Kingly News

News and views from a strange, continuing journey

Archive for November, 2004

Keeping an Eye on the Government

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Wired News has a very useful article that lists a bunch of sites that help us keep an eye on the government, even as they step up their surveillance of all of us while trying to keep their own information secret. Take a look at “Web Won’t Let Government Hide.”

Written by Donnell

November 29th, 2004 at 3:48 pm

Posted in General

Watchdog, anyone?

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The ABCs of effective writing: accuracy, brevity, and clarity. These are not objective measures, of course, and the practice of the American press illustrates this, according to an analysis in the current Editor & Publisher.

Arguably, the press in general accurately reports casualty figures from the war in Iraq when it reports X number of soldiers killed, X number wounded according to the Pentagon. That is, they accurately report that the Pentagon reports something. Unfortunately, that leaves the impression that the number reported casualties is also accurate.

The Pentagon isn’t lying, either, but then neither are they giving a complete picture, according to E&P. The Pentagon reported on Nov. 24 that 1,230 U.S. troops had been killed, and 9,300 wounded in action. If that’s untrue, it has more to do with problems in information-gathering than any intent to mislead.

On the other hand, the media tend not to report some other numbers that are available, but that take a little more digging. For instance, out of the 9,300 wounded in action, more than 5,000 were wounded badly enough to render them unable to return to duty. Also, as reported by CBS’s “60 Minutes” last Sunday, about 15,000 troops have been sent home from Iraq “with so-called ‘non-battle’ injuries and diseases.” Only 20 percent return to their units in Iraq.

Military analyst John Pike told “60 Minutes” that “the total number of casualties due to wounds, injury, disease would have to be somewhere in the ballpark of over 20, maybe 30,000.”

You can’t really expect the Pentagon to be completely open about things that would make them look bad. But it makes you wonder why the professionals who are supposed to be the watchdogs haven’t been keeping up with this.

Of course, some of them are, or I wouldn’t even know about this to pass it on to you. Kudos to E&P and to “60 Minutes.” Let’s hear it for accuracy.

Written by Donnell

November 27th, 2004 at 4:08 pm

Posted in General

California overkill

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California recently enacted a law that will make it easier to identify felons, but that also will lead to innocent people getting their DNA posted in a database from which they will find it difficult or impossible to get it removed.

This means more than it might seem on the surface. What happens in California has a way of working its way east over the subsequent 15 to 20 years. Get ready!

Written by Donnell

November 27th, 2004 at 8:56 am

Posted in General

Airlines cave in

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Wired News is reporting that U.S. airlines have turned over massive amounts of data to Homeland Security after initially protesting the order to do so on the basis of privacy.

Homeland Security wanted the information to test a system called Secure Flight.

This could be a mixed bag. Allegedly, Homeland Security is seeking to replace the idiotic watch list system that so wrongly misidentifies thousands of people and includes no way to get off the watch list, so it could be a good thing. On the other hand, it centralizes power in the federal government to make it easier for them to monitor travel by all citizens, which is a cure that could be worse than the disease.

Just think about it and examine it.

Written by Donnell

November 24th, 2004 at 11:35 am

Posted in General