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Back into the tar pit
The holiday season is looking bleaker than the Pleistocene Era for the folks who unleashed Barney the Dinosaur. After a $500-million sales year, the smarmy carnivore failed to lumber onto this year's "Hottest Toys" lists. It's bad enough to be stomped by the Power Rangers, but even Barbie (who earned her MD this year) is doing a spike-heeled tap dance on the purple-and-green has-been. The first warning sign of extinction came at Halloween, when stores couldn't give away Barney and Baby Whatzername costumes.

It's gotten so bad that Barney's creators, Plano's Lyons Group, have launched a $1 million propaganda campaign to blunt the Barney backlash that blossomed over the past year. In the 30-second spots aimed at Barney-loathing adults, a woman explains that the Barney experience helps her kids "feel good about themselves--and that makes me feel good, too."

Ironically, the worst sign for Barney may be his helium-bloated appearance in the Macy's parade--the kiss of death for a cartoon character.

Does anyone remember Underdog?

Dallas 75227
Thirty or so Hispanic students from Skyline High School hoisted placards, waved red, white, and green flags, and marched nine miles to city hall last Friday, in what turned out to be a Quixotic footnote to a citywide protest of Proposition 187, the California referendum that seeks to deny government benefits to illegal immigrants.

The students walked out of classes as a political statement, then marched from their southeast Dallas high school to join the demonstration downtown.

But when the hungry, footsore group arrived at city hall, they found themselves alone. The loosely planned protest had broken up before the students could slog the nine miles. "Just for walking out of class, we got automatically suspended," said one protester. "We might as well go protest somewhere else and make a day out of it." Barely daunted, the teens marched off, back across downtown, chanting, "Mey-hee-co! Mey-hee-co!"

Says Skyline principal Dan Salinas: "We only had 31 students who walked out of class today, and I feel very proud of all my other students who remained.

"Of course, the students who chose not to stay will have to face the consequences of their actions."

The ol' right cross
While most of America was giving thanks last week, People for the American Way was doing something else again. The liberal government watchdog group was licking its wounds and officially warning about the consequences of the Republican landslide, in which they figure that 60 percent of candidates affiliated with the religious right were victorious.

In Texas, beyond the obvious wins in the gubernatorial and senate races, People For reports an insidious swing in lower-profile offices, including the Texas State Board of Education, "where intensive right-wing organizing led to control by candidates who embrace an anti-education, pro-censorship platform." Arthur Kropp, president of People For, says the new board will pursue an ideological attack on the content of textbooks and curricula.

For those of you out there who like to keep score, People For figures that out of 54 state-wide Texas races, religious right-backed candidates took 31 (that's counting wins in four races in which both candidates were deemed puppets of the religious right).

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