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Now you can enjoy an actual symbol of third world exploitation in your own living room. Real Estate Profile (July 29-August 11) explains why some aquarium fish cost more than others: "One fish, the Black Tang, is hand-caught from the lower depths off Christmas Island . . . . many divers have been killed from the bends in going down to bring back one or two of these fish. To reflect this, they cost close to $500 each"--the fish, that is.

Does Commonwealth Edison want to rewrite the chemistry book, too? The Northwest Community Organization discovered that Commonwealth Edison has been cleaning up spills of PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) from its transformers, doing little to inform the public and posting only a few small English-only warning signs. Edison officials claim the PCB spills are not hazardous (The Neighborhood Works, August/September 1988). Then why, we wonder, did the otherwise less than zealous Reagan EPA spend two years in court to force Edison to start cleaning up the more than 500 such spills in the Chicago area? And why was the EPA moved to announce in 1986 that "the manufacture, processing, and distribution in commerce of PCBs at concentrations of 50 parts per million or greater . . . present an unreasonable risk of injury to health within the United States"? Four north- and west-side spill sites had PCB concentrations of more than 2,000 parts per million, according to EPA documents: Walnut and Wood, Belden and Nagle, Jarvis and Ridge, and Kilbourn and Chicago (where the first spill occurred February 17, 1979).

Low-income 18- to 21-year-olds can cram for the GED (high school equivalency certificate) with the free help of the Jobs for Youth Learning Center, 67 E. Madison, room 1900, which claims "a GED pass rate of more than 85 percent--compared to a citywide average pass rate of less than 10 percent."

"Sawyer's reluctance to fire Cokely demonstrates how extremism enters the mainstream political system," writes Jonathan Brent in the New Republic (August 8 and 15). "His weak and indecisive manner, his lame excuses for both Cokely and himself--such as declaring that Cokely didn't really 'mean in his heart' what he had said about Jews--exposed the moral and political inadequacy of his administration, but it also indicated the immense pressures under which he must work. Although Farrakhan's separatist and extremist group, before whom Cokely delivered his speeches, is estimated to have no more than 5,000 to 10,000 adherents, no black leader in Chicago, including Jesse Jackson, could openly repudiate Cokely's anti-Semitic propaganda. By not opposing Cokely's statements directly and immediately dismissing him, Sawyer legitimized them. . . . if the political consensus on which his administration was built were strong, he would not have felt the need to equivocate and delay."

Don't look now, but Adams and Wacker are flying around somewhere over your head. They're the two peregrine falcons raised in a nest this spring and summer on the clifflike ledge of the Northern Trust Building as part of Chicago Peregrine Release--the first successful nest in Illinois by these birds since 1951.

No writers' strike, either. "I'm turning to religion," novelist Mark Jacobson was quoted recently in Martin Marty's newsletter Context. "For if a mythic value system is going to be involuntarily absorbed by a kid of mine, I'd rather it be a 2,500-year-old mythos, the product of the constant working and reworking of the most creative minds of a society, than a tinny narrative worked up during a 20-minute meeting in a sleek-lined NBC story-conference room."

"The cowbird, you see, is a cunning parasite," writes James Krohe Jr. in Illinois Times (July 28-August 3). "They lay their eggs (as many as twenty per season) in the nests of other birds. The unwitting hosts hatch the cowbird's eggs and feed the larger, more aggressive cowbird chicks at the expense of their own young. (If ever a bird was born a symbol of the suburbs, it is the brownheaded cowbird.)"

"Between 1986 and 1987, administrative costs at CHA increased from 30.7 percent to 38.1 percent [an increase of $11.2 million]," reports the Chicago Urban League in Chicago's Public Housing Crisis: Causes and Solutions. "In January 1988, in an effort to balance the budget, the agency laid off 45 craftsmen, but no administrators."

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): illustration/Carl Kock.

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