April 27, 2007

Liar, Liar II

Twice in one day catching the Economist in basic factual errors. This time it's oil and gas pipelines. This time it's a case of "the dog that didn't bark" or, more specifically, the pipeline not discussed in the map below:

What's missing? The good old Constanta-Trieste pipeline (CTPL), now renamed the "Pan-European Oil Pipeline" (PEOP). The Transcaspian line is drawn in but PEOP, which has actually signed a ministerial agreement to proceed. Even more interesting the ministerial agreement apparently specifies that PEOP can actually be used to pipe gas which could reduce Russia's ability to coerce SE Europe with threats of gas cutoffs by allowing rich EU nations to relieve shortages further east. The inclusion of Croatia and Serbia in the route means that former Yugoslavia is starting to get integrated with new energy transport investment.

It's not a good sign when a major pipeline in the preconstruction phase is not penciled in. but the Economist map (and attached article) is worse. Baku-Ceyhan doesn't terminate in the Mediterranean, giving the impression that there isn't a viable exit route for Caspian oil there. Then there is the omission of Burgas-Vlore, a less ambitious pipeline that will go from Bulgaria to Greece that similarly recently got the go ahead (this time with Russia's blessing). What's going on with the Economist?

HT: TPM Barnett

Posted by TMLutas at 02:08 PM

Liar, Liar I

It's pretty sad when you see one of the few journalistic outfits you usually respect get basic facts wrong This Economist editorial does it twice.

Cho killed his victims with two guns, one of them a Glock 9mm semi-automatic pistol, a rapid-fire weapon that is available only to police in virtually every other country, but which can legally be bought over the counter in thousands of gun-shops in America.

Over the counter purchases do not have any controls whatsoever beyond an ability to pay. Every state has an instant background check for all firearms purchases, requires you to fill out a government form under pain of perjury, and regularly turns away purchasers who fail the checks. This cannot be reasonably called over the counter purchases whether or not you agree that the system is tight enough.

The assault-weapons ban should be renewed, with its egregious loopholes removed. No civilian needs an AK-47 for a legitimate purpose, but you can buy one online for $379.99.

No doubt they meant legal sales of scary looking semi-automatic rifles like this that look like military weapons but fire as fast and with the same effects as any hunting style rifle (I don't think that they're protesting the bayonet's extra killing ability). While it bears the label, it certainly is not the killing weapon issued to so many armed forces around the world. It is certainly less deadly than the weapon issued to every adult male in Switzerland's army that they take home with them as part of their effective universal service system.

The proportion of crimes committed with legally acquired (as opposed to illegally acquired) guns is rather small. Cho fell through the cracks not as a flaw of the gun control system but as a flaw in the US system for registering mentally dangerous individuals, a situation that has many ill effects both for the mentally ill themselves as well as the public at large. America has a serious reform problem on its hands but european editorials that misstate the issues aren't helpful.

Posted by TMLutas at 07:39 AM

October 31, 2006

Finally, Civil Marriage Source Docs

I've been looking for the basic facts on what are the laws regarding civil marriage forever. I finally got them over at Amy Wellborn's Open Book. The analysis that was linked there had prominent copyright notices so I just grabbed the GAO refs and got the two relevent source docs for the 1997 and 2003 GAO legal searches respectively (both links are pdf). Now, if I can find the time, it's time to go through them all and tease out the principles of what marriage is and tie them to what laws get changed if the principle is modified/eliminated. What's really needed is a wiki that I can seed the data to en masse which I don't know of right now.

Oh well, another thing to throw on the "to do" pile.

Posted by TMLutas at 09:59 AM

February 04, 2005

Sunni Parliament %

According to the CIA World Fact Book the ethnic and religious balance is as follows:

Arab 75%-80%, Kurdish 15%-20%, Turkoman, Assyrian or other 5%

Muslim 97% (Shi'a 60%-65%, Sunni 32%-37%), Christian or other 3%

Since the overwhelming majority of Kurds are Sunni, that means that 12%-22% of the population is Sunni Arab, the only group of any significance that boycotted the recent elections.

Based on these percentages, between 33 and 61 seats should end up being Sunni held if the Sunnis are to be represented up to their numbers. Anything below 33 seats and they're certainly underrepresented. Anything above 61 seats and they are overrepresented.

When the final results come out, pay attention to the ethnic breakdown. If the number falls out of the grey zone of 33-61 seats for Sunni representation and you see people making excuses for underrepresentation or denigrating overrepresentation, you can safely dismiss the opinion as not having a reasonable link to reality.

Posted by TMLutas at 08:00 PM