September 20, 2006

THIS Is a “Backlash”?

From a members-only September 5 article at the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) — The detail doesn’t support the headline:

Discriminatory backlash lingers after Sept. 11

Among the many ramifications of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States has been heightened prejudice and discrimination against Muslims and Arabs—and anyone perceived as a member of those groups.

….. The majority (75 percent) of 368 U.S. HR professionals who responded thought negative attitudes toward Muslim employees have stayed the same since Sept. 11, while 16 percent thought they’ve increased, and 9 percent thought they’ve decreased.

….. The EEOC defined a new “Code Z” to track charges filed specifically by people who are—or are perceived to be—Arab, Muslim, Middle-Eastern, South Asian or Sikh.

As of June 11, 2006, 991 charges had been filed under Title VII alleging post-Sept. 11 backlash employment discrimination, according to the EEOC. Discharge is an issue in 591, and harassment in 416. (Some charges allege multiple types of discrimination.) Twelve cases were still open.

Of the 979 charges resolved, 595 (61 percent) were closed with “no-cause findings.” Ninety-eight (10 percent) were issued a right-to-sue letter, while 135 (14 percent) were settled, withdrawn with benefits for the charging party or conciliated. The remainder were closed or not pursued for various procedural or jurisdictional reasons.

As of June 11, 2006, the EEOC said, 148 employees aggrieved by Sept. 11 backlash discrimination have received more than $4 million through the agency’s administrative efforts, and 19 individuals received another $1.15 million after filing eight separate federal lawsuits.

The subjective poll number has barely budged. Unfortunately, it’s not clear when the EEOC’s “Z” code came into existence (a definite oversight on the part of the reporter). Assuming that it’s four years, the 98 “right-to-sues” and the 135 “settlements, withdrawals with benefits, or conciliations” combined represent less than 60 per year.

Some “backlash.”

THIS is a real backlash. So is this (HT Powerline).

Post of the Day: Hewitt Calls out “The Appeasement Press”

Hewitt surveys the reports on Ahmedinejad’s UN speech yesterday: WaPo, NY Times, LA Times, and The Associated Press (his post has no link; link found by me).

He finds all terribly wanting in substance and wholly missing the point:

When the fanatical president of a strong and ambitious for nuclear weapons country appears at the United Nations, that’s news. When that president has repeatedly threatened Israel with destruction, denied the Holocaust’s existence, and sent long rambling letters to the leaders of the U.S., France, and Germany, people will want to know what he says and what it means.

When he delievers a radical address that –in soft tones, yes, but urgent ones– declares the U.N. to be illegitimate, the war against Israel by Hezbollah to be a creation of the U.S., goes out of his way to alert Christians that Jesus was just a prophet, and then closes with an apocalypse-welcoming appeal to God, that’s not just news, it is very crucial news, news that underscores many important facts for the West and the U.S., chief among them that “diplomacy” leading to a “better deal” isn’t on this radical’s mind. He wants his nukes. He wants the apocalypse.

And the appeasement press does not convey this; doesn’t even bother to report the closing appeal to the Almighty.

Because I played the speech live on my radio show, and saw and heard the reaction in the e-mails and the calls, I and my audience know what he was saying, and I know that it was big news of intense interest to Americans with any eye on the world.

And it is underplayed at best and ignored at worst.

Why such negligence by the appeasement press? A lot of reasons.

Because the appeasement press favors the party of appeasement, and stories that depart from the agenda journalism that wholly favors the Democratic Party platform of retreat from Iraq and the Democratic Party ideology that believes all evil in the world is either the fault of the U.S. or can be bargained away will not get much ink, if any.

Because it is lazy and incurious about such things as long speeches that have to be listened to in translation, and even when listened to, not to the end, and even when listened to to the end, not comprehended because most of the appeasement press don’t read widely or deeply.

Because the appeasement press is bigoted and at best agmostic, and don’t believe the religious beliefs of an odd-looking fellow from a mullah-run state can pose any sort of real threat to the West. Israel, maybe, but hey, they’ve got it coming to them, right? If the Jews had given the Palestinians their land back a couple of decades ago, we’d all be past this, right?

Read Princeton’s Bernard Lewis’s recent address, “Freedom and Justice in Islam,” in which the professor quickly covers the past century in the Middle East and charts the conditions we have confronted for the past ten years. America’s greatest scholar of Islam concludes, “Either we bring them freedom, or they destroy us.”

Read “The Looming Tower: Al Qaeda and The Road to 9/11,” by The New Yorker’s Lawrence Wright, which details the menace of Islamist extremism that stands opposite of the Shia extremism represented by Ahmadinejad. “The most frightening aspect of this new threat,” Wright recounts early students of al Qaeda as understanding, “was that almost no one took it seriously. It was too bizarre, too primitive, and exotic.” Wright was referring to the mindset of 1996.

Ten years later, that mindset is back. And not even addresses from the pulpit of the U.N. can change that deep-seated indifference in the appeasement press.

The appeasement press’s studied ignorance continues despite the fact that Iran has been a principal funder of terror, particularly the Palestinian version that is dedicated to the destruction of Israel, since the late 1980s (scroll down a little to “Background”), if not earlier.

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UPDATE: Dean Barnett at Hewitt’s place recommends a Lileks post. Good idea. If you’re pressed, start about 60% of the way through at “Today two important speeches were made at the UN …..”

AP’s “Contrarian Economists” on Falling Energy Prices Aren’t all Economists, and Aren’t All Contrarians

Filed under: Economy,MSM Biz/Other Bias — Tom @ 10:15 am

In a clear attempt to throw cold water on the potential positive economic impact of falling energy prices, an Associated Press article yesterday got sloppy with the credentials of those it sought out for quotes. It also conveyed a false impression that all of those quoted were not impressed with what falling energy prices might do for the economy.

Here is the headline and first paragraph of the article:

Economists Wary of Falling Energy Prices

WASHINGTON (AP) — It should only be this simple: Oil prices plunge 20 percent, leading businesses and consumers to ramp up their spending, which gives a nice jolt to the economy. That seems to be the conventional wisdom on Wall Street right now, where the pullback in energy prices is being cheered by investors. But some contrarians think that view could be missing the point.

But not all of those quoted are economists, and not all of those quoted are contrarians.

Here is the roster of the quoted (not in the same order as the article):

  • David Resler, “chief economist at Nomura Securities in New York” — so far, so good.
  • Peter Schiff, “president of Euro Pacific Capital, Inc. of Darien, Conn.” His bio at Euro Pacific says that he is “began his investment career as a financial consultant with Shearson Lehman Brothers, after having earned a degree in finance and accounting from U.C. Berkeley in 1987.” He is also described as “An expert on money, economic theory, and international investing ….” Whether that makes him an “economist,” usually understood to be someone who has a degree in economics, is debatable at best.
  • Ken Hoexter, “Merrill Lynch trucking analyst” — Economist? That would seem doubtful — Google searches indicate that in setting where economists are present, Hoexter is still described as an analyst.
  • Sheryl King, “Merrill Lynch economist” — the fact that King is labeled an economist makes it more likely that her co-worker Ken Hoexter above isn’t one.
  • Nariman Behravesh, “Global Insight chief economist” — He’s an economist all right, but he can’t fairly be described as “wary” or “contrarian.” In fact, Behravesh predicts a positive impact on Gross Domestic Product growth as a result of lower energy prices:

    Still, Nariman Behravesh sees reason for optimism.

    He acknowledged that the anemic housing market is like a dark cloud hanging over the economy, but said it is all the more reason why the drop in oil prices should be seen as a ray of light.

    “It helps to cushion the blow, in terms of the impact on the consumer,” Behravesh said.

    With oil at $65 instead of $75, Behravesh sees U.S. gross domestic product getting one- to two-tenths of a percentage point bump over the next year. A chunk of money that had flowed to foreign oil-producing nations will now go to American companies, he said.

In sum, AP headlined an article about “economists” that quoted non-economists. It also implied in its headline, and stated in the first paragraph, that all of those to be quoted were “wary” and “contrarian” when they are not. Other than that, the article’s fine (/sarcasm).

What I believe AP is hoping for in this instance is that readers read the headline, plus perhaps the first paragraph, get the point that this gas-price thing they’re so happy about isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be, and move on to something else without reading further.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

Why Should Users Get a Free Pass on This?

Filed under: Taxes & Government,US & Allied Military — Tom @ 8:08 am

I read this subscription-only column by Dana White in The Wall Street Journal about the situation, and was struck by the incomplete solution in its final two paragraphs:

Afghans have been growing opium for centuries, and without a practical alternative, they will continue to grow the cash crop. Despite the Karzai government’s effort to eradicate the plant, and $780 million in U.S. aid to promote crop replacement, old habits die hard. In many rural areas, there are no schools or hospitals, and water is scarce. The population is largely illiterate. It will be hard for Kabul’s democratic methods to take root as long as the violence continues, and no roads or schools are built. “It’s going to take education. And it will take a long-term international commitment. It was never going to be easy.” Gen. Eikenberry says. “There are some fundamental problems that have no easy answers.”

Since NATO relieved U.S. forces in southern Afghanistan in July, more than 500 suspected Taliban fighters have been killed. “The insurgents are no match for the forces here and can be managed,” Gen. Eikenberry says. While the general is confident the military can suppress the insurgency, it’s unclear whether the violence can stop long enough for the government to provide viable alternatives to Afghans. That’s not a question for the general, but for the politicians.

I think someone is being left out.

Do you have any idea who?

How about ….. the drug user?

When did it become impolite, or bad form, to remind a druggie that in addition to screwing up his or her life and the lives of those who love him or her, that they’re also contributing to worldwide organized crime and terrorism?

What, is the idea that their drug money ultimately ends up the hands of the Taliban too much to handle? I am soooooooo, not, sorry.

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RELATED ITEM:

Dutch colonel raises spectre of Afghan mission’s failure

15 September 2006

AMSTERDAM — The highest Dutch military officer in Afghanistan has raised serious doubts about the chances of the reconstruction mission’s success.

Colonel Arie Vermeij said in the military newspaper published on Friday that the mission was a waste of time and effort.

Based in Kandahar, Colonel Vermeij is the deputy commander of the NATO reconstruction tasks carried out by international troops in the six southern regions of Afghanistan.

But Vermeij said the operation was encountering difficulties, admitting that the Taleban are frustrating reconstruction efforts with bomb attacks and armed raids.

The colonel said the second problem was the cultivation of poppies for heroin and combating the drugs trade.

Wikipedia Version 2: Promise and Peril

Filed under: Business Moves — Tom @ 8:03 am

From TechCrunch:

Wikipedia co-founder Larry Sanger has announced that his new knowledge sharing wiki project called Citizendium will launch at the end of this month or earlier. The defining characteristic of the site is that topic experts will have final, enforceable authority to “resolve” controversy and kick out trolls. Citizendium will be a progressive fork of Wikipedia, allowing its own community to change Wikipedia articles but also offering Wikipedia’s version of those that haven’t been edited in Citizendium. Sanger says the topic experts will function like village elders or college professors – they’ll simply make the wiki a civilized place.

The need for adult supervision is unfortunately obvious. Here’s just one example (“Credit Counseling), brought to my attention be Jeff at Credit/Debt Recovery. Jeff made numerous attempts to modify the relatively harsh anti-counselor tone of the entry, to no avail, and ultimately said “I lost the edit war when trying to keep the article useful and non-biased.” That’s a shame, as some who read the Wiki entry may be dissuaded from getting the help they need.

The ultimate question on Citizenium will be whether the topic experts really will conduct themselves like village elders (wise men and women) or too many of today’s college professors (close-minded pretenders who stifle independent thought and are impervious to facts and evidence).

Interesting Positive Nuggets in Yesterday’s Housing Construction News

Filed under: Business Moves,Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 7:58 am

The basics:

Housing Construction Down 6 Pct. in Aug.
Tuesday September 19, 6:11 PM EDT

WASHINGTON (AP) — Housing construction plunged in August, falling to the lowest level in more than three years as the once-booming industry showed further signs of a dramatic slowdown.

The Commerce Department reported Tuesday that construction of new homes and apartments fell by 6 percent, the third consecutive decline and a much bigger setback than analysts had been forecasting.

The weakness pushed the annual rate for construction down to 1.665 million units, the slowest pace since April 2003.

The nuggets:

….. Only the Northeast saw a gain in construction activity, a rise of 5.4 percent. Construction of new homes and apartments fell by 12.2 percent in the Midwest, 6.1 percent in the South and 5.5 percent in the West.

Where are the nuggets in that? First, the significance of the Northeast has picking up is that this region was experienced the earliest and sharpest home-price gains (I remember Worcester, MA going up 20%-plus in 2003 and 2004, and also started feeling the slowdown earlier than other regions. Now it appears to be turning around. If this reflects revived demand and not irrational exuberance, that means that the Northeast’s bottoming-out process took about a year to 18 months without big price reductions. If other regions where steep prices rises started later imitate this pattern, the housing market will recover without having experienced steep price declines.

The other “nugget” is that builders are clearly getting better at responding to market signals than they were in previous boom-bust cycles, and are willing to pull in their horns when they have to. Six to twelve months from now, assuming the overall economy stays fine (and there’s no compelling reason to believe it won’t be), there will be a lot fewer new homes coming on to the market in the other three regions; if demand picks up even a little, prices will hold steady.

Ho-Hum Hiring Headline (092006)

Filed under: Business Moves,Economy — Tom @ 7:53 am

From The Business Journal of Milwaukee:

Schneider to hire 375 drivers in Ohio
11:51 AM CDT Monday, Sept. 18

Schneider National Inc. said Monday that it plans to hire 375 drivers in Ohio to serve a growing client base.

Schneider National, Green Bay, said its growth in the Ohio region is being fueled by new business and expanding relationships with clients in the area.

Compensation is based on experience, with new drivers earning about $35,500 to $43,500 in their first year. Experienced drivers will earn an average of $49,500 to $58,500 per year. Owner-operators leasing with Schneider National average $105,000 to $115,000 annually.

Positivity: “A Typical American Hero”

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 5:58 am

Donald Pierce of Cromwell, CT, who died in August, had a WWII survival story that made him a hero in a time when heroism was indeed typical:

A ‘Solid American Guy’ Who Survived Stalag Luft 4
September 17 2006

Donald W. Pierce, 82, formerly of Cromwell, died Aug. 7.

Like many veterans, Donald Pierce talked little about his World War II service. And like so many others, Pierce returned home to make a life for himself, with marriage, children, friends and professional success.

Pierce’s reticence in discussing the war hid a saga of courage and resistance: his participation in the little-known “Black March,” a 600-mile forced-march by prisoners of war during the waning days of the war in Europe.

Pierce was born in Vermont, but grew up in Cromwell. His father, Westley Pierce, was a water purification engineer who worked at various jobs in New York and Vermont before becoming a water tester at the Hartford Rayon Co. The Rocky Hill factory depended on water from the Connecticut River to make the then-popular textile. Westley Pierce’s job was to test the water and improve it, if necessary, with chemicals.

By the time Donald Pierce graduated from Middletown High School in 1942, his golf skills were apparent. Beginning as a caddie, Pierce developed into a crack golfer, later winning many club tournaments with a minuscule handicap.

He enlisted in the Army Air Corps, was trained as a tail gunner and sent to London. On July 12, 1944, a month after he arrived, his B-24 Liberator plane was shot down on its way to Munich.

Although several airmen did not survive, Pierce and a few other crew members parachuted into the Belgian countryside, which was under control of the German army. A well-organized underground group of civilians came to their assistance, and within minutes, they were stripped of their uniforms and given civilian clothes. Irma Caldow, a Belgian woman, and her family hid the men at their farm. A week later, an informant told authorities and German soldiers arrested the Americans and sent them to prison.

Pierce was sent to Stalag Luft 4, an infamous POW camp for captured American and English airmen. It was near Kolberg, in northern Germany near the Baltic Sea, in what is now Poland.

Pierce lived in a barracks of 10 men; there were no windows or toilets. He suffered from jaundice, living on canned fruit supplied by the Red Cross. Food consisted of less than a cup of barley a day, a hunk of bread, and a small amount of vegetable soup.

Under the Geneva Convention, prisoners above the rank of private could not be made to work, and the chief complaint – aside from cold and lack of food – was boredom, said Alexander Gorashko, a former sergeant in the Air Corps who was also imprisoned. He recalled Pierce.

“He liked to sing, and he was knowledgeable in sports,” Gorashko said. In 2005, Gorashko self-published “Survival: An American Airman’s Miracle Survival and POW Ordeal During WW II,” which gave an account of the camp life. Other survivors of the march have written about it on a website, www.B24.net.

On Feb. 6, 1945, during one of Europe’s coldest winters, the guards led several thousand prisoners out of the camp for what became an 86-day forced-march that extended 600 miles through the German countryside.

Although food was available in the country, the Germans allowed the prisoners only meager rations, and rarely distributed the Red Cross rations. Many men suffered from dysentery because the water was polluted. Their clothes and shoes were inadequate for the snow and cold, and disease and gangrene were common.

The march zigzagged through Germany, keeping them from the Russians, then the approaching Allied forces.

“The Germans didn’t want us to be liberated by the Russians,” Gorashko said. “We walked from dawn to dusk.” Finally, the Americans arrived, and Pierce’s group was liberated near Hamburg on May 2, 1945. They estimated that they had walked 600 miles in nearly three months.

Back in Connecticut, Pierce’s family learned soon after his capture that he was missing in action, but did not find out for several months that he was still alive. By September 1945 they learned that Pierce was a prisoner, said his sister Joan Gilchrest.

When Pierce returned to the U.S., he was emaciated, and was not discharged until he gained weight and strength. Even years later, he continued to have trouble with his feet and breathing. His war experiences continued to haunt him.

Soon after Pierce returned, he married Phyllis Farrow, his high school sweetheart and jitterbug partner. They had three sons. After Phyllis died, Pierce married Winifred Rice Rowley, who survives him in Florida.

Diebold Attempts to Refute Princeton Report on E-Voting Virus Vulnerability

Filed under: Business Moves,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 4:05 am

The response (PDF) fails, miserably.