Midday Live News Report - March 29, 2007

University of Cumberlands Protest

They call themselves Soul Force and they go around to religious schools asking for fairer treatment of those with alternative lifestyles.

Yesterday, Wednesday, March 28, 2007, Soul Force protested at the University of the Cumberlands in Williamsburg, Ky., but as Phil Pendleton shows us, some of them ended up in jail.

They arrived to see dozens of police and deputy sheriffs waiting to keep them off campus.

“If they go off, trespass, arrest them, immediately, they’ve been warned,” said Officer Shawn Jackson, of the Williamsburg Police Department.

University officials say Soul Force rejected reasonable offers to protest in a specific, secure location. Soul Force’s equality riders showed up anyway and were told to gather across the street.

“And it didn’t take long for one member to get arrested, but the accused and the officer who arrested him have different accounts of what happened,” said Annie Decrescente, a student at the University of the Cumberlands. “I could actually feel the tension building the two. I noticed he stepped onto college property, private property which is a no-no today.”

Jay Reitan of Minnesota said all he did was put his foot on the sidewalk.

“Have you ever been arrested? Yes, but under much more reasonable circumstances. This is completely unreasonable which will be contested,” Reitan said.

Even Decrescente, a non-gay, non-Soul Force member, but a Cumberlands student, was taken to jail.

Police say she joined the protest.

“I think I’m going to jail. Why going to jail? Because I wouldn’t move off the sidewalk,” Decrescente said.

The group said they’re protesting universities that discriminate against gays, lesbians and transgender people. They’re in Williamsburg because of what happened last year with Jason Johnson, who left the school after being disciplined because he announced his homosexuality on a Myspace site.

“There’s an injustice going on in Cumberlands because they are claiming to teach and preach Christianity yet they’re excluding a large community of people,” Soul Force member, Jarrett Lucas said.

School officials say they didn’t want to give the group full access to possibly disrupt campus activities. At least three people were arrested and charged with trespassing. They were taken to the Whitley County Jail.

Safe Cigarettes Signed

Smokers in Kentucky will soon be lighting up cigarettes that will be easier to snuff out. Starting in April 2008 the only kinds of cigarettes that can be sold in the state will be the ones that extinguish themselves.

On Tuesday, March 27, 2007, Governor Ernie Fletcher signed the Safe Cigarette Bill into law. The law states cigarettes have to be made out of special paper that puts itself out. Fletcher said the law is aimed at saving lives.

“A cigarette left unattended is what we have seen recently had catastrophic consequences leading to death, injuries and destroying properties as well,” Governor Fletcher said.

“This is important or more important, it will take out harm’s way, our firefighters, our EMI rescue workers and some of our first responders,” Senator Gary Tapp said.

Each year, dozens of people are reportedly killed by fires caused by unattended cigarettes. Kentucky is reportedly the eighth state in the country to pass such a law.

T.V. Ads and Child Obesity

You see them, especially on Saturday mornings ... food ads for kids, pushing anything from chips to candy. So, just how serious are these commercials when it comes to our children’s health?

Doctor Sanjay Gupta takes a look at a new study that finds no matter what parents do, kids are being exposed to a lot of “bad for you” foods.

It’s Vicky Rideout’s job to keep an eye on advertising that can affect our health, especially children and she’s not happy with what she’s seeing.

“Kids of all ages in this country are exposed to what I think by anybody’s standards would be a large amount of food advertising on television every day ... Thousands of ads a year,” Rideout said.

Rideout is a vice president with the Kaiser Family Foundation. This week the foundation released its largest study ever on T.V. food advertising for kids.

Of the thousands of ads studied, 34 percent were for candy and snacks, 28 percent for cereal and 10 percent for fast food. Not one advertised fruits or vegetables and only 15 percent of the ads showed children involved in some type of physical activity.

“I guess I would say, that’s a relatively small proportion of the ads that include physical activity now,” Rideout said and the issue isn’t new.

In a report issued by the Institute of Medicine back in 2005, research showed there was a direct connection between food ads for kids and childhood obesity. The report recommended advertising companies push healthier products and show physical activity in their ads. So far, change has been slow.

“I think companies are clearly getting it. I think they are not sure what to do yet, but there’s no question that they’re concerned, as they should be, about the public concern of the increase in childhood obesity,” said Michael McGinnis, with the Institute of Medicine.

Corporations, are generally motivated by profit and fatty snacks tend to be popular. Pepsico which own Pepsi, Frito-Lay and Tropicana is trying to market more healthy, yet tasty items.

“With new products and helping children to better understand nutrition, we should reach these goals fairly soon,” said Nancy Green, with Pepsico.

The Kaiser Family Foundation hopes to impress on advertisers that the childhood obesity problem is not going away until real changes are made.

Philippines Day-Care Hostage Situation

A day-care center owner in the Philippines who held more than 30 students and teachers hostage for ten hours on a bus, will be facing nearly three dozen charges.

Manila police say the man will be charged with 32 counts of illegal detention and abduction, illegal possession of explosives and illegal possession of firearms.

The man was armed with grenades and guns during the standoff. His mission was to denounce corruption and demand better lives for impoverished children. He had promised to release the children in a rambling message over a loudspeaker.

A government official said the students will now undergo psychological debriefings.

Iran Hold UK Hostages

Tension is escalating in the standoff between Britain and Iran. Over 15 British Naval personnel were captured last Friday, March 24, 2007.

After promising to release the one female detainee, Iran now said that won’t happen for the time being.

While the international community is widely condemning the capture, the U.S. is sending the strongest message.

Fighter jets from two carriers are performing missions in the Gulf, just 50 miles from Iran.

The crew was detained just as the U.N. signaled the resolution against Iran would be approved. In a letter seen in the video, Faye Turney wrote she hopes to be home for her young daughter’s birthday.

The Iranians are offering no guarantees.

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