Signs and Wonders
Bill McKibben (center) leads yesterday's march.
Associated Press/Photo by Manuel Balce Ceneta
Bill McKibben (center) leads yesterday's march.

Signs and Wonders: Climate change, sexually transmitted diseases, NASCAR, and Benny Hinn

Newsworthy

Climate change. Ironies abounded yesterday as a crowd estimated at about 30,000 marched on Washington to protest global warming. Irony No. 1: It was one of the coldest days of the year in Washington. Some of the protesters were dressed as polar bears, both to stave off the cold and to dramatize what they believe is a threat to polar bears by global warming. That brings us to Irony No. 2: According to a recent census of polar bears, we have more than ever. In fact, former Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne recently said the polar bear population increased from “a low of about 12,000 in the late 1960s to approximately 25,000 today.” The activists hoped to persuade President Obama to kill the Keystone XL oil pipeline. “It’s time for the president to stand up,” said march organizer Bill McKibben of the environmental group 350.org. Instead, the president (and this is Irony No. 3) was leaving a huge carbon footprint this weekend by playing golf with Tiger Woods in Florida.

Cause and effect. A highly unscientific but nonetheless interesting and startling survey done for Match.com sheds light on singles and their sexual behavior. Among the findings: 47 percent report having a “friend with benefits” relationship, and 44 percent of women and 63 percent of men have had one-night stands. The Match.com data correlates with other troubling data released recently by the Centers for Disease Control. According to two studies released in the past week, the United States faces an ongoing and severe sexually transmitted disease epidemic. More than 19 million new infections are reported every year, up from 15 million in 1996. Half of the new cases affect people ages 15 to 24. Every year more than $16 billion goes toward treating these diseases.

That’s racin’. A new NASCAR season kicks off this weekend with the Daytona 500, with Danica Patrick winning the pole position yesterday. She becomes the first woman ever to accomplish this feat. But while some celebrate her accomplishment, many also remember that on today’s date in 2001, Dale Earnhardt died in the closing laps of the Daytona 500. For me, that was the date that stock car racing stopped being interesting. I must not be alone. Attendance is down for almost all NASCAR events, and is down dramatically at some tracks, and it will likely take more than Danica Patrick to revive NASCAR. Among the sport’s troubles is a fundamental shift in the demographics of the country. NASCAR’s bread-and-butter customer is a 25- to 35-year-old male with enough money in his pocket to pay as much as $250 for a ticket to a race. Because of lower birthrates and an economy that doesn’t reward blue-collar workers as richly as in the past, the hard, cold fact is that the good ole U.S. of A just ain’t making as many of NASCAR’s core fans as she used to.

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All a misunderstanding. According to London’s Daily Mail, Brazilian police “arrested the son of American evangelist Benny Hinn … after allegedly beating up a deaf and dumb man during one of his father’s rallies.” Hestephenson Araujo, 21, reportedly needed hospital treatment after the incident on Saturday night during one of Hinn’s crusades in Manaus, in northern Brazil. Police detained Joshua Hinn, 21, along with two of Benny Hinn’s bodyguards, on suspicion of torture after the three men allegedly locked Araujo in a trailer and physically assaulted him. Araujo later said he approached the stage hoping to get a blessing from Hinn. The bodyguards say they did not know Araujo was deaf. The Daily Mail’s report said Araujo agreed not to press charges following an agreement that involved “a large sum of money.” The article also reported that Benny Hinn’s net worth is about $42 million. So I guess Araujo got his blessing after all.

Warren Cole Smith
Warren Cole Smith

Warren, who lives in Charlotte, N.C., is vice president of WORLD News Group and the host of the radio program Listening In. Follow Warren on Twitter @WarrenColeSmith.

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