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The irony was inescapable. On the same day that China's space agency announced that it hoped to put a man on the moon and build a space station within 15 years, other Chinese officials were dealing with the nation's second major environmental, as well as public relations, disaster in a week.
Last week, it was an industrial accident that sent an estimated 100 tons of benzene into the Songhua River, forcing the downriver city of Harbin – a metropolis of 4 million people – to shut off its public water supply.
Starting with Thanksgiving Day on Nov. 24, the official season for overindulging our appetites began.
Between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day, people will be going from one party to another, munching and drinking their way through the holiday season. And that doesn't include the big family dinners that are as much a part of Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's as gifts, mistletoe and wishes for a happy new year.
We're not expert enough to know whether The Georgian, a 27-unit apartment building at 1005 S. Sixth St., C, really is worthy of placement on the National Register of Historic Places. The Illinois Historic Sites Advisory Council recently recommended that the three-story building, completed in 1925 during a University of Illinois campus building boom, be included on the national register.
Its inclusion might have made it more difficult for the UI to demolish the structure and replace it with a 900-space parking deck.
There is no good solution to the financial problems facing the Champaign school system, at least one that is legal. The best solution would be to take this year's shortfall – estimated at $2.6 million – out of the bank accounts of every business manager, every administrator and every school board member who insisted on spending money over that last 10 years or so that the district didn't have.
But that's not valid, just vengeance.
Illinois Democrats may have a primary election contest for governor after all. Edwin Eisendrath, a former Chicago alderman who also ran the Chicago office of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and was an unsuccessful congressional candidate, is considering challenging Gov. Rod Blagojevich in the March primary election.
No doubt there are plenty of people, Democrats included, who wouldn't mind seeing the governor have to defend himself twice in one year. But whether Eisendrath can mount a serious campaign – or any campaign – is dubious.
Bud Selig, the commissioner of Major League Baseball, and Donald Fehr, the head of the players' union, got a lesson last week on what can happen when they hope that serious problems will go away on their own.
Thanks solely to congressional pressure, Selig and Fehr got a tougher policy on drug abuse, particularly steroids, than they wanted or perhaps ever thought possible.
There's some extra urgency and anxiety among the Salvation Army bell-ringers this year. They're concerned that Champaign County residents who have been so generous in their support and care for hurricane victims along the Gulf coast will cut back on their contributions to the local Salvation Army this year. Their concerns are probably not unfounded.
So the Salvation Army began its annual fundraising drive early this year and has added to the number of locations in the county (27) that will host bell-ringers. Major John Turner, who heads the local Salvation Army, said he is "cautiously optimistic" that county residents will match last year's outpouring of support – more than $300,000. (Last year's goal was $270,000).