26th October 2005

More bad reporting

It’s not just the New York Times that has to crib facts from the Internet. What you or I could find out in ten minutes with a browser is apparently the best information available even to the highly placed. Pity Lt. Colonel Steve Boylan, the U.S. military spokesman in Baghdad. Boylan cited the Iraq Body Count figure of 30,000*, because:

Boylan said the U.S. military keeps its own tally of Iraqi dead, but does not release it. He said he had asked U.S. authorities to see the estimates of Iraqi dead himself, and was refused.

That’s right – they won’t even let their own spokesman know how many Iraqi dead there are. What the…? What happened to the good ole days, when we were counting dead Vietnamese daily on the nightly news?

Maybe they’re embarassed. As the A.P. coyly points out, the death rate in Iraq is nowhere near what it was in Vietnam, which averaged at 12,000 a month. But, no, Mrs. Reporter – we haven’t even started carpet bombing yet! The correct, adjusted equation for death rate should be something like this:

where k is number of kills, and O is the amount of ordinance expended.

The real source of the Pentagon’s embarassment, though, is that they still think they haven’t matched up to their own protegé Saddam:

Boylan disputed assertions that Iraq was safer under Saddam.

“The mass graves hold the truth,” he said.

Haha! Those guys… you’d think they have some sort of weird complex about all this.

Check out McClellan. He can’t even bring himself to SAY that sometimes the U.S. military kills innnocent people. Here he is, responding to questions about 70 civilians, including children, who were killed in a U.S. airstrike:

And there are people in Iraq, terrorists, who recognized how high the stakes are, and they’re seeking to do everything they can to stop the democratic process from advancing. And there are attacks carried out on some of our troops. And when those attacks are carried out on our troops, you have others that respond to that. And we appreciate all that our men and women in uniform are doing when it comes to defending our freedoms abroad. Now, in terms of any innocent people being killed, we mourn the loss of any innocent life that is lost.

Here’s a clue, asshole: if you really mourned the loss of any innocent life, you wouldn’t hide it.

* Which is conservative, since it’s only those deaths that get reported in newsmedia.

posted by saurabh in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

26th October 2005

Unknown territory

What a big night! A record-breaking 14-inning World Series game! With a record-breaking 16 pitchers! And a record-breaking 21st tropical storm of the season kills 15 in Haiti! I always wanted to set a record. Isn’t it nice to be in unknown territory?

In the future, hurricanes will be named for motor vehicles. Tropical Storm X-Terra. Hurricane Hummer. Atlantic Depression Studebaker.

posted by hedgehog in Uncategorized | 0 Comments

26th October 2005

USA to democracy: "you just get in the way!"

I’ve been following the story of the US base on Okinawa for a while. We showed a documentary about Okinawa a couple years back at MIT. It showed the areas where the new air field was supposed to be built: a beautiful cove, one of the last refuges for many species of the area. Sure, let’s pour some concrete and oil spills there!

So I was relieved to read in this article that the US had agreed to relocate the air field somewhere else (exact location unclear, and having an air field next door is not good for humans, beasts, land, water or air). But still, overall, a good thing, and a concession from the US to Japan. Japan is after all a sovereign nation who has waged fewer wars on the rest of the world than the US in the past 50 years.

However, the last line did stand out:
“Washington had expressed frustration with the slow pace of progress. Lawless, deputy undersecretary of defense for Asia and the Pacific, on Tuesday suggested Japanese officials were too concerned with “parochial issues” — a reference to local opposition to the plan to build an offshore air station.”

First, note that the guy quoted is called “Lawless”. Coincidence sure has a sense of humor.

Secondly, and most importantly, and the whole point of posting chez Saurabh and friends here: local opposition is a “parochial issue” above which the Japanese government should rise, like a soaring imperial bald eagle, or some such image. Dear readers: “local opposition” is the very definition of democracy! You advise ignoring it, you’re a tyrant. Plain, simple, spelled out.

posted by saurabh in Uncategorized | 0 Comments

26th October 2005

The quest for knowledge

The New York Times is desperate to find out how many Iraqi civilians have died due to the American invasion. They are so desperate to find out that they put their crack Baghdad bureau to work. Reporter Sabrina Tavernise looked high and low, or at least at Google. After what must have been minutes of exhaustive keyboard-tapping, she copied and pasted the statistics from IraqBodyCount.com. Since those numbers — 26,000 to 30,000 — are shockingly high, she does her readers the polite favor of hiding the fact that the numbers are also very conservative. Instead she writes that they are “incomplete,” which implies inaccurate, rather than low. I appreciate her willingness to spare our delicate sensibilities. There is nothing worse than when the population paying for burnt dead bodies are forced to see the results of their actions.

And Tavernise’s gentility does not stop there. She even ignores the peer-reviewed study published almost exactly a year ago. It used epidemiological sampling to find the most likely estimate of excess Iraqi deaths above the already sickening level at which they were dying under Saddam + sanctions. Their figure, as of September 2003, was 98,000, with a wide range to reach a 95% confidence interval. Of course that study was already deep in the memory hole within days of publication, so Ms. Tavernise did not need even to explain it away.

Instead, the NY Times confirms its own headline: “Rising Civilian Toll Is the Iraq War’s Silent, Sinister Pulse.”

posted by hedgehog in Uncategorized | 0 Comments

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