Dr. John Tanacredi, chief of natural resources at the Gateway National Recreation Area in Brooklyn, said the park relies on natural methods, and uses pesticides as a last resort.

One very real danger of the massive spraying campaign is that additional heavy doses of the poison could affect the city's vast population of poor children whose systems already are overloaded with pesticides. A recent study by Mount Sinai Medical School's Department of Community and Preventive Medicine found that impoverished children are the most likely human victims of pesticide use. The study found that the heaviest use of pesticides in the U.S. is in New York City, where they are aimed largely at rats, mice, and roaches, and thus are easily absorbed by children playing on the floor. Long-term effects can include neurological damage as well as injury to hormonal and reproductive systems.

Plummeting Hopes
Indians Vow Mass Leap to Block Drilling

Defying threats of mass suicide by the 3600- member U'wa indigenous community, which is opposed to oil exploration, the government of Colombia recently approved a request by Occidental Petroleum to drill a well just outside a new reserve inhabited by the group near the Venezuelan border. Although the proposed site is outside the U'wa reserve, it is on land they consider sacred.

The U'wa's announcement that they would consider committing mass suicide by jumping off a cliff has a 300-year-old precedent. In the 17th century a community of U'wa jumped to their deaths from a cliff to avoid coming under the authority of Spanish missionaries and tax collectors.

Recently, the National Liberation Army (ELN) announced its intention to attack the Colombian affiliate of Occidental as well as public officials and employees of the Colombian Petroleum Enterprise (Ecopetrol) in support of the community's demands. But with foreign investment in Colombian oil moribund and production stagnant at about 850,000 barrels per day, the government is desperate to jump-start exploration.

Choice Shopping
Reproductive Rights Mall on Web

The Women's Reproductive Rights Assistance Project has set up a potentially huge Internet mall (, which offers a wide range of products, from computers to pantyhose, with a portion of the revenue dedicated to help poor women pay for abortions.

Joyce Schorr, WRRAP founder, said the project is beginning to yield proceeds. WRRAP focuses its efforts on states that impose restrictions on abortion or that don't cover the procedure for women on Medicaid. The group has a 24-hour hot line. Shops on the mall include JCPenney, Disney Store Online, Swiss Army Depot, Office Max, Avon, The Sharper Image, and Dell computers.

Washington Nuts

Fearing that curious elementary school students might think the little orbs dangling rather low at George Washington's waistband were the first president's testicles, officials in two Georgia school districts acted swiftly to alter Emanuel Leutze's painting, George Washington Crossing the Delaware, which is reproduced in the textbook United States in Modern Times. Teachers' aides were ordered to paint over the offending orbs— which turned out to be part of Washington's watch fob— in 2300 books. "Kindergartners wouldn't even notice," Due West Elementary School Principal Robin Lattizori told the Atlanta Constitution. "But fifth-graders? It would make their year."

Additional reporting by Kate Cortesi and Ginger Adams Otis

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