced atheist men who “sexualize” her.

Atheist women are soulless monsters incapable of normal affection. Hate is the only emotion atheist women ever feel, and they especially hate atheist men who are “creepy” — a feminist synonym for heterosexual.


Richard Carrier has a Ph.D. from Columbia University and is the author of several anti-Christian books. He spoke at the very first “Skepticon” event in 2008 at Missouri State University, and returned to speak at the conference every year thereafter through 2013. Carrier was also a frequent speaker on college campuses, where his appearances were sponsored by the Secular Student Alliance. Even as he rose to prominence in the pantheon of New Atheist celebrities, however, Carrier’s fame as an anti-Christian was becoming problematic. In 2012, Carrier declared himself a feminist. Around the same time, when he was in his mid-40s, he began having extramarital affairs. In 2015, Carrier announced he was divorcing his wife of 20 years, explaining he “had a few brief affairs, because I found myself unequipped to handle certain unusual circumstances in our marriage.” At the same time he announced:

I am polyamorous.
I have, and will continue to have, multiple girlfriends who are likewise poly or aware of my being so, and that will be the way of my life from now on.

Being “polyamorous” is what used to be called “swinging,” which has always been a notoriously creepy scene full of dangerous perverts — voyeurs, exhibitionists, bondage/sadomasochism freaks, etc. Carrier’s divorce and “coming out” as polyamorous came a few years after the Rebecca Watson incident, which caused Vox Day to mock atheist men:

No wonder they’re so furious at God. He created all those lovely women with those beautiful breasts and they aren’t even allowed to even talk to them.

Whatever else feminism may include, it always includes implacable hostility toward male heterosexual behavior, which feminists condemn as “sexism,” “harassment,” etc. Not all feminists are lesbians, but all feminists condemn men’s sexual attraction to women. Any male who expresses admiration of female beauty is engaged in “objectification,” and any man who flirts with a woman is guilty of “harassment” if she decides his interest is “unwanted” or “unwelcome.” (See “The Queering of Feminism and the Silencing of Heterosexual Masculinity.”)

Men cannot even be allowed to talk to women, according to the ideology Professor Daphne Patai exposed in her 1998 book, Heterophobia: Sexual Harassment and the Future of Feminism. This radical anti-male/anti-heterosexual ideology has become increasingly evident in feminist rhetoric. “Feminism is about redefining our social value system,” Anita Sarkeesian explained in May 2015, and elsewhere proclaimed: “Feminism is about the collective liberation of women as a social class. Feminism is not about personal choice.” The feminist agenda of “the collective liberation of women” requires that male/female differences be eradicated. “The gender binary is an entirely artificial and socially constructed division of male and female,” Sarkeesian declared in a 2013 video, denouncing the “false dichotomy” of viewing men and women as “two distinctly separate” kinds of human beings. This attack on the “gender binary” and the agenda of “redefining our social value system” are aimed toward a goal Richard Carrier probably did not understand when he called himself a “feminist.”

“Women under patriarchy are raped or romanticized — often both simultaneously. Partly for this reason, radical feminists argue that, under patriarchy, heterosexuality itself is oppressive to women. . . .
“Apart from the pressure it puts on women to suppress the lesbian side of their sexuality, patriarchal norms of heterosexuality define masculine and feminine sexuality in such a way that the woman is an object for the man.”
Alison Jaggar, Feminist Politics and Human Nature(1988)

“It is women’s subordination within institutional heterosexuality which is the starting point for feminist analysis. It is resistance to this subordination which is the foundation of feminist politics.”
Stevi Jackson, Heterosexuality in Question (1999)

“Heterosexism is maintained by the illusion that heterosexuality is the norm.”
Susan M. Shaw and Janet Lee, Women’s Voices, Feminist Visions (fifth edition, 2012)

“Gender is a hierarchical system which maintains the subordination of females as a class to males through force. Gender is a material system of power which uses violence and psychological coercion to exploit female labor, sex, reproduction, emotional support, etc., for the benefit of males.”
Rachel Ivey, 2013

“All women are prisoners and hostages to men’s world. . . . Each man is a threat. We can’t escape men. . . .
“Being around any man constitutes a threat to us, because they are our oppressors. Being wanted by a man and him treating you as if you were his is inherently violent.”
Radical Wind, 2013

“Heterosexuality and masculinity . . . are made manifest through patriarchy, which normalizes men as dominant over women. . . .
“This tenet of patriarchy is thus deeply connected to acts of sexual violence, which have been theorized as a physical reaffirmation of patriarchal power by men over women.”
Sara Carrigan Wooten, The Crisis of Campus Sexual Violence: Critical Perspectives on Prevention and Response (2015)

Once you understand feminist gender theory, you see that feminism is simply incompatible with heterosexuality. Feminists condemn men as “oppressors” who impose heterosexuality as an “institution” that enforces “women’s subordination” through “patriarchal power.”

Richard Carrier evidently never bothered to study feminism before swearing his allegiance to the movement. In August 2013, when one atheist blogger complained that feminists were “attempting to redefine flirting as sexual harassment and sexual intercourse as rape,” Richard Carrier responded by asserting how pro-sex the atheist movement is:

Indeed, many of my friends in the atheist community are polyamorous, or actively participate in the BDSM or swinging communities, some even have orgies and sex parties . . . at atheist conferences! . . .
Polyamory and swinging and even the attending of orgies requiresmore ethical behavior and more careful attention to boundaries and consent than traditional sexual relationships do.

That paean to the “ethical behavior” of orgy-goers was about two years before Carrier’s divorce and “coming out” as a polyamorist. (A memorable reaction to that disclosure: “Dr. Richard Carrier, PhD — A creepy, dishonest hypocrite.”) Carrier’s behavior at atheist conferences, however, had caused others to label him “creepy,” as he admitted in a June 2015 blog post where he confessed to what he called “failures”involving “bad flirtation” and situations where he “behaved awfully.”

Now, if you were in benefit-of-the-doubt mode, favorably disposed toward Richard Carrier, you might read his mea culpa as motivated by sincere remorse over a few incidents of behavior that was mildly offensive or inappropriate — “relatively small and correctable,” as he said. However, despite his claims about the wild swinging “pro-sex” attitudes of the atheist movement, Richard Carrier had become a target of feminists who were not favorably disposed toward him and who did not consider his misbehavior “correctable.” Carrier allegedly crossed the line after a speaking appearance at Arizona State University on April 3, 2015, when a student named Amy Frank said Carrier “sexually harassed me and touched me.” This was reported to the Secular Student Alliance, and Carter responded to the SSA by email:

“I did express interest in a student at an after event. And I recognized she did not appreciate that, and I apologized to her at the time. If she does want any further apology, I will definitely provide her one, so do relay that if that’s the case. But I don’t want to bother her by contacting her any further without her consent. I definitely felt bad about it. I thought the interest was mutual and I was very wrong. I won’t be doing that in future.”

SSA has a “zero-tolerance” policy, and responded by removing Carrier from their Speakers Bureau, although he continued to appear at SSA-affiliated events at Ohio State University (Nov. 16, 2015), University of California-Riverside (April 23, 2016) and Florida Tech (May 13, 2016).

Let us be clear that there is a difference between “expressing interest” in someone and “sexual harassment,” however, when a 45-year-old man is invited to speak on a university campus, for him to “express interest” in a student is inherently inappropriate. Here’s how Carrier describes it:

I did not touch her. Nor did the SSA tell me she had claimed so. And indeed, our interaction was more ambiguous than she makes out. Apart from publicly flattering her abilities as I would anyone as competent, we had one private conversation in which she expressed interest in opening her relationship with her then-boyfriend (or husband?), but noted he wasn’t sure about it yet. In response to that I mentioned that if she ever does, I’d be interested in dating her, and she should feel free to contact me if that happens. She smiled and said she would. That was the extent of our interaction that could be described as sexual harassment, and that only at quite a stretch. Amy also mentioned in that conversation that her then-boyfriend reads her private emails and messages. Implying I shouldn’t attempt to contact her. Even though I hadn’t said I would.

Question: Why would a college girl tell a 45-year-old man she was considering “opening her relationship” (i.e., polyamory)? Was this because Richard Carrier had a well-established habit of bringing up the topic of polyamory in cocktail-party conversation, as a sort of prompt to see if any women he’s talking to might be up for some action?

What does a middle-aged divorced atheist polyamorist consider “appropriate” behavior toward girls half his age? A commenter at Carrier’s blog, “Jimmy From Chicago,” raised this issue:

“Even if we’re to believe you and not believe her, you’re still the creepy middle-aged man who goes to the off-campus bar, hits on the students, and makes everyone uncomfortable. To do this at an event where you’re the invited speaker is unprofessional.”

To this, Carrier responded:

If you think ageism and infantilizing adult college students is better, I think we just have different values.
Meanwhile, I have many successful relationships with college students.

And furthermore Carrier added:

Except for some rare mistakes I have already publicly discussed, I only express interest in women when they have, or when they’ve made an indication it’s safe to. . . .
Their age and your age is completely irrelevant. That you think it is relevant is ageist; that you think young woman can’t make decisions for themselves and don’t want to be given the chance to, is infantilizing them.

So, girls half his age are fair game to the middle-aged atheist who has had “many successful relationships with college students.” It is “agesist” and “infantilizing” these girls to suggest that the age difference matters.

Far be it from me to play the judgmental pharisee here, and we know there are college girls who have no problem with a “sugar daddy” arrangement, but do we respect people who engage in such behavior? If slutty college girls actually are chasing middle-aged men, do we respect the girls? And if middle-aged men are chasing slutty college girls, do we respect the men? Even if such behavior is mutually consensual, it’s still not praiseworthy. The problem in the 21st century is that feminism has created a New Double Standard, where women’s can never be criticized for their sexual misbehavior (because that would be “slut-shaming”), yet men’s sexual misbehavior can destroy their careers.

So, Amy Frank made her complaint to the Secular Student Alliance, and this damaged Richard Carrier’s reputation, but her accusation was not made public until this month, when Amy Frank discovered that Richard Carrier was involved in Camp Quest, a summer event for atheist kids. This prompted Amy Frank to go public — big time:

Richard Carrier, the man who sexually harassed me and touched me a year ago after speaking at ASU is now an official employee of this organization. Camp Quest and the Secular Student Alliance are partners, and fully aware of what transpired last year. I’m not even close to being his only victim, and there are even more victims of other speakers of the SSA.
Want to know why he continues to be involved after being banned from being an SSA speaker? He is dating the wife of the Executive Director of the Secular Student Alliance. This woman is the head of Camp Quest.
Corrupt people continue to destroy what could be wonderful organizations. I am officially BOYCOTTING the national Secular Student Alliance until their leadership is completely dismantled. Students deserve to have an organization capable of handling sexual harassment and assault, with no conflicts of interest. Not only is abuse fairly common at SSA events, but the organization itself goes out of their way to undermine the reports of its very own members’trauma.
I’ve held my tongue far too long. No more sweeping this shit under the rug. Time to own the fuck up and face the music. The victims have had enough.

Some would find the words “victim” and “trauma” here a bit much. However creepy and inappropriate Richard Carrier’s behavior may have been, what “trauma” is involved in brushing off a guy’s pickup line?

Ah, but remember feminist theory? All women are victims of “a hierarchical system which maintains the subordination of females as a class” through “violence and psychological coercion.” Feminism is about “resistance” to “women’s subordination within institutional heterosexuality.” Therefore, if a middle-age atheist guy tries to pick up a college atheist girl, she is a “victim” who suffers “trauma.”


The many traumatized victims of Richard Carrier’s oppression have united, and he has now been banned from attending any future Skepticon, and his posting privleges at Free Thought Blogs have been suspended. He is now persona non grata in the atheist movement. This renders highly ironic the subject of a campus speech Richard Carrier gave in April:

Is Feminism Evil? What Feminism Really Is
& Why Movement Atheism Needs More of It

The internet has spread a mythology of sexism and misogyny that is now predominantly embraced by atheists, impeding understanding, and progress towards women’s equality. Like racism in the South, anti-feminism is now spread not always explicitly, but often through code words, fake concerns, and subtle bigotry. And its effects are being felt within movement atheism.
Feminism is about understanding and fighting this, and finishing what the Enlightenment started. Resistance to this is not rational, as we can see by the illogical and ill informed ways atheists attempt to claim they do not harbor outmoded sexist ideas, and thus end up perpetuating the very sexism they claim doesn’t exist. Personal stories, documented facts, and published science verify all of the ways women are still being treated unequally, and what to do about it.

Yes, feminism is evil, Dr. Carrier. You learned this too late.


Florida Karate Teacher Allegedly Sent Nude Pics to 11-Yr-Old Student


Police in Orlando, Florida, are charging an adult, female karate teacher with lascivious conduct for allegedly sending nude pictures of herself to her 11-year-old student.

Orlando officials arrested Stephannie Figueroa, 20, on a litany of charges including solicitation of a minor via computer, contributing to the delinquency of a minor, and even child abuse after the boy’s mother contacted police about the lewd texts.


Figueroa was the boy’s instructor at the NextGen Martial Arts studio in Orlando.

Investigators turned up a series of nude texts as well as at least one video sent via the messaging ap, Kik.

“I want to have sex with you,” investigators said one message read. In the message Figueroa also invited the pre-teen boy to her own 21st birthday party, saying the two could be alone then.

Police say texting records show the boy replied, “I don’t care.”

The boy told officials the karate teacher sent up to 15 separate nude or partially nude photos of herself.

A spokesman for the martial arts school said its surveillance video did not reveal any obvious, inappropriate actions between the teacher and the boy.

Canadian Imam: Orlando massacre has nothing to do with Islam, gays should be executed by court

Syed Muhammad Rizvi, the Imam of the Islamic Shia Ithna Asheri Jamaat of Toronto and a prominent Shiite scholar and cleric in Canada, believes that Orlando massacre, in which 49 were murdered by American Muslim at the Pulse gay nightclub (June 12, 2016), was premeditated to damage the image of Islam.

Rizvi called the attack “a pure murder” emphasizing that it has nothing to do with Islam, as according to the Islamic Law the capital punishment on homosexuals has to be carried out by court.

The following is a transcript of Rizvi’s Friday sermon (the video was uploaded on YouTube on June 21, 2016):

Unfortunately that breath of fresh air [Mohammad Ali’s funeral] was followed by a killing that took place in Orlando after that.

You know Muslims of organizations all across North America have condemned the violence, and let me, you know, be very clear about it that while we firmly believe in our moral values,there is no basis in Islam for anyone to commit such an act.

Number one the USA is not governed by Islamic laws.

Number two even in a Muslim country governed by the Islamic laws no individual has the right to take such an action. There is a process, there is a judiciary, there is a court, there is aMufti, there is Qadi [judge] and a judge. They have to deal with such issues and so this was basically very clear a pure murder and nothing else.

Thirdly, you know Omar Mateen who killed forty eight people might have represented this so-called ISIS. But he has nothing to do with the vast majority of the Muslims around the world. If you ask me, and this is just my you know feeling about it, that I believe this was done purposely, you know, to dampen the positive vibes about Muslims generated by the funeral of Mohammad Ali, and basically what this fellow Omar Mateen did was a gift. The right wing racists, people like Donald Trump, to put the Muslims down in US.

So it has nothing to do with Islam. Nothing to do with Muslims, nothing to do with the Koran, nothing to do with Sharia. You know if you are so much concerned about these issues, go to the Gulf countries, you will find more targets all those guys there.”

In his book Marriage and Moral in Islam, Rizvi wrote the following on homosexuality:

In the Islamic legal system, homosexuality is a punishable crime against the laws of God. In the case of homosexuality between two males, the active partner is to be lashed a hundred times if he is unmarried and killed if he is married; whereas the passive partner is to be killed regardless of his marital status.

In the case of two females (i.e., lesbianism), the sinners are to be lashed a hundred times if they are unmarried and stoned to death if they are married.

Why is Islam so severe in matters of fornication, homosexuality and lesbianism? If the Islamic system had not allowed the gratification of the sexual urge by lawful means (without even associating guilt with it), then it would be right to say that Islam is very severe. But since it has allowed the fulfillment of sexual instincts by lawful means, it is not prepared to tolerate any perverted behavior.

The homosexuals are considered as the high risk group for Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS). This shows that nature has not accepted it as a normal sexual behavior among mankind. The homosexuals are told that in order to have safe sex, they must use condoms.

If homosexuality without condoms is not safe sex, then how can it be natural? Isn’t the statement that “it is natural but not safe” a contradiction in itself?

The moral bankruptcy of the West is clearly evident…”

Canadian Imams and Islamic literature sold/ distributed for free in Canada provide a context to understanding the position of Islam regarding homosexuality (to read “What Islam is saying on homosexuality? The Canadian Islamic perspective” click here, here, here, here, here and here).