HEADLINE: Chattanooga City Council approves new flag
THE RECAP: In a 6-3 vote, the Chattanooga City Council approved the adoption of a new flag for the city Tuesday. The new flag is green with a blue stripe in the middle, and features the city seal in the center.
DREW'S VIEW: Yes, the current flag is boring. It looks like the Tennessee state flag, but with one star and some dogwood petals in the blue circle in the center instead of the three star design.
The new flag, however, is not even an upgrade over the lame old flag. It is green, with a horizontal blue strip down the middle. (Ooh, blue and green. Like the river running through the city. We get it.) It also has the city's circular seal plastered in the center.
The "City of Chattanooga Corporation Seal" as it is officially known, creates a bit of a problem in its own right. In it, a Civil War-era cannon sits on a rock outcropping overlooking downtown and the Tennessee River. Certainly, anyone with even modest knowledge of the city's critical role in the Civil War will understand the history behind the seal. To the ignorant and uninformed, however, the seal — and now the new flag — makes the city appear as if it's moments away from being leveled by a terrorist attack (at the hands of terrorists who watched too many episodes of "Pawn Stars" and became infatuated with mid-19th century artillery).
Imagine our German friends flying into Chattanooga from Volkswagen headquarters in Wolfsburg to be met at the airport by a city flag featuring a cannon trained on downtown. Odd message isn't it?
Critics of the current flag who complain that it looks too much like the Tennessee state flag now face a worse predicament. The new flag looks almost exactly like the Washington state flag. Remove the little blue stripe and the two would be impossible to tell apart from a distance of more than a few dozen yards.
The biggest problem with trading out flag designs, however, is the unnecessary waste of money resulting from the need to toss out the old flags and have the new ones made. So, if the new flag is expensive and not any better looking than the old flag, why get a new one? Well, it seems that Ron Littlefield, our extraordinarily unpopular lame duck mayor, shoved the new flag design down the city council members' throats because he wants to leave behind something to remember him by — you know, other than the increase in gang violence, budgetary boondoggles, tax hikes, corporate welfare handouts and recall battles.
HEADLINE: Armstrong's feats since 1998 erased
THE RECAP: The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency erased 14 years of Lance Armstrong's career achievements last Friday -- including his record seven Tour de France titles -- and barred him for life from competitive cycling after concluding he used banned substances. He now is officially a drug cheat in the eyes of his nation's doping agency.
DREW'S VIEW: Surprisingly, when Armstrong announced that he would no longer attempt to fight the doping allegations plaguing him throughout his career, he received an overwhelming outpouring of support. In fact, his Livestrong Foundation, which works to improve the lives of those affected by cancer, saw a 30 percent spike in donations in the days following his statement.
That so many would scurry to defend Armstrong is both confusing and shocking. After all, he now looks like either a quitter or a cheat, depending on whether you believe his declarations of innocence or the credible accounts of people who claimed to see his doping practices first hand.
While people are all too happy to crucify star athletes like Barry Bonds, Marion Jones, Shawne Merriman and Alex Rodriguez for confirmed or alleged use of performance-enhancing drugs, most folks want to bury their heads in the sand when the topic is Armstrong's very probable doping.
Why? Because he sleeps with famous women like Sheryl Crow and Kate Hudson? Or because he had a cancerous testicle hacked off? Or because he's raised some serious cash for a good cause? Or Because Armstrong is white and most other athletes accused of using PEDs are not?
The answer is probably all of the above.
The real issue here shouldn't be that Lance Armstrong is almost certainly a cheat, it is that the federal government's war against performance-enhancing drugs is absolutely outrageous. Federal officials have spent hundreds of millions of tax dollars and thrown thousands of people in jail over PEDs.
When you get down to it, don't you own your body? Shouldn't you, rather than the government, get to decide what you put in it?
If a sports league or sanctioning body wants to outlaw PEDs, fine. They are private organizations and can make the rules for the people who choose to associate with them. The federal government, however, should end their silly -- and expensive — PED witch-hunt.
HEADLINE: 100-year-old driver hits 11 people near Los Angeles school
THE RECAP: A 100-year-old man drove onto a sidewalk and hit 11 people, including nine children, across from an elementary school in South Los Angeles.
DREW'S VIEW: The least surprising part of the story? The man was driving a powder blue Cadillac. Isn't that exactly what you'd expect a 100-year-old man to drive?
HEADLINE: Whooping cough cases increase dramatically in Hamilton County
THE RECAP: Hamilton County has seen 21 cases of pertussis -- better known as whooping cough -- so far this year, compared to 22 cases in the last five years combined, according to the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Health Department. Northwest Georgia also had more than double the number of cases so far this year compared to last year, according to health departments in those counties.
DREW'S VIEW: The rise in whooping cough cases is largely a result of the failure of parents to have their children vaccinated. Much of the resistance to vaccinations is based on a bogus 1998 study that alleged a link between vaccinations and autism.
The author of the report was proven to be a crook who was paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to write the false study by attorneys who hoped to cash in if the study spurred lawsuits against drug companies by parents of autistic children. He has since had his medical license revoked and lives in shame knowing that his transgression led to a rise in preventable diseases, including mumps, measles, rubella and whooping cough, and the death of an estimated 900 children.
Although any pediatrician will tell you the study was bogus and no relationship between autism and vaccines exist, many ill-informed people, including Playboy Playmate-turned reality TV host Jenny McCarthy, continue to spread the dangerous falsehood.
Please, please have your children vaccinated. Don't risk a child's life because of a hoax.
Drew's views is a roundup of Free Press opinions about Times Free Press stories from the previous week. Follow Drew on Twitter: @Drews_Views.