How big a battle is 17 percent? The Chicago New Party’s spin on 17th Ward aldermanic candidate Chuck Kelly’s 17 percent showing against a Daley-backed candidate in the April election: “The New Party and its allies sent a message to Mayor Daley that nothing will be conceded to him and his allies without a fight.”

One of the few benefits of segregation. “The lack of association between the location of CERCLIS [Superfund] sites and the residence patterns of African Americans owes much to the restricted areas where African Americans were forced to live early in the century,” write Brett Baden and Don Coursey of the U. of C. in their pathbreaking study on urban waste sites, released April 3. “The historically residential area from approximately 31st Street South to 71st Street South and from Lake Michigan to I-90/94 was never industrially developed, nor has it received hazardous waste. The fact that a significant portion of the African American population lives in that area, and that it still remains relatively free of hazards, weakens the hypothesis that discriminatory environmental practices have occurred against African Americans.”

Breastfeeding is back and close to its all-time 1982 highs, according to a study published in the suburban-based Pediatrics Electronic Pages (April). Almost 60 percent of new mothers now breastfeed in the hospital, and about 20 percent still do so at six months. (In 1971 the figures were roughly 25 percent and 5 percent.) A decline during the late 1980s has been completely reversed and increases registered even among those least likely to breastfeed, including black women, those under age 20, those working full time, and southerners.

Um, we defer to minority leadership except when we think they’re wrong. “The Illinois Black Legislative Caucus has joined in an effort to site a new $69 million prison in the Chicago areas they represent. They cited economic development reasons for seeking the prison,” reports Doug Dobmeyer in Poverty Issues… Dateline Illinois (April 13), adding, “The move has caused turbulence to erupt within liberal progressive groups.”

Where the good times aren’t rolling. “In 1996, Chicago’s unemployment rate exceeded 9 percent in three ZIP codes that include Austin, Humboldt Park and South Shore,” reports Danielle Gordon in the Chicago Reporter (March). “Three other mostly black ZIP codes exceeded 8 percent unemployment.” (In Cook County as a whole the figure is 5.5 percent.) “These numbers … include only the 40 percent of unemployed who involuntarily lost their jobs and therefore qualify for state unemployment insurance.”

Just think–if we didn’t have a federally funded space program, giant lumber companies would have to pay for their own rockets to conduct vital research. Georgia-Pacific sent four eight-inch loblolly pine seedlings aloft in the space shuttle Columbia recently, in “a study of how weightlessness affects wood and lignin production in this Southern tree species.”

As the Worm turns. Rudolph Learning Center principal Mary Walsh’s hands “trembled” as she opened the envelope from Chicago Bulls forward Dennis Rodman. It was his paycheck from the February 22 game against the Golden State Warriors–$52,439.02 payable to the school for the physically challenged on North Paulina–one of eleven donations he had promised when suspended earlier this year. Said Walsh, “It was a pretty awesome experience, because you never see checks in this amount.” Not if you’re teaching anyway (Chicago Educator, April 2).

I’m not a scientist but I play one for a living. Percentage of U.S. middle school science teachers with science degrees: 21 (Christian Science Monitor, March 13).

Things liberals don’t want to know: Maybe the War on Poverty was a draw. In a preliminary report, Christopher Jencks (formerly of Northwestern, now Harvard) and Susan Mayer (University of Chicago) find that official statistics showing child poverty up from 14 to 19 percent in the last 30 years are pretty dubious. According to NU’s Institute for Policy Research News (Fall), “When they compared ‘consumption poverty’ to ‘income poverty,’ they found that, in some respects, children’s living conditions had improved since 1970. For example, low-income children saw doctors more often, lived in less-crowded housing, and were more likely to have telephones and modern sewage and plumbing systems. Much of this material improvement in children’s lives occurred during the 1970s, the authors say, but it has not declined notably since then.”