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Score one for our country’s pack of foam-at-the-mouth, mad dog, right-wing extremists.
For weeks, a crazed pack of these howlers has been stalking, snarling, and snapping at a 14-year-old Texas boy. Why is he under such a furious assault? Because his name is Ahmed Mohamed.
He’s the inventive young fellow who built a homemade clock, assembling it from scrapped parts inside a pencil case. Proud of the craftsmanship, he brought it to his high school in Irving, Texas, to show to his teacher. Unfortunately, school officials fell into a knee-jerk panic, leaping to the conclusion that a teenager with an Arab name carrying a clock in a box must be a terrorist with a time bomb. Police came, seized Ahmed’s clever creation, and led him out of MacArthur High in handcuffs.
Ahmed is an all-American boy, born and raised here by middle class parents who are citizens of our Land of the Free. His clock was not a bomb, but… well, a clock. So he was quickly cleared by the police. But then – inexplicably – they released a photo of the clock, which was splashed all over the internet, unleashing a torrent of Islamophobia. The right-wing blogosphere exploded with rabidly-insane conspiracy theories, vicious assaults insisting that the high schooler was planted in America by Islamic terrorists, and a rash of unsubtle threats.
“This has destroyed the whole family,” Ahmed’s uncle told the Dallas Morning News. “We are here for 30 years. We love Irving and want to be in Irving.” But, the family says, the attacks on the boy, seething with anti-Islamic, anti-Arab rage are too much. “All the crazy things,” says the uncle – “This is a 14-year-old kid.”
So Ahmed and family have moved to Qatar, essentially exiled from their home by American extremists. What an awful loss for America – in so many ways.
“Ahmed gets clock back on eve of departure,” Austin American Statesman, October 25, 2015.
2016 presidential candidates address inequality (sort of)
At last, America’s political leaders indicate that they now feel the pain of the poor and of the millions of working families slipping out of the middle class. Congress had previously paid no attention to the ever-widening chasm between the rich and the rest of us, but it has recently emerged as a central issue for such Republican presidential contenders as Jeb Bush, Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, and Marco Rubio. They are publicly lamenting the wealth gap and – by gollies – proposing solutions. Alas, though, the “solution” proposed by each of them is not to provide help for those who’ve been knocked down, but to offer aid to the same corporate elites who’ve been knocking down the middle class and holding down the poor.
Specifically, their solution is to cut taxes on corporations and the rich, do away with environmental and labor protections, and cut or privatize government programs – from Head Start to Social Security – that ordinary people count on. For example, Sen. Rubio proposes to kill the food stamp program (even though the need for it is greater than ever) and redirect that money into what he calls a subsidy for low-wage workers. Does he think we have sucker-wrappers around our heads? That’s not a subsidy for workers, but for low-wage employers. Why should taxpayers subsidize the poverty pay of profitable giants like McDonald’s, rather than making them pay living wages and cover their own labor costs?
I guess we should count it as progress that candidates are at least having to admit that inequality is a problem, but come on – offering the same old failed, anti-government snake oil is an insult to the American people. Jeb Bush shows how vacuous their flim-flammery is by saying that, to address the ever-widening wealth and income gap, he’ll “celebrate success and… cherish free enterprise.” Gosh, what a comfort that’ll be to America’s hard-hit majority.
Coca-Cola to obese people: Hey, exercise more!
Good news about obesity: A new scientific organization is coming to grips with this bulging national problem.
Called the Global Energy Balance Network, it comes at obesity from a unique perspective, namely that the key to controlling one’s weight is not cutting back on calorie consumption, but committing to a regular program of exercise. Great, huh? You can literally have your cake and eat it, too! Before you swallow GEBN’s approach, however, note that nearly all scientists on the obesity beat say the opposite – exercise is a minimal contributor to weight loss compared to putting fewer calories in the tank.
So what’s behind the contrarian new group? Coca-Cola. Yes, Global Energy Balance Network was created and is financed by the world’s leading purveyor of sugary sodas – and Coke is also the leading purveyor of empty-calorie “science,” trying to convince us that its bottled bombs of obesity have no bad effects on human health.
The corporate giant’s latest scientific fraud is prompted by corporate panic. Sales of full-calorie sodas have plummeted by 25 percent in the past two decades as public health campaigns have ratcheted up to warn of cola’s dangers. Consequently, obesity rates (especially for young children) are down – and Coca-Cola now lists “obesity concerns” by the public as the #1 threat to its business. The choice between your health and the health of their corporate profits is an easy decision for Coke’s top executives. So they’re trying this trick play to shift the obesity blame from their calories… to your lack of exercise.
Next, they’ll be promoting the Coca-Cola “workout plan”: Do Several repetitions of 12-ounce elbow bends each day with cans of Coca-Cola, and keep your heart strong by briskly striding from the couch to the fridge to grab each can. Remember, every repetition adds up.
“Coke’s Sugarcoated Research,” The New York Times, August 14, 2015