- The Washington Times - Friday, July 24, 2009

Fat chance

Chubby, zaftig, Rubenesque, portly, plump, plus-sized, generous, curvy. The press has just about exhausted its thesaurus in describing Dr.Regina Benjamin, who is President Obama’s nominee for Surgeon General and a plus size.

Journalists and pundits have yet to determine whether Dr. Benjamin can hold the post and still set a good example for obese Americans - a variation on the theme of obligation among public officials. Must they also be the paragons of virtue - surgeon general or spokesmodel?

Dr. Benjamin’s predicament has prompted discussions about racial and gender discrimination, fad diets, former Surgeon General C.Everett Koop’s weird beard and the svelte Dr.Sanjay Gupta of CNN, who was up for the job.

While fat chatter continues, a few health policy wonks say they have a solution.

“Can a tax on fattening foods help fund national health care reform and trim obesity?” asks University of Virginia Provost Arthur Garson Jr., health policy professor Carolyn Engelhard and the Urban Institute’s Stan Dorn.

A 10 percent national excise tax on fattening foods could raise $500 billion in the next decade and cut obesity-related health care costs, they insist - borrowing a strategy from anti-tobacco efforts. The plan also calls for more nutrition information on packages and menus, and less junk-food marketing.

Woe is us. Maybe this means Utz potato chips will soon be a luxury item. There will be snack riots in the street. And fried-pie hoarding.

Well, maybe. The fat police will hash out things at noon on Tuesday with John Calfee of the American Enterprise Institute, among others. Follow the debate on its Webcast (www.urban.org/ events/Strategies-to-combat-obesity.cfm). Oh, and stock up on Cheetos and Ding Dongs, just in case.

Call o’ the day

Yes, it makes us nervous. But from an anonymous source: There are “expensive renovations” happening at Naval Support Facility Thurmont, aka Camp David. Lots of mirrors. Very expensive. Hmm. The Beltway desk will now transfer this tip to The Washington Times investigation team. (Jerry Seper, get out your hammer. And maybe a measuring tape.)

You will comply

Bloggers tempted to rip off the Associated Press: Beware. The news agency announced Thursday they are creating a special registry that tags and tracks all online content “to assure compliance with terms of use.”

The system will register key identifiers and “employ a built-in beacon” to notify AP when their stuff is stolen.

How Star Trekian, even Borgian of them. But it was inevitable. Expect other news organizations to follow suit once the technology gets sorted out.

“What we are building here is a way for good journalism to survive and thrive,” says Dean Singleton, chairman of the AP Board of Directors, who vows that AP will protect original journalism “at a time when the world needs it more than ever.”

Gates-gate

The debate over the implications of a recent incident between Cambridge, Mass., police and Harvard professor Henry Louis GatesJr. continues as President Obama, Bill Cosby,the Rev. Al Sharpton and others weigh in.

And here’s more.

“Henry Gates and Al Sharpton are abusing police while black,” said the Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson, president of the Brotherhood Organization of a New Destiny, a Los Angeles-based religious nonprofit group. “Their false allegations say to young blacks that they too can abuse police and cry racism. Gates was abusive and disorderly and the police dealt with him accordingly. Where’s the racism? This is a case of black males gone wild.”

He continues, “What’s regrettable is that the city of Cambridge and the police have allowed themselves to be intimidated by a race hustler like Al ‘The Riot King’ Sharpton. The race card has once again been used to unjustly smear law enforcement and thwart justice. This is Tawana Brawley all over again.”

Poll du jour

Sixty-eight percent of Muslims in Palestinian territory say suicide bombing is “often/sometimes” justified.

Forty-three percent of Muslims in Nigeria agree.

Thirty-eight percent of Muslims in Lebanon say bombings are justified.

Fifteen percent of Muslims in Egypt say it is justified.

Thirteen percent of Muslims in Indonesia agree.

Twelve percent of Muslims in Jordan say it is justified.

Seven percent of Muslims in Israel say it is justified.

Source: Pew Research Center’s Global Attitudes Poll, conducted among 23,800 respondents in 25 countries from May 18 to June 15.

Tips, press releases, tattles and rants? Forward to jharper@washingtontimes .com or 202/636-3085.

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