Saturday, March 31, 2012

Bugged by Starbucks?

The Beetlejuice that's scaring folks today isn't a Tim Burton movie. For some, it's finding out that Starbucks started using crushed beetles to color their strawberry frappuccino, strawberry smoothies and other items. Specifically, they used the female Cochineal, a insect with the appearance of a tick that lives off cacti plants and produces a substance called carminic acid. This substance is refined and used to make red carmine dye. Once used in the coloring of fabrics, it was approved for use in food products and makeup by the US Food and Drug Administration. However, in early 2011, the FDA required that food or cosmetics containing the die needed to express it on the ingredient label.

Vegans, vegetarians and others were upset upon finding what they were unknowingly consuming. A company barista, who was vegan, alerted a vegetarian web site and sent a photo of the ingredients in their strawberry sauce. Starbucks released a statement saying they would be reviewing alternative ingredients. The press release read, "While it is a safe, sterilized product that poses no health risk, we are reviewing alternative natural ingredients."

Really Starbucks--why not just really go au naturel and cut out the dyes, whether "natural" or artificial, plus any synthetic flavoring. How about just sticking to strawberries?

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Who is the Real Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman?

After almost two weeks of seeing the innocent, smiling face of a 12-year-old Trayvon Martin, very different photos are starting to emerge of the 17-year-old. The latest photos of a more “street” Trayvon, show him sporting tattoos and a gold “grill” on his lower jaw, pulled from his MySpace page. In addition to MySpace, he had a Twitter account with username, “@NO_LIMIT_NI**A”. His mother is claiming people are trying to smear her son’s reputation, although stories seem to be balancing the story of a straight-A student, perfect child that his parents understandably want to maintain. It is a view of a teen who was having trouble at school who was suspended ten days in February for allegedly having an empty bag in his backpack that contained a pipe and marijuana residue. In fact, Trayvon was staying at his father’s house during the suspension.

Also released has been an updated photo of George Zimmerman, presumably by his lawyer. Previously, the media had shown (and in most cases, is still showing) a 2005 photo when Zimmerman allegedly had been arrested on unknown charges, which were later dropped. Once again, the media manipulates the audience by showing five and seven year-old photos, one of a young, innocent boy and the other of an unshaven man in jailhouse orange. Both photos were used to give a deceptive impressions regarding what each man was about.

Updated photos of Zimmerman and Martin

The media have ridiculed Zimmerman’s description of Trayvon acting suspiciously and possibly on drugs. Now, because of the suspension for drug paraphernalia, there’s evidence that was possible. Was Trayvon’s body tested for drug use? In October, he was caught in possession of a “burglary tool,” a flathead screwdriver and 12 pieces of women's jewelery that he insisted didn’t belong to him and had been previously suspended for skipping class.

Besides the race baiters like Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, you have the New Black Panthers who put out a “Wanted Dead Or Alive” poster, offering a $10,000 reward for the capture of Zimmerman, who is in hiding and yet to be charged. You may remember these characters from the 2008 election when they were shown via video intimidating white voters who showed up at the polls. Of course, Eric Holder, the new US Attorney General, did nothing. In fact, only last week, a video surfaced where Holder spoke about getting women to brainwash kids against guns. A gun control lobby, The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, wrongly claimed that Zimmerman still had the gun used to shoot Martin.

The bigger picture is this: You would think members a race who were so clearly targeted with intimidation and public lynchings themselves a few decades ago would never stoop to the same level of hatred and rush to judgment. They are pushing the same vigilante justice they accuse Zimmerman of dealing. There are some cooler heads trying to reason with a better nature, including the Rev. C. L. Bryant, a former NAACP leader, GOP Presidential candidate Herman Cain and Deneen Borelli, African-American conservative commentator.

Then you have director Spike Lee who idiotically tweeted what he thought was Zimmerman street address to his over 200K followers. That address turned out to belong to an elderly couple who have nothing to do with Zimmerman. Now they live in fear because of their being linked to the case and even having their address displayed at public protests. This is one case I’d LOVE to see go to court--I hope they sue the crap out of Lee and anyone in the news media who disseminated that information. Marcus Davonne Higgins, a 33-year-old Los Angeles man, who originally sent out the information should do jail time for not too subtle threats of, “FEEL FREE TO REACH OUT & TOUCH HIM” to his 4,000 ‘friends’ on Facebook and holding up signs with the address at protests.

And for all those trying to blame the right-wing for all this: Zimmerman is apparently a registered democrat.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Obama Plays Race Card in Martin / Zimmerman Case

Obama inserted himself into another highly confrontational case this week. This one involving a 17 year-old black teen and an adult white/Hispanic male. Unlike many in the news media, however, this piece will not pass judgment on the guilt or innocence of either Mr. Zimmerman or Mr. Martin.

Last time this president involved himself in a police matter, he accused a white policeman, Cambridge Police Sgt. James Crowley, of racism when he detained Harvard University professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr. who was entering his own house, after a neighbor reported a possible burglary in progress. Instead of simply showing his ID, the professor became confrontational and was arrested for disorderly conduct. That charge was later dropped, but ignited a discussion on whether police were racial profiling. Obama criticized the arrest and arresting officer. The neighbor, Lucia Whalen, who had called 911, was also tagged as a racist, even though it was later shown she never mentioned the men as being black when calling 911. Obama had a beer summit--although he never apologized directly to Sgt Crowley for his remarks. He said he hoped it would be a “teachable moment.” (Lucia wasn’t invited.)

Now Obama has jumped in the middle of a fatal shooting. Trayvon Martin, 17, was shot and killed by George Zimmerman. That is not in dispute. What is disputed is if this was a case of self-defensed, as claimed by Zimmerman, against an allegedly unarmed teen. The media immediately portrayed George Zimmerman as the racist killer of a black teenager, who was merely walking home with a bag of Skittles and a soda. The media emphasized Zimmerman was white, even though his family said he is Hispanic. The police report also described Mr. Zimmerman as white; the media was either ignorant or chose to ignore the fact that often Hispanic people are labeled as white if they have a “white” surname. They didn’t let the fact that Mr. Zimmerman and his family identify with their Hispanic heritage get in the way of stirring the pot, claiming he was a racist, white man from a rich neighborhood who shot an innocent black boy.

Now, one day after President Obama inserts himself into the case by saying that if he, "had a son, he would have looked like Trayvon,” it’s reported police have a witness who backs up Zimmerman’s self-defense story. This, as yet unnamed, witness collaborates Zimmerman, who said he was attacked first by Martin.

In a partial release of a 911 tape, you can hear the operator tell Zimmerman, affiliated with the neighborhood watch, not to follow the suspicious person (Martin) he’s reporting. Later in the tape (not released), screams are heard. Although law enforcement believe the screams came from Zimmerman, it becomes a subject for debate on many TV shows whether it’s actually Zimmerman screaming or Martin. The witness claims that the screams did come from Zimmerman and that he was on the ground, being beaten by Martin.

The only thing that’s certain is no one fully knows what happened except Mr. Zimmerman and now, possibly, a witness. The media, who is fond of reminding us how we shouldn’t rush to judgment, certainly didn’t follow their own advice. If this had been the wild West, they would’ve been the gang of vigilantes out in front with the rope to hang Mr. Zimmerman from the nearest tree. They are the true racists, both for ignoring Zimmerman’s family and continuing to label him as white, assuming he must have been the aggressor and that the young, black teenager was a victim of “walking while black.”

President Obama is having another "teachable moment"--he's again teaching us he likes to play the race card. What he is teaching is to remind, in particular, the black minority of racial tensions, even manufactured ones. Like the case with Fluke, he's also using it as a distraction from his abysmal record: the economy, the failure in the war on terrorism and the Supreme Court about to weigh in on Obamacare.

The media also does not want the public to think of Zimmerman as anything but white; it makes the story more controversial if Zimmerman is portrayed as a non-minority. It would make things more difficult for Obama when he goes to court the Latino vote if he’s seen as pitting the Hispanic community against the black community. No doubt we’ll see Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, and the other media hogs racing to Florida to stand with the family in front of the TV cameras. George Zimmerman is in hiding, reportedly because of death threats. Rallies and prayer vigils are being held for Trayvon Martin and his family. Pressure to try Zimmerman already being expressed and could ignite communities if he is no-billed. But no one, except the families involved or the community, cares about future repercussions, not the President, the outsiders taking advantage of a charged situation and certainly not the media.