“No other building of any type better expresses the zeitgeist,” writes Joseph Frey of the new Soldier Field in Dialogue magazine (September/October). “Chicago’s new football stadium is the ultimate setting for the…corporate gladiatorial contests that are professional football.”

The welfare-reform wave. Participation in the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program continued to decline during 2002 and early 2003. The real-life undertow. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities writes in a September 4 report (“Falling TANF Caseloads Amidst Rising Poverty Should Be a Cause of Concern”) that child poverty rose during 2002. Unemployment among single mothers rose from 6.9 to 9 percent between 2000 and 2002. And the number of families with incomes less than half the official poverty line ($7,135 in 2001 for a family of three) increased by about 400,000 between 2000 and 2001.

Lest we forget. From the fall “Insites,” newsletter of the Chicago Architecture Foundation: “Michigan Avenue is one of only five streets in the world where a wall of buildings faces parkland and water.”

Whoops, we just globalized destructive pests. A September 5 General Accounting Office report, “Perspectives on Invasive Species,” states that over half the state officials who responded to its survey on problems with invasive species said that “international trade agreements make it difficult to regulate products that may introduce invasive species because, for example, the trade agreements do not consider invasive species.”

In a sentence. From Christian Parenti, writing in the September 8 In These Times: “According to the [Baghdad] city morgue, there were 470 fatal shootings in July, up from 10 the year before.”

Sauce for the goose. Following wealthy coast dwellers’ protests, Massachusetts senator Ted Kennedy is supporting a federal legislative proposal that would require local governing bodies to approve new wind farms, but not any other kind of energy installation (Cape Cod Times, July 25).

Sauce for the gander. If that becomes law, writes James Taylor, in the September issue of the Heartland Institute’s “Environment & Climate News,” the same requirement should apply elsewhere: “The federal government will no longer tell farmers and ranchers that the rights of endangered species will take priority over customary uses of their land, unless local residents so approve; [and] if the citizens of Alaska and their elected officials believe it is possible to explore for oil while simultaneously protecting nearby caribou, the federal government will not ban such exploration, unless local residents accede to such a ban.”

Is Jim Ryan governor? The director of the Illinois Housing and Development Authority won’t talk to the Associated Press about Governor Blagojevich’s decision to remove $5 million from the State Housing Trust Fund, and Blagojevich’s budget spokesman says it’s just extra money that wasn’t earmarked for housing poor people. But when publicist-consultant Doug Dobmeyer talked to his sources at IHDA he heard differently, as he reports in a September 2 e-mail memo: “You can expect fewer applications to be approved, which will result in 350-400 fewer housing units in 6-7 projects because of the $5 million cut.”

Formerly known as the land of the free. “In its most recent report on human rights in Libya, the U.S. State Department noted that ‘reports of torture were difficult to corroborate because many prisoners were held incommunicado.'” So writes Amnesty International in its August 19 report, “The Threat of a Bad Example–Undermining International Standards as ‘War on Terror’ Detentions Continue.” “Its entry on Egypt notes that ‘incommunicado detention is authorized for prolonged periods and frequently accompanied allegations of torture.’ Detainees undergoing interrogation in Bagram Air Base are alleged to have been held in prolonged incommunicado detention and subjected to cruel treatment. Other detainees held in undisclosed locations [and at Guantanamo Bay] have been denied access to the outside world. The USA cannot claim to be leading the struggle against torture by example, when the example it is setting is one of using prolonged incommunicado detention. Transparency, access and accountability are the most effective measures against torture and ill-treatment.”