[snip] When headlines are all you need. Consecutive headlines in the online version of Education Week (September 1): “Most in Ed. Dept. [the U.S. Department of Education] Are Paid Bonuses for Performance,” followed by “Study Finds Teachers Are Losing Ground on Salary Front.”

Who’s doing something about those outrageously unconstitutional “free-speech areas”? The Roger Baldwin Foundation of the ACLU of Illinois. According to its 2003-’04 annual report, it’s now “actively engaged in discovery” in a lawsuit against the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority, challenging its “ban on expressive activity inside and outside McCormick Place unless the activity was conducted in an inadequate ‘designated area’ far from the facility.”

Breaking news from the D School. John J. Collins, who teaches the Old Testament at Yale’s Divinity School, writes in the school publication “Reflections” (quoted in Martin Marty’s “Context,” September), “The Bible has contributed to violence in the world precisely because it has been taken to confer a degree of certitude that transcends human discussion and argumentation. Perhaps the most constructive thing a biblical interpreter can do toward lessening the contribution of the Bible to violence in the world is to show that that certitude is an illusion.”

“Had the international legal standards for preemptive warfare been met, it could plausibly be argued that America’s invasion of Iraq was not imperial in nature,” writes former U.S. senator and presidential candidate Gary Hart in Salon (August 18). But they weren’t and it was. “That traditional standard permits preemptive action where a threat is ‘immediate and unavoidable,’ a standard clearly not met where Iraq is concerned. So, much else is at work here: the fanciful, but not idealistic, notion that the United States can invade and occupy a nation situated in the center of the complex and troubled Middle East, install a favorable democratic government, and use its position as a friendly military occupier to condition the behavior of neighboring nations. . . . This project has at least two fatal flaws. It is an act of empire. And it was never disclosed to the American people so that they, acting in their capacity as popular sovereigns, could ratify it.”