Wednesday, October 29, 2008

US elections

well, long time, no posts.

i have been busy, with work, the kid and following discussions about climate change, that don t fit here.
and over the last few weeks, i ve been following elections mostly.

now we all know, that Palin is a disaster. but this one really left me shocked. i ll quote it here, as i have no other place to post it:

PALIN: Well, I think that people can ... can read the comments and hear the comments that he made, because again, the, the refreshing thing about that tape being revealed ... from 2001... it's candidness there. It's not ... it didn't seem to be his typical scripted, kinda ... rhetorical message read off a TelePrompter
this is insane. Palin, who never got beyond repeating scripted talking points accusing OBAMA of doing this? simply insane.

read the whole interview. it is really nice to see, how she is backpedaling on what she said about his judges comment...

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Spagat and Kane

i wrote an answer to Kane and took a closer look at some analysis of Spagat of the Lancet study of iraqi violent deaths over at Deltoid.

i ll post it here again:

1) I think that the underlying data that L2 relies on is fraudulent. That is, I think that the interviewers made (some) stuff up.

why accuse Burnham of making false statement then?

why bother with the main street bias at all?

and why don t you simply present sonme evidence of this "fraud"?!?

sorry David, but among the few persons making stuff up here, you are quite a special one!


the other rather "special" person is Spagat. while follwing some links about the "main street bias", i hit this presentation given by him in december 2007:

my eyes got caught by page 7, showing a Baghdag map:

This map seems to suggest that large attacks
in Baghdad could be biased toward residential cross-streets to main streets ... Attacks since May 2003 in which more than 10 people were

now obviously a rather big color point on an arial map of a city will end up somewhere around a "main street".
notice how he is playing with the word "residential", without again knowing ANYTHING about te palces the attacks occur in. (am i the only one who got familiar to the term "MARKET BOMBING" by watching news in iraq?!?)

this is a pretty lame attempt to establish a link between the location of the bombings and people living CLOSE to the place where it occured.

but this sentence is even more absurd:

Note that incidents of this size almost certainly cover over half of all deaths.

note that this sentence obviously is total NONSENSE, as a simple look at any list of violent deaths in iraq will show you:

actually you willstruggle hard to find a single day, on which events with 10+ casualties cover 50% percents of the daily deathtoll.

Spagat could have known this, by simply taking a look at his map: if the Spagat map did really represent over 50% of the deaths in Baghdad since 2003, the place would be a paradise!!!

Friday, March 28, 2008

watch the SPIN!

i have little time only for this posts, so i am just giving a short warning:

take a VERY CLOSE look at news from Iraq these days.

there are plenty of signs, that the "iraqi offensive", which is nothing but inter-shii fighting is faltering. the extension on the deadline to surrender, was a very sure sign. as is the slow (NONE?) progress of the offensive and counter strikes by the sadrists. (they shouldn t be able to take over small towns)

the US can not allow Maliki to fail (especially if we agree with Juan Coles assessment, that Cheney gave the advice to attack..) so US forces wll continue to get involved MORE and MORE.

they are going to give air support (pretty bad, as it often hits the false targets in cities) use special forces (this is a lead element. if US special forces and iraqi troops achieve an objective together, teh iraqis did VERY LITTLE work...) and simply suppor with combat troops, as we see already in sadr city, Baghdad.

always remember: in combat operations, most iraqi units will rely MASSIVELY on US "advisors". (yup, tehse are the guys that were start into the vietnam war...)
calling in airstrikes is a difficult task, that will usually be performed by an ALO (air liassion officer) who will be added to iraqi units to cooperate with teh US air force.
most significant battles will be decided by these guys, who are not part of the iraqi force..

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Bush did veto torture bill

well, looks like he did it. Bush told the public in a radio address that he vetoed a bill that would ban torture like water boarding and restrict secret services to the same interrogation techniques used by the army and described in their field manual:

President George W. Bush on Saturday further cemented his legacy of fighting for strong executive powers, using his veto to shut down a congressional effort to limit the Central Intelligence Agency's latitude to subject terrorism suspects to harsh interrogation techniques.
in contradiction to army research results that show that torture is not only evil but NOT working as well, Bush continues to make false claims about americans being safer because of the torture laws. i would call that a lie:

Senator John Rockefeller IV of West Virginia, the chairman of the Intelligence Committee, disputed that assertion on Saturday. "As chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, I have heard nothing to suggest that information obtained from enhanced interrogation techniques has prevented an imminent terrorist attack," he said in a statement.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

turks fight kurds in iraq

i wonder if this is still part of the plan to "stabilise" the region:

ARBIL, Iraq (Reuters) - Turkish troops inside northern Iraq fought gunbattles with Iraqi Kurdish security forces on Thursday, a senior Iraqi Kurdish official said.

governments continue deceive

it is official. the UK government deceived its people to get their support for the war.

We have also learned how raw intelligence was pumped up to make a strongly worded "executive summary". Thus, a draft report from the JIC which claimed that Iraq had "sought to develop" mobile facilities to produce a biological agent becomes, in Williams's draft, "has developed transportable laboratories".
and this does continue. it turns out that the story about the mentally handicapt "forced" female suicide bombers has some holes as well.

Psychiatric case files of two female suicide bombers who killed nearly 100 people in Baghdad this month indicate that they suffered from depression and schizophrenia but do not contain information suggesting they had Down Syndrome, U.S. officials said.
sometimes it feels as if they don t want anyone to thrust them at all....

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

on torture

US Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia (via TPM) on torture:

In such cases, "smacking someone in the face" could be justified, the outspoken Scalia told the BBC. "You can't come in smugly and with great self satisfaction and say 'Oh it's torture, and therefore it's no good."'


Scalia said that it was "extraordinary" to assume that the Constitution's ban on "cruel and unusual punishment" also applied to "so-called" torture.

no comment.

US Senat passed the immunity bill for telecom companies. pretty sad day.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Lancet is back in the news!

a new mortality study on Iraq just brought back the discussion about the Lancet papers. (Lancet 2004 and lancet 2006)

the study
"Violence-Related Mortality in Iraq from 2002 to 2006" published in the "new england journal of medicine"
is used by the usual suspect (lead by one David Kane) and in right wing editorials (WSJ) as a contradiction of the Lancet results.
the death estimate by violent cause in the new study (151000, 95% uncertainity range 104000-225000) is lower that that found in Lancet 2 (601000, confidence interval ranges from 426,000 to 793,000)

while the NJoM study finds a lower number of violent deaths, the result is still a shockingly high mortality. an interesting part of the new paper is, that security did not allow polling (mostly in 2006) in some clusters in Anbar and Baghdad.
the authors chose to reconstruct the mortality in those clusters by using the IBC numbers, a dead count based on reports in news paper articles.
the general tone of the paper tends to be more positive toward the IBC (a project using a very different method, producing definetly an undercount) and slightly sceptical of the Lancet results (a scientific study done in a very similar way).

a few talking points to notice are: (good discussion, as always, can be found on deltoid)

1. the numbers of the NJoM are in good agreement with the Lancet 1 numbers for the early period of the war.

2. while the paper finds a smaller increase in violent deaths than the Lancet 2 paper, it shows a masiive increase in the rate of non-violent deaths (doubled deathrate, some calculations lead to an estimate of 400000 total excess deads, in comparison with a total of 650000 in the lancet 2)

3. the paper does not show an increase in dathrate after the Samarra bombing and in early 2006. this is extremely strange, as the increase in violence was even registered by the US military and lead to the surge.

4. the mortality results are a small part of a huge survey about health in iraq. the questions fill about 20 pages, the relevant part being on page 16.

more soon.