- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 11, 2002

Bare bottom line
"This spring, the networks have been pushing more envelopes than Publishers Clearing House. Network censors even allowed unbleeped expletives. All of which leaves a few couch potatoes wondering what the #@%&! is happening to TV?
"Chalk it up to good old-fashioned economics. The six major networks averaged a 2 percent drop in viewers in the just-wrapped prime-time season. No wonder they seem willing to fail a taste test if it means garnering a few more Nielsen eyeballs. Especially considering HBO's 'The Sopranos' can get away with murder as well as more graphic sex and language.
"'Ten years after "NYPD Blue" showed [partial nudity],' reminds NBC Entertainment prez Jeff Zucker, 'I don't think [envelope-pushing] is out-of-bounds or over the line.'
"Though rules have relaxed considerably, most networks still employ standards and practices to screen out material seen as potentially objectionable.
"The notion that small-screen outrageousness merely reflects reality may seem flimsier than the collective wardrobe of Fox's 'Temptation Island.' But it's a common defense."
Nicholas Fonseca, writing on "The Crass Menagerie," in the June 7 issue of Entertainment Weekly

Macabre board game
"When India and Pakistan conducted their nuclear tests in 1998, even those of us who condemned them balked at the hypocrisy of Western nuclear powers. Implicit in their denunciation of the tests was the notion that blacks cannot be trusted with the Bomb. Now we are presented with the spectacle of our governments competing to confirm that belief.
"As diplomats' families and tourists disappear from the subcontinent, Western journalists arrive in Delhi in droves. Many call me. 'Why haven't you left the city?' they ask. 'Isn't nuclear war a real possibility? Isn't Delhi a prime target?' If nuclear weapons exist, then nuclear war is a real possibility. And Delhi is a prime target. It is.
"But where shall we go? Is it possible to go out and buy another life because this one's not panning out?
"If I go away, and everything and everyone every friend, every tree, every home, every dog, squirrel and bird that I have known and loved is incinerated, how shall I live on?
"So we're all staying. We huddle together. We realize how much we love each other. And we think, what a shame it would be to die now. Life's normal only because the macabre has become normal. While we wait for rain, for football, for justice, the old generals and eager boy-anchors on TV talk of first strike and second-strike capabilities as though they're discussing a family board game."
Arundhati Roy, writing on "War Talk: Summer Games With Nuclear Bombs," in the Nation

French fatherhood
"Paternity leave, introduced in France Jan. 1, 2002, has been a resounding success. According to the latest government study, 50,000 fathers had already benefited from paternity leave as of May 1.
"According to the legislation, a father may take paternity leave for a total of 11 consecutive days when one child is born or adopted, and 18 days upon the birth or adoption of multiple children. These days may be added to the three days of leave already provided for the father when the child is born. According to the government survey, 94 percent of fathers do in fact take leave for the maximum number of days offered. The paternity leave can be taken at any point in the first four months of the child's birth; however, 76 percent of paternity leaves are taken within the first 20 days following the birth of the child.
"French companies have wholeheartedly supported the new paternity leave. According to the Minister of Family, few companies have objected to their employees taking leave."
from "Paternity Leave, a Success Story in France" from News From France, posted June 5 on www.ambafrance-us.org

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