An Inclusive Litany


In Cincinnati, taxi driver Hassan Taher refused to allow Annie McEachrin's dog into his cab, which led her to sue him. McEachrin is blind and requires a guide dog. But as a Muslim, Taher considers dogs unclean, and he insists that by refusing to allow the dog, he was practicing his religion.

"There is a new book out I commend to you," President Clinton commented, "by Paul Hawken and Amory and Hunter Lovins called Natural Capitalism." The book the president apparently takes seriously recommends drastically curtailing nearly all forms of resource and land use. According to the authors, "Of the $9 trillion spent every year in the United States, at least $2 trillion annually is wasted." As "waste," the authors count spending on law, litigation, accounting, auditing, bookkeeping, and recordkeeping. The authors also regard much health care spending as wasteful, complaining that the sector sucks up "$69 billion [annually] on obesity, $274 billion on heart disease and strokes, and $52 billion on substance abuse." The authors also declare that "[t]he total hidden social costs of driving, not paid by the motorist, total nearly $1 trillion" annually.


From an August Justice Department report detailing federal inmates' use of telephones to facilitate crimes while in prison. As a result of a class action lawsuit, phone privileges are now virtually unlimited. While all calls are recorded, prison officials monitor only 3.5 percent of them.
Inmate bilked trucking companies out of funds (approximately $100,000) available to truckers on the road, using three-way calling and outside contacts to cash the checks.

Inmate used phone to direct the importation of heroin from Pakistan to New York.

Inmate defrauded females he met through "lonely hearts" ads. He claimed to be a white-collar criminal with much money on the outside that he needed the females to help him access.

Phones were used to assist in planning construction of explosive device.

Organized-crime-member inmate schemed with co-conspirator on the outside to re-encode magnetic strips on counterfeit credit cards.

Inmate used phones to communicate to co-conspirators concerning a multi-kilogram cocaine deal. Also used a cellular phone, provided by correctional officer, to arrange the murder of the judge in his pending case.

Inmate used phone to arrange with his mother to procure someone to murder the girlfriend of one of the witnesses in his case.

Inmate laundered $175,000 to pay his attorney fees, using other inmates' phone accounts and call forwarding.

Inmate used the telephone to arrange a drug delivery to a tree outside the institution to be picked up by an inmate while working as a member of the grounds crew.

Inmate had his corporate secretary forward calls for hours each day to conduct a bank-fraud scheme that involved buying and selling airplanes.

Kerry B. Grandahl, filed a federal suit against the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Allied Health Sciences, claiming her chronic depression is a protected disability that caused her "exam phobia" and poor scores, leading to her wrongful dismissal from the five-year program.


Jerry Riscoe, who owns a bar in Harmar Township, Pennsylvania, is leading an effort to stop construction of a church next door. He says he has nothing against the Jehovah's Witnesses who planned to build it, but he worried that they would eventually start complaining about him, and would enjoy an unfair legal advantage. Riscoe said he found it "strange that Pennsylvania has a law prohibiting a bar from being built next to a church, but... nothing to stop a church from being built next to a bar."

Editors of the New York Times must find other hobbies now that it may no longer use the term "voodoo economics." According to its latest editorial style sheet, "Voodoo is a religion with many followers in African and the West Indies, not to mention the United States. They are offended by disparaging uses of voodoo to mean irrational beliefs."

Writers at the Times also may not refer to a woman as a housewife or homemaker. But the style sheet also prohibits disclosing a man's occupation without also disclosing his wife's situation in life, even if she is a housewife or homemaker.


A conference on violence against women sponsored by the World Council of Churches got off to a shaky start when many Third World women shared their accounts of sexual abuse and forced prostitution. But Western women offered their own perspectives. American theologian Ada Maria Isasi-Diaz noted that women who invent their own theology often suffer "institutional violence." Worship of the goddess Sophia was often met by narrow-minded criticism from mainstream religious leaders, leading to "theological silencing." As Ms. Isasi-Diaz put it, "Being silenced, being ignored, not being valued... this is what violence is all about."

Mexican officials ordered Chato, a Rottweiler guard dog, to be put to sleep after he mauled and killed a robber who was trying to make off from a luxury home with stolen goods.


In a Kansas school, 13-year-old T.J. West was suspended for intimidation and racial harassment after idly drawing a picture of the Confederate flag on a scrap of paper.

A story by Christopher Beamon, a seventh-grader in Ponder, Texas, written for a class assignment, to write a scary story for Halloween. Good job, Chris! After the parents of students named in the story expressed concern Beamon might harm their children, he was picked up by police and held in a juvenile detention facility for five days. Before he was jailed, Ms. Amanda Henry gave Chris an A-plus for effort and creativity. Christopher, who doesn't think he did anything wrong, says he wants to be writer someday.
My flashlight went out and I heard someone right behind me and I turned in a very slowly scared way and boom the lights came on and the door bell rang. I walked very slowly and creepy and turned the knob ding dong the door bell went again. I said just a minute and I will be right there and I looked through the little hole in the door and Robin said Boo. I told him to come in and have a seat and we both wated and wated for Ismael because he was supposed to bring the oz so we could get high but a half an hour later still no Ismael so I got the Idea of freeon and we grabbed a bag and a knife and ran out back to the airconditionar. We through the bag over the nostle and covered it tightly and used the knife to press the volv. We started to hear something after we got high so we ditched everything we quickly run to the door to see who it was and there wasn't anybody there then we heard someone at the back door to see who it was I thought it was a crook so I busted out with a 12 guage and Ismael busted out with 9 mm and we step off the porch and this bloody body droped down in front of us and scared us half to death and about 20 kids started cracking up and pissed me off so I shot Matt, Jake, and Ben started laughing so hard that I acssedently shot Mrs. Henry. Ismael saw someone steeling antifreeze so Ismael shot over ther neer the airconditionar and hit somebody. They also scattered out and went home and my mom drove up and everything was back to normal but they didn't have any heads.


Ann Richards, former governor of Texas, quoted on sexual harassment concerns in the wake of the Monica Lewinsky scandal:
The right wing has cut off the opportunities for women to get ahead by trying to kill affirmative action everywhere. And now they're trying to cut off from us sleeping around to get ahead. You know, there have been some perfectly good big salaries, big titles that have come as a consequence of little liaisons like this. And now those right-wing nuts are going to slam that door, too.

Thirteen-year-old Benjamin A. Ratner was suspended from the Blue Ridge Middle School in Purcellville, Virginia, because he had a knife in his locker. A girl in his class had brought a kitchen paring knife to school, tucked inside a notebook binder, and later passed Benjamin a note suggesting that she might use it to kill herself. Benjamin says he persuaded the girl to give him the binder with the knife, which he never actually saw. He said he then planned to bring the knife home to his mother so she could take it to the girl's parents and talk with them about seeking help for their daughter. Benjamin put the notebook in his locker, which he concluded was a safe place because no one else had his combination. But the girl told two friends, and they told school officials. Both he and the girl were suspended immediately for ten days, and Benjamin's suspension was later extended for over three months because he failed to turn the knife in immediately. One of the school's disciplinary panel members said, "We have to send a message to all of the students that we're serious about their safety."


In the midst of an exhibit at London's Tate Gallery that featured artist Tracey Emin's own plain rumpled bed, it took a few moments for politely applauding art patrons to realize that the two Chinese men who had suddenly stripped to their waists and jumped onto the bed were not a part of the exhibit. The pair had painted their bodies with terms such as "Communism," "Internationalism," and "Anti-Stuckism," trampolining on the bed while pouring vodka onto the sheets.

After an initial pause, security guards wrestled the two men off the artwork, but its sheets and pillows were left in hopeless disarray. The pair, who had been trained in London's finest art schools, claimed their actions represented performance art that exemplified the concept of "Anti-Stuckism." One complained after his arrest, "the way they treated us visual artists was ignorant."

A New York art exhibit displaying various working guns and that invited visitors to take a live bullet with them as they left was shut down by police. The exhibitor, Mary Boone, was charged with criminal weapon possession and unlawful possession and disposal of ammunition, charges that were later dropped in exchange for a promise to knock it off.


An Associated Press dispatch, November 27, 1999:
A Canadian tourist who claims that his penis was crushed by a faulty toilet seat at a Starbucks Corp restaurant has sued the giant coffee retailer for $1.5 million, his attorney said Monday.

"Our client, Edward Skwarek, was in a seated position on the toilet when he turned to retrieve the toilet paper in back of the seat when the seat shifted causing his penis to be caught and crushed between the seat and the bowl," said Richard Robbins, the lawyer for Skwarek, 37, of Toronto.

The suit, filed Nov. 26 in Manhattan Supreme Court, alleges the coffee house was careless in "allowing a defective toilet seat to remain open... causing a hazardous and unsafe condition... in its public restrooms." ...

The suit also claims that as a result of Starbucks' carelessness, Skwarek suffered a "crushed penis, Peyronie's disease, retrograde ejaculation with consequent substantial reduction in sperm count, infertility, severe bruising to his penis and sexual function impairment."

Peyronie's disease usually causes deviation of the erect penis to one side...

Skwarek seeks $1 million in damages and his wife $500,000 because she has been "deprived of his services."

School officials in Cobb County, Georgia, ripped reproductions of the famous 1851 painting Washington Crossing the Delaware from fifth-grade history books because, as a school principal explained it, a watch fob resting on the general's thigh looked suspiciously like "George Washington's private part."

Officials in Muscogee County dealt with the same problem simply by painting over the offending detail. "We said some kids will never even notice it, but there's always going to be the one or two who are going to get everything started," explained an administrator.

After the school board of Decatur, Illinois, decided to expel six students for going on a violent rampage at a football game, Jesse Jackson appeared on the scene to denounce the application of zero-tolerance laws to what he regarded as a minor scuffle, "something silly, like children do." Jackson, however, had been terribly misinformed, as became obvious when a videotape of the horrifying gang melee turned up. Jackson, however, declared that the students, all of whom are black, were being singled out because of their race—explicitly linking Decatur to Selma, Alabama, and to the 1963 civil rights march on Washington. When the controversy initially started, an exasperated school superintendent Kenneth Arndt blurted out that three of the students were "third-year freshman" and that the group as a whole had missed more than 300 days of school. As a result, Jackson's allies sued the school for $30 million for breach of privacy.


A program for a film series sponsored by Princeton University:
The Fall 1999 Film Series
Sponsored by the Program in African-American Studies, Princeton University and Co-Sponsored by the Black Graduate Caucus

Begins Wednesday, November 10th.

November 10—8:15 pm * The Superwoman in Black Action Films...
Foxy Brown
Directed by Jack Hill (1974, 92 minutes)
Foxy Brown is a 1970s black action—"blaxploitation"—film which stars Pam Grier. According to one critic, Grier's performance is "endowed with a violent sensuality." "Foxy Brown" is the film's heroine who personalizes her vengeance against drug dealers, murderers, and anyone who seeks the oppression of her brothers and sisters.
Discussion led by Donna Jones (Assistant Professor, English and African-American Studies)

November 17—8:15 pm * Racism & Homophobia
Tongues Untied
Directed by Marlon Riggs (1989, 55 minutes)
This highly acclaimed film by Emmy Award-winning director Marlon Riggs combines poetry, personal testimony, rap and performance to describe the racism and homophobia that confront black gay men.
Discussion led by Fred Wherry (Graduate Student, Woodrow Wilson School)

December 1—8:15 pm * Beauty and the Black Female Body
The Life and Times of Sara Baartman—"The Hottentot Venus"
**Best Documentary, 1999, Milan Festival of African Cinema
**Best Documentary, 1999, FESPACO, Pan-African Film Festival
Directed by Zola Maseko (1998, 52 minutes)
Using historical drawings, cartoons, legal documents, and interviews with noted cultural historians and anthropologists, this documentary deconstructs the social, political, scientific and philosophical assumptions which transformed one young African woman into a representation of savage sexuality and racial inferiority.
Discussion led by Noliwe Rooks (Visiting Professor, African-American Studies) & Stephanie Smith (Graduate Student, English)

December 8—8:15 pm * Black Manhood in Rap & Reggae Cultures
The Darker Side of Black
Directed by Isaac Julien (1995, 59 minutes)
This investigation of the "darker" side of contemporary black music takes a close look at Rap and Reggae—particularly the complex issues raised by both genres, such as ritualized machismo, misogyny, homophobia, and gun glorification. With scenes from dance halls and hip hop clubs in London, Jamaica, and the USA, this film uses music video clips and interviews with Cornel West and other cultural critics to challenge assumptions about black manhood/masculinity/sexuality.
Discussion led by Lyndon Dominique (Graduate Student, English) and Keith Mayes (Graduate Student, History)

December 15—8:15 pm * Interracial Romance
The Politics of Love: In Black and White
Directed by Ed Burley and Chris Weck (1993, 33 minutes)
The first documentary to explore the personal and political implications of [black-white] interracial romance in America. The film's two directors—one black, one white—uncover unspoken community norms and submerged issues of identity.

The Potluck and the Passion
Directed by Cheryl Dunye (1992, 30 minutes)
A commentary on [black-white] interracial lesbian relationships and the historical relationships of African-American women to issues of race, sexuality, and gender.

Seoul II Soul
Directed by Hak J. Chung (1998, 25 minutes)
This film by a Korean American filmmaker takes a close look at interracial romance and biracial identity by focusing on a very engaging family—the Yates household, which consists of the father, a black Korean War veteran, the mother, a Korean war bride, and their three Afro-Amerasian children.
Discussion led by Anastasia Curwood (Graduate Student, History) and Scott Lucious (Dissertation Fellow, African-American Studies)
Screening Location & Time:

Rocky Mathey Theater
Wednesdays @ 8:15 pm

All screenings followed by an open discussion
Juice and cookies served

Admission: Free

For more information e-mail Scott Lucious:

"Black sexuality," according to Cornel West, "is a taboo subject in America primarily because it is a form of black power over which white America has had little control..." In Race Matters he argues that "Americans are obsessed with sex and fearful of black sexuality. The obsession has to do with a search for stimulation and meaning in a fast-paced, market-driven culture; the fear is rooted in visceral feelings about black bodies and fueled by sexual myths of black women and men. The dominant myths draw black women and men either as threatening creatures who have the potential for sexual power over whites, or as harmless, desexed underlings of a white culture."

The screenings and open discussions throughout this film series call attention to the need to demythologize and rethink black sexuality.

On September 26, 1998, police in Rogers, Arkansas, discovered the body of Jesse Dirkhising, a thirteen-year-old boy who had been tied up, raped, and murdered, in the apartment of two homosexual men, Joshua Brown and Davis Carpenter, who are now awaiting trial for the crime.

The boy's murder, which received virtually no national media coverage, occurred approximately one month prior to the brutal murder, in Wyoming, of Matthew Shepard, a young homosexual man, at the hands of three parolees who thought he was making a pass at them. That crime received massive attention, and much criticism was leveled at the religious right, who were said to bear moral responsibility for the crime. Denver Post editorialist Sue O'Brien explained the disparate coverage thus: "Jesse Dirkhising... wasn't being punished because he was young, or male, or straight or gay. He was simply there." Indeed.

One of Shepard's killers, Aaron McKinney, said that a combination of "gay panic" syndrome and the drug methamphetamine made him kill Shepard, and that he was thus not responsible. But as prosecutor Cal Rerucha pointed out, gay panic apparently had no role in the numerous other violent offenses against heterosexuals perpetrated by him and his cohorts.

From a ruling by U.S. District Judge Susan Dlott, in response to a lawsuit initiated by lawyer Richard Ganulin that challenged federal recognition of Christmas as a holiday under the establishment clause of the First Amendment. The following are the first five stanzas of the ruling's nine-stanza introductory section:

The court will address
Plaintiff's seasonal confusion
Erroneously believing Christmas
merely a religious intrusion.
We are all better for Santa,
The Easter Bunny too,
And maybe the Great Pumpkin,
To name just a few!
An extra day off
Is hardly high treason;
It may be spent as you wish,
Regardless of reason.
One is never jailed
For not having a tree
For not going to church
For not spreading glee!
The court will uphold,
Seemingly contradictory causes,
Decreeing 'The Establishment' and 'Santa'
Both worthwhile claus(es).


Canadian men expressed outrage at a television ad that aired across the country in which a young couple are depicted walking down the street past a Chrysler Neon, and the woman slaps the man because she thinks he has turned to gawk at another woman rather than the car behind her. After men complained that they became upset at the sight of a woman slapping a man, Chrysler re-edited the ad so that she gave him a dirty look instead.

Massachusetts gun owners challenged a new law banning the practice of shooting at targets with human images, claiming the ban abridged their First Amendment right to free speech because many targets featured the image of Adolph Hitler, and shooters were thus expressing their disapproval.


Susan and Thomas Klebold filed suit against the Jefferson County, Colorado, school district and sheriff's department, claiming that had they not mishandled a complaint about violent threats against their son Dylan's friend Eric Harris, the pair would not have been killed along with thirteen other people in a shootout they initiated at Columbine High School. The Klebolds seek damages equal to the claims made against them by victims' families, who contend that had the Klebolds been better parents, they would have forestalled their son's violent rampage.

Two 9-year-olds from Merrick, New York, are joining two San Diego children in a federal class-action lawsuit against Nintendo, invoking RICO laws to charge the company with operating an "illegal gambling enterprise." The children claim the company's popular Pokémon trading cards taught them how to gamble, and that the practice of placing rare cards in selected packages caused them to spend thousands of dollars trying to obtain them.

In Washington, D.C., ground was broken on a $10 million monument that will honor the Japanese-American victims of internment during the Second World War. Veterans who fought in that war are still waiting for their own memorial.

[Ed.: More than a quarter of the permanent exhibit on World War II at the Smithsonian is devoted to the policy of internment.]

In Wisconsin, officials at Winneconne High School issued a ban on T-shirts sporting the "Billabong" brand name, which they said was too suggestive of a "bong" used to smoke marijuana. The company, which branched out from surfboards into beachwear, takes its name from an Australian aborigine word meaning lagoon.

Adam Szadkowski, a student who had been ordered to go into a school restroom and turn his shirt inside-out to conceal the offending logo, found the rule "ridiculous," wondering, "are they going to ban us from wearing a shirt that says 'potato' just because it has the word 'pot' in it?"

"I realize Billabong is a surfing company," said Principal Ed Dombrowski. "If we were in California or Florida where they do a lot of surfing, I would understand. But we don't surf here, so where do we draw the line?"


A high school in Amherst, Massachusetts, dropped plans to stage a production of "West Side Story" after some students and parents complained it negatively stereotyped Puerto Ricans.

From a set of suggestions published in the National Middle Schools Association's publication, Middle Ground, August 1999:

  • The easiest way to bring more physical activity into the classroom is to give students opportunities to work with partners or rearrange their desks for discussions. Students can also create and maintain bulletin boards. They can stand up at regular intervals to briefly summarize what they remember from the lesson.

  • Let your students place their papers in a basket in the back of the room. Make it a hard-to-reach basket to induce stretching. If you don't mind wrinkled papers, let students crumple their papers into balls and "shoot" their homework into a basketball net above the turn-in tray. Or let them fold their papers into airplanes they can glide into a homework box. One student can straighten the papers after everyone has had a turn.

Of the 27 candidates who entered Baltimore's Democratic mayoral primary, six turned out to have arrest records, and three had filed for bankruptcy. One was arrested for burglary after a policeman recognized her during an appearance on a TV news broadcast, and another has been convicted of larceny, shoplifting, and impersonating a police officer. One former city councilman falsely claimed to have a college degree, while the sitting Council president had his car repossessed and was sued by unpaid creditors. When the primary was eventually won by one of the candidates not under some cloud, the Washington Post's headline read, "White Man Gets Mayoral Nomination in Baltimore."

Terry McAuliffe, who previously helped the Clinton administration raise campaign contributions by renting out the Lincoln Bedroom, made a $1.35 million cash deposit as security for the mortgage Hillary Clinton needed to establish residency in Chappaqua, New York, in order to run for a senate seat in that state. Contacted by the American Enterprise, various non-partisan government watchdog groups devoted to campaign finance reform had no opinion on the transfer. Public Campaign, a group "dedicated to sweeping reform... to dramatically reduce... the influence of big contributors in American politics," had "no official comment." Common Cause, which "represents the unified voice of the people against corruption in government and big money special interests," had "nothing issued in writing." The Center for Responsive Politics, which "tracks money in politics, and its effect on elections and public policy," offered no public comment, saying the matter was "outside our area of expertise." (Public outcry eventually overturned the arrangement.)

On a related note, Frank Greve of the Knight-Ridder news service reports that Bill Moyers, producer of many documentaries exposing the corrupting influence of money on politics, violated some basic journalistic ethics in his reporting. In one PBS show, "Free Speech for Sale," Moyers interviewed three "experts" on campaign finance reform, all of whom represent organizations that received $2.6 million from the Florence & John Schumann Foundation, whose president is none other than Moyers himself, at a salary of $200,000. In a Frontline special titled "Washington's Other Scandal," Moyers announced that "the arms race in campaign money is undermining the very soul of our democracy," referring viewers to the web sites of reform groups, most bankrolled by Moyers.


From Technology of Orgasm: "Hysteria," the Vibrator, and Women's Sexual Satisfaction, by Rachel P. Maines, published as part of the "Studies in the History of Technology" series at Johns Hopkins University Press:
I intend to sketch here the contours of male medical and technological response to discontinuities between male and female experiences of sexuality through the social construction of disease paradigms. Situated in the vulnerable center of every past and present heterosexual relationship, the potentially destabilizing issues of orgasmic mutuality have historically been shifted to a neutral and sanitized ground on which female sexuality was represented as a pathology and female orgasm, redefined as the crisis of a disease, was produced clinically as legitimate therapy. This interpretation obviated the need to question either the exalted status of the penis or the efficacy of coitus as a stimulus to female orgasm. Furthermore, it required no adjustment of attitude or skills by male sex partners. What Foucault calls the "hystericization of women's bodies" protected and reinforced androcentric definitions of sexual fulfillment.

The Justice Department's Civil Rights Division is defending the state of Alabama against a black student who was denied a state scholarship to a historically black college. The state wants to use the scholarships to encourage more white students to attend the school, even those with inferior academic records.

In Bakersville, California, attorney Timothy Liebaert was shocked and angered to learn of a policy by the developer of the Fairway Oaks community not to sell houses to attorneys because it considered them overly litigious, so he sued them.

A judge rejected Liebaert's original claim, ruling that California discrimination law does not protect occupational status, but he filed an appeal and vowed to advance an alternate theory: that the developers were obliged to announce their no-lawyer policy in their advertisements.


In the wake of recent school shootings, the Chicago public school system dropped riflery training and competition that is offered as part of the Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps program.

Canada's Global Television company successfully defended itself before the Canadian Broadcasting Standard Council against a viewer complaint that in its broadcast of a 45-year-old cartoon, Bugs Bunny uttered sarcastic remarks demeaning to women.


After the government of France instituted a "civil solidarity pact," designed to bestow all the legal privileges of marriage on homosexual couples, political pressure led to widen eligibility requirements to include cohabiting heterosexual couples, widowed sisters living together, and priests and their housekeepers.

John Carter, a New Jersey man, sued McDonald's for injuries he sustained in an auto accident with one of its customers, who spilled a chocolate shake onto his lap while reaching for his fries. Carter alleges McDonald's sold him food knowing he would consume it while driving and failed to provide a warning to the effect of "Don't eat and drive."

The court concluded that McDonald's had no duty to warn customers of obvious hazards, but refused the company's request for attorney's fees, saying the plaintiff's attorney was "creative, imaginative, and he shouldn't be penalized for that." The case was in litigation for three years, underwent appellate-court review, and cost McDonald's more than $100,000.

After O.J. Simpson called Miami police to report that a female acquaintance was strung out on cocaine, police arrived to find him and his girlfriend in the midst of a heated verbal dispute. The two officers handed the admitted wife-beater a brochure on domestic violence, as required by state law, then asked for autographs and posed for pictures with Simpson. Showing off their memorabilia later in the station, the two were immediately placed on desk duty and an investigation commenced.

A New York appeals court rejected a woman's lawsuit against manufacturers of "The Clapper," which activates appliances at the sound of a clap. She claims she had to clap so hard, "I couldn't peel potatoes... I was in pain." The judge, however, pointed out that she merely had failed to adjust the device's sensitivity controls.

When 85-year-old Kate Cheney was diagnosed with terminal cancer, she sought to end her life, as allowed under Oregon's assisted-suicide laws. A problem, however, arose because she suffered from dementia, raising questions of mental competence to make such a decision. Rather than prescribe lethal drugs, her doctor referred her to a psychiatrist, as required by law.

Cheney was accompanied to the consultation by her daughter, Erika Goldstein. The psychiatrist found that Cheney had a loss of short-term memory. It also appeared that Ms. Goldstein was more interested in her mother's assisted suicide than Ms. Cheney herself. The psychiatrist concluded that while the assisted suicide seemed consistent with Ms. Cheney's values, "she does not seem to be explicitly pushing for this." Accordingly, he nixed the assisted suicide, as part of a safeguard included in the law.

While Cheney seemed to accept the psychiatrist's verdict, Ms. Goldstein viewed it as an obstacle to her mother's right to die. Goldstein petitioned Kaiser Permanente, her mother's HMO, for a second opinion, and they acceded.

The psychologist who examined Ms. Cheney also found that she had memory problems—an inability to remember when she had been diagnosed with cancer, for example. The psychologist also worried that Cheney's decision to die "may be influenced by her family's wishes." But despite these reservations, the psychologist determined that Cheney was competent to kill herself and approved the writing of the lethal prescription.

Before killing herself, Cheney had to be interviewed by an ethicist/administrator at Kaiser, a group that stood to save thousands of dollars in health care costs. Cheney told Dr. Robert Richardson that she wanted the pills not so much because she was in terrible pain, but because she feared not being able to attend to her personal hygiene. Dr. Richardson okayed prescribing the suicide pills.

Ms. Cheney did not take the pills right away. At one point, she asked to die after her daughter had to help her shower following an accident with her colostomy bag, but she quickly changed her mind. Then Cheney went into a nursing home for a week so that her family could have some respite from care giving.

As soon as Ms. Cheney returned from the nursing home, she declared her desire to take the pills immediately. After grandchildren were called to say goodbye, Cheney took the poison and died with her daughter at her side.

To control truancy as well as juvenile crime, the town of Monrovia, California, enacted a daytime teen curfew, providing only a brief window during which young people are allowed to be out alone during the day, even to walk the family dog. This led a 16-year-old en route to a fast food restaurant to be stopped and questioned five different times, by five different police officers. Two homeschooled brothers were stopped twenty times as they walked to special classes and back. A 22-year-old woman was questioned twice as she tried to use a public telephone, and a young-looking high school graduate was stopped and questioned ten times.

After Boston's top federal law enforcement official launched a widely publicized crackdown on shops and bed-and-breakfasts that lacked proper ramps and wide doors for wheelchair access on historic Nantucket Island, the Boston Globe reported that if the complaints went to trial, it would be in a brand new courthouse that itself massively violates handicap-access standards: its jury boxes and witness stands can only be reached by way of steps.

"We looked at the possibility of building in permanent ramps that were retractable, but it was such a burden on the budget we just couldn't do it," said General Services Administration project manager Paul Curley. The courthouse does, however, feature English oak paneling, a 45,000-square-foot glass wall overlooking the harbor, "spacious waterfront chambers for judges, and a five-story Great Hall."

In Abington, Massachusetts, Michael Hyde was pulled over by police because his license plate wasn't properly illuminated and because his exhaust was too loud. Hyde suspected he was being targeted because he had long hair and drove a Porsche, so he surreptitiously taped the officers, who didn't charge him with any traffic violations but did ask whether he had drugs. Hyde was later charged under wiretap laws for violating the officers' privacy by failing to inform them they were being taped. "Police officers have the same rights as other citizens," said prosecutor Paul Dawley, adding that if police secretly taped others, it would be considered outrageous.

Traffic stops are routinely videotaped from police cruisers, of course, and people who are stopped are rarely informed of this fact. That's because wiretap laws were written before the advent of video technology, and only cover recorded voices. Typically, voyeurs are convicted not for filming their victims, but for forgetting to unplug the microphone. In fact, police videotapes do not feature an audio track. If Mr. Hyde had secretly videotaped the officer, he would have been well within the law.


In Faking It: U.S. Hegemony in a "Post-Phallic" Era, Purdue political science professor Synthia Weber writes: "This is the United States as I see it today-a white headless body of indecipherable sex and gender cloaked in the flag and daggered with a queer dildo harnessed to its midsection."

In Syracuse, New York, kindergartner Antonio Peck was told by his teacher to create a poster on what he thought people could do to save the environment. He drew a picture of Jesus praying, along with the slogan, "The only way to save our world!" His teacher told him it wouldn't be displayed because of its religious content, so he drew a new poster showing people picking up garbage. Off to one side of the picture was a man in a flowing robe kneeling down with both hands outstretched to the clouds above. School officials displayed the poster, but folded it so that the robed man, whom they construed as Jesus, was not visible. His mother responded by suing the school on First Amendment grounds.


In Minnesota, Nevis High School officials refused to allow a picture of Samantha Jones from appearing in the school yearbook because it violated the school's "zero-tolerance" policy towards weapons, which prohibits displaying images of guns, knives or even squirt guns. Ms. Jones, who plans to join the Army following graduation, was photographed on a 155 mm howitzer outside a Veterans of Foreign Wars post.

"Whether it's in military, recreational or sporting form, anything shaped like a gun or knife is banned," said Superintendent Dick Magaard. But School Board chairman Marv Vredenburg defended Ms. Jones, pointing out that war photographs already hung on school walls. "She is honoring the flag and service," he said.

Fourteen current and former members of the UCLA football team were arrested for illegally possessing handicapped-parking permits that they had managed to obtain because they said they expected to undergo knee surgery at some point in the future.


The Census Bureau released its annual poverty report, concluding that nearly 35 million Americans, or 13 percent, are "living in poverty." In a similar annual ritual, Heritage Foundation research fellow Robert Rector has put the data into context.

Forty-one percent of the poor own their own homes, typically a three-bedroom house with one and a half baths, garage/carport, and porch/patio. The median value of this home is $65,000, which is 70 percent of the median value of all American homes. Only 2 percent live in overcrowded conditions (more than 1.5 persons per room), and each poor person has 440 square feet of living area on average—more than typical residents of London, Paris, and Berlin. About 70 percent of poor households own a car, and over a quarter own two or more. Two thirds own microwaves and have an air conditioner. Nearly half own two or more color televisions, and almost three quarters own VCRs.

When asked if they have enough to eat, 96 percent of all Americans answered "yes," 3 percent said they "sometimes" did not have enough to eat, and half a percent said they were "often" hungry. Similarly, 86 percent of the poor said their families were well fed, and 3 percent said they were often hungry. The surveys found that diets of the poor and middle class have almost the same nutritional balance, in most cases well above recommended norms. And while the growth of 39 percent of all African children and 47 percent of Asian children is stunted by malnutrition, only 2.7 poor American children fall below the normal height threshold, well within the realm of genetic variation. In fact, poor children suffer disproportionately from obesity, and the Women, Infants and Children food program, which encourages a high-calorie diet among those receiving assistance, recently released a report saying it was not responsible for this trend.

Rector notes that the Census Bureau's poverty statistics are often inflated because it fails to count as income almost all of the approximately $410 billion in annual welfare payments from federal and state governments. Also, the Bureau is almost certainly not counting income accurately in the first place. In 1996, the Commerce Department, which measures the gross domestic product, estimated Americans' personal income at $6.8 trillion. The Census Bureau, however, counted only $4.8 trillion in income, a discrepancy of $2 trillion.

One count in the federal government's lawsuit against tobacco companies states that in 1988 the defendants' trade group "did knowingly cause a press release to be sent and delivered by the United States mails to newspapers and news outlets. This press release contained statements disputing the addictiveness of cigarette smoking." By mailing the press release, the group allegedly committed mail fraud, actionable under federal racketeering laws.

One company that placed a newspaper ad titled "Can we have an open debate about smoking?" was also charged with mail fraud because those newspapers were then delivered to subscribers by mail. When companies sent a skeptical magazine article to the media through the mail, that represented another count of mail fraud. When tobacco executives denied the addictiveness of smoking before Congress in 1994, and that testimony was televised, that led to several counts of wire fraud.

One company set up a web site conceding that "by some definitions, including that of the Surgeon General in 1988, cigarette smoking would be classified as addictive," but went on to say: "The issue should be whether consumers are aware that smoking may be difficult to quit (they are) and whether there is anything in cigarette smoke that impairs smokers from reaching and implementing a decision to quit (which we believe there is not)." That statement qualified for another count of wire fraud.

[Ed.: Jonathan Rauch of the National Journal notes that Bob Dole may have committed wire fraud when asked whether tobacco was addictive in a television interview during the 1996 presidential campaign, and he replied, "Some people who've tried it can quit easily, others don't quit. So I guess it's addictive to some and not to others." Similarly, President Clinton might be impeached for wire fraud for denying he had sex with Monica Lewinsky on national television.]

It turns out not all environmentalists are fond of wind power as an alternative energy source. The National Audubon Society initiated a campaign to stop construction of a wind power farm near Los Angeles because of the many birds, including endangered condors, who are decimated by the turbines. "It is hard to imagine a worse idea than putting a condor Cuisinart next door to critical condor habitat," Audubon's Daniel Beard commented. According to the group, "more eagles are killed by wind turbines than were lost in the disastrous Exxon Valdez oil spill." While the bird-mortality problem has long been known, designers have been unable to develop a turbine that is safe. And while production costs have been reduced by about 70 percent over 20 years, inching it towards feasibility, wind power remains more costly than fossil fuels for most uses. Audubon seeks to eliminate a federal tax credit aimed at developing wind power as an alternative energy source.

Other environmental groups such as the Sierra Club, the Union of Concerned Scientists, and the National Environment Trust call for extensive development of wind power as a possible solution to global warming, downplaying potential effects on bird populations. Most electricity-reform proposals before Congress also require utilities to generate a minimum percentage of power from renewable, "green" sources. While many environmental groups still favor wind power, there is currently little support for hydropower, which was a popular alternative until its effects on fish migration and water quality became known. The Sierra Club, for example, opposes China's massive Three Gorges Dam project, even though it promises to decrease the country's reliance on coal, one of the most polluting energy sources available.

It's likely that if solar power were somehow to overcome its inherent efficiency problems, it, too, would quickly become a non-alternative, if only due to the aesthetic drawbacks of large, ubiquitous solar panels. A risk analysis of solar energy rates it as far more dangerous than nuclear energy, because solar panels require extensive cleaning and maintenance, which people can only do by climbing onto their roofs. The current number-two cause of accidental deaths in the United States is falls, which kills about 20,000 people a year. Auto accidents, responsible for 50,000 deaths, are the number one killer.

In Ohio, a Miami University music professor sued his employer, claiming it violated his First Amendment rights by refusing to let him wear a thong bathing suit in the school's swimming pool.


On three occasions during debate on the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, Senator Edward Kennedy (D-MA) referred to its Stockpile Stewardship Program as the "Stockpile Stewardess Program." Aides quickly removed references from the Congressional Record.

Letter to the editor, South Dakota's Rapid City Journal, August 5, 1999:
As long as he led an average life, avoided the political arena and remained single without child, he was exempted by those who felled his father a generation before. But as he embraced his destiny, his father's fate awaited him, as well as his wife, her sister, and a rumored heir to the legacy.

In righting societal wrongs, conducting foreign affairs, shunning Vatican entanglements and curtailing elitist exploitations of the kingdom, his father had made many adversaries, some who utilized their power, wealth and connections for assassination and cover-up. Afterwards, his mother sought refuge via a dynastic union with a Grecian shipping magnate so powerful the conspirators dared no further, until he, as later she, passed on, leaving her children vulnerable again to those who have for centuries sought extermination of the lineage.

The Prince grew graceful, resourceful, wise and learned of details concerning his father's death. The kingdom once the King's could be his any time, but the enemies of Camelot could not risk disclosure and retaliation. Waiting for the precise moment, under cover of night, they downed the Prince, and with him, any hope of Camelot's return to its rightful role amongst the league.

And the people wept.

—Loren E. Pedersen
Rapid City


Employing the same contingency-fee law firm used by other states' attorneys general to prosecute tobacco companies, Rhode Island filed a lawsuit against former manufacturers of lead paint. The suit claims the companies should pay to strip paint off all potentially contaminated walls in the state, fund a "public education campaign" on the dangers of lead paint, and reimburse the state for any medical costs incurred on behalf of children who may have suffered harm from exposure.

All this, despite the fact that paint companies voluntarily stopped marketing lead paint for interior use in the 1950s, while the federal government did not ban it until 1978. To counter this problem, the state is offering a conspiracy theory: that former manufacturers already knew their product was harming children in the 1920s and 1930s while they continued to sell it. It was not until 1949 that Baltimore health officials narrowed many regional lead poisoning problems in children to flaking paint. Average blood lead levels have fallen over 90 percent in the past two decades, also due to the removal of lead from gasoline, food, and food containers.

The Florida Tomato Committee, which advises the Department of Agriculture on tomato policy and makes recommendations on marketing and packing, received a letter from the department's Agricultural Marketing Service, scolding it for lack of diversity. "I am concerned about the committee's lack of significant effort and commitment to increase participation of women, minorities, and persons with disabilities in the nomination process," wrote Kathleen Merrigan, a USDA diversity enforcer. "I will ask the committee to conduct new nominations for my consideration. Current committee members will continue to serve until I appoint the new committee."

Industry representatives insist the committee's lack of diversity mirrors the industry's lack of diversity. "I just don't know of any women or minorities in the business," commented Wayne Hawkins, manager of the committee and executive vice president of the Florida Tomato Growers Exchange. "If there is a minority tomato grower in Florida, I don't know any. They don't exist and [the USDA] won't accept that." Hawkins also bristles at the allegation that the committee failed to conduct outreach efforts as part of the nomination process. "We did everything we possibly could to meet [the USDA's] requirements. We contacted every known tomato grower, every packing house, every county extension director, and many newspapers. Several newspapers even wrote articles about our search. This is government harassment."

At least the tomato growers are not being singled out for special treatment. "Let's just say it's an across-the-board effort," says Merrigan. "This is the last opportunity in this administration to make appointments. We're just following through on this administration's pledge on diversity." That means other industry groups are receiving letters as well. "From soybeans to beef, to onions in south Texas. The winter pear control commission in Yakima, Washington, is going to get one. We're ratcheting it up everywhere."

In the midst of conducting a $400 million lawsuit against gun manufacturers and dealers, Detroit city officials admitted selling used police revolvers to raise money for new weapons. The city of Boston attached no conditions when it sold off some 3,000 handguns, even though it endorsed the legal theory that private vendors should be held liable if they display "willful blindness" to what happened after guns are sold. New Orleans, the first city to sue gun manufacturers, resold some 7,300 guns through an Indiana broker, most of which had been confiscated from lawbreakers. These included TEC-9s and various other semiautomatic weapons whose importation and manufacture Congress banned in 1994.


Canada's Central Experimental Farm became a magnet of ridicule after the Ottawa Citizen reported on its ban on giving human girl's names to cows. The rule was intended to prevent hurt feelings among young tour group members who shared the same name, especially when the cows inevitably did something embarrassing.


Dunn House, a Medford, Oregon, women's and children's shelter, refused a gift of 300 hand-sewn Barbie outfits, because "Barbie represents a culture that objectifies women as sex symbols," according to Maggie Jordan, director of victim services. "She tends to represent the shallow sexism of our culture."

77-year-old Armella Wharton, grandmother of 14 and great-grandmother to six, said she spent months making the tiny clothes from scraps because she had no dolls of her own as a child growing up during the Depression.

From an embassy press release issued on July 22, 1999, the same day the Chinese government banned Falun Gong, a spiritual movement devoted to traditional Chinese breathing exercises and a hybrid form of Buddhism, Taoism, and miscellaneous new age beliefs. The ban followed an unprecedented silent gathering of 10,000 practitioners to protest government persecution that accompanies lack of official recognition.
Cases of dire consequences caused by Falun Gong to the psychological and physical health of people are innumerable, according to facts collected by certain departments. Serious results have been reported, including sickness, handicaps, and even death.

Since beginning the practice of Falun Gong, many people have lost their appetites, some appeared to be disorganized in words and behavior, and some became paranoid. Still others found themselves suffering from hallucinations. A number of people jumped into rivers or off buildings. Some even cruelly injured or killed relatives and friends.

Ma Jianmin, a retired worker from the Huabei oil field in north China, insisted that he had a "wheel of law" in his stomach. Then, one day in 1998, Ma died after he cut his abdomen with a pair of scissors to look for the "wheel."

Official Gao Encheng, who became a leader of a Falun Gong practicing group in Kaixian County of Chongqing, got the idea that he had become "immortal." Gao killed himself by jumping off a building while holding his son in his arms.

Liu Pinquing was a senior agronomist who had won a top prize given by the Ministry of Agriculture. Liu attempted to burn himself to death on February 4, 1999. He finally committed suicide two months later by jumping into a well.

Li Ting, a graduate student, killed his parents with a dagger on March 20.

Wu Deqiao, thirty-six, a clerk with the Wujiang supply and marketing cooperative in east China's Jiangsu Province, chopped his wife to death with a kitchen knife when she tried to stop him from practicing anymore.


The opening paragraph of a review by Marc Fisher of Ron Hansens' book Hitler's Niece that appeared in the Washington Post Book World:
Hitler and Nixon, our two great obsessions of the latter half of this century, have won places in the pantheon of darkness, great evil figures, moody and mysterious yet ordinary and pathetic. Nixon, at least, is ours—an American crook, roiling with petty jealousies and hates.

The target of several lawsuits over its racial-preference policies, the University of Michigan now offers a course simply titled "Affirmative Action," which is described as follows:
There is a great concern that all the rights gained in the sixties are now being eroded by legal challenges to affirmative action rules. Indeed there is a hue and cry that there is now reverse discrimination and that preferential treatment is illegal. The African American community in particular appears to be greatly alarmed by these challenges and is looking for ways to respond to these setbacks. This course will address the dilemma of the response and attempt to shape some thinking about the fight for affirmative action. The cases at the University of Michigan and the University of Texas will be examined not for their legal construct but for their meaning as a social construct. In addition Proposition 209 will be discussed as an important watershed in the anti-civil rights movement. The anti-affirmative action forces, and the dilemma of African-Americans and other minorities against affirmative action will be seriously addressed. Some attention will be paid to Justice Clarence Thomas and Mr. Ward Connerly, two major figures against affirmative action. The objective is to begin the process of cogent action and to develop the language to articulate affirmative action as a right and not a benefit. Instructor: Nesha Haniff.

Letter to the editor, the Santa Barbara News-Press, July 11, 1999:
I am outraged and appalled at your coverage of the recent incidence of vandalism at San Marcos High School. Are Santa Barbarans so hungry for lurid, juicy news they must feed on their young?

Will kids do stupid things, shocking things, rebellious things? Of course. Is it in our best interest to plaster their photos in the newspaper, label them as felons, throw the book at them, make them into social pariahs and cause their families untold heartache? I think not.

These are teens on the brink of adulthood with promising lives ahead of them, not hardened criminals. How can we assess what permanent damage is caused by the callous way this is being handled?

We are a fortunate, affluent community allegedly committed to promoting tolerance and compassion for our fellow man. How about counseling? How about a mandatory trip to the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C.? How about writing a paper on the history of Jewish people? How about community service to pay for the destruction of property?

Shame on the News-Press, San Marcos High School and the Santa Barbara judicial system for their insensitivity.

—Janet Rockwell
Santa Barbara


A jury awarded $2.22 million to 13 American Airlines passengers who suffered approximately 30 seconds worth of severe turbulence during a 1995 flight, and who feared for their lives.


Following her hugely successful book of the early 1990s, Backlash: The Undeclared War Against American Women, in which she argued that male culture prevented the advancement of American women, Susan Faludi has a new book, Stiffed: The Betrayal of the American Man, in which she argues that even men are its victims. According to Faludi, a pervasive "masculinity crisis" makes it difficult for men to achieve the sense of victory and control they are made to crave, leading instead to despair and pathology.

To back up her claim, Faludi interviewed literally dozens of men: wife batterers, porn video actors, depressed football fans, men thrown out of work because of corporate downsizing, a group of teenage sex predators known as Spur Posse, Vietnam veterans who witnessed the Mai Lai atrocity, and Sylvester Stallone, who was disappointed by the cold reception given his recent films. Other men who appear to be enjoying themselves are deluded, the "nightmare" being "all the more horrible for being virtually unacknowledged as a problem."


An exhibition of young British artists at the Brooklyn Museum, "Sensation" certainly lived up to its title, leading New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani to threaten withdrawing city funds from the museum and canceling its lease. Giuliani was particularly incensed over a portrait of the Virgin Mary that incorporated pornographic magazine clippings and elephant droppings. According to a New York Times review, "a shark in a tank of formaldehyde drew positive responses, but some thought a cut-up cow did not work as well." When the show first opened in 1997 at London's Royal Academy, most of the outrage was directed at a sympathetic portrait of a notorious British child murderer, decorated with children's handprints.

Amidst much talk of artistic courage, the Museum successfully defended itself in court on First Amendment grounds against the Mayor's initiative. However, some of the shine came off once the Times subsequently reported on the exhibit's unethical financial arrangements. When the museum's director, Arnold L. Lehman, could not secure any funding from the museum's usual corporate donors due to the exhibit's content, he sought donations from sources in the art world who had a direct commercial interest in generating controversy and inflating the value of the young artists' work. One donation for $160,000 came from Charles Saatchi, owner of the "Sensation" collection, in an arrangement the museum concealed from the public. A $50,000 donation came from Christie's, who used its sponsorship to promote its coming auction of contemporary art. Most cultural institutions, including the Brooklyn Museum, have strict rules against displaying works that are for sale.

From an information guide prepared by the "special audit" unit of New Zealand's Inland Revenue Department, "to assist in answering questions from sex workers." The special unit collects taxes on income from illegal activities, such as drug sales, prostitution, fraud, theft, money laundering, kickbacks, extortion, and bribes, raising $200 million in taxes since its inception.
Sex workers can describe their occupation on Inland Revenue Department forms as Contractor, Consultant, Commission Agent, Hostess, Receptionist, Entertainer, or any other similar description. They can reduce the amount of tax owed at the end of the year by deducting certain expenses from their business as private operators. The various expense items are explained below. Please not that this is by no means an exhaustive list.

Consumable Items
The total cost of consumable items is an allowable deduction. These include condoms, lubricants, gels, oils, tissues, bubble bath, dairy whip, and other similar items used when providing service to a client.

Clothes that will be used only when earning income may be deducted. Examples would be lingerie, costumes, and any see-through garments.

Stockings/Makeup/Hair Care
Although these are not usually an allowable deduction for other industries, given the nature of the job, the Inland Revenue allows private operators to claim a portion of their expenditure on these items. If they buy a certain type only for work (such as patterned stockings), it can be fully claimed.

Motor Vehicle
For each business trip, they must record the date, the distance traveled, and the reason for the trip. Travel from their residence to their place of work (e.g., a parlor) is a private expense and is not deductible.

Private Expenditure
Some expenses are generally considered to be of a private nature and therefore are not tax deductible. These include gym fees, drugs and drug rehabilitation, fines, and associated legal fees.

Medical Expenses
Private operators can claim industry-specific medical expenses, such as HIV and STD tests. Further, medical expenses that may be deductible depending on the circumstances include pregnancy tests, abortions, and cosmetic surgery.


A disabled woman sued a store in Lake Worth, Florida, for failing to offer parking spaces marked for use by the handicapped. The business, called Action Mobility, sells and services wheelchairs, and the disabled couple who own it insist that virtually all their customers are handicapped.

The Clinton Legal Expense Trust sent a fundraising appeal to longtime Democratic donor Bernard Lewinsky. Monica's father wrote "return to sender" on the envelope, and scrawled, "You must be morons to send me this letter!"

Nine years after the Minnesota legislature passed a law requiring licensed day care workers to provide "cultural dynamics training," the curriculum is finally in place after much testing and refinement, and is waiting for approval by the state Department of Children, Families, and Learning.

Under the new curriculum, day-care providers are urged to beware the "assumption that English is the most important language" rather than an artifact of "non-disabled European American" hegemonism. The earlier children in day care are exposed to the dominant culture, "the more likely they are to reject their home culture" and its sustaining "group identity." Day-care providers shouldn't say someone is a "quadriplegic," but rather that person "has quadriplegia." They are also warned against using the once-acceptable term "people of color," since it "minimizes the unique history and culture of each cultural group."

Biracial or disabled kids "being raised by non-disabled European American parents" have been "separated" from their true identities and must live "without mentors or positive role models." Not much better off, minority children raised by their own kind "internalize" European America's "unjust and cruel oppression," come to "believe its lies," and grow up mired in "shame, hopelessness," and "chronic depression." Worst of all, non-disabled European American children have "identities built on confusion" and must struggle to overcome "psychological problems of moral hypocrisy."

At training workshops, day care providers fill out a questionnaire to help them identify their biases. Questions include, "I am clear about my own biases regarding culture, race, and ability," the possible answers for which are, "Very aware / somewhat aware / have very little awareness." Care givers are urged to "routinely assess" toddlers' environment by censoring books with insensitive stereotypes and by examining "sensory materials" such as play-doh, to make sure colors are properly "integrated," such as by including dark shades of brown and black to counter stereotypes of "dirty" and "evil."


The Environmental Protection Agency sent a letter to Nebraska state officials, saying it may require the state to take action against a polluter for raising water temperatures and thus reducing water quality along much of the length of the Platte River, directly affecting the area's piping plovers. The polluter in question is, in fact, the sun. Puzzled state officials interpret the EPA's stance to mean they might have to pipe in cold water from elsewhere, or else install canopies.

Slate columnist Scott Schuger notes a complaint by the NAACP that blacks—12 percent of the population—only make up 10 percent of the characters on TV entertainment programs. This is down from 18 percent in the '93-'94 season.

[Ed.: Perhaps minority members so badly in need of role models have an even greater need to cut down the amount of television they watch.]


San Francisco law enforcement officials called a halt to a jailhouse prison law course that they say taught inmates how to thwart police investigations and avoid arrest. The classes are organized by the Sheriff's department's Prisoner Legal Services division, conducted by civil rights attorney Katya Komisaruk, and fulfill a mandate by the state's legal-access laws.

The class involved sections on how to avoid talking to police without an attorney being present, how to prevent police with search warrants from entering one's home, and how to avoid being manipulated by the "good cop, bad cop" interrogation style. Deputies said that in at least one class, inmates were advised to avoid stealing from larger department stores because they have better security. Role playing exercises depicted police officers as racist and inept. While Komisaruk did not dispute the sheriffs' description of her course, she said all of the information she taught was legally accurate and bore directly on the civil rights of those accused of crimes.

Two men who voluntarily picked up trash from a beach in New Hampshire's White Mountain National Forest each received a $150 ticket for "maintaining the national forest without a permit."


San Francisco police cracked down on a group of high school students who regularly handed out free sandwiches to homeless people in the seedy Tenderloin district, thus committing health code violations.


The Canada Council gave a $15,000 grant to University of Manitoba art professor Diana Thorneycroft for an art installation, titled "Monstrance," consisting of twelve rotting rabbit carcasses strung up, Blair-Witch-style, in a forest. Art patrons will be asked to roam the woods near the St. Norbert Arts and Cultural Centre with flashlights to see the corpses, which are stuffed with Thorneycroft's "photographic relics" as exposed as maggots decompose the rabbits' flesh.

A corresponding indoor exhibit features 23 shaved toy bunnies with various parts of the real rabbits' bodies stuffed inside. The carcasses are supposed to signify the partially transparent cases or holders in which the bread of the Eucharist is displayed in Roman Catholic churches.

"I'm celebrating the gloriousness of putrefaction," Ms. Thorneycroft said during a preview tour of the exhibit area. "All of us are moving toward death and dust. A lot of people won't acknowledge that." "The site deals most directly with the realities of death and decay and the way in which all life returns to earth," she said in an artist's statement provided to the Canada Council, which chose her proposal for funding from 232 applications.


Not long after one of its officers was convicted for holding down a Haitian immigrant while another sodomized him with a broom handle, the New York Police Department installed a recruitment booth at the Gay Male S/M Activists block party.


The San Francisco Chronicle, June 5, 1999:
It is considered the child of Mother Earth and Father Sky. It is used in many ceremonies and is often smoked as part of a prayer. Within many tribes, a pipe is often the first courtesy offered to a guest of a stranger. It is also used for medicinal purposes.

But American Indians also battle with high rates of tobacco addiction.

They blame non-Indians for introducing them to non-ceremonial uses of tobacco products and said tobacco manufacturers have directed ads at Indians, particularly young people, during marketing campaigns.

Today, 39 percent of American Indians smoke, compared with 26 percent of blacks, 25 percent of whites, 18 percent of Hispanics and 15 percent of Asians, according to the suit.

"[Tobacco] was never used in everyday experience—it was a sacrament, an offering," said Fidel Moreno, president of the Native American Council for Tobacco Litigation. "But now we're fighting to reverse a cycle of disease."

After 17-year-old Rickey Higgins led Chicago's Warren Township High School to a surprising second-place finish in the state basketball tournament, he was arrested twice on alcohol-related offenses and thus declared ineligible for the upcoming basketball season.

Higgins subsequently sued in federal court, arguing that as a recovering alcoholic, the school's disciplinary action amounts to discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act. He seeks reinstatement to the team and $100,000 in compensatory damages. Currently practicing alcoholics are not covered under the act's provisions.

Gray whales are no longer listed as an endangered species, but it is still illegal to hunt them. An exception is made for certain Native American tribes, for whom whale hunts long formed an important cultural tradition. The Makah, of Washington State, decided to revive their own dormant hunting ritual, aided not just by canoes and harpoons but by modern motorboats and armor-piercing assault rifles. The Makah managed to take a whale, despite the presence of protesters who followed them in their own boats, attempting to prevent them from doing so. Also present was a scattering of care-free vacationers on water skis. Authorities escorted some protesters away because their activities were bothering the whales, a violation of the Marine Mammal Protection Act.

And in Colorado, where prairie dogs are officially classified as a "pest" and thus legal to shoot on sight, state officials resisted efforts to allow people to sell them as pets—especially to the Japanese, who are willing to spend $200 per varmint. Oklahoma, Kansas and Texas all allow such commerce, but not Colorado. A spokesman for the state's Division of Wildlife explained, "You cannot give away or sell any species of wildlife. They belong to the public."


A federal judge dismissed a lawsuit by a man who was rejected for a job as a police officer because he scored too high on an intelligence test. While Robert Jordan insisted this violated his rights, U.S. District Judge Peter C. Dorsey accepted the rationale of the New London, Connecticut, police department—that overly intelligent candidates tend to get bored with police work and soon quit after undergoing costly academy training.

A Florida judge ruled that Merritt Island High School violated Title IX sex discrimination laws because the electronic scoreboard, concession stand, and bleachers they accepted from parents as a donation for the boys' baseball field did not have equal counterparts on the girls' field, which made girls' softball team members "second class citizens." Because the school did not have the funds for such improvements, it had to disconnect the scoreboard, close the concession stand, and rope off some of the bleachers.


Lingua Franca, May-June 1999:
In The Nazi War on Cancer (Princeton), [ Penn State science historian Robert J.] Proctor argues that medical and scientific research under Hitler produced some significant, verifiable breakthroughs.... The Third Reich promoted a series of public-health measures that might well be called forward-looking: banning smoking in certain public places, running an aggressive antismoking propaganda campaign, and placing restrictions on how tobacco could be advertised. Proctor asks a stunning question: Could the most extensive cancer-prevention campaign of this century have been initiated by Hitler? ...

Proctor suggests that his predecessors may have passed on this project in part because "it's kind of an embarrassing fact. Who's going to be interested? Even in Germany, they don't like to see anything 'good' come out of the Nazi era." In the end, he argues, "We do not want to forget Mengele's crimes, but we should also not forget that Dachau prisoners were forced to produce organic honey and that the SS cornered the European market for mineral water."

A caption accompanying a strange photograph taken by Charlie Neibergall of the Associated Press:
Republican presidential hopeful Gary Bauer talks with Norma "Duffy" Lyons in front of her rendition of the Last Supper, made of butter, at the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines, August 12, 1999.


In the midst of their most severe drought since the 1930s, Washington D.C. residents received a set of instructions from the federal government on how to ease the "emotional stress" that may result. The following guidelines were released to the public by Curtis R. Austin, director, Office of External Liaison, Center for Mental Health Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services:

  • When brushing your teeth, you can tune in and focus more on the actual brushing, and not what was once the din of the continually flowing water in the background, which surprising[ly] can be a very subtle source of agitation.

  • You can commune with nature by finding more water conservation methods for watering your plants. For example, by not exposing those plants to the intense rays of the sun during the day, but instead partially shading them, allows you to save water. At the same time, you are spending time communing with nature and learning how growth occurs.

  • Another way to conserve water while simultaneously reducing stress is to resist the reflexive action of automatically flushing the toilet if you awaken at night and there is only liquid waste. Simply wait and flush in the morning. Believe it or not, flushing itself can add to the stress of awakening in the middle of the night because of the noise element.


The Ohio Division of Watercraft threatened to fine owners of the St. Helena III, a recreational barge that travels on the Ohio & Erie Canal, $75 a day because it was not equipped with life preservers. The horse-drawn barge holds as many as 60 people, travels at about three miles per hour along a 1.25-mile stretch of canal, in water that is only three feet deep. Since the tourist boat is defined as a commercial vessel, it must carry Type I preservers—the most expensive available, the same kind used in freighters. Ed Shuman, president of the Canal Fulton Heritage Society, hopes the local community will contribute the $3,600 necessary to outfit the boat.

From an extraordinary interview with Hillary Clinton, conducted by Lucinda Franks, in the premiere issue of Talk magazine, September 1999:
"Bill has been subjected to so much abuse.... He doesn't make any excuses for what he did. But the reaction was unprecedented and harmful to the country.... People are mean. I think it's a real disservice, the way we sort of strip away everyone's sense of dignity, of privacy. People need support, not disdain."

"And you know we did have a very good stretch," she adds later, referring to the period after Gennifer Flowers. "Years and years of nothing." ...

"My husband is a very good man," Hillary insists. "They are jealous of him. Yes, he has weaknesses. Yes, he needs to be more responsible, more disciplined, but it is remarkable given his background that he turned out to be the kind of person he is, capable of such leadership.... Can you imagine what it took for him to go on after losing everything, to still get up each morning and do your job? You know in Christian theology there are sins of weakness and sins of malice, and this was a sin of weakness."

I tell Hillary I read his mother's autobiography, in which she wrote about the atmosphere of alcohol, violence, and chaos that forced her son to be the man of the house while he was still a child. Hillary leans over and says softly, "That's only the half of it. He was so young, barely four, when he was scarred by abuse that he can't even take it out and look at it. There was terrible conflict between his mother and grandmother. A psychologist once told me that for a boy being in the middle of a conflict between two women is the worst possible situation. There is always the desire to please each one." ...

"He has been working on himself very hard in the last year," she tells me. "He has become more aware of his past and what was causing this behavior." Public office has prevented the president from seeking therapy, but friends told me they expect him to after leaving the Oval Office.

Does she believe, I wonder, that you don't leave someone you love under any circumstances?

"You have to know the real quality of the person," she says thoughtfully. "You have to be alert to it, vigilant in helping. I thought this was resolved ten years ago. I thought he had conquered it; I thought he understood it, but he didn't go deep enough or work hard enough."

"What's the part of the Bible that deals with this?" she had asked at one point.

"Corinthians?" I suggested.

"Love endures all things? No, I love that, but I was thinking of when Peter betrayed Jesus three times and Jesus knew it but loved him anyway. Life is not a linear progression. It has many paths and challenges. And we need to help one another."

"And it is love, isn't it?'

"Yes, it is," she said. "We have love."