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Armageddon looms--but no need to miss work. "Warlord Bush has declared war on the entire world," reads a widely circulated E-mail about a May Day planning meeting. "The attempt to take control of the world economically using the World Trade Organization has stalled. Now they are turning to guns and police state tactics." And by the way, "May Day 2002 festivities probably will take place on Saturday, May 4th, so there will be no need to miss work in order to attend this special world-wide celebration."

In recovery from the 20th century? "At the dawn of the 20th century, most Illinois streams had sinuous courses with associated rich marshes and swamps," reports the state Department of Natural Resources in its publication "Critical Trends in Illinois Ecosystems" (dnr.state.il.us/ orep/ctap2/toc1.htm). "The stream banks were lined with protective vegetation that reduced the likelihood of bank failures and heavy erosion. Since then agriculture and development have drastically reduced the health of our streams--marshes and swamps have disappeared, streams have become turbid, and their channels have been straightened and levied. Some species of freshwater mussels, environmentally sensitive aquatic insects, and fish that were once common to Illinois waters have been extirpated from the state. Nonetheless, it appears that Illinois streams have survived the worst period of degradation. Improvements in municipal sewage treatment and better agricultural practices have dramatically improved the health of Illinois streams in the past three decades."

The LSCs are all right, according to Designs for Change, which collected research on the city's local school councils in a February report ("Chicago's Local School Councils"). Most (88 percent) meet at least nine times a year; most (91 percent) have a quorum at all but one or two meetings; the average LSC member is better educated than the average American or Illinoisan; and their membership reflects the racial composition of Chicago (though not of its public schools).

In a sentence. At a March 14 meeting of the Campaign for Sensible Growth, Stuart Meck of the American Planning Association described recent progress he's seen in the fight to change planning laws and procedures that promote urban sprawl. But he sees little corresponding progress toward making sure that more compact cities and suburbs will contain affordable housing. "It would be a shame if we do all this work to change planning laws and improve the quality of life, and have that quality of life be shared by only a few."

Unionism for the middle class. Chances that a Chicago-area household with income between $60,000 and $70,000 is a credit union member: four in ten. With an income under $20,000: one in ten ("Rhetoric and Reality: An Analysis of Mainstream Credit Unions' Record of Serving Low-Income People," Woodstock Institute, February).

Whodunit? "In 2000, Chicago held the alarming distinction of being the homicide capital of the world with 627 homicides," reports the Chicago Crime Commission in its 2001 annual report. "In 1960, 93% of the homicides were cleared by arrest nationally, but since that time the clearance rates have drastically dropped, with Chicago's clearance rate being well below 50%."

"War used to be something to win against an enemy that had a name," reflects Sam Smith in the "Progressive Review" (February 26). "There were some relatively firm standards--such as a surrender--to indicate when that had occurred. Now we are told that we are in a war not against somebody but against a character flaw called evil doing, and that the war may not be over for 5, 10, or 50 years depending on who is talking about it. This, of course, is not really a war at all, but a new status quo that has been declared, one in which violence and paranoia and strip searches are not just part of a sacrifice one must make for a better future. They are the future."

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