2005 July 28 Thursday
New Zealand Politician Warns Against Muslim Immigrant Terrorists

The leader of a minor New Zealand political party that has been polling about 10% of the vote warns against Muslim immigration to New Zealand.

Moderate Muslim groups are sheltering fundamentalists who may be plotting terror attacks on New Zealand soil, New Zealand First leader Winston Peters claimed yesterday.

In a speech directly linking "open- door immigration policies" to radical Islam, Mr Peters said the country's history of religious tolerance and free speech was threatened by Muslim migrants who "do not share our traditions".

"We cannot take our tradition of toleration for granted when we are importing fanatics for whom that tradition is alien," he said.

"In New Zealand the Muslim community has been quick to show us their more moderate face, but there is a militant underbelly here as well.

"These two groups, the moderate and militant, fit hand and glove.

"Underneath it all the agenda is to promote fundamentalist Islam - indeed these groups are like the mythical Hydra, a serpent underbelly with multiple heads, capable of striking at any time and in any direction," Mr Peters said.

I do not see why Western nations should let in Muslim immigrants at all. The idea of letting them in always strikes me as "It's being-hit-on-the-head lessons in here." We have no shortage of people. We have huge selection of people who want to come to Western countries for the most part because we have higher living standards. So why not be incredibly choosy and let in only those who will provide a large net benefit?

Peters is a member of the New Zealand parliament and former deputy prime minister. If you are curious about Peters then click on the two Wikipedia links I embedded in the first paragraph of the article.

A nationalistic speech that does not hesitate to represent the people of one's nation as somehow better or deserving of preservation against the influx of others is a rare thing to hear these days and sounds shocking to anyone conditioned to today's leftish political mores. This guy sounds like the late British parliamentarian Enoch Powell. Check out John Derbyshire's aricle on the London bombings entitled "Thinking About 7/7: Enoch Powell’s Revenge?" for an essay on how far nationalism has eroded in Britain and in much of the Western countries.

Nick Hume of the London Times has joined the list of British commentators who think that British self-hatred has helped to create the intellectual environment that terrorists living in Britain use to justify their attacks.

Perhaps it might have something to do with the way that, from the moment they arrive here, asylum-seekers are told that Britain is a racist hellhole that deserves what it gets. And they first receive that message not from some fringe Islamic preacher, but from the heart of our self-flagellatory culture. Those bombing suspects came to a society that seems intent on denying that there is anything good about living here. Britain gave them schooling. But what exactly would they would have been taught?

Think of the miserabilist images of society that we are all subjected to these days. Britain is portrayed as institutionally racist and increasingly Islamophobic at home and abroad, a darkly degenerate place full of violent drunks and drug addicts, disrespectful “hoodies” and child abusers, pregnant teenagers and sexually transmitted diseases, whose people believe in nothing except football and getting fat in front of the television.

If the British were told they had many things to be proud about they'd act in ways more consistent with that pride and the place would be better for it.

Hume's essay is similar in tone to Anothony Browne's longer and excellent article from The Spectator entitled The Left’s war on Britishness (requires free registration which is worth your time).

No, the real answer to why Britain spawned people fuelled with maniacal hate for their country is that Britain hates itself. In hating Britain, these British suicide bombers were as British as a police warning for flying the union flag.

Britain’s self-loathing is deep, pervasive and lethally dangerous. We get bombed, and we say it’s all our own fault. Schools refuse to teach history that risks making pupils proud, and use it instead as a means of instilling liberal guilt. The government and the BBC gush over ‘the other’, but recoil at the merest hint of British culture. The only thing we are licensed to be proud of is London’s internationalism — in other words, that there is little British left about it.

By Randall Parker 2005 July 28 02:36 PM  Immigration Terrorism
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President Bush Forms Cheap Immigrant Labor Coalition

George W. Bush is recruiting big donors for a cheap immigrant labor coalition entitled "Americans for Border and Economic Security". (same article here)

WASHINGTON — Worried that the tone of the immigration debate is pushing Latinos away from the Republican Party, the White House is working with political strategists to create a broad coalition of business groups and immigrant advocates to back a plan President Bush could promote in Congress and to minority voters in the 2006 elections.

The strategists say Bush is planning to make immigration a top priority as soon as this fall, once the focus on a Supreme Court vacancy has passed. The push is being planned to coincide with next year's campaigns for the House and Senate, in which Latino voters could be crucial in several states. It is part of a broader White House strategy to forge a long-lasting majority by drawing more minority voters.

Aiming for an air of bipartisanship, the White House-backed coalition, to be called Americans for Border and Economic Security, will be led by former U.S. Reps. Cal Dooley (D-Hanford) and Dick Armey (R-Texas). The chief organizer is one of the capital's most important White House allies: former Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie, who has hosted preliminary meetings at his Washington lobbying firm just blocks from the White House and has been advising the RNC on minority outreach.

I'm old enough to remember when it was considered a good thing and a sign of much desired progress when all classes of workers experienced rising salaries. Now a sitting President can organize a massive campaign to import millions of foreign workers to drive down native salaries and especially salaries of the poorest citizens. Times change.

Big money donors are being recruited for the new coalition.

A guest-worker program is favored by many Latinos and by businesses, many of them major GOP donors that depend on a steady flow of workers from Mexico and other countries. The White House effort is aimed at satisfying these groups while promoting tougher border security enforcement. The latter focus is an attempt to mollify a vocal bloc of cultural conservatives in the GOP — some in the House leadership — who argue that undocumented workers present a security threat and take some jobs that could be filled by Americans.

Bush wants the funds to attack the Republican base. Conservative talk radio has turned heavily against Bush's position on immigration. Ditto for some other conservative opinion outlets. Can big corporate donors fund an effort big enough to overwhelm the influence of populist anger? Can the Republican voters be persuaded that they are just there to vote Republican and that the party exists to serve the interests of those employers who use illegals and not the interesets of all Republicans?

Admission into the new coalition costs between $50,000 and $250,000. The proceeds are expected to pay for a political-style campaign for an approach to immigration that combines heightened border security with a guest-worker program of some sort, creating an environment that the White House believes will be more favorable for Bush to step back into the fray.

In an unamazing coincidence that combination just happens to show up in bill introduced into the US Senate by Senators John Cornyn (R-TX) and Jon Kyl (R-AZ). The Cornyn-Kyl bill combines tougher immigration enforcement with a worker permit program.

The Kyl-Cornyn bill calls for the creation of a machine-readable, tamper-proof Social Security card that would be issued to every American in the workforce. It would also fund the hiring of 10,000 Department of Homeland Security personnel dedicated to weeding illegal immigrants out of the workforce and an additional 1,000 for detecting immigration fraud.

Companies that hired illegal immigrants would face tough fines.

Additionally, the bill would authorize the recruitment of 10,000 new Border Patrol agents over five years and a $2.5 billion investment in unmanned aerial vehicles, cameras, barriers, and sensors along the Mexican border.

Unless the barriers extend the full length of the border and are thick and high the illegals are going to go around them or cut through them.

But cheap labor business groups object to the requirement in the Kyl-Cornyn bill for illegals to leave before applying for a worker permit.

The other, by Sen. John Kyl, R-Ariz., and John Cornyn, R-Texas, would require workers in the United States illegally to return home before being permitted to participate in a new guest worker program. It would also throw enormous new resources at border, interior and workplace enforcement.

Kyl denied that his bill amounted to mass deportation, as many have charged.

Kyl's bill brings out the conflict between the business interests which just want cheap labor and the Hispanic activists who want more Hispanics to stay here permanently to form a larger Hispanic voting bloc. The Hispanic activists want all the illegals to stay without any inconvenience. The businesses want the Hispanics but are relatively less worried about inconveniencing them. Though of course the businesses do not want to be inconvenienced themselves. So their positions are not too far apart.

Don't expect Kyl and Cornyn to stick by their requirement for illegals to leave for long before becoming legals on return.

But the most important witness at the hearing turned out to be Hal Daub, a former congressman who now heads the American Health Care Assn. The industry he represents is clearly alarmed by the Kyl-Cornyn approach. Deporting illegal healthcare workers would be "disruptive to the delivery of quality care. It would cause a deterioration in the quality of that care," he said. By the end of the hearing, Cornyn was in full retreat, saying that maybe an illegal worker's "trip" home could be short enough to ensure no disruption in his employment. So the punishment turns into a vacation?

This all lends credence to the theory that the Kyl-Cornyn bill is a tactical gambit — backed by the White House — to produce a compromise bill that preserves the essence of McCain-Kennedy with a tougher veneer, so that it can be more easily sold to a skeptical House.

Dan Stein calls the cheap labor alliance "the Coalition to Destroy the American Middle Class".

The Bush Administration intends to satisfy the demands of some business interests to gain legal access to low wage foreign workers and to appeal politically to Hispanic voters. In an attempt to overcome staunch public opposition to the president's plan, the goal of the coalition will be to sell the plan as a solution to mass illegal immigration.

"A more accurate name for this association of special interest high-rollers would be the Coalition to Destroy the American Middle Class," said Dan Stein, president of the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR). "It is a blatant attempt to convince America's embattled middle class that they will be better off if employers can legally bring millions of foreign workers to this country.

"Mass illegal immigration is certainly a problem, but the solution is not amnesty and guest worker programs," Stein continued. "Whether these millions of people enter legally or illegally, the impact on American workers and the nation's vital social institutions is exactly the same."

How to explain Bush's position on immigration? Is it driven more by a desire for Hispanic votes or more for employers of cheap labor? Steve Sailer thinks the Bush family is in a tight relationship with the corrupt Mexican elite. That elite is what America will replicate if we keep letting in the Hispanic flood.

I'm not surprised that a shallow pseudo-conservative president would put the interests of big business donors ahead of the long term best interests of the country. What I find more puzzling is the willingness of the liberal mainstream media to embrace cheap immigrant labor. See, for example, this Boston Globe editorial in favor of cheap immigrant labor. Granted, they don't use the term "cheap immigrant labor" but that is the core of the big worker permit proposal which the Globe apparently supports. Do the Globe's board of directors see cheap labor as in their economic interests? Do big liberal media outfits see themselves as having the same economic interest in cheap labor as do so many restaurant owners, drywall installers, and lawn mower service operators?

Phyllis Schlafly reports a recorded phone message she received from Newt Gingrich that uses the language of border security to sell the idea of importing cheap labor "willing workers".

But no, Newt was telling me about the danger from illegal aliens coming across our open borders. He talked about the threat this poses to our national security in an era of terrorism, the high costs to U.S. taxpayers, the follies of multiculturalism, and the urgent need for everyone in our country to be able to speak our English language.

The message was skillfully designed to appeal to Americans who are outraged at our government's failure to protect us from the invasion of illegals. But slyly buried in the middle of Newt's message was an endorsement of a "guest worker" plan to invite even more aliens to take U.S. jobs.

The politicians and business executives, who are determined to continue bringing in foreigners to work for lower wages than Americans expect, have gotten smart. The plan to import "willing workers" from other countries is now being packaged in the language of concern about border security.

This strategy is obvious in the new White House-backed coalition called Americans for Border and Economic Security, organized by Republican lobbyist (and former Republican National Committee Chairman) Ed Gillespie. Admission to this coalition costs $50,000 to $250,000, fees that will finance a political-style campaign to sell the American people on a guest-worker program wrapped in a few border-security measures.

The Bush White House is on message with the new pitch.

"The administration is consulting with Congress to discuss realistic and comprehensive immigration reform," White House spokeswoman Maria Tamburri said.

Tamburri said it is "critical" that any immigration reform address border security, enforcement and the economic reality of the demand for willing workers. She said it must do so in a way that does not allow amnesty and establishes greater control of U.S. borders through increased security, domestic enforcement and a temporary-worker program.

The White House's strategy is to put forth a proposal that seems to get tougher on border security while at the same time putting in place a plan to give permits to illegal alien workers. The financed campaign behind it is not a guarantee of success given that conservative talk radio and many other sources of conservative opinion will fight against it. Bush did not succeed with the big bucks he lined up in support of Social Security investment accounts. So big financial backing is not a guarantee of success.

Bush wants a new immigration bill with more legal immigration and cheap temporary worker permits.

President Bush yesterday told House Republicans that he wants them to pass an immigration bill this fall, but members said he may not get a bill he likes.

...

The president did not go into specifics at yesterday's meeting, several Republicans said. But Mr. Bush previously has called for a guest-worker program that matches workers with employers who say they cannot fill those jobs with Americans. He also called for an increase in the level of legal immigration.

Employers want illegal aliens because they can pay them less than they pay Americans. No labor shortage exists in America. Market prices change to make labor demand and supply equal. This is Economics 101.

Cheap labor for employers means higher taxes for everyone at higher income levels. People who earn low wages inevitably turn to governments for medical and other services.

It's easy to understand why Wal-Mart is hostile to unions. Under the current balance of power between the company and its employees--uh, I mean "associates"--the average hourly wage is $9.68. That's substantially lower than the average hourly wage for all retail workers, which is $12.28. (In case you're wondering, the average hourly wage for all nonsupervisory workers in our labor force is $15.90.)

In addition, only about half of Wal-Mart's employees can afford to buy into the company's health-insurance plan. As a result, Wal-Mart employees are turning in droves to government-funded health programs to ensure that their children can see a doctor when they're sick.

Wal-Mart stands in marked contrast to Costco, which has a partly unionized work force (the Teamsters represent about 15,000 workers at Costco stores in California, New York, New Jersey, Maryland, and Virginia). Costco pays an average of $16 an hour, and 82 percent of its employees are covered by company health insurance.

Immigrant labor that is cheap for employers is subsidized by middle and higher income taxpayers.

If you want to understand why Bush's foreign worker permit proposal will not stop the influx of illegal immigrants then read my post "Thinking About Bush's Less Than Half-Baked Worker Permit Proposal".

By Randall Parker 2005 July 28 01:47 PM  Immigration Politics
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2005 July 26 Tuesday
Medicare Rewards Hospitals For Poor Care And Excessive Treatment

Medicare rewards high costs and incompetence.

Under Medicare's rules, each time a patient comes back for another treatment, a hospital qualifies for an additional payment. In effect, Palm Beach Gardens was paid a bonus for its mistakes.

Medicare's handling of Palm Beach Gardens is an extreme example of a pervasive problem that costs the federal insurance program billions of dollars a year while rewarding doctors, hospitals and health plans for bad medicine. In Medicare's upside-down reimbursement system, hospitals and doctors who order unnecessary tests, provide poor care or even injure patients often receive higher payments than those who provide efficient, high-quality medicine.

"It's the exact opposite of what you would expect," said Mary Brainerd, chief executive officer of HealthPartners, a nonprofit health plan based in Bloomington, Minn. Her Medicare HMO ranked among the top 10 in the nation last year for quality but was paid thousands of dollars less per patient by Medicare than lower-performing plans.

"The way Medicare is set up," Brainerd said, "it actually punishes you for being good."

As Medicare approaches its 40th anniversary on Saturday, much of the debate about the nation's largest health insurance program revolves around whether it will remain solvent for aging baby boomers. Yet another critical question is often overlooked: whether taxpayers and patients get their money's worth from the $300 billion Medicare spends each year -- now about 15 percent of federal spending and projected to grow to nearly a quarter of the budget in a decade.

Read the whole article.

Medicare does little to try to monitor quality of service delivered.

Medicare has difficulty controlling waste because of deficiencies in the way it monitors and enforces quality standards. Its oversight system is fragmented, underfunded and marred by conflicts of interest, records and interviews show. For every $1,000 that it pays to hospitals and doctors, it invests just $1 or $2 to oversee and improve patient care.

Part of Medicare's budget should go toward funding the devleopment of cheaper treatments. Another part of Medicare's budget should go toward tracking and comparing quality of care at different medical institutions. Also, more Medicare outlays should funnel through HMOs that are rewarded for higher quality and more cost effective service.

The United States also needs to reduce the percentage of medical costs paid for by insurance plans. Tax advantaged medical savings accounts would introduce much more accountability by making the payers and the receivers of medical services the same people. Imagine you had a medical insurance plan with a $5000 per year deductible (I have such a plan) and you had, say, at least $20,000 in your medical savings account with which to pay for medical insurance and for all medical expenses that might come up in the course of a few years. Even if you lost your job and went through a major illness for a couple of years you'd still be able to pay all your medical expenses. Since you'd be spending your own money you'd look much harder for lower priced services and services more assured to allow quick recovery times. In short, you'd shop around the way plastic surgery customers do now. Medical savings accounts with large deductibles are one way to bring more competition to medicine.

A lot of medical procedures have costs that run into the tens and hundreds of thousands of dollars. One way to bring competition to the provision of such services would be to make the tax advantaged nature of medical savings accounts greater for people who put more money into their accounts and buy higher deductible insurance policies. So, for example, a person who agrees to put $50,000.00 into their medical savings account and buy medical insurance with a $20,000.00 per year deductible should get a bigger tax break than someone who puts in only $10,000.00 and buys medical insurance with a $5000.00 per year deductible. People should get a tax advantage for paying larger portions of their own medical expenses.

Currently much of the medical industry is a massive uncompetitive racket. Medical care providers actively lobby Congress to defeat attempts by Medicare to run competitions for provision of major types of services. The article cites some examples of pilot projects which Congress killed after their initial success. But the cost of medical care in general and specifically the cost of medical care paid for by taxpayers has become so great that the same racketeering business as usual has got to come to an end. We need competition and publically available performance data on doctors and hospitals.

By Randall Parker 2005 July 26 02:53 PM  Economics Health
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Other Than Mexican Flood Increasing At US-Mexican Border

What happens when the law goes unenforced? At the risk of stating the obvious and insulting my readers: When the law is not enforced more people break the law. The word has gotten out to an increasing number of "Other Than Mexicans" that if they can cross the border from Mexico into the United States that they will not be deported even if caught.

Already this year, the number of non-Mexican apprehensions has far outpaced last year's total in just eight months. And while they are still a relatively small percentage compared with the number of illegal Mexicans, critics say the federal government's policy in dealing with them is far more dangerous.

Because OTMs, or "Other Than Mexicans" as the Border Patrol classifies them, must be returned to their country of origin, they cannot be simply sent back across the southern border, as most Mexicans are. Under US law, they must be detained (in the US) pending a deportation hearing. The problem is, immigration detention centers are packed, so most OTMs are given a court summons and told to return in three months. A full 85 percent don't.

According to the Border Patrol, some 465,000 OTMs have taken advantage of this "catch and release" policy to settle here in the US. "It's an insane policy which encourages OTMs to come into the country illegally, and we shouldn't be shocked that they are coming in record numbers," says T.J. Bonner, president of the National Border Patrol Council, which represents more than 9,000 agents.

I predict that until all OTMs caught on the border get held for deportation the number of OTMs crossing the border will continue to grow at double digit percentage rates each year. The longer the problem goes unaddressed the bigger and more expensive the fix will become. Right now we need the ability to hold perhaps at most a half million OTMs at once in detention. Eventually we will need the ability to hold millions of them.

A border barrier is already the cheapest way to stop the Mexican illegal immigrant flood. As the OTM flood increases a border barrier will also become the cheapest way to stop that as well. Estimates for the cost of Israel's barrier fence with the West Bank range upward toward $2 billion dollars with per mile costs ranging from $3 million to $3.5 million to $4.15 million. The total US-Mexican border runs 1951 miles. Taking the $4.15 million per mile border barrier cost the total cost of a barrier on the full length of the US-Mexican border runs to $8.1 billion dollars. But even if we doubled the cost per mile to make concrete barriers taller with perhaps another fence layer and put more concertina wire on the barrier layers in order to make the barrier even harder to cross the total would be only $16 billion.

Instead of tough enforcement of immigration and border control imagine we go in the opposite direction. The gradually building flood of OTMs with no attempt made to deport most OTMs is pushing America toward de facto open borders. Where will that take us? Steve Sailer says if America adopts total open borders as much as 1.5 billion people would try immigrate to the United States.

What about in the long run? We have two informative examples:

  1. The U.S. maintains an open border with its territory of Puerto Rico. One-fourth of all Puerto Ricans live on the U.S. mainland, according to Harvard economist George Borjas, and that proportion is kept down only by paying generous benefits to Puerto Ricans who stay home.
  2. There are currently 106 million people in Mexico and approximately 25 million people of Mexican descent in the United States. In other words, just under 1/5th of all Mexicans in the world now live in America. And they got here without an official open borders plan.

So what does that imply?

There are currently over six billion people who live neither in America nor Mexico. So, if one-fourth of the rest wanted to move to America, as happened with Puerto Ricans, that would be 1.5 additional billion people, compared to the current American population of 296 million.

If we formally gave up enforcing rules on immigration then over a few decade period the United States would grow to have a population of about 1.8 billion people. One has to be a lunatic to want such an outcome. Therefore it is not implausible that Bush and the neocons want exactly that. Why? They have faith in the most foolish ideas and consider embracing such ideas a virtue.

Maybe they want to make America become the most populated country in the world in order to outcompete China. But in order to outcompete China in the long run what we need is more brains, not more dummies. Totally open borders would bring in huge waves of dummies while the smarter people would recoil with horror from the thought of moving to a country with nearly two billion people speaking a "Tower of Babel" of languages. The racial and religious conflicts would lead to a civil war and dictatorship.

If you are not aware of just how dumb Bush's immigration policies and proposals really are I strongly urge you to read my post "Thinking About Bush's Less Than Half-Baked Worker Permit Proposal".

Update: Plans to extend the US-Mexican border barrier at San Diego the final 5 miles to the ocean put the cost at $5 million per mile even with special environmental restoration costs added in.

The project would denude a swath of vegetation about the width of a six-lane freeway. It would cut across a habitat preserve included in the Multiple Species Conservation Program, a system of interconnected open-space areas established by the federal and state governments.

To offset the project's damage to the habitat preserve, the Border Patrol has offered to restore plants to 85 miles of dirt roads – or 145 acres – that will no longer be necessary to patrol the border.

...

The final five miles of the project could cost an estimated $25 million, including $11 million to offset the loss of rare wildlife habitat.

With a barrier running the full length of the US-Mexico border there'd be no need for such large efforts at environmental harm abatement on most of its length. Note that the barrier width is similar to that of a 6 lane freeway and the United States has tens of thousands of miles of such freeways in the interstates highway system.

By Randall Parker 2005 July 26 12:43 PM  Immigration Law Enforcement
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2005 July 24 Sunday
Full Religious Freedom Seen As Impossible

Christopher Caldwell argues that the Protestant framework for religious freedom does not work for all religions.

But how secure are these traditions in the first place? Winnifred Fallers Sullivan, a scholar of religion and law at the University of Chicago, has just published a smart – and in the present circumstances, sobering – little book called The Impossibility of Religious Freedom (Princeton University Press). Her argument implies we have overestimated the amount of real religious difference that even a tolerant democracy can handle. Freedom of religion can be called a “basic” right, but it is not one that goes without saying.

The Protestant Christian view of religion as a private voluntary affair is not shared by all or even most religions.

Most of the plaintiffs in the case were Catholics, with a scattering of Jews, and the judge was Protestant. That may or may not have been important. What was important was that the entire legal idiom in which cases like these get argued in America is a Protestant one. For the court’s purposes, writes Ms Sullivan, true religion “came to be understood as being private, voluntary, individual, textual, and believed. Public, coercive, communal, oral and enacted religion, on the other hand, was seen to be ‘false’.” Religions with a large role for ritual or community or sacred objects – such as American Catholicism in the 19th century or Islam today – are not always intelligible to this system.

Attorneys on both sides of the Warner case were uncomfortable talking about religion, and preferred to address the issues as if they were the same as those in free speech cases. Ms Sullivan notes that they often spoke of religious “views” and “expression”. But protecting expression or views or opinions cannot be the aspiration the American founding fathers had in mind when they included freedom of religion in the Bill of Rights. It if were, then protecting freedom of speech would have been sufficient. The problem is that not all people understand religious freedom as freedom of speech about holy things. For many, religion is primarily a matter of allegiance and custom.

It is great that Ms. Sullivan has written this book. Far too many Protestants in the West and also non-believers who are descended from Protestants fail to grasp in other religions just how far religious authority is seen as extending into the public sphere and into politics. Even some Protestant denominations take positions that bring them into moral debates in the public sphere over what is a human life (e.g. on abortion and euthanasia) or what is protected speech (e.g. on pornography). But the political claims and demands by religious authorities in other religions go far beyond what we see today in the United States coming from the vast bulk of Protestant Christian sects.

Many Muslims believe they have religiously ordained duty and right to enforce public morals and public customs on a wide range of subjects.

Linked to the desire for increased political power are attempts by some radical Muslims to begin a process of Islamicizing British cities.

Last month, Muslim groups in Glasgow petitioned the City Council to ban an Italian restaurant from serving alcohol to diners seated at outside tables. Hospitals in Leicester considered banning Bibles from hospital wards to avoid offending Muslim patients. In Birmingham, a group called Muslims Against Advertising began a campaign of painting over billboards that they deemed offensive to Islam - targeting ads for Levi's jeans, perfume, and lingerie.

But these small campaigns are polarizing public opinion along ethnic and religious lines - and creating support for Britain's far-right groups, who present themselves as defenders of Britain's hard-won freedoms.

Iraq is serving as yet another demonstration of how religious beliefs can very directly conflict with beliefs in individual rights. The editorial writers of the New York Times are shocked that majority rule in Iraq is creating an atmosphere where religious beliefs about morality are superceding Western ideas about individual rights.

Most chilling of all are the prospects for Iraqi women. As things now stand, their rights are about to be set back by nearly 50 years because of new family law provisions inserted into a draft of the constitution at the behest of the ruling Shiite religious parties. These would make Koranic law, called Shariah, the supreme authority on marriage, divorce and inheritance issues. Even secular women from Shiite families would be stripped of their right to choose their own husbands, inherit property on the same basis as men and seek court protection if their husbands tire of them and decide to declare them divorced.

Less severe laws would be imposed on Sunni women, but only because the draft constitution also embraces the divisive idea of having separate systems of family law in the same country. That is not only offensive, but also impractical in a country where Sunnis and Shiites have been marrying each other for generations.

The elected Iraq Shia leaders are busy stripping many rights from Iraqi women which they had under fairly secular and thoroughly undemocratic dictator Saddam Hussein. The idea that democracy operates to defend individual freedom is obviously false. Whether democracy supports individual rights depends very much on the beliefs and preferences of the majority. In Iraq's case Saddam Hussein was a defender of the individual rights of Iraqi women while effectively by their actions George W. Bush and the neocons have made themselves the enemies of Iraqi women's rights. they can protest that this was not their intent. But the result was predictable.

Perhaps the editorial writers of the New York Times are carping at Bush partly for partisan reasons and partly out of frustrattion. If they think Bush can do anything to stop the decay in rights for women in Iraq they are quite mistaken.

There is a lesson here for Americans and Westerners: Just who is allowed to move to a society and who makes the babies determines what rights will be recognized and protected and whether a society's government will even consider rights protection a top priority. If a society contains enough people who do not recognize, say, a right of women to walk around bareheaded and if the opponents of such a right feel strongly enough about it then women will be forced to cover up or risk rape, kidnapping, beating, and dousing with acid.

The ideological Libertarian Open Borders argument assumes that the vast bulk of immigrants are economic actors but not political actors - or at least not political actors who differ from the existing population in any way that affects rights. However, this assumption is so obviously wrong as shown by empirical evidence in this world that to believe it requires an act of faith even greater than the faith required to believe religions. The belief in political ideologies requires a greater act of faith than the faith required to believe in supernaturally oriented religions because some religious beliefs are not disprovable in this world. Though evidence against many elements of religious beliefs exist in this world as well.

Update: Muslims in Britain To some Muslims Islam is beautiful and violent.

"Some of the people tell you Islam is a religion of peace because they think that then you'll want to convert," says Dublin-born convert Khalid Kelly, who soaks up Abu Osama's sidewalk sermon. "But you cannot possibly say Islam is a religion of peace; jihad is not an internal struggle."

...

"All we want to talk about is how beautiful Islam is," says an Iraqi immigrant, who, like others standing here, mingles lyrical spirituality with a blunt advocacy of violence. "Zarqawi is showing the way," he says, referring to the Jordanian militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, leader of the radical faction of foreign fighters in Iraq.

Like many, his dedication to Islam arose from a messy flirtation with a Western lifestyle, including drinking and taking drugs. "When reality hits you, you come back to Islam," he says. "If you read the Koran, you see that Allah gave us the right to terrorize the enemy."

His disillusionment with Britain became complete when he was sacked from his IT job "for telling a kafir [unbeliever, or non-Muslim] woman to cover up." Ironically, only Abu Osama dons religious garb. The others wear jeans and shirts. Kelly would look at home in an Irish pub.

Muslims in Western countries are more likely to become radicalized than Muslims in Muslim countries. There's a lesson there for anyone who wants to see it: Keep Muslims in Muslim countries. Don't let them come to the West.

Update II: You can read the first chapter of Sullivan's book online.

Religious freedom and the legal disestablishment of religion, as political ideas, find their origin in the early modern period in Europe.11 With other markers of modernity identified by scholars--the rise of the nation state, the maturing of an international market, the invention of modern warfare, the advent of printing and literacy, the emergence of a middle class, among others--a new relationship of religion to political governance was created with the breakup of the monopoly of the Roman Church.12 For perhaps the first time since Constantine, religious affiliation in Europe began to be detached again from political identity. National and religious identity no longer necessarily went hand in hand. To be sure, at first, new national religious establishments were created to take the place of the continental monopoly of the Roman Catholic Church, but over the centuries religion was both consciously and unconsciously remodeled to accommodate the new secular political order and new ideas of citizenship. Religion was thereby politically and legally divided into modern and antimodern, long before the reappearance of "fundamentalism" in the 1970s.13 The precondition for political participation by religion increasingly became cooperation with liberal theories and forms of governance.14

As a result, the modern religio-political arrangement has been largely, although not exclusively, indebted, theologically and phenomenologically, to protestant reflection and culture.15 Particularly in its American manifestation. "Protestant" is here spelled with a small "p." I use "protestant" not in a narrow churchy sense, but rather loosely to describe a set of political ideas and cultural practices that emerged in early modern Europe in and after the Reformation; that is, I refer to "protestant," as opposed to "catholic," models of church/state relations. (According to this use, Protestants can be "catholic" and Catholics can be "protestant.") Religion--"true" religion some would say--on this modern protestant reading, came to be understood as being private, voluntary, individual, textual, and believed. Public, coercive, communal, oral, and enacted religion, on the other hand, was seen to be "false." The second kind of religion, iconically represented historically in the United States, for the most part by the Roman Catholic Church (and by Islam today), was, and perhaps still is, the religion of most of the world. Indeed, from a contemporary academic perspective, that religion with which many religion scholars are most concerned has been carefully and systematically excluded, both rhetorically and legally, from modern public space. Crudely speaking, it is the first kind--the modern protestant kind--that is "free." The other kind is closely regulated by law. It is not incidental that most of the plaintiffs in the Warner case, the case considered in this book, are Catholic.

This book, to reiterate, is about the impossibility of religious freedom. Not the impossibility of societies in which persons are free to believe what they want and to associate themselves freely with others who believe in similar ways. Or in which persons are free to speak of religious matters openly and freely. Or in which government is prohibited from disfavoring one group of citizens for invidious reasons. These are rights that belong to all peoples. What is arguably impossible is justly enforcing laws granting persons rights that are defined with respect to their religious beliefs or practices. Forsaking religious freedom as a legally enforced right might enable greater equality among persons and greater clarity and self-determination for religious individuals and communities. Such a change would end discrimination against those who do not self-identify as religious or whose religion is disfavored. It might also force religious groups to fend for themselves politically, economically, and philosophically in a new world of radical normative pluralism.16

If someone has a right to do something because they believe a particular religion then it has to follow that someone else who does not believe that religion then does not have that right. For example, if a certain type of headstone can be placed on a grave only if one is religious then suddenly all the non-believers don't have headstone choices that believers have. Well, how can that be the case in a society where everyone is equal before the law?

Update III: Some people argue that the British Muslim bombers are unrepresentative of British Muslims. But if even a small percentage of British Muslims support terrorism that creates huge security problems and more attacks will take place. 100,000 British Muslims think the London tube and bus bombers are fully justified.

YouGov sought to gauge the character of the Muslim community's response to the events of July 7. As the figures in the chart show, 88 per cent of British Muslims clearly have no intention of trying to justify the bus and Tube murders.

However, six per cent insist that the bombings were, on the contrary, fully justified.

Six per cent may seem a small proportion but in absolute numbers it amounts to about 100,000 individuals who, if not prepared to carry out terrorist acts, are ready to support those who do.

Moreover, the proportion of YouGov's respondents who, while not condoning the London attacks, have some sympathy with the feelings and motives of those who carried them out is considerably larger - 24 per cent.

A fifth of British Muslims feel little or no loyalty toward Britain.

For example, YouGov asked respondents how loyal they feel towards Britain. As the figures in the chart show, the great majority say they feel "very loyal" (46 per cent) or "fairly loyal" (33 per cent) but nearly one British Muslim in five, 18 per cent, feels little loyalty towards this country or none at all.

If these findings are accurate, and they probably are, well over 100,000 British Muslims feel no loyalty whatsoever towards this country.

The proportion of men who say they feel no loyalty to Britain is more than three times the proportion of women saying the same.

A third of British Muslims want to see a collapse of Western civilization.

However, nearly a third of British Muslims, 32 per cent, are far more censorious, believing that "Western society is decadent and immoral and that Muslims should seek to bring it to an end".

An earlier poll from January 2005 found that most British Muslims favor the introduction of Sharia courts in Britain.

The special poll based on a survey of 500 British Muslims found that a clear majority want Islamic law introduced into this country in civil cases relating to their own community. Some 61 per cent wanted Islamic courts - operating on sharia principles – "so long as the penalties did not contravene British law". A major part of civil cases in this country deal with family disputes such as divorce, custody and inheritance.

Right after the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon 4 in 10 British Muslims said Osama Bin Laden is justified to wage holy war against the United States.

Of course, Muslims are as entitled to question or criticise the bombing campaign as are Labour MPs such as Paul Marsden or George Galloway. But their opinions call into question their very identification as British citizens. Mohammed Abdullah, a 22-year-old accountant from Luton, told The Times: "We don't perceive ourselves as British Muslims. We are Muslims who live in Britain. All Muslims in Britain view supporting the jihad as a religious duty."

Other Muslims insist these views are unrepresentative. But are they? A Sunday Times survey has found that four out of 10 British Muslims believe Osama Bin Laden is justified in mounting his war against the United States. A similar number say that Britons who choose to fight alongside the Taliban are right to do so. In another opinion poll, conducted for the Asian radio station Sunrise, 98% of London Muslims under 45 said they would not fight for Britain, while 48% said they would take up arms for Bin Laden.

When Timothy McVeigh blew up the Murrah federal building in Oklahoma City his actions elicited very little support among the American public. Muslim support for terrorist attacks is orders of magnitude greater than that of other groups in the United States or Britain.

Update IV: For an explanation of why bombers struck Britain and also a great essay on the historical accomplishments of the British people see Anothony Browne's article from The Spectator entitledThe Left’s war on Britishness (requires free registration which is worth your time).

A more pressing question, however, is: why Britain? Not why was Britain attacked, because the list of countries targeted by Islamist terrorism is growing so fast it will soon be quicker to list those unaffected. But rather: why did Britain become the first country in the developed world to produce its own suicide bombers? Why is Britain just about the only country in the world to have produced suicide bombers who sought to kill not another people but their fellow citizens? Italy, Denmark, the Netherlands and Poland were all part of the war on Iraq, and have not produced suicide bombers. The US and Spain had to import their terrorists. For those who think that Muslims in Britain are particularly oppressed and poor, try visiting Muslims in France or Italy.

For all our concern about Islam, Britain is one of the least Islamic countries in Western Europe. There are more Muslims, as a percentage of the population, in France, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium and Denmark. It is true that Britain, more cursed with political correctness than most, has shown a joyfully optimistic tolerance of Islamic extremists. The BBC, the Guardian and the Metropolitan Police promote groups like the Muslim Association of Britain, even though it openly supports terrorism (just not in Britain).

No, the real answer to why Britain spawned people fuelled with maniacal hate for their country is that Britain hates itself. In hating Britain, these British suicide bombers were as British as a police warning for flying the union flag.

Britain’s self-loathing is deep, pervasive and lethally dangerous. We get bombed, and we say it’s all our own fault. Schools refuse to teach history that risks making pupils proud, and use it instead as a means of instilling liberal guilt. The government and the BBC gush over ‘the other’, but recoil at the merest hint of British culture. The only thing we are licensed to be proud of is London’s internationalism — in other words, that there is little British left about it.

Read the whole thing.

Update V: Over on the Gene Expression blog see Razib's reaction to Sullivan's argument. Also, on the subject of how problematic it is to define what is part of a particular religion see Razib's The "concept" of a "religion".

By Randall Parker 2005 July 24 05:28 PM  Religion Freedom
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2005 July 22 Friday
Londoners Feel Stressed By Lack Of Contact With Nature

Population growth increases stress. Nature reduces stress.

The sight of the sea is the quickest and most effective way to reduce high stress levels for many people, a survey has found.

A poll of 2,000 adults by Hoegaarden found daily stress is a problem for 30% of the population.

However, 84% said being in contact with the natural elements made them feel more relaxed instantly.

Only 19% of rural dwellers found daily strees to be a problem. A sea view was said to be be best stress reducer with 42% of the population saying that looking at the sea reduces stress.

Immigration is the largest cause of population increase in the United States. California's population is projected to reach 60 million by 2040. A decreasing fraction of California's population will have ocean views or views of undeveloped valleys. Developments are spreading out across more deserts and into more valleys. Apartments are packing more people into existing cities. Fewer people will have serenity.

Once upon a time conservationist groups cared about population control. But as non-whites came to represent large fractions of population growth the leftist environmentalists flip-flopped on this issue. Now no population increase is large enough to draw their opposition.

Silence is golden but increasingly rare.

While 30% of the population admit to being seriously stressed on a daily basis, 84% believe that being in contact with the natural elements makes them feel instantly more relaxed. A short walk in a park or the sight of the sea is guaranteed to lower stress instantly.

The survey commissioned by Hoegaarden, is based on a survey of 2000 adults nationwide, who blame a number of factors on their stress levels. These include the morning commute (13%), work itself (32%) and getting up (14%) as the main causes of their daily stress. Just 19% of those who live or work in rural locations say they feel stressed on a daily basis.

Natural antidotes to stress

When it comes to lowering stress levels our senses are key, with 42% of those surveyed, reporting that seeing the sea was the quickest and most effective stress reliever. A third of us benefit most from a walk in the park, 10% cite the smell of cut grass as the best stress buster, and 14% rate hearing a bird as having the biggest impact on reducing stress.

An urban population removed from nature

Although 86% have seen a bird in the last 24 hours, one out of every ten people in the UK haven't seen a sheep or cow for over 6 months. Londoners are almost as likely to have seen a mouse or rat in the last month (22%), as they are a sheep (28%) or cow (28%).

On average city dwellers can expect to spend 73 days without more than 5 minutes of silence at a time, whilst those who live in rural areas go only 14-24 days. Shockingly, almost a quarter (22%) of all Londoners haven't experienced silence for over 6 months.

Housing prices are skyrocketing near coasts. Decades ago ocean front acreage was not so valuable because there was so much of it. But as the population has grown suddenly everyone has realized that relaxing views are in short supply and the prices for the relaxing views has shot up. Unless you make a lot of money expect to live in more stressed environments in the future. In the United States we could reduce the extent of the future decay in quality of life by keeping out immigrants.

By Randall Parker 2005 July 22 12:55 PM  Immigration Societal Decay
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Pentagon Reports On Iraqi Troop Readiness

The Border Police are heavily infiltrated by insurgents.

A report issued Thursday by the U.S. Defense Department says Iraqi security forces are improving, but that border control units remain weak, with a high level of infiltration by insurgent groups. Overall, according to a senior U.S. general, just over half the Iraqi forces are actually operating against insurgents, but only a small number can operate independently.

The report issued to Congress says the severe problems of desertion and failure to perform, that afflicted Iraqi forces early last year, have largely been solved. The document blames the poor performance on the rush to put newly trained Iraqi forces into battle almost immediately during the coalition assault on insurgent strongholds in Fallujah.

The report says the Special Police Commandos are among Iraq's most effective new fighting forces. It assesses the Commandos' chain of command as "highly effective." Still the report says the 8,000-strong Commandos have an absentee rate of "below 10 percent," although some units are as low as one percent. It describes the level of insurgent infiltration in the Special Police Commandos as "low" because of a special vetting process for applicants, most of whom are experienced soldiers.

The report also gives high marks to the Iraqi army's Special Forces Brigade. It says the Brigade has been operating for a year, taking what it calls "crucial roles in major combat operations," sometimes independent of coalition forces.

By contrast, the U.S. Defense Department report says Iraq's new Border Police have "a high level of insurgent infiltration" and "a significant rate of attrition," along with what it calls "moderate to low" effectiveness in its chain of command. The report says there is a "continuing stream of foreign terrorists entering Iraq" across the borders this unit is supposed to help control.

Apparently an absentee rate of below 10% is something to brag about with Iraqi soldiers. But when the units are ordered into battle what happens to their absentee rates?

The Pentagon considers the foreign fighters to be minor players.

In describing the insurgency, the report differed in emphasis from recent portrayals by Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld.

The report played down the importance of foreign fighters, saying that the radical Muslims who have been crossing Iraq's border accounted for only a fraction of the violence, though the "dramatic and symbolic nature, and lethality" of their attacks produced a "disproportionate psychological impact, relative to their numbers."

It said that Sunni Arabs "make up the largest proportion of the insurgency and present the most significant threat to stability in Iraq."

Local Sunni Arabs make up the bulk of the insurgency. No, foreigners do not play a big role. No, Shia Iraqis do not play a big role. The problem is that the Shias also do not play a big role in putting down the Sunni insurgency.

The Pentagon refuses to break down readiness levels of Iraqi units in detail

U.S. officers have developed a method of calculating the combat readiness of the approximately 76,700 Iraqi Army troops, but the Pentagon said it "should not and must not" publicly disclose specific data.

"The enemy's knowledge of such details would put both Iraqi and coalition forces at increased risk," the report said.

But you can guess how ready these units are. Look at US casualty rates. I'll believe that the Iraqi units are ready when they do the bulk of the fighting and US casualty rates fall.

Infrastructure attacks are down.

The general said attacks on Iraqi forces are up slightly, but noted that should be expected because their numbers and involvement have steadily increased.

Attacks on infrastructure, however, are down. From June to November 2004, Iraq averaged 41 insurgent attacks on infrastructure targets per month. Since February, that number has been an average of seven per month. "The Iraqis are working very hard to help protect their infrastructure out there," Sharp said.

But the downturn on infrastructure attacks might indicate that the insurgents think killing government officials, soldiers, police, and others produces greater benefit than blowing up infrastructure.

The downturn in infrastructure attacks is not helping the economy. If conditions in Iraq are getting better then why has unemployment gone up 5.5 percentage points since December 2004?

Unemployment still plagues the Iraqi economy, retarding economic progress and feeding frustration with the pace of reconstruction. About 28 percent of Iraqi workers are unemployed, the report says, up from 22.5 percent in December.

Okay you eternal optimists on Iraq (and you know who you are): What quantitative measures can you point to for progress in the Iraq war? I want real measures that affect outcomes. For example, rates of IED bombings by insurgents or improvement in economic output or other more bottom line measures. Number of Iraqi troops trained just doesn't cut it as a measure of progress unless we see those troops fighting effectively in ways that are quantitatively measurable. How about a big decline in US troop casualties and deaths? When is that going to happen?

You can read the full July 2005 Pentagon Iraq report "Measuring Stability and Security in Iraq" (PDF format).

By Randall Parker 2005 July 22 11:19 AM  MidEast Iraq New Regime Failures
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Russia Experiences 10 Fold Increase In Bribery

Are the government officials demanding more for the same services or do they have more assets and powers to sell for cash?

INDEM, the independent and highly respected think-tank, released its annual report on corruption in Russia this week.

Its findings are hardly encouraging, but not unexpected either. Corruption in Russia has grown ten-fold over the last 4 years. Instead of making a commitment to deal with this grave social malady, the authorities have accepted the institutionalization of corruption as part of Russian economic expansion.

INDEM's "Corruption in Russia: Dynamics and Perspectives" report claims the average bribe in 2001 was $10,200 and has increased to $135,000 in 2005. The report claims bribes increased 10-fold since 2001 and equal to two and a half times the current federal budget.

The authorities have recognized the damage corruption inflicts upon the economy. To counter the temptation to accept bribes for political favors, 35,000 state officials in the federal bureaucracy, representing 10% of all state employees, were given a five-fold pay increase roughly a year ago. These employees are now paid $500 a month, instead of $100. Most observers applauded the government's move as a good first step to fight corruption, but paying some state employees more has not stemmed Russia's oldest social malady called "rent-seeking."

Some Western observers hailed Putin's coming to power. They figured even if he decreased democracy he'd at least cut back on corruption so that the Russian economy would grow faster. Well, Putin has been a total failure by that measure. The biggest economic plus for Russia in recent years has been the rise in oil prices.

Not only are prices up but quality is down too.

However, as the INDEM report points out, the "corruption equilibrium" may now no longer serve its purpose. In the past, the effectiveness of a bribe was a near certainty; today paying a bribe does not assure the "service" will be provided.

What is causing the rise in corruption? Did Putin renationalize assets and thereby cause access to those access to become sellable by government officials? Or has an increase in oil revenue brought in more money with which to pay bribes?

The increase in bribery is the result of growing predatory behavior by bureaucrats.

“The general tendency of growing corruption is not new, but the Yukos affair has completely untied the hand of bureaucracy in their pursuit of bribes,” Mr Satarov said.

But he said the underlying reason for the rise in corruption was the lack of political or civil society control over bureaucrats, who had become the dominant force under Mr Putin.

“Putin is the hostage of the system because he depends on political support from the bureaucrats,” Mr Satarov said.

Putin is portrayed as a strong man. But if he can't control the bribery then he's even even weaker than Yeltsin. Yeltsin's government was better than Putin's.

By Randall Parker 2005 July 22 12:09 AM  Civilizations Decay
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2005 July 21 Thursday
Muslims Said To Make Up 70% Of Prisoners In France

Some estimates put Muslims at 10% of France's population. Muslim overrepresentation in French prisons show what fools the government leaders were to let in some many Muslim immigrants.

Iranian-French researcher Farhad Khosrokhavar said in his recently published book Islam in Prisons that Muslims make up some 70 percent of a total of 60,775 prisoners in France.

As ethnicity-based censuses are banned in France, he said complexion, names and religious traditions like prohibition of pork indicate that Muslims constitute an overwhelming majority in prisons.

In the United States the figures I see for cost of imprisonment run to $20,000 per prisoner and higher. Prisoners are expensive. But criminals loose in society are even more expensive. They cause lots of damage and loss of people and property and also necessitate more money spent on security measures. Combine the lower rates of economic achievement of Muslims in France and seems very unlikely that French Muslims are a net econominc benefit to the rest of the people of France.

By Randall Parker 2005 July 21 11:52 PM  Immigration Crime
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2005 July 19 Tuesday
Hillary Clinton Not Serious About Border Security

Hillary Clinton has talked tough on illegal immigration. But Hillary has since taken positions opposing measures to crack down on illegal immigration. Once again Hillary refuses to put our money where she pretends to be on immigration.

The Senate voted yesterday against fulfilling its pledge from last year to hire 2,000 more Border Patrol agents and fund 8,000 new detention beds for illegal aliens in fiscal 2006, as some potential presidential candidates weighed in on border security and illegal immigration.

Hillary voted against both amendments that would have increased the number of Border Patrol agents and also that would have allowed all the non-Mexican illegal immigrants who are captured crossing the border to be held for deportation.

The major Democratic Party contenders for the 2008 Presidential election all voted against tighter border security.

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, New York Democrat, who had made a splash recently with comments about cracking down on illegal immigration, voted against both amendments, as did Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts, the 2004 Democratic nominee, and Democratic Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. of Delaware, who has said he plans to run.

Hillary has the audacity to criticise the pathetic Bush Administration policies on border control even as she opposes measures to strengthen border security.

Just last week the former first lady blasted President Bush on border security in a statement posted to her official Senate Web site.

"This administration has failed to provide the resources to protect our borders, or a better system to keep track of entrants to this country," she complained, adding, "I welcome the addition of more border security."

Who is a bigger liar? George W. Bush or Hillary Clinton? I figure Bush is because he's had more opportunity to craft big lies to implement policies. During her husband's administration Bill and not Hillary was the architect of the biggest lies.

Speaking to the Mexican racial interest group National Council of "The Race" Hillary Clinton called for in state college tuition and amnesty for illegal alien high school graduates.

She also touched on several education issues, including her support of legislation known as the DREAM Act, which would allow illegal immigrant children who finish high school in the United States to avoid deportation, earn a path to citizenship, and possibly receive in-state college tuition rates. The National Council of La Raza held a rally in support of the measure on Sunday.

"We want to make it possible for the 65,000 undocumented young people who graduate from our high schools each year to receive in-state tuition rates and pursue their own dreams," she said. "I hope, with your help, we will make that Dream Act a reality this year."

One wonders what she advocates for illegal alien high school drop-outs. Does she draw a distinction between the desirability of those smart enough to go to college and those who aren't even smart enough to graduate from high school? The average Hispanic 12th grader knows about as much as the average white 8th grader. Would Hillary Clinton publically acknowledge this fact if confronted with it? Would she agree that sending people with 8th or 9th grade levels of education on to college with racial preferences works against the best interests of the nation? Or does she think that higher achieving white, East Asian, and South Asian students should be discriminated against for the benefit of a growing Democratic Party voting block that is a source of cheap labor for businesses that donate to both parties?

I think it is clear at this point that Hillary Clinton is not serious about cutting back on illegal immigration. The only hope for immigration restrictionists in the 2008 Presidential election is Tom Tancredo.

By Randall Parker 2005 July 19 03:18 PM  Immigration Politics
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2005 July 18 Monday
Civil War Building In Iraq?

Shia politicians in Iraq call for the return of Shia militias.

Shiite parliamentarian Khudayr al-Khuzai called on the government Sunday to "bring back popular militias" to protect vulnerable Shiite communities. "The plans of the interior and defense ministries to impose security in Iraq have failed to stop the terrorists," he told the National Assembly.

But the Shia militias never entirely disbanded. They control parts of Baghdad and certainly control Basra (see below).

The Shias see civil war between Sunnis and Shias in the offing. (same article here)

“What is truly happening, and what shall happen, is clear: a war against the Shias,” Sheikh Jalal al-Din al-Saghir, a prominent Shia cleric and MP, told the Iraqi parliament.

Sheikh al-Saghir is close to Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, the supreme Shia spiritual leader and moderate who has so far managed to restrain powerful Shia militias from undertaking any outright attack on Sunni insurgents. His warning suggests that the Shia leadership may be losing its grip over Shias who in private often call for an armed backlash against their Sunni assailants.

If the US withdrew then the Shia militias would quickly explode in size and take on the Sunni groups.

The Shias are reacting to the continued killing of Shias by Sunni bombers. Perhaps the bombers in Iraq decided to have a weekend bomb contest to see who could blow up the most people.

Some 15 suicide bombers have struck within just over 48 hours in the capital and along the main road south in what al Qaeda's Iraq wing has declared is a campaign to seize Baghdad.

In Saturday's attack a suicide bomber blew up a fuel truck near a crowded vegetable market outside a Shi'ite mosque in Musayyib, in a lawless area U.S. troops call "the triangle of death." In addition to the 98 killed, hospital sources said 75 people had been wounded, 19 of whom were in serious condition.

In southern Iraq Basra has been spared the Sunni bombings because it is under control of oppressive Shia fundamentalist Islamic militias.

For a visitor from Baghdad the contrast is striking: there are none of the blast walls that surround the capital's government buildings and at the night the markets and streets throng with people.

But the calm has come at a price and offers an object lesson to strategists in western capitals that bringing democracy to the Middle East can easily usher into power religious forces at odds with the west.

In January's historic Iraq election a majority of religion-inspired leaders were elected in Basra, but they have struck a deal with the militias which have been influential since 2003 and effectively have free rein in the city.

The militias help impose order and warn of any Sunni infiltrators but only while working to transform the city into a miniature theocracy reminiscent of that found across the Shatt al Arab waterway in Iran.

Pictures of Ayatollah Khomeini, the leader of the 1979 Iranian revolution, have become a common sight on street corners. Shops selling musical instruments have been bombed after warnings that musicians were the "servants of Satan".

Stores selling DVDs report that groups of men inspect their wares to ensure it contains no items considered too provocative.

American soldiers have fought for Iraqi freedom. The freedom to create a stifling oppressive religous state.

Iran looks to be the big winner in Iraq.

Iran hopes that the United States can crush the insurgency and that free elections will keep its allies in power. If Iraq eventually breaks apart into Kurdish, Sunni and Shiite countries, Iranian officials think they will have strong influence in Kurdistan and the Shiite state.

Asked if it's ironic that when the United States eventually withdraws, Iran could have greater influence than the United States, Asefi said, "That is true, but that's not our fault. When Americans are working for us, we'll let them do it."

America is running out of allies to make the war in Iraq multinational on the American side. Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi says 10% of Italy's 3000 troops in Iraq will go home in September 2005.

'As far as our troop withdrawal goes, the situation has not changed. We will begin, as I have already announced, a partial withdrawal of around 300 troops in September,' he said at the end of a summit of world leaders.

British Defense Secretary John Reid expects British troops to bring withdrawing some time in the next 12 months.

He added that Britain does not want to be tied to what he called an "immutable time scale" for withdrawal.

"That will be a process. I believe it is a process that could start - no more than that - over the next 12 months," Mr. Reid says.

The war will go on for years if the US remains.

Update: I have a big question: Is civil war between the Shias and Sunnis more likely if the United States leaves soon or stays longer? If the US leaves now then the Sunnis could decide that the central government is so weak that they can capture control of the government and restore the Sunni supremacy. That would lead to a civil war. On the other hand the very presence of US troops is a big lure for non-Iraqi Arabs to heed the call to Jihad and to go into Iraq and conduct bombings. Shia Arabs bear the brunt of those attaccks. Therefore the US presence brings in bombers who drive Shias toward retaliatory attacks against Iraqi Sunnis which then make the Sunnis want to retaliate in kind. So the US presence helps to create the conditions for civil war.

My guess: Iraq would be calmer and at less risk of civil war if US troops left.

By Randall Parker 2005 July 18 02:35 AM  Mideast Iraq Ethnic Conflict
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Iraq Invasion Radicalized Foreign Jihadists In Iraq

The war in Iraq radicalized many Arabs. Most of the bombers in Iraq would not have become terrorists had the United States not invaded Iraq.

However, interrogations of nearly 300 Saudis captured while trying to sneak into Iraq and case studies of more than three dozen others who blew themselves up in suicide attacks show that most were heeding the calls from clerics and activists to drive infidels out of Arab land, according to a study by Saudi investigator Nawaf Obaid, a US-trained analyst who was commissioned by the Saudi government and given access to Saudi officials and intelligence.

A separate Israeli analysis of 154 foreign fighters compiled by a leading terrorism researcher found that despite the presence of some senior Al Qaeda operatives who are organizing the volunteers, ''the vast majority of [non-Iraqi] Arabs killed in Iraq have never taken part in any terrorist activity prior to their arrival in Iraq."

President Bush sure knows how to push the buttons of the Arabs.

''The president is right that Iraq is a main front in the war on terrorism, but this is a front we created," said Peter Bergen, a terrorism specialist at the nonpartisan New America Foundation, a Washington think tank

The bull is going to remain in the china shop until January 2009.

What I see is the silver lining in this gray cloud: The Arabs are helping to sell the European public on the idea that immigration is not a solution to their aging populations.

By Randall Parker 2005 July 18 01:24 AM  Mideast Iraq
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Tom Tancredo Considers Presidential Run In 2008

Tom Tancredo is my top choice for the next President of the United States.

The four-term House member met Thursday evening with members of the Christian Coalition of Iowa in Davenport before making similar stops in Cedar Rapids and Cedar Falls on Friday. He planned to leave Iowa today after a morning event in Dubuque.

"I'm here to get people to ask the question: What are you going to do about illegal immigration?" Tancredo told The Des Moines Register in a telephone interview Friday. "And if I can help elevate this issue to where it really does command the debate, I will have done my job. If no one else will take up this issue in the presidential campaign, then I will."

My guess is he will run. If he runs then he will have many very motivated supporters. So he has a fair shot at getting the Republican nomination. He'd be a huge turn-about from George W. Bush.

By Randall Parker 2005 July 18 12:53 AM  Immigration Politics
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Growing Grassroots Immigration Law Enforcement Movement

A grass roots national movement to enforce immigration law is spreading across the United States.

At least 40 anti-immigration groups have popped up nationally, inspired by the Minuteman Project that rallied hundreds this year to patrol the Mexican border in Arizona.

"It's like O'Leary's cow has kicked over the lantern. The fire has just started now," said Carl "Two Feathers" Whitaker, an American Indian activist and perennial gubernatorial candidate who runs the Tennessee Volunteer Minutemen, aimed at exposing those who employ illegals.

Some local governments are looking for ways to enforce immigration law as well. The government of Canyon County Idaho is planning to bring RICO suits against local businesses which hire illegal aliens to recover costs of providing services to illegals.

"Their presence lowers the labor wage for American citizens and removes employment opportunities," county Commissioner Robert Vasquez, an ambitious politician who just started a bid for Congress, said of the illegal workers. "Certainly it uses tax dollars to provide them with educational services, medical care, unemployment compensation for those that are injured on the job. They are a drain on the taxpayers of Canyon County, the state of Idaho and the U.S. in general."

The county's attempt to recoup its expenses would be filed under the federal Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, commonly called the RICO Act, which has been used against targets ranging from organized crime to Internet spammers.

Canyon County believes it can prove economic damages in court.

Though Vasquez has talked about the possibility of filing suit for several weeks, the commissioners signed a contract Tuesday hiring the Chicago-based law firm Johnson-Bell and lawyer Howard Foster. The contract instructs Foster to file the lawsuit.

The county alleges the businesses, which Vasquez declined to identify until the lawsuit is filed, are hurting the county by taking jobs from U.S. citizens and giving them to illegal immigrants, who then use county resources such as indigent medical care, schools and jails

Should these lawsuits succeed many other county governments could copy Canyon County and use RICO as a tool to intimidate businesses to stop employing illegals. Also, if RICO can be used against the employers of illegals then the desire for big money will bring trial lawyers looking for big scores. The triple damages available under RICO could bring a large change in incentives when it comes to immigration law enforcement.

Efforts to enforce immigration law at the local level will continue to grow as long as the federal government refuses to enforce immigration law. Don't expect the growth of the grassroots movement to change policy in Washington DC. I expect America's treasonous elites to try to get an amnesty through Congress in 2006 as a way to make all the illegals legal and thereby undermine local immigration law enforcement efforts.

By Randall Parker 2005 July 18 12:39 AM  Immigration Law Enforcement
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2005 July 14 Thursday
On Western Muslim Terrorists

The US Public Broadcasting System Frontline TV show had an excellent segment last week entitled "Al Qaeda's New Front" (and if you get a chance to watch a rerun it would be worth your while). The episode's web site pages have a lot of additional information and I suggest going to that previous link and clicking through and reading some of the articles. One of the people interviewed for the show was psychiatrist and researcher on terrorists Marc Sageman. Among Sageman's points: Terrorists do not need elaborate training.

The violent videos unearthed and broadcast after 9/11 featuring multinationals in fatigues honing their skills in remote training camps may largely be a thing of the past. "While the movement was under the control of Al Qaeda, they could go to Afghanistan to train, but now they don't have that luxury," Sageman says. "Training is no longer necessary. The guys in Casablanca and Istanbul were not trained. There is no evidence the guys from Madrid ever went to a training camp. But yet they are still able to conduct operations."

It turns out making "sophisticated" cell phone detonators is not that sophisticated, Sageman says. "Anyone who knows anything about a cell phone can hook it up to a detonator." He argues that the over 1,000 Web sites coming out of Iraq showing beheadings via video files are actually "far more sophisticated than rigging a bomb up."

Sageman says the devices used by many terrorists are remarkably primitive. "It's pretty amateurish. The real threat today are attacks like Madrid, Casablanca, Istanbul -- it's not [sophisticated attacks like] 9/11 because these guys can't coordinate."

I've previously posted excerpts summarizing some of Marc Sageman's statistical analyses on terrorists in my previous post "Former CIA Case Officer Provides Terrorist Profiles". The Frontline episode includes more details from from Sageman's work. For example, Muslims are more likely to become jihadists if they move to live in a society which has what is to them a foreign culture.

At the time they joined jihad, the terrorists were not very religious. They only became religious once they joined the jihad. 70 percent of his sample joined the jihad while they were living in another country from where they grew up: someone from country A is living in country B and going after country C. This is very different from the usual terrorist of the past, someone from country A, living in country A, going after country A's government.

For an example of the A to B to C pattern look at Mohammed Atta from Egypt who moved to Germany and then decided to attack the United States. If Germany had not allowed Atta and his Middle Eastern co-conspirators to immgrate to Germany then the 9/11 attack probably would have happened. Muslim immigration to Europe (and to Canada for that matter) therefore heightens the risk of terrorist attacks in the Unietd States.

A more general statement perhaps is that people who join the jihad tend to feel like outsiders. The native born British Muslims who join the jihad do not see themselves as British. They see themselves as Muslims living in Britain. There's an obvious lesson here for Western societies: Don't let in people whose religion gives them a belief system which is incompatible with Western cultures. Do not let in people who will see themselves as outsiders. Only let in people who have cultural and religious beliefs that are fully compatible with the existing culture.

Of course, to recognize that some cultures are incompatible with each other requires a rejection of muliticulturalist ideology. One must see differences between peoples. One must give up the illusion that the majority of people in every country of the world are, deep down, secular liberal democrats. To reject myths which are part of one's secular or religious faith in humanity is more than many people can manage. But unless Western intellectuals adopt a more realistic and empirical view of human nature Western democracies are going to become less free and less safe.

The potential for terrorism and conflict is heightened when the immigrants are from a sufficiently different ethnic or racial group that they see themselves an the larger society also see them as foreign. Human beings identify more closely with those who look more like them, act more like them, think more like them. This tendency toward seeing people as belonging to in-groups and out-groups is part of human nature. Policies based a rejection of deep human tendencies lead to foolish immigration policies and foolish foreign adventures such as the debacle in Iraq.

If Western countries will stop allowing Muslim immigration and if Western countries will deport all the Muslim illegal aliens then the future growth of the threat of terrorist attacks can be decreased. Why not make these changes to immigration law and immigration law enforcement? Yes, to make the change requires adoption of a less idealistic view of human nature and a less utopian expectation for the future of humanity. But the result will be more freedom in Western societies and less risk of terrorist attacks or of political fights centered around ethnic conflicts.

The attack by the Pakistani British citizens who apparently engaged in suicide bombing on the trains and the bus works against the argument that better integration will eliminate or greatly reduce the Western Muslim terrorist threat. The Frontline "Al Qaeda's New Front" has a Frequently Asked Questions" (FAQ) list which includes the observation that Britain has been an especially friendly place for Muslims. Yet 4

Are some European countries faring better than others in integrating their Muslim communities?

Florida State University Professor Alec Hargreaves, author of numerous books on the North African immigrant community in France and currently a visiting professor of immigration and integration at the Sorbonne in Paris, gives high marks to the U.K. "British policy has generally been more accommodating than that of France or Germany," he says. "Given the large geographical distances separating the U.K. from Pakistan and Bangladesh (the two main Muslim states among the countries supplying Britain with migrant labor), it was unrealistic to think of those migrants as temporary residents. Instead, family settlement was more obviously the norm." Britain also led the way among Western European states in the 1960s and 1970s in developing anti-discrimination policies, which other European Union countries, such as France, are only just beginning to catch up with, he says.

The British home secretary's professed shock that the London bombers were born in Britain demonstrates the folly of embracing a mythical view of human nature in place of a more realistic and biological view.

Charles Clarke, the British home secretary, is 'shocked'. According to the latest police updates, the London bombers were not some Johnny Foreigner threat to our 'way of life': they were four young Britons brought up in our way of life; four men aged between 19 and 30 who were born in Britain to normal, and by all accounts perfectly respectable, Pakistani families.

But why is Clarke shocked? The harsh reality is that these young Brits would appear to be pretty typical al-Qaeda types. For al-Qaeda is not, as many have claimed since 9/11, a bunch of foreigners brought up on the dusty backstreets of Cairo or Ramallah and hell-bent on launching war against a faraway West; they tend to be young, respectable, often middle-class and sometimes naive men, many of whom were born or educated - and even radicalised - in the West. For all the talk of a 'clash of civilisations', al-Qaeda is a largely Western phenomenon.

There was absolutely no reason to be shocked that Pakistani Muslims born in Britain chose to kill dozens of people as suicide bombers.

None of the bombers had criminal records or were known to the police in advance.

Shehzad Tanweer, 22, Mohammed Sadique Khan, 30, and a 19-year-old, Hasib Mir Hussain, have been named as the suspected suicide bombers. The fourth bomber has yet to be named.

All three came from respectable Pakistani families and were born in Britain, and lived in Leeds. None of them had previous criminal records.

Police officials said privately that the suspects were not known to police as Islamic extremists, fitting the profile of 'sleepers' who were chosen for the mission because they had not previously attracted police attention.

This is nature's way of telling Westerners that our immigration policy is the height of folly.

One of the London bombers had a father who owns several businesses.

The second alleged terrorist, Shehzad Tanweer, 20, came from Colwyn Road, Leeds, and is believed to have been responsible for the Aldgate bomb. Shehzad came from a close-knit Muslim family, with four British-born children. His father owned several businesses in the Leeds area. The family lived in a large detached house in the Beeston area in Leeds, with two Mercedes parked outside their home. Shehzad attended Leeds University, were he studied Sport Science. He sometimes helped at his father fish and chip restaurant, South Leeds Fisheries. He was a regular at the Bangali Mosque at Dewsbury Road.

The man responsible for the No. 30 Bus bombing at Tavistock Place was 19-year-old Hasib Hussain, from Colenso Mount, Leeds. Hasib, who knew Shehzad, had been wild until eighteen months ago when he became increasingly religious after visiting relatives in Pakistan. The fourth bomber, believed to be from Luton has yet to be identified, and his remains are still in the Piccadilly line train.

Sports science is not a major for the most brilliant. My suspicion is that while a lot of the terrorists have technical and scientific degrees their minds are marginal for the kind of work they set out to do. Plenty of second rate and third rate universities grant degrees in a variety of scientific and technical subjects. Are these the sorts of universities that the educated terrorists have been earning their degrees? If so then it is plausible that they end up feeling intellectually inferior and resentful of the more successful members of the majority population. I'd love to see IQ tests administered to captured terrorists who have college degrees. I'd also like to see the academic standings for the universities where they earned their degrees and their grade point averages at those universities. Anyone out there reading this a terrorism researcher? This cries out for study.

Think about this. Someone living in one country has a hard time comparing himself to someone else doing a superficially similar job in another country. But put them close together in the same office and suddenly their relative abilities become apparent. Differences in raises and promotions drive home the point that some guy has been judged less capable than some other guys in his same office. If a guy refuses to accept the idea that other people in his environment really are more capable and more productive then he's going to blame his superiors for his own inadequacy. If he happens to believe in a religion that tells him he can get a huge reward in heaven by killing these other people then for some small but significant portion of those boiling with resentment suddenly that resentment and that blame gets channelled toward flying a jumbo jet into a skyscraper or blowing up a bomb on a subway.

Also see my previous post Islamic Terrorists Recruiting At British Universities and Razib's corresponding post and the GNXP discussion of Razib's post.

By Randall Parker 2005 July 14 02:00 PM  Immigration Terrorism
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How Important Is the Shia Sunni Split?

Aniruddha Bahal discusses the Sunni Salafist school of Islam and terrorism.

Since the Russian withdrawal from Afghanistan there has been a gradual growth of the Salafists around the globe. They are everywhere enthralling the masses with strains of Islam that are a tempting alternative to the dismal picture of development in their societies. They promise correcting the current bafflement of the people by taking a route to an ancient form of Islam practiced by the Prophet and the first two generations succeeding him. The Salafis hold the view that the further we move from the time of Prophet Mohammed the more impure Islam has become due to the clever innovations in religious matters. The Salafis reject all schools of law, going a step ahead of even the hardline Wahabbis (who follow the Hanbali school of law).

Those Wahabbi revisionists! When a Sunni group sees even the Wahabbi as not pure enough you just know we are looking at an especially intense form of fundamentalism.

The conflict in Iraq should be seen in the context of a heightened competition between the Sunnis and Shias that grew out of the Iranian revolution and the withdrawal of the Soviets from Afghanistan while fighting against an insurgency which was backed by many Sunni Arab governments and volunteers.

The current conflict of interests in Iraq between the Shia majority and the Sunni minority has provided an extra edge to the enmity. Since the establishment of the Coalition Provisional Authority and the installation of the Allawi government in Iraq, Salafi web sites and forums on the Internet have stepped up their attacks against the Shias. There are also severe criticisms of Iran on their websites alongwith growing attempts by Saudi Salafi scholars and laymen to link the Shiites to Jews, both in history, and in present times.

It should be recalled that in the last two decades, with the flowering of extreme strains of Islam there emerged an unhealthy competition between Iran and Saudi Arabia as to which state was `more' Islamic. The beef between the Salafis and the Shias also colors the Salafi leadership as personified by groups headed by Zarqawi and Bin Laden.While both men follow the strict code of Salafi Islam, which considers Shias as the spoilers, Bin Laden prides himself on being a figure above the `fray' so to speak and has made strategic alliances with Shia groups, meeting several times with Shia militants. Zarqawi, by contrast, favours butchering Shias, calling them "the most evil of mankind . . . the lurking snake, the crafty and malicious scorpion, the spying enemy, and the penetrating venom". Zarqawi's terror group is, in fact, the prime suspect for the multiple bombings near the Shia religious shrine in Karbala and also in Baghdad which killed 143 worshippers in March, 2004.

One observer argues that Iranian intelligence agents have been infiltrating Sunni terrorist groups in Pakistan in order to prevent attacks by Sunni terrorist against Pakistani Shiites and also to defend Iran.

Says Mahan Abedin, editor of Terrorism Monitor, and who is currently researching a book on Iranian intelligence services: "The terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 did not come as a surprise to the Iranian intelligence community, primarily because they had been engaged in their own covert war against the Taliban and its international Islamist allies for many years. Indeed, under different political circumstances, Iranian intelligence could have provided valuable help to the U.S. in the war against Salafi Islamist terrorism. Iran's Ministry of Intelligence & National Security (VEVAK) and the intelligence directorate of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) arguably have a better understanding of Wahhabi/Salafi terrorist networks and their institutional and ideological roots in Saudi Arabia than most other major intelligence organizations. They have gained such knowledge through the penetration of Wahhabi missionary/terror groups in Pakistan, which has been a priority for Iranian intelligence over the past 20 years. This priority stems not only from Iran's self-perceived responsibility to protect Pakistan's Shi'a community, but more importantly from a desire to pre-empt Saudi-sponsored Wahhabi subversion amongst Iran's tiny Sunni minority."

Imagine what the neoconservatives would say about connections between Iranian intelligence agents and Pakistani Sunni terrorists. Iranian agents working undercover in Sunni terrorist networks? They'd claim this is proof that the Iranians are backing Sunni terrorism. But the Sunnis do carry out bombings against Pakistani Shiites and in 2004 alone 100 Pakistani Shiites were killed by Sunnis. A single bomb blast in March 2005 in Balochistan killed 43 Shias while a car bomb blast in October 2004 killed 40 Sunnis and other blast killed 30 Shias. Surely the Shia mullahs in Iran look at Pakistan and see the Sunni terrorist groups which have been blowing up Pakistani Shias since the early 1980s as enemies.

I am reminded of the split between China and the USSR during the Cold War. For many years starting some time in the late 1950s (sorry, my memory on this is faint) US intelligence analysts and policy makers underestimated the depth of that split. They figured that as fellow communists the Russians and Chinese had too much in common to be anything but allies. But Henry Kissinger and Richard Nixon were too smart to miss the opportunity this presented for the United States. Well, look at Iraq for evidence of animosity between Shias and Sunnis. The Sunni insurgency battles the Shia dominated government while Shia Iran has agreed to provide $1 billion in aid to Iraq with much of it earmarked for Iraq's defense ministry.

By overthrowing Saddam Hussein the United States has created conditions in Iraq which increase the hostility between Sunnis and Shias. Lots of Shias are getting killed by Sunnis. Some Sunnis are being killed by Shias. Iran is backing the Iraqi Shia-dominated government. Many of the same Sunnis who support Bin Laden's aims are flocking to Iraq to fight both against the United States and also against Shiism. View this in the context of the US opposition to Iran's nuclear weapons program. In a sense the United States is therefore engaged in a two front war. The US is battling Sunni extremists while simultaneously trying to pressure Shia Iran on nuclear weapons. It is a shame that Condoleezza Rice and George W. Bush are nowhere near as smart as Kissinger and Nixon.

By Randall Parker 2005 July 14 10:40 AM  Civilizations Clash Of
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2005 July 12 Tuesday
Iraq And Colombia Conflicts Seen Fitting Mathematical Pattern

Mike Spagat, an economist at the University of London, and Neil Johnson, a physicist at the University of Oxford say the conflicts in Iraq and Colombia fllow a mathematical power law which matches that found for long term conflicts in non-Western nations.

In Iraq, the battle began as a conventional confrontation between large armies, says Spagat. But the presence of coalition forces "has fragmented the insurgency into a structure in which smaller attack units now predominate", he says. Since 2003, the 'casualties per attack event' for Iraq, measured over 30-day windows, have followed a gradually changing power law. The slope was initially equal to that found by Richardson for traditional warfare, but it is now approaching the value found for non-Western terrorism.

Spagat's team finds that the Colombia conflict, which has been fought between the government and various left- and right-wing guerrilla groups for many decades, is also approaching this value.

The researchers conclude that armies in Iraq and Colombia should be using different tactics. "If you believe that you need to fight like with like, a conventional army is the complete opposite of what you need. You have to do away with centralization," says Johnson. In many ways, he says, it is like fighting an illness that continually evolves, adapts and changes.

The researchers fear that such a pattern indicates the war can on on indefinitely. Johnson fears it might be part of a larger pattern of low grade world wide war.

The United States has been providing a lot of aid and not a few special forces and CIA guys to Colombia for years and so far the war just keeps on going on. Will the battle in Iraq continue indefinitely even if the US withdraws? If so it will continue to provide plenty of useful terrorist attack experience to British and European Muslim jihadists.

By Randall Parker 2005 July 12 03:04 PM  Mideast Iraq
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2005 July 11 Monday
Kids Transferred To Better School Score No Better In Florida

When students in Broward County Florida were transferred to schools where children score higher the transferred kids did no better as a result of the transfer.

Broward County students who transferred out of low-performing schools last year under the federal No Child Left Behind Act didn't gain a significant academic boost by changing classrooms and teachers, according to a report released by the school district on Thursday.

The analysis of 842 transfer students shows they did no better on state tests than their peers who decided to remain at their old campuses.

It's the first study to evaluate President Bush's signature education reform program, according to the U.S. Department of Education.

Is anyone surprised by this? Schools where kids do better are scores where there are smarter kids. Transferring dumber children to schools full of smarter children isn't going to cause intelligence to just rub off on the dumber kids when they are playing with the smarter kids on the playground.

The transferred kids were disciplined more often in their new schools.

There was a difference, however, in discipline problems. The researchers found that transferred students were more likely to be sent to the principal's office or sent home as punishment.

I can think of a couple of potential explanations for this result. One is that the kids transferred from schools that have unruly atmospheres. The teachers and principals in those schools have given up trying to discipline for any but the most flagrant misbehaviors. Then the kids get transferred to schools which are more orderly and calm and suddenly the same behaviors cause a kid to be sent to the principal's office.

Another possibility is that the dumber transfer students are getting placed in classes with smarter students who get taught materials that is over the heads of the dumber students. So the dumber students, bored, resentful, and frustrated, act out and start pounding on the kids sitting next to them.

If the transferred kids were given IQ tests and the kids in the schools they were transferred to were also IQ tested my guess is that the bulk of the difference in their performance at learning material would be explained by innate differences in cognitive ability.

As long as the official ideology of America's ruling class is that America is Lake Woebegon where all children are above average the utter stupidity of No Child Left Behind will continue. Schools that have special classes for brighter students will continue to be pressured to cut back on curricula aimed at the brighties. Leftie ideologues in universities will continue to look for ways to ignore the fact that some people are smarter than others by, for example, withdrawing from the National Merit Scholarship program.

The UC says the selection process for the scholarships is flawed, as 97 percent of applicants are wiped out of contention solely because they do not score high enough on the test. Out of 1.3 million test takers, only 16,000 advance with eligibility for a National Merit Scholarship, and only a little over half of those students will actually receive a scholarship, according to a briefing from the UC in conjunction with the academic council's resolution on the issue.

The unempirical believers in the secular religious faith of equality just refuse to accept that some 3% segment of the population is smarter than the other 97%. This is not written in the Gospel they were taught to believe. It is an especially offensive and heretical notion because that top 3% does not have the same racial distribution as the bottom 97%. By banning the National Merit Scholarship program from their campuses they are publically demonstrating their allegiance to the one true secular faith. George W. Bush should be touched by this faith-based initiative. Our secular educational institutions are dedicated to building a faith-based society and they have found ways to do this without falling afoul of the constitutionally mandated separation of church and state..

Update: California Lieutenant Governor and Hispanic Cruz Bustamante opposes the use of a test on which Hispanics score lower on average.

Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante, who is also a member of the UC Board of Regents, recently sent a letter out to the UC campuses that still participate in the National Merit program, urging the chancellors to “abolish the practice of awarding merit scholarships solely on the basis of PSAT scores.”

Bustamante predictably will oppose anything merit-based because his group doesn't do as well on merit.

Update II: Minor quibble: the PSAT might select down to only 1% in the first pass of the National Merit program.

UC critics of the National Merit program fault its reliance on the PSAT, a 2-hour and 10-minute practice SAT taken by 1.3 million high school juniors yearly. The PSAT serves as the initial screening test for the National Merit program and is used to eliminate nearly 99% of the candidates and reduce the group to 16,000 semifinalists.

That's even more selective and therefore an even greater sin against secular religious orthodoxy.

Update III: The results above are not an argument for vouchers. The parents who pay high housing prices to live in upper class neighborhoods are doing so in part to send junior to schools where no misbehaving lower class kids will disrupt classes. This is why the vouchers movement has failed repeatedly. It threatens to allow any kid to get into schools which are now the almost exclusive preserves of the children of the cognitively more able.

In fact, a major reason why smaller class sizes helps is it reduces the number of disruptive kids per class. If all the kids are quiet and calm then class sizes can be larger with little decrease in learning quality. Efforts to mix kids together via forced busing, vouchers, and the misguided NCLB folly harm the educations of the better behaved kids. Putting together kids of drastically different levels of cognitive ability in the same classroom increases disruption and tends to force teachers to slow down the rate of instruction to cater to the cognitively less able. Voucher proposals inevitably require schools to accept voucher applicants in order of application without any ability of schools to screen out less desirable students. So vouchers are going to be bitterly opposed by the middle and upper classes and with good reason.

By Randall Parker 2005 July 11 12:51 PM  Education
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2005 July 10 Sunday
Almost Quarter Of American Births To Immigrants

A rapidly increasing portion of babies born in America are born to immigrants.

  • In 2002, 23 percent of all births in the United States were to immigrant mothers (legal or illegal), compared to 15 percent in 1990, 9 percent in 1980, and 6 percent in 1970.
  • Even at the peak of the last great wave of immigration in 1910, births to immigrant mothers accounted for a slightly smaller share than today. After 1910 immigration was reduced, but current immigration continues at record levels, thus births to immigrants will continue to increase.
  • Our best estimate is that 383,000 or 42 percent of births to immigrants are to illegal alien mothers. Births to illegals now account for nearly one out of every 10 births in the United States.
  • The large number of births to illegals shows that the longer illegal immigration is allowed to persist, the harder the problem is to solve. Because as U.S. citizens these children can stay permanently, their citizenship can prevent a parent’s deportation, and once adults they can sponsor their parents for permanent residence.
  • The large number of children born to illegals also shows that a “temporary” worker program is unrealistic because it would result in hundreds of thousands of permanent additions to the U.S. population each year, exactly what such a program is suppose to avoid.
  • Overall, immigrant mothers are much less educated than native mothers. In 2002, 39 percent of immigrant mothers lacked a high school education, compared to 17 percent of native mothers. And immigrants now account for 41 percent of births to mothers without a high school degree.

Keep in mind that the average educational attainment of native mothers varies considerably by racial and ethnic group. The European and Asian native mothers are better educated than that 17% average while the black and Hispanic native mothers are worse. As Hispanics become a larger fraction of the US population the immigrants will not look as bad relative to the US population total. But that just means the US native population as a whole on average will become less well educated in the future - at least until biotechnology advances to the point where offspring genetic engineering for cognitive enhancement becomes possible..

  • The dramatic growth in births to immigrants has been accompanied by a decline in diversity. In 1970, the top country for immigrant births — Mexico — accounted for 24 percent of births to immigrants, by 2002 it was 45 percent.
  • As a share of all births in the country, Mexican immigrants accounted for one in 10 births in 2002. No single foreign country has every accounted for such a large share of births.
  • In 2002, births to Hispanic immigrants accounted for 59 percent of all births to immigrant mothers. No single cultural/linguistic group has ever accounted for such a large share of births to immigrants.
  • The states with the most dramatic increase in births to immigrants in the last decade are Georgia, North Carolina, Nevada, Nebraska, Arkansas, Arizona, Tennessee, Minnesota, Colorado, Delaware, Virginia, and Maryland
  • Immigrants account for such a large percentage of births because they have somewhat higher fertility and are more likely to be in their reproductive years than natives. However, the difference with natives is not large enough to significantly affect the nation’s overall age structure.
  • Immigrants who have arrived in the last two decades plus all of their U.S.-born children have only reduced the average age in the United States from 37 to 36 years.
  • Looking at the working age share (15 to 64) of the population also shows little effect from immigration. With or without post-1980 immigrants and their U.S.-born children, 66 percent of the population is of working age.
  • While immigration has little effect on the nation’s age structure, new immigrants (legal and illegal) plus births to immigrants add some 2.3 million people to the nation’s population each year, making for a much larger overall population.

In an increasing number of areas in the United States housing is becoming expensive. Why? Partly due to population increases. If fewer people were competing for desirable land then the land would cost less.

Since Hispanics are the biggest block of immigrants and Hispanics do poorly in school on average even among 4th generation descendants of immigrants the speed of the change in America's demographics bode poorly for our future on both economic and political terms. Our elites seem determined to turn the United States of America into Latin America with huge disparities in wealth, large poorly educated population segments, racial animosity, and much greater political corruption.

With almost half of Hispanics dropping out of high school in America and the wealth gap between the races widening I have a hard time being bullish on America's future. Immigrants do not improve much academically beyond the second generation. America's future will be marked by more inter-racial political conflicts of the sort that bedevil Latin America. America's political elites are stupid. They are inflicting this future on us. What folly.

By Randall Parker 2005 July 10 12:30 PM  Immigration Demographics
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Islamic Terrorists Recruiting At British Universities

The Sunday Times of London has gotten ahold of a British government dossier on terrorist recruiting activities in Britain.

The Whitehall dossier, ordered by Tony Blair following last year’s train bombings in Madrid, says: “Extremists are known to target schools and colleges where young people may be very inquisitive but less challenging and more susceptible to extremist reasoning/ arguments.”

Even if only a half of a percent of British Muslims join up with radical organizations that number still is in thousands.

The dossier also estimates that 10,000 have attended extremist conferences. The security services believe that the number who are prepared to commit terrorist attacks may run into hundreds.

Most of the Al-Qaeda recruits tend to be loners “attracted to university clubs based on ethnicity or religion” because of “disillusionment with their current existence”. British-based terrorists are made up of different ethnic groups, according to the documents.

“They range from foreign nationals now naturalised and resident in the UK, arriving mainly from north Africa and the Middle East, to second and third generation British citizens whose forebears mainly originate from Pakistan or Kashmir.

“In addition . . . a significant number come from liberal, non-religious Muslim backgrounds or (are) only converted to Islam in adulthood. These converts include white British nationals and those of West Indian extraction.”

How well are the loners doing in their classes when they are recruited? Are they above or below average? Do they feel inferior to other students? Do they feel inadequate? Do attractive women treat them as undesirable? Are they introverts? Depressed? Anxious?

The report describes terrorist recruiters who use British universities as their recruiting grounds. If those recruiters are not locked up or deported then the rate of attempt at terrorist attacks will almost certainly go up with time.

The Iraq war is creating terrorists, not stopping them.

The Iraq war is identified by the dossier as a key cause of young Britons turning to terrorism. The analysis says: “It seems that a particularly strong cause of disillusionment among Muslims, including young Muslims, is a perceived ‘double standard’ in the foreign policy of western governments, in particular Britain and the US.

In the long run the Iraq war might turn out to be a blessing in disguise. If a significant portion of the Muslims in Western countries are going to go all alienated and become terrorists the sooner the larger public learns this the sooner pressures will build to stop letting them into Western countries. Even the ones who do not become terrorists do more poorly on average than native Europeans. So there is a big economic downside to letting them in as well. Plus, many of them do not have Western values. The larger argument against Muslim immigrants contains most of the arguments against Hispanic immigration plus additional arguments due to larger conflicts in beliefs and values. The demographic trends in Western countries might shift in a less unfavorable direction (still bad, just not as bad) due to the continued terrorist attacks in Europe.

I've made this argument in the past. Basically, more terrorist attacks against Europe and America in the short term will help to evoke an immune response in Europe before the demographic conditions become much worse. So the stupid US foreign policy of the Bush Administration toward the Middle East and Muslims in general might, by intensifying the clash of civilizations, wake up the West to the obvious fact that some belief systems are incompatible and irreconcilable. But a lot of believers in secular ideologies, like their supernatural religion believing counterparts, are pretty resistant to abandoning elements of their faith. Reality is going to have to pound on them pretty hard for the truth to sink in.

You can read the full text of the leaked British cabinet documents in a 4 part series here and here and here and here (all are PDF format).

The former London Metropolitan police chief, Lord Stevens, who retired early in 2005 says the London bombers are almost certainly British citizens and have some higher education.

“They will be apparently ordinary British citizens; young men conservatively and cleanly dressed and probably with some higher education. Highly computer literate, they will have used the internet to research explosives. They are painstaking, cautious, clever and very sophisticated.”

Stevens said intelligence officers believed that up to 3,000 British-born or British-based people had passed through Osama Bin Laden’s training camps, some of whom returned home to become potential Islamic terrorists.

He said at least eight other separate terrorist attacks had been foiled in the past five years. At times up to 1,000 undercover officers had been working on one anti-terrorist operation.

The time to stop Islamic terrorists in the West is before either they or their parents immigrate to Western countries in the first place. While foolish and irresponsible elites of some Western countries have already stuck their populaces with substantial Muslim subpopulations which will commit terrorist attacks for decades to come Western governments could at least stop making the problem worse. Put an end to all Muslim immigration. If only one half of 1% of the children of Muslim immigrants become terrorists that is still far too many.

The Brits let "Londonistan" flourish for decades.

Yesterday, commentators in Europe claimed Britain had paid the price for allowing Islamic extremists to flourish unopposed in “Londonistan”.

The stinging rebuke came as an apparent backlash against Britain’s Muslim community began to emerge with a petrol-bomb attack on a mosque in Merseyside.

"Londonistan" is a sore point especially with the French. The police and intelligence agencies in France have complained for years that the British attitude was that the Islamic radicals could do anything they wanted as long as the radicals didn't carry out attacks on British soil. The Brits weren't worried about fund-raising and organizational activities that the radicals conducted in Britain because the radicals were seen as aiming to attack governments in the Middle East. The British welfare state paid the radicals monthly checks essentially to make babies and to build up organizations. Idle hands are the devil's workshop as grandma used to say. The British government granted asylum to radicals who claimed they were in danger of religious persecution in their home countries. Of course in some of those cases those radicals were advocating or even organizing terrorist attacks against Middle Eastern governments. So one could make an argument for Britain as paralleling (albeit to a much lesser extent) Taliban-ruled Afghanistan by providing a safe haven for Islamic radicals. Well, now those birds have come home to roost.

I see home grown terrorism as a challenge to the assumptions underlying the concept of citizenship. How can one claim the status of citizen when one rejects the legitimacy of the society that the overwhelming majority of its members accept and support? Why should the majority recognize the right of membership in a group for people who reject and who wish to kill large numbers of members of that group?

But even if revocation of citizenship followed by banishment was brought back into vogue as a respectable option one problem the British face is that many of the radicals can no be identified in advance of an attack. Still, some are well known. Be gone with them.

By Randall Parker 2005 July 10 10:05 AM  Immigration Terrorism
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2005 July 09 Saturday
London Bombs At Most 10 Pounds Each

Less than 40 pounds of bomb material was used.

Citing the results of the first 24 hours of inquiries, Andy Hayman, a senior police officer, said that the four bombs each contained less than 10 pounds of "high explosive," and that the bombs on the three trains were left on the floors of the cars where they exploded, around 100 yards from the stations at King's Cross, Liverpool Street and Edgware Road.

The bomb on the bus exploded either on the floor or on a seat, he said.

Unmarked Semtex stolen from Czechoslovakia is a possibility and is easily available on the black market from Russian mafia and others.

The bombs were probably made from simple, relatively easy-to-obtain plastic explosives, not the higher-grade military plastics like Semtex that would have killed far more people, said Andy Oppenheimer, a weapons expert who consults for Jane's Information Group.

``Any crook with ready cash could obtain this stuff if they knew where to look for it,'' said Alex Standish, the editor of Jane's Intelligence Digest.

One wonders how much effort various European intelligence and police agencies put into running down all the black market plastic explosives.

What is the range of black market prices for Semtex and similar explosives in London, Madrid, and other European cities? Ditto the United States. Is it harder or easier for terrorists to get bomb material in the United States than in Europe?

The Madrid bombs weighed more and more bombs were used. So the Madrid bombings used about 220 pounds of explosives.

Ten pounds is a relatively small bomb, although a blast's power depends more on the type of explosive than the amount. The 10 bombs that killed 191 people on commuter trains in Madrid, Spain last year averaged 22 pounds each; the bombs that killed 33 bystanders and 12 suicide attackers at five targets in Casablanca, Morocco, two years ago were 18 to 22 pounds each.

Why didn't the London bombers use more bombs or bigger bombs? Did they have less money? Is the explosives black market smaller in Britain than in Spain?

The bomber group might have been quite small and may have rapidly and informally set up their attack.

Paul Cornish, the head of the international security program for the London research center Chatham House, said such answers would be the result of slow, steady investigation.

"This doesn't look to be a particularly involved plan - simple bombs, hardly exact timing," he said. "It could have been as simple as four friends eating breakfast in central London, then agreeing to head off and look for buses and trains. There may not have been much planning, and there may have been only a few people involved."

The Czech company Explosia that makes Semtex has a web page defending themselves against charges that their manufacture of Semtex creates dangers for others. For investors they point out that they have a broad product line and are not dependent on Semtex sales for their survival.

A 2002 profile of Semtex inventor Stanislav Brebera in Christian Science Monitor reports experts put worldwide Semtex stockpiles in the tens of thousand of tons.

Semtex became infamous when just 12 ounces of the substance, molded inside a Toshiba cassette recorder, blasted Pan Am flight 103 out of the sky above Lockerbie, Scotland, in December 1988, killing 270 people. A year later, after the Czech Communist regime was toppled, the new president, Vaclav Havel, revealed that the Czechs had exported 900 tons of Semtex to Col. Moammar Qaddafi's Libya and another 1,000 tons to other unstable states, such as Syria, North Korea, Iraq, and Iran. Some experts now put worldwide stockpiles of Semtex at 40,000 tons.

After the Lockerbie tragedy, Brebera added metal components and a distinct odor to make Semtex easier to detect. But that did not stop terrorists from using it to bomb the US Embassy in Nairobi, Kenya, in 1998, or prevent the IRA, which received about 10 tons of Semtex from Libya, from continuing its attacks.

Lots of Semtex has been stolen.

Substantial quantities of the explosive have been stolen from industrial enterprises in the Czech and Slovak republics for sale on the black market. Shortly before the most recent ban was lifted, Czech police seized 100 kilograms of industrial Semtex from a group of Czech citizens who were planning its illegal sale abroad. In Slovakia in October 1993, some 900 kilograms of the explosive were stolen from the warehouse of a private firm, together with more than 2,000 detonators. Czech officials candidly admit that they have no idea how much Semtex has been stolen or illegally diverted, and the continued black market trade in the explosive seems certain.

But Semtex is far from the only choice available. C4 and many other explosives could have caused the damage seen in London.

The Brits are in a difficult position. Much of the black market explosives trade takes place in other European countries. The sheer volume of goods imported from those European countries into Britain makes bringing in some explosives fairly easy. Therefore the illegal explosives trade can't be stopped enitirely. Still, a bigger effort coordinated across Europe against black market arms trading might reduce the rate of future attacks.

At the same time the people side of the equation would be extremely difficult to fix. A lot of the angry British Muslims were born in Britain as citizens. So deportation isn't going to get rid of them unless the Brits start revoking citizenships based on measures of loyalty. But even then they'd have to identify who rejects the legitimacy of their society thoroughly enough to want to plant bombs.

By Randall Parker 2005 July 09 12:00 AM  Terrorists Activities
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2005 July 08 Friday
US Death Rate In Afghanistan Doubles

Bryan Bender of the Boston Globe reports on a doubling of US soldier death rates in Afghanistan in the first half of 2005.

WASHINGTON -- This year has been the deadliest for US troops in Afghanistan since war began in late 2001, as more American soldiers have died than in each of the previous three years, according to military figures. The statistics signal that well-armed Taliban and Al Qaeda militants holed up in caves, tribal villages, and craggy peaks along the border with Pakistan will remain a threat to the new Afghan government for years and require US troops, now numbering 18,000, to remain indefinitely, according to regional specialists. In the first half of this year, at least 54 Americans lost their lives, compared with 52 in all of last year, according to official statistics reviewed by the Globe.

Did the shift of US intelligence and special forces and other military assets away from Afghanistan into Iraq give the Taliban and Al Qaeda a better chance to regroup? Is the higher casualty rate in Afghanistan a reflection of neglect caused by the Iraq war? Or was the resurgence of the Taliban based on Pakistan inevitable in any case?

Some military sources say the higher casualty rate comes from a higher number of US military patrols into more remote locations.

Military officials and Afghan specialists say the rise in attacks is partly because of a more aggressive US and Afghan strategy to flush out remaining pockets of Taliban fighters and their Al Qaeda allies who used Afghanistan as a training base throughout the 1990s. In the first year of the US occupation, the United States maintained a military presence of only about 8,000 troops; it now has 18,000 troops and has expanded the number of patrols and community reconstruction teams to more remote areas where the Taliban is believed to operate.

But the article goes on to state that improvised explosive devices (IEDS) usage is way up and more attacks are being launched by the Taliban and their allies. The article also claims more support for the Taliban is coming from Pakistan.

The 78 Americans killed in Iraq in June 2005 nearly equalled the 80 killed in May. The death toll there shows no sign of decreasing. Arguments that the insurgents have responded to the hardening of US targets by shifting their attention toward Iraqi forces and Iraqi civilians miss the obvious point that US casualty rates have not declined. Therefore the increase in deaths of Iraqi military, police, government officials, and civilians come on top of a continued high level of deaths of American soldiers. This means the insurgency in Iraq has become more effective.

The US military is overstretched trying to handle both Afghanistan and Iraq.

By Randall Parker 2005 July 08 04:44 PM  Military War Costs
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Britain, European Muslim Citizens Seen As Terrorist Threats To United States

Peter Bergen, author of Holy War Inc.: Inside the Secret World of Osama bin Laden, has an op/ed piece in the New York Times on the threat which British Muslim terrorists pose to the United States.

Why have so many of these terrorists come from Britain? Many British Muslims are young and poorly integrated into society and therefore vulnerable to extremism. In fact, Muslims have the youngest age profile of any religious group in Britain; around a third are under the age of 16. The unemployment rate among British Muslims runs almost 10 percentage points above the national average of about 5 percent. In the case of 16- to 24-year-old Muslim men, the unemployment rate is 22 percent. Not surprisingly, polls of British Muslims show a considerable sense of anger. Eight out of 10 believe that the war on terrorism is a war on Islam, while a poll conducted last year, under the auspices of the Guardian newspaper, found a surprising 13 percent who said that further attacks by Al Qaeda or a similar organization on the United States would be justified. One rap video that surfaced in Britain last year called "Dirty Kuffar" had lyrics that included the following verse: "O.B.L. [bin Laden] pulled me like a shining star! Like the way we destroyed them two towers, ha-ha!"

Last year a British government report estimated that between 10,000 and 15,000 British Muslims are supporters of Al Qaeda or related groups.

Bergen notes that the Visa Waiver Program (see below) allows increasingly angry and numerous European Muslims to freely enter the United States without any need for visa application and approval. The Muslim terrorist groups can get around the tougher screening of Middle Eastern visa applications by recruiting European citizen Muslims to terrorism.

Of course, however bad the British and European Muslim terrorist threat to the United States the threat is even worse for the British. Worse yet, while the British could negotiate political deals with the Irish Catholic terrorists there is no obvious and acceptable political deal that the Brits could negotiate with the Muslim radicals.

The argument that the British Muslims are "poorly integrated into society" suggests that, well, the Brits have not done a good job of integrating them. But the Brits haven't done any worse a job integrating Hindus and other groups which do not become terrorists. Also, Britain does not strike me as a particularly hostile place for non-natives. If some group feels so far out of place in Britain to engage in terrorist attacks then they obviously shouldn't be allowed to live there in the first place. The British people do not have any sort of moral obligation to totally rearrange their society and change their culture to satisfy any group angry enough to blow up busses and trains.

22 European countries are members of the Visa Waiver Program.

  • Andorra
  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Denmark
  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Iceland
  • Ireland
  • Italy
  • Liechtenstein
  • Luxembourg
  • Monaco
  • Netherlands
  • Norway
  • Portugal
  • San Marino
  • Slovenia
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland
  • United Kingdom

Two Western but non-European countries are members of the Visa Waiver Program.

  • Australia
  • New Zealand

Australia has some problems with Islamic terrorists.

A few non-Western countries are part of the Visa Waver Program as well.

  • Japan
  • Singapore
  • Brunei

Japan doesn't pose much of a threat but Muslim Brunei and partially Muslim Singapore do.

Our biggest terrorist threat from Visa Waiver countries emanates from Britain followed by France and Germany. Most of the British Muslims have the advantage of English language skills. They also have plenty of mosques which teach them to hate us non-believers.

While much is made of the threat of terrorists I still think that most Americans face a greater threat from immigrant groups that commit crimes at higher rates than from terrorists. Garden variety murders occur every day and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. At some point terrorists may find ways to pose an even greater threat than immigrant groups which have high crime rates (e.g. Hispanics and Africans).

The problem with the terrorist threat is that if only a very small fraction of society decides to become terrorists the cost to the rest of us would be enormous. One one hundredth of one percent of America is about 30,000 people. That many people operating as terrorists could kill more people than the US lost in the last 100 years as soldiers fiighting in wars. Therefore any group which has even a small fraction of its members leaning toward terrorism should be kept out. We already have enough people and so does Europe. Immigration should be done only when the benefits per person coming in clearly outweigh all the costs immediately and in the long term. In my opinion the United States could reduce the rate of immigration by a couple of orders of magnitude by putting a high IQ minimum on immigrants and eliminate huge costs and growing risks while retaining the bulk of the benefits of immigration.

In the longer run if technological advances reduce the obstacles to carrying out large and very lethal terrorist attacks then I predict some countries will enact legislation that allows them to revoke citizenship even of the native born. Banishment is the most obvious way to respond to a group that rejects the legitimacy of a society and which seeks to kill many of its members.

By Randall Parker 2005 July 08 03:09 PM  Immigration Terrorism
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Weird Unexpected Educational Impact From Hispanic Immigrant Deluge

A neighbor just told me that his son is going to be disappointed to learn he has to go back to school one week early this year and return to school before Labor Day. Why? The Santa Barbara California school district has added an additional third week to the Christmas break in January. And why did the school board make that decision? Lots of illegals from Mexico take their kids back to Mexico for Christmas. They have some sort of long Christmas holiday in Mexico (12 days of Christmas?) and do not bother to bring their kids back to school after the New Year until the Mexican holiday is completed.

What about parents who want to take longer summer holidays and take their kids places? Too bad. The neighbor's complaint was that in two income families finding a way to take care of the kids for an additional week over Christmas is an imposition. Summer day camps and other programs that help out in the summer don't run over Christmas.

And get this: The school district is thinking about extending the Easter break into 2 weeks for a similar reason. Those illegals also don't keep their kids in school around Easter.

You might that the native Americans who pay the bulk of the taxes would have a say. You might think the schools are run for them and not for the illegals. Not any more.

If this sort of thing can happen in a town where houses all cost more than half a million dollars each then it can certainly happen wherever you live.

By Randall Parker 2005 July 08 01:27 PM  Immigration Societal Decay
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2005 July 07 Thursday
Britain, Four Euro Countries Agree To Asylum Deportation Charter Flights

Spain, France, Italy, Germany, and Britain have banded together to run charter aircraft flights to deport asylum seekers.

BRITAIN is to join four big EU states in joint charter flights to send home failed asylum seekers as part of the drive to increase the rate of removals from the country.

The aircraft, dubbed “Asylum Airways”, will fly from capital to capital picking up illegal migrants in an initiative agreed at a meeting of the interior ministers of the five biggest EU states.

Many British and European airlines refuse to accept asylum deportees on regular flights because of threatening behavior from previous deportees. The bundling together of deportees from multiple European countries will allow the use charter flights with much fewer empty seats.

Britain stll has a net inflow of rejected asylum applicants who stay on illegally.

The scheme will effectively set up a discrete charter airline, already dubbed "migrant-air", that will cut the cost of deportations and reduce the need to send those being deported back home on commercial airlines.

The scale of removals of illegal migrants in Britain needs to be stepped up sharply if the Home Office is to meet Tony Blair's target that the number of monthly total deportations exceeds the number of unfounded new asylum applications by the end of this year. In the first three months of 2005 3,000 were removed but 5,200 new unfounded asylum claims were lodged.

"Our idea is simple - we think that foreigners with no right or entitlement to be in our countries should not stay. They are in breach of our laws," said the French interior minister, Nicolas Sarkozy.

"So we have decided to combine our political and financial efforts and organise return flights for those foreigners whose residence papers are not in order."

My guess is that in response to the London bus and train bombings Blair will now be under pressure to deport far more people. Might the bombings have been prevented if all the asylum applicants had already been deported?

The proposal was agreed to at the Evian G5 meeting right before the Gleneagles G8 summit.

The idea - suggested by Spain - was accepted by Charles Clarke, the Home Secretary, and France, Italy and Germany, at a meeting at Evian on the French shore of Lake Geneva yesterday.

If asylum seekers or asylum grantees are found to have been involved in the London bombings then this proposal will be seen as too little too late.

By Randall Parker 2005 July 07 11:02 AM  Immigration Law Enforcement
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4 Terrorist Bombs Kill Dozens In London Trains, Bus

Muslim terrorists strike again. At least 33 are dead so far.

Mr Paddick said four blasts hit London shortly before 9 am. Seven people were killed in the first blast in a tunnel near Moorgate station in the City, 21 were killed in a second near King’s Cross and another five died at Edgware Road station in west London.

There were a still unknown number of fatalities on a double-decker bus that was blown up Tavistock Place in Bloomsbury. Overall, hundreds of people were injured in the blasts, of whom 45 were seriously or critically injured.

Also see the BBC's coverage for details about each site. Also, see this exact timeline of the explosions. London time the three train explosions happened 8:51 AM, 8:56 AM, 9: 17 AM, and then 9:47 AM for the bus. Less than an hour total.

Attention of security forces was shifted toward the Gleneagles G8 summit currently taking place in Scotland.

Michael Clarke, director of the Centre for Defence Studies at King's College, London, said six bombs would mean at least 24 people were involved in planting them in a targeted operation.

The fact that London had been hit when the resources of the security forces were focused on the G8 summit at Gleneagles showed thoughtful preparation by terrorists.

"It will have been quite a big plot and months in the planning," said Prof Clarke, who declined to speculate who was behind the attacks at this stage.

How many of the bombers will turn out to be British citizens, asylum seekers, illegal aliens, or temporary visitors? How'd they get into Britain and when did they become jihadist terrorists? Britain should deport all illegal aliens and stop letting in asylum seekers. It should also start revoking residency permits for radical Islamists.

The group was probably much bigger and more likely part of a still larger group.

The use of near simultaneous attacks to cause maximum damage and panic is a tactic frequently used by al-Qa'ida.

The technique was used in the 1998 bombing of two US embassies in East Africa and the September 11, 2001, attacks on New York and Washington in which four hijacked airliners were aimed at key buildings.

Note that they went for fairly simple bombs on a bus and trains. They didn't manage to kill hundreds of people. They didn't carry out an attack on an airplane or bring down a large building. They didn't use sarin or some other nerve gas.

A group calling itself "Secret Organisation Group of al-Qaeda of Jihad Organisation in Europe" has published a statement claiming responsibility for the bombing.

In the name of God, the merciful, the compassionate, may peace be upon the cheerful one and undaunted fighter, Prophet Muhammad, God's peace be upon him.

Nation of Islam and Arab nation: Rejoice for it is time to take revenge against the British Zionist Crusader government in retaliation for the massacres Britain is committing in Iraq and Afghanistan. The heroic mujahideen have carried out a blessed raid in London. Britain is now burning with fear, terror and panic in its northern, southern, eastern, and western quarters.

We have repeatedly warned the British Government and people. We have fulfilled our promise and carried out our blessed military raid in Britain after our mujahideen exerted strenuous efforts over a long period of time to ensure the success of the raid.

We continue to warn the governments of Denmark and Italy and all the Crusader governments that they will be punished in the same way if they do not withdraw their troops from Iraq and Afghanistan. He who warns is excused.

God says: "You who believe: If ye will aid (the cause of) Allah, He will aid you, and plant your feet firmly."

The BBC found the statement on a website that has carried previous statements from Al Qaeda.

The Economist argues that the Islamic terrorists would carry out many more attacks if only it had the capability to do so.

One theory as to why it has taken so long might be that al-Qaeda moves in a very measured, careful way: attacks are long in preparation and intermittent in nature. Yet there is much evidence to suggest that that notion, which became conventional wisdom after September 11th, may not be correct. The intelligence services in London say that they have thwarted quite a number of attacks in recent years, including a plot involving deadly poisons and another which had Heathrow airport as its target. Less encouragingly, they also offer unofficial estimates that Britain may be home to roughly 1,000 budding Islamist terrorists, or close supporters of them. Whatever the accuracy of either of those assertions, the general picture is one of repeated terrorist efforts rather than measured, intermittent ones, and of a fragmented, unco-ordinated set of terrorist groups rather than a cohesive effort.

How many of those thousand budding Islamic terrorists are British citizens? How many are known to British security forces? How many could be deported?

George W. Bush is wrong yet again.

George Bush has sometimes claimed that a silver lining to the cloud his forces are struggling through in Iraq is that at least the West's enemies are being fought there rather than at home. The attacks in London are a reminder that that view is as wrong as it is glib.

Since so many Muslim terrorist groups are eager to carry out attacks no intelligence operation against a single group can stop future attacks. Every radical mosque and Muslim hothead in the West has to be watched for signs that they might be brewing an attack of their own.

Update: Will British Muslims who have fought for the insurgency in Iraq be found involved in the attack?

"The international intelligence community has been talking for some time about potential blowback from the Iraqi conflict," says Magnus Ranstorp, a terrorism expert at St. Andrews University in Scotland.

"The French say they know of about 100 of their people who have traveled to Iraq, and 70 or 80 British nationals are thought to have been there," he adds.

Iraq is an excellent place for groups there to check out and train the European Muslims who come there. Then they can be sent back to European countries to carry out attacks.

By Randall Parker 2005 July 07 10:36 AM  Terrorists Activities
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2005 July 06 Wednesday
Acid Attacks Against Untented Women Rising In Iraq

Attackers are throwing acid on women in Iraq who are not totally covered by abayas and other cloaks.

Witnesses in the district where the attack happened, said that for more than two weeks, women have been targeted by acid attackers for dressing immodestly. Sometimes the assailants spray or throw the acid on foot, or on occasion, from a moving car. Other attacks have been even more shocking.

Women could wear Western style clothing without being attacked during Saddam's reign.

During Saddam Hussein’s regime, Iraqi women were more or less free to wear what they wanted. In the 1980s Iraq was considered one of the most Western countries in the region in terms of fashion.

Some women are defiant.

"I won’t force myself to use something that I don’t feel comfortable with. Women in Iraq are losing their place in society and we have to fight that and determine who we are and how we should dress, despite these dangers," Hiba Zuheir, 24, a resident of Mansour district, said.

This problem goes a lot deeper than the insurgency. Saddam held back the more fundamentalist segments of Iraq's Muslim population. Now they are no longer restrained by a totalitarian state and they are trying to force all of Iraq's people to live according to their beliefs.

A Christian woman in Mosul is targetted for her clothing.

The phone calls that Miriem Ishaq, a Christian lawyer in this northern Iraqi city, received recently were chilling: wear the veil or face death, she was told. Ishaq knew the threats were serious. A woman she knew personally had been killed during the last Muslim holy month of Ramadan for failing to wear a veil. Then to underline the intimidation, several men attacked Ishaq on her way to work, poured acid on her clothes and spat on her face because she was unveiled. “These attacks have forced hundreds of Christians to wear Islamic veils now,” said Ishaq.

The Iraqi equivalent of the Taliban roams the streets of Iraq's cities.

The intimidation and the attacks have forced other women in Mosul to give up going to work. And outside the home many no longer wear makeup for fear of being attacked by militants. One woman, who used to own a beauty salon, wept as she spoke about having to close it down after being threatened. “"It was a good source of income, and I liked my job in the hairdressing shop,” said Sara, who declined to give her real name. “But a new Taleban movement has turned Iraq into another Afghanistan."

For women this large loss of rights in Iraq looks likely to be long term. Therefore, to argue that the invasion of Iraq freed people in the Western sense of "free" then one must ignore half the population.

Also see my previous posts Position Of Women In Iraq Worsens, Iraqi Women Fearful They Will Lose Rights To Fundamentalists, Islamists And Threat Of Rape Both Fears Of Iraqi Women, and Sharia Family Law Coming To Iraq.

To understand the obsession with veiling see my posts Consanguinity prevents Middle Eastern political development and Pessimists on Muslim Democracy and John Tierney On Cousin Marriage As Reform Obstacle In Iraq. Veils are closely linked to the practice of consanguineous (cousin) marriage.

By Randall Parker 2005 July 06 11:10 PM  Mideast Iraq Freedom Rights
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How Much Does A Dollar A Day Buy In Malawi?

Xanthe Scharff has an article in the Christian Science Monitor about a Malawian mother of 4 children Selina Bonefesi and her husband Bonefesi Malema and how they live on a dollar a day.

Mrs. Bonefesi has a small business making fritters - fried cakes made of wheat, salt, sugar, and yeast.

....

The fruits of her labor are 150 small fritters and 150 large fritters, which will sell for about $.02 and $.04, respectively. Her customers are her neighbors, schoolchildren hungering for a midmorning snack, and people headed to the market three miles past her town. They all know Selina's house and yell out to her from the yard for service with a smile.

I don't know how big these fritters are or how many calories are in each fritter. But I'm struck by their low prices. I also wonder whether this family eats some of the fritters themselves.

Scharff says 4 donuts cost this family 16 cents. You certainly can't buy a donut in a donut shop in the United States for 16 cents, let alone multiple donuts. But how big are these donuts? What are they made from?

She spent all of 50 cents (US dollars) for trousers and two blouses. Doesn't this suggest that a dollar buys a lot more stuff in Malawi?

On a new day, Selina walks the three miles to the market. With the money that's left over from buying $3.92 worth of fritter supplies, she'll purchase fish ($.24), tomatoes ($.08), and practical items - soap, lotion, and salt, for a total of $.51. Trousers and two blouses for her youngest children tally $.50 after bargaining down the price. Next week she'll give her son $1.25 to select his clothes but will spend up to $1.60 on her daughter, knowing the importance of an attractive wrap. She motions to the brightly colored cloth that covers her legs. "If a woman has more than one of these, then she is a real woman," she says.

The $3.92 buys enough supplies for the 150 large fritters and 150 small fritters. Those sell for about $9 total.

Since salaries are very low in most occupations in Malawi the cost of school tuition is incredibly low as well.

They do, however, consistently pay Sifiledi's yearly tuition bill of $29.09 and a per annum of $6.46 for school supplies and smart pink-and-blue uniforms for the three school-going children.

I'm going to guess the school building is incredibly cheap and the construction is well below Western standards. But the kids can stll receive instructions.

These people are extremely poor, without a doubt. But when one hears about some Third Worlders living on something like a dollar a day one can't look at such numbers from the standpoint of prices we pay in developed countries. This Christian Science Monitor article should have provided more data on weights of what was purchased. But even from the details provided it seems clear that a dollar buys a lot more of the bare necessities in Malawi than it does in the United States or Europe.

Meanwhile Der Speigel has a good article on how aid money to Africa hasn't helped any.

Money is, for the Europeans, the solution to all of Africa's problems. But despite yearly payments of, at last count, some $26 billion, the majority of the continent resembles something approaching one big emergency military hospital.

Already today there are increasing numbers of Africans who call for an end to this sort of support. They believe that it simply benefits a paternalistic economy, supports corruption, weakens trade and places Africans into the degrading position of having to accept charity. "Just stop this terrible aid," says the Kenyan economic expert James Shikwati.

...

Often, what started out so promising ends up as a fiasco. Hendrik Hempel, who works for the German Society for Technical Cooperation (GTZ), helped renovate a state-owned farm in North Eritrea after the war with Ethiopia. For years he literally created a blooming landscape.

But Hempel's case became a silent indictment of the incompetence of the ruling government party. He managed to get better yields than the state-run farms. But despite his success, he was forced to give up when the government suddenly installed hundreds of former freedom fighters, who had been left without work after a number of state-run farms had gone bust, as paid employees in his business.

Still, Africa has some bright spots.

Taking office in 1995, current president Benjamin Mkapa vowed to move Tanzania into the middle rank of the world's economies by 2025. He pushed reform forward, most importantly by dismantling the moribund state mining company and offering tax and other incentives to private firms. The result was a boom in the mining of gold, diamond and tanzanite, albeit with a frightening rise in dangerous, privately owned mines. Still, by last year, mining had surpassed agriculture as the nation's leading export industry, bringing in $652 million and powering GNP growth to 6.7 percent this year, up from 4.2 percent in 1996. Tanzania is now among Africa's fastest-growing economies. Foreign reserves are healthy. Inflation stands at a modest 4.2 percent. Government tax revenues have quadrupled to more than $1.7 billion.

As long time readers know, I think the prospects for Africa will be bad for decades to come. But Africa could certainly be made less bad. If Western aid to governments gets cut back and more money goes toward problems whose improvement would allow greater economic growth Africa could do much better than it is doing today. For example, food fortification with micronutrients would raise average IQs. Fortification with vitamins, iodine, and other micronutrients would do more to raise Africa's growth rate than the hundreds of billions on projects funded through African governments. Vitamins and minerals are cheap. To give just one example off the top of my head: the proposed addition of vitamin D fortification to the US food supply has been estimated to add an annual cost of well below $20 million (from memory, sorry no URL). Africans don't need vitamin D. But they do need vitamin A, iodine, and some other micronutrients essential for brain development. If all US aid to Africa was aimed solely at food fortification then that alone would be enough to eliminate the vast bulk of African micronutrient deficiencies. Also, development of vaccines holds the potential of dramatically reducing brain damage by malaria and other diseases. Again, this would increase economic growth.

By Randall Parker 2005 July 06 01:04 PM  Economics Development
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Aspirational People Are More Pro-American

Anne Applebaum has ann article in Foreign Policy about what polling data by age, income, and gender say about pro- and anti-American sentiment around the world.

Some 38 percent of the French, 27 percent of Germans, 40 percent of Chinese, and 42 percent of Brazilians remain convinced that the United States exerts a “positive influence on the world.” Who are they?

US support for Poland against communism has had really fleeting effects. "What have you done for me lately?"

New polling data from the international polling firm GlobeScan and the Program on International Policy Attitudes at the University of Maryland break down pro– and anti–American sentiments by age, income, and gender. Looking closely at notably pro–American countries, it emerges that this pro–Americanism can sometimes be extraordinarily concrete. It turns out, for example, that in Poland, which is generally pro–American, people between the ages of 30 and 44 years old are even more likely to support America than their compatriots. In that age group, 58.5 percent say they feel the United States has a “mainly positive” influence in the world. But perhaps that is not surprising: This is the group whose lives would have been most directly affected by the experience of the Solidarity movement and martial law—events that occurred when they were in their teens and 20s—and they would have the clearest memories of American support for the Polish underground movement.

Younger Poles, by contrast, show significantly less support: In the 15–29–year–old group, only 45.3 percent say they feel the United States has a “mainly positive” influence in the world—a drop of more than 13 percent. But perhaps that is not surprising either. This generation has only narrow memories of communism, and no recollection of Reagan’s support for Solidarity. The United States, to them, is best known as a country for which it is difficult to get visas—and younger Poles have a very high refusal rate. Now that Poland is a member of the European Union, by contrast, they have greater opportunities to travel and study in Europe, where they no longer need visas at all. In their growing skepticism of the United States, young Poles may also be starting to follow the more general European pattern.

The beneficial effects of US participation in WWII are similarly transitory, affecting only the surviving generation that was alive then and their children.

Looking at age patterns in other generally anti–American countries can be equally revealing. In Canada, Britain, Italy, and Australia, for example, all countries with generally high or very high anti–American sentiments, people older than 60 have relatively much more positive feelings about the United States than their children and grandchildren. When people older than 60 are surveyed, 63.5 percent of Britons, 59.6 percent of Italians, 50.2 percent of Australians, and 46.8 percent of Canadians feel that the United States is a “mainly positive” influence on the world. For those between the ages of 15 and 29, the numbers are far lower: 31.9 percent (Britain), 37.4 percent (Italy), 27 percent (Australia), and 19.9 percent (Canada). Again, that isn’t surprising: All of these countries had positive experiences of American cooperation during or after the Second World War. The British of that generation have direct memories, or share their parents’ memories, of Winston Churchill’s meetings with Franklin Roosevelt; the Canadians and Australians fought alongside American G.I.s; and many Italians remember that those same G.I.s evicted the Nazis from their country, too.

While upper class and educated people in the West are least likely to be pro-American the newly affluent and those hoping to become affluent in the less developed countries identify with American affluence. This identification with American affluence makes them have fonder views of America.

Around the world, there are millions of people who associate the United States not merely with a concrete political ideal, or even a particular economic theory, but with more general notions of upward mobility, of economic progress, and of a classless society (not all of which exist in the United States anymore, but that’s another matter). Advertising executives understand very well the phenomenon of ordinary women who read magazines filled with photographs of clothes they could not possibly afford. They call such women “aspirational.” Looking around the world, there are classes of people who are “aspirational” as well. And these aspirational classes, filled with people who are upwardly mobile or would like to be, tend to be pro–American as well.

Looking again at some relatively anti–American countries is instructional. In Britain, for example, it is absolutely clear that the greatest support for the United States comes from people in the lowest income brackets, and those with the least amount of formal education. In Britain, 57.6 percent of those whose income is very low believe the United States has a mainly positive influence. Only 37.1 percent of those whose income is very high, by contrast, believe the same. Asking the same question, but breaking down the answers by education, the same pattern holds in South Korea, where 69.2 percent of those with a low education think the United States is a positive influence, and only 45.8 percent of those with a high education agree. That trend repeats itself in many developed countries: those on their way up are pro–American, and those who have arrived are much less so.

In developing countries, by contrast, the pattern is sometimes reversed. It turns out, for example, that Indians are much more likely to be pro–American if they are not only younger but wealthier and better educated.

Applebaum argues that countries that are getting richer but which have not become rich enough to feel directly competitive with America are most likely to be pro-American. Of course, at least some of these developing countries will eventually develop to the point of having economic classes that feel directly competitive with America.

Of course this suggests something about the future: As countries develop and children of middle and upper class families are born to affluence those children will grow up to have more negative views of the United States. Therefore expect negative views of the United States to spread even more widely in the future.

Here's another interesting pattern: Males are more pro-American than females. The gender gap is 17 points in Poland and 11 points in India. This gender gap parallels the Republican-Democrat gender gap in the United States. Is this because men like macho displays of power? Or are men more analytical and find more rational reasons to favor the US as a world power or because they admire the US free market and what it has produced?

Applebaum has a shorter Washington Post piece on this subject as well.

By Randall Parker 2005 July 06 11:06 AM  Culture Compared
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2005 July 05 Tuesday
Many British Schools Have Sunk Into Mayhem

British TV reporter Alex Dolan went undercover as a substitute (in Britain "supply") teacher and taught in several lower class schools. She found widespread disruption by unruly students and little teaching getting done. (Daily Telegraph free registration req'd)

The girl was ignoring me and playing music on her mobile phone, so loudly that the rest of the class could hear. I kept telling her to stop. Then suddenly she lost control. Standing up, she put her face inches from mine and shrieked: "Don't make me hurt you. I swear to God I will do it."

I was two days into my undercover investigation for a Channel 4 Dispatches programme when this incident happened. It was the first time I had felt physically threatened in school and the feeling stayed with me for a long time. Although extreme, this was the type of behaviour I encountered again and again in the 16 secondary schools I went in to, eventually filming those that seemed to be representative of the problems I saw.

What struck me very early on was that poor, even outrageous indiscipline - children leaping across tables or wandering around brandishing fire extinguishers - had become acceptable. At one school, I was calmly advised by a female colleague to lock the classroom door while I was teaching, to "protect" myself and my class from the marauding groups in the corridors. The look of surprise on my face did not seem to register with her.

But the chaos is hidden from government inspectors.

When Ofsted inspectors arrived the week after for a two-day visit, however, the school was suddenly transformed. I got through a whole lesson without incident, the corridors were mayhem-free, the atmosphere calmer. The mystery was solved by a classroom assistant who told me in a hushed exchange in the lavatory that more than 20 of the most difficult pupils had been sent on a "day trip".

As inspectors monitored lessons, senior managers popped up taking classes that they did not normally teach. Experienced teachers from neighbouring schools were parachuted in. One teacher, who appeared seemingly out of nowhere, said: "I've been drafted in basically to give support to this department while HMI are in. It's a bit of a con-job really." Staff at three other schools told me that "hiding" problem pupils from inspectors was common practice.

Are these Ofsted inspectors too dense to figure out that they ough to drop in unannounced? Or do their political masters want them to get the Potemkin Village tour so that a good front can be made of it publically?

A small number of unruly children ruin the educations of other children. The school administrators obviously know who they are. Imagine how different these schools would be if the teachers and administrators had the authority to maintain order and to remove the worst students from the regular schools. But the ruling left-liberal ideology of the day is that everyone is equal in ability and children can't be judged or punished.

Britain has standardized tests called the GCSEs. Dolan mentions that results of those are manipulated. The same happens in the United States with teachers in lower performing schools by helping the students cheat and modifying test answers. Random assignment of outsiders to administer the tests would reveal a lot of that fraud.

By Randall Parker 2005 July 05 09:39 AM  Education
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2005 July 04 Monday
Half Of California Former Prisoners Illiterate

In an article about a federal judge's decision to put the California prison system's medical care under an appointed receiver some facts about California prison inmates are revealed.

So many parole violators are returned to prison that they make up more than one third of all inmates. The Little Hoover Commission, an independent state research body that provides policy recommendations, estimated 18 months ago that the prisons spend about $1.5 billion a year on parole violators and parolees who commit new crimes.

When inmates do make it back home, they are ill-prepared, either by their stay in prison or parole programs, to hold down jobs or stay out of trouble. The Little Hoover Commission found that 10 percent are homeless, half are illiterate, as many as 80 percent are unemployed. Eighty percent are drug users.

In spite of a doubling of health care expenditures in just 7 years for California prisoners a US federal judge has just decided to appoint a receiver to take over management of the prison health care system.

California already spends $1.1 billion a year on health care for inmates -- a doubling in costs in just seven years -- but the level of care is so poor that U.S. District Judge Thelton Henderson has said it violates inmates' constitutional right against cruel and unusual punishment. Henderson, based in San Francisco, ruled Thursday that a receiver would be appointed to order improvements.

No budget figures were discussed, but most expect costs to soar, perhaps for years, because of the system's desperate needs. In a separate area, mental health, a department consultant has estimated it could cost $1.4 billion to meet the needs of the growing number of mentally ill inmates.

Some critics see the large California inmate population as a sign of racism against blacks and Hispanics by putting them away for minor offenses. But a look at the most recent statistics for the prison system about what the prisoners are in for suggests this is not the case. About 15.5% of California's prisoners are in for murder (1st, 2nd degree, manslaughter) (PDF format). 11.1% are in for robbery and 6.7% for assault with a deadly weapon. Drug offenses amount to 20.6% of the total. Crimes against person add up to 51% of the total.

By racial and ethnic breakdown the California prison system is 36.3% Hispanic, 29.5% black, 28.4% white, and 5.8% other. {redictably whites and Asians are a lower percentage of California's population than they are for California's prison population whereas the opposite is the case for Hispanics and blacks.

The race/ethnic distribution in California shifted during the 1990’s with the White Non-Hispanic population’s share of the total decreased, while the Hispanic and Asian & Pacific Islander Non-Hispanic populations’ shares notably increased. White Non-Hispanics were 57 percent of the population in 1990 but only 47 percent of the population by 2000. The Hispanic population increased from 26 percent in 1990 to 32 percent of the population in 2000. The Asian & Pacific Islander Non-Hispanic population grew from 9 to 12 percent of the total over the same period. The shares of both the Black or African American Non-Hispanic and American Indian and Alaskan Native Non-Hispanic populations have remained constant over the course of the decade, at 7 percent and 1 percent, respectively.

With whites a shrinking minority and Hispanics increasing the prison population will likely continue to growth faster than the state's total population. The costs from crime, the criminal justice system, and prisons will rise along with the Hispanic population growth.

Aside: Black women are 29.8% of total imprisoned women and black men are 29.5% of the men. Okay, sounds kinda reasonable. But check out the Hispanics versus whites. Hispanic women make up only 26.6% of the total for women while the Hispanic men make up 37 percent of the total for men. Why might that be? By contrast white women are 38.6% of the total for women while white men are 28.4% of the total for men. Any idea why this might be?

The medical costs for Californa's prisoners is very high and rising.

The California Department of Corrections' healthcare network serves more than 163,000 prisoners, employs 6,000 workers and has an annual budget of $1.1 billion.

That works out to $6748 per year or $562 per month per prisoner for health care. Unless a large fraction of those prisoners are old that strikes me as a lot of money.

The system costs $7 billion total per year.

Bruce Slavin, who as general counsel for the Youth and Adult Correctional Agency is the top lawyer for the state's $7-billion correctional system, said "it will not be cheap." But he expressed hope that under a receiver, there would be better management of healthcare spending.

Is some of that spent on parole officers? If not, that cost per year translates into an astounding $42,944 per person.

A wall constructed along the entire border with Mexico combined with deportation of illegal aliens and a halt of legal immigration would eventually allow a decrease rather than an increase in California's crime rate and prison population. Also, all legal resident non-citizens should have their legal residency lifted to then allow deportation.

By Randall Parker 2005 July 04 04:20 PM  Immigration Crime
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Bush Speech Insult To American War Revolutionaries

President Bush's deceitful 4th of July speech for 2005 is an insult to the revolutionaries who founded the United States of America.

The history we celebrate today is a testament to the power of freedom to lift up a whole nation. On Independence Day, we remember the ideals of liberty that led men from 13 colonies to gather in Philadelphia and pen a declaration of self-truths. And we remember the band of patriots who risked their lives to bring freedom to a new continent.

On July 4, 1776, more than five years of the Revolutionary War still lay ahead. From the battle of New York to the winter at Valley Forge, to the victory at Yorktown, our forefathers faced terrible losses and hardships. Yet, they kept their resolve. They kept their faith in a future of liberty, and with their hard-won victory, we guaranteed a home for the Declaration's proposition that all are created equal. (Applause.)

Through the centuries, the Declaration of Independence has remained a revolutionary document. As President Kennedy said on the 4th of July, 1962, "The Declaration unleashed not merely a revolution against the British, but a revolution in human affairs."

So far so good, Nice things about the revolutionaries. But then he goes on a long tirade about the threat of terrorism. The he dishonestly ties that threat to the war in Iraq.

At this hour, our men and women in uniform are defending America against the threats of the 21st century. The war we are fighting came to our shores on September the 11th, 2001. After that day, I made a pledge to the American people, we will not wait to be attacked again. (Applause.) We will bring our enemies to justice, or bring justice to our enemies. (Applause.)

Our enemies in this new war are men who celebrate murder, incite suicide and thirst for absolute power. They seek to spread their ideology of tyranny and oppression across the world. They seek to turn the Middle East into a haven for terror. They seek to drive America out of the region. These terrorists will not be stopped by negotiations, or concessions, or appeals to reason. In this war, there is only one option, and that is victory. (Applause.)

We are pursuing a comprehensive strategy to win the war on terror. We're taking the fight to the terrorists abroad so we do not have to face them here at home. (Applause.) We're denying our enemies sanctuary and making it clear that America will not tolerate regimes that harbor or support terrorists. And we're spreading freedom, because the terrorists know there is no room for them in a free and democratic Middle East. (Applause.)

By advancing the cause of liberty in a troubled part of the world, we will remove a source of instability and violence, and we will lay the foundation of peace for our children and our grandchildren. (Applause.)

Iraq is the latest battlefield in the war on terror. Our work there is difficult and dangerous because terrorists from across the region are converging on Iraq to fight the rise of democracy. The images of cruelty and suffering we see on television are real, and they are difficult for our compassionate nation to watch. Yet, the terrorist violence has not brought them any closer to achieving their strategic objectives. The terrorists tried to intimidate the Iraqi Governing Council, and they failed. They tried to delay the transfer of sovereignty to Iraq, and they failed. They tried to stop the free Iraqi elections, and they failed. They continue to kill in the hope that they will break the resolve of the American people, but they will fail. (Applause.)

The President of the United States is telling a bright shining lie. No, the war in Iraq is not a war against the terrorists who attacked the United States on 9/11.

Here once again Bush repeats the fallacy that most Iraqis care much about freedom.

The lesson of this experience is clear, the terrorists can kill the innocent, but they cannot stop the advance of freedom. This January, the world watched as the Iraqi people defied intimidation, dipped their fingers in ink and cast their votes in the country's first free and democratic election in decades. (Applause.) And last week, on June the 28th, the free nation of Iraq marked the first anniversary of the day when sovereignty was restored to its rightful owners, the Iraqi people. (Applause.)

By helping Iraqis build a free and democratic nation, we will give strength to an ally in the war on terror, and we'll make America more secure. To continue building a free and democratic Iraq, Americans and Iraqis are fighting side-by-side to stop the terrorists and insurgents. And our military is helping to train Iraqi forces so they can defend their own liberty. Our strategy can be summed up this way: As Iraqis stand up, we will stand down, and then our troops can come home to a proud and grateful nation. (Applause.)

He's trying to say Iraq is like the American colonies. But in that case American soldiers in Iraq today would be like the French who helped in the American Revolution. Picture, if you will, French soldiers fighting the British in the colonies while American colonials attacked the French soldiers. Imagine the French King proclaiming that the French soldiers would continue to do the bulk of the fighting at Bunker Hill, Lexington, Concord, Trenton, Bunker Hill, Brandywine, Cowpens, (and those are Revolutionary war battlefields for any historical illiterates) and countless other battlefields while the French patiently waited for the American revolutionaries to stand up and do the fighting.

Did the French fire the first shots at Lexington Green? I think not. Did the French fire all the shots at the British as the British soldiers retreated back to Boston? Again, NO! The analogy does not work. The Iraqi insurgents are much more eager fighters than the Iraqis who join the Iraqi government army. The Iraqi people are none too eager to stand up for the Iraqi government unlike the American revolutionaries who fought for little pay under trying conditions against the powerful British Army and Navy. The Iraqi soldiers are so untrustworthy that the US Army puts them in isolated parts of US bases because too many of them have sympathy for the insurgents.

Thanks to Greg Cochran for the tip.

By Randall Parker 2005 July 04 03:49 PM  Politics American Domestic
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2005 July 02 Saturday
Why Won't the Shiites Fight The Sunnis In Iraq?

The Economist reports that in an Iraqi military training academy in Tikrit at very most 5% of the trainees want to fight for their government.

The instructors had more pressing concerns than the quality of their recruits. Two months ago, Iraq's Ministry of Defence took over the job of paying its employees, up to then paid by America, and since then they had not seen a cent. Language is also a problem, with half the recruits speaking Arabic and the others Kurdish, and few instructors knowing both. Perhaps the worst problem is the quality of leadership. The Iraqi colonel nominally in charge of the academy tried to employ his relatives, said his American supervisors, including one who was subsequently arrested in murky circumstances. He would not have been the first insurgent to practise on the academy's range: after the fighting in Fallujah, last November, American marines found the academy's badges on enemy corpses. Asked to estimate how many of the academy's students were motivated by a desire to help their country, Major Donald McArdle, the American in charge, reckoned 5%; his colleagues thought this too high.

The lack of pay for Ministry of Defence workers might be the result of corrupt officials funnelling money off to foreign bank accounts.

The Iraqi force that is supposed to take over the fighting from American soldiers is a mirage. ARVN (Army for the Republic of Viet Nam - the South Vietnamese Army in the 1960s and early 70s) was a better fighting force.

In recent weeks, ISF units have taken charge of small areas of Baghdad and Mosul. By the end of this year, when elections are due to be held under a new constitution, they are supposed to number 230,000, and to be operating in divisions. America would withdraw, or so officials say, some troops early next year.

That is a pipedream. Corrupt, patchily trained and equipped, often abysmally led and devoid of confidence, most army units cannot operate above platoon-size. Between Iraqis and Americans there is deep mistrust: Iraqi units billeted on American bases are fenced off from their hosts as a security measure.

For every vaunted ISF success, examples of cowardice and incompetence abound. Even when stiffened by American forces, the ISF often flee when under attack. Iraqi marksmen have a habit of closing their eyes and spraying bullets in "death-blossoms", in GI slang. Some of the better units, including the 12-battalion, mostly Shia, police commandos, are accused of torture and sectarian violence.

Not that most American commanders--many of whom are on their second or third tour of Iraq, and want it to be their last--admit these deficiencies. To "put an Iraqi face" on operations, they are often accompanied by an Iraqi counterpart. But during operations observed by this correspondent in the violent northern town of Tal Afar last week, the "Iraqi face", that of a genial Kurdish general, spent much time with its eyes closed, gently dozing.

Look at it on the bright side. The dozing Kurdish general isn't going to pass military intelligence on to the insurgents. An alert Sunni Arab general might approach the operation looking for ways to give notice to the insurgents that the Americans are coming.

I don't buy the argument that the Iraqi military just needs more time training. The insurgents do not have training bases and big budgets. Yet they still manage to do lots of fighting. Also, plenty of Iraqis received military training under Saddam's regime. Plus, plenty of Iraqis who have been trained in the new Iraqi Army then left it and used their skills and equipment to eagerly fight for the insurgency.

John Tierney of the New York Times argues normal bias against outsiders is amplified in Iraq by the practice of cousin marriage.

Because marriage between cousins is so common in the Middle East - half of Iraqis are married to their first or second cousins - Arabs live in tightly knit clans long resistant to outsiders, including would-be liberators. T. E. Lawrence learned that lesson when trying to unify Arabs early in the last century.

"The Semites' idea of nationality," he wrote, "was the independence of clans and villages, and their ideal of national union was episodic combined resistance to an intruder. Constructive policies, an organized state, an extended empire, were not so much beyond their sight as hateful in it. They were fighting to get rid of Empire, not to win it."

Today's liberators in Iraq like to attribute the resistance to Islamic fascists' fear of democracy and hatred of the West. But those fascists know that an abstract critique of Western ideology isn't enough to attract followers. In their appeals they constantly invoke the need to expel foreigners from their soil, a battle cry that is the great common denominator of suicide bombers around the world.

For more links about the problem posed by consanguineous marriage (marriage to cousins and other genetic close relations) see Steve Sailer's excerpt of Tierney's essay. Also see my previous post on Tierney's previous essay on consanguineous marriage and Iraq. Also see my posts Consanguinity prevents Middle Eastern political development and Pessimists on Muslim Democracy.

Steve Sailer argues that Iraqis have a stronger desire to dominate than to be free.

Freedom or Dominance: I fear that one of the Administration's fundamental misconceptions about Iraq was the assumption that Arabs value freedom most of all. In reality, I suspect they prize dominance most highly We assumed we could hand them their freedom and they'd be grateful to us for our selfless sacrifice, or, at worst, appreciate our enlightened self-interest. But Arabs have no history of the powerful giving anyone their freedom, so they assume it is a trick and a trap. In Arab thought, the only way to prevent the dominant from exploiting you is to be the dominant one yourself.

The practice of polygamy as a "winner take all" competition for a limited supply of females makes my list of reasons why democracy is doomed in Iraq. Polygamy might be a major cause of the preference for domination over freedom.

The timing of eventual American withdrawal from Iraq will be determined by a combination of US domestic factors and developments in Iraq. On the latter score the most important question in my mind is why aren't the Shias joining the Iraqi military to vigorously fight the Sunni insurgency? Some possibilities:

  1. Most Sunnis are fighting in areas where few Shias live and the Shias just don't see a threat. But Baghdad and a few other cities have substantial numbers of both groups.
  2. The Shias are content to let the United States do their fighting for them. Why get killed when American troops will die for you? If this is the case then only the withdrawal of US troops will make the Shias fight for their government.
  3. Most Shias do not see the Iraqi government as their government even though it is dominated by Shias because the government is predictably so corrupt that it just exists for the people who are in power. If they believe this then they probably have an accurate assessment of the situation.
  4. Most Shias do not feel much allegiance to the abstract concept of "Iraq" since their loyalties to extended families are much stronger. Consanguineous marriage weakens higher level loyalties so much that nation-states can't work. In this case the Shiites are hopeless and we can never hope to establish a functional democracy in Iraq.
  5. As long as the Americans are present the Shias question whether fighting for the government amounts to fighting for their Iraq controlled by Shia Iraqis. Are the Americans just going to use Shias to suppress the Sunni so that the Americans can take all the oil? If this fear is holding them back then US withdrawal should cause the Shiite majority to fight harder for their government.
  6. The Shias figure that the Sunnis are most eager to fight the Americans and that if the Americans would leave the Sunnis would make peace with the Shias. Well, if so then this argues for American withdrawal.
  7. The Shiites have become conditioned to a submissive position vis a vis dominant Sunnis for so long that they are just don't have the mindset needed to defend their position in power.

Can you think of other reasons why the Shiites are not eager to fight for the government while the Sunnis are eager to fiight for the insurgency? Or do you think one or more of the proposed explanations above suffice to explain the unwillingness of the predominantly Iraqi Army to show some eagerness when going up against the Sunnis?

By Randall Parker 2005 July 02 04:26 PM  Mideast Iraq Ethnic Conflict
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