30 June 2011

African-American Crime, Today and Yesterday

from the archives...

         Stories of looting leaking out of tornado-stricken Minneapolis recently have brought to light this 2007 article from Minnesota Public News, revealing two salient points about her sister city St. Paul's African-descended population:

     1) 70% of all St. Paul's aggravated assaults the year before were 
          committed by this population, although they make up just 12% of the 
          city's inhabitants.

     2) Surprise is the correct reaction to this.

          Being of passing familiarity with this particular branch of American jurisprudential history, we imagined it of possible historical interest to present excerpts from the aforementioned article, alongside some voices from the past [all emphasis ours; list of works cited follows the text]:

25 June 2011

Letting things slide

Greeks are furious over the crisis rocking their country.  Disbelief has given way to anger, one minister describing it as 'the darkest page in [our] history.'

No, not that crisis.  This one:

"Nearly 70 people have been named in Greece in connection with an alleged football match-fixing scandal.  They include two Super League club presidents, club owners, players, referees and a chief of police.  They are charged with a variety of offences including illegal gambling, fraud, extortion and money laundering.

The investigation began after European football's governing body Uefa published a list of 41 match results from 2009-10 which they believe to be suspicious. 

Among the 68 suspects named by judicial authorities on Friday were Vangelis Marinakis, Greece's top football league official and chairman of champion club Olympiakos Piraeus, and Avraam Papadopoulos, national team and Olympiakos defender.  Late on Friday, a court order banned all 68 from leaving the country."

But really, sports cheating scandals are hardly anything new.  And they happen all over the world. What's so special about this one?

21 June 2011

Plant biodiversity, Human biodiversity

The author of this blog today had the rare treat of hearing a talk given by a Nobel prize-winning economist.  The first such laureate, apparently, to be equipped with a uterus.  This anatomical oddity so excited our city fathers they invited her across the pond to shine her light on a conference hall full of Southern Frenchmen.  And women.

Policy was what she came to talk about, or as she put it, 'Community Organization of Common Pool Resources.'  Forest management, to be exact.

Who best to manage forests?

Surprise surprise, says Ostrom, government control is not the be-all end-all.  Local user groups can and have managed their forests just fine.  But not all users in all countries do it equally fine.  Some do it markedly less fine than others.


16 June 2011

Democracy promotion and the 'Jasmine Revolution'

      The 'Arab Spring' seems to have taken the Middle East, and everyone else, a bit by surprise.  While the Pentagon sweats at the thought of a North Africa full of little Irans, the State Department clicks its heels and throws on its apron, anxious to get in the kitchen and start cookin' up some democracy:

In the wake of the democratic revolutions sweeping the region, the State Department is rapidly trying to reevaluate its approach to Middle East democracy promotion. But without a budget for fiscal 2011, and with no idea of what awaits their budget in fiscal 2012, State is being forced to move money around to speed funds to the Arab countries that are trying to make the difficult transition to democracy.

'Democracy' is what they have now.  'Some other kind of democracy' is what the author maybe meant, but perhaps he had a word limit.

In any case fear not, brave tax-payer, you'll do your bit to help the Arabs get 'some other kind of democracy.'  In fact, you already are:

12 June 2011

Immigration, Policy notions

In the 20th century, communication and transport technology reached levels unseen in human history.  One result has been that the movement of peoples, over huge distances, has also reached levels unseen in human history.

But not everywhere.

Western policy-makers faced with an unhappy populace demanding stricter controls might be glad to know that such models needn't necessarily be invented from scratch. Some of our neighbors to the East have been, shall we say, less inclined than us to lift their lamp beside the golden door.  Tour d'horizon:

07 June 2011

Immigration, Yesterday


-- Los Angeles Times headline, April 13, 1924

Very high current levels of immigration to the U.S. are lamented by some.  But others point out that in the late 19th century, legions of non-English poured daily onto our shores, aliens to our founding culture, language, principles, religion, and we absorbed millions of them without breaking a sweat.  So what's the problem?

What could possibly go wrong.

03 June 2011


At first glance, I seem rather peaceable.  No scowl, no growl.  I can smile and exchange pleasantries at the grocery store with the best of them.  

But there is a very dangerous part of me.  A part I sometimes have a hard time controlling.

It's my temper.

The Irish in me, perhaps.  In any case, when it goes off, it goes off.  Look out.  Stand back.  All the anger, the animosity, the raw savagery in me can come out in a heartbeat.  And I can't be held responsible for my actions.