Darts and laurels

Published 12:00 am Saturday, January 6, 2007

Laurels to an apparent decline in domestic violence, one of our culture’s most insidious and often unseen crimes. The Justice Department reports that domestic violence has declined by more than half in the decade preceding 2004, when the latest survey was conducted. Researchers believe the decline can be attributed in part to more vigorous prosecution of domestic violence, greater public awareness and an expanded support system for victims, who are often current or former spouses or partners. The survey’s findings come with an important footnote, however. Counselors and others who work with domestic-violence victims don’t see any decrease in the numbers of people, primarily women, who call emergency hotlines or seek refuge in shelters. In other words, no matter what the statistics suggest about a trend, domestic violence is a pervasive problem that shatters far too many lives, including children who are often trapped in a hostile environment.

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Dart to recent episodes that have brought less than flattering publicity to the Miss USA pageant. The tawdry tales so far: Miss USA Tara Conner almost lost her tiaria over her tipsy shenanigans at the New York bar scene. She survived only because pageant co-owner Donald Trump decided not to fire her. That came shortly after Miss Teen USA Katie Blair got into trouble over her party-girl reputation. Then, last week, Miss Nevada Katie Rees lost her title after the Internet publication of racy photos in which she was shown kissing other young women and pulling down her pants. For future pageants, perhaps instead of displaying themselves in swimsuits, contestants should have to exhibit a little common sense.

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Laurels to college bowl games, a hallowed part of our holiday tradition which are as omnipresent on the TV screen as commercials for brawny pickup trucks and medications for male sexual dysfunction. While some bowl games have already been played, between today and the National Championship on Jan. 18, no less than 15 more will march across the screen. Even if you’re not into college football, you can probably still find a bowl game to match an area of interest. For techno-geeks, there’s the MPC Computers Bowl. Auto buffs have the Meineke Car Care Bowl, playing today in Charlotte, as well as the GMAC Bowl. Got a sweet tooth? Maybe the Sugar Bowl can answer the craving, or if you’re into fruit, go with the Orange Bowl. Flower lovers can enjoy the Rose Bowl. And if you’re into poultry, there’s the Chick-fil-A Bowl. Back-to-nature types who shun synthetics should probably restrict themselves to the Cotton Bowl.