Teachers want age ratings on girls’ teen magazines

The UK Independent has a story about teachers objecting to pre-teen girls reading magazines such as Cosmo Girl due to sexual content.

Ralph Surman, deputy headteacher of Cantrell primary school, Nottingham, said young children were being exposed to “a high level of continuous harm”.

Mr Surman said he did not blame parents, who took the magazines on trust, but added: “I think the publishers should get their act together.” He said that he had spoken to newsagents who said they would welcome a system under which the magazines would have stamped on the front cover the age group they were suitable for. Some newsagents had refused to sell the magazines to young girls. “A certification system would give some teeth to that structure and avoid confrontation over the counter,” he said.

Charles Clarke, the Secretary of State for Education, said he had every sympathy with the teachers’ complaints. However, it was not within his remit to introduce a ratings system.

Representatives of the magazines said they were aimed at 14-year-olds and above. They could not be responsible for policing who bought them.

Nixon Library likely to get big influx of material

An Anonymous Patron sent in this story about a huge transfer of materials from the National Archives to the Richard Nixon Library and Birthplace.

With the stroke of President Bush’s pen, possibly as early as this month, archivists will begin the long and arduous task of preparing every last bit of Nixon materials – a cache that could fill 13 swimming pools – for shipment to the private Richard Nixon Library and Birthplace in Yorba Linda, Calif.

But the impending move, set in motion by Reps. Tom Davis, R-Va., and Gary Miller, R-Calif., is as controversial as it is historic.

Nixon’s voluminous materials have remained in the Washington area for the past 30 years for a reason: because Congress decided in the wake of Watergate that neither the disgraced former president nor his family could be trusted with them.

Now the archivists in charge of overseeing the move are proceeding with caution. Nixon historians, however, are downright worried that the new guardians – Nixon’s family and former aides – will choke off access to the collection and frustrate future releases.

E-mail scam uses anti-terrorism hook

A new identity theft scam sends an email accusing the recipient of violating the PATRIOT Act and then threatens to revoke her FDIC Insurance.
CNN has the story.

The fraudulent message appears to be from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) and asks people to verify their identity by clicking on a bogus Web link.

“In cooperation with the Department of Homeland Security, Federal, State and Local Governments [sic] your account has been denied insurance from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation due to suspected violations of the Patriot Act,” the fraudulent e-mail states.

It goes on to claim that the person’s deposit insurance will be suspended until certain private information, such as a bank account number, is submitted.

SBC returns unused e-rate money

First, there was the story about an Congressional investigation into fraud claims surrounding use of e-rate funds by the Chicago public school system.

With a public hearing looming in February, the probe is centering on approximately $5 million of equipment supplied by telecom carrier SBC to the Chicago school system that is still sitting in a warehouse.

SBC said in a statement that the company “voluntarily brought this matter to the attention of the FCC” and to the staff of the Oversight and Investigations Committee.

A favorite target of Republicans, Billy Tauzin began investigating the E-rate fund in March of last year following a January 2003 report by the Center for Public Integrity, a nonprofit “public service journalism” organization that said the fund was “honeycombed” with fraud.

“We’re not trying to kill the program, but clean it up,” Ken Johnson, a spokesperson for the House Energy and Commerce Committee told “In the past it has been riddled with fraud, waste and abuse and we can already prove consumers have been ripped off for millions and millions of dollars. We want to put safeguards in place to avoid this in the future.”

On the next day, there’s another story about SBC returning almost $8 million in e-rate money.

The Paper Chase

An Alternet article by
Monte Paulsen of the Dragonfly Review of Books discussing the impact of publishers not using recycled paper.

Ninety-five percent of the paper on which U.S. books are printed is made from virgin fiber. That added up to almost a million tons of paper in 2001, according to the American Forest and Paper Association.

This shameful story brightened just a bit during 2003, when one edition of “Harry Potter and the Order Of the Phoenix” was released on recycled paper. British author J.K. Rowling asked that her bestselling novels be produced on recycled paper. Her American publisher, Scholastic Inc., ignored her request. (Apparently, Scholastic’s mission to “educate, entertain and motivate children” does not include enlightening them about real-world woodlands.) But Rowling’s Canadian publisher behaved like a wizard. Vancouver-based Raincoast Books released “Order of the Phoenix” on 100-percent post-consumer recycled paper.

U.S. gives college $7.5 million to build `environmentally friendly’ library

From the Chicago Tribune:

Officials at tiny Judson College, an evangelical Christian school in Elgin, hope a $7.5 million federal grant for a new “environmentally friendly” library and academic center will bring the institution recognition for energy-efficient architecture.

The money, secured by U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.), in whose district the college is located, will go toward construction of a $16 million library and division of art, design and architecture.

Judson President Jerry Cain believes the 80,000-square-foot building will set the standard for environmentally friendly buildings. “This will raise our profile and will position us as a leader in environmental architecture,” he said.

Seven dirty words or any combination thereof

Fang-Face writes The First Amendment Center has an article about banning six of George Carlin’s dirty words, and one substitution. In place of using the word XXXs (mammaries), the bill proposes to outlaw the anglo-saxon basic word for the anus instead. Either as a complete word or in a hyphenated or disjointed sequence. The language of the bill is here, including the specific words being banned by fiat. So we may yet see a world with Seven (Or More) Words You Cannot Say On Television.

Note to the hypersensitive: you are forewarned that the bill includes “bad” language. If you are easily offended, then don’t read that bill. It’s that simple.

In the Master’s Voice, Old Books Live Again

A NY Times story about the “Spoken Word” CD series from the British Library’s sound archives which features writers reading their books. Some of the writers recorded are J.R.R. Tolkien, Virginia Woolf, and Arthur Conan Doyle.

One of the great surprises is finding which writers actually do voices and which don’t. When A. A. Milne reads from “Winnie-the-Pooh,” his creations sound like Victorian gents — soothing, paternal Victorian gents reading a bedtime story, it’s true, but rather Victorian nonetheless.

“He gave a little squeak of excitement,” Milne reads about Piglet spotting a paw print, yet sounding not very excited at all.

Ghanaian public libraries crisis

Two sad articles about the state of libraries in Ghana.
and: Ghanaweb

The MP for Hohoe South, Mr. Kosi Kedem has appealed to government and parliament to go to the rescue of public libraries whose state he described as “extremely alarming and an embarrassment to the country.”

“Most of the qualified professional librarians have deserted. Right now, there are only five professionals instead of a minimum requirement of 62. The staff is so underpaid that there is no motivation for work”.

The situation, he added was so bad that the board could not fulfill the barest minimum condition needed to retrieve donor funding from the Carnegie Corporation of the USA to fund the establishment of a national library in Ghana which was contingent upon the rehabilitation of the public libraries.