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"Certain management trends at ComEd...could cause utility-wide problems if the MOx program [making nuclear reactor fuel from weapons-grade plutonium] were employed," write Carrie Benzschawel and Laura Bulow in the Evanston-based "NEIS News" (September-October). "In the past, when one reactor has required more attention due to difficulties at that reactor, ComEd has shifted resources from other reactors in an attempt to fix the problem. This shift has resulted in performance declines at other reactors. Incorporating the MOx program into this pattern could not only affect operations and safety at Byron, Braidwood and LaSalle, but could incite a utility-wide decline."

"Eighty-six percent of Americans support requiring new handguns to be childproof," according to a recent survey funded by the Chicago-based Joyce Foundation ("Work in Progress," January). "On the other hand, the availability of childproof guns might increase handgun purchases by those who do not now own a handgun," the survey found. That's "on the other hand" if your agenda is reducing gun ownership rather than increasing gun safety.

Bull market in sainthood. "As of the end of 1997, John Paul has declared 278 individuals saints," reports the Chicago-based U.S. Catholic (January). "By comparison, the total of all previous canonizations from the first papal canonizations through Pope Paul VI was 426."

Crime in the suites. The "Progressive Review" (December 12) notes that 2 of Clinton's 14 cabinet officials (Espy and Cisneros) have been indicted, whereas "the DC police arrest only about one out of every 13 citizens each year and many of these are repeat offenders."

"For the first time in the 23 years since Substance began publication, the public schools don't have a financial crisis worth talking about," according to an editorial in the monthly journal (October). "It's how the money is being spent that matters now....The money is not going to be spent on classrooms and schools. Class sizes will remain the same (or drift higher because the Chicago Teachers Union's present leadership doesn't like to rock its political boats). Supplies for schools are still in great demand. The basic educational program is receiving very little of the windfall....The Vallas budgets are political budgets, and they show the political and public relations priorities of the Vallas administration (and their bosses in City Hall). They are not educational budgets. The lowest priority in 'school' spending in Chicago is the schools. At the lowest end of school spending is the classroom."

"For a long time I imagined myself incapable of doing anything except wanting to write poems," says Robert Clinton in a recent publisher's newsletter, the "Sarabande News." "This continued more or less until five or six years ago when I developed the ambition not to starve to death when I can no longer work for a living."

Here's the sizzle--find the steak on your own. In November the Chicago Software Association announced in a press release the winners of its top three awards for best Web site design: SPSS, Inc., InstallShield Software Corporation, and Peapod. The release gave the street addresses of the winning firms and the Web address of the Chicago Software Association--but no pointers to the winning Web sites themselves.

Who will be the first state attorney general to sue tobacco companies for not selling enough cigarettes? "If all smokers quit, health care costs would be lower at first, but after 15 years they would become higher than at present," according to the New England Journal of Medicine (October 9)--in part because nonsmokers live longer and will ultimately require more medical care than if they'd died younger.

Back? Kevin Jackson of the Chicago Rehab Network offers a note of caution concerning nationwide efforts to expand home ownership in a recent issue of the "Network Builder": "Applied indiscriminately, the national enthusiasm for homeownership, expressed by President Clinton in a speech known as 'One America,' could turn out to be a slippery slope, one threatening to slide us right back into separate communities of 'haves' and 'have nots.'"

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