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Monday, February 02, 2004  

The news desk

  • Ugly American douses baby on plane
  • A tourist from the United States has scandalized Brazil by abusing an infant while flying to that country.

    SAO PAULO, Brazil (Reuters) - Poor Ronald Duffy. First he couldn't get into Brazil. Now he can't get out.

    The 35-year-old Pennsylvania native was barred entry in the South American country after he threw water on a baby whose crying annoyed him on the long flight from Miami, police said on Thursday.

    Duffy, who had been planning to spend Carnival with his Brazilian girlfriend in the city of Salvador, was arrested by federal police at Sao Paulo international airport when the flight landed on Wednesday.

    "I think I overreacted a little," Duffy told Estado de Sao Paulo newspaper.

    Police said Duffy appeared to be drunk on the flight. When the baby began to cry, he complained he could not sleep. He then asked for a glass of water and doused the toddler with it as the shocked parents watched.

    The other passengers "nearly lynched him" and applauded when police boarded the aircraft to arrest him, the newspaper said.

    Duffy, who said he had been taking medicine to sleep, was supposed to fly back to the United States on Thursday morning. But the Varig flight he boarded brought him back to the gate before take-off after he "acted up" again, police said.

    The blogosphere is largely a haven for Right Wingers. So many bloggers express contempt for other peoples and cultures that one gets used to it. Some, such as Little Green Footballs, build their readership largely on fueling hatred. Because ugly Americanism is the norm, it usually goes unremarked. But, here, we are talking about words on a computer screen. Much more direct harm occurs when such people act on their beliefs in the real world. The Ronald Duffy story epitomizes the attitude in action. It takes an ugly American to believe he deserves to get his way to the extent that he would abuse a baby in a public venue.

  • FCC to probe Janet Jackson's breast
  • The latest development in the brouhaha over singer Janet Jackson baring a breast during her halftime show at the Super Bowl is an FCC complaint.

    An outraged Federal Communications Commission Chairman Michael Powell on Monday ordered an investigation into the broadcast of the Super Bowl's halftime entertainment show, during which singer Janet Jackson's right breast was exposed.

    During the break in the National Football League's championship game, pop singer Justin Timberlake reached for Jackson as they sang a duet and tore open part of her black leather bustier.

    "That celebration was tainted by a classless, crass and deplorable stunt," Powell said in a statement. "Our nation's children, parents and citizens deserve better."

    Television networks are already on the defensive, with the FCC taking a more aggressive stand against indecency over the airwaves and Congress threatening to sharply raise the fines for such incidents.

    Viacom Inc.'s CBS television network, which aired the show, and MTV, which produced the halftime bonanza, apologized for what they described as an unscripted moment.

    A spokesman for CBS had no immediate comment on the probe and a Viacom spokesman was not immediately available for comment.

    Powell, one of my least favorite boobs, echoes the hysteria quite a few people have been expressing in regard to the incident. Ward, a commenter at Blogcritics, is typical.

    . . .It isn't a big deal until it affects YOU. True, this is a free society and we all have certain freedoms. However, MY freedom is to only view controversial (kon-trow-verse-yee-all) material at MY discretion. I would not have been watching, nor allowed my daughter to watch the pitiful descent into primal lust of anatomy that was displayed tonight.

    The response seems vastly out of proportion to the offense to me. Though some children saw the brief flash of forbidden flesh, I doubt they were harmed by it. If they were alarmed, it is more likely because of their parents' agitation.

    I suspect the FCC's investigation of this titillating episode will turn out to be much ado about nothing. It seems unlikely they will find any proof the baring of the breast was intentional.

  • Baggage search nets pocket knife
  • A Presidential candidate has run afoul of the rigid, yet arbitrary, constraints on airline passengers that are part of the Bush administration's so-called war on terrorism.

    ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - Sen. John Edwards had a penknife confiscated as part of a stepped up security search that caused a one-hour delay for the Democratic presidential candidate and others boarding his chartered plane.

    Albuquerque security officials gave extensive screenings to those traveling with the senator, including hand inspections of everyone's luggage and carry-on bags.

    ``We must look dangerous,'' joked the North Carolina Democrat, who was forced to go through a metal detector along with other passengers, and to have all his bags X-rayed, before being allowed to board his campaign plane.

    A small knife was confiscated from Edwards' luggage. [Emphasis mine.] ``It was a pocket knife,'' Edwards said. ``I didn't even know it was there.'' He said he was told it would be returned to him later.

    A pair of scissors, tweezers and assorted small tools used by photographers and television cameramen also were confiscated. The extra scrutiny, which was not explained, caused Edwards to be an hour late for his next scheduled appearance, a speech at a union hall in Oklahoma City.

    About three dozen people are traveling on Edwards' plane, most of them members of the news media.

    The episode leaves Edwards open to the criticism that he is a 'lawbreaker.' Silly? Yes. But, as the election season heats up, I will not be surprised to see attempts to make hay out of even an incident this minor.

    1:32 PM