An Inclusive Litany


From a "Troubleshooter" segment reported by Judd McIlvain on the KCBS 11 o'clock news, Los Angeles, November 22, 1996:
Los Angeles is facing a $100 million city revenue shortfall, and the City Department of Transportation, Office of Parking Management, was requested to increase ticket-writing performance by 10-13%. Its administrator, Michael Inouye, estimated that the office could increase revenues by $30 million over last year. That would mean writing 227,815 tickets per month for the next 9 months to meet that revenue goal. Inouye disputes that this is a quota.


The Washington Post, August 18, 1996:
The telephone tree started ringing near Grant Tocher's place, warning bootleggers to dump their stocks because government officials were raiding the Fraser valley. The quick response saved most of them that day, although the G-men did haul away more than 1,000 gallons.

Of milk....

The seized and wasted milk was produced illicitly, outside the centralized "supply management" structure under which the [Canadian] government assigns quotas for dairy, poultry and some other farms to keep prices up.

The Washington Post:
Shuttle Endeavor astronauts Daniel Bursch and Marc Garneau spent nearly two hours fixing the new Coca-Cola soda fountain, which had not been cooling properly, resulting in too much fizz. For two days the machine—which cost NASA $1.75 million to fly and Coke $750,000 to build—mixed carbonated water and syrup, but wouldn't pour the finished product.

The lawyer for a Winnipeg, Manitoba, man accused of murdering his wife argued that routine pre-trial psychiatric tests of the accused might actually cure him and thus compromise his insanity defense.

Cokie Roberts discusses Democratic convention speeches on "Good Morning America":
But with these guys [Jesse Jackson and Mario Cuomo] coming, it was kind of like your young love coming back and oh, I remember when I was, you know, young and in love with this guy who was totally unacceptable, and I did the right thing by marrying the right guy—but gee, he was kind of cute.

To gauge bureaucratic stasis, members of the New York City Council staff drafted 173 letters with hypothetical complaints, questions or offers of help which they then asked citizens to sign and send to 21 different city agencies. After six weeks 120 of the letters had not been answered. Two agencies—the Human Resources Administration was one—ignored every single letter they received, including offers to donate items such as books and Little League uniforms.

An Associated Press dispatch from St. Louis, November 19, 1996:
A high school teacher fired for letting her students use profanity in skits and poems was awarded $750,000 after a federal trial.

Cissy Lacks, a 25-year teaching veteran, called Monday's decision against the Ferguson-Florissant School District "a really important statement." The district plans to appeal.

Lacks was fired from her job at Berkeley High School after the school board found out she had allowed 11th-graders to use street language in a creative writing assignment. A federal judge reinstated her in August.

Some of the student skits were videotaped in October 1994 and shown to school officials. District lawyers said students uttered a profanity every 12 seconds on average.

Jurors awarded Lacks $500,000 for the claim that she didn't get reasonable notice of her dismissal and that a ban on classroom profanity served no legitimate academic purpose.

They awarded her $250,000 on a race discrimination claim. Lacks, who is white, said black school officials objected to black students using profanity on videotape. She contended race was a motivation in the way she was treated.


A New York Times report from Le Mars, Iowa, November 7, 1996:
Karin A. Beitelspacher has been bringing home blue ribbons for years from 4-H club competitions at the state farm is Des Moines. But this year, even her well-received homemade salsa did not win first place.

The 16-year-old was disappointed, but then so were thousands of other children who belong to 4-H, a rite of passage in rural America. In an experiment this fall, 4-H gave 3,500 Iowa State Fair competitors the same multicolored ribbons recognizing participation, rather than awarding the traditional first, second, and third place ribbons.

An Associated Press report from Wausau, Wisconsin, October 30, 1996:
A golfer had 13 drinks before he tripped on his golf spikes and fell face first onto a brick path outside a clubhouse, breaking his jaw and shattering his teeth. But an appeals court Tuesday said the course was mostly at fault, for leaving gaps in the bricks.

Dale L. Larson—who needed nine root canals, 23 crowns and had his jaw wired shut for months—was awarded $41,540 in damages even though his own lawyer said it was rare for a drunk person to win a negligence case.

The appeals court upheld a trial judge's ruling that Indianhead Golf and Recreation Inc. of Mosinee was 51 percent negligent because of its terra-lock brick ramp that led from the clubhouse bar.

Circuit Judge Vincent Howard said gaps in the bricks could have caused even a sober person to fall. The appeals court agreed the gaps were an initiating factor, especially since the ramp was built in 1976 to save $1,440 over a recommended 4-inch thick concrete slab....

A doctor testified Larson was in a stupor, with a blood-alcohol level of 0.28 percent 90 minutes after the accident. But Larson said he was not significantly impaired by the eight beers and five mixed drinks he had over a period of six hours before the accident.

A customer at a pet shop in Quebec threatened to report the store's owner to the French-language monitoring office because she was shown a parrot that spoke only English.

The New Yorker:
Sinedu Tadesse, a junior at Harvard, stabbed her roommate of two years, Trang Ho, 45 times while Trang lay sleeping in her bed. After the murder, a fierce debate erupted over whether Harvard should establish a scholarship in the name of both girls or only in Trang's.

The previous year, Harvard rescinded its admission offer to a student who turned out to have murdered her mother. Five years before applying, Gina Grant bludgeoned her mother to death, stuck a knife through her throat and twisted her lifeless hand around it to make it look like a suicide. Grant later implicated her boyfriend in the murder, served a mere six months in a juvenile detention center, and never publicly confessed to the crime or expressed remorse. Her later application to Harvard stressed that she was an orphan, her father having died of cancer when she was eleven years old. She answered no to the question whether she had ever been disciplined or put on probation, and when a Harvard interviewer asked about her mother's death, she said it was an accident.

Nevertheless, Derek Ho, a junior at Harvard, criticized his school's decision: "If they are serious about recognizing different life stories, then she is an exemplary story we don't often see at Harvard," he told the Harvard Crimson. "Harvard has lost the opportunity to admit someone who would have added to the class of 1999." Other commentators pronounced her doubly victimized, first by her allegedly abusive mother, then by Harvard. "In exchange for her dignified silence," wrote New York Times columnist Frank Rich, "she got no rewards, only a smear campaign by Harvard." Boston Globe columnist Patricia Smith caricatured Harvard's response to Grant's past: " 'Ick. Yuck. Phooey. She's tainted. She doesn't deserve to walk our musty, hallowed halls because she's not 100 percent pure, honest, and upstanding.' " Smith concludes: "Meanwhile, here on earth we realize that human beings are fallible."

Susan Crabtree in Insight, November 11, 1996:
When Michael Parick Flanagan managed to unseat former House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Rep. Dan Rostenkowski, he vowed he would end pork-barrel spending and reportedly wore a pig pin with a red slash through it on his lapel to demonstrate his commitment.

But since Flanagan, an Illinois Republican, has been in the House of Representatives, he has become accustomed to the ways of Washington. He has secured nearly $50 million in special-project spending for his district, including $22.5 million for the Chicago Transit Authority and $8 million to replenish the sand on the Chicago shoreline ...

Needless to say, Flanagan no longer wears the crossed-out pig on his chest. Flannagan's spokesman, Bob Manewirth, denies that his boss ever wore the symbol, but he maintains that Flanagan is still against pork-barrel spending "in a general sense. That doesn't mean that every dollar the government is spending is pork."


A Louisiana jury found Dow Chemical guilty of failing to adequately warn about the dangers of their silicon breast implants. Not until the next phase of the trial, however, will the jury consider what those dangers might be.

[Ed.: Leading epidemiologists have found no link between silicone-gel breast implants and rates at which women contract such diseases as scleroderma, rheumatoid arthritis, and lupus.]

Barbara Coe, a leader of the California Coalition for Immigration Reform and an architect of California's Proposition 187, is being threatened with legal action by the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, California's Secretary of State, the Orange County Registrar's Office, and the U.S. Department of Justice. Her apparent offense was "intimidating voters" by posting and distributing flyers clearly stating the law: "Only Citizens Can Vote! Violators Will Be Prosecuted!"

CIA director John Deutch has been pushing for a $10 million "fitness and wellness center" to boost agency morale. According to Citizens Against Government Waste, Deutch has also advocated, among other things, "bridge and yoga rooms," and "lunchtime square dances."

The Washington Post, July 26, 1996:
Sandra and Tom Prather ... learned when they tried to enroll their 5-year-old son, T.J., in kindergarten [in Montgomery County, Maryland.] that, under state and federal regulations, they would have to decide whether the boy was white, African American, Latino, Asian or Native American. The form made no provision for the fact that T.J.'s mother is white and his father is black....

Under county regulations, the Prathers' refusal to designate a single racial or ethnic category means the school system will decide for them, and that could have significance to T.J. when school administrators assign students to classrooms or weigh transfer requests.

USA Today reports from Charleston, West Virginia, November 4, 1996:
The United Mine Workers union called a one-day walkout for Election Day so members can vote for the Democratic candidate for governor.

Time magazine, July 8, 1996:
Two dozen theater lovers—who happen to be deaf—had eagerly plunked down $10 each for a live reading of Lolita at 40 by film star Jeremy Irons in New York City. It was to be delivered with the help of a sign-language interpreter. But the group walked out en masse before a word was spoken. As the New York Daily News reported, Irons insisted that the interpreter move to one side so as not to distract the 300 hearing audience members. Then he lost his cool. "Why would deaf people attend a reading?" he snapped. "It's like a blind person wanting to attend ballet."

The Washington Post, August 9, 1996:
Look at the images on a box of Nabisco's Ritz Ark Animals, animal-shaped Ritz Crackers.... If you think the Ritz Camel looks suspiciously like cigarette spokes-toon Joe Camel, then you are not alone. Hubert H. Humphrey III, Minnesota's attorney general, ... is more than a little suspicious of the cartoon characters, and notes that Nabisco and R.J. Reynolds Tobacco are both subsidiaries of giant RJR Nabisco.

"Maybe I'm just paranoid," Humphrey said, but "that guy"—he points to the cracker box—"and that guy"—and he points to a Joe Camel advertisement in his office—"look an awful lot alike."

An article on dentistry in the Health section of the Albuquerque Journal featured dentist Leah Lauren's comments on the psychology of some of her patients: "A lot of times, if someone has been sexually abused, I can tell by how they hold their tongue."

The United Church of Christ revised its official hymnal to reflect the language of the '90s. The gender of the baby Jesus is no longer mentioned in "Silent Night." Military language has been removed from some songs. God is referred to as "Her" on occasion. Words that might offend minorities have also been taken out. "Just As I Am" no longer contains a reference to the "poor, wretched blind." And the phrase "right hand of God" in one song has been changed to the "mighty" hand of God, lest left-handed persons be offended.

The National Review, November 11th, 1996:
Under the 1990 Hate Crime Statistics Act, the FBI classifies victims of hate crimes by race, ethnicity, religion, and sexual orientation, but identifies perpetrators only by race. Hispanics, therefore, are recognized as victims, but not as perpetrators. Since most Hispanics are officially identified as "white," if a Hispanic attacks a black, it is typically counted as a white-on-black hate crime. Similarly, if a Hispanic attacks an Asian, it is a white-on-Asian hate crime. And if a Hispanic attacks a Hispanic, it is a white-on-Hispanic hate crime.

A study published in the American Journal of Public Health concluded that the well-documented prevalence of hypertension among African Americans is largely caused by racial discrimination. The article, "Racial Discrimination and Blood Pressure," was written by Nancy Krieger of the Harvard School of Public Health, and its conclusions were reported in newspapers such as the New York Times, the Washington Post and on news broadcasts nationwide, thanks to a strategically timed press release faxed to various media outlets by the American Public Health Association's public-relations department.

The study was based on blood pressure readings taken from 831 black men and 1,143 black women between the ages of 25 and 37. The participants were asked questions designed to categorize them by income, occupation, education, and marital status. Factors known to raise blood pressure, such as obesity and smoking, were identified and weighted to eliminate them as variables. Participants were also asked if they experienced racism in any of seven situations: "at school," "getting a job," "at work," "getting housing," "getting medical care," "on the street or in a public setting," and "from the police or in the courts."

Though Krieger concluded that the stress of experiencing racism is a significant cause of high blood pressure among African Americans, some of her results did not fit that thesis. For example, professional-class blacks had significantly lower blood pressure than working-class blacks, even though the study's data showed that professional-class blacks claim to encounter more racism than their blue-collar counterparts. But according to Krieger it doesn't drive their blood pressure up as much because of "their greater social and economic resources and, thus, perhaps greater willingness to name and challenge discriminatory treatment."

Krieger also used her interpretive skills to explain other anomalies as well. While the average blood pressure of those reporting multiple instances of racism was higher than that of those who said they experienced less racism, the highest average blood pressure was found in working-class black men who reported no discrimination at all. Krieger explained the deficiency thus: "Individuals who have experienced but feel unable to challenge discrimination may find it painful to admit that they have experienced discrimination, either to themselves or another person."

The study's data also showed that professional-class black men who report no discrimination suffer less hypertension than professional-class black men who do. While this fits with Krieger's overall thesis, it does not square with her previous contention that those reporting no discrimination were effectively in denial and presumably suffering even greater discrimination. As a result, Krieger asserted that because of their greater resources, professional-class black men do not lie to themselves about racism, but instead confront it when it happens. They can thus be trusted to report their experiences accurately, whereas working-class black men cannot.

Also, working-class black women who presumably accept discrimination and keep it to themselves have higher blood pressure than those who talk about it, but working-class black men who talk about it have higher blood pressure than those who remain silent. Krieger explains: "These patterns may reflect gender differences in how working-class black women and men respond to and talk about discrimination."

Krieger's previous articles on related subjects include "The influence of social class, race, and gender on the etiology of hypertension among women in the United States" and "Racism, sexism, and social class: implications for studies of health, disease, and well-being."

On October 26, the Washington Post reported on a woman's abduction from a garage at Tysons II Galleria mall near Washington, describing the rape suspect as follows: "Police describe the suspect as muscular, about six feet one inch tall and about 190 pounds, with short dark hair and dark eyes." However, the original police report described the suspect as "muscular and dark-skinned, about six feet one inch tall," etc., which is also what the warning posters at the mall said the next day.


The Washington Post, July 22, 1996:
The National Endowment for the Arts ... helps support dozens of small cultural organizations in Utah, from dance ensembles and string quartets to folk ballets and repertory theaters. [Sen. Robert F.] Bennett, a Mormon with strong conservative values, told members of an Appropriations subcommittee that he would fight to add $10 million to the $82.7 million allowed for the agency as the bill moved through the Senate.

Then came conservative Mississippi Republican Thad Cochran, lamenting the shortage of funds for Choctaw Indian schools and the fiscal plight of Vicksburg, Miss., National Military Park. "They can't even keep the grass mowed. It's sad," he complained.

Finally, Sen. Pete V. Domenici (R-NM), the Budget Committee chairman who has led the fight for a balanced budget, spoke his piece. After going on record in support of the NEA, he added a general comment: "We are shortchanging investments.... This can't continue. We've got to find some way to increase appropriations."

An investigation by the Philadelphia Inquirer found that some of the Department of Energy's recent activities included developing suntan lotion, maintaining the assembly line for Dove ice cream bars, and improving the fireworks at Walt Disney World.

An Associated Press dispatch from Washington, Connecticut, November 22, 1996:
Feathers will likely fly this weekend if animal rights activists crash the annual Turkey Olympics at the Inn at Lake Waramaug.

The games planned for Sunday feature a turkey high jump, slalom run and even a contest for the most beautiful or best-dressed bird. The event has drawn up to 2,000 spectators.

This year, it has also drawn the wrath of protesters.

"It's a cruel thing to force these animals to do stupid things," said Pam Ferdin, of the Connecticut-based Animal Defense League. The group plans to protest the turkey games.

From a staff-written memo published in Z magazine:
Yes, some people, for whatever reason, are "good" at writing and are a joy to read. But a political magazine needs to present a wider range of thought and activism from a more representative group of people, not only those with the time, money, connections, skill, and/or confidence to do it.

The Internal Revenue Service's plan to allow taxpayers to file returns directly from their personal computers to IRS centers via the Internet has been shelved for the foreseeable future, reports the Los Angeles Times. The decision came after the General Accounting Office found the Cyberfile system had 49 physical and electronic security weaknesses. Among them, "the central computer for Cyberfile was located in a dusty sub-basement of the U.S. Department of Agriculture that is subject to flooding." In addition, "the computer room had doors with locks installed backwards, meaning they could be easily breached, and sprinkler pipes hung so low that workers had to squat."

USA Today reports from Seattle, Washington, November 4, 1996:
Helen Sanwell, a King County parks manager who worked overtime without pay, has been suspended for six days for insubordination, beginning Wednesday. Officials said she'd been warned about overtime work, which they say violates federal law.

The following expenditures were submitted to the federal Medicare program for partial reimbursement by administrators at three Philadelphia hospitals. The list appeared in the Philadelphia Inquirer, and comes from a series of audit reports, completed in 1994 by the Department of Health and Human Services, of 21 randomly selected hospitals throughout the country. The report found $50 million in expenditures that "were not related to patient care" and thus had been improperly charged to Medicare.
Thomas Jefferson University Hospital
  • $46,354 for the president's housing allowance
  • $45,441 for a corporate triathalon
  • $27,209 for executive automobile allowances
  • $23,584 for local meals and luncheons
  • $14,743 for renovation of a physician's office
  • $10,082 for insurance on fine art and the former president's automobile
  • $1,061 for plant rentals for a cocktail reception
  • $602 for seventy small desk clocks
  • $466 for twenty-four 10-karat-gold-filled pen and pencil sets
Medical College of Pennsylvania
  • $10,215 for clocks, watches, bowls, and other gifts for employees and friends of the hospital
  • $7,230 for paperweights given to employees and friends of the hospital on Founder's Day
  • $4,697 for sponsorship of a bike race
  • $3,613 for retreats at a local hotel
  • $2,588 for flowers and fruit baskets for employees and friends of the hospital
  • $2,433 for a trip to Italy to inspect a sculpture
  • $1,581 for an employee holiday party
  • $for a golf and tennis outing
  • $798 for coffee service at holiday and Secretary's Day luncheons
Moss Rehabilitation Hospital
  • $3,524 for holiday gifts to physicians
  • $2,386 for entertainment and cocktails at an open house
  • $1,833 for gifts to physicians who had referred patients to Moss
  • $325 for imprinted mugs and sunglasses
  • $263 for musical statues
  • $140 for an executive to have his car washed
  • $67 for the vice president's lunch on a Saturday when he worked