Hey, I only wanted to help

What do you get when you suggest ways to improve the civility in public discourse? Answer: a lot of abuse. Just ask Judy Kleinberg, who helped to draft new rules for debate that are under consideration by City Council in Palo Alto, Calif. They'd discourage smirking, rolling the eyes, and "body language" to express "disagreement or disgust" at what a fellow councilor or constituent happens to be saying. Her colleagues may appreciate her efforts, but it's apparent that the general public doesn't. "I've been receiving hate mail from all over the world," she says. "I've been called a Nazi." Result: She doubts the measure will pass. In fact, she says, she may vote against it herself.

Let me say this about that

Jonah Mungoshi might have an especially difficult time speaking before Palo Alto City Council. No doubt, eyes would glaze over if the bank manager were to drone on and on - as he did for 36 straight hours last weekend in Harare, Zimbabwe, in his bid for a new listing in the Guinness Book of World Records. Even he conceded afterward: "All I want to do now is go home ... to sleep."

Fourth-graders read OK in US, but far better in Sweden

American fourth-graders narrowly made the top 10 in a new study evaluating the reading skills of students in 35 nations. Even then, white and Asian students in the US outperformed their black and Hispanic counterparts on the tests, which were conducted for the Project in International Reading Literacy Study of 2001. Students in Sweden scored highest and those in Belize were lowest. The 10 countries with the best young readers:

1. Sweden
2. Netherlands
3. Britain
4. Bulgaria
5. Latvia
6. Canada
7. Lithuania
8. Hungary
9. US
10. Italy - Associated Press

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