After five years back-and-forth, trash talk and negotiations, the extremely anticipated bout between Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao – dubbed “The Fight of the Century” – finally went down last night at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. Mayweatther wins in an unanimous decision against Pacquiao. Following the fight, social media damn near crashed with comments about the outcome. Check out pre, during and post fight reactions from some of your favorite hip-hop artist, below.
Aight Pac Man win this shit!!!
— Emilio Rojas (@emiliorojas) May 3, 2015
Ok @iamjamiefoxx for that hallelujah at the end
With all it’s glory, glitz and glamour, the Fight of the Century has come and gone.
With Floyd Mayweather‘s victory over Manny Pacquiao, boxing fans finally got the answer to the much-debated question: Who’s the best boxer of this era?
Saturday’s win not only gives Mayweather a significant boost to his historical standing, but it also puts him beyond reproach atop this list. But where does Pacquiao land now?
And with both Mayweather and Pacquiao nearing the end of their careers, the best of the rest matter as much as ever. Where does the long-dormant Andre Ward sit in the pound-for-pound picture? What about Gennady Golovkin and his terrifying punching power? Is the extremely popular Canelo Alvarez a top-10 fighter yet?
Click through to find out how the top fighters in the world rank against one another after Mayweather vs. Pacquiao. Boxers are ranked by quality of opposition faced as well as their perceived willingness to engage all comers. A special emphasis is given to how fighters have performed over the last calendar year.
And it went down just like everyone thought it would.
Floyd defeated Pacquiao by unanimous decision after going the distance, making ‘Money’ Mayweather the official winner.
And his undefeated reign continues…
[Image via Getty Images.]
The National Anthem is never an easy song to nail.
He kicked off the night with his rendition of the challenging song. And it seemed to be a bit of a challenge.
While he did keep it smooth, he didn’t exactly blow us away.
It might’ve been fine for a smaller event, but this deserved an anthem that blew the roof off the place!
Watch Jamie sing it (below)!!
[Image via YouTube.]
It’s the biggest fight in years, and that means the biggest entrances possible!
Left: Manny Pacquiao with Jimmy Kimmel as his hype man!
Right: Floyd Mayweather Jr. with the Burger King king!
When he was young, Cadeem Gibbs was really into school. Bright, curious, and naturally rebellious, he enjoyed arguing the opposing point of view in a classroom discussion just to see how well he could do it. “I was always academically inclined,” says the Harlem native, now 24. “I always wanted to learn.”
But there were plenty of stressors in his young life—a violent upbringing, a household in poverty—and the struggle to navigate them pulled him away from his education. He started getting into trouble and ended up in the juvenile justice system at the age of 12. That first contact with “the system” began a 10-year cycle of incarceration that ended only when Gibbs was released from an upstate New York prison two years ago, at the age of 22. He was just a sixth grader when first arrested, but he would never complete a school year as a free child again.
Americans believe that education is the great equalizer, the key that opens the door to a better future and lifts young people out of poverty. And this is true, to an extent—those who finish high school or college have lower unemployment rates and higher incomes than those who don’t. But while people who don’t complete their education are more likely to stay in poverty, they’re also more likely to come from poverty. In the 21st century, so-called reformers have emerged to prescribe everything from charter schools to iPads in order to boost poor students’ educational achievements.
Ignored is a trifecta of policies that prevent young people in poverty from finishing their education: high-stakes testing and the high-stakes discipline that comes with it; weak to nonexistent federal policy concerning education for those young people already involved with the juvenile justice system; and a lifetime of background checks that keep the formerly incarcerated from gaining degrees and finding jobs.
These intersecting policies, which push kids out of school and into a punitive legal system, are collectively known as the “school-to-prison pipeline.” But the individuals who emerge at the end of that pipeline, though criminalized, are still young people—a population that has a reasonable expectation to receive an education. So what happens to a young person’s schooling when he or she is taken out of the classroom and put behind bars?
For poor students of color, like Gibbs, the problems can begin early. These children were the target of George W. Bush’s No Child Left Behind law, which was passed in 2002. The law mandated 100 percent student proficiency in math and reading by 2014. Schools that failed to make adequate yearly progress faced a set of sanctions ranging from staff firings and restructuring the school, to turning it into a charter school or handing it over to private management. Terrified of missing the NCLB guidelines, schools got rid of students who might hold back their numbers. Suspensions, expulsions, and school-based arrests skyrocketed in the wake of the new law, pushing hundreds of thousands of students out of school and, frequently, into the justice system. Such policies disproportionately affect students of color and students with disabilities—compared with their white peers, black youths are three and a half times more likely to be expelled and, if arrested, nine times more likely to receive an adult prison sentence. Even though overall youth crime has decreased since 1999, youth punishment has not: From 1999 to 2008, the number of total youth arrests fell more than 15 percent, while the number of juvenile-court cases remained virtually the same, falling only 4 percent. This means that while fewer young people are getting arrested, they continue to be processed through the system at the same high rates.
When Gibbs was arrested for firearm possession at school, he spent time in both secure and nonsecure facilities while attending his court dates. He then landed in an “alternatives to incarceration” program at Children’s Village, spending a year there. A residential campus in Dobbs Ferry, New York, 35 minutes outside of New York City, Children’s Village serves young people from both the juvenile-justice and child-welfare systems. Although the staff acted kindly toward him, Gibbs says he felt discouraged and resentful. He was placed in a special-education class, which made him feel like there was something wrong with him. He had weekly counseling sessions, which he hated; he says he would go into each session and sit in complete silence while the social worker asked him questions about his life, refusing to say a single word for the entire hour. It’s only now, in retrospect, that he realizes that his silence came from a lack of trust. “I didn’t know I didn’t trust her,” Gibbs says. “I just thought I didn’t want to be bothered. I was angry. I didn’t want to be there.”
When he was released from that placement and tried to reenter the regular school system, Gibbs hit a number of barriers. Because it was near the end of the school year, he had to finish middle school at Children’s Village, taking a 45-minute bus ride from his home in Harlem to Dobbs Ferry every day. Even so, he was behind in credits from all the classes he’d missed while in custody, and it was time for him to start high school. “It took me a while to find a school,” he says. “No school would accept me.” He ended up at an alternative high school serving young people who had been suspended, expelled, or otherwise pushed out of their community schools.
This type of barrier to reentry is a common one for young people hoping to return to their schools after a juvenile placement. The high-stakes testing standards under No Child Left Behind prompt schools to exclude students coming from the juvenile-justice system. Because those students are likely to have fallen behind academically, their potential for scoring poorly on tests becomes a liability, creating a perverse incentive structure in which it’s better to exclude high-needs students than it is to educate them. School districts can refuse to accept the partial credits earned during the time a child spent in custody—and they can also refuse to re-enroll that student entirely.
Even for those who do get a meaningful education inside the system, the trauma of being detained can have a long-lasting effect on young people, who are still developing in crucial ways. “It’s life-changing—any contact is impactful,” says Elijah Tax-Berman, a high-school social worker at a New York City network of schools that serve young people involved with the juvenile- or criminal-justice system, as well those who are homeless or in foster care. Some of the schools in which Tax-Berman works have installed metal detectors, and he says that some students have stopped attending school because of the indignities associated with the search process. “It may seem like a little thing: ‘Take the wrappers out of your pockets, turn in your cellphone, take off your belt.’ But they’ve had such a negative experience, they’re so uncomfortable with it, that they stop coming to school.” For those students, the metal detectors at the front door act as a literal barrier to entry.
* * *
“A lot of kids go into juvenile-justice facilities, and that’s the end of their education,” notes Jessica Feierman, supervising attorney at the Juvenile Law Center in Philadelphia. Underlying this problem is a patchwork of dysfunctional local policies. “There is a huge degree of variability as to what happens to a young person, depending on what state they’re in or even what part of the state they’re in.” In some states, the youth agency that administers juvenile justice—in other words, the system itself—is also responsible for education. In other states, the responsibility is not in the hands of the state agency, but the local or county school district. “We found that both of those systems have some structural challenges,” says David Domenici, founding principal of the Maya Angelou Academy, the school inside Washington, DC’s, long-term juvenile facility. When school districts are in charge, juvenile inmates may not be a top priority for superintendents, who are busy overseeing all the schools in their district and ensuring that each is making yearly progress in the high-stakes education climate of No Child Left Behind. And when juvenile-justice agencies are in charge, Domenici adds, many of the facilities were set up decades ago as part of a “lock ‘em up” correctional approach in which school was also not a top priority. Then, “as an afterthought, people started to think, ‘Oh my gosh, we’re responsible for educating these people.’”
Being held in the custody of the juvenile-justice system can take a number of forms, from nonsecure residential placements (some of which are meant to resemble a homelike setting) to secure correctional facilities, or “lockup” for children. Only half of the young people in residential placements around the country reported having “good” education programs at their facilities, and less than half (45 percent) spent a full school day (at least six hours) receiving instruction. Those numbers come from the Department of Justice; its Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention surveys young people in residential placements across the country to assess their needs and the services they receive. The same survey found that a third of the young people in custody had a diagnosed learning disability. That’s seven times the rate of the general public-school population—and less than half were receiving the special-education services they have a legal right to. A stunning 70 percent of the young people had, like Gibbs, experienced some kind of trauma at some point in their lives.
And while a school schedule may operate on semesters or trimesters, juvenile placements do not—adding yet another logistical challenge not only for system-involved students, but for educators. “Kids come in and out a lot,” Domenici explains. Again like Gibbs, children are often transferred between several facilities before landing in a long-term placement, by which point they’ve missed weeks or even months of school. “And everyone just says, ‘Well, everyone in the whole District of Columbia is supposed to be on page 89 of their algebra book and chapter 16 of their humanities book,’” Domenici notes. That’s an unrealistic approach for any student, but especially those who have already had negative experiences in school. “I’m a very big fan of increased expectations for kids—but for kids who have been totally disengaged, we need to find a way to get them reengaged.”
To that end, Domenici has purposefully designed his school’s curriculum around themes that relate to their experience—relationships, change, choice, power, and justice. The academic year is broken up into eight units, and each unit has 22 days of instruction. Students earn credits for each completed unit, which means that even if they’re released in the middle of the school year, they leave with the credits they’ve accumulated during their time there.
It’s a simple solution to what Domenici describes as a set of deeply structural and philosophical problems regarding how to educate young people in the juvenile justice system. Beyond immediate trauma, system-involved young people often have other factors in their lives that prevent education from being the door-opener it’s understood to be. Obtaining a degree is hardly a guarantee of financial security for any young person, much less one who is living in poverty. “Our young people struggle with its relevancy,” says Tax-Berman. ”I struggle with them struggling with its relevancy. I can’t stand here and say, ‘You need to do well in school and everything will be OK,’ because it’s not [true]. You need to feed your family.”
According to Gibbs, that’s exactly why he kept winding up back in the system: The external circumstances of his life hadn’t changed. Not long after entering his alternative high school, he got into trouble again and was sent back to Children’s Village. When he got out the second time, it took him several months to find another school. He started at a regular city high school after the academic year had already begun, was expelled before the semester was over, and was arrested shortly after being expelled. By that time, he was 16 and an adult in the eyes of New York—the only state besides North Carolina that still prosecutes all 16-year-olds as adults. That meant he was headed to Rikers Island.
“It was terrifying because I was young, and I was around people much older than I was,” says Gibbs, who explains that even though youths under 18 are housed separately, they are frequently exposed to the adult population in common areas. “It’s like maybe [adult prisoners] might prey on me—and not even only that, but the corrections officers too.” Gibbs did feel targeted by the guards and other prisoners, but he did his best to cope and, upon his release, earned a GED on his own. At 17, Gibbs was arrested again on a drug charge and sent back to Rikers. He says he expressed interest in attending school while he was there, but was prohibited from doing so because he already had his GED.
In December 2014, the Justice Department and the Department of Education issued federal guidelines regarding correctional education in juvenile-justice facilities, outlining some of the key issues that the country’s 60,000 children in custody face in continuing their schooling. The extensive package addresses the educational and civil rights of students during their incarceration and through their transition back into the community. It’s “a critical step in helping increase access to education for young people involved in the juvenile-justice system,” says Jenny Collier, a project consultant for the Robert F. Kennedy Juvenile Justice Collaborative. A number of the guidelines reflect the struggles of young people like Gibbs; they include raising academic standards for those in custody and implementing more rigorous reentry programs to support those students as they return to their community schools.
But there’s an even bigger issue to address than those massive systemic obstacles, says Domenici: “There’s a big philosophical problem here. There clearly are a lot of people in youth facilities who want these kids to be successful and who believe in them. But there are plenty of people who believe that these are kids who have stolen cars, beat people up, chronically steal, whatever—and [that they] just don’t deserve to be in a great school.” This all-too-common way of looking at the issue prevents stakeholders from approaching the education of young people in juvenile facilities with the financial, organizational, and personal investment necessary to make it a meaningful experience.
* * *
Even if a system-involved young person manages to navigate these institutional barriers and external factors and succeeds in getting a degree, he or she will still face tremendous obstacles. Dina Sarver, a married mother of two in Florida, was arrested on three counts of grand theft auto when she was 15 and sent to a residential facility. The placement was a truly rehabilitative setting focused on pregnant teenagers, and Sarver says that it gave her the resources and support to get her life on track. After being discharged, she earned a high-school diploma and was accepted into an associate-degree program for registered nursing, where she hoped to become a nurse practitioner. At her second orientation, she asked the department manager about background checks and was told that a juvenile felony record was an automatic disqualification from the program. Sarver went on to complete a bachelor’s degree in healthcare management, but her final class required an internship, and that called for a background check. Only with the help of two public defenders who advocated on her behalf was she able to graduate.
Sarver is now 23. In Florida, most juvenile records are expunged when the offender turns 24 or 26, depending on conviction history and the offense. Until then, her record is available to any potential employer. Even after that, employers in certain fields, like those involving children, the disabled, and the elderly, still have a right to her expunged record. This is devastating for Sarver, who still wants to work in healthcare. “All these doors are closing in your face, and you don’t know what to do,” she says. “And sometimes it’s discouraging, because here you are, trying to do everything you can to become a productive member of society. I’m trying to get my education, become a better person, become a better mom, and I can’t do that because I’m so confined.” She can’t even go on her son’s field trips, because the school district runs a check on chaperones.
Cadeem Gibbs’s carceral experience culminated in a sentence served in an upstate New York prison, where he finally had access to books, magazines, and high-quality college courses. It was the most engaging educational experience he’d had since entering the system. He completed a human-services certificate program, maintained a high grade-point average, and accumulated a number of credits. When he was released last year, he enrolled at a community college—only to find out, once again, that many of the credits he’d earned didn’t transfer. “And I guess I’m at the point now where I don’t want to pursue a formal education. I’ve been kind of turned off by it,” he says. Instead, he’s been focusing on youth advocacy, such as the Raise the Age campaign fighting to change the state law that treats 16- and 17-year-olds like adults. He also works as a consultant for the Washington, DC–based Children’s Defense Fund. He remains passionate about education, but fears that spending more time and money on school won’t get him closer to his dreams, especially given his record.
“Things as menial as stockroom positions present challenges to you if you have a conviction,” he says. “So they kind of paint you into a corner—they tell you they want you to be militant and do all this time, and you come out and there’s limitations on the things that you can do.” Gibbs’s record can affect his ability to obtain public housing—even private housing if the landlord runs a background check. “The irony is, I still have to provide for myself,” he says. “So if I can’t have access to all these things, what am I supposed to do?”
Although he’s been doing well since his release, Gibbs worries about other people in the same position. “The uniqueness about me is that I kind of defied the odds and all that. Which is cool—it’s a great story,” he says. “But that shouldn’t have to be the case, because not everyone is going to think like me and navigate these obstacles.” Stories about those who have defied the odds, he thinks, leave out the vast majority of people who continue to be marginalized. “You’re talking about the lion’s share of the population that experiences this,” he adds. “This is what the day-to-day adversity is.”
The equalizing potential of education relies on the premise that it can open doors for every child who has access to it. But where does that leave the children whose lives consist not of open doors, but of locked ones?
Remember when eggs were bad for us before they were good for us? Or when certain heart disease was the devil’s bargain we made for loving a good cheeseburger? You may be excused for the vertigo you experience from all the flip-flops, twists and turns written over the years about the goodness or badness of any number of foods. For all of the “scientific” studies of nutrition and health, the bottom line is that we know something about the food we eat. But truthfully, the science behind what we ingest and how it affects our health is in its infancy.
There are numerous reasons why we are get conflicting information, partly because of how some journalists interpret scientific reports. Most reputable research papers are broken down the same way. There is an introduction/background, a methods section explaining how the research was performed, a results section, discussion/conclusion, and finally a summary. Journalists for the most part, not being scientists and on tight deadlines, read only the summary, which may have less scientific jargon and be more readily digestible than the rest of the paper. Many a journalist has fallen prey to accepting the summary without delving into the particulars. The result is a headline that screams Coffee Is Great for Your Health! when it should have said Coffee Is Great for Your Health—If You are Middle Class, Have Health Insurance, Don’t Smoke, Exercise, and Your Parents Don’t Have Cancer!
The problem is not always the journalism. Some studies are deeply flawed. Other studies cannot be duplicated and are therefore discredited. Sometimes the sample of people studied is too small. And then there are the studies sponsored by industries that have vested interests in the outcome.
Dietician Andy Bellatti wrote on Lifehacker, that:
“…increasingly, food companies are setting up ‘institutes’ (i.e. Coca-Cola’s Beverage Institute for Health and Wellness, General Mills’ Bell Institute) that are essentially PR efforts that oh-so-coincidentally frame these companies’ products as healthful (or, in the case of soda, in no way problematic from a health standpoint).
“To make matters more confusing, these institutes have doctors, cardiologists, and dietitians on their payroll—as well as key media contacts—resulting in a health professional talking to media about, say, how soda is ‘unfairly vilified.’ Most times, the general public isn’t aware that this isn’t an objective health professional choosing to say that.”
Whatever the reason, once corrected, a study may come to conclusions that are diametrically opposed to previous studies.
Here are five nutritional flip-flops, and a few more where the jury is still out.
1. Eggs. There was a time not very long ago when eggs were looked upon as cardiovascular time bombs. High in dietary cholesterol, it was said that eating a lot of eggs would result in gummed-up arteries and a high risk of heart attack. Most recent studies, however, cast these assumptions aside. Unless you are diabetic, there is no evidence that dietary cholesterol results in plaque building up in your arteries (studies on diabetics have shown possible correlation but nothing definitive).
In addition to protein, eggs contain lots of great nutrition, including omega-3s and B-vitamins.
Bottom line: Eat your eggs.
2. Saturated fat/red meat. Good and bad news about saturated fat has been bouncing to and fro like a ping-pong ball for several decades. One of our primary sources of saturated fat is red meat (burgers, steaks, beef hot dogs and the like). From the early- to mid-20th century, we were encouraged to consume lots of meat because it was a great source of protein, B vitamins and numerous other nutrients. However, in the 1960s, studies began to link saturated fat with heart disease and cancer.
Back and forth the argument went, as conflicting studies linked and unlinked the dangers of red meat consumption. People read and worried, accepted that meat was bad (although did not stop eating it), and rejoiced whenever news came out that maybe meat was OK. In 2014, a study out of Harvard, comprised of over one million people, found no link between the consumption of unprocessed red meat and either heart disease or diabetes. Another study out of Europe of over 450,000 individuals came to the same conclusion.
However, both of these studies did find a link between processed meat (hot dogs, cold cuts and the like) and disease.
Bottom line: If you want a burger, eat one, but think twice about that salami (processed meat) sandwich. But health reasons aside, the consumption of meat in the world sustains factory-farming of animals, which is the source of horrendous misery for billions of cows and pigs and is literally killing the planet because of the carbon, air and land pollution it creates. If you are concerned about that, and you should be, cut down on your meat consumption or stick to meat obtained from sustainable farming practices.
3. Butter. Butter’s stock has gone up and down for 150 years. As far back as 1855, people were told to use oil instead of butter. Like a close-fought basketball game, the duel between margarine and butter has been classic, but it seems that butter has finally gained the upper hand.
The main beef against butter has mostly been that it is a saturated fat, which with prolonged consumption, would cause cardiovascular disease. The Harvard study referenced above seems to have put that fear to rest, and in fact it is margarine, with its high trans fat content, which studies have shown is the heart disease enabler.
Meanwhile, butter is a good source of fat-soluble vitamins like A, E and K2, and actually raises the good HDL level in your blood, while lowering the bad LDL. As for the extra calories? No worries. A 2012 study concluded there was no correlation between high fat dairy and obesity.
Bottom line: Butter your toast. But remember most dairy you consume comes from factory farms, so try to buy butter that comes from grass-fed cows.
4. Coffee. For many years, coffee was the victim of flawed studies linking it to cancer and heart disease. Problem was, these studies did not take into account other factors, like coffee-drinkers might also be cigarette smokers. The result was that many people gave up coffee, albeit reluctantly.
It turns out that the dark side of coffee was greatly exaggerated. Yes, there are negative aspects of coffee. It is addictive, so if you want to stop, be prepared for a couple days of wicked headaches. It is a stimulant, so if you overdo it, expect to be tossing and turning in bed. If you are pregnant, don’t overdo it. There is some small correlation (not causation) between coffee and miscarriages, but opinion is nowhere near what it used to be, and most doctors now think a small cup or two a day, even if you are pregnant, is not a problem.
Now for the good stuff. Coffee is loaded with antioxidants (in fact, some Westerners actually get more antioxidants from coffee than from fruits and vegetables). Coffee enhances brain function (as do most stimulants), may protect your brain from degenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, and may ward off Type 2 diabetes and even liver cancer. Want more? There are studies linking coffee to a lower risk of depression and suicide and to a longer lifespan. (It is important to note that these studies are not causative, i.e. they do not show coffee causes a reduction in disease, only that those who drink coffee seem to have less disease.)
Bottom line: A cup of joe, please.
5. Avocados. Only a few decades ago the avocado was considered a sinful treat. As studies coming out in the 1970s and ’80s extolled the dangers of fat, the poor avocado suffered in silence as it was swept up in the low-fat tsunami of scientific opinion.
What we know now, is that the creamy fruit (yes, it is a fruit, not a vegetable) is a source of mono-saturated fat that does not clog your arteries or increase your cholesterol level, and in fact helps sweep away the bad LDL in your blood.
Bottom line: Eat as much guacamole as your heart desires.
On the Fence
Red wine: For a long time, scientists struggled with the so-called French paradox. Why is it that the French, whose diet includes lots of saturated fats, still manage to have less heart disease than Americans? The answer, researchers declared, was red wine. Red wine contains an ingredient called resveratrol, which studies point to as an active agent in protecting the cardiovascular system. Wine drinkers celebrated and drank a lot of wine, secure in the knowledge that they were doing their heart a solid. Alas, it seems we jumped the gun, or goblet as it were. More recent research has shown that the amount of resveratrol in the bodies of wine drinkers was not sufficient to provide any cardiovascular protection.
Since we now know that saturated fat is not the grim reaper we thought it was, it would seem that the lower level of heart disease in France would have other causative factors. A more likely cause, we now believe, is the higher amount of fresh fruits and vegetables that the French consume, as well as the lower amount of processed foods.
Bottom line: Drink up, but not to excess. A glass or two of wine a day might not protect your heart directly, but it certainly reduces stress and that’s a good thing. More than a couple glasses, though, and you are doing your body more harm than good.
Salt: Considered a contributor to high blood pressure and resulting heart attack and stroke risk, Americans have long been advised to limit their salt intake to about 2,300 milligrams of sodium a day (about a teaspoon of salt). Since we routinely consume over 3,500 milligrams a day, salt has been considered a major culprit contributing to America’s cardiovascular woes.
Here’s the thing, though: when we limit our salt intake, the resulting blood pressure drop is generally minimal (120/80 may drop to 118/79), not really enough to make much difference. And limiting salt too much has its own risks, since the human body needs salt to function properly. Now a major study, called the PURE study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine has concluded that there is insufficient evidence to show that limiting salt intake has any effect on health. Moreover, people in the study who limited their salt intake had more heart trouble than those who did not. There is still debate going on over the PURE results, and the American Heart Association, as well as the American government, has stuck to its guns that limiting salt is the better choice, but it would seem that the old orthodoxy may be cracking just a bit.
Bottom line: If you have very high blood pressure, limiting your salt intake might be the wise choice (for the moment, anyway), but the occasional potato chip shouldn’t overly concern you. For people without blood pressure issues, worrying about salt might raise your blood pressure more than the salt you are unnecessarily worrying about.
Sorry, These Are Still Bad For Us
Bacon: Unprocessed meat good. Processed meat bad. Because of the good news about saturated fat, bacon lovers of the world rejoiced, and there have been numerous articles claiming bacon is now good for you. Sorry, bacon lovers, but bacon is a cured, processed meat. There is plenty of evidence linking consumption of processed meats to heart disease, cancer and diabetes.
Bottom line: No scientific flip-flop on bacon. Bacon tastes great and is very bad for you.
Sugar: It’s bad for you. It was then, it is now. And it’s not just the tooth decay or the obesity or the diabetic risk; studies increasingly point to sugar as a culprit in inflammation, which may link to autoimmune diseases, cancer, heart disease, and more.
Bottom line: Sugar tastes so good, and it is hidden in so many foods. But cut down on the sweet stuff.
The overall takeaway is that today’s good food may be tomorrow’s bad food. So listen to the old saw: everything in moderation. And no matter what, no one will ever say too many fruits and veggies are bad for you. Eat lots of those and you really won’t need to worry too much about the rest.
Is Russia stepping up its game regarding the disarmament of nuclear weapons? This was the news last week when Russia sent a letter to a Non Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons Conference, describing the steps Russia has taken to fulfill the aims of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
The NPT is widely considered one of the most encompassing arms treaties of all time. It has been signed by 190 states, excluding only Israel, North Korea, India, Pakistan and South Sudan. It stipulates that member states restrict weapons trade, use nuclear technology only for energy needs and cease the manufacturing of nuclear arsenal.
In the letter to the conference, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin assured members that, “We have reduced our nuclear weapons stockpiles to minimal levels, thereby making a considerable contribution to the process of comprehensive and complete disarmament.”
Putin went on to write that Russia, “plan[s] to continue this work, as well as maintain the balance between the development of peaceful nuclear [programs] and the strengthening of the non-proliferation regime, including the guarantees system of the IAEA [International Atomic Energy Agency].”
Yet while Putin stands by his claims made in the recent letter, it wasn’t long ago that the U.S. was accusing Russia of violating the NPT. At the same conference, John Kerry admitted that the U.S. and Russia are responsible for 90 percent of all the world’s nuclear weapons. However Kerry said that while the U.S. is trying to comply with the treaty, Russia has been playing by their own rules: “I want to emphasize our deep concerns regarding Russia’s clear violation of its obligations under the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty. We are urging Russia to return to compliance,” Kerry stated.
Meanwhile Russia had their own barbs to trade. Mikhail Ulyanov of the Foreign Ministry Department of Non-Proliferation and Arms Control told the U.S. to remember their own precarious position: “Accusing others of violating the NPT, the United States forgets that its own track record in this area is far from ideal.”
So who is right? Well it turns out, neither side is doing that much better than the other. A look at the Federation of American Scientists fact sheet shows us that while Russia has a few more nuclear weapons (Russia has 7,500 while the U.S. has 7,200), the U.S. has more weapons strategically deployed.
But the real shame is that the U.S. and Russia are busy pointing fingers at each other, because when these two sides work together on nuclear disarmament they can achieve some monumental goals.
The Megatons to Megawatts program, which started in 1993, helped to rid the world of the equivalent of 20,000 nuclear warheads. It was a 10-year agreement that took Russia’s highly enriched uranium and converted it into electricity in the United States. This helped Russia rid itself of excess weapons, while powering about 10 percent of the United State’s electricity needs. The program ended in 2013, and so far there have been no talks on reinstating a similar deal.
Regardless of how these two countries go head-to-head, there is evidence that Russia has been steadily reducing their number of nuclear weapons and complying with the NPT. An independent peer review of Russia by the IAEA in 2013 revealed, “the Russian Federation had made significant progress since an earlier review in 2009. It also identified good practices in the country’s nuclear regulatory system”.
Although many will wait on another independent review before taking Russia’s claims to heart, most can agree that anything that conforms with the NPT is a step in the right direction.