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Noted and passed -- Nov. 7, 2011
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• We’re glad to see that President Obama has finally kicked the cigarette habit. Obama, once a regular smoker, has been struggling with cigarettes for years, but his doctor said recently that the president is now tobacco-free. That’s a good thing.

• St. Louis Cardinals manager Tony La Russa is doing what few sports figures are able to --  stepping down while he’s on top of the heat. La Russa guided the Cards to a dramatic seven-game World Series victory, then announced he won’t be back next year; he says he had made the decision weeks ago, when it appeared the Cardinals might not even make the playoffs. Most athletes and coaches can’t pull themselves away from the game -- witness Joe Paterno at Penn State -- but La Russa is going out on top. Good for him!

• Grover Norquist of Americans For Tax Reform is behind the pledge that so many members of Congress have signed -- the one that requires them never to raise taxes, no matter how big the deficit is or how badly compromise is needed between the two parties. John Boehner, Speaker of the House, was asked about Norquist recently and referred to him as “some random person.” We doubt Boehner really believes that, but it’s a pretty clever way of dissing someone.

• Global temperatures continue to rise, and the world keeps pumping more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere; output of the heat-trapping gas took its biggest jump in history last year, outpacing the most dire forecasts by eminent scientists. Additional output by China and the U.S. accounted for more than half the increase. All but the most cynical -- those who ignore every finding of science -- still pooh-pooh the notion of climate change and its primary cause, carbon dioxide emissions. But as the figures indicate, nobody’s doing much about it.

• A 14-year-old middle school student in Florida has been suspended because he gave a female friend an innocent hug at school. The policy of Palm Bay’s Southwest Middle School says there is no difference between an unwanted hug -- sexual harassment -- and a hug between friends. It’s just one more sign of political correctness run amok, an affliction that is sweeping the country.