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Large bank holding companies do even less lending in low- and moderate-income areas than the dismal average of the industry as a whole, report Daniel Immergluck and Marti Wiles in the Woodstock Institute's April report "Where Banks Do Business: Small Business Lending Patterns in the Chicago Area, 1996 to 1998." There is one conspicuous exception. "Of the eight holding companies with $4 billion or more in Illinois deposits," only ABN AMRO-LaSalle Banks "makes a significantly larger portion of its loans in LMI tracts than does the market as a whole."

"Putting crime in perspective amidst the claims that crime is decreasing is not an easy thing to do," writes president Thomas Kirkpatrick of the Chicago Crime Commission in its 1999 annual report. "In 1965, crime had become such a grave national concern that the President created the Office of Law Enforcement Assistance" to help local governments. "Despite modest decreases over the past five years, violent crime is up 300% from when the alarm sounded in 1965. In order for us to return to even that previous level of discomfort, crime would have to go down 6% a year for the next twenty-two years."

How are the victims of patriarchy doing? According to a March report published by the National Center for Education Statistics, "Trends in Education Equity of Girls & Women" (http://nces.ed.gov/pubsearch), "Since the early 1970s, women have made dramatic gains in postsecondary education....Female high school seniors tend to have higher educational aspirations than their male peers and are more likely to enroll in college immediately after graduating from high school. Women are also more likely than men to earn a bachelor's degree within 5 years. The majority of all undergraduates are women, and this has been true for two decades."

It's square to be square. The University of Chicago's Martin Marty quotes novelist Alice McDermott from Commonweal (February 11): "I have silenced intrepid reporters with the news that I am a practicing Catholic. I have ended hip and intelligent and modern conversations simply by admitting that I still believe in my church."

Remember how computers were going to replace paper? Now an Ohio University survey of 189 booksellers finds that on-line sales have increased the number of used books sold by 12.5 percent and have increased the prices of rare books (newswise.com/articles/2000/5/BOOKS.OHU.html).

PR isn't everything. Joe Parkos III and David Wahl of the Illinois Natural History Survey write in the organization's newsletter (January/February), "General ill will towards carp has not prevented the spread of these large minnows into nearly every aquatic habitat in North America."

Next at Whole Foods: "Wolf Point Water"? According to the "River Reporter" (Spring), Ben Strauss, a student at Hawthorne School, did an experiment comparing how plants grew, "the only variable being which portion of the Chicago River each plant group's water came from. Every week, Strauss and one of his parents traveled to four locations (from Devon Ave. on the north to the new Ping Tom Park in Chinatown) to collect river water with which to water his plants. Ben hypothesized correctly that there would be differences in plant growth rates and health depending on the water source's location. Contrary to his hypothesis, however, the plants with the fastest growth and healthiest condition received their water from Wolf Point, the downtown confluence of the River's Main Stem, the North Branch and the South Branch."

Bottom line. According to the April issue of "Fiscal Focus Quarterly," in 1990, when the Chicago Public Schools were first being reformed, 66 percent of students were considered "low income." In 1999, the figure was up to 85 percent.

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