Happy Meals banned by city

Happy San Franciscans may want to celebrate their World Series trophy by taking the kids out to McDonald’s for a meal that reflects their mood and even contains a toy. However, the city board of supervisors voted to ban Happy Meals in an effort to combat childhood obesity. The well-intended move is attacking one small culprit of a much bigger issue and is restricting the freedom of both businesses and parents. A veto-busting majority approved the ban, which will require any meal that is given with a toy to have only a set number of calories and serve fruit or vegetables. Supervisor Eric Mar said, ‘We’re part of a movement that is moving forward an agenda of food justice.” Apparently, the best way to spend taxpayers’ time and money is restricting what people can eat. Wouldn’t the Founding Fathers be happy? As capitalism has spread throughout the world, McDonald’s has been like the democracy’s handmaiden, following closely wherever she goes. We celebrated to watch the restaurants open in Eastern Europe and Asia. McDonald’s has been a popular, yet admittedly pudgy, ambassador of the United States. It has become a symbol of capitalism and freedom. The communism museum of Prague, Czech Republic, proudly and ironically sits next to one of the fast food giant’s millions of restaurants. In fact, the former Soviets even brag that you can find the museum “between a McDonald’s and a casino.” One unfortunate product of capitalism is that, just as people can improve themselves in the system, they also are completely free to harm themselves, and, to an extent, their children. McDonald’s food is cheap, easy and tasty, perfect for the American family on the go and on a budget. Plus a toy to keep Timmy quiet or to use as a bribe to eat his McNuggets is exactly what people want. But the effects of this fat-filled feeding can have nasty effects on the body – just like anything else used without     moderation. The government’s job is not to excessively police restaurants. That is what some nations did before our McDonald’s got there. Happy meals themselves are not the enemy. To battle obesity, health education, an economy where people can afford quality food, requiring nutritional information on packages and youth sport and recreation programs should be the main goals. These tasks fit perfectly with the job description of the government. Restricting what children can eat with their families does not. The city supervisors mean well and should be applauded for their efforts. But restricting freedoms and business practices is a step in the wrong direction. Americans don’t need any more decisions made for them....

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Chemistry club plays with explosives
Nov02

Chemistry club plays with explosives

The crowd reacted in unison. Gasps filled the air much like the bright light that blasted through the dark amphitheater. Suddenly, the faces of the chemistry students and audience alike were no longer hidden by darkness. Sparks and fire are not cause for alarm, however. These are professionals. Or at least they will be in a few years. Chemistry students wowed the packed outdoor venue again this year with Demos in the Dark Oct. 19 and 20. The dark outdoor setting is perfect to display the drama of chemical reactions. “We were looking for a way to celebrate National Chemistry week,” Dean of the College of Sciences and Humanities Dr. Darrell Watson said. He has overseen the program since it began in 1992. He also is the emcee. “We came up with the idea of doing these demonstrations out in the amphitheater where we could do fires and explosions like we couldn’t do in the building,” Watson said, “Sometimes I think it is just an excuse for me to blow things up.” Sophomore biology and chemistry major Quy Nguyen jumped at the opportunity to help out. “It’s a show we put on for kids and students every year to show how chemistry can be fun,” he said. “We had a lot of reactions to do, so I wanted to help. It was really fun to show off chemistry.” Sponsored by chemistry honor society Sigma Pi, the event showcased experiments with a variety of chemicals. The community was invited for both nights of the performance. Price of admission was a canned good to be donated to Hope for the Hungry. In total, the audience gave 613 pounds of food. The Heart of Texas section of the American Chemical Society, the chemistry department and the Science Education Resource Center also helped sponsor the event. Dr. Watson does demos every week for local schools. Just as in the lab, not everything went as expected. The presenters practiced intensely to perfect their demonstrations, but glitches happened. Nguyen had some issues with his exploding can at Thursday’s performance. “Even though we practiced the experiments, it’s not 100 percent sure it will happen every time,” he said. “On Tuesday it worked perfectly. Thursday something happened, and I had to readjust it. I had to do a speed fix.” The can was just one of many fire-filled experiments. Senior chemistry major Michelle Del’Homme dealt with perhaps the most frightening display. Explosive magnesium turned iron oxide potassium permagangene into pure molten lava in one of her experiments. The flames were so large she leaped away from the blast. The novice smelter enjoyed being a part of the...

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Hunger Games: compelling end
Nov02

Hunger Games: compelling end

With the weight and intensity of college reading, good fun books often get neglected. Textbooks dominate the time of red-eyed pupils. It is rare for pleasure reads to crack the schedule of the wearisome readers. But sometimes a book is worth putting your friends on hold and enjoying those precious free moments. Suzanne Collin’s The Hunger Games trilogy, which concluded this summer with the release of Mokingjay, are perfect for an escape from studying, and even this world. The series is set in the fallout of a massive futuristic war. What’s left of the world is divided into districts and controlled by the Capitol. After quelling a failed uprising of districts, the Capitol has decided to remind the poor, disunited and weak districts of their authority by sponsoring The Hunger Games. Every year, two children are selected from each district and placed in an extravagant area filled with traps, creatures and weapons. Only one participant, the victor, is permitted to leave alive. Cameras follow the bloodbath and broadcast it live to all the televisions – which sit dormant the rest of the year. No one is permitted to turn off the gruesome carnage. The series chronicles the young life of Katniss Everdeen. She enters the games in the first book of the series. Her mother and sister watch her at home. She and her father used to defy the Capitol and hunt to provide for the family. After her father dies, she continues to provide for her family and develops incredible and deadly accuracy with a bow. These skills prove vital in her time in the arena. The gladiator concept may seem tired, but Collins takes it much further. Katniss is the catalyst for a much bigger story about the districts trying to fight for their independence. The young girl becomes the face of a resistance she never intended to join. Her desire is to live peacefully with her family, but the world just won’t allow that. The books are more than futuristic sci-fi novels. Collins delves deeply into her characters and what makes them act the way they do. Katniss’s personality as it is affected by her circumstances is the focal point in such a magnificent tale that covers totalitarianism, murder, war, commercialism, poverty, revolution, genetics, depression and love. Technically classified as juvenile fiction, the series is an easy read that anyone can pick up and enjoy. Like Harry Potter, their location in the book store shouldn’t dissuade older readers. The Hunger Games are smart, passionate, fresh and even dark. The fast -paced prose begs readers to keep scouring through the book. All three can easily be read...

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Election Day 2010: Race for Texas
Nov02

Election Day 2010: Race for Texas

It’s the day senior history major George Dunn has been talking about for a long time. Rick Perry has been governor of Texas for 10 years, and while the Texas economy has held strong compared to the rest of the nation, Houston mayor Bill White thinks it is time for a new face in the Austin capitol. He hopes it is his. Dunn worked on White’s campaign for governor, but his activism didn’t end there. He used his passion for politics to spread throughout the campus. “I got deputized to register people to vote,” he said. “I went to the tax assessor-collector office and got the registration cards for people to fill out. I think you had to be 18 and not committed a felony to be deputized.” Dunn set up a sign at a table in Hardy and the SUB that read “Register to vote here.” He was often met with strange looks as he sat with his stack of materials, but many students took the opportunity and filled out cards. Dunn estimates that he sent in about 50 forms. “It’s hard to find people who are even registered to vote at all,” he said. “It’s something we really take for granted. We all have the power and have a voice. I see a campus that is very apolitical and seems scared to involve itself in politics, but we have to be political if we want to be involved in what happens in our country.” Today is Election Day, but those who aren’t registered yet won’t have a chance to cast a ballot this year. Even though it’s a midterm election and no changes will happen in the White House, seats in the House, Senate and governor’s office all up for grabs throughout the nation. Belton lies in district 31, where Republican U.S. Representative John Carter is running for reelection against Democrat Bill Oliver. But the main focus is the governor’s seat. Perry, who has become known nationally for his appearances on Fox News and other channels, is even rumored to be considering a bid for President if he wins in Texas again. Former president George W. Bush hinted Perry would make an ideal presidential candidate in 2012. Skeptics wonder how someone who discussed Texas secession last year could make a leader for the whole nation, but his intensity and Texas pride have been rally points for others. White also has an impressive track record. According to the mayor’s website, during his service, Houston led the nation’s cities in job growth, adding more jobs than 37 states combined. Liberty Institute’s Voter’s Guide says White agrees with his party...

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Student grows up  influenced by Islamic, Christian roots
Oct19

Student grows up influenced by Islamic, Christian roots

The plane cruised above the deep blue Atlantic, headed from the United States to Kuwait.  Zach Mustafa was on his way to see a portion of his family for the first time since he was 4 years old. His father leaned over to tell him some important information over the low rumble of the jet engines. “I didn’t correct them when they talked about you being Muslim,” he said. Sophomore pre-physical therapy major Mustafa took the news as well as could be expected. “I asked him if he cared if I told them I wasn’t Muslim,” he said. “He gave me a look that said ‘Gee Zach, I know how you are, but I really wish you wouldn’t.’’’ * * * Mustafa’s father is a devout Muslim from Kuwait. His mother is an American Christian. Mustafa himself isn’t so sure. Both of his parents’ zeal developed after they began a family. When Mustafa was first spending his days at elementary school, his father’s devotion to Allah was rekindled. His mother’s faith is in the Judeo-Christian God. This resurgence didn’t ignite until Mustafa’s senior year in high school. As a family, they supported Mustafa’s own religious decisions. “They agreed that as long as I believed in one God, they wouldn’t push me,” he said. “But because my dad is religious, I ended up doing a lot of things that Muslims do too. I’ve been to the mosque a lot more than the church. I fasted for Ramadan. I don’t eat pork. My way of thinking was formed a lot more through Islam than Christianity.” His experience has helped him understand the theological tension between the two religions. He has studied the Quran and the Bible on his own. Part of his motivation for attending Mary Hardin-Baylor was to better understand the Christian religion. “Christians believe Jesus is God,” Mustafa said. “The biggest sin in Islam is to assign God a form. To say that he is a person is to quantify him. That has to be the biggest difference.” Dr. Tony Martin, professor of New Testament, Greek, and world religions, agrees that this issue may be the largest divider of the groups. “Muhammad was convinced of the absolute singularity and unity of the divinity of Allah,” Martin said. “In Arabic, Allah means The God. His concept of Allah was so firm and fixed that it could not abide the complex doctrine of the trinity. It looked like polytheism to Muhammad. I would guess for most contemporary Muslims theologians, that probably remains the case today.” When attempting to understand any religion, context is extremely important. Martin himself has a great deal...

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