The winners and the losers

Published: Saturday, Nov. 17 2012 12:00 a.m. MST

Loser/Winner? If people knew this is where the war on obesity would lead, would they have taken up arms? The news Friday that Hostess plans to shut down and liquidate came as a shock to many Twinkies-loving Americans. Alas, the demise of the so-called food that was supposed to remain fresh eons after human beings destroyed all other life had nothing to do with fighting fat. It had everything to do with a labor dispute in which a labor union apparently refused to see the facts as they were. That's the loser part. The winner part hearkens to the overall health of a nation too obsessed with junk food. If, however, your taste buds make you the occasional rebel against the nutritious cause, there is another reason to see a winner. Hostess plans to sell its brands and infrastructure. Surely, someone with the know-how to salvage a winning snack cake will come along, restructure things and save the day. What are Mitt Romney and Bain Capital doing these days?

Loser: It was hardly comforting to hear Southern Utah University football star Cameron Anthony Morgan explain this week that his computer contains child pornography only because it must have been accidentally downloaded in all the adult pornography he was collecting. Nor was it comforting to know it took two years for prosecutors to file charges in the case, which was enough time for Morgan to play a lot of football. Pornography degrades everyone involved. It particularly victimizes children, and it fosters an attitude of objectification that stifles natural human affections. There are no winners.

Loser: The Food and Drug Administration is investigating claims that 13 deaths over four years were attributed to the consumption of a drink known as 5-Hour Energy. Put that in the context of a Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration report that says emergency room visits are up 10-fold over four years due to energy drinks, and it's no wonder some members of Congress are talking about enacting regulations. Makers of the drinks say problems ensue only when users abuse the products, but there is evidence that the products themselves are a problem. The American Academy of Pediatrics has warned that children and adolescents should never consume the drinks. It's time for authorities to take a much deeper look at them.

Winner: People who leave prison apparently are turning out good in larger numbers than ever. A new report says several states are seeing significant drops in their recidivism rates. Michigan's rate was down 18 percent, Kansas was down 15 percent and Texas and Ohio were each down 11 percent over a three-year period. Even California noticed a drop. Officials credit scientific assessments and programs tailored to meet each inmate's needs before being returned to society. Whatever really is the cause, it's worth celebrating in a society where conventional wisdom has long held that prisons are merely breeding grounds for tougher and smarter criminals.

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