What others are saying

January 05, 2007

While budgetary measures, including school funding and the grocery-cigarette tax argument, may garner the most headlines during this year's session of the Mississippi Legislature, there are plenty of other issues to offer a diversion from the weightier matters of finance and good government.

Among bills that may or may not make it through committee are measures to castrate rapists, ban cosmetic surgery for inmates, expand rest room facilities for women in state-owned buildings and allow judges to pack weapons.

Actually, some of what one newspaper called "weird bills" have some merit. The castration bill, though, is not among them.

- Enterprise-Journal (McComb, Miss.)

Boston's surge of youth violence in the early 1990s saw the rise of unprecedented neighborhood-based leadership that dramatically reduced the city's homicide rates. Policies and programs were developed and led by extraordinary coalitions of everyday people: residents, clergy, mothers of murdered children, and, most important, teenagers themselves. ...

Peer leadership programs that train young people to teach violence prevention were incorporated by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and the Prevention Center and have become a mainstay in our schools. Citizen-led community-building efforts were welcomed into the halls of Boston Police Headquarters ... to combine GED and job readiness with repeated gun buybacks and an ongoing basketball league that brought truces by feuding gangs. ...

All these efforts invested in the knowledge and leadership capabilities of those most impacted by issues of intergenerational poverty, teen pregnancy, drop-out rates and gang violence: young people themselves.

- Michael Patrick MacDonald in The Boston Globe

It's difficult to know if the invention of opera glasses in the 19th century forced opera singers to change their looks or acting. Observing something differently can often alter it. Last week, new viewing technologies finally caught up with opera, altering its form, if not its substance.

Like many stodgy cultural institutions, Western opera has been a reluctant entrant into the Digital Age. ... Just getting English subtitles projected at performances was seen as a revolution.

But a visionary new general manager at New York City's Metropolitan Opera, Peter Gelb, showed last week how this well-worn art form can be altered to accommodate new technologies. ... The Met launched a series of six different operas to be broadcast live via satellite into dozens of commercial movie theaters equipped with large, high-definition screens. For about $18 a ticket, thousands of people in the U.S., Canada, Britain, Denmark and Japan watched the opening opera, a much-altered production of Mozart's The Magic Flute, with as much realism and far less expense than if they had gone to the Met - and with the freedom to eat popcorn.

- Christian Science Monitor

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