Watercooler Stories

By ALEX CUKAN, United Press International  |  June 25, 2003 at 6:05 AM
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Hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons faces a subpoena for failing to disclose how much money he spent lobbying.

Simmons made headlines last week after being one of the first "civilians" to attend a seven-hour closed leader's meeting with New York Gov. George Pataki, Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver.

The state Lobbying Commission opened a formal investigation into Simmons, Andrew Cuomo and others involved in the so-far unsuccessful effort to roll back Rockefeller drug law penalties, The New York Post reported. A spokeswoman for Simmons had no comment.

Anyone who speaks to an official or staff member involved with passing legislation in New York must register with the lobbying commission and itemize expenses.



The harm of errors and fabrications by Jayson Blair while working at The New York Times is inspiring readers to new levels of vigilance.

While news operations are redoubling efforts at accuracy and accountability, readers who once ignored mistakes at a newspaper are calling in errors like never before.

A total of 135 corrections were published in The Boston Globe in May, compared to 85 the previous month, and 80 in May of last year,

It's not that more mistakes are being made, but that -- with readers' help -- more are being caught, according to The Globe.


California's wine industry is weathering the worst downturn in the industry's history.

The seeds of the oversupply were sown in the 1990s when demand skyrocketed and prompted growers to plant more vines. During the late 1990s, plantings soared by 45 percent.

Those grapes now are maturing but the "techno-rich" with a taste for an expensive wine in Silicon Valley no longer are buying, the British Broadcasting Corp. reports.

The 2002 harvest produced about 13 percent more than the year before but vintners got only one-half of the price per ton compared to a few years before.

According to the California Grape Growers' Association, 70,000 acres of raisin, wine and table grapes have been plowed under in the past year because of low prices in the Golden State's largest grape growing region.


Knitting is taking on a whole new look, and it's not a grandmotherly one -- more and more 20-somethings are taking up the craft, as are men.

Ran Schuey gets some rather odd looks sometimes when he takes up his knitting needles, reports The Day, in New London, Conn.

"You can see it written all over their faces: 'What are you doing this for?'" Schuey said.

The proportion of American knitters and crocheters who are younger than 45 doubled from 1996 to 2002, according to the Craft Yarn Council of America.

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