Ken Fujioka on the Need for Anti-Obesity Drugs Ken Fujioka, director of the Nutrition and Metabolic Research Center and the Center for Weight Management, is a proponent of anti-obesity drugs. "Yes, there are risks with any medication, but there are even more serious risks with obesity and the associated cruel treatment of the obese inherent to our society," he writes at The Washington Post today. The conversation thus far has been "unrealistic and naive," he says: "It is quite clear that once someone gains weight, the body will turn on a host of defense mechanisms to maintain that higher weight. Most people are trying to fight biology and not just 'habits.'" Yet in the past year alone, the FDA has rejected three drug therapies that showed effective weightloss because of their potential risks. "Even the theoretical risks pale next to the risks of undertreating obesity," he insists. "Demanding that obesity drugs carry no real or possible risks sends the message that the disease I treat every day isn't serious and that the rare risk of a major side effect outweighs the insidious complications of obesity."
Fouad Ajami on Understanding al-Qaeda's New Leader Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies professor Fouad Ajami points out in today's Wall Street Journal that Osama bin Laden's successor, Ayman al-Zawahiri, an Egyptian transplant, "is less popular than Barack Obama among his former countrymen." The revolution that overthrew Zawahiri's nemesis Hosni Mubarak did not drive new support towards the al-Qaeda deputy. Ajami explains Zawahiri's journey from "Egyptian artistocracy" to teenage jihadist, to political prisoner to the head of al-Qaeda. Though "Zawahiri watchers say that the quarrelsome man, all his life devisive and unforgiving, will falter; that he lacks 'combat experience' and the manners of bin Laden," Ajami argues that "We would do well to remember that it was Zawahiri himself who supplied that crucial distinction between the 'near enemy' (the Arab regimes) and the 'far enemy' (the United States), and who opined that it was right and permissible, nay obligatory, to strike at the far enemy in an attempt to bring down the Arab tyrannies. He, like bin Laden, is owed his measure of retribution."
Ali Al-Isawi on Distributing Frozen Libyan Funds to the Libyan People "The world community is holding billions of dollars in Libyan assets to their respective banks," notes Ali Al-Isawi, the vice president of Libya's Transitional National Council, in today's Los Angeles Times. "Now is the time to unfreeze those assets, grant the Libyan people some of their own money and alleviate the suffering." He argues that the frozen Libyan government bank accounts, that contained "billions of dollars in assets" which the Qaddafi family stole from the Libyan people, "should be released in a controlled and accountable manner to the council and the Libyan people. U.N. Resolution 1970, which established the latest sanctions, allows frozen funds to be released for humanitarian aid." He admits that the Libyan people, who are fighting for the dictator's ouster, "understood the reasoning behind the international community's attitude toward Kadafi" back when sanctions were originally imposed. Still, "Libyans find it extremely difficult to understand why they must again pay so heavily for Qaddafi's actions."
The Boston Globe Editors on Whitey Bulger and Ending Ethnic Divisions "If there's a lesson for all of Boston in the rise and fall of Whitey Bulger, it’s that his story, while incredible, isn't entirely unique," declare the Boston Globe editors. "Divisions among neighborhoods and ethnic groups create the conditions that allow gangsters to flourish. With new immigrants coming in and clustering in certain areas, there may well be more clashes of loyalty, more turf fights, and, potentially, more gangsters." The editors explain that during the years Bulger came to power, "too many Bostonians of that era believed that their futures would never expand beyond the dimensions of their neighborhoods, that every block was a steak worth fighting for." They argue that, "now, Boston can close the book on the Bulger era, and it should end the pathologies that fueled Bulger, as well. As new groups make their homes here, Boston can't accept tribalism as an organized principle. It can't allow future gangsters to exploit divisions to create a culture of violence and fear."
Katherine Franke on Marriage as One of Many Options As New York state gets closer to legalizing gay marriage, Katherine Franke, director of the Center for Gender and Sexuality Law at Columbia Law School, has some reservations. "It's not that we're antimarriage; rather, we think marriage ought to be one choice in a menu of options by which relationships can be recognized and gain security." She explains in The New York Times: "Winning the right to marry is one thing; being forced to marry is quite another." She points out that New York's domestic partnership law, which makes it very easy for "both same-sex and different-sex couples to register as domestic partners" will be eliminated "once the marriage ban in New York State is lifted," because it was created as an alternative to marriage. "It was only a few years ago that we were criminals in the eyes of the law simply because of whom we loved," she writes. "As strangers to marriage for so long, we've created loving and committed forms of family, care and attachment that far exceed, and often improve on, the narrow legal definition of marriage. Many of us are not ready to abandon those nonmarital ways of loving once we can legally marry."