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And a happy new year to you too. Southern Illinois University veterinarian David Lane on holiday hazards to pets, from ornaments to spicy dressing: "I always see a surge in vomiting dogs around Christmas."

Some of us can just go home for the holidays to experience this. In January the Brookfield Zoo will offer a toddler program called "Primate Family Reunion."

The homelessness industry is "probably experiencing a bigger growth rate than any of the major industries right now," Jack Graham, executive director of H.O.M.E. (Homeless on the Move for Equality) tells Jan Spence in StreetWise (December). "If the money from the state were given to the homeless, they could own apartments. There wouldn't be any salaried jobs of $50,000 to $60,000 to assist the homeless. We should start to train homeless people to design homeless programs. Let them do the salary structure, the policies, the whole thing."

The chaos next time, according to Linda Lenz and Lorraine Forte in Catalyst (December): "A little-noticed provision in the school borrowing package approved last month by the Legislature is cause for concern. It gives the School Finance Authority the power to adopt a 'provisional budget' that would allow schools to open pending adoption of a final, balanced budget. People familiar with the provision and its history downplay it, saying the provision is simply language left over from earlier discussions....But it's also an invitation for the unions and legislators to take more time to get what they want, leaving chaos in their wake."

Glowing report on the lake. The Lake Michigan Federation's Lake Michigan Monitor (Summer & Fall) reports unseemly doings across the water near Covert, Michigan, where Consumers Power runs the Palisades nuclear plant and plans to store radioactive waste in dubious "dry casks" indefinitely: "On July 1, Consumers Power discovered a highly radioactive object in its refueling containment area at the Palisades site. The object has been determined to be a fuel rod from the reactor assembly. Three pieces of the fuel rod have been recovered, but Consumers Power has been unable to account for some fuel pellets from the damaged rod....At a public meeting held July 20, the NRC [Nuclear Regulatory Commission] and Consumers Power officials still could not account for two pounds of the missing fuel pellets."

Will Billary's health plan screw the cities? That's the claim of Elizabeth McCaughey (who, in fairness, would probably oppose the plan no matter what) in the Wall Street Journal (November 22): The Health Security Bill "shifts medical costs now paid by the federal government, including a large part of Medicaid, onto the alliances....The reductions in federal spending are called 'savings' by the Clinton administration, but the costs are just shifted from the federal budget to the regional alliances, which must pay for everyone's health needs out of local premiums. For example, the $4.9 billion annual cost of caring for 387,450 chronically ill New York City residents will be shifted from Medicaid to local premiums. The cost shift amounts to a hidden new tax on urban residents and employers (mandated to pay 80% of their workers' premiums). It will spur employers to abandon cities."

"Guns and violence are an issue that parents need to have a point of view on, just as they do about sugar cereals and religion," Mary Sinker of the Kohl Children's Museum tells MOMents (December). "It doesn't matter what that view is as long as you are committed to it. When parents give in to violence simply because they can't say no, that is unfortunate."

"Throughout the [National Gay and Lesbian Task Force] conference I found myself wondering what 'The Gay and Lesbian Rights Agenda' really means," writes Keith Hartman in Windy City Times (November 25). "For a number of people, it clearly includes pacifism, defeating NAFTA and voting Democratic. They see these issues as a natural extension of their belief in basic human rights for everybody, gay or straight. The trouble is, these are issues that other reasonable gay men and lesbians, with an equal commitment to human rights, could well disagree with." One confused participant asked Hartman, "Like in the demands for our March on Washington, there was this line about China's most-favored-nation trading status--where the hell did that come from?"

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

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