Short Takes: News From All Over: February 3, 2005

SpongeBob Receives ‘Unequivocal Welcome’ from United Church of Christ
By J. Bennett Guess, United Church News
Following controversy over cartoon character SpongeBob Squarepants’s appearance in a children’s video promoting tolerance, the United Church of Christ (recently embroiled in a media flap over its own ‘open and affirming’ advertising campaign) has extended a personal welcome to Dr. James Dobson’s least favorite cartoon character. The UCC Web site features a news article about the ‘unequivocal welcome’ as well as a clever photo diary of SpongeBob’s trip to UCC headquarters in Cleveland. — Martin Brown

Black Evangelicals: Bush’s New Trump Card
By Earl Ofari Hutchinson, Chicago Defender
Bush wooed African American evangelicals with the same techniques he applied to the broader electorate: ‘inflaming’ anti-gay bias and hammering other social issues like abortion and school prayer. That helped the Republicans tap into one of the Democrat’s most stalwart bases. Now, Earl Ofari Hutchinson argues, the Bush team will continue their courtship by doling out cash to certain ‘handpicked’ African American church leaders to use for faith-based initiatives. — Hannah Lobel

Paratransit in Louisville: ‘As Unpleasant as Possible to Ride’
By Mary Johnson, Ragged Edge
To aid disabled people who were not able to ride buses with ramps, the American Disabilities Act, passed in 1990, mandated that transportation companies offer some sort of door-to-door alternative. But a look into these services in Louisville reveals a system riddled with disorganization and callousness, trapping riders on buses for hours or stranding them altogether. The mess, author Mary Johnson suggests, is not confined to Louisville. — Hannah Lobel

Making Art Speak: Three Museum Directors Discuss the Challenges, Thrills, Frustrations, and Future of Their Profession
By Hugh Eakin, ARTnews online
Can art museums compete with today’s consumer culture while still providing patrons a deep, meaningful experience? In an effort to answer this question, ARTnews magazine hosted a panel discussion between Kathy Halbreich, director of Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, Glenn Lowry, director of The Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) in New York, and Philippe de Montebello, director of The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Halbreich emphasized that the Walker’s ‘art center’ identity gave it more freedom to promote new and emerging artists. MOMA’s Lowry warned against the collision of art and entertainment, citing Las Vegas as an example of what can go wrong. — Harry Sheff

Can We Kick It? Why European Football Can’t Shake Its Racist Image
By Robert Collins, PopMatters
It is not uncommon for black players in a European football scrum to see bananas hurled onto the field, hear the supercilious impersonations of monkey-calls, or endure hateful slurs. Sadly, Europe’s most popular sport brings out the best sorts of patriots and the worst kinds of racists, on the field and off. — Marca Bradt

Licensing Battle Brewing Over Alternative Medicine
By Barbara Solow, Independent Weekly
Susan Delaney, a graduate of one of the nation’s few accredited schools for naturopaths, has been trying to get the state of North Carolina to license her profession for over a decade. A seemingly small, isolated struggle, Delaney’s is just another battle in the long fight to have alternative medicine recognized as a legitimate form of health care. — Marca Bradt

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