Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Socialized medicine watch

From Great Britain, the Daily Mail reports
A woman aged 108 has been told she must wait 18 months before the Health Service will give her the hearing aid she needs....

The one-time suffragette is one of hundreds of thousands of older people made to wait up to two years and sometimes more for modern digital hearing aids that make a dramatic difference to their ability to hear and communicate.

Single payer health care systems control cost by rationing. In this case, it will likely be successful in controlling costs since the 108-year woman is unlikely to still be alive when she turns 110 and her name comes to the top of the waiting list.

RELATED: While US liberals are advocated socialized ("single-payer") medicine as part of recent leftward trend, Jurgen Reinhoudt notes today in the WSJ that European leftists are moving right toward free enterprise.

Sen. Kerry and holocaust denial

The AP reports:

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia - A former schoolteacher who presided over a torture center was charged Tuesday with crimes against humanity, becoming the first top figure of Cambodia's notorious Khmer Rouge to be indicted for atrocities that led to an estimated 1.7 million deaths.

Duch, 62, also known as Kaing Guek Eav, headed the S-21 prison in Phnom Penh, a virtual slaughterhouse where some 16,000 suspected enemies of the regime were tortured before being taken out to what later became known as "killing fields" near the city.
The slaughter of Cambodians took place between 1975 and 1979. The UN-backed tribunal to try those responsible is just now being set up. James Taranto suggests that Sen. Kerry should be called for the defense. Sen. Kerry claims that the slaughter of the 1.7 million (the AP's estimate) didn't happen:
In snatches, on the Senate floor and at news conferences, Kerry will return to his point of reference, Vietnam. Opponents of the withdrawal [from Iraq] proposal argue that Iraq would be left in chaos and that genocide would occur as a result.

"We heard that argument over and over again about the bloodbath that would engulf the entire Southeast Asia, and it didn't happen," Kerry said.

UPDATE: Sen. Kerry has added some nuance to his claim that it didn't happen.

UPDATE II: It appears (scroll down to "Answering Kerry--II") that some of Sen. Kerry's number are less than honest.

Greenland and global warming

Sen. Inhofe participated in the congressional trip to Greenland. Marc Morano of his staff put out an excellent summary of scientific research on the subject. Unlike global warming alarmists, his summary cites peer-reviewed scientific papers, names scientists, and provides many links. Conclusions include:
Recent research has found that Greenland has been warming since the 1880’s, but since 1955, temperature averages at Greenland stations have been colder than the period between 1881-1955.

A recent study concluded Greenland was as warm or warmer in the 1930’s and 40’s and the rate of warming from 1920-1930 was about 50% higher than the warming from 1995-2005. One 2005 study found Greenland gaining ice in the interior higher elevations and thinning ice at the lower elevations. In addition, the often media promoted fears of Greenland’s ice completely melting and a subsequent catastrophic sea level rise are directly at odds with the latest scientific studies.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

The liberal as the "duped" and "hoodwinked" victim

Sen. Schumer just gave a speech (full text) which indicates that he thinks his fellow Democratic senators were "duped" and "hoodwinked" by the "charm of nominee Roberts and the erudition of nominee Alito" when they should have voted their "fears" which "were more than justified from the ultra-conservative records of these two men."

Separately, Sen. Edwards claims to be a victim of a conspiracy:
This stuff's not an accident. Nobody in this room should think this is an accident. You know, I'm out there speaking up for universal healthcare, ending this war in Iraq, speaking up for the poor. They want to shut me up. That's what this is about. "Let's distract from people who don't have health care coverage. Let's distract from people who can't feed their children.... Let's talk about this silly frivolous nothing stuff so that America won't pay attention."

They will never silence me. Never. If we don't stand up to these people, if we don't fight em, if we don't beat them, they're going to continue to control this country. They're going to control the media. They're going to control what's being said . They do not want to hear us talking about health care for everybody. [emphasis added]
This sounds like paranoia to me but apparently it appealed to his audience. (Yes, Sen. Edwards has received some adverse publicity about $1,200 haircuts but that is just freedom of speech in action, not an attempt to suppress speech.)

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Multiculturalism and its discontents

To liberals, multiculturalism is considered a good thing, even an end in itself.  When it comes to, say, arts or food, then that is true.  When it comes to inter-personal communication, then there are problems.  If someone shouts and gesticulates wildly, is he out-of-control mad or is he merely being pleasantly animated?  The answer depends on his culture.  When you ask a favor and the other person says "that would be difficult," is he saying offer me a bigger incentive or is he giving you an absolute no?  The answer depends on his culture.  When someone addresses you by your first name, does it mean (a) he is swearing loyalty as your friend, or (b) he calls everyone, even enemies, by first names? The answers depends on culture. All of this makes inter-cultural communication extremely complex. In light of this, the findings of Harvard political scientist Robert Putnam, as reported by the Financial Times, should not be surprising:
A bleak picture of the corrosive effects of ethnic diversity has been revealed in research by Harvard University’s Robert Putnam, one of the world’s most influential political scientists.

His research shows that the more diverse a community is, the less likely its inhabitants are to trust anyone – from their next-door neighbour to the mayor. ....

Prof Putnam found trust was lowest in Los Angeles, “the most diverse human habitation in human history”, but his findings also held for rural South Dakota, where “diversity means inviting Swedes to a Norwegians’ picnic”. [emphasis added]

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

The fight to stop global warming

Mrs. Edwards, wife of presidential candidate Sen. Edwards (D-NC), has decided that is time to do something to stop global warming. No, she hasn't promised to reduce her use of private jets, or SUVs, or even moderate the thermostat at her mansion. Instead, she will make a "sacrifice" and not buy tangerines. Tangerines, you see, are not local produce in North Carolina and must be trucked in thereby contributing to carbon emissions. We'll see if others join the Edwards in their courageous stand.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Sometimes, it is press laziness more than press bias

Reuter's ran a story, also picked up by MSNBC, claiming that "Chinese actress-turned-director Xu Jinglei became the world's most widely read blogger this month...." The story is false. Apparently, her blog is the most read in China, not the world and Reuters and MSNBC, with their layers of editors and fact-checkers, did not ask any questions.

Hat tip: Instapundit.

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Of holocausts and denial

From James Taranto:

'It Didn't Happen'
We suppose it was inevitable: Four and a half years after Congress authorized the liberation of Iraq, some observers are comparing the situation there to Vietnam, where America lost a war after its will faltered. It turns out at least one congressman actually served in Vietnam, so he ought to be particularly qualified to help us determine the lessons of that conflict for this one.

Meet John Kerry, junior senator from Massachusetts. Some say he looks French, others call him haughty. But everyone agrees on one thing: He served in Vietnam.

After returning from a tour of duty that lasted an astonishing four months, Kerry also became an antiwar activist. In 1971 Kerry testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that the Vietnamese were a simple people, too simple to care about freedom or oppression:

We found most people didn't even know the difference between communism and democracy. They only wanted to work in rice paddies without helicopters strafing them and bombs with napalm burning their villages and tearing their country apart.

Kerry's side prevailed. In 1973 the U.S. withdrew its troops from Vietnam, and in 1975 Congress, its Democratic majority expanded by the post-Watergate election of 1974, voted to cut off aid to the South Vietnamese government. That year Saigon fell to the communists.

What happened then? Not much, according to Kerry, quoted in the Chicago Tribune:

"We heard that argument over and over again about the bloodbath that would engulf the entire Southeast Asia, and it didn't happen," Kerry said, dismissing the charge out of hand as he argued that the American presence only makes the situation worse every day.

In 2001, California's Orange County Register published an investigation of communist re-education camps in postwar Vietnam:

To corroborate the experiences of refugees now living in Orange County, the Register interviewed dozens of former inmates and their families, both in the United States and Vietnam; analyzed hundreds of pages of documents, including testimony from more than 800 individuals sent to jail; and interviewed Southeast Asian scholars. The review found:

  • An estimated 1 million people were imprisoned without formal charges or trials.

  • 165,000 people died in the Socialist Republic of Vietnam's re-education camps, according to published academic studies in the United States and Europe.

  • Thousands were abused or tortured: their hands and legs shackled in painful positions for months, their skin slashed by bamboo canes studded with thorns, their veins injected with poisonous chemicals, their spirits broken with stories about relatives being killed.

  • Prisoners were incarcerated for as long as 17 years, according to the U.S. Department of State, with most terms ranging from three to 10 years.

  • At least 150 re-education prisons were built after Saigon fell 26 years ago.

  • One in three South Vietnamese families had a relative in a re-education camp.

According to John Kerry, "it didn't happen."

Things were even worse in Cambodia, as the Christian Science Monitor reported in 2005:

When the Khmer Rouge victoriously entered Phnom Penh 30 years ago, many people greeted the rebels with a cautious optimism, weary from five years of civil war that had torn apart their lives and killed hundreds of thousands of Cambodians. . . .

During the nearly four years following that day--April 17, 1975--Cambodia was radically transformed. . . .

Everyday freedoms were abolished. Buddhism and other forms of religious worship were banned. Money, markets, and media disappeared. Travel, public gatherings, and communication were restricted. Contact with the outside world vanished. And the state set out to control what people ate and did each day, whom they married, how they spoke, what they thought, and who would live and die. "To keep you is no gain," the Khmer Rouge warned, "To destroy you is no loss."

In the end, more than 1.7 million of Cambodia's 8 million inhabitants perished from disease, starvation, overwork, or outright execution in a notorious genocide.

But don't worry. According to John Kerry, "it didn't happen."

Last week, as we noted, Kerry's colleague Barack Obama opined that genocide in Iraq would be preferable to America's continued presence there. But John Kerry has shown the way. If genocide, or some lesser horror, does occur in the wake of a U.S. retreat, Obama can simply assert: "It didn't happen."

Prominent Democratic officeholders are willing to deny or countenance crimes against humanity in order to justify a popular political position. Doesn't this shock the conscience of Democrats?

Although often overshadowed by the disasters of Vietnam and Cambodia, Laos also suffered after the US retreat. A 1978 Time article reports:
Under the Puritan discipline of the Pathet Lao, who seized control in 1975, the gentle life of the Laotians has undergone a harsh transformation .... Nowhere is this more evident than in Phong Saly province, a remote region that juts into southern China. There, the Pa thet Lao have set up prison camps for "enemies of the state" that seem like something out of Solzhenitsyn: their heavy log walls are covered with barbed wire and bordered with sharp bamboo stakes; beyond, there is nothing but dense jungle and forbidding mountains. "You can try to escape," the guards taunt their charges, "but we'll have you back here within seven days."

This jungle Siberia is the maximum-security wing of a detention system that may give Laos the sad distinction of having more political prisoners per capita than any other country.

By the regime's own reckoning 40,000 Laotians (out of a population of 3.4 million) have been herded off to "reeducation camps." ....

But the regime's figures do not include 12,000 unfortunates who have been packed off to Phong Saly. There, no pretense at re-education is made. As one high Pathet Lao official told Australian Journalist John Everingham, who himself spent eight days in a Lao prison last year, "No one ever returns."

Those who wind up in Phong Saly are accused of specific crimes, although the charges may be as vague as being a "spy" or a "reactionary." Since Pathet Lao soldiers have been given blanket permission to charge just about anyone and no trials are necessary, many Laotians have been banished to Phong Saly for little reason.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Journalism: It is not propaganda, it is "narrative"

Boston Globe columnist Penelope Trunk explains that sources should stop complaining about being misquoted by journalists.
As a journalist I hear all the time from people in business that they are misquoted. And you know what? People need to get over that, and I'm going to tell you why. ....

The reason that everyone thinks journalists misquote them is that the person who is writing is the one who gets to tell the story. No two people tell the same story. ....

Here's my advice: If you do an interview with a journalist, don't expect the journalist to be there to tell your story. The journalist gets paid to tell her own stories which you might or might not be a part of.

An example of journalists telling their own story instead of the truth is the Duke lacrosse rape case. Rachel Smolkin investigated this subject and she quotes from NY Times and Newsweek officials:
"It was too delicious a story," says Daniel Okrent, a former New York Times public editor, who is critical of the Times' coverage and that of many other news organizations. "It conformed too well to too many preconceived notions of too many in the press: white over black, rich over poor, athletes over non-athletes, men over women, educated over non-educated. Wow. That's a package of sins that really fit the preconceptions of a lot of us." ....

"We fell into a stereotype of the Duke lacrosse players," says Newsweek's Evan Thomas. "It's complicated because there is a strong stereotype [that] lacrosse players can be loutish, and there's evidence to back that up. There's even some evidence that that the Duke lacrosse players were loutish, and we were too quick to connect those dots."

But he adds: "It was about race. Nifong's motivations clearly were rooted in his need to win black votes. There were tensions between town and gown, that part was true. The narrative was properly about race, sex and class... We went a beat too fast in assuming that a rape took place... We just got the facts wrong. The narrative was right, but the facts were wrong." [emphasis added]

Which is just the point that Ms. Trunk was making: if a journalist has a preferred narrative, there is no reason to let the facts get in the way.

(hat tips to Instapundit and BotW.

UPDATE: John Hinderaker catches the AP working hard on their fictional narrative on Iraq. James Taranto notes (scroll to "Accountability Journalism") how the AP manages the news to fit their agenda with respect ot Guiliani and Obama.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Nuclear sensationalism

The headline for the AP story reads
Company Says Radioactive Leak Was Bigger
That sounds like a disaster. If you read further into the story, the AP reports that the radiative leak "Tokyo Electric Power Co. announced that a leak of radioactive water into the Sea of Japan was actually 50 percent bigger than initially announced...." So, how big is this "50% bigger" ecological disaster in the Sea of Japan? The AP doesn't hint until you reach the end of the story when it quotes spokesman, Tsutomu Uehara, saying "No radiation has been detected outside the facility."

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Bin Laden: is he still alive or not?

Allahpundit has solved the mystery of the 1-minute video clip of bin Laden just released. It appears to be have been taped in October 2001, This same video clip was previously aired in April 2002.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Science v. Gore

Writing in the Chicago Sun Times, James M Taylor provides a quick critique of Al Gore's science:

Many of the assertions Gore makes in his movie, ''An Inconvenient Truth,'' have been refuted by science, both before and after he made them. [....]

For example, Gore claims that Himalayan glaciers are shrinking and global warming is to blame. Yet the September 2006 issue of the American Meteorological Society's Journal of Climate reported, "Glaciers are growing in the Himalayan Mountains, confounding global warming alarmists who recently claimed the glaciers were shrinking and that global warming was to blame."

Gore claims the snowcap atop Africa's Mt. Kilimanjaro is shrinking and that global warming is to blame. Yet according to the November 23, 2003, issue of Nature magazine, "Although it's tempting to blame the ice loss on global warming, researchers think that deforestation of the mountain's foothills is the more likely culprit. Without the forests' humidity, previously moisture-laden winds blew dry. No longer replenished with water, the ice is evaporating in the strong equatorial sunshine."

Gore claims global warming is causing more tornadoes. Yet the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change stated in February that there has been no scientific link established between global warming and tornadoes.

Gore claims global warming is causing more frequent and severe hurricanes. However, hurricane expert Chris Landsea published a study on May 1 documenting that hurricane activity is no higher now than in decades past. Hurricane expert William Gray reported just a few days earlier, on April 27, that the number of major hurricanes making landfall on the U.S. Atlantic coast has declined in the past 40 years. Hurricane scientists reported in the April 18 Geophysical Research Letters that global warming enhances wind shear, which will prevent a significant increase in future hurricane activity.

Gore claims global warming is causing an expansion of African deserts. However, the Sept. 16, 2002, issue of New Scientist reports, "Africa's deserts are in 'spectacular' retreat . . . making farming viable again in what were some of the most arid parts of Africa."

Gore argues Greenland is in rapid meltdown, and that this threatens to raise sea levels by 20 feet. But according to a 2005 study in the Journal of Glaciology, "the Greenland ice sheet is thinning at the margins and growing inland, with a small overall mass gain." In late 2006, researchers at the Danish Meteorological Institute reported that the past two decades were the coldest for Greenland since the 1910s.

Gore claims the Antarctic ice sheet is melting because of global warming. Yet the Jan. 14, 2002, issue of Nature magazine reported Antarctica as a whole has been dramatically cooling for decades. More recently, scientists reported in the September 2006 issue of the British journal Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society Series A: Mathematical, Physical, and Engineering Sciences, that satellite measurements of the Antarctic ice sheet showed significant growth between 1992 and 2003. And the U.N. Climate Change panel reported in February 2007 that Antarctica is unlikely to lose any ice mass during the remainder of the century.

Separately, Jamais Cascio speculates on some simple fixes for urban heat island effects.

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