Letters to the Editor

  • Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Partnering with Coca-Cola to initiate a Fit Family Challenge is like partnering with Philip Morris to combat heart disease.

That comparison seems even more apt with a new Harvard study linking soda to 180,000 deaths per year. Over the years, the soda industry has given money to – and cultivated relationships with – groups representing doctors, dentists, dietitians, anti-hunger advocates and others.

“Big Soda’s giving isn’t solely motivated by anyone else’s health,” says the Center for Science in the Public Interests (CSPI) Executive Director Michael F. Jacobson in a recently released report they did titled “The Soda Industry’s Selfish Giving.”

He goes on to add, “Makers of sugar drinks give to burnish their soiled reputations. They give so they can soften, or even silence, potential criticism. But mainly the industry gives so when provoked it can activate an instant Astroturf army to advance its extreme, anti-health agenda.”

I have been in the battle against childhood obesity for 13 years. I have watched as children and their parents have grown bigger and bigger – largely because they ingest more sugar than ever before, to the tune of 100 pounds per year. That’s right, the average kid eats 100 pounds of sugar each year and that’s largely consumed in sugary drinks that have no nutritional value, and that’s including sports drinks that purport to hydrate you athletically. Recently, the soda industry stopped putting flame-retardant chemicals in their sports drinks as well as brominated vegetable oil. Gee, thanks guys.

Having ran a nonprofit for these many years, I have seen and have been offered my share of potential sponsorship opportunities: snacks, drinks, shakes, supplements, etc. We have a board of directors that includes two doctors, one a pediatric endocrinologist who advises as many as 70 children per day about the dangers of sugary beverages in relation to their health. Thankfully, all of the offers we have had have been thoroughly vetted by these incredibly accomplished individuals.

What we have asked in the past and still do when these opportunities present themselves to us is, “Can we stand behind the product, service or position taken by the partners who are presenting to us?”

Can the supporters of this initiative truly stand behind the Coca-Cola product and brand? What they may not even realize is that in a Yale Rudd Center report on sugary beverages, Coke ranked sixth in the amount of traditional TV advertising to youth. But children and teens were exposed to more advertising for Coke than any other brand in every other type of marketing. Seems to me like we are stroking the hand that’s making us so fat.

Louis Yuhasz

Sullivan’s Island

Have to chuckle

Back in the mid-1990s, Mr. Vince Graham wanted to build a roundabout on Mathis Ferry Road for better access in and out of the I’On subdivision. He caught “down the river” from the Mount Pleasant Town Council.

Now how many do we have in Mount Pleasant? One, two, three, four, five and still counting.

By the way, I have never met Mr. Graham; I only know of him from the paper.

Thank you, Mr. Graham; they work wonderful.

Lorice McMahon

Mount Pleasant

Field trip

When Ms. Sally Wallace, Wando High School’s Rhetoric of Law teacher, had announced we’d be been invited by the Motley Rice Law Firm to come and meet with their attorneys, the class was silent. It was 20 seconds until one student raised his hand and asked, “Wait, they asked us to come see them!?”

The class assembled in Wando’s cafeteria on the early morning of the day of the trip. Ties, shined shoes, dress shirts and suit jackets – they had “dressed for success.” Along the drive, the students gossiped as to how fancy the building might be, or most importantly, what would be for lunch? Laughing and nodding at the silly suggestions of their classmates the entire ride, it was fair to say they were excited.

I found myself in a seat on the bus alone. I was relatively new to Charleston, having moved from Atlanta a year and a half ago, and the first time I had heard of Motley Rice had been in class a week ago. In fact, Wando’s Rhetoric of Law class had been my first encounter with the law at all, something I’m pretty thankful for as a high school student.

As we arrived, it was easy to tell why everyone had been so eager to go. The firm’s building was a towering mosaic of glass and brick, located on the water just next the Ravenel Bridge. After clamoring in through the front door, we found the lobby to be equally as inviting. Shortly after being addressed by Mr. Rice himself, we were split into groups and shown around the buildings and all the teams that allowed it to function, including marketing and their technicians.

After seeing what they called the “guts” of the organization, we finally were grouped back together down in the lobby and were each individually paired with an attorney. I was paired with Brian Bevon, a litigator with cases involving asbestos and other occupational diseases. Then, after agreeing to meet back down in the lobby in an hour and a half for lunch, we all followed our separate attorneys back to their offices.

We began talking on a wide list of subjects: what he did daily, what Wando’s Rhetoric of Law class was like, how he got into law and how someone such as myself might try to become a lawyer. Before long, most of our time together had dwindled down, but he invited me to come upstairs with him to a meeting room to see an opening statement he had prepared.

The presentation was impressive, with a slide show and clearly laid-out details; I was sure the case had been a successful one.

The end of our day came around with lunch with Mr. Bevon. I had been in no hurry to rush to the lunchroom while talking, but even after getting there late, there was a lot of food. Students and attorneys sat mingling together, asking each other questions about how the other’s counterpart had been. Finally, we all shook hands and thanked our hosts for a very interesting beginning to a school day. The trip was indescribably pleasant thanks to the hospitality of Motley Rice, but more importantly, the ability to spend individual time as a student in a law class with talented and established attorneys was invaluable and extremely charitable on the part of the Motley Rice Law Firm.

Alexander Cullen

Rhetoric of Law Student


Boko Haram and his Islamist group kidnapped 276 teenage girls from the state school in the town of Chibok, Nigeria. These young girls are still being held captive; their condition is unknown, and they are at extreme risk of being sexually abused.

YWCAs around the globe join with our sister organization, the YWCA of Nigeria and the rest of the world, in calling for an end to this gross violation of human rights and the immediate release and safe return of these girls to their families and communities.

Why were these girls targeted and abducted in the first place? Simply because they wanted to attend school to get an education! Access to education by girls is viewed as a threat to male-dominated cultures and power structures. When girls have access to education, they are in a much better position to earn a fair wage and they also have increased opportunities for social, economic and political decision-making.

It is important to note that girls, more than boys, are also at greater risk of abuse when they are not in school.

At the YWCA, we believe strongly that girls should have access to education to prepare them for future success and that they deserve to live a life free from violence of any form.

The statistics on violence against women and girls are staggering and pervasive. According to the United Nations, up to 70 percent of women experience violence in their lifetime, and women between the ages of 15 and 44 were more at risk from rape and domestic violence than from cancer, car accidents, war and malaria combined. It is interesting to note that South Carolina ranks first in the nation for violence against women, largely murder by domestic violence.

Other violence against women includes human trafficking, a modern-day form of slavery that impacts millions of women and girls. It exists everywhere, and Charleston is now one of the state’s hubs for human trafficking. In fact, according to Polaris Project, the national hotline is receiving more calls and tips from the Charleston area.

YWCAs around the globe have a longstanding history of advocating against gender-based violence in all of its forms, which can include physical, sexual, psychological and economic. Violence does not discriminate – it affects women and girls of all ages, of all economic and social classes, of all races, cultures, religions and traditions. Regardless of town, city or country, women and girls are not property and gender-based violence is a human rights issue and it must not be tolerated under any circumstances.

The YWCA Greater Charleston along with other YWCAs are raising their collective voices to strongly advocate for the rights of women, girls and families. We call on the government of Nigeria to protect and “bring back our girls!” We call on the State of South Carolina to keep our kids safe, and call on all South Carolinians to say no to violence against women and girls.

Ida Spruill,

Board President,

YWCA Greater Charleston

Dara Richardson-Heron,


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