Daily archives: January 7, 2009

Truths, Damned Truths and Statistics

Sometimes statistics really do tell the truth. Thanks to Gerard Mulholland:

From NBC’s Mark Murray

With President Bush set to leave the White House less than two weeks from now, here’s a “Then and Now” to show what the United States looked like when Bush was entering office and what it looks like now as he’s leaving. The “Then” is the best-available figure as Bush was taking office in 2001. The “Now” is the most recent figure.


Then: 4.2% (Bureau of Labor Statistics, January 2001)

Now: 6.7% (Bureau of Labor Statistics, November 2008)


Then: 10,587 (close of Friday, Jan. 19, 2001)

Now: 9,015 (close of Tuesday, Jan. 6, 2009)


Then: 50% (1/01 NBC/WSJ poll)

Now: 31% (12/08 NBC/WSJ poll)


Then: 49% (1/01 NBC/WSJ poll)

Now: 21% (12/08 NBC/WSJ poll)


Then: 48% (1/01 NBC/WSJ poll)

Now: 21% (12/08 NBC/WSJ poll)


Then: 45% (1/01 NBC/WSJ poll)

Now: 26% (12/08 NBC/WSJ poll)


Then: 115.7 (Conference Board, January 2001)

Now: 38.0, which is an all-time low (Conference Board, December 2008)


Then: 6.4 million (Census numbers for 2000)

Now: 7.6 million (Census numbers for 2007 — most recent numbers available)


Then: 39.8 million (Census numbers for 2000)

Now: 45.7 million (Census numbers for 2007 — most recent available)


Then: +236.2 billion (2000, Congressional Budget Office)

Now: -$1.2 trillion (projected figure for 2009, Congressional Budget Office)

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Putin Ratchets Up The Pressure on Ukraine

Russia has caused a major crisis throughout much of Europe by radically reducing gas supplies. This was ordered personally by Putin, and is not really about Ukraine’s unpaid gas bill at all. It is about Putin’s desire to force Ukraine back into the Soviet orbit. On the whole, his efforts to regain Russian control over the Former Soviet Union are remarkably succesful.

All of this was entirely predictable:

Only normal business is the last thing Gazprom is involved in. Gazprom is perhaps the most important tool in Putin’s armoury. He keeps a close eye on it. The Chairman of Gazprom is Dmitri Medvedev, First Deputy Prime Minister, close Putin ally and a possible Putin choice for his successor. The Trade, Energy and Foreign Ministers are all represented on the board at ministerial level.

Gazprom has been the instrument by which Putin has reasserted Russian hegemony over the Former Soviet Union, blackmailing European ex-Soviet countries by cutting off energy supplies in winter, and buying up the Central Asian ex-Soviet countries by taking over the heart of their economies.

More surprisingly, Gazprom is key to Putin’s harsh internal control. Mr Kuprianov often appears on the nation’s TV screens, which is easily explained. A year after taking power, Putin decided to stamp out independent media in Russia. When NTV, the only independent national TV channel, was closed down in 2001, it was Gazprom Media who took it over and turned it into a propaganda arm of the Kremlin. Gazprom went on to buy up Russia’s two large independent national newspapers. The last significant remaining one, Kommersant, was bought last November personally by the sinister Uzbek oligarch Alisher Usmanov, chairman of Gazprominvest Holdings. The Editor-in-Chief was immediately sacked while the longstanding defence correspomdent, Igor Safronov, mysteriously fell out of a window three months later

June 1, 2007

Russian Journalist Murders, and Gazprom

I do urge you to read that article. Murders of journalists have intensified since. Putin always uses the Gazprom weapon during periods of freezing weather; this kills people as surely as military action. It is also extremely clever. European countries are already turning against Ukraine, particularly Putin’s poodle, Angela Merkel. As Putin pulls a struggling Ukraine back into his neo-Soviet orbit, Germany is giving it a push.

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The Limits of Free Speech

In a world where individual freedoms are held light, this blog values freedom of speech higher than is currently fashionable. I do not believe that freedom should apply only to views I agree with.

The Israeli attack on Gaza is unconscionable. It is wildly disproportionate and plainly the attacks on schools yesterday were only the most blatant examples of Israel’s continual breaches of the laws of warfare – war crimes. But it is only an episode in the terrible ethnic cleansing and destruction of the Palestinian people by the Israelis who have stolen their land.

Let me say it loud and clear. I do not believe in Israel’s right to exist. It is a militarised, evil entity founded on a racist premise and a lot of religious hokum. It shuld be replaced by a single, secular state in which the Palestinians are free to live, and in which they receive either their stolen lands or genuine equivalent financial compensation, in either case plus damages.

I shall be attending Saturday’s demonstration from Hyde Park. I needed some new shoes anyway.

I have not deleted a single pro-Israeli comment from discussion on these pages, though I disagree profoundly with many. I have deleted three anti-Jewish comments. I should make it plain that I am in profound disagreement with those commenters who conflate Israel with Jews in general. We have had commenters excusing anti-Jewish comments on the grounds Jews are not a race, and positing claims of a world conspiracy of Jews and freemasons. I have only deleted three of these, because in general I believe the suppression of any opinion to be an evil which requires major justification. I find it hard to define the exact line which leads to deletion.

The great John Stuart Mill said it was legitimate to express the opinion that all corn merchants are thieves of the people’s bread; but it was not legitimate to shout the same thing to a howling mob at night carrying torches outside a corn merchant’s house. He was, as ever, right.

So almost any opinion can be expressed here. But I would be grateful if those people who have a serious grudge against Jews in general, would go and express their views on their own websites.


Michael has overstepped the mark by a posting about “Jews with their Satanic Smirks” (long overdue yellow card) and then introducing the Protocols of Zion (automatic red card offence). All of his 31 comments have therefore been deleted.

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