Wednesday, December 06, 2006

News Briefs (And The Usual Opinionated Commentary)

Yes, it's that time again.

World Powers Fail, Again


PARIS — Six world powers made "substantive progress" but failed to reach an accord on a U.N. resolution to punish Iran for defying U.N. demands to halt its nuclear program, the French Foreign Ministry said after talks in Paris Tuesday.

Can anyone define "substantive progress"? Is it diplomatic jargon designed to sugar-coat? Is it relative? Is it reality?

I only ask these things, because while I am having a little trouble understanding it, I do know what the phrase, "failed to reach an accord", means. We are all used to that one.


World Condemns Fiji Coup


After months of threats, Fiji's military leader Commander Voreqe Bainimarama ignored international warnings and staged the coup arguing drastic action was needed against Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase, who he has accused of corruption.

In a small country, he who controls the military, controls the country. In fact, this is true of any country, small or large. (SEE: Pakistan) But the chances that the new leader is going to care that the world is not happy with him, are slim to none.


Search Continues For Missing Man In Oregon


Searchers scouring a rugged canyon Tuesday found a pair of pants matching the description of those worn by a missing man who struck out for help after his family's car got stuck in the snow.

A helicopter with heat-sensing equipment joined other helicopters, snowmobiles and foot patrols Tuesday in the hunt for 35-year-old James Kim of San Francisco. His wife and two daughters were found Monday after being lost for more than a week.


Let me say that just a little over a year ago, I was right in the area they are searching. It's very beautiful, but very rugged and mountainous country, with lots of dense forest. It is unforgiving, if you are lost.

The longer this goes on, the less chance that he will be found in time. I sincerely hope, he will be found soon and will be in reasonably decent (if not good) condition, when he is found.


NYC Bans Trans Fats


The New York City Board of Health voted yesterday to adopt the nation’s first major municipal ban on the use of all but tiny amounts of artificial trans fats in restaurant cooking, a move that would radically transform how food is prepared in thousands of restaurants, from McDonald’s to fashionable bistros to Chinese take-outs.



I know it's healthier this way. But doesn't anyone else have trouble with Big Brother interfering in our daily lives, more than it already does? Will this be challenged in court and if so, will it hold up?

What ever happened to free choice?

UPDATE:

Missing Man In Oregon Found Dead

He was a brave man to go out and risk his life to find help, in order to save his family. But in the end, the Klamath Mountains were too much. This says a lot about the character of this young man. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family, friends, and co-workers.

11 comments:

Greg said...

Iran sanctions. Weren't the Europeans supposed to show us cowboy Americans how it's done? Weren't they going to show us how their way of dealing with WMD-seeking dictators was the really effective way? And wasn't it a prominent member of the so-called "peace camp" that has provided the nuclear reactor Iran is using to make its weaponized fuel? Hmmm. Well, as long as Europe wants to blame the US for all the bloodshed in Iraq, I'll have no problem blaming Europe for allowing a holocaust-denying neo-nazi islamofascist to get the ultimate weapon. And I'll blame Europe if he uses it too. If any pollster calls me asking who presents the greatest danger to world peace, I'll say Iran, with Europe right behind (perhaps you recall the EU poll which identified Israel & the US as the greatest threats to world peace).

Transfats. Don't transfats occur naturally in dairy products? Are those products exempt? In any case, isn't this just one more example of the regulation lagging way behind private initiative? Fast food chains and junk food manufacturers have already gotten the message and are removing the transfats. I guess in NYC they think everyone is real stupid.

Greg said...

I have a solution to the Fiji coup. Get the EU powers together to talk about it for the next 5 years, then present their recommendations to the UN Human Rights Commission so it can blame Israel for the mess there. Then reconvene over an expensive dinner in Paris and conclude that an orderly military junta is better than a messy democracy.

LASunsett said...

Greg,

//Weren't the Europeans supposed to show us cowboy Americans how it's done?//

That was the plan, wasn't it? But as we see, it's always easier to critcize those that make an effort to do something, than it is to do the thing they so vehemently criticize.

//Don't transfats occur naturally in dairy products?//

From the NYT article:

Trans fats are the chemically modified food ingredients that raise levels of a particularly unhealthy form of cholesterol and have been squarely linked to heart disease. Long used as a substitute for saturated fats in baked goods, fried foods, salad dressings, margarine and other foods, trans fats also have a longer shelf life than other alternatives.

Trans fats do occur in dairy products in small amounts. The thing that this law is focusing on is cooking with them, not the naturally occurring amounts found in foods, already.

It was once believed that saturated fats caused more health problems than unsaturated ones. So, the push for unsaturated fats drove the market back in the 60s and 70s. Since then, studies have shown that the unsaturated fats are actually worse for us than the saturated, by causing our bodies to produce more of the bad cholesterol (LDL) that is a major cause of coronary artery disease (CAD) and less of the good (HDL), which helps combat CAD.

So, you are actually better off eating chicken fried in lard, and using real butter as opposed to margarine, on your toast.

As for Fiji, maybe we could petition the UN to form a commission that will look at appointing a committee to make some non-binding recommendations, to submit to the General Assembly for consideration.

Anonim said...

Transfats: IMHO, NYC ban is essentially about eliminating a once-thought-to-be-healthful but now-completely-discredited ingredient from the food supply pool. It is a public health issue, and not necessarily about people being too stupid to choose wisely. Apparently, in addition to people's prior belief that it was a great healthful innovation, transfats have also had some appeal for the food industry. I am not sure if that is only because of any price advantages, but I gather cooking with transfats helps achieve certain qualities, like texture, more easily.

LASunsett, I am afraid this post wasn't very controversial, either. Gotta try harder. But, I'll help you. I say, ban the whole food industry (people are going local anyway), exile the executives to Iran or Fiji, send the Mexicans they employ back to Mexico, and let the EU figure out what just happened.

Anonim said...

LASunsett, on second thought, I found this to pick on:

//I know it's healthier this way. But doesn't anyone else have trouble with Big Brother interfering in our daily lives, more than it already does? Will this be challenged in court and if so, will it hold up?//

I thought we didn't like the courts' getting involved in political/ideological battles, legislating from the bench, etc. Looking at the trends, i.e., people's understanding adverse health effects of transfats, with virtually no positive effects, and the food industry's seemingly genuine will to phase them out though with qualifiers like "don't push us; it'll be too expensive if you do", your point sounds very political/ideological. An ideal court, IMHO, would reject to consider a potential case based on the fact that the point is becoming practically moot. The NYC ban allows a grace period (till 2008?) if I understand correctly. The relevant question should then be, is this enough time for food establishments to comply without suffering undue costs and hardships?

LASunsett said...

Hi Anonim,

//I thought we didn't like the courts' getting involved in political/ideological battles, legislating from the bench, etc.//

We don't. But it is inevitable, after an unpopular law is passed.

It is sometimes warranted, as a check and balance to an out of control legislature and/or chief executive. But it must be put up under the framework of a "constitutional" test.

Judges that "legislate" from the bench are those that order things to be done or not done, when there is an existing law to the contrary, or there is no law at all.

Greg said...

LAS: //But it is inevitable, after an unpopular law is passed. //

In this case, at least in NYC, with the exception of restaurant owners, isn't this law pretty popular?

Anonim: //and the food industry's seemingly genuine will to phase them out though with qualifiers like "don't push us; it'll be too expensive if you do"//

My point above was that at least manufacturers are removing the transfat w/o gov't intervention b/c that is what consumers are looking for. Try finding a bag of potato chips with any transfat these days. In fact, they all have labels that say "No TransFat". So why can't the same market system apply to restaurants in NYC? And if I happen to think the wonderful taste of transfat is worth the abdominal pain, explosive diarreah and heart disease, shouldn't I have the right to eat it? :D

LASunsett said...

Greg,

//In this case, at least in NYC, with the exception of restaurant owners, isn't this law pretty popular?//

I am not sure. I cannot imagine that everyone in NYC is health conscious, evidenced by all of the greasy hot dog and pizza stands scattered throughout.

//why can't the same market system apply to restaurants in NYC?//

Good question. I guess when you have an affinity for big government with a progressive socialistic worldview, you do not think that people can make choices for themselves. This sounds like the case here.

Anonim said...

Greg:

//why can't the same market system apply to restaurants in NYC?//

It probably could; I am not saying a ban was absolutely necessary. As far as I understand, the main cause for concern regarding restaurants is the use of transfatty cooking/frying oils. Restaurants that eliminate such use could advertise what they did by posters on the front windows, entry doors, etc., I suppose. Like they do on the bags of potato chips.

What I feel is, this isn't a pressing case of extreme protectionism trampling on individuals' right to choose freely. I enjoy smoking for example knowing full well the health implications (something people have been enjoying for thousands of years, as opposed to artificial transfatty products non-existant a couple of decades ago). Shouldn't I be left alone with my enjoyment after a meal at the neighborhood restaurant? Many say no; city after city is banning smoking in restaurants. Many are not even satisfied with restaurants choosing to be a smoking or non-smoking establishment (you know the signs at the doors) and let the customers choose as they wish. When the harm-to-innocent-bystanders argument is killed by such voluntary seggregation, then you hear about the health costs that harm all tax-payers. So, one could say, if you like transfats so much, you can pay a punitive (do I mean exise?) tax for each such product you choose to buy and consume it in your home but not in public spaces.

Greg said...

All this is academic anyway. I hate NYC and won't go there anytime soon.

LASunsett said...

Greg,

// I hate NYC and won't go there anytime soon.//

Neither will I.