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Not ONLY in America

Young black men make up four in 10 of youth jail population

Report shows proportion of black and minority ethnic young men in young offender institutions in England and Wales has risen

Alan Travis,

Young black men now account for nearly 40% of the population of youth jails in England and Wales, according to a report by the chief inspector of prisons.

The report, published jointly with the youth justice board, shows that the proportion of black and other minority ethnic young men in young offender institutions (YOIs) has risen from 23% in 2006 and 33% in 2009/10 to 39% last year.

The changing demographic profile of the population inside youth jails in England and Wales also shows an increasing proportion of young Muslims, up from 13% last year to 16% this year. Foreign national young men account for a record 6% of the population.

The chief inspector of prisons, Nick Hardwick, says young people aged 15 to 18 are being held in deteroriating conditions in the YOI network, with fewer feeling safe while they are locked up.

The inspection showed that fewer young inmates felt they could tell someone they were being victimised or believed a member of staff would take them seriously. Only half said they had done something while they were inside that would make them less likely to reoffend in the future.

The report also reveals that more that one-third of the young men had been physically restrained as part of the disciplinary process at their YOI. The highest restraint rate – 66% – was at the Keppel unit at Wetherby, which deals with male teenagers who have not responded to a “normal” YOI regime. The lowest – 8% – was at the Carlford unit near Woodbridge, Suffolk, which holds 30 teenage boys serving long sentences.

The over-representation of young black men in youth jails comes despite a sharp fall in the number of children and young people in custody that has already led to the closure of five YOIs, including a specialist unit for young women.

The total population of the youth justice “secure estate”, which includes eight male YOIs and three specialist units for girls and young women, continued to fall from 1,977 in March 2010 to 1,822 this March, before this summer’s riots.

Hardwick says, however, that the number of black and minority ethnic children in custody has not fallen at the same rate as the number of white children being locked up.

Between 2007 and 2011 there was a 37% reduction in white children in custody, compared with a 16% reduction in black and ethnic minority children,” says the report.

The report does not discuss the reasons why young black people make up an ever greater proportion of the shrinking youth jail population. But Hardwick does note that an increasing number – 53% now, compared with 39% last year – of young men are being sent to prison for the first time.

Hardwick said: “This report has highlighted some deterioration in children and young people’s experience of custody. Despite the falling numbers, this population has well-defined vulnerability and increasing numbers within minority groups. The need, therefore, to provide these people with support during their time in custody and in preparation for their release is as great as ever.”

Frances Done, the chair of the youth justice board, which commissions places in youth prisons, said it would be working with all secure establishments to make sure that young people’s time in custody has positive results.

The inspection was based on the experience of 1,115 young men and 47 young women in YOIs and specialist units.

SOURCE

The Top 100 Statistics About The Collapse Of The Economy That Every American Voter Should Know

The Top 100 Statistics About The Collapse Of The Economy That Every American Voter Should Know

Courtesy of The Economic Collapse Blog

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The U.S. economy is dying and most American voters have no idea why it is happening. Unfortunately, the mainstream media and most of our politicians are not telling the truth about the collapse of the economy. This generation was handed the keys to the greatest economic machine that the world has ever seen, and we have completely wrecked it. Decades of incredibly foolish decisions have left us drowning in an ocean of corruption, greed and bad debt. Thousands of businesses and millions of jobs have left the country and poverty is exploding from coast to coast. We are literally becoming a joke to the rest of the world. It is absolutely imperative that we educate America about what is happening. Until the American people truly understand the problems that we are facing, they will not be willing to implement the solutions that are necessary.

The following are the top 100 statistics about the collapse of the economy that every American voter should know….

#100 A staggering 48.5% of all Americans live in a household that receives some form of government benefits. Back in 1983, that number was below 30 percent.

#99 During the Obama administration, the U.S. government has accumulated more debt than it did from the time that George Washington took office to the time that Bill Clinton took office.

#98 Since Barack Obama was sworn in, the share of the national debt per household has increased by $35,835.

#97 The U.S. national debt has been increasing by an average of more than 4 billion dollars per day since the beginning of the Obama administration.

#96 It is being projected that the U.S. national debt will hit 344% of GDP by the year 2050 if we continue on our current course.

#95 The Congressional Budget Office is projecting that U.S. government debt held by the public will reach a staggering 716 percent of GDP by the year 2080.

#94 In 2010, the U.S. government paid $413 billion in interest on the national debt. That is projected to at least double over the next decade.

#93 According to one new survey, one out of every three Americans would not be able to make a mortgage or rent payment next month if they suddenly lost their current job.

#92 State and local government debt has reached an all-time high of 22 percent of U.S. GDP.

#91 In 1980, government transfer payments accounted for just 11.7% of all income. Today, government transfer payments account for 18.4% of all income.

#90 U.S. households are now receiving more income from the U.S. government than they are paying to the government in taxes.

#89 According to a new study conducted by the BlackRock Investment Institute, the ratio of household debt to personal income in the United States is now 154 percent.

#88 If you can believe it, one out of every seven Americans has at least 10 credit cards.

#87 According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, health care costs accounted for just 9.5% of all personal consumption back in 1980. Today they account for approximately 16.3%.

#86 The cost of a health insurance policy for the average American family rose by a whopping 9 percent last year, and according to a report put out by the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Health Research and Educational Trust, the average family health insurance policy now costs over $15,000 a year.

#85 One study found that approximately 41 percent of working age Americans either have medical bill problems or are currently paying off medical debt.

#84 An all-time record 49.9 million Americans do not have any health insurance at all at this point, and the percentage of Americans covered by employer-based health plans has fallen for 11 years in a row.

#83 According to a report published in The American Journal of Medicine, medical bills are a major factor in more than 60 percent of the personal bankruptcies in the United States. Of those bankruptcies that were caused by medical bills, approximately 75 percent of them involved individuals that actually did have health insurance.

#82 Average yearly tuition at U.S. private universities is now up to $27,293.

#81 The cost of college tuition in the United States has gone up by over 900 percent since 1978.

#80 In America today, approximately two-thirds of all college students graduate with student loans.

#79 In 2010, the average college graduate had accumulated approximately $25,000 in student loan debt by graduation day.

#78 The total amount of student loan debt in the United States now exceeds the total amount of credit card debt in the United States.

#77 One-third of all college graduates end up taking jobs that don’t even require college degrees.

#76 In the United States today, there are more than 100,000 janitors that have college degrees.

#75 In the United States today, 317,000 waiters and waitresses have college degrees.

#74 In the United States today, approximately 365,000 cashiers have college degrees.

#73 It is being projected that for the first time ever, the OPEC nations are going to bring in over a trillion dollars from exporting oil this year. Their biggest customer is the United States.

#72 U.S. oil companies will bring in about $200 billion in pre-tax profits this year. They will also receive about $4.4 billion in specialized tax breaks from the U.S. government.

#71 The United States has had a negative trade balance every single year since 1976, and since that time the United States has run a total trade deficit of more than 7.5 trillion dollars with the rest of the world.

#70 The United States has lost an average of 50,000 manufacturing jobs per month since China joined the World Trade Organization in 2001.

#69 The U.S. trade deficit with China is now 27 times larger than it was back in 1990.

#68 Today, the United States spends more than 4 dollars on goods and services from China for every one dollar that China spends on goods and services from the United States.

#67 China has surpassed the United States and is now the largest PC market in the entire world.

#66 In 2002, the United States had a trade deficit in “advanced technology products” of $16 billion with the rest of the world. In 2010, that number skyrocketed to $82 billion.

#65 In 2010, the number one U.S. export to China was “scrap and trash”.

#64 Do you remember when the United States was the dominant manufacturer of automobiles and trucks on the globe? Well, in 2010 the U.S. ran a trade deficit in automobiles, trucks and parts of $110 billion.

#63 The United States has lost a staggering 32 percent of its manufacturing jobs since the year 2000.

#62 If you can believe it, more than 42,000 manufacturing facilities in the United States have been closed down since 2001.

#61 Between December 2000 and December 2010, 38 percent of the manufacturing jobs in Ohio were lost, 42 percent of the manufacturing jobs in North Carolina were lost and 48 percent of the manufacturing jobs in Michigan were lost.

#60 Back in 1970, 25 percent of all jobs in the United States were manufacturing jobs. Today, only 9 percent of the jobs in the United States are manufacturing jobs.

#59 According to Professor Alan Blinder of Princeton University, 40 million more U.S. jobs could be sent offshore over the next two decades.

#58 If you gathered together all of the workers that are “officially” unemployed in the United States today, they would constitute the 68th largest country in the world.

#57 There are fewer payroll jobs in the United States right now than there were back in 2000 even though we have added 30 million extra people to the population since then.

#56 Back in 1969, 95 percent of all men between the ages of 25 and 54 had a job. In July, only 81.2 percent of men in that age group had a job.

#55 Only 55.3% of all Americans between the ages of 18 and 29 were employed last year. That was the lowest level that we have seen since World War II.

#54 Today, there are 5.9 million Americans between the ages of 25 and 34 that are living with their parents.

#53 The economic downturn has been particularly tough on men. According to Census data, men are twice as likely to live with their parents as women are.

#52 According to one recent survey, only 14 percent of all Americans that are 28 or 29 years old are optimistic about their financial futures.

#51 Incredibly, less than 30 percent of all U.S. teens had a job this summer.

#50 According to one study, between 1969 and 2009 the median wages earned by American men between the ages of 30 and 50 dropped by 27 percent after you account for inflation.

#49 Since the year 2000, we have lost approximately 10% of our middle class jobs. In the year 2000 there were about 72 million middle class jobs in the United States but today there are only about 65 million middle class jobs.

#48 In 1980, 52 percent of all jobs in the United States were middle income jobs. Today, only 42 percent of all jobs are middle income jobs.

#47 Back in 1980, less than 30% of all jobs in the United States were low income jobs. Today, more than 40% of all jobs in the United States are low income jobs.

#46 According to Paul Osterman, a professor of economics at MIT, approximately 20 percent of all employed Americans are making $10.65 an hour or less.

#45 Half of all American workers now earn $505 or less per week.

#44 Since December 2007, median household income in the United States has declined by a total of 6.8% once you account for inflation.

#43 New home sales in the United States are now down 80% from the peak in July 2005.

#42 The all-time record for fewest number of new homes sold in the United States was broken in 2009. Then it was broken again in 2010. It is on pace to be broken once again in 2011.

#41 At one point this year, U.S. home prices had fallen a whopping 33% from where they were at during the peak of the housing bubble.

#40 U.S. home values have fallen approximately 6 trillion dollars since the housing crisis first began.

#39 According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 18 percent of all homes in the state of Florida are sitting vacant. That figure is 63 percent larger than it was just ten years ago.

#38 Historically, the percentage of residential mortgages in foreclosure in the United States has tended to hover between 1 and 1.5 percent. Today, it is up around 4.5 percent.

#37 According to the Mortgage Bankers Association, at least 8 million Americans are currently at least one month behind on their mortgage payments.

#36 According to a Harris Interactive survey taken near the end of last year, 77 percent of all Americans are now living paycheck to paycheck. In 2007, the same survey found that only 43 percent of Americans were living paycheck to paycheck.

#35 Starting on January 1st, 2011 the Baby Boomers began to hit retirement age. From now on, every single day more than 10,000 Baby Boomers will reach the age of 65. That is going to keep happening every single day for the next 19 years.

#34 According to a new poll by Americans for Secure Retirement, 88 percent of all Americans are worried about “maintaining a comfortable standard of living in retirement”. Last year, that figure was at 73 percent.

#33 One out of every six elderly Americans now lives below the federal poverty line.

#32 In 1950, each retiree’s Social Security benefit was paid for by 16 U.S. workers. According to new data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are now only 1.75 full-time private sector workers for each person that is receiving Social Security benefits in the United States.

#31 According to the Congressional Budget Office, the Social Security system paid out more in benefits than it received in payroll taxes in 2010. That was not supposed to happen until at least 2016.

#30 The U.S. government now says that the Medicare trust fund will run out five years faster than they were projecting just last year.

#29 According to one study, the 50 U.S. state governments are collectively 3.2 trillion dollars short of what they need to meet their pension obligations.

#28 A different study has shown that individual Americans are $6.6 trillion short of what they need to retire comfortably.

#27 Between 1991 and 2007 the number of Americans between the ages of 65 and 74 that filed for bankruptcy rose by a staggering 178 percent.

#26 According to a shocking AARP survey of Baby Boomers that are still in the workforce, 40 percent of them plan to work “until they drop”.

#25 Last year, 2.6 million more Americans dropped into poverty. That was the largest increase that we have seen since the U.S. government began keeping statistics on this back in 1959.

#24 Back in the year 2000, 11.3% of all Americans were living in poverty. Today, 15.1% of all Americans are living in poverty.

#23 More than 50 million Americans are now on Medicaid. Back in 1965, only one out of every 50 Americans was on Medicaid. Today, approximately one out of every 6 Americans is on Medicaid.

#22 More than 45 million Americans are now on food stamps.

#21 The number of Americans on food stamps has increased 74% since 2007.

#20 Approximately one-third of the entire population of the state of Alabama is now on food stamps.

#19 Right now, one out of every four American children is on food stamps.

#18 It is being projected that approximately 50 percent of all U.S. children will be on food stamps at some point in their lives before they reach the age of 18.

#17 The poverty rate for children living in the United States increased to 22% in 2010.

#16 There are 314 counties in the United States where at least 30% of the children are facing food insecurity.

#15 In Washington D.C., the “child food insecurity rate” is 32.3%.

#14 More than 20 million U.S. children rely on school meal programs to keep from going hungry.

#13 It is estimated that up to half a million children may currently be homeless in the United States.

#12 The number of Americans that are going to food pantries and soup kitchens has increased by 46% since 2006.

#11 According to a recent report from the AFL-CIO, the average CEO made 343 times more money than the average American did last year.

#10 The wealthiest 1% of all Americans now own more than a third of all the wealth in the United States.

#9 The poorest 50% of all Americans collectively own just 2.5% of all the wealth in the United States.

#8 The percentage of millionaires in Congress is more than 50 times higher than the percentage of millionaires in the general population.

#7 According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 16.6 million Americans were self-employed back in December 2006. Today, that number has shrunk to 14.5 million.

#6 According to one recent poll, 90 percent of the American people believe that economic conditions in the United States are “poor”. To put this in perspective, only 11 percent of Americans rated economic conditions in the U.S. as “poor” back in January of 1999.

#5 According to another recent poll, 80 percent of the American people believe that we are actually in a recession right now.

#4 Our dollar is being systematically destroyed by the Federal Reserve. An item that cost $20.00 in 1970 will cost you $116.78 today. An item that cost $20.00 in 1913 will cost you $457.67 today.

#3 The Federal Reserve made $16.1 trillion in secret loans to their friends during the last financial crisis.

#2 The Federal Reserve is a perpetual debt machine. Today, the U.S. national debt is more than 4700 times larger than it was when the Federal Reserve was created back in 1913.

#1 According to a new CNN/ORC International Poll, 27 percent of all Americans have never even heard of Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke.

We need to educate America.

Please share this with as many people as you can. Time is running out for America, and 2012 is going to be an absolutely pivotal year in the history of this nation.

We are in the midst of a long-term economic decline that is rapidly accelerating. If dramatic changes are not made very quickly, we will soon witness a full-blown collapse of the economy.

Wake up as many people as you can.

We are running out of time.

SOURCE

Cancer: 7.5 Million Strong………….and growing.

World cancer toll is on the rise, says research

Sarah Boseley
The Guardian

At least 12.6 million people are diagnosed with cancer around the world every year, and more than 7.5 million die of the disease – a toll that is steadily rising in every country as the population expands and people live longer, according to research by the World Health Organisation.

Cancer was the cause of 14% of all deaths around the world in 2008, the year for which there are the most recent comprehensive figures, but the rates varied enormously from one region to another, from 5% in Africa to 21% in the western Pacific. More than a quarter of all deaths in the UK – 27% – were from cancer.

Cancer Research UK (Cruk) and the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), an arm of the World Health Organisation, are releasing their report as the first United Nations summit opens in New York on tackling the killer diseases that every nation is now having to confront: heart and lung diseases, diabetes and cancer.

These so-called “non-communicable diseases”, which have all taken off as sedentary lifestyles, junk food, smoking and drinking have spread around the planet, are already a massive burden on rich countries and are steadily becoming one in poorer countries, too.

Cruk has high hopes of the summit, which is intended to focus the attention of government leaders on ways of preventing as well as treating the new scourge. “While it is clear that tackling cancer worldwide will remain one of the major challenges in the 21st century, this high-level meeting will finally put cancer on the global agenda, providing the biggest and best opportunity to drive forward major changes in this area,” says its report.

Worldwide, men are more likely to get cancer than women – 204 out of every 100,000 men and 165 per 100,000 women got cancer in 2008, according to age-standardised data. The incidence rate is rising fast in the developing world but is still markedly lower in Africa, where 88 per 100,000 people got cancer, than in North America and western Europe, where 334 and 335 people respectively per 100,000 were diagnosed.

Data is not well collected or kept in most developing countries, but the younger age of the population and different diets and lifestyles play a big part. The highest incidence among men in the world was in France and Australia, which had 361 cases per 100,000. Among women, it was Denmark, with 325 per 100,000. The UK rate was 33rd highest among men and 12th for women.

Four common cancers are responsible for 45% of the death toll, says the report – lung cancer, which is the biggest killer among men, liver, stomach and colorectum. In the UK, the biggest killers are lung, colorectum, breast and prostate.

For several decades, lung cancer has been the most common cancer in the world. In 2008, there were 1.6m diagnoses and the largest proportion – 55% – is now in the developing world, where public smoking bans and advertising restrictions generally do not apply.

The declaration to be signed at the end of the UN meeting will call on governments to take action against tobacco marketing. About a quarter of all adults in the world – more than 1 billion people – are thought to smoke. In Europe, male smoking has peaked, but the habit is still on the increase among young women and girls. The UK has the seventh highest lung cancer rate in women among 184 countries with reliable statistics in the world.

Breast cancer is by far the most common cancer among women, with 1.38mdiagnoses in 2008, which is a quarter of the total for women. It affects a larger proportion of women in wealthy countries, although the developing countries have high numbers and it is a growing problem there.

Reproductive behaviour – having fewer children and postponing childbearing, and breastfeeding less – as well as weight, lack of exercise and drinking are all thought to be factors in the rise in cases. Breast cancer is the most common cause of death among women worldwide.

Cervical cancer hits developing countries hardest as screening, vaccination and treatment bring the numbers down in the richer world. More than eight out of 10 cases (86%) are now in the developing world, and 88% of the 275,000 deaths. The UK death rate is low, ranked 157th out of 184 countries on mortality rates.

SOURCE

Wind Farms: Monuments to Lunacy

Wind farms: the monuments to lunacy that will be left to blot the landscape


By Christopher Booker

Three separate news items on the same day last week reflected three different aspects of what is fast becoming a full-scale disaster bearing down on Britain. The first item was a picture in The Daily Telegraph showing two little children forlornly holding a banner reading “E.On Hands Off Winwick”.

This concerned a battle to prevent a tiny Northamptonshire village from being dwarfed by seven 410-foot wind turbines, each higher than Salisbury Cathedral, to be built nearby by a giant German-owned electricity firm. The 40 residents, it was reported, have raised £50,0000 from their savings to pay lawyers to argue their case when their village’s fate is decided at an inquiry by a Government inspector.

In the nine years since I began writing here about wind turbines, I have been approached by more than 100 such local campaigns in every part of Britain, trying to fight the rich and powerful companies that have been queuing up to cash in on the vast subsidy bonanza available to developers of wind farms. Having been the chairman of one such group myself, I know just how time-consuming and costly such battles can be. The campaigners are up against a system horribly rigged against them, because all too often – although they may win every battle locally (in our case we won unanimous support from our local council) – in the end an inspector may come down from London to rule that the wind farm must go ahead because it is “government policy”.

I long ago decided that there was little point reporting on most of these individual campaigns, because the only way this battle was going to be won was by exposing the futility of the national policy they were up against. My main aim had to be to bring home to people just how grotesquely inefficient and costly wind turbines are as a way to make electricity – without even fulfilling their declared purpose of reducing CO2 emissions.

Alas, despite all the practical evidence to show why wind power is one of the greatest follies of our age, those who rule our lives, from our own politicians and officials here in Britain to those above them in Brussels, seem quite impervious to the facts.

Hence the two other items reported last week, one being the Government’s proposed changes to our planning rules (already being implemented, even though the “consultation” has scarcely begun) which are drawing fire from all directions. The particular point here, on page 43 of the Government’s document, is a proposal that local planning authorities must “apply a presumption in favour” of “renewable and low-carbon energy sources”.

What this means in plain English is that we can forget any last vestiges of local democracy. Our planning system is to be rigged even more shamelessly than before, to allow pretty well every application to cover our countryside with wind turbines – along with thousands of monster pylons, themselves up to 400 feet high, marching across Scotland, Wales, Suffolk, Somerset and elsewhere to connect them to the grid.

All this is deemed necessary to meet our EU-agreed target to generate nearly a third of our electricity from “renewables” – six times more than we do now – by 2020. This would require building at least 10,000 more turbines, in addition to the 3,500 we already have – which last year supplied only 2.7 per cent of our electricity.

Obviously this is impossible, but our Government will nevertheless do all it can to meet its unreachable target and force through the building of thousands of turbines, capable of producing a derisory amount of electricity at a cost estimated, on its own figures, at £140 billion (equating to £5,600 for every household in the land).

Which brings us to the third of last week’s news items, a prediction by energy consultants Ulyx that a further avalanche of “green” measures will alone raise Britain’s already soaring energy bills in the same nine years by a further 58 per cent.

A significant part of this crippling increase, helping to drive more than half Britain’s households into “fuel poverty”, will be the costs involved in covering thousands of square miles of our countryside and seas with wind turbines. The sole beneficiaries will be the energy companies, which are allowed to charge us double or treble the normal cost of our electricity, through the subsidies hidden in our energy bills; and landowners such as Sir Reginald Sheffield, the Prime Minister’s father-in-law, who on his own admission stands to earn nearly £1,000 a day at the expense of the rest of us, for allowing a wind farm to be built on his Lincolnshire estate.

Even more damaging, however, will be the way this massive investment diverts resources away from the replacement of the coal-fired and nuclear power stations which are due for closure in coming years, threatening to leave a shortfall in our national electricity supply of nearly 40 per cent. If we are to keep our lights on and our economy running, we need – as the CBI warned in a damning report on Friday – urgently to spend some £200 billion on power supply,

But our politicians have been so carried away into their greenie never-never land that they seem to have lost any sight of this disaster bearing down on us. Instead of putting up turbines on the fields of Northants, E.On should be building the grown-up power stations we desperately need. But government energy policy has so skewed the financial incentives of the system that the real money is to made from building useless wind farms.

Sooner or later, this weird policy will be recognised as such a catastrophic blunder that it, and the colossal subsidies that made it possible, will be abandoned. That will leave vast areas of our once green and pleasant land littered with useless piles of steel and concrete, which it will be no one’s responsibility to cart away.

If the Government really wishes to make a useful change to our planning laws, it should insist that every planning permission to build wind turbines should include a requirement that, after their 25-year life, they must be removed at their owners’ expense. Alas, by that time the companies will all have gone bankrupt, and we shall be left with a hideous legacy as a monument to one of the greatest lunacies of our time.

A way has been found to save our village cricketers

There has been another twist to the year-long battle for survival of our little Somerset village cricket club which, as I wrote last Sunday, has been threatened with closure by a bizarre bureaucratic double whammy.

On the one hand, our local council wanted us to pay rates amounting to more than £100 for every home game we play, more than we can realistically afford. On the other, Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs has ruled that we cannot get any relief on this crippling demand because our constitution did not state explicitly that membership of the club is open to anyone “regardless of sex, age, disability, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion or other beliefs” (it merely stated that membership was “open to anyone”).

On Monday, in a friendly and helpful letter from Mendip district council, it emerged that a way may have been found round this difficulty. If our cricket club is redesignated as a business, we might qualify this year for Small Business Rate Relief, at 100 per cent.

For the moment, it seems, that the threat has been lifted, and that next season we may again be permitted to take the field on Sunday afternoons without having to pay a tax of over £700 a year – thanks to a scheme designed to promote growth in the local economy.

SOURCE

Renewed Racial Violence Leads To More Questions Than Answers

America’s Racial Inequalities Spark Renewed Violence In U.S. Cities

Walter Russell Mead, The American Interest

For some time now, residents of some US cities have noted occasional incidents of seemingly random, racially motivated violence in which young Black males are involved.

The hot weather and bad economy seem to be combining to generate a small but possibly significant uptick this year.

The national media are doing their best to avoid looking too closely at this disturbing phenomenon, and perhaps for good reason.

What the United States doesn’t need is a media firestorm that triggers copycat violence.

Nevertheless, some attention should be paid. Journalist Eugene Kane has the bare bones in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

“While out of town last week, I suddenly started receiving urgent long-distance messages about young black people in Milwaukee acting crazy.

Again.

Last time it happened, I was on vacation during the Fourth of July weekend when a bunch of misbehaving young black people ransacked a gas station convenience store and attacked residents in a park.

This time, I was in my hometown of Philadelphia attending the National Association of Black Journalists convention when my BlackBerry started blowing up with news about what happened Thursday night at the Wisconsin State Fair.

According to reports, it was similar to what happened in Riverwest last month, but on a much more brutal—and scarier—scale.

When people start reporting they were being beaten by black people for no other reason than being white people at the State Fair, that’s pretty disturbing.

Here is a news account of the violence. As Kane points out, Milwaukee isn’t the only city to have seen problems like this.

“For most of the summer, Philadelphia cops have dealt with a series of so-called flash mobs that turned violent, scores of young blacks roaming the center city area and attacking mostly white pedestrians and shoppers.

It’s so bad, Mayor Michael Nutter and Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey recently announced a coordinated response to the problem, which involves law enforcement measures, social responses and neighborhood outreach. They’re relying on a network of African-American professionals, community leaders and officials in the city to step up to the plate.

On Friday, Nutter said he would increase police street patrols and enforce curfews for young people. The city’s curfew ordinance says children under the age of 13 must be home by 10 p.m., and young people between the ages of 13 and 18 must be home by midnight.”

Yale sociologist Elijah has described Philadelphia flash mobs for the Philadelphia Inquirer like this:

“Flash mobs have reappeared on the streets of Center City. These groups of mostly black youths gravitate to a designated location at an appointed time. Once there, they become a mob that gathers force as it roams the streets, wreaking havoc on businesses while terrifying and sometimes attacking pedestrians.”

Dick Simpson of the Chicago Journal describes the situation in his city:

“These well-known social conditions breed anger and lawlessness. And so we now have black “flash mobs” attacking whites in the Loop, on public beaches along the North Side, as well as throughout the River North and Lakeview neighborhoods. The term “flash mob” originated when college-aged kids would converge on a spot like Grand Central Station in New York and do seemingly-impromptu performance art. But now, the term is being applied to violent groups.

For several years, roving groups of black teenagers have attacked folks on the South and West sides of Chicago as far out as Oak Park. These young folks in gangs and flash mobs are not afraid of the police. They attack and steal quickly—they are gone long before the police arrive. They just move on to another spot for their next attack. The beatings of victims can be brutal.”

In a piece on the Black underclass in Chicago for In These Times, Salim Muwakkil interviews a participant.

“Jamal Foster’s story is an example… Foster says he and his friends often travel to North Avenue and Oak Street Beach—two popular lakefront locations along the Gold Coast—to intimidate people and steal whatever they can. “We can get some good stuff down there,” the 17-year-old says. “You can’t get no iPods or nothing like that on the West Side. So we go to where you can and when we mob up, even the cops can’t stop us.”

Law enforcement’s impotence in halting such crimes—more than a dozen incidents in the first weeks of June alone—is the probable reason Chicago police took the unprecedented action of closing the densely crowded North Avenue Beach on Memorial Day. (The official reason given for the shutdown was to allow medical vehicles access to treat several heat-related injuries.)”

The Christian Science Monitor adds Washington and Las Vegas to the list of cities experiencing this phenomenon and discusses another pastime: “a game called “Knockout King,” played primarily by Black teenagers, where the point is to approach and quickly strike a stranger, often whites or immigrants, in an attempt to knock them unconscious with the first punch.”

Sounds like fun. A twist that is also gaining popularity is the “flash rob,” where a large group of young people descends on a store and loots it. As responsible journalists are always careful to say, the overall trend of youth crime in the US remains headed down, but this particular form of crime seems to be gaining steam.

There are many observations one can make—both about the phenomenon itself and about the gingerly way the press wants to handle it.

As to the phenomenon, it points to an important trend I’ve been reviewing in a series of posts on the state of Black America. What was once a cohesive community is fragmenting in several directions. Immigrants from Africa and from the African diaspora in Central America and the Caribbean are changing the definition of what it means to be an African American, and neither the interests nor the experiences of the new immigrants always fit comfortably into African American culture and ideology.

Beyond that, the three main groups of native-born African Americans are growing apart. There is an increasingly well-connected and successful African American elite who negotiate the upper reaches of American society on reasonably satisfactory terms, and life for them just keeps getting better. Oprah, President Obama, and a host of others are doing just fine.

Then comes a middle to lower middle class. They are not rich but in many cases they have college educations and are increasingly found in the suburbs. This group faces serious economic stress; the Great Recession, the housing bust and the implosion of public sector employment are eating away at the black middle class.

Finally there is the urban underclass; in many respects it is significantly worse off than in the 1970s. Social conditions in the inner city (as assessed by measures like public health, the percentage of illegitimate births and the percentage of pregnancies that end in abortion, achievement on standardized tests, high school and college graduation rates, unemployment, HIV prevalence, drug usage and the incarceration rate) are appalling, and many indicators are worse than they were a generation ago.

The lines of communication between the black poor and the black elite have largely broken down. (A similar process has taken place among whites.) President Obama has had little to say in the White House about the desperately deteriorating situation of Black America—much less about the disproportionate effect cuts in government spending will have on African Americans looking to government to provide jobs or to deliver services.

The personal and individual triumphs of highly visible African American public officials and business and intellectual leaders does not resonate with young people who see no road from where they are to where Oprah Winfrey or Colin Powell stand.

The same thing is true at a local level. As more successful families have moved out of the inner cities and into the suburbs, the ability of the national and local “Black Establishment” to intervene in moments of tension is dropping. Many inner city kids today grow up feeling abandoned by Black leaders as well as by whites.

Should flash mobs or other disturbing phenomena catch on more widely (and the combination of social media and idle youth can lead to very rapid shifts in behavior), it is not clear that either local or national leaders could do much to calm things down.

Given the toll the Great Recession has taken on what were already poor job and life prospects for inner city youth, and given the divide that increasingly leaves poor and marginal Black youth feeling abandoned by Black as well as white leaders, there is reason for concern about the potential for disturbing and violent developments.

Add to this the prevalence of weapons in some circles, the organizational base that gangs provide and the ubiquity of social media, it is not unlikely that future violence in the cities would look more like flash mobs and less like the urban riots of the 1960s. Those riots targeted Black neighborhoods, black owned stores and much of the property destroyed in the riots belonged to Blacks; any new trouble would likely be more effective at spreading the pain beyond the inner city. Link ups in some cases with religious radicals or foreign interests who seek to do us harm cannot be excluded.

The 2005 riots in France and the more recent riot in London tell us that youth and unemployment can be a bad mix; violent flash mobs should remind us that the same thing can happen here and in the age of social media, violent crowds can appear where and when law enforcement can’t cope.

Traditional liberals come in at this point to argue for spending more money on the traditional social intervention programs in the inner city. This is unlikely to happen; there is not much evidence that these programs accomplish very much—and there isn’t any money. Even taxing “millionaires and billionaires” to the eyeballs won’t manage out of control entitlements—much less inaugurate yet another “Marshall Plan for the cities.

The United States badly needs a workable and affordable post-Great Society approach to the inner cities. Unfortunately, we don’t have this yet and it is quite possible that we will face some testing times as a result.

But there is another trend that bears watching. There are a great many angry and frustrated people in this country who have lost faith in their national leaders and they aren’t black. They are, in fact, white.

[Readers frequently write to ask why I capitalize “Black” but not “white”. Often the question comes with racial resentment attached: there is a feeling that the use of the capital letter reveals some sneaky political agenda. The reason is not some kind of bending-over-backwards PC leftie orthodoxy; it is because I think the terms refer to two different kinds of groups. African Americans are an American ethnic group like Irish Americans, Mexican Americans, German Americans or Jewish Americans. We normally capitalize the name of such ethnic groups: Tibetans, Kurds, Jews, Gypsies. White in America is not one ethnic group; it is a larger, less defined group who do not share the kind of strong common identity that smaller groups do. White is an attribute but it is not an identity. I don’t capitalize black when referring to black Africans or Jamaicans; using the capital letter is a way to specify American Blacks, not blacks at large. It’s eccentric, maybe, but it seems logical.]

Here’s the problem. In the long run, racial tensions in America seem to be gradually subsiding. Compared to 1960, 1920, 1890 or any other date in American history, race relations today are just peachy. It is my hope and belief that when the bicentennial of the Civil War rolls around in 2061, the United States will be substantially closer to our national goal of a truly post racial society.

Nevertheless, in the short to medium term there is the potential for trouble. Whites as well as Blacks have lost faith in the government and the intellectual and cultural elites. Some whites resent what they see as excessive privilege for Blacks reflected in affirmative action. Many believe that the federal government and the (largely white) upper middle class establishment wants to marginalize the traditional white majority in the US through a combination of deliberate immigration policy aimed at reducing white preponderance in the population and by favoring immigrants and non-whites for education and employment.

For people who feel this way, the reluctance of the mainstream media to cover racial flash mobs is sinister and disturbing. If there were no racial dimension to these mobs they would surely receive much greater publicity and there would be much stroking of chins and learned talk about what the phenomenon meant. Even if there weren’t many examples, our naturally sensationalist media would hype the story to make it big. Youth, violence, Facebook and YouTube: this is an explosive combination and it is exactly the kind of story circulation chasing news outlets would feature.

Given America’s history and the lurid attraction race still holds for the public mind, the racial dimension of (many but not all of) these incidents makes this an even more compelling story. Certainly if random mobs of white kids were attacking peaceful Blacks going about their daily business the media and the commentariat would be deeply engaged.

The articles I’ve linked to have been carefully couched and worded in ways that downplay the drama and the human interest. It is understandable and even meritorious that this is so; as I suggested at the beginning of this post, no sane person would want to increase the chance that what is still a marginal and occasional pattern of behavior would go viral and enter the mainstream—and to vary the metaphor still further, mainstream media attention is like oxygen for this kind of potential firestorm.

But to a significant number of Americans out there, this restraint looks like just another case of an anti-white elitist media bending over backward to hide the real truth from the American people. Should this phenomenon grow and should the media continue to downplay both the extent and the racial nature of the violence, look for a deep and angry response. Many American whites are young, angry, poorly educated and male. So are many Spanish speaking immigrants. These guys also know how to organize a mob on Facebook.
The Crisis of the Great Society

National politics has not really faced this directly, but the underlying issue in our politics today is not so much the future of the New Deal as it is of the Great Society. Entitlements, immigration policy and the mix of race policies emerging from that decade were long considered untouchable in American politics. That is no longer the case, and increasingly the building blocks of the post 1960s American social order are on the table.

The unaffordable nature of the entitlement structure that has emerged from the Great Society and been much added to (and don’t forget the GOP role in the prescription drug benefit) is at the bottom of the bitter budget battles we’ve seen.

Our current immigration policy is a prescription for social change of vast proportions. Since the 1960s, the US has tried an unprecedented and little discussed experiment in social engineering. In stages over the last fifty years we have combined three bold policies.

First, a race-blind immigration policy with a visa lottery as a kind of affirmative action—so to speak—for people from countries that historically had not sent many immigrants to the US has dramatically changed the mix of people coming to the US as immigrants and over time will shift the ethnic and cultural composition of the population.

Second, the “immigration holiday” under the tight quota system from 1923 (when public concern over unrestricted immigration led to a sharp decrease) through the 1960s was ended, and the number of legal immigrants increased. Today the US has levels of legal immigration not seen since the World War One era.

Third, for many years immigration laws have been laxly or irregularly enforced leading to the presence of something like 11 million illegal workers and residents in the country.

My guess is that in a national referendum, all three of these policies would be heavily defeated; but despite its unpopularity, Great Society immigration policy is possibly the single most important social policy the country now has. One consequence of the collapse of public faith in the Establishment will be that attacks on immigration policy will be more frequent and more effective.

Race policy is less unpopular than our immigration policy, but it is likely that public opposition to affirmative action and other forms of racial preference will also grow. There are several forces at work; to dismiss them all as simple racism is to miss the complexity and the strength of forces that, like them or not, are likely to have growing salience moving forward.

The races are very far apart today; many whites believe that by electing a Black president the country has demonstrated its commitment to post racial politics and they expect Blacks to stop complaining about the past and start thriving in the glorious, racism-free paradise of America today. Many whites look at this Black success, and they think it is time to take down the affirmative action scaffolding that assisted the Black rise. Why, they ask, should the children of presidents and cabinet officers—to say nothing of celebrity offspring—benefit from racial preference in hiring and admissions?

For Blacks, especially those who haven’t made it into the elite, unemployment and the staggering losses in Black wealth during the Great Recession are far more consequential than the success of the Black upper crust. Much of White America thinks it has done all anyone could reasonably expect by opening the White House doors to a Black politician; much of Black America thinks little has changed. Many whites think Blacks have effectively used politics to win themselves jobs and preferences; many Blacks think that Black poverty in the age of Obama reveals how pitiful the results of political action really are.

Meanwhile, other factors contribute to the growing disenchantment with the racial dimension of Great Society policy. Growing public perception that sixties liberalism doesn’t work undermines the consensus for sixties racial as well as immigration and economic policy. If, as seems likely, popular middle class entitlements must face cutbacks, benefits for the poor will suffer more.

Bad economic times not only make people less generous and more defensive when thinking about social policy; they undermine public confidence in the wisdom and/or trustworthiness of elites. A national political establishment forced to face the unsustainable nature of the fiscal path it has long followed is an emperor without clothes. Elite commitment to affirmative action and the rest of sixties race policy remains strong— but elites of all races are going to have less and less ability to control the direction of American social policy.

The conditions for a Category 5 hurricane are all there; it is easy to see a political reaction taking shape in this country that would make the Tea Party movement look like a PTA bake sale. They say that great storms start with trivial causes: A butterfly waves its wings and, when conditions are just right, the wind begins to grow.

The country is so angry now that it would not take much more than the right butterfly in the right place to take us to the next stage of struggle over the Great Society legacy. Just as the urban riots of the 1960s played a role in the hasty adoption of the sixties policy complex, so a rash of small urban confrontations that caught on à la française could dramatically accelerate and intensify the current upheaval in American politics.

If that happens, the result is very unlikely to be a strengthening of the foundations of the Great Society state.

This post originally appeared at The American Interest.

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