Dispatches > In Brief

In Brief

"In Brief" Continued...

Issue: "Ghost busting," Aug. 24, 2002

The findings raise serious questions about crime in America: Is a declining murder rate really evidence of reduced criminality? Would homicide be a graver problem today had not serious medical developments come along?

The study, which was published in the journal Homicide Studies, examined crime data and police statistics. Researchers found annual declines of 2.5 percent for shootings and knife attacks and 3.5 percent to 4 percent for poisoning, arson, and other crimes. In 1960, 5.6 percent of aggravated assaults were fatal; by comparison, only 1.67 percent of the 1999 incidents ended in death.

The researchers concluded that medical and procedural advances prevented 45,000 to 70,000 homicide deaths nationwide each year. Improvements include the 911 system, better training, and the rising number of trauma centers and hospitals.

European double-talk

In sales, it's called bait and switch. First, the European Union suggested that the United States drop its hard line against the July 1 creation of the International Criminal Court because Uncle Sam could negotiate bilateral agreements with ICC member states to extradite U.S. troops for any ICC trial. (Article 98 of the ICC allows such agreements.)

The Bush administration dropped its opposition to the ICC's creation and merely refused to join the ICC. But now EU officials are telling Eastern European nations eager to join their union not to sign such agreements until EU diplomats meet on Aug. 30 and 31. "They took the European Union's recommendations in good faith, and now the Europeans are essentially betraying their recommendation," said Heritage Foundation analyst Brett Schaefer.

Still, Secretary of State Colin Powell planned to keep pushing this week on attempts to protect U.S. troops on United Nations peacekeeping missions from being prosecuted by the ICC. In a show of support for U.S. servicemen, Congress passed and President Bush signed legislation in July that could make U.S. military aid to allies contingent on supporting the legal protection of U.S. peacekeepers.

So far, only Romania and Israel have approved the Article 98 agreements. Yugoslavia, Canada, Norway, and Slovakia have declared their unwillingness to sign.

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