Gray's dark days
Only 27 percent of Californians approve of Gov. Gray Davis's job performance, according to a Los Angeles Times poll released last week, but do voters disapprove of him strongly enough to force a recall vote? The leaders of several recall petition drives hope so, and they're using the Internet and talk radio to fuel their campaign. "Recall efforts flourish like avocados in California," writes columnist George Will, noting that 32 California governors have faced unsuccessful recall drives. This one, he and other observers suggest, may be different. The reason: Gov. Davis wasn't popular to begin with, winning reelection last year with only 47 percent of the vote, and even his core constituencies are souring on him. The Times poll found that 54 percent of Democrats and 69 percent of union members rated him unfavorably. The state's $35 billion budget deficit, which Gov. Davis concealed during last year's campaign and which Mr. Will reports is increasing at $30 million a day, underlies the governor's unpopularity. Still, the Times found that 51 percent of the state's voters oppose a special recall election.
Do as we say ...
The leadership of a leading gay-rights group allegedly tried to do something the group condemns companies for doing-refuse domestic-partner benefits for employees. The Washington Blade, a homosexual paper, reports that the outgoing executive director of the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force, Lorri Jean, had fought during her tenure with the group's unionized staff over providing health benefits for employees' homosexual lovers. The benefits, she had argued, were simply too costly. The incident blows a hole in activists' arguments that domestic-partner benefits are affordable for companies. "It seems that sauce for the goose isn't necessarily sauce for the gander," remarks Family Research Center president Ken Connor in his newsletter.
Not where they want to be
Visa's ubiquitous ad slogan, "It's everywhere you want to be," now has a morals clause. Visa now has a system to identify those who use Visa to sell illegal pornography. Once identified, the card issuer reports sites with illegal photos and videos to the authorities responsible for enforcing child- pornography laws. "In fact, the company says pedophiles in chat rooms are complaining that it is increasingly difficult to find websites oriented toward them," reports Ron Scherer in The Christian Science Monitor. MasterCard is jumping on board as well. Reuben Rodriguez, director of the Exploited Children Unit at The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, said his organization has talked with MasterCard about enacting a program similar to Visa's. Mr. Rodriguez said he thinks American Express and Discover will follow soon. "We all want to find ways to eliminate and eradicate this problem," he told WORLD. Meanwhile, Visa said its efforts are working. The credit issuer estimates that 80 percent of the 400 websites identified as child pornography either have been shut down or have had their Visa privileges canceled, according to Mr. Scherer.
The law is written on the heart of man-and a Norwegian car thief obeyed it, sort of. The 37-year-old drove the stolen vehicle, complete with a full tank of gas, right into a police garage. "The simple explanation is that the man wanted to give back the car he had stolen," said police inspector Jan Ruderaas. Problem was, he stole the gas. The would-be car thief filled the tank with gasoline from a service station in Trondheim, 310 miles north of the capital, Oslo, but drove off without paying. Police saw him and tailed him through traffic, but were surprised to see him drive into their garage. "We encourage all other criminals to follow his example," Inspector Ruderaas said. "But they don't have to fill up the tank first, especially if they're not paying."
Jennifer Hoes is planning the first postmodern marriage. She will be both bride and groom at her wedding this May in the Netherlands. "We live in a 'Me' society," she told the German magazine Der Spiegel. "Hence it is logical that one promises to be faithful to oneself." UPI's Uwe Siemon-Netto reports that she plans a $22,000 reception for her relatives. "Will she fall for the postmodern rage and adopt a double-barreled name-Jennifer Hoes-Hoes, for example?" he asks. "And what if she ceases to like herself-will divorce be an option, and which Hoes will get the car?"