An Inclusive Litany


Writing in the National Review, Jay Nordlinger reports on the resurgence of efforts against the fluoridation of water. Often thought of as a defining characteristic of fringe right-wing groups such as the John Birch Society, opposition to fluoridation has increasingly taken hold among leftist environmentalists.

The founding members of the Fluoride Action Network—a clearinghouse for anti-fluoride efforts—include the founder of Friends of the Earth, the editor of Coyote Nation, the publisher of The Ecologist, the co-founders of GreenWatch, and even a past president of the Secular Franciscan Order. Anti-fluoridation articles have appeared in magazines such as The Progressive and CovertAction Quarterly, the latter of which identified fluoridation as a capitalist plot. The Berkeley-based Environmental News Network has served as a hub of anti-fluoride activity. The National Resources Defense Council is also against it, along with many Sierra Club chapters.

These groups argue that fluoride is a pollutant, that there is currently too much of it in various food products, that fluoride is superfluous in fighting cavities (given that people practice good hygiene and a adopt a good diet), and that it is an undemocratic assault on individual preferences. While some have no objection to the presence of fluoride in toothpaste, others blame fluoridation for cancer, brittle bones, Alzheimer's disease, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, and hypothyroidism, with leads to weight gain, high blood pressure, and heart disease. Supporters of fluoridation include the American Dental Association, the Centers for Disease Control, and the office of Surgeon General. They argue that adding fluoride to drinking water is safe in small amounts, and yields substantial benefits in dental health.

Efforts to discontinue or prevent fluoridation have been successful in both Santa Cruz and Santa Barbara, California; Ithaca, New York; Worcester, Massachusetts; and much of the Pacific Northwest. An anti-fluoridation referendum is to be voted on in Palo Alto, California.


Joel Brinkely of the New York Times reports on the Supreme Court decision on the constitutionality of a Texas state anti-sodomy law, June 26, 2003:
Justice Antonin Scalia wrote the dissent and took the unusual step of reading it aloud from the bench this morning, saying "the court has largely signed on to the so-called homosexual agenda," while adding that he personally has "nothing against homosexuals."
Here are the words Scalia actually used:
Let me be clear that I have nothing against homosexuals, or any other group, promoting their agenda through normal democratic means.


Despite the city's enormous deficit, New York's city council allocated $75,000 to organize city residents in support of rent control, $27,900 of which was used to bus supporters to a rally in Albany.


New York Newsday, June 24, 2003:
Snoop Dogg isn't wild about "Girls Gone Wild" anymore.

The rapper, who appeared as the host on one of the raunchy strip videos, told The Associated Press he's done with the series because it doesn't feature women of color.

"If you notice, there hasn't been no girls of [ethnicity] at all on none of those tapes," Snoop Dogg complained during a recent interview. "No black girls, no Spanish girls—all white girls, and that [stuff] ain't cool, because white girls ain't the only ho's that get wild."

Along with an accomplice, Deshon Rene Odom was arrested outside a California bank they had just robbed carrying a loaded revolver. The U.S. Ninth Court of Appeals reversed Odom's armed robbery conviction because he "never intentionally displayed the gun." In his ruling, Judge Richard R. Clifton inquires: "Can a bank robber with a concealed gun who never mentions or insinuates having one, but who displays it inadvertently, be convicted of armed bank robbery? We believe the answer is no."


Former Vermont governor and current presidential candidate Howard Dean, speaks with Tim Russert on NBC's "Meet the Press" about his position on the death penalty, June 22, 2003:
I think there may be one instance where just possibly it could be [a deterrent] and that's the shooting of a police officer. If you're about to pull a trigger on a guy who's in uniform and you know that you're going to get the death penalty and if you don't pull the trigger something different will happen, maybe that might save the police officer's life.


After Florida's Manatee County school district added "sexual preference" to the list of the school's forbidden discrimination targets, gay groups complained that using the word "preference" implies a choice or a potentially curable disorder.


Two years after the "CBS Evening News" reported on how Eva Baer-Schenkein couldn't afford to buy drugs for her osteoporosis due to shortcomings of the Medicare program, ABC's "World News Tonight" used the same woman in much the same story, this time suffering from "hypertension and other health problems."


Jim Fitzgerald of the Associated Press reports on the 50th anniversary of the execution of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg for passing nuclear secrets to the Soviet Union, June 18, 2003:
[T]he 50th anniversary has spiked interest. On Thursday night [Pete] Seeger, Susan Sarandon, Harry Belafonte and other show business activists... will appear at a benefit for the Rosenberg Fund for Children. [The Rosenberg's son Robert] Meeropol runs the fund, which assists the children of people imprisoned, harassed, attacked or fired for taking a public stand.

Meeropol calls the foundation his "constructive revenge."

His memoir, "An Execution in the Family" is being published on the anniversary. In it, he recounts his admittedly vague memories of Rosenberg family life; his and his brother's adoption by Abel and Anne Meeropol; his own studies of his parents' case, which opened him to the possibility they may have been spies; and his difficulty in understanding why parents of small children would engage in such risk.

But Meeropol is also suspicious that recently released evidence may be government "disinformation."

"What a horror story it would be for me to accept it and then later find out that I've spread their propaganda for them," he said. "I couldn't live with myself."


The Chicago Tribune reports on the difficulties faced by one of the death row inmates, a double murderer, whose sentence was commuted by Governor George Ryan, June 17, 2003:
Now, [Andre] Jones and the other inmates face the new reality of life in the general prison population.

It is a far different world from a condemned unit and the certainty of a date with execution: a place where increased freedom of movement brings greater danger; where the camaraderie among the condemned is shattered; where creature comforts such as almost-daily showers and easy access to telephones are gone.

In the midst of a series of lengthy strikes protesting a French pension reform plan, Marseille city cleaners dealt with the stench from piles of sun-baked garbage by applying lemon grass perfume.


The Sacramento Bee reports that, in the midst of a multibillion-dollar deficit, the California legislature wrangled over the wording of a resolution honoring Father's Day. Some legislators pushed for language so expansive as to specify "single fathers, foster fathers, adoptive fathers, biological fathers, stepfathers, families headed by two fathers, grandfathers raising grandchildren, fathers in blended households, and other non-traditional fathers."


A group of Louisiana cockfighters have sued to block a federal law banning interstate commerce in fowls because they say it discriminates against Cajuns and Hispanics, for whom they say the sport is integral to their cultures.

Two schools in Mill Creek, Washington were locked down after a parent spotted a 14-year-old boy carrying what turned out to be a prop gun used in a Civil War presentation. The Associated Press reports: "What the parent thought was a gun had a barrel made from two broomsticks painted black with foil at the end and a block of wood covered in wood-grain paper to resemble the butt." The boy is facing suspension.

Tinamarie Nicolo Dorfner of Moorestown, New Jersey, wrote an op-ed in the Philadelphia Inquirer explaining that during the seven months of her first pregnancy thus far, she has had to change her obstetricians four times. The first decided to stop delivering babies due to soaring malpractice insurance costs. The second had to move his practice to Maine for the same reason. She couldn't even get an appointment with the third because he was forced to see so many patients to pay for his malpractice premiums. The fourth is in a group practice, in which only three of the six physicians continue to deliver babies because they can't afford malpractice premiums for all of them.


Fiachra Gibbons reports on the latest artistic forays of Damien Hirst in the Guardian June 11, 2003:

In a series of sculptures inspired by Leonardo da Vinci's Last Supper, which will be seen in London this autumn, Hirst will depict Jesus and the apostles as 13 pingpong balls bobbing on spurting fountains of red wine. A washing bowl to bathe Christ's feet will sit beneath their Formica table.

Hirst had wanted the balls to bob on blood but opted for wine, with all its symbolic echoes of the mass, in which Catholics believe wine is turned into the blood of Christ.

If that were not strong enough meat for many Christians, it will sit alongside a cow with six legs called In His Infinite Wisdom.

The fourth major piece in his next show at the White Cube gallery in London in September will be The Death of the Saints and the Ascension of Jesus, a sequence of "metaphorical" cabinets showing how Christ and the disciples met their ends. A pickled bull's head will sit in front of each cabinet.

[Ed.: This exhibit of seemingly more spiritual material represents the return of Hirst after a long bout of drunkedness, during which he admitted to have assembled many of his earlier works. Looking back, said Hirst, "I was a lunatic... there are things I have done which I now think, 'What the hell was I thinking?' ... I remember once I wanted to cover a pig in vibrators like a hedgehog. It was going to be called Pork-u-pine. Thank God, I didn't do it. But some things like that do get made."]


Wolf Blitzer on CNN's "Late Edition," June 8, 2003:
A frenzied anticipation about New York Democratic senator and former first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton's new book, "Living History." That's out in bookstores tomorrow.

Some details already have been made public. She recounts how she discovered the truth about her husband's affair with Monica Lewinsky, saying, and I'm quoting now, "I was dumbfounded, heartbroken and outraged that I had believed him at all. As a wife, I wanted to wring Bill's neck."

[I]s this a prelude to a presidential run at 2008?


The New York Times, June 8, 2003:
On a chilly and sodden afternoon last week, Christina Vrachnos braced herself against the wind on Madison Avenue, and cast her eyes toward the skies. "Is it global warming?" she wailed. "What is it? What have we done to deserve this wretched weather?"

Ms. Vrachnos, who works in the marketing department of a financial publishing company, had suited up to brave temperatures that had dipped into the low 50's.


After both Time and Newsweek magazines ran cover photos of Caucasian women in surgical masks to illustrate the threat of SARS, Time's editor admitted he did not use a photo of a Chinese woman in order to avoid stigmatizing Asians unfairly.

The Highlander, student newspaper at the University of California, Riverside, reports on a meeting of the student senate, June 5, 2003:
After some deliberation, and the decision to make it a closed ballot, the senate voted to allocate $3,025 to Que onda Queers.

At the meeting, the senate also voted to approve a mural to be placed in the Commons. There was some concern voiced by the senate about the contents of the mural.

"I see some pilgrim invaders here," said Elisa Haro, academic affairs director. "It kind of reminds me of my colonization, and I don't like that."

The artist of the mural said that the pilgrim invaders were meant to be Shakespearean actors and that he would try to make that more clear.

Other concerns with the mural included the depiction of white cranes, which the senate demanded be changed to color cranes.

They were also concerned with the lack of a same sex couple depicted, which the artist agreed to add. The senate voted to approve the mural in light of the adjustments being made.

[Ed.: At the same meeting, some demanded a safe house and a special security detachment to protect "women of color" from harassment by campus police and members of "the Greek community." The amount demanded exceeded the entire budget available to the student senate.]


A New Zealand lesbian who won a gay beauty contest she entered as a way to shatter stereotypes was booed because she looked too straight.

After the Interior Department announced a $317,000 grant to help preserve Boston's historic Old North Church, Americans United for the Separation of Church and State objected that since the site is still "an active church," the grant represents a violation of church/state separation.