Watercooler Stories

By PAT NASON, United Press International  |  Sept. 16, 2002 at 3:00 AM
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New York State Athletic Commissioner Bernard Kerik said last week that the state will become the first in the nation to require testing of boxers for anabolic steroids.

Kerik said the idea is to protect the health of the fighters, more than to deprive them of getting an unfair advantage over their opponents.

"We're looking out for the overall welfare of the boxers," Kerik told the New York Daily News. "Steroid abuse can have long-term medical effects on athletes, and that is what we are trying to prevent."

The new rules call for boxers to be tested on the day of their bouts -- and disqualified if they test positive for steroids. A second positive result will get a boxer a 45-day suspension, and four-time losers will lose their licenses to box in New York.


Every black inmate in one of the four cellblocks at the state prison in Lancaster, Calif. have been denied visitors for the last month, according to a report in the Los Angeles Times, raising questions about possible discrimination and civil rights violations in an official investigation into a violent attack on three prison guards.

Prison officials told the paper that visitation rights for more than 300 black inmates were stopped Aug. 12 after the guards were beaten. One of the guards was stabbed in the head.

A prison spokesman, Lt. Ron Nipper, said only black inmates in one cellblock were being denied visitation. They were also kept from mixing with some other inmates because the suspects in the attack were believed to be black.

Nipper said the investigation requires isolating the inmates, but some civil rights advocates and legal experts told the Times that restrictions based on race raises constitutional concerns, even though courts have given prisons leeway in dealing with inmates.

"In some ways, it's kind of racial profiling at its worst," said Kevin Wright, a criminal justice professor at the State University of New York at Binghamton. "And in terms of prison management, generally the idea is to treat people fairly and justly. When you start treating them more unfairly, they get more difficult to manage.

Nipper said two black prisoners may face attempted murder charges in the case, and officials are still looking for other black suspects -- so allowing black inmates in the cellblock more freedom could harm the investigation.


The Internal Revenue Service plans to let up on ordinary wage earners and focus on the wealthy in the search for tax cheats.

The IRS said it has come up with a secret statistical method for identifying rich taxpayers suspected of hiding income received from their businesses, investments, offshore accounts and partnerships. The agency said it has already begun to close in on people who promote abusive tax schemes -- including schemes involving currency trades and claims that people can avoid paying taxes by interpreting the law to mean that taxes are voluntary, not mandatory.

One result of the new URS emphasis will be a great reduction in the number of wage earners who will be audited -- particularly among those who make less than $100,000.


A Republican political action committee pulled a radio ad targeted at black voters in Kansas and Missouri last week after complaints that the spot suggested that Social Security benefits are like slavery reparations in reverse -- with Social Security amounting to payments to whites by blacks.

The ad copy read, in part: "You've heard about reparations, you know, where whites compensate blacks for enslaving us. Well guess what we've got now. Reverse reparations."

The ad suggested that Democrats think "blacks owe reparations to whites" and praised President Bush's proposals on Social Security. GOPAC, a political action committee that specializes in training candidates for political office, paid for the ad to run on a Kansas City area radio station with a predominantly black audience.

Oklahoma Gov. Frank Keating, the head of GOPAC, responded to controversy about the ad by calling it a mistake and pulling it off the air. GOPAC blamed the snafu on a local media firm, saying it had provided the ad to the radio station by mistake.

According to a report in the Washington Post, the media firm listed Richard Nadler as its contact on the radio station sales contract. Nadler had previously played a role in airing a controversial ad on behalf of Republican candidates in 2000, in which a woman said she transferred her son to a private school because drugs and violence in the public school were "a bit more diversity" than her kid could take.

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