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Amount of money in the current defense appropriations bill for programs that were neither requested by the Pentagon nor included in the House or Senate versions of the bill, but were quietly added at the last minute by members of the House-Senate conference committee: over $175 million, according to the "Weekly Defense Monitor" (October 16).

"I feel uncomfortable even being called a reformer," Chicago Public Schools CEO Paul Vallas tells "School Reform News" (October), a publication of the suburban-based Heartland Institute. "Our mission was to bring accountability to the system, to have a performance-based education system where all decisions go through the education performance prism....I think we have a prescription that can solve any school system's problems."

Have the conservatives lost? Stephen Moore writes in "Policy Analysis," a publication of the libertarian Cato Institute (September 2): "Total nondefense outlays [by the federal government] now consume 17.5 percent of gross domestic product, up from 15 percent of GDP in the 1970s and 10 percent in the 1960s."

"Integration . . . has induced a trance that has diverted the eyes of blacks from the prize of racial equality, self-determination and self-respect," writes Salim Muwakkil in In These Times (November 2). "The civil rights movement postponed blacks' insistent search for identity in favor of social access. African-Americans now enjoy more of the fruits of America than ever before. But what does equal access mean to a people psychologically debased by their own internalized racism and crippled by a chronic lack of resources?"

We don't need "civility," we need people who care. "Ours is a society that no longer recognizes radical activity for what it is," argues Northern Illinois University's James Darsey in his new book, The Prophetic Tradition and Radical Rhetoric in America. "The failure of community is signaled, not by the rudeness and stridency of protest, but by the loss of a common faith in fundamental ideals and the loss of the long historical conversation in which these ideals were molded, preserved, and defended."

"A public policy which places power [over whether to demolish problem buildings] in the hands of organized residents needs to ensure that neighborhood organizations and the like include all voices," writes Archon Fung in "Neighborhoods," newsletter of the Chicago Alliance for Neighborhood Safety (Summer). "Since homeowners have less interest in preserving and expanding the stock of affordable housing than renters and the homeless, the 'community's' choice will too often be demolition if their voices dominate. So, those who encourage participation at community and beat meetings--organizers, Police officers, outreach staff from other city agencies--should spend more of their time encouraging less well off residents to attend. Because their better off neighbors will find out about the meetings and show up on their own accord, organizers should practice affirmative-action outreach." Of course if the better-off neighbors find out about such a policy, they may show up in Cicero or Western Springs on their own accord too.

Secrets that we fear will remain secret. "The 'secrets' of good legal writing have been around not just for decades but centuries," Di Mari Ricker reminds the readers of the Chicago-based Student Lawyer (October). Among them, "plucking extra words out of ordinary phrases--i.e., use about instead of with regard to the matter of; because in place of due to (or worse, due to the fact that); if instead of in the event that or should 'xyz' occur. All you have to do is go back over every sentence you've written and ask yourself whether every word is necessary."

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