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Editorial: Short takes on the dangers of yummy nicotine liquid, cheerleading for the Redskins and Kanye West

Editorial: Short takes on the dangers of yummy nicotine liquid, cheerleading for the Redskins and Kanye West

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Hey, kids, how ’bout some yummy nicotine?

The Food and Drug Administration and Federal Trade Commission issued warnings to 13 companies that market flavored nicotine liquid in packages clearly designed to look like candy, juice boxes, cookies or dessert toppings. The government warns that children are highly susceptible to confusion and could easily ingest the nicotine liquid by mistake. More than 8,000 kids were poisoned by liquid nicotine in 2017, and at least two died.

We don’t doubt for a second that the liquid nicotine companies know exactly what they’re doing. These much-welcome warnings should be followed by swift sanctions if the producers don’t stop targeting kids.

The Un-Politician passes

When H.C. Milford was campaigning for St. Louis County executive in 1990, he called himself “The Un-Politician.” That he was. Twenty-eight years after Milford, a Republican, lost his only race for the county’s top job, it’s hard to believe that such a quiet, unassuming man was ever one of the region’s top political leaders.

Milford, who died Monday at 86, believed a politician didn’t have to be combative and aggressive, that he could succeed by listening carefully and treating people well. He was only in the county’s top job for 14 months, filling out the fourth term of his combative predecessor, Republican Gene McNary, before losing to his combative successor, Democrat Buzz Westfall.

Whereupon Milford did something truly strange for a white Republican from Webster Groves: He crossed the river to serve as a top aide to Gordon Bush, the mayor of East St. Louis. He helped bring the Casino Queen to the city’s riverfront. He stayed 10 years and watched the city’s budget triple, and for the most part, wasn’t paid for his work.

Milford was a kind and decent man who thought public service was about public service. Imagine that. 

Pimping out the pep squad

The life of an NFL cheerleader might seem glamorous, unless you count starvation wages, mandatory unpaid work, ridiculous intrusions on personal lives and — as five members of the Washington Redskins allege — being told to go topless for the benefit of leering male season ticket holders.

The New York Times and other news outlets have been reporting on a raft of complaints by current and former cheerleaders for NFL teams. On Wednesday, the Times reported that five members of the Washington cheerleading squad were told to remove their swimsuit tops on a beach in Costa Rica in 2013. Photos were being taken for a non-nude swimsuit calendar, but the women said some of them were obliged to remove their tops during breaks so they could be ogled by the teams’ guests. Nine of the 36 were ordered to serve as escorts at a nightclub later in the evening, though no sex was required. That would be illegal.

For reasons that defy rational explanation, cheerleader jobs are much sought-after. But the whole concept is sexist and anachronistic. It’s time for the league to sideline the whole idea.

Kanye's unique take on slavery

Performer Kanye West once said, “I am so credible and so influential and so relevant that I will change things.” Apparently, he thinks that applies to history. Speaking Tuesday to TMZ, he recounted a very, very brief history of American slavery and concluded that, when people didn't rise up and revolt after 400 years of slavery, "sounds like a choice."

The self-declared “No. 1 most impactful artist of our generation — I am Shakespeare in the flesh” needs to add another superlative to his credits: Most ignorant. Most artists are self-aware enough to know when they’re out of their depth, but West just keeps plowing forward, oblivious to the consequences. Perhaps it’s time for his many commercial sponsors, including Adidas, to educate him about when to pass up the microphone.

Boot the bagman

It is way past time to boot Missouri Times publisher Scott Faughn out of the Missouri Capitol News Association. His membership in a journalism support organization belies the many ways he operates as a political front man. Faughn, 38, is in the spotlight for having delivered $50,000 in cash to lawyer Albert Watkins, who helped break open the scandal involving Gov. Eric Greitens. Faughn has a colorful past that includes election at age 22 as mayor of Poplar Bluff, Mo., and a felony conviction for forging checks to himself from a highway project.

He appears to have been given the money for Watkins through his ties to the tax credit development industry, which Greitens was threatening. The Capitol News Association’s membership is only for organizations that have no ties to political parties, lobbyists or interest groups. Bagmen need not apply. 

Out of bounds

Long-serving Platte County Prosecutor Eric Zahnd is under scrutiny by the Missouri Supreme Court for allegations that he pressured letter writers to withdraw their support for a man who pleaded guilty to sexually abusing the defendant's pre-teen daughter. The man was waiting to be sentenced at the time. Zahnd has already formally rejected a recommendation from Missouri’s Office of Chief Disciplinary Counsel that he be reprimanded for publicly naming and criticizing some residents of Dearborn, Mo., for their support.

Zahnd says he has a right to free speech and that the letters were part of the public record so he was under no obligation to keep them confidential. Zahnd has earned a reputation for supporting crime victims. The question here is whether he went too far. He did.

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