Friday, September 30, 2005


And you thought William J Bennett's remarks were reprehensible...

"Blacks were born less intelligent than whites, and that accounts for their poverty and high unemployment rate... Those blacks who were too intelligent, too tricky, they were slaughtered. It's the consequence of an artificial selection. They can run faster, they're stronger, but their IQs are consistently lower."

Quebec radio host Dr. Pierre - "I have black people who are friends.... I'm no racist" - Mailloux 

As of this post Mailloux still has his job.

In local racist news:

There are still no arrests in last summer's Durham cross-burning incidents.

KKK fliers were recently discovered in Wake county neighborhoods.

Enough of the cynicism, go here for something uplifting.



Those who can't...

Erskine Bowles to be recommended for UNC presidency

I always thought it had a lot to do with his dorky glasses



I got a perfect 100% on my Statistics assignment!
(forgive my bragging; it's just I was such a tool as an undergraduate)

An analysis of Carrots, Sticks, And Broken Windows, Journal of Law & Economics, Volume XLVIII (1), April 2005

In their paper Carrots, Sticks, And Broken Windows, researchers Hope Corman and Naci Mocan attempt to account for significant reductions in serious crime in New York City between the years 1990 through 1999. Conventional wisdom has suggested that the decreases where due to the tough-on-crime policies of Mayor Rudolph Giuliani’s administration; in particular an aggressive approach to low-level crimes, or the “broken windows” policy. Researchers Corman and Mocan argue that crime reduction may have had more to do with economic factors; namely increases in minimum wage and low unemployment (variables which the researchers label “carrots”). The last component of their model are the “sticks”, variables to measure felony arrests, police force size and the number of New York City residents incarcerated. In the end, the researchers conclude that while economic factors are important in explaining reductions in crime, the deterrence measures proved a more effective tool of crime control.

In this study, the researchers wished to gain information about a specific population; namely the total number of criminal offences for New York City. Since it is impractical to gather all information about all crimes in New York City (approximately 50% of all crime goes unreported (Waller, Sansfacon, 2001,[i]), other crimes may be erroneously left out or miscategorized) the researchers took a population sample of seven reported crimes; murder, assault, robbery, burglary, motor vehicle theft, grand larceny and rape. [ii] Again, for practical reasons, the researchers used minimum wage rates and unemployment figures for New York City as a sample of economic indicators.

Overall, this study showed that misdemeanor arrests had the strongest impact on motor vehicle theft, robbery and grand larceny. For example a 10 percent increase in misdemeanor arrests equated to a 1.6 to 2.1 percent decrease in motor vehicle thefts, a 2.5 to 3.2 percent decrease in robberies and a 0.5 to 0.6 decrease in grand larcenies. In addition, the study measured the elasticity of economic and enforcement approaches (Elasticity is a measure of a variable’s responsiveness to changes in other variables). The study showed that robbery and motor vehicle were most elastic (most responsive) to enforcement approaches, while assault and rape were relatively inelastic. The study further showed that economic factors had some impact on murder, robbery and grand larceny, but not as significant an impact as enforcement.. Neither economic factors nor crime deterrence showed any significant impact on assault or rape. These summaries make sense for they show that while low level felonies such as robbery, theft and grand larceny can lead to improvements from relatively simple solutions such as “broken windows” policing, more complex crimes such as assault, rape and murder require more complex solutions that involve addressing social and economic issues.

This study was attempting to address the wider parameter of crime in general in the United States. Yet by the researchers own admission, the study has a hard time applying the success of “broken windows” policing to other jurisdictions. For instance, throughout the 1990s, other American municipalities experienced significant reductions in crime without applying the tough-on-crime policies identified with Mayor Giuliani. For instance, the researchers note that Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco witnessed decreases in crime rates by 50 percent, 56 percent and 41 percent respectively, yet these cities experienced a decline in misdemeanor arrests over this time period.

[i] Costs and Benefits of Preventing Crime, Crime Prevention Strategies and Implications, 2001, 229, Boulder: Westview Press.

[ii] The study used the U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, Sourcebook of Criminal Justice Statistics, 2000 (2001).


Things I'd like to blog about, but I don't have the time:

1. The Dan Zanes concert in Asheville

2. The new hockey season

3. How crappy Rescue Me was this season

4. How great No Direction Home was last night
(oh to have been in Newport in 65', if only to have seen Pete Seeger brandish that ax.)


Articles like this make my job working for the City of Durham so much easier:

Durham candidates grilled on arrests
Eight seeking election to the City Council have been convicted of criminal charges.



Sherbrooke Police: Now and Forever The Keystone Cops

Sherbrooke sued over murder
Family of Julie Boisvenu says police officers' lax investigation let predator stay on street

The Gazette
September 27, 2005

If police officers had diligently done their job on June 23, 2002, Hugo Bernier would have been arrested, sparing Julie Boisvenu from a horrific fate, the murdered woman's family alleges in a lawsuit filed yesterday against the city of Sherbrooke.

The suit launched by Boisvenu's parents and her brother and sister seeks $235,000 in damages.
The statement of claim focuses on two encounters Bernier had with Sherbrooke police officers on the night the 27-year-old woman disappeared after being out on the town with friends. She was celebrating a job promotion.

Her body was discovered six days later in a ditch outside Sherbrooke.

Bernier was found guilty in October of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison.
In the lawsuit, the Boisvenu family says they learned details at Bernier's trial about action taken by police officers in the hours before Boisvenu was kidnapped, raped and murdered.

The statement of claim notes that about 3:15 a.m. on June 23, 2002, police officers Alex Therrien and Carl Lamoureux checked a suspicious-looking man who was hiding behind the steering wheel of a car in a parking lot.

The man, who told them he didn't have identification or the keys to the vehicle, said he was waiting for Hugo Bernier, the car's owner.

The lawsuit contends the suspicious situation should have prompted the officers to check with the Canadian Police Information Centre. They would have learned Bernier was a predator on probation for sexual assault and in breach of his probation conditions.

It adds that such a check would have provided police with Bernier's physical description, allowing them to realize the man in the car was him.

Bernier then was spotted standing in a parking lot at 3:55 a.m., and hurried to climb into the back seat of a car where he pretended to be asleep, according to the statement of claim. It alleges he told officers Eric Lebel and Eric Beaudoin he was waiting for his brother Hugo Bernier.
The officers checked whether the vehicle was stolen, then left after Bernier told them he didn't have the car keys.

The lawsuit contends routine checks with the Centre de renseignements policiers du Quebec would have alerted the officers to the fact the same car had been checked 45 minutes before and the same man had been questioned.

The family wouldn't comment yesterday on the legal action. A lawyer for Sherbrooke also declined to comment.



I've got mid-terms this week and next...

If you've emailed me and I haven't responded, sit tight and I'll respond soonish.



My niece and nephew ride to school in style.


Lazy Friday

I was meaning to post something about the MacArthur Fellowships, but Sally Greene beat me to it.



You know, Toronto just keeps getting scarier...

Toronto girl, 11, missing

National Post
Thursday, September 22, 2005

TORONTO -- Police are scouring an east-end Toronto neighbourhood for a missing 11-year-old girl. 

Candice Lynn Hewlett was last seen Wednesday morning by her mother as she left for school.
The girl failed to return home and her mother called police at about 11 p.m., and a search began.
Candice is white, four-foot-nine, 100 pounds, with blue eyes and long brown hair usually tied in a ponytail. 

She was last seen wearing a grey sweatshirt with blue jeans.


The Alicia Ross Murder

You know it's interesting, two weeks ago I had dinner with a Toronto police officer who told me with the dead-certainty and confidence that only law enforcement officers possess that Alicia Ross was killed by her boyfriend and it was only a matter of time before he cracked under interrogation.

Here is this morning's Globe headline:

Ross neighbour charged
Man turns self in, directs police to areas where remains found



More pointless and misleading speculation - and a healthy dollop of police cheerleading - from the Ottawa Citizen on the murder of Jennifer Teague.

I would expect nothing less from CanWest Media.

Meanwhile, in the Ottawa Sun, Earl McRae takes no shame in patronizing the public's intelligence.

Rather than squashing any attempts at suggesting that the murder my be the result of a serial killer, wouldn't it be wiser to keep all options on the table and say nothing until initial analysis is completed?



Simon Wiesenthal has died


The S word

It took the National Post all of 24-hours to raise the possibility that Jennifer Teague's murder might be the work of a serial killer.

What's leading to this suspicion is the unsolved murder of Ardeth Wood, found in the brush in downtown Ottawa over two years ago. What's missing from the discussion is the role of chief of police, Vince Bevan in all of this. Bevan promised that Wood's killer would be caught. It didn't happen (rumor has it the culprit was a well-known rapist who the police let slip out of town - hmmm... where have I heard that one before?).

Now you ask, Bevan? Where have I heard that name before? That's right, Vince Bevan is the former head of the Green Ribbon Task Forceresponsible for Karla Homolka's sweet plea bargain. 

Two years ago, in a letter to the Ottawa Citizen, I called into question the abilities of Chief Bevan to solve the Wood murder. My letter was refused on the grounds that it might "traumatize" the community. Here is an excerpt from the Citizen's reply:

"Now is not the time to question the competence or dedication of the investigators. We have our news team on the story, of course, and they will be quick to report any foot-dragging or incompetence on the part of Vince Bevan and his major crime squad. But your article, even though it speaks also to larger issues of victims' rights, seems to pre-judge our law enforcement. It's a bit early, for that, I feel-- though of course your piece might become more relevant later on. "

My question to the Citizen is this:

It's been two years, and another young girl has been murdered, the police still haven't solved the first murder. So is it okay to question the competence of investigators now?



Hot-air on homelessness over at Orange Politics

Gee, the last person that demanded I brush up on Howard Zinn was Will Hunting (hint: self-righteous posturing only works in the movies).


The Screech-for-spuds accord.


Waiting to take my daughter for a Rollarblade lesson... 

I found out they'll be doing skating this winter in PE class: no self-respecting Canadian will ever let his child down in this department.

Oh, about that scholarship... please note, it's not a lot of money so don't go assuming I am flush. Let's just say it will cover the cost of my books ( a fair chunk-o-change).

Speaking of books... Dang those things are expensive! 

And what's with Professors assigning text that they themselves deem useless? This is the second course I've taken where the teacher's said something like, "Well, everyone agrees this book isn't very good, but we're going to use it anyway..."

Huh? I just paid a hundred bucks for a doorstop? What's up with that?

Then they have the nerve to tell you they've been assigning the same half-assed text for the past seven years.

I got an idea, why not get up off your lazy-ass and write a good book. 

That's just my rant for the day. The flip side is the lectures are always good. (yes, yes... you're good teachers, I enjoy you very much.)



State of the Art

Tired (and suspicious) of giving your hard-earned dollars to the American Red Cross?

Then check out these organizations that offer Arts and Cultural assistance to survivors of Hurricane Katrina.



I've been awarded a scholarship

Well this is a nice surprise:

"The MPA Alumni Society's Scholarship Committee has selected you as the recipient of the 2005-2006 [NC State University] MPA Alumni Scholarship Award... This year's committee was pleased to recognize your contribution to the community through your involvement in victims' rights, local government and theater"

I applied for it, but I didn't expect to receive it.


Mark Chilton

I've added a link to Mark Chilton's website, a task that was easy to do. Mark is running for Mayor of Carrboro in the election to be held on November 8th.

I've know Mark personally for about 4 years now (we've shared a number of preschool experiences through our children). Professionally, Mark brokered the sale of our old house and our move into the new house on Cobblestone. Mark is just very genuine. He's a stakeholder in this community. On a number of occasions he's demonstrated his compassion and concern for the people that live here. I also know many of the administration that work for the Town of Carrboro. Mark would make a good fit there. He's a great candidate for mayor.




"Even those who die victimized, those who disappear, those who are no longer part of the living history of earth, those no longer remembered - all these people are not beyond the reach of the living God." 

Elizabeth Johnson via J Olson.



Possible limited blogging

I'll be in Toronto the next few days so probably not a lot of posts for the next while.

(Then again, Toronto's a pretty dull place; maybe I'll just hole up in my hotel and blog like a fiend.)



This piece from the Boston Globe is heart breaking.


Government Computer News

The August 29th issue of Government Computer News (the day Katrina hit) was devoted to the Department of Homeland Security. The cover story, titled Double Duty, recounted the agency's struggle with "dueling, sometimes conflicting tasks" of dealing with security and citizens services such as disaster-relief.

Highlights from this fascinating 20-page piece include:

- Michael Chertoff's plan to reorganize the agency by October 2005: "The reorganization itself is a tacit admission that DHS as it is presently constituted has not achieved its goals of aligning federal resources most effectively to confront terror and provide services."

- Communication: "there were things that happened from the get-go that people forget. One was that the [DHS] IT budget was reduced by more than $300 million in the first year" DHS Chief Technology Officer Lee Holcomb.

As well, under the department's goal to create a system to share information among government agencies and the private sector, GCN gave the agency a grade of Not Achieved, stating, "DHS' information-sharing capabilities have been limited to a circumscribed "circle-of-trust" that excludes companies and the public."

- Again, under the agency's goal to "Improve public safety and public health communications", GCN states that not much has been achieved:"The poster child technology problem of the terrorism response field - incompatible first-responder radios - remains years from resolution"

- Under the DHS, FEMA's agenda was changed from disaster recovery to emergency preparedness. One of Chertoff's initial actions was proposing that FEMA be returned to it's original mission.

The article also includes a comprehensive analysis of DHS IT projects (far too detailed to discuss here) including Emerge2, the FBI's troubled Case Management System, Rescue 21 (upgrade of the National Distress System), and the Integrated Wireless Network.



Wow... Open letter to the President from the New Orleans Times Picayune:

Dear Mr. President:

We heard you loud and clear Friday when you visited our devastated city and the Gulf Coast and said, "What is not working, we’re going to make it right." Please forgive us if we wait to see proof of your promise before believing you. But we have good reason for our skepticism.

Bienville built New Orleans where he built it for one main reason: It’s accessible. The city between the Mississippi River and Lake Pontchartrain was easy to reach in 1718. How much easier it is to access in 2005 now that there are interstates and bridges, airports and helipads, cruise ships, barges, buses and diesel-powered trucks.

Despite the city’s multiple points of entry, our nation’s bureaucrats spent days after last week’s hurricane wringing their hands, lamenting the fact that they could neither rescue the city’s stranded victims nor bring them food, water and medical supplies.

Meanwhile there were journalists, including some who work for The Times-Picayune, going in and out of the city via the Crescent City Connection. On Thursday morning, that crew saw a caravan of 13 Wal-Mart tractor trailers headed into town to bring food, water and supplies to a dying city.

Television reporters were doing live reports from downtown New Orleans streets. Harry Connick Jr. brought in some aid Thursday, and his efforts were the focus of a "Today" show story Friday morning.

Yet, the people trained to protect our nation, the people whose job it is to quickly bring in aid were absent. Those who should have been deploying troops were singing a sad song about how our city was impossible to reach.

We’re angry, Mr. President, and we’ll be angry long after our beloved city and surrounding parishes have been pumped dry. Our people deserved rescuing. Many who could have been were not. That’s to the government’s shame.

Mayor Ray Nagin did the right thing Sunday when he allowed those with no other alternative to seek shelter from the storm inside the Louisiana Superdome. We still don’t know what the death toll is, but one thing is certain: Had the Superdome not been opened, the city’s death toll would have been higher. The toll may even have been exponentially higher.

It was clear to us by late morning Monday that many people inside the Superdome would not be returning home. It should have been clear to our government, Mr. President. So why weren’t they evacuated out of the city immediately? We learned seven years ago, when Hurricane Georges threatened, that the Dome isn’t suitable as a long-term shelter. So what did state and national officials think would happen to tens of thousands of people trapped inside with no air conditioning, overflowing toilets and dwindling amounts of food, water and other essentials?

State Rep. Karen Carter was right Friday when she said the city didn’t have but two urgent needs: "Buses! And gas!" Every official at the Federal Emergency Management Agency should be fired, Director Michael Brown especially.

In a nationally televised interview Thursday night, he said his agency hadn’t known until that day that thousands of storm victims were stranded at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center. He gave another nationally televised interview the next morning and said, "We’ve provided food to the people at the Convention Center so that they’ve gotten at least one, if not two meals, every single day."

Lies don’t get more bald-faced than that, Mr. President.

Yet, when you met with Mr. Brown Friday morning, you told him, You’re doing a heck of a job." That’s unbelievable. There were thousands of people at the Convention Center because the riverfront is high ground. The fact that so many people had reached there on foot is proof that rescue vehicles could have gotten there, too.

We, who are from New Orleans, are no less American than those who live on the Great Plains or along the Atlantic Seaboard. We’re no less important than those from the Pacific Northwest or Appalachia. Our people deserved to be rescued.

No expense should have been spared. No excuses should have been voiced. Especially not one as preposterous as the claim that New Orleans couldn’t be reached.

Mr. President, we sincerely hope you fulfill your promise to make our beloved communities work right once again. When you do, we will be the first to applaud. 

Posted Sunday :: September 04, 2005


I don't think I've read anything quite like this in the American papers:

"They should have been here days ago," said 46-year-old Michael Levy as he lined up in the extreme heat to get water.

"We've been sleeping on the ground like rats. I say burn this whole ... city down." His words were echoed by those around him, who yelled: "Hell, yeah!"

The commander of the troops promised to restore order as survivors recounted horrific cases of sexual assault and murder.

At the city's convention centre where thousands had sought refuge, Trolkyn Joseph, 37, said men had wandered around raping and murdering children.

She said she found a dead 14-year-old girl at 5am yesterday, four hours after she went missing inside the convention centre.

"She was raped for four hours until she was dead," Ms Joseph said through tears.

"Another child, a seven-year-old boy, was found raped and murdered in the kitchen freezer last night."

Residents said babies, the frail and the elderly had died waiting for food.

from the Australian news service


Ready and Waiting

A fleet of ambulances stand ready at RDU yesterday. North Carolina was told to expect a plane load of about 500 hurricane refugees, but the refugees were a no-show.



Hurricane Katrina

Still think it's not about race, class and the poor?

Read this...

and this...

now this...

don't forget this...

also this...

(even I almost missed this)

Oh there's also this

and, of course, by now everyone's seen this.



Other than Hurricane stuff, I admit my posts have been thin lately. Truth is, I've been busy with work and school.

I'm about into my third week of classes. It keeps me busy and I like it. Public Policy so far has been all about cost benefit analysis, or cost effective analysis (CB and CE). Professor Swiss has been very good. There are about 30 people in my class. They are all graduate students and they all look VERY much younger than me.

Statistics for Behavioral Science is quite different. About 75 students; all graduates, most much older than me.

And if I may say, not the sharpest tools in the shed. Remember that old SCTV sketch, The Half-Wits? That's my class. I've befriended the Physics PhD and the Chinese Business major. We stay huddled together and mostly silent.

I've already had two quizes and I completed my first essay (the class is big on homework).
This week we've been focusing on Probability t\Theory. For most, this entails the likelihood that college age females will be over 68", but for me probability is a subject of deeper, personal meaning. In fact I sit there in class and sometimes I find the whole thing downright creepy.



Rapper Kanye blasts Bush 

It began, fittingly enough, with jazz from New Orleans natives Harry Connick Jr. and Wynton Marsalis. But "A Concert for Hurricane Relief," a heartfelt and dignified benefit airing on NBC and other networks last night, took an unexpected turn, thanks to outspoken rapper Kanye West. 

Appearing two-thirds through the program, West claimed, "George Bush doesn't care about black people," and said America is set up "to help the poor, the black people, the less well-off as slow as possible." 

The show, simulcast from New York on NBC, MSNBC, CNBC and Pax, aired live on the East Coast, enabling the Grammy-winning rapper's outburst to go out uncensored. 

Comedian Mike Myers was paired with West for a 90-second segment that began with Myers speaking of Katrina's devastation. Then, to Myers' evident surprise, West began a rant by saying, "I hate the way they portray us in the media. If you see a black family, it says they're looting. See a white family, it says they're looking for food." 

NBC said in a statement that West's comments were unscripted and "in no way represent the views of the networks." 

The Associated Press


I believe this is what West was referring to....


I doubt anyone will take us up, but how could you not make the offer?


Kudos to Aaron Brown last night who took up the subject of race with Congresswoman Stephanie Tubbs and would not let up... 

It was also quite something to see Shepard Smith go toe-to-toe with Sean Hannity on Fox. Smith looked like a wild animal.

But I was not buying Geraldo's weepy dispair, all but using a 3-month-old baby as his personal prop.


Something Old, Something New

The murder of strippers whose bodies are on the outskirts is nothing new to Quebec. This has been going on with little attention for at least 30 years.

In 1977, the body of 19-year-old Nicole Lanouette was found in a shallow grave outside Trois Rivieres. Lanouette, a stripper, disappeared from a nightclub in Longueuil.

Also in 1977, go-go dancer, Diane Malouin's body was found floating in the Saint Lawrence river. She had been decapitated. Malouin worked for the "Ben-Art" agency and was apparently trying to get out of her contract.

Again from 1977... Claude Lafortune shot exotic dancer, Violette Barette because he "detested her habit of listening to music too loud".

In 1978, after an evening of sex, booze and cocaine Raymond Fernandez, Johnny Facchino and Antonio Facchino beat and strangled 17-year-old exotic dancer, Anne Pharand and left her body in a downtown Montreal alley.

What I do find surprising (and gratifying) about the murders of Steven Wright and Mark Kraynak (and these are murders, no one wanders to the edge of a quarry) is all the media attention these cases are getting. 

If this had been a female stripper, would it have made the front page?




It's great to see conservatives up north staying on message in the face of tragedy

(do you think anyone down here listens to you anyway?)


Some hugs, a fly over, then business as usually

President Bush just finished his farwell news conference from Louis Armstrong airport. A lot of thank-yous and atta-boys, even Mayor Nagin fell in line...

How can it be that 50,000 still cannot be evacuated from the city?

Write your congressional representatives.


CNN's big disconnect on New Orleans

This is already all over the blogosphere, but it's worth passing along.

Bravo CNN for putting the federal response into perspective.


FEMA and Federal suggestions for disaster Relief:

After the Red Cross, the list of organizations accepting donations for Katrina relief is all faith-based. Topping the list? Pat Robertson's Operation Blessing:

``How in the heck did that happen?'' said Richard Walden, president of Operation USA, a Los Angeles-based secular group that has been conducting disaster relief work since 1979 and was not on FEMA's list. ``That gives Pat Robertson millions of extra dollars.''

In the face of the largest natural catastophe in American history it's good to have your priorities straight.


The best show in town 

Folks in Canada, if you want an indication of what's happening down here in the States, just turn on the American evening news.

I'm not surprised that some have lost their composure; but to watchAnderson Cooper come unglued, to witness Arron Brown laugh because if he doesn't he'll cry, to see conservatives like Tucker Carlson and Joe Scarborough and even - to some extent - Bill O'Reilly criticize the federal government...

This is extraordinary.


Over at Orange Politics it appears my ideas on disaster relief have been censored:

It reads, "A comment by John a is awaiting moderation. "

Yes, because you know how dangerous it it to offer your home up to hurricane refugees .


Good Ideas Should Be Shared

I've been scratching my head to come up with a good response to Hurricane Katrina victims.

I can't. But my good friend Eric Muller over at Is That Legal has a great idea, so allow me to direct you there.

Eric has started a network to try and house Gulf Coast law student refugees at other universities across the country. Check it out, and if you can take in a boarder for a semester or two, please do.



When The Levee Breaks

What to say in the face of the disaster on top of the disaster. I hear the DHS turned away truckloads of Canadian aid. Nothing but shame for my adopted country.

I better shut up before I say something political.

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