Week in Review

by by Emily Gogolak, Anna Matejcek & Ashton Strait

illustration by by Emily Martin

Someone Sticks Up for Immigrants, Finally 

“I think things are going to go crazy on this,” Utah Republican state Rep. Stephen Sandstrom told USA Today in March about the recently passed state laws concerning illegal immigration.  Sandstrom had proposed a bill similar to Arizona’s infamous SB 1070, whose anti-illegal immigrant sentiment caused the federal government to sue the state to prevent its enforcement.  Sandstrom’s bill passed through the Utah legislature at the same time as the guest-worker act, a bill which would allow illegal immigrants who currently lived and worked in Utah to receive guest worker permits—essentially legalizing their residency in the state, though they would remain subject to deportation by federal immigration officials.
Yet in this reddest of red states, it was the guest-worker act that passed with all its key provisions intact.  In fact, Sandstrom was so appalled by the watering-down of his proposal’s measures that he skipped the signing ceremony in protest.

Utah has a long history of leniency towards illegal immigrants that might have predicted this political upset.  For example, illegal immigrants in Utah can get “driving privilege” cards to obtain car insurance, and they are also allowed to pay in-state tuition at public universities.  Despite the overwhelmingly conservative political climate of the state, the Latter Day Saints church’s compassionate stance on immigration as well as the large, imbedded immigrant population have combined to foster relatively liberal attitudes toward immigration reform issues.

Unfortunately, Sandstrom’s predictions of controversy may still ring true.  There are many Republicans gearing up to oust those legislators who supported the guest-worker act in the next election.  The guest worker bill is also still awaiting federal approval, a necessary step because the law violates the federal government’s mandate that it is illegal to knowingly hire an illegal immigrant.

Still, what Sandstrom is calling “an absolute tragedy for the state of Utah” has been hailed by many as a welcome step forward in the immigration debate.  Republican state Sen. Chris Bramble told the LA Times, “Something has got to break the gridlock on immigration policy in the United States.  If we’ve done nothing more than push the debate further down the road than a year before, it’s hard to say that’s bad for the country.” –AS

Goodbye, Glenn Beck!

Last Wednesday, Fox News announced that it will drop Glenn Beck’s TV program—appropriately titled “The Glenn Beck Show”—by the end of this year. Known to some as a brave defender of American freedom, and to others as an erratic, gloom-and-doom conspiracy theorist, Beck has filled the network’s 5pm slot since early 2009. At the peak of Beck’s popularity last year, over three million viewers tuned in each evening to hear him criticize Obama and voice his suspicions of social justice—something Beck believes to be a “code word” for Communism and Nazism.

TV’s conservative wunderkind, however, appears to have reached the end of his golden years. Beck’s viewership has dropped to approximately 1.6 million over the past year, and his credibility, already considered shaky by many, has been seriously undermined. A series of inflammatory statements made by Beck in late 2009, in which he labeled Obama a “racist” with a “deep-seated hatred of white people,” prompted both Fox News and the larger conservative political community to begin re-evaluating their relationships with Beck.

In response to the TV host’s incendiary criticism of Obama, Color of Change, an online advocacy group dedicated to strengthening the political voice of African-Americans, organized an advertising boycott of “The Glenn Beck Show.” The boycott has since convinced more than 300 advertisers to deny Fox News their advertising dollars, costing the network millions and, according to Color of Change, pushing Fox News’s TV executives to view “Beck’s increasingly erratic behavior as a liability to their ratings and their bottom line.”

In addition to the revenues Beck’s provocative statements have cost Fox News, several conservatives have raised questions about the effect this debacle might have on the conservative movement at large. Washington Post columnist Jennifer Rubin claims that “Beck is out of fashion in a time of increasingly mature conservative leadership. Now is not the time for rants and conspiracy theories.”

While it is not surprising that Beck’s conspiracy theories and unfounded accusations have irreparably damaged his credibility among both Democrats and Republicans, it does seem premature to assume that this will tone down rhetoric among the American conservative leadership. From snide comments about Obama’s masculinity made by the “Republican Mean Girls,” to the conservative—and potential GOP candidate—Donald Trump’s refusal to recognize Obama’s birth certificate, it looks like the red-herrings and rhetoric are here to stay, for conservatives and liberals alike. –AM

A Handful of Cherries Make the Medicine Go Down

The next time you open your medicine cabinet and reach for the Advil, you may want to take a look in your fruit basket instead. A report presented at the Experimental Biology annual meeting in DC this week added a new topping to the standard list of painkillers: cherries.

Researchers at Michigan State University, where the study was conducted, found that the cherry is not only full of anti-oxidants (and great with vanilla), but is also an anti-inflammatory powerhouse. What makes the cherry, well, the cherry may in fact be the culprit; the report reveals that anthocyanins, responsible for the fruit’s bright red color, are also responsible for its pain-relieving properties. Dr. Muralee G. Nair, lead researcher and Professor at the University, was confident in what he calls “the cherry effect.” His lab results show that consuming 20 tart cherries would reduce pain. “It is as good as ibuprofen,” he said.

In fact, it may be better. Recent research has revealed unsettling statistics on the serious side effects from common pain relievers or “non-steriodal anti-infamatory drugs’ (NSAIDs) According to the Annals of Internal Medicine, NSAIDS—which include over-the-counter options like ibuprofen, Motrin, Aspirin—are responsible for an estimated 7,600 deaths and 76,000 hospitalizations in the US every year.

So if you’re hurting, grab a handful, think of George Washington, and remember that killing pain is a whole lot sweeter than it used to be. –EG