Monday, August 20, 2007

Shocking Statistics in LAT Sunday From Jill Leovy

The crime statistics conveyed by Jill Leovy, the L.A. Times' admirable reporter on the Los Angeles police and crime in the minority communities, in Sunday's newspaper were indeed shocking.

In terms of homicides this year, the toll in the black and brown communities is dramatically greater than it is in the white ones. There is three times more danger of getting killed in the Hispanic areas as the white, and nine times greater chance in the black ones compared to the white ones.

The Leovy articles were accompanied by a map showing where the homicides have been taking place. Even though the overall number throughout the city has been going down, from 2,113 in 1992 to 1,085 in 2006, still the varying rates among racial groups are depressing. According to the statistics gathered by the Times for 2007 thus far, 34 of every 100,000 blacks have been the victims of homicides this year, compared to 11 for Latinos, just 3.2 for whites and 2.7 for Asians.

Most of the killings are happening to young people. As Leovy remarks, the chances of getting to 18 without being killed are so great in the minority communities that residents are using expressions like "caught slippin" or having "passed," to describe those killed or escaping being killed.

Also, as sidebars, Leovy told three specific, heartbreaking stories about young people who have died recently in the homicidal mayhem.

This is not the first time Leovy has told such stories. But they seldom make Page 1 of the L.A. Times, where they certainly belong, and they did not Sunday, although they were prominently displayed in the California section.

One wonders how many readers are paying attention. It often seems like minority crime stories are like water off a duck's back. They occur without the duck noticing.

You'd think, after all this time, that Los Angelenos would be trying harder to stem the carnage -- with more gun control laws if nothing else.

Yet the bloodletting goes on and the losses remain, as always, tragic.

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The L.A. Times has a long and well-reasoned editorial this morning raising questions about the ethanol craze, and specifically about its down side. There are other means, the editorial says, to fight global warming.

But one of the best ways is nuclear power development, and the Times recently opposed that, in an editorial.

The Times editors, no more than society, cannot have it both ways. If we want to effectively stem global warming, we are going to have to accept nuclear power, taking the necessary steps, of course, to keep it as safe as possible.

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Both the New York Times and L.A. Times have stories today raising questions whether Sam Zell's purchase of Tribune Co. will go through. I'll have more on this tomorrow. But since Wall Street analysts are saying it may not, and they've been wrong about everything else this summer, maybe that's a sign it will.

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