Casualties of war

We’ve launched a war against Islamic State, and it seems like we’re always at battle, but this chart is surprising (Click to enlarge, via Vox):

lesswargraph.0Fewer people are dying in war than ever before.

It’s amazing, but given all of the horrors we read about every day, current world conflicts are nowhere near as deadly as those of the past on a per capita basis. According to Harvard Professor Steven Pinker, writing in The Wall Street Journal:

Since 1946, several organizations have tracked the number of armed conflicts and their human toll world-wide. The bad news is that for several decades, the decline of interstate wars was accompanied by a bulge of civil wars, as newly independent countries were led by inept governments, challenged by insurgencies and armed by the cold war superpowers.

The less bad news is that civil wars tend to kill far fewer people than wars between states. And the best news is that, since the peak of the cold war in the 1970s and ’80s, organized conflicts of all kinds—civil wars, genocides, repression by autocratic governments, terrorist attacks—have declined throughout the world, and their death tolls have declined even more precipitously.

The rate of documented direct deaths from political violence (war, terrorism, genocide and warlord militias) in the past decade is an unprecedented few hundredths of a percentage point. Even if we multiplied that rate to account for unrecorded deaths and the victims of war-caused disease and famine, it would not exceed 1%.

Pinker’s explanation for the transition to piece is worth reading, but contrary to what we perceive, the world is a lot more peaceful.

That’s not to say there aren’t dangerous people out there who think the way to achieve their goals is to kill everyone in sight. But institutionally and on a global scale, we’re not the blood thirsty savages we think we are.

Hopefully, we can do better.

Predicting the future

This is a cartoon I picked up for my blog on Aug. 21:

1114This is part of a story that ran in the New York Times on Aug. 24:

Michael Brown, 18, due to be buried on Monday, was no angel, with public records and interviews with friends and family revealing both problems and promise in his young life.

The fact that a cartoonist can see that the the unarmed black victim of a police shooting is going to be portrayed as deserving of his fate shows that there’s going to be no justice whenever these things happen.

And the demonization of the victim continues:

Stein was discussing the shooting with host Steve Malzberg and said the use of the term “unarmed” to describe Brown, who was “apparently on marijuana,” was akin to “calling Sonny Liston unarmed or Cassius Clay unarmed.”

“He wasn’t unarmed,” Stein said. “He was armed with his incredibly strong, scary self.”

Oh, remember when Adam Lanza in Connecticut executed all of those grade schoolers? What did the Times write then?

The interviews revealed that his mother, Nancy Lanza, confided to friends several years ago that her son, who classmates said had been found to have a type of autism, was faring poorly and being bullied in high school. More recently, he had cocooned himself in front of electronic game consoles in the basement of their home, playing warfare games.

So the unarmed black kid who was “no angel” is shot down in the street by a cop, and the arsenal packing white kid, who was “being bullied in high school,” goes to the local grade school and in the end 28 people are dead.

Who’s the victim, and who’s the victimizer. I read the news and I can’t tell anymore.

Cops aren’t trigger happy … in the rest of the world

A few things to consider:

1114The above is what happens in America. But are the situations the same in the rest of the world?

BvbGmKdIQAAqYSWOK. Maybe that’s an unfair comparison. How about this?

In 2012, 409 people were shot and killed by American police in what were termed justifiable shootings. In that same year, British police officers fired their weapons just once. No one was killed.

In 2013, British police officers fired their weapons all of three times. No one died. According to The Economist, “British citizens are around 100 times less likely to be shot by a police officer than Americans. Between 2010 and 2014, the police force of one small American city — Albuquerque in New Mexico — shot and killed 23 civilians; seven times more than the number of Brits killed by all of England and Wales’s 43 forces during the same period.

Think about that. In 2013, cops in the U.K. fired their guns three times. Last week, in Ferguson, Mo., a cop shot an 18-year-old twice as many times as every cop in Britain fired off a round in 2013. And the Ferguson cop got of six times as many shots in one encounter with an unarmed black teen as every cop in Britain fired in 2012.

One day, someone is going to give a racial breakdown of all of the U.S. shootings. I suspect the above German photo pretty much gives the answer on what to expect.

How Ferguson, Mo., police got out of control

The Ferguson police have been reigned in, for now. The governor sent in the Missouri highway patrol.

But the Ferguson police aren’t finished riling up the populace (via DailyKos):

6:53 AM PT: Via CNN: According to sources, they say they believe Michael Brown is in a video of a convenience store robbery and that a “description of the suspect was given.” Presumably of a young black guy.

7:03 AM PT: A Ferguson police report, after Michael Brown had been shot, calling him a “primary suspect” in the convenience story robbery.

7:07 AM PT: So for six days Ferguson police have claimed that Darren Wilson simply told Michael Brown to “get on the sidewalk.” Is that the usual procedure for dealing with robbery suspects? (Deep sarcasm.)

Just a few thoughts:

1) If the police are saying Michael Brown was a suspect in a robbery, why did they wait more than a week after the shooting to say that. This is a diversion from the shooting. If he was stopped for a robbery, that is the first thing the police would have said.

2) Are more information dribbles out, the latest is that a guy was seen in a videotape shoplifting cigars. If that was Michael Brown, when did shoplifting tobacco become a capital offense.

The family cannot sue this police department enough. A major overhaul is needed. Especially after we see a police department (and I emphasize a police department) turn a community into a war zone.