Vice Squad
Thursday, November 11, 2004
Trib on Vice

Sorry for the blogging lapse! Alas, I am leaving town shortly, if all goes well, so I am afraid that blogging will be in the light-to-non-existent range for a few days.

But first, some stories from today's Chicago Tribune (registration required):

(1) FCC Does In Private Ryan: It is a potential violation of FCC guidelines to air the violence and profanity in the film, "Saving Private Ryan," before 10 PM. The movie is slated to be shown tonight on ABC, in conjunction with Veteran's Day. But some ABC affiliates will not be broadcasting SPR, to avoid the risk of fines. They asked the FCC to clear the film in advance (i.e., to promise no fines for broadcasting it), but the FCC wouldn't take such a radical step -- despite the fact that the movie has been aired, uncut, in 2000 and in 2001, without any fines, though someone was moved to file a complaint. Vice Squad has repeatedly indicated that the "respond after the fact to complaints" approach of the FCC is poor public policy; I am shocked that the FCC hasn't altered its methods accordingly. Incidentally, it looks like lucky viewers in Des Moines, Sioux City, and Lincoln (NE) will get to see "a music program and the TV movie 'Return to Mayberry.'" Come to think of it, Return to Mayberry is a pretty good description of the FCC's renewed vigilance.

(2) NASCAR has announced that it will begin to accept sponsorships from hard-liquor companies. Turns out that NASCAR got its start, sort of, thanks to the liquor trade. Much of the impetus to "soup-up" regular cars came from a desire to outrun anti-moonshine agents.

(3) A 23-year veteran of the Chicago Police Department is now facing 10 or more years in prison, plus a slew of asset forfeitures, after being found guilty yesterday of charges related to the theft of cocaine from a police evidence warehouse. The officer's explanation for his surprising wealth was that it came from gambling winnings, but casino records didn't back that up.

(4) In a story from November 7, the Coast Guard announced that its cocaine haul for the fiscal year 2003/04 amounted to more than 37 tons. It isn't clear how much of that was seized from the evidence warehouse in Chicago.

(5) "Secret research conducted by cigarette company Philip Morris in the 1980s showed that second-hand smoke was highly toxic, yet the company suppressed the finding during the next two decades, according to an online article being published Thursday by The Lancet, a British medical journal."

(6) Philip Morris is also arguing before the Illinois Supreme Court to try to get that little matter of a $10.1 billion judgment against it thrown out. I guess they just picked a lawyer at random from the yellow pages, but surprisingly, it turned out to be former Illinois governor James Thompson.

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