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The Best and the Worst of the Week 

The New Orleans City Council

voted last week to expand health care benefits to gay and lesbian partners of city employees. The ordinance, sponsored by Councilman Marlin Gusman, makes permanent a policy executed in 1997 by Mayor Marc Morial. The mayor's office also released figures showing that claims made by gay partners equaled less than 1 percent of the city's total health insurance benefits between 1997 and May 2001.

ARTDOCS,

a nonprofit organization that helps uninsured artists obtain health care, exceeded its own expectations last week by raising about $21,000 at a benefit auction. Launched two years ago by gallery owner Jonathan Ferrara and local physician Dr. Vince Morelli, ARTDOCS has helped treat more than 200 artists at the Kenner Regional Medical Center.

Rep. John Cooksey

remains largely unapologetic after his nationally publicized slur that referred to turbans, the objects of faith worn by Muslims, as "diapers." The Monroe Republican told political Web site TheHill.com last week that "it was not a good choice of words ... but when I look at [Osama] bin Laden, he looks like he's got a diaper on his head, and anyone that looks like him can expect to be scrutinized."

The anonymous authors

of a flyer encouraging boycotts of Muslim-owned businesses in north Louisiana have created a small-town witchhunt. The originators, who have displayed their cowardice by refusing to identify themselves, name 44 stores they say are owned by Muslims. Store operators in Ball and Pineville have received death threats.

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