Dispatches > Quick Takes

Quick Takes

Issue: "Fact & Fiction," Dec. 21, 2002

Hall of Fame Rose?

Pete Rose may make it to baseball's Hall of Fame after all, if negotiations to reinstate him to Major League Baseball prove successful. Mr. Rose has been talking with Commissioner Bud Selig about his lifetime ban from baseball and could see it lifted by next summer. The late Commissioner Bart Giamatti banned Mr. Rose from baseball on Aug. 23, 1989, for allegedly betting on the game. The 17-time All-Star applied for reinstatement in 1997 but has refused to sign a document saying he bet on baseball, which has been a condition of reinstatement. USA Today's Hal Bodley reports that Mr. Rose could be on the ballot for the Hall of Fame next year-if he "comes clean." "Pete's got to make it right," said Mr. Rose's former Cincinnati Reds teammate and Hall of Fame vice chairman Joe Morgan, who has been working to reinstate Mr. Rose.

Wicca in the public square

A Wiccan priestess named Cynthia Simpson wants to give invocations at a Virginia county's board meetings. The Chesterfield Board of Supervisors said no, so the ACLU and Americans United for Separation of Church and State filed a lawsuit on her behalf against the board. It claims that the board is discriminating against Ms. Simpson in favor of Christian clergy. "Local ministers, priests and the occasional rabbi, each of whom has volunteered to be on a list, offer words of inspiration" before meetings, reports The Washington Post's Michael Shear. "It's been that way for years." The lawsuit claims the board, by turning down Ms. Simpson's request, violated the First Amendment and the constitutional guarantee of equal protection. "The county supervisors shouldn't be sponsoring prayers at all, but when they do, they certainly can't play favorites," said Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United. In his letter to Ms. Simpson denying the request, County Attorney Steven L. Micas wrote that the invocations "are traditionally made to a divinity that is consistent with the Judeo-Christian tradition. Based upon our review of Wicca, it is neo-pagan and involves polytheistic, pre-Christian deities."

Decalogue debate

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Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore will appeal a federal court order to remove a Ten Commandments monument from the state judicial building. He filed notice last week in federal court that he plans to fight the ruling. "Federal district courts have no jurisdiction or authority to prohibit the acknowledgment of God that is specifically recognized in the Constitution of Alabama," he said in a statement. U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson ruled that the 5,300-pound granite monument violates the First Amendment and must be removed within 30 days. The Southern Poverty Law Center, Americans United for Separation of Church and State, and the ACLU filed the lawsuit against Justice Moore.

Contraband crates

The United States Postal Service wants to recover over $60 million in stolen property. Some of it may be in your office: those plastic crates that deliver large volumes of mail. The postal supply of 20 million tubs has dropped to only 20,000, reports Phillip Pina in the St. Paul Pioneer Press. The crates only cost about $3.25 to produce, but the losses add up when millions vanish. "Where have they gone?" asks Mr. Pina. "They are often found under desks, used as temporary storage; in garages, holding tools; in conference rooms, a home for files. Almost everything but what they are intended for: holding and delivering the mail." The Postal Service attaches threatening stickers to the sides of tubs, warning about prosecution. Apparently they often go ignored. "We won't slap the cuffs on you. We just want them back," Minneapolis postmaster Rochelle Eastman told the paper. People can return the crates by leaving them out for the mailman or returning them to the post office.

Lacking character

Marvel Comics plans to launch a homosexual "hero" next year. The company will pull out of mothballs a forgotten 1950s cowboy named the Rawhide Kid and relaunch him as a homosexual character. "This is going to be the first gay Western," Marvel editor-in-chief Joe Quesada told the New York Post. The comic will bear an "explicit content" notice. Writer Ron Zimmerman told the Post that the cowboy is "an empowering character that the gay community would be able to embrace."

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