An Inclusive Litany


Plymouth University in England announced that it would now offer an academically rigorous bachelor's degree in surfing.

Reporting on redundant government functions, the General Accounting Office noted that while frozen cheese pizzas were inspected by the Food and Drug Administration, those with meat toppings were inspected by the Department of Agriculture.

The Los Angeles Times reports that unusual military research on whether honeybees can be trained to detect landmines has drawn criticism from the Animal Protection Institute, which says insects "shouldn't be forced into military service" because they "aren't U.S. citizens."

After the details of China's highly successful espionage campaign against the United States became widely known and Congress proposed tougher security measures, United Nations ambassador Bill Richardson denounced those who were supposedly questioning "the patriotism of Asian-Pacific Americans and sowing the seeds of a darker xenophobia" because of China's obvious strategy of using Chinese-American agents. "It happened back during World War II, when Japanese Americans were uprooted from their homes and forced into internment camps," said Richardson by way of comparison.

Maurice Meisner declared in the Los Angeles Times that "opportunistic American politicians now portray American Chinese in stereotypical fashion. The increasingly dominant images are of 19th century vintage: Chinese are crafty, deceitful, villainous and half-crazed automatons manipulated by evil rulers. It has become ever more difficult for Americans to see Chinese as fellow humans." Neither supplied evidence of bigoted reprisals against Chinese-Americans. Perhaps the closest thing came when Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) described the spies as "crafty," which of course is what they are supposed to be.

At a campaign stop at a Salvation Army office in Atlanta, Vice President Al Gore called for "a new partnership" between government and "faith-based organizations." Gore attacked the "false choice" between a Right seeking to impose "a specific set of religious values" and a Left that has "said for too long that religious values should play no role in addressing public needs."

Following these notable comments, Gore's senior advisor Elaine Kamarck told the Boston Globe that they were the opening shot in a campaign to "take God back" for the Democrats in Election 2000.

In 1997 the state of California purposefully poisoned David Lake, nestled high in the Sierra mountains, in an effort to exterminate the northern pike, an aggressive, nonindigenous species the Fish and Game Department said posed a threat to nearby rivers. At the time, the department assured skeptical locals that the deadened lake would quickly bounce back. It didn't, and this led to many hardships for those who relied on the lake for tourism and water, along with lawsuits and criminal charges against the state, resulting in a recent $10 million settlement.

This spring the lake has finally shown a healthy upswing, but so, apparently, have pikes, and embarrassed state officials are not sure what to do about it. "What we're trying to do is to establish whether we have a self-sustaining population of pike. If we do, then we're going to have to sit down with the community and discuss what to do," said a spokesman for Fish and Game. But nobody is biting. "It's ridiculous," one local businessman told the Associated Press. "We've all suffered. My business went down to nothing. There have been pike all over the Midwest, all over the country. They are good game fish. Why not just go catch 'em?"

An article in the leftist magazine In These Times profiled the Cuban government-run vegetarian restaurant El Bambú, whose staff "cooks a little environmental sustainability into every meal." No fossil fuels are used; cooking is done with reflected sunlight and fallen tree branches. Leftovers are fed to worms and turned into compost. Though locals have not shown much interest in the place, the article's author, Travis Lea, suggests that might change. "Under socialism, market forces that support the meat industry in other countries are simply not present."


The Los Angeles Times reports from Mission Viejo, California:
A 10-year-old girl was suspended from her elementary school for having a toy gun on her keychain. The third-grader was only the latest victim of a strict zero-tolerance policy forbidding students from bringing "weapons" to school. A 5-year-old was transferred to another school after bringing a disposable razor blade he found at a bus stop. a 12-year-old was expelled for possessing folding fingernail clippers.

Commenting on ways to boost economic growth, Canadian Industry Minister John Manley said: "High tax levels... should increase productivity because it would drive innovation in order to lower other costs."

The San Francisco School Board voted 5-2 to ban not only tobacco but even unrelated products made by industry affiliates and subsidiaries. Thus the city's schoolchildren will now learn how to make do without Oreos, Chips Ahoy, Kool-Aid, Kraft mayonnaise and other items.


Members of the Animal Liberation Front vandalized facilities at the University of Minnesota, setting free 27 pigeons, 48 mice, 36 rats, and 5 salamanders, smashed computers, and destroyed an incubator containing brain cells of Alzheimer's sufferers. University officials believe the latter act set back Alzheimer's research there by at least two years.

A Utah couple filed a lawsuit to bar a neighbor from smoking in his home.

Eight months after the their World Series victory, Hillary Clinton invited the Yankees over to the White House. "The fact is, I've always been a Yankees fan," the first lady told the "Today" show's Katie Couric, despite her well-known allegiance to her hometown team, the Cubs. Ms. Clinton elaborated: "I am [also] a Cubs fan. But I needed an American League team, because when you're from Chicago, you cannot root for both the Cubs and the Sox. I mean, there's a dividing line that you can't cross there. So as a young girl, I became very interested and enamored of the Yankees."

The commencement speaker at Washington's Evergreen State College this year was convicted cop-killer Mumia Abu-Jamal, who spoke on an audio tape sent from his death row cell in Pennsylvania.

In a new book called 250 Ways to Make America Better, a collection of suggestions made by a wide range of prominent Americans and compiled by the editors of George magazine, Abu-Jamal is identified simply as "author/journalist." Larry Flynt is likewise credited as a "magazine publisher."


A letter sent by Dwight H. Sullivan, a lawyer with the Maryland affiliate of the American Civil Liberties Union, to Janet Owens, county executive of Anne Arundel County, Maryland, March 4, 1999:
Dear Ms. Owens,

During the previous Anne Arundel County Administration, the Invincible Empire Knights of the Ku Klux Klan applied to participate in the county's Adopt-A-Road Program. I understand that in response, the county suspended processing new applications to the program.

I have been informed by the Invincible Empire that, in order to avoid further controversy, it is willing to agree to a sign that does not include the words "Ku Klux Klan." Instead, the sign could read, "The Invincible Empire Realm of Maryland." I have also been informed that the organization does not plan for its members to wear robes while engaging in trash collection.

Would you please let me know whether the Invincible Empire will be allowed to participate?

Dwight H. Sullivan

The United Bikers of Maine asked the legislature to include motorcycle enthusiasts in the state's Human Rights Act, based on allegations of discrimination. "Some would say that we want special rights," commented Michael Behr, president of the Maine Hells Angels. "It has nothing to do with special rights. We want the same rights as everyone else."

Though the proposal failed in Maine along with one in Arizona, a similar one in Minnesota passed in 1998, making it illegal to discriminate against someone "because of the individual's mode of transportation or the fact that the person has the name of an organization or association on the person's clothing."

Randy Cohen, who writes a column as "The Ethicist" in the New York Times Magazine, June 20, 1999:
Finally, charity cloaks corporate greed. A corporation that dispatches teams of lobbyists to drive down the tax rate still expects to be applauded for the money it spends, say, planting trees (or perhaps cutting them down—it's so hard to keep these ideologies straight). When a thief, having stolen your wallet, hands you back carfare, it's tough to mutter much of a thank-you. Similarly, nice as it is that Bill Gates gives money to libraries, a decent country would tax Microsoft at a rate that lets cities buy their own books.

[Ed.: Mr. Cohen has also told readers that supporting charities wasn't worthwhile, because it made the state more likely to abandon public projects, and that it is unethical to fire or report a temp worker whose shoddy performance makes everyone else look bad.]


New public health guidelines promoted by the European Commission and translated into nine languages recommend that prostitutes involved in sadomasochism be educated on how to sterilize their whips.

London artist Anthony Noel Kelly, known as "the body-parts artist," was convicted for stealing human remains from the Royal College of Surgeons, including three heads, part of a brain, six arms, ten legs, and three torsos.

Dr. James Stewart Campbell in Tricycle: The Buddhist Review, Spring 1999:
I couldn't believe my eyes. I stood there shocked, reading the full Starr report printed in our local paper. The president of the United States, bulwark of the Western world, exposed in full—engaging in tantric sex practices with a young woman! Not once, but three times the report states he withheld orgasm voluntarily, despite being stimulated by an eager and willing partner. And the media pundits rage about how the president cannot control himself. What males among them have such control? Perhaps that is why the tantric aspects of this affair have not yet made the news. He may have been betrayed by the naiveté of his young lover and the treachery of her "friend," but the president has gone on record to the nation showing that male sex drive is merely a thought pattern that is under control of the mind. Hopefully, the men of the United States and around the world will listen and become better partners in the ecstatic union of sex.


A group of 19 state attorneys general proposed that federal and state antitrust actions against Microsoft might be resolved by seizing the Windows operating system and making its code public.

Some new federal job titles, newly minted during the Clinton Administration's "Reinventing Government" initiative, include "deputy associate deputy secretary," "associate deputy assistant secretary," and "assistant deputy assistant secretary." But at least there's no mention of "intern."

Barnes & Noble dropped its plans to acquire the Ingram Book Group, the nation's largest book wholesaler, after the Federal Trade Commission announced its opposition to the takeover on antitrust grounds. But since the deal was first announced, many independent book buyers fled from Ingram and found alternative sources for their books. As a result, Ingram's competitors, previously deemed insignificant by the FTC, are expanding rapidly at Ingram's expense. What's more, now that the deal has failed, Barnes & Noble says it will use the money that would have gone into the deal to build its own distribution system, further undermining Ingram's supposedly invincible monopoly.

In Saskatchewan, Canada, a dry cleaner was fined $400 for telling a Native American woman, "If you ask me, there shouldn't even be [Indian] reserves." The editor of the Alberta Report faced charges for an article stating that while some native children faced abuse at local Indian schools, others greatly benefited. The same publication faced legal action under "human rights" censorship laws, forbidding publication of stories critical of partial birth abortion. In Ontario, it's now illegal to make any verbal or written statement which might cause someone to discriminate against one of fifteen state-recognized protected classes, even if what is said is true. And the Canadian Human Rights Commission requested an investigation as to whether economic status should also be a basis for special protections.


Letter to the editor, the Boston Globe, June 10, 1999:
The debate over standards-based assessment of students and public accountability for schools has recently focused on the use of the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System as a measure of student achievement.

Since its inception, Boston's City on a Hill charter high school has demonstrated that there are other ways to ensure public accountability and maintain high standards for student performance.

I recently had the pleasure of participating as a community juror in the annual performance-based assessment at City on a Hill. In addition to passing their coursework, each student at the school must demonstrate that he or she is competent in several areas in order to graduate. The competency that my panel (which included a teacher, a student, and three community members) was assessing was 11th grade reading.

Students were given a newspaper editorial to prepare one-half hour in advance of coming before the jury. After introducing themselves to the panel, the students were asked to read aloud the editorial. As we listened, we considered how students were performing against the specific criteria of which both students and jurors were aware: speaking audibly, pausing appropriately after punctuation, enunciating clearly, and looking up occasionally.

City on a Hill teaches us all a lesson about the importance of opening public schools up to public scrutiny. It takes courage to open the schoolhouse doors in that way, but the benefits to students and to the integrity of public education are worth the effort.

—Abigail Smith


The 10th Circuit Court ruled that United Airlines could legally discriminate against two nearsighted twin sisters who sought to become pilots, because their visual impairment could be corrected by glasses. However, uncorrectable nearsightedness would still qualify as a "significant limitation" under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

In Bangladesh, after 10,000 students were expelled from a nationwide test that was administered to 500,000 students, thousands went on a rampage, stoning teachers, setting examination rooms on fire, and assaulting proctors. Students were taking the Higher Secondary Certificate examination, which would allow them to become teachers themselves, and protesters formally called on government examiners to recognize their cheating on the test as a fundamental student right.

In a May 19 press release, with plenty of time to think the matter through, Barry W. Lynn—a Methodist pastor who heads Americans United for the Separation of Church and State—explained the April 20 killings in Colorado thus: "Evidence indicates that the two students who killed their peers, and ultimately themselves at Columbine High felt alienated and ostracized. We know from experience that school-sponsored religious displays and worship inevitably make some students feel like second-class citizens."

From "Tonweya and the Eagles" by Rosebud Yellow Rose, part of the 1996 Houghton Mifflin grade 6 reader:
Tahcawin had packed the parfleche cases with clothing and food and strapped them to a travois made of two trailing poles with a skin net stretched between them. Another travois lay on the ground ready for the new tipi.

Chano was very happy when Tasinagi suggested the three of them ride up to their favorite hills for the last time.

As the three of them rode along, Tasinagi called Chano's attention to the two large birds circling overhead. They were Wangbli, the eagle. Chano knew they were sacred to his people and that they must never be killed.

He looked at the eagle feather in his father's hair, a sign of bravery, and wondered why it was that the Lakotas as well as many other Indians held Wangbli, the eagle, in such great respect. Someday he would ask his father about this.

[Ed.: The 'ng' in 'Wangbli' is actually a single character, resembling an 'n' with a cedilla-like descender, whose entity cannot be reproduced on standard Web browsers.]

From Have a Happy. . . by Mildred Pitts Walter, in the 1993 Houghton Mifflin grade 4 reader:

In the wee hours of the morning, the family made a circle around Grandma Ida, Beth, and Chris. Grandma Ida gave the tamshi la tutaonana: "In this new year let us continue to practice umoja, kujichagulia, umija, ujamaa, nia, kuumba, and imani. Let us strive to do something that will last as long as the earth turns and water flows."

"Now," Uncle Ronald said, "let's leave this house with the word harambee. In Swahili that means pulling together."

"Harambee!" they all shouted. They repeated it seven times, with Chris's voice the loudest of them all.

From "Yagua Days" by Cruz Martel, 1995 Scott Foresman grade 4 reader:
The whole family sat under wide trees and ate arroz con gandules, pernil, viandas and tostones, ensaladas de chayotes y tomates, and pasteles.

Adan talked and sang until his voice turned to a squeak. He ate until his stomach almost popped a pants button.

Afterwards he fell asleep under a big mosquito net before the sun had even gone down behind the mountains.

In the morning Uncle Ulise called out, "Adan, everyone ate all the food in the house. Let's get more."

"From a bodega?"

"No, mi amor. From my finca on the mountain."

In her survey of basal readers, Losing Our Language, Harvard educator Sandra Stotsky notes that an edited version of the original text, above, appeared in an earlier 1979 Harcourt Brace Jovanovich grade 4 reader:
The whole family sat under wide trees and ate. Adan talked and sang until his voice turned to a squeak. He ate until his stomach almost popped a pants button.

Afterwards he fell asleep under a big mosquito net before the sun had even gone down behind the mountains.

In the morning Uncle Ulise called out, "Adan, everyone ate all the food in the house. Let's get more."

"From a store?"

"No. From my plantation on the mountain."

Stotsky contrasts the overall quality of these contemporary selections with that of Black Beauty by Anna Sewell, a book widely taught to third- and fourth-graders at the end of the 19th century:
Captain had been broken in and trained for an army horse; his first owner was an officer of cavalry going out to the Crimean War. He said he quite enjoyed the training with all the other horses, trotting together, turning together to the right hand or the left, halting at the word of command, or dashing forward at full speed at the sound of the trumpet or signal of the officer.

He was, when young, a dark, dappled, iron gray, and considered very handsome. His master, a young, high-spirited gentleman, was very fond of him, and treated him from the first with the greatest care and kindness.

He told me he thought the life of an army horse was very pleasant; but when it came to being sent abroad over the sea in a great ship he almost changed his mind.

"That part of it," said he, "was dreadful! Of course we could not walk off the land into the ship' so they were obliged to put strong straps under our bodies, and then we were lifted off our legs, in spite of our struggles, and were swung through the air over the water to the deck of the great vessel.