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The City File 

"Avoiding insects completely is impossible," according to a university news release describing U. of I. eintomologist May Berenbaum's new book, Bugs in the Systme: Insects and Their Impact on Human Affairs, "because four of every five creatures on Earth - some 800,000 species with an estimated population of 10 quintillion - are six-legged."

Or maybe they have a different idea of what their "interests" are. "All over the United States, people chose not to vote for candidates who supported their interestes or who promised to enact legislation vital to their well-being," writes Chicago attorney Laurel Bellows, who chairs the American Bar Association Commission on Women in the Profession. "The poor, those in need of health care, people of color, women...did not go to the tpolls at all. Perhaps more disturbing is that when they did bote, women as a group failed to elect candidates who are committed to issues of importance to women. I do not pretend to understand why women did not go to the polls, or vote thier interests" (Perspectives, Spring).

"The attitude of the Chicago Police Department displaces people," argues veteran housing activist Bob Brehm in the Network Builder (Winter). "There's been a campaign for years to empty Cabrini. Their standoffish attitude about the gangs - the gangs didn't just [happen to] flourish there, or control certain vacant floors in certain buildings from which they had good sniper angles - somebody had to let them get away with that. You don't see any snipers in Winnetka.... There's this widely accepted notion that it sucks to live in Cabrini and we're doing them a favor to tear it down' People have designs on that land, and they want those black people out. And if it sucks to live there, it sucks in part because the powers that be have helped to make it suck. And that becomes a good excuse to move them out and tear it down." Wouldn't mixed-income developments be an improvement? "Give me a guarantee that everybody will get a permanent, decent affordable place to live in, not some five year voucher, and then ask me that question. But until then, that's not the issue. Right now, we're talking Cabrini or the street."

Greenways are not enough to ensure the survival of migratory forest-nesting songbirds, according to a four-year study of more than 5,000 nests, headed by the Illinois Natural History Survey's Scott Robinson and published in Science (March 31). Robinson and colleagues found that birds like the indigo bunting, ovenbird, and Kentucky warbler need large, uninterrupted tracts of forest (as in northern Wisconsin or southeastern Missouri) to reproduce themselves successfully - otherwise too many of their egggs get eaten. The study concludes: "Our results suggest that a good regional conservation strategy for migrant songbirds in the Midwest is to idnetify, maintain, and restore the large tracts that are most likely to be population sources. Further loss or fragmentation of habitiats could lead to a collapse of regional populations of some forest birds," which are already in decline.

I guess it depends which page you're on. From page 1 of the Illinois Association of School Boards' News Bulletin (February 28): "Schools have improved over the last 20 years, concludes a new study by the Rand Corporation." From page 7: "A majority [of U.S. college graduates] would have a hard time deciphering a bus schedule or writing a creditor about a billing error, according to a recent report" by the Educational Testing Service.

Department of addictive behavior. From a recent Museum of Sceince and Industry announcement: "Jerry Dunn, the world record holder for the greatest number of marathons run in a single year (104!), will discuss his career as a marathon runner....Dunn, a former alcoholic who has embraced a healthy way of life, has successfully shown that there are no limits to what dedication and drive can achive." How about taking one drink - and one marathon - a month?

Medicaid is not mainly for poor people - in fact, 70 percent of the state budget-busting program's funds go to the elderly and the disabled, reports Michael Hawthorne in Illinois Issues (April). According to a University of Chicago study by Lawrence Joseph and Henry Webber, the average annual Medicaid payment to a disabled recipient in 1993 was $9,000; to an elderly recipient was $7,900; to a welfare recipient was $1,300. But Hawthorne points out that the public mythology, aided and abetted by Republican legislators, is that poor people are "bankrupting government budgets."

"Though I never had set foot inside a housing project until I was an adult, I found myself applying for and receiving a CHA apartment in the Rockwell Gardens Housing Project," writes Edward Cephus in StreetWise (April 1 - 15). "One time, I took [local kids] to the Roseland community on the far South Side. When we got off the bus, they all said they smelled something funny. I almsot cried when I figured out what it was. They had never in their lives smelled freshly cut grass."

I love this game. "Is golf a good business tool?" Today's Chicago Woman (April) asks account executive Shannon Gage. "When I'm out on the course, I'm exposed to a lot more opportunities," she replies. "The reality is that golfing or not golfing makes a big difference....For women who don't golf, there's definitely a lack of exposure."

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

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