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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    “The Good, The Bad, The Ugly”

    It’s a good week for the Kennedy family

    Yesterday, the UA agreed to pay $243,000 for the home of William and Barbara Kennedy, a septuagenarian couple living in a small home on East Sixth Street. In 1996, the UA bought the title to the home, but offered Kennedy a “”life estate”” – the right to live in the home until his death. Now, UA officials need the land for construction, and this week’s settlement should finally bring an end to a lengthy and sometimes bitter dispute over the property.

    That means this is a good week for students, since the UA can now go ahead with a $178 million project to build three new residence halls in the parking lot where the Kennedys’ home used to stand like an island. It’s a good week for the Kennedys, who will be able to afford a new home and comfortably live out the rest of their lives. And it’s a good week for the university, which avoided using the putrid power of eminent domain to seize the home by force and bulldoze it.

    The only group that didn’t win from this week’s agreement were private-property owners in Arizona and elsewhere, who are still vulnerable to unfair seizure of their property by the government. After all, if the UA had to go to court, it likely would have been given the go-ahead to demolish these old folks’ home. Although a 2006 ballot initiative in Arizona prohibited the state government from exercising eminent domain on behalf of private parties (a response to the disastrous 2005 Supreme Court ruling Kelo v. City of New London), public institutions like UA still have the power to grab anyone’s home, business or empty lot as long as they provide “”just compensation.””

    The Kennedy agreement may settle the UA’s property dispute, but it will only postpone the discussion over the rights of those who own private property.


    It’s a bad week for Photoshop fraudulence

    The Hillary Clinton campaign released a new ad Monday which attacks opponent Barack Obama for his failure to hold any hearings regarding Afghanistan in the subcommittee he has chaired since 2007. Daily Kos and America Blog noticed something else, however: The images of Obama used in the commercial, which were taken from the candidates’ debate last Thursday, depicted the senator with a significantly darker skin tone than appeared in the broadcasts.

    I worry sometimes that my criticism of the Clinton campaign is on its way to reaching Dowdian proportions, but then something like this happens. The Clintons have been accused of racism on numerous occasions – like when Hillary said it took Lyndon B. Johnson to make Martin Luther King Jr.’s dreams a reality – and this sort of thing doesn’t do a whole lot to dispel those suspicions.

    Yeah, yeah, campaign ads often darken images of the opponents in order to make them seem more villainous. But the fact that this isn’t the first time the Clinton campaign has done or said something ambiguously racist is cause for concern, just as it’s cause for concern when Chris Matthews says something ambiguously sexist about Hillary.

    Both Clintons have been getting progressively meaner and dirtier as the thread from which Hillary’s campaign hangs becomes more and more frayed. Was this attack ad just another run-of-the-mill attack ad, or was this nasty racial dig more than coincidence? Let’s just say I’m not too optimistic.

    Of course, the campaign will deny any accusation of racism made as a result of this ad, so perhaps the more important question, also posed by Daily Kos, is: Why do we accept that to make a person darker is to make him more sinister?


    It’s an ugly week for U.S. prisons

    As The New York Times reported Feb. 29, one in every 100 Americans calls a prison cell home. This means we put more people in prison than China, not to mention the rest of the world.

    This statistic is especially ugly given our high recidivism rate.

    According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, 67 percent of American prisoners released in 1993 were headed back to the big house within three years of their release. This means if you meet 100 Americans, you’ll be able to reach one of them at their prison address decades from now.

    Michel Foucault thought this is because the penal system was historically designed more for efficiency than rehabilitation. At the fulcrum of modernity, industrial technology led to population explosions and the boom of cities, creating increased demand for dealing with crime.

    Despite a number of elaborate systems for punitive reform focused on rehabilitation and crime prevention proposed by Enlightenment thinkers, modern governments went with mass incarceration – a quick and easy, money-saving method of putting criminals of all shapes and sizes together and forgetting about them.

    But given the new reports, is our prison system really that cost-efficient anymore? States pay up to $45,000 per person annually to run their prisons; that sum for every 100 Americans isn’t chicken feed. Open prisons in Scandinavia not only treat the incarcerated humanely, but allow them to work on farms and in the community to pay their rent and contribute to the economy while they do their time. Maybe we should heed that dead French guy, save ourselves some cash, and better our national reputation. Heck, Kansas and Texas want to do it, so anyone can!

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