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CULTURE DIGEST: Some Starbucks to sell beer

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP) -- The Starbucks coffee chain plans to sell beer and wine in as many as 25 of its U.S. locations in an experiment to boost sluggish evening sales.

"Responding to customer feedback for more options to relax in its stores in the evenings, Starbucks Coffee Company today announced plans to bring wine, beer and premium food offerings to a handful of locations in Atlanta and Southern California by the end of this year," Starbucks said in a news release Jan. 23.

Customers already can purchase beer and wine in some Seattle locations, and Starbucks previously announced plans to expand the offerings to some Chicago stores.

"As our customers transition from work to home, many are looking for a warm and inviting place to unwind and connect with the people they care about," Clarice Turner, senior vice president of U.S. operations, said.

"At select stores where it is relevant for the neighborhood, we are focused on creating an atmosphere where our customers can relax with a friend, a small bite to eat and a cup of coffee or glass of wine," Turner added.

Starbucks already sells breakfast and lunch foods, and the company hopes that by selling beer and wine in select stores it can move toward earning more income later in the day.

But some customers don't approve of the idea to serve alcohol after 2 p.m. on weekdays and after noon on weekends.

"If I wanted a beer, I'd go to a bar," Doug Tanaka, a police officer in Valencia, Calif., told the Los Angeles Times. "I bring my grandkids in here. I don't want to have to deal with a drunk if I'm having coffee."

A watchdog group called Alcohol Justice said many U.S. neighborhoods already have plenty of bars, restaurants and stores that sell alcohol.

"The more places that open, the more risk there is of alcohol-related harm," Alcohol Justice's Sarah Mart told Reuters.


Starbucks has more than 10,000 U.S. locations and more than 6,000 international stores, and the company plans to add another 800 venues this year with half of those in the Americas, the Times said.

STATES MULLING ONLINE GAMBLING LEGALIZATION -- As budget deficits continue to increase, several states are getting more serious about legalizing online gambling as a potential revenue source.

Nevada, Iowa, New Jersey, California and the District of Columbia are among those whose leaders are taking steps to allow citizens to play poker online, The New York Times reported Jan. 17.

The American Gaming Association says legalizing online poker could generate as much as $2 billion per year in tax revenue, far less than the $18 billion brought in by lotteries in 43 states, The Times said.

Some states won't stop at poker, The Times said. The District of Columbia is considering blackjack and bingo, and New Jersey already attempted to legalize all sorts of casino gambling online. The bill was vetoed by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who supports online gambling. "I think New Jersey should be in that business. I think we should be an epicenter for that business, but I want to do it right," Christie said, according to The Times.

A report commissioned in Iowa found, "Given the ease, convenience and constant availability of online gambling, it is speculated that legal Internet gambling could exacerbate problems for an unknown number of Iowans with, or at risk of developing, gambling problems."

The U.S. Department of Justice in December cleared the way for states to generate revenue through online gambling, including lotteries, poker and other games that do not involve sports by reversing a longstanding position that all forms of online gambling were illegal in the United States.


WORLD'S 3RD SMALLEST SURVIVING BABY LEAVES HOSPITAL -- Melinda Star Guido went home Jan. 20 as the world's third smallest baby on record to survive.

When she was born 16 weeks early Aug. 30 in a Los Angeles hospital, Melinda weighed only 9½ ounces, which is about the weight of a soda can. She weighed 4½ pounds when she left the hospital, according to the Los Angeles Daily News.

"There's no words to say. It's just a great moment," said Haydee Ibarra, 22, her mother, the Daily News reported. "To finally take her home after four and a half months, to finally be able to spend the whole night with her. There's just no words."

Melinda's father is Yovani Guido, 24.

Rangasamy Ramanathan, chief of the neonatology section at Los Angeles County/USC Medical Center, said he is "cautiously optimistic" about Melinda's future. Melinda's brain is developing normally, he said, according to the newspaper.

"We don't expect to do miracles every day," said Ramanathan, who had never released a baby so small at birth in his 30 years at the hospital.

Even with exceptional care, few babies born as small as Melinda survive. The Daily News reported about 7,500 babies who weigh less than a pound are born yearly in the United States, but only 10 percent live.

N.H. HOUSE VOTES TO BAR FUNDS FOR PLANNED PARENTHOOD -- The New Hampshire House of Representatives voted Jan. 18 to prevent state-controlled family planning funds from going to abortion providers such as Planned Parenthood.

The House voted 207-147 for legislation that will steer family planning money to clinics that do not perform abortions.

"It is time to get New Hampshire taxpayers out of the abortion business," said Manchester, N.H., lawyer Michael Tierney, who is affiliated with the Alliance Defense Fund. "Planned Parenthood's business model is centered on abortion, and New Hampshire taxpayers want no part in it."


The vote was the latest skirmish in an ongoing battle between the state and the Obama administration.

The N.H. Executive Council, which is unique in the 50 states, voted 3-2 in June to prevent Planned Parenthood of Northern New England's six N.H. clinics from receiving $1.8 million in federal and state family planning funds. The council cited Planned Parenthood's abortion practice in making its decision.

It was announced in September, however, that the federal government would take over the granting of family planning contracts. The Obama administration granted a $1 million contract to Planned Parenthood of Northern New England later in the month.

The Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) is the country's leading abortion provider. PPFA's affiliates reported their clinics did 329,445 abortions in 2010, their first drop in 15 years. PPFA and its affiliates received government grants, contracts and reimbursements that totaled $487.4 million in 2009-10.

JUDGE REBUKED FOR ORDERING ABORTION -- A Massachusetts judge who ordered a schizophrenic woman to have an abortion and be sterilized has received strong rebukes from another judge and from advocates for the unborn and mentally ill.

On Jan. 6, Christina Harms, a Norfolk Probate and Family Court judge, granted guardianship to the parents of the 32-year old woman, referred to as "Mary Moe," and said she could be "'coaxed, bribed, or even enticed ... by ruse' into a hospital where she would be sedated and an abortion performed," according to a later appeals court opinion, the Boston Herald reported. "Additionally ... and without notice, the judge directed that any medical facility that performed the abortion also sterilize Moe at the same time to avoid this painful situation from recurring."


Andrew Grainger, a Massachusetts Appellate Court associate justice, struck down Harms' ruling Jan. 17 but sent the abortion portion of the decision to a lower court for a new opinion. According to the Herald, Grainger said, "No one requested this measure ... and the judge appears to have simply produced the requirement out of thin air."

When asked if she would have an abortion, Moe -- who is a Roman Catholic -- told Harms in a December hearing she "wouldn't do that," the newspaper reported. Moe had a "psychotic break" after having an abortion years before, according to She has a child whom her parents care for.

"Someone's mental capacity should have nothing to do with someone's ability to sterilize you and force you to have an abortion," pro-life lawyer Stephen Casey said, according to LifeSiteNews. "Humanity is not a malleable trait. It is a permanent trait. ... Your degree of dependency doesn't affect your humanity in the least."

Casey is chief counsel of Texas Center for Defense of Life, which seeks to protect women from coercive abortions.

Howard Trachtman of the National Alliance on Mental Illness Massachusetts told the Herald, "I didn't realize that forced sterilizations were going on anywhere. I don't see how people should be sterilized against their will for any reason."

The Massachusetts Department of Mental Health requested Harms grant temporary guardianship to Moe's parents so they might consent to an abortion for her, according to the Herald. The department defended its action after Grainger's ruling.

Harms, who was appointed to the bench in 1989, retired five days after her decision.

FOR-PROFIT ABORTION CLINICS TO ADVERTISE ON BRITISH TV -- For-profit abortion clinics have been approved to advertise on British television and radio for the first time.


The Broadcast Committee of Advertising Practice announced the policy change Jan. 20, according to the British Broadcasting Co. (BBC) News. A committee spokesman said the ads "are not there to promote abortion, they have to promote an array of services... ommercial pro-life pregnancy services will now be able to advertise too," the BBC reported.

There are no commercial pro-life pregnancy organizations, however, according to the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children. It said all pro-life organizations are charities that cannot afford to advertise on TV or radio.

Nadine Dorries, a Conservative member of Parliament, called the decision "appalling." She told the Daily Mail, "Broadcasters will be making profit through advertising revenue off the back of a service which ends life."

Nonprofit abortion clinics already were able to advertise on TV and radio.

BIOETHICIST URGES FUNDS FOR ARTIFICIAL WOMBS -- A British bioethicist has castigated pregnancy as an illness and called for government funds to develop what sounds like a science-fiction-type goal of artificial wombs.

Writing in the Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics, Anna Smajdor of the University of East Anglia said pregnancy and childbirth by women should not be tolerated, according to Only when artificial gestation, also known as ectogenesis, becomes a reality will women truly be equal to men, she said.

"Changes to financial and social structures may improve things marginally, but a better solution needs to be found," Smajdor wrote, according to "Either we view women as baby carriers who must subjugate their other interests to the well-being of their children or we acknowledge that our social values and level of medical expertise are no longer compatible with 'natural' reproduction."


She also wrote, "I suggest that there is a strong case for prioritizing research into ectogenesis as an alternative to pregnancy. I conclude by asking the reader the following: if you did not know whether you would be a man or a woman, would you prefer to be born into Society A, in which women bear all the burdens and risks of pregnancy, or Society B, in which ectogenesis has been perfected?"

Compiled by Baptist Press assistant editor Erin Roach and Washington bureau chief Tom Strode. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook ( and in your email (

Copyright (c) 2012 Southern Baptist Convention, Baptist Press

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