Of Human Interest: News lite

By ELLEN BECK, United Press International  |  Dec. 5, 2002 at 4:30 AM
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Already relegated to the basement, a smiling portrait of President George W. Bush has now been banished from the J. Joseph Moakley federal courthouse in Boston.

The Boston Globe reports the disappearance of the executive branch really began four months ago when Vice President Dick Cheney's picture was stolen.

Bush hung on until this month. The General Services Administration's Cathy Menzies explained to the Globe: "Technically, the GSA displays the presidential photos in government buildings that house executive branch agencies. Given that the courthouse houses the judicial branch, we have taken the president's picture down until further notice."

Few have noticed. Asked by the paper about the missing portraits, one judge asked: "Between you and me, can you tell me where they were located?"


Fewer physicians are doing charity health care these days. The Center for Studying Health System Change in Washington reports the proportion of physicians providing charity care to Medicaid patients declined from 76.3 percent in 1997 to 71.5 percent in 2001.

At the same time, the report says, the percentage of physicians whose practices treat any Medicaid patients declined from 87.1 percent to 85.4 percent.

Paul Ginsburg, president of the non-partisan policy research organization, said in a statement: "With substantial pressure on payment rates from private insurers, physicians may place a lower priority on treating the uninsured and Medicaid patients."

The study also found the percentage of uninsured patients with a usual source of care -- already far lower than for insured people -- dropped from 68.6 percent in 1997 to 64.2 percent in 2001.

At the same time, the proportion of uninsured people who saw a physician in the past year dropped from 51.5 percent to 46.6 percent.


University of Wisconsin-Madison students might find it easier to pick out professors who are easy marks for an "A."

The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reports a new online system purchased by the UWM's Student Association gives students access to the grading histories of professors -- including the number of A's, B's and C's they gave out the previous semester.

Pick-A-Prof, an Austin, Texas-based company, charges $10,000 a year for its service, which allows students to post and read critiques and other comments about various professors and check out their grading histories.

Professors worry it will cheapen the educational process and the value of a degree, the paper notes. George Davida, a professor of computer science, says at least some professors will respond by awarding higher grades and employers eventually will become suspicious of the university's grading system.


Hoosiers will be paying $1 per case more for domestic beer as major brewers have hiked increases in Indiana for the first time in two years.

Considering how much beer is purchased, statewide the increase will net beermakers $52 million a year, the Indianapolis Star reports.

Upset beer drinkers blame a move by the state 11 months ago to make beer distributorship monopolies legal. They say letting brewers set up exclusive sales territories creates "beer barons" who push up prices.

Beer wholesalers and brewers say prices go up most years and this increase is not out of the ordinary.

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