Thursday, September 09, 2004

Reuters Believe it or Not

The publishers of Ripley's Believe It or Not always used to say that the claim of theirs that the most people refused to believe was that, "Charles Lindbergh was not the first man to fly non-stop across the Atlantic but the 67th."

Reuters topped that the other day:

Pentagon Says Guantanamo Prisoner Improperly Held

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Pentagon has determined for the first time that one of the nearly 600 Guantanamo Bay prisoners was improperly held by the United States as an "enemy combatant" and will be released to his home country, the Navy secretary said on Wednesday.

Reading that lede, you might think that the unidentified prisoner was the first man released from Gitmo but he was, in fact, the 157th.

Reuters gets to that in the final paragraph of the story:

Under other procedures, 156 other Guantanamo prisoners have been released or sent to their home countries for further detention, the Pentagon said.

Presumably, those who were released fully were determined not to be enemy combatants just like this week's lucky detainee. Apparently, there was some form of due process there even before the Supremes stepped in.

Artistic Repression in Ashcroft's America

A burning question

Following complaint, Suffolk plans to fine theater if 'Cabaret' actors continue to light up cigarettes

Cabaret is a show about a decadent time. It takes place in pre-Nazi Germany, when the clubs were full of booze and sex and - cigarettes!

But the state Clean Indoor Air Act bans tobacco from just about everywhere, and the Suffolk County Health Department intends to fine Bellport's Gateway Playhouse if the actors light up during the current production. In fact, the company has already been fined $500 for smoking during a performance of Fosse last week.

Soldiers Die -- Women and Hispanics Suffer Most

Remember Mort Sahl's joke headline:

"World Ends, Women and Minorities Suffer Most"

In this morning's Today's Headlines e-mail summary from the New York Times, we find the following gem:

For 1,000 Troops, There Is No Going Home


The roster of the dead in Iraq is a portrait of a military in transition, with ever-widening roles and costs for the country's part-time soldiers, women and Hispanics.
The story itself reports that the 24 deaths among female soldiers is higher than any conflict since WWII (8 women service members were killed in Vietnam and 16 in the Gulf War). Female deaths are 2.5% of total deaths though women represent 15% of armed forces personnel. Note that the invaluable Iraq Coalition Casualties website lists an additional female civilian casualty.

The Times then goes on to blame Hispanic deaths on the National Council of La Raza:

Five years ago, the National Council of La Raza, an advocacy group for Hispanics, released a scathing study of Hispanics in the United States military. The central finding was that the military was not employing as many Hispanics as it should.

In 1996, the study said, Hispanics 18 to 44 made up more than 11 percent of the civilian work force but accounted for less than 7 percent of the military's active forces.

The military took notice, and the Marines, in particular, began a serious recruiting effort aimed at Spanish-speaking markets, said Lisa Navarrete, vice president of the advocacy group.

"They took it very, very seriously," Ms. Navarrete said.

By 2004, Latinos accounted for 9.2 percent of all active-duty forces and about 10 percent of those forces deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan.

The 122 Hispanic service deaths at more than 12% of the total are higher than Hispanic service rates but lower than the Hispanic population at 13-14%.

Two groups not mentioned in the Times, non-Hispanic Whites (usually called 'Whites' by the NYT) and African Americans. Can we guess why?

The CNN chart that breaks the casualties down by race has not been updated since August 14th but the percentages then stood:

  • non-Hispanic Whites - 70%
  • Hispanics - 12%
  • Black - 13%
  • Asian - 2%
  • Other & Unk - 3%
The latest racial breakdown of the armed forces that I've been able to find is from about 1995 when the percentages stood:

  • non-Hispanic Whites - 68.7%
  • Hispanics - 6.3%
  • Black - 19.6%
  • Asian - 3%
  • Other & Unk - 2.3%
So we see that deaths of non-Hispanic whites track their percentages in the military and the general population pretty well but blacks are overrepresented in the military but underrepresented on the casualty lists (probably because of overrepresentation in the support MOS's).

Since those numbers don't match the Times' orientation, they were not remarked upon.

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Shoot 'Em

Republican politicians are better than Democrat politicians because they don't support gun control so if you don't like them you can just shoot them. -- P. J. O'Rourke