Watercooler Stories

By PAT NASON, United Press International  |  Nov. 11, 2002 at 3:00 AM
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MAJORITY FAVORS CORPORAL PUNISHMENT

By a 2-1 margin, the American public approves of spanking children -- but only half say they actually apply the punishment to their own kids -- according to an ABC News poll.

The poll also found that an overwhelming majority turned thumbs down on corporal punishment in schools.

According to the poll, 65 percent favored taking a hand to kids -- continuing a trend that has held fairly steady since 1990. Just 26 percent said it would be okay for grade-school teachers to spank students at school. More than seven in 10 -- including 8 of 10 parents of grade-school kids -- said teachers should not be able to strike kids in school.

Support for spanking varied from one region of the country to another. It topped out at 73 percent in the South, while the rest of the country registered 60 percent approval. Also, 62 percent of Southern parents said they spank their kids, while just 41 percent of parents in the rest of the country said they did.

Parents with college degrees were less approving of spanking than parents who had not finished college.


FUN WITH YELLOWSTONE PARK

The Bush administration is set to propose a new use policy for Yellowstone National Park that will limit the use of snowmobiles to 1,100 per day -- or 35 percent more than have typically used the park every winter day for the past 10 years.

The new proposal -- which would also cover Grand Teton National Park -- is one of five listed in a final environmental impact statement that would reverse a Clinton administration ban on snowmobiles at the park that was to take effect in 2003.

The Los Angeles Times reported the new policy, based on briefings from members of federal agencies developing the policy, was due to be released on Tuesday. The paper said the policy is drawing opposition from many park visitors, environmental groups and park employees -- but is being supported by local communities, snowmobile enthusiasts and manufacturers who lobbied aggressively against the ban.

Bill Dart, public lands director for Blue Ribbon Coalition, a snowmobile users group, told the paper he expects the National Park Service to alter a proposal that would require guided to accompany snowmobile visitors on their excursions.

"They've come around," he said. "As I understand it, it will be business as usual, certainly for this year."

The proposed cap would be combined with a requirement permitting only newer, cleaner and quieter snow machines. Supporters said those conditions would protect the health of people and wildlife and reduce noise levels. But critics are not convinced.

Jon Catton of the Montana-based environmental group Greater Yellowstone Coalition told the Times that recent findings by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency indicate that park employees could suffer ill health as a result of snowmobile emissions.

"This [plan] says that Yellowstone can be managed by politics on behalf of special interests, and that science and the law protecting places like this can be set aside," said Catton.

The paper reported that the Park Service has received more public comments on the Yellowstone snowmobile issue than any other in the agency's history, with more than 360,000 e-mails and letters received during five public comment periods -- 80 percent supporting a ban on snowmobiles in Yellowstone.


GAS MILEAGE MORALITY

Christian radio listeners in four states will be hearing commercials challenging them to consider whether it's religiously correct to drive SUVs and use all that gas.

The Rev. Jim Ball -- director of the Evangelical Environmental Network -- told the Washington Post that Christians need to ask themselves not only what would Jesus do, but also what would Jesus drive.

Ball described his organization as "biblically orthodox." The ads on radio stations and cable TV ask Christian listeners and viewers to think of their gasoline usage in the context of ethics -- and to consider the effect of auto emissions on the global climate.

"Most people don't think the kind of car they drive has anything to do with their faith," said Ball. "We want to show them it does."

The Evangelical Environmental Network claimed a lobbying victory in 1996, when it spearheaded a $1 million campaign to block legislation in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives that would have gutted the Endangered Species Act. The group called the federal law a modern day equivalent of Noah's Ark.

The "What would Jesus drive?" ad campaign will target Iowa, Indiana, Missouri and North Carolina. The campaign will also include events on college campuses and a "Creation Sunday" celebration in the spring with the same theme.

"Jesus wants his followers to drive the least-polluting, most efficient vehicle that truly meets their needs -- though first he might look at other ways to get around." Ball said. "He'd definitely be in favor of us taking public transportation."


PAT BOONE SINGS FOR 'GOD' IN PLEDGE

Music legend Pat Boone is hitting the road to support his new song urging Americans to embrace the words "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance.

Boone is scheduled to appear Monday at a Wal-Mart store outside Orland, Fla., to promote the song "Under God," which he recently recorded in Los Angeles and plans to release through his Gold Label record company. He plans to follow the Orlando appearance with a string of appearances at Wal-Mart locations on both coasts.

A publicist for the 67-year-old entertainer said Boone would target consumers in the more conservative areas of the country first. Boone is also planning to send a copy of the new song to every member of Congress.

"I haven't seen this kind of patriotic fervor in years," said Boone in a press release.

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