Century Marks

Century Marks

Entitled

Drivers in California are supposed to stop for pedestrians at crosswalks, and researchers at the University of California, Berkeley discovered that nearly 90 percent of drivers do stop. But the study found that people who drive luxury cars like BMWs stop only 50 percent of the time. In multiple experiments wealthy people were found to be more likely to cheat than poor people (PBS Newshour, June 21).

Playing the numbers

The American-Israel Demographic Re­search Group claims that Palestin­ians have inflated their population in the West Bank by 1 million. The group, which puts the West Bank Palestinian population at 1.6 million, aims to discourage Israel from negotiating with the Palestinians to create a Palestinian state alongside Israel, believing that in time Palestinians will leave the region. However, a census of Palestinians supervised by the Norwegian government and studies done by Palestinians, the Israel Defense Force, the United Nations and Israel’s Shin Bet security services concur there are between 2.6 and 2.7 million Palestinians in the West Bank. The Palestinian population grew by 29 percent from 2000 to 2012 (Haaretz, June 30).

Assembly required

The Swedish furniture maker IKEA has designed a refugee shelter capable of housing one family. The structures are designed for assembly without tools and are transportable in a flat pack. The shelter uses technology that keeps the building cool during the day and warm at night, with a solar panel providing electricity. The units are being tested in a refugee camp in southeastern Ethiopia where there are about 190,000 Somali refugees, as well as in Iraq and Lebanon. When mass-produced, the structure will cost slightly more than a tent but will be more durable. It is estimated that 3.5 million refugees currently live in tents (Christian Science Monitor, June 19).

Security overkill

The immigration bill recently passed by the U.S. Senate significantly increases expenditures for border security. However, border security is already costing Americans $18 billion per year—more than the combined budgets of the FBI, ATF, U.S. Marshalls office, DEA and the Secret Service. There is one border patrol agent for every 500 feet of the Mexican border. The U.S. Customs and Border Patrol has more planes than the Australian Air Force and as many boats as the Russian Navy. The border fence costs $16 million per mile, which is $3,000 per foot (cambio-us.org).

Stop the war

Since the 1980s the war on drugs has created what author Michelle Alexander has called a “permanent under-caste” of men, mostly black, who are convicted of drug offenses. There are more African-American men in the American corrections system now than were enslaved in 1850. The United States has a higher incarceration rate than Russia or China or other regimes considered repressive. Strained prison budgets are forcing liberals and conservatives to reconsider the laws that have led to the explosion in the prison populations. Frank Wolf, who’s been involved with the evangelical Prison Fellowship, is one of many conservatives now endorsing “smart on crime” strategies rather than “get tough on crime” strategies (Newsweek, June 19).