About Jack

Jack is really a storyteller, international explorer, and humanitarian and everything else rolls out from there. As a writer, its what he does. As a international human rights and criminal lawyer and trial skills teacher around the world, its his most important tool. As a former CIA officer, the only way to truly motivate people is to connect and to tell them a story that they can feel viscerally. As a media analyst, what better way to make a point.  In the end, he tries to captivate his audience about the world and its people as much as he himself is captivated.

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Kurdistan Regional Government Representative Discusses Life Under Sadda

Ms. Bayan Sami Abdul Rahman, a Kurdistan Regional Government Representative, travelled to the United States and appeared on The Jack Rice Show to discuss the history of the Kurdish people under the rule of Saddam Hussein as well as the development of Kurdistan, a semi autonomous region in Northern Iraq since his overthrow.Ms. Rahman is an experienced journalist with a keen eye for events and certainly has a very personal story to tell. Her late father, Sami Abdul Rahman, was a veteran of the Kurdish movement, joining the Kurdistan Democratic Party in 1963 and playing a critical role in the Kurdish and Iraqi opposition to Saddam Hussein’s regime. He held the post of Deputy Prime Minister of the Kurdistan Regional Government between 1999 and February 2004, when he and his elder son were killed in a suicide bombing. As a result, when Ms. Rahman talks about her country and her people, she has an understandable passion.American officials have described Kurdish Peshmerga fighters as some of the most valued, reliable and fierce in the new Iraqi army. Of course, that fact does cause tension among other elements of Iraqi society, specifically some of the Sunni to the south.

Kurdistan consists of three provinces in the north third of Iraq and borders Turkey, Iran and Syria. Kurdistan is estimated to hold the sixth largest oil reserve in the world. This last fact has also caused tension as to who owns the rights to those reserves, and in what quantities.


Rybak and Coleman: Twin Cities Mayors

Within the last week, both RT Rybak and Chris Coleman appeared on The Jack Rice Show to talk about the future of Minneapolis and St. Paul, respectively. Well, the elections today made it clear that both of their visions resonated with voters.

RT Rybak, who describes himself as an optimist, has a lot to be optimistic about. And apparently, voters of Minneapolis felt sufficiently confident to give the Mayor another term to see what else he can accomplish for the City of Minneapolis

Chris Coleman, former St. Paul City Councilman, defeated a sitting mayor by an amount not seen in decades to become the new Mayor of St. Paul. Considering the numbers in this race, it appears that the challenger's support of President Bush during the last election apparently had quite an impact upon voters and their willingness to support Coleman's candidacy.

What Would Wayne Do? (WWWD)

The other day, I was at the gym. I just walked out of the locker room in the basement of the place and there I saw it, lying on a seat of a chair. A nickel. No big deal, right? And for some reason, the rhyme popped into my head. You know the one, “Finder’s keepers, etc. etc. Anyway, I picked it up, bounced it in my hand, put it in my pocket and started walking away. And then something strange happened. Something else popped into my head that I hadn’t thought of in more than 30 years.

When I was nine and my brother Wayne was ten, we were walking home from a friend’s house. We were walking in a little subdivision. You know the kind, where the little off white houses butt up to one another and there are little postage size lawns out front.

Anyway, as we passed one house, I saw on the corner of the lawn right next to the sidewalk something that caught my eye so I reached down and picked it up. It was a five dollar bill rolled up in a ball. Please realize the significance. I was nine!

I remember saying, “Wow, I’m rich! This must be my lucky day!” I shouted to Wayne, “Check it out. Cool huh?” as I danced around the sidewalk like James Brown.

He looked at me and then at the five dollar bill that I was now smoothing out and holding like a newly discovered copy of the Gutenberg Bible. The one that I was more than prepared to claim as my own.

He simply said, “You can’t just keep that. You have to at least go up to that house and ask them if they lost it.” I was shocked. It never occurred to me that this was necessary but he said it in such a matter of fact way that I felt compelled to do just that.

As I thought of this memory, I felt the weight of the nickel in my pocket!

So we walked up to the front door and knocked. The whole way up the steps, all I did was pray that nobody would be home. Unfortunately, a woman answered. I looked at Wayne, at the woman and did what Wayne told me. I offered the woman the five dollar bill, saying we found it in the front yard. She smiled and said that it wasn’t hers. “I guess it’s your lucky day,” she said.

I looked at Wayne for his approval and he agreed. He even smiled a little.

I walked home with the five dollar bill in my pocket like I was the King of England. After all, five bucks is like a million to a little kid!

Anyway, all of this came back to me in a flash as I stood there thinking about the nickel in my pocket. And I did the only that I could, I turned around, walked back to the chair where I found the nickel, dug into my pocket, and put it back where I found it. After all, maybe some little kid dropped it by mistake. I remembered just how much any money
was worth to a little kid. Or maybe it was that last piece of change somebody needed to take the bus.

I then just walked away.

You know, I go through the papers, watch the news, even walk down the street, and I wonder what happened to ethics in the world today. I know that for some it is religion. For some, it is about swearing an oath to serve, for some it is different. For me, my touchstone is my brother. Sort of like those bracelets that were all the rage for a while What Would Jesus Do (WWJD). Well in my case, I guess WWWD is more applicable.

I don’t suggest that I always succeed or that I’m more ethical than the next guy. All I know is that when I really think about it, when I am in an ethical quandary, I think WWWD. Weird, huh?

Funny how things that happened years ago can come back out of nowhere and bite you in the ass. It also makes me wonder where a ten year old gets that kind of wisdom. All I know is that I wish that wisdom wasn’t so rare these days. Our politicians, our priests, our parents, ourselves could use what my ten year old brother forced upon me those decades ago.

Postscript to this story:

I always thought that there must be some cosmic justice out when we do things wrong, and maybe even when we do things right. Well, what just happened today confirms my belief. I was back at the gym and just arrived and was digging in my bag for my swimming goggles. They weren’t there. And for some reason, I thought . . . . maybe. I walked over to the hooks where I hang them after I swim. They were hanging there, exactly where I left them two days before.

You see. Some people still have ethical standards. Be it religion, sworn oaths or whatever. Apparently, all of the people who passed by my goggles did too.

So, while in a world of mine, mine, mine or where Paris Hilton seem to be the goals to which we all aspire, the quaint idea that ethics might mean something still has a place. Even if it is in the basement of a gym where one guy finds a nickel.

And I guess, maybe, one nickel at a time, we make the world a better place. So, if you still are searching for your ethical touchstone, if you can’t find yours, might I suggest WWWD?

Dr. Ngoma Miezi Kintaudi - Global He

Dr. Ngoma Miezi Kintaudi was born 150 miles from Kinchasa, Democratic Republic of Congo. While a teenager, he watched his father die of an acute appendicitis because there was no medical care available. In most other countries, his father would have survived but not there. He later came to the U.S., worked his way through medical school and then went back to DR Congo to oversee the medical care for millions of his fellow citizens. He was just awarded a U.N. Humanitarian Award and also was named a Global Hero by Time Magazine. He joins The Jack Rice Show to discuss his work.


St. Paul: A City in Transition

Somebody once called St. Paul the biggest small town in America, And, I guess, when I drive down its streets, it makes sense to me.
Nevertheless, St. Paul really is a city in transition. Yes, it is Minnesota's state capitol. Yes, it does have a certain charm. And yes, it still does feel like a small town in some ways. But whether that will continue is probably an open question.

After years, the St. Paul Police Department finally built a new headquarters.

Chris Coleman is a life long resident of St. Paul, a former City Councilman and mayoral candidate.

Maybe some statistics can highlight the point. In one area of the city, people speak 26 different languages, everything from English, Spanish and Hmong to Eritrean. 26% of one area is under 14 years of age. There is poverty, homelesness, and areas that have continuing crime. As a result, this has caused the Mayor, City Council, Police and citizens groups to work towards solutions. That is the reason we went to St. Paul. That is the reason we broadcast The Jack Rice Show from the St. Paul Police Department Headquarters on November 3rd, 2005.

During the broadcast, we had a chance to speak with community organizers like Tate Danielson and Johnny Howard, community council people like Jessica Treat but also with Police Commanders and gang unit officers.

Commander Doug Holtz-Commander of Western District and Coordinator of the CARE Program. While it sounds like a hunaitarian group, in fact, it is a tactical law enforcement team that is sent into hot spots to deal with problems.
Officer Ruby Diaz works with the Department's gang unity and specializes in hispanic gangs. She surprized me in that she spent more time talking about the need to be proactive with the youth in the city rather than reactive after everything blows apart.

Before this broadcast, I went on a ride-along with Sgt. Jim Gray of the St. Paul Police Department. The Sgt. is an old east side kid. His father grew up there and so did he. His father was a cop and so is he. His perspective about the old neighborhood was really telling. As he put it, "sure, everything seems different but in many ways it is still the same." Before, we had Italian, Swedish and Polish immigrants. Now? Hmong, Somalian and Hispanic."
I guess that the old adage The more things change, the more they stay the same really applies to this city.

Karen DuPaul, community organizer from Dayton's Bluff Community Council and Commander Gene Polyak, Commander of the East Side Patrol division are on the same side and have found ways to partner-up to find solutions to the problems they face.

Doing a remote broadcast can sometimes be difficult. Often, it all depends upon the people that show up and take the time to share their stories. In St. Paul, I found people from all walks who have worked together to makes sure that this city's transitioninto the future is a smooth one.

Sr. Commander John Vomastic-Senior Commander of Central District focused in on the homeless problem and dealing with policing when the city's population is starting to shift back downtown. And about the inevitable clash that results.

Live Broadcast from Farview Park in North Minneapolis

This broadcast started out as a result of a phone call from a listener. He described how, as a resident and business owner in North Minneapolis, he was facing constant crime, constant danger and little hope for the future. And he wanted to know if WCCO would consider taking a closer look at the struggles faced by the people living in this community.
While crime has dropped substantially across the country over the last couple of years, this is not the case in North Minneapolis. According to statistics kept by the city, homicides are up some 36% so far this year as compared to three years ago. Aggravated assaults are up by 36%. Robberies are up by 41%. That doesn't mention the drugs, the prostitution, the thefts.

Minneapolis Mayor RT Rybak tries to explain the challenges he and the people of Minnesota face as a result of the problems in North Minneapolis.

The purpose of the program was not to take political shots at one side or another, although that is sometimes inevitable by some invited to participate. Our purpose was to give the residents of this community a forum to address grievances and allow the police, community activists and politicians a chance to not just respond but to articulate their stuggles, their concerns and even their ideas for addressing the problems.

Mayoral Candidate Peter McLaughlin has a very different take on the reasons for the problems in this neighborhood and the possible solutions.

The broadcast took place at Farview Park on 29th and Lyndale. Besides invited guests, residents of the community were also invited to attend and voice their opinions. We should add that only a few short blocks away from our broadcast is the center of the drug trade in this neighborhood. Throughout the broadcast, I kept asking officials why I can simply walk down the street and buy any illegal drug of my choice. The answers were varied.
Quite by accident, after the broadcast, Sue, my producer and I, were leaving Farview Park and on our way back to WCCO studios in downtown Minneapolis when I thought that I would show Sue a house just down the street that had been shot up and in which a young girl had been shot. Well, we drove two blocks from Farview and slowed in front of the house. We were not there for more than 10 seconds when we were approached by a young African American man on a bicycle. He wore all black. Yeah. You know the rest. He was a drug dealer. We waived him off and moved on.

Minneapolis Police Chief William McManus tries to articulate the relationship between the police and the community to address the problems. He explains that the police cannot arrest the problem away

Minneapolis Police Officer Grant Snyder, one of the STOP officers, gave some on-the ground realities faced by the officer trying to work the streets in this area.

The broadcast wasn't intended to solve any problems but mainly to highlight the problems that exist. Even more, as was stated by many of the guests, even though North Minneapolis faces incredible problems, nothing is stopping these same bad elements from moving into other parts of Minneapolis, St. Paul or even across the state. So, in the end, the problem is not a North Minneapolis problem but rather Minnesota problem.

City Councilman Don Samuels took a much broader view of the problem. As the Councilman put it, everybody is involved and everybody should be interested in the solution.

Various members of the community came to participate including Lt. Maderra Arradondo, Commander of the Minneapolis Police STOP Division and member of the Police Community Relations Council.


Riding with the Minneapolis Police Department in North Minneapolis

Minneapolis Police Officers Tim Gorman and Mark Klukow have worked the streets of North Minneapolis for almost 10 years. In an upcoming show on November 2, 2005, we will broadcast live from North Minneapolis where we will meet with citizens, cops, business people and politicians. In order to have a better understanding of the problems that people face who live in this neighborhood, I wanted to have a first hand view of events. Officers Klukow and Gorman agreed to take me along on patrol one Friday night.

While you see many squad cars in North Minneapolis, this is the one view you never want to see, from the backseat. Notice the shotgun with the white tape around the barrel and the fuzzy dice hanging from the video camera. Never say cops don't have senses of humor. Sitting in the back of this squad, I watched these officers spend most of their time just being an obvious presence. That's not to say there was nothing to do. On this evening alone, we responded to a robbery a gunpoint and a possible fight between 30 people. And this was only one of the squads in the Fourth Precinct this night.

About 11:00 p.m. we were called to Kalek's Bar for a robbery. As we stood out in the street at the corner of 21st and Washington, these officers tried to determine who stole what from whom, made all the more difficult because all involved seemed to have been drinking. Suffice it to say, a woman's wallet was allegedly stolen and the police had one suspect. In the end, after searching the suspect, the bar and even the alley behind the bar, the officers found nothing. They wrote a report and moved on.

Look closely at the front window of this house. The bullet holes are obvious. In the summer of 2005, somebody shot into this house and hit an innocent twelve year old girl. This girl still lives in this house with her mom and siblings. This picture alone made it clear to me that the people that live here often live in conditions that any of us would consider intolerable. Unfortunately, with few options, they stay. Apparently, they can't even afford to fix the window. I wonder, which scars are worse for this young girl, the physical or the mental ones?


Minnesota Correctional Facility, Shakopee

On October 18, 2005, we broadcast The Jack Rice Show live from the Shakopee Women's Prison. This is the only women's prison in the state of Minnesota. As a prosecutor, I had a hand in sending some of these women here. As a defense attorney, I did my best to keep them out. As a broadcaster, I do my best to bring the stories of these women, as well as those who are responsible for maintaining order at this place.

During the broadcast, we interviewed the Commissioner of Corrections, the Warden of this prison, the Director of Programming, Guards, and, of course, the inmates themsevles.

On a crisp fall day, I stand outside of this prison, unsure of what I will find inside. The youngest inmates are 16 or 17 but have been certified as adults. The oldest? 91. All are mothers, daughters, sisters, cousins, friends, enemies, neighbors. I guess it would be a lot easier to just call them criminals but life is rarely that simple.

Every visitor is required to sign in, have their background checked and to leave identification, in exchange for the privilege of entering the only Women's Prison in the state of Minnesota.

While at first glance, it appeared like a liberal arts college, once you enter and look into the faces of the women incarcerated here, some for the rest of their lives, it becomes very clear that this is no simple education. And the tuition is too much for most!

One woman, Suzanne, has been here for four years. She is young. Only 26 with long brown hair and brown eyes. Her hair touches her shoulder blades. In order to explain to her young daughter how long she must stay her, she explains that she can't come home until her hair grows down to her butt.

She was convicted of Arson and will not leave this place until March of 2008. And yet, she holds onto the hope that her daughter will remember and love her throughout her incarceration here. A tall order for a four year old . . .


Timberwolves Hurricane Relief Flight

As I sit in my seat in the back of the airplane heading down toward Baton Rouge, I wonder what I will face. It is easy to talk about refugees, evacuees, Americans, when you talk about them in the abstract, by the thousands. It is a whole other game to look a homeless mother in the face as she holds her crying baby. And yet, I know that one voice at a time is the only way to tell a story.

As we travel, Kevin McCale walks back toward the back of the plane. As I watch, it becomes abundantly clear that commercial planes are not built for guys like this. Kinda like me sitting at my 7 year old dauther Bella's desk at school during teacher conferences. Look how his head scrapes the ceiling even as he stoops.

As we arrive at the Interdenominational Faith Assembly Hurricane Shelter, I quickly see the enormity of the problem. Hundreds and hundreds of people wait for help. It is in the nineties and very humid and yet, people have waited for hours for the supplies that this relief flight will provide. These people need everything. Food, clothing, toiletpaper. And yet, they wait for hour after hour in lines that stretch around the building and out under the hot sun. And not a complaint do I hear, just plenty of "thank you"s.

Her name is Paula and she is one of the funniest people I have ever met. She is from the 9th Ward in New Orleans and has lost everything, I mean everything. . . except her family, her dignity and her sense of humor.
She sits on a bed in the middle of what appears to be chaos. At least 700 people are surrounding us. As I approach her, she smiles.
"Do you mind if I ask you a few questions?" I ask.
"Come and have a seat on my bed baby and we can talk."
You can tell she is messing with me.
I come to learn that she and her family have been in this shelter for three and a half weeks. She acknowledges her losses. And yet, you can see the strength and determination and yes, humor, in her eyes.
She says that she would offer me some ice tea but, referring to the 700 people around us, "a few uninvited guests have arrived." We both laugh out loud.

Deputy Clifton Sanford of the Baton Rouge Sheriff's Office is a former Marine who was in the Gulf during the first Gulf War. His optimism and his religious conviction seem to pull him through any difficulty. As he puts it, "this small city has seen more than 200,000 people come through her in the last two weeks alone." Imagine trying to police that!