Mercilessly Free of 2003 End Notes 

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Top 10 Lists? A maudlin retrospective on all that made 2003 so nebulous in tasks and vague in extravagances, in language vaguely extravagant? No. This column will leave that to the professionals. In other words, the big shots at national magazines so aching for vacation time they’ve no better ideas up their sleeves. Love it, hate it or call a blood oath on it, Fulton Files forges on in the same format regardless of the New Year. Stop freakin’ out. It’s only the march of time.

& ull; Expecting a phone call, soon: The LDS Church has said it couldn’t possibly afford the time or expense of deleting all Jewish-sounding names from its files of posthumous baptisms. It also insists it has adhered to a 1995 agreement with Jewish groups to end the baptism of Holocaust victims and deleted their names from church baptismal records. According to a recent article in The New York Times, that doesn’t wash with Ernest Michel, who helped broker the agreement for the American Gathering of Jewish Holocaust Survivors. After looking at list after list of Jewish figures allegedly still kept on file, he’s contemplating legal action. There to help is Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., who said in the article that she plans on phoning Sen. Orrin Hatch soon in attempts to sort this all out. Hatch helped iron out the agreement in 1995 but might have to take time out from his white-hot songwriting career this time around.

& ull; Would Brian David Mitchell and Ron Lafferty agree? Not only are U.S. prisons full, they’re full of nut jobs, according to a recent American Psychiatric Association report estimating that some 20 percent of the nation’s inmates suffer some form of “serious” mental illness.

& ull; Don’t hold your breath for the same in Utah: The British were apparently shocked to find themselves almost the last European nation to grant special legal rights to transsexuals—you know, people trapped in a gender not of their choosing. To that end, British Parliament will soon consider a “Gender Recognition Bill” granting the nation’s estimated 5,000 transsexuals rights to brand new birth certificates and civil marriage, according to The Economist. The Nov. 15 article whisks past a rather intriguing fact: Seventy-five percent of the country’s sex changes involve men who wanted to become women.

& ull; It was a difficult week for beauty queens: According to The Associated Press, Georgia beauty queen Sharron Nicole Redmond, aka Miss Savannah, was charged with the shooting death of her boyfriend after turning herself into police. The report said Redmond, a high school teacher, had a permit for her gun, which she carries to thwart stalkers. Redmond’s attorney said she acted in self-defense. Meanwhile, on another continent, former Miss South Africa Diana Tilden-Davis was bitten on the leg by a hippopotamus while canoeing near Botswana, according to Reuters.

& ull; Of children and chicken: Boston’s Roman Catholic Archdiocese was highly offended that PETA had the audacity to run a billboard advertisement depicting the Virgin Mary nestling a dead chicken, according to Reuters. Boston’s Roman Catholic hierarchy can’t exactly boast of its own stellar past. In December 2002, Massachusetts Attorney General Tom Reilly charged that Boston’s Roman Church was guilty of not reporting priests accused of sexually abusing children. You decide which is more offensive.

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