Once upon a time, advertisements for junk food were part of Disney programs for kids. But in 2015, such ads on TV, radio and websites will be banished from the Magic Kingdom. The Walt Disney Co. announced new nutrition guidelines today, furthering a 2006 initiative to make food at its theme parks and resorts healthier. “The emotional connection kids have to our characters and stories gives us a unique opportunity to continue to inspire and encourage them to lead healthier lives,” CEO Bob Iger said. He hopes to influence not only children but also companies. Though advertising revenue may initially decline, Iger’s goal is for companies to eventually create products meeting Disney’s standards. Ultimately, individuals and families make the decisions about what food to purchase and consume; government attempts to set the menu aren’t the answer to our nation’s health challenges. Disney’s effort at self-imposed corporate responsibility and media pressure is a fresh approach. We hope this change will help children live happily, and healthily, ever after.
AP File Photo
Coverage of the NBA’s Western Conference Finals has included analysis not only of the dueling teams but their respective cities, with commentators drawing comparisons between San Antonio’s Riverwalk and Oklahoma City’s Bricktown Canal. Another topographical similarity comes from the new park system rankings by the Trust for Public Land. Of the 40 biggest cities, Oklahoma City ranked 33rd and San Antonio 35th. Since one of the criteria is the amount of park space relative to a city’s size, a more spread out city like ours is at a disadvantage compared with the more densely populated coastal cities such as Eastern Conference finalist Boston, tied for third in the ParkScore Rankings. But with recent investments in parks and the upcoming MAPS 3 Core to Shore park, our future in coming years looks bright on the court and in the park.
Above: Will Rogers Gardens in northwest Oklahoma City is an older city park with new additions. Ongoing efforts to improve the city’s green spaces, and add new parks, could help the city move higher in rankings of big-city park systems in the U.S. Photo by Jim Beckel, The Oklahoman
If the weather this week didn’t offer enough proof, an online hazard mapping firm tells us that Oklahoma is a top destination for hail. Tulsa, Oklahoma City and Midwest City landed in the list of top 10 hail-prone metro areas. Colorado also contributed three cities, and Kansas and Texas had two each. While this compilation by Boston-based CDS Business Mapping, LLC., first reported last fall, is an unfortunate reminder of a natural phenomenon, it beckons us to be prepared and alert. Severe and strange weather has become all too familiar in this Tornado Alley state, but our communities continue to persevere, with Rumble of the Oklahoma City Thunder as an appropriate mascot.
Photo by Jim Beckel, The Oklahoman Archives
Breaking news last week regarding New Orleans’ Times-Picayune concerned not the contents of its pages but the future of the newspaper itself. The 175-year-old publication plans to cut its daily circulation to three days a week and focus on online news. In a letter to the paper’s owner, New Orleans Saints and Hornets owner Tom Benson urged the organization to rethink its decision. As a major league city with a strong heritage, Benson believes New Orleans deserves a daily paper. If his challenge doesn’t succeed in overturning the ruling on the field, The Times-Picayune would be the largest metro newspaper in the country to cease daily circulation. Avid readers may be left feeling as if the digital age placed a bounty on their morning papers.
Tom Benson (AP File Photo)
A new law in Turkey is seeking to tame the spirit of the street markets. The wardens on patrol have a mandate to fine traders who “disturb the environment” or commit “verbal or genuine abuse” against prospective customers. The hollering and singing are as much a part of the centuries-old tradition of the covered-market bazaars as are the tomatoes and tea cups for sale. While the rules and fines have prompted some vendors to leave, many are ignoring them. Shoppers have mixed opinions. While toning down crude harassment by stall owners isn’t an unreasonable goal, one recent tomato-seeker described the suppression of shouting as an attack on “the soul of Istanbul.” The Justice and Development Party governing Turkey has proposed additional rules for the merchants that are expected to become law later this year. In this case, government interference in the marketplace is more than figurative.
The University of Oklahoma got budget advice last week from feminist activist Eve Ensler. The playwright famous for “The Vagina Monologues” is concerned about potential budget cuts to the Women’s and Gender Studies program. Oklahoma doesn’t fare well in national rankings of various health and social issues. But we doubt the high female incarceration rates and low use of prenatal care are the result of women not having taken such courses as “Red Dirt Women and Power” or “Witch-Hunt in Early Modern Europe.” If we want to be serious about improving the plight of Oklahoma women, we should devote our resources accordingly. To address the issue of violence against women, a cause that Ensler champions, money could go directly to shelters or law enforcement instead of to academia. Or we could do something about the women and children’s residential substance abuse treatment program waiting list, which has hundreds of names on any given day.
Eve Ensler (The Oklahoman Archives)
The National High School Journalism Convention in Seattle became the latest setting for an ideologue to proclaim tolerance while simultaneously spouting intolerant remarks. Keynote speaker Dan Savage, founder of the It Gets Better Project, used his anti-bully platform to blatantly attack Christians. When an already vulgar speech crossed the line, a group of students walked out. Savage heckled and cursed them. His movement, with the message of spreading hope to bullied LGBT teens, has reached over 40 million viewers with its YouTube videos featuring contributors ranging from Hollywood stars to President Barack Obama. The group’s pledge declares, “Everyone deserves to be respected for who they are… I’ll speak up against hate and intolerance whenever I see it, at school and at work.” Sounds like Savage needs to work on practicing what he preaches.
Dan Savage (AP File Photo)
Newt Gingrich encountered an unlikely opponent on the presidential campaign trail in St. Louis last week. Nipped by a Magellanic penguin during a behind-the-scenes zoo tour, Gingrich’s finger required a small bandage. In other penguin news, a recent emperor penguin census, conducted via satellite, found double the expected number of the majestic birds. “We know that this species is threatened by climate change,” said lead author Peter Fretwell of the British Antarctic Survey. “This gives us an accurate method of checking the numbers, year on year, to see if the models that predict that the population is going to decrease are actually true.” With a previous estimate of 300,000 emperor penguins in the world, and a new count of 595,000, climate change appears not to be too serious a predator so far. Perhaps the next erstwhile presidential candidate deserving of a penguin’s wrath is Al Gore.
A flock of penguins in Antarctica (AP Photo/Japan Pool)
The Latino vote could be key in November’s presidential election. If this demographic’s views at all mirror the sentiment in Latin American countries, President Barack Obama could be in trouble. Gallup reported this week that the percentage of Latin Americans believing the U.S.-Latin America relationship will strengthen under Obama has dropped from 43 percent in 2009 to 24 percent in 2011. Neighboring Mexico’s optimism was halved, from 43 to 19 percent. Obama’s job approval rating in the region has also declined in the same time frame, from 62 to 47 percent, with Mexico demonstrating the biggest fall among the 18 countries, from 62 to 31 percent. At this weekend’s Summit of the Americas in Colombia, Gallup says Obama is “seeking to strengthen commercial ties, specifically in the energy sector.” Perhaps Canada will join us in our skepticism.
Western Hemisphere leaders will gather for the sixth Summit of the Americas this weekend at the Convention Center in Cartagena, Colombia. (AP Photo)
To best serve Oklahoma’s poor and disadvantaged, a partnership between the government and faith-based community is indispensable. The 8308 campaign, named for the number of children in DHS custody as of January 1, is taking this approach to address the urgent need for foster families. A statewide conference on Thursday, April 26 will provide information and resources for individuals looking to get involved and churches interested in establishing a foster care or adoption ministry. Journey Church in Norman is hosting the event from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Register at http://www.faithlinksok.org. The conference is free, and lunch is provided. The campaign is a collaborative effort of the Office of Faith Based and Community Initiatives, the Oklahoma Department of Human Services, 111 Project, SALLT and Sandridge Energy. If you’ve been wondering what you can do to serve Oklahoma’s children, mark your calendar for this opportunity to put your faith in action.