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Rock star can't stand losing, plans appeal

Rock star Sting has a reputation as being a progressive kind of guy, devoting a considerable amount of time and energy to human rights causes across the globe.

So it must have been somewhat embarrassing for the Police front man when an employment tribunal in Southampton, England, last week ordered him and his wife Trudy Styler to pay a £24,944 ($51,741) judgment in sex discrimination case.

Jane Martin, who worked for the couple as a chef for eight years, brought the complaint against her former employers. Ms. Martin claimed that Ms. Styler had become unhappy with her when she became pregnant and made her work long hours. Ms. Martin left her employers under what reports called "disputed circumstances" in 2006. Ms. Martin accused the celebrity couple of practicing sexual discrimination.

The employment tribunal agreed with Ms. Martin in May, and announced the judgment last week. Given his rock star wealth, Sting probably could stand losing the decision, nevertheless, he and Ms. Styler have already indicated they will appeal.

Keep ur mind on ur drivin in New York

Even the shortest text message could cost you some long green in the Empire State if a New York state senator finds enough support for a measure that would ban texting while driving.

Under legislation proposed by Sen. Carl Marcellino, R-Syosset, typing, sending or reading a text message while driving would be illegal. Sen. Marcellino introduced his bill earlier this year, but last week called on his colleagues to enact it swiftly after texting was cited as the cause of an accident that killed five young women in upstate New York.

"Text messaging is like second nature to young people," he said in a statement issued last week. "They do it all the time. However, there are times when the consequences of texting can be deadly."

Sen. Marcellino's bill would levy a $100 fine on anyone caught texting on a cell phone behind the wheel. His efforts to better police the edges of the automotive information highway don't end with texting--he's also introduced legislation to ban the installation of television sets--other than global position satellite screens--in dashboards.

Convicted politician blames her lawyers

The former town president of Cicero, Ill., whose role in a municipal insurance scam helped land her in jail, has hired a new lawyer and is trying to get her 2002 corruption conviction dismissed, arguing that she wasn't properly defended.

Betty Loren-Maltese was sentenced to eight years in a federal prison for corruption in connection with a scheme to steal several million dollars from the town's self-insured health plan. A 2001 federal indictment charged Ms. Loren-Maltese and her cohorts with using money withheld from employee paychecks to pay health insurance premiums to buy a Wisconsin golf course and a horse farm.

According to a 93-page petition filed July 17 in U.S. District Court in Chicago, Ms. Loren-Maltese's lawyers failed to call available witnesses to establish the authenticity of the minutes of meetings of the Cicero Board of trustees during 1996 and 1997. The minutes show that she "actively sought an independent investigation of Specialty Risk Consultants, the firm handling town insurance," the court document states.

Chicago attorney Leonard Goodman acknowledged taking over Ms. Loren-Maltese's case.

Terry Gillespie, one of Ms. Loren-Maltese's previous attorneys, confirmed that he is no longer representing her but declined to comment further.

Potter publisher pleads for no plot publicity

The fate of Harry Potter and his archenemy Voldemort may now be well known by all speed-readers, but last week the publisher of the seventh and final installment of the Harry Potter series was pleading with fans who might have received an early copy of the book to keep it literally under wraps.

Copies of "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" surfaced on the Internet last week after Melrose Park, Ill.-based distributor Levy Home Entertainment and its customer Itasca, Ill.-based retailer allegedly shipped the book up to a week before the permitted July 21 release date.

In a suit reportedly filed in Cook County Circuit Court, New York-based Scholastic said that retailers and distributors signed special contracts embargoing the book until July 21 and the alleged breach endangers its efforts to maintain the surprise of the book's content for all fans at the same time.

Although Scholastic said in a statement that the number of books that were shipped early is small--about one-hundredth of 1% of all U.S. copies--it asked fans who might have received an early copy to keep quiet.

"We are also making a direct appeal to Harry Potter fans who bought their books from and may receive copies early, requesting that they keep the packages hidden until midnight on July 21st," Scholastic said.

Hope springs eternal.

Contributing: Mark A. Hofmann, Sally Roberts, Joanne Wojcik