Land Of The – Free, To Do What?

Junk food advertising is to be banned on all TV programs targeting under-16’s by January 2007.

Now that really is a step in the right direction. With obesity reaching epidemic proportions, the government has felt it necessary to take action – despite screams of protest from the junk food industry.

Melanie Leech, spokesperson for the industry called the measures “over the top”, adding, “We are shocked that after a lengthy consultation Ofcom has moved the goalposts……..this issue has always been about advertising to young children and [the] industry responded on that basis with a package of strong measures designed to meet the government’s objective.”

Ah, but as always when industries are left to regulate themselves they never do so effectively, and government must step in and do it for them. Like naughty children, the corporations pout and bluster, claim it’s unnecessary, and feign innocence.

Still, it’s good that a government of the people, by the people, for the people, can step in and regulate such irresponsibility by big business.

If only the American government would do the same!

Oh, didn’t I mention – this legislation is being enacted in the United Kingdom, not the United States.

The American government spent one million dollars in 2004 on a study of this self-same problem. The study group agreed: “There is strong evidence that exposure to television advertising is associated with obesity” and concluded that “most of the food and beverage products promoted to children are high in calories, sugar, salt and fat and low in nutrients.”

Another suggestion by this “study-group” was that Congress should “enhance nutritional standards and create incentives, including awards and tax breaks, to encourage companies to develop and promote healthful products for children and adolescents.” [my underline]

Or, to put it another way – let’s PAY these bastards to stop serving poison to our kids! Dammit, these fat-cat industrialists don’t grow obese on their own products. Their waistlines expand due to fine wines, rich foods, and company lunches – all paid for by the parent whose kid’s health is being ruined by their crap burgers and artery-clogging pop-tarts.

According to a Washington Post article from December 7th, 2005, Daniel L. Jaffe, executive vice president of the Association of National Advertisers, in responding to this report, said:

“”Government stepping in and saying what should be in messages on TV is a very radical proposal and is unconstitutional. If you do it for food, there’s no reason it can’t be done for other controversial product categories. People are already trying to restrict the advertising for prescription drugs.”

Unconstitutional, Mister Jaffe? Tell us whereabouts in the American Constitution it says you have the right to ruin the health of American children for profit?

The advertising of prescription drugs has never been allowed in Britain – and, believe me, Brits are better off for it. They leave their doctors to decide how best to medicate their illnesses. It’s what we pay doctors for, isn’t it?

As for government regulation being unconstitutional, doesn’t the government regulate pornography on TV? Wasn’t a national television network recently fined heavily for accidently broadcasting to the nation a brief glimpse of Janet Jackson’s nipple during a Superbowl game? Or was that just the pornography industry instigating self-regulation?

The Washington Post again:

“The Grocery Manufacturers of America, which represents major foodmakers, said it was disappointed that the report did not cite many of the changes food companies have made in the past year………McDonald’s, for example, added milk and apples to children’s meals. PepsiCo Inc. has mandated that half of its revenue from new products come from healthful products. Kraft Foods Inc. announced this year that it would stop advertising its less nutritious products on television and radio and in magazines aimed at children under 12. Many food companies have sponsored fitness campaigns and curricula at schools and youth clubs.”

Wow! It quite takes one’s breath away.

Parent and child walk into McDonalds. Parent asks child, “What would you like – a nice apple with milk, or a double Macburger and large fries?” Child responds, “I’d love the apple and milk, mommy.”

Just as if!

Junk food firms sponsor fitness campaigns and curricula at schools and youth clubs – like Philip Morris promotes giving up smoking on its half-baked website solely to promote its name and product on TV – after government regulation banned tobacco advertising, Mister Jaffe.

Unconstitutional? Philip Morris probably thought so.

If that’s unconstitutional, then let’s have more of it, but by a government of the people, elected by the people, and by golly, for the people – not for the convenience of fat-cat, corporate America, whose sole aim is to increase its power and wealth at the expense of the American people and their children.

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Of Rape, Intolerance and Enslavement……..

“Take all your overgrown infants away…….somewhere…..and build them a home, a little place of their own…….the Fletcher Memorial Home for Incurable Tyrants and Kings…” ~ Pink Floyd.

Once again vicious, inhumane, aspects of organised religion rear their ugly heads today as Pakistan’s national assembly voted to amend the country’s strict Sharia laws regarding rape and adultery. Islam is dominated by men, and the religious laws they “interprete” are heavily weighted on the side of the male sex.

If a Pakistani woman is raped, Sharia law states that she requires four male witnesses to the crime before she stands any chance of sucessfully prosecuting the offender. Such legal demands conveniently free men to rape whomsoever they choose and statistically one woman is raped every two hours, one gang-raped every eight hours, in Pakistan.

Thankfully, secular law has now stepped into the breach, where common humanity was lacking, and today’s vote means rape cases can now be tried in the secular courts where the pre-condition of four male witnesses does not apply.

Predictably, the Islamic hierarchy is screaming its self-centred concerns – stating that the new bill is a recipe for “free sex” throughout the country. Even if correct, that’s surely an improvement on the “enslaved sex” so encouraged by these bigots in the past.

It’s time these people had their noses pushed out of any further interference in the laws of Pakistan, along with their Christian counterparts in other areas of the world. Religious control of the masses has too long been the policy of those who garb themselves in finery, surround themselves with pomp, and dictate hypocrisy under the guise of divine knowledge.

The Middle East is still largely controlled by such misbegots, and in America the last six years has seen government allow the rise of similar evangelical, fundamentalist, mini-dictators, to positions where they threaten freedoms held sacrosanct by the Constitution:

The freedom of a woman to decide what is best for her body; the freedom to control scientific research using logic and humanity, rather than garbled, necrotic, interpretations of writings by long-dead simpletons without knowledge of the very term “stem-cell”; the freedom to believe what we choose without these disreputes trying to shove their garbled ideals down our throats at every opportunity.

These are just a few of the freedoms these egomanic, power-crazed, enslavers of human minds, continuously try to take away from Americans. They would impose their version of so-called “Christian” law in America, just as the Islamic brigade have imposed Sharia law on much of the Middle East.

Thankfully, Pakistan has today taken another small step into modernity. It has a long way yet to go.

But, so has America – still tainted and abused by the very religious bigotry its forefathers left British shores to escape.

BBC report HERE.

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Alliance Of Civilizations – Or, Just Voices In The Wilderness?

“Our world is alarmingly out of balance. For many, the last century brought unprecedented progress, prosperity, and freedom. For others, it marked an era of subjugation, humiliation and dispossession. Ours is a world of great inequalities and paradoxes: a world where the income of the planet’s three richest people is greater than the combined income of the world’s least developed countries; where modern medicine performs daily miracles and yet 3 million people die every year of preventable diseases; where we know more about distant universes than ever before, yet 130 million children have no access to education; where despite the existence of multilateral covenants and institutions, the international community often seems helpless in the face of conflict and genocide. For most of humanity, freedom from want and freedom from fear appear as elusive as ever.”

The above quote is from the beginning of a report released by the UN yesterday. The report is entitled “Alliance of Civilizations”. It is a lengthy tome – understandable, considering the idea was espoused over two years ago – and has been over a year in the compiling. Anyone wishing to peruse it in its entirety may do so (as a pdf. document) HERE.

Despite the disreputable Fox News Channel calling it a “questionable initiative”, the writers have produced a document worthy of attention, though it is unlikely to receive very much of that from the world’s politicians, whose present-day philosophy of “grab what we can for our own and stuff everyone else” is at odds with the message of peace, goodwill, and understanding emanating from its pages.

The original idea was put forward by the, then, Iranian President Mohammed Khatami, back in 1998, but no-one in the West showed much enthusiasm and it wasn’t until 2005 that the Spanish prime minister, Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, called out in the UN for “an alliance of cultures” to combat poverty and increasing Islamic radicalisation . Kofi Annan supported the idea, and the result was yesterday’s report.

Two members of the “High Level Group” responsible for compiling the document were Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa, and Karen Armstrong from the UK. Archbishop Tutu is one of very, very few high-ranking officials of the Christian church who deserves respect and admiration. Ms Armstrong’s knowledge as a historian of world religions is unsurpassed. Any think-tank involving both these people deserves more than a cursory glance.

Yet, reading through the report was a disappointing experience, in that it seemed to contain much that was simply obvious common sense. In a way, Fox’s damning as a “questionable initiative” seemed less unreasonable, though for vastly differing reasons.

I was left with the conclusion that our world society could not possibly be evolving into something more “civilized”, but rather must be degenerating into a free-for-all where no-one really cared what happened to others provided they, themselves, were fine. And really, this is what the report is all about. As a species, we are moving away from the ideals and principles once sacrosanct in our society. The milk of human kindness no longer overflows. It has run out.

Sure, we dig into our pockets and give to charities; some of us even get off our backsides and organize events, but why we do these things is questionable. Do we truly and unselfishly act to help those in other countries less well off than ours? Or, is it simply as a boost to our egos – another “step on the stairway into heaven”?

George W Bush took America to war in Iraq and Afghanistan so as, he said, “…….to not have to fight the terrorists on American soil.” The implication being that it was alright to kill Iraqis and Afghans – to fight a war on their turf, rather than ours. Is that because we consider them less important as human beings? Would it be more disastrous if the carnage happening on the streets of Baghdad right now was instead happening in New York, or Washington? Are not the rights of Baghdad’s innocent residents just as important as those of Americans?

Not to Americans – that is painfully obvious. And, of course, its not fair to single out Americans even if their president was the one to bring such differences into focus. We all are happier knowing it’s happening to “them”, rather than “us”. We can all express sympathy and throw up our arms in horror at the lastest atrocity in the Middle East, while deep inside feeling smug and content that its not our personal problem.

That’s what the “Alliance of Civilizations” is all about. It is a blueprint of what should be done to stop the degradation our species is imposing on itself. It basically says we should care for one another; nurture our relationships with other cultures; heal the wounded and the sick; love our neighbors as we love ourselves.

It has a certain familiar ring. Someone else spouted much the same ideas two thousand years ago.

He wasn’t listened to, either.

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