An Inclusive Litany


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.