If you wondered who started the rumor about Coke being a healthy snack?


It wasn’t this mythical dude…

If a column in honor of heart health suggests a can of Coke as a snack, you might want to read the fine print.

The world’s biggest beverage maker, which struggles with declining soda consumption in the U.S., is working with fitness and nutrition experts who suggest its cola as a healthy treat. In February, for instance, several wrote online pieces for American Heart Month, with each including a mini-can of Coke or small soda as a snack idea.

The mentions – which appeared on nutrition blogs and other sites including those of major newspapers – show the many ways food companies work behind the scenes to cast their products in a positive light, often with the help of third parties who are seen as trusted authorities…

For Coca-Cola Co., the public relations strategy with health experts in February focused on the theme of “Heart Health & Black History Month.” The effort yielded a radio segment and multiple online pieces.

One post refers to a “refreshing beverage option such as a mini can of Coca-Cola.” Another suggests “portion-controlled versions of your favorites, like Coca-Cola mini cans, packs of almonds or pre-portioned desserts for a meal.”

The focus on the smaller cans isn’t surprising. Sugary drinks have come under fire for fueling obesity rates and related ills, and the last time Coke’s annual U.S. soda volume increased was in 2002, according to the industry tracker Beverage Digest. More recently, the company is pushing its mini-cans as a guilt-free way to enjoy cola. The cans also fetch higher prices on a per ounce basis, so even if people are drinking less soda, Coke says it can grow sales.

Most of the pieces suggesting mini-Cokes say in the bios that the author is a “consultant” for food companies, including Coca-Cola. Some add that the ideas expressed are their own. One column is marked at the bottom as a “sponsored article,” which is an ad designed to look like a regular story. It ran on more than 1,000 sites, including those of major news outlets around the country. The other posts were not marked as sponsored content, but follow a similar format…

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, a professional group for dietitians, says in its code of ethics that practitioners promote and endorse products “only in a manner that is not false and misleading.” A spokesman for the academy did not respond when asked if the posts on mini-Cokes meet those guidelines.

I don’t expect corporations deriving profits from selling deadly crap masquerading as food – to admit their products are deadly crap masquerading as food. And I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised they can find a number of greedy fools willing to prostitute their professional credentials to pimp their products.

I think it would be closer to ethical if [1] they didn’t get away with deliberate lies, publishing bought-and-paid-for consultants to pretend there is value to their products – and [2] it might be useful in a time and place like the 21st Century in the United States – if mass media attempted something approaching truth-telling in the adverts they’re paid to distribute.

I can hardly think of crap less likely to be a useful snack than a can of Coke.

Sermon in the Dutch bible belt: “Make the most of life on earth, because it will probably be the only one you get”

The Rev Klaas Hendrikse can offer his congregation little hope of life after death, and he’s not the sort of man to sugar the pill.

An imposing figure in black robes and white clerical collar, Mr Hendrikse presides over the Sunday service at the Exodus Church in Gorinchem, central Holland.

It is part of the mainstream Protestant Church in the Netherlands (PKN), and the service is conventional enough, with hymns, readings from the Bible, and the Lord’s Prayer. But the message from Mr Hendrikse’s sermon seems bleak – “Make the most of life on earth, because it will probably be the only one you get”.

“Personally I have no talent for believing in life after death,” Mr Hendrikse says. “No, for me our life, our task, is before death.”

Nor does Klaas Hendrikse believe that God exists at all as a supernatural thing

Mr Hendrikse describes the Bible’s account of Jesus’s life as a mythological story about a man who may never have existed, even if it is a valuable source of wisdom about how to lead a good life.

His book Believing in a Non-Existent God led to calls from more traditionalist Christians for him to be removed. However, a special church meeting decided his views were too widely shared among church thinkers for him to be singled out.

A study by the Free University of Amsterdam found that one-in-six clergy in the PKN and six other smaller denominations was either agnostic or atheist.

The Rev Kirsten Slattenaar, Exodus Church’s regular priest, also rejects the idea – widely considered central to Christianity – that Jesus was divine as well as human.

“I think ‘Son of God’ is a kind of title,” she says. “I don’t think he was a god or a half god. I think he was a man, but he was a special man because he was very good in living from out of love, from out of the spirit of God he found inside himself…”

Professor Hijme Stoeffels of the Free University in Amsterdam says it is in such concepts as love that people base their diffuse ideas of religion.

RTFA. Long, detailed, interesting to anyone who cares about an ethical, growing society.

Of course, being about open-minded Christians, I imagine the response in our own bible belt will be the calling down of fire and brimstone upon the heads of these Christians who dare to differ with the past.

Senate Republicans block 9/11 healthcare bill

Republican senators blocked Democratic legislation…that sought to provide medical care to rescue workers and residents of New York City who became ill as a result of breathing in toxic fumes, dust and smoke from ground zero.

The 9/11 health bill, a version of which was approved by the House of Representatives in September, is among a handful of initiatives that Senate Democrats had been hoping to approve this year before the close of the 111th Congress. Supporters believe this is their last real opportunity to have the bill passed…

In a vote largely along party lines, the Senate rejected a procedural move by Democrats to end debate on the 9/11 health bill and bring it to an up-or-down vote; 60 yes votes were needed, but the move received only 57, with 42 votes against.

Republicans have been raising concerns about how to pay for the $7.4 billion measure, while Democrats, led by Senator Kirsten E. Gillibrand of New York, have argued that the nation had a moral obligation to assist those who put their lives at risk during rescue operations at ground zero…

The vote was a blow to the bill’s sponsors, who mobilized a network of allies across the political spectrum to lobby on behalf of it, including the New York City police commissioner, Raymond W. Kelly, and Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg…

In a statement, Mr. Bloomberg chastised Senate Republicans for their “wrong-headed political strategy” and called on them to allow the bill to come to the floor for a vote. “The attacks of 9/11 were attacks on America,” he said, “and we have a collective responsibility to care for the heroes — from all 50 states — who answered the call of duty, saved lives, and helped our nation recover.”

Anyone surprised? Gird your loins, folks. It’s only going to get worse in January.

Between beancounters and corporate flunkeys, soldiers will have to buy their own shoes whilst Wall Street drones will get to choose between lifestyles of silk and silver.