Short takes on the news
Propaganda power • Utah junior Sen. Mike Lee deserves an "F" for listening comprehension and an "A" for propaganda for his useless rant over supposed federal interference in states' authority over public education. Lee has joined eight other Republican senators sending a letter to the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee that funds education. The nine are adamant that any future education appropriations bill prohibit the U.S. Secretary of Education from funding or requiring Common Core standards. What they don't seem to understand, no matter how slowly or deliberately they are told, is that the Common Core standards are a creation of a states-driven initiative. The federal government has not been involved in determining what students should have learned by each stage of their education. The guidelines adopted by dozens of states are voluntary and simply a way for states to facilitate meaningful comparisons and set specific goals. What part of this doesn't Lee yet understand?
Power of compromise • Responding to protests from people living around its missionary training complex in Provo, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has rightly come up with alternative plans for expanding the center. Neighbors had objected to the church's proposal last year to build a nine-story tower to replace three classroom buildings, saying the behemoth would ruin the character of the residential neighborhood. They also invoked a remembered 40-year-old church promise to keep MTC buildings low-key and not too tall. Both options that church officials are considering are more palatable to neighbors. It's a welcome compromise that will allow the church to accommodate the huge influx of new missionaries prompted by changes in the minimum age to 18 for men (down from 19) and 19 for women (down from 21).
'Go' power • Caffeine is an addictive drug. But, unlike illegal or prescription drugs, caffeine can be had easily and cheaply. In fact, you can't swing a coffee bean without hitting a new "energy" product whose main ingredient is caffeine. Besides colas and other drinks touted as providing a quick energy boost, food manufacturers have added caffeine to candy, nuts and other snack foods in recent years. The Associated Press reports that Jelly Belly "Extreme Sport Beans," for example, have 50 mg of caffeine in each pack, and Arma Energy Snx markets trail mix, chips and other products that have caffeine. Even some alcoholic beverages now have caffeine. An now Wrigley is selling caffeinated gum that could be attractive to children. So it's good news that the Food and Drug Administration is taking a look at all the products and how they are marketed. We don't need kids with artificially high energy levels.