December 14, 2001
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Nicholas Kristof writes in his op-ed page column in today's New York Times, "To prevent future Osama bin Ladens from arising, we need to see economic development to lift living standards and create viable countries. A growing body of evidence suggests that civil wars and terrorism arise in part from economic roots. An important study last year by the World Bank, for example, suggested that among the best ways to prevent civil war (which, as in Afghanistan and Somalia, often spawns terrorism) is to promote economic growth and in particular manufacturing, so as to diversify economies away from dependence on commodities. There is a landmark step we could take to fight terrorism: Announce our willingness to work toward a free-trade area encompassing Afghanistan, Pakistan and the United States. . . . Granted, fighting terrorism with trade and economic development is not as satisfying as dropping bombs on Taliban tanks, but in the long run it is more important."
Ah, the "economic roots" of terrorism. Mr. Kristof and his editors at the Times might have done well to read the business section of their own newspaper yesterday. There appeared a column under the headline, "To avoid terrorism, end poverty and ignorance, right? Guess again. Debunking conventional wisdom about the roots of hate crime."
That column pointed out, "The fragmentary evidence on terrorists, however, suggests that the common stereotype that they come from the ranks of the most uneducated and economically deprived is a myth. From 1996 to 1999, Nasra Hassan, a United Nations relief worker, interviewed nearly 250 people involved in suicide attacks, including failed bombers, families of deceased bombers and trainers. Her conclusion, as reported in The New Yorker: 'None of them were uneducated, desperately poor, simple-minded or depressed.' Professor Ariel Merari, director of the Political Violence Research Center at Tel Aviv University, concurred: 'All information that I have also indicates that there is no connection between socioeconomic indicators and involvement in militant/terrorist activity in general and in suicide attacks in particular, at least as much as the Palestinian case is concerned.'"
The business page column also noted that Spain and Ireland, "which have struggled with terrorism for years," are not poor.
Mr. Kristof claims that civil war often spawns terrorism. The business-section columnist acknowledges the findings about economic development decreasing the chances of civil war, but he says that economic development may well affect civil wars and terrorism differently. The business-section columnist quotes an expert who suggests: "You get terrorism when the state is strong and competent enough to prevent the initial attacks of would-be rebel leaders from escalating into a big civil war (e.g., Northern Ireland, the Basque region in Spain, the Red Brigade in Italy). Income, we argue, is a measure of such capabilities."
So why is the Times op-ed page offering up this morning the same "conventional wisdom" that was debunked pretty convincingly the day before in the Times business section? Smartertimes.com understands that different columnists are there to offer differing opinions, but the Kristof column doesn't address or rebut with even a modicum of thoroughness the arguments that were made the day before by the business section columnist. It's as if the New York Times op-ed page crowd doesn't read the rest of its own newspaper.
No One: An article in today's New York Times reports on the Bush administration's decision to withdraw from the ABM treaty. The Times says, "'A year ago, it was widely reported that our intelligence community had concluded that pulling out of ABM would prompt the Chinese to increase their nuclear arsenal tenfold, beyond the modernization they are doing anyway,' said Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr., Democrat of Delaware and the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, who said he learned of Mr. Bush's decision by reading a newspaper. 'And when they build up, so will the Indians, and when the Indians do, so will the Pakistanis. And for what? A system no one is convinced will work.'"
Hmm. If all these foreign countries are so unconvinced that the system will work, why then would they spend lots of money to build up their arsenals in an effort to overcome it?
Lost in New York: An article in today's New York Times reports on how the September 11 attack affected a law firm in New York. "On Sept. 11, Mr. Fitzgerald had been on his way to work to wrap up the project when United Airlines Flight 175 hit some 20 floors above his office; a tire from the plane struck his cab. Shaken, he walked nine miles to his home on East 90th Street," the Times reports. It isn't nine miles from the World Trade Center to anywhere on East 90th Street, as anyone with a basic sense of New York City geography would know. Even if you take a long-distance route, the FDR Drive, it's only about 8 miles.
Note: Smartertimes.com is operating this morning off the New York Times on the Web.
News Article: Original, non-Times-related news article: For $1.5 Million Plus, Loft W/ Construx Vu
By BENJAMIN SMITH
The scene at "The Greenwich," a converted department store on Sixth Avenue between 13th and 14th streets, turned contentious in late November after residents learned that the Metropolitan Transportation Authority plans to dig and build on the avenue outside their building for more than three years. Now buyers of the lofts, which start at $1.5 million, wonder why developer Mosbacher Properties didn't tell them about the disruption before they bought their apartments.
The Greenwich had been billed as one of New York's hot new properties, and scored a coup earlier this year when it landed as residents both the widow and daughter of restaurateur Warner LeRoy, who created Tavern on the Green and the Russian Tea Room. But now residents face a declining real estate market, a shortage of shops to fill the 6th Avenue storefronts, and the prospect of noisy construction and dirty windows.
"Everyone is upset," says artist Joan Barist, who lives in the Greenwich.
Developer Mosbacher Properties "absolutely didn't tell us" about the planned construction, said the assistant to Jennifer LeRoy, Warner's daughter and his successor as CEO of LeRoy Adventures. "Management -- or lack thereof -- is a running problem" in the Greenwich, the assistant, Jennifer Falk, said.
The person in charge of selling the condos defends her record, and the building's. "People are making a bigger deal of this than they need to," Greenwich sales director Michele Conte of Brown Harris Stevens said of the construction. "Have they never gone through this before? This is New York."
The Greenwich only this week sent out a letter to current and prospective residents detailing the plans, and also this week entered the details in the building's official prospectus, Ms. Conte said. But she said that residents were informed about noisy construction within the building.
"Nobody was misled here," she said.
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority has scheduled 39 months of digging and construction on both sides of 6th Avenue at 13th Street to expand a system of emergency fans on the F subway line, MTA spokeswoman Deirdre Parker said. The fans would be used to clear smoke out of the subway system in a fire. The city will award a contract for the $25 million project next month, Ms. Parker said.
The MTA informed Mosbacher Properties about the planned work about two years ago, the MTA's assistant director of governmental and community relations, Steve Strauss, told Smartertimes.com. He said he contacted the company to tell them that the construction would cut in on their basement storage space. The condos began selling in 1999, and residents began moving in in 2000, Ms. Conte said.
Other neighborhood groups were apparently aware the construction was coming. The city presented their plans to Community Board Two more than a year ago, board member David Reck said. And the Greenwich's block association has been aware of the construction for over a year, association vice president David Olin told Smartertimes.com.
Four Greenwich residents reached by Smartertimes.com said they first learned of the planned construction after they had purchased their apartment and moved in, when New York City Transit announced a November 30 public meeting on the subject.
The chairman of the condominium's board, Alan Lipner, said residents hadn't yet decided what to do. " I really can't say anything because I haven't determined what the facts are," he said.
Mosbacher Properties gets its name from the family that includes Republican fundraiser Robert Mosbacher Sr., a secretary of commerce in the first Bush administration and a friend of the Bush family. Robert Mosbacher Sr. is chairman of Mosbacher Energy Company. Asked about the ownership of Mosbacher Properties, a spokeswoman for the Houston-based Mosbacher Energy Company said, "You'd better ask Mosbacher Properties." Clinton Smullyan, chairman of Mosbacher Properties, is "a cousin" of the former commerce secretary, Ms. Conte said. Mr. Smullyan did not return three calls seeking comment.
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