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Best foot forward. Vinton Thompson, a world authority on spittlebugs, has been named associate provost at Roosevelt University. In the September issue of the "Renaissance," the school's newsletter, he jokes, "There are lots of parallels between academia and spittlebugs. Spittlebugs are economic pests, and one is always looking for strategies to deal with the pests."

Reasons not to assimilate. Children who are immigrants or whose parents are--14 million at last count, one of every five people under age 18--"experience fewer short- and long-term health problems and fewer accidents and injuries than do children with U.S.-born parents," according to a new report from the National Research Council. "There are fewer low-birthweight babies and infant deaths in immigrant families, and adolescents reportedly have fewer mental health problems and are less likely to engage in risky behaviors." This is unexpected good news, since immigrant families are more likely to be poor. The bad news is that their health advantages don't last: "By the third and later generations, for example, rates of adolescent risk-related behaviors...

approach or exceed those of white adolescents with U.S.-born parents."

"Why should ComEd and Illinois Power be allowed to rob consumers under the guise of deregulation?" asks Dave Kraft of the Evanston-based Nuclear Energy Information Service in a September press release. A recent report from the Safe Energy Communications Council suggests that residential electricity consumers may pay $1,390 apiece to help electric utilities recover "stranded costs"--i.e., nuclear plants that will be unable to compete in a deregulated electricity market. "The phone companies and gas weren't allowed this rip-off, and they had sunk costs in their service areas," writes Kraft. "This is a question that must be put to every candidate for state public office during the coming election season."

You gotta be kidding. Writing in In These Times (October 18), Joel Rogers of the New Party shows how government tends to subsidize suburbs and exurbs more than cities. Then he adds that "the deliberate siting of military bases and other government facilities outside cities or more developed regions remains a deliberate national policy." So what do progressives want--an air force base at Lake Calumet, marine training in Humboldt Park, an army base in North Kenwood?

The Tummy Tutor, a wireless microphone/radio/CD player/tape player designed to be strapped over a pregnant woman's abdomen, is advertised in the fall catalog of SelfCare. After six or seven months of use, "parents' voices will be familiar to the newborn and will have a greater 'soothing effect.'...

Playing music or foreign language tapes can stimulate and maximize neural development in the areas of the brain that create aptitude in math and language." Crucial flaw: newborn will need extra soothing since there's no automatic cutoff when the news comes on.

Maybe Bill should apologize again...and switch parties. Sam Smith, writing in the Progressive Review's on-line "Undernews" (September 25): "Contrary to the myth of a brave president standing up to an awful right-wing created by commentators and knee-pad Democrats, most of the political damage over the past six years has been the result of an active or passive partnership of the White House with the GOP Congress. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the egregious war on drugs. A recent example: the House has voted overwhelmingly to encourage states to drug test all teenage driver's license applicants. The states are urged to deny a license to anyone who fails. Not only has Bill Clinton endorsed the driver's license drug tests but only nine members of the House had the courage to vote against this anti-democratic, anti-privacy, anti-constitutional measure."

After helping 7,100 families eligible for public housing move to integrated communities, the Gautreaux Assisted Housing Program, the consequence of a 1966 lawsuit, quietly ended September 30. However, as Aurie Pennick, president and CEO of the Leadership Council for Metropolitan Open Communities, observed in a recent press release, the underlying reason for the court-instituted program has not disappeared. "If one compares the demographics of Chicago in 1966 to today, African-Americans are just as racially isolated as they ever were."

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