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A new study tries to unpick what makes people happy and sad

A new study tries to unpick what makes people happy and sad | Criminology and Economic Theory | Scoop.it

Mar 20th 2017by THE DATA TEAM
KEEPING voters happy is the lifeblood of any ambitious politician’s career. So they may want to pay attention to a report, released to mark “World Happiness Day” on March 20th, from the Sustainable Development Solutions Network, a UN body, and the Ernesto Illy Foundation, a non-profit. In addition to the usual rankings of countries from the happiest (Norway, for the usual reasons) to the least (Central African Republic, close to a failed state), the study also tries to unpick what makes people gleeful and—more unusually—what makes them miserable.

Reducing suffering, the authors argue, may be more important than boosting pleasure, because improving the life of an already-happy person probably yields a smaller gain in total welfare than freeing someone from misery does. They analysed large-scale surveys from four countries—Britain, Australia, America, Indonesia—to identify which factors are most closely associated with the population of the least happy decile of the sample.

The authors found that in the three rich countries mental illness was the strongest predictor of misery. With all other variables held constant, people who had visited a doctor recently with emotional-health problems were 10.7 percentage points more likely to be extremely unhappy than those who were not—roughly twice the impact of being poor. On one hand, this correlation should come as little surprise: people seeking treatment for depression are by definition unhappy. However, the study also included people suffering from stress or anxiety in this group. In Indonesia, mental health is also an important factor, though less so than employment.

The authors concluded that, in rich countries at least, investing in care for mental illness provided the best return (as measured by happiness gains) on public expenditure. They calculated that relieving one person of misery in Britain by reducing poverty would cost £180,000 ($222,500), whereas achieving the same goal by treating anxiety or depression would require just £10,000. That will make bean-counters happy, but is unlikely to cheer politicians.

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There is nothing inevitable about America’s over-use of prisons - Against pessimism

There is nothing inevitable about America’s over-use of prisons - Against pessimism | Criminology and Economic Theory | Scoop.it

So many of America’s troubles are intractable. Hyper-partisanship and the culture wars can make reducing gun violence or obesity seem hopeless. But mass incarceration is different. There is ample evidence that America’s states can lock fewer people up and still preserve public safety. Just look at Minnesota, which bangs up people at half the rate of neighbouring Wisconsin, though the crime rate in both places is about the same (see article). In a few weeks’ time voters in Wisconsin and in other states will be asked to choose whether they wish to keep putting so many people inside or try something else. They should vote for change.

America is violent, so it naturally makes more use of prison than many other countries do. But that cannot explain how it manages to be the world leader in locking up its own citizens, both in absolute terms and as a share of the population. China is a one-party state with a billion more citizens than America, yet it incarcerates half a million fewer people (though this does not include perhaps 1m Uighurs interned in camps in Xinjiang). You might think America’s legal system and culture are to blame. But the incarceration rate—defined as the number of prisoners divided by the total population—is four-and-a-half times greater than in Britain, which has a similar system and culture.

The best explanation for most of this prison binge is four decades of panic, starting with the declaration of a war on drugs in the 1970s. Voters elected prosecutors who promised to lock more people up than their rivals. They chose legislators who promised the harshest possible mandatory-sentencing laws, which took discretion away from judges. In some states prison-officers’ unions lobbied for new, bigger jails to be built, so as to provide their members with jobs. The use of pre-trial detention shot up. In places where public defenders are scarce, that resulted in long waits behind bars before a case was even heard.

This is unworthy of the land of the free. It is also a waste of public money. Depending on what is included, estimates of American spending on imprisonment range from $80bn a year up to $180bn. There is abundant evidence that you can cut prison numbers and crime rates at the same time. Since the mid-1990s, New York City has seen its prison population fall by almost two-thirds even as violent crime has more than halved.

The states have the power to do something about this, because they do most of the locking up. The federal government imprisons people at a lower rate than the governments of France and Italy. It is the state and local authorities that lift America above El Salvador, a fragile state beset by drug wars, which takes second place in the incarceration league table, and above Turkmenistan, one of the world’s most repressive countries, in third. In fact, if American states were countries they would take up every single place in the table’s top 20.

Some states are grappling with their part in this. Reducing prison populations is not just a matter of passing a decree, then sitting back and waiting. States need to make a lot of small changes that, compounded over a decade or more, will eventually amount to something bigger. A list would include alternatives to prison for non-violent offenders, problem-solving courts that use incarceration as a last resort, reserving the longest sentences for those who pose a danger to the public, bail reform and treatment programmes for mentally ill defendants.

Thanks to such measures, America’s incarceration rate has fallen a little since 2010, after 40 years of increases. Crucially, the states responsible for this improvement do not fall predictably on either side of the usual Republican or Democratic division. Deeply Republican Texas has long been a pioneer in criminal-justice reform. Deeply Democratic California has reduced its incarceration rate by more than most other states. South Carolina, no American liberal’s idea of a model, has pursued a notably enlightened reform to the sentencing of non-violent offenders.

Saving money by saving time

That is not to say reform is always easy. It takes courage and skill to explain to voters that sending more people to prison is not always a sensible way to punish criminals and reduce crime. Even well-designed improvements can fail when they are implemented poorly. Louisiana, which has taken steps to reduce its prison population, is already seeing signs of a backlash.

Yet despite the difficulties, plenty of states have made a start. Mass imprisonment is a bad choice touted by politicians looking for easy votes. Their constituents assumed this would keep them safer. In fact, it only makes them poorer.

This article appeared in the Leaders section of the print edition under the headline "Against pessimism"

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Saudi King Salman Checks Crown Prince's Power As Jamal Khashoggi Crisis Grows

Saudi King Salman Checks Crown Prince's Power As Jamal Khashoggi Crisis Grows | Criminology and Economic Theory | Scoop.it
Five sources with links to the Saudi royal family said King Salman has felt compelled to intervene.
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Interesting to see the response.  We figured that they'd have a sacrificial lamb, but I didn't think they'd publicly castigate a crown prince....I was wrong.

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Raw Politics: French left leader Jean-Luc Mélenchon reacts angrily to police raids | Euronews

Raw Politics: French left leader Jean-Luc Mélenchon reacts angrily to police raids | Euronews | Criminology and Economic Theory | Scoop.it
France's far left leader Jean-Luc Melenchon has come under scrutiny after prosecutors opened an investigation into his alleged intimidation of investigators.

It comes after the former presidential candidate was caught on camera on Monday shouting at an anti-corruption officer, who was part of a team who raided his home and party headquarters.

The 67-year-old pointed his finger in the officer’s face and screamed: “Get out of my way and let me open the door. I am the republic, it’s me who’s the member of parliament.”

The raids took place at the offices of his party, La France Insoumise (France Unbowed), in central Paris, which is also his private residence.

After the incident, Melenchon called the raids an “enormous operation by politicised police”.

A source close to the raids told Reuters they were being carried out by a specialist anti-corruption unit that focuses on financial and tax irregularities.

Three investigations into Melenchon are now underway. One is looking into the alleged misuse of European Parliament funds to pay party employees in France, the second is examining the funding of Melenchon’s presidential campaign last year, and the latest is investigating his alleged intimidation of investigators.
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What security is necessary at an EU summit? | Euronews

What security is necessary at an EU summit? | Euronews | Criminology and Economic Theory | Scoop.it
When all 28 heads of states and governments converge in the European Council building, it becomes the epicentre of decision-making in the EU.

From the moment they set foot in Belgium, the country becomes responsible for their safety. It’s a logistical and security feat. But for people like Yves Mertens, who coordinates the close protection of EU leaders, it’s a year-round job.

"The biggest fear is actually to have a real attack. That’s normal in our job. We try to avoid this. Up to now, it never happened, but of course if it really happens we have to react, to respond, and, of course, this will be a very big challenge for us," says Yves Mertens, Chief inspector at the Belgian Federal Police.

More than 150 specially trained police officers are assigned to closely protect the EU leaders. Hundreds more are deployed to escort them, restrict access and secure perimeters.
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Why Marijuana Stocks Cronos Group, Canopy Growth, and Tilray Jumped Today

Why Marijuana Stocks Cronos Group, Canopy Growth, and Tilray Jumped Today | Criminology and Economic Theory | Scoop.it
Find out why cannabis investors were excited today.
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Saudis preparing to admit that journalist Khashoggi was killed, sources say

Saudis preparing to admit that journalist Khashoggi was killed, sources say | Criminology and Economic Theory | Scoop.it
Saudi Arabia is preparing a report that will acknowledge that Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi's death was the result of an interrogation that went wrong, one that was intended to lead to his abduction from Turkey, according to two sources.

One source says the report will likely conclude that the operation was carried out without clearance and transparency and that those involved will be held responsible.
One of the sources acknowledged that the report is still being prepared and cautioned that things could change.
The Washington Post columnist was last seen in public when he entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in Turkey on October 2. Previously, Saudi authorities had maintained Khashoggi left the consulate the same afternoon of his visit, but provided no evidence to support the claim.
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Boy, 13, beaten to death in Paris gang clash | Euronews

Boy, 13, beaten to death in Paris gang clash | Euronews | Criminology and Economic Theory | Scoop.it
The boy was reportedly struck by iron bars during a mass fight between rival gangs on the outskirts of the French capital.
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California and Four Other States Point the Way for States to Downgrade Drug Offenses and Reduce Prison Populations |

California and Four Other States Point the Way for States to Downgrade Drug Offenses and Reduce Prison Populations | | Criminology and Economic Theory | Scoop.it
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Sandy Martinson's comment, October 17, 12:46 AM
California, Utah, Connecticut, Oklahoma and Alaska enacted state laws that had three commonalities. The biggest being reduction of drug offenses and prison populations. This movement also coincides with Comparative Criminal Justice Systems, by Harry Dammer and Jay Albanese, which note in recent years many countries began reducing sentencing severity for offenses. Dammer and Albanese cite the use of capital punishment experienced the largest worldwide reduction. These five states appear to be in alignment with this global trend.
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THAILAND: Prime Suspect in $24 Million Bitcoin Scam Arrested

THAILAND: Prime Suspect in $24 Million Bitcoin Scam Arrested | Criminology and Economic Theory | Scoop.it
The main suspect in a Bitcoin fraud case in Thailand was detained at a Bangkok airport after being on the lam for 2 months.

Via Andre JACQUEMET - @globalBPA
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Pope defrocks two Chilean bishops over sexual abuse allegations

Pope defrocks two Chilean bishops over sexual abuse allegations | Criminology and Economic Theory | Scoop.it

Pope Francis has defrocked two Chilean bishops who have been caught up in the country's widening sexual abuse crisis, the Vatican said on Saturday.

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Can You Be Found Through DNA, Like the Alleged Golden State Killer?

Can You Be Found Through DNA, Like the Alleged Golden State Killer? | Criminology and Economic Theory | Scoop.it
Even people who have never taken a genetic test can be tracked down like the Golden State Killer suspect.
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Christa Lynch's comment, October 14, 6:21 PM
I just watched a case from the 90’s of the rape and murder of this young lady on 20/20 and it was about this same thing as this article. This young lady’s murder went unsolved until genealogical DNA was used. It is amazing and alarming all at the same time. I feel like certain things are private which is why we have warrants. I am interested to see how this changes things, including the law.
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A note in a Walmart purse from a prisoner in China goes viral

A note in a Walmart purse from a prisoner in China goes viral | Criminology and Economic Theory | Scoop.it
When Christel Wallace found a piece of paper folded up at the bottom of her purse in March 2017, she threw it in the trash. She hadn’t yet used the maroon bag, made by Walmart and purchased from one of its Arizona stores months ago.

But after a few minutes, she got curious. She took the paper out of the wastebasket, unfolding the sheet to reveal a message scrawled in Mandarin Chinese.

Translated, it read: Inmates in China’s Yingshan Prison work 14 hours a day and are not allowed to rest at noon. We have to work overtime until midnight. People are beaten for not finishing their work. There’s no salt and oil in our meals. The boss pays 2,000 yuan every month for the prison to offer better food, but the food is all consumed by the prison guards. Sick inmates have to pay for their own pills. Prisons in China cannot be compared to prisons in the United States. Horse, cow, goat, pig, dog.

Christel’s daughter-in-law Laura Wallace posted a photo of the note to Facebook on April 23. The post first went viral locally, getting shared and liked several hundred times, mostly by fellow Arizonans. After a few days, local media outlets picked up the story; a week or so after that, dozens of mainstream publications like USA Today and HuffPost followed suit. One video report on the incident accumulated 2.9 million views.
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British woman arrested in Dubai after reporting rape | World news | The Guardian

British woman arrested in Dubai after reporting rape | World news | The Guardian | Criminology and Economic Theory | Scoop.it
A British woman who made a rape complaint in Dubai has been arrested for having illegal sex with her fiance, according to reports. The woman, a 23-year-old from London, said she was raped by a waiter in a luxury hotel after celebrating her engagement to her 44-year-old boyfriend, also from London.

But when she reported the alleged rape to police in the Middle Eastern state she and her boyfriend were arrested for having sex outside marriage and illegal drinking outside licensed premises.

The Foreign Office confirmed that two British people had been arrested and bailed, but would give no further details. A spokeswoman said: "We can confirm that two British nationals were arrested in Dubai on 1 January. Our embassy in Dubai is providing consular assistance."
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Canadian girl sells out of cookies in minutes to crowd outside marijuana store

Canadian girl sells out of cookies in minutes to crowd outside marijuana store | Criminology and Economic Theory | Scoop.it
EDMONTON, Alberta – On Wednesday, it took a 9-year-old Canadian girl less than 45 minutes to sell every box of Girl Guide cookies she had to customers lining up outside a marijuana dispensary in Edmonton, according to Global News.

With a smile and a winning product, Elina Childs worked her way up and down the crowd lining up along red carpet outside Nova Cannabis.
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Genius!

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Watch: Escaped Emu dies from stress after being chased by police in Spain | Euronews

Watch: Escaped Emu dies from stress after being chased by police in Spain | Euronews | Criminology and Economic Theory | Scoop.it
An escaped emu collapsed and died after being chased through a city in Spain by police on motorbikes.
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Poland defies EU swearing in new supreme court judges | Euronews

Poland defies EU swearing in new supreme court judges | Euronews | Criminology and Economic Theory | Scoop.it
In brief: Poland’s president has named 27 new judges to the Supreme Court as part of a judiciary reform that has triggered an EU lawsuit.

It is the latest move in the long-feud with the European Commission which has referred Warsaw to the EU's top court due to concerns over its judiciary policy.
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China has turned Xinjiang into a police state like no other - Apartheid with Chinese characteristics

China has turned Xinjiang into a police state like no other - Apartheid with Chinese characteristics | Criminology and Economic Theory | Scoop.it

THE prophet Sulayman approached his son and said to him, ‘I have received a message from God. I want you to circle the Earth and see if there are more people who are alive in spirit or more people who are dead in spirit.’ After a period the son returned and said, ‘Father I went to many places and everywhere I went I saw more people who were dead than those who were alive.’”

Hasan shared that message on a WeChat social-messaging group in 2015, when he was 23. Born in Yarkand, a town in southern Xinjiang, Hasan had moved to the provincial capital, Urumqi, to sell jade and shoes and to learn more about Islam. He described himself to Darren Byler, an anthropologist from the University of Washington, as a Sufi wanderer, a pious man with a wife and small daughter, who prayed five times a day and disapproved of dancing and immodesty.

But in January 2015 the provincial government was demanding that everyone in Urumqi return to their native home to get a new identity card. “I am being forced to go back,” Hasan complained to Mr Byler. “The Yarkand police are calling me every day. They are making my parents call me and tell me the same thing.” Eventually, he and his family boarded a bus for the 20-hour journey home. It was hit by a truck. Hasan’s wife and daughter were killed. He was hospitalised. “It was the will of Allah,” he said.

Hasan hoped the authorities would allow him to return to Urumqi because of his injuries. No chance. Having lost wife, child and livelihood, Hasan lost his liberty, too. A fortnight after his accident, he was sent to a re-education camp for an indefinite period. There, for all his relatives know, he remains.

Hasan is one of hundreds of thousands of Uighurs, a Turkic-language people, who have disappeared in Xinjiang, China’s north-western province. It is an empty, far-flung place; Hasan’s home town of Yarkand is as close to Baghdad as it is to Beijing. It is also a crucial one. The region is China’s biggest domestic producer of oil and gas, and much of the fuel imported from Central Asia and Russia passes through on its way to the industries of the east coast. It is now a vital link in the Belt and Road Initiative, a foreign policy which aims to bind the Middle East and Europe to China with ties of infrastructure, investment and trade.

But on top of that it is the home of the Uighurs, the largest Muslim group in the country, and ethnically quite distinct from the Han Chinese. A recent history of Uighur unrest—in particular bloody inter-ethnic violence in Urumqi in 2009 that followed the murder of Uighurs elsewhere in China—and subsequent terrorism have sent the government’s repressive tendencies into overdrive. Under a new party boss, Chen Quanguo, appointed in 2016, the provincial government has vastly increased the money and effort it puts into controlling the activities and patrolling the beliefs of the Uighur population. Its regime is racist, uncaring and totalitarian, in the sense of aiming to affect every aspect of people’s lives. It has created a fully-fledged police state. And it is committing some of the most extensive, and neglected, human-rights violations in the world.

The not-quite-Gulag archipelago

The government is building hundreds or thousands of unacknowledged re-education camps to which Uighurs can be sent for any reason or for none. In some of them day-to-day conditions do not appear to be physically abusive as much as creepy. One released prisoner has said he was not permitted to eat until he had thanked Xi Jinping, the Chinese president, and the Communist Party. But there have been reports of torture at others. In January, 82-year-old Muhammad Salih Hajim, a respected religious scholar, died in detention in Urumqi.

Kashgar, the largest Uighur city, has four camps, of which the largest is in Number 5 Middle School. A local security chief said in 2017 that “approximately 120,000” people were being held in the city. In Korla, in the middle of the province, a security official recently said the camps are so full that officials in them are begging the police to stop bringing people.

As a result, more and more camps are being built: the re-education archipelago is adding islands even faster than the South China Sea. Adrian Zenz of the European School of Culture and Theology in Kortal, Germany, has looked at procurement contracts for 73 re-education camps. He found their total cost to have been 682m yuan ($108m), almost all spent since April 2017. Records from Akto, a county near the border with Kyrgyzstan, say it spent 9.6% of its budget on security (including camps) in 2017. In 2016 spending on security in the province was five times what it had been in 2007. By the end of 2017 it was ten times that: 59bn yuan.


For all this activity, the government has not officially confirmed that the camps exist. They are not governed by any judicial process; detentions are on the orders of the police or party officials, not the verdict of a court. A woman working as an undertaker was imprisoned for washing bodies according to Islamic custom. Thirty residents of Ili, a town near the Kazakh border, were detained “because they were suspected of wanting to travel abroad,” according to the local security chief. Other offences have included holding strong religious views, allowing others to preach religion, asking where one’s relatives are and failing to recite the national anthem in Chinese.

A significant chunk of the total Uighur population is interned in this way. If the rate of detention in Kashgar applied to the province as a whole, 5% of the Uighur population of 10m would be detained. Other evidence suggests that this is quite possible. In February Radio Free Asia (RFA), a broadcaster financed by an independent agency of the American government, cold-called 11 families at random in Araltobe, in the north of the province, far from the Uighurs’ heartland. Six said family members had been sent to camps. In a village later visited by Agence France Presse in Qaraqash county, near Hotan, a fifth of adults had been detained over four months.

Maya Wang of Human Rights Watch, an advocacy group, reckons the overall number detained may be 800,000. Timothy Grose, a professor at Rose-Hulman University in Indiana, puts the total between 500,000 and 1m, which would imply that something like a sixth to a third of young and middle-aged Uighur men are being detained, or have been at some point in the past year.

The Chinese government argues that harsh measures are needed to prevent violence associated with Uighur separatism. In 2013 a Uighur suicide-driver crashed his car into pedestrians in Tiananmen Square in Beijing. In 2014 a knife-wielding Uighur gang slaughtered 31 travellers at a train station in Kunming, Yunnan province, an incident some in China compared to the September 11th 2001 attacks on America. Unrest in Yarkand later that year led to a hundred deaths; an attack at a coal mine in Aksu killed 50 people. Kyrgyzstani authorities blamed Uighur terrorists for an attempt to blow up the Chinese embassy in Bishkek; Uighurs have been blamed for a bombing which killed 20 at a shrine in Bangkok popular with Chinese tourists.

There are worrying links, as the Chinese authorities are keen to point out, between Uighur separatism and global jihad, especially in the Uighur diaspora, which is based in Turkey. Chinese and Syrian officials say 1,500 Uighurs have fought with Islamic State (IS) or Jabhat al-Nusra (part of al-Qaeda) in Syria. A group called the Turkestan Islamic Party, which demands independence for Xinjiang, is banned under anti-terrorist laws in America and Europe. In 2016 a defector from IS provided a list of foreign recruits; 114 came from Xinjiang.

In the grid

But the system of repression in the province goes far beyond anything that would be justified by such proclivities and affiliations. In Hotan there is a new police station every 300 metres or so. They are called “convenience police stations”, as if they were shops—and in fact they do offer some consumer services, such as bottled water and phone recharging. The windowless stations, gunmetal grey, with forbidding grilles on their doors, are part of a “grid-management system” like that which Mr Chen pioneered when he was party boss in Tibet from 2011 to 2016. The authorities divide each city into squares, with about 500 people. Every square has a police station that keeps tabs on the inhabitants. So, in rural areas, does every village.

At a large checkpoint on the edge of Hotan a policeman orders everyone off a bus. The passengers (all Uighur) take turns in a booth. Their identity cards are scanned, photographs and fingerprints of them are taken, newly installed iris-recognition technology peers into their eyes. Women must take off their headscarves. Three young Uighurs are told to turn on their smartphones and punch in the passwords. They give the phones to a policeman who puts the devices into a cradle that downloads their contents for later analysis. One woman shouts at a policeman that he is Uighur, why is he looking at her phone?

There can be four or five checkpoints every kilometre. Uighurs go through them many times a day. Shops and restaurants in Hotan have panic buttons with which to summon the police. The response time is one minute. Apparently because of the Kunming knife attack, knives and scissors are as hard to buy as a gun in Japan. In butchers and restaurants all over Xinjiang you will see kitchen knives chained to the wall, lest they be snatched up and used as weapons. In Aksu QR codes containing the owner’s identity-card information have to be engraved on every blade.

Remarkably, all shops and restaurants in Hotan must have a part-time policeman on duty. Thousands of shop assistants and waiters have been enrolled in the police to this end. Each is issued with a helmet, flak jacket and three-foot baton. They train in the afternoon. In the textile market these police officers sit in every booth and stall, selling things; their helmets and flak jackets, which are uncomfortable, are often doffed. A squad of full-time police walks through the market making sure security cameras are working and ordering shop assistants to put their helmets back on. Asked why they wear them, the assistants reply tersely “security”.

At the city’s railway station, travellers go through three rounds of bag checks before buying a ticket. On board, police walk up and down ordering Uighurs to open their luggage again. As the train pulls into Kashgar, it passes metal goods wagons. A toddler points at them shouting excitedly “Armoured car! Armoured car!” Paramilitary vehicles are more familiar to him than rolling stock.

Uniformed shop assistants, knife controls and “convenience police stations” are only the most visible elements of the police state. The province has an equally extensive if less visible regime that uses yet more manpower and a great deal of technology to create total surveillance.

Improving lives, winning hearts

Under a system called fanghuiju, teams of half a dozen—composed of policemen or local officials and always including one Uighur speaker, which almost always means a Uighur—go from house to house compiling dossiers of personal information. Fanghuiju is short for “researching people’s conditions, improving people’s lives, winning people’s hearts”. But the party refers to the work as “eradicating tumours”. The teams—over 10,000 in rural areas in 2017—report on “extremist” behaviour such as not drinking alcohol, fasting during Ramadan and sporting long beards. They report back on the presence of “undesirable” items, such as Korans, or attitudes—such as an “ideological situation” that is not in wholehearted support of the party.


The watchful and the watched
Since the spring of 2017, the information has been used to rank citizens’ “trustworthiness” using various criteria. People are deemed trustworthy, average or untrustworthy depending on how they fit into the following categories: 15 to 55 years old (ie, of military age); Uighur (the catalogue is explicitly racist: people are suspected merely on account of their ethnicity); unemployed; have religious knowledge; pray five times a day (freedom of worship is guaranteed by China’s constitution); have a passport; have visited one of 26 countries; have ever overstayed a visa; have family members in a foreign country (there are at least 10,000 Uighurs in Turkey); and home school their children. Being labelled “untrustworthy” can lead to a camp.

To complete the panorama of human surveillance, the government has a programme called “becoming kin” in which local families (mostly Uighur) “adopt” officials (mostly Han). The official visits his or her adoptive family regularly, lives with it for short periods, gives the children presents and teaches the household Mandarin. He also verifies information collected by fanghuiju teams. The programme appears to be immense. According to an official report in 2018, 1.1m officials have been paired with 1.6m families. That means roughly half of Uighur households have had a Han-Chinese spy/indoctrinator assigned to them.

Such efforts map the province’s ideological territory family by family; technology maps the population’s activities street by street and phone by phone. In Hotan and Kashgar there are poles bearing perhaps eight or ten video cameras at intervals of 100-200 metres along every street; a far finer-grained surveillance net than in most Chinese cities. As well as watching pedestrians the cameras can read car number plates and correlate them with the face of the person driving. Only registered owners may drive cars; anyone else will be arrested, according to a public security official who accompanied this correspondent in Hotan. The cameras are equipped to work at night as well as by day.

Because the government sees what it calls “web cleansing” as necessary to prevent access to terrorist information, everyone in Xinjiang is supposed to have a spyware app on their mobile phone. Failing to install the app, which can identify people called, track online activity and record social-media use, is an offence. “Wi-Fi sniffers” in public places keep an eye, or nose, on all networked devices in range.

Next, the records associated with identity cards can contain biometric data including fingerprints, blood type and DNA information as well as the subject’s detention record and “reliability status”. The government collects a lot of this biometric material by stealth, under the guise of a public-health programme called “Physicals for All”, which requires people to give blood samples. Local officials “demanded [we] participate in the physicals,” one resident of Kashgar told Human Rights Watch, an NGO. “Not participating would have been seen as a problem…”

A system called the Integrated Joint Operations Platform (IJOP), first revealed by Human Rights Watch, uses machine-learning systems, information from cameras, smartphones, financial and family-planning records and even unusual electricity use to generate lists of suspects for detention. One official WeChat report said that verifying IJOP’s lists was one of the main responsibilities of the local security committee. Even without high-tech surveillance, Xinjiang’s police state is formidable. With it, it becomes terrifying.


In theory, the security system in Xinjiang applies to everyone equally. In practice it is as race-based as apartheid in South Africa was. The security apparatus is deployed in greatest force in the south-west, where around 80% of Uighurs live (see map). In a city like Shihezi, which is 95% Han, there are far fewer street checkpoints, if any, and a normal level of policing. Where there are checkpoints, Han Chinese are routinely waved through. Uighurs are always stopped.

The minarets torn down

Islam is a special target. In Hotan, the neighbourhood mosques have been closed, leaving a handful of large places of worship. Worshippers must register with the police before attending. At the entrance to the largest mosque in Kashgar, the Idh Kha—a famous place of pilgrimage—two policemen sit underneath a banner saying “Love the party, love the country”. Inside, a member of the mosque’s staff holds classes for local traders on how to be a good communist. In Urumqi the remaining mosques have had their minarets knocked down and their Islamic crescents torn off.

Some 29 Islamic names may no longer be given to children. In schools, Uighur-language instruction is vanishing—another of the trends which have markedly accelerated under Mr Chen. Dancing after prayers and specific Uighur wedding ceremonies and funerary rites are prohibited.

Unlike those of South Africa, the two main racial groups are well matched in size. According to the 2010 census, Uighurs account for 46% of the province’s population and Han Chinese 40% (the rest are smaller minorities such as Kazakhs and Kirgiz). But they live apart and see the land in distinct ways. Uighurs regard Xinjiang as theirs because they have lived in it for thousands of years. The Han Chinese regard it as theirs because they have built a modern economy in its deserts and mountains. They talk of bringing “modern culture” and “modern lifestyle” to the locals—by which they mean the culture and lifestyle of modern Han China.

So how have the Han and Uighur reacted to the imposition of a police state? Yang Jiehun and Xiao Junduo are Han Chinese veterans of the trade in Hotan jade (which the Chinese hold to be the best in the world, notably in its very pale “mutton-fat” form). Asked about security, they give big smiles, a thumbs-up and say the past year’s crackdown has been “really well received”. “In terms of public security, Urumqi is the safest it has ever been,” says Mr Xiao, whose family came to the province in the 1950s, when the People’s Liberation Army and state-owned enterprises were reinforcing the border with the Soviet Union. “The Uighurs are being helped out of poverty,” he avers. “They understand and support the policy.”

Not all Han Chinese in Xinjiang are quite as enthusiastic. Tens of thousands came to the province fairly recently, mostly in the 1990s, to seek their fortunes as independent traders and business people, rather than being transferred there by state-owned companies or the army. They approve of better security but dislike the damage being done to the economy—for example, the way movement controls make it harder to employ Uighurs. So far, this ambivalence is not seriously weakening the support among the Han and, for the government in Beijing, that is all that matters. It sees Xinjiang mainly as a frontier. The Han are the principal guarantors of border security. If they are happy, so is the government.

The Uighur reaction is harder to judge; open criticism or talking to outsiders can land you in jail. The crackdown has been effective inasmuch as there have been no (known) Uighur protests or attacks since early 2017. It seems likely that many people are bowing before the storm. As Sultan, a student in Kashgar, says with a shrug: “There’s nothing we can do about it.”

But there are reasons for thinking resentment is building up below the surface. According to anthropological work by Mr Byler and Joanne Smith Finley of Newcastle University in Britain, a religious revival had been under way before the imposition of today’s harsh control. Mosques were becoming more crowded, religious schools attracting more pupils. Now the schools and mosques are largely empty, even for Friday prayers. It is hard to believe that religious feeling has vanished. More likely a fair bit has gone underground.


And the position of Uighurs who co-operate with the Han authorities is becoming untenable. The provincial government needs the Uighur elite because its members have good relations with both sides. The expansion of the police state has added to the number of Uighurs it needs to co-opt. According to Mr Zenz and James Leibold of La Trobe University in Melbourne, 90% of the security jobs advertised in 2017 were “third tier” jobs for low-level police assistants: cheap, informal contracts which mainly go to Uighurs (see chart). But at the same time as needing more Uighurs, the authorities have made it clear that they do not trust them. Part of the repression has been aimed at “two-faced officials” who (the party says) are publicly supporting the security system while secretly helping victims. Simultaneously recruiting more Uighurs and distrusting them more creates an ever larger pool that might one day turn against the system from within.


A Han businessman who travels frequently between Urumqi and Kashgar says he used to feel welcome in the south. “Now it has all changed. They are not afraid. But they are resentful. They look at me as if they are wondering what I am doing in their country.” One of the few detainees released from the camps, Omurbek Eli, told RFA that the authorities “are planting the seeds of hatred and turning [detainees] into enemies. This is not just my view—the majority of people in the camp feel the same way.”

Hasan’s warning

China’s Communist rulers believe their police state limits separatism and reduces violence. But by separating the Uighur and Han further, and by imposing huge costs on one side that the other side, for the most part, blithely ignores, they are ratcheting up tension. The result is that both groups are drifting towards violence.

Before he disappeared, Hasan, the self-styled Sufi wanderer, expressed Xinjiang’s plight. “To be Uighur is hard,” he wrote on WeChat in 2015. “I don’t even know what I am accused of, but I must accept their judgment. I have no choice. Where there is no freedom, there is tension. Where there is tension there are incidents. Where there are incidents there are police. Where there are police there is no freedom.”

 

This article appeared in the Briefing section of the print edition under the headline "Apartheid with Chinese characteristics"
Print edition | Briefing
May 31st 2018 | HOTAN, XINJIANG PROVINCE

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Canada to pardon citizens convicted on simple marijuana possession charges: report

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The Canadian government is reportedly planning to grant pardons to Canadians with past minor marijuana possession charges.
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Naked man who jumped in Ripley’s Aquarium shark tank linked to assault investigation | Globalnews.ca

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WTH. Canadian bad guys are a unique breed.

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South Africa Decriminalises Personal Cannabis Use and Cultivation

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When he hosted last October’s glittering global investment conference in Saudi Arabia, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman had the world at his fingertips. Thousands of investors, corporate chieftains and government leaders flocked to the kingdom to hear the charismatic young heir to the Saudi throne outline his plans for modernization of the reclusive kingdom, and to be invited along for the ride and the profits.

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I doubt this is about one Prince and more about the way the entire system works.

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This will give us some significant insight into how the state security apparatus of Saudi Arabia truly operates.

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Sandy Martinson's comment, October 17, 12:47 AM
This article cites the death penalty in Washington was used in an “arbitrary and racially biased manner”. Based on their Supreme Court’s ruling, I wouldn’t doubt there is a kernel of truth to this ruling and many others. As supporting evidence and an alternative comparison, according to Comparative Criminal Justice Systems, by Harry Dammer and Jay Albanese, the death penalty is showing signs of decline in the US, citing a 56% decline in 2011. They cite the US receiving pressure from the international community, increase in sentences overturned due to legal errors or innocence and change in US citizen view of the death penalty.
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The ex-Interpol chief's wife is taking on the Chinese Communist Party. Here's what it might mean

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In a tearful Tuesday interview with CNN in Lyon, France -- where Interpol is headquartered -- Grace Meng said her husband is the victim of political "persecution," and voiced grave concern for his safety.

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