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Dispatches Quick Takes


"SOME" DISAGREEMENT? The University of Minnesota is reviewing its publishing division after it agreed to publish a new book that advocates sex between adults and minors. Reporter Terry Collins writes in the Minneapolis Star Tribune that an outside panel will look into the University of Minnesota Press as a result of protests against Judith Levine's Harmful to Minors: The Perils of Protecting Children from Sex. Ms. Levine claims that abstinence-only sex education is misguided and suggests that adults exaggerate the threat of pedophilia and molestation by strangers. Conservatives and others had wanted the book yanked and the academic bureaucrats who commissioned it fired. But Christine Maziar, the university vice president who oversees the publisher, still defended the publication. She told the paper that the press does not necessarily endorse Ms. Levine's book, but seeks to raise controversial issues. "It takes a lot of courage for an individual or an institution to give voice to opinion and ideas where there is some disagreement," she said.

THE FARM TEAM: The Anaheim Angels' Kevin Appier is collecting $32 million in his four-year pitching contract. He has also taken home thousands in farm subsidies thanks to the federal government, according to the New York Post's Billy Heller. The reporter calls the payments a strikeout for taxpayers. The subsidized farm, located about an hour from Kansas City's Kauffman Stadium, grows soybeans, corn, and other crops. "Since 1996, the federal government has given Appier $4,042 in price supports and other agricultural assistance programs," Mr. Heller writes. "So far this year, he's received $629.67-for a loan-deficiency payment." He notes another of the millionaires collecting money from the Agriculture Department: ex-Enron head honcho Ken Lay.

PIGGING OUT: $750,000 for jazz education in Idaho; $5.67 million for wood research; $450,000 to restore chimneys in Georgia. These grants are just part of $20.1 billion in pork-barrel projects listed in the new Pig Book from Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW). The worst culprits, according to CAGW, are Sens. Byrd, Stevens, Inouye, Shelby, and Cochran, making the problem bipartisan, according to the group's president, Thomas A. Schatz. He said a nation in crisis should take spending issues more seriously. "Here we are, a nation at war, and yet Republicans and Democrats pass record levels of pork," Mr. Schatz said in a statement. "Our representatives and senators should be ashamed, especially the appropriators."

VOODOO ECONOMICS: The National Labor Relations Board has inquired into charges that a labor union used superstition to organize employees at a Miami nursing home, according to a UPI report. The home's management complained that staffers voted to organize after being harassed and intimidated by organizers for the Service Employees International Union. The case involves the mostly Haitian employees at Mt. Sinai-St. Francis Nursing and Rehabilitation Center. "Dietary workers at the center testified [at NLRB hearings] that pennies would appear on the floor and half-filled cups of water would occasionally appear on a high shelf in the break room," the report says. "Several workers testified they were afraid to touch them because they were symbols of black magic."

YOU'VE COME A LONG WAY, KEMOSABE: Will the next Tonto be a girl? Variety's Claude Brodesser reported last month that Columbia Pictures bought the rights for a new Lone Ranger movie and that one Sony executive "predicted a lithe, buxom female might even play the part of Tonto." The Lone Ranger started in radio back in 1933 and is most remembered for the hit TV show of the 1950s. The character sat in obscurity after the release of the disastrous 1981 movie, The Legend of the Lone Ranger. "The 70-year-old tale ... will need some freshening, which the studio is ready to do," Mr. Brodesser wrote.

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