Century Marks

Century Marks

Driving while black

In re­sponse to the killing of Trayvon Martin in Florida, the Christian Science Monitor interviewed five young black men around the country to find out their reaction and how the Martin case compares to their own experience. All five of them have had experiences of being racially profiled. Lheadry Powell, 25, a teacher and coach in California, says he gets pulled over by police four to five times a month for no apparent reason. It isn’t just the police who engage in racial profiling. White women in particular cling to their purses in their presence or cross the street and walk on the opposite side. Each of these young men have learned to use survival tactics: be nice, look people in the eye, don’t have an attitude, talk yourself out of a tense situation instead of resorting to violence, and always carry things out of a store in a bag (Christian Science Monitor, April 9).

See no evil

When Joe Nocera of the New York Times had a chance meeting with CEO Jamie Dimon of JPMorgan Chase, Dimon asked him why the Times hates banks. Nocera responded that the Times doesn’t hate banks, the country does. Nocera pointed to evidence reported in The American Banker that the nefarious, sometimes illegal tactics used by banks in the foreclosure crisis are now being used by the banks to collect credit card debt. Many banks are outsourcing collection to law firms that harass and sue people, sometimes without clear evidence that the debts are owed. The banks wash their hands of any culpability. The Consumer Financial Pro­tection Bureau is starting to explore these collection tactics (The Week, April 13).

Earthbound hoax

Bart Centre, an atheist, claimed to offer a service to Christians that would take care of their pets after the rapture. He said his business, Eternal Earth-Bound Pets, has charged hundreds of pet owners $100 each for the service. The New Hamp­shire Insurance Department smelled a rat. They issued Centre a subpoena, asking him to list his clients and other facts about his business. He replied that it was a hoax from the beginning and that he has no clients (NPR, March 25).

Jet-propelled expenses

The Pentagon's development of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter jet has already cost the government $400 billion. The plane, designed to replace nearly all of the tactical fighters used by the U.S. Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps, is now projected to cost over $1 trillion to develop, procure and support through 2050. One reason for the huge expense is that planes are being built even before their development and testing are completed. As plans change, planes already constructed need to be retrofitted. The software needed to make the planes combat ready is "as complex as anything on earth," according to the government (ProPublica, March 23).

Blaming the victim

A new poll shows that more than half of all Canadians distrust Muslims. As many as 52 percent of Canadians feel that Muslims can be trusted "a little" or "not trusted at all." The poll showed that 48 percent of respondents said Muslims can be trusted "a lot" or "somewhat." And 42 percent said discrimination against Muslims is "mainly their fault." Sociologist Jack Jedwab, executive director of the Association for Canadian Studies, concluded that Canadians hold discriminatory views and then say, "If we feel this way about you, it's your fault" (RNS).