Quickies

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Gloria Steinem, Call Your Office! Mr. Don B. Kates, writing in the August/September issue of The Civil Liberties Review, informs us that "[Handgun] permits are automatically denied in St. Louis to wives who don't have their husband's permission."

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Ten days after the election, the Washington Post wrote: "Political veterans in both parties are in general agreement" that 1) Carter could not have gotten the nomination without the $3.4 million in Federal subsidies that totaled about 25 percent of his primary campaign spending, and 2) the spending ceiling in the general election "almost certainly, in the light of the very close result produced a Democratic victory." But no mention of Carter's endorsement by Ugandan President Idi Amin Dada, which "The Cook with All the Firewood" claims decided the election by assuring Carter of the black vote.

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The Indian government's sterilization program proceeds apace, but officials swear that it's all strictly voluntary—"at least for the time being." There are some financial inducements; some Indian beggars claim to have been sterilized for cash up to 15 times. Another man was told his children couldn't go to (public) school unless he submitted to a vasectomy. Most of New Delhi's snake charmers have left the city, reportedly because they were afraid of being forcibly sterilized on the orders of bureaucrats trying to meet their quota of operations. And in the town of Barsi, in western India, a 60 year old blacksmith by the name of Rambhan Sakharan Pawar was among several men dragged off the street and forcibly vasectomized. A few days later he died of complications. But one part of the program is an excellent idea—as far as it goes. New Delhi's three million civil servants must all be sterilized by October 1977 if they have three or more children. Clearly such pests must not be allowed to reproduce, but it's the civil servants's parents who should be sterilized. Retroactively.

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Anti-capitalist ideologues strike again, this time at the nation's blood banks. The American Association of Blood Banks has a system; those who receive transfusions must donate the same amount of blood later, or pay from $20 to $30 per unit of blood. Other people, usually friends or relatives, can give blood in the recipient's place; they can even build up credit against their own future use. A nice, free-market arrangement that handled some eight million units of blood a year, until the American Red Cross pulled out of the system. The Red Cross, whose chapters collected about 3.4 million units a year for the AABB, evidently deems the system too crass and commercial and proposes another system, in which blood is "free," and "supplied by the community," as they put it. The blood bank director at Memorial Hospital in Long Beach, California, calls it a "good idea" but says it won't work. At Memorial, 50 percent of the blood is donated for replacement of some individual's account, another 49 percent for the donor's own future use, and only 1 percent by those who want to meet a "community need." So the end of the credit system means the end of the motivation that supplied 99 percent of the blood—a real "good idea"! But the Red Cross is apparently above such mundane considerations. One official says, "It's wrong to buy and sell blood like cabbages." Maybe. Of course, there never seems to be any shortage of cabbages.

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Great moments in Political Philosophy, No. 2: The Los Angeles Times editorializing in support of exiled East German poet Wolf Biermann "who, like Russia's exiled Alexander Solzhenitsyn, considers himself a loyal Communist."

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When South Vietnam collapsed in the spring of 1975, the North Vietnamese captured an estimated $5 billion worth of military hardware; enough, the Pentagon reports, to field "an entire army, navy and air force." The list includes 550 tanks, 42,000 trucks, more than 1300 artillery pieces, 15,000 machine guns, 1.6 million rifles, and an estimated 130,000 tons of ammunition. There are no reports of what Hanoi intends to do with its new found arsenal which makes it "one of the foremost military powers in Asia" (guess they weren't before) but it is comforting to note that they also captured 466 American-supplied helicopters. The Washington Post quotes our Gallant Ally Nguyen van Thieu as complaining that getting the helicopters was the worst thing that ever happened to his infantry for they soon became "reluctant to walk on long patrols."

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Last year Washington, D.C. was the first major American city to record more abortions than live births. Eighty-five percent of the abortions were paid for by the government, chiefly through Medicaid, but that figure may decline dramatically if the Supreme Court upholds the congressional ban on Medicaid abortions. Some D.C. officials are concerned that an end to tax-supported abortions will boost the number of children born out of wedlock. That may take some doing; last year, Washington was also the first major American city where the majority of all births were illegitimate.

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The Way We Live Now: a Washington, D.C. woman won a $1.3 million damage suit against the man who gave her gonorrhea. The Pussycat Theatre of Miami was fined $3000 for showing two skin flicks without telling their patrons that the juiciest bits had been cut out. New York City's assistant police chief wants to cut the force by 10 percent "by weeding out psychos, criminals, and the unfit." The IRS has ruled all plastic surgery tax-deductible; the Berkeley Barb predicts "an upsurge in sex change operations as a result." And the University of California, San Diego, is studying the effects of exercise on the heart by running pigs on a treadmill. A pig in good condition can run a mile in under eight minutes.

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