Illustrator: Auth © 2005 The Philadelphia Inquirer. Reprinted with permission of Universal Press Syndicate. All rights reserved.

Auth © 2005 The Philadelphia Inquirer. Reprinted with permission of Universal Press Syndicate. All rights reserved.

Computer Heroics

Kids, geeky grownups, and techies can express their inner superhero instincts with the CD-ROM version of the popular website www.HeroMachine. com. The computer program allows users to personalize superhero characters, complete with physical attributes, costumes, tools, and a sidekick. The website is a smash, recording more than 750,000 hits per month.

Words in Their Mouths

The U.S. Military must make a few official statements of its own in response to questions about two practically identical quotes appearing in two of its press releases. The press releases were written about two separate insurgent incidents in Iraq, the second of which came two weeks after the first. Both quotes were attributed to an “Iraqi man who preferred not to be identified,” and are exactly the same except for the placement of the attribution and one other word. The quotes condemn the insurgents as terrorists and encourage Iraqis to fight for the promise of freedom. Lt. Col. Clifford Kent, spokesman for the U.S. Army’s 3rd Infantry Division, credited the similarities between the quotes to an “administrative error.”

Listing the Liberals

One Minnesota lawmaker has taken on the challenge of protecting high school students from discrimination—for being too conservative. State Sen. Michele Bachmann’s newest project involves collecting data from teenage Republicans who feel they have been treated unfairly by educators favoring “pro-diversity, pro-homosexual, pro-environment, or anti-war” opinions. Teenage Republicans are encouraged to submit their personal stories of injustice, whether about an administration’s reluctance to allow conservative student organizations to affiliate with a school or accounts of teachers “Bush bashing” during class.

Bachmann says the information (teachers’ names, schools, and course titles) can be compiled to create a “scrapbook” to support of future legislation to end the “liberalist trend” in education.

Prepaid Propaganda

Federal investigators have discovered that the U.S. Depart-ment of Education has given nearly $4.7 million dollars to various groups since 2002 to promote its programs and priorities, including the No Child Left Behind act. In 10 of 11 of these cases, the “donations” were undisclosed and taxpayers never knew their money had paid for the programs’ public relations.

Quotable Quote: Silver Lining

Former first lady Barbara Bush said this during her visit with hurricane evacuees in Houston:

“So many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway, so this is working very well for them.”

Some people can find the silver lining around any cloud, even those clouds that left lives, cities, and social structures in ruins.

—Amalia Oulahan