Author Archives: Mary Turck

About Mary Turck

News Day, written by Mary Turck, analyzes, summarizes, links to, and comments on reports from news media around the world, with particular attention to immigration, education, and journalism. Fragments, also written by Mary Turck, has fiction, poetry and some creative non-fiction. Mary Turck edited TC Daily Planet, www.tcdailyplanet.net, from 2007-2014, and edited the award-winning Connection to the Americas and AMERICAS.ORG, in its pre-2008 version. She is also a recovering attorney and the author of many books for young people (and a few for adults), mostly focusing on historical and social issues.

Complicating the Simpleminded Story About Crime

Screaming about crime is a favorite past time of conservative politicians and headline writers. Like most things, facts about crime are more complicated than the fear-mongers want us to know. Here are a few of the complicated facts. 

Murders are up in 2020 and 2021, compared to 2019. That is true in many states and cities, but not all. Murders are up in some cities with Republican mayors and some cities with Democratic mayors, and down in others. They are up in cities that trimmed police budgets slightly (and no city made major cuts). They are up in cities that increased police budgets. Politics has nothing to do with it. 

The murder rate in 2020 was far lower than the murder rate 25 years ago. A study of crime in 34 U.S. cities during calendar year 2020 found a homicide rate of 11.4 deaths per 100,000 residents. In 1995, the rate in the same cities was 19.4 deaths per 100,000 residents. 

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Too Lazy to Work? Not Really.

Some employers say they can’t find workers after the pandemic. People are lazy. They would rather collect unemployment. Et cetera. Do I believe that? No. The story is more complicated.

Many of the jobs that go unfilled are low-wage jobs. They pay so little that people literally cannot afford to work. 

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MN Republicans are not serious about law and order

You might think Republican law-and-order types would support funding for more prosecutors. Nope. Not when that request comes from Minnesota’s chief prosecutor, Attorney General Keith Ellison. In this legislative session, they would not fund much-needed attorneys for the criminal division of the attorney general’s office.

Originally published in the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder

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Time to Rebuild the IRS

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In 2011, the IRS investigated 2.4 million “nonfilers” – people who just didn’t bother filing or paying taxes at all. Last year? Only 362,000. That doesn’t mean people have become more conscientious about paying taxes. The dramatic drop-off in investigations, like the 42 percent drop in audits over the same time period, shows just how badly the IRS has been gutted over that time period. 

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Digging Deeper: The Justice Department Investigation of Minneapolis Police

On April 16, Attorney General Merrick Garland announced an investigation of the Minneapolis Police Department. The investigation will focus on patterns and practices of policing, not on an individual case.

This is the first “pattern and practice” investigation ordered by the Biden administration. Garland also revoked the Trump administration’s near-ban of these investigations.

This article was originally published by the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder.

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Rotten Apples, Rotten Tree

6:30 a.m. on Saturday morning. My phone buzzes with a text. “What are your thoughts on Walz ordering the National Guard to Brooklyn Center?” 

Governor Walz did not just call out the National Guard. He called out the whole armada of police and military forces assembled under the banner of Operation Safety Net. Operation Safety Net (OSN) was set up to protect property and police from any protests or violence happening after the Derek Chauvin trial. Over the past week, OSN proved unsafe in the highest degree for human beings.  

I hoped the National Guard would not be like the police. I hoped that the “citizen” part of their citizen-soldier identity would keep them from the violent, fearful, and racist police mentality that killed Daunte Wright. Instead, they proved indistinguishable from the other branches of the rotten tree that is policing in the United States. Continue reading

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Billions in Profit, Not One Cent for Taxes

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This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license.

Fed-Ex, Nike, Xcel Energy, and dozens of other huge and hugely profitable companies paid not one red cent in taxes last year. While some 55 large corporations avoided taxes entirely, even more companies paid historically low levels because of the 2017 Trump tax cuts. This is just plain wrong.

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Hate Crime

Photo by L.C. Notaasen, published under Creative Commons license

 Two days ago, a 21-year-old white man went on a shooting rampage that targeted Asian women. He killed eight people, six of whom were Asian women.

Police said they do not know whether this was a hate crime. 

Instead of my usual analysis of events or issues, this blog post is mainly other people’s words.

Rest In Peace: 

– Delaina Ashley Yaun, 33, mother of a 14 year old & 8mo old 

– Xiaojie Tan, 49, massage therapist & owner of 1 spa 

– Daoyou Feng, 44 

– Julie Park, in her 70s 

– Hyeon Jeong Park, 50s 

– Paul Andre Michels 

(2 more not yet named) 

CENTER THE VICTIMS. #StopAsianHate

Twitter says: She was old enough to be my grandma, 

and also

I am kind of not okay about the fact that this 21 year old killed women my mother’s age and so many people are like “well, shrug, that’s what happens when you have irresistible objects of lust.”

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Flu News Is Good News

This is part of an amazing series created and generously shared by Ricardo Levins Morales for this time of crisis. Check out the whole series on his Facebook page and at his studio https://www.rlmartstudio.com

As the 2020-21 flu season comes to an end, good news and lessons for the future come from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). This year’s flu season was far less serious than any previous year, and far less deadly as well.

Last year—2019-2020—the CDC estimated that estimated 38 million influenza-type illnesses in the United States, with 18 million medical visits, 405,000 hospitalizations, and 22,000 deaths.

This year, the CDC preliminary data through March 6 reported only 1,561 cases of influenza for the 2020-21 flu season.  

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Do Not Ignore Genocide Against Uyghurs

Right now, the Chinese government is carrying out genocide against the Uyghur ethnic minorityA report from the nonpartisan Newlines Institute for Strategy and Policy (formerly the Center for Global Policy) details the past six years of this genocide: 

“In 2014, China’s Head of State, President Xi Jinping, launched the ‘People’s War on Terror’ in XUAR [Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region], making the areas where Uyghurs constitute nearly 90 percent of the population the front line. High-level officials followed up with orders to ’round up everyone who should be rounded up,’ ‘wipe them out completely … destroy them root and branch,’ and ‘break their lineage, break their roots, break their connections, and break their origins.’ Officials described Uyghurs with dehumanizing terms and repeatedly likened the mass internment of Uyghurs to ‘eradicating tumors.’” 

The U.S. government names this persecution as genocide. The Chinese government denies it, of course. That denial lacks all plausibility.

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