Our Olympics connections

Good luck to the eight athletes competing in the Beijing Olympics who have connections with Champaign-Urbana.

For months it seems the focus of the Beijing Olympics has been on politics and pollution. Now that the Games have begun, we hope it is on the athletes, especially since so many of those competing have connections to the University of Illinois and to Champaign-Urbana.

We were mistaken

There's no other way to put it: an editorial in Monday's News-Gazette was based on a misinterpretation. And we were wrong.

Earlier this week we took Illinois Senate Minority Leader Frank Watson, R-Greenville, to the proverbial woodshed for what we thought was his suggestion that Gov. Rod Blagojevich use an ethics reform bill as a bargaining chip to get House Speaker Michael Madigan to agree to a statewide capital improvements bill. Now it's Watson who gets to take us to the woodshed.

Book dispute not new to schools

"The Kite Runner," in the opinion of many, is a wonderful novel. But is it appropriate for young teens?

The celebrated novel, "The Kite Runner" is a complicated best-selling book about the foreign culture of Afghanistan, both before and after the despotic rule of the Taliban. While hailed as an epic work by Khaled Hosseini, now an American physician but once an Afghan refugee, it contains some explicit sexual references that are the cause of an objection filed with the Champaign schools over its propriety as a summer reading assignment for high school sophomores in English honors classes.

Consider entry fees at parks

As an alternative to closing state parks and historic sites – and damaging its investment in those facilities – Illinois should consider instituting a modest admission fee, as is done in other states and in national parks.

It's no secret that Illinois has a Chicago-centric state government under Gov. Rod Blagojevich, Senate President Emil Jones and House Speaker Michael Madigan, all of whom live in the great city of Chicago.

Congratulations, Habitat

The local chapter of Habitat for Humanity last week completed construction of its 50th home. Congratulations are in order. But there's more work ahead.

Habitat for Humanity of Champaign County last week completed its 50th home, built in Urbana by a crew that was at least 80 percent female. That's a remarkable record of generosity, service and support by the people of Champaign and Piatt counties who have been giving money and time to Habitat for Humanity since 1991.

Soviet dissident help change world

The late Russian writer Alexander Solzhenitsyn was the personification of the brave man of conscience compelled to speak out no matter what the cost.

If the pen really is mightier than the sword, a dubious proposition at best, writers like Alexander Solzhenitsyn are the reason.

Bold effort restores downtown landmark

An old downtown building has become new again.

The workers renovating the Enterprise Building in downtown Champaign started a long and dirty job in September 2007.

Double cross leads to a long sentence

A deal is a deal, especially in federal court.

You've heard the old saying, "It ain't over 'til it's over." Well, the case of Shance Dalton finally is over.

Miscanthus to the rescue?

Researchers at the University of Illinois say that a perennial grass that grows up to 13 feet high may help the United States meet its biofuels production goals. Miscanthus appears to outperform corn as an energy source.

If you get out to the University of Illinois South Farms often enough you may notice an unusual looking grass waving in the breeze. At the peak of its growth, it's about twice as tall as the average UI basketball player. But miscanthus x giganteus may be much more than an ornamental to dress up your yard. It may be the solution to meeting a demanding federal goal of offsetting 20 percent of gasoline use with biofuels.

Not so bad news

Christie Clinic's continued presence downtown will be a good thing for the city's central core.

There are a lot worse things that could happen to downtown Champaign than for one of its major anchors, Christie Clinic, to remain there instead of moving to the city's northwest side.