FM newswire for 23 January, articles for your morning reading

Today’s links to interesting news and analysis…

  1. More propaganda, easily refuted:  “Reality Check On Science Magazine’s Claim That 2009 Was The Hottest Year on Record in Southern Hemisphere“, Roger Pielke Sr, posted at his website, 20 January 2010
  2. Iran begins to collect its winnings in Iraq (they should send a thank-you note to Bush Jr.):  “Iran’s Power Play in Iraq“, Robert Dreyfuss, blog of the The Nation, 20 January 2010
  3. Bend over and assume the position:  “The Coming FHA Bailout?“, Dr Housing Bubble, 20 January 2010 — “$360 Billion in loans insured in 2009. 30% of home purchases 20% of Refinances and 50 percent of new buyers go through FHA Loans.”
  4. Dog bites man:  “Better Off Deadbeat: Craig Cunningham Has a Simple Solution for Getting Bill Collectors Off His Back. He Sues Them“, Dallas Observer News, 20 January 2010 — It’s profitable for him because they so frequently break the law.
  5. Much of what you’ve read about the Massachusetts’ Senate race implications is fiction.  Here’s some harder data:  “Election Night Survey Of Massachusetts Senate Voters“, Hart Research Associates, 21 January 2010 — This is broadly consistent with other polls, and Americans’ long history of voting primarily on the basis of recent economic trends.
  6. Sensible profiling (aka focusing):  “99-year-old Granny isn’t the problem“, Mark Steyn, Macleans, 21 January 2010 — “Airport ‘security’ has to pretend all seven billion of us on this planet are an equal threat.”
  7. Politically powerful narrative, which you might hear widely repeated throughout 2010, but weak analytically:  “Theft! Were the US & UK central banks complicit in robbing the middle classes?“, Albert Edwards, Societe Generale, 21 January 2010 — Excerpt posted at Zero Hedge. Interest rates are insufficient to explain the housing bubble; he ignores the government’s failure to regulate (due to institutional capture).
  8. Powerful, skeptical analysis of China, with reviews of recent books about China:  “Sinomania“, books reviewed by Perry Anderson, London Review of Books, 28 January 2010
  9. This is correct about the confusion of our many criminal databases.  Be careful of your wishes!  Given money and time, Homeland Security will integrate and perfect these systems — and America will never be the same.  “Short Cuts“, Daniel Soar, London Review of Books, 28 January 2010
  10. Brilliant analysis of the Af-Pak War:  “A Deal with the Taliban?“, Ahmed Rashid, New York Review of Books, 25 February 2010 — He never explains why the Taliban will not just wait until we leave in 2 or 3 years.

Quote of the Day

From “In the absence of guns“, Mark Steyn, from Head to Toe — This deserves to be read in full.  Excerpt:

Norfolk is a remote rural corner of England. It ought to be as peaceful and crime-free as my remote rural corner of New England. But it isn’t. Old impressions die hard: Americans still think of Britain as a low-crime country. Conversely, the British think of America as a high-crime country. But neither impression is true. The overall crime rate in England and Wales is 60 per cent higher than that in the United States. True, in America you’re more likely to be shot to death. On the other hand, in England you’re more likely to be strangled to death. But in both cases, the statistical likelihood of being murdered at all is remote, especially if you steer clear of the drug trade. When it comes to anything else, though – burglary, auto theft, armed robbery, violent assault, rape – the crime rate reaches deep into British society in ways most Americans would find virtually inconceivable.

I cite those celebrity assaults not because celebrities are more prone to wind up as crime victims than anyone else, but only because the measure of a civilized society is how easily you can insulate yourself from its snarling underclass. In America, if you can make it out of some of the loonier cities, it’s a piece of cake, relatively speaking. In Britain, if even a rock star or TV supremo can’t insulate himself, nobody can. In any society, criminals prey on the weak and vulnerable. It’s the peculiar genius of government policy to have ensured that in British society everyone is weak and vulnerable – from Norfolk farmers to Tom Cruise’s neighbor.

And that’s where America is headed if those million marching moms make any headway in Washington: Less guns = more crime. And more vulnerability. And a million more moms being burgled, and assaulted, and raped. I like hunting, but if that were the only thing at stake with guns, I guess I could learn to live without it. But I’m opposed to gun control because I don’t see why my neighbors in New Hampshire should have to live the way, say, my sister-in-law does – in a comfortable manor house in a prosperous part of rural England, lying awake at night listening to yobbo gangs drive up, park their vans, and test her doors and windows before figuring out that the little old lady down the lane’s a softer touch.

Between the introduction of pistol permits in 1903 and the banning of handguns after the Dunblane massacre in 1996, Britain has had a century of incremental gun control – “sensible measures that all reasonable people can agree on.” And what’s the result? Even when you factor in America’s nutcake jurisdictions with the crackhead mayors, the overall crime rate in England and Wales is higher than in all 50 states, even though over there they have more policemen per capita than in the US, on vastly higher rates of pay installing more video surveillance cameras than anywhere else in the Western world. Robbery, sex crimes, and violence against the person are higher in England and Wales; property crime is twice as high; vehicle theft is higher still; the British are 2.3 times more likely than Americans to be assaulted, and three times more likely to be violently assaulted. Between 1973 and 1992, burglary rates in the US fell by half. In Britain, not even the Home Office’s disreputable reporting methods (if a burglar steals from 15 different apartments in one building, it counts as a single crime) can conceal the remorseless rise: Britons are now more than twice as likely as Americans to be mugged; two-thirds will have their property broken into at some time in their lives. Even more revealing is the divergent character between UK and US property crime: In America, just over ten per cent of all burglaries are “hot burglaries” – committed while the owners are present; in Britain, it’s over half. Because of insurance-required alarm systems, the average thief increasingly concludes that it’s easier to break in while you’re on the premises. Your home-security system may conceivably make your home more safe, but it makes you less so.

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16 thoughts on “FM newswire for 23 January, articles for your morning reading

  1. I remember that Tony Martin case. MSM presented as a case where a farmer, awoken by burglars breaking into his home defended himself killing one of the burglars in the process. The actual facts were these. Tony Martin, a antiques dealer based in London, inherited a Farm from his parents. Having no interest in Farming he let the property deteriorate and used it to store the overflow from his London shop. Like all buildings allowed to go derelict it started attracting break ins and vandals. Tony Martin insisted that the police mount special patrols to protect his property. The Police told him that mounting a twenty four hour gaurd on a rotting empty rural slum was not at the top of their priority list and advised him to do one or more of the following… Install burglar alarms, do up and rent out the property, hire a company to patrol the place. Buy a guard dog or two. Tony Martin did none of the above. instead he set up an ambush. Lethal booby traps were installed and he lay in wait with a shotgun.

    It ended with a sixteen year old, on his knees crying for his mother shot in the back by Tony Martin from three feet away. Tony Martin was and is a murderer.

    As for the banning of Handguns after the Dunblane massacre 13 years ago… it’s put a stop to them, whereas Mass shootings are a monthly occurence in the USA. Compared to America, Britain’s Crime rate, while high by European Standards, (largely because we have imported American prison and policing techniques and cultures that have failed in America.)… it is still way lower then the USA.

    There’s no shortage of online resources where crime rates across nations are compared.
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    FM reply: I don’t believe you last statement is correct. For non-violent crimes I believe the US rate is lower than that of the UK. Violent crime rates are high, due to the inner city pathology. Comparing the rest of the nation to the UK, our crime rate for most crimes is similar or lower.

  2. A must read very powerful:

    “Gun control advocates always roll out the old statistics about guns being dangerous – 32 people killed for ever robbery stopped etc etc. But what they don’t get is that not only are guns fun for pretending to be cowboys and Indians, and give a welcome illusion of personal power to millions of losers facing daily humiliation in dole queues around the nation – but they are the solution not the problem.

    Those 32 people killed aren’t random strangers they are the children, the relatives and most often the suicides of the gun owners. And here is where evolution lends a helping hand. Families stupid enough to have guns in the house are just the sort that we benefit most from when they remove themselves from the gene pool. Sometimes it’s just a leaf or two but often it’s whole branches as dad takes mom, the kids the family dog and any visiting relatives with him.

    Instead of the ridiculous and easily bypassed laws on background checks and rate limiters gun control laws should make guns easier and cheaper to get. Firstly the idea that felons and repeat offenders should be protected by gun laws and not the other way round is classic muddled thinking. Rate limiters simply offer an illusion of progress while being an added cost. As my former friend Billy-Joe used to say nobody runs from full automatic – and he was right they didn’t. Instead trigger and loading mechanisms need to be made easy enough for a child to use. At the same time some of the more mundane explosives such as fragmentation grenades, are cheap reliable and require no training – no reason why kids that can throw a baseball cant put a M67 into the middle of a family gathering.

    Poorer families are a growing problem. But loans for equipment repaid from sales of real estate and belongings afterwards is a ready solution.”

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    FM reply: In the post-WWII era humanity conducted an experiment to see which worked better. Southeast asia adopted market economies. Eastern Europe, the USSR, much of Latin America and Africa all adopted centrally planned economies. After 50 years the result was clear.

    Now we’re doing the same thing with guns. The UK and Australia have banned guns. The US is allowing the public to keep and carry guns. We’ll see which comes true. Note that so far the hysterical claims of the anti-gun folks have consistently proven false. Banning guns has resulted in skyrocketing crime rates. Easier access to gun has not substantially increased neither accidental shootings or murder — but has reduced crime rates.

    Also, if you’re citing something please give the source!

  3. Dave Goodrich can’t be serious. For every anecdote of a psychotic that he wants to trot out as “evidence” there are dozens of examples in the U.S. where people legitimately defend themselves with firearms (The Armed Citizen, January 2010).

    As for your premise that Steyn is just making up the fact that Britain’s crime rate is higher than that of the U.S, see the U.K.’s own Daily Telegraph “England has worst crime rate in world“, 1 December 2002.
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    FM note: The Telegraph article refers to the United Nations Survey of Crime Trends and Operations of Criminal Justice Systems. Here is a link to the most current: Tenth CTS, 2005-2006.

  4. Ok Arms Merchant… You want to quote the Daily telegraph as a source of Unbiased reporting? A Newspaper owned by a pair of billionaires who live outside Mainland UK and insist the Island they bought and live on is Sovereign territory which therefore makes them “Kings” and they don’t need to pay any taxes? (While of course insisting all their UK based assets that produce their wealth receive full tax payer paid for support, such as a police force to protect it all, an educated and healthy workforce etc.) The Daily Telegraph is the personal mouthpiece for two guys who insist that you pay taxes for the services they need while they pay fXck all. America prosecutes 48 per thousand of it’s adult population every year… the UK prosecutes 24 and Germany prosecutes less then 1 in every thousand.

    Assaults against the person… higher in America then the UK. Rapes? higher in the USA then here.

    No-one is going to tell me that Germany, France, or God help us Italy ( Which invented the Mafia and organised Crime) who arrest and prosecute and Jail far far fewer of it’s citizens then either the USA or the UK is as a result… more dangerous and more criminal societies.
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    FM reply: First, the Telegraph is report on a UN study (I gave the link above). This ‘don’t look at the data beause I don’t like the source” stuff is IMO childish. Second, do you have any source for the facts you cite? Given that arguments today seem to be mostly folks making stuff up, I consider any unsourced facts to be noise.

    Second, the US crime stats are dominated by its underclass. Crime rates outside the inner cities are far lower. It’s a problem that has become far worse in the decades in which the Amerian left has largely controlled US public policy (gun controls being part of their policy mix).

  5. This debate over guns or lack thereof is – frankly – stupid. According to Boyd theory, if I were to be inside your OODA loops, then I should be able to defend myself against you or commit aggression against you – as the case may be – with a toothpick. Conversely, should you be inside mine, than a bazooka would avail me nothing.

    Our discussion should be on howto deploy Boyd theory – or Sun Tzu or whatever – to effect security.
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    FM reply: I doubt that Boyd would agree with your statement, as it grossly overstates the advantage in practical terms of being “inside your OODA loop.”

  6. Americans don’t have the concept of society and it generates a fear of others that permeates every aspect of their culture. To give up any personal power in such an environment – and the gun is the ultimate symbol of personal power – for the collective good is widely seen as foolhardy and nonsensical.

    When a kid wanders into a yard and is killed by the homeowner in Europe it is a crime because the home owner as an adult has an unstated obligation to protect the children of the community. In America the homeowner must be able to defend himself in a hostile world and most importantly it is an affirmation that the child is stupid to trust anyone. Every child learns this lesson and it stays with them their entire life.
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    FM reply: This is IMO total nonsense.

    “When a kid wanders into a yard and is killed by the homeowner”

    Citations, please.

  7. FM reply: I doubt that Boyd would agree with your statement, as it grossly overstates the advantage in practical terms of being “inside your OODA loop.”

    I’m not prepared to debate Boyd. My basic point is that people need to develop effective strategies to defend themselves rather than to rely upon either lack of guns, possession of guns, or some other such isolated circumstance. If Boyd won’t do; then we need something else.
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    FM reply: I still disagree, this time with your premise.

    “that people need to develop effective strategies to defend themselves”

    The things you mention are the inevitable and unavoidable result of the (partial) colllapse of community order. Establishing safe communities has been a mark of civilizations around the world for thousands of years. Individuals defending themselves is little more than a necessary stopgap until order is restored.

  8. Here is a good source which can be used to illuminate some of the issues discussed above: Sentencing Law and Policy, a Member of the Law Professor Blogs Network.
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    FM reply: Thanks for posting this link to what looks like an interesting website.

  9. What major newspaper isn’t owned by a billionaire or two?
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    FM reply: USA Today and all the other newspapers owned by Gannett. The Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times, and other papers are owned by the Tribune Company (employee-owned, now in bankruptcy). And so forth.

  10. I’m in UK ,for years I legally carried a gun to euthanase horses . Pleading brown eyes , click, dead . And I liked the safety feeling of having a gun . Then one day a trusted friend pulled a dirty trick on me , plus I had a bad row with my husband . I realised I was that mad inside I could have gone out the door and shot the first ten people I saw , just because I could . Took gun to police and asked them to dispose of it . Horrible , horrible , mind bending things . Ban them . Get thee behind me , Satan.
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    FM reply: Even if this is true, it is statistically extraordinarily rare. And your psychological problems are not a reasonable basis for public policy. Also, much the same could be said about Steeplechasing, in terms of its danger to man and horse. Not too mention it’s abuse of horses (evil-doers beware, eventually PETA will come for you).

  11. And talking of Norfolk .. The Queen , 83 ,( wearing a grey wool-mix winter coat and floral headscarf ) accompanied by one aide (man , far from young ) took the normal train from Kings Cross station , London en route to her house in Sandringham , Norfolk . They did have a reserved carriage to themselves , but lots of amazed people got phone-pix when she was on the stations with them.

  12. Count me as sceptical on the Steyn piece until I see corroborating statistics. I haven’t been able to find any statistics comparative by country on non-violent crime doing a google search, if you have them, please link.
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    FM reply: I assume you mean “could not find other than the UN report” which the Daily New reported and to which I linked. Here are two more.

    * “International comparisons of criminal justice statistics 2001“, UK Home Office, 24 October 2003 — This is an excellent introduction. Note how several categories of UK crime are rising. Esp note Table 2 (page 16), “Percentage victim once or more in 1999”. England & Wales 26%, USA 21%.

    * Perhaps the best know survey on this topic is the “International Crime Victim Survey” (ICVS), a programme of standardised sample surveys to look at householders’ experience with crime, policing, crime prevention and feelings of unsafety in a large number of countries. Note Figure 3 (p43), showing that US rates are down since 1988 while England’s are up. Excerpt from page 12 of their 2004-05 report (the high rates in England are noteworthy considering all the 2nd world nations in the survey):

    Victimisation by any common crime — On average, an estimated 16% of the population in the 30 nations participating in the country level surveys have been a victim of at least one of any of ten common crimes in the course of last year (mainly 2003 or 2004). The countries with the highest scores are Ireland, England & Wales, New Zealand and Iceland. …

    Victimisation by burglary and other theft — On average, 1.8% of households in the 30 countries have seen their houses burgled in the course of the last year. This type of crime is most common in England & Wales, New Zealand, Mexico and Denmark.

    Assault & threat is the most frequent of the three contact crimes. … Northern Ireland, Iceland, Ireland, England & Wales, New Zealand and the Netherlands are the countries with rates above 4%.

    Also note: unfavorable government reports tend to disappear. Such as the oft-cited “National crime rates compared”, by the UK Bureau of Justice Statistics, October 2004 (now only a summary remains). The single graph remaining shows burglary rates in Scotlan, UK and Australia as higher than that of the US. Note that the UK numbers might be too low, as there are persistent stories that they have responded to rising crime rates by not taking reports.

  13. All gun control and gun ownership advocates must account for a few data points. Japan and Canada on one side, and Switzerland and The Scandinavian countries on the other. The former are countries with gun control and low crime, the latter are countries with lots of guns and little crime. Usually advocates for one side or the other they take the cases that support their side while trying to hand-wave away the cases that don’t. I’d say that there doesn’t seem to be much evidence that strong gun control means an increase in crime, any more than easy access to weapons means a decrease.

    Now there are moral arguments about the right to own guns, practical arguments about how they should be regulated and legal arguments about what framework to apply. Arguing a direct connection between crime and gun ownership is a distraction at best that usually only serves to make the argument more emotional and less likely to produce anything useful. For every brutalized British homeowner, I’m sure the Brady Campaign people can give you a maimed child or dead bystander.
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    FM reply: While those are powerful points, I suspect they assume the the presence of guns is a determinative variable — more important than the many other differences between cultures. The other viewpoint suggests that comparing rate of gun ownership between States in the USA — or between the major English-speaking nations — gives us more insight than broader global comparisons.

  14. It seems to me that a nation that at any one moment has nearly one per cent of it’s population in Jail (715 per 100,000) is in no position to lecture the rest of the planet on the maintenance of Law, Order or a Just society. Denmark, after all, jails one tenth that number (72 per 100,000) and doesn’t appear to be over-run by violent, criminal gangs.

    As a right wing politician responsible for Law and Justice in the UK once observed “Prison is an expensive way of making bad people worse”… That Politician was, of course, fired for saying so. The fact is some societies such as the Swiss have very high rates of gun ownership and low violent crime use. Ergo… The Swiss, as a nation, are a people who can be entrusted with weapons. Whereas, Americans, as a nation, are not.

    It is a striking fact that considered overall it’s not hard to predict where you will find the highest crime rates, the longest prison sentences and the highest proportion of citizens in Jail at any one time…. The Anglo-Saxon nations top the list…America , UK, New Zealand are all in the top five positions. No other Nation, not even Russia, Jails such a high proportion of it’s own citizens and at such a fabulously ruinous cost.
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    FM reply: Thank you for mentioning this important stain on America. Not just the numbers we jail, but the conditions in which they’re kept. It’s something I’ve written about several times, most recently in An opportunity to look in the mirror, to more clearly see America 10 November 2009). For some reading material about this, I recommend:

    1. Reform School“, John Pfaff, Slate, 19 February 2009 — “Five myths about prison growth dispelled”
    2. Report of the National Prison Rape Elimination Commission, June 2009 — The Commission was established by the 2003 Prison Rape Elimination Act
    3. California’s Choice“, Kevin Drum, blog at Mother Jones, 19 November 2009
    4. Can Our Shameful Prisons Be Reformed?“, David Cole, New York Review of Books, 19 November 2009
    5. Sexual Victimization in Juvenile Facilities Reported by Youth, 2008-09“, Allen J. Beck, Paul Guerino and Paige M. Harrison, Dept of Justice, 7 January 2010
    6. News story about the above report: “The Crisis of Juvenile Prison Rape: A New Report“, David Kaiser and Lovisa Stannow, blog of the NY Review of Books, 7 January 2010
  15. FM…. Forgive me but the underlying thrust (intentional on your part or not)…of posting that Mark Steyn Article was to argue for two points.
    Point one…. There are not enough fire-arms out there… we need lots more and we need them now.
    Point two…. We are not jailing enough people, and those we do we not jailing long enough.
    Trust me, that’s how it read, whether you meant that or not.
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    FM reply: Two points. Steyn’s article does neither recommends or even discusses jailing more people or extending sentences. Your ability to read my intent is zero, judging from this sample.

  16. If crime rates in UK appear high , I’d blame the focus of education , available employment , oportunities for adventure , housing , laws and policing . Immigration , legal and illegal .
    Most reported crime in my town is by people named such as Ztchzdkvlsy or Abdula Bulbul .
    Drugs and drug wars. See Duncan Kinder’s blog .
    Incidentally I wonder where I would stand if a home was raided and owner hit the raider on head with blunt object , killing him , and he turned out to be Afghan immigrant and Taliban/AlQ member . Since extra-judicial killing of Taliban/AlQ members seems to be Ok worldwide …

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