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Showing posts from 2010

New Year's Resolutions

Mirroring below the post by the newly-discovered (for me), Roland Shirk:
QUOTE:
As the new year comes upon us, most of us come up with projects for self-improvement, which typically center on health, exercise, relationships, or moral failings we want to address. I'd like to propose some ideas for what we in the movement to resist Islamic totalitarianism can do to advance our cause.

The "Lump of Labour fallacy"

I've been reading a bit about the "lump of labour fallacy" lately.
Here's how it's described by Paul Krugman in 2003, quoted by Tom Walker at Ecological Headstand:

"HK to become world genomics research hub"

Another in the irregular series of "things that Hong Kong is good at..."From the South China Morning Post, December 27

A year's end-compilation of random reports on Islam

Dwindling of persecuted Christians in Holy land most unreported story.  [Here].  Dec 30.

Bill O’Reilly’s Mindslaughter. [Here].  Dec 29.   Quote from the article...

If Ted Danson can't talk to "the fellas", what's to be done?

Some have commented that if I deplore Ted’s idea of talking to “the fellas” in his imagined lunch with Jesus and Muhammad, then what’s to be done?  Isn’t it better to jaw-jaw than war-war?

What Ted Danson hasn't learned

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Picked up a copy of the latest Esquire, which has on the cover “What I have learned” talking to various mostly Hollywood types.  See, I do read some leftie mags, not just the Squire, but also The New Yorker,Vanity Fair (UK & US editions), Atlantic MonthlyThe Guardian…. ‘nuff said. Ted Danson is one of the interviewees. [here].

"Leaning on Conspiracy Theories"

Letter to New York Times, which I covered in more detail in the post immediately before this one.  No doubt will not be published (for a start, they tend not to publish letters about other letters), as they have a very small letters section and don't like to publish stuff critical of Islam.  But, as ever, I hope that the sub-editors read them and that, if referenced and sane, that it may have some impact over time.

All conspiracy theories are the same. Not.

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Below is a letter in the New York Times of 27th December 2010.  It does the moral equivalence bit, this time with conspiracy theories.  You see, we all have conspiracy theories, so don’t blame the Arabs for theirs.  They’re all wrong, these conspiracy theories,  so those about Arabs are wrong as well.  Except that that’s not true, is it?

"Frankly we need a degree of secrecy" -- Re WikiLeaks

Letters noted in SMH on 13th December....

The breathless reporting of the Herald and the outraged responses of letters writers over WikiLeaks needs a reality check.

This too shall pass. Not. Islam in Switzerland

To the BBC

Your program just now on BBC World service TV about Islam in Switzerland had a fellow comparing the concerns ("intolerance"!) about Muslims to earlier concerns about Italian immigrants in the sixties ("they ate pasta and garlic"!).  The message being that "this, too -- 'intolerance' towards Muslims -- shall pass". Muslims will assimilate and be accepted just as were the earlier immigrant waves.

Heroic, Female, and -- incidentally -- Muslim

Check out Nicholas Kristof's column below, in today's New York Times.  It's the standard op procedure for Kristof -- take one individual and attempt to construct a general case, with the case usually being far too weighty for the individual to bear.  In this one a lady, Dr Hawa, who does good works.

"Scientists seek to unravel the mystery of IQ"

More in the panoply of interesting stories in today's South China Morning Post, is one about China using it's new-found status as owner of the world's fastest Supercomputers, to look into the genetic basis for intelligence.

"China takes the lead over the US in climate-change measures"

The second of the stories about China, noted from the South China Morning Post of 4th December:

Another exciting article - exciting for us here in Hong Kong, that is, being here in the new epicentre, as it were, of the new industries that are growing up around the need to control carbon dioxide emissions.

"Low-carbon lifestyle within reach, but will Hong Kong grasp the opportunity."

Yet another interesting and exciting article from today's South China Morning Post, with the above headline. It talks of the opportunities for Hong Kong developments to move towards zero carbon emissions. And that would be something to be welcomed on both sides of the climate, especially if you can build these developments even cheaper than conventional ones and they attract a premium in the market.

"At the centre of fast and furious growth"

Catching up on some notes I took while away in Thailand, some stories on China in one day's South China Morning Post of 4th December.  (written in iPad Pages app).  More in the series of "what China's doing right", aka "why China is on our side, as a nation that constructs, rather than destructs"....


South China Morning Post 4 December, a story about how high speed rail networks in China are driving inland economies.

Baseball bats, that really gets to 'em

Passing by Pacific Coffee on the way to Central, Hong Kong -- they have the day's quote, from the dozy leftie bint, Susan Sarandn: "I'd rather use words, than fists". Gee, Susan, no kidding? Me too, actually. But what if maniacs are belting the living shit out of you?
Woody Allen got it right:

On profiling and data dumps

A quick post to file a couple of recent articles that have caught my attention, all in the leftie New York Times, mind. And I'm doing this on my iPad as I wait for the ferry to Central, Hong Kong, so won't quite finish. Links to come, as it's rather too hard on the iPad.

Growing Pains

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Coincidentally to the discussions about Sir Frank Fenner's views on the dangers of growth and "unbridled consumerism", BBC Worldwide's Peter Day aired a program on 29 November titled "Growing Pains".  It's rather good

The end is nigh; don't do anything....

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Run, Run Run for your lives
Swiftly take cover
We're paying the price
The Sun, The Sun
The Sun is falling down
Out on The Sky
I can hear the people cry
Prophet of Doom, by Yngwie Malmsteen
Below, sent to a Canberra Coffee Club group, in response to the clip of the obit of Sir Frank Fenner, famous Australian medical researcher.

Sir Frank Fenner, Medical Researcher, prophet of doom

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A friend sent a clip from the Telegraph obituary of Sir Frank Fenner.  My comments in a following post. [photo: Telegraph]

A couple of cheap shots; of disasters and contributions

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Reading about the horrible "Stampede horror" in Cambodia last weekend -- 378 killed -- I was brought up short by the chart in the South China Morning Post of 24th November "The deadliest crowd disasters of the past 20 years"(*).

"Hardliners seek Christian woman's death"

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The article below from today's South China Morning Post reveals something about two issues in Islam: the difficulty of reform and the size of "fundamentalist" (or "hardline" or "extremist", or just plain "pious", take your pick) groups in Islam.
[photo: SCMP]

Profiles in cowardice

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There's been a lot of fuss recently over the new security measures put in place by the US's Transportation Security Administration: you go through the full-body x-ray scan, or you opt for the full-body "pat-down".
Many -- on both Left and Right -- are upset at these invasive measures.

My view on Climate Change

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Here's where I stand at the moment, having read around the topic from both sides over recent years and more intensely in recent weeks:
The globe is warming.  Part of the warming is owing to emissions of Carbon dioxide, which absorbs reflected infrared.  Part is due to natural causes, such as the bounce back from the last ice age.  The proportion of the two causes is not known exactly, but 50/50 might be about it.  Reductions in Co2 will help mitigate the warming, but the cuts will need to be drastic: perhaps 50% of current levels and below that may not have any effect (this point has been made, if I recall correctly, by Jim Hansen, the "father of global warming").
I have a few questions still:

The Bible is just as violent as the Koran. Not.

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A recent reader's comment on the Bible and the Koran,  along the lines that the Bible is just as violent as the Koran.  Since this is an objection I often get, I thought I'd post my reply here, so I can refer to it later.  My comment first and then the commenter's.

Krispy Kream creamed in Oz and Hong Kong

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A touch of smug self-satisfaction on reading of the demise of Krispy Kream in Australia.  We had considered buying the franchise for Hong Kong some years ago.  That was after we’d already bought, in 1999, and established the franchise of the Wall Street Institute in Hong Kong, the first in Asia -- and which is just now celebrating its tenth anniversary(*) --  so we thought we knew something about US franchise operations (because we did…). The thing that stopped us buying the Krispy Kream franchise...

One Law for All: Passion for Freedom private viewing on Saturday 20 November

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One Law for All is pleased to present a private viewing of an art exhibition in London on 20 November 2010 from 18.30-21.30 hours in which a group of international artists address the controversial subject of religion and human rights. The exhibition includes pieces on the veil, female genital mutilation, child ‘marriage’ and women’s oppression.

"Part of the Whole" thoughts on mother earth, by Cormac Cullinan

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Below is a piece in today’s South China Morning Post by a fellow called Cormac Cullinan, titled "Part of the Whole".It’s not available except by subscription, so I’m posting it whole, with my comments interspersed. I certainly agree with moves to control commercial fishing – we’re in serious danger of massive collapses of key fisheries.  And in favour of people eating less; and of food labeling, especially with info on calories; and of eating less meat; and of eating less (especially me); and of cutting back on consumption generally.   All good stuff.
The problem with people like Cullinan is that they look to major government involvement in the process, and that always worries me for I’ve seen what it can do in China.  Grim.

The case against Keith Ellison

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The case against Keith Ellison:
This post is based on Lucy Ash’s interview of Keith Ellison (D, Minnesota), America’s first Muslim Congressman, on BBC Outlook, on 13 November 2010. At 4minutes 30s Ash says, about Islam: “So you felt it was a religion that promoted, wholeheartedly, social justice.” “Absolutely,” says Ellison (or “Keith” to the giggly in-awe Lucy), rather taken with such an overly flattering formulation that even he hadn’t dared to voice.  (Did he feel he might have been gilding a rather limp lily?). Goodness me, talk about putting words into the interviewee’s mouth! What are the words with which the young and giggly Lucy did not think to question Ellison?  Why did she not ask him about:

Birds and Bees in Hong Kong

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Greater Coucal
It's cooling down here in just-tropical Hong Kong, getting down to 19 C at night, brrrrr.   That means we can turn off the a/c and leave the window open, and that, in turn means we're woken by the music of the birds in our garden: magpie robins, bulbuls, olive-backed pipits.
I left early this morning and flushed out a Greater Coucal, usually found in the rain forest or scrub on the mountains just behind our house, not so often near humans.  It squawked its cuckoo-call, thrashed through the low bush and took off over the banyan trees.
Here are some of the birds I've identified in our garden, up the mountain, or the park right behind us:

Sharia Finance op-ed: more than a "moral hazard"

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The article below was an op-ed contribution to the South China Morning Post, which I sent out last week.  They liked it but preferred it for publication as a letter of 500 words.  I did the letter version, though in the event they didn't run that either. 

Islamic finance is hazardous to one’s health

It’s very odd to see a former Chairman of the Securities and Futures commission, Andrew Sheng, spruiking for Islamic finance and its alleged “ethical” prohibition of interest. [1].  Even more bizarre is his claim that Islamic might offer “great service to the rest of the world”, assuming it solves “moral hazard”. Just a moment professor Sheng!  Islamic finance is a hazard to much more than one’s morals. Consider some of the “hazards” of Sharia finance: First, the Sharia hazard.  It is self-evident that Islamic finance is a part of Sharia, since “Islamic finance” is often known as Sharia Compliant Finance, or simply Sharia finance. [2]  Sharia jurisprudence is made up of often-draconian l…

"Geoengineering: Lift-off"

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I've written before about geoengineering (here and here) -- that is, the concept of engineering a better climate.  Kind of fighting fire with fire.  If we messed up the climate by our industry, we can use our industry, perhaps, to fix it up, or mitigate the effects of our mess up.
The critics are understandably concerned: fighting fire with fire might just enflame the fire.  There are unintended consequences, it might take our eye off the ball -- the need, they see, to reduce carbon dioxide output. [photo: courtesy Economist]
On the side of the geoengineers:

Human Rights in Islam

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Posting below, for the record, a recent-ish email to a friend and occasional reader of this blog, in response to his request for comments on a talk he's to give on the above subject.
[Click on image of book on the left for link to PDF of an Islamic view of Human Rights in Islam]

High Anxiety: the fear of naming the unnameable

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In the wonderful 1977 Mel Brooks movie, High Anxiety, there's a cute and amusing opening scene where Dr Thorndyke (Mel Brooks), the new administrator of the Psychoneurotic Institute for the Very, VERY Nervous, arrives at the train station, met by his new driver Brophy (Ron Casey).  Brophy goes to lift Dr Thorndyke's trunk: "I've got it, I've got it, I've got it", he says as he huffs and puffs the trunk half way up, then, Thump, down goes the trunk: "I ain't got it".  He tries again, ""I've got it, I've got it, I've got it", and thump, "I ain't got it".  One more time, till thump, "I ain't got it".  Dr Thorndyke rolls his eyes, puts his coat on the trunk and picks it up himself, hefting it easily.

"How to keep terrorism grounded"

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How do you view profiling?  Something common-sense, or an infringement of human rights?
I watched a TV show while in Koh Samui in June this year.  I forget which channel it was on, but it was a several-part series on Al-Qaeda and the pre-911 work on tracking terrorists in the US. It was a pretty good program, nicely balanced, I thought.
One of the comments by an FBI guy stuck in my mind.  Commenting on the suggestion that the FBI should have monitored people taking flying lessons -- the suggestion being that that could have stopped the plot -- he said something like "well, you know there are just so many people taking flying lessons at any one time, we just couldn't justify the time and effort to do that."

And he was not challenged on that by the interviewer.
[cartoon thanks to Dry Bones]

"Student convicted in anti-war attack on MP"

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"She looked friendly. She was smiling, if I remember rightly," said [Stephen] Timms, who has made a full recovery. "I was a little puzzled because a Muslim woman dressed in that way wouldn't normally be willing to shake a man's hand, still less to take the initiative to do so." [full article below]
I wonder if  Stephen Timms will be a touch leery next time he meets a "friendly" woman dressed "in that way"?  Would that be understandable?
[Muslim convert Choudry, above in a court drawing]



Hong Kong: the tippler's paradise

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When I first came to Hong Kong in 1976, the proud boast were that we had the most number of Rolls Royces, though I guess that was per capita.  And the most amount of cognac drunk per head.  I don't think these are true any more; at least seeing all the Rollers in London's Mayfair during a recent visit.  And cognac?  I think we've moved on.
Lately we've had the most expensive bit of residential real estate: per square foot that is, on the Peak.  And the most expensive retail space is still, I think, at Causeway Bay.
Then we had a while back some measure that alleged that we had the "most intelligent" population in the world.

Anti-jihad lefties

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In a recent post, I wondered about the disparity between critics of Islam and Jihad who are from the Right of the political spectrum and those on the Left.  It seems sometimes that those on the Right are the only critics, and that's not good if the Right gets conflated with the nihilist nutters on the Tea Bag far-right.  I noted some critics on the Left, including Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, Chrisopher Hitchens.

There are many more, of course, and I came across a partial list on the New English Review, in an article by Rebecca Bynum.  She is discussing an attack on the anti-jihad movement by one Bob Smietana, a paid up member of the Left, writing in the The Tennessean.

Stop the Stoning: One Law for All

From the UK's One Law for All


Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani still faces execution
Global protests must continue
3 November 2010

According to reports received today, global protests have managed to prevent the execution of Iran stoning case Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani as of now. However the threat of imminent execution remains.



"Confounding Fathers"

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I hadn’t realised till recently just how kooky is the right in America.  Sure, there’s Sarah Palin, who would make foreign policy from her patio (“I can see Russia from my backyard”).  And then the fruity Tea Baggers, sure.  But just how nutty were they?  Just constitutional troofers? I’ve just read “Confounding Fathers” in last week’s New Yorker Magazine (Oct 18) which is an eye-opener.  There’s Glenn Beck, a founder Tea Bag, who recently converted to Mormonism.  That’s puzzling. I can understand how someone brought up in Utah in a Mormon household would be a Mormon.  But convert?

Cruising in Chinese waters

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Welcome and intriguing news on the weekend that Zhuhai, just up the road from us Here in Hong Kong, is going to allow visiting yachts without the usual paperwork hassles. Other ports like Shenzhen, are considering doing same.
[photo here: nearly, but not quite, Zhuhai.  It's Big Wave Bay in eastern Hong Kong, with waves not quite so big, but real surfies taking real waves, last sunny Sunday]


Zhuhai smooths the waters for owners of luxury yachts Coastal city aims to become regional hub for pleasure boats Fiona Tam and Ng Kang-chung Updated on Oct 30, 2010 Luxury yacht owners, Zhuhai welcomes you.

BBC reports on anti-Muslim attacks; not one mention of the rising tide of crimes against Jews

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My post headline above: that's the strength of the just-aired piece on Malmo, Sweden, reported by Tim Mansell.  Not one single mention of what's been going on there for some years: namely the flight of the small community of Jews, attacked in rising number of incidents, by "immigrants" (aka Muslims).  That's people like Judith Popinski, above, who has been in Malmo for 60 years, but is now threatened.

As far as I know, there has not been one single report of this in recent years -- and I listen to the BBC every day.  As soon as there's a nutter out there, shooting at Muslims, it's all stops out.  Of course shootings are crazy, stupid, reprehensible, abohorrent, and all that.  Also more newsworthy. I grant all that.  But the burnings of synagogues? The desecration of Jewish cemetaries?  They don't count for even a mention?

A billion just ain't what it used to be....

Kind of related to the post immediately below, about the Hong Kong and ASX/Sing exchanges, there's the news that China minted 49 new US Dollar Billionaires this year: mostly because of huge IPO's all via Hong Kong -- accounting to so much now of the HKex turnover and size.
49!  That's 49 new ones!  In one year!! I wonder how many in total there are in Oz.  I could google, but I'm rather too lazy.  I feel sure we don't have 49 in total.....
It's no wonder we're feeling the influence: eg in the property markets in Hong Kong and Australia.  In Oz, not always pleasantly, as a mate here from Oz tells me that there's a lot of angst about the soaring price of property there, pushed by Chinese money (media reports seem to confirm that) -- often not even to live in or to let out, just to buy and hold.
That's a fair concern, I reckon, even as we've been recipients of the benefits, owning property in Hong Kong.  But what about the poor folk just coming in…

Aussie-Singapore Stockex merger not threat to Hong Kong

There's been a fair bit of publicity about the proposed merger of the Singapore and Aussie exchange.  Actually, it seems more like the Singapore exchange is buying the company that runs the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX).  Much of the comment here is on the threat it may pose to Hong Kong's exchange.  Well, for a start, even the so-called "merged" exchange is not as big as Hong Kong; and in any case, they continue to operate independently, not really "merged".That's pointed out by Tom Holland, in the South China Morning Post, always worth reading his Monitor column. 
I'm copying herewith, with thanks to Mr Holland:

"A foundation of fear", comment on "Dutch culture wars"

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The letter clipped in the photo here (click to enlarge), might, at first glance, seem very reasonable, a call for tolerance and an attack on "hatred" and "xenophobia".  But that's only if one knows nothing about Islam and the sorts of issues Europe is now dealing with.
My letter to the International Herald Tribune, the international version of the New York Times, below.  There's no chance they'll run it, but one hopes that many write in, so that in time they might carry some of the valid, cogent and logical criticisms of Islam and Islamism.

Roger Cohen: "Turkey steps out"

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Perhaps a better structure of the above sentence might be "Turkey out of step".  For it is out of step with European values and culture.  Whatever Cohen says.

RE: "Turkey Steps out" Roger Cohen International Herald Tribune (international edition of the New York Times) 26th October 2010:
Cohen shills for Turkey yet again: Turkey "can be the West's conduit to the Muslim world", if it is allowed to join the EC.But this is "wish as policy", just the same as British PM Cameron's, wish/hope that Turkey can form a "bridge".  To wish it to be so, does not make it so, no matter how powerful might be the bridge metaphor might seem to be, when you look at the map....

James Carroll "Xenophobia on the Rise"

James Carroll "Xenophobia on the Rise".
International Herald Tribune, international edition of the New York Times. 26 October 2010.  (here, in the Boston Globe, as "The rising tides of xenophobia").

Carroll says
"...anti-Islamic prejudice [in the US] has been sparked by the war on terror,...".  
"Prejudice" means to pre-judge (Latin, praejudicium -- to judge before), to judge before you have all the information.  If Americans are "anti-Islamic" (I'd prefer "anti-Islamist"), it is not a matter of pre-judging, but of post-judging. Judging after the attacks of 911, after the earlier attacks on the USS Cole, after the earlier attacks on the WTC, after the  many attempts on US soil by Muslims, killing Americans, or trying to kill their fellow Americans, and calling out "Allahu Akhbar" and stating, clearly, explicitly and repeatedly, before and after the events, that their acts are done in the name of Islam.  It's on…

Workers of the world -- take aim: shoot foot!

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Actors' Unions in New Zealand demanded wage levels for local actors in the new "Hobbit" films be the same as their "international colleagues", rather than accepting those based on local standards.  Sound logical?  Well, yes.... if you're greedy.  
Warner Bros have quite rightly told them to stuff their "Hobbit" up their Frodo, and will take the production elsewhere.

In a stunning piece of insight and self-reflection, Actors' Equity committee member, Robyn Malcolm, says
       "If it does go offshore, it's going to have nothing to do with New Zealand actors.".  
Riiiight...

An Associated Press report sums up the background to the dispute:

Laundering a TRILLION dollars through Saudi Banks...

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"The fraud and money laundering that I wish to address  involves the sluicing of approximately $1 trillion since September 11...."

Attorney Eric Lewis House Financial Services Hearing, Sep 28 2010

Wow!  A trillion dollars and no red flags!! Thanks to Money Jihad for the lead, which seems to have been ignored in the MSM, apart from one report in the BBC.

Terrorists are not Muslims..... Except for the 94% that are

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Later: 98% of religiously-based designated terrorist organisations are Islamic.
-------------------------- It may not be seemly to argue over which religion or ideology is responsible for the most number of terrorist acts in the world.  But I didn't start it!
This post is in response to an article by blogger Danios of Loonwatch.com.  His piece is titled "All Terrorists are Muslims.... Except the 94% that Aren't".
He comes to this conclusion by drawing on an FBI report "Terrorism 2002-05".[which actually covers 1980 to 2005]
One of his key conclusions is that Jews are responsible for 7% of terrorist acts, Muslims for 6%.  So Jews commit more terrorist acts than Muslims!!  And Latinos for more than either.
Problem is that the stats go back to 1980 and the Jewish terrorist acts ended in 1986.  (moreover, those acts were aimed at specific targets, not randomly at innocent citizens).  And the so-called "Latino" terrorist acts ceased in 1998.
It would make abo…