Reparations from the briny deep? Kevin Clarke writes in U.S. Catholic (February), “It is estimated that as many as 600 Spanish ships sank in the coastal waters of the Caribbean and America’s Southeast during Spain’s colonial era…. Last summer, a Virginia courthouse turned the world of offshore salvage upside down by declaring Spain the rightful owner of two wrecks that lie just off the U.S. coast near Virginia,” rather than the salvagers who found them. “Spain was joined in this court battle by Britain and the United States. All three nations may be eager to recover thousands of ships that lie, owing to new technology, no longer irretrievably in the ocean depths…. Considering the suffering of the indigenous peoples and enslaved Africans who extracted the gold and silver that made its way to Spain…a Spanish claim to any recovered wealth may prove both legally and morally difficult to justify. And if the treasure is someday awarded to the ‘survivors’ of colonial Spain, who would receive it and in what form?”
As others see us. Richard Neuhaus, New York-based editor of the conservative religious magazine First Things, wrote a review of American Pharaoh in the December issue and found it simplistic: “To make the story of Richard J. Daley dull is a disappointment. To make the great city of Chicago dull is an unforgivable achievement.”
Not equal yet. According to the National Institute of Justice’s November 2000 report on the National Violence Against Women Survey (conducted in 1995 and ’96), “22.1 percent of surveyed women, compared with 7.4 percent of surveyed men, reported they were physically assaulted by a current or former spouse, cohabiting partner, boyfriend or girlfriend, or date in their lifetime.”
From the lake file. According to the Grand Rapids Press (January 12), surveys at 33 Michigan ports on Lake Michigan showed that anglers caught 14.9 fish per 100 hours spent fishing last season, the highest rate in recent years. Fewer people were fishing too. In 1986, when the success rate was 14.7, anglers spent seven million hours on the water; this past year they spent just three million.
BP Amoco–saint or sinner? That’s a no-brainer, according to anticorporate journalists Russell Mokhiber and Robert Weissman, who include the Chicago-based oil giant on their list of the “ten worst corporations of 2000” published in the December issue of Multinational Monitor (www.essential.org/ monitor/mm2000/00december/ enemies.html). Most notably, they write, the company had to shell out $32 million in April for underpaying royalties on oil produced on federal and Indian lands since 1988. And in July it agreed to pay $10 million to settle violations of the Clean Air Act and to spend $500 million more to improve pollution controls on nine refineries. Not mentioned in the story: BP Amoco has broken with the fossil-fuel industry and has stopped denying that global warming is a problem; it has joined the Midwest Global Warming Leadership Council, under the auspices of Chicago’s Environmental Law and Policy Center.
We’re number 30, but on our way up. According to figures compiled by the downstate Wendell Cox Consultancy (www. publicpurpose.com), residents of Chicago and northwest Indiana averaged 20.5 vehicle miles per person per day of travel in 1999, well behind Houston (37.1) and Atlanta (34.2); we even used cars less than the supposed rail-transit mecca of Portland-Vancouver (23.2). But Chicago is 11th on the list of growth in travel, with vehicle miles per capita per day up about 44 percent between 1982 and 1997.
Protection money. Why do the Associated Beer Distributors of Illinois give so much money to state political campaigns? “Candidates for public office rarely run on pro- or anti-beer platforms,” observes University of Illinois political scientist Kent Redfield in his new book Money Counts: How Dollars Dominate Illinois Politics and What We Can Do About It. “Other than taxes, few ‘beer’ issues come up in the General Assembly. The beer distributors are not fighting other interests for a share of the state budget.” In fact, “they really do not care who gets elected to the legislature or elected governor, as long as they can establish a good relationship with those elected officials…. Generally, they just want to be left alone.”