On Fidel Castro, Bill O'Reilly and Marie Claire

August 2, 2006

In case you are following this case as closely as this Cuban-American — although I was not dancing in the streets of Miami last night! — Cuban President Fidel Castro, is indeed, alive. But he has decided to keep his health a “state secret.”

No doubt many Cubans and Cuban-Americans like myself who grew up with all the anti-Castro hysteria in Miami will be relieved once someone with a surname other than “Castro” is in power. I am not sure what the future holds for the Communist island though.

I visited Cuba — legally — in August 2002 and that was the No. 1 question I posed to my family down there. They stared at me blankly and asked me what I thought was going to happen to them. One cousin even handed me a copy of the state-sponsored Granma that had an article, in which Fidel speculated the Americans would invade Cuba.

Considering we attacked Iraq, it’s not outrageous for Cubans to think this. But frighteningly, they seemed to have little control over their destiny and were waiting for events to unfold, pretty much like their elections, in which Fidel always wins. I really don’t know what will become of them once the Castro brothers die.

I, for one, expect pictures of the funeral procession next time any U.S. politician or media outlet claims Fidel is dead. I am convinced he is immortal.

Fox News Settles Suit: Fox News, home to Bill “Loofah Mitts” O’Reilly, agreed to pay $225,000 to settle a sex discrimination lawsuit filed by four women in the advertising and promotion department. The network denies any wrongdoing, but it plans to train workers on discrimination law. Hmm.

The EEOC complaint said Fox News failed to enforce the 1964 Civil Rights Act by retaliating against one of the four employees, Kim Weiler, who complained that women were assigned to freelance positions with fewer benefits, less advancement potential and lower job security than others.

The complaint claimed (Fox News Vice President Joe) Chillemi, during a department discussion about discrimination in the workplace, said that when choosing between hiring a man or a woman, “of course I’d pick the man. The woman would most likely get pregnant and leave.”

Still, this isn’t the first time female employees have called on Fox News for bad behavior. In October 2004, O’Reilly settled a sexual harassment suit filed by his former producer Andrea Mackris. Apparently, he avoided a court showdown over potentially embarrassing audiotapes, including his alleged plea to rub Mackris with loofah mitts.

Marie Claire Makeover: In its first edition under a new editor, the September copy of Marie Claire Magazine devoted extra letter-writing space for women to vent against Ashlee Simpson. In last month’s edition, Simpson extolled the virtue of loving one’s body as it is and then hypocritically got a nose job. “We’re dazed and confused — and disappointed — by her choice, too!” said the magazine’s new editor Joanna Coles.

Coles has some refreshing ideas that make me believe I need to subscribe to Marie Claire:

Ms. Coles, who was a foreign correspondent for The Times of London and The Guardian, is hoping to revitalize Marie Claire by giving it attitude and orienting it toward confident, professional women.

For example, she said, a growing number of women are earning more than their husbands, and she wants Marie Claire to be a place where women discuss such matters. Maggie Gyllenhaal, an actress who Ms. Coles said was not typical magazine cover fare, is the subject of the September cover.

Just shows you that “letters to the editor” are, indeed, effective.