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The dangers of compost, according to Mary Phelan and Art Plotnik, quoted in Chicagoland Gardening (September/October): "When you see how beautifully it breaks down one type of waste, you start looking at everything you don't like."

Doctor, do you have a problem with my skin? "What is most striking about this multitude of studies is the consistency of the findings" showing that whites receive better medical care than blacks, writes H. Jack Geiger in the New England Journal of Medicine (September 12). "Researchers have drawn on many different data bases covering every type of acute care hospital, including free-care institutions in the Veterans Affairs system. They have controlled for age, sex, Medicare and other insurance status, income, disease severity, concomitant morbid conditions, and underlying incidence and prevalence rates in the population subgroups under study. Yet the results have almost always pointed in the same direction. In one multihospital study, Kahn et al. found deficiencies in the most basic components of clinical care for black and poor patients as compared with patients who were white and more affluent, although all were Medicare beneficiaries. Numerous other studies have shown that blacks are less likely to receive renal transplants, receive hip or total knee replacements, and undergo gastrointestinal endoscopy, among other procedures, but are more likely to undergo hysterectomy and amputation of the lower limb."

That would be the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches. Reverend Troy Perry, quoted in the Chicago-based Christian Century (September 25-October 20): "If you had told me 28 years ago that the largest organization in the world touching the lives of gays and lesbians would be a church, I would not have believed you."

"The vast pool of appointments at the disposal of the governor creates...a safety net for failed politicians," write Tom Brune and Jennifer Halperin in Illinois Issues (October). "Particularly useful in catching falling political stars are the boards that pay salaries." They also found a better than two-to-one male-to-female ratio in Governor Edgar's appointments to advisory boards and commissions.

Urban high schools are organized for failure, according to Melissa Roderick of the U. of C. (University of Chicago Chronicle, September 26). They're too big and offer too little help. "Students are thrown into chaotic environments that are much larger than their eighth-grade environments"--in Chicago, more than 500 percent bigger. "Even students who enter high school with good math and reading skills and those who attend school regularly face a one in three chance of failing a major subject in the first semester of ninth grade." And then it's tough to recover. "The real failure of high schools is that when 14-year-olds start to mess up--and they will mess up--our high schools are not organized to provide the help they need."

"The NRC [Nuclear Regulatory Commission] talks tough to Com Ed when the media are watching," says David Kraft of the Evanston-based Nuclear Energy Information Service, "but has yet to act tough in implementing even their own questionable standards and regulations." A recent study by the antinuclear Critical Mass Energy Project found that "compared to their own performance during the previous 3-year period, Illinois reactors went down in 57% of the rankings....

Every Com Ed reactor declined in ranking in the area of Worker Exposure to Radiation."

When the Machine ran Chicago, there was an independent political movement to act as its conscience. We're waiting, suburbanites, we're waiting...."The real political machine runs 20 miles west of Chicago in DuPage County," write Victor Crown and Karen Nagel in Illinois Politics (September), "where it is almost impossible to find a living, breathing Democrat....The county board has 24 Republicans (one former Democrat) and no Democrats. Every county office, from recorder of deeds to county clerk to sheriff, is controlled by Republicans. Every legislative and congressional seat, from Addison to Naperville to Wheaton, is controlled by Republicans....Every township office, from supervisor to assessor to highway commissioner, is currently held by a Republican."

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