-- for the South Florida Sun Sentinel:
May 6, 2013
Is this the year Washington finally tackles immigration reform?
The bipartisan "Gang of Eight" senators just released a proposal for "comprehensive immigration reform."
But the "comprehensive immigration reform" on offer serves to legally deprive undocumented immigrants of fundamental civil rights — in spite of their outsized contributions to the U.S. economy.
The basic plan from the Gang of Eight has not changed much since the last time Washington showed an interest in immigration reform, in 2007.
It starts with stern promises to "secure the border." A guest worker program would follow.
The Gang of Eight proposal would enable undocumented immigrant workers
to remain here legally after a criminal background check, a hefty
registration fee, and a number of other onerous requirements.
-- by Gus West, for the San Diego Union-Tribune,
The Obama administration will soon be looking for a new top telecommunications cop. Federal Communications Commission Chair Julius Genachowski recently announced that he’d soon be leaving his post.
Some are calling for the next FCC chair to aggressively police the Internet and exert a tighter regulatory hold over the firms that have built its backbone.
Individuals Must Change Diet, Exercise Habits
WASHINGTON, April 24, 2013 – Regulation of big sugary drinks and processed foods can help reduce alarmingly high rates of obesity among Hispanics, but changes in individual behavior and support from community organizations are also crucial, according to a new report released today by The Hispanic Institute.
The report, “Obesity: Hispanic America’s Big Challenge,” criticizes the processed food industry for its complicity in flooding stores with drinks that are too sugary and foods that are too salty and fat. It also urges national organizations not to accept funds from companies whose products hurt the people they represent.
“Of course, we’re responsible for what we eat and drink, but we’re also subject to the effects of massive advertising and misleading promotional campaigns – especially on our children and the poor,” Gus West, president of The Hispanic Institute, said in announcing the report. “Education and awareness can make a difference, but we also need the community organizations to walk away from funding by the processed food and big sugary drink companies. Community Organizations did it in the ‘90s, when they broke with tobacco companies; they can do it again now with these companies,” he added.
The report applauds public officials like New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, whose much publicized effort to control the sale of big sugary drinks was blocked by a court ruling on an appeal brought by the sugary drink manufacturers, supported by Hispanic and African American Organizations.
“Obesity: Hispanic America’s Big Challenge” details the impact of diabetes and heart disease on the Hispanic community, which suffers from those obesity-related conditions at rates surpassed only by those of non-Hispanic African-Americans, and it offers some solutions. The positive roles of diet and exercise and technology are also examined
About the Hispanic Institute:
The Hispanic Institute (http://www.thehispanicinstitute.org /) is a 501 (c) 3 designated nonprofit organization that provides an effective education forum for an informed and empowered Hispanic America.
XiNomara Velazquez Yehuda, COS
-- from Industry Today:
Like most Americans, Gus West always thought of yogurt as a nutritious and healthful food item rather than something that could be unhealthier for you than a bowl of sugarcoated cereal.
But, to his great surprise, he found out that, at least in some cases, it is the latter.
That is the last time he will buy that particular brand of yogurt for his child.
“I’m the leader of a national organization and you think I would be more knowledgeable of things like this,” he said. “But I didn’t know that, and I feel like I should have.”
Now, as the board chair and president of The Hispanic Institute, he is directing a campaign to help better educate fellow Hispanics about the dangers lurking inside a wide range of processed foods and sugary products.
The newly-launched campaign is based on a recent report by the organization, titled “Obesity: Hispanic America’s Big Challenge,” which strongly criticizes the processed food industry and its countless list of manufacturers for its complicity in flooding stores with drinks that are too sugary and foods that are too salty and contain too much fat.
-- Tania Sirias Aguilar, La Prensa:
Gus West, presidente del Instituto Hispánico, es un experto en temas migratorios, pues ha estado involucrado con la vida gubernamental y política durante más de veinte años. Nació en Managua, su padre es norteamericano y su madre es de origen nicaragüense. Inició su carrera en la Asamblea del Estado de Nevada como sargento de armas auxiliar y luego como analista de la Alta Dirección en Las Vegas. Además trabajó en el Departamento de Comercio de las Administraciones de Economía y Estadística, Desarrollo Económico y Comercio Internacional.
-- by Nicholas Confessore, The New York Times:
The decision by a New York State judge striking down the Bloomberg administration’s ban on large, sugary drinks this week was not just a high-profile victory for the soda companies in their pitched battle against anti-obesity policies that are aimed at their products. It was also a victory for the industry’s steadfast, if surprising, allies: advocacy groups representing the very communities hit hardest by the obesity epidemic.
Dozens of Hispanic and African-American civil rights groups, health advocacy organizations and business associations have joined the beverage industry in opposing soda regulation around the country in recent years, arguing that such measures — perhaps the greatest regulatory threat the soft-drink industry has ever faced — are discriminatory, paternalistic or ineffective.
Many of these groups have something else in common: They are among the recipients of tens of millions of dollars from the beverage industry that has flowed to nonprofit and educational organizations serving blacks and Hispanics over the last decade, according to a review by The New York Times of charity records and other documents...
“A lot of these organizations have particular niches that they use to service the communities,” said Gus K. West, president of the Hispanic Institute, a policy advocacy organization based in Washington that supports tighter regulation of sugary drinks. “And they’re getting funded by the soda industry. They’re taking the money and looking the other way on obesity, diabetes, heart disease. They look the other way or issue statements that have no teeth or don’t go after the industry.”
Officials at PepsiCo and Coca-Cola, whose products dominate the beverage market, said there was no connection between the grants to community groups and their positions on soda regulation.
“We never ask our foundation or community relations partners to engage in public policy issues on our behalf,” said Jeff Dahncke, a spokesman for PepsiCo. “The nature of these relationships is focused on diversity and inclusion.”
-- with William Haar, Forbes:
First they ignore. Next they deny and bury. Then they minimize. Finally, they shout about freedom—and how politicians are taking it away.
These are, to the best of our reckoning, the four stages of corporate response when the public and political leaders start demanding restrictions on products that make us sick or do us harm. And, of course, if political leaders do try and act, company executives and PR people lob inflammatory phrases like “nanny state” to rile people up.
That’s what Karen Harned of the National Federation of Independent Business did recently on this website when she derided Mayor Michael Bloomberg for working to “expand the nanny state that has become New York City.” Bloomberg stands accused because he is attempting to limit the size of sodas—after previously oppressing New York residents by restricting public smoking and regulating sodium and trans fats in food.
-- by Rob Waters and William L. Haar, for Forbes:
Earlier this month, Coca-Cola unleashed a new PR blitz complete with full-page ads, press events and appearances on TV news programs, all aimed at showing the world that Coke folks are good corporate citizens that care—really care—about the global epidemic of diabetes, obesity and related chronic health problems. Yes, the company seems to be saying, we understand there’s a problem and we’re willing and eager to do our part.
It reminds us of another advertising blitz by an industry whose products were coming under increasing scrutiny. On Jan. 4, 1954, the “Tobacco Research Institute” published a full-page ad in the New York Times and more than 400 other newspapers around the country. It’s title: A Frank Statement to Cigarette Smokers.
In the Frank Statement, the tobacco companies said:
We accept an interest in people’s health as a basic responsibility, paramount to every other consideration in our business.
We believe the products we make are not injurious to health.
We always have and always will cooperate with those whose task it is to safeguard the public health.
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