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The Austin Times

Volume:16 Issue 22




Friday. May 10. 2013

President in Texas to promote jobs A Hero in Ohio

Cheech and Chong Secret shapers of history, pg 4 Immigration bill would boost Social Security, pg 2

Oil companies target America for investment, pg 2

HEALTH Sucking on your kid’s pacifier: Good idea or just gross?, pg 5

Sex supplements often contain Viagra ingredients, pg 5

OPINIONS The hatred in the heart of White America, pg 7 NRA, gun confederate lore has nothing in common with Dr. King, pg 7

Charles Ramsey talks to media outlets after being identified as the man who called authorities after stumbling upon a kidnapped woman. Ramsey’s heroism lead to the safe return of 3 kidnapped Ohio women to their families. (Scott Shaw/The Plain Dealer.

Census’ claim about Black voter turnout questioned BY CHRIS WILSON On Wednesday, the Census Bureau released its biannual study of voting patterns in federal elections, which included a remarkable finding: African-American voter turnout surpassed that of white, non-Hispanic voters in 2012 for the first time in recent memory, perhaps ever. The uncertainty stems from the fact that the data the census used to create this report has what several experts consider a major hole in it: Data on whether people voted is collected every other November in a supplement to the Current Population Survey, a regular government survey of about 60,000 households. If respondents decline to say whether or not they voted, or if the interviewer does not ask, it is assumed that they did not vote. According to detailed tables released yesterday, 61.8 percent of those surveyed said they voted, 25.4 percent said they did not, and 12.8 percent did not respond. The census figures combine the second two categories. As a result, the data appears, at first glance, to generally agree with other methods of measuring voter turnout. The Federal Election

Commission reports that 129,067,662 people voted for president in the last election, while the census estimates that 132.9 million people voted—the sort of modest 3 percent difference that one might expect from a survey. (There are, of course, reasons to suspect that the FEC figure is also not perfectly accurate.) It is only by assuming that all people who did not answer the survey did not vote, however, that the census is able to produce estimates in line with ballot totals. Were it to omit nonresponses, as most surveys do, it would end up with figures that were drastically higher than what the FEC reports. Continued on Pg 3

(ATWS) - Offering a more upbeat view of the economy, President Barack Obama resurrected his jobs proposals Thursday, advancing modest initiatives as he pushed for action on more ambitious efforts that face resistance from congressional Republicans. “We’re poised for progress,” he declared. The president chose the bustling Texas capital as a backdrop to refocus on higher wages, education and a manufacturingdriven agenda that had been eclipsed by his struggles over gun control and spending cuts and his push for an overhaul of immigration laws. “You might not know this, because if you listen to all the doom and gloom in Washington and politics, and watching cable TV sometimes you might get kind of thinking nothing is going right,” Obama told students at a technology high school. “The truth is there’s a lot of reasons for us to feel optimistic about where we’re headed as a country.” “Thanks to grit and determination of the American people, we cleared away the rubble of the worst economic crisis in our lifetime,” he continued. Still, Obama said that while housing markets are improving, corporate profits are skyrocketing and the energy and auto industries are thriving, there remains a need to boost the middle class. The president’s visit to Austin is the first in a series of field trips aimed at giving a high profile to the economy and jobs, issues still clearly at the forefront of the public’s concerns. In addition to his appearance at Manor New Technology High School, Continued on Pg 2

More Haitians using Puerto Rico as migration route to the U.S. SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — Haitians have been fleeing their troubled country for years, trying to reach the U.S. or other Caribbean islands by sea or by trekking across the island of Hispaniola to scratch out a living in the Dominican Republic. But a newly popular route has caught officials in the Caribbean by surprise, taking migrants to a piece of the U.S. much closer to home. Hundreds of Haitian migrants have made their way to Puerto Rico in recent months. They’ve found that if they can make it to the U.S. territory without getting arrested, they can fly on to U.S. cities such as Miami, Boston or New York without having to show a passport, although some kind of identification, such as a driver’s license, is needed. Immigration authorities checking travelers before they leave Puerto Rico for the U.S. mainland sometimes find them carrying fake driver’s licenses or other identification, but counterfeit documents are not always detected. “As soon as you’re in Puerto Rico, it’s like you’re in the United States,” said Lolo Sterne, coordinator for Haiti’s Office of Migration. There are no official statistics on how many Haitians have successfully made their way illegally to Puerto Rico, or how many have traveled on to the U.S. mainland. But the trend worries officials in the U.S. and the Dominican Republic, with both countries reporting a jump in arrests of Puerto Rico-bound Haitians. Migrants reportedly are paying smugglers $1,000-$1,500 for a trip to Puerto Rico, located less than 100 miles (160 kilometers) east of the island of Hispaniola, which is shared by the

Dominican Republic and Haiti. At the same time, Dominican officials have detained more than 400 Haitians bound for Puerto Rico in the past four months, compared with just a handful annually in previous years, said Victor Pilier, the Dominican Republic’s director of naval intelligence. “It’s an excessive amount,” said Pilier, who oversaw the capture of 78 Haitians headed to Puerto Rico in late April before sending them

back home. “It’s unusual.” U.S. officials in the past six months captured 352 Haitian migrants who were bound for Puerto Rico or were found on or near the island. Coast Guard statistics show that between October 2010 and September 2011, only 13 such migrants were found, and at most five Puerto Rico-bound Haitians were arrested in the two years before that. “We’re seeing another route they’re trying to exploit,” said Coast Guard Capt. Drew Pearson, who is based in Puerto Rico. “We hadn’t seen these numbers of Haitians in my tenure here.” The odds of reaching the U.S. mainland

directly from Haiti have dropped as the U.S. Coast Guard beefs up patrols by Hamilton class cutters, or what Haitian migrants simply refer to as “Amilton.” Along with trying to sail directly to the U.S. mainland, Haitians in the past attempted to get to the United States through long-established smuggling networks on islands including the Bahamas and Turks and Caicos. “Miami is no longer easy to reach and that’s why Haitians are looking for other places,” said Walky Severian, a boat builder in western Haiti who himself has taken three voyages, including one in 2008 that ended up in Cuba because of stormy weather. He was deported. Pilier, the Dominican naval officer, said migrant smuggling to the U.S. territory has also become common because Dominican authorities have a harder time patrolling the nation’s southeast coast, which is closer to Puerto Rico. “We have a stronger presence in the north,” he said. “The east is more vulnerable.” On top of that, a thriving underground economy in Puerto Rico that has long offered employment to Dominicans is now attracting Haitians. For Haitians hoping to get to the U.S. mainland, the island of 3.7 million people has a black market that supplies fake passports, driver’s licenses and stolen Social Security numbers. In addition, the island’s governor in early March endorsed a proposal to allow immigrants living illegally in the U.S. territory to apply for a provisional driver’s license. Pilier said that proposal has in fact drawn many migrants to Puerto Rico.



Friday. May 10. 2013

Obama says “Howdy” to Austin during visit Immigration bill would boost Social Security BY ERICA WERNER

Continued from page 1, Obama also toured an Applied Materials Inc. plant. The company provides equipment, services and software to the semiconductor, flat panel display and solar power industries. “We want the next revolution in manufacturing to be made in America,” he told plant workers. By traveling to Texas to begin this renewed attention to his jobs initiatives Obama chose a state represented by two of the most conservative Republican members of the Senate — John Cornyn and tea party hero Ted Cruz. Texas also has the second-highest Hispanic population in the country, an attractive demographic group for Democrats and a key audience for Obama as he also pushes for an overhaul of immigration laws. The emphasis on jobs and on the needs of the middle class comes amid signs that the economy is continuing to recover, that the private sector is hiring, though not at an optimal rate, and that the stock market is maintaining a record setting pace. But Obama is not necessarily benefitting from those trends, and hidden behind the positive numbers are stagnant wages, reduced working hours and low-wage hiring. What’s more, with a 7.5 percent unemployment rate, nearly 12 million Americans are out of work. An Associate Press-GfK poll last month showed that the percentage of the public that believes the country is headed in the wrong direction has been rising as has the percentage of people who disapprove of Obama’s handling of the economy. “We’ve got to make sure that middle-class wages and incomes are also going up, because most families haven’t seen their take-home pay rise for years now,” he said. Addressing persistent fiscal issues, including broad based budget cuts that the government is now confronting, he said: “Our deficits are falling at the fastest rate in years, but now we’ve got to budget in a smarter way so it doesn’t hurt middle-class families

or prevent us from making the critical investments that we need for your future.” The White House also used the trip as an opportunity to launch administrative initiatives to demonstrate continued action even as his bigger proposals find opposition in Congress. Among the initiatives is a competition to create three new Manufacturing Innovation Institutes, partnerships among businesses, universities and government to help U.S.based manufacturers and workers create good jobs. Five federal agencies — the Defense, Energy and Commerce departments, NASA and the National Science Foundation — are putting $200 million toward the effort. “We believe that manufacturing is worthy of that priority because it punches above its weight economically,” said Gene Sperling, director of Obama’s National Economic Council. Before his remarks, Obama toured a classroom at the technology high school, marveling at solar powered model cars. After his remarks he rolled up his sleeves and joined a nurse, a teacher, a drywall contractor and a small business owner for lunch at Stubb’s, a local barbecue restaurant. He also stopped by a technology start-up working space in downtown Austin, where he met with entrepreneurs, several of whom were demonstrating their companies’ work. Praising their innovations, he warned that China could possibly leap ahead of the United States on research. “So we’ve got to get our act together,” Obama told them.

Oil companies target America for investment BY JERRY EWING The domestic oil boom is prompting U.S. oil firms to sell assets overseas and invest the money in American projects. Here’s an intriguing switch in the energy market: U.S. oil firms have been selling off their assets overseas and investing the money in America’s domestic fields. Last year ConocoPhillips (COP, Fortune 500) announced plans to sell its stake in Kazakhstan’s Kashagan oil field -- the largest energy project in the world -- for $5 billion. It was just one of at least six major foreign sales last year for Conoco, which totaled nearly $11 billion, according to industry data provider PLS. Much of that money is being redirected to investments Conoco has in Texas’ Eagle Ford Shale and North Dakota’s Bakken Shale, according to PLS Managing Director Brian Lidsky. A Conoco spokesman confirmed the sales, and said the money was being used for general corporate purposes and to “capture new opportunities for the future.” American oil firm Hess (HES, Fortune 500) did something similar, selling over $4 billion of assets in the U.K., Azerbaijan and Russia.

A company spokesman said that money went to a number of different initiatives, including paying down debt and building up the company’s balance sheet. The spokesman said Hess invested $3.1 billion in North Dakota in 2012, where the company boosted its oil production by 55%. Unlike Libya, Iraq and other places that take 90% or more of a company’s profits, taxes and royalties in the United States seldom exceed 50%. The geology is better known. The rule of law is strong. Workers are skilled and infrastructure is available. There’s little risk of violence. The country is on track to surpass Saudi Arabia as the world’s leading oil producer by 2020. The expansion certainly comes with environmental risks. The widespread use of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, to crack the shale rock and allow oil and gas to flow has raised concerns over water contamination and earth quakes. Air pollution, congestion, and other problems plague energy boom towns. But the boom has brought jobs -- a trend that’s likely to accelerate forecested until 2020.

A bipartisan immigration bill pending in the Senate would strengthen the Social Security trust fund by adding millions of workers to tax rolls, and provide a boost to the overall economy, according to an analysis Wednesday by the Social Security Administration. The finding came in a letter to Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., who requested the analysis, from Stephen C. Gross, chief actuary for the agency. It could provide a boost for the immigration bill, which has been attacked by some conservatives as overly costly, as the Senate Judiciary Committee prepares to take up the legislation for amendments and votes beginning Thursday. Meanwhile, a separate dispute loomed as religious leaders warned that adding a gay rights provision to the immigration legislation could cost their support. Gross’ analysis said the immigration bill would boost Social Security’s coffers by more than $240 billion over the coming decade and add $64 billion in new tax revenues to Medicare. It also would increase the size of the economy by a full percentage point by 2017, and increase employment. Gross wrote that the overall effect of the bill on the long-range trust fund balance “will be positive.” Social Security has long-term financial problems because, as more people retire and live longer, there will be relatively fewer workers paying into the system. In 1960, there were 4.9 workers paying Social Security taxes for each person getting benefits. Today, there are about 2.8 workers for each beneficiary, a ratio that will drop to 1.9 workers by 2035 under current law, according to projections by the Congressional Budget Office. The actuary’s letter suggests the immigration bill would slow this trend. Under the bill, there would be nearly 6.6 million more workers paying Social Security taxes in 2024, the actuary projects. That same year, there would be an additional 683,000 people getting benefits. That’s nearly 10 additional taxpayers for each new beneficiary. The Social Security analysis is the first government analysis to quantify economic impacts from the far-reaching bill authored by Rubio and seven other senators, both Democratic and Republican. The legislation came under attack earlier this week in a disputed report from the conservative Heritage Foundation, which claimed the bill would cost $6.3 trillion over 50 years as newly legalized immigrants consume government benefits without paying an equal amount in taxes. The Social Security analysis doesn’t attempt to determine the overall cost of the bill. That figure will be provided by the Congressional Budget Office, which has not yet released its projections. But the analysis does measures some impacts of the bill, which aims to secure the border, create new avenues for workers to come legally to the U.S., ensure employers don’t hire workers here without legal status, and give a path to citizenship to the millions already here illegally. The analysis finds that of about 11.5 million immigrants here illegally who would be eligible under the bill, around 8 million would apply for and be granted legal status. Many would immediately become taxpayers, but the bill prevents them from receiving government benefits for over a decade.

In the longer term most of these new taxpayers would eventually receive benefits, but the actuary said he still expects the bill to improve the long-term health of Social Security. The analysis also said that provisions in the bill would reduce by about a half-million per year the future number of people entering the country illegally. On the gay rights issue, religious leaders issued a warning Wednesday about the impact on the immigration bill if Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., moves forward with an amendment to allow gay Americans to sponsor their foreign partners for U.S. residence like straight married Americans can. “We’re extremely hopeful that this bill will remain an immigration bill and not get tangled up with the issue of gay rights,” Richard Land, a leader of the Southern Baptist Convention, told reporters on a conference call. “But if it did, if it did, the Southern Baptist Convention would not be able to support the bill.” Other religious leaders on the call echoed Land’s warnings. Leith Anderson, president of the National Association of Evangelicals, labeled the gay rights provision “a divisive distraction that must not derail immigration reform.” The four Republican authors of the immigration bill have said that such a provision could cost their support and imperil the bill’s chances. “If that’s in the bill, that will kill the bill,” Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., one of the authors, said Wednesday. “We’ve made it pretty clear. Not pretty clear — crystal clear. That’ll kill the bill.” If Leahy were to offer a gay marriage amendment, attention would turn to Sens. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and Dick Durbin, D-Ill., to see whether they would support it. Schumer and Durbin are among Democratic authors of the bill and both sit on Leahy’s committee. Both have expressed support for Leahy’s goals on the gay marriage issue without saying how they would vote on his amendment. Gay rights groups are lobbying aggressively for the gay marriage language to be included and they dispute suggestions that it would jeopardize the bill. “It’s not something that should be considered a poison pill or a hot potato,” said Gregory T. Angelo, who runs the gay GOP group Log Cabin Republicans. “There are 11 states and the District of Columbia that recognize relationships between committed same-sex couples,” Angelo said in an interview. “These are individuals who are here legally, who are in marriages and who are denied the rights of their straight counterparts.” President Barack Obama included a provision recognizing gay partnerships in his own immigration bill, but he has made it clear in recent comments that the Senate measure meets his criteria for an immigration overhaul, even without the provision.

Friday. May 10. 2013

Census may have used faulty data for results Continued from pg 1, “They are literally cheating to make it look more accurate,” says Jon Krosnick, a polling expert at Stanford who has worked with the Census Bureau. “They have been doing it for a long time.”It’s not surprising that the census would otherwise find its data indicated inflated voter participation rates. Surveys of voting behavior, in which people are directly asked whether or not they went to the polls, consistently report significantly higher turnout rates than the actual number of ballots cast would suggest.There are competing explanations for why this occurs. A study that Krosnick and others conducted for American National Election Studies, an academic survey of civic involvement, suggests that there is a bias in who choses to participate in these studies. As the researchers put it: “[P]eople who vote in elections (and thereby choose to express their political preferences) also appear to be unusually likely to participate in political surveys (and thereby choose to express their political preferences).”Another, more insidious explanation is that people who are directly asked if they voted are tempted to lie and say they did. Academics know this as the “social desirability bias”—even when responding anonymously, people who did not vote may be tempted to say they did since voting is generally considered a good thing. “This is a very common problem that post-election surveys have a large amount of over-report bias,” says Michael McDonald, a professor at George Mason University who closely tracks studies voting data. While McDonald is not as bluntly critical of the CPS survey as Krosnick is, he too is skeptical of how it conflates those who said they did not vote with those who didn’t respond. When he recalculated the recent census figures for white and black turnout while simply omitting those who did not respond, he found that black voters surpassed white voters in turnout four years ago, by a rate of 78.9 to 75.5. As McDonald wrote yesterday in the Huffington Post: These adjusted numbers may help resolve



Obama on the way to Mexico to talk immigration, drug war and the economy BY ARLETTE SAENZ

another incongruity in the CPS survey data. The Census Bureau reports that the overall number of voters increased from 131.1 million in 2008 to 132.9 million. This can’t possibly be correct since my tabulations from official election results show the overall turnout declined from 132.7 million to 130.7 million. McDonald’s corrected figures may produce results more proportional to actual voting records, but the raw numbers are absurdly high. The Census Bureau is well aware of these mitigating factors. At the end of yesterday’s report, the author, Thom File, acknowledges that, “In previous years, the disparity in the estimates in presidential elections has varied between 3 percent and 12 percent of the total number of votes shown as cast in the official tallies.” The report also notes that “the respondent’s willingness and ability to provide correct and accurate answers” is a potential source of error. “Our strategy is to be as transparent as we can,” File said in an interview today. In the bureau’s defense, several of the spreadsheets of data that accompanied yesterday’s report included raw data on the number of people who did not complete the survey, allowing for the sort of analysis that McDonald conducts. File defended the observations in his report in spite of these issues. Information on who turns out to vote in an election is critically important to both parties as they project current party identification forward to predict future elections. The past election very well may have been the first one in which African-American voters turned out in higher proportions than white voters, but yesterday’s figures are largely incapable of answering that question.

We Got Issues!

With the immigration debate heating up in Washington, D.C., President Obama heads south of the border Thursday, embarking on a three-day trip to Mexico and Costa Rica as he tries to focus discussions on the economic ties between the United States, Mexico and Central America. On his fourth trip to Mexico since becoming president, Obama will engage in conversations with newly installed President Enrique Peña Nieto that are intended to extend beyond security concerns and focus heavily on the economic relationship between Mexico and the U.S. “A lot of the focus is going to be on economics,” Obama said during a news conference Tuesday. “We’ve spent so much time on security issues between the United States and Mexico that sometimes I think we forget this is a massive trading partner responsible for huge amounts of commerce and huge numbers of jobs on both sides of the border. We want to see how we can deepen that, how we can improve that and maintain that economic dialogue over a long period of time.” Tied in with the economic interests between the two countries is a belief that a strong Mexican economy could help alleviate some of the causes of illegal immigration to the U.S., a point that will be raised as Congress works on an immigration overhaul. “Mexico is an important partner in immigration reform given that we work with them every day to secure our border,” Ben Rhodes, deputy national security advisor for strategic communications at the White House, told reporters Wednesday. “Economic development in Mexico will also ultimately get at the root cause of illegal immigration to the United States, so that’s another benefit of the economic growth underway in Mexico.” The president flies down to Mexico on

Thursday and will hold a bilateral meeting with Peña Nieto after which the two leaders will participate in a news conference and hold a working dinner together Thursday evening. The president will deliver a speech at the Anthropology Museum in Mexico City to an audience mostly consisting of university students as he outlines the path forward for the two neighboring countries. “This will be an opportunity for the president to look forward in our relationship and speak about those economic ties, but also the education, cultural and people-to-people exchanges that define the relationship,” Rhodes told reporters Wednesday. Following the speech, Obama will meet with Mexican entrepreneurs to discuss the economic growth in the country before heading to Costa Rica. In his first trip to Costa Rica and his sixth trip to the region as president, Obama will hold a bilateral meeting and news conference with Costa Rican President Laura Chinchilla, as well as participate in a multilateral summit of leaders of Central American nations, including Belize, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama, where he plans to discuss security, immigration and economic issues. The president will also meet with business leaders from those countries before returning to the White House on Saturday.



Arts & Entertainment

Friday. May 10. 2013

Lauryn Hill told the judge who sentenced her to prison that she planned to pay her taxes; it was just a question of when. The judge reminded her that citizens don’t get to choose when to pay the government just before ordering her to spend three months in a federal prison.

Cheech and Chong: Secret shapers of History BY MERIAH DOTY Cheech and Chong are more than the seemingly clueless, raunchy stoners they appear to be in their act. You may be surprised to learn that some of pop culture’s foremost phenomena can be traced back to them. For one, Michael Jackson may have never been discovered if it hadn’t been for Tommy Chong’s initial thumbs up. And that not-so-little Oscar winning film “Inglorious Basterds” by Quentin Tarantino may have never been conceived had it not been for Cheech Marin’s influence. If you think this is a joke, read on. The ostensibly airheaded stoners – who recently spoke to Yahoo! Movies -- have a new animated film out now on DVD called (surprise, surprise) “Cheech and Chong’s Animated Movie.” Known for their comedy record classics like “Basketball Jones” and their 1978 film “Up in Smoke,” the duo has been around since the early ‘70s. But before they joined forces, Chong was a touring musician in Bobby Taylor & the Vancouvers. And The Jackson 5 once opened for his act at a Chicago gig in the mid-’60s. “We were amazed at this little guy that could sing like an adult and dance better than anybody we had ever seen,” Chong told us. That one performance proved to be a history-making catalyst. He recalled his bandleader Bobby Taylor urged the Jacksons to go to Motown Records the very night of their shared gig. They went to Detroit immediately, and about a month later The Jackson 5 was signed to the Motown label. “Joe Jackson brought me the first contract because I was the whitest guy that he knew,” Chong said with a laugh. “I was the closest thing to a lawyer he [could find],” he joked. Chong recalled going over the contract with Jackson and offering the famous stage dad his full endorsement, saying the move to Motown was best thing they could have done at the time. “That’s where Michael and the boys learned how to perform and that’s where Michael really learned his music chops,” Chong said. “He was such a genius.” Flash forward to 1972, when Marin and Chong’s record comedy bit about a German Nazi was making fans laughs

– and eventually leaving an imprint on film auteur Tarantino. “Tarantino was telling me a little while ago that when he and Eli Roth were writing ‘Inglorious Basterds,’ they were in some cabin… and they listened to ‘Tortured Old Man,’ one of our bits, [and that] it’s in the movie,” Marin told Yahoo! Movies. (Roth directed a segment of the film, acted in it as Sgt. Donny Donowitz aka Bear Jew, and received a “special thanks” in the credits – though Tarantino is credited as the sole writer.) “[They] listened to it constantly. They turned to each other at some point and go, ‘We’re writing Tortured Old Man, you know!’” “Basterds” was essentially Tarantino’s take on the Cheech and Chong bit that appeared on their second comedy album, “Big Bambu,” Marin pointed out. Whoopi Goldberg is a longtime Cheech and Chong fan. Her animated likeness even appears in their recent pot-themed music video (along with Bill Maher and other celebrities) called “Weed Are the World.” Goldberg has good reason to keep supporting the comedy team: They – along with Jack Nicholson of all people – helped her rise to fame in the early years of her career. “She was just an unknown comedian from San Francisco,” Chong said, explaining how he and Marin first became aware of Goldberg’s talent as a standup. “They did a showcase in the Belly Room at the Comedy Store [in Los Angeles], and [Jack] Nicholson and myself and a bunch of other people came down, and I met Whoopi then,” he said, adding that Goldberg would watch them perform San Diego, “and then

go home and do our bits.” Perhaps their longtime comedy act as clueless sex-crazed stoners has been a long-running ruse to deflect attention from their scope of impact – which also includes stoner-comedy successors Seth Rogen and even James Franco. Or maybe they just smoked a doobie and clumsily stumbled into the right place at the right time. Regardless of their intentions, make no mistake about it: Cheech and Chong have doublehandedly altered the continuum of entertainment history.

After recent deaths, health is new priority in rap

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Hip-hop may need a checkup. The culture that in the 1990s lost its brightest stars to gun violence has in recent years seen a series of notable rappers die of drug- and health-related causes. Since 2011, hip-pop pioneer Heavy D, singer and rap chorus specialist Nate Dogg and New York rapper Tim Dog all died of ailments in their 40s. Kris Kross rapper Chris Kelly was found dead last week in Atlanta of a suspected drug overdose at 34. Some of the genre’s elder statesmen say they’re worried about the culture’s focus on youth, current emphasis on freewheeling partying and “you only live once” ethos, as popularized by Drake’s 2011 hit “The Motto.” “Hip-hop being a lifestyle culture ... a part of American culture, you have to be mindful that somebody is going to grow old, age,” said rap pioneer Melle Mel. “At some point somebody has to realize that hip-hop has to learn how to grow up. It’s way too juvenile and it’s been that way for too long.” The 51-year-old rapper, who memorably warned in 1982’s “The Message” about urban youth who “lived so fast and died so young,” said he suffers chronic bronchitis from being around marijuana and cigarette smoke when he was performing. Of course, heavy drug use in hip-hop or rock is hardly new: Cowboy of

his Furious Five group died in 1989 “basically from getting high,” Melle Mel said. “It’s not really worth it to literally party yourself to death. It’s like committing suicide,” he added. “You have to choose between what makes you feel good and what makes you think you feel good.” Other influential rappers who’ve died in their 30s in the last decade include Southern rap pioneer Pimp C and Wu-Tang Clan’s Ol Dirty Bastard, both from drug overdose. Lifestyle isn’t to blame for all fatal health problems in hip-hop. Smooth-voiced Midwesterner MC Breed died of kidney failure in 2008 at age 37. Soulful producer J Dilla died in 2006 at age 32 of complications from lupus. Cancer killed rappers Guru in 2010 at 48 and Adam Yauch of the Beastie Boys last year at 47. Two of the genre’s top stars, Lil Wayne and Rick Ross, have inadvertently focused attention on the issue. After he was hospitalized for multiple seizures, 30-year-old Lil Wayne told a Los Angeles radio station in March that he’s an epileptic. Rick Ross, 37, has also suffered seizures and said he’s trying to improve his health. As some of the genre’s more well-known figures hit their late 30s and 40s, they’ve figured out ways to keep up appearances in public while also keeping their health. 50 Cent said he rarely drinks alcohol anymore. “I want to live a good long healthy life. So I’m health-conscious,” the 37-year-old rapperactor said. “You never see me drink. If you did see me with a bottle, it had ginger ale in it.” Though he’s still a heavy marijuana smoker, Snoop Dogg said he stopped drinking alcohol at clubs six years ago after suspecting that a woman put the sedative Rohypnol - widely known as a “date-rape drug” - in one of his

drinks. “I used to drink alcohol as a fashion statement. If you in the club, they bringing you bottles, bringing you drinks. And you’re just drinking because you’re drinking. I don’t do that anymore. I drink water or cranberry juice,” he said. “I’m not cheap. I just don’t want to do this to my body anymore. I want to survive.” Snoop, 41, said his focus on health comes from his desire to remain competitive and

relevant to a genre that’s largely focused on youth. For producer and rapper RZA, hip-hop’s emphasis on youth stems from an urban culture that since the ‘80s has had trouble planning for the future. “They said we should be dead or in jail by the age of 25. And I think we live like that,” the 43-year-old Wu-Tang Clan founder said. “But what happens when you make it past 25? What happens when you make it to 30? What happens when you make it to 40? Are you prepared for life now?”


Friday. May 10. 2013

Eating fish is good for your heart but taking fish oil capsules does not help people at high risk of heart problems who are already taking medicines to prevent them. The study makes clearer who does and does not benefit from taking supplements of omega-3 fatty acids,

Sucking on you kid’s pacifier: Good idea or gross? BY GENEVRA PITTMAN Toddlers are less likely to have asthma and itchy rashes if their parents “cleaned” their pacifiers by sucking on them when the kids were infants, a small new study suggests. The findings don’t prove that technique protects kids against asthma, eczema or other allergies. But researchers said it’s possible the transfer of mouth microbes from parents to baby may help boost the bacterial diversity of the young child’s digestive system and foster immunity. “We know these bacteria are important for development,” said Dr. Wilfried Karmaus from the University of Memphis, who has studied asthma and eczema but wasn’t involved in the new research. Being delivered through a vaginal birth, for example, exposes babies to more of their moms’ bacteria and has been linked to fewer allergies in childhood. But no one has ever looked at transfer of bacteria through pacifiers, Karmaus said. For the new study, researchers recruited pregnant women at one Swedish hospital and followed them and their children through phone calls and exams over three years. The 184 infants in the study were particularly allergy-prone: 80 percent had at least one parent with allergies. When the babies were six months old, 65 parents reported “cleaning” their pacifiers by sucking on them. Most parents also said they rinsed pacifiers with tap water. The children were then brought in for allergy testing at 18 and 36 months of age. At the first visit, 46 of them had

eczema and 10 had asthma symptoms. Kids whose pacifiers had been sucked on by parents were 63 percent less likely to have eczema at 18 months and 88 percent less likely to have asthma, compared to the children of parents who didn’t use that cleaning technique. By 36 months, the difference had gone away for asthma. Parental pacifier sucking was still tied to a 49-percent lower chance of a child having eczema, researchers led by Dr. Bill Hesselmar from Queen Silvia Children’s Hospital in Gothenburg found. There was no clear link between parents’ pacifier cleaning method and babies’ sensitization to common allergens, such as cat and dog dander or eggs and peanuts, at either age. In a smaller analysis of 33 infants, the researchers found that babies whose parents did or didn’t suck on their pacifiers had different types of bacteria living in their mouths, the group reported Monday in Pediatrics. “With the different oral flora, it supports the hypothesis and the findings,” Hesselmar told Reuters Health. Still, he said the study can’t prove the pacifier cleaning method protected kids against asthma and eczema, and that it’s too early to recommend this technique to parents. “It’s always hard to tell if it’s the only explanation, but we have tried to analyze as many other possibilities as we can think of,” he said. “This is a simple measure which is

Health & Fitness Study says Africa is the riskiest place to be born BY JASON STRAZIUSO

really, really nice,” Karmaus said. “But we need a trial to be really sure that this is protective.” A gold-standard trial would involve randomly assigning some parents to regularly clean pacifiers by sucking on them and others to never use that method. In the current study, Karmaus said, it’s possible parents who decided on their own to suck on their child’s pacifier were different from parents who didn’t in other important, allergy-related ways. “It could be that these parents have more time with their children, a less stressful relationship with their children, hug their children more or whatever,” he told Reuters Health. For now, he said, parents should know that using their mouth to clean an infant’s pacifier may be worth trying - and at the very least, shouldn’t be harmful. That technique may also be a necessity from time to time, Karmaus noted. “Sometimes you take two or three pacifiers with you but if all are dirty and your child is crying, there’s nothing you can do” but clean it yourself.

Sex supplements often contain Viagra ingredients Herbal supplements aimed at improving men’s sexual abilities often contain the active ingredients in erectile dysfunction pills such as Viagra, according to a new study. Additionally, researchers found that some of these over-thecounter herbal remedies contained more of the ingredient than is allowed in prescription-only pharmaceuticals. “It’s pretty scary stuff,” said Neil Campbell, the lead author of the study and a researcher at Pfizer, which sells Viagra. “These products are not herbal at all, they’re adulterated.” The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which is in charge of regulating herbal supplements, posted 11 warnings to consumers in 2013 alerting them of unlabeled pharmaceuticals being found in these products. They sent undercover consumers into convenience stores


and gas stations in the Atlanta and Baltimore areas, and bought products such as Rize 2 The Occasion, Stiff 4 Hours, and Man King. Although 57 of the products claimed to be “all natural,” 81 percent of them contained the tadalafil or sildenafil (marketed as Cialis and Viagra, respectively) or similar ingredients that are not approved by the FDA. The products also had labeling problems, indicating poor quality production, according to the authors. In some cases, expiration dates or lot numbers were missing, manufacturers could not be identified, or samples of the same product had different appearances. Erectile dysfunction medicines can be unsafe for men taking nitrates for chest pain, but only 14 of the samples in the study included a warning against combining the drugs.

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — More than 1 million babies die the day they are born every year, and the 14 countries with the highest rates of first-day deaths are all in Africa, according to a new report released Tuesday. Somalia, Congo, Mali, Sierra Leone and Central African Republic are the five countries with the highest rates of such deaths, according to the report “Surviving the First Day” from the aid group Save the Children. “Health care for mothers in sub-Saharan Africa is woefully insufficient. On average, only half the women in the region receive skilled care during birth,” the report said. “The region as a whole has only 11 doctors, nurses and midwives per 10,000 people, less than half the critical threshold of 23 generally considered necessary to deliver essential health services.” The numbers in Somalia — a country wracked by 20 years of violence with little established government and few health services — are particularly grim. Eighteen out of 1,000 babies in Somalia die the day they are born, the report said. Five percent of newborns die within the first month of life and one in six won’t live to age 5, it said. “What’s worse, Somalia has seen absolutely no improvement in newborn or child survival in at least two decades,” it said. Somali women have on average more than six children, the second-highest fertility rate in the world. Pre-birth care to expectant mothers is largely not available in Somalia, said Dr. Omar Saleh, a World Health Organization official who frequently travels to health facilities in rural Somalia. “And then the natal care itself, which is delivery, some of the obstructed labors are delayed due to the long distances to medical care or insecurity or high prices of transport,” Saleh said. “And then after delivery the main thing is the availability of incubators. And the whole science of neo-natal care is a huge science that is not well developed in Somalia.” The one positive: “Everybody is working on it,” he said. “The good thing is that everybody is aware.” In terms of absolute numbers, the most first-day deaths occur in India — more than 300,000 per year, the report said. Nigeria has nearly 90,000 per year. Improvements in access to contraceptives, maternal nutrition and breastfeeding practices will save more lives, Melinda Gates, of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, wrote in a forward to the report. “Saving newborn lives will prevent incalculable suffering. It is also a vital piece of the global development agenda. The long-term economic prospects of poor countries depend on investments in the health, nutrition and education of the people, particularly the women and young children living there,” Gates wrote. Nearly all of newborn deaths — 98 percent — occur in developing countries, a statistic that underlines a widening gap between the health of the world’s rich and poor, the report says. “A mother in sub-Saharan Africa, for example, is 30 times more likely than a mother in an industrialized country to lose a newborn baby at some point in her life,” the report concluded. “On average, one in six African mothers is likely to lose a newborn baby, a commonplace but largely untold tale of grief.”



Opinions & Editorials Time to close Guantanamo BY CYNTHIA TUCKER Sometimes the absurdities of an official policy or action are so clear that they need not be elucidated. Such is the case with the Obama administration’s maintenance of the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, a grotesque place that only the novelist Franz Kafka, who wrote brilliantly of nightmarish milieu, could adequately describe. Last week, President Barack Obama told reporters that he intends to once again press Congress to close the facility, as he had promised to do in his first campaign. But there is no indication that the president intends to devote any of his remaining political capital to the task -— any more than he did during his first term. Still, Obama was right about this much: Everything about the prison is “contrary to who we are, it is contrary to our interests, and it needs to stop.” So, when will it be shut down? How long will the United States continue a policy that alienates our allies, inflames our enemies, and sullies our image as a defender of human rights around the world? Most Americans tend to think of Guantanamo as a prison for murderous jihadists -- those, for example, who helped Osama bin Laden carry out the 9/11 attacks. In fact, most of Guantanamo’s remaining 166 inhabitants are unlikely to ever be charged with any crime. Indeed, 86 of them have already been fully or conditionally cleared for release by courts or government national security agencies. But most of those are Yemenis, and Obama doesn’t want to send them home for fear they will fall in with Yemen’s al-Qaida arm. So they are stuck in limbo. (Here’s the irony: If they had not been kept so long in brutal confinement, they might have gone home as defenders of U.S. interests. After years of cruel detention, however, they might well be risks to U.S. security.) Some of the other 80 or so detainees may be terrorists, but only six currently face military commissions. The government has reason to suspect others of terrorist connections, but it has little evidence it can use in court. Still others may have been confined because of identity mix-ups, finger-pointing

by suspect informants, or simply the widespread paranoia that gripped the U.S. national security apparatus following 9/11. For example, in the case of Mohamedou Ould Slahi -- whose handwritten memoir of torture and incarceration has recently been published by Slate, an online news magazine -- the U.S. government simply seems unable to admit that he is not a terrorist. A federal judge has ordered Slahi’s release, but the Obama administration has appealed. He has been detained at Guantanamo Bay for 11 years. It’s no wonder, then, that dozens of detainees at Guantanamo are now conducting a hunger strike. But because Guantanamo writes its own rules of logic, several of those prisoners are being force-fed. The Pentagon has sent in medical personnel to strap them down and force tubes down their noses and into their stomachs, through which cans of nutrients are poured. That procedure, by the way, violates medical ethics, according to the American Medical Association, because patients should be able to refuse medical treatment. Last month, one of the detainees, Samir Naji al Hasan Moqbel, published an opinion essay in The New York Times about his ordeal: “I will never forget the first time they passed the feeding tube up my nose. I can’t describe how painful it is to be force-fed this way,” he wrote. He is among those who has never been charged with a crime, much less convicted of one. There is plenty of blame to go around for this mess. In Obama’s first term, Republicans and Democrats alike seized the opportunity to demagogue about Guantanamo, insisting the men held there are too dangerous to be housed in high-security U.S. prisons. That’s nonsense. But Obama shares responsibility -especially for the men already cleared for release. If he believes that it is unfair, unjust and downright un-American to hold them any longer -- and it is -- he should re-start the process to send them home.

Friday. May 10. 2013

Fitness, obesity and medical care in America BY GLENN MOLLETTE Each of us must take responsibility for our health. We must become more active as a nation and more selective about what we eat. The average American is overweight and a large percentage of our nation is obese. Healthier citizens lead to lowering health care costs in America. Diabetes and heart disease are two of our leading causes of death. Walking every day and cutting the size of our food portions will help us to fight diabetes and heart disease. Activity plays a role in reducing some forms of cancer. A healthier America will be a more productive America. When you are obese you do not feel energized. When you are not energized you are not prone to be and do your best at your job. People who become unemployed and let themselves go physically normally do not feel energized to look for a job. An emphasis on being healthy with every community having access to safe walking, biking paths and trails would be a plus for our country. Health care insurance premiums should be reduced for every American who is trying to live a healthier lifestyle. American’s who keep their body mass index at 27% or below, exercise, abstain from smoking and drink only moderately should pay less in premiums. This will require a visit to the doctor once a year to certify the BMI but it will be worth it. If you are working to try to live a healthy lifestyle, you shouldn’t have to pay for the health care insurance of your neighbor who eats and smokes like there is no tomorrow. These people are the ones who should have the higher premiums. If I drive a 100 mph when I am in the car then I am the one who should pay the higher car insurance not my neighbor who drives 55 mph. Insurance companies should reward individuals for their successful efforts. For example if someone’s BMI is reduced from 35% to 27%, and they have lowered their

cholesterol, sugar and received a good report from their doctor then the insured should be rewarded with a reduced rate or at least no increase in cost. Currently insurance is going up every year in America. It doesn’t matter how healthy you are or how hard you try the health care insurance companies have been sticking it to us. There must be some reward of at least not raising the rates of Americans who practice healthy lifestyles. Poorer Americans struggle with unhealthy lifestyles. They eat more pizza and fast food because it’s cheaper. It’s also unhealthy. Our country would save billions if we could have a healthier America. We must develop a healthy American tax relief act. Eliminate the payroll employee taxes for each American whose income falls into the poverty level. This tax would be eliminated based on a report from the county health clinic. The report would include blood work results like sugar level, cholesterol, HIV and other vital health information. The body mass index would be calculated and should be at least 27% or a number to be determined healthy for men and women. This report signed by a local health official is affixed to the income tax report filed each year to the IRS for the tax savings for the entire next year. This gives the poorer class in our country a tremendous financial incentive to get off the computer, become more active and lay off the soda and chips. Financially it will save our country billions. The effect of younger, poorer and even older Americans trying to become healthier will save our country billions in medical costs. Finally, it’s optional. No one has to try to be healthy if they do not want to. This is America. For those who will make an effort there will be a significant reward. For additional inspiration please see my book titled Fitness Is A Mind Game. Glenn Mollette is the author of American Issues and Fitness Is A Mind Game plus hundreds of articles, stories and other books.

Cynthia Tucker, winner of the 2007 Pulitzer Prize for commentary, is a visiting professor at the University of Georgia. She can be reached at cynthia

The Austin Times WEEKLY HOROSCOPE ARIES (Mar. 21- April 20) Being unappreciated by your boss could make it hard to do your work effectively. Take the time to help old friends or relatives who have had a stroke of bad luck. Your ability to take hold of a situation will surely bring you popularity and leadership. TAURUS (Apr. 21- May 21) Beware of colleagues who don’t have your best interests in mind. You can pick up some overtime this week. If you can include them in your plans, do so. Don’t be critical or overly opinionated with dislikes; it could cause disapproval and unwanted opposition. GEMINI (May 22-June 21) Don’t be afraid to pursue unfamiliar grounds. You must not let others talk you into doing things that will probably limit you financially at a later date. Make plans to do something special with the one you love. CANCER (June 22-July 22) You should consider getting into self improvement endeavors. You can make money through your own creative efforts. You can accomplish a great deal. You’ll stay out of trouble if you pick projects that will benefit the whole family. LEO (July 23-Aug 22) Do things with your children and avoid situations that make you feel as if you’ve neglected the ones you love. Spend a quiet day with the one you love. You may have been too nice to a friend who just wanted to take advantage of you. VIRGO (Aug. 23 -Sept. 23) Hard work will bring rewards. Children may cause limitations. You could receive recognition for a job well done. You will be emotional with regard to your personal life.

LIBRA (Sept. 24 -Oct. 23 Don’t get involved in joint ventures. Be prepared to have relatives or close friends introduce you to new and exciting individuals. Your partner may make you feel jealous and unloved. The answers can only come from within. SCORPIO (Oct. 24 - Nov. 22) You can learn a great deal if you listen to those who are older or more experienced. Take time to make physical improvements that will enhance your appearance. Try not to be so demonstrative. SAGITTARIUS (Nov. 23 -Dec. 21) You should spend your day trying to get things completed at work. You will have difficulties spreading yourself between your work and your home. Try to make arrangements with close friends or relatives to spend a few days away. Be sure to spend time helping children with projects that are too difficult for them to accomplish alone. CAPRICORN (Dec 22.- Jan. 20) Get involved in creative groups. Don’t put your professional reputation on the line. You should not be concerned with coworkers who insist on spreading rumors. AQUARIUS (Jan. 21 -Feb. 19) Family outings or a quiet stroll through the park will lead to stimulating conversation and a closer bond. Changes in your home are apparent, and you must be willing to bend if you don’t want to find yourself alone. Your best efforts will come through investments concerning your home. PISCES (Feb. 20-Mar. 20) Someone left a real mess for you to sift through. Be careful when using machinery or electrical equipment. If you can’t trust someone, question

Friday. May 10. 2013

The hatred in the heart of White America BY MONA CHAREN It was cool and rainy Sunday morning when the bomb ripped through the building. At 10:22, a group of children was just heading into the basement to hear a sermon at the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Ala. According to a Washington Post account at the time: Dozens of survivors, their faces dripping blood from the glass that flew out of the church’s stained glass windows, staggered around the building in a cloud of white dust raised by the explosion. Four girls were killed. The head of one little girl was found far from her body. Twenty-two others were injured. Wandering through his devastated church, the Rev. John H. Cross found a megaphone and asked the enraged and stunned crowd to disperse. “The Lord is our shepherd,” he sobbed, “we shall not want.” This week, Congress marked the 50th anniversary of that terror attack by posthumously awarding the Congressional Gold Medal to Denise McNair, Carole Robertson, Addie Mae Collins and Cynthia Wesley. We Americans are not confused about the morality of what happened in Birmingham that September morning in 1963, nor during the Jim Crow era in America generally. We do not hesitate to condemn utterly the behavior and the beliefs of the Ku Klux Klan (the perpetrators of this bombing and others) and their white supremacist fellow travelers. We do not worry that reviling white supremacists and their grotesque deeds will somehow taint all white people. But when it comes to other groups and other motives for the same kind of terrorism — we lose our moral focus. Bill Ayers, Bernadine Dohrn and Kathy Boudin have become honored members of the faculties at leading universities. Ayers is even the friend of the president of the United States. Regarding his own record of setting bombs that kill and dismember innocent people, Ayers told The New York Times on the ironic

date of Sept. 11, 2001 that “I feel we didn’t do enough ... (there’s) a certain eloquence to bombs, a poetry and a pattern from a safe distance.” So says a retired “distinguished professor” at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Today, American liberals are obsessed not with terrorism but with the color and ethnicity of terrorists. They can readily enough attribute violent tendencies to groups they dislike — the tea party, for example, which hasn’t committed so much as a littering offense. But when it comes to Islamic terrorism, their voices falter. Attorney General Eric Holder, asked whether three attacks on the United States (the underwear bomber, the Times Square bomber and Maj. Nidal Hassan) could be attributed to “Islamic” radicalism, refused to say so. Asked repeatedly whether religious motives played a role, Holder would say only, “there are a variety of reasons why people have taken these actions.” Janet Napolitano has been quick to dismiss terror attempts as “one offs.” Would Holder and Napolitano say the same about white supremacists? Each one had his own motivations and we can’t surmise what those factors were? There is a tendency among many on the left to temper their disgust and indignation at political violence (i.e. terror) if the terrorist is from the “correct” group. “Muslim ... means not being white” Peter Beinert writes in the Daily Beast. Beinert and other liberals imagine that the U.S. is a cauldron of teeming racism with the lid barely kept down. At the first acknowledgment that Islamists (some, but by no means, all of whom are dark skinned) present a continuing threat, the lid will fly off and white American vigilantes, given permission, will start shooting black and brown people on the streets, burning their shops, and bombing mosques. The hatred that Islamism preaches, lauds and inspires is a nuisance, liberals may concede. But the hatred in the heart of “white America” is the greater danger.



NRA, gun confederate lore has nothing in common with Dr. King BY BLAIR L.M. KELLEY The National Rifle Association’s annual convention was quite the event this year. The NRA, which has been in the spotlight since the brutal murders in Newtown, Connecticut, seems to be redoubling efforts to resist any legislation regulating the use or sale of firearms. Reportedly having grown in membership since the tragedy, the NRA, which was once a bipartisan organization, has become increasingly partisan and radical in its outlook. NRA executive vice president Wayne LaPierre has courted controversy since Newtown. Rather than seeking compromise in the wake of the tragedy, LaPierre has described the moderate legislation put forward in the Congress as the beginnings of “a once-in-a-generation fight” and has called on his membership to prevent “a massive Obama conspiracy” to seize guns. When LaPierre began his post-Newtown political assault with a horrifying ad that used President Obama’s school-age daughters as a political talking point, I knew things weren’t going in the direction of compromise. La Pierre’s NRA has insisted that background checks would lead to a national registry of guns, even though the bipartisan bill explicitly forbade any such action. This week’s convention speakers, who read like a who’s who among leading Tea Party Republicans, touted the defeat of the Manchin-Toomey background check bill as a “victory for liberty.” Although the NRA convention is peppered with hyperbolic language, two figures making the news caught my attention. First, the NRA’s new president Jim Porter seems to be bringing a touch of neoconfederate flavor to this week’s festivities. In a 2012 speech to the New York Rifle and Pistol Association, he described his audience as “Yankees” and explained that “southerners” call the Civil War “The War of Northern Aggression. I, for one, hope this was just some colorful talk. After all, the NRA and more broadly speaking, its Republican advocates, can’t hope to “rebrand” by pushing secession talk. Mourning the loss of slavery surely isn’t the best way to attract young folks and people of color to the party. If “liberty” is your brand, looking back fondly on enslavement is pretty counter-intuitive. But even more remarkable was Glenn Beck’s hour-and-a-half long speech to the convention. In it, Beck portrayed the NRA as freedom fighters and insisted that its members would need to use “passive resistance” to overcome gun control legislation. Citing a list of heroes that began with Jesus Christ and included Frederick Douglass, Margaret Thatcher, and Martin Luther King, Jr., Beck called on the NRA to adopt the signature slogan of the American civil rights

movement, “We Shall Overcome.” Beck’s speech reminded me of his 2010 event in Washington on the anniversary of the historic 1963 March on Washington. Beck’s rally was turned into an odd “civil rights” revival, featuring snippets of King’s speeches and capped off by a speech from King’s niece. Devoid of any understanding that the civil rights movement was a long struggle to contest disfranchisement, racial violence, and Jim Crow segregation through the passage of laws that would protect the citizenship rights of African-Americans, Beck’s “colorblind” call for a revival of a civil rights movement was an historical attack on the real meaning of the movement. Beck’s renewed call for passive resistance in the effort to support the growth of the gun industry is a result of the watered-down memory of the movement in popular culture. In this toothless version of the civil rights movement that has been adopted by the American right, the only thing of significance King said was the word “colorblind.” However, colorblindness is a condition, not a cure. In this formulation, everyone must try to ignore that anyone has a race at all, even when race colors the political debate. In this strange formulation, everyone must pretend that they don’t notice race or the continuing effects of racial discrimination. This kind of movement doesn’t recognize the ways that an unchecked gun trade is ravaging black neighborhoods in cities like Chicago. Anyone can claim that they are supporters of civil rights, as long as they support the catch–phrases of “freedom and liberty.” This twisted vision of civil rights allows Beck to claim that the gun-industry-funded NRA is carrying out the dream of an activist who was assassinated by a gunman firing a high-powered rifle. Martin Luther King’s seminal call to have his children judged “not by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character” was and is an admirable idea. No one wants perceptions of racial inferiority to shape our country. But King must be remembered first and foremost as a tireless advocate of nonviolence. He gave his life serving a non-violent movement, pushing for fair pay and an end to segregation, not advocating an unchecked arms race on America’s streets. It is my hope that we do overcome any attempts to bastardize King’s legacy in the service of the NRA. King believed fervently that non-violence could be employed to resolve any crisis, from personal relationships to geo-political conflicts. In a world rocked by war, and acts of terror both great and small, we should all strive to be more like King. But a first step to modeling King would require us to put our guns down.



Friday. May 10. 2013


2014 Kia Cadenza: Attainable luxury is here


Yes, the 2014 Kia Sorento can already stretch over the $40k mark, fully loaded; but it’s the Cadenza that reaches beyond that, and really tests the brand’s boundaries by expanding into a new part of the market: big sedans that some call ‘near luxury’—cars that might not have a luxury badge, but be for all intents and purposes luxury cars. Kia couldn’t have picked a better name, either, we think. In music, it’s the colorful, skilled solo that usually helps bookend a concerto. Likewise, Kia sure has had a run the past several years, pushing beyond the bland-basic, car-of-last-resort flavor of cars like the Sephia and Spectra and onto models fashionforward, truly desirable models like the latest Optima and Forte. And—ahem--there was a predecessor to the Cadenza, just a few years ago: the arthritis-inducing Amanti. Simply a great-looking large sedan, the Cadenza looks like a performance-focused model from some angles even though it isn’t. As with all those newer Kia products designed under Peter Schreyer, the Cadenza hints throughout that it’s Europeaninfluenced, but whether you take the design a piece as a time or as a whole, it’s definitely not derivative. The Cadenza is closely related to the Hyundai Azera, but you’ll never know it from the outside—or from the inside. To the point, they’re completely different designs, and the Azera’s smooth, flowing design and deeply sculpted sheetmetal stand in contrast to the Cadenza’s taut, more athletic look. Overall, the Cadenza feels quick and responsive; but it’s all relative and you really can’t compare the Cadenza to any true sport sedan. Power is provided by a 3.3-liter V-6, making 293 horsepower and 255 pound-feet. The V-6 doesn’t make all that much torque at the low end of the rev band, which means that stepping away from a standing start, or up a steep hill, feel a bit more sluggish than you’d guess from its power output—until the revs build, and then you rocket ahead. Steering lacks road feel and requires a lot of small movements to stay on course on the highway. When driven at anything but a sport-sedan pace, this is a car that feels confident on the back roads yet maneuverable in town. Choose a big sedan like the 2014 Kia Cadenza, that’s not overtly a sport sedan, and you might expect the ride quality to be pillowy, almost queasy. As with many of the latest entries

in this class, that’s no longer the case; the Cadenza has topnotch interior comfort, without those boat-like old-fashioned big-car motions. It’s also luxury-car quiet inside. Get the Luxury Package and you’ll have ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, and even a driver’s thigh extension—something rare in this class of cars and something that will be appreciated by tall drivers. In back, the available panoramic roof really limits headroom, though. Once you’re in, this is a sedan, that won’t let you down on the subtle details. The Cadenza is a very quiet-riding sedan, with almost no wind noise, and very little road noise, at highway speeds. Materials, and the leather upholstery, are very impressive throughout the cabin. The Cadenza is one of the first models from Kia to get the new UVO eServices system, which provides integrated roadside assistance, diagnostics, and other services, through a paired smartphone (no separate subscription is required).

It also has Kia’s top eight-inch touch-screen system that responds well to natural voice commands and includes plenty of traditional physical buttons to back things up. Navigation is included as a standard feature, and it’s one of the best systems on the market, with clear, colorful displays, live traffic, and easy-to-intuit split-screen views. At just $35,100, the 2014 Cadenza includes lots of standard equipment and is quite the value considering it’s about the same price as a well-optioned Optima (SX Limited), Accord, or Camry. With the Luxury Package and the Technology Package added to that, you get things like a panoramic sunroof, power retractable sunshade, Nappa ventilated seats, a heated steering wheel, 19-inch alloys, smart cruise control, blind-spot detection, and lane departure warning—all for about $42k. Luxury badge or not, that’s going to seem like a deal to a great many families and comfort-minded folks.

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