“Chicago lags far behind many other major cities in the reduction of violent crime,” states the Chicago Crime Commission’s “Action Alert” (Spring). “New York, for example, has reduced the number of murders since 1990 by 73%–Chicago by only 18%. Houston, Los Angeles, San Diego and other cities have also seen a remarkable drop in homicides, from 50% to 70% during the same time period.” Chicago’s homicide rate is now around 30 per 100,000 population; in Los Angeles the rate is 17, in New York 10.

That settles it, we’re going.

According to a recent press release, the downtown “museum campus”–the Adler Planetarium, Shedd Aquarium, and Field Museum–contains “more Cows on Parade, a public program, than anywhere else in the city.”

“Religion is understood by this act, and indeed by most Americans, to be individual, chosen, private, believed, and separate from other institutions and identities,” writes Winnifred Fallers Sullivan of the International Religious Freedom Act, which would allow the U.S. to put economic sanctions on countries that don’t respect religious freedom (Commonweal, quoted in Martin Marty’s newsletter “Context,” June 1). “For most of the world, religion is communal, given, public, enacted, and intertwined with other institutions and identities. This new act is clearly not intended to promote freedom of religion. It is intended to promote freedom of a certain kind of religion, religion as it has been shaped by American law and history, religion that has been set apart and contained by the secular state.”

The rich as well as the poor must have their landlords notified…From a recent letter asking Governor Ryan to veto House Bill 2103, written and distributed by the Coalition to Protect Public Housing: “HB 2103 requires the Illinois Department of Corrections and law enforcement agencies to notify public housing authorities when a parolee records an intended next address owned, managed, or leased by the housing authority. Such notifications will ostracize those individuals who have made prior mistakes and have also paid their debt, creating different standards for poor folks. Felons convicted for stealing millions are not forced to find other housing options. The families of those felons are not prevented from helping their loved ones, however, the families of public housing face eviction if they support their spouses, sons or loved ones.”

Gridlock for sure. Downstate transportation consultant Wendell Cox writes in an article in the Heartland Institute’s “Environment News” (July): “Average peak hour commuting time [in urban areas around the country] fell approximately 6 percent from 1969 to 1995 (from 22.0 minutes to 20.7 minutes).”

Your tax dollars at work. On June 29 the South Chicago branch of the Chicago Public Library offered a free program on “Rats As Pets.” Rats, the branch advises its patrons in a press release, “are extremely intelligent and can become very affectionate and attached to their owners. They are clean, cute, and come in a variety of shapes and colors….A librarian will…provide information sheets on finding the right rat.”

Rebellious slave speaks. Larry Johnson, who’s paid $8 million a year to play basketball for the New York Knicks, explains why he recently referred to himself as a “rebellious slave” (“Progressive Review,” June 28, quoting the Philadelphia Daily News): “Listen, no man can rise above…the conditions of his people. Understand that? I am privileged and honored by the situation I am in. No question, I have an excellent opportunity. And this is a beautiful country, the best country, but it’s not holy. It’s not righteous. We talked about what’s going on in Kosovo. We talk about Algiers. Well, what’s going on here? Here’s the NBA, full of blacks, great opportunities, they made beautiful strides. But what’s the sense of that…when I go back to my neighborhood, I see the same thing. Huh? I’m the only one who came out of my neighborhood. Everybody I knew is either dead, on drugs, in jail or selling drugs. So am I supposed to be honored and happy just because of my success?”