Warning: Getting busted may result in extrajudicial punishment. Danielle Gordon writes in the Chicago Reporter (March): “Between January 1990 and September 1998, 177 African Americans, 80 whites and one Asian American died in police custody or jail in Cook County.” Most died of natural causes, though there were 78 homicides and suicides, and “in 14 incidents, death was related to the victims being restrained by police.”

Love bugs, don’t poison them. The American Nursery & Landscape Association offers this tip for people who want to attract butterflies to their gardens (“Discover the…Pleasure of Gardening,” January): “The most critical tenet is simple, yet difficult for some–don’t spray pesticides!”

Must have been crowded down there. In 1973 Wicker Park was different, writes Rob Kaiser in the preview issue of Urban Explorer. “There were armed robberies, homicides and sexual predators hiding under the El platform.”

Church eternal, teaching changeable. Notre Dame professor R. Scott Appleby writes in U.S. Catholic (April) on the milestone 1965 Vatican proclamation Dignitatis humanae, which held that people had the inherent right to choose their religion: “It is difficult to overstate the significance of this event, which amounted to a highly un-Catholic admission that the church could change its teaching when that teaching was no longer seen to uphold cardinal principles of the apostolic faith. From at least the 13th century until December 7, 1965, Roman Catholicism had formally denied civil and other human rights to non-Catholics by teaching, in effect, that ‘theological error has no rights’ in a properly governed (i.e., Roman Catholic) state. Now a new era had apparently dawned….The Roman Catholic Church aligned itself not with states but with peoples, and became the world’s foremost champion of human rights and religious freedom.”

“When Second Harvest was founded, the dedicated people that began the effort felt their work would be temporary,” according to “Second Harvest Update” (Winter). “In 1979, most of the volunteers who sorted cans at the food bank or served meals at the kitchens assumed that they wouldn’t be needed after the economy improved. Now, twenty years later, it is clear that this is not the case. Since the economic expansion started in 1993 and unemployment rates began to plummet, the number of Americans that live at or below the federal poverty threshold has barely dropped by one percentage point…between 1993 and 1997.”

Chicken Little learns meteorology. This from a March 10 National Science Foundation press release: “Updated poll finds Americans’ fear of possible ‘Y2K’ problems falls as awareness level rises.” Still, two-thirds of those polled think that Y2K problems could last “several weeks” to “several months to a year.”

Hello, I’m from the government and I’m here to listen to you–cash only, please. The Washington Post’s Juliet Eilperin reports in the March 15 national edition that suburban representative Dennis Hastert, as the new speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, “has begun offering industry lobbyists the kind of deal they like: private audiences where, for a price, they can voice their views on what kind of agenda the 106th Congress should pursue.”

People Hastert won’t be talking to anytime soon. As part of a major study of the effects of welfare reform on children, university researchers, including William Julius Wilson, convened 15 focus groups of current and former welfare recipients in Baltimore, Boston, and Chicago in late 1996 and 1997. “The majority of the participants favored time limits on welfare receipt….They viewed the new provisions as providing them with the motivation to find jobs and improve their lives.” A majority also favored “family cap” provisions, which deny additional assistance to mothers who have more children while they’re on welfare (“What Welfare Recipients and the Fathers of Their Children Are Saying About Welfare Reform,” June 1998, www.jhu.edu/-welfare/).

Schizophrenic in the suburbs. The winter 1999 issue of “Everyday Democracy,” published by the Elmhurst-based Citizen Advocacy Center, supports both an end to suburban sprawl in the Chicago area and an end to tolls on the tollways–which would encourage even more driving and more dispersed development.