Friday, February 6, 2004
1. PRIMARY SCOOP: "ALL THE NEWS THAT'S FIT TO PRINT" - AND MORE.
Like other Americans, we at What's New follow the Presidential Primaries closely. But where could we turn to get beyond campaign rhetoric to the very character of the candidates? The New York Times, of course, the venerable "gray lady" of newspapers. We hear they've had some problems at the Times lately, but they sure scooped the competition with this one. It was on the op-ed page, which is not easy to get on. "The Stars Have Voted" by Erin Sullivan, relies on astrological charts of Democratic candidates. Did you know you can learn all about people if you just know their birthdays? It turns out the paper, then called the Daily Times, began on 18 Sep 1851. That makes the New York Times a Virgo, the only zodiacal sign represented by a woman. She is somewhat older and intelligent, but she can be rather pedantic and spinsterish. Yeah, that's the New York Times all right. But what if it's not true that a person's character is determined by their birth date? Wouldn't that mean the story was made up?
2. NUCLEAR WEAPONS: OFFICIALS THROW YELLOW FLAG IN THE END ZONE.
The Defense Authorization lifted a decades-old ban on research into low-yield nuclear weapons, blurring the distinction between conventional and nuclear (WN 28 Nov 03). Pentagon Hawks could not suppress their glee. Linton Brooks, head of the National Nuclear Security Administration, sent a memo to weapons lab directors urging them to take advantage of the change before Congress spells out what "advanced concepts" are (WN 19 Dec 03). Brooks' end-zone celebration did not go unnoticed. Last week, Congressional leaders accused Brooks of bad faith. "We took you at your word that you were willing to redefine Advanced Concepts ...it's now apparent that those were hollow assurances." That's about as strong as language ever gets in this town.
3. CREATIONISM: "MONKEYS-TO-MAN SORT OF THING" IS UNDER ATTACK.
Guidelines proposed for science classes in Georgia omitted the word "evolution." After the Atlanta Journal-Constitution published an article about the proposed changes, the state's superintendent of schools, Kathy Cox explained that evolution is "a buzz word that causes a lot of negative reaction." It was replaced with "changes over time." But by Thursday, following a flood of criticism, she was recommending "evolution" be restored. Former President Jimmy Carter had said that he was embarrassed for the state. Governor Sonny Perdue said restoring the word "evolution" was "the right thing to do." Meanwhile in Ohio, creationists are again seeking to force their religious views into public school classrooms, this time through the back door. Lesson plans up for approval at an Ohio Board of Education meeting on Monday and Tuesday include intelligent design, as well as young-Earth creationism. The cases in Georgia and Ohio once again make it clear that for science education to remain free of religious dictates, we must stay informed and organized.