- The Washington Times - Friday, May 1, 2009

English first

A group seeking to uphold English as the official language of the United States says poor English language skills costs the nation $65 billion in wages annually.

The Arlington-based ProEnglish advocacy group released a study Thursday showing that non-English-speaking workers earn less than their English-speaking peers. The report blames public schools for failing to teach proper English skills and for using education dollars in what Executive Director K.C. McAlpin called the “failed experiment known as bilingual education.”

ProEnglish wants the government to direct all public schools to teach in English and to stop mandating multilingual government services.

Rep. Steve King, Iowa Republican, attended the study’s release at the National Press Club, where he announced that he had at least four Democratic co-sponsors for his bill. The English Language Unity Act would make English the official language of the U.S. government.

Who’s having tea?

“If you look at the people who attended the ‘tea parties,’ they were the same people who turned out in 1992 for Ross Perot and were the new voters that showed up in 1994 when we won the majority. The fact of the matter is they spontaneously showed up across the country to organize themselves over disapproval as to what they think is an enormous surge in the growth of government.”

- Former House Majority Leader and current FreedomWorks Chairman Dick Armey, telling The Washington Times who he thinks drove the April 15 taxpayer “tea party” protests. FreedomWorks was one of several co-sponsoring organizations for the “tea parties”

CNN’s ‘swagga’

CNN viewers on both the right and the left are grimacing at a segment in which hosts Kyra Phillips and T.J. Holmes analyzed the “swagga” that puts the “flava” in President Obama’s step.

The spot opened with rapper T.I.’s song “Swagger Like Us.” Then, Ms. Phillips, who is white, noted that “the commander in chief has more swagger than Mick Jagger” and asked Mr. Holmes, who is black, to “give me a little swagger” and to offer “definition, explanation from our resident swagger expert, T.J. Holmes.”

She then chided her “our white cameraman” for “trying to ‘swagga’ over there with the camera” and explained to viewers that ” ‘swagga’ - it’s like swagger with a little more ‘flava,’ ,” using slightly affected speech.

CNN then aired clips of man-on-the-street-type interviews that Mr. Holmes conducted with four black men exploring their thoughts on the president’s “swagga.”

Afterward, the camera panned back to Ms. Phillips and Mr. Holmes at the news desk. Ms. Phillips wondered whether “every white president has had absolutely no ‘swagga’ ” and whether they were “stuffy, uptight presidents.”

Mr. Holmes replied, “There’s a bit of a, like we said, a swagger sometimes that people associate with black men.” Ms. Phillips closed the segment by asking for the producers to play “a little ‘Shaft’ music” and making a hearty fist bump with Mr. Holmes.

The left-leaning Huffington Post posted video of the segment, headlining it “Most embarrassing ever?”

HotAir.com, a popular right-leaning blog, followed suit by titling its post the “Dumbest segment ever.”

Cane sugar switch

Score one against the corn lobby.

High-fructose corn syrup has gotten a bad name in the grocery aisle and two major soft-drink producers are replacing it with less-processed, more natural sugars.

PepsiCo has introduced three soft drinks sans the offending ingredient, commonly called HFS, which many food critics say could lead to Type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular problems. Pepsi Natural, Pepsi Throwback and Mountain Dew Throwback will substitute high-fructose corn syrup with a mix of cane and beet sugars.

Snapple has also started marketing for this summer a sweetened iced tea that doesn’t use HFS.

These offerings by industry leaders likely represent a brutal loss for the pro-HFS Corn Refiners Association, a group of corn growers that launched a $30 million ad campaign to reassure consumers that its product was safe and to keep food producers buying its product.

Swine flu spam

Don’t open any e-mails with anything about the swine flu in the subject line if you don’t recognize the sender.

McAfee Avert Labs reports that about 5 percent of all spam, or unsolicited e-mails, are now using “swine flu” in the subject line to entice recipients to open the e-mails, which containcommercial messages.

The Better Business Bureau of Southern Colorado issued a warning Thursday against those trying to make a buck off the swine flu scare with these mass e-mails. One popular scam uses the subject line, “Madonna caught swine flu!” Those who open it are directed to a Web site selling pharmaceuticals.

• Amanda Carpenter can be reached at acarpenter @washingtontimes.com.

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