July 2007 Archives

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So much for the Lancet's "massive Iraqi civilian death" study

By Michael Fumento

Remember the Lancet study in 2004 claiming that "about 100,000 excess deaths, or more have happened since the 2003 invasion of Iraq," and that "Violence accounted for most of the excess deaths and air strikes from coalition forces accounted for most violent deaths?"

I wrote on this as soon as it appeared, observing that several indicators showed it was a piece of crock. But others did much more in-depth analyses, including Shannon Love at Chicago Boyz. He has now found out via Michelle Malkin and Instapundit that a forthcoming study by David Kane, Institute Fellow at the Institute for Quantitative Social Science at Harvard University, shows just how wrong the original study was. Love notes among other things that that "if the Falluja cluster is included in the statistical calculations, the confidence interval dips below zero" meaning that it loses statistical significance. Without statistical significance, the findings mean nothing,

I claimed at the time the "100,000 death study" was pure politics (It came out right before the presidential election) and intentional deception on the part of the authors and the Lancet editor himself and there's no reason to think otherwise now.

Incidentally, as I was putting this blog together I accidentally posted it, making Love's words look like my own. Mea culpa.

July 28, 2007 06:14 PM  ·  Permalink  ·  Iraq ~ Media ~ Military

"Tough Americans": My article on military amputees in the Weekly Standard

By Michael Fumento

In the film "Home of the Brave," a soldier who lost her hand in Iraq is asked if she underwent physical rehabilitation at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. "Yeah, Walter Reed," she says. "Talk about tough Americans." Tough Americans, indeed.

When I visited that same ward the first soldier I met was Sgt. Luke Shirley, who had stepped on an improvised explosive device (IED) blowing off his right side appendages and spraying him with shrapnel. "It kinda sucks not having an arm or leg," he told me, "but it hasn't bothered me like you'd think it would." Just offhand, I would think it would have devastated him. I was dumbstruck. What kind of person is this?

That's why I visited Walter Reed's Orthopedic Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Ward in Washington, D.C, along with the surgical inpatient ward at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland. (At Bethesda the men and women aren't yet ready to be sent on to Walter Reed or elsewhere for rehabilitation.) I wanted to meet these tough Americans and tell some of their stories.

Read the entire article. I admit it's rather sensitive and compassionate for a Mike Fumento piece, but you've got to let your guard down sometime. For these guys and gals, anytime.

July 22, 2007 03:18 PM  ·  Permalink  ·  Iraq ~ Military

Update on ISN article "quoting" me

By Michael Fumento

In an earlier blog I noted that the ISN News Service, in an article by Anuj Chopra, stated: "Negotiating with the Taliban is like going to dinner with Hannibal Lector," Michael Fumento, an American author and columnist on the West's engagement in Afghanistan, told ISN Security Watch. "You cannot gain." I also noted that while that quote appeared in any number of similar articles of mine, neither Chopra nor ISN ever contacted me. So I wrote to them and they both very nicely apologized. I have since then learned that mistakes like these, prompted by overzealous copy editors, certainly do happen. And perhaps Chopra's article was a bit too close to mine in some ways but I'm sure I've done the same thing with other authors in 20 years of writing. The Internet makes it all too easy. I have no reason to think either Chopra or ISN acted dishonorably. Indeed, Chopra was at least smart enough to quote from one of my articles! Maybe in the future somebody at ISN will interview me!

July 18, 2007 11:21 AM  ·  Permalink  ·  Afghanistan

Dictator Musharraf can no longer dictate to us

By Michael Fumento

Back in May, Pakistani dictator General Pervez Musharraf, as one paper put it, "insisted that Pakistan was the only country that had a military, political, developmental and administrative strategy to defeat extremism."

"I would tell everyone: Come and learn from us," he said. "We are sitting here knowing exactly what is happening on ground," he said. "You sitting in the West don't know anything. So, don't teach me, come and learn from us. Come and understand the environment. And then decide on what has to be done and what doesn’t have to be done. We are doing more than any other country in the world."

My! How things have changed! First there was that nasty incident concerning the Taliban Red Mosque right in the capital of Islamabad. Now Musharraf's deal with the Taliban and other militants in western Pakistan has fallen completely apart, with the tribesmen saying they were declaring war on Pakistan. Mind you, for the most part the Taliban simply ignored the deal anyway. Musharraf promised to leave them alone so long as they didn't use the territory as an entry point into Afghanistan and so long as they were peaceful towards the Pakistanis as well. Naturally, the deal didn't stop a single Taliban from going to Afghanistan. Some people just might call that a deal breaker, but not Musharraf. But now they're attacking the Pakistanis as well.

Meanwhile a new National Intelligence Estimate report and another report from the National Counterterrorism Center states that al Queda has practically rebuilt itself in northwest Pakistan because we're stupid enough to honor a border Musharraf can't control.

Musharraf is a malevolent buffoon. He helped build up and sustain the Taliban in Afghanistan (though he now denies it) but cannot now control them in any way. The only lessons we have to learn from him are negative ones. As to western Pakistan, we have to be quite clear that since he cannot control the area, that it's basically not part of his country, it's happy hunting grounds for us. We will enter it whenever it suits our purpose and we will kill and capture any enemy of the United States. If Musharraf doesn't like it, he can vent by selling more nuclear technology to rogue states.

July 18, 2007 10:32 AM  ·  Permalink  ·  Military

Does racism really cause breast cancer?

By Michael Fumento

"Breast Cancer Link to Racial Discrimination." No doubt that Reuters headline, and others like it, pleased race-baiters who would have us think every problem blacks have is due to persistent prejudice. Sadly for them, as I write in The American Spectator Online, the report is politically correct trash that any conscientious landfill would reject.

Yes, statistically it's a bunch of hooey, as you might guess. But here's just a bit of interesting data that blows it to bits that would have taken any decent reporter a couple of minutes to find.
Breast cancer rates are much lower for black women than white women. According to the National Institutes for Health, for the latest year for which data are available black women have only 84 percent the rate of breast cancer as non-Hispanic white women.

Asians, incidentally, have 68 percent the rate of whites and Hispanics 62 percent. Now here's the real stunner. American Indians, plagued by the inherent discrimination of the horrendous reservation system, have less than half the breast cancer rate of non-Hispanic whites.

The obvious conclusion: Reverse discrimination causes breast cancer.

(Yeah, I'm just kidding.)

July 16, 2007 09:03 AM  ·  Permalink  ·  Media

How to win the CNN Young Journalist Award? Fabrication and Plagiarism

By Michael Fumento

"Negotiating with the Taliban is like going to dinner with Hannibal Lector," Michael Fumento, an American author and columnist on the West's engagement in Afghanistan, told ISN Security Watch. "You cannot gain."

So declares Anuj Chopra in his June 30 article, "At the Table with the Taliban," for ISN News. (Swiss-based International Relations and Security Network)

Problem is, I never spoke or exchanged e-mails with anybody at ISN Security Watch, to include Mr. Chopra. I had never heard of either the writer or the publication. But I did say (or rather write, those words in my own article that appeared in various print and online periodicals and on my own website. He simply lifted them and made it look like it was from an interview.

He subsequently writes:

Responding to the German offer to hold talks with the "moderate Taliban," Mullah Abdul Salaam Zaeef, the former Taliban ambassador in Islamabad, in a recent interview with the Pak Tribune news portal, rubbished the view that there was any moderate faction within the Taliban. "There is no separation between Taliban as moderate, hardliner or others," said the former ambassador, who currently lives under house arrest in Kabul.

I had written about the German offer and then stated: "Agreeing was none other than Mullah Abdul Salam Zaeef, the former Taliban regime ambassador to Islamabad now under house arrest in Kabul. 'There is no separation between Taliban as moderate, hardliner or others,' he says. I hyperlinked to the Pak Tribune news portal.

I don't know if that's quasi-plagiarism or the real McCoy, but saying you interviewed someone you didn't is still called "lying" in these here United States. Chopra's byline states that he is "the 2005 recipient of the CNN Young Journalist Award in the print category." Now you know how to get ahead in journalism.

I've written both to ISN News and to the website that I saw Chopra's article on. Let's see what, if anything, they say or do.

July 10, 2007 07:02 PM  ·  Permalink  ·  Media

Anti-terrorism equals racism

By Michael Fumento

After I blogged on the utter lack of anti-Islamist terrorist movies, the aptly-named "World o' Crap" blog accused me of being a racist for pointing out that the good guy FBI deputy director in the latest Die Hard movie looked Arabic (presumably to reinforce that this was not an anti-Islamist movie) and noted the actor is from New Zealand. But:

1. How my saying he looked Arabic has anything to do with racism is unexplained.
2. Arabs are Caucasian. That's my race.
3. The actor is an aborigine descendant, hence his dark skin. He actually PLAYED an Arab in the movie Three Kings.

Anti-antiterrorism is alive and well in both Hollywood and the blogosphere.

July 9, 2007 06:42 PM  ·  Permalink  ·  Terrorism

Hollywood goes to war against anti-terrorism

By Michael Fumento

In 1942, Hollywood went to war. It began pumping out countless movies designed to be both entertaining and instructive as to the nature of our enemies. A lot of them were done on the cheap and others were pretty hokey, but they kept drilling home the message that we must persevere no matter the costs or how long it would take. Fast forward that reel to the post-9/11 era. Just how many movies can you count in which Islamist terrorists are the bad guys and that do not specifically concern the Sept. 11 attacks? Meanwhile - and this may be considered a spoiler, so if you haven't seen the movie look out - the just-released fourth installment of the Die Hard series, Live Free or Die Hard, teaches us that just because there are some bad guys out to destroy America doesn't mean they have to be bin Laden's buddies.

In fact, it was the Department of Homeland Security that turns out to have been more or less responsible for the attack in the first place. Meanwhile one of the few good guys in the movie, the head of the FBI team that aids our hero John McClane, looks decidedly Arabic. Indeed, he played an Arab in an earlier movie.

One of last year's most critically-acclaimed films was the severely disjointed Babel in which what is treated as a terrorist shooting of an American woman in Morocco turns out to have been an accident. Heck, it wasn't even an AK-47 involved but rather a Japanese hunter's rifle.

If I'm mistaken and there have been movies in which Islamists where the bad guys, please let me know. (If so, I'll bet they went straight to video.) Likewise for more movies in which Islamists are exonerated.

In any event, where once Hollywood shored up a resolute but war-weary public (Everyone knew somebody who had been killed or maimed and they thought the war would last well into 1946 or beyond), Hollywood now feels its job is to assure us that with terrorism we have nothing to fear but fear itself. Even while traveling in countries with strong Islamist movements. Never mind that the week the new Die Hard came out there were two aborted terrorist attacks in Great Britain perpetrated by middle class Islamist physicians living as normal Britons - a truly scary scenario that's right out of a movie like The Manchurian Candidate.

One of the ironies is that you don't even need to create fictitious Islamist villains; the real ones are so classically evil. They order massive car bombings that kill hundreds of people; they launch chlorine gas attacks; they build torture chambers; they make videos of beheadings in which the victim screams in agony as his head is sawed off with a dull knife. These guys are a scriptwriters' dream. Quentin Tarantino couldn't think this stuff up.

Look, you can't live on the edge of your seat all the time in a war that could last a generation or far longer. If we think we see a bomb in every backpack, the terrorists are winning. But there's got to be a happy medium. Hollywood doesn't see it that way. A lot of people have suggested that, pathetically, it's going to take another terrorist attack to wake us from our slumber. Wouldn't it be fitting if it were in a movie theater?

July 6, 2007 12:02 AM  ·  Permalink  ·  Military

My Afghanistan videos are posted

By Michael Fumento

Okay, it took me awhile considering my embed in Afghanistan's Zabul Province, documented in my article "The Other War" in The Weekly Standard, was in April.

Ever wonder what a massive 120 millimeter mortar looks like in action? I've been on the wrong side of these bad boys on occasion; it was nice to be on the shooting side, courtesy of the men of 1/4 Infantry at FOB Mizan. It looks pretty neat at night, too. My ears rang for hours because I forgot my earplugs.

So you like pyrotechnics, huh? Here's one Romanian livefire exercise, including an RPG. Forgot my earplugs on that one, too. And here's another, from a different angle. That's a Romanian armored personnel carrier at the beginning. I fired both the main gun, with massive 14.5 mm rounds, and the secondary 7.62 gun.

I got some excellent helo footage on this trip, because in Iraq they virtually all fly at night. In Afghanistan, all my flights were during the day allowing me to get this footage and this that includes a Russian-made Mi-28 Hip. You don't see those too often.

If you're into flowers or narcotics, this footage of a poppy field I stumbled onto is for you.

Most instructive, perhaps, is this film of my visit to an Afghan National Police station. It's pretty pathetic, with virtually no defenses from the Taliban or al Qaeda attackers. We need to shore up our allies or they may not stay our allies forever.

Hey, and I know this is the video age and all that but I think my still photos are actually a lot neater. Check them out here.

July 5, 2007 11:49 PM  ·  Permalink  ·  Military

Does racism cause breast cancer?

By Michael Fumento

"Breast Cancer Link to Racial Discrimination" No doubt that Reuters headline pleases demagogues who would have us think every problem blacks have is due to persistent racism.

The headline comes from a study conducted at Howard University in Washington, D.C. and published in the American Journal of Epidemiology. In it, black women completed a questionnaire in 1997 that included questions on perceived discrimination in two domains: "everyday" discrimination (such as being treated as dishonest) and major experiences of unfair treatment due to race (such as job, housing, and police). From 1997 to 2003, 593 incident cases of breast cancer were found.

There was a weak but non-statistically significant association between women claiming discrimination and breast cancer. No significance means even that apparent weak association means nothing. So the authors sliced the data at the 50-year mark and - voila! - statistical significance. Among women under 50, those who reported discrimination on the job had a 32% higher rate of breast cancer than those who didn't report it. There was a 48% increase for those who reported discrimination in all three situations - housing, job, and police - relative to those who reported none.

"These findings," concluded the authors, "suggest that perceived experiences of racism are associated with increased incidence of breast cancer among U.S. black women, particularly younger women."

Now here's what they didn't tell you.

First, overall breast cancer rates are much lower for black women than for white women, with 118 cases per 100,000 for blacks versus 132 per 100,000 for whites for the years 2000-2004.

That doesn't exactly jibe with racism as a carcinogen.

Second, not only was there no significant association until the authors starting slicing the data, but even after the slicing the data were barely within the realm of statistical significance. In other words, the association is far weaker than it appears.

Third, there is no known biological explanation for the alleged phenomenon. The one suggested in the news stories is stress. Stress can indeed cause terrible health problems, as I have documented in countless articles. With faux media-spread syndromes, we're literally making people sick by telling they should be sick. Stress can even kill, as with heart disease. But although many have looked, nobody has yet found a link between stress and cancer.

Assuming the Howard study shows any kind of connection between perceived racism and breast cancer, "perceived" may be the key word. People who perceive things differently from other people are different from other people. There may be a link between discrimination-perceivers and non-perceivers that we ought to look for.

Meanwhile it is true that younger black women (those under 54) have a slightly higher rate of breast cancer than their white counterparts, 94 versus 91 per 100,000 for 2004. Why might that be? And why might older black women be less at risk?

There are many differences between black and white women that we know of that do have biological plausibility. The most obvious is genetics. This notwithstanding a recent quote from a black doctor that - I'm not making this up - anybody who says blacks and whites are genetically different is a racist. So blacks are just darker than whites because they spend more time in the sun, right?

Meanwhile, we know that Ashkenazi Jews are especially prone to breast cancer because of specific identified genes. Therefore we must scientifically conclude that ... Mike Fumento is both a racist and an anti-Semite.

Yet we know of many other differences, such as weight, diet, and smoking. Bottom line: If you're really interested in exploring differences between breast cancer rates among different groups, you should probably devote your resources to paths that actually might lead to answers rather than to headlines.

July 5, 2007 11:19 PM  ·  Permalink  ·  Cancer