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December 2, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review

First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

By Eric Schulzke




The U.S. homicide rate doubled between 1963 and 1981 from 4.6 to 10.2 per 100,000. Then, to everyone's surprise, murder rates tumbled, falling from 9.5 per 100,000 in 1993 to 5.5 in 2000. But the overall murder rate misses the crux of the story


JewishWorldReview.com | As a boy, Will Fields wanted to be a scientist. He had a chemistry set, a telescope and a microscope with slides, and for Christmas he once asked for math flash cards. He went to school at Brentwood Science Magnet School near Beverly Hills.

But, he didn't live there. Each morning he took a bus from his home in South Central Los Angeles up Interstate 405, past the airport, past Santa Monica and into the Brentwood hills. Each afternoon he went home to his neighborhood of run down streets, crack addicts on the corners, homes without fathers, communities without jobs — and gang warfare everywhere.

"You start to realize your place in life," Fields says. "You see that you're at the bottom of the barrel. This your lot. This is going to be your life. As a child it's frightening to see that reality."

And so the tide pulled him along. As Fields grew older, he got kicked out of multiple high schools for fighting. Then he was doing strong-arm robbery and battling other gangs for "respect." Arrested when he was 19, he pled guilty to three counts of attempted murder. He spent the next six years in prison.

Fields came of age in a dangerous time and place. When he was born in 1981, the U.S. homicide rate had doubled to 10.2 per 100,000 from 4.6 in 1963. Through his boyhood, murder rates stayed high — dipping to 7.9 in 1984, surging to 9.8 in 1991, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics.

But the national murder rate misses the crux of the story. Homicide in America disproportionally involves young African-American males, both as victims and offenders, and the disparity is enormous. From 1980 to 2008, victimization rates for blacks were six times higher than for whites.

Offending rates were eight times higher.

In 1993, the year Fields turned 12 and began running with a gang, the murder victimization rate for black males between 18 and 24 years old stood at a whopping 196 per 100,000 — compared to 19 per 100,000 for white men of the same age.

Then, to everyone's surprise, murder rates tumbled, falling from 9.5 per 100,000 in 1993 to 5.5 in 2000. While most people blame crack cocaine for the spike during Will Field's boyhood, no one is totally sure why violence fell so sharply during his teens.

As the nation has taken stock of how the commandment to not kill is reflected in modern law and society, researchers have struggled to understand why homicide rates remain so high among impoverished urban black youth. Answers remain elusive, but two recent large studies offer some intriguing suggestions. A New York City study considers how effective police work can temper street violence. The other, based in Chicago, focuses on the role of poverty, neighborhoods and family structure in shaping or mitigating it.

KILL OR BE KILLED

For Will Fields, the disconnect between his tony school and his squalid streets and home life wore him down. Mocked by friends for using big words, he got no encouragement for his academic hopes. He rarely saw his father. His mother struggled to raise two boys, who as they grew became too much for her to handle.

In the end, he found validation on the streets. He started his own gang activity at 12, and by 13 he was smoking weed, drinking, breaking into cars, beating people up, and packing "little pistols" in his waistband. He began running with the Hoover Criminals, a major offshoot of the Crips that dominated his neighborhood.

Then he went to prison, a detour that turned his life around and may well have saved it.

Fields is not a scientist today, but he does have a rewarding union job as an electrical lineman. He works hard hours for good pay, and he's saving money to buy some rental properties. He's married to an award-winning high school English teacher. They have a four-year-old son.

He now carries his Bible with him in his truck at work.

"You shall not murder," says his New King James Version of the Bible. He always knew that deadly violence was wrong. But in the world he saw around him, it was kill or be killed.


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"I always believed in G0D, even when I was young," he says. But as a teenager he told himself that he was fighting thugs and acting in self-defense. "It's no secret that you can convince yourself that anything you are doing is correct," he notes.

THE SAFE CITY

While murder rates fell nationally, in New York City they fell further faster and continued to drop longer. From 1990 to 2009, notes Franklin Zimring, a criminologist and University of California — Berkeley law professor, murder rates in NYC dropped 82 percent. The next nine largest cities saw a 56 percent drop. Something different happened in New York that went beyond the national decline.

The demographics and socioeconomic status of New Yorkers remained largely unchanged over this period, Zimring argues, meaning that sociological explanations cannot explain the difference. And during an 18-year period in which national incarceration rates climbed by 65 percent, New York's rate fell by 28 percent. So they weren't fighting crime by locking people up for longer terms.

What accounts for the difference? Zimring points to innovations in police work. It started in 1990, when the city added 7,000 new cops on the beat.

It continued with database-driven focus on hotspots and aggressive (and controversial) tactics on the street, including "stop and frisk."

Crucially, Zimring argues, New York police set out to shut down open drug markets, cutting into the violence associated with turf battles.

While some dispute Zimring's data and explanations on the margins, there is little question that something dramatic happened in New York, that it involved effective police work, and that demographic changes such as gentrification played little if any role.

The core insight from Zimring's New York study is that crime is not purely sociologically determined. Streets can be made safer without waiting for generational social surgery.

"Those who argued that you have to attack root causes to measurably reduce crime were wrong," Zimring says.

NEIGHBORHOODS AND FAMILIES

Of course, those who focus on root causes rather than police work are not so much disputing Zimring as doing a very different kind of work.

From 1995 to 2002, Harvard sociologist Robert Sampson headed a team that surveyed nearly 3,000 Chicago youth about violent behavior, including fights and weapons carrying. They focused on these lower level violence precursors because surveying kids about homicide was, of course, a nonstarter.

Sampson's team overlaid that youth survey on a deeper survey of nearly 9,000 Chicago residents, broken down by actual housing units into neighborhoods. The result was extremely fine-grained data.

The study looked at personal factors, such as IQ and impulsivity; demographic factors, such as family status and education; and neighborhood factors. The study produced some surprising answers about which factors shape youth violence.

Sampson's least surprising result was that violence concentrates heavily in a small number of neighborhoods with extreme poverty and low education levels. Nor was he surprised to see that bad neighborhoods drag down solid families and good kids like Will Fields.

"There is something about the neighborhood effect that is not just about the socio-economic status of the parents," Sampson said in an interview. "It's not just what goes on underneath the roof."

But he also found that if parents were married, violence was lower, whether or not both parents were in the home. Cohabitation of biological parents did not have the same effect.


Most surprisingly, Sampson found that both children of immigrants and non-immigrant youth in immigrant-heavy neighborhoods were much less violent. Why do immigrants do better?

"We're still looking into that and no one knows for sure," Sampson said. "But part of it is that those who choose to migrate to the United States often possess the very characteristics that lead to lower crime."

MORAL CYNICISM

Sampson's research also focused on "legal and moral cynicism," or a sense in a neighborhood of "living outside the law, mistrustful of government, of the police, of one another. It's a corrosive disassociation from legal and moral norms."

"It's a puzzle that all starts to fit together," Sampson said. "You have communities over time that are poor, segregated, with few institutional resources, and the residents become, not surprisingly, they become cynical, they distrust each other, they distrust the police, and it feeds on itself."

In digging at the roots, Sampson is probing a complex array of social and familial problems. Possible alternatives include dispersing the next generation of at-risk youth into less poor and less segregated neighborhoods with stronger social fabric, rather than merely busing kids to nicer schools.

THE OFF SWITCH

All of Sampson's risk factors dogged Will Fields, raised by a single mom amidst extreme poverty in a segregated neighborhood rife with legal and moral cynicism.

When he arrived at prison, he initially came out fighting, looking to represent his gang on the inside. He got in trouble brawling and spent time in solitary confinement. Before long, the other guys took him aside. "It's not like that here," they said.

"They had turned off the gangster switch," he says.

This dumbfounded him. Fields today is an intense character, with measured words and a serious face. Being a gangster was not a game for him. In prison he saw through the fraud, saw the impotence around him for what it was, and began to plan a different life. He rediscovered his own faith and began reading the Bible again. Prison pulled Fields out of the neighborhood and gave him space and time to figure things out. He went in an angry kid, but he came out a reflective man.

ADVICE TO A SON

Two weeks after he left prison in 2007, Fields sat down with Renford Reese, a political science professor at Cal Poly Pomona. At the end of the interview, Reese asked, "What would you tell your son if you had one today?"

"I would say, 'Don't lose your humanness,'" Fields said.

"It's OK to have pride in your race, but don't forget that we are all human. Listen to the inner voice inside yourself that tells you right from wrong. You know when someone is telling you something that's not right. You know when someone is telling you something good, even though you may not want to hear it."

Avoid fantasies you get from movies and entertainment, he continued, speaking to his future son. Steer clear of the stereotypes people try to fit you into. "Sometimes, cut the music off. Chill in silence. Reflect on where your life is going. Be serious about life."

Fields' son is now 4, still too young to grasp his dad's words. But already, he has a far more promising future.

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