Today’s links to interesting news and analysis…
- 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
- 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
- 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.”
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.”
- 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).
- 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
- 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
- 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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