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"Liberal Catholicism and liberal Judaism are not really two different religions getting along with each other, but only different flavors of the same religion," argues Daniel Taylor in the suburban-based Christianity Today (January 11). "They are much closer to each other in core beliefs than they are to more conservative believers within the religion each espouses. They, in fact, do not really respect other religions so much as they try to shame members of other religions to give up their 'absolutism' to join them in the progressive club of the open-minded. And they are as absolute in this requirement as any absolutist fundamentalist of any religion."

War in the New Age. "During Operation Desert Fox, the Associated Press ran a photo of a 2,000-pound laser guided bomb sitting on the deck of the USS Enterprise with a spray painted message on it saying 'Here's a Ramadan present from Chad Rickenberg,'" according to "Top Newspeak Stories of the Month #106" (, quoting the Wall Street Journal of January 29. "Defense Department officials immediately caught this breach of etiquette and released an apology. Pentagon spokesman Kenneth Bacon expressed the 'distress' of Defense officials over the 'thoughtless graffiti.'...Mr. Bacon went on to say that 'Religious intolerance is an anathema to Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen and to all Americans who cherish the right to worship freely.'"

"Continued progress [by women] cannot be taken for granted in academia," says Marianne Ferber, an economist at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, "particularly in fields that have remained predominately male." Her figures, according to a recent university press release: women receive about 11 percent of doctorates in engineering but hold less than 7 percent of full-time engineering-faculty appointments. In the natural sciences women receive 31 percent of all doctorates but hold only 19 percent of the faculty positions.

In trouble. Last spring Joyce Hofmann of the state Natural History Survey set out 11 traps at places where Franklin's ground squirrels had been seen in the past. "All sites had a dense cover of grass, forbs, and shrubs," which the squirrels like. "Only one Franklin's ground squirrel was captured during 1,032 trap days" ("Illinois Natural History Survey Reports," January/February).

Ouch! According to data gathered in the newsletter "Urban Quality Indicators" (Winter), Jamestown, New York, booked 952 touring artists in 1995, while Chicago booked 855. But we won in ensemble bookings, 1,274 to 47.

"Auto parts, appliances, a washing machine, a vacuum cleaner, reinforcing rods and a fully working pogo stick"--that's what volunteers James MacDonald and Tony Watrobinski found in the Chicago River near Gompers Park during a 1998 cleanup ("River Reporter," Winter).

Would you please build several landfills in our neighborhood? According to the news service "Solid Waste Online" (January 22), two researchers from the Forest Products Laboratory in Madison, Wisconsin, have found that "about 70% of carbon from paper and more than 97% from wood resists decomposing" in landfills. If the wood and paper were put where they could decompose, the carbon they contain--an estimated 28 million tons per year, the equivalent of 2 percent of the fossil-fuel emissions in the U.S.--would eventually go into the air and "exacerbate global warming."

"The Gautreaux program produced a cottage industry for researchers but modest results for public housing tenants," claims Irving Welfeld, an attorney with the Department of Housing and Urban Development, in a skeptical analysis of the much-acclaimed program, published in the book New Directions in Public Housing. "The program's most significant accomplishment has been to enable a relatively few families over many years to escape from the mean streets and mangy apartments of Chicago's inner-city public housing." Even that escape, he argues, has benefited the current generation less than it will the next one. "The economic opportunity of being closer to a richer job pool allowed the suburban group to maintain their tenuous position in the job market but resulted in no real advances. The change in educational systems, after causing some emotional pain, did produce gains, but only when compared to school conditions in the city."

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