How to Win Against Big Soda

Anna Lappé and Christina Bronsing-Lazalde in The New York Times:

We have only recently awakened to the alarm bell of sugary drinks. For years, these drinks were flagged for “empty calories” that lead to weight gain. Today, the public health community understands that consuming sugar — particularly in liquid form — increases risks of serious health conditions, such as heart disease, Type 2 diabetes and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, not to mention tooth decay. A 2010 study found that consuming just one to two sugary drinks a day increases your risk of developing diabetes by 26 percent.

While sugar is everywhere — in cookies and crackers, breads and pasta sauce — the single largest source in the American diet is sugary drinks. A 20-ounce Coca-Cola contains 65 grams of added sugar, significantly exceeding the American Heart Association’s daily maximum recommendation for adult women, 25 grams, and adult men, 36 grams.

It’s not hyperbolic to claim that sugary drinks pose a major public health threat. Nationally, we spent $245 billion on diabetes medical costs in 2012. By 2030 we could be spending as much as $818 billion on the direct medical costs of heart disease. Both illnesses are associated with the consumption of sugary drinks.

How Sci-Fi Writers Imagine Iraq’s Future

Jason Heller at the Atlantic:

Iraq + 100 underscores an issue beyond America’s blind spot when it comes to international speculative fiction: the relative dearth of sci-fi being written in Iraq and elsewhere in the Arab world. “The failure of Arab writers to produce futuristic fiction has been a mystery,” wrote the critic Al-Mustafa Najjar in a 2014 article titled “Arabic Fiction Faces Up to the Future.” He went on to note: “The Arab intellectual and political scene, blighted with much repression and censorship, makes for an ideal environment to write about the future, a realm void of the political and religious taboos of the past and the present.

The Real Christopher Columbus

The late Howard Zinn writing in A People’s History of the United States adapted for Jacobin:

In the year 1495, they went on a great slave raid, rounded up 1,500 Arawak men, women, and children, put them in pens guarded by Spaniards and dogs, then picked the 500 best specimens to load onto ships. Of those 500, 200 died en route.

Too many of the slaves died in captivity. And so Columbus, desperate to pay back dividends to those who had invested, had to make good his promise to fill the ships with gold. In the province of Cicao on Haiti, where he and his men imagined huge gold fields to exist, they ordered all persons fourteen years or older to collect a certain quantity of gold every three months. When they brought it, they were given copper tokens to hang around their necks. Indians found without a copper token had their hands cut off and bled to death.

Let us be honest about Christopher Columbus, he was brutal. Let us replace Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples’ Day. Some cities and states already are.

Coca-Cola sucking wells dry in indigenous Mexican town

Harriet Agerholm writing at the Independent:

Natural supplies have run out in the indigenous town of San Felipe Ecatepec in the state of Chiapas, southern Mexico, meaning people must walk for two hours to fetch drinking water, one former local official said.

A nearby bottling plant, run by Mexican company FEMSA, consumed 1.08 million litres of water a day in 2016, according to reports.

Although Chiapas has the highest level of renewable water resources per capita in Mexico, one in three people in rural regions reportedly lack safe drinking water. Climate change and outbreaks of salmonella have exacerbated the problem.

Like many things these days, I’m finding it harder to justify why I do or consume the things I do. In this case, Coca-Cola. I really enjoyed having one every few days in Mauritania to mix up the massive amounts of water and coffee. But ignorance is bliss and I’ve learned too much.

Chamula, Chanting and Coca-Cola

Susannah Rigg writing at Mexico Retold:

One of the first things you notice, once your eyes adjust to the light, is that there are no pews in the church. Instead the ground is covered in green pine needles and the ceiling has great swaths of cloth hung from side to side. The edge of the main area of the church is lined with statues of saints whose images are rather different to that you would see in most Catholic churches. These saints are adorned with unusual ornaments like pineapples and flowers and their clothes were often covered in mirrors, which are believed by Chamulans to deflect the evil sprits.

A fascinating read about the unique Iglesia de San Juan Chamula and its religious syncretism, found nowhere else in the world. When we talked to one of the guides inside the church yesterday, he said no one has tried to come back and reconvert them to orthodox catholic belief. “We just want to live and worship in peace.”