March 12th, 2008
06:43 PM ET

The “other” unbelievable headlines

Erica Hill

The details coming out about what soon-to-be former NY Gov. Eliot Spitzer may have been involved in, with whom, and for how long are compelling.  Every time I finish reading one article, a link to another seems to grab my mouse like a magnet. But there are other stories out there, and I thought you may want to learn more about them, too.  So… here goes.

An honors student, vice president of his eighth grade class, suspended for buying a bag of Skittles in school.  I admit, when I first saw this story my initial reaction was, “Give me a break!” But as I read more takes on this tale, my outrage softened a bit.

New Haven, Connecticut, schools banned in-school candy sales in 2003 as part of a wellness program. This (seemingly) model student said he didn’t realize the ban was in place – though his buyer said this Skittles dealer was being secretive – and his mom is now protesting the punishments.

The school cut his suspension from three days down to one, but it’s not budging on a request to give him his class office back.  Should he get the job back? Is New Haven right to ban candy? I have to say, I like hearing about schools limiting unhealthy choices, instead of bringing in soda and “juice” vending machines. FULL STORY

I know nothing is black-and-white, much as we may like it to be, but sometimes, don’t you wish all the bureaucracy could take a hike and decisions could be made simply because it seemed like the right thing to do? Not the politically correct thing, not the trendy thing, not the “this will win me votes” thing, the RIGHT thing. The choice you’d want your kids to make because it means they have a heart. The decision you know in your heart is good and kind; the one that – even if only for a moment – makes you feel like you can make a difference in this world.

Maybe you’ve heard about the Iranian teen asking for asylum because he’s gay.  I saw the headline and my first thought was, “How sad. How sad that this young man needs asylum simply because he is trying to be himself.” Yes, I know it is technically illegal to be gay in Iran.

Of course, I’m not sure why they need that law since there are no homosexuals in Iran. That interesting fact came to light last fall, when Pres. Mahmoud Ahmadiejad was speaking at Columbia and famously told the audience there weren’t any gays in Iran. Not long after, his media folks said what he really meant was they didn’t have as many gays and lesbians as we do in the US. But I digress…

The story today: A gay Iranian teen is seeking asylum in Europe because he says his boyfriend was executed in Iran, after saying the two were involved in a gay relationship. The man’s initial request for asylum in the UK – where he was studying – was denied, so he sought asylum in the Netherlands. Now that request has also been denied, and he could be deported to Britain… and possibly back to Iran. FULL STORY

I thought I misread this on first glance because it sounded too wrong to be true. Southwest Airlines grounded more than 40 planes because of potential structural damage. They flew the jets WITHOUT mandatory inspections… and investigators say there are definitely more than 40 that should not have been in the air.  Southwest is now investigating more than the planes, but all aircraft may be back in service by the end of the day. FULL STORY

With that, I bid you happy trails… see you at 10.

– Erica Hill, 360° Correspondent

Filed under: Eliot Spitzer
soundoff (25 Responses)
  1. Irish Kate

    Skittles. Good grief. I'm not worried about that particular boy – he'll do well no matter where he goes. I'm worried about all the kids in that school who aren't the student body president and don't earn straight A's in everything they attempt. You have to wonder that they haven't all been suffocated in the petty bureacracy.

    In my daughter's high school it's illegal to wear a headband because the kids might conceal drugs or weapons under them. Not kidding. And all anyone cares about is assuring that they all earn A's in math and science. I thought "A" mean "outstanding". If they're all making A's, then they're all by definition "average". I think someone's pulling our leg here, but my logic must be faulty.

    March 13, 2008 at 7:02 am |
  2. Jason

    And...I wonder if that European Aerospace group could design a Medium sized Skittle detector for our schools Erica! This does have all the makings of the next radical Islamic terror threat we could be facing. We can get McCain on that...he has nothing to do while HRC and the Big-O go at it! Three is a crowd and all.

    Until we can get a working prototype I guess we will just have to frisk them for Skittles. You know....the low-tech manual method.

    Jiminy! Only in America!

    March 13, 2008 at 5:08 am |
  3. JT from TN

    Skittles?? We got kids bringing guns to school killing people and we're worried about skittles. Come on, get real!!!!

    March 13, 2008 at 1:57 am |
  4. Stedley

    Skittles are great, and no one is going to eat that much sugar in a day, not even our young teenagers. The school is taking this too far, what about the kids that are bringing guns and weapons to harm. Spend more time on that, and that would make news to me. It is ashame that this child is missing even an hour of his education for this. Go get a cold or a cavity.

    March 13, 2008 at 1:23 am |
  5. Lauren

    This is the sort of lunacy that breaks kids' spirits. It's nothing but bullying and the humiliation that goes with it lasts a lot longer than 350 calories! Skittles? SKITTLES? Can you imagine what they'd done if they'd found PopRocks? Probably have executed the little fattie, eh?

    March 13, 2008 at 1:19 am |
  6. Justin

    Anderson's comments on this story reminded me that when I was in middle school we started getting "Channel One News" in our home room, and there was a big to-do with the local school board about whether or not we should be watching it because they dared to have advertising for things like M&Ms and Doritos. I think this was a common issue that Channel One faced with school systems throughout the country.

    Of course, Anderson was an anchor on Channel One a few years later (This was approximately 15 years ago in real life, but apparently 40 years ago for Anderson's silver hair.). I hope he hasn't forgotten the likes of Hicks Neal and Kathy Kronenberger who survived those now infamous candy scandals and paved the way for his unfettered Channel One career.

    Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to go remove my tongue from my cheek. Or maybe I'll just go eat some Skittles, M&Ms, or Doritos.

    March 12, 2008 at 11:36 pm |
  7. Emty

    Both the candy Gestapo and the story about that young man's difficulty in finding someplace safe, are just.. two very big examples of idiocy.

    To be punished for selling candy, which is an easy fund raiser for underfunded school programs, is just beyond asinine. Especially being handed a 3 day suspension and being stripped of his position for this? Balderdash.

    And the entire notion that this lad can't get asylum when it's clearly a matter of life and death... Makes me almost physically sick. That it is even needed for him to flee his own country because of who he is, is nothing short of heartbreaking.

    March 12, 2008 at 11:35 pm |
  8. bob kelley williams az

    The money trail was The Emperors Club and Spitzer’s downfall. What about unreported income and unpaid taxes on this money? The IRS needs to step up and look into this money movement.

    March 12, 2008 at 11:33 pm |
  9. Chris Johnson

    Regular gas is at $4.09 per gal at a few select San Francisco fill-in stations....help!

    March 12, 2008 at 11:15 pm |
  10. Chris

    Wait a minute...Skittles? A 3 day suspension for Skittles? That is one of the most stupid things I have ever heard. And I can say that given the amount of stupidity there is to talk about. I'm all for health, but that's a bit much. The health-nazis are out waaaay out of control. Get grip, enjoy a Skittle yourselves, and let's keep the focus of school on...oh...EDUCATION!?

    And I know this is the wrong comment page, but leave Eliot Spitzer's wife alone already. My money says she WILL handle this away from the camera.

    March 12, 2008 at 10:29 pm |
  11. Skittles?

    Kids are getting in trouble for buying candy from other kids? Better candy than a host of other things, like drugs, guns, giving test answers, writing papers for other kids. At least there was no prostitution in school.

    March 12, 2008 at 10:29 pm |
  12. Maya

    I work for a company that does third party inspections for suppliers to the Aerospace Industry. Based on some "Insider" news, Boeing and other aerospace big wigs are now coming down hard on the inspection agencies, after Boeing noticed a lot of flaws in the way these companies were being audited. I guess it was just a matter of time before this happened – although it makes me wonder, what will I think before I get on another plane!

    March 12, 2008 at 10:24 pm |
  13. Tannis

    Hey Erica,

    Give me the strength!!!! Don't they know if you tell a young child they can't have something they'll get it anyway??? I've seen several crack/meth deals go down at a local mall, drugs are a problem in our schools, guns are a problem in our schools, AND NOW THEY'VE TURNED TO SKITTLES?!?!?!? My daughter is 5 and I hope she doesn't get involved with kids like that when she goes to school!! It's all about educating our kids......"good kids don't do skittles"

    Have a great night Erica.

    March 12, 2008 at 9:55 pm |
  14. Michael, NC

    I know when I was in school, fundraisers were not permitted to sell any types of food before all of the lunch hours were over. I guess to cut back on kids eating junk for lunch. I do agree that there should be some encouragement to enjoy better eating habits, but to go as far as suspension...I know first hand that suspending someone from school only worsens problems in the classroom. Thats a pretty lame decision by the admins there.
    I love your posts. They are always a good deviation from the topics that others are running through the ground. Keep em coming. 🙂

    March 12, 2008 at 9:47 pm |
  15. Annette

    I just checked the Dutch newspapers, and they are reporting that the Netherlands couldn't process his request for asylum because GB had already denied it; they are sending him back to Britain under the assumption GB will not send him back to Iran. Many politicians are meddling, and the European Union is discussing this as well.

    I think this is a little too much bureaucracy, as usual; however, I would be very surprised if he actually is sent back. Most people in Western Europe are very aware of the situation in Iran; the persecution of gays is not news to the European Union member-states.

    Still, someone should sit him down and tell him it's going to be okay.

    March 12, 2008 at 8:26 pm |
  16. Christina, Windber, PA

    Erica, I think I can top your skittles story and....

    My niece came home from school and said she almost died three times. Yikes!! Obviously, I asked her what happened. Well, she had just went back to school after being off with a cold. She was still coughing and as it often happens, she got a coughing fit. I asked why she didn't take a cough drop so she wouldn't cough. She said you're aren't allowed to have cough drops in school, it's part of the Zero tolerance policy pertaining to drugs. Sheesh, that makes no sense to me at all. How do you compare cough lozenges to illegal drugs or even prescription drugs?

    Sounds like a "what were they thinking" candidate.

    I like your blog by the way; and your necklace last night. I know, very off topic!

    March 12, 2008 at 7:59 pm |
  17. Minou, New York City

    Hey Erica,
    I had a colleague from Turkmenistan, who emigrated to the US as a teen (and was granted asylum and a green card) because he was gay and in danger of persecution. I'm surprised and bewildered that neither Britain nor the Netherlands took him in. I wonder what their reasoning is.
    Are they afraid of an Iranian gay exodus ?

    March 12, 2008 at 7:59 pm |
  18. Tammy

    I'm not shocked about the Southwest plane issues. I still say you get what you pay for. What is scary is that the FAA allowed this to happen. Our federal government agencies looking out for us once again...

    The story of the gay Iranian teen just saddens me. The United States sent Jews back to their deaths during WWII, thought nothing of it, and the world said nothing. You'd think everyone would learn from our mistakes, from the lives lost. Of course we allow genocide to this day and turn our heads. What's one gay teen when we allow millions to die? Maybe our next president will respect all human life in all its forms and work with the world to do so as well. Wishful thinking on my part...

    And as a public school teacher who just finished high stakes testing (thanks NCLB) with her students, I watched them sugar up on candy and fatten up on junk chips and sports drinks after testing with the administration's approval. My hat is off to New Haven for taking a stand. Kids are overweight, even obese, are getting Type II diabetes and high blood pressure as a result, and are putting their lives at risk. Anything a school can do to help stop it is a plus in my book. And if this kid is the "sacrificial lamb", oh well. I'm pretty sure he knew the rules. A Skittles dealer? Come on. At least he wasn't selling his grandmother's painkillers and tranquilizers. A rule is a rule. It needs to be consistent no matter who the kid is in the school.

    March 12, 2008 at 7:41 pm |
  19. Lorie Ann, Buellton, California

    Hi Erica,
    Yes, there is a huge amount of news out there. It's a shame we can't find most of it reported on the nightly news. The internet is one source, but many people only watch tv news. It's time to put the Spitzer story to bed. No pun intended.
    The Skittles kid probably just thought he'd never get caught..Sounds familiar?
    Guess we all shouldn't fly the friendly skies with Southwest for awhile. It might be safer to saddle up a mule for a journey down those "Happy Trails." Take Care

    Lorie Ann, Buellton, Calif.

    March 12, 2008 at 7:39 pm |
  20. Fay, CA

    Granting asylum to Medhi Kazem is the right thing to do–the British Home Office's statement about how gays aren't routinely persecuted in Iran is ludicrous considering what happened to Medhi's boyfriend. I don't see how in good conscience officials could possibly send this young man back to Iran knowing the awful fate that may await him there.

    March 12, 2008 at 7:20 pm |
  21. Ross, Lubbock TX

    Thanks Erica!
    This was a nice break from sex and politics. 😉

    I just don't see how you can make "being gay" illegal in any country. (personal opinion)...being gay is not a choice, it's something you're born with. So to be executed because of something you have no control over? Sounds like a bunch of BS. I think England should help out this guy as much as possible.

    March 12, 2008 at 7:19 pm |
  22. Lilibeth

    Regarding the 8th grader who bought "contraband" Skittles...All I can say is...Yikes! I’m so bad about eating junk food; I'd hate to think what my punishment would be...LOL! Come on, they should give him a break! After all, isn't Skittles healthy...because it's sort of like...fruit? I know that's a stretch, but hey, I'm trying here...

    Regarding Mr. Kazemi...if he can't find asylum in Britain or the Netherlands, where else can he go? Why is being gay a crime? My heart aches for this young man...

    On Southwest...I can't believe those airplanes will be flying again by the end of the day. In any event, they broke my trust...I can't see myself flying them anymore.

    See you tonight!

    Edmonds, Washington

    March 12, 2008 at 7:15 pm |
  23. Sharon, Elma, New York

    I taught high school for 33 years. You can't begin to imagine the idiocy administrators are capable of.

    A suspension for Skittles. Give me a break. Wellness or no wellness it's time we started having some common sense!!

    March 12, 2008 at 7:05 pm |
  24. Jana, Indiana


    It would be nice to get some of these stories tonight in lieu of all politics or all Spitzer.

    March 12, 2008 at 7:03 pm |
  25. Betty Ann

    Yikes Erica!
    Gays are executed in Iran? Why am i surprised?
    Gays are the most suppressed group of all, even in the U.S.
    We talk about race and gender but sexual gender is a real prejudice in this country and the world. How would we react to gay or bisexual president?
    We have a long way to go~ ;-(

    March 12, 2008 at 6:58 pm |