Dining News

Seven Master Sommeliers Suspended Over Alleged Sexual Harassment

The seven men will be subjected to an external investigation

Last week, the New York Times broke a story about a pattern of sexual harassment and abuse within the Court of Master Sommeliers, Americas, the non-profit that oversees the process by which wine experts can assume the coveted title of master sommelier. The court has now suspended seven men, including co-founder Fred Dame, who all hold the title of master sommelier, and who were accused of sexual harassment by women who were candidates of that title.

The seven men will be barred from participating in any court activities, but the organization stopped short of revoking their membership altogether, pending a California hearing process. Geoff Kruth, one of the leading educators in the court, resigned on Sunday, as numerous women accused him of manipulating them into sex. Matthew Citriglia was also one of the men suspended. The original Times report recounts Citriglia allegedly shutting student Alexandra Fox out of classes and training after she rejected his sexual advances.

The scandal at the Court of Master Sommeliers highlights the ongoing sexism within the wine industry. The Court issued an apology on Sunday, saying it “recognizes that it has failed its membership, our industry, and most importantly, the women who bravely shared their stories,” and that the “investigation will be led by an outside, independent firm, which will examine all allegations to the fullest extent possible.”

And in other news…

  • Aurify Brands has bought Maison Kayser’s NYC locations, and plans to turn them into Le Pain Quotidiens. [NRN]
  • Teamster’s Local 445 members who drive delivery trucks for Whole Foods are threatening to strike, claiming Whole Foods has failed to supply them with PPE, and hasn’t disinfected their trucks. [NYPost]
  • Great British Bake Off finalist Luis Troyano has died of esophageal cancer. The show put out a statement, saying “It was a huge honour and pleasure to have him in the Bake Off Tent for Series Five. Our condolences and thoughts go out to his friends and family.” [EW]
  • Cheesecake Factory is doing really well with to-go business, even as in-restaurant dining resumes. [RB]
  • It’s the day after the election, do you know where the Chinese food near you is?:

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American Cyclist Suspended by Team Over Pro-Trump Comments on Social Media

Quinn Simmons

American cyclist Quinn Simmons, 19, was suspended by the Trek-Segafredo team on Thursday over his pro-Trump social media posts.

“Regrettably, team rider Quinn Simmons made statements online that we feel are divisive, incendiary, and detrimental to the team, professional cycling, its fans, and the positive future we hope to help create for the sport,” Trek-Segafredo said in a statement. ”(He) will not be racing for Trek-Segafredo until further notice.”

TRENDING: Leftist Former CEO of Twitter Dick Costolo Wants to Watch His Political Opponents Get Lined Up Against a Wall and Shot in the “Revolution”

The 19-year-old 2019 junior road race world champion on Wednesday responded to Jose Been, a Dutch journalist who slammed Trump as a racist.

Quinn Simmons responded, “Bye” with a black hand waving emoji.

Another Twitter user taunted Simmons and replied “Apparently a Trumper,” Simmons responded, “That’s right” with a US flag emoji.

Apparently these Tweets from an exceptionally talented 19-year-old athlete were so criminal and offensive that he is no longer able to race until further notice.

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Breaking New

Student suspended for going to class on remote-learning day

A Long Island high school senior is reportedly facing a five-day suspension after he ignored protocol by showing up to class Tuesday when he was scheduled to learn remotely.

“I was going to school like students should be going to school,” Maverick Stow, 17-year-old student at William Floyd High School explained to WABC of why he attended in-person classes on the first day of school.

“I think that a five-day suspension is out of line,” Stow, who has the support of parents, told the outlet.

Stow said trouble first arose when his first-period teacher noticed he wasn’t on Tuesday’s in-person roster.

The teacher sent Stow to the principal’s office and he was asked to report home.

“‘Well, no, I think I need to go to class. This is during class time,’” Stow said he responded to administrators.

Instead of following their orders, Stow said he finished the day learning in class before being notified of the disciplinary action.

His mother, Nora Kaplan-Stow, agreed with her son’s decision.

“Kids need to be in school every day. Virtual learning is not learning,” she told WABC. “My son is being suspended because he wants to be in school.”

Added the student’s father, Richard Stow: “He’s a very smart kid. He knows what he’s doing. When he said this is how he wanted to handle things, we were like, ‘Then go for it.’”

A spokesman for the school district, in a statement to the news station, said its hybrid learning model enables them to adhere to state mandated social-distancing measures.

“Students who refuse to adhere to their scheduled in-person days and/or flagrantly disregard directives to leave school grounds and cause a disruptive environment for other students, will face disciplinary actions,” a spokesman said.

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Breaking New

Coach Maggie Haney suspended by USA Gymnastics for 8 years

USAG said a “hearing related to Maggie Haney” had concluded in a statement to CNN, adding that an independent panel “found that Ms. Haney violated the USA Gymnastics Code of Ethical Conduct, Safe Sport Policy, and other policies. As a result, the hearing panel determined that Ms. Haney is suspended from membership, and any coaching of USA Gymnastics athletes or in member clubs, for a period of eight years…”

The organization has not released details about the allegations that led to the suspension. But the Register, citing interviews and documents, reported several athletes alleged in hearings that began in February that Haney bullied and harassed them, including by cajoling them to compete or train while injured.

The Register reported that one athlete who testified against Haney was Hernandez, who left Haney’s tutelage after the 2016 Olympics, at which she won a team gold and an individual silver on the balance beam.

CNN’s attempts to reach Haney’s attorney Russell Prince, as well as Hernandez, for comment weren’t immediately successful. Prince told The New York Times he and his client disagreed with the hearing panel’s findings.

“We don’t think that it in any way, shape or form evaluated all of the facts of the circumstances,” Prince said. “The process is completely heavy-handed. I would anticipate an arbitration.”

The suspension means Haney, who had coached at MG Elite in New Jersey, cannot coach any member athletes, or at member clubs, for eight years. She can apply for reinstatement afterward, the organization said.

After the 2016 Olympics, Hernandez took a break from gymnastics and won ABC’s 23rd season of “Dancing with the Stars” in late 2016. She later left her home state of New Jersey to train with a different gymnastics coach in California.

In an Instagram post Thursday, Hernandez said it was difficult to share her story with the hearing panel but felt doing so could help others. She doesn’t name her coach in the post.

“This kind of behavior and treatment is never okay,” she wrote. “There are some things from my experience that will unfortunately stick with me forever, and I’ll always be working to heal from it — but sharing my story gives me a chance to close the chapter, take a breath, and start something new.”

Haney’s suspension comes as USA Gymnastics tries to recover from the sexual abuse scandal involving former national team physician Larry Nassar.

Nassar, once a celebrated sports physician for the USAG national team and Michigan State University, was sentenced to decades in prison in 2017 and 2018 after a series of guilty pleas to child pornography and sexual misconduct charges in federal and state courtrooms.

Those charges came after more than 150 women and girls said he sexually abused them over the past two decades.

USAG filed for bankruptcy in late 2018 as it struggled to recover from the scandal. As part of a plan to emerge from bankruptcy, the organization has proposed a $215 million settlement for survivors of Nassar’s abuse, but some athletes have criticized the proposal.

CNN’s David Close contributed to this report.

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Breaking New

Robert Durst murder case among Los Angeles jury trials suspended because of coronavirus concerns

Los Angeles Police Department spokesperson Josh Rubenstein confirmed the contents of the memo.

“Effective Monday, March 16, 2020, there will be a suspension of all jury trials, both those currently in progress, as well as those pending commencement, through March 30th. This notification applies to jury trials only,” the memo reads.

The hiatus would include the murder trial of multi-millionaire Robert Durst, pending a final approval from the judge presiding over the his case.
In a statement, Presiding Judge Kevin Brazile said that he does not have the authority to close the courts in the event of a pandemic but can make adjustments to lessen the flow of people in the courthouse.

Officials will re-examine the suspension decision before March 30, according to a police memo obtained by CNN.

Durst is accused of killing his best friend to stop her from incriminating him in the 1982 disappearance of his wife Kathleen McCormack Durst. The 76-year-old defendant was the subject of the HBO mini-series “The Jinx.”

He was arrested and charged in March 2015 in the death of Susan Berman, who was found dead in her Beverly Hills home two days before Christmas in 2000.

He has pleaded not guilty.

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Breaking New

New Jersey dentist suspended after 1 patient dies and 14 others suffer heart infections

Fifteen individuals who were treated at the dental office of Dr. John Vecchione in Budd Lake between 2012 and 2014 suffered from bacterial endocarditis. Twelve of the patients required heart surgery and one died, according to the release.

The state alleges that Vecchione’s “continued failure to follow infection protocols exposed his patients to the risk of contracting the serious heart infection,” the release states. The failure has continued despite numerous inspections by the Department of Health informing the dentist of deficiencies in his infection control practices, according to the 2016 complaint filed by the NJ Attorney General’s Office.
The dentist agreed to a temporary suspension of his license in 2016 after the unannounced state inspections of his office found breach of infection protocols. The subpar standards Vecchione maintained at his office included failure to use sterile water during surgical procedures, non-sterile preparation of instruments and improper handling and disposal of needles, according to the complaint.
Vecchione agreed to settle the case in a January 22 final consent order. The order retroactively starts the five-year suspension beginning August 2016, followed by a one-year probationary period. This allows Vecchione to begin probation in August 2020, with many attached conditions, namely abiding by the terms of the order and proving he is competent to resume practice.

“This settlement brings closure to a troubling case in which a medical professional allegedly took irresponsible risks with patients’ health by disregarding health and safety standards,” Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal said in the release. “We are committed to ensuring that medical practitioners do not flout professional standards in place to protect patients’ health and safety.”

The string of bacterial infections was diagnosed as endocarditis of the aortic heart valve after patients suffered symptoms of abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting, leading them to seek hospital care, according to the complaint. Patients who saw Vecchione for tooth extractions and no prior cardiac history ended up having heart surgery. At least four of the patients who were forced to undergo heart operations were under the age of 26, the complaint shows.

A single tooth extraction led a 54-year-old male with no prior cardiac history to his death in 2013, according to the complaint. After complaining of fever, night sweats and weight loss following an oral surgery procedure by Vecchione, the patient was admitted to the hospital where an ultrasound of his heart showed “vegetation” of his valves. He underwent heart valve replacement surgery, but died from a post-operative heart infection. The underlying cause was “complications of enterococcus endocarditis,” according to the complaint.

“Dr. Vecchione spent years denying any responsibility for the infections contracted by patients in his care,” Howard Pine, acting director of the Division of Consumer Affairs said in Monday’s press release.

His failure to comply with the CDC’s Infection Control Practices for Dentistry amounted to gross negligence or malpractice that “endangered the life, health, welfare or safety” of his patients, the complaint said.
According to a 2013 study indexed in the National Institutes of Health, bacterial endocarditis can stem from dental treatment, but the occurrence is rare. There is an estimated 1 to 5 cases per 100,000.

The Department of Consumer Affairs, which oversees the dental licensing board, wouldn’t specify whether the suspension is a standard procedure considering the allegations Vecchione faces. “Each case is fact sensitive, with each resolution based on the law, the undisputed facts, and the proofs of each case,” a DCA spokesperson told CNN.

Vecchione’s attorneys did not immediately respond to CNN’s requests for comment.

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Breaking New

A college football coach was suspended after saying he’d like leadership tips from Hitler

Morris Berger was hired as Grand Valley State University’s football offense coordinator on January 20. Three days later, he gave an interview to the Grand Valley Lanthorn, the university’s student newspaper.

In most of the Q&A with the Lanthorn’s sports editor, Berger discussed his coaching background and love of football.

But then the student editor asked him which historical figures he’d like to have dinner with, and Berger chose a controversial one.

“This is probably not going to get a good review, but I’m going to say Adolf Hitler,” Berger told the sports editor. “It was obviously very sad and he had bad motives, but the way he was able to lead was second-to-none. How he rallied a group and a following, I want to know how he did that. Bad intentions of course, but you can’t deny he wasn’t a great leader.”

“The way he was able to get people to rally around him was crazy,” the student journalist replied.

Berger, who holds a degree in history according to the Lanthorn, went on to name two more historical figures he’d like to dine with: Former President John F. Kennedy and Christopher Columbus — another some call a controversial choice for enslaving indigenous people upon landing in the New World.

“Think about putting yourself in the setting of that unknown, and then to take it all in as you arrive is crazy,” he said of Columbus.

Jason Crouthamel, a history professor who teaches courses on the Holocaust at Grand Valley State University, called the comments “most harmful.”

“Berger’s comments are atrocious,” he told CNN, mirroring the criticism the comments received from the student body. “Leading a society toward genocidal violence should be absolutely condemned.”

The university confirmed to CNN it had suspended Berger and is “conducting a thorough investigation.”

“The comments made by Offensive Coordinator Morris Berger, as reported in The Lanthorn student newspaper, do not reflect the values of Grand Valley State University,” the university said in a statement to CNN.

Neither Berger nor the university athletic department responded to CNN’s requests for comment.

The comments were originally removed

Grand Valley Lanthorn editor-in-chief Nick Moran told the Detroit Free Press that a representative for the athletic department asked the paper’s staff to remove the Hitler comments from the interview two days after it was published.

“He said it would make their life a whole lot easier,” Moran, a third-year student, told the paper.

In an editor’s note on the interview’s webpage, Moran wrote that Berger’s final two responses were “mistakenly removed” from the original story after it was published on Thursday. It was republished in full on Sunday and is a “direct transcription of the full, recorded interview.”

“It’s intimidating when someone in power reaches out to you…and you’re a student, and it’s a professional here on campus saying to take it down,” he told the Detroit Free Press. “But I think at the end of the day we’re really satisfied with our decision to keep everything up.”

In a statement to CNN, Moran said the paper stands by its decision to publish the interview in full.

“With so many eyes on our publication, we were nervous at first, as this is larger than a community story now,” he said. “But as student journalists, we’re proud that we stood by our work, upheld journalistic integrity and the work that has been shared reflects that.”

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Breaking New

Babson College Professor Suspended For Facebook Post About Iran – CBS Boston

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Celebrity Entertaiment

Romance novelist Courtney Milan suspended for ‘racist mess’ claims

So much for “happily ever after.”

Romance novels are generally thought of as happy — so it’s ironic that during the holidays, the genre got into an online war. It all started when an organization called Romance Writers of America (RWA) suspended former board member Courtney Milan, a best-selling novelist.

The reason?

Milan, who is of Chinese-American descent, had Tweeted concerns about a “f - - king racist mess” in the industry, sparking fellow romance novelists Kathryn Lynn Davis and Suzan Tisdale to file formal complaints with the RWA.

Instead of engaging with her comments, the organization punished her for violating its code of ethics with her “negativity,” according to the Wrap.

RWA’s suspension of Milan sparked an outcry on social media, from authors of all stripes.

The hashtag #IStandWithCourney trended, showing support for Milan. NPR critic and author Linda Holmes tweeted, “Welp, if Romancelandia is going to split in two, I’m going to be on the Courtney Milan side,” garnering over 1,000 likes.

Sci-fi author John Scalzi made fun of RWA’s approach of dropping this news before the holidays and closing up shop rather than dealing with the fallout.

“So, RWA (apparently rather dubiously) suspended a popular former board member with a large social media presence and then . . . took two days off to let that member and her supporters craft the media narrative it will then have to respond to when it gets back?” he tweeted, along with a shrug emoji.

Author Alyssa Day announced her resignation from the organization. “I resigned from RWA,” she tweeted on Christmas Eve. “Allowing racists to weaponize RWA’s Code of Ethics against someone calling out that racism goes against everything a code of ethics stands for, and this result is appallingly and profoundly wrongheaded. I’m done.”

Many authors mocked RWA for thinking they could get away with dropping this news during Christmas and having nobody notice.

Best-selling romance novelist Alisha Rai tweeted, “I’m sure RWA thought delivering this news right before the holidays would blunt its reach and it’s like SURPRISE BITCHES WE CAN BE MAD AND WRAP.”

Bree Bridges, another best-selling author in the genre, also laughed at the idea that dropping this news right before the holidays would bury it. “Thoughts and prayers to everyone who thought Romancelandia couldn’t walk and chew gum,” she posted. “Or in this case celebrate various holidays while flipping tables.”

Amid online pressure from the writing community, RWA is now eating crow. The board emailed Milan appearing to rescind their decision.

The email from RWA’s executive deputy director Carol Ritter, which Milan shared on Twitter, read, “Dear Courtney, at a meeting today that identified a gap between policy and progress, RWA’s Board of Directors rescinded its vote accepting the findings of the Ethics Committee report and its consequent penalties against Courtney Milan pending a legal opinion. RWA reiterates its support for diversity, inclusivity and equity and its commitment to provide an open environment for all members.”

But the damage has been done. RWA already got a storm of negative press, several writers resigned from the organization — and as Milan pointed out, the message is not an apology.

Writer Hillary Monahan summed up the debacle: “Chinese American author critiques white woman’s portrayal of Chinese Americans, white woman calls her a neo-nazi for it, RWA backs white woman and censures author, -BACKLASH-, RWA rescinds censure, everyone eats a giant holiday meal, RWA roils in own vomit. Missing anything?”

RWA did not respond to The Post’s request for comment.

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Breaking New

Josh Gordon of the Seattle Seahawks has been suspended again

An NFL spokesperson made the announcement Monday, saying Gordon, who plays for the Seattle Seahawks, has been suspended indefinitely without pay for violating NFL policies on performance-enhancing substances and substances of abuse.

Gordon, who has deleted his Twitter and Instagram pages, has not publicly commented.

The football player has faced similar issues in the past. While playing for the Cleveland Browns between 2014 and 2018, Gordon participated in only 11 games because of suspensions, according to the NFL.
Gordon just joined the Seahawks in November, having been waived by the New England Patriots. In the five games he played with Seattle, Gordon made seven catches on 11 targets, for a total of 139 yards, according to the NFL.
At a Seahawks news conference, head coach Pete Carroll said he couldn’t discuss the details of what happened, but did say he was unaware of any problems. He commended Gordon’s work ethic and personality, saying the team wishes him the “very best.”

“Our heart goes out to Josh having to face this again,” Carroll said. “The fact that he’s up against it and all, it poses a great challenge to him.”

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