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"Have you ever gone out for a beer and bought a Stella Artois instead of a Bud?" asks Chris Floyd in his column in the Moscow Times (November 23), an on-line daily from the Russian capital (www.themoscowtimes.com). "Then you, my friend, have engaged in a conspiracy to cause 'adverse effects' to the economy of the United States. And that makes you one of the evildoers. So says the great Oval Object in his latest executive order, in which he grants himself the power to have anyone he designates as a terrorist to be tried by secret military tribunals and executed without appeal. Bush's dread edict--which of course takes effect without any input from that useless appendage of a bygone era, the U.S. Congress--covers anyone who 'causes or threatens to cause' or even 'has as their aim' to cause 'adverse effects' on, among other things, the American economy or U.S. foreign policy."

Illinois' share of tobacco-settlement funds received to date, according to Aaron Chambers, writing in Illinois Issues (November): $1.06 billion. Amount spent on antismoking initiatives: $80.8 million.

"When you're building a foundation, one of the best times to do it is at the beginning," says west suburban Yorkville city administrator Tony Graff, explaining why his town is planning for a possible quadrupling of population by 2010 (Beacon News, December 1).

Why do the cuts in the city Department of Housing budget target apartments? The Chicago Rehab Network notes in its "Quarterly Analysis" that the department will get $13.1 million next year (compared to $17.3 million in 2001) if the mayor's budget recommendations are followed and that most of this cut will come from multifamily rehab and new construction. "Why wasn't there a corresponding reduction in homeownership programs," the group asks, "when the current economic environment jeopardizes sustainable homeownership?"

No rugged individualists in foxholes. Peter Schuler writing in the University of Chicago Chronicle (November 30) on U. of C. philosopher Martha Nussbaum's new book, Upheavals of Thought: The Intelligence of Emotions: "Nussbaum believes the denial of emotion can form unrealistic ideals of self-sufficiency that puts one out of touch with the interdependence that is critical to all life in society."

Career move. "I joined the army for the adventure," veteran and author Dan Buckman tells Kari Lydersen in StreetWise (November 26). "My grades in high school were atrocious, so what else would I do? I wanted to get my medal for distinguished service too. I used to put flags in the graveyard on Memorial Day, to listen to my uncles talking about the war sitting on the basement steps on Christmas Day. For working-class people, that is our Harvard business school."

Bad news for nerds. "Misconceptions about IT are common among job seekers, youth, and policy makers," states a recent report from the University of Illinois at Chicago's Great Cities Institute, "Building a World-Class Information Technology Workforce for the Chicago Region." "Many think that IT jobs are primarily for 'nerds' who do nothing but work in front of a computer. They do not realize that most IT professionals spend the bulk of their time interacting with other people."

Lest we forget. "In the Western world we live in an age that is, by all objective criteria, the safest that our species has ever experienced in its evolution and its history," said psychologist Peter Marsh of the Social Issues Research Centre in a lecture given at the Institute for Cultural Research in London on November 17 (www.sirc.org). "We are healthier than any of our predecessors have been. We live on average considerably longer than even our immediate progenitors. Today, the infant death rate is less than 6 per 1000 live births. Just a hundred years ago the figure was 150. Even in the late 50s four times as many children died in their first year of life than they do today." Happy New Year.

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