And now some back-to-school pickings from Special Report's "Political Grapevine."
Getting out of Dodge
Officials at George Washington University in Washington, D.C. have come up with a novel way of avoiding protesters who plan to disrupt an upcoming IMF/World Bank meeting. The university, which is just blocks from the World Bank headquarters, is shutting shouting down and kicking students out for five days. The university's president said he made the decision after talking to D.C. police, who expect up to 100,000 protesters that weekend.
Let's talk about sex
Arizona State University has attracted some unwanted attention for putting together a four-credit course titled "Sexuality in the Media." Students study X-rated films and media representations of male and female bodies on video and the Internet. One state legislator says it's annoying that tax dollars are being spent on pornography when the state is facing budget problems, leaving open the question of whether he thinks the course would be appropriate during good economic times. There's no such doubt in the mind of ASU President Lattie Coor, who has described the course as a "reasonable and appropriate course of study."
First-rate funding for a second-hand problem
Meanwhile, the Nevada School of Medicine has received more than $2 million in federal funds to study the effects of second-hand smoke on casino card dealers. Nevada has the most adult smokers in the nation. And the research project is the first major study into the effects of workplace exposure to environmental tobacco smoke. Several casino workers have filed a class action suit against the tobacco industry, claiming that second-hand smoke made them sick. A federal judge dismissed the suit, but attorneys plan to appeal the decision.
Politics doesn't sell?
Finally, protesters are targeting the largest single purchaser of public school textbooks: the Texas Board of Education. Conservative critics say middle school science texts are more political than factual, alleging the books feature one-sided rants about global warming, endangered species and land management.
A representative of the publishing industry denies any ulterior political motives behind the books, saying the texts wouldn't sell if they were guilty of that sin.
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