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Wednesday, May 24, 2006 02:32 pm

The Hype

Illinois lawmakers take a stand on the chief plus Stephen Colbert and the state fights AIDS

ILLINI NOISE Illinois lawmakers want entities that regulate intercollegiate sports to stay out of schools’ beeswax in terms of athletic nicknames, mascots, and logos. Earlier this month, Republican House Speaker Dennis Hastert, Republican U.S. Reps. Tim Johnson, Ray LaHood, and Mark Kirk, along with Democratic U.S. Rep. Jerry Costello, co-sponsored the Protection of University Governance Act of 2006. According to the bill, attempts by such bodies to impose their “view of correct social policy on institutions of higher education . . . is inimical to the traditions of higher education in America.” Although the bill mentions neither the National Collegiate Athletic Association nor the University of Illinois, it’s unlikely that the law is designed to protect North Carolina’s Catawba College Indians from National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics sanctions. Johnson drafted the bill just days after the U of I lost its appeal to have its Chief Illiniwek removed from the NCAA’s “hostile and abusive” mascot list. The chief has been on the list since August. While blacklisted, the university is prohibited from hosting NCAA-sponsored postseason contests. If passed, the bill becomes effective in August — just in time for football season.
SATIREDAY The only thing better than news is fake news — no, not the fabricated accounts of Shattered Glass proportions but what Conan O’Brien does between jabs at a mustachioed band member during his monologue. Stephen Colbert (that’s pronounced cole-BEAR, for those of you not familiar with him), star of Comedy Central’s The Colbert Report, is among the elite political satirists of today, and he’s coming to central Illinois. On Saturday, June 3, Colbert will deliver the commencement speech to about 300 grads at Knox College in Galesburg, about two hours northwest of Springfield. What will be the focus of Colbert’s remarks — President George W. Bush and the Iraq War? Likely. Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s education plan? Probably not, but you can’t put anything past Colbert. A spokesman for the school says that graduating seniors picked Colbert, and Knox alumnus JOHN Podesta, onetime chief of staff to President BILL CLINTON, also helped talk Colbert into coming. The ceremony begins at 10 a.m. and, weather permitting, is open to the public.
EQUAL TREATMENTS Over the weekend, Gov. Rod Blagojevich signed legislation to earmark $3 million for the African-American HIV/AIDS Response Fund. “HIV/AIDS is a devastating disease, especially within the African-American community,” reads a Blagojevich press release. “The Illinois African-American HIV/AIDS Response Fund will be used to take vital steps in preventing the virus’ transmission throughout the African-American community in Illinois.”
However, some groups, among them the Heart of Illinois HIV/AIDS Center, fear that most of the money will go to Chicago, with little, if any, seeing its way to central and southern Illinois.
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