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In Fact...

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GAY RIGHTS IN ALABAMA

Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore, who defied a 1994 federal court ruling prohibiting him from displaying the Ten Commandments in a state courtroom by placing a 5,280-pound granite replica of the tablets in the state's Supreme Court rotunda, is back in the news. Relying mainly on Blackstone's eighteenth-century text, Moore denied a lesbian mother custody of her child. Calling homosexuality an "inherent evil," he said the state "carries the power of the sword...to prohibit conduct with physical penalties, such as confinement and even execution. It must use that power to prevent the subversion of children toward this lifestyle, to not encourage a criminal lifestyle." Moore's attorney (judges are forbidden to comment on rulings) took issue with the persisting impression that the judge was calling for the execution of homosexuals. (Clip from John Earl)

THOUGHT-CRIMINALS BLOTTER

Anthony Arnove, Noam Chomsky's editor at South End Press, tells us that the MIT linguistics professor and activist attended the February 13 trial of Fatih Tas of Aram Publishing House, the Istanbul-based publisher of Chomsky's American Interventionism. Charges of printing "propaganda against the indivisible unity of [the] country, nation, and State" were dismissed when the hearing opened and Chomsky asked to be tried alongside Tas. "If [Chomsky] hadn't been here, we wouldn't have expected such a verdict," said Tas. The Security Court has now opened an investigation charging Chomsky with "fomenting separatism" in a talk he gave in Diyarbakir.... Another of Arnove's writers at odds with the law, Arundhati Roy (The God of Small Things), has served a one-day sentence and paid a $42 fine after being found guilty of contempt for criticizing a ruling by India's Supreme Court. The court said it had imposed a lenient sentence because Roy "is a woman." Unchastened, Roy said she neither apologizes nor accepts the court's judgment.

A MIND ON DRUGS IS A TERRIBLE THING

Ben Shouse writes: Remember those Super Bowl ads that asked, "Where do terrorists get their money? If you buy drugs, some of it might come from you"? That $10 million taxpayer-funded ad campaign, brought to you by the Office of National Drug Control Policy, is winding down--so The Nation's Office of Logical Extensions has a suggestion. Since oil is the main revenue stream for the Saudis who fund Al Qaeda, the tagline for the next round of ads could be: "Where do terrorists get their money? If you drive an SUV, some of it might come from you."

...AND THE POOR GET AUDITED

It's no secret that the number of well-off people who are audited by the IRS has declined dramatically in recent years. Back in 1988 1 in 9 people who made more than $100,000 a year had their tax returns perused by a hard-eyed IRS agent, often in person ( 1 in 63 audits were face to face in 1982 compared with 1 in 625 in 2001). Last year 1 in 208 people making over $100,000 was audited. Audits of the working poor, in contrast, were up 48.6 percent in 2001. One in 315 poor taxpayers was audited--accounting for 55 percent of all audits in 2001. The IRS claimed that the extra snooping was necessary because of overpayments of earned-income tax credits, but a story in the New York Times (March 1) suggests that its figures were greatly inflated.

NEWS OF THE WEAK IN REVIEW

ABC was so eager to sacrifice Nightline for David Letterman, it ended up trashing the show. CBS was so eager to keep Letterman it ended up agreeing to cut local news rather than delay his start time. Bottom line: News always loses.

The INS was so busy rounding up aliens on suspicion of terrorism that only in early March did it send out flight-school student visas to Mohamed Atta and Marwan Al-Shehhi, who had graduated long ago--after learning enough to crash two planes into the World Trade Center.

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