Your tax dollars at work, maybe. Rupa Shenoy writes in the Chicago Reporter (January): “The Chicago Police Department would not provide detailed information on police shootings, such as the locations of the shootings or the names of injured civilians. But The Chicago Reporter analyzed nearly 700 stories published in the Chicago Sun-Times and Chicago Tribune from Jan. 1, 2000, through December of [2003], culling information about 103 reported police shootings, including 37 fatalities.” Most of the shootings occurred in black neighborhoods, and only in a few cases did civilians injure police officers. “At the direction of the Office of Professional Standards, which investigates police shootings and reviews civilian complaints about officers, the department sometimes disciplines officers involved in citizen fatalities….Neither OPS nor the police department would provide data on those disciplined. In addition, every shooting is referred to the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office. Officials there said they do not track the numbers of officers they prosecute.”

They’re Republicans–what did you expect? Economist Amartya Sen writes in the London Review of Books (February 5): “The recent dilution in the United States of environmental regulations and requirements, which has occurred with very little opportunity for public discussion, not only threatens the future, but also diminishes American citizens by depriving them of the opportunity for participation. As it happens, when, early in 2001, President Bush abruptly abandoned the environmental agreement arrived at in Kyoto (the so-called Kyoto Protocol), a CNN/Time opinion poll indicated that a large majority of the American public took a very different view from the President. Yet there was hardly any serious attempt by the US Government to take note of public opinion in the making of policy, or to draw citizens into discussion.”

Resume cover letters from hell. In the February issue of “School Reform News” Bob Killian of Chicago-based Killian Advertising lists sentences from cover letters he’s received, most from college seniors or graduates: “It is my desire to develop and generate the revolving scheme to filter to the consuming public in.” “Who’s better to spew out incite, than a college senior…?” “I am a motivated, self-igniting person…” Killian concludes that the competition is so weak that a cover letter need only consist of crisp declarative sentences without grammar and spelling and vocabulary mistakes to guarantee “a respectful reading of a resume.”

You’re an American. You have the right to remain silent and accept bullying. In Portland, Maine, border patrol agents conducting a “transportation sweep” intimidated the city’s Latino community–and more–according to Bill Nemitz, writing in the city’s Press Herald (January 30): “Consider my daughter’s welcome Saturday upon arriving in Portland by bus from Boston: After she gave a border agent her license, he demanded her passport. She correctly told him that U.S. citizens don’t need passports for interstate travel. ‘Let me give you a word of advice,’ he replied tersely. ‘You need to learn to watch your mouth.'”

Facts about Chicago we didn’t know. From a November report from the Brookings Institution on the 2000 census description of Chicago: “Nearly 85 percent of its residents have lived there for more than five years.”

Thinking the unthinkable. In the January 26 New Republic Gregg Easterbrook writes on the implications of using biotechnology to enhance people’s lives: “Imagine a reasonably near future in which the typical person lives two hundred or three hundred years, but the compensating demographic shift is that children become rarities, communities close most of their schools, college ceases to be a large industrial sector, you have got to drive a long way to find one of the few remaining Toys ‘R’ Us, and everybody has been there, done that, regarding practically everything.” He finds that “spooky,” but adds, “In 1900 the typical American lifespan was forty-six years; by 2000, it was seventy-seven years. Told that typical Americans would live to seventy-seven years, an analyst of 1900 might have worried about an enervated, geriatric nation collapsing under the weight of nursing-home costs. Instead the adjustment to an ever-larger cohort of seniors has been fairly smooth.”