The Great Mississippi Balloon Race returns to Natchez every October.

  • The War on Cops by Thomas Sowell

    Even in this age of runaway emotions, there are still some people who want to know the facts. Nowhere are facts more important, or more lacking, than in what has been aptly called "The War on Cops," the title of a devastating new book by Heather Mac Donald.

    Few, if any, of the most fashionable notions about the police, minorities and the criminal justice system can withstand an examination of hard facts. Yet those fashionable notions continue to dominate discussions in the media, in politics and in academia. But Ms. Mac Donald's book of documented facts demolishes many fashionable notions.

    Consider one of the big talking points of politicians and others who claim that the harsher penalties for people selling crack cocaine than for people selling powder cocaine show racism, since crack cocaine is more likely to be used by blacks.

    The cold fact, however, is that black political and community leaders, back in the 1980s, spearheaded the drive for more severe legal penalties against those who sold crack cocaine. Black Congressman Charlie Rangel of Harlem was just one of those black leaders who urged these more severe penalties. So did the New York Times, the promoter of many crusades on the left.

    Fast forward to the present, when both black leaders and the New York Times are blaming white racism for the more severe penalties for selling crack cocaine. If you want to see what they were saying back in the 1980s, check pages 154-159 of "The War on Cops."

    When the political winds change, politicians change. But that does not change the facts about what they said and did before.

    As in her previous book, "Are Cops Racist?" Heather Mac Donald put hard facts front and center -- and those facts devastate many a fashionable notion in the media, in politics and in academia.

    One of the most popular arguments used in many different contexts is to show that blacks have been disproportionately represented among people stopped by police, arrested or imprisoned, as well as disproportionately represented among people turned down for mortgage loans or for other benefits.

    Although many people regard these "disparate impact" statistics as evidence, or virtually proof, of racial discrimination, suppose that I should tell you that black basketball players are penalized by NBA referees out of all proportion to the 13 percent that blacks are in the American population.

    "Wait a minute!" you might respond. "Blacks are more than just 13 percent of the players in the NBA."

    Black basketball players are several times more numerous than 13 percent of all NBA players. This is especially so among the star players, who are more likely to be on the floor, rather than sitting on the bench. And players on the floor most are the ones most likely to get penalized.

    The difference between the percentage of blacks in the general population and the percentage of blacks in the particular activity being discussed is the key to the fraudulent use of "disparate impact" statistics in many other contexts.

    Hillary Clinton, for example, decried a "disgrace of a criminal-justice system that incarcerates so many more African-Americans proportionately than whites."

    The most reliable crime statistics are statistics on murders, 52 percent of which were committed by blacks over the period from 1976 to 2005. If blacks are convicted of far more than 13 percent of all murders, does that mean that racism in the courts must be the reason?

    On the benefits side, there was instant condemnation of mortgage lenders when statistics showed blacks being turned down for prime mortgage loans in 2000 at twice the rate that whites were turned down.

    Seldom, if ever, did the media report that whites were turned down at nearly twice the rate that Asian Americans were turned down -- or that Asian Americans' average credit scores were higher than the average credit scores of whites, which were higher than the average credit scores of blacks.

    Such facts would have spoiled the prevailing preconceptions. Many facts reported in "The War on Cops" spoil many notions that all too many people choose to believe. We need to stop this nonsense, before there is a race war that no one can win.

    Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University.

  • August Horoscope by Holiday Mathis

    ARIES (March 21-April 19). There is no need to fight for what is already yours, but you should definitely show the world your stamp of ownership on it today, if only to remind the others of property boundaries.

    TAURUS (April 20-May 20). No one knows what goes on inside other people's homes. That's why intimate relationships -- or even cordial ones, if they involve domestic hospitality -- are more interesting than the best theater, especially this weekend.

    GEMINI (May 21-June 21). The healing will start with a little nugget of truth. Who will be the one bold enough to bring that nugget out in the open? Probably you. Don't feel the need to throw it. It's enough to open your hand and give everyone a peek.

    CANCER (June 22-July 22). There will always be a struggle between generations. It's human nature. Your parents, for better or worse, are a part of you. Accept them for who they are and you'll be accepting yourself.

    LEO (July 23-Aug. 22). There's power in simple shared happiness. Your upbeat feelings will attract those with similar optimism. Whatever you focus all that cheer on will be lifted and transformed.

    VIRGO (Aug. 23-Sept. 22). Relationship discussions aren't easy. Feelings are on the line. You don't want to reject or be rejected. It can be hard to state and hear the truth. Feeling vulnerable and going forward anyway -- that's what it's about.

    LIBRA (Sept. 23-Oct. 23). Love can be fragile or it can be mighty. Much depends upon how it's grown and protected. Work on the relationship. You'll be surprised where it goes once you dedicate yourself to that effort.

    SCORPIO (Oct. 24-Nov. 21). What you want is very much in line with all that is possible for you. Still, you need to streamline your efforts, cut out the fat and make every attempt to be lean and mean in your approach.

    SAGITTARIUS (Nov. 22-Dec. 21). There's much you can accomplish. There's much you've already done. Don't stop your own momentum by looking sideways at airbrushed pictures, hyped publicity and Facebook fantasy pics.

    CAPRICORN (Dec. 22-Jan. 19). All work and no play makes for getting much farther ahead of things than the rest of the pack. Who cares about being dull, Jack? Follow your ambition. You can always play tomorrow.

    AQUARIUS (Jan. 20-Feb. 18). A person who doesn't know what to expect also doesn't set limits. This is one reason so many beginners get lucky and land in a sweeter place than those more familiar with the game.

    PISCES (Feb. 19-March 20). Restless and searching for the best thing to do, you'll be something of a project gypsy, wandering from project to project nomadically, lingering as long as you feel like and then moving on.

    LOVE FORECAST:

    ARIES: Love is as love does. You take those words seriously and do whatever it takes to prove your affection.

    TAURUS: The more time you spend with your fellow earth signs, the better grounded you will be.

    GEMINI: You need variety and whimsy, otherwise you grow bored. CANCER: Someone is using all of his or her resources to attract you. Is it working?

    LEO: A set-up is favored. Your friends may know what you need better than you do this weekend.

    VIRGO: Fun happens in unfamiliar territory, so long as you're bold and brave.

    LIBRA: Your heart skips a beat when the attraction is animal. You sweat when the attraction is mental, too.

    SCORPIO: Your mind goes to the same person again and again for a reason. What is it?

    SAGITTARIUS: Those with very different lives from yours may nonetheless be very compatible with you. But are you willing to experiment with this?

    CAPRICORN: The long-distance relationship will only work if the distance is for a short term.

    AQUARIUS: You'll be magnetized to water signs. They need you to oxygenate.

    PISCES: Whatever time you spend with someone, that time is precious.

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