Archive for March 25th, 2015

Chinese restaurant in Kenya ‘locks out’ Africans after 5pm

A Chinese restaurant in the Kenyan capital does not admit Africans after 5pm, insisting they pose a security threat to its clients. The staff cites criminal situations and the activities of terrorist group Al Shabaab.

An eatery in Nairobi named the “Chinese Restaurant” has taken the decision after an armed robbery last year and recent warnings from the Chinese embassy over Al Shabaab’s increased threat, local media report.

READ MORE: US drone strike kills top Al-Shabaab leader

“We don’t admit Africans that we don’t know because you never know who is Al-Shabaab and who isn’t,” Esther Zhao, a PR manager with the restaurant, told the Nairobi News. “It is not like it is written on somebody’s face that they are a thug armed with a gun.”

Zhao says the guests of the restaurant feel safer and more comfortable if African customers are kept away. Only taxi drivers and Africans accompanied by European, Chinese or Indian guests can be admitted.

“It is strictly a no-African policy and we have even had to turn away some prominent Kenyans who were obviously not a security threat,” a restaurant worker told the journalists on conditions of anonymity.

According to the Nairobi News, those locked out included the former Cabinet Secretary for the Interior Joseph ole Lenku, and former education secretary and presidential candidate Joseph ole Kiyiapi.

However, some Africans considered “loyal” can still come in. You have to spend 20,000 Kenyan shilling (about $217) in a certain time period to qualify. The only people allowed in any time are Nairobi Senator Mike Sonko and former Cabinet Minister Raphael Tuju, who are reportedly the owner’s friends.

The move caused an outrage in the media and among local politicians.

“That amounts to racial and ethnic profiling, which is unconstitutional,” said the country’s ombudsman, Otiende Amollo. “It has in it the inherent assumption that Africans are inevitably pre-disposed to be robbers… Whatever measures they choose to take to maintain security must be measures that treat people equally irrespective of race, gender or color.”

The ombudsman called the people who were not admitted to sue for discrimination and contact the National Commission on Human Rights so that the authorities could revoke the restaurant’s license.

Al-Shabaab, translated as the “The Youth,” is an Al-Qaeda-linked extremist group designated as a foreign terrorist organization by the US. Its basic goal is to create a caliphate in Somalia.

Al-Shabaab’s terrorist activities most notably included coordinated suicide bombings in Uganda’s capital in 2010 and a deadly raid on a Nairobi mall in 2013.

What diet soda does to belly fat

Mandy Oaklander/Time

A new study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society found that people who drank diet soda gained almost triple the abdominal fat over nine years as those who didn’t drink diet soda. The study analyzed data from 749 people ages 65 and older who were asked, every couple of years, how many cans of soda they drank a day, and how many of those sodas were diet or regular.

Those answers ended up being extremely predictive of abdominal-fat gain, even after the researchers adjusted for factors like diabetes, smoking and levels of physical activity. People who didn’t drink diet soda gained about 0.8 in. around their waists over the study period, but people who drank diet soda daily gained 3.2 in. Those who fell in the middle — occasional drinkers of diet soda — gained about 1.8 in.

That change in waist circumference is especially concerning because it highlights an unfortunate truth about weight distribution: the belly is a bad place for extra pounds. The kind that pads the abs from the inside, called visceral fat, is associated with increased cardiovascular disease, inflammation and Type 2 diabetes.

These results, which the study authors call “striking,” add to the growing body of evidence that no- and low-calorie sweeteners may come with health concerns. Though scientists are still puzzling through the mechanisms by which diet soda seems to have the unintended consequence of weight gain, they have some ideas. Sugar-free sodas contain substances that sweeten up soda at 200-600 times the sweetness of sugar.

“Regular sugar has caloric consequences,” says the study’s senior author Dr. Helen Hazuda, professor of medicine at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. And one of those is that it triggers satiety — a sense of fullness or satisfaction. “Your body is used to knowing that a sweet taste means you are ingesting energy in the form of calories that, if you don’t burn them off, is going to convert to fat,” she says. Artificial sweeteners, however, confuse our bodies and weaken the link in our brains between sweetness and calories. That, Hazuda says, can lead to weight gain and cravings for sweeter and sweeter treats.

There may be something else at work. A recent study in mice showed that artificial sweeteners actually changed the gut bacteria of mice in ways that made them vulnerable to insulin resistance and glucose intolerance — both of which can lead to weight gain. And other mice research suggests that artificial sweeteners are associated with a drop in the appetite-regulating hormone leptin, Hazuda says. Leptin is the hormone that inhibits hunger.

The Calorie Control Council, an association that represents the reduced-calorie food and beverage industry — including alternative sweeteners — disagreed with the study’s findings. “The use of low-calorie sweeteners (LCSs) in weight management has been shown to be beneficial,” the group said in a statement. “While approaches to treat obesity in older individuals is controversial, diet modifications can be a successful part of a weight-management program for older adults.”

Researchers in the new study found that belly-fat gain was most pronounced in people who were already overweight. “People who are already at cardiometabolic risk because they have higher BMIs are really in double or triple jeopardy,” Hazuda says. “When they think they’re doing something good by drinking artificially sweetened beverages, it’s actually totally counterproductive.”

Today in HIStory: Verdict is announced in Scottsboro case

The Supreme Court hands down its decision in the case of Powell v. Alabama. The case arose out of the infamous Scottsboro case. Nine young black men were arrested and accused of raping two white women on train in Alabama. The boys were fortunate to barely escaped a lynch mob sent to kill them, but were railroaded into convictions and death sentences. The Supreme Court overturned the convictions on the basis that they did not have effective representation.

Victoria Price and Ruby Bates, the alleged victims, were not the virtuous women that the white establishment in Alabama had tried to portray. In fact, both were prostitutes who had concocted the charges out of thin air. Bates eventually recanted her testimony. The accused boys were not given lawyers until the morning of the trial and these attorneys made almost no effort to defend their clients. On the same day that the case began, the defendants were convicted and received death sentences.

The blatant unfairness of the case attracted the attention of liberals across the country. The transcript of the trial left the Supreme Court with no other choice but to throw out the convictions. Still, Alabama insisted on retrying the defendants. This time, Samuel Liebowitz, one of the premier defense attorneys of the day, came to represent the Scottsboro nine. It didn’t matter.

The jury, all white men because black men were systematically excluded, convicted once again. In fact, there would be many more trials of the Scottsboro defendants over the years and each time the jury convicted and was later reversed on appeal. When the saga finally ended, all of the defendants were finally released. But not after they had served an average of ten years for the phantom crime.