On litigation, cancer, endowments, immigration and Clinton's greatest legacy

Posted: Dec 15, 2005 8:05 AM

Quips, queries, and quotes about news items high and low. . . .

- As talk proceeds about the future of Oceana Naval Air Station in Virginia, and whether to move its jets and personnel first to Jacksonville's Cecil Field and now to a North Carolina site facing environmentalist litigation, the world of military aviation is not alone. Two suburbs and a religious group are suing in federal court over a proposed $15 billion expansion of Chicago's O'Hare International Airport.

- Speaking of litigation, Wendy's - the hamburger (etc.) chain - has won guilty pleas from a woman and her husband to all charges regarding an extortion plot over a human finger they planted in bowl of chili in March. At sentencing, here's to giving them the works.

- Good news regarding cancer: (1) Stanford doctors may have found a method rendering bone-marrow transplants safer and more effective against cancers such as leukemia and non-Hodgkins lymphoma; (2) Researchers for Merck pharmaceuticals may have produced a vaccine possibly 100-percent effective against cervical cancer - currently a killer of about 300,000 women worldwide per year.

- Dan Rather turned up at Fordham's law school recently to lament, complete with suppressed tears, the "new journalistic order" of "dumbed-down, tarted-up" coverage consisting of, e.g., blogs and 24/7 cable shows. And this without any public apology to President Bush for Rather's own shameless smear coverage last year of Bush's National Guard service.

-How did San Diego move from "America's Finest City" (its longtime booster slogan) to the nation's foremost cheapskate city? Partly, in referendum after referendum, through voter approval of programs and services with no corresponding authorization to pay for them. With currently a $1.4-billion budget deficit, San Diego now may have to file bankruptcy.

- Question: Do colleges such as Harvard (endowment $26 billion), Yale ($15 billion), and Stanford ($12 billion) really need to charge any student any tuition for oh, a generation or three?

- And while we're in the realm of numbers, consider this: A study by the Pew Hispanic Center finds that annual immigration to the U.S., legal and illegal, totals about 1.1 million. Whereas, according to a Pew demographer, a century ago "there really wasn't anything like what we call illegal immigration today," illegal immigration (about 560,000 per year) now exceeds legal immigration (about 455,000 per year).

- Bill Clinton is boosting turnout at Hillary's appearances. In Hillary's procession toward a 2008 campaign for the presidency, is she taking a leaf from the book of John Warner? When he first campaigned for his Virginia Senate seat in 1978, Warner took his wife of the hour with him whenever possible. She was, of course, Elizabeth Taylor - and the constant speculation was how many "voters" turned out to hear him compared with the number turning out to glom her.

- A 56-page federally financed study - "Sexual Behavior and Selected Health Measures: Men and Women, 15-44 Years of Age, United States, 2002," released in the fall by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention - informed the world that oral sex is the escalating fashion. The study finds that 12 percent of boys 15-19 years old have engaged in the practice and 10 percent of girls. Feminists are rejoicing in the near-equality of those percentages. Others are asking why the practice is finding such increasing popularity. The answer could be that teenagers are manifesting - taking part in Bill Clinton's greatest legacy.

- It's a legacy certain Chinese, at least, deem marketable. Britain's Sky News brings this datum: The Guangzhou Haojian Bio-Science Co. is selling condoms named for the couple that did perhaps more than any other to make oral sex de riguer - lovers Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky. The "Kelintun" goes for $3.72 a 12-pack, while the Laiwensiji is discounted at $2.35. China's New Express news quotes the company's general manager as explaining: "The names we chose are symbols of people who are responsible and dedicated to their jobs."