September 18, 2006

Illegal Immigration Hits Home in Warren County

Filed under: Immigration,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 1:20 pm

This is a local (SW Ohio) story. I hope it ultimately has national implications.

Two weeks ago I wrote on the death of Kevin Barnhill, and criticized a reporter who called his murder “tragic.” Specifically, I suggested the following alternatives:

  • Kevin Barnhill’s murder was an atrocity committed by people who need to be locked up and have the key thrown away, or worse.
  • Kevin Barnhill’s murder was an evil crime against a good person.
  • Kevin Barnhill’s murder was a wicked act that cries out for revenge.

As I said, calling Kevin Barnhill’s murder a “tragedy” minimizes the evil of the deeds carried out against the victims. Mark Steyn made the same point about the victims of the September 11 terrorist attacks yesterday:

Five years ago it was striking, even in the immediate aftermath, how many radio and TV trailers for blood drives and other relief efforts could only bring themselves over the soupy music track to refer vaguely to “the tragic events,” as if any formulation more robust might prove controversial.

Now we learn, as yours truly suspected but did not articulate at the time, that Kevin Barnhill’s brutal murder was carried out by two people who have no business even being here. One of them is still at large:

Residents want crackdown on illegal immigrants
Men accused in death of Warren County man’s son had entered U.S. without a visa.

HAMILTON TWP., Warren County — Bill Barnhill is determined to stop people living in the country illegally from calling Warren County home.

Barnhill’s son, Kevin, was killed in Mason last month and the men accused of the crime had entered the United States without a visa, police said.

Now Barnhill is among a dozen residents who have formed Citizens for Legal Communities to discourage people who have entered the county illegally from settling in Warren County.

Police continue to search for a man wanted in connection with the beating and stabbing death of Barnhill near the Mason Pub. Enrique Torres, 27, of Cincinnati is wanted for complicity to commit murder in the death of Kevin Barnhill.

Humberto Mota, 30, of Mason faces the same charge and is being held at the Warren County Jail with bail set at $1 million.

….. (Barnhill) and …. other residents met Thursday evening with county officials, including Sheriff Tom Ariss and Prosecutor Rachel Hutzel to learn what law enforcement officials can do to help.(Ariss and Hutzel) said residents must demand that elected federal officials beef up the number of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents that patrol Ohio counties.

“We have no authority to charge them for being illegal. They only thing we can do is charge them for violating laws,” Ariss said.

….. Mota was indicted two weeks ago in Warren County on drug possession charges for cocaine he had when he was booked into the Warren County Jail, officials said.

Three thoughts:

  • Given the drugs Mr. Mota had in his possession, you wouldn’t want to bet against me that Mr. Torres is no longer in the country.
  • The sheriff can get his deputies a minimal amount of training that will enable them to enforce immigration law on their own. Butler County applied to do that for ten of its officers last month (HT Porkopolis). Go here for details.
  • Besides aggressive enforcement within Warren County’s borders, there’s not a lot that an average community can do to keep illegals from passing through and wreaking havoc as long as employers are willing to hire them (see this frightening story that took place in Warren County just a couple of months ago — the man who came back with a gang and was intent on killing his boss would not produce proof of citizenship), and as long as our lawmakers not only fail to protect our borders, but also fail to provide the boots on the ground required to get those who shouldn’t be here, especially criminals, out of here.

Kevin Barnhill’s death will not have been in vain if it mobilizes outrage against the status quo on immigration in Washington and leads to real change.


UPDATE: The Cincinnati Enquirer had a longer story on the topic on Friday. Here are some key frustrating excerpts:

“How can a landlord be allowed to rent one apartment to 20 people without getting documentation from any of them?” asked Julie Stephens of Hamilton Township, a friend of Kevin Barnhill. She was referring to a complex where she used to live.

South Lebanon business owner Larry Lehman wanted to know why no one ever checks his paperwork.

He said it would confirm that all his employees are documented citizens.

They were exasperated to learn that when an illegal immigrant is arrested, immigration officials seldom come to deport them.

….. “One of our residents was killed brutally by an illegal alien,” said Judi Lehman, Larry Lehman’s wife and group organizer. “For years we kind of turned our head. Maybe it’s time we do something. We’re a small voice, but maybe we can help.”

Hutzel said her office has seen an increase in the past six months in the number of crimes being committed by people who are in the country illegally.

“It used to be fairly unusual,” Hutzel said. “Now we’re seeing one felony a week at grand jury.”

It creates problems for the prosecutor’s office because the suspects have no paper trail, she said. In one case, her office had to conduct DNA analysis to figure out the true identity and age of a defendant accused of having sex with a minor. He had false documentation showing he was 16. He was actually 26.

….. The American Civil Liberties Union admits the immigration system is broken, but warns that there is a fine line between strict immigration enforcement and racial profiling.

Earth to ACLU: There is NOT a fine line between being legally and being here illegally.

The Numbers Games in Rex Nutting’s September 7 Report on the Housing Market

Nutting’s September 7 MarketWatch article is here (link requires free registration).

Even if your eyes glaze over at the mere mention of numbers, I encourage you to stay tuned for just the next nine paragraphs, as you’ll learn a lot, and pretty quickly.

The following sentences in Rex Nutting’s September 7 report on the direction of home prices initially caught my attention (eighth paragraph; “OFHEO” is the Office for Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight):

The average gain in home prices predicted by the economists in the survey was 0.4%. The OFHEO index has never shown an annual decline in its 30-year history. The smallest gain ever was 1.3% in 1991. See full story on the latest OFHEO release.

If you go to that link from September 5 (also requires free registration), you will see the following relative to annual home-price increases:

Home prices are up 10.6% (Nutting meant 10.06% — Ed.) in the past year, OFHEO said, compared with a 12.8% gain in the first quarter. It’s the fastest deceleration in the index in its three-decade history, OFHEO said.

If you really hate numbers and want to stop soon, I’ll give away most of the ending and guide you to exactly what you need to look at on the chart below:

  • The September 5 report uses numbers (with the red box around them) that come directly from OFHEO data, while the 1.3% for 1991 noted in the September 7 report (with the green box around it, rounded) uses an averaging formula that, while it is apparently commonly used, is inaccurate (i.e., it doesn’t describe actual calendar-year results, because it partially drags a portion of prior-year results into the calculation).
  • The fact that the September 5 article cites quarterly results while the September 7 deals with calendar-year results should be irrelevant.
  • Usually the differences between the correct (September 5) method and the incorrect (September 7) method are so small that they don’t matter much. But, as you see from the 2006 items below, if home prices don’t go up at all in the 3rd and 4th quarters of this year, the correct answer to what 2006 home price growth was will be 3.40% (blue box), while the incorrect answer favored by Nutting and some others will be 8.2% (purple box).
  • The economists quoted in the September 7 article came up with their consensus estimate of 0.40% based on the column where the blue and red boxes are (true 4-quarter appreciation), but Nutting compared their predictions to the “Annual Average,” where the purple and green boxes are. It’s not an apples-to-apples comparison, and he changed the measurement standard in the middle of the paragraph. It significantly affects the impact of what he reports, because the economists’ prediction of 0.40% home-price growth for 2007 is slightly above 1990′s full year appreciation of 0.26% (highlighted in yellow), and NOT below what Nutting said was the lowest year ever (1991′s 1.3%). This means that 2007, if it turns out as predicted, will NOT be the worst ever for home-price appreciation, as one would infer from Nutting’s report as it is currently written.

If you understand things at this point and don’t want to go further, see ya — no hard feelings. For those who want or need more detail, read on.

Nutting’s 1.3%

The averaging method Nutting used to report 1991′s home-price inflation doesn’t reflect reality, because it including the following items in the calculation:

  • 0.62%, the 1991Q1 inflation, representing the period from the 2nd quarter of 1990 to the 1st quarter of 1991.
  • 1.10%, the 1991Q2 inflation, representing the period from the 3rd quarter of 1990 to the 2nd quarter of 1991.
  • 0.72%, the 1991Q3 inflation, representing the period from the 4th quarter of 1990 to the 3rd quarter of 1991.
  • 2.59%, the 1991Q4 inflation, representing the period from the 1st quarter of 1991 to the 4th quarter of 1991.

The average of the four quarterly items is 1.26%, and was rounded by Nutting to the 1.3% used in his report.

But 2.59% was the real inflation in 1991. A house selling for $100,000 at the beginning of 1991 was selling for $102,590 at the end of the year, NOT $101,300. The reason for the difference is that, as you can see from above, the averaging calculation drags in results from 1990, which was a year with lower and actually negative home-price growth.

A Method Used by Others? Apparently, But They’re Still Wrong

Rex has correctly pointed out that at a Senate hearing last week (go to “Tables and Charts” Page 8 of Richard Brown’s testimony at this link; Brown’s testimony is a PDF; graph is actually at Page 26 of the PDF), an OFHEO official used a graph that employed the averaging method Rex used to calculate his 1.30% for 1991, and not the actual 4-quarter results as reported by OFHEO.

Fine. I want to see this official come into a hearing in early 2007 and, assuming that home prices didn’t change at all in the final two quarters of 2006, bring in a graph showing that 2006′s home-price inflation was 8.20% (purple box above) and not 3.40% (blue box above). It’s not, going, to, happen. Once the difference between the two methods becomes obvious, they’ll have to move to the correct actual results method. Until then, it seems that the phrase “close enough for government work” would apply.

Back to the September 7 Article

But let’s go back to the first sentence of the first excerpt above, namely “The average gain in (2007) home prices predicted by the economists in the survey was 0.4%.”

I can guaran-flipping-tee you that the economists quoted were estimating how they thought prices on December 31, 2007 would compare to prices on January 1, 2007, i.e., they were using the column with the red and blue boxes. They were NOT employing some kind of averaging method analogous to what Rex Nutting used, or that the OFHEO used at the Senate hearing last week. In other words, Nutting changed the measurement standard (from the economists to OFHEO “average”) in mid-paragraph!

Is it important? I should say so. Using the measurement method consistent with the economists, it would still be true that “The OFHEO index has never shown an annual decline in its 30-year history,” — but just barely so. 1990′s true calendar-year home-price increase was 0.26% (highlighted in yellow above). That is slightly less than the economist’s consensus, as opposed to almost 1% above it. Nutting would not have been able to implicitly predict that 2007 will be by far the worst year ever for home-price inflation (comparing 0.4% to 1.3%), because 1990′s real result of 0.26% is even worse than what economists are predicting for 2007. The paragraph, if written based on the correct statistics, would have lost most of its gloom-and-doom pop.

Correction Not Coming

Rex Nutting has already indicated that he thinks no correction is necessary to the item discussed here. Based on the obvious mid-paragraph inconsistency, I insist that the paragraph in question as written is just, plain, wrong.

Regardless of whether or not a correction is made, here’s the important takeaway — If the calculation method discussed here is typical of what goes into reports on home-price changes, it’s going to be difficult take any of those reports at face value without a lot of further digging.

And what other business reports are making what I believe should objectively be seen as errors like the one I’ve just reviewed here?

To have to tell readers, as I am doing, that you’ll have to do basic research and perform independent calculations before you can trust a business news report from a mainstream business press outlet is disappointing, and disconcerting.


ADDENDUM 1 (modified from original at 11:00 AM): I also believe that This paragraph (the fifth one) is incorrect as written in that same September 7 article was originally disputed by me:

Existing-home prices have risen at an average of 9.6% annually in the past four years, well ahead of the inflation rate. New-home prices rose 13.3% in 2004 and 9% in 2005.

From OFHEO data, which I believed was the frame of reference, I could not determine how the first number was calculated, and I believed that 2004 and 2005 were reversed. Rex Nutting responded with support from different sources that I would assume is correct. I will look at it later and if there is a problem I’ll note it (otherwise, you can assume there is none). I believe Nutting should have indicated where the information came from, but the information itself is correct. ANSWER: Rex’s e-mail reply indicated that he used data from Haver (a company whose work was used in a previous post), and I don’t have any reason to doubt that he reported the Haver data correctly. But he didn’t tell us where the data came from. The realtor data discussed in previous paragraphs is from their “monthly economic outlook,” which I believe is a press release. If it’s the same as the Haver information, it wasn’t identified as such. I believe that an average reader of the article would have assumed that the excerpted paragraph above came from OFHEO, or perhaps from some unidentified place. OFHEO was the only specific data source cited in the article.

ADDENDUM 2: There were another oddity in the September 7 article that I could not explain (actually there others besides this one, but I’m worn out). For some reason, Nutting looked at an unusual time period for this sentence:

From 1968 through 2000, median sales prices rose about 6.2% annually, while the consumer price index rose at a 5.1% annual rate.

Why would that period have been selected, when data is available through 2005? Is it to tell us what happened before the runup began? If so, why not say that? For what it’s worth, consumer prices rose by only 4.76% from 1973-2005, and I believe (but don’t know, because I don’t know where the data from the 1970s is) that 1973-2005 home-price appreciation would be greater than 1968-2000′s 6.2%.

Patterico Suggests a New Word for the Dictionary

Filed under: MSM Biz/Other Bias,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 9:45 am

Isikoffed — He suggests that “when a quote is altered without any hint that it has been changed, the quote should be described as having been ‘Isikoffed.’”

I agree, because that’s exactly what Patterico has caught Newsweek reporter Michael Isikoff doing. Read at Patterico’s post all about how this distortive technique, when it was applied to an Alberto Gonzalez memo by Mr. Isikoff, made the Bush Adminstration appear to be dismissive of detainee rights when no such thing was intended or implied.

Mr. Isikoff is also infamous for having been the primary author of a story from May of last year that had to be retracted — but not before people died over it:

Newsweek apologized yesterday for an inaccurate report on the treatment of detainees that triggered several days of rioting in Afghanistan and other countries in which at least 15 people died.

….. The report, in the issue dated May 9, said U.S. military investigators had found that American interrogators at the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, had flushed a copy of the Koran, the sacred Muslim text, down a toilet. A week later, when newspapers in Afghanistan and Pakistan picked up the item, it sparked anti-American demonstrations in the Afghan city of Jalalabad in which four protesters were killed and more than 60 injured. About a dozen more protesters were killed in the following days when the demonstrations spread across Afghanistan and to Pakistan and other countries.

….. The item was principally reported by Michael Isikoff, Newsweek’s veteran investigative reporter.

I had more to say on “Crappergate” at the time, which is here. What I have to say about the Isikoff stunt Patterico has just exposed can’t be printed.


UPDATE: Allah at Hot Air has more on the tendencies of Isikoff, the guy Matt Drudge has no-so-politely nickanamd “Spikey.” More on Spikey’s background and his Plamegate shift are at this American Thinker link.

Best Comeback of Last Week: On the Runup to “The Path to 9/11″

Filed under: Business Moves,MSM Biz/Other Bias,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 8:11 am

Ruben Navarrette Jr., in a subscription-only op-ed in last Thursday’s Wall Street Journal:

Despite this pressure, ABC Entertainment held its ground and deserves credit for doing so. The message of the film remained the same — that there is blame to go around, that the Clinton administration missed various opportunities to get bin Laden, and that the terrible events of 9/11 did not come out of the clear blue sky.

The big surprise was when journalists showed their true colors by siding with the Clintonistas even if it meant flirting with censorship. Typical was the response of Tim Rutten of the Los Angeles Times, who blasted the network as “an opportunistic and self-interested organization that somehow thought it could approach the most wrenching American tragedy since Pearl Harbor with the values that prevail among network television executives — the sort of ad hoc ethics that would make a streetwalker blush — and that nobody would mind.”

Actually, Tim, here’s what I mind. I mind being told that I can’t tell the difference between a made-for-TV movie and a documentary. I mind that a former president of the United States and former members of his administration would be so worried about protecting their legacy that they wound up tarnishing it even further. I mind that members of Congress would even hint at pulling the license of a major television network. And I mind that journalists who should know better would join in the criticism and claim that the only thing that concerns them is that Hollywood get the story right. I don’t recall similar concerns from members of the press when an Oliver Stone movie speculated about what President Richard Nixon might have said to confidants in the privacy of the White House.

Re the last sentence: Neither do I, in spite of genuine outrage from the Nixon family that PERSONAL events portrayed never happened, and never could have been construed to have happened based on the real-life character qualities of family members. And it remains true that Stone’s movie is used as reference matierial in classrooms, while withdrew previously-developed “The Path to 9/11″ materials in response to the pressure.



The Path to Hysteria
My sin was to write a screenplay accurately depicting Bill Clinton’s record on terrorism.

It’s a hard-drive saver, at The author, Cyrus Nowrasteh, wrote the “Path” screenplay. Do not miss it. I would excerpt it, but to get all the good parts I’d have to copy the whole thing.

Sanity on DDT? At the UN? Pinch Me

Filed under: Environment,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 8:06 am

Maybe 30 years of millions needlessly dying, and not listening to the pleas of the underdeveloped world, is finally enough:

WHO backs DDT for malaria control

The World Health Organization (WHO) has reversed a 30-year policy by endorsing the use of DDT for malaria control.

The chemical is sprayed inside houses to kill malaria-carrying mosquitoes.

DDT has been banned globally for every use except fighting disease because of its environmental impacts and fears for human health.

WHO says there is no health risk, and DDT should rank with bednets and drugs as a tool for combating malaria, which kills more than one million each year.

“The scientific and programmatic evidence clearly supports this reassessment,” said Dr Anarfi Asamoa-Baah, WHO assistant director-general for HIV/AIDS, TB and Malaria.

Besides rooting out and shaking off the shackles of corruption, and implementing market-based capitalism, a final approval of DDT use may be the most important factor in helping the Third World pull itself up.


UPDATE: A Wall Street Journal subscription-only editorial expresses similar surprise and delight:

The World Health Organization announced Friday that it will begin actively promoting use of the pesticide DDT to combat malaria in developing nations. Do you believe in miracles?

Malaria is the number one killer of pregnant women and children in Africa and among the top killers in Asia and South America. It’s long been known that DDT is the cheapest and most effective way to contain the disease, which is spread by infected mosquitoes. But United Nations health agencies and others have for decades resisted employing DDT under pressure from anti-pesticide environmentalists. After tens of millions of preventable malarial deaths in these poor countries, it’s nice to see WHO finally come to its senses.

….. For decades, the science and empirical data about DDT’s effectiveness have been distorted or suppressed. Nevertheless, and Rachel Carson’s scare-mongering notwithstanding, there is no evidence that DDT use in the amounts necessary to ward off malarial mosquitoes is harmful to humans, wildlife or the environment. Period.

UPDATE 2: Pamela at Atlas Shrugs notes that Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn deserves a large share of the credit for moving WHO in the necessary direction on DDT.

Ho-Hum Hiring Headline (091806)

Filed under: Business Moves — Tom @ 8:01 am

From Memphis:

Medtronic plans expansion
Company will add 600 jobs, new office building in Memphis
September 14, 2006

Medical device maker Medtronic is moving forward with plans to add 600 jobs in Memphis over the next five years and invest roughly $40 million in a six-story office building and a new parking deck, a company spokesman said.

The company has already begun work on a parking deck at its campus near the Memphis International Airport and is scheduled to appear before the city Land Use Control Board today in what’s expected to be a formality.

The Decline of The Times: A Local New York City Note

Filed under: Business Moves,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 7:56 am

From the New York Sun’s editorial (HT Large Bill) on last week’s primary results in New York City:

Three points to take away from Tuesday’s primary election: First, not even New York City Democrats listen to what New York Times editorials tell them to do. The Times endorsed three candidates in closely contested races: David Yassky in a Brooklyn congressional race; Ken Diamondstone in a race to represent a Brooklyn district in the state Senate; and Mark Green in the race for attorney general. All three candidates — Yassky, Diamondstone, and Green — lost. The New York Observer ran a 2,000-word article last year claiming that “It’s a given among the city’s political classes that an endorsement from The Times in a race for City Council, the State Legislature or a judgeship is tantamount to election in affluent, Times-reading neighborhoods.” Not anymore.

Dirty little secret: The Times is in third place in New York City readership, behind the Post and the Daily News. From Biz Weak last year (link may require subscription):

Today, nearly 50% of all subscribers to the weekday Times live somewhere other than Gotham.

This BizzyBlog post from May shows the circulation numbers for the three New York dailies as follows:

3. The New York Times, 1,142,464, up 0.5 percent
6. New York Daily News, 708,477, down 3.7 percent
7. New York Post, 673,379, down 0.7 percent

With nearly half of its subscribers from elsewhere, this would means that the Times local circulation is, at best, roughly 600,000. That would place The Times firmly in third.

Illegals Found Living in Habitat for Humanity Home

Filed under: Immigration,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 7:51 am

Here’s the story (video at link; HT Debbie Schlussel via Interested-Participant).

Here’s the relevant excerpt:

In one instance 3 members of an El Salvadorian family living in a Habitat for Humanity house in Holland are found at home. All are fugitves. The agents don’t usually take children, and do not want to take the mother, leaving the kids alone. So they arrest the father and transport him to jail, where he will sit for several weeks until being flown back to El Salvador.

What ICE is doing is no fishing expedition. “Fugitives” means that the people involved have been ordered deported, and know darn well they have no business being here. I’m as compassionate as anyone, but I don’t see why the rest of the family apparently isn’t going to be sent home in the case above.

Schlussel: “We wonder how many other Habitat for Humanity homes are not housing poor U.S. citizens, but illegal aliens who take advantage of the generosity of Americans who charitably built those homes.”

Positivity: Team Hoyt

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 5:57 am

In 1979, I was in the same place Dick and Rick Hoyt were. But what I did was nowhere near as significant as what they did:

This love story began in Winchester, Mass., 43 years ago, when Rick was strangled by the umbilical cord during birth, leaving him brain-damaged and unable to control his limbs.

“He’ll be a vegetable the rest of his life,” Dick says doctors told him and his wife, Judy, when Rick was nine months old. “Put him in an institution.”

But the Hoyts weren’t buying it. They noticed the way Rick’s eyes followed them around the room. When Rick was 11 they took him to the engineering department at Tufts University and asked if there was anything to help the boy communicate. “No way,” Dick says he was told. “There’s nothing going on in his brain.”

“Tell him a joke,” Dick countered. They did. Rick laughed. Turns out a lot was going on in his brain.

Rigged up with a computer that allowed him to control the cursor by touching a switch with the side of his head, Rick was finally able to communicate. First words? “Go Bruins!” And after a high school classmate was paralyzed in an accident and the school organized a charity run for him, Rick pecked out, “Dad, I want to do that.”

Yeah, right. How was Dick, a self-described “porker” who never ran more than a mile at a time, going to push his son five miles? Still, he tried. “Then it was me who was handicapped,” Dick says. “I was sore for two weeks.”

That day changed Rick’s life. “Dad,” he typed, “when we were running, it felt like I wasn’t disabled anymore!”

And that sentence changed Dick’s life. He became obsessed with giving Rick that feeling as often as he could. He got into such hard-belly shape that he and Rick were ready to try the 1979 Boston Marathon.

Go to A Rose by Any Other Name for the rest, including a YouTube vid.