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A mysterious discovery in the Las Vegas desert has Bob Joseph in a heap of trouble. The teenager takes a shortcut on his way to a long-awaited date when he stumbles across a box with some disturbing contents. A long night lies ahead.

The story has an unpredictable ending--two of them, in fact--thanks to creative-writing students in more than a dozen Nevada high schools.

The novel, "eNVy in the Desert," was begun by a most unlikely author: Nevada Gov. Bob Miller. The novice writer wanted to demonstrate how technology can be used effectively in the classroom. He wrote the first chapter on the state's home page on the World Wide Web and passed it on for completion by high school students in Washoe and Clark counties. One version turned into a mystery novel, the other a work of science fiction.

Gov. Miller, a Democrat, has been aggressively lobbying the legislature to devote $35 million next year to increasing the number of computers in the state's 418 schools. The book can be read on-line at:

Harsh words

A South Carolina state school board member has publicly apologized for saying, "Screw the Buddhists, and kill the Muslims'' when questioned about his proposal to display the Ten Commandments in schools.

Dr. Henry Jordan's controversial remark was taped at a May 13 public meeting of the board's finance and legislative committee in Columbia, said Kay Packett, a spokeswoman for the board.

Dr. Jordan, an Anderson brain surgeon and unsuccessful candidate for the 1994 Republican nomination for lieutenant governor, apologized during a news conference last week. Previously, he said in a written statement his comment was part of an "impromptu discussion." He acknowledged his words were "indelicate," but described Buddhism and Islam as "cults" that are forced on some Christian students.

Dr. Jordan's May 13 statement touched off a wave of controversy. Board Chairman Alex J. Stanton said: "Dr. Jordan's comments do not express the opinion of the board as a whole. I think we're all shocked."

Legislators appointed Dr. Jordan to the 17-member board two months ago. Republican Gov. David M. Beasley, who may oust board members for "misconduct," believes the apology should close the matter, his spokesman said.


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