Obama, Prozac, and the dangers of consumerism.

Barack Obama in traditional Somali dressMorning. Ben here at Television Centre. I think the sun’s out, but our office here has no windows so it’s hard to tell. Some early morning things to thing about…

Barack Obama’s camp has accused Hillary Clinton’s staff of circulating a photo that could damage his campaign. Clinton’s aides deny any involvement. So called ‘happiness pills’ might not make you happy after all. And does commercialism damage children?

Obama in costume 

Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama have traded accusations over a photo released on the Drudge Report website. The picture shows Mr Obama dressed in traditional Somali clothing while on a visit to Kenya in 2006.

The website claims the photos were released by Mrs Clinton’s aides, designed as a smear. Clinton’s camp denies the allegations. Several months ago, Clinton’s staff were accused of releasing an email suggesting Obama is a Muslim.

So, just another episode in the increasingly bitter race for the Democrat nomination? Or could this photo seriously damage Barack Obama’s campaign, regardless of how the photo got out there? If you’re about to vote in Ohio or Texas, could this change the way you vote?

Prozac or placebo? 

Moving on, the front pages of many UK  papers are covered with large pictures of little pills. One of the most comprehensive studies of modern antidepressants, including Prozac, suggests they have very little clinical effect.

The study compared a number of clinical trials, published and unpublished. It concluded that the drugs produced a very small improvement compared to the placebo.

Do you have experience with antidepressants? Is this proof of the power of the placebo effect?

Pressures of commercialism 

And finally, according to a report on modern childhood, the pressures of commercialism are making children unhappy. The pressure to keep up with all the latest trends has a negative effect on the well-being of youngsters, the report says.

Do you agree? Are today’s young people under more pressure than ever before to keep up?

30 Responses to “Obama, Prozac, and the dangers of consumerism.”

  1. 1 Hayden
    February 26, 2008 at 11:16

    I think that Obama should have ignored this picture, especially since this is definitely not the first time that this photo has surfaced.

    However, I do believe that the Clinton camp has definitely conducted a far dirtier campaign. I am also encouraged by Obama’s responses to Republican comments regarding his so-called lack of patriotism.

    If he is able to keep up this attitude and level of counter-attack, I am hopeful that he will do really well in the general election.

  2. 2 steve
    February 26, 2008 at 11:16

    Duh, consumerism is what makes most western adults miserable too. We weren’t meant to be living like this. Hence all of the miserable people who think “if I had this, then I’d be happy” and then they keep on adding to the list.

  3. 3 ZK
    February 26, 2008 at 11:22

    What exactly, pray tell, is wrong of wearing traditional dress of the places you visit (let alone your home country)? Is this something Senator Obama should be ashamed of? I’m rather surprised and confused at his reaction to this. No shame in immersing in the culture of where he is – President Bush and other world leaders (notably APEC) commonly do so.

  4. 4 George USA
    February 26, 2008 at 11:58

    Yuck! No vote for Clinton.

    Anti-depressive medications do help people come out of depression: some medications are better than others.

    Advertising and media manipulation is harmful to humans of all ages.
    Mind control is another word for witch-craft- not good for humans.

  5. 5 Ros Atkins
    February 26, 2008 at 12:14

    Hi Ros,

    The use of the photo of Barack Obama for cheap propaganda and smear in the United States is a reflection of the choices at stake for Americans in their elections this year.

    The American people must not opt for a politics of fear, scare tactics and heady ideology.

    Hope, faith and common sense should inform americans in their choice.

    As for Hillary, the least said about her, the better!

    Accra, Ghana.

  6. 6 Xie_Ming
    February 26, 2008 at 13:39

    The idea behind representative government is that ordinary folk may not understand great issues, but they can judge character when seen close up.

    Spin-doctors and mass communication may prevent that close-up view and the manipulated mass man may result.

    In this case of Hillary, stress has allowed the true character to become evident to the common man.

  7. 7 Mohammed
    February 26, 2008 at 14:04

    Hi my name is Mohamed and I am an honorary member of the World Have Your Say team for the rest of this week as I complete my work experience placement.

    We received an email earlier today from Arnaud in Cameroon. He sent us a message asking us to look into a big transport strike in his hometown Yaoundé in Cameroon. According to Arnaud, the strike has also hit other cities in the country.

    The BBC News website doesn’t seem to be covering the story at the moment, but the story is certainly being covered elsewhere.

    Thanks for the nod Arnaud, I’ve passed on the story to the World Have Your Say team and we may be looking at it later in the week.

    If you live in Cameroon and have also been affected by the strike or the violence, do get in touch with us.

  8. February 26, 2008 at 14:27

    I think the photo will positively affect Obama’s support, regardless of who posted the photo , Americans already love Obama, such type of costume is worn by Somali nomads and Kenyan Masai’s it’s a show of culture, i’ve seen many foreigners here in Africa they put on such cultural African touch clothes.Obama had all the right like other people to put on the way he wished.


  9. 9 Nathaniel
    February 26, 2008 at 17:53

    Obama should not be judged by the recent photo but it should signify a man who ready to interact with people from different places. I believe the American people know who is best to lead them in the coming years.
    I feel it is the time for us all to see the leadership qualities rather than rest the choice of a good leader on sentiments and pettyness.
    Cape town, South Africa

  10. 10 lesley
    February 26, 2008 at 18:42

    hi,second time here, just wanted to start a whole new debate on racial minorities in africa. contrary to popular belief africa is multiracial ,with whites,blacks,indians,arabs and other asian minorities. my question is ,how does it feel to like to be a racial minority in a continent labelled as the black continent. when the word african is used ,everyones’s attention turns to a black person. Earlier this week in zambia , a zambian of indian decent recieved racist backlash in the media after he declared his intention to run for the office of the football assocation president, in south africa non black journalists were barred from attending a press conference that was organised by their black compatriots with ANC president jacob zuma. In the 2004 elections in ghana i witnessed as a ghanian of lebanesse origin was challenged from voting for several hours because of his skin colour. In ghana many ghanians refuse blatantly to accept ghanians of lebanesse and syrian origin as ghanians even though several of them are third to fouth generation ghanians , they are addressed as foreigners and are not expected to have political views. my question is how does it feel like to be a non black living in africa? are you regarded as african?

  11. 11 Muoma,MS
    February 28, 2008 at 13:05

    My reply is simple.

    This is just a mere racial act. When Bill tried to play with that card, it back-fired with huge consequences that have left Hilary with very little room to manuever.

    If she thinks she can do it right this time, then she better know that the American voters are wiser now,to make better choices by themselves and not be be cajoled by cheap rhetoric of experience.

    May be she should get hunting for a new campaign manager.

  12. 12 Caroline Elkins
    May 24, 2008 at 16:58

    Why oh why do you keep giving air time to the likes of Alex de Waal? Is it his charm you can’t resist?

    They guy is a perfect con artist who has managed to silence the voices of Darfur. There are men and women from Darfur, there are other Sudanese, other Africans like Rakiya Omaar whose voices have been stolen by this pseudo intellectual and his accomplices. Julie Flint? Give us a break.

    I welcome a debate. The point is however, that YOU should talk with scholars from the region, in the region, and allow them air time.

    Caroline Elkins

    Harvard University

  13. June 16, 2008 at 14:39

    Why do the western media reports on negative things about Africa?

  14. June 16, 2008 at 14:47

    Virginity should never be a criteria for marrying a woman since the virginity of a man cannot be proven. There should be the same set of rules for men and women.

  15. June 16, 2008 at 15:37

    Western powers see the corrupt ways of most African Leaders yet they praise hence who is corrupt is it the African leaders or the western leaders?

  16. June 21, 2008 at 03:11

    Ros, is this the ‘Blank page’ you suggested I use to send my debate suggestion? I find no other!

    SUBJECT: ‘Debate suggestion for WHY’S

    Yesterday’s (June 19/08) BBC News daily email carried an article on rape as war tactic that says it all. I’ve requested BBCNews to send the link to HaveYourSay, but I’m adding it below as well.

    The UN just passed a resolution on rape as a weapon of war. I’d like readers/listeners to have their say and be involved in a discussion of this issue. Particularly folks in African countries where violence against women is on the increase. Also in Columbia, Nepal, and others the article mentions and I forget.

    Questions: the UN passed the resolution, so now what? What does it mean? Does it carry a punch at all, or are these just words that sound good? How is the UN resolution to have an effect in protecting women and girls in places where war and rape are going on? How’s violence against women in war situations best dealt with? National governments must act, but how are they to be influenced to do so? What measures should be taken against offenders when/if apprehended? How best to protect women and girls in war situations?

    Personally, I see this as one more SYMPTOM in the growing body of evidence indicating civilization’s expanding decline. As the BBC article points out, the occurrence of rape as tactic or weapon of war is increasing in frequency and intensity in states already failing. With world conditions as they are and as social and economic structures decline, it is only a matter of time before this and other evils spread to and become endemic in places and countries where women and girls, indeed all people, are still considered safe. The real issue, as I see it, is to identify the underlying Cause or Disease of which most of our current ills are a symptom, from climate change to the food crisis to failed states to violence and endless warring, and address both Disease and Symptoms. Band-aids on big injuries have a way of coming loose…

    Link: Women ‘bearing the brunt of war’ **Amnesty says women and girls are being targeted in wars but the authorities do little or nothing to prevent it.

    Alma Cristina

  17. 17 peter mose
    July 31, 2008 at 09:03

    allo ,peter england
    ok im not an expert but it would seem to me something is wrong ,the governments
    in the world have increased taxesboth direct and indirect at alarming rates[would you
    do this if you relied on the public vote that you keep your job ]

    after the govs and the industrie leaders come out of the G8 they have the true picture of the world , this year somthing is amis they all knew we were going into recession
    befor we did so why did the american gov not stop the deliberate mis selling
    of mortgauges on such a vast scale knowing that it would destroy the banking

    who in their right would let the price of oil accelerate towards the $200 a barrel
    by the speculaters,shurley [threr must be rules when a product that is the keystone of an economy goes out of control [ you cannot blame the free market when it is clearly not in the interest of the country for this to happen ]

    all of the rules have gone out of the window british gas and others are out of control ,making vast profits with unherd of 35% price hikes
    with the others to follow, and a promise that next year there is more to come,

    one of the realy scarey things is the gov is making massiv cuts in social security
    with the full knowledge that people with no jobs and no money will end up with nothing [civil disturbance springs to mind ] not to mention the vunerble =pensioners and disabled people will loose their benifits ,

    summery =mad max
    if all of the rules have gone out of the window what is happening ?
    in all of this, images of biodegradeable /lead free /and nonviolent companys
    and gov,s has gone,
    what has taken its place is get the money as fast as you can by any means possible and get as much as possible.

    also the word,s credit crunch were the forunner of RECESSION
    look back to 1928 with all the regulation since then why is this happening ?

    peter mose
    fully trackable

  18. 18 peter mose
    July 31, 2008 at 09:45

    a matter of trust
    out of all the tv companys that got fined for their part in the deliberate fraud on the public with the phone compertition scandles why was it that the bbc got of so light
    with a fine of £400000 when the commercial companys were fined millions ?

    the bbc were faking compertitions and the winners were related to the people who run the compertitions/
    fraud is a criminal offence,so why did nobody go to jail , and what happened to the money that was given to the directors /producers precocious brats,

    recieving money that is the proceeds of a fraud is criminal a offence,
    but in all of this no one was arrested or charged ,is it me or is something wrong here

    when does crime matter ,why is there one law for executives of powerful companys and another law for the public,

    also as part of their [we are sorry package ] they will donate to charity,
    does the public know that a donation to a charity is tax deductable so that means
    that the public is paying for a tax breake for the bbc as well.

    peter mose
    fully trackable

  19. 19 primal convoy in Japan
    September 9, 2008 at 14:05

    Suggested debate:

    “Does Japan Need to Become a Safer Place for Foreigners”

    The idea that Japan is an unwelcoming place for foreigners is a well discussed one that many foreign friends of mine, and also myself have debated here in Japan.

    Below is an article about how some Japanese migrant workers (NOT illegal immigrants, either) were beaten by their Japanese bosses. The main worrying point here perhaps is not the fact that they were beaten up, but what the Japanese boss said near the end and lack of swift, severe punishment by Japanese law:

    “(Mainichi Japan) August 27, 2008

    KOFU — Six Chinese female trainees at a dry-cleaning company in Yamanashi Prefecture got into a row with the company when they complained that they were being paid under the minimum wage, and three of them suffered injuries including a broken bone, it has been learned.

    Trouble reportedly erupted when the company, located in Showa, Yamanashi Prefecture, tried to force the six to return to China after they complained about their wages. The three injured workers are considering filing a criminal complaint over their injuries.

    The workers also plan to register a complaint against the company with a labor standards inspection office, accusing it of violating the Labor Standard Law by failing to pay them the difference between their wages and the minimum wage.

    The trainees said that they came to Japan in December 2005 under a program for foreign trainees and apprentices. After a period of training they started working as trainees. Their working hours were between 8:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. and their monthly wage was reportedly 50,000 yen a month (320 euros). On weekdays, they often worked overtime until midnight, and frequently worked weekends. However, their overtime pay was only 350 yen per hour (2.20 euros). This spring, the overtime wage was raised to 450 yen per hour (2.90 euros).

    A company representative speaking to the Mainichi admitted the amount of overtime pay, but said, “We paid a monthly wage of 118,000 yen (760 euros).” The amount of overtime pay was much lower than the prefecture’s minimum overtime pay, which works out at about 831 yen per hour (5.40 euros).

    The six workers submitted a written request for their wages to be revised on Aug. 20. The company’s president, Masafumi Uchida, promised that he would reply two days later. However, at about 7:30 a.m. on Aug. 22, the president joined about 10 people including company employees and tried to force the six workers, who were sleeping in a company dormitory, to get into a minibus he had prepared to take them to Narita Airport.

    The trainees resisted, and plans to take them to the airport were abandoned, but one of the trainees was left with a broken leg after jumping out of a window on the second floor of the dormitory. Two others suffered bruises and scratches during the row.

    The three injured workers were later taken into the custody of the Zentoitsu Workers Union, which supports foreign trainees and apprentices. The remaining three were taken to Narita Airport by company officials and returned home.

    Uchida visited the union on Monday and offered an apology.

    “If they were Japanese I wouldn’t have done it (tried to force them to leave). I was asked for a high amount of unpaid cash and thought I couldn’t negotiate. I’m sorry for their injuries.”

    A Justice Ministry official said there was a possibility the company could be punished.

    “The failure to pay wages, the human rights violations and other actions constitute illicit behavior, and there is a possibility that this warrants banning the firm from accepting trainees for three years,” the official said.

    (Mainichi Japan) August 27, 2008″

  20. 20 Dr.A.K.Tewari
    October 2, 2008 at 06:56


    Violence has now became an order of the day. We can observe several forms of violence in our society. Some are being done on the name of religion while the others are being done to acquire the physical greed of the life. There is several new interpretation of the definition of nonviolence just to justify those acts which is being followed by masses traditionally and can certainly be regarded as a type of violence. United Nation has declared several International Day but none of them could achieved so far its desired goal and are being observed world over symbolically. World environment day, We celebrate on 5th June every year is to create love for Mother nature and for its various components but the cruelty against animals and loss of Biodiversity is still going on. Environmental pollution and loss of Forest cover seems to be unavoidable evil. In fact in the given circumstances this international day will also attain a symbolic status. At present the world human population is going to cross 7 bl. marks where as the ideal carrying capacity of earth in respect to human population as estimated by an American scientist is merely 2.6 bl , therefore the excess number of heads will only survive through the act of violence. It is due to this reason animals are regarded as main source of healthy diet and their poaching is being done to the extent that most of them are loosing their existence in their natural habitat. Competition in our day to day life has increased to the extent that there is a cut throat struggle to get employment and other essentials of the life. There is a sharp decline in moral value in our society in each sphere of life. So how can we be sure that the International Non- violence day will be observed with true letter and spirit world over?

    The present human population on this earth is mainly the progeny of Vaner (Ape), Edam and Eve, and Adam and Hauaa.We can not identify who should be held responsible for the present state of affair but the fact is clear that one who existing on the flesh of other is constituting the number beyond the ideal carrying capacity of the earth.
    Those who are openly conducting mass murder of fellow animals on the name of religion are the real culprits They are inspiring the other to follow their way of life either though conversion or through mal preaching’s, as a result the number of vegetarian population is on decline. Thanks to the Bio-magnification of pollutant and disease like Bird-flu and Mad cow that one is bound to realize the repercussions of non-veg food habits. We know that no one is now ready to accept this reality except a few enlightened one even then one should come forward who has love for nature and fellow animals. Gandhi has rightly stated where exists non-violence existing there God. It is up to us to decide whether we want God or Devil near to us. At present devil is dancing in all those places where the blood of these innocent animals has fallen considerably. Isn’t it? The equal amount of human blood is being poured in all war laden countries around the world.

  21. 21 Dr.A.K.Tewari
    October 2, 2008 at 16:22

    Ban On Cigarette – It’s again, what a joke

    God knows the fate of this new Sagoopha. Will it survive? I have serious bout about its ground reality. Any way, positive sign of this policy is quite visible to me, now the super star’s super song (khai ke pan banaras wala) is once again going to take over the Nicotin market of India. All the stake holders to this market should be given supportive hand by all concerns in India and abroad.

  22. 22 Baiju Philipose
    November 11, 2008 at 10:10

    What is Democracy?

    Lincoln defined it as “The Government of the people, by the people for the people…” but to day I really cannot see examples of that being shown to the world…

    We see dictatorships (e.g the regime of Hosney Mubarak in Egypt) being supported for their “democratic credentials” while popular governments elected with large majorities being starved out and isolated (Hammas Government of Palestine being an example)…

    I ask: Is the criteria for being judged democratic the willingness of the leaders to roll over and play dead or lick the shoes of the current US regime?

  23. 23 Robert from South Africa
    January 14, 2009 at 17:45

    The World allows more than 2100 peopleto be killed in Zimbabwe yet they scream about Israel’s 1000 ?

    Zimbabwe cholera surges as neighbours report rising cases
    AFP – 1 hour ago
    HARARE (AFP) – Zimbabwe’s cholera outbreak had killed more than 2100 people on Wednesday, as neighbouring countries sounded the alarm over rising infections of the treatable, water-borne disease.

    Somethings fishy !

  24. 24 Chad
    March 6, 2009 at 15:54

    Are we currently witnessing the true downfall of society and what has been most responsible for it’s collapse?

    I notice more and more each day how people seem to grow bolder in their rude and self-centered behavior. People in general, seem to get meaner and more hateful all the time. Crime of all types has increased dramatically since I was a child. I remember the days when we never locked our doors, people cared for one another, you could lay an item down at the park and it would be there when you came back for it (and I’m only 33). Strangers would stop and help you fix a flat tire. People used to be much more respectful and considerate of each other and we didn’t have half as many laws to make us behave. What in the world has gotten into us to cause us to treat each other with such disrespect and hostility?

  25. April 6, 2009 at 11:55

    Minimizing corruption in the Developing World through the development of a Credit culture rather than a Cash Culture.

    Because we tend to operate a cash culture, those who are in control of national finances tend to fulfill their WANTS rather than their NEEDS by lacing their pockets while they are in charge.

    However, the Credit culture tends to make one go after one’s NEEDS rather than what one WANTS with the little one has from one’s savings and credit facilities.


    Adepetu A.S

  26. July 23, 2009 at 12:17

    Obama/Soetoro/Obama, the fraud and foreigner, the president usurper, continues to fail to bring to light any of his documents, especially his long form birth certificate, keeping America in the dark. What a shady character!

  27. 27 Claudia
    October 1, 2009 at 08:57

    I am a perplexed Aviva policyholder and I’m sure I’m not alone in thinking I’m being robbed. There are 800,000 of us due a payment referred to as ‘reattribution’. In my case, the payment is a pittance compared to the estimated 30% shortfall on my two Aviva endowment policies. So I stand to receive about £1,200 via reattribution, but will have to find £14,000 for the shortfall in my endowments. Somehow, if this reattribution reflects SURPLUS cash in these with-profits policies – how come I am still at the wrong end of any benefit??? I have paid 22 years of these 25 year endowments, and I strongly believe there must be many, many thousands of Aviva customers in the same plight.

  28. October 23, 2009 at 20:58

    Do you believe in UFOs. Are UFOs trying to tell us that we must be peaceful before we can share their technology. There is alot of evidence that we have already had first contact but the government is keeping it secret. If we could use free energy techonology it would save the planet.

  29. November 9, 2009 at 00:35

    Family Law and Child Welfare-World Wide.
    I have been embroiled in the UK Family Law system for the
    past 6 years and so I decided to seek out the answer world
    wide and was disappointed to learn we are not alone the problems
    exist all over and is reflected in my latest blog. I am sure there is a
    story here that BBC World service would be interested in.
    I have enough material now to post a blog daily indefinitely and
    cannot imagine this ever drying up! Are you up for it?
    I would be happy to contribute.

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