Friday, October 31, 2003

It looks optimistic mainly because people think of zero as the threshold. In fact, job creation must keep up with population growth in order to prevent the labor market from deteriorating.

Job Creation Math: The Three-Card Monte of Economics: "What does an increase in jobs really mean?

John W. Snow, the Treasury secretary, raised the issue last week by saying that he expected the economy to add 200,000 jobs a month for the next year. With almost three million jobs having been lost since early 2001, the comment had an air of bold optimism to it and caused a bit of a stir on Wall Street."

We are surprised," a senior economist at Goldman Sachs wrote to clients, "that Snow would choose to hand the Democratic presidential candidates this optimistic prediction."

But it looks optimistic mainly because people think of zero as the threshold. In fact, job creation must keep up with population growth in order to prevent the labor market from deteriorating.

These days, the economy must add from 150,000 to 200,000 jobs every month to keep the unemployment rate from rising, economists say.

In 1997, the economy added 250,000 jobs a month, and the unemployment rate fell substantially. But in 1995, 180,000 new jobs were created each month, and the jobless rate ticked up slightly.

Shortly after a downturn ends, people who had dropped out of the labor force during the slump — no longer working or looking for work — begin their job search again. This swells the ranks of the officially unemployed and makes a monthly gain of 200,000 look even smaller.

"It's entirely possible that you'll see an uptick in the unemployment rate even with" a monthly increase of more than 150,000, said Richard Berner, the chief United States economist at Morgan Stanley.

So without changing his meaning, Mr. Snow instead could have said, "We're not going to have enough job growth over the next year to bring down the jobless rate very much, if at all."

Given that the Bush administration last year predicted a monthly job gain of about 300,000 for 2004, Mr. Snow could even have added, truthfully, "This estimate of job growth is about 50 percent lower than the last one the administration made."
Critical Study Minus Criticism of Justice Dept.: "An internal report that harshly criticized the Justice Department's diversity efforts was edited so heavily when it was posted on the department's Web site two weeks ago that half of its 186 pages, including the summary, were blacked out.

The deleted passages, electronically recovered by a self-described 'information archaeologist' in Tucson, portrayed the department's record on diversity as seriously flawed, specifically in the hiring, promotion and retention of minority lawyers."

The unedited report, completed in June 2002 by the consulting firm KPMG, found that minority employees at the department, which is responsible for enforcing the country's civil rights laws, perceive their own workplace as biased and unfair.

"The department does face significant diversity issues," the report said. "Whites and minorities as well as men and women perceive differences in many aspects of the work climate. For example, minorities are significantly more likely than whites to cite stereotyping, harassment and racial tension as characteristics of the work climate. Many of these differences are also present between men and women, although to a lesser extent."

Another deleted part said efforts to promote diversity "will take extraordinarily strong leadership" from the attorney general's office and other Justice Department offices.

Even complimentary conclusions were deleted, like one that said "attorneys across demographic groups believe that the Department is a good place to work" and another that said "private industry cites DOJ as a trend-setter for diversity." Beyond that, a recommendation that the department should "increase public visibility of diversity issues," was kept out of the public report.

The edited version gave a much narrower view of the department's diversity problems.…

"The Justice Department has sought to hide from the public statistically significant findings of discrimination against minorities within its ranks," said David J. Shaffer, a lawyer who has represented agents from federal agencies in class-action discrimination lawsuits. "These cases challenge the same type of discriminatory practices found to exist at the Justice Department."

After the unedited document began circulating in computer circles, and articles began appearing earlier this month in publications like Computer World and newspapers like Newsday, the Justice Department pulled the edited report from its Web site, later posting a different version thought to be more resistant to electronic manipulation.

The complaints about the Justice Department come as it has shifted many resources to fighting terrorism and critics have said it has allowed the enforcement of civil rights to languish and failed to aggressively pursue some accusations of discrimination in housing, the workplace and other critical areas.

Senator Edward M. Kennedy, Democrat of Massachusetts, said the department's handling of the report called into question its commitment to diversity in its own workplace.

At a Senate hearing this week, Mr. Kennedy told James B. Comey, nominated by President Bush to succeed Larry Thompson as deputy attorney general, that the episode "gives the distinct impression that the department commissioned the report, then left it on the shelf, ignoring the recommendations."

By the time the department posted the theoretically more secure version of the report on its Web site, it was too late. Russ Kick, a writer and editor in Tucson, who operates a Web site,, had had already electronically stripped the edited version of the black lines that hid the full text. Mr. Kick then posted the unedited version of the report on his Web site, where it has been copied more than 32,000 times, a near record for the site. Justice Department officials said it was unlikely that any action would be taken against Mr. Kick.…
Analysts Accurately Gauge Iraq Costs: "Months before the U.S.-led war in Iraq, independent and congressional analysts made remarkably accurate predictions of the costs of a post-war occupation, even as the Pentagon refused to do so, or gave very low estimates.

The discrepancy is gaining new attention with lawmakers complaining of the costs as they approve the president's request for $87 billion to occupy and rebuild Iraq. The House approved the package Thursday, and the Senate is expected to do so Monday."

``We were all hit with sticker shock: $87 billion is a huge number,'' said Rep. Zack Wamp, R-Tenn., during House debate Thursday night. ``I'm going to grit my teeth and vote yes tonight and say that we cannot afford to fail in Iraq.''

Bush administration officials repeatedly insisted before the war that they could not estimate how much the war or the postwar occupation might cost.

But the Congressional Budget Office, for example, estimated in September 2002 that occupying Iraq would cost between $1 billion and $4 billion a month.

The current figure? About $4 billion a month.

``The American people were taken by surprise by the administration's budget request, because there was not enough lead-up to explain how much of a sacrifice would be needed,'' said Bathsheba Crocker, a former State Department budget adviser now at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, an independent Washington think tank.

The administration's aversion to cost estimates was intertwined with Pentagon officials' reluctance to estimate how many troops would be needed to occupy Iraq.

Before the war, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and other Pentagon officials disputed a prediction by then-Army Chief of Staff Gen. Eric Shinseki that more than 200,000 troops would be needed. Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz called Shinseki's estimate ``wildly off the mark.''

The occupation now occupies some 132,000 American troops, supported by 22,000 troops from other nations and more than 90,000 Iraqi security forces -- more than 244,000 people under arms. The money to pay for both the U.S. troops and the Iraqi forces comes almost exclusively from the United States.

``The problem is, the administration didn't ever publicly come up with how many troops they thought would be there, or how long they would be there,'' said Steven Kosiak, an analyst with the nonpartisan Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments. ``It's not that difficult to estimate what the costs will be if you have some idea of the numbers of troops.''
Intelligence: Senate Panel Sends New Letter to Rice Demanding Papers on Iraq Arms Friday: "The Senate Intelligence Committee, in a letter to Condoleezza Rice, the national security adviser, demanded Thursday that the White House 'must lift' its objections and hand over to the panel documents related to intelligence about Iraq and its illicit weapons before the war.

The panel set a deadline of noon Friday for compliance by the White House, the same as it has set for the Central Intelligence Agency, the State Department and the Pentagon to provide documents and schedule interviews that the committee has been seeking for months."

The committee — headed by Senators Pat Roberts, Republican of Kansas, and Senator John D. Rockefeller IV, Democrat of West Virginia — is trying to determine how the Bush administration reached its conclusions about Iraq's suspected stocks of chemical and biological weapons and its nuclear program.

Among the documents sought by the committee, Congressional officials said, are copies of President Bush's Daily Brief, a document prepared by the C.I.A. that the White House has until now maintained was off limits to Congress because of executive privilege.

The Congressional officials said the documents also included memorandums between the C.I.A. and the White House discussing disputed claims that Iraq was seeking to obtain enriched uranium from Niger for its nuclear weapons program.…
U.S. Officials See Hussein's Hand in Attacks on Americans in Iraq: "The officials cited recent intelligence reports indicating that Mr. Hussein is acting as a catalyst or even a leader in the armed opposition, probably from a base of operations near Tikrit, his hometown and stronghold. A leadership role by Mr. Hussein would go far beyond anything previously acknowledged by the Bush administration, which has sought in its public remarks to portray the former Iraqi leader as being on the run and irrelevant.

Officials acknowledged that the reports of a significant role by Mr. Hussein could not be corroborated, and one senior official cautioned that recent intelligence reports contained conflicting assessments. "

Nonetheless, three senior officials described reports of a larger role by Mr. Hussein as credible, and a Defense Department official said the information had given a fresh sense of urgency to the American-led manhunt for the former Iraqi leader.

"There are some accounts that say he is somehow instigating or fomenting some of the resistance," a second American official said of the intelligence reports.

Baghdad, meanwhile, was unnerved Thursday by more explosions and a terrorist threat against schoolchildren.

Mr. Hussein is believed to have met with Izzat Ibrahim, an Iraqi general who was officially the second highest ranking member of the Iraqi government at the time of the invasion, and who is described by American officials as playing a significant role in the insurgency.

General Ibrahim, who is No. 6 on the American most-wanted list, has been described by some Defense Department officials as having recently been in contact with members of Ansar al-Islam, a militant group that had been based in northern Iraq before the American-led invasion and which is linked to Al Qaeda.

Such contacts would be the clearest evidence to date of coordination between forces loyal to Mr. Hussein and members of the extremist group in the campaign against American forces in Iraq. But one senior American official said Thursday that while General Ibrahim was clearly playing a role in coordinating attacks by those loyal to Mr. Hussein, it was much less clear whether he had been in contact with Ansar al-Islam.…
I've always wondered, how some people have a right to return to a place they've never lived, while others are denied the right to return where they were born. A.I.

New Tries for Mideast Peace: "Ami Ayalon took over as chief of the Shin Bet security service in Israel in 1996, as a string of Palestinian suicide bombings massacred scores of Israelis. In the first nine months of 2000, the year he left office, there was one Israeli death from Palestinian terror. Much as he would like to take credit for the shift, Mr. Ayalon says, it had little to do with Israeli security techniques and a great deal to do with Palestinians' hopes for a state. When there was optimism about their political future, he said, support for violence plummeted, and Palestinian security services fought radicals. When hope declined, terror rose and no one lifted a finger to stop it. The most urgent task for Israel today, he says rightly, is to find a way to renew that hope.

Mr. Ayalon and Sari Nusseibeh, a Palestinian university president, have produced an admirable but unofficial statement of principles for a two-state solution, which they say has been signed by 100,000 Israelis and 70,000 Palestinians. It deals with the most sensitive issues: Israel would be recognized as the 'state of the Jewish people,' sovereignty in Jerusalem would be divided and shared, and the Palestinian 'right of return' would not include returning to Israel. "

A second significant peace development has also occurred. Key figures on both sides, including former ministers, have produced a detailed agreement, also unofficial, known as the Geneva Accord. It, too, would give explicit Palestinian recognition of Israel as the Jewish state and come to a reasonable solution for Jerusalem and the Palestinian refugees. Both efforts deserve to be encouraged.

They reflect a reality that is hopeful and endlessly frustrating: a majority of Israelis and Palestinians favor such a solution, but the leadership needed to produce it is missing in Jerusalem, Ramallah and Washington. At his press conference on Tuesday, President Bush blamed only the Palestinians for the failure, saying they had not fought anti-Israel terror. This is true, but he neglected to say anything about Israel's settlement-building or its aggressive tactics in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Lt. Gen. Moshe Yaalon, Israel's military chief of staff, spoke wisely this week when he said these policies worked against Israel's strategic interest.…
Op-Ed Columnist: A Big Quarter: "The Commerce Department announces very good growth during the previous quarter. Many observers declare the economy's troubles over. And the administration's supporters claim that the economy's turnaround validates its policies.

That's what happened 18 months ago, when a preliminary estimate put first-quarter 2002 growth at 5.8 percent. That was later revised down to 5.0. More important, growth in the next quarter slumped to 1.3 percent, and we now know that the economy wasn't really on the mend: after that brief spurt, the nation proceeded to lose another 600,000 jobs.

The same story unfolded in the third quarter of 2002, when growth rose to 4 percent, and the economy actually gained 200,000 jobs. But growth slipped back down to 1.4 percent, and job losses resumed."

My purpose is not to denigrate the impressive estimated 7.2 percent growth rate for the third quarter of 2003. It is, rather, to stress the obvious: we've had our hopes dashed in the past, and it remains to be seen whether this is just another one-hit wonder.

The weakness of that spurt 18 months ago was obvious to those who bothered to look at it closely. Half the growth came simply because businesses, having drawn down their inventories in the previous quarter, had to ramp up production even though demand was growing slowly. This time around growth has a much better foundation: final demand — demand excluding changes in inventories — actually grew even faster than G.D.P. So it's unlikely that growth will drop off as sharply as it did back then.

But — you knew there would be a but — there are still some reasons to wonder whether the economy has really turned the corner.

First, while there was a significant pickup in business investment, the bulk of last quarter's growth came from a huge surge in consumer spending, with a further boost from housing. These components of spending stayed strong even when the economy was weak, so there shouldn't have been any pent-up demand. Yet housing grew at a 20 percent rate, while spending on consumer durables (that's stuff like cars and TV sets) — which last year grew three times as fast as the economy — rose at an incredible 27 percent rate last quarter.

This can't go on — in the long run, consumer spending can't outpace the growth in consumer income. Stephen Roach of Morgan Stanley has suggested, plausibly, that much of last quarter's consumer splurge was "borrowed" from the future: consumers took advantage of low-interest financing, cash from home refinancing and tax rebate checks to accelerate purchases they would otherwise have made later. If he's right, we'll see below-normal purchases and slower growth in the months ahead.…

Thursday, October 30, 2003

Israel's Chief of Staff Denounces Policies Against Palestinians: "Prime Minister Ariel Sharon was described as 'furious' about the comments, attributed to Lt. Gen. Moshe Yaalon, the military's chief of staff, Israeli television stations reported later in the day.

Several leading Israeli newspapers reported the controversial comments, attributing them to a senior military official. But during the day, Israeli reporters identified the source as General Yaalon, who made the remarks to Israeli journalists at a background briefing on Tuesday."

Nahum Barnea, a leading Israeli columnist with the daily Yediot Ahronot, quoted "a military official" as saying comprehensive travel restrictions and curfews imposed on Palestinians were actually harming Israel's overall security.

"It increases hatred for Israel and strengthens the terror organizations," Mr. Barnea wrote, quoting the official.

General Yaalon also said that Israel should have eased punitive measures to bolster the fortunes of the former Palestinian prime minister, Mahmoud Abbas, who resigned on Sept. 6 after only four months on the job.

Mr. Abbas expressed frustration that Mr. Sharon never took concrete steps to convince Palestinians that the Middle East peace plan, initiated in June, would bring about any real improvements in their lives.

"There is no hope, no expectations for the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, nor in Bethlehem and Jericho," Mr. Barnea quoted the "military official" as saying. "In our tactical decisions, we are operating contrary to our strategic interest."

Mr. Sharon, a former general, has said that Palestinian violence must stop before political negotiations can begin, and he has supported tough military action since he came to power in March 2001.

In previous public statements, General Yaalon has supported strong military action.…
Sharon, Army at Odds on Palestinians: "Israel's tough restrictions on Palestinians have led to a rare public rift between the army and the government, with the nation's top military leader warning current policies will lead only to more violence."

The split, played out in Israeli newspapers over the past two days, highlights leaders' increasing frustration over their inability to end continuing attacks by Palestinian militant groups more than three years after the current violence began.

The measures, which have prevented Palestinians from reaching jobs, visiting family and tending their fields, have made them increasingly bitter. ``Closures, sieges and assassinations are adding to the complexities and widening the cycle of violence and counter-violence,'' Palestinian Cabinet Minister Saeb Erekat said.

The dispute in Israel was set off by Lt. Gen. Moshe Yaalon, the army chief of staff, who argued the tough policies are increasing Palestinian hatred toward Israel and fostering sympathy for the very militant groups Israel is trying to destroy.

Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz agreed only to a minor lifting of the travel bans and closures.

On Wednesday, newspapers carried interviews with a ``senior military official,'' saying the government's policies were destructive, and that crushing militants was effective only if accompanied by peace negotiations. Hours later, a firestorm erupted when it was revealed that Yaalon was the official.

Mofaz and Prime Minister Ariel Sharon were reportedly enraged. Sharon's close associates said Yaalon had gone too far, making it more difficult for Israel to defend its policies to the Americans, the Yediot Ahronot newspaper reported.

Sharon and Mofaz, acting on the advice of Israel's Shin Bet security service, have favored leaving restrictions in place. The Shin Bet has warned that lifting them -- and giving Palestinians greater freedom of movement -- would increase the chances of terror attacks.

Yaalon, meanwhile, also accused the government of helping bring down former Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas' pragmatic Cabinet by not making concessions that would have boosted his credibility.…
Report Links Iraq Deals to Bush Donations: "Companies awarded $8 billion in contracts to rebuild Iraq and Afghanistan have been major campaign donors to President Bush, and their executives have had important political and military connections, according to a study released Thursday."

The study of more than 70 U.S. companies and individual contractors turned up more than $500,000 in donations to the president's 2000 campaign, more than they gave collectively to any other politician over the past dozen years.

The report was released by the Center for Public Integrity, a Washington-based research organization that produces investigative articles on special interests and ethics in government. Its staff includes journalists and researchers.

The Center concluded that most of the 10 largest contracts went to companies that employed former high-ranking government officials, or executives with close ties to members of Congress and even the agencies awarding their contracts.

Major contracts for Iraq and Afghanistan were awarded by the Bush administration without competitive bids, because agencies said competition would have taken too much time to meet urgent needs in both countries.

``No single agency supervised the contracting process for the government,'' Center executive director Charles Lewis said. ``This situation alone shows how susceptible the contracting system is to waste, fraud and cronyism.''

J. Edward Fox, an assistant administrator at the U.S. Agency for International Development, took issue with Lewis' statement and aspects of the report.

``It would ... be incorrect to suggest that there is no overall oversight of this process,'' he wrote the Center. ``The USAID inspector general's review of all Iraq contracts which was requested by USAID Administrator Andrew S. Natsios on April 14th has shown that all Iraq contracts to date have been done in compliance'' with federal regulations.

The top contract recipient was the Halliburton subsidiary KBR, with more than $2.3 billion awarded to support the U.S. military and restore Iraq's oil industry.

Halliburton was headed by Vice President Dick Cheney before he resigned to run with Bush in 2000.…
Eyes Wide Shut: "In the thick of the war with Iraq, President Bush used to pop out of meetings to catch the Iraqi information minister slipcovering grim reality with willful, idiotic optimism."

"He's my man," Mr. Bush laughingly told Tom Brokaw about the entertaining contortions of Muhammad Said al-Sahhaf, a k a "Comical Ali" and "Baghdad Bob," who assured reporters, even as American tanks rumbled in, "There are no American infidels in Baghdad. Never!" and, "We are winning this war, and we will win the war. . . . This is for sure."

Now Crawford George has morphed into Baghdad Bob.

Speaking to reporters this week, Mr. Bush made the bizarre argument that the worse things get in Iraq, the better news it is. "The more successful we are on the ground, the more these killers will react," he said.

In the Panglossian Potomac, calamities happen for the best. One could almost hear the doubletalk echo of that American officer in Vietnam who said: "It was necessary to destroy the village in order to save it."

The war began with Bush illogic: false intelligence (from Niger to nuclear) used to bolster a false casus belli (imminent threat to our security) based on a quartet of false premises (that we could easily finish off Saddam and the Baathists, scare the terrorists and democratize Iraq without leeching our economy).

Now Bush illogic continues: The more Americans, Iraqis and aid workers who get killed and wounded, the more it is a sign of American progress. The more dangerous Iraq is, the safer the world is. The more troops we seem to need in Iraq, the less we need to send more troops.

The harder it is to find Saddam, Osama and W.M.D., the less they mattered anyhow. The more coordinated, intense and sophisticated the attacks on our soldiers grow, the more "desperate" the enemy is.

In a briefing piped into the Pentagon on Monday from Tikrit, Maj. Gen. Raymond Odierno called the insurgents "desperate" eight times. But it is Bush officials who seem desperate when they curtain off reality. They don't even understand the political utility of truth.

After admitting recently that Saddam had no connection to 9/11, the president pounded his finger on his lectern on Tuesday, while vowing to stay in Iraq, and said, "We must never forget the lessons of Sept. 11."

Mr. Bush looked buck-passy when he denied that the White House, which throws up PowerPoint slogans behind his head on TV, was behind the "Mission Accomplished" banner. And Donald Rumsfeld looked duplicitous when he acknowledged in a private memo, after brusquely upbeat public briefings, that America was in for a "long, hard slog" in Iraq and Afghanistan.

No juxtaposition is too absurd to stop Bush officials from insisting nothing is wrong. Car bombs and a blitz of air-to-ground missiles turned Iraq into a hideous tangle of ambulances, stretchers and dead bodies, just after Paul Wolfowitz arrived there to showcase successes.

But the fear of young American soldiers who don't speak the language or understand the culture, who don't know who's going to shoot at them, was captured in a front-page picture in yesterday's Times: two soldiers leaning down to search the pockets of one small Iraqi boy.…
U.N. Pulls Staff Out of Baghdad While It Reviews Security: "The United Nations is withdrawing its international staff from Baghdad while it re-evaluates the security situation following a series of deadly suicide bombings in Iraq earlier this week, officials from the organization confirmed today.

'We have asked our staff in Baghdad to come out temporarily for consultations with a team from headquarters on the future of our operations, in particular security arrangements that we would need to take to operate in Iraq,' a spokeswoman, Marie Okabe, said in a statement provided by her staff."

The withdrawal will involve 12 international workers in Baghdad, another spokesman said. Officials insisted the move was not an evacuation, saying that other international workers based elsewhere in the country would remain behind with Iraqi staff.

The announcement follows a decision by the International Committee of the Red Cross to scale back its presence in Iraq. On Monday, suicide attackers killed at least 34 people and wounded more than 200 in coordinated attacks at the International Committee of the Red Cross office and four Iraqi police stations in Baghdad.

"The number of international staff is being reduced and all staff, international and national, will be asked whether they wish to carry on working in the current circumstances," the Red Cross said in a written statement. The statement pointed out that an "overwhelming majority" of Red Cross personnel in Iraq are Iraqi nationals.

Doctors Without Borders has also announced it will pull out its non-Iraqi staff of seven.

The withdrawals are a blow to the Bush administration, which had been hoping that humanitarian organizations would remain in Iraq despite the latest attacks.…

Wednesday, October 29, 2003

In a blistering review of President Bush's national security policy, Gen. Wesley K. Clark said on Tuesday that the administration could not "walk away from its responsibilities for 9/11."

"You can't blame something like this on lower-level intelligence officers, however badly they communicated in memos with each other," said the retired general, the latest entrant in the Democratic presidential field. "It goes back to what our great president Harry Truman said with the sign on his desk: `The buck stops here.' And it sure is clear to me that when it comes to our nation's national security, the buck rests with the commander in chief, right on George W. Bush's desk."

"And," he added, "we've got to say again and again and again, until the American people understand: strong rhetoric in the aftermath is no substitute for wise leadership."
A New Account of Sept. 11 Loss, With 40 Fewer Souls to Mourn
Until now, the number of dead was 2,792. That number, 2,792, had stood firm for more than a year. It was the number recorded in almanacs and history books. It was the number of the names of trade center victims that children uttered at the second-anniversary ceremony, there on the lip of ground zero.

Now strike that number from your mind. Replace it with 2,752.

After what officials call an exhaustive investigation that spanned the world, the city has removed more names from the official tally. The reasons are the same as in the past: finding people once thought dead; duplication; insufficient data; fraud. In many cases, investigators could not prove a supposed victim had ever existed — a jarring concept, given that some names are embedded in the collective memory.

Remember Paul Vanvelzer and his two sons, Barrett, 4, and Edward, an infant who was once thought to be the disaster's youngest victim? It seems now that the Vanvelzers, reported missing by a California woman claiming to be a relative, may have died without ever having lived.…
Arab World Is of Two Minds About U.S. Involvement in Iraq
The bright red headline across four columns in an Egyptian government-owned newspaper, Al Gumhuria, on Tuesday trumpeted the latest bombings in Iraq as somehow religiously sanctioned: "Five Consecutive Martyrdom Operations Rock Baghdad."

Yet both Foreign Minister Ahmed Maher and the Arab League condemned the bombings, singling out the attack on the International Committee of the Red Cross as particularly appalling. In Beirut, the respected daily Safir labeled the bombings a "crime," not least because in the paper's view they will serve to prolong the American presence.

Across the Arab world, opinion toward events in Iraq has taken on a kind of split personality that deepens with each new attack, particularly after gory explosions like those on Monday, which killed dozens of Iraqis and wounded hundreds more.

On one hand, it is rare to find outright support in the Arab world for the United States to succeed. People in and out of government say they hope Washington will suffer for its perceived arrogance in taking on Iraq without international approval and for its unequivocal support for Israel. There is also fear that an easy victory might translate into dispatching the American military elsewhere to replace leaders.

On the other hand, many Arabs say they do not want the United States to fail either, fearing that the inevitable chaos would slosh across the entire region. Failure would open the door in Iraq for the kind of war among the sects that plagued Lebanon for 15 years. More important, if Islamic militants carry out attacks and triumph, Islamic extremism could well reignite.

"The general feeling is that the U.S. put itself in a position that it deserves, it serves them right," said Khaled M. Batarfi, the managing editor of Al Madina, a newspaper published in Jidda, Saudi Arabia. "The U.S. was always saying, we know better, we understand the stakes and everything will be fine.

"But the other feeling is worry that the U.S. might leave without finishing the job first," he went on. "It will be like a jungle."

This quandary has resulted in more paralysis than usual. The latest bombings elicited few public statements from senior officials — although this is also partly because attacks have become so frequent.

Muhammad Kamal, a political science professor at Cairo University, said Arab countries faced a dilemma. "They don't want to leave Iraq, this big Arab country, to the U.S. to shape its future, they don't want the U.S. to do that exclusively," he said. "But they are also reluctant to do anything which might be interpreted as helping the U.S. as an occupier of Iraq."
The Ten Most Abused Words in Tech
This is not a Letterman-style Top Ten list. This topic deserves more serious attention than a mildly humorous rundown.…

Most of the guilt for these abuses lies squarely on marketers. These are the people whose very livelihoods depend on the ability to "create unmet needs." If that phrase doesn't make you shudder, then you're probably in marketing or PR. It's not that I consider the profession an evil one, but the need to communicate complex technologies has often forced some marketing and public relations people to come up with new and exciting ways to abuse the English language.

In response, I've compiled a list of the ten most abused words in the tech industry. This list, by the way, is in no particular order -- though I find the first two or three particularly egregious.


The most obvious misuse of this word is the way Microsoft overuses it, but they are by no means the only abuser. We hear about the "Windows experience," the "gaming experience," and, by God, the "driver installation experience." Life is full of experiences, so I'm unclear as to what's really special about the "living room experience." I experience my living room every day and no TV or computer exists in it. It's to the point now that when I hear the word "experience" used in a product pitch or presentation, I feel vaguely nauseous. Whatever's being pitched to me at that point had better be damned good to overcome my queasiness.


I get particularly annoyed with a sentence like, "This should be a seamless experience." Even my Gore-Tex parka isn't seamless -- although I did once have a pair of hiking boots with only one seam. I know what's trying to be communicated here, but the term has become so overused that it's meaningless.…,3998,a=110431,00.asp
Ever wonder how a certain company sending unsolicited e-mail messages got your address?

Michael Rathbun, the director of policy enforcement at Allegiance Telecom, an Internet service provider in Dallas, says he thinks he has much of the answer.

Some five years ago, Mr. Rathbun bought a Palm hand-held organizer and, in registering it on Palm's Web site, gave the company an e-mail address he never used for anything else. Initially his in-box received only offers for products related to the organizer, but eventually he started getting advertising from some well-known companies like Bank of America, SBC Communications and Sprint. Lately, that one address alone has been receiving dozens of e-mails a month offering everything from travel clubs to acne remedies.

"This is not stuff," Mr. Rathbun said, "that I should be getting from them."

The problem of spam or unwanted commercial e-mail is usually attributed to outlaws and hucksters — peddlers of pornography, get-rich-quick schemes and pills of dubious merit — who use hackers to send their fraudulent messages in ways that cannot be traced.

But the torrent of spam that is flowing into people's electronic mailboxes comes not only from the sewers but also from the office towers of the biggest and most well-known corporations.

Established companies insist they send e-mail only to people who have voluntarily agreed to receive marketing offers. A spokeswoman for Palm says it does not know how Mr. Rathbun's e-mail address got into the hands of spammers and says it has never sold its customer list.

But often companies rent e-mail lists from a cottage industry that has emerged to lure Internet users, through a variety of schemes, into signing up for e-mail marketing.

At best, if you have ever entered a contest to win a prize, subscribed to an online newsletter or simply purchased a product on the Web, you may well have also agreed, as many such fine-print contracts put it, "to receive valuable offers from our marketing partners."

This practice falls under the rubric of what is called opt-in marketing, or getting permission to send advertising messages.

But many e-mail executives admit that these same list companies also add to their databases by buying, trading — sometimes even stealing — names.

"Everyone is looking for a quick buck now, and people are claiming to sell opt-in data who don't have it," said Pesach Lattin, who runs Adspyre, a New York e-mail marketing firm.

Moreover, some companies have allowed the e-mail addresses of their own customers, either deliberately or inadvertently, to fall into the hands of list peddlers who in turn sell them to e-mail marketers of all stripes. Sometimes, the lists are stolen from corporate owners by employees or vendors looking to make a quick profit. But in many cases, the big companies are deliberately buying and selling access to names, relying on privacy policies — often hard to find on their sites — that they say permit such actions.

"White-collar spam" is how Nick Usborne, a newsletter writer and Internet marketing consultant, refers to this phenomenon.

"When a responsible company," Mr. Usborne said, "gets someone to sign up for a newsletter and says, now that we have their e-mail address let's make more money off it and send them e-mail they didn't ask for, that's white-collar spam."

The antispam bill passed unanimously by the Senate last week imposes tough penalties on people involved in the lowest forms of spam but it does not deal with the central questions Mr. Usborne and others raise about white-collar spam. It does nothing, for example, to establish rules defining an appropriate list of names that a purveyor of a legitimate product can use to send an offer by e-mail. Nor does it regulate the transfer of names between companies.

The law would require that every e-mail message offer recipients a method to remove themselves from an advertiser's mailing list. But with the way that names are traded today, this method would do little to reduce the amount of e-mail people receive, industry executives say.

"People don't realize that once you sign up for a contest or free stuff on the Web and you forget to uncheck a box, these people will pass your name to a hundred other people,'` said Paul Nute, a partner of Soho Digital, a New York advertising agency that represents e-mail marketers. "You've just raised your hand and said, `Send me the diet pill offers.' And there is no way to get them all to stop."

Tuesday, October 28, 2003

Arabs Blame United States for Baghdad Bloodbath
Arabs Tuesday saw the latest bombings in Baghdad as an unholy bloodbath. But a few said they were part of a just fight against U.S. occupation and most agreed Washington only had itself to blame for the chaos.

They said the United States had failed to provide Iraqis with enough security to prevent the devastating suicide attacks in the capital that killed 35 people Monday, at the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

``America is responsible for all deaths in Iraq. It is responsible for the emergence of gangs and thieves because the absence of leadership like Saddam's was filled with chaos and anarchy,'' said Palestinian taxi driver Dib el-Malek in Gaza.

Since the fall of Saddam Hussein, anger in the Arab world -- where there was broad opposition to the U.S.-led invasion -- has grown with the collapse of law and order in oil-rich Iraq.

``I was against the U.S. invasion of Iraq and I believe that the United States was unjust in its war on Iraq, but I think America would be even more unjust if it withdraws now from the country because it (Iraq) would be easily torn apart.'' said Mansour Abdullah, 51, a government employee in Saudi Arabia.

Others were keener to see the end of the U.S.-led occupation that many view as a thinly veiled act of colonialism. They feared Monday's bombings, which included an attack on the headquarters of the International Committee of the Red Cross in Baghdad, would extend the U.S. presence.

Many were outspoken against those who carried out the attacks that cost the lives of dozens of Iraqis and wounded 230 by targeting the Red Cross and three police stations.

``What happened yesterday in Baghdad is a crime by all measures, but it is more disgraceful than a crime: it is a deadly political mistake,'' wrote Lebanon's as-Safir daily.

``Such political mistakes help the occupation to justify its horrible crimes.''

Yet on the streets of Arab capitals, there was both criticism of the civilian deaths but also some sympathy for the fight to eject the United States, which many feel has ridden roughshod through the Middle East since the September 11 attacks two years ago.
Victory in Iraq, One Tribe at a Time
While we do not yet know who was responsible for the latest series of attacks across Iraq, there is no question that some of the bombings — including, American officials suspect, the missile attack on the hotel where Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz was staying — were the work of forces loyal to Saddam Hussein. That these terrorists, mostly Sunni Muslims from the so-called Sunni Triangle northwest of Baghdad, retain a stubborn fealty to the former dictator seems to puzzle the coalition leadership. But it should not: their loyalty is rooted in part in centuries-old tribal kinship and religious identity. Only by understanding these ties and then using them to its advantage will the coalition authority reduce the resistance.

A letter earlier this month signed by Saddam Hussein and addressed to the sheiks of the Arab tribes in the Sunni Triangle insisted that Iraq "has been a poison" to the American soldiers and that "victory is near." It was one more sign that the former dictator understands that the tribal values of Iraq are ripe for exploitation.

But what works for Saddam Hussein can also be made to work against him. The coalition is eminently capable of winning over many tribes. An old saying in Iraq has it that you cannot buy a tribe, but you can certainly hire one.

And the nation's Sunni minority is open to offers. With Saddam Hussein's downfall, Sunnis, who make up only 15 percent of the population, were deprived of their long-standing political hegemony. The Sunnis from the triangle lost their prestigious and well-paying jobs in the armed forces and internal security apparatus. They were humiliated in the conflict and have had their homes and communities searched in its aftermath. Last but not least: they have been largely frozen out of the Governing Council and the senior bureacracy.

The Sunni network was held together by a web of patronage, perks and favors that filtered down from the presidential palace to the tribal sheik to the "tribesman in the field." Of course, retribution played a role, too. Tribes were severely punished for transgressions (like refusing to abide by the whims of Baathist officials or allowing illicit traffic across borders without the dictator's permission), with the sheiks occasionally deposed and sometimes executed. In the south, whole villages were razed. But much more often the tribes were handsomely rewarded for cooperation — with money, weapons, state lands or even the property of rival clans.…
A Willfull Ignorance
According to The New York Times, President Bush was genuinely surprised to learn from moderate Islamic leaders that they had become deeply distrustful of American intentions. The report on the "perception gap" suggests that the leader of the war on terror has no idea how badly that war — which must, ultimately, be a war for hearts and minds — is going.

Mr. Bush's ignorance may reflect his lack of curiosity: "The best way to get the news," he says, "is from objective sources. And the most objective sources I have are people on my staff." Two words: emperor, clothes.

But there's something broader going on: a sort of willful ignorance, supposedly driven by moral concerns but actually reflecting domestic politics. Surely it's important to understand how others see us, but a new, post 9/11 version of political correctness has made it difficult even to discuss their points of view. Any American who tries to go beyond "America good, terrorists evil," who tries to understand — not condone — the growing world backlash against the United States, faces furious attacks delivered in a tone of high moral indignation. The attackers claim to be standing up for moral clarity, and some of them may even believe it. But they are really being used in a domestic political struggle.

Last week I found myself caught up in that struggle. I wrote about why Mahathir Mohamad, Malaysia's prime minister — a clever if loathsome man who adjusts the volume of his anti-Semitism depending on circumstances — chose to include an anti-Jewish diatribe in his speech to an Islamic conference. Sure enough, I was accused in various places not just of "tolerance for anti-Semitism" (yes, I'm Jewish) but of being in Mr. Mahathir's pay. Smear tactics aside, the thrust of the attacks was that because anti-Semitism is evil, anyone who tries to understand why politicians foment anti-Semitism — and looks for ways other than military force to combat the disease — is an apologist for anti-Semitism and is complicit in evil.

Yet that moral punctiliousness is curiously selective. Last year the Bush administration, in return for a military base in Uzbekistan, gave $500 million to a government that, according to the State Department, uses torture "as a routine investigation technique," and whose president has killed opponents with boiling water. The moral clarity police were notably quiet.…

Sunday, October 26, 2003

In his now legendary interview last month with Brit Hume of Fox News, George W. Bush explained that he doesn't get his news from the news media — not even Fox.
"The best way to get the news is from objective sources," the president said, laying down his utopian curriculum for Journalism 101. "And the most objective sources I have are people on my staff who tell me what's happening in the world."

Those sources? Condoleezza Rice and Andrew Card. Mr. Hume, helpfully dispensing with the "We Report" half of his network's slogan, did not ask the obvious follow-up question: What about us poor benighted souls who don't have these crack newscasters at our beck and call? But the answer came soon enough anyway. The White House made Condoleezza Rice's Newshour available to all Americans by dispatching her to Oprah.

"No camera crews have ever been granted this much access to this national security adviser," Oprah told her audience as she greeted her guest. A major scoop was not far behind. Is there anything you can tell us about the president that would surprise us? Oprah asked. Yes, Ms. Rice said, Mr. Bush is a very fast eater. "If you're not careful," she continued, "he'll be on dessert and you're still eating the salad."

And that's the way it was, Oct. 17, 2003.

This is objective journalism as this administration likes it, all right — news you can't use.…

Friday, October 24, 2003

The Video Made the Evening News, This Analysis is Buried in the Back Pages
Scrutiny of Video Suggests Israelis Didn't See Gazans They Shot
An Israeli military official acknowledged Wednesday that an Air Force video appears to show Palestinians gathering in an alley near the site of a helicopter strike in the Gaza Strip, and that their presence could account for the high casualty toll in a missile attack on Monday.

On Tuesday the Israel military took the unusual step of displaying to foreign journalists a videotape of two missiles hitting a Palestinian car carrying suspected Hamas members in the Nuseirat Refugee Camp, in the Gaza Strip.

Israel said the videotape, taken by a drone overhead, refuted Palestinian claims that a helicopter crew had fired the second missile into a group of civilians who approached the car after it was first hit. Overall, seven people were killed and many more were wounded, Palestinians said.

On Wednesday Israel released the tape and reporters were able to scrutinize each frame. Initially it seems to support the Israeli account: that a helicopter fired both missiles at a car on an empty street, and that no people were nearby.

But close viewing of the grainy black-and-white video appears to show people rushing into an alley near the car after the first missile was fired and before the second missile struck, about one minute later.

"It seems to me there may be people in the alleyway," an Israeli military official acknowledged. "It's possible this is the cause for all the casualties."

The official, who took part in a briefing of journalists on Tuesday, said the military did not detect the figures in the alley until later. The military said it would make no formal comment while its investigation continued.

During the attack, Israeli commanders were viewing the video images live and speaking to the crew of the helicopter hovering over the car.

A senior air force official said the helicopter crew had been authorized to fire a second missile because the main street remained empty and the car provided a clear target, with no other Palestinians visible.

Initially, the Palestinians in the alley are difficult to see. But when a black cloud of smoke dissipates after the second strike, the figures become clearer. They flee down the alley, away from the blast.

Counting individuals is difficult, but it appears there could be dozens of people, in line with the accounts of Palestinian witnesses.

The military said the helicopters fired two identical missiles that carried only a few pounds of explosives. But the second caused the bigger explosion. Military officials said the Palestinian car might have been carrying explosives, which would account for the larger blast.…
Ex-cybersecurity czar Clarke issues gloomy report card
If current trends continue, Clarke told attendees at Gartner's Symposium/ITxpo 2003 here this week, the cybersecurity situation isn't just going to get worse. It's going to get exponentially worse.

Noting that the conference's location (Disney World) might be appropriate because "only in fantasy land can everything you have be secure," Clark identified five trends that don't bode well for those trying to deal with cyber attacks.

The first of these trends has to do with the number of software vulnerabilities. After assimilating data from sources such as Bugtraq, the SANS Institute, and the vendors themselves, Clarke said the number of announced vulnerabilities has doubled every year for the last three years. "At this point," said Clarke, "we're now seeing as many as 60 new vulnerabilities per week."

A second trend that closely tracks the first, according to Clarke, is the number of patches for those vulnerabilities, which also has doubled every year for the past three years. Patch management is a road full of potholes.

"No sooner do the patches get applied, then they have to apply another one," Clarke said. "CIOs want these patches applied but have no idea what the effect of the patch will be on their systems, so they're reluctant to put them on quickly. Also, they want to wait until they have a bunch of patches first, and then test them before deploying them. But, during the wait period, they're vulnerable and some have been successfully attacked in that window."

The third trend Clarke is watching is what he called the "time to exploit." This is a measurement of the elapsed time between the moment a vulnerability is announced and when the corresponding exploit makes its first appearance on IRC or some other chat room. Said Clarke, "It's gone from months to weeks to days, and now it's about six hours.

Clarke's fourth trend is the rate of propagation of the attacks. "In July 2001, Code Red was a big deal" said Clarke. "I was the White House cybersecurity guy at that time and we knew something was going on, but we didn't know what. We knew it was a big threat, though. So, we reached out to all the security-related agencies--the NSA, CIA, FBI, even the private sector--and by 4pm on that day, we had broken the code and knew what was going to happen: At 8pm Eastern Time, 300,000 machines were going to launch a distributed denial of service attack (DDoS) on the White House's domain."

To mitigate the attack's impact, he asked the major Internet backbone providers to black-hole all traffic destined for "So, when the tsunami hit the edge routers, it just died," said Clark.

Comparing Code Red to the Slammer worm, which originated from South Korea, Clarke said, "We saw the same phenomenon earlier this year. It involved 300,000 computers from five continents, but instead of taking a day, it all happened in 14 minutes. So, when you combine the six hours of vulnerability-to-exploit with the 14 minutes it takes to complete an attack, not only are "they" evolving, but reaction time is shrinking. Bottom line: If you don't have defenses already set up to deal with problem, you will be a victim."

Wednesday, October 22, 2003

Your Money and/or Your Life
At the nation's largest private employer, Wal-Mart Stores, only about half the roughly one million domestic employees are in a company health plan, said Mona Williams, a Wal-Mart vice president. Of the 500,000 others, half are ineligible because they were hired too recently; many depend on parents, a spouse or a government program for coverage, Ms. Williams said.

The figures for big companies reflect a broader shift in the American economy away from mechanisms that for decades have spread the burden of health care costs onto more shoulders.

Largely because of the booming cost of prescription drugs, for example, Medicare covers less of its beneficiaries' health care expenses than at any time since the program was established in 1965, according to Robert M. Hayes, president of the Medicare Rights Center, a patient advocacy group.

As a result, the elderly paid 22 percent of their average median income, or $3,757, for health care last year — a larger proportion than the 20 percent of income they spent before the advent of Medicare.

The number of Americans without insurance has, meanwhile, grown to 43.6 million at last count, the highest since 1998, according to the Census Bureau. Billions of dollars of their health costs are absorbed by hospitals or federal programs, and experts say that the uninsured skimp on care, compared with people who have workplace coverage. Still, uninsured families this year are averaging $772 in out-of-pocket spending, said Jack Hadley, a health care researcher at the Urban Institute, a policy research group in Washington.

All these trends fall most heavily on people who are sick or who otherwise are heavy consumers of medical services. They are also fueling national policy debates, like the push for a Medicare drug benefit, the campaign for loosened restrictions on imported drugs and calls for expanded public programs by most of the Democratic presidential candidates.

"Shifting costs to patients, particularly in the form of higher deductibles for hospital care, disproportionately affects the sickest Americans," said Karen Davis, president of the Commonwealth Fund. "It is not an acceptable response to rising health care costs to make care so expensive that those who need it fail to get it."

Some health care economists — and many insurance companies — argue that costs will never come under control until the users of medical services feel the financial sting. Generous coverage, they contend, long gave Americans and their doctors a perverse incentive to indulge in wasteful consumption of expensive drugs and diagnostic tests. In its more restrictive forms, managed care made patients jump through bureaucratic hoops to obtain treatment, but experts say it, too, did little to expose consumers to the true costs of health care.

"Employees who were paying $20 for a doctor visit had no idea that the average cost was really $93," said Liz Rossman, vice president for benefits at Sears, Roebuck & Company. In the current sign-up period, Sears is hoping that many employees will select new plans that require them to pay 20 percent of the full cost of doctor visits, hospitals and brand-name drugs, or 25 percent for going outside the Sears network.

Hewitt said that a few large employers were offering a new type of health plan, sometimes called consumer directed, that gives workers an unfiltered view of health bills — and often increases their costs. Employees get an allowance to spend on medical expenses. If they exhaust it, they use their own money until they reach a limit, typically $3,000 to $5,000, when the plan starts paying.

"The whole point is to change their purchasing behavior," said Kenneth Sperling, a consultant with Hewitt.

More commonly, some employers have shifted costs by offering limited basic coverage that employees can enhance by paying more in premiums.

But cutbacks in coverage can be brutal for some patients.

"I'm having to beg for my insulin," said Cathy Barkovich, 33, a diabetes patient in Harmony, Pa.

She said her husband's health plan stopped paying for her brand-name prescriptions in July; the American Diabetes Association says that no generic equivalent exists. When she applied to a manufacturer's free insulin program, she was told that only uninsured patients were eligible. Her husband, a $40,000-a-year interstate bus driver, is considering dropping their coverage so she can get the drug, Ms. Barkovich said.

Last year, shifting costs to patients — mainly in drug coverage — "probably took a percentage point off" the increase in the use of medical services, which has been rising at about 9 to 10 percent a year, said Mr. Ginsburg, the health economist. Almost two in three employers now require patients to pay higher co-payments for drugs not on a preferred list: flat rates as high as $30 per prescription, or sums as high as 29 percent of the actual cost.

"People view that as a success in discouraging the use of the most expensive drugs," said Gary Claxton, a vice president of the Kaiser Family Foundation, whose survey of employer health benefits was published last month. Whether recent increases in deductibles and co-payments for hospitals will also reduce the use of services is not yet clear, he added.
Rise in Income Improves Children's Behavior
The notion that poverty and mental illness are intertwined is nothing new, as past research has demonstrated time and time again. But finding evidence that one begets the other has often proved difficult.

Now new research that coincided with the opening of an Indian casino may have come a step closer to identifying a link by suggesting that lifting children out of poverty can diminish some psychiatric symptoms, though others seem unaffected.

A study published in last week's issue of The Journal of the American Medical Association looked at children before and after their families rose above the poverty level. Rates of deviant and aggressive behaviors, the study noted, declined as incomes rose.

"This comes closer to pointing to a causal relationship than we can usually get," said Dr. E. Jane Costello, a psychiatric epidemiologist at Duke who was the lead author. "Moving families out of poverty led to a reduction in children's behavioral symptoms."

The study took place over eight years in rural North Carolina and tracked 1,420 children ages 9 to 13, 25 percent of them from a Cherokee reservation. Tests for psychiatric symptoms were given at the start of the study and repeated each year.

When the study began, 68 percent of the children were from families living below the federally defined poverty line. On average, the poorer children exhibited more behaviors associated with psychiatric problems than those who did not live in poverty. But midway through the study, the opening of a local casino offered researchers a chance to analyze the effects of quick rises in income.

Just over 14 percent of the American Indian children rose above the poverty level when the casino started distributing a percentage of its profits to tribal families. The payment, given to people over age 18 and put into a trust fund for those younger, has increased slightly each year, reaching about $6,000 per person by 2001.

"This is unique because it's a situation where everybody got the extra money," Dr. Costello said. "You can't take a bunch of babies and randomly assign them to grow up in comfort or poverty. So this is about as close to a natural experiment as you can get."

When the researchers conducted their tests soon after, they noticed that the rate of psychiatric symptoms among the children who had risen from poverty was dropping. As time went on, the children were less inclined to stubbornness, temper tantrums, stealing, bullying and vandalism — all symptoms of conduct and oppositional defiant disorders.

After four years, the rate of such behaviors had dropped to the same levels found among children whose families had never been poor. Children whose families broke the poverty threshold had a 40 percent decrease in behavioral symptoms. But the payments had no effect on children whose families had been unable to rise from poverty or on the children whose families had not been poor to begin with.…

The deciding factor appeared to be the amount of time parents had to supervise their children. Parents who moved out of poverty reported having more time to spend with their children. In the other groups, the amount of time the parents had on their hands was not much different.

"What this shows very nicely is that an economic shift can allow for more time and better parenting," said Dr. Nancy Adler, professor of medical psychology at the University of California at San Francisco.

In children, acting out is often a result of frustration that can stem from feeling ignored or not getting enough validation from the parents, said Dr. Arline Geronimus, a professor of public health at the University of Michigan.

As a result, behaviors associated with frustration would be the first to change when parents had more attention to devote to their children. "Anxiety and depression, on the other hand, are a little more extreme and might not be as susceptible to change," Dr. Geronimus added.

Recent research suggests that anxiety disorders and depression run in families and probably reflect a mix of genetic and environmental causes.

The study highlights the role that adult supervision may have on mental health in children, but another factor, Dr. Geronimus said, may be the psychological benefits that the casino payments produce.

The Indian families were much more likely to be poor than their non-Indian neighbors at the start of the study. After the payments, though, a higher proportion of Indian families moved out of poverty.

"There's the possibility that this improved the general outlook of the families — that the whole community has more than before," Dr. Geronimus said. "In addition to the material resources, there might have been some psychological benefits."

Those psychological benefits may also be a byproduct of the jobs that the casino has generated, said James Sanders, director of an adolescent drug and alcohol treatment center on the reservation.

"The jobs give people the chance to pull themselves up by their bootstraps and get out of poverty," said Mr. Sanders, whose son took part in the study. "That carries over into less juvenile crime, less domestic violence and an overall better living experience for the families."

But one question that lingers is why the economic change had a significant effect on only a small proportion of the children. All of the families that received the payment were given the same amount of money, but only 14 percent moved out of poverty while 53 percent remained poor.

The answer could be related to the number of siblings in each family. A $6,000 payment could be a huge help to a poor family with one child, for example, "but that money might not go as far for a family with multiple children," Dr. Adler said.…
Study Finds Hundreds of Thousands of Inmates Mentally Ill
As many as one in five of the 2.1 million Americans in jail and prison are seriously mentally ill, far outnumbering the number of mentally ill who are in mental hospitals, according to a comprehensive study released Tuesday.

The study, by Human Rights Watch, concludes that jails and prisons have become the nation's default mental health system, as more state hospitals have closed and as the country's prison system has quadrupled over the past 30 years. There are now fewer than 80,000 people in mental hospitals, and the number is continuing to fall.

The report also found that the level of illness among the mentally ill being admitted to jail and prison has been growing more severe in the past few years. And it suggests that the percentage of female inmates who are mentally ill is considerably higher than that of male inmates.

"I think elected officials have been all too willing to let the incarcerated population grow by leaps and bounds without paying much attention to who in fact is being incarcerated," said Jamie Fellner, an author of the report and director of United States programs at Human Rights Watch.

But, Ms. Fellner said, she found "enormous, unusual agreement among police, prison officials, judges, prosecutors and human rights lawyers that something has gone painfully awry with the criminal justice system" as jails and prisons have turned into de facto mental health hospitals. "This is not something that any of them wanted."

Reginald Wilkinson, director of the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction, said the "mere fact that this report exists is significant."

"Some people won't like it, and the picture it paints isn't pretty," Mr. Wilkinson said. "But getting these facts out there is progress."

Many of the statistics in the study have been published before by the Justice Department, the American Psychiatric Association or states. But the study brings them together and adds accounts of the experiences of dozens of people with mental illness who have been incarcerated.

The study found that prison compounds the problems of the mentally ill, who may have trouble following the everyday discipline of prison life, like standing in line for a meal.

"Some exhibit their illness through disruptive behavior, belligerence, aggression and violence," the report found. "Many will simply — sometimes without warning — refuse to follow straightforward routine orders."

Where statistics are available, mentally ill inmates have higher than average disciplinary rates, the study found. A study in Washington found that while mentally ill inmates constituted 18.7 of the state's prison population, they accounted for 41 percent of infractions.

This leads to a further problem — mentally ill inmates who cannot control their behavior are often, and disproportionately, placed in solitary confinement, the study found.…

Monday, October 20, 2003

A former head of Iraq's Central Bank predicted Monday that the spiraling cost of holding down Iraq will compel the United States to look for an early way to pull out of the country.

An exile in the West for the past two decades, Salah Shaikhly also said ``democratic forces'' in Iraq were on the retreat from religious and fundamentalist groups while political leaders were sowing ethnic division.

``Once the U.S. Congress and public opinion realize the true cost burden of the Iraqi campaigns for the U.S. taxpayer, they will force this and any future administration to quickly look for an honorable exit strategy,'' Shaikhly said.

There were already signs that U.S. efforts to prepare the ground for this were under way, he said.

In the past, President Bush and his aides have denied they are looking for a way to leave despite the mounting casualties among U.S. troops and the growing cost of the occupation effort.

Shaikhly was speaking at a two-day Geneva conference on the future of Iraq's petroleum sector organized by the British-based CWC Associates Ltd which works to promote investment in emerging markets and especially in the energy sector.

A senior economic official in the 1970s under the ruling Baath Party who left the country when now ousted President Saddam Hussein took full power, Shaikhly said the U.S. invasion and occupation would cost Washington more than $300 billion.

Now running a London-based consultancy on investment in Iraq, he said this burden had to be coupled with the likelihood that oil output and export would not improve significantly before 2010 and with the country's foreign debt of $357 billion.

These figures, Shaikhly argued, did not support the theory held widely in Arab countries that the United States and Britain invaded Iraq in March to seize control of its oil resources because the financial cost could not be recouped.…
One message Alabama voters needed to hear more clearly was that rejecting higher taxes costs more in the long run. Saving $10,000 by denying medicine to a poor, H.I.V.-positive woman is no bargain if she ends up in a state hospital with full-blown AIDS needing $100,000 in care. Tutoring high school students in danger of failing is cheap compared with paying for welfare — or prison.
What Alabama's Low-Tax Mania Can Teach the Rest of the Country

The budget ax is swinging in Alabama, and the carnage is piling up. A hundred and fifty fewer low-income AIDS patients will receive life-saving medicines from the state. Fifteen thousand low-income Alabamians may lose their hypertension drugs.

High Hopes, a program that offers after-school tutoring to students who fail the high school graduation exam, is being slashed. And up to 1,500 poor children and adults with Down syndrome, autism and other disabilities will not be able to attend a state-supported special-needs camp.

The cuts are reaching down to core government functions. The court system is laying off 500 of 1,600 workers, from clerk's office employees to probation officers. The health department is losing investigators who track tuberculosis, and sharply reducing restaurant inspections.

Alabama's huge budget gap is a result of the voters' rejection, nearly six weeks ago, of Gov. Bob Riley's tax reform plan, which would have generated an additional $1.2 billion, much of it from undertaxed timberland. After the vote, Governor Riley was forced to cut most state agencies by 18 percent, and other recipients of state funds by 75 percent. Bad as things are, the impact is being blunted by a fortuitous one-time injection of federal funds. Next year agencies are bracing for a 56 percent hit. If the state cannot find more revenue — and Governor Riley is searching — it may be nearly impossible for basic services, including courts, prisons and police, to operate.

Alabama's disintegrating government is a problem, certainly, for anyone in the state. But it may also be a harbinger of where the nation is headed. There is a "starve the beast" ethic, currently fashionable among conservatives, holding that the best way to downsize government and end the social safety net is to get voters to demand lower taxes. But before we hurtle any further in that direction, we should think hard about whether we want the whole nation to look like Alabama does this year or, worse, next year.

Alabama is not a wealthy state, but its bigger problem is that it is not making an effort to raise the taxes it needs. It is 48th in the nation in state and local revenue as a percentage of personal income, according to Governing magazine. And it has the nation's least equitable tax system. Alabama's income tax kicks in for families of four earning just $4,600. Its property taxes are the lowest in the nation, Governing reports, and "heavily favor farming interests."

As a Republican congressman, Governor Riley strongly opposed tax increases. But when he took over the state government, he realized it could not run on the revenues coming in. He courageously offered up a tax package that raised the needed revenue while shifting the burden from overtaxed poor people to undertaxed business interests. But the package was defeated by a skeptical electorate, with many of the no votes coming from low-income Alabamians, whose taxes would have gone down.

The voters were not entirely wrong to be skeptical. No budget is free of waste, not even Alabama's meager one. There is a state tradition of legislative pork, patronage controlled by key legislators. And powerful lobbies, notably the teachers' union, have long gotten more than their share of state funds. But Governor Riley has already trimmed much of the pork. And next year, he will no doubt take aim at teacher benefit packages.

It is easy to sell voters on low taxes, and a well-financed campaign by Alabama's business community — aided, shamefully, by the state Christian Coalition — did just that. What is harder, but vital right now, is making the more challenging case for why taxes, and sometimes even tax increases, are necessary.…
"Failure to complete high school is almost equivalent to economic suicide," said Dr. Neeta P. Fogg, a senior economist at Northeastern University's Center for Labor Market Studies and the co-author of a study on education and the youth labor market in Illinois. During a presentation of her findings last week, she noted that the 16-to-24 age range is typically the time when young people "accumulate human capital in the form of formal education attainment or work experience in the labor market."

With the nation at war, the wretched state of millions of young people in America's urban centers is getting even less attention than usual.

While the U.S. is trying to figure out how to pay for its incursion into Iraq, millions of teenagers and young adults, especially in the inner cities, are drifting aimlessly from one day to the next. They're out of school, out of work and, as I've said before in this column, all but out of hope.

The latest data coming out of Chicago, which is roughly representative of conditions in other major urban areas, is depressing. The city's dropout rate is reportedly at an all-time high. And 22 percent of all Chicago residents between the ages of 16 and 24 are both out of school and out of work.

The term being used to describe these youngsters who have nothing very constructive to do with their time is "disconnected youth." Many of them are leading the kinds of haunted lives that recall the Great Depression. They hustle, doing what they can — much of it illegal — to get along. Some are homeless.

Of Chicagoans who are 20 to 24 years old, more than 26 percent are out of work and out of school. When the statistics are refined to focus on young blacks and Hispanics, they only get worse.

An incredible 45 percent of black men in Chicago aged 20 to 24 are out of work and out of school. That is not a condition that should be ignored.…

Youngsters who are left out of that experience entirely — or almost entirely — can face significant barriers to employment success for the rest of their lives. And the difficulties they face become, in one form or another, difficulties to be faced by the society as a whole.
Prisoner's Dilemma
How '60s anti-war activists let today's chicken hawks off the hook.…
On the surface, the war with Iraq seems a simple case of hypocrisy gone lethal. With few exceptions, those in and around the White House who beat the drum most loudly for the invasion of Iraq had not seen a day of combat in their lives. Some, like Vice President Dick Cheney, avoided the Vietnam draft with college deferments; others, like President George Bush, served out their time in safe, hard-to-acquire berths in the National Guard; and the number of medical deferments awarded to now-vigorous conservative leaders is suspiciously high. Meanwhile, many top officials who had seen combat, including senior uniformed officers at the Pentagon and retired soldiers like Secretary of State Colin Powell and Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.), were dubious about the administration's choice to attack Iraq as the next move in the war on terror. Even those who came around to support the invasion openly worried about the best-case scenario "plans" for post-Saddam Iraq made by civilians at the Pentagon, few of whom had ever worn the uniform. These concerns proved valid.

In the months since May 1, when the president donned an aviator's jumpsuit, landed on an aircraft carrier, and declared the end of major combat, and more than 155 American soldiers have died in Iraq. The number of wounded has skyrocketed to over 1,000, up 35 percent in August alone, according to The Washington Post. Exhausted, middle-aged reservists have had their tours of duty lengthened. And the administration has had to go back to the United Nations for a mandate to spur the international community to bail out the United States with additional troops and resources.

…At a recent gathering of current and retired military officers, retired Marine Gen. Anthony C. Zinni--who endorsed Bush in 2000, became his Middle East coordinator, but then broke with the administration over Iraq--spoke for many when he said, "My contemporaries, our feelings and sensitivities were forged on the battlefields of Vietnam, where we heard the garbage and the lies, and we saw the sacrifice. I ask you, is it happening again?" according to The Washington Post's Thomas E. Ricks. Last month, after Bush gave a speech to returning members of the Army's 3rd Infantry Division thanking them for their bravery, one young soldier told the Los Angeles Times, "He likes war. He should go fight in a war for two days and see how he likes it."

Sidebar: How To Be a Chicken Hawk
George W. Bush, President
In 1968, George W. Bush, the son of a Texas congressman, applied for a position with the Texas Air National Guard, a popular way to avoid being drafted for combat. Although there was a long waiting list, and Bush had received only mediocre scores on his pilot aptitude test, he was quickly accepted. Bush's service was supposed to last until 1973, but in 1972 he received a transfer to a guard unit in Alabama, allowing him to work on the Senate campaign of a friend of his father. When he failed to take his annual flight physical, guard officials grounded him, and he never flew again. His final officer-efficiency report from May 1973 noted that supervisors hadn't seen him or heard from him.

Dick Cheney, Vice President
Cheney, who explained that he "had other priorities" at the time, received two draft deferments --one for being a student, and one for being married. In 1965, the government announced a change of policy: Married men would now be drafted, unless they were also fathers. Nine months and two days after that announcement, the Cheneys had their first child.

John Ashcroft, Attorney General
Ashcroft received six student deferments during Vietnam, plus another "occupational deferment," on the grounds that his civilian job--teaching business law to undergraduates at Southwest Missouri State University--was critical. "I would have served if asked," he has said.

Paul Wolfowitz, Deputy Secretary of Defense
Wolfowitz received a student deferment, allowing him to attend Cornell, then do graduate work at the University of Chicago, where he remained until the draft was over.

Tom Delay, Speaker of the House (R-Texas)
Delay received a student deferment, and in 1969 drew a high number in the draft lottery, meaning he did not have to go to Vietnam. At a 1988 press conference defending his and vice presidential nominee Dan Quayle's failure to serve in Vietnam, Delay argued that so many blacks volunteered to serve as a way to escape poverty that there was no room for patriotic conservatives like him and Quayle.

Richard Perle, Pentagon Adviser
Perle received a student deferment, enabling him to go to graduate school at Princeton, then went to England to work on his doctoral thesis. Fed up with Perle's constant war-mongering last year, Sen. Chuck Hagel, (R-Neb) who volunteered for Vietnam and earned two Purple Hearts, suggested that perhaps "Mr. Perle would like to be in the first wave of those who go into Baghdad."

Elliott Abrams, National Security Council, Middle East Director
Abrams avoided Vietnam with a bad back, which vanished once the war ended.

Sunday, October 19, 2003

Hoping to speed up reconstruction work in Iraq, American officials in Baghdad are offering contracts totaling hundreds of millions of dollars, but giving companies as little as three days to submit competing bids.

Procurement experts said the extremely short deadlines were legal, but some warned that they could stifle open competition, favor well-connected contractors at the expense of outsiders and lead to higher costs.

"Three days is absurd," said Steven Schooner, a professor of procurement policy at George Washington University's law school. "You can objectively conclude that in the United States we don't do this. It's highly unusual."

Two weeks ago, the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq gave companies three days to bid on a contract to supply the Iraqi government as many as 850 personal computers as well as telephones, fax machines and other office equipment.

A week before that, occupation officials gave contractors seven days to offer a price for up to 14 million boxes of ammunition for Russian-made AK-47 automatic rifles, which are widely used by the Iraqi police and security forces.

Scores of other jobs have been awarded or offered with similarly short bidding periods. They include contracts to provide private security guards, repair buildings, supply heavy electrical equipment and even to destroy gigantic sculptures of Saddam Hussein.

Occupation officials say they have made the process more open. They now post contracting opportunities on the occupation authority's Web site, along with a standard list of rules and conditions for bidding and carrying out work.

But they also say that speed is a top priority, and they make no apologies for giving companies a very short time to respond. "We're here to support the customer, and he has an urgent need," said Col. Anthony Bell, a spokesman for the occupation on contracting issues, explaining the rationale for the rapid granting of contracts. "All that we're doing is reacting to the urgent requirement that he has provided us."

The current rush of contracts is being financed out of the new Development Fund of Iraq, which holds money received from Iraqi oil exports. Since the fund's inception in mid-July, coalition officials say they have awarded 143 projects worth more than $200 million.

But that is just the beginning. The Bush administration predicts that Iraqi oil revenues will reach $12 billion next year, and President Bush is pressing Congress to approve nearly $20 billion in American money for civilian work in Iraq next year.
State Dept. Study Foresaw Trouble Now Plaguing Iraq
A yearlong State Department study predicted many of the problems that have plagued the American-led occupation of Iraq, according to internal State Department documents and interviews with administration and Congressional officials.

Beginning in April 2002, the State Department project assembled more than 200 Iraqi lawyers, engineers, business people and other experts into 17 working groups to study topics ranging from creating a new justice system to reorganizing the military to revamping the economy.

Their findings included a much more dire assessment of Iraq's dilapidated electrical and water systems than many Pentagon officials assumed. They warned of a society so brutalized by Saddam Hussein's rule that many Iraqis might react coolly to Americans' notion of quickly rebuilding civil society.

Several officials said that many of the findings in the $5 million study were ignored by Pentagon officials until recently, although the Pentagon said they took the findings into account. The work is now being relied on heavily as occupation forces struggle to impose stability in Iraq.

The working group studying transitional justice was eerily prescient in forecasting the widespread looting in the aftermath of the fall of Mr. Hussein's government, caused in part by thousands of criminals set free from prison, and it recommended force to prevent the chaos.

"The period immediately after regime change might offer these criminals the opportunity to engage in acts of killing, plunder and looting," the report warned, urging American officials to "organize military patrols by coalition forces in all major cities to prevent lawlessness, especially against vital utilities and key government facilities."

Despite the scope of the project, the military office initially charged with rebuilding Iraq did not learn of it until a major government drill for the postwar mission was held in Washington in late February, less than a month before the conflict began, said Ron Adams, the office's deputy director.

The man overseeing the planning, Tom Warrick, a State Department official, so impressed aides to Jay Garner, a retired Army lieutenant general heading the military's reconstruction office, that they recruited Mr. Warrick to join their team.

George Ward, an aide to General Garner, said the reconstruction office wanted to use Mr. Warrick's knowledge because "we had few experts on Iraq on the staff."

But top Pentagon officials blocked Mr. Warrick's appointment, and much of the project's work was shelved, State Department officials said. Mr. Warrick declined to be interviewed for this article.

The Defense Department, which had the lead role for planning postwar operations and reconstruction in Iraq, denied that it had shunned the State Department planning effort.…

Friday, October 17, 2003

All Arnold, All the Time
We conducted a simple experiment for a program here at the Annenberg School for Communication on Aug. 28: That morning, we checked the Web sites of major news organizations to see whether and how they were covering the recall election here in California. We focused on Web sites and newspapers known for serious political coverage.

If anything, this could lead to underestimating the extent of Arnold-driven coverage in more celebrity-oriented media. Variety, the show business journal, has featured Arnold in several Page 1 stories, from "Arnold Pumps It Up" to this week's "Chad Woes Leave Arnold Hanging," a reference to Monday's court decision. One day, Variety had not one but two front-page stories about Arnold's campaign.

Celebrity-oriented coverage was only natural for a candidate who announced his candidacy on Jay Leno's talk show (an announcement excerpted the next day on every television news program in California) and peaked again when he was the guest on Oprah Winfrey's season premiere (also excerpted the next day on every television news program in the state). And the campaign was only a few weeks old.

And to broaden the online sample, in addition to the well-known sites familiar to most Californians, we included a handful of well-known, award-winning, large circulation newspapers around the world to capture a snapshot of international coverage. The Jay Leno and Oprah Winfrey programs are broadcast all over the world, but they have less impact than they do here. But first, a look at the United States.

The Los Angeles Times, as one would expect, has extensive coverage. The Web site even has an entire section devoted to the recall election, positioned to be the Web site of record. Not to be outdone, the newspaper of record, The New York Times, also has an entire section devoted to the campaign, as does The Washington Post.

Among the leading non-newspaper sites, there is daily coverage on the political sections of, CBS News, and Fox News.

MSNBC goes further, with both a special section on the recall election and a very useful "California Countdown" update from the NBC News Political Unit. (See a detailed analysis of online coverage by Mark Glaser last week.)

A review of 225 American newspapers and magazines for the month of August counted 3,404 mentions of Arnold, according to a report in the Los Angeles Times. Incumbent Gray Davis was right behind the challenger, with 3,166 mentions, but it was clear Arnold was driving much of the coverage.

In other countries, coverage of Arnold was also extensive, judging by our Aug. 28 sample of Web sites of leading global newspapers. And no wonder: Again, according to Variety, in just its seventh week of release, "Terminator 3" had international box office totals that surpassed every movie released so far this year except "Matrix Reloaded," which had been in theaters twice as long.

And the sun never sets on Arnold's fans: The country-by-country charts in The Hollywood Reporter showed "Terminator 3" was in the Top 10 on every continent except Antarctica: It was the fifth most popular movie that week in Germany and South Africa, No. 7 in Australia, No. 4 in Britain and Japan, No. 3 in Sweden and No. 1 in Brazil. After three weeks of release there, "Terminator 3" was even the fourth most popular movie in France. Sacre bleu!

This translated into extraordinarily broad reach on Aug. 28 for coverage of what is, after all, a local election:
con·cept: October 2003