Monica Potts

Monica Potts is an Arkansas-based writer, currently writing a book about the women of her rural hometown.

Recent Articles

The Disturbing Ruling in the Kansas Abortion Killing.

On Tuesday, a judge in Kansas ruled for the second time that he wouldn't bar Scott Roeder , the 51-year-old accused of killing the Kansas abortion provider George Tiller in May, from arguing that he believed he needed to kill Tiller to protect unborn children. The judge, Warren Wilbert , denied prosecutors requests to bar such argument, which could lead to a conviction of voluntary manslaughter, a conviction that would carry a four to six year prison sentence, instead of murder. Wilbert said it would be improper for him to rule on it before the defense made its case, according to the report from McClatchy newspapers. The Kansas statute defines voluntary manslaughter as the intentional killing of a human being committed "Upon a sudden quarrel or in the heat of passion," or "upon an unreasonable but honest belief that circumstances existed that justified deadly force." While it's difficult to easily find precedents for voluntary manslaughter convictions, it's not hard to imagine what it...

Remembering Haiti After the Disaster.

While natural disasters are pretty unpredictable no matter how good our detection systems get, the damage they do to a country like Haiti is not. Destruction from a barrage of hurricanes in the last decade was exacerbated by deforestation, in part because the population relies on wood for fuel. There is probably little doubt that the death and destruction from last night's earthquake -- the full extent of which is still unknown -- was also fueled by poor construction and other infrastructure problems in the largest city and capital of the hemisphere's poorest country. While Americans search for ways to help, it is also worth concentrating on our policies toward Haiti. Former president Bill Clinton , appointed last year to be the country's special envoy, made it part of his mission to not only deal with the problems of deforestation but also to expand the garment industry in the country, over cries from Haiti's politicians that the factories' wages would be too low. The Hope II act,...

Going After Guns to Reduce Violence.

The Baltimore Police Department has shifted its focus away from arresting drug offenders to going after those who carry guns, the Christian Science Monitor reports . This law enforcement philosophy is born of the growing acknowledgment that millions of dollars and arrests have done little to slow urban America's drug trade, and that a fresh strategy is needed to further reduce violence in the country's toughest cities. From new gunshot-detection cameras in New Haven, Conn., to a gun-offender registry in Baltimore; from a Sacramento, Calif., law requiring gun dealers to notify police about people who buy bullets to a proposal approved by the Los Angeles City Council that would let landlords evict tenants convicted of gun crimes, city police departments and governments are putting new emphasis on fighting illegal guns. The shifts are local, differ from city to city, and are largely beneath the radar of the national gun control debate. Yet taken together, it is a sea change in how cities...

Working and Women's Work.

The Washington Post has a great story today about the rise of female ambassadors in the past several years, a phenomenon called "the Hillary Effect." The end of the piece covers a sad truth I've written about before. Women who advance to such high levels in their careers often leave their husbands behind: While male ambassadors are usually accompanied by wives, female ambassadors are often here alone. Of eight interviewed, four are divorced and four said their husbands did not accompany them to Washington because of their own jobs. Part of what's disturbing about this is the discrepancy in the marriage contract. Why do women follow their husbands when a job-location change would improve their careers but men don't when their wives are moving up? But it also puts women at a disadvantage once they're here: Those women don't have as much help juggling children and home duties with work as their married male counterparts do. While I'm going to assume ambassadors might be able to afford...

Food Policy in the Right Place.

Somehow, the point of consciousness-raising efforts like Morgan Spurlock's documentary Super Size Me and Eric Schlosser's investigatory book Fast Food Nation got lost when the organic-loving locavores took over food discussions. The early-aught pieces highlighted problems with companies: how you would find their practices distasteful if you knew about them, and how they were marketing their food as better for you than it really was. Now, we have Michael Pollan , a journalist I greatly admire, giving us new rules to follow when we eat and Jonathan Safran Foer sneaking onto butchering facilities to convince us all to be vegetarians. The dialogue has morphed from one in which eaters are victims of bad or lax policy to one in which the eaters are at fault. While I'm all for reminding people that leafy greens are great, this approach to nutrition tends to overlook the problems of the poorest Americans. Many urban areas lack grocery stores, and many low-wage workers can't afford to spend...

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