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Here's what newspapers around the nation are saying:


POPULAR ANGELS: It is a strange and subtle little trend, this one, but pervasive. . . . Amid the typical gaggle (of kids) lined up outside rock venues and fooling around the subway platform, mostly clothed in T-shirts emblazoned with unprintable sentiments . . . you can spot a jarring exception - angels.

Raphael is possibly the hottest new artist around. His dimpled cherubs adorn not only the apparel of the young but the walls of the dorms and the night stands of their trendier elders. Books on angels are big sellers. . . . The Metropolitan Museum shop has trouble keeping up with the demand for reproductions of angel art: angel posters, pins, stationery and literature.

They are a sweet antidote to the nastiness of most popular culture. It is somehow pleasing to think of them, in those dorm rooms, their dimpled smiles meeting the heavy-metal scowls of the rock stars on the opposite wall.


FEAR OF PRAYER: Puritanism, the acerbic H.L. Mencken wrote, is "the haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be having a good time." Similarly, in the 1990s there's an attitude - call it secularism - that seems to be characterized by the haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be praying.

That fear would appear to underlie the complaint of Brian Bown, a 41-year-old social studies teacher who was suspended from his job in suburban Atlanta after he defied a Georgia law requiring a moment of "quiet reflection" at the start of each school day . . . as an unconstitutional attempt to obtrude religion into the classroom. . . .

Bown would be best advised to reread his copy of the Constitution - preferably in silence - and then comply with the law. That Bown . . . cannot distinguish between (silence) and a requirement to pray suggests less a concern for constitutional rights than a distrust of the uses (his) fellow citizens may make of their rights and their privacy.


IRA CEASE-FIRE: If it holds, the Irish Republican Army's unconditional cease-fire . . . is a welcome development in the long-running tragedy of sectarian strife in Northern Ireland.

The move has the potential to clear the way for Sinn Fein, the IRA's legal political arm, to join talks with Britain and Ireland aimed at mapping a process for determining the province's political future: whether to remain a part of Britain or be reunited with the Irish Republic. . . .

Another (concern) is the reaction of (pro-English terrorists, whose) attacks have killed more people in Northern Ireland in the 1990s than have the IRA's. (English Prime Minister John) Majors should do what he can to ease unionist fears, but (he should act now on) the strongest positive signal by the IRA since peace efforts began.


TV VIOLENCE: As the hoopla surrounding television's new fall season escalates, so too does the seemingly endless debate over the extent, nature and dangers of violence on TV and in movies.

That we live in an increasingly brutal world seems beyond dispute. And that moviemakers, television producers and video game designers have, in recent decades, "pushed the envelope" in depicting murder and torture is also self-evident. Beyond agreement on these basics, consensus evaporates.

That's why we are encouraged by news that two separate studies are under way to better determine what's violence and to tally the amount of it on the air. The (three-year) studies . . . are commissioned by the network and cable companies themselves. When the results are in, the burden may be on the industry to respond.