The Lookout
  • peterToday the Americans For Truth About Homosexuality (AFTAH), a controversial anti-gay group based in Naperville, Illinois, provided a new culture-war twist on the controversy surrounding the TSA's stepped-up security checks. AFTAH is especially exercised over the full-body pat-downs administered to fliers who refuse to pass through an X-ray scanner.

    "Is it fair to travelers who may end up getting 'groped' by homosexual TSA agents who are secretly getting turned on through the process?" asks Peter LaBarbera, the group's president, in a press release. "The reality is, most traveling men would not want Barney Frank to pat them down at the airport security checkpoint."

    (Photo of LaBarbera via AFTAH)

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  • Anatomy of the demise of Four Loko

    AP100913040380In honor of the likely demise of the controversial caffeinated alcoholic beverage Four Loko, we at The Lookout have put together a time line documenting the beverage's surprisingly rapid rise and fall since its woozy 2005 inception at the hands of a group of Ohio State University students. We highlight the company's PR response every step of the way, since throughout the drink's lurch into ill repute, the makers of Four Loko have run the emotional gamut in their public statements from confidently unresponsive to angry to contrite — and then back again. In a letter dated this month, Four Loko's founders admitted they were "late to the game in publicly addressing some of the criticisms of our products."

    Enjoy responsibly!

    (One can of Four Loko, seen at right, contains the equivalent of five beers and three cups of coffee, though as you'll see below, Four Loko's PR rep doesn't like that estimate.)

    August 2009: After 25 attorneys general requested an investigation of caffeinated booze, Chris Hunter of Phusion Projects, which makes Four Loko, declined to comment to the L.A. Times, saying only that "we're letting our products speak for themselves." Some might say that was the trouble to begin with.

    Read More »from Anatomy of the demise of Four Loko
  • Senate finally moves to vote on food-safety bill

    AP071113018478The recent spate of contaminated-food recalls in the United States appears to be opening the door for wider regulatory control over the industry by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Indeed, the issue has furnished one of the few bipartisan openings in the recently convened lame-duck Congress. Today, a group of Senate Republicans crossed the aisle to break a filibuster, thereby allowing debate to proceed on a long-stalled food-safety bill that would finally provide the FDA with the power to issue mandatory food recalls.

    The bill would also allow the FDA to conduct more frequent inspections of food producers, outfitting agency inspectors with more authority to track fruit and vegetable shipments — and to remove contaminated goods from the nation's food supply.

    Congressional Democrats have long sought a way to expand the FDA's food-safety oversight, since under the present system, the Department of Agriculture, which has a less expansive regulatory mandate, handles food recalls. But this latest bill has gained traction in part because the food industry itself has supported more aggressive regulation, looking to undo some of the damage that setbacks such as this summer's enormous egg recall have done to the industry's image.

    Read More »from Senate finally moves to vote on food-safety bill

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