Independent Women's Forum RSS feedhttp://www.iwf.orgThe RSS feed for the IWF. News/Commentary, Blog posts and publications(...)IWF RSS groups sound the alarm on sunscreen • NRA News Cam & Co. GunlockThu, 24 Jul 2014 11:07:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumHyperbole Alert: Soda Taxes a Matter of "Life or Death" in San Francisco<p> USA Today <a href="">reports</a>:&nbsp;</p> <blockquote> <p> San Francisco lawmakers narrowly agreed Tuesday to place a 2-cent-per-ounce tax on sugary drinks on the November ballot, a move that promises to turn the election into an expensive fight between the beverage industry and public health advocates.</p> <p> The city&#39;s Board of Supervisors voted 6-4 to ask voters to approve the tax on sodas, sports drinks and other beverages sweetened with sugar and sold in the city. It would have to be approved by two-thirds of the electorate to take effect.</p> <p> City officials have estimated the measure would raise somewhere between $31 million and $52 million a year.<strong> The proceeds would go toward nutrition, health, disease prevention, recreation and school physical education programs.</strong></p> </blockquote> <p> Yeah, except the proceeds never really go toward these so-called &quot;obesity-prevention programs&quot; do they? Instead, politicians use these &quot;it&#39;s good for you&quot; taxes as revenue raisers because California lawmakers are miserably bad at managing money and constantly need new ways to dig themselves out of the financial holes they&#39;ve created. Why won&#39;t these guys use that thing called budgeting.</p> <p> Of course, these paternalistic sin taxes are relatively easy to sell (especially in liberal San Franciscans) and after the push for passage, who&rsquo;s really going to notice when the proceeds are diverted from fat cessation programs to fund the regular list of left-wing social programs that really do nothing to help the already overtaxed and underemployed population. But of course, the impact of these new taxes on people&#39;s own food budgets, jobs, and small businesses never really gets properly addressed because lawmakers are <a href="">too busy huffing and puffing</a> about this being...i&#39;m not kidding...a &quot;life or death&quot; issue:</p> <blockquote> <p> &quot;This is a life-or-death issue,&quot; said Supervisor Malia Cohen, a sponsor of the tax. &quot;Bullets are not the only thing killing African American males. We also have sugary beverages that are killing people.&quot;</p> </blockquote> <p> One hopes the citizens of San Francisco can distinguish between the true tragedy of gang violence and the make believe hysteria about sweetened beverages and will consider whether they want to be represented by politicians who cannot understand the difference.</p> <p> According to the <a href="">USA Today story</a>, the supporters of the bill said they were motivated &quot;by research&quot; that has shown a link between sugar consumption and increasing rates of obesity and diabetes among young people. That&#39;s interesting considering the hefty body of evidence that shows soda taxes only work if they&#39;re <a href="">much higher than the two-cent tax proposed here</a>. Also, how about all that research that shows obese individuals (ostensibly that group of people Supervisor Cohen is trying to save) <a href="">drink mostly diet soda</a>s. Or, how about that research that shows when you tax one thing, people <a href="">simply switch to another high-calorie beverage</a> (like coffee confections, alcohol, etc). Or how about the research I just did on Google maps showing that <a href=",+CA/@37.7577,-122.4376,12z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m2!3m1!1s0x80859a6d00690021:0x4a501367f076adff">grocery stores exist outside of the city</a>.</p> <p> Time to load up on soda in Oakland!</p> GunlockWed, 23 Jul 2014 12:07:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumThe Danger of Alarmism About Sunscreen<p> <a href="">Anti-chemical environmental groups</a> as well as several reckless and utterly foolish bloggers like <a href="">The Food Babe</a>&nbsp;have been stoking fears about sunscreen.&nbsp; The claims vary but generally suggest that the chemicals used in sunscreens can be toxic.</p> <p> The solution they propose? Don&rsquo;t use sunscreen, only use the extremely expensive sunscreens <strike>that send boxes of samples to these mommy bloggers</strike>, or if you&rsquo;re the crafty type, <a href="">make your own sunscreen</a>.</p> <p> Uh huh.</p> <p> According to one <a href="">dangerous mommy blogger</a>, you can make your own sunscreen using a few of these super &ldquo;natural&rdquo; ingredients: Almond oil, coconut oil, zinc oxide and shea butter.&nbsp; Of course, these ingredients only really have an SPF of around 6 (that&rsquo;s right SIX!) so you might need to supplement your sun protection with:</p> <ul> <li> a long sleeved shirt</li> <li> full length pants</li> <li> a wide brimmed hat</li> <li> socks</li> <li> gloves</li> <li> a large umbrella</li> <li> and a small fan and very, very long extension cord that can reach from the house/car to your spot at the beach so that you don&rsquo;t die from heat stroke from all those layers of clothing.</li> </ul> <p> But, hey, you can still have fun at the beach dressed for cold weather, right?</p> <p> Thankfully, the <strike>Clueless</strike> <a href="">Wellness Mama</a> also offers these tips for creating SPF 25 sunblock by using two totally easy-to-find ingredients: red raspberry oil and carrot oil. I mean, what mother (while already packing for the beach) doesn&rsquo;t have the extra time to run around town looking for these odd oils that only provide a small amount of protection.</p> <p> Think I&rsquo;m being too harsh?</p> <p> Let&rsquo;s consider what&rsquo;s really harsh&mdash;letting your kid suffer with sunburn because you&rsquo;re too scientifically illiterate to recognize these anti-sunscreen mommy bloggers as the snake oil salesman they really are.</p> <p> <a href="">The Daily Mail reports</a> that dermatologists are actually issuing warnings against this trend of making your own sunscreen:</p> <blockquote> <p> Dermatologists are issuing harsh warnings against making your own sunblock, as hundreds of DIY formulas make their way around the internet.</p> <p> Many bloggers who post the recipes claim that store-bought sunscreens contain harsh chemicals that could be as bad - if not worse - for you than the sun.</p> <p> But doctors say there&#39;s no way to guarantee homemade concoctions offer broadband protection (that is, shield against wrinkle-inducing UVA rays as well as cancer-causing UVB-rays), or ensure that the SPF is high enough.</p> <p> &hellip;</p> <p> If you do go the natural route, keep in mind that the SPF is usually lower - so <strong><u>you will need to apply more often, as well as every time you get wet.</u></strong></p> </blockquote> <p> Alright-y, let&rsquo;s just consider that last line: I&rsquo;m a mom and I can tell you, applying sunblock is no picnic. It&rsquo;s like bathing a cat. I have to endure near non-stop complaints (wails and shrieks is more like it) from my three children and if I dare use the non-spray, thick cream-based sunblock, the complaints turn to screams, as my children cannot stand the greasy, wet feeling on their bodies.</p> <p> Using waterproof spray-on sunblock has been wonderful. I apply it (to minor complaints and annoying and untrue claims that I&rsquo;ve sprayed it directly into their eyeballs) at the beginning of the beach stay and maybe once more depending on how long we stay at the beach and how much they swim (my kids are small so they don&rsquo;t don a lot of ocean swimming yet).</p> <p> But according to these bloggers and <a href="">environmental groups</a>, I should only use extremely expensive, non-spray, non-waterproof versions of sunblock because these entities LOVE TO MAKE LIFE MORE DIFFICULT FOR MOMS!</p> <p> Here&rsquo;s my advice to moms who just want to go to the beach and not worry about their kids spontaneous combusting: Ignore these idiotic mommy bloggers and agenda-driven environmental groups who tell you to put your kids in danger. Just go to Target or Wal-Mart or Walgreens or CVS or whatever store is closest to your house and buy the sunscreen that&rsquo;s on sale and has enough SPF.</p> <p> But the most important advice I can give is to NEVER rely on chem-phobes to guide important choices like how to protect your kids against real dangers--like scorching sunburn. Instead, rely on the actual evidence about sunscreen and sun blocks.</p> <p> And about that little thing called evidence, allow me to offer you a little.</p> <p> <a href="">According to a statement by the American Academy of Dermatologists</a> (I know, I know, it&#39;s not a mommy blogger, just a group of doctors who know a thing about skin cancer, but bear with me here), <strong>sunscreen is safe to use</strong>. The statement goes on to say:</p> <blockquote> <p> No published studies show that sunscreen is toxic to humans or hazardous to human health. Scientific studies actually support using sunscreen.&nbsp;</p> <p> Research shows that wearing sunscreen can:&nbsp;</p> <p> Prevent sunburn.</p> <p> Reduce your risk of skin cancer and premature aging.</p> <p> What about the reported health risks associated with some ingredients found in sunscreens?</p> <p> The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates sunscreens. Before an ingredient can be used in sunscreen, the ingredient must be approved by the FDA for this use.&nbsp;</p> </blockquote> <p> And according to researchers at <a href="">RMIT University in sun-loving Australia</a> (which incidentally has the highest rate of skin cancer in the world), human skin can tolerate the tiny metal oxide nanoparticles found in conventional chemical sunscreens. RMIT University toxicologist and Associate Professor Paul Wright <a href="">said</a> that there is negligible penetration of these nanoparticles through human skin and that sunscreen is still important to reduce skin cancer incidence.</p> <p> But this &ldquo;sunscreen is dangerous&rdquo; narrative is becoming a real problem now, leading many people to forgo sunscreen all together.</p> <p> Truth be told, I don&rsquo;t actually care if you want to leave <em>yourself</em> vulnerable to the sun. I don&rsquo;t care if you choose to believe the unscientific gobbledygook splattered all over the Internet by nutty bloggers and these irresponsible environmental groups. It&rsquo;s your life, your faster-aging skin, and your risk to take. God bless.</p> <p> But I do worry about how moms will react to this nonsense. I worry that many moms are deciding to forgo sunscreen altogether for their kids or are using home-made versions that don&rsquo;t protect enough.</p> <p> And I&rsquo;m also worried that moms with scarce resources are feeling the pressure to purchase some of the <a href="">really expensive sun protection products</a> out there&mdash;like the <a href="">products pushed</a> by Hollywood heavyweight/scientific lightweight Jessica Alba, who cares less about a mother&rsquo;s ability to protect her child from sunburn than lining her own pockets with her overpriced, trendy products.</p> <p> No thanks. I&rsquo;ll save my money and stick to proven sun protection for my children.&nbsp;</p> GunlockWed, 23 Jul 2014 11:07:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumThere's a Demand For Junk Science<p> Last week, <a href="">Hank Campbell wrote in the Wall Street Journal</a> that corruption of the peer review process is harming scientific credibility.</p> <p style="margin-left:.5in;"> Academic publishing was rocked by the news on July 8 that a company called Sage Publications is retracting 60 papers from its Journal of Vibration and Control, about the science of acoustics. The company said a researcher in Taiwan and others had exploited peer review so that certain papers were sure to get a positive review for placement in the journal. In one case, a paper&#39;s author gave glowing reviews to his own work using phony names.</p> <p style="margin-left:.5in;"> &hellip;</p> <p style="margin-left:.5in;"> According to a 2011 report in the monthly journal Nature Reviews Drug Discovery, the results of two-thirds of 67 key studies analyzed by Bayer researchers from 2008-2010 couldn&#39;t be reproduced.</p> <p style="margin-left:.5in;"> That finding was a bombshell. Replication is a fundamental tenet of science, and the hallmark of peer review is that other researchers can look at data and methodology and determine the work&#39;s validity. Dr. Collins and co-author Dr. Lawrence Tabak highlighted the problem in a January 2014 article in Nature. &quot;What hope is there that other scientists will be able to build on such work to further biomedical progress,&quot; if no one can check and replicate the research, they wrote.</p> <p> Campbell&rsquo;s WSJ piece will surly interest scientists and those who write and follow the field of science. Yet, another group of people &ndash; moms &ndash; should be aware of how the corruption of science affects them.</p> <p> Environmental groups, food advocates, public health officials, as well as a new category of activist&mdash;the self promoting food blogger (Example: The Food Babe), often use this corruption to their advantage by promoting studies that have either already been debunked (for instance, <a href=";_r=0">the Wakefield study on vaccines and autism</a>), or by endorsing studies that don&rsquo;t even meet the basics of scientific standards (for instance, the <a href="">Breast Cancer Fund&rsquo;s in-house &ldquo;study&rdquo; on BPA</a> in the canned food children love).</p> <p> But it isn&rsquo;t just loosening scientific standards that have created this mess and millions of terrified moms. Members of the media and regulatory officials demand junk science. Why? Because these dubious studies are useful to trot out when they need to get the public riled up and nervous.&nbsp;</p> <p> Just take a look at this <a href="">shocking work of fiction</a> in last week&rsquo;s Capitol Hill newspaper Roll Call penned by Reps. Edward Markey, Lois Capps and Grace Meng. The headline pretty much sums up the alarmist message: &ldquo;Ban BPA and Other Toxic Chemicals.&rdquo;</p> <p> The terrified trio writes:</p> <p style="margin-left:.5in;"> In 2012, a six-year study was published that examined the occupational history of more than 1,000 women, finding that those who worked in the automotive plastics and in the food packaging industries were five times more likely to develop premenopausal breast cancer than women in the control group. One of the main chemicals used in their workplaces? Bisphenol A, better known as BPA. Two years earlier, the President&rsquo;s Cancer Panel, an advisory committee attached to the National Cancer Institute, identified a variety of toxic chemicals, including BPA, that may be causing &ldquo;grievous harm.&rdquo; And yet this chemical is still in products Americans consume every day.</p> <p> I would have taken the time to check the study mentioned in the threesome&rsquo;s fear-inducing op-ed but they didn&rsquo;t provide links in the online version of the piece. Of course, one doesn&rsquo;t really need to provide links to studies when the intent is to terrify.&nbsp; It&rsquo;s better to make it harder for folks to check the facts.</p> <p> Of course, I didn&rsquo;t actually need to look at the specific study to figure out that it wasn&rsquo;t anything on which to base policy or regulation. Just reading the description of the &ldquo;cancer study&rdquo; suggested corruption. For instance, the study examines a bunch of women who all work at the same location and then finds something with which they come in contact on a daily basis and POOF! that&rsquo;s what&rsquo;s causing all this cancer!</p> <p> See? Get it?</p> <p> But, what the study didn&rsquo;t examine was all the other items, products, food, habits, behaviors, etc., that these women might also have in common. Maybe the majority of these women smoke. Perhaps they&rsquo;re overweight. Maybe the job doesn&rsquo;t require much physical activity. Maybe they&rsquo;re exposed to other environmental toxins <em>outside</em> of their work place. The point is, we could make any number of associations.&nbsp; In this case, it was convenient to make the connection to BPA, but there&rsquo;s no actual evidence that it&rsquo;s the BPA that&rsquo;s causing the cancer.</p> <p> And if you examine better studies on BPA, it&rsquo;s clear that the chemical isn&rsquo;t responsible for these cancers. For instance, most recently, after exhaustive analysis of chemical exposure among pregnant women, <a href=";;nid=859009">Health Canada issued this</a> statement:</p> <p style="margin-left:.5in;"> &ldquo;Based on the overall weight of evidence, Health Canada continues to conclude that dietary exposure to BPA through food packaging is not expected to pose a health risk to the general population, including newborns and young children.&rdquo;</p> <p> Markey and his gang of alarmists will continue to try to scare moms into backing his regulatory measures and as long as they demand these questionable scientific studies, unscrupulous scientists eager for funding and publicity will produce them.</p> <p> Women deserve better.&nbsp; They deserve the truth, safe and affordable products, and science-backed information on these products. &nbsp;</p> GunlockTue, 22 Jul 2014 11:07:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumEvidence that Dietary Guidelines Advisory Cmte is putting political agendas ahead of sound nutrition • WIBC Garrison GunlockThu, 17 Jul 2014 10:07:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumThe Tyranny of Do-Gooders <p class="p1"> <span class="s1">T</span><span class="s2">his week, a woman was arrested for letting her nine-year-old daughter (armed with a cell phone) go to a playground unsupervised. Lenore Skenazy of <a href=""><span class="s3"><i>Free-Range Kids</i></span></a> explained this wacky story over at <a href=""><span class="s3"><i>Reason</i></span></a>:</span></p> <p class="p2"> <span class="s2">Here are the facts: Debra Harrell works at McDonald&rsquo;s in North Augusta, South Carolina. For most of the summer, her daughter had stayed there with her, playing on a laptop that Harrell had scrounged up the money to purchase. (McDonald&rsquo;s has free WiFi.) Sadly, the Harrell home was robbed and the laptop stolen, so the girl asked her mother if she could be dropped off at the park to play instead.</span></p> <p class="p2"> <span class="s2">Harrell said yes. She gave her daughter a cell phone. The girl went to the park &mdash; <a href=""><span class="s4">a place so popular</span></a> that at any given time there are about 40 kids frolicking &mdash; two days in a row. There were swings, a &ldquo;<a href=""><span class="s4">splash pad</span></a>,&rdquo; and shade. On her third day at the park, an adult asked the girl where her mother was. <i>At work</i>, the daughter replied.</span></p> <p class="p2"> <span class="s2">The shocked adult called the cops. Authorities declared the girl &ldquo;abandoned&rdquo; and proceeded to arrest the mother.</span></p> <p class="p1"> <span class="s2">There are so many disturbing aspects to this story; it&rsquo;s hard to know where to begin. But let&rsquo;s begin with the nitwit who called the police in the first place. I&rsquo;m sure this snitch was puffed with pride when they called the police on this little girl&rsquo;s working mother. A real citizen soldier, that one.</span></p> <p class="p3"> <span class="s2">I spend a lot of time talking about the danger of big government and the nanny state and bureaucrats nosing around in people&rsquo;s business, but this story brings into sharp relief an even more frightening phenomenon: 911-happy, hypersensitive, busybody do-gooders who take it upon themselves to decide what&rsquo;s right and wrong for your child. And now, apparently, those &ldquo;citizen informants&rdquo; can cause real and lasting harm (not to mention a police record) to their neighbors.</span></p> <p class="p3"> <span class="s2">Some might sympathize with the informant in this case &mdash; perhaps she was just concerned for this little girl&rsquo;s safety. But let&rsquo;s think about what was better for that little girl. Should Debra Harrell have made her daughter sit inside an air-conditioned fast-food restaurant with nothing to do all day but (to the horror of the first lady) eat fries and hamburgers? Or is her daughter better off spending the day outside in the fresh air getting exercise, meeting and playing with other kids, and learning a lesson or two about independence and decision making?</span></p> <p class="p3"> <span class="s2">Fresh air, exercise, learning how to make decisions &mdash; isn&rsquo;t this what we parents are supposed to be providing our kids?</span></p> <p class="p3"> <span class="s2">Others have defended the action of the informant by saying things like &ldquo;But times are different today&rdquo; and &ldquo;Kids can&rsquo;t do today what we did as kids.&rdquo; Oh yeah? Why? Because of skyrocketing crime?</span></p> <p class="p3"> <span class="s2">It is understandable that people might think crime is up in America, given the proliferation of crime-entertainment television and the 24-hour news cycle. But crime is actually down since the 1990s &mdash; and that includes crimes against kids. (Lenore Skenazy provides a very useful information page on the declining crime rate <a href=""><span class="s3">here</span></a>, which should be required reading for all new, nervous parents.)</span></p> <p class="p3"> <span class="s2">We have got to stop infantilizing children and doubting parents. We must encourage parents to do exactly what Debra Harrell did: Know your child and make decisions based on his or her abilities. Harrell knew her daughter could play alone in the park, and she provided her the means to communicate.</span></p> <p class="p3"> <span class="s2">For that, she sits in jail.</span></p> <p class="p5"> <span class="s2"><i>&mdash; Julie Gunlock is with the Independent Women&rsquo;s Forum and is the author of </i><a href=""><span class="s3">From Cupcakes to Chemicals: How the Culture of Alarmism Makes Us Afraid of Everything</span></a><i>.</i></span></p> <p class="p5"> Follow <a href="">Julie</a>, <a href="">Culture of Alarmism</a> and <a href="">IWF </a>on Twitter.&nbsp;</p> GunlockThu, 17 Jul 2014 07:07:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumIWF Statement To The Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee<p> <strong><em>Statement submitted by Julie Gunlock, Sr. Fellow, IWF, to the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee ahead of the Thursday, July 17 hearing.&nbsp;</em></strong></p> <p> I appreciate this opportunity to provide comments to the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC) as it prepares recommendations for the 2015 Dietary Guidelines.</p> <p> As a mother, I am very concerned about the rising cost of food. The DGAC&rsquo;s shift from diet and nutrition to environmental issues will increase food costs for all Americans at a time when consumers are already struggling with higher prices at the grocery store.</p> <p> According to the Wall Street Journal, &ldquo;in California, the biggest U.S. producer of agricultural products, about 95% of the state is suffering from drought conditions, according to data from the U.S. Drought Monitor. This has led to water shortages that are hampering crop and livestock production.&rdquo;</p> <p> As a result, U.S. retail food prices are expected to increase up to 3.5% this year.&nbsp; Consumers are seeing similar price hikes on breakfast staples like bacon, coffee, and orange juice because of global supply problems.</p> <p> The price of beef reached its highest price point in almost three decades in February at $5.28 per pound. Analysts estimate that prices will likely stay high for some time because of growing demand in some Asian countries. Corn growers are also hurting because of China&#39;s recent rejection of 1.45 million tons of U.S. corn, which lead to American grain companies having to absorb $427 million in lost sales.&nbsp;</p> <p> I sincerely hope that the DGAC recalibrates to focus on providing Americans diet and nutrition information. Muddying these important recommendations with issues like climate change, sustainability, animal rights, immigration, pest control other non-nutrition issues will only lead to the recommendations being ignored by the American public. While these issues might be worthy of examination and policy debates, the DGAC process is not the appropriate platform.&nbsp;</p> <p> Because these guidelines also affect how the military is fed, the federal school lunch program is managed, and SNAP and WIC benefits are allocated, they must reflect sound medical and nutritional advice, not further an environmental agenda.</p> <p> The DGAC must return to its original mandate and focus on health and nutrition issues. Committee members must stop using the dietary guidelines process to advance a political ideology on issues like climate change, sustainable agriculture, animal rights, trade, immigration, and other non-dietary matters. The DGAC must also provide the American public with greater transparency about the methods being used and the science being considered in developing their recommendations.</p> <p> Lastly, the DGAC must take into account the economic realities faced by many American families, and consider food costs while developing the guidelines. Americans deserve good, practical and non-political recommendations from this committee.</p> GunlockWed, 16 Jul 2014 19:07:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumComing Soon: The Talking Shopping Cart<p> Want to give your liberal friends a good example of government waste?</p> <p> Well, here&rsquo;s a winner!</p> <p> The Washington Free Beacon <a href="">reports</a> that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) commissioned an &ldquo;expert panel&rdquo; to make recommendations on how to guide food stamps recipients into spending their benefits on fruits and vegetables.</p> <p> The answer? Talking shopping carts, natch.</p> <p> Is this a joke? Is this real? Did this actually happen on the taxpayer dime?</p> <p> Uh huh.</p> <p> And according to Free Beacon report, the agency even released an 80-page report presenting this insane idea which is odd because it only takes a few words on one sheet of paper to say &ldquo;Hey suckers, we get paid by the taxpayers to come up with ridiculous ideas!&rdquo;</p> <p> Also, according to the article, this 80-page report on <strike>criminal acts of government waste</strike> grocery store-based social programming experiments explains how food stores can encourage better eating by using better store lighting for healthier items. That&rsquo;s right, just stick a big &lsquo;ole spotlight on the fruits and vegetables and find a dark, creepy, preferably spider-infested corner for the chips, ice cream and cookies. Got it?</p> <p> Jokes aside, people should be outraged by this kind of nonsense. WE HAVE A DEFICIT you taxpayer wasting bureaucrats! The&nbsp;<a href="">Congressional Budget Office</a>&#39;s projects that the U.S. will accumulate $9.6 trillion in additional deficits.&nbsp;</p> <p> How about you commission an &ldquo;expert panel&rdquo; on how to stop wasting my tax dollars on expert panels? How about you stop telling businesses how to do business. How about you stop expecting grocery stores to police the eating habits of its customers.</p> <p> How about you start telling people to practice a little good judgment and self control instead of waiting for a metal box on wheels to approve their purchase.</p> GunlockWed, 16 Jul 2014 14:07:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumDon't Mess with the School Nutrition Association<p> Politico <a href="">reports</a> this week that the First Lady&rsquo;s food policy staffer (and Food Network star) Sam Kass&rsquo; request to speak to the School Nutrition Association&rsquo;s annual meeting was declined. Wow! The School Nutrition Association (SNA) isn&rsquo;t messing around. Declining Michelle Obama&#39;s star student&#39;s request to speak is a bold and courageous move on the part of the SNA&mdash; a powerful organization that represents 55,000 cafeteria workers, which originally supported the First Lady&rsquo;s push to change school meals.</p> <p> So, why the snub?</p> <p> First, some background: The SNA was originally supportive of the First Lady&rsquo;s efforts to reform the school lunch program and backed the Healthy and Hunger Free Kids Act of 2010. Yet, after the changes were implemented, the SNA began hearing reports (from their members) of real problems &ndash; such as kids going hungry and massive food waste -- and warned officials that the changes were problematic for many school districts. In addition to the problems of getting kids to actually eat the food, SNA members are also concerned about losing money as kids are dropping out of the school lunch program in record numbers. This puts a lot of pressure on school nutrition directors who are required to provide healthier meals (which usually cost more) without adequate revenue coming in.</p> <p> In response to all of these problems and to give some school districts relief, the SNA backed a provision in this year&rsquo;s Appropriations bill sponsored by Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-Ala.) to provide a waiver to some school districts (the ones losing money) to opt-out of the school lunch reforms. The opt-out was temporary. In other words, the schools still needed to comply but they would be given more time to adjust to the changes. Seems reasonable, right?</p> <p> Nope&hellip;not according to the White House.</p> <p> The White House was enraged and the First Lady called a meeting with school nutrition directors (I wrote about that meeting <a href="">here</a>) but according to the SNA, didn&rsquo;t include any from school districts that were concerned or that needed to opt-out.&nbsp;</p> <p> That&rsquo;s super. Ignore the very people who are complaining and invite a bunch of people who will merrily go along with the sycophantic group-think. Sounds like a solid policy.</p> <p> What&rsquo;s more, the White House suggested that SNA members were selling out to Big Food and <a href="">USDA Undersecretary Kevin Concannon even sounded vaguely threatening</a> when he said the SNA was &quot;playing with fire&quot; for going against the White House. These charges of selling out are particularly rich coming from a <a href="">First Lady that once worked for Big Food</a> and an Administration that hasn&rsquo;t yet reformed it&rsquo;s system of sending agriculture commodities (which is often prepared by large food companies) to schools.</p> <p> What&rsquo;s even more galling is that the SNA represents people who are on the front lines in the school lunch wars. These are the men and women who have to plan the meals while staying within a very strict budget while also complying with all of these new and confusing regulations. SNA members aren&#39;t making up these problems. They hear the complaints from the kids and parents. They care about these kids and work hard every single day with limited food choices and even more limited resources.</p> <p> To suggest they&#39;re all a bunch of sellouts to Big Food isn&rsquo;t just a big lie, it&rsquo;s a big insult.</p> <p> So, here&#39;s the lesson: when you insult the host, you don&rsquo;t get invited to the party.</p> GunlockWed, 16 Jul 2014 13:07:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumWomen Victorious In U.S. Supreme Court's Harris V. Quinn<p> <em>Co-authored with Aloysius Hogan</em></p> <p> Women just scored a significant victory in the U.S. Supreme Court.</p> <p> In Harris v. Quinn, decided just last month, the Supreme Court declared that childcare providers and personal care aids (PCAs attend to hygiene, housekeeping, and meal preparation for the elderly and infirm) are not required to unionize. Illinois had enacted a new law which categorizing childcare providers and PCAs as &quot;government workers&quot; eligible to be unionized, creating the controversy.</p> <p> Women primarily make up childcare providers and PCAs. Many of these women are small business owners, while others are employees of these small businesses, or work for themselves as independent contractors. Frequently the childcare providers work out of their own home, while the PCAs will often go to their clients&#39; homes. A good number of these women are professionally licensed.</p> <p> This is not a lucrative business. According to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics figures from 2012, PCAs earned on average $19,910 per year. It is therefore understandable that the women who work in this industry would bristle at the thought of a union reaching into their wallets to take over $400 per year in union dues and fees, particularly when they never asked for union representation in the first place.</p> <p> Instead, these male-dominated labor unions have been pressuring these women to unionize.</p> <p> So, why is Big Labor so interested in adding childcare workers and PCAs to their membership rolls? Because, in the words of former Service Employees International Union (SEIU) President Andy Stern, unions have become too &quot;male, pale, and stale&quot; and &quot;organized labor was dying because of it,&quot; reported Bradford Plumer in the New Republic magazine.</p> <p> In order to diversify, the SEIU and the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), made a tactical decision to go after women, especially women in the service sector previously considered &quot;unorganizable.&quot; But instead of encouraging women in these industries to join, the unions instead opted to force them &quot;to submit to exclusive representation by a labor union and pay for the privilege,&quot; as the Heritage Foundation&#39;s Andrew Grossman explained.</p> <p> With SEIU and AFSCME encouragement, Illinois Democrat Governor Rod Blagojevich and Minnesota Democrat Governor Mark Dayton issue executive orders designating these women as government employees. Suspiciously, as Supreme Court Associate Justice Samuel Alito, who wrote the majority opinion, pointed out during the oral argument of Harris v. Quinn, &quot;Blagojevich got a huge campaign contribution from the union and virtually as soon as he got into office he took out his pen and signed an executive order that had the effect of putting, what was it, $3.6 million [annually] into the union covers.&quot; Today, according to the Illinois Policy Institute, that number is $20 million per year.</p> <p> Next, SEIU and AFSCME union bosses urged state legislatures in both states to enact state laws specifically categorizing child care providers and PCAs as government workers who were thus eligible to be unionized.</p> <p> &quot;It was very sad to watch my own legislator knowingly go against what constituents wanted,&quot; recounted Minnesota childcare provider Cyndi Cunningham in a&nbsp;<a href="">video interview</a>.</p> <p> Asked why she thought he did so, Cyndi explained, &quot;My state house representative is actually an AFSCME union member.&quot;</p> <p> These women were clear that they did not want to be unionized. Pam Harris, the named petitioner in her U.S. Supreme Court case, said in another&nbsp;<a href="">video interview</a>, &quot;I have real fears about unionism in my home. It will interfere with [my son] Josh&#39;s care, and it intrudes in our family.&quot; Cyndi Cunningham said, &quot;I&#39;ve never been a person to be against unions. In this case, this type of union should not be allowed.&quot;</p> <p> Justice Samuel Alito and four other justices defended the right of these women not to unionize, saying, &quot;[E]xcept perhaps in the rarest of circumstances, no person in this country may be compelled to subsidize speech by a third party that he or she does not wish to support.&quot;</p> <p> The day after the decision, the Supreme Court ruled for yet another group of three women and a husband and wife, permitting home childcare providers in Michigan to file a class-action lawsuit for the return of union dues and agency fees that were collected in violation of their First Amendment rights.</p> <p> The Supreme Court&#39;s defense of women in these industries is a positive sign but all Americans should be alarmed that it took the Supreme Court, rather than a little common sense and a shred of decency, to strike down a law that allowed unions to take money from these low-paid workers. Unionization would likely raise the costs of services received by children and the elderly, lining Big Labor&#39;s pockets at the expense of these two vulnerable populations.</p> <p> This is another example of government intruding in the affairs of women under the guise of &quot;help&quot; and &quot;assistance&quot; when no help or assistance was ever requested. Unions, along with their cronies in Big Government have lost their way and now see nothing wrong with preying on workers who make very little money while helping others.</p> <p> Talk about a War on Women!</p> <p> <em>Aloysius Hogan is a Senior Fellow Senior Fellow with the&nbsp;<a href="">Competitive Enterprise Institute</a>. Julie Gunlock is a Senior Fellow with the&nbsp;<a href="">Independent Women&#39;s Forum</a>.</em></p> GunlockTue, 15 Jul 2014 13:07:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumShopping Alert: Staggering rise in food costs. How does it affect American families? • Cam & Company GunlockThu, 10 Jul 2014 11:07:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumAlarmism or An Epidemic of Alcoholism?<p> I was out last week on vacation so I&rsquo;m late to comment on this absolutely comical <a href="">CNN report</a> from a few weeks ago. But wowzers, this one is just too important not to comment.</p> <p> According to CNN, I am (and basically everyone I know is) a raging alcoholic.</p> <p> Who knew?</p> <p> CNN <a href="">reports</a> that according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention &ldquo;Women are considered &lsquo;heavy drinkers&rsquo; if they have eight or more drinks a week.&rdquo;</p> <p> Eight? Huh? Wait&hellip;let me think about this for a second. Aren&rsquo;t there 7 days in a week? Uh huh. So that means I&rsquo;m a boozehound if I drink a glass and a splash of wine a day?</p> <p> Gawd&hellip;I&rsquo;m in trouble.&nbsp; And so are you!</p> <p> But&hellip;.but&hellip;what about that thing about a <a href="">glass of wine a night being good for heart health</a>. What about <a href=",,20410287,00.html">all that talk of moderate wine consumption</a> helping with weight loss, boosting immunity, and helping to prevent bone loss.</p> <p> I&rsquo;m so confused. And I bet you are too.</p> <p> But more than confused, I&rsquo;m annoyed. This type of alarmism is exactly what makes people turn away from medical advice. They hear one thing one moment, only to have that advice contradicted a few months later.</p> <p> It&#39;s no wonder an <a href="!-">IWF poll</a> found that a vast majority of women have trouble finding reliable information on health and wellness issues.</p> <p> What&rsquo;s reassuring is to see buried in the bottom of the CNN story (so you&rsquo;ll never see it through your tears after you&rsquo;ve come to realize you&rsquo;re a hopeless alcoholic) this sentence: &ldquo;<a href=",9171,2017200,00.html">studies show</a> the mortality rate for people who drink moderately on a daily basis is actually lower than those who don&#39;t indulge.&rdquo;</p> <p> Women who read or saw this <a href="">puritanical CNN report</a> and immediately dumped their box-o-wine, might also be reassured to know that according to the 2011 data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, among women age 26 and older, only 2.6 percent of the population would be considered heavy drinkers which was up only .4 percent from 2002 data. That hardly seems a reason to panic.</p> <p> So, try to ignore these types of hysterical health warnings and pour yourself a heart-healthy, bone fortifying glass of wine.&nbsp;</p> GunlockTue, 8 Jul 2014 13:07:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumIRS Scandal: Inconsistencies, IRS Commissioner back in the hot seat • Rick Amato Show GunlockTue, 24 Jun 2014 08:06:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumConsequences of mandated leave that Democrats aren't telling you • Rick Amato Show GunlockTue, 24 Jun 2014 08:06:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumShower Curtains Don't Make You Fat<p> Ladies, if you&rsquo;re currently flooding your bathroom each morning because you decided to toss your shower curtain due to some hysterical article you read (and sadly, believed) about shower curtains making people fat, stop what you&rsquo;re doing. Save your floor grout and reattach that shower curtain. Your shower curtain is guilty of no such sin!</p> <p> Jeffrey Kabat, a cancer epidemiologist at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine and author of a great book on health alarmism called <a href="">Hyping Health Risks: Environmental Hazards in Daily Life and the Science of Epidemiology</a> (which I&rsquo;m reading now and highly recommend), <a href="">explains the latest alarmist nonsense in his Forbes column</a>:</p> <blockquote> <p> Several days ago an article titled &ldquo;Is Your Shower Curtain Making You Fat?&rdquo; appeared in the magazine Spry and was then reprinted in the Dodge City Daily Globe.&nbsp; The article drew readers&rsquo; attention to the dangers of endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs), giving 5 examples of chemicals used in everyday consumer products (BPA, phthalates, PVC, PFC&rsquo;s, and PBDFs).</p> <p> With a quote from a professor of pharmacology and references to a couple of crude, published studies, the author, Catherine Winters, conveyed the message to her readers that they are surrounded by products containing EDCs that can play havoc with hormonal signaling and induce disease.&nbsp; The shower curtain reference was based on a study that found that shower curtains containing PVC, or polyvinyl chloride, &ldquo;release up to 108 volatile organic compounds (VOC), some of which could be detected in the air 28 days after the curtain had been hung.&rdquo;</p> <p> Nowhere in the article is there any mention of the kind of exposure to the chemicals required to cause the adverse health effects mentioned.&nbsp; You would think that she is talking about occupational exposure where one is breathing in dust and fumes from these chemicals 40 hours a week, week-in and week-out.&nbsp; In fact, exposures encountered in daily life are likely to be trivial to non-existent.</p> </blockquote> <p> Shower curtains are just the latest common, everyday item to come under the paranoid eye of the chemphobes (who can forget the claims last year that <a href="">shampoo and other personal care products</a> were making you fat! Wouldn&rsquo;t it be great if you could just stop moisturizing and washing your hair and continue eating pizza and milkshakes for dinner?).</p> <p> Anti Chemical groups with innocuous sounding names like the Safer Chemicals, Healthier Families Coalition, millionaire Hollywood activists like Jessica Alba, and woefully misinformed mom bloggers like Paige Wolfe (I&rsquo;m sorry I won&rsquo;t provide a link to her mommy blog. If you&rsquo;re interested, just Google &ldquo;Food Babe wanabe&rdquo;) employ the half-story strategy Kabat explains above&mdash;suggesting that the presence of a chemical in urine is a sign of danger while failing to mention the levels required to actually cause harm (remember, the <em>dose</em> makes the poison).</p> <p> Some people just laugh at these stories and wonder why it&rsquo;s even important to push back on these claims. And indeed, if this was just about shower curtains, I might not care so much. But this goes way beyond one&rsquo;s choice to purchase a plastic or cotton shower curtain. One of the many problematic messages the &ldquo;shower curtains [or hand lotion, or shampoo, or other everyday item you use that makes you smell good or your life easier] make you fat [or causes cancer or insert a number of other terrifying diseases]&rdquo; claim pushes is that it isn&rsquo;t your behaviors (lack of exercise, too much food, alcohol, sugary drinks, etc) or other factors (genetics, age, sex), it&rsquo;s these everyday household products that are keeping your from reaching your bikini best or from being generally healthy.</p> <p> In an age when we&rsquo;re all looking for the magic diet pill or strategy to keep us healthier longer, some people will rid their houses of things like shower curtains and other common plastic items while continuing unhealthy behaviors.&nbsp;</p> <p> That&#39;s what&#39;s really troubling.</p> GunlockFri, 20 Jun 2014 07:06:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's Forum