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TRENTON, N.J. -- The state's top civil rights official has ruled that taverns cannot offer discounts to women on "ladies nights," agreeing with a man who claimed such gender-based promotions discriminated against men.
David R. Gillespie said it was not fair for women to get into the Coastline nightclub for free and receive discounted drinks while men paid a $5 cover charge and full price for drinks.
In his ruling Tuesday, J. Frank Vespa-Papaleo, director of the state Division on Civil Rights, rejected arguments by the nightclub that ladies nights were a legitimate promotion. Commercial interests do not override the "important social policy objective of eradicating discrimination," he ruled.
The ruling specifically addressed the weekly ladies nights (search) at the Coastline in Cherry Hill, but it carries the force of a court decision and applies statewide. Vespa-Papaleo said state officials would write formal rules after a public hearing.
The restaurant's attorney, Colleen Ready, did not immediately return a telephone message left Wednesday by The Associated Press.
Courts in other states have issued divergent opinions on such promotions.
Judges in Pennsylvania and Iowa have said similar events are illegal, but courts in Illinois and Washington state have said that ladies nights are permissible because they do not discriminate against men but rather encourage women to attend.
You Want Liver Failure With That?
By SUSAN DOMINUS
HE filmmaker Morgan Spurlock kicked off his career with "I Bet You Would," a proto-reality show on MTV that dared the man on the street to suffer through some mild humiliation (in one memorable episode, a leather-bound biker accepted the dare to ride his bike down a popular strip wearing a tutu and pink leotard). More recently, in a karmic payback of sorts, Mr. Spurlock dared himself to eat nothing but McDonald's for 30 straight days, shunning most exercise while gorging on burgers with special sauce and downing 42-ounce Cokes. Mr. Spurlock, a onetime ballet student who lives with his vegan-chef girlfriend, documented the results in "Super Size Me," a film that won the documentary directors award at Sundance and opens on Friday. To discuss the implications of his one-man fast-food fest, Susan Dominus visited Mr. Spurlock in his SoHo office.
SUSAN DOMINUS How did you hit on this particular form of masochism?
MORGAN SPURLOCK It was Thanksgiving 2002, and I was sitting on my mother's couch watching the news about the lawsuit that two young women had filed against McDonald's, claiming it was responsible for their obesity. And a spokesman for McDonald's came on and said, you can't link their obesity to our food -- our food is healthy, it's nutritious. I thought, if it's so good for me, I should be able to eat it every day, right? As much as I want. It'd be fine. That was it -- the light went on.
DOMINUS What did you expect would happen if you ate this food for 30 days?
SPURLOCK Well, I did see three different doctors who told me I might gain some weight, or that my cholesterol would go up a little. But they also told me your liver can handle the extra fat, the kidneys could take the extra salt.
DOMINUS And instead?
SPURLOCK I was completely depressed, tired, lethargic. And I'd get these incredible headaches that would go away once I started eating the fast food again. My cholesterol skyrocketed, my blood pressure went up. I gained 24 1/2 pounds in one month, and my liver was basically filling with fat. As one of the doctors said, my liver was pâté. Toward the end, one doctor was really adamant that I stop. And he was really upset that I wouldn't.
DOMINUS It's a valid question -- why not stop once you've made your point? By Week 3 your medical chart was already a disaster.
SPURLOCK I did get really scared at one point. And I was calling everyone for advice, other doctors, friends, my mom. And I called my brother -- you know, the older brother, the one who said, "I'm going to push you down this hill, you're going to love it, it'll be great," that brother -- and I asked him what he thought. He still lives in West Virginia, and with his great, fantastic Southern accent he said: "Morgan, people eat this junk their whole lives. Do you really think it's going to kill you in nine more days?" That seemed like the most logical thing I'd heard so far. So I kept going. My mom didn't raise me to be a quitter.
DOMINUS Did you start to smell bad?
SPURLOCK Oh, man. I was deliberately not exercising any more than the average American, but I did let myself go to the sauna, to kind of sweat some stuff out of me. And when I came out of the sauna, some guy was like, man, somebody or something smells like cheeseburger in here. I could only assume it was me.
DOMINUS I think that's a safe assumption. So your health tanks after eating 30 days of McDonald's -- does that leave you thinking the lawsuits, which were dismissed, had more merit than the courts did?
SPURLOCK Actually, I think lawsuits are a terrible way to go with this sort of thing. It shouldn't have to get to that point. I wanted to ask the question, "Where does corporate responsibility end and personal responsibility start?" The film isn't an attack on McDonald's, it's an attack on the fast food culture that's taken over our lives, including our schools, which I also touch on in the movie. I want people to walk out of this movie and be infuriated. I want them to walk out of this movie and say, "What are my kids eating at school?" Parents are giving their kids three bucks and kids are eating pizza and burgers and ice cream and candies and sodas, and they're buying them at school. Parents need to get involved. Everyone's saying all these kids have attention deficit disorders, let's put them on Ritalin. Let's start by taking them off soda and all that other junk before we start plugging them full of medication.
DOMINUS And yet the movie is much harder on McDonald's than it is on fast food eaters we see interviewed, or parents. What's your gripe (note how I didn't say beef) with the fast food companies themselves?
SPURLOCK My problem with the corporations is mostly about how they market junk food, especially the way they target young kids. You turn on Saturday morning cartoons and you've got three hours of commercials for junk food, with maybe one commercial in there for a Huffy bike. We're bombarding them with these messages from such a young age. I have friends who've never once let their kids step foot in a McDonald's, but if you ask them their favorite restaurant, they'll say McDonald's. They know the clown by name. But you never see the clown eat the food. So what does that mean? Why is he so tall and skinny?
DOMINUS Six weeks after your film had its premiere at Sundance, McDonald's announced that they were phasing out the super-size option. More recently, they started marketing the new adult Go Active Happy Meal, complete with bottle of water, pedometer and exercise pamphlet. Do you feel like McDonald's is turning the corner, in terms of recognizing some of its own responsibility?
SPURLOCK Let's just see. These are baby steps. The truth is, people don't go into McDonald's and buy the salad. During the experiment, I let myself eat a salad once every 10 meals. But you know, the healthy food is not that healthy. The ranch chicken salad with dressing has more calories than a Big Mac.
DOMINUS So what would you recommend?
SPURLOCK I love the Big Macs. I don't know if I'd recommend it, but if you're going to go to McDonald's, just do yourself a favor and get the Big Mac. It's the best sandwich.
DOMINUS You couldn't even keep down that Double Quarter Pounder with Cheese you ate early in the film. What was that, Day 3?
SPURLOCK Day 2.
DOMINUS Day 2? Is it possible you have a delicate constitution?
SPURLOCK Oh yeah, I'm delicate, can't you tell? I'm very fragile. Let's go. Let's go see if you can eat one.
DOMINUS No problem.
(Interview shifts to a nearby McDonald's.)
SPURLOCK What do you think?
DOMINUS So far, I'm feeling no pain.
SPURLOCK Take a little bite of the meat, with nothing around it, no sauce, no bun. What does it taste like?
DOMINUS Artificial meat-flavoring?
SPURLOCK To me, it tastes like an unfood. Like something made in a factory. Not like burger or meat, it tastes like something manufactured. But it caters to happy centers in your brain -- it's loaded with fat and sugar. You're elated.
DOMINUS Yeah, I'm feeling pretty good right now.
SPURLOCK Right. Call me in an hour. That's when the McStomachache sets in.
SPURLOCK Nah, I'm good.
Cary, N. C.--How is it possible, half a century after the Supreme Court's Brown decision, for respected, tenured, award-winning African-American professor Jean Cobb to lose benefits at a university she has taught at for more than three decades?
"She is a Republican and an objective scholar who takes a dim view of the political correctness scourge, and of those who use the classroom to indoctrinate students into radical (Marxist/black separatist) politics," her friend, Dr. Carey Stronach, said recently. "For this she should be applauded, but instead, it has been the undoing of her career."
For years, the United Nations Oil-for-Food program was just one more blip on the multilateral landscape: a relief program for Iraq, a way to feed hungry children in a far-off land until the world had settled its quarrels with Saddam Hussein. Last May, after the fall of Saddam, the UN Security Council voted to lift sanctions on Iraq, end Oil-for-Food later in the year, and turn over any remaining business to the U.S.-led authority in Baghdad. On November 20, with some ceremony, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan lauded the program's many accomplishments, praising in particular its long-serving executive director, Benon Sevan. The next day, Oil-for-Food came to an end.
But it has not ended. Suddenly, Oil-for-Food is with us again, this time splashed all over the news as the subject of scandal at the UN: bribes, kickbacks, fraud, smuggling; stories of graft involving tens of billions of dollars and countless barrels of oil, and implicating big business and high officials in dozens of countries; allegations that the head of the program himself was on the take. In February, having at first denied any wrongdoing, Sevan stopped giving interviews and was then reported to be on vacation, heading into retirement. By March, the U.S. Congress was preparing to hold hearings into Oil-for-Food. Kofi Annan, having denied any knowledge of misdeeds by UN staff, finally bowed to demands for an independent inquiry into the UN program, saying, "I don't think we need to have our reputation impugned."
The tale has been all very interesting, and all very complicated. For those who look yearningly to the UN for answers to the world's problems, it has provoked, perhaps, some introspection about the pardonable corruption that threatens even the most selfless undertakings. For those who believe the UN can do nothing right, Oil-for-Food, whatever it was about, is a delicious vindication that everyone and everything at the world organization is crooked, the institution a fiasco, and politicians who support it fit for recall at the next electoral opportunity.
The excitement may be justified, but a number of important facts and conclusions have gone missing. Oil-for-Food, run by the UN from 1996 to 2003, did, in fact, deliver some limited relief to Iraqis. It also evolved into not only the biggest but the most extravagant, hypocritical, and blatantly perverse relief program ever administered by the UN. But Oil-for-Food is not simply a saga of one UN program gone wrong. It is also the tale of a systematic failure on the part of what is grandly called the international community.
Oil-for-Food tainted almost everything it touched. It was such a kaleidoscope of corruption as to defy easy summary, let alone concentration on the main issues. But let us try.
LONDON (Reuters) - The editor of one of Britain's most popular daily newspapers was fired Friday for publishing faked pictures of British soldiers abusing Iraqi prisoners.
Piers Morgan, editor of the Daily Mirror, was kicked out by the board of Trinity Mirror, which said it was "inappropriate" for him to continue as editor.
Despite mounting expert criticism of the pictures, and a statement by the government Thursday that they were fake, Morgan insisted his stories of abuse by troops were accurate.
"The pictures accurately illustrated the reality about the appalling conduct of some British troops," he said.
But Friday, newspaper owners Trinity Mirror threw in the towel and threw out their editor.
The statement by the board said the newspaper published the photographs "in good faith" and "absolutely believed" at the time they were genuine.
"However there is now sufficient evidence to suggest that these pictures are fakes and that the Daily Mirror has been the subject of a calculated and malicious hoax."
The Daily Mirror apologized and regretted damage done to the Queens Lancashire Regiment (QLR) and the Army in Iraq (news - web sites).
Morgan's ousting came hard on the heels of a full frontal attack by the QLR, accusing the newspaper of being a recruiting poster for al Qaeda and urging Morgan to resign.
"It's time that the ego of one editor is measured against the life of the soldier," Brigadier Geoff Sheldon told reporters at the regiment's headquarters in Preston, northern England.
Senior officers from the regiment accused the Mirror of putting the lives of British soldiers at risk. One picture showed a soldier apparently urinating on a prisoner.
"That photograph was a mocked-up fake and it wasn't taken in Iraq. This is a deadly serious business because people's lives have been placed in jeopardy by what has turned out to be utter and complete nonsense," Sheldon said.
The Mirror pictures were published shortly after photos and revelations of abuse of Iraqi detainees by U.S. troops at the Abu Ghraib jail near Baghdad.
Observers say the Mirror pictures have irreparably damaged the reputation of British troops.
Colonel David Black, the most senior officer at the regiment which was based in Basra in southern Iraq but no longer has soldiers there, said the photos were a "recruiting poster for al Qaeda and every other terrorist organization."
But a man identified as "Soldier C," a reservist who has spoken to the Mirror and military police, told ITV in his first televised interview that prisoners were beaten without reason.
"They were beaten for fun," he said, his face in shadow. "I saw prisoners being punched, slapped, kicked, pushed around. Sand bagged, zip tied. I saw them in those sand bags for hours and hours on end. And then water would be poured over them."
"It was isolated incidents, and I believe a lot of the British soldiers didn't know that it was going on," he said.
Following the publication of the Mirror's photos, both Amnesty International and the International Committee of the Red Cross said they had expressed concerns to British authorities months ago about treatment of detainees by the British forces.
Officials said 33 cases against British troops were under investigation, with 12 ongoing. Of the 21 completed, six could lead to charges and 15 had "no case to answer."
For those of you lucky enough to be clueless, dodgeball -- also known as "Killer Ball" and "Bombardment" -- is a game in which two teams hurl soft, rubber balls at each other. When you are hit, you are out of the game. The winner is the last person standing. There are complex variations (including one called "Sniper"), but through most of the 20th century, basic dodgeball was a mainstay of elementary school gym classes.
"It was most popular among lazy gym teachers," says Eugene Borkan, a child psychiatrist in Portland, Ore., who admits he liked the game when he was a kid because he was small and quick. "I don't think the game has any positive values. It's about shame and humiliation. And it was particularly vicious when it became co-ed -- boys aiming at each other's genitals and at girls' breasts."
Deadbeat Dads Offered Jail or Vasectomy
NEWPORT, Ky. - For some men showing up in court for being habitually behind in child support, their choice is jail or a vasectomy.
Family Court Judge D. Michael "Mickey" Foellger has given the option to a few men who had multiple children and were tens of thousands of dollars behind on their child support.
Foellger said he considers it an effective way to get his message across -- that having children is a responsibility.
"If these children are in poverty because these guys are not paying their child support, I have no qualms about it," he said of his policy. "I don't think these men deserve to have any more children."
Foellger, the only family court judge in northern Kentucky's Campbell County, said he has never ordered a man to have a vasectomy.
But for some men, the option is made clear: Go to jail for 30 days, or have the vasectomy. The option applies to men who have had more than four children with at least three different women, and who owe more than $10,000 in court-ordered support.
Foellger believes he can legally give the ultimatum because the men are in contempt for not paying the child support, and a judge has wide latitude to enforce his orders. In such instances, the child-support cases are civil, not criminal.
In his 17 months on the family court bench, Foellger said, he has made the proposal six or seven times. Two men reported back with doctors' notes saying they had the procedure. Three or four others are in the process of doing so. One chose jail time.
None of the men has appealed his orders.
Attorneys who practice domestic law in Campbell County were either not aware of Foellger's policy or were unwilling to comment on it.
Beth Wilson, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union in Kentucky, said the policy is questionable.
Wilson said that getting men to pay child support is right and just. But suggesting sterilization is going too far, Wilson said.
"The government should not be able to coerce anyone -- whether directly or indirectly -- to give up your constitutional protections," she said. "We're opposed to any type of sterilization that's forced or coerced by any government agency."
Foellger said he had considered offering women accused of multiple instances of abuse or neglect the option of having a tubal ligation. But he rejected that, saying it's an invasive procedure that could have unknown consequences.
A vasectomy, on the other hand, is simple and reversible, he said.
Wife of Enron's Former CFO Gets Year in Prison
HOUSTON (Reuters) - The wife of former Enron Corp. Chief Financial Officer Andrew Fastow on Thursday pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor tax charge and was sentenced to 12 months in prison, becoming the second former Enron officer to be convicted.
Lea Fastow, a former Enron assistant treasurer, entered her plea before U.S. District Judge David Hittner in a deal that forestalled a trial neither the prosecution nor defense wanted.
She told the judge -- who sentenced her to a year in prison and another year of supervised release -- that she was guilty of submitting an income tax return that did not include money her family received from her husband's secretive partnerships.
In a statement to the court, she said, "I've made errors in judgment I will always regret. I didn't understand the impact they would have on my family and friends. I only intend to do right from now on."
It was the second time Fastow had gone before Hittner to agree to a plea bargain. The first one collapsed on April 7 after Hittner refused to stick with a five-month prison term prosecutors recommended and Fastow pulled out of the deal.
Dressed in a long black skirt and suit jacket, Fastow had no visible reaction when the sentence was imposed in a courtroom that was filled with supporters and media. However, her husband was noticeably absent.
She was not fined because she and her husband already forfeited $23.8 million when they pleaded guilty. She must serve the entire 12 months and will not be eligible for a reduction in her sentence for good behavior because she has been sentenced on a misdemeanor and not a felony.
Judge Hittner granted Fastow voluntary surrender, which means she is able to return home and will be told to report to prison at a later date. After the hearing, she was crying and hugged some two or three dozen supporters.
Before sentencing her, Hittner lambasted the government for recommending that she be sentenced on a misdemeanor tax charge after originally being charged with six felony counts.
"The Department of Justice's behavior might be seen as a blatant manipulation of the federal justice system and is of great concern to this court," he said.
Lea Fastow last year was charged with six felony conspiracy and tax counts by the U.S. Justice Department's Enron Task Force, as they tried to persuade her husband to cooperate with their investigation into the bankrupt former energy giant.
Andrew Fastow pleaded guilty to separate charges and will serve a 10-year prison term after he finishes cooperating with prosecutors.
Enron Task Force Director Linda Lacewell justified the government's decision, saying Lea Fastow had worked very hard to bring her husband in as a cooperating witness and made it possible for the $23.8 million to be forfeited. Fastow herself signed on as a cooperating witness about a week ago.
German pensioner fined for e-mailing his 'old tart' ex
BERLIN (AFP) - When love went cold, a German pensioner e-mailed his ex-partner and branded her "an old tart," it was reported -- costing him a day in court and a fine.
According to the German newspaper Bild, Dieter, a 66-year-old former painter and decorator, wrote that "in my eyes you're an old tart" and her new partner "should have got somebody younger and more attractive for his money."
He claimed in a Berlin court that he had not meant to send the e-mail, only to save it for reading later.
But it reached his ex, 60-year-old Helga, who filed a complaint with police that led to his prosecution for insulting behaviour.
He agreed to a fine of 100 euros (120 dollars) to stop the case, the paper said.
A former worker at McKesson Corp.'s West Sacramento distribution center has been awarded $19 million by a jury that found she was unfairly fired because her panic disorder caused her to miss too much work.
Charlene Roby, 57, formerly of Orangevale, was terminated after missing 10 days of work over 14 months, said her attorney, Christopher H. Whelan of Gold River. He said that amounted to discrimination and harassment against Roby because of her disability.
Last month, the U.S. Army announced 17 soldiers in Iraq, including a brigadier general, had been removed from duty after charges of mistreating Iraqi prisoners.
But the details of what happened have been kept secret, until now.
It turns out photographs surfaced showing American soldiers abusing and humiliating Iraqis being held at a prison near Baghdad. The Army investigated, and issued a scathing report.
Now, an Army general and her command staff may face the end of long military careers. And six soldiers are facing court martial in Iraq -- and possible prison time.
Changing fashions in the quest for manhood
April 15, 2004
The quest for modern manhood goes to strange places. The BBC, not to lag behind the American networks in the pursuit of bad taste, is staging what might be called the Super Bowl of Sperm. In a series called "Lab Rats," two presenters of an "educational" program pit their sperm against each other's as filmed in a tiny glass test tube under a microscope. The students in this exercise, naturally, are crawlers in pubs with big screens.
The redeeming scientific and social value is to demonstrate how different lifestyles affect reproductive abilities. Dr. Mike Leahy, the scientist, and Zeron Gibson, a comedian, will undertake rigorous training routines to see whether this has any effect on the swiftness of the racing sperm. The sperm will be measured and tested by a fertility expert. (No steroids, please.)
This race to expand an audience of bottom feeders comes in the wake of a new book by a British geneticist who speculates that the Y chromosome, which determines the male sex, is headed for extinction.
The Y chromosome has been self-destructing for years, isolated without the ability to recombine with a healthy partner like the X of XX chromosomes. Consequently the Y chromosome inhabits "a graveyard of rotting genes," writes Bryan Sykes in "Adam's Curse: A Future Without Men."
The destiny of the diminishing male gene is not a new discovery, but Dr. Sykes sets the extinction date considerably sooner than other geneticists have, estimating that men will be infertile in only 5,000 generations, or 125,000 years. He puts men on notice. (There's not a minute to waste.)
But, fortunately, there's time. Accommodations can be made. The vole, a mouse-like rodent, lost its Y chromosome a while back and it continues to supply male pests to the ecosystem. Sykes thinks it would be a good idea to dispense with the male anyway. Women could fuse eggs in a lab and produce a race of women who would radically reduce aggression and brutality, criminal and war characteristics of dominant males. Sykes has been so busy in the lab that he obviously has no time to read the newspapers.
He is less concerned with the battle of the sexes, however, than with the ferocious combat between genes that puts the male at a disadvantage. You don't have to be a degenerating gene to recognize that man is increasingly at a disadvantage. The generic postmodern male has become the nervous patient in the skit in which Rodney Dangerfield plays the shrink who tells his receptionist, "I'll take all calls."
This is a state of (non) affairs that men have brought on themselves.
They have tried on more outfits to define manliness than the emperor who ordered new clothes. We know what happened to him. Sensitive man proved he was merely too sensitive to reach for the check for dinner. The guy who went into the woods to beat the drums returned to the table with the same uncouth manners. Earth tones didn't make either Al Gore or the Alpha man more natural and the Metrosexual looks like a man seeking the approval of other men. (Those queer eyes for the straight guys don't help matters either.)
My mother always said that boys stopped growing into men when they began wearing cutoffs and flip-flops. I've heard other women speculate that real men disappeared when baggy pants two sizes too big ("prison pants," as they're known in some neighborhoods) became the fashion for boys and young men who want to be boys. On the other hand, if such men have something to hide, they might as well hide it.
Brad Miner, in a wonderful new book entitled "The Compleat Gentleman: The Modern Man's Guide to Chivalry," finds a dramatic example of how far men have fallen from understanding and acting with the grace of gentlemen. He recalls his irritation when, at a showing of the movie "Titanic," a group of twenty-something men began sniggering when two passengers dressed as if for dinner as it became clear that the great ship was doomed: "We're dressed in our best and would prefer to go down like gentlemen."
What the sniggerers didn't understand was how manners, dignity and courage express grace under the most extreme circumstance.
Fashion, of course, follows the culture and is often drawn on the heroes of the moment. The heroes of our day are our fighting men in camouflage in Afghanistan and Iraq. There's no distinction between who they are and what they wear. Fashion takes many forms but courage only one. You don't have to be a soldier to be courageous, and there's more than one way for the Y chromosome to survive. If only men dare.
©2004 Tribune Media Services