Super-Size Your Mind


Jamie Oliver is yet again campaigning to improve our knowledge of the convenient food we consume on a daily basis. Not content enough on ruining school menus in the United Kingdom his latest target are kids in Los Angeles who are exposed to high fat, high calorie school meals and the proliferation of fast-food chain restaurants. Jamie’s mission to alter the menus in schools and restaurants however undermines the patrons and students freedom of choice and is completely unfair to those who can eat the so called ‘fast’ food sensibly and in moderation.

Oliver, on this occasion, particularly focused on one independent restaurant owner who served food that Oliver did not approve of.  In an effort to persuade him to try and adopt a healthier, yet more expensive menu, Oliver deployed a young overweight teen to tell the story of how her parents had died of diabetes as a result of eating this unhealthy food; her ten year old sister was also suffering from the condition. Tears streaming, she begged and pleaded to the restaurant owner to change his menu. Diabetes is a terrible disease and one cannot help but feel sorry for this young girl whose family has been so affected by it, but ultimately, eating too much of the wrong types of food and subsequent obesity is not the fault of the companies that sell and market the food. Obesity comes as a result of an insatiable appetite not because there are restaurants that serve “fatty” food. What has happened to choice and freewill? Are people so enticed by the colourful menus and clever marketing of these fast-food chains that they cannot resist the pull and temptation of  another “cheese-covered” product of some variety? Business is business, if a restaurant owner creates money by selling high calorie food at a good return then you cannot expect them to change their menu because someone has not controlled their diet and become ill. Restaurant owners are not responsible for ramming food down your gullet or preventing you from exercising. Irresponsible parents should be lectured and educated, not the business owners, who are able to make a  fat profit out of their fat customers.

With talks about duty on alcohol being raised in an attempt to combat binge drinking, under-age drinking and alcohol abuse, how long is it before they are being raised on food that is over a certain calorie limit? Those that enjoy food sensibly could potentially be punished for those that cannot cope with the complex ritual that is undertaking regular exercise and putting down the pie. Raising duties in this manner is fundamentally wrong and punishes many who aren’t responsible for problems such as alcoholism and obesity.

The fast-food world was recently rocked by the news that Ronald McDonald could go the way of Cheryl Cole and receive the axe as he symbolises the consumption of McDonalds’ fast-food products. Again, why should the company have to part with the world-famous clown because irresponsible parents cannot prevent their kids from becoming obese and suffering from related health issues? Concerns about the clown are completely misplaced; he is certainly a creepy symbol, yet he remains somewhat of an institution in the industry. Priorities are quite obviously distorted in this modern age anyway; as Ronald the clown is tossed off the McDonalds’ bandwagon, the Hamburgler still remains at large.

People become obese because they overeat, this is not the fault of the restaurant owners. Symbols and marketing don’t equate to widening waistlines. People, regardless of their size, as far as I am aware, operate under a certain level of freewill; if they wish to prevent conditions such as Diabetes, they don’t have to visit McDonalds. It needs to be understood that eating at these establishments is a matter of choice, menu’s shouldn’t have to change because some people cannot control their appetite. A super-sizing of minds is most definitely needed in the space of removing the super-size meals.

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Some, more serious, thoughts on Pakistan


How symbolic success has simply illuminated the cavernous differences between the states 

Ryan Cordell & Danny Janes

Outside the White House and in sports stadiums as ‘Americas Game’ played out the reaction to the news that Osama Bin Laden, the world’s number one terrorist and all round figurehead for Islamist extremism, had been killed was that of chants of, ‘USA, USA’ and the more viral, ‘America, Fuck Yeah!’ For many this looked like a true World Police moment but was it anything more than a symbolic victory and has it only served to strain the already circumspect relationship between the US and its ally in the campaign against the Taliban, Al Qaeda and associated extremist groups.

The most disturbing aspects of this new chapter in America’s battle is the reliability of and the posture towards extremist groups, most notably the Haqqani network, of the ISI (Inter-services Intelligence). With fears already present in America over the internal reliability of the organization as well as the security behind military and nuclear establishments in Pakistan the Bin Laden killing as well as the Kirachi attacks have only compounded these fears. The sheer number of insurgent groups in some of Pakistan’s tribal regions, who in many cases share an address, with major nuclear establishments is startling even more so with the ISI’s ‘pick and choose’ approach to combatting them. Fears that the ISI were sympathetic towards Al Qaeda’s leader were certainly intensified when he was found, just outside the Pakistani equivalent of Sandhurst in a military-style compound fitted with nothing short of eighteen foot fences, barbed wire, few outwards-facing windows and no telephone or internet access. With the raid occurring without the knowledge of Pakistan intelligence, they feel violated in terms of state sovereignty, alienated and embarrassed, yet critical of American actions and Obama’s decision to act without the approval or input of the U.S. ally. The real dilemma is however, in deciding whether Pakistan can credibly justify a complaint against the U.S. actions in Attatobad, considering the circumstances.

It serves to demonstrate how, many people in these volatile areas such as Afghanistan and Pakistan support the Taliban, Al Qaeda, and most worryingly their cause – jihad against the west. Pakistan may present themselves as an ally against terrorism, but they are fundamentally a state divided between insurgent sympathizers and allies of the West – unfortunately the ISI are divided even further, making co-operation increasingly difficult. The level to which the insurgents are based and operational in Pakistan is demonstrated by the 22nd May 2011 attacks on the military base in the port of Karachi. Ominously this is outside the most common base of operations for Pakistani insurgents, in the tribal regions bordering Afghanistan. Pakistani insurgents are willing to attack their own state in order to avenge Pakistan’s position in the fight against terror and for failing to prevent the death of Osama Bin Laden. This puts Prime Minister, Makhdoom Syed Yousaf Raza Gillani, in an awkward position; already Pakistan’s commitment and reliability is doubted by the American government, yet if they are seen to be acting positively against terrorism than he is effectively jeopardizing his own people and nation.

Barack Obama’s decision to act without informing Pakistani intelligence or leadership and then to openly admit concerns about their reliability has both embarrassed and offended Pakistan. However their relationship is mutually dependent; Pakistan rely on U.S. financial aid and the U.S. rely on Pakistan for a logistical base and shared intelligence. Although, in the aftermath of the Abbottabad raid, Pakistan have sought to strengthen their links with China, their other major ally. In fact the base in Kirachi had both US and Chinese personnel working at it. America cannot afford to let Pakistan swing too far to the East as despite improving relations with China, there are still obvious differences between the two states. A strengthening relationship between the two nuclear powers, China and Pakistan, would only intensify tensions with India; potentially sparking another nuclear stand-off. If Pakistan and the U.S. were to drift apart, the Americans would have far less scope to diffuse any potential nuclear crisis between the arch rivals. Stability is what is needed in Pakistan and for that to occur America and Pakistan need to work even more closely; unfortunately it seems relations with Pakistan will simply continue to perpetuate the war on terror and crises in Asia and the Middle East.

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