Racial profiling: When President Obama was in the Illinois Senate, he worked on a racial profiling bill that led to state traffic studies on who gets pulled over by police. The latest study reveals a consistent pattern: 24.7 percent of white drivers who consent to a search of their vehicle have contraband, while only 15.4 percent of minority drivers do. Yet minority drivers were twice as likely to be asked to consent to a search of their vehicle (Chicago Tribune, July 26).
Called to journalism: Barbara Ehrenreich, giving the commencement address at the journalism school of the University of California at Berkeley, warned graduates that they are embarking on a career in a dying industry. Still, she challenged the graduates: “As long as there is a story to be told, an injustice to be exposed, a mystery to be solved, we will find a way to do it. A recession won’t stop us. A dying industry won’t stop us. Even poverty won’t stop us” (SFGate.com, May 31).
Poor criteria: When writer Paul Wilkes helped start a ministry to the poor and homeless in Brooklyn, supporters discussed whether they should use some criteria to identify the truly needy. Wilkes's spontaneous response was: "Just that they come to us, literally begging, says enough. Let's not humiliate them further. I didn't see Christ applying a means test. We're not going to either" (In Due Season, Jossey-Bass).
Outside the gate: Three British doctors started a hunger strike last month in Egypt because they’ve been denied access to Gaza via the Rafah crossing. Their aim is to start a cardiac surgery unit in Gaza City to train medical students and junior doctors. They want the British embassy to pressure Egypt to grant their passage (Guardian, May 19).
Happy today: When life is grim, columnist Mary Schmich likes to ask people, "What's making you happy today?" She doesn't ask, "Are you happy?" That's a "black hole" of a question, she says, that can lead to equivocation and existential dread. Her question, instead, assumes that there's always something, no matter how grim life is, that can be a source of gladness, however small or simple—like a flower or a bird, a skyline or a full moon, or just a cup of coffee (Chicago Tribune, May 1).