1) MPR reporter Brandt Williams' story on why there's been a jump in murders in Minneapolis in 2010 shows the hopelessness of the "simple" solution.
And (Gary) Cunningham says this tragic cycle can also lead to periods of relative calm. He says sometimes so many young men aged 18-30 are in prison, there are few left in the community to cause trouble. Plus, he says various studies show that as men get older, they tend to change their attitudes.
"After men get to a certain age, over 35, their participation in the criminal justice system drops off significantly -- meaning they don't commit additional crimes," Cunningham said.
It's not the first time we've heard this, of course. In 2004, then Attorney General John Ashcroft claimed that violent crime was at a 30 year low for the same reason -- more people were locked up.
Here's the problem with that. The more people are sent to prison, the more people get out of prison, as The Nation reported in a 2008 story:
But the prison boom has come home to roost. The more people we send into prison, the more people come out of prison each year. This year, between 600,000 and 700,000 prisoners will be released--without the skills or resources to get their lives back in order.
Williams' story, again citing Cunningham, also notes:
"Further exacerbating this is men that have gotten out of prison and come back into the community -- they have a higher rate of violence than other groups that haven't been to prison," he said.
So the problem of violence decreases when men are sent to prison, but increases because at some point they get out, without any real skills to survive. In solving the problem, we increase the problem. If you want a definition of a hopeless cycle, that's it. But who's got another -- proven -- solution? Discuss.
2) An outstanding application to review last night's State of the Union address is provided here by the New York Times. Scroll along a time line of the speech, see annotated stories about the content. Well done.
More aviation as art. Paul Schmelzer , editor of the Minnesota Independent and writer of the Eyeteeth blog, posts this excellent film of the raising of Flight 1549.
4) Here it is, your moment of (Howard) Zinn.
Zinn died yesterday.
5) Good news for runners. You won't need those expensive shoes anymore.
Bonus: How would you spend your 65th birthday?
Last night, President Obama addressed the nation and laid out his agenda, including plans for cutting the deficit and boosting job creation. What was your reaction to the President's speech?
WHAT WE'RE DOING
Midmorning (9-11 a.m.) - First hour: Reaction to last night's State of the Union address.
Second hour: Shawn Colvin's storytelling through song.
Midday (11 a.m. - 1 p.m.) - Both hours: Twenty gubernatorial candidates debated the issues in a forum sponsored Wednesday night by the Minnesota News Council and the League of Women Voters. Gary Eichten moderated, with Lori Sturdevant and Al Edenloff .
Talk of the Nation (1-3 p.m.) - First hour: Rebroadcast of the State of the Union speech.
Second hour: Cheech Marin and Tommy Chong.
File it under "humor that doesn't stand up well to the test of time."
All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) - Gay teens are more likely to be homeless than their straight peers. In the next story in MPR's Youth Radio series, Roy Lee Spearman Jones of Minneapolis tells his story of being gay and on his own when his mother moved away.
NPR will look at the changing tastes of music fans. The Grammy Awards ceremony takes place Sunday night. And that showcase for the music industry faces fans who may care less about industry-bestowed awards, and more about American Idol winners. The Grammies versus American Idol(2 Comments)
A final postscript to Sunday's Vikings loss in New Orleans.
The head of NFL officials admits on-field refs blew some big non-calls.(2 Comments)
Minnesota hasn't been able to make a decision on a route for high-speed rail service to Chicago. Today the federal government gave it the equivalent of the home version of its "let's build high-speed rail" game: $1 million to "study" the situation. It put itself in a position to do little else, and got a little less than what it had asked.
"I have always advocated for a data driven process to determine the route for high-speed rail that's in Minnesota's long term best interests," Congressman Tim Walz, vice chair of the House Transportation Committees Subcommittee on Pipelines, Railroads and Hazardous Materials said in a press release. "This funding will be used to study possible routes that Minnesota outlined in its recent Statewide Rail Plan - including the River Route and the Rochester Route and put Minnesota in the running for future rail construction funding that will create jobs across our state."
Other politicians said the usual things, but advocates of high-speed rail in these parts can't be too happy, not when they've seen how other regions got a big chunk of cash for routes elsewhere.
Even Maine -- Maine! -- got $30 million -- to extend service from Portland to Brunswick.
"We're thrilled," said Patricia Quinn, the executive director of the Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority that operates the service. "It's a great thing for tourism to be able to take a train to the doorstop of LL Bean without having to add any cars and congestion."
Missouri got about the same amount for service between St. Louis and Kansas City. Washington state got $590 million. Wisconsin received over $800
billion million for service between Milwaukee and Madison.
Comparatively, Minnesota has stumbled on this effort. The big players in this drama are Rochester and the Mayo Clinic. They favor a route that takes it through Rochester. State officials favor a route along the Mississippi through Winona, mostly because it's more direct and there are already tracks (though it's anybody's guess how a train is supposed to zoom through downtown Red Wing at 90 miles per hour).
It's not clear how $1 million for a study will settle a standoff here. But one thing is clear: When it comes to competitive funding: You snooze, you lose. It's true, as my colleague Dan Olson (who's covered this issue) reminds me, the Minnesota-to-Madison portion of the plan was a low priority anyway (compared to, say, Chicago to Milwaukee to Madison), But today's comparative shutout comes with a free dose of reality: You've got a far better chance of getting to Brunswick, Maine by high-speed rail in your lifetime than Chicago.6 Comments)
It was only a matter of time, perhaps, before the National Football League tried to muscle in and claim ownership of "Who Dat?", the chant that fans of the New Orleans Saints use to celebrate their team. It's short for the long version, "Who dat say dey gonna beat them Saints?"
Now, the NFL, which prohibits people from using Super Bowl (note: Super Bowl! Super Bowl! Super Bowl! Come and get me, coppers!) is turning its lawyers loose in New Orleans.
Says Elie Mystal at the "Above the Law" tabloid:
So let's be clear -- the NFL claims it owns a chant of ungrammatical pidgin English that can't even be pronounced properly without using a Bobby Boucher accent. The NFL doesn't have what they call "the social skills."
"The NFL has a curious way of crushing the life out of anything that could even slightly siphon a dollar away from their clever system of unlimited revenue potential and fixed labor costs," Mystal says.
The NFL may be on solid legal ground, but who wants to be the one to go tell these people?
Just in case the Vikings ever get far enough for it to matter, we should figure out who owns "Skol Vikings?"(3 Comments)
What do J.D. Salinger, the Who Dat Nation, and my mother have in common? They all came up in conversation during today's chat with the Current's Mary Lucia.
Here's your day in news...
Taking a Walk Through J.D. Salinger's New York (NY Times)