Scanned image of the page. Keyboard directions: use + to zoom in, - to zoom out, arrow keys to pan inside the viewer.

Page Options

Download this Issue


Something wrong?

Something wrong with this page? Report problem.

Rights / Permissions

This collection, digitized in collaboration with the Michigan Daily and the Board for Student Publications, contains materials that are protected by copyright law. Access to these materials is provided for non-profit educational and research purposes. If you use an item from this collection, it is your responsibility to consider the work's copyright status and obtain any required permission.

November 09, 2007 - Image 4

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2007-11-09

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

4 - Friday, November 9, 2007

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Ele ii tan B)at1U
Edited and managed by students at
the University of Michigan since 1890.
420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
Unsigned editorials reflect the official position of the Daily's editorial board. All other signed articles
and illustrations represent solelythe views of their authors.
The Daily's public editor, Paul H. Johnson, acts as the readers' representative and takes a criticallook at
coverage and content in every section of the paper. Readers are encouraged to contact the public editor
with questions and comments. He canbe reached at publiceditor@umich.edu.
Power up
Energy crunch demands long-term solutions
Michigan's gas prices are the second highest in the coun-
try, only trailing California's. This is part of a trend of
rising gas and energy prices that has forced Americans
to become more aware of cheaper, more environmentally friendly
alternative fuel sources. Our reaction to the sudden energy crunch,
however, must go beyond just outrage: The country, and Michigan
especially, should reevaluate its interaction with the environment
and work toward a more eco-friendly culture rather than advocat-
ing short-term abatements like cuts on the gasoline tax.

We have said today, as a Congress to this
president, you can't just keep rolling
over us like this."
- Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), chair of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee,
referring to Congress's override of President Bush's veto of a $23.2 billion
water resources bill, as reported yesterday at nytimes.com.
The one cable company

t is unfortunate that Comcast
has not yet negotiated a deal
with the Big Ten Network, deny-
ing all of its view-
ers the enjoyment
of watching some
Michigan football
games. The Big Ten
Network claims
that it is not creat-
ing the problem;
it has successfully
negotiated con- PATRICK
tracts with most of
the nation's larg- ZABAWA
est cable providers,
including DirecTV, Dish Network
and AT&T.
What's more unfortunate, though,
is that Ann Arborresidents cannot
switch to any of these other cable pro-
viders without making the tedious
transition to satellite TV. In this mat-
ter, Ann Arbor residents' supposed
friend, the city government, is actual-
ly their foe. It turns out that Comcast
has a contract with the citythat allows
it to be the sole cable provider to Ann
Arbor residents. Such unnecessary
government interference is the reason
that there are so many monopolies in
the cable market across the nation.
The Federal Communications
Commission allows city governments
to negotiate their own contracts with
cable companies. This contract sys-
tem was originally created so that
each city negotiates the cable compa-
nies into wiring the entire city. But
most cities negotiated with only one
cable company and gave that com-
pany exclusive rights to provide cable
access to the city. Municipal govern-
ments quickly learned that they could
take advantage of this ability to create
cable monopolies. They began charg-
ing cable companies a share of their
revenue, essentially taxing cable sub-
scriptions. The FCC had to step in and
cap charges at 5 percent.
However, the FCC has found cases
in which cities are attempting to sub-

vert the 5 percent maximum by col-
lecting additional fees. Such cases
reveal that allowing city governments
to collect money from cable revenues
results in corruption. Cities have a
vested interest in higher cable rates,
which is not in the best interest of
cable subscribers.
Cities avoid negotiating cable con-
tracts with multiple cable providers,
and cable companies in turn avoid
entering new cities because the new
city usually requires the company
to rewire the entire community at
great expense. Nonetheless, multiple
cable providers are available to con-
sumers in large metropolitan areas
like Detroit, where 40 percent of
residents can choose between two or
more cable providers, according to a
Detroit News special report. Unfortu-
nately, according to the FCC, 95 per-
cent of Americans do not have such a
choice of cable providers.
For the 5 percent that does have a
choice, benefits are plentiful. Accord-
ing to the FCC, cable rates in com-
munities with more than one cable
provider were 17 percent less than
those with only one provider. A
Detroit News survey of metro Detroit
found that complaints about cable
service dropped 90 percent in com-
munities with multiples cable provid-
ers. Apparently, cable companies care
about their customers more if there's
competition around.
In December 2006, the Michigan
legislature tried to open up the cable
market to competition by replacing all
local cable contracts with a universal
contract that all cities must follow. It
eliminates the hassle of cable compa-
nies negotiating different contracts
for each city.
However, this legislation is flawed.
It still requires cable companies to
apply for the contract in each city.
The universal contract keeps the 5
percent charge on cable revenues and
still requires a cable company to wire
50 percent of each new city within six

years of signing the contract. While
this helps deregulate the cable mar-
ket, the legislation ignores the root
cause of the lack of cable competition:
the contract system itself.
Local cable contracts are anti-
quated and need to be eliminated.
They reflect unnecessary government
intervention in the free market. If
government stopped regulating cable
television, cable prices would immedi-
ately drop because of the elimination
of the 5 percent cable surcharge. Cable
prices would drop further as other
cable providers move into the city in
accordance with trends today in cities
with cable competition.
The real reason
you can't get the
Big Ten Network.
Without the cable contracting sys-
tem, cable companies would be more
willing to establish service in new
cities without having to worry about
wiring the entire city at a govern-
ment-imposed pace. The pace would
be determined by the market. For
example, if one cable provider in Ann
Arbor does not provide its subscrib-
ers with access to Michigan football
games, then another could quickly
move in and set up cable service in the
area before the season begins.
If the cable contract system had
been eliminated and the free market
allowed in the cable industry, Ann
Arbor residents would have the choice
of switching to another cable pro-
vider and watching Michigan football
It's too bad that their own city govern-
ment is denying them that option.
Patrick Zabawa can be reached
at pzabawa@umich.edu.


Across the nation, environmental issues
seem to be at the front of people's minds.
Presidential candidates gearing up for the
2008 elections have already prioritized
these issues in their campaigns (the Demo-
crats, anyway). Hillary Clinton recently pro-
posed an energy plan that would require car
companies to produce automobiles that get
55 miles per gallon by 2030. John Edwards's
plan includes a 40 mpg standard by 2016, and
Bill Richardson wants a 50 mpg standard by
2020. Many politicians have advocated for
more significant tax breaks to incentivize
the purchase of hybrid vehicles. These are
all laudable goals, but the problem requires
a more comprehensive solution.
One of the most appealing and conve-
nient ways to structurally foster a more
energy-efficient culture is to expand and
improve mass transit systems, especially
in the Detroit area, the only large met-
ropolitan area in the country without a
system of regional transit. Ann Arbor has
started making such improvements with
the proposed light rail route between Ann
Arbor and Howell, but a truly functional
regional transit system requires a commit-
ment from the entire region. If implemen-
tation of a light rail system were expanded
to include cities all over Southeast Michi-

gan, it would significantly cut down on the
greenhouse gas emissions produced by
commuters' cars.
In June, the Ann Arbor Transit Author-
ity announced that within the next three
years, it will replace all 75 of its buses with
hybrid buses, which use 30 percent less fuel
than conventional buses. While this would
be an improvement, it also entails a signifi-
cant investment. The University has cited
cost as the main reason that is preventing
it from following in the AATA's footsteps
by converting its buses to hybrids. The
expense is undeniable, but it is an invest-
ment in a cause, one that the University
believes in and must work to support.
Ann Arbor's aggressive initiatives as
one of the country's "green cities" should
stand as a guiding light for other cities in
the state that seem to have no interest in
the environment. It is true that the con-
version to a more fuel-efficient and eco-
friendly world is going to be expensive
and even inconvenient at times. But it is
also true that buying gas for cars and heat-
ing homes is going to get more and more
expensive with no solution in sight if we
fail to seek alternatives. It is our responsi-
bility to start making changes now to pro-
tect our interests in the future.


Headless obesity

Emad Ansari, Kevin Bunkley, Ben Caleca, Milly Dick, Mike Eber, Gary Graca, Emmarie
Huetteman, Theresa Kennelly, Emily Michels, Robert Soave, Gavin Stern, Jennifer
Sussex, Neil Tambe, Matt Trecha, Radhika Upadhyaya, Rachel Wagner, Patrick Zabawa
Dictating democracy

Nuclear weapons, terrorists and Saddam
Hussein. These were just a few of the reasons
President Bush used to propel America into a
war that had motives other than simply free-
ing the Iraqi people (regardless of the opera-
tion's name). Attacking a country like Iraq,
which was neither in the throes of a rebellion
by its people nor in any way a true threat to
the region, is especially suspicious given the
many more volatile states that America either
ignores or makes excuses for.
In late September a protest occurred half a
world away in Myanmar, formerly known as
Burma. The Saffron Revolution - which gets
its name from the color of the robes of Bud-
dhist monks - seemed to be in full swing. It
looked like Burmese demonstrators finally had
the muster to fell a military junta that had bru-
tally oppressed the country's people since the
early 1960s. The Burmese had staged a large
protest in the late 1980s, but that was quashed
by the same junta that continues to rule today.
With the country facing continuing hard-
ship and the government's recent decision to
increase fuel prices, it seemed thatthe tide had
finally turned against the military dictators
that head the government. The fact that the
protests were organized by Buddhist monks
- Myanmar's most respected and peaceful
members of society - seemed to guarantee a
degree of success. Sadly, it did not. The junta
slaughtered protesters in the streets. Hun-
dreds remain in jail. The monks have been
ordered to return to their village homes, and
many have been forced into hiding.
Although Burmese protesters chanted "we
want democracy" in the streets, no one came
to their aid. Monks and ordinary citizens were
beaten, arrested and in some cases shot and
killed. Where was the American purveyor of
democracy and defender of human rights dur-
ing all of this? A quote in The New York Times
from a protester captures the feeling of most
Burmese, "(Who will help us?) The U.N.? The
U.S.? China? They all said they would help us.
But all they did was blah, blah, blah."
In fact, America did do something; it
imposed more sanctions on the country. This

will do nothing to stymie the junta's crack-
down though. Myanmar is comprised of some
of the poorest people in the region, while the
military elite live in a parallel universe with
all the comforts the people cannot imagine.
Sanctions will only worsen the situation for
the Burmese people, but apparently Presi-
dent Bush cannot find any other way to help
a country actually calling for democracy and
whose government is killing its citizens in
broad daylight.
Pakistan is yet another example of the
hypocrisy practiced by America and its sup-
posed desire to spread democracy. The recent
elections in Pakistan were dubiously won by
Gen. Pervez Musharraf, who has been ruling
the country since he took over in a coup in
1999. His 98 percent margin of victory came
after several opposition runners dropped out
for a variety of reasons. While Musharraf has
brought his country relative stability, Amer-
ica's continued support of a man who took
control in a coup and has silenced dissent is
There can be no gray areas about when
it's OK for a foreign country to be oppressive
and still retain American support and aid. Yet
according to the BBC, the "military regime of
Gen. Musharraf, that ousted the last civilian
government in 1999, remains a 'well supplied'
ally in the U.S.' 'war on terror."'
With the injustice that inevitably accom-
panies nondemocratic forms of government,
our nation needs to draw the line. Becoming
involved in countries like Iraq - where there
was little reason to get involved other than
money - and not doing more in a country such
as Myanmar or Pakistan where there is little to
gain but the people's thanks is the wrong way
to spread democracy. Nations like Myanmar
and Pakistan deserve all the help they can get
moving away from military rulers. It's the duty
of this nation to help them along, especially
when their people are chanting for democracy
in the streets.
Matt Trecha is an RC freshman and a
member of the Daily's editorial board.

According to the many camera
shots shown on the news, this
country faces a pandemic of
contagious, head-
less fat people.
However, obesity 3
is a media-pro-
liferated disease,
like SARS, bird flu
and mad cow dis-
ease - more likely
to cause hysteria
than mass graves. GAVIN
ated hysterics are STERN
nothing new. Even
though the news is often wrong in its
prediction of pandemics, the public
still eats up obesity stories on the eve-
ning news. These days, you can't turn
on a television without seeing another
news report about how Americans are
getting fatter, how atrocious that's
supposed tobe and how this negative-
ly affects absolutely everyone - even
those who are fit and thin.
A recent study published in the New
England Journal of Medicine that has
gained a lot of attention claims obesity
is socially contagious. That's right;
the obese are now being blamed for
making other people fat. Even more,
China no longer allows fat Westerners
to adopt its children, and overweight
people are being blamed for leaving
bigger carbon footprints and worsen-
ing global warming. What bothers me
most, however, is that this war on obe-
sity doesn't demonize viruses, terror-
ists or drug cartels but rather an entire
segment of everyday people.

These people should be pissed.
Just about every local news story on
the obesity epidemic (and they run
every day) includes footage of over-
weight bystanders going about their
daily lives, with the camera zoomed
in on their stomachs. The cameraman
conveniently leaves their heads out
of the frame. They don't even know
they're being filmed. The blogosphere
calls this the "headless fattie" camera
shot, and I bet now you'll recognize it
Bythis logic,itshouldalsobe accept-
able for "Girls Gone Wild" to produce
videos of headless, ample-chested col-
lege girls without their permission.
All the important body parts are on
film, right? Now, imagine those images
flaunted every day during primetime.
Rightly angered feminists would have
a lawsuit drawn up within days.
For some reason, though, it's man-
dated that similar images of fat people
be shown on a daily basis. With such
a populous demographic certain to be
offended by these images, where's the
class action lawsuit or the public out-
cry? Where are the investigative jour-
nalists to expose the truth? I suppose
there's little incentive for news organi-
zations that profit from fear mongering
to print a story about the immorality of
their own practices.
In the end, however, it's becom-
ing clearer that once again the hys-
teria may be for naught. The Centers
for Disease Control and Prevention
recently published a study in the
Journal of the American Medical
Association substantiating that 25

extra pounds may actually be good for
your health. This directly contradicts
a heavily publicized and subsequently
discredited 2004 study (also from the
CDC) that claimed that obesity was
set to outpace smoking as one of the
major causes of death in America.
In the 2004 study, the CDC neglect-
ed to differentiate between morbid
obesity - which afflicts only a tiny
segment of the population - and
being simply overweight, which is far
more common. The number of deaths
attributed to obesity has since been
Media frenzy
makes obesity out
to be an epidemic.
revised from 400,000 to 26,000 per
year, almost an eightfold decrease.
While the morbidly obese experi-
ence a dearth of health problems that
create some very scary statistics and
great negative news, it turns out being
mildly obese or overweight may actu-
ally be good for the immune system.
Unfortunately, these massive revi-
sions will never garner as much media
attention or fervor as the studies that
generated this crusade. So the hysteria
and the stigmatization live on - and
the media loves it.
Gavin Stern can be reached
at gavstern@umich.edu.




It is just as we feared -
his logic has failed,
he is insane.



Readers are encouraged to submit letters to the editor. Letters should be less than 300
words and must include the writer's full name and University affiliation. All submissions
become property of the Daily. We do not print anonymous letters. Send letters to

Back to Top

© 2024 Regents of the University of Michigan