Maj. Gen. William G. Webster Jr. is coming to the end of his year commanding 30,000 US soldiers in Baghdad and Webster claims we are making progress.
Military operations in Baghdad have cut by about half the number of car bombs and roadside bombs, while uncovering nearly double the amount of weapons caches, Webster said. As a result, he said insurgents are resorting more to drive-by shootings and mortar and rocket attacks, which "usually don't hit anybody."
But he acknowledged that U.S. troops are dying in the city at about the same rate as a year ago. "We're working hard to reduce that number," said Webster, commander of the Army's 3rd Infantry Division.
Gains against the insurgency in Baghdad have come with what Webster called "tremendous progress" in transferring responsibility to the Iraqi army and police. Over the past year, the number of Iraqi forces in the capital has increased tenfold, and they now have responsibility for 60 percent of the city, he said. Half of the city is controlled by the 6th Iraqi Army Division, and 10 percent by the Iraqi special police, with American support.
Okay, how can the insurgency get crippled while the Iraqi military takes over more than half of Baghdad and yet the death rate of US soldiers hasn't declined?
The insurgents can kill just as many US forces using only half the city? They are managing to do this while only setting off half as many road bombs total? I hear the pronouncements of progress being made and I keep comparing those pronouncements to the death rate. I do not get it.
BAGHDAD, Dec. 29 -- Under a mounting insurgent offensive against Iraq's gasoline supply, the country's largest fuel refinery sat idle Thursday. Gas station owners in surrounding communities in northern Iraq hung up their dry nozzles. A police chief put out a no-patrol order to his men to conserve fuel. And Nouri Ahmed Azaid put off his wedding.
Insurgents, apparently hoping to pick a cause popular with Iraqis, launched their offensive on gas stations this month after Iraq raised fuel prices eightfold. The International Monetary Fund mandated the reduction of government gasoline subsidies as a condition for forgiving some of Iraq's multibillion-dollar foreign debt.
The article also reports that the attack rate against foreign contractors has hit a new high.
Some European countries are ahead of the United States in making substantial moves to cut immigration. Hjörtur Gudmundsson, writing from Reykjavik Iceland for Brussels Journal (check it out if you've never been there before), reports that Denmark is cutting back on immigration because too many immigrants are on welfare.
The Danish government intends to significantly curb the flow of immigrants from third-world countries next year. The reason for this decision is a new official report on the Danish welfare system which was made public today (December 7). According to Claus Hjort Frederiksen, the Minister for Employment, immigrants from countries such as Somalia, Iran, Iraq and Lebanon are a huge burden on Danish welfare (a similar study was produced in Norway last September). Frederiksen said that immigrants allowed into the country had to have a job waiting for them.
They should go further and just stop the influx altogether.
The Danes have already cut back on immigration.
Since the Liberal-Conservative government of Anders Fogh Rasmussen gained power in 2001 Denmark has not been receiving as many refugees and immigrants as before. Since then the number of annual residence permits granted to asylum seekers each year has dropped from 5,156 in 2000 to 2,447 in 2003. Residence permits for family reunification have dropped from 10,021 in 2000 to 4,791 in 2003, according to the Danish national statistics office.
If anyone has sources for immigration trends in other European countries please post them in the comments. I suspect that Muslim immigration into Europe might be on the decrease due to a fairly quiet tightening of immigration policies aimed at asylum seekers and Muslims. But that's just a guess.
Danish Minister of Refugee, Immigration, and Integration Affairs Rikke Hvilshøj sees the high unemployment rates and low educational attainment of immigrants as big problems.
Hvilshøj also said that high unemployment rates and low education levels remained the biggest problem facing immigrants in Denmark. Only 46% of immigrants from third-world countries were employed, compared to 73% of Danes, and 60% of young immigrants dropped out of high school. Hvilshøj said that Denmark's current economic boom and low unemployment was the time for immigrants to seize the labour market.
The West should keep out the dummies and the Muslims. Western countries ought to institute IQ testing for prospective immigrants. The bar should be set pretty high. Even an IQ of 100 does not allow a person to do all that much. I think 120 IQ ought to be a minimum and would favor an even higher minimum threshold.
A few months back Filip van Laenen also reported on the Brussels Journal web site that immigrants in Norway on welfare are less likely to leave the country than immigrants who were not on welfare.
Interestingly, the welfare dependency ratio grows the longer the immigrants are living in Norway. Ekhaugen analysed the annual situation from 1992 to 2000 of three types of adult immigrants - refugees and asylum seekers; non-western, non-refugee immigrants; and western (OECD) immigrants - arriving in the country between 1956 and 1996 (the author of this article arrived in 1997). She also looked into re-emigration patterns, concluding that “the probability of re-migration correlates negatively with the probability of receiving welfare.” She writes:
“The risk of attracting immigrants whose prime motivation for migrating is receiving rather than contributing is an oft-repeated concern. But at least as important as who comes, is who stays. Decisions of re-emigration may be positively correlated with the immigrant’s self-supporting ability, implying that the host country ends up hosting an increasing number of welfare recipients. Egalitarian welfare states could thus find themselves losing out to other, less egalitarian countries in the competition for labor supplying immigrants.”
Ekhaugen researched the amount of welfare payments received: i.e. social assistance, unemployment benefits, disability pension, sickness benefits and rehabilitation benefits. The payments had to be received during at least one month per year, with the exception of sickness benefits, which were not counted for periods of less than three months to avoid defining too large a group as welfare participants.
The idea that immigrants will solve Europe's demographic problem due to aging populations is naive. Immigrants will make the welfare state burden bigger, not smaller.
Think about that result in the context of Steve Sailer's proposal for Europe to pay Muslims to leave (more here). Obviously immigrants respond to economic incentives. If they were told they could no longer get government-supplied welfare benefits in Europe but could get money if they left then many more would leave.
According to a report compiled by the Danish Immigration Service, in all 23,595 refugees had as of the end of October applied for asylum in Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden, equalling 2,360 individuals a month.
For the whole of 2004, the monthly average was 3,183 refugees a month so the projections for 2005 suggested a 26% drop.
Update II: A Swedish Board of Migration office has been discovered to celebrate deportations with parties.
Civil servants at the Board of Migration in Solna, in Stockholm, celebrated the successful expulsion of an asylum-seeking family in November last year by gathering in the office during working hours and sharing a bottle of champagne.
The gathering became public after an email which was sent to the staff was acquired by newspaper Dagens Nyheter:
"On Friday we'll celebrate along with AM2 at 15.00 in their kitchen. I hope that you can all set aside a quarter of an hour before that in our kitchen when we will make good on [migration officer]'s promise of champagne after a certain family left Sweden."
They were criticised by the usual fools for celebrating deportations.
The annual Eurobarometer poll, issued just before Christmas, shows that on average, only 50 percent of Europeans consider EU membership "a good thing", down from 54 percent earlier in the year. The traditionally Euroskeptic British are no longer the most hostile, having been overtaken by the Austrians. Only 32 percent of Austrians, and 33 percent of Brits, say EU membership is good for their country. They are followed by Latvia (36 percent), Finland (38 percent) and Sweden and Hungary (both 39 percent).
I wonder if the Austrians hate the EU because they see it as a cause of immigration of large numbers of Muslims and Third Worlders.
The two countries where the EU is most popular are Luxembourg (82 percent in favor) and Ireland (73 percent), the two countries that have been the biggest net beneficiaries from the EU budget. Ireland has received an average 3 percent of GDP in EU subsidies for over 30 years, which helps explain some of that country's 'Celtlc Tiger' economic performance; and Luxembourg has by far the highest per capita income in the EU. The poll suggests that the EU gets what its pays for in public support, which also helps explain why the EU leaders wrangled so bitterly over who paid what and how much they got back at their acrimonious summit this month.
Governments can buy the affections of some groups at the expense of other groups. No surprise here.
Remarkably, in the Netherlands, a country that overwhelmingly rejected a European constitution in June, a whole 70 percent of citizens say that EU membership is a good thing.
Only 32 percent of Swedes say they perceive that their country has "benefited from EU membership", closely followed by the Austrians and the British with 36 and 37 percent discontent citizens.
On the other side of the scope is - again - Ireland where 86 percent of citizens claim to enjoy Brussels's treats, and 69 percent of the Danes are as happy.
Maybe EU membership is losing popularity among the Turks becaues the Turks are realizing that the Europeans do not want them.
Meanwhile, support for EU membership among Turks themselves has dropped from 66 percent in spring to 52 percent this autumn, while 77 percent of Europeans back Swiss and Norwegian accession.
The European Union's promoters probably face another problem: A general decline of support for governments. The Brussels Mandarins are trying to build up another layer of government on top of existing layers at a time when a decreasing number of people see governments as net benefits.
If the EU elite insist on bringing Turkey into the EU that'll create a huge competing source of demands for hand-outs. Then the current net beneficiaries of the EU's largesse will suddenly start seeing the EU in a far less favorable light.
Greece has a negative attitude to the EU accession of Macedonia (52%) and Albania (61%). The average level among the 25 EU member states is 42% in favor and 33% against. Greeks are absolutely against Turkey’s EU accession (80%).
How's that as a demonstration of elite willingness to ignore the wishes of the masses?
October's decision to launch membership talks with Turkey was a high moment soured by low manoeuvring over the terms. And that is going to be a long haul - with 55% of Europeans against Turkish membership. The number opposed to any further expansion has grown to 39%, with bigger majorities against in France, Germany and Austria. Romania and Bulgaria are supposed to join in 2007 but face delay unless they make progress tackling corruption.
The EU project should stop short of membership for Ukraine, Turkey, and a few of the most corrupt Eastern European states. But the Mandarins are intent on harming the interests of their citizens.
More than four years after the attacks of September 11, 2001, many U.S. adults still believe some of the justifications for the invasion of Iraq, which have now been discredited, according to a new Harris Poll. For example:
However, all of these beliefs and others have declined sharply since the questions were asked in February 2005. For example:
As recently as February 2005 47% of the American public believed Saddam had something to do with the 9/11 attacks. The ignorance of the masses is appalling. Never mind all the news reports about Saudi hijackers and an Egyptian leader. In February 2005 44% of the public believed Iraqis were on those airplanes. This illustrates the big problem posed by having a reckless president. Much of the American public is so dumb and ignorant that it can be easily fooled.
I have a hard time seeing democracy as a panacea for the world's ills because most countries in the world have lower average IQs than America and America's average is already low enough to make the poll results above possible. Granted, low IQ isn't the only cause of such ridiculous beliefs. But the believers in that particular set of myths listed above are probably on average dumber than those who do not believe the myths.
Even if the biggest cause of the results above isn't low IQ the alternative explanations are no more comforting about the electorate.
Thanks to Greg Cochran for the tip.
Conspicuously missing from the debate over the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act is a discussion of how it has hurt many of our most capable children. By forcing schools to focus their time and funding almost entirely on bringing low-achieving students up to proficiency, NCLB sacrifices the education of the gifted students who will become our future biomedical researchers, computer engineers and other scientific leaders.
The drafters of this legislation didn't have to be rocket scientists to foresee that it would harm high-performing students. The act's laudable goal was to bring every child up to "proficiency" in language arts and math, as measured by standardized tests, by 2014. But to reach this goal, the act imposes increasingly draconian penalties on schools that fail to make "adequate yearly progress" toward bringing low-scoring students up to proficiency. While administrators and teachers can lose their jobs for failing to improve the test scores of low-performing students, they face no penalties for failing to meet the needs of high-scoring students.
Among his many other sins George W. Bush signed NCLB into law. NCLB (which I call No Lie Left Behind), by slowing the rate of education of the most gifted, moves American education in the wrong direction. We already suffer from a declining percentage of smarties due to immigration. The smarties produce the designs and discoveries that raise all our living standards. They need to be educated at faster speeds, not slower speeds. But the political class is acting in willful ignorance of the fact that some groups are going to continue to perform poorly due to average lower intellectual abilities. Of course our current immigration policies are also a product of willful ignorance by elites that lie to themselves and to the rest of us about human differences. Big bright shining lies are very damaging.
My advice to parents of gifted children is to look for learning materials that will allow your children to learn much more than what is taught in school. Recorded lectures (whether audio only or also video) are one way to expose bright young minds to more complex and advanced materials. Also, consider giving early bright high school children advanced placement tests so that they can start striving to earn college credit while still in early adolescence.
If you have bright kids you have to accept that the educational system is increasingly arrayed against you. Intellectually bankrupt university education departments teach that the brightest and dumbest should be mixed together in the same classrooms. Poorly performing ethnic groups demand their students get proportional numbers of seats in classes for mentally gifted students. The US federal government incentivizes schools to pay more attention to the dummies and to neglect the smarties. To speak so bluntly and honestly about this may seem rude and crude to some of my readers. But the policies are both cruel to the students and economically destructive. We can't afford to be all feminine and sensitive when discussing important matters. Too much depends on bluntly speaking the truth.
KABUL, Afghanistan -- When Ali Mohaqeq Nasab returned to Afghanistan last year after a long exile, he thought the atmosphere had opened up enough to raise questions about women's rights and the justice system in his country's nascent democracy.
But the magazine publisher's provocative essays put him at the mercy of that system. He was imprisoned on blasphemy charges and facing possible execution until his release last week.
After refusing for three months to retract his comments, Nasab told an appeals court last week that he was sorry for writing stories that asserted women should be given equal status to men in court, that questioned the use of harsh physical punishments for crimes, and suggested that converts from Islam should not face execution.
Wait a second. We overthrew the Taliban (which was a good thing to do). We helped the Afghanis hold elections. They've got an elected government. So why don't they have freedom of the press? How come democracy does not liberalise their society? Democracy isn't a panacea? Illiberal illiterate peasants will elect an illiberal repressive theocratic government? Democracy just becomes rule by the tribal leaders of the illiterate repressive illiberal masses who embrace a religion that is very hostile to non-believers? Sure looks that way to me.
A month or two ago Sri Lanka held an election and I remember reading predictions then by some analysts that the election of a hardliner as President was sure to encourage the Tamils to intensify their rebellion. Those predictions were correct. The democratic election of Mahinda Rajapakse as President of Sri Lanka appears to have catalyzed an intensification of the Sri Lankan civil war.
All told, 45 Sri Lankan soldiers, sailors and police officers have died in December alone, ratcheting up fears of a full-scale retaliation by the Sri Lankan military and a resumption of a two-decade-long civil war. Grenade and land-mine attacks against the military have become routine fare in the Tamil-majority areas under government control, as have targeted assassinations.
And yet, on paper, the 2002 cease-fire agreement, monitored by Norway, still holds. "It's going from bad to worse," said Erik Solheim, Norway's minister of international development, in a telephone interview on Tuesday night. "It's very worrying. It's a kind of shadow war."
Meanwhile, Sri Lanka's newly elected president, Mahinda Rajapakse, prepared to meet with India's prime minister, Manmohan Singh, here in the Indian capital on Wednesday. Mr. Rajapakse has suggested that he wants New Delhi to play a greater role in the peace talks, an idea that India is unlikely to embrace readily.
Of course, a certain country back in 1860 had an election that touched off a war that killed half a million people out of a total population of about 20 million. That's more dead than have died in all that country's foreign wars combined.
Democracy is not a panacea.
I want to compile a list of all the countries that have had civil wars or coups or dictatorships started as a result of reactions to elections. Anyone who knows of good examples please post in the comments.
I have before me a study published Oct. 20 in a leading Swedish daily, Dagens Nyheter, which reports that "Arab and Muslim attacks on Jews are rising sharply in Swedish society [while] silence surrounds Muslim Jew-hatred." The study, inadequately translated from Swedish, was prepared by two Swedish social scientists, Sverker Oredssom, a professor of history, and Mikael Tossavainen, his research assistant.
The situation has become so bad, they report, that "Jews in Sweden today often feel compelled to hide their religious identity in public: necklaces with stars of David are carefully hidden under sweaters, and orthodox Jewish men change their kippot [skullcaps] to more discreet caps or hats when they are outdoors. Jews in Sweden nowadays get secret telephone numbers to avoid harassment. In Sweden. Today."
In a Swedish population of some 9 million, there are about 20,000 Jews, mostly in Stockholm, Sweden's capital. The social scientists blame the Muslim migrants, now 3.9 percent of the Swedish population, for the growth of anti-Semitism.
A Jewish professor at the University of Copenhagen was attacked for quoting the Koran in a lecture.
Muslim immigration is bad. Multiculturalism is retarded. Intellectuals who support multiculturalism should be ashamed of themselves. Multiculturalism means importing Pakistani beliefs about gang rape into Australia. Multiculturalism means importing Lebanese Muslim clerics who think women who do not completely cover themselves deserve to be raped.
Lebanese Sheik Faiz Mohamad, 34, has been quoted by a newspaper as telling a lecture at the Bankstown Town Hall, in south-western Sydney, that women who wore skimpy clothing teased men.
"A victim of rape every minute somewhere in the world. Why? No-one to blame but herself. She displayed her beauty to the entire world ...," Sheik Mohamed was quoted as saying in the lecture.
"Strapless, backless, sleeveless, nothing but satanic skirts, slit skirts, translucent blouses, mini skirts, tight jeans: all this to tease man and appeal to his carnal nature."
Chattering leftie fools make a big deal on the need for tolerance. As I see it they have it exactly backward. What Western societies need is extreme intolerance. We need intolerance for Muslim rape gangs in Australia or in the French banlieues. How about taking their members and whipping them to death in public squares? What we need is intolerance for Muslim rioters. How about issuing assault rifles to French police on occasion of the next Muslim riots in France with orders to shoot to kill? How about revoking the residency permits of any legal immigrants who violate laws and deporting all the illegals?
They are probably the most violent, prolific gang rapists Sydney has known, with as many as 18 young victims. But until now the extent of the horrific crimes of four brothers from Pakistan has been kept secret.
Yesterday, more than three years after they went on a six-month rampage, luring girls as young as 13 to their home in Ashfield to rape them, suppression orders forbidding publication of their trial details were lifted.
But to their father, a GP in Sydney's west, it is Australia that is unjust.
Last month he told Sydney Morning Herald journalist Natasha Wallace: "You are the enemy of the Muslim . . . they [his sons] are not rapists."
Dr K has maintained his sons' innocence all along, even after viewing in court one of the videotapes police found inside their rented Ashfield house. It showed a comatose 13-year-old girl, drunk or drugged, and the brothers performing degrading criminal acts on her body.
During one of his sons' trials, Dr K revealed his views about Australian girls to a reporter: "What do they expect to happen to them? Girls from Pakistan don't go out at night."
What did the Australian government expect would happen to their own citizens after the government let in people who come from such an un-Western culture that holds women in such contempt?
An Islamic mufti in Copenhagen, Shahid Mehdi, has sparked political outcry from the left-wing Unity List and right-wing Danish People's Party, after stating in a televised interview that women who do not wear headscarves are "asking for rape."
All the illegal alien Muslims should be deported. For the rest Steve Sailer proposes an excellent idea: buy out the residency and citizenship of Muslims in Europe. The same would work just as well in other Western countries.
Update: Jamie Glazov interviewed Justus Reid Wiener about his new book on Palestinian Muslim persecution of Palestinian Christians.
FP: Christian Palestinian women have suffered terribly. Can you tell us some of the details of their plight?
Weiner: Christian women suffer rampant sexual harassment, rape and even forced marriage. For example, Islamic militants have attempted to force Christian women wearing modern, revealing clothing to conform to the strict, modest Muslim dress code. In addition, Muslim men have attempted to rape Christian women, sometimes achieving their objective. These victims may, ironically, end up marrying the man who raped them because in their society they are regarded as unclean for marriage purposes.
Christian men risk being jailed when they intervene to rescue Christian women being attacked or insulted. The Muslim perpetrators get off scot-free because they have family members in the upper echelon of one (or more) of the 12 "security" forces.
Of course this is the same sort of behavior that we see with Muslim communities in many Western nations.
Weiner's book is entitled Human Rights of Christians in Palestinian Society.
Once again the evidence demonstrates that the law of supply and demand applies to labor markets just as much as it applies to other markets. John Miano at the Center for Immigration Studies finds that unsurprisingly, the major attraction of foreign tech workers is that they cost less than Americans.
Mentally I file this under the heading of "totally predictable result". Of course employers take the trouble to bring in foreigners because the foreigners are cheaper. Why else do it? I hear the claim "but they are smarter or more talented". No, they are smarter at a given wage level. A US employer could staff up to a higher average talent level using domestic workers if the employer was willing to pay more to get the best. Most aren't willing to pay more to get the best.
Note that given a supply of smart foreign workers with time an increasing fraction of employers will turn toward using them. Any company that does not avail itself of a way to lower costs puts itself at a competitive disadvantage against companies that will use a lower cost source of labor. So companies that use foreign labor will be able to undersell companies that use only domestic labor and will therefore displace those companies from markets.
I'm ambivalent about smart immigrant workers. On the one hand, they really are used mainly to lower skilled labor costs and that lowers wages for smarter American workers. Also, they have different interests and different political loyalties than native Americans. On the other hand, the huge Hispanic influx is lowering the average IQ in America. Importation of tech workers helps to reduce the rate at which the American national average IQ is dropping.
An argument can be made in favor of bringing in tech workers if above some level of IQ (perhaps 130 or 135?): the super-smarties generate work for many others and produce designs and processes that raise living standards. For example, if a super-smartie develops a new product then less smart people are needed in marketing, manufacturing, tech support, testing, and in other support roles.
Perhaps a salary threshold on foreign tech workers would effectively create an IQ threshold to keep out those with a mere 110 or 115 IQ (which are still above the white average) and let in the super-smarts. But I'm not sure that would work well in practice. Employers are not good at evaluating the relative ability of even the employees they already employ, let alone people in face-to-face job interviews or, worse yet, foreigners hired sight unseen through tech body shops. What we really need is a repeal of Griggs v. Duke Power, the ignorant US Supreme Court decision that, in order to enable racial preferences, made it extremely difficult for employers to administer IQ tests to prospective employees. Widespread testing combined with minimal salary thresholds on foreign workers would improve the quality of foreign workers imported into the US and also would make the US labor market much more efficient.
Here is the note I sent them: There is one big thing that you are missing here, US citizenship and permanent residency have substantial economic value.
Unless companies profiting from immigration are required to pay market rates for those immigration rights, there will always be a severe disconnect here. Programs like H-1b essentially allow companies to pay employees in immigration rights rather than cash.
Burns proposes a number of policy changes to account for the economic value of citizenship and residency. He recommends auctions for H-1B visas. I'd love to see what those visas would go for per year. I would simply add that the economic cost to citizens already here has to be calcualted as well and that cost depends on the individual immigrant. Some immigrants pay little in taxes, make small economic contributions (no, picking cabbage is not a large economic contribution), and generate costs from crime, welfare dependency, uninsured medical expenses, and progeny who are as costly or even more costly.
I can think of a lot of productive ways to increase American security for a lot less than $281 billion, let alone $1 trillion. The Iraq war has a very large negative return on investment.
Nevertheless, oil has long hovered in the background. When the White House's economic adviser, Laurence Lindsey, said in September 2002 that the Iraq invasion could cost $100 billion to $200 billion (an estimate the White House quickly disavowed as too high), he indicated that one could expect an additional three to five million barrels a day of Iraqi oil production following the ouster of Saddam.
As it turns out, the Pentagon will have spent $281 billion on the war and occupation through fiscal year 2005, but Iraq's oil production today remains below the level sustained by Saddam even under international sanctions restricting oil industry investment.
The $281 billion figure, recently calculated by the Congressional Research Service, does not include all of the costs that would continue even if the war were to end now, such as benefits for veterans, contributions to Iraqi reconstruction and interest on the national debt. Nor does it include such economic costs as the impact of higher oil prices induced and sustained, at least in part, by the continuing turmoil in Iraq.
The ratio of injuries to deaths is much higher in Iraq than in previous wars. Those saved who would have died in other wars have far more severe injuries than those who would have survived with older medical technology. So we are going to have the costs of invalid survivors who have to be cared for and who (for those will work at all) will not earn as much in their working careers.
Stephen Walt of Harvard's JFK School of Government says the Iraq war will cost $1 trillion total.
The United States’ involvement in Iraq just keeps getting messier every day. The insurgency is as potent as ever, and U.S. troops and Iraqi civilians are dying at a higher rate than they were a year ago. Efforts to reconcile Iraq’s ethnic and religious divisions have failed, and progress on building competent security forces has been painfully slow. A series of supposedly decisive “turning points” have come and gone—including the transfer of sovereignty in June 2004, national elections in January 2005, and the drafting of a new constitution in August 2005—but the country is no closer to stability. Public support for the war is plummeting in the United States, and current U.S. troop levels cannot be sustained without breaking the Army, the Reserves, and the National Guard. Once U.S. forces withdraw, a full-blown civil war is likely. Although our armed forces have fought with dedication and courage, this war will ultimately cost us more than $1 trillion, not to mention thousands of lives. And what will the United States have achieved? Remarkably, we will probably leave Iraq in even worse shape than it was under Saddam Hussein.
That is about what the US economy produces in a single month. But part of that money already goes to other government programs. So effectively the Iraq misadventure will take about a month and a half of after-tax take home pay from American workers.
You can go through free registration process to get access to articles in Foreign Policy. It is worth the time. He attacks two major lines of defense put forward for the idea of having the war as somehow separate from how it was conducted. The advocates should not have pushed for an invasion without a force large enough to subdue the insurgents. Also, the insurgency was foreseen - albeit not by the Bush Administration's ideologues and fools.
The cost of Iraq would pay for about 35 years of medical research at the current funding levels of the National Institues of Health. Or it would pay for a barrier on the border with Mexico about 100 times over. Or it would pay for perhaps 1000 nuclear power plants (assuming economies of scale in volume). Or it would pay for Nobelist Richard Smalley's proposed $10 billion per year in energy research for 100 years (and the research would solve our energy problems in a small fraction of that time). The Iraq war has a high opportunity cost. It was and remains a bad idea.
One of the many ridiculously wrong predictions made by US Vice President Dick Cheney and then Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz about the Iraq invasionn was that the Iraqi oil fields would pay for the rebuilding of Iraq and that the war would therefore have low costs. But oil production in Iraq is still below pre-war levels.
Persistent sabotage of oil facilities in Iraq has cut production below the 2.5 million barrels per day produced before the U.S. invasion in March 2003. Meanwhile, a U.S.-led economic embargo has reduced investment in new oil facilities in Iran.
Local usage appears to be 500,000 barrels per day.
High oil prices have allowed Iraqi oil revenues to rise in spite of the production decreases. But I remember war advocates who argued to me that the oil spigots in Iraq to flow so fast after an invasion that the resulting decrease in oil prices would pay for the cost of the war.
Nobody has definitive numbers on Iraq's oil production, but analysts say daily production this year will average about 1.8 million barrels per day, about 10 percent less than 2004 levels of about 2 million barrels — and just over half 1990 levels.
"It's another disappointing year," said Sharif Ghalib of Energy Intelligence Research in New York.
Analysts say 2006 looks just as gloomy, although some predicted it would show an improvement.
"Anything above 2 million barrels per day would be a positive surprise for next year," said David Wech, an oil analyst with PVM Oil Associates in Vienna.
The previous link has a chart of monthly Iraqi oil exports. It looks to have peaked post-war at 1.8 million barrels per day in February and March 2004 but has since fallen to 1.2 million barrels per day in November 2005. About a half million goes to domestic consumption. So Iraq's probably produced 1.7 million barrels in November 2005.
Most have been small companies that bypass the central government in Baghdad and sign agreements with regional Kurdish officials in the north, just to get a foothold in the market. The real test will be if Iraq can manage to entice the world's top oil companies, which are needed to rebuild the industry.
That isn't expected to happen until the new government resolves the constitutional debate over the control of oil.
Kurds and Shiites, who predominate in Iraq's two main oil-rich areas - the north and south, respectively - seem determined to form virtual mini-states that have control over their oil assets and profits. Iraq's Sunni Arabs are concentrated in mostly oil-poor central Iraq and want central control over the resources to ensure they get a share of the profits.
Read the previous article for more details on Kurdish oil deals with Turkish and Norwegian oil companies. The central government is disputing the legal right of the Kurds to do this. But the Kurds are de facto independent of the central government while pretending to still be part of Iraq. The Arab Shia provinces want to do the same thing with their oil fields but are held back by a much higher level of sabotage and violence. Plus, the overwhelmingly Shia central government leaders want their cut of money from Shia oil fields.
The large Western oil companies have been unwilling to enter into deals to develop Iraqi oil fields because the violence and political uncertainty. Smaller companies are taking some risks. But the level of development is still quite low.
Unfortunately the Shia fields contain far more oil than the Kurdish fields. So Kurdish region stability and Kurdish separatism are not enabling most of Iraq's oil fields to go into production.
Oil Minister Ibrahim Bahr Al Uloum, attending a meeting of Opec in Kuwait, pledged to raise Iraq's crude oil flows to three million barrels per day by the end of 2006.
Iraq's U government has several times missed out on its oil target and the oil industry is sceptical of the authorities' ability to boost output.
A 3 million barrel per day production rate would restore Iraqi oil production to the level it was at before Saddam invaded Kuwait in 1990.
The Iraqi government is claiming Iraq will be producing 6 to 7 million barrels per day by 2010. One can only hope so. The growing Chinese economy needs that oil.
Ilene Prusher of the Christian Science Monitor reports on the preliminary election results which show Iraqis overwhelmingly voted for parties which represent religious and ethnic factions and secular national parties were the big losers.
BAGHDAD – Stretching newfound democratic muscle upon their first chance to elect a full-term government, Iraqis overwhelmingly threw their support behind religious parties defined along sectarian lines and ethnicity.
A bloc of Shiite religious parties close to Iran has, according to results released Tuesday, attracted the largest percentage of voters.
Here in the capital, a national barometer because it is the most diverse of Iraq's 18 provinces, the United Iraq Alliance - religious Shiites who dominated the interim government formed in May - won about 58 percent of the vote.
A Sunni Islamist alliance comprised of politicians who have defended the insurgency campaign against US troops came in next, with close to 19 percent.
Trailing in third is Iyad Allawi, a secular Shiite who was favored by the US and Iraqi moderates hoping to rise above the country's rising sectarianism. Mr. Allawi, billed as a man who could unite parties and crack down on terrorism, received less than 14 percent of the vote.
Three quarters of the Iraqi people voted for Islamist parties. According to the Bush Administration the United States is fighting in Iraq to prevent Islamists from coming to power through violence. Instead the Islamists are coming to power through the ballot box. American soldiers died for this Bush faith-based initiative. Sam Harris' view of religious faith is making more sense to me every day.
The rejection of the early results, the first set of which were released Monday, also raised the possibility that Sunni Arab politicians could boycott the political process, as they have done several times in the last year.
The Bush administration's plans to temper the Sunni-led insurgency and reduce the U.S. troop presence in Iraq are based on the assumption that Sunni Arabs would participate in the new government. Any withdrawal by the Sunnis at this stage would be a serious setback for the White House.
"In order for Iraq to succeed, there has to be cross-ethnic and cross-sectarian cooperation," Zalmay Khalilzad, the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, said Tuesday.
The obstacles in the way of such cooperation are insurmountable.
The many Iraqi Sunnis who insist that Sunnis are really a majority in Iraq (not in the links above) demonstrate the depth of the delusions of Arab minds. In their model of the world they are the rightful rulers. All "facts" are adopted to support that view. A Western Enlightenment view of an objective reality independent of our beliefs just doesn't enter into their style of reasoning.
On the bright side the leaders of the religious parties coming to power in Iraq favor a US withdrawal from Iraq. The Bush crowd will feel increasing pressure to declare victory and bring home the troops. That will leave Iraq in the hands of democratically elected Islamists. But since the Bush Administration and the neocons insist that democracy is the solution for what ails the Middle East we can not hope for a better outcome.
Norwegian blogger Fjordman has the details in a FrontPage article. Look at what the Scandinavians have inflicted on their women.
According to a new study from the Crime Prevention Council, Brå, it is four times more likely that a known rapist is born abroad, compared to persons born in Sweden. Resident aliens from Algeria, Libya, Morocco and Tunisia dominate the group of rape suspects. According to these statistics, almost half of all perpetrators are immigrants. In Norway and Denmark, we know that non-Western immigrants, which frequently means Muslims, are grossly overrepresented on rape statistics. In Oslo, Norway, immigrants were involved two out of three rape charges in 2001. The numbers in Denmark were the same, and even higher in the city of Copenhagen with three out of four rape charges. Sweden has a larger immigrant, including Muslim, population than any other country in northern Europe. The numbers there are likely to be at least as bad as with its Scandinavian neighbors. The actual number is thus probably even higher than what the authorities are reporting now, as it doesn't include second generation immigrants. Lawyer Ann Christine Hjelm, who has investigated violent crimes in Svea high court, found that 85 per cent of the convicted rapists were born on foreign soil or by foreign parents.
Rape is an extremely scarring experience for many women. Why let in immigrant groups which will commit rape at much higher rates than natives?
Bolivia follows in the footsteps of Venezuela. The decline of the power of the white Spanish upper class continues.
A leftist candidate from one of Bolivia's Indian peoples who wants to legalise coca-growing has claimed victory in the presidential election.
"We have won," Evo Morales told thousands of cheering supporters as some exit polls suggested he had passed the 50% barrier for outright victory.
Earlier exit polls gave him 42% to 45% of the vote - still far ahead of former President Jorge Quiroga.
I predict lower prices for cocaine and more brain damage from coke use.
In democracies the biggest ethnic groups inevitably rule. This is a really good reason why members of the biggest ethnic group in a country should oppose immigration policies that will turn them into a minority. When a majority group does less well in school and business then more talented and successful minorities become targets of Robin Hood policies. Less successful groups end up blaming more successful groups for the disparity in outcomes.
Not coincidentally Bolivia is one of two Latin American countries with an indigenous majority (Guatemala being the second one with Peru coming in close) and Bolivia is also very poor.
Bolivia is among the poorest of Latin American republics, and recently the most unstable. To Mr Montesinos and many like him, the election of the first self-proclaimed indigenous president would portend the overthrow of 180 years of oppression of poor, dark Bolivians by richer, whiter ones, and of Bolivia itself by foreign powers. Long feared by the elite, Mr Morales has won over part of the middle class, which is disgusted with corruption and hopeful that he will be less disruptive in office than he has been on the street.
The middle class is going to get shafted by socialism and redistribution from whites to Amerinds.
For societies long synonymous with rigid stratification and the bleakly condescending looks of the Hispano-Creole ruling class, the intrusion of leaders who are darker, and once desperately poor, is a genuine novelty. Similarly, in the predominantly white European societies of the south – Argentina, Chile and Uruguay – the reins of government are now in the hands of those who were arrested, tortured or exiled under their respective military dictatorships of the 1970s. The rise of the left may be the main (acclaimed or lamented) political dynamic of the time, but it has been driven and framed by an even wider trajectory: the ascent of the underdog.
MEXICO CITY, Dec 19 (IPS) - The election of indigenous leader Evo Morales as president of Bolivia is being hailed by native leaders from throughout the region as a "sign of hope" for all impoverished and discriminated indigenous peoples in Latin America.
Guatemalan Nobel Peace Prize laureate Rigoberto Menchú said that Morales has brought "a refreshing wind" for all aboriginal peoples.
Morales is as likely to damage the Bolivian economy as to improve it any. The Morales election is not a real hope for poor people. If poor people wanted to look in some direction for hope I would suggest looking at genetic engineering for cognitive enhancement.
The irony of the leftist trumpet for "diversity" is that diversity of ethnics just about always means differences in average incomes and status between groups and large scale resentment. A "diverse" society is not a happier society. In fact, such a society has far more bitterness and envy than a highly homogeneous society. So then do leftists want societies that are full of bitterness and resentment?
A conversation between Melbourne Australia residents 46 year old Abdul Nacer Benbrika (who labels hiimself a Muslim cleric) and 20 year old Abdullah Merhi recorded by police in September 2004 and just introduced in a criminal trial against them has them discussing their intent to carry out an attack on a scale similar to the Muslim terrorist attack at the Madrid train station.
Prosecutor Nicholas Robinson read out portions of a transcript of a conversation in which Merhi allegedly discussed martyrdom with Benbrika.
Mr Robinson also claimed the two men had been recorded discussing plans to do something "big" and made reference to a terrorist attack in Madrid.
"To do a big thing," Merhi said.
"Like Spain," Benbrika replied.
"If I'm sincere, Allah will open a path for me," Merhi said. ". . . if I'm sincere and I go there now, will He open the door there tonight? If I'm sincere now, will He open the door in a month?"
They discussed the idea of killing Australian Prime Minister John Howard at a football game.
They are part of a larger group on trial.
As well as Benbrika, Merhi and Taha, the Melbourne men alleged to belong to a terror group are: Ezzit Raad, 23, of Preston; Aiman Joud, 21, of Hoppers Crossing; Fadal Sayadi, 25, of Coburg; Amer Haddara, 26, of Yarraville; Ahmed Raad, 22, of Fawkner; Izzydeen Atik, 25, of Williamstown North; and Shane Kent, 28, of Meadow Heights.
All except Haddara and Kent are also charged with making funds available to a terrorist group.
Mr Merhi said on the tape that his eyes had recently been opened and a message had to be sent. "I have made my point. If it comes up, I will go but I am not waiting 20 years or two years," he said.
Mr Benbrika said innocent ones could be the victims: "Because he kills our innocent ones . . . that is it. An eye for an eye." He also encouraged the younger man to do a "big thing" close to train stations, the prosecution told the court.
Another of the accused terror suspects, 31-year-old Hany Taha, who was also refused bail yesterday, was said to be present during a conversation about "slaughtering police".
The court also heard Mr Benbrika had become infuriated by a rival Melbourne cleric preaching that al-Qa'ida leader Osama bin Laden was "on the wrong path".
These guys do not sound impressive. But people as unimpressive-sounding as these are probably just the sorts who go and blow up people.
POLICE yesterday declared six popular beaches unsafe for public use this weekend after intelligence revealed armed rioters are planning attacks.
In an unprecedented move, Police Commissioner Ken Moroney urged people to stay away from Cronulla, Maroubra and Bondi beaches in Sydney, Terrigal on the Central Coast, Nobbys Beach in Newcastle and beaches in Wollongong.
The lockdown decision was made after police received "credible threats" the areas would become race riot zones.
"These are extraordinary measures for extraordinary times," Mr Moroney said.
Those who ignore the advice will have their cars searched at checkpoints and will be turned away by police, unless they have a valid reason for going into the areas.
You might be wondering which ethnic group wants to riot on these Australian beaches. Is it white folks? Or Arab Muslims. The article does not say.
A Dec. 13, 2005 report in The Australian suggests both Arab and white groups want to fight.
One text message circulating yesterday in Sutherland Shire, which includes Cronulla, said: "Good work for the efort we put in at 'nulla. But the wogs came back and stabbed one of our people! ... We'll show them! It's on again Sunday."
A rival text message said: "The aussies will feel the full force of the arabs as one ... brothers in arms unite now ... let's show them who's boss ... destroy."
I hear music and singlng. "Majeeda, I just met a girl named Majeeda. And suddenly that name will never be the same. Majeeda".
But how'd this all start in the first place? Did drunken white Australian rednecks start the rioting at Cronulla? That's the impression some news reports give. But a Dec. 6, 2005 Daily Telegraph report makes it clear that Arabs have been harassing and attacking whites at Cronulla for years.
"GET off our beach. This is our beach. We own it."
These are the fighting words a group of thugs spoke to three North Cronulla surf lifesavers before bashing them on a sunny Sunday afternoon.
The attack has disgusted Sutherland Shire residents and surf lifesavers who volunteer their time to protect the lives of beachgoers.
Cronulla locals say in the past three years a large influx of youths have travelled from Sydney's west to the beachside to intimidate beachgoers and start fights.
One of the lifeguards was knocked unconscious.
The latest incident occurred at 3pm on Sunday when three lifesavers, aged 15, 19 and 20, were walking from the beach to the surf club at the end of their shift.
They were approached by four men of Middle Eastern appearance, aged in their late teens or early 20s, who initiated a verbal confrontation.
One of the men king-hit the 19-year-old, who fell back and struck a metal picket fence, sustaining a cut and being knocked unconscious.
Eight to 10 other men then joined the original four.
NSW Police have locked down some streets in Cronulla, Maroubra, Coogee and Bondi and established security checkpoints in other areas as part of Operation Seta.
From 7am today police were authorised to establish security checkpoints for 48 hours on key access roads to beachside suburbs across Sydney’s south and east.
Deputy Commissioner Andrew Scipione said other areas would be assessed on an hourly basis before any decision is made to order further lock downs.
“We are acting on intelligence we’ve received from a number of credible sources and are changing our tactics and strategy hourly in accordance with the latest information,” Deputy Commissioner Scipione said.
“I will again ask people who do not need to travel to the nominated areas of Cronulla, eastern suburbs, central coast beaches, Maroubra and Wollongong to stay away as they will only increase traffic congestion.
“This is not a normal weekend and we sympathise with the frustration of motorists however the action we are taking is to ensure our priority is public safety at all times.
“I would like to thank the public for their co-operation and patience.”
Several websites also carry calls for fresh action this weekend. Visitors to fightback.org.au are asked to meet near Cronulla beach at 1pm tomorrow for a rally against "home-grown terrorist gangs".
Although the site says the protest will be peaceful, it asks participants to leave identification at home and bring Australian flags, ski masks, bullhorns, gloves and CB radios. It also asks participants not to "bash people who look wog/Leb on that alone", explaining that some of "our boys" are of Eastern European appearance.
On the neo-Nazi site Stormfront there are calls for fresh shows of power in both Sydney and Perth. On the usually laid back surfing website Realsurf.com there is a post urging protesters to set fire to a Sydney mosque.
Muslim immigration is bad. Western countries should halt all Muslim immigration and deport most non-citizen Muslims.
When politicians go on about "investments in education" keep in mind that education spending has grown rapidly and yet due to demographic trends resulting from immigration the money spent on education is not improving the average educational level of the American public.
Washington, D.C. — American adults can read a newspaper or magazine about as well as they could a decade ago, but have made significant strides in performing literacy tasks that involve computation, according to the first national study of adult literacy since 1992.
The National Assessment of Adult Literacy (NAAL), released today by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), found little change between 1992 and 2003 in adults' ability to read and understand sentences and paragraphs or to understand documents such as job applications.
Most of the educational gains made in recent decades came before the 1990s. We've been spinning our wheels since then.
African Americans scored higher in 2003 than in 1992 in all three categories, increasing 16 points in quantitative, eight points in document and six points in prose literacy. Overall, adults have improved in document and quantitative literacy with a smaller percentage of adults in 2003 in the Below Basic category compared to 1992. Whites, African Americans and Asian/Pacific Islanders have improved in all three measures of literacy with a smaller percentage in 2003 in the Below Basic category compared to 1992.
Hispanic adults showed a decrease in scores for both prose and document literacy and a higher percentage in the Below Basic category. The report also showed that five percent of U.S. adults, about 11 million people, were termed "nonliterate" in English, meaning interviewers could not communicate with them or that they were unable to answer a minimum number of questions.
Immigration trends seem set to make America go backward in terms of educational attainment.
Other report highlights:
- White adults' scores were up nine points in quantitative, but were unchanged in prose and document literacy.
- Hispanic adults' scores declined in prose and document literacy 18 points and 14 points, respectively, but were unchanged in quantitative literacy.
- Asian/Pacific Islanders' scores increased 16 points in prose literacy, but were unchanged in document and quantitative literacy.
- Among those who spoke only Spanish before starting school, scores were down 17 points in prose and document literacy between 1992 and 2003.
To put its findings in perspective, NAAL also reported on U.S. population changes between 1992 and 2003. During the decade, the percentage of white adults decreased from 77 to 70 percent, while the percentage of Hispanic adults increased from eight to 12 percent. The percentage of Asian/Pacific Islander adults doubled (to 4 percent). The percentage of adults who spoke only English before starting school decreased from 86 to 81 percent.
In another example that the US business press is waking up to the Hispanic immigration problem Investors Business Daily notes that cheap immigrant labor is an obstacle in the way of a more educated populace.
Immigration: A new study shows no progress in promoting the ability to read English. Cheap labor has social costs, and this could well be one of them.
Put another way, adult basic literacy in America has been stuck at 86%, despite generally rising levels of formal education.
Note the point that generally rising levels of formal education are not lowering illiteracy. As Stephan and Abigail Thernstrom pointed out in their book No Excuses, equal levels of formal education mask huge differences in knowledge between the races.
"… Blacks nearing the end of their high school education perform a little worse than white eighth-graders in both reading and U.S. history, and a lot worse in math and geography. In math and geography, indeed, they know no more than whites in the seventh grade. Hispanics do only a little better than African-Americans. In reading and U.S. history, their NAEP scores in their senior year of high school are a few points above those of whites in eighth grade. In math and geography, they are a few points lower."
The obvious and widely ignored cause of such differences is the difference in average IQ found between the races. The massive public lie which denies racial differences in intelligence makes most social commentary about education and immigration into an elaborate set of rationalizations which attempt to avoid the elephant in the room.
The Investors Business Daily coverage of the above report on literacy reminds me of the BusinessWeek coverage of a report claiming that when white baby boomers retire the average educational level in the US workfoce will decline due to the rising Hispanic fraction of the US workforce. It is starting to sink into the business press that the Hispanics are not going to provide technical staff for high tech American industries.
Thanks to John Bolton for the tip.
If you want to read more on this general topic see my Immigration Societal Decay category archive.
Immigrants worsen the unfunded old age liabilities financial problem because poorly educated people earn less and pay less in taxes. The educational attainments level of Hispanics improve very little in subsequent generations. So the huge flood of Hispanic immigrants is dumbing down America with disastrous results in store for the future.
Also see my previous posts "Hispanic And Black High School Graduation Rates Very Low", "Mexican Immigrants To US Have 8th Grade Educations", "Immigrants Do Not Improve Academically In Later Generations", and "Hispanics Have Taken Bulk Of New Jobs In Last 4 Years".
Also see Edwin Rubinstein's recent article "November’s Job Numbers: Good for immigrants; Bad for the Rest of Us".
Eleven men were arrested in the new wave of unrest. Sydney police said they confiscated iron bars and molotov cocktails in Cronulla. Bullets were fired at teachers’ cars after men of Middle Eastern appearance abused gatherers at a school Christmas carols service in the suburb of Auburn.
The violence followed Sunday’s shocking events on Cronulla beach, some 25km south of Sydney, when a 5,000-strong mob indiscriminately attacked men and women of Middle Eastern appearance to vent their anger against Sydney’s sizeable Lebanese population.
SYDNEY has declared war on all rioters after more than 48 hours of lawlessness and admissions from both the police and Muslim leaders that they have been unable to control the angry mobs of young men.
Police are also now investigating bullet holes found in the cars of several staff members at St Joseph the Worker Primary School in South Auburn after a Christmas carols service on Monday evening. Parents and children were abused by a group of young men of Middle Eastern appearance and gunshots were heard during the service.
Young men of Arab descent struck back in several Sydney suburbs Sunday, fighting with police for hours and smashing dozens of cars with sticks and bats, police said. They said 31 people were injured, including a white man who was allegedly stabbed in the back, and 16 people were arrested.
But how about some context? Janet Albrechtsen says the whites of Cronulla are embattled.
YESTERDAY a colleague emailed me from New York. The young lawyer - her family lives in Brighton-Le-Sands, a bayside suburb north of Cronulla in Sydney - wrote: "While I agree there is no justifying excuse for the violence and breakdown in order that occurred at Cronulla, it needs to be put in context. Unless you live in an area like Cronulla, Brighton-Le-Sands or Bondi, you have no idea what it is like to have one's suburb regularly inundated with large groups of young Muslim men from the western suburbs who proceed to shoot people [as has happened in Brighton], intimidate people, regularly threaten people within their vicinity with violence, drive around in large groups screaming abuse at people from cars with their music blaring, regularly brawling, etc."
This young woman recounted that all of the girls in her family (except the youngest) have been "subject to harassment inflicted by groups of these men - comments on our appearances, racist comments on our Australian background, unwanted touching, being followed while walking home by groups of men in cars (I was once followed all the way home - have never been so scared in my life), sexually explicit remarks while alone, with friends or with boyfriends, unwanted called-out invitations to have sex with groups of them, etc".
The attack, apparently prompted by reports that Lebanese youths had assaulted two lifeguards, led to retaliation by young men of Arab descent in several Sydney suburbs on Monday. The young people fought with the police and smashed 40 cars with sticks and bats, the police said.
What made Cronulla different was that those taking part were much better off, better educated and from more respectable homes than the miners who enforced White Australia more than a century ago. Cronulla is essentially a white ghetto compared with many other parts of multicultural Sydney. Its residents are mostly Australian-born, with Australian parents of British and Irish origin. The overseas-born come mainly from Britain and New Zealand. Moreover, it is isolated by geography and has no nearby ethnic neighbours. As in many other cities with changing populations, such areas tend to defend themselves from what they see as invaders. This can lead, as in the US, to gated suburbs and the deliberate exclusion of others.
Surfers and residents say racial tensions at the beach have simmered for years. Shaun Donohoe, a 24-year-old chef, said: "[Lebanese Australians] look down on our women. They don't really assimilate to our way of life. I've been at war with them for 10 years."
You know how French cities have no-go areas? The Australian whites fear that their beach is going to become a no-go area just like French city neighborhoods.
The violence broke out a week after two Australian lifesavers were allegedly assaulted on the beach by a Lebanese gang. Some residents, fearing that their popular weekend surfing haunt was in danger of becoming a no-go area, threatened anybody of a vaguely Middle Eastern appearance.
Western nations should halt Muslim immigration.
It is the somewhat gratifying lesson of Philip Tetlock’s new book, “Expert Political Judgment: How Good Is It? How Can We Know?” (Princeton; $35), that people who make prediction their business—people who appear as experts on television, get quoted in newspaper articles, advise governments and businesses, and participate in punditry roundtables—are no better than the rest of us. When they’re wrong, they’re rarely held accountable, and they rarely admit it, either. They insist that they were just off on timing, or blindsided by an improbable event, or almost right, or wrong for the right reasons. They have the same repertoire of self-justifications that everyone has, and are no more inclined than anyone else to revise their beliefs about the way the world works, or ought to work, just because they made a mistake. No one is paying you for your gratuitous opinions about other people, but the experts are being paid, and Tetlock claims that the better known and more frequently quoted they are, the less reliable their guesses about the future are likely to be.
Go read the article for details on the research which Tetlock conducted to reach these conclusions. The whole article is worth your time.
What we really need: Studies like Tetlock's but designed to survey a much larger group of people in order to identify people who have much better rates of being right. We can't trust TV news show producers to wisely choose experts whose rates of accuracy are greater than sheer chance. In fact, the only thing we can count on is that the most famous prognosticators and commentators will be wrong more often than most people. If the talking head consensus is X then the truth is not X.
Consider what the article says and introspect about your own thinking. There are some obvious simple rules of thumb to follow such as resist committing to a position if you do not have strong proof for it. If you commit publically you will become less likely to recognize the incorrectness of a position if you feel your reputation is at stake. Also, just because a person spouts lots of details doesn't mean the details somehow prove the argument. Experts have tons of facts and terrible track records in predicting complex human events. When it comes to human affairs the factors influencing outcomes are so many and so little understood that the feeling of certainty is not something you should feel too often.
I found one part of the article gratifying: The bit about people who ascribe big single causes to explain events are wrong more often than the people who think many factors contribute. For example, I think the Iraq democracy project is doomed for a whole host of reasons including cousin marriage, Islam, ethnic divisions, low IQs, Arab culture, and still other factors. Contrast that with the position that liberal democracy is an inevitable historical force, a sort of Manifest Destiny.
Tetlock says big name commentators are so bad because their predictions are designed more to make people feel good about their side than to be correct.
Tetlock notes, sadly, a point that Richard Posner has made about these kinds of public intellectuals, which is that most of them are dealing in “solidarity” goods, not “credence” goods. Their analyses and predictions are tailored to make their ideological brethren feel good—more white swans for the white-swan camp. A prediction, in this context, is just an exclamation point added to an analysis.
This is a problem. The market of information for those who want to know the truth is an awful lot smaller than the market of information for those who want to feel good about themselves and their faction.
UPI correspondent Claude Salhani says Saudi government officials think Iraq will break up.
Jordan, another staunch U.S. ally in the region, is also in the Saudis' state of mind when it comes to the question of Sunni/Shiite rivalries. When the Shiites began making progress in Iraq both Jordan and Saudi Arabia decided "the Shiites must not be allowed to win," said an adviser to the Saudi palace.
If in the final analysis this means Saudi Arabia and Jordan, both of them U.S. allies, might need to discreetly funnel support to the Sunni resistance in order to keep the Shiites in check, then so be it.
Saudi officials will admit -- privately --they do no think that Iraq will remain unified.
"We do not believe that an Iraq in its present form is salvable," confided a Saudi official in Jeddah.
Is this Saudi analysis motivated more by their desires or by their expectations? The Saudis do not want to see the Iraqi Sunnis ruled by the Iraqi Shias. The Saudis also see the Iraqi Shias as under considerable Iranian influence. If the Saudis start backing the Sunnis that'll increase the odds that Iraq will fall apart when US troops leave. Maybe the Saudis will even make common cause with the Kurds and Iraqi Sunni Arabs split them each separately off from the Iraqi Shia Arabs.
WENATCHEE, Wash. -- Stymied in efforts to ease labor problems through a guest worker immigration program, Washington state orchardists have been advised to seek relief through technology.
Meanwhile, orchard operators are looking at wireless networks, database applications, electronic weather systems and digital sensors as well as new mechanical harvesters and robot tractors to reduce their dependence on human labor.
Steve Faivre, a John Deere Co. representative, displayed a model of a driverless tractor that could operate around the clock to gather climate information, apply insecticides or mow weeds.
Automation will reduce the amount of labor on farms. Higher labor costs combined with advances in computing and communications technologies will accelerate the move toward automation.
California and Arizona farmers - producers of half the nation's citrus and 90 percent of its vegetables and nuts - are struggling with an acute labor shortage. The situation, worsened by crackdowns on illegal immigration since 9/11, also extends to other states and is no longer just a matter of possible price increases on lettuce, oranges, or almonds, farmers say. Rather, it is a turning point in the nation's ability to produce its own food - and possibly the loss of major parts of its agriculture industry.
The farmers face a basic problem: Illegal immigrants or "guest workers" on worker permits are still going to cost more than labor on farms in Mexico or Brazil. Only advances in technology will give industrialized nation farmers a chance of competing against countries which have longer growing seasons and much lower labor costs.
BEIJING, Dec. 4 -- The Communist Party has launched a campaign among political leaders and senior academics to modernize Chinese Marxism, seeking to reconcile increasingly obvious contradictions between the government's founding ideology and its broad free-market reforms.
The campaign involves the allocation of millions of dollars to produce new translations of Marxist literature and to update texts for secondary school and university students obliged to study the official philosophy, officials said. In addition, the campaign will promote more research on how Marxism can be redefined to inform China's policies even as private enterprise increasingly becomes the basis of its economy, they explained.
This reminds me of the Protestant Reformation and the resulting Catholic Reformation in their later stages. Certainly it is not an exact analogy. But they are trying to reconcile their official (albeit secular) faith with modernity. Where will the Chinese go with this? Will they produce a new revisionist interpretation of Marxism where the leaders are still the vanguard of proletariat and hence still justified in ruling by dictatorship? If they are the vanguard and the masses have to go through a capitalist phase before seeing the communist light then that would justify having the leaders rule over the emerging middle class reactionary bourgeoisie.
Imagine the Muslims still had a Caliphate that could order an updating of Islam just as the Chinese are trying to modernise Marxism. Such a modernization might make dealing with Muslims a lot easier for the rest of us.
-Rice told interviewers late last month that the U.S. would not need to maintain current troop levels in Iraq "very much longer." Rumsfeld told radio talk show host Sean Hannity that the war would wind down over the next few years. But Bush, in his Naval Academy speech, gave no sense of a departure date. That, he said, would be decided by commanders on the ground and not "politicians in Washington."
-Rumsfeld told a Pentagon news conference last Tuesday that he would no longer use the word "insurgents," instead substituting "enemies of the legitimate Iraqi government." But Bush used insurgents the next day at the Naval Academy and it appeared 14 times in a 35-page accompanying document issued by the White House.
I'm surprised Bush is not just calling the insurgents "terrorists". After all, his official message on Iraq is that the war in Iraq is part of the war on terror, right? Or did he change that while I was busy focusing on other matters? Is Iraq once more primarily about spreading democracy or maybe did WMDs make a come-back?
Dick Cheney's becoming like Spiro T. Agnew attacking all those nattering nabobs of negativism.
Cheney is popular with the party's conservative base. "Cheney has become the junkyard dog" on Iraq, said Stephen Hess, a political analyst who was a speechwriter in the Eisenhower and Nixon White Houses. "He's speaking out to hold the president's base, and he's not giving any quarter."
Well, on Iraq I'm negative. The US troop draw-down next year is going to happen because the US military is overextended and is running out of soldiers to rotate in. The partial withdrawal will be spun as a sign of progress whereas it is really a sign of overreach by an Administration that does not want to pay the political costs of proposing a draft.
Update Richard Clarke told Stephen Colbert that the new acronym for the enemy is "Elgis" or El-Gees" for Enemies of the Legitimate Government of Iraq. Fighting the Elgis is part of the Global War on Terror or Gwot. According to the Bushies we can't win the Gwot until we defeat the Elgis.
As thousands waited to be rescued after Hurricane Katrina, the governor's top aides brainstormed on ways to make an embattled Gov. Kathleen Blanco look more "John Wayne" than "first lady."
Thrust into the national limelight by the storm, Blanco was the target of much criticism for the breakdowns in getting flood victims to safe ground.
E-mails, memos and other records released Friday show how Blanco and her staff juggled thousands of inquiries and emergencies. But as the historic natural catastrophe spiraled into a public-relations nightmare, her aides spent more and more time polishing her image.
Do you think those aides might have served their state better by spending more time organizing relief efforts?
Blanco wanted to air drop copies of a press release into New Orleans.
On Sept. 1, the same night that Nagin snapped at Blanco and President George W. Bush to stop holding "goddamn press conferences" until resources were delivered to his ruined city, the governor suggested dropping a prepared statement into New Orleans from the air.
Blanco's press secretary, Denise Bottcher, considered that a bad idea.
"I don't believe it's appropriate given the urgent nature and need to drop water and food," Bottcher wrote in an e-mail.
This sounds like an episode of Spin City.
Three days after the storm, Blanco complained to the White House that FEMA had still failed to fulfill its promises of aid. While cloaked in customary political courtesies, Blanco noted that she had already requested 40,000 more troops; ice, water and food; buses, base camps, staging areas, amphibious vehicles, mobile morgues, rescue teams, housing, airlift and communications systems, according to a press office e-mail of the text of her letter to Bush.
"Even if these initial requests had been fully honored, these assets would not be sufficient," Blanco said. She also asked for the return of the Louisiana Army National Guard's 256th Brigade Combat Team, then deployed to Iraq.
Five days later, Bush assistant Maggie Grant e-mailed Blanco aide Paine Gowen to say the White House did not receive the letter.
"We found it on the governor's Web site but we need 'an original,' for our staff secretary to formally process the requests she is making," Grant wrote.
The governor of Puerto Rico spent days trying to get Blanco's administration to approve Puerto Rico's sending 1100 National Guard skilled at hurricane disasters. I wonder how many states encountered similar frustrations. Surely it is pretty easy to simply say "yes".
Other documents show how Blanco's aides were inundated with requests from celebrities and dignitaries wanting to visit the city.
"Bush's numbers are low, and they are getting pummeled by the media for their inept response to Katrina and are actively working to make us the scapegoats," Bob Mann, Ms. Blanco's communications director, wrote in an e-mail message that afternoon, outlining plans by Washington Democrats to help turn the blame back onto President Bush.
With so much criticism being directed toward the governor, the time had come, her aides told her, to rework her performance. She had to figure out a way not only to lead the state through the most costly natural disaster in United States history, but also to emerge on top somehow in the nasty public relations war.
Drop the emotion, the anger and all those detail-oriented briefings, Ms. Blanco's aides told her. Get out to the disaster zone to visit emergency shelters, and repeat again and again: help is on the way.
Um, actually making the help arrive would have been more helpful than generating photo ops.
The most important screw-ups occurred in the decaded leading up to Hurricane Katrina as Louisiana's political class failed to prepare for the inevitable. Louisiana gets more Army Corps of Engineers money ($1.9 billion per year) than any other state (California is in second place at $1.4 billion). So money was not the problem. Pork and corruption were at the root of why adequate preparations were not made to prevent disaster on such a scale.
Here in Turkey, even as the church reconstruction was under way, a court was giving Hrant Dink, editor of a newspaper for Istanbul's Armenian community, a suspended prison sentence for making comments "disrespectful to our Turkish ancestors." A prosecutor has indicted Turkey's leading novelist, Orhan Pamuk, on similar charges, and several other such cases are pending.
To outsiders, it sometimes seems that Turks cannot decide whether they want to embrace the standards of human rights and free speech that the European Union demands of its members.
In fact, however, many Turks say they fervently want their country to meet those standards. So, on most days, does the government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. But defenders of the old order, including prosecutors, judges and officials with influence in the army and bureaucracy, fear that steps to open Turkish society will weaken national unity, and they are trying to suppress them.
Nationalists have tried to prevent serious investigations into incidents like a recent bombing in the southeastern province of Hakkari, which was made to look like the work of Kurdish terrorists but turned out to have been carried out by police agents.
At very least it strikes me as premature to admit Turkey into the European Union. How is Turkey going to develop in the future? Hard to say. But it seems imprudent to admit Turkey into the EU before the future direction of the Turks becomes much more clear. Some in the EU claim that Turkey has got to be admitted into the EU because otherwise illiberal Muslims in Turkey will get the upper hand and Turkey will follow the path of militant Islam. But if this claim is true it rather undercuts the claim that Turkey is ready to become a solidly secular liberal member of the EU.
What I really do not get is what advantage is there for the existing populaces of the EU for having Turkey in the EU. I get what the Turkish elite and many Turkish workers will get from the deal. But what about the average Claude or Monique in France or Helmut or Gerta in Germany? What's in it for them? The threat that large numbers of Turks will flock to the more developed countries and create their own separate ethnic and religious ghettoes hostile to the larger society. So why do this thing of uniting Turkey with the EU?
Update: See an excellent article in the New York Times about the Muslim parallel society in Germany by Peter Schneider entitled "The New Berlin Wall".
On the night of Feb. 7, 2005, Hatun Surucu, 23, was killed on her way to a bus stop in Berlin-Tempelhof by several shots to the head and upper body, fired at point-blank range. The investigation revealed that months before, she reported one of her brothers to the police for threatening her. Now three of her five brothers are on trial for murder. According to the prosecutor, the oldest of them (25) acquired the weapon, the middle brother (24) lured his sister to the scene of the crime and the youngest (18) shot her. The trial began on Sept. 21. Ayhan Surucu, the youngest brother, had confessed to the murder and claimed that he had done it without any help. According to Seyran Ates, a lawyer of Turkish descent, it is generally the youngest who are chosen by the family council to carry out such murders - or to claim responsibility for them. German juvenile law sets a maximum sentence of 10 years' imprisonment for murder, and the offender has the prospect of being released after serving two-thirds of the sentence.
Hatun Surucu grew up in Berlin as the daughter of Turkish Kurds. When she finished eighth grade, her parents took her out of school. Shortly after that she was taken to Turkey and married to a cousin. Later she separated from her husband and returned to Berlin, pregnant. At age 17 she gave birth to a son, Can. She moved into a women's shelter and completed the work for her middle-school certificate. By 2004 she had finished a vocational-training program to become an electrician. The young mother who had escaped her family's constraints began to enjoy herself. She put on makeup, wore her hair unbound, went dancing and adorned herself with rings, necklaces and bracelets. Then, just days before she was to receive her journeyman's diploma, her life was cut short.
Evidently, in the eyes of her brothers, Hatun Surucu's capital crime was that, living in Germany, she had begun living like a German.
Read the whole article. The article estimates that half of German Turkish women are forced into arranged marriages.
Girls are purchased in Turkey by Tukish mothers in Germany for their Turkish sons.
Heavily veiled women wearing long coats even in summer are becoming an increasingly familiar sight in German Muslim neighborhoods. According to Necla Kelek's research, they are mostly under-age girls who have been bought - often for a handsome payment - in the Turkish heartland villages of Anatolia by mothers whose sons in Germany are ready to marry. The girls are then flown to Germany, and "with every new imported bride," Kelek says, "the parallel society grows." Meanwhile, Ates summarizes, "Turkish men who wish to marry and live by Shariah can do so with far less impediment in Berlin than in Istanbul."
The standard argument by pro-immigrationists in America that the welfare state in Europe is to blame does not hold up. Middle class Turks in Germany are also going for the parallel society.
Many sociologists attribute the growth of a Muslim parallel society to the discouraging social circumstances of the third Muslim generation of immigrants - high unemployment, high dropout or failure rates in public schools. But this explanation is incomplete, to say the least. It turns out that the Muslim middle class has long been following the same trend. Rental agencies that procure and prepare rooms for traditional Turkish weddings and circumcisions are among the most booming businesses in Kreuzberg and Neukölln.
Multiculturalism amounts to parallel hostile societies.
Again, read the full article.
The Turkish government under the watchful eyes of the secular Turkish military for decades enforced secularism and restraints on the power of Islam. But the EU is going to force the Turkish government to be less draconian and therefore the power of Islam will grow in Turkey just as it has in Germany. This is not progress.
Radical Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh was killed for making the film Submission I, a critical view of Islam's treatment of women. If you have 11 minutes to spare you can go view Submission I in 4 parts. Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a Somalian-born member of the Dutch parliament who made the film with van Gogh, lives under constant extensive police protection due to death threats against her by angry Muslims. Hirsi Ali intends to finish making the next 3 parts of the Submission short movie series. Timothy Garton Ash recently met with Hirsi Ali and says Hirsi Ali is a big advocate of the value of the Enlightenment.
Ayaan Hirsi Ali is much more than just a voice for the voiceless oppressed. In person, she is a thoughtful, calm, clear, almost pedantic spokeswoman for the fundamental liberal values of the Enlightenment: individual rights, free speech, equality before the law. At dinner afterwards, she told me how these liberal individualist ideals were first quickened in her by reading English literature as a schoolgirl in Kenya, where her family had fled from Somalia. She loved the work of Charles Dickens and George Orwell. (As a young Muslim girl, she briefly thought the horrible behaviour of the pigs in Orwell's Animal Farm helped explain why Muslims don't eat pork.) Then, studying political science in the Netherlands, she discovered the classics of western liberalism. Two authors she particularly admires are John Stuart Mill and Karl Popper.
I find her critique of multiculturalism, in the name of Enlightenment liberalism, too sweeping. In my view, her support for the French ban on the hijab in schools and public offices amounts to advocating an unnecessary restriction of individual liberty in the name of individual liberty. But her central claim seems to me vital and irrefutable: if being a free country means anything at all, it must mean that people have the chance to criticise freely, and without fear of reprisal, Islam, Hinduism or Sikhism, as they now in practice have the chance to excoriate Christianity (despite Britain's ridiculous blasphemy laws), Judaism or, for that matter, Darwinism.
I do not find Hirsi Ali's critique of multiculturalism too sweeping. Multicullturalism is a retarded idea promoted by white Western intellectuals intent on demonstrating their moral superiority to other white people at the expense of the West itself.
I think the obvious lesson to learn from van Gogh's death and the fact that many Dutch political figures live under constant police protection is simple enough: Muslim immigration to the West is bad. We shouldn't allow it. It is harmful to our societies. Why inflict damage on ourselves?
Garton Ash points out that Sikhs also threaten critics with death.
This right to free speech, which is to an open society what oxygen is to human life, is under direct threat from people whose position is very simple: if you say that, we will kill you. And not just in the case of Islam. Remember that violent protests and death threats from extremists in Britain's Sikh community forced the playwright Gurpreet Kaur Bhatti into hiding, and her play Behzti off the stage in Birmingham.
Garton Ash points out that the Labour government in Britain is trying to appease British Muslim voters by outlawing harsh criticism of Islam.
How does our government react? By extending police protection to threatened individuals, to be sure, as it did for Salman Rushdie. By making the right noises about tolerance, peaceful protest and free speech. But also - shamefully, stupidly, cravenly - by itself proposing to restrict that right, in an ill-considered, ill-drafted bill to bar "incitement to religious hatred". Among the motives behind the reintroduction of this already once rejected bill in Labour's last election manifesto were appeasement of some self-appointed spokespersons of the Muslim community in Britain and transparent political opportunism - as the distinguished human-rights lawyer and Liberal Democrat peer Anthony Lester observes in an excellent book prepared by English PEN (Free Expression is No Offence, edited by Lisa Appignanesi); he says that the bill was introduced as "a targeted bid to woo British Muslim support for New Labour in marginal constituencies where hostility to the illegal invasion of Iraq had alienated many Muslim and other potential voters from Labour to the Liberal Democrats".
Islam is fundamentallly illiberal and hostile to a free society. Islam's core beliefs are not compatible with a free society. Why disarm ourselves by pretending otherwise? How dare a Western government threaten to jail anyone who speaks their mind about Islam.
The rate of paid-for sex with women has doubled in a decade, reveals research in Sexually Transmitted Infections.
The findings are based on the results of two national surveys of 11,000 British adults in 1990 and 2000 (Natsal). Respondents were asked about their sexual lifestyles and attitudes to sex. And men were asked if they had ever paid for sex.
In 1990, 5.6% of the men said they had paid for sex at some time during their lives, with 2% saying they had done this within the previous five years, and 0.5% within the past year.
Ten years later, the comparable figures were twice as high.
In 2000, almost 9% of men said that they had ever paid for sex, while 4.2% said they had done so within the previous five years, and 1.3% said they had done so over the past year.
Almost 1 in 10 say they have ever paid for sex. But some of the men who said they hadn't may yet do so. So perhaps the lifetime odds of ever eventually paying for sex are higher for younger.
The 2000 survey results showed that men who said they had paid for sex within the previous five years were more likely to be aged between 25 and 34 and single. They were also more likely to live in London, and to have had more sexual partners.
Over a third of them had had 10 or more sexual partners during the previous five years. And over half had had new sexual partners while abroad, including in countries with higher rates of HIV and sexually transmitted infections than the UK.
But fewer than one in five had gone to a sexual health clinic during that time. And only one in seven had been tested for HIV, although almost one in 10 said they had had a sexually transmitted infection.
The authors suggest a rising divorce rate, sex tourism, and the increasing availability of commercial sex services may help to explain the trend.
Have prices dropped? Maybe a lot more Eastern European and Russian women have flooded into London to offer their services. So perhaps availability has risen and prices have dropped. How much of the change is due to increased demand and how much to increased supply?
Will the use of prostitutes continue to rise? Will it become so widespread that it gains more legitimacy? It would be interesting to see a similar survey done in other European countries. Which country has the highest rate of use of prostitutes? The Netherlands perhaps?