Threats, Real and Imagined (mostly Imagined)

Two interesting and related articles crossed my screen almost simultaneously - this one by Nils Petter Gleditsch and Ida Rudolfsen and this one by John Mueller. Gleditsch and Rudolfsen crunch the numbers and reach a conclusion that is simple, interesting and novel.  I love it! Civil wars in Muslim countries have not increased dramatically in absolute … Continue reading Threats, Real and Imagined (mostly Imagined)

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Is Everyone a Civilian or is it just Everyone who’s not a Military-Aged Male?

I'm already organizing my "Economics of Warfare" course for 2015-16 so I had another look at this incisive 13 minutes on drones from John Oliver. The bit around minute 5:00 triggered a few bad memories that I would like to ....errr....share with my loyal readers. It shows Scott Shane of the New York Times decrying … Continue reading Is Everyone a Civilian or is it just Everyone who’s not a Military-Aged Male?

Gaza, Civilians and War Crimes

David Traven has an interesting post over at Monkey Cage about the Report of the Commission of Inquiry into the 2014 Gaza Conflict and ongoing debates about whether each side committed war crimes during that conflict. Many of these arguments revolve around the issue of intentionality.  Did the Israelis intentionally target Palestinian civilians?  Did the Palestinians intentionally target … Continue reading Gaza, Civilians and War Crimes

Kosovo Memory Book

Kosovo Memory Book is one of the most extraordinary projects ever undertaken in the history of casualty recording.  This joint work of the Humanitarian Law Center and the Kosovo Humanitarian Law Center seeks to document every single person killed during the war in Kosovo, 1998-2000. I had the privilege of evaluating  the Kosovo Memory Book database together with … Continue reading Kosovo Memory Book

Columbia Journalism Review does at least have an error correction mechanism

In this post and this post I criticized Columbia Journalism Review(CJR) for writing about Iraq war-death numbers without investigating the methodologies for the production of the numbers and for suppressing the uncertainty that surrounds the numbers. Yet I need to credit CJR for one thing - they do investigate errors and make some corrections.  My personal experience … Continue reading Columbia Journalism Review does at least have an error correction mechanism

One-year anniversary of “Operation Protective Edge”

A year has passed since Israel launched "Operation Protective Edge" in the Gaza Strip.  This very short video  is an effective presentation.of the human and economic losses from this war, including some shocking footage of physical devastation. The video also gives numbers of people killed in various categories, sourced to the UNHCR.  These figures are unlikely … Continue reading One-year anniversary of “Operation Protective Edge”

Columbia Journalism Review lowers journalistic standards while lecturing on said standards: Part II – Suppressing Methodology

In part I of this series I discussed how a Columbia Journalism Review (CJR) article by Pierre Bienaimé on the number of war deaths in Iraq treats extremely noisy estimates as if they are very precise numbers. In this post I'll look at the article's treatment of methodology. Recognize that the entire article is about numbers.  And … Continue reading Columbia Journalism Review lowers journalistic standards while lecturing on said standards: Part II – Suppressing Methodology