Ho, Ho, Hope (5×8 -12/24/12)

Paying it forward, why there’s no research on gun control, the people who don’t do their jobs and the people who just want one, the FAA v. the New York Giants, and look who’s made it from Minnesota to New Orleans.


The Monday Morning Rouser…

1) HO HO HOPE

It’s been two months since Hurricane Sandy hit the northeast. Most everyone — the media included — moved on to other stories. But not good people.

washawayhope.jpg

A new twist on the pay-it-forward trend. A young man died in Michigan, his parents urged others to pay-it-forward in his memory. People across the country did.This sort of thing happened in Fargo, too. Someone has been dropping off checks to pay for people’s Christmas layaway items, the Fargo Forum says.

More: In Spain, a man celebrates a homeless woman’s birthday.

2) WHEN JAMA SPEAKS

You don’t usually see the Journal of the American Medical Association getting worked up, but the venerable medical journal minced no words in its “online first” editorial decrying Congress’ ban on studying health issues from guns.


The nation might be in a better position to act if medical and public health researchers had continued to study these issues as diligently as some of us did between 1985 and 1997. But in 1996, pro-gun members of Congress mounted an all-out effort to eliminate the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Although they failed to defund the center, the House of Representatives removed $2.6 million from the CDC’s budget–precisely the amount the agency had spent on firearm injury research the previous year. Funding was restored in joint conference committee, but the money was earmarked for traumatic brain injury. The effect was sharply reduced support for firearm injury research.

To ensure that the CDC and its grantees got the message, the following language was added to the final appropriation: “none of the funds made available for injury prevention and control at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention may be used to advocate or promote gun control.”4

Precisely what was or was not permitted under the clause was unclear. But no federal employee was willing to risk his or her career or the agency’s funding to find out. Extramural support for firearm injury prevention research quickly dried up. Even today, 17 years after this legislative action, the CDC’s website lacks specific links to information about preventing firearm-related violence.

Find the article here. (h/t: Hart VanDenburg)

But a novelist and former gun store owner writes a treatise on why the gun efforts should fail anyway.

Researchers who are unencumbered by politicians bring good news and bad news.

First, the bad: Antarctica is warming faster than expected. Scientists say a breakup of the ice sheet, over a period that would presumably last at least several hundred years, could raise global sea levels by 10 feet, possibly more, the New York Times says.

The good news: a huge asteroid is going to miss Earth. In 2040.

3) THE PEOPLE WHO DON’T DO THEIR JOB AND THE PEOPLE WHO WANT ONE

Politicians have left Washington without any sort of resolution to the “fiscal cliff,” forgetting that real people don’t have the luxuries politicians do, especially those who don’t have jobs.

Unemployment for many of those people is at stake, the Star Tribune reports. Twelve-thousand Minnesotans could lose extended federal benefits.

But the Pioneer Press provides a whiff of hope for the unemployed, following up with four unemployed people it profiled several years ago. Three of them have jobs. The fourth killed herself.

Meanwhile, the group that gave us former Sen. Alan Simpson doing the Gangnam Style thing, is back with a new push for Congress to avoid a fiscal cliff, or — as it suggests — can President Obama score with Speaker Boehner?

4) FAA v. THE NEW YORK GIANTS

Federal investigators don’t usually get curious about viral videos. This one of Giants star Victor Cruz catching a football thrown from an airplane is an exception.

The FAA investigated and the Giants have admitted it was faked.

5) MINNESOTA TO NEW ORLEANS

Look who’s made it to the bottom of the Mississippi River? It’s our pal Daniel Alvarez.

Follow Daniel’s adventure to Key West on his blog, Predictably Lost.

Bonus I: Dear young people heading back to mom and dad’s for the holiday: Be careful.

Bonus II: The great Marilyn Hagerty reads you a Christmas story. (Grand Forks Herald) Or you can listen to the story of Crumpet the Elf again. Your choice

Bonus III: How do you ask for help when you’re an atheist? (Locally Grown)

Bonus IV: Does Jack Morris belong in the Baseball Hall of Fame? (Hardball Times)

TODAY’S QUESTION

According to Christian tradition, the birth of Jesus was announced by angels who proclaimed a message of peace on earth. Today’s Question: Is peace on earth possible?

WHAT WE’RE DOING

It’s not a company holiday today, but I don’t intend to do a lot of writing. One of my sons — the paramedic — has to work tomorrow so we’re going to try to have a little Christmas today.

Daily Circuit (9-12 p.m.) – First hour: Pre-recorded Talking Volumes marathon. Junot Diaz.

Second hour: Abraham Vergese.

Third hour: Jeffrey Toobin .

MPR News Presents (12-1 pm): Continuation of Talking Volumes marathon. Chris Van Allsburg, Polar Express.

Talk of the Nation (1-2 p.m.) – They’re not quite guardian angels, but without them how would we get from here to there? From toll booth operators to snow plow drivers to air traffic controllers, time to give some credit to the people who get you home for the holidays.

All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) - Advocates of stronger anti-bullying measures in Minnesota say they’ll push for a new bullying law during the upcoming legislative session. They’ve tried to rewrite the law several times in recent years and failed. The current statute is considered one of the weakest in the nation. But some say there’s reason to believe a new bullying law, with more robust guidelines on how school districts should prevent bullying, has a good chance of passing this time around. MPR’s Tim Post will have the story.

The new film “Hitchcock” tells the real-life story of the famed director and his making of “Psycho.” But how much is true and how much is inspired? NPR will an Alfred Hitchcock biographer to separate truth from fiction in the movie.

  • vjacobsen

    Thanks for a great 5×8 this morning. Mostly uplifting, but #2 is just depressing. Not sure why I should be surprised, but now I get why we don’t talk about guns the way we did when I was growing up.

    There will be peace on Earth as soon as we get past the fallacy that you ever are in the right to shoot another human being, so matter what your excuse. But that’s me.

  • Elaine Love

    Merry Christmas, Bob, to you and your family. Thanks for the Tom Jones rouser, and all the wonderful 5×8′s throughout the year. All the best in 2013.

  • Tyler

    Fresh Air had a recent episode about control that was highly illuminating. In addition to the Centers for Disease Control being prohibited from studying gun violence, there’s the

    “Tiahrt Amendment, which prohibits the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) from releasing information from its firearms trace database to anyone other than a law enforcement agency or prosecutor in connection with a criminal investigation. Additionally, any data so released is inadmissible in a civil lawsuit.” Ths amendment has been added to every Appropriations bill since 2003.

    Stunning, really, what the gun lobby has accomplished.