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Fact and fake news
There is a dangerous trend in our country where people label things they don’t agree with as
“Fake News” and undermine the public trust of credible news sources.
As a retired librarian, I believe I can shed some light on what is fact and what is fake and it has
to do with balance. Librarians are trained to create balanced collections that reflect their
communities and also a world view. It’s important to have diversity where all sides are
represented. We also are trained to rely on credible, authoritative resources. Librarians will not
recommend social media as an authoritative source for the truth as anyone can post anything and it isn’t vetted or fact-checked. It distresses me when credible new sources are labeled “Fake News.”
So too can we become informed citizens about the news. For example, in my household, we
read three newspapers: one daily and two weekly. During the Capitol break-in, we watched several TV news sites: Fox, NBC, CNN, C-Span and Newsmax, all in an effort to ascertain a balanced reporting.
Yes, some newspapers have a distinct viewpoint and, yes, some news organizations have a bias. You can factor in all this information and come to something closer in truth and fact than if you only watch one news site. By limiting your exposure to only one news source, you can’t come close to figuring out what is fact and what is fake news.
Improving health by improving diets
Many people make a New Year’s resolution to improve their diet. They may benefit from the new 2020-25 U.S. Department of Agriculture Dietary Guidelines. The new guidelines reinforce existing advice to minimize saturated fats and added sugars.
They recommend that in a healthy 2,000 calorie diet, less than 140 calories should come from added sugars. This is the amount in a 12 ounce can of cola. The guidelines on saturated fat are somewhat controversial but are based on the advice of a panel of 20 distinguished scientists.
The research reviewed provides strong support for limiting saturated fat. If someone reduces the saturated fat and added sugar in their diet this will probably reduce their weight. But finding replacements for the saturated fat and added sugar may require considerable effort. The replacements need to be foods and beverages that people like and can make a permanent part of their diet.
Information at myplate.gov may help. The 2020 USDA Dietary Guidelines deserve much more publicity. If the guidelines are followed, they can improve our health and reduce our healthcare costs.
Please take down your Confederate flags
I encourage all of my Maine neighbors near and far to remove the Confederate flag from their lawns, their flag poles, their trees, their cars, their trucks, their construction/work sites and their homes.
I understand that this plea may cause people frustration and might even anger them as it is their protected right to continue to do so on their privately owned property. However, I wonder if and I hope that the extraordinarily violent and sinister events that we witnessed during the insurrection at our nation’s capitol on Jan. 6 might encourage them to remove this symbol of racism, slavery, segregation, white supremacy, and the continued and menacing intimidation of so many of our community members, our friends, and our neighbors — including but definitely not limited to Black people, Indigenous people, People of Color and LGBTQ people.
The Confederate flag is part of our shared history as a developing and evolving nation and there is a designation for it in museums and our history books. The meaning behind the Confederate flag should never be forgotten, but it does not deserve to be revered, celebrated and flown here in Maine or anywhere.
Our history here in Maine includes numerous documented acts of Maine residents showing selflessness, bravery and courage as outlined in the October 2018 article in the BDN, “How Mainers helped slaves find freedom through the Underground Railroad.”
It is now time to dig deep. People should search their souls. Then, please dig a little deeper. Reflect. Contemplate. Perhaps, they might hike one of our extraordinary, breathtaking trails. Be silent. Take a deep breath. Practice gratitude. And, then take down the Confederate flag once and for all.