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Shhh--don't tell the left hand! According to Robert Dreyfuss, the Chicago-based AMA--through its political action committee--gave $10,000 apiece to three loyal congressional supporters of the National Rifle Association, "even as it endorsed gun control in the name of public health" (New Republic, June 22).

Life in the academy. From the December 9 report of the University of Chicago's Panel on Sexual Harassment for 1996-'97: "Following a complaint from a female member of the academic staff, a male faculty member was cautioned that his conversational topics were perceived as unduly personal and discomforting and that his conversational style was perceived as overly intense and aggressive" ("University of Chicago Record," May 28).

Where can we find the elite, business-oriented architects who will say this now? Gerald Danzer of the University of Illinois at Chicago quotes Daniel Burnham's Chicago Plan in the new book Envisioning the City: "The Lake front by right belongs to the people. It affords their one great unobstructed view, stretching away to the horizon, where water and clouds seem to meet....The Lake is living water, ever in motion, and ever-changing in color and in the form of its waves. Across its surface comes the broad pathway of light made by the rising sun; it mirrors the ever-changing forms of the clouds, and it is illumined by the glow of the evening sky. Its colors vary with the shadows that play upon it. In its every aspect it is a living thing....Not a foot of its shores should be appropriated by individuals to the exclusion of the people."

"The $1,000 Illinois personal income tax exemption has not changed since the individual income tax was inaugurated in 1969," notes "Fiscal Focus" (May). "If the exemption had been adjusted for inflation each year, it would have equaled $4,373 for the 1997 tax year."

Barebacking "may threaten the social order," warns Gordon Nary, editor of the Chicago-based Journal of the International Association of Physicians in AIDS Care (June). "If advertisements on the Internet and in some gay and other sex-oriented publications are any accurate indication, there are tens of thousands of individuals whose sexual gratification is based on the risk of the 'gift' of HIV as it is officially termed in barebacking argot. The 'gift' in some of these advertisements is often referred to in sacramental terms as if communion with the human immunodeficiency virus is somehow parallel to communion with God."

Dept. of secret pollution: tell your downstate friends to buy bottled water. "The Illinois State Geological Survey is studying a leaking [hog-waste] lagoon located near an aquifer," reports Jennifer Davis in Illinois Issues (June). "The exact site is confidential. Since July 1996, the agency has tracked the movement of 'some bacteria' as well as ammonia, chloride and sodium from the lagoon, says Bill Dey, associate agriculture engineer with the survey....'The literature says these lagoons seal up in two to six months. This lagoon is four or five years old. Either it's not self-sealing or that's taking place more slowly for some reason.'"

Who has the best depth perception in the city? I nominate Jim Seevers, the Adler Planetarium astronomer who writes the skywatchers' guide in the planetarium's summer newsletter, "Adler Star": "Saturn, like Jupiter, is in front of the stars of Pisces, the Fishes."

"Last fall, when the House leadership was rushing through a bill raising congressional pay, Rep. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) adroitly attached an amendment directing the Treasury Department and the Customs Office to enforce a 1930 law banning imports made using forced labor and products made by children working under duress," writes David Moberg in In These Times (June 14). It passed, and "the International Labor Rights Fund immediately petitioned customs to exclude all South Asian carpets unless importers could prove that they weren't made with child laborers. Similarly, the Teamsters threatened to take action to support Brazilian unions that are trying to keep children from picking oranges, which supply juice for companies like Coca-Cola's Minute Maid brand. So far, the Clinton administration has done nothing to enforce the Sanders amendment. But one official did propose setting up a toll-free telephone number for child laborers in Nepal and Brazil to call in with complaints."

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