The Downward Path of Upward Mobility

November 17, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Fareed Zakaria

This week’s Washington Post-ABC News poll reveals what we have all sensed, that most Americans are increasingly concerned about the growing gap between rich and poor in this country. The issue quickly divides along partisan lines, as do so many, with liberals urging government to do more to reduce this gap and conservatives opposing such measures. (Overall, a significant majority does favor government action.)

But on an issue even more significant than income inequality, there does appear to be bipartisan agreement: the importance of social mobility. Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels (R) accurately noted that “upward mobility from the bottom is the crux of the American promise.”

Some believe we’re still doing fine. In his address to the Heritage Foundation last month, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) declared, “Class is not a fixed designation in this country. We are an upwardly mobile society with a lot of movement between income groups.” Ryan contrasted social mobility in the United States with that in Europe, where “top-heavy welfare states have replaced the traditional aristocracies, and masses of the long-term unemployed are locked into the new lower class.”

In fact, over the past decade, growing evidence shows pretty conclusively that social mobility has stalled in this country. Last week, Time magazine’s cover asked, “Can You Still Move Up in America?”
The answer, citing a series of academic studies was, no; not as much as you could in the past and — most devastatingly — not as much as you can in Europe.

The most comprehensive comparative study, done last year by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, found that “upward mobility from the bottom” — Daniels’s definition — was significantly lower in the United States than in most major European countries, including Germany, Sweden, the Netherlands and Denmark.

Another study, by the Institute for the Study of Labor in Germany in 2006, uses other metrics and concludes that “the U.S. appears to be exceptional in having less rather than more upward mobility.”

A 2010 Economic Mobility Project study found that in almost every respect, the United States has a more rigid socioeconomic class structure than Canada. More than a quarter of U.S. sons of top-earning fathers remain in the top tenth of earners as adults, compared to 18 percent of similarly situated Canadian sons. U.S. sons of fathers in the bottom tenth of earners are more likely to remain in the bottom tenth of earners as adults than are Canadian sons (22 percent vs. 16 percent). And U.S. sons of fathers in the bottom third of earnings distribution are less likely to make it into the top half as adults than are sons of low-earning Canadian fathers.

Surveying all the evidence, Scott Winship, a fellow at the Brookings Institution, concludes in this week’s National Review: “What is clear is that in at least one regard American mobility is exceptional. . . .

[W]here we stand out is our limited upward mobility from the bottom.”

When you think about it, these results should not be so surprising.

European countries, perhaps haunted by their past as class-ridden societies, have made serious investments to create equality of opportunity for all. They typically have extremely good childhood health and nutrition programs, and they have far better public education systems than the United States does. As a result, poor children compete on a more equal footing against the rich.

In the United States, however, if you are born into poverty, you are highly likely to have malnutrition, childhood sicknesses and a bad education. The dirty little secret about the U.S. welfare state is that it spends very little on the poor — who don’t vote much — lavishing attention instead on the middle class. The result is clear. A student interviewed by Opportunity Nation, a bipartisan group founded to address these issues, put it succinctly, “The ZIP code you’re born in shouldn’t determine your destiny, but too often it does.”

Tackling income inequality is a very difficult challenge. Tax increases on the rich will do relatively little to change the basic trend, which is fueled by globalization, technology and the increasing gains conferred by education. (Getting back to the 1990 levels of income distribution in the United States, for example, would mean hundreds of billions of dollars of redistribution every year, which is exponentially larger than the biggest tax hikes anyone is proposing.)

But we do know how to create social mobility — because we used to do it. In addition, we can learn from those countries that do it so well, particularly in Northern Europe and Canada. The ingredients are obvious: decent health care and nutrition for children, good public education, high-quality infrastructure — including broadband Internet — to connect all regions and all people to market opportunities, and a flexible and competitive free economy. That will get America moving again — and all Americans moving again.

comments@fareedzakaria.com

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Tariq Mehanna’s Prosecution a Larger Community Issue

October 27, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Karin Friedemann, TMO

Yet another “library terrorist” is being prosecuted in Boston, and as usual the typical Zionist lobbyists including the David Project aka “Citizens for Peace and Tolerance,” are suspect in a conspiracy against the Constitutional rights of this individual.

The Feds zeroed in on Tariq Mehanna, pointing to English translations of ancient Arabic Islamic texts on his website, aimed at new Muslims. The authorities said the pharmacist had conspired to attack civilians at a shopping mall, American soldiers abroad and two members of the executive branch of the federal government. The conspiracy occurred from 2001 to 2008, the acting United States attorney, Michael K. Loucks, said.

Mehanna comes from Sudbury, Massachussetts, an affluent suburb. He became acquainted with Daniel Maldonado, a Muslim convert who was arrested in Somalia, through his local mosque. According to the details from the Boston Globe, Tariq Mehanna was arrested for allegedly lying to the FBI in December 2006 regarding the whereabouts and activities of Daniel Maldonado. Mehanna is said to have spoken on the phone to Maldonado back in 2006 and then lied about doing so to the FBI which was investigating Maldonado for the “crime” of going to Somalia and receiving “terrorist training”.

Maldonado is said to have traveled to Africa where he joined up with the popular Islamic Courts Union and received military training and planned to fight with them against US backed warlords. He never even got a chance to fight as he contracted malaria. During this time his wife also contracted malaria, and by the grace of God some strangers brought his children back to Massachusetts in a tragic drama of epic proportions. Maldonado’s terrified children watched their mother die in a vehicle attempting to flee the war-torn country. Meanwhile, they await the release of their father from a CMU prison.

Mehanna was accused of many alarming things, but his only confirmed action was to travel to Yemen for religious study, and some other travel on the African continent. The FBI asked Mehanna to become an informant. When he refused, his troubles began. He accepted a job in Saudi Arabia as a pharmacist, and was arrested while trying to board the airplane. Agents from the NYPD traveled to Boston in an attempt to entrap him but Mehanna refused to partake in the “terrorist act” he was presented with. He has not been charged with any act of terrorism.

Tariq is described by those who know him well as humble, reserved, warm, compassionate, intelligent, charismatic, well-read, and dedicated. He has spent time delivering Friday sermons and directing youth study circles, speaking out against injustice and advocating for Muslim prisoners, teaching grade school students and helping those in need. Tarek is described as a man who is always giving.

“I have known him to be one of the most gracious, kind, caring, thoughtful, and respectable people I have ever known. For the two years that I knew him in Boston, I have seen him go above and beyond what most others would do to help others in need,” writes Ahmad AlFarsi in Tariq’s defense.

“Tariq was very involved in the Muslim community, masha’Allah; I remember many times that he would be giving halaqaat (Islamic lectures) in the local masjid on an Islamic text he was studying. And he helped many many other Muslims in the community come to the straight path.”

Mehanna has since been detained in pre-trial solitary confinement at Plymouth County Correction Facility in 23-hour isolation and denied bail twice. He now awaits trial, facing charges of “false statements,” “conspiracy” and “material support for terrorism” and a life sentence if wrongfully convicted. The trial has been set to begin next week. Supporters plan a protest march to the courthouse on Thursday.

Mehanna wrote in a letter to his supporters: “I cannot speak in detail about the charges and accusations against me, but suffice to say that nobody who truly knows me would for a second believe the utter lies and sensationalist garbage that has been peddled around in the media since my arrest. I am not the first person the government has played this game with, and I certainly won’t be the last. Regardless, that’s OK because, ‘Indeed, Allah defends those who believe…’ [Surat al-Hajj; v. 38]. And the Prophets themselves were targets of slander and lies by their opponents. So, who am I to be spared?”

While in prison, Mehanna has done his best to keep a positive attitude and to support fellow prisoners, while keeping his prayers. “No matter how bad things may be going for a given person, there is always someone worse off. There is always that one person you meet who gives you a reality check that reminds you that even though you are in prison going through hardship, etc., there are still things that you can take for granted.” He was referring to the unconditional support of his mother and family.

Pro-Israel lobbyists are connecting Mehanna to the Roxbury Mosque, which was not his regular prayer venue, in an attempt to connect their efforts to smear the Roxbury Mosque with this man’s plight. It would be wise for those defending Mehanna to uncover the conspiracy between extremist Jewish groups and the FBI in targeting this individual. If the David Project is not stopped, unlawful prosecutions will continue.

In a letter to supporters, Mehanna wrote about something a fellow prisoner said:

“‘When I was free, I saw your story on TV. However, it meant nothing to me, because I never thought it could happen to me. So, I did nothing for you. Now that I am in prison and it has happened to me, there are people who heard about my story and will think nothing of it, thinking it will never happen to them. Once it happens to them, others will think nothing of it and do nothing, etc…’ So, if you feel that you can just sit back and read about all these cases and do nothing to repel this injustice and that it can never happen to you, think again.”

Karin Friedemann is a Boston-based freelance writer.

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Ingrid Mattson Appointed as Chair of Islamic Studies

October 27, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

IngridMattsonLONDON, ON–Huron University College, at the University of Western Ontario, announced the appointment of Dr. Ingrid Mattson as the inaugural London and Windsor Community Chair in Islamic Studies at its Faculty of Theology. The Chair in Islamic Studies builds on an almost 150-year tradition at Huron University College of open discourse and engagement between people of different faiths. Dr. Mattson will begin her appointment on July 1, 2012.

“Dr. Mattson brings an incredible wealth of knowledge and expertise to this area of study and Huron is privileged to have a scholar of her calibre,” said Dr. Stephen McClatchie, Principal of Huron University College. “We are honoured that, with her pick of many positions around the world, Dr. Mattson has decided to return to Canada and accept our appointment to the London and Windsor Community Chair in Islamic Studies.”

Dr. Mattson was born and raised in Kitchener-Waterloo and earned her PhD in Islamic Studies from the University of Chicago. She is the first convert to Islam and the first woman to lead the Islamic Society of North America. Before accepting the Chair in Islamic Studies at Huron University College, Dr. Mattson was Director of the Macdonald Center for the Study of Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations at Hartford Seminary in Hartford Connecticut. She has also been an Advisor to both the Bush and Obama Administrations.

“It is an honour to be back in Canada and to accept this position at such a prestigious institution as Huron University College,” said Dr. Mattson. “Huron has a remarkable history of critical inquiry and I look forward to building on this tradition by offering Huron students the opportunity to learn about a faith that more than 20 per cent of the world’s population practices, in an open and liberal environment.”

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Europe: Anti-Semitism Up, Islamophobia Down

December 17, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

By Sarah Stricker, Ynetnews

Study on ‘group-focused enmity’ conducted by researchers from University of Bielefeld in Germany finds hatred of Muslims decreased over past year, while hatred of Jews and homosexuals growing. Poland defined as most racist country.

Right-wing parties are growing stronger in Europe, and Swiss citizens have even voted in favor of a ban on mosque minarets, yet the fear or hatred of Islam in the continent has dropped over the past year, according to a study conducted in Germany and published Sunday. However, hatred of Jews and homosexuals is on the rise.

For the last eight years, the Institute for Interdisciplinary Research on Conflict and Violence at the University of Bielefeld has been running an annual study called “German Conditions” to learn about “group focused enmity” such as xenophobia, sexism, racism, anti-Semitism, and prejudices against unemployed, disabled, homeless or homosexual people in Germany.

Due to the financial crisis and the fears of the future, poverty and unemployment that are being stoked by that, the researchers expected a rise this year.

But compared to last year’s results (as well as those of 2002), the level of resentment against most minorities declined – sexism and racism even considerably, Islamophobia slightly. There were only two exceptions: Homophobia and anti-Semitism.

Hatred of both groups is on the rise as they are considered to be found also among people of a high status.

Beate Küpper, one of the study’s main researchers, believes that the financial crisis may in fact be a possible explanation for that.

Küpper said that although in comparison to other European countries Germany was on average, it was staggering that in the light of German history, 48% still agreed with anti-Semitic statements.

For the first time, the study also compared xenophobia among European countries like Britain, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Italy, Portugal, Poland, and Hungary. According to their findings, the level of prejudices against minorities in Europe is alarming.

About 50.4% of the population agreed that “there are too many immigrants” in their country, 54.4% believe that “the Islam is a religion of intolerance.” Interestingly enough, the percentage of people who believe “that there are too many Muslims” in their country is especially high in those countries that actually have a low percentage of Muslims living in them.

Nearly one-third (31.3%) of the Europeans somewhat or strongly agree that “there is a natural hierarchy between black and white people”. A majority of 60.2% stick to traditional gender roles, demanding that “women should take their role as wives and mothers more seriously.” Some 42.6% deny equal value of gay men and lesbian women and judge homosexuality as “immoral”.

Hiding behind criticism of Israel

Anti-Semitism is also still widely spread in Europe. The team of scientists from the universities of Amsterdam, Bielefeld, Budapest, Grenoble, Lisbon, Marburg, Oxford, Padua, Paris, and Warsaw found that 41.2% of Europeans believe that “Jews try to take advantage of having been victims during the Nazi era”. The highest degree of affirmation was in Poland – 72%, and the lowest in the Netherlands – 5.6%.

One-quarter of Europeans (24.5%) believe that “Jews have too much influence”, and nearly one-third (31%) agree that “Jews in general do not care about anything or anyone but their own kind. On the other hand, 61.9% say that Jews “enrich our culture”, especially in the Netherlands, Britain and Germany.

They study also measured the degree of anti-Semitism hidden behind a specific criticism of Israel’s policy towards the Palestinians that uses anti-Semitic terms such as “war of persecution” and a generalization to “all Jews”.

Some 45.7% of the Europeans (apart for France, where this facet of anti-Semitism was not measured) somewhat or strongly agree that “Israel is conducting a war of extermination against the Palestinians.” About 37.4% agree with the following statement: “Considering Israel’s policy, I can understand why people do not like Jews.”

Overall, the level of anti-Semitic attitudes varies quite a lot across Europe with comparably lower levels of anti-Semitic attitudes in Britain and the Netherlands and significantly higher levels in Portugal, and especially Poland and Hungary.

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Law School Study Finds Evidence Of Cover-Up After Three Alleged Suicides At Guantanamo In 2006

December 17, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

By Scott Horton

On the night of June 9-10 in 2006, three prisoners held at the Guantánamo prison’s Camp Delta died under mysterious circumstances. Military authorities responded by quickly ordering media representatives off the island and blocking lawyers from meeting with their clients. The first official military statements declared the deaths not just suicides–but actually went so far as to describe them as acts of “asymmetrical warfare” against the United States.

Now a 58-page study prepared by law faculty and students at Seton Hall University in New Jersey starkly challenges the Pentagon’s claims. It notes serious and unresolved contradictions within a Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) report — which was publicly released only in fragmentary form, two years after the fact — and declares the military’s internal investigation an obvious cover-up. The only question is: of what?

Law Professor Mark Denbeaux, who directed the study, said in an interview that “there are two possibilities here. Either the investigation is a cover-up of gross dereliction of duty, or it is a cover-up of something far more chilling. More than three years later we do not know what really happened.” (Read a Q&A with
Denbeaux: “`The Most Innocent Explanation Is That This Is Gitmo Meets Lord Of The Flies’”.)

The new study exposes how the NCIS report purports that all three prisoners on the prison’s Alpha Block did the following to commit suicide:

• Braided a noose by tearing up their sheets and/or clothing.
• Made mannequins of themselves so it would appear to the guards they were asleep in their cells.
• Hung sheets to block the view into the cells.
• Stuffed rags down their own throats well past a point which would have induced involuntary gagging.
• Tied their own feet together.
• Tied their own hands together.
• Hung the noose from the metal mesh of the cell wall and/or ceiling.
• Climbed up on to the sink, put the noose around their necks and release their weight, resulting in death by strangulation.

The study also notes that there has never been any explanation of how the three bodies could have hung in the cells, undiscovered, for at least two hours, when the cells were supposed to be under constant supervision by roving guards and video cameras.

Disturbingly, these facts were collected within the NCIS report — but without discussion or any effort to make conclusions based on them. Was that because the facts did not fit the conclusions that military leaders had already offered the public and that the investigators were therefore struggling to support — namely that the prisoners committed suicide? It is not even clear that it would be physically possible for the prisoners to commit suicide consistent with these facts.

One of the Seton Hall study’s authors, law student and former sergeant in the 82nd Airborne Division Paul W. Taylor, stated: “We have three bodies and no explanation. How is it possible that all three detainees had shoved rags so far down their own throats that medical personnel could not remove them? One of the dead detainees was scheduled for release from Guantanamo Bay in 19 days. Instead he died in custody.”

The Seton Hall study concludes that the NCIS investigators made conclusions completely unsupported by facts. For instance, they concluded that the three prisoners committed suicide as part of a “conspiracy.” But, according to the study: “The investigations… fail to present any evidence of a conspiracy. In fact, all other evidence is inconsistent with the conclusion that the detainees conspired.”

The Seton Hall study also faults the manner in which military investigators proceeded. “There is reason to suspect that the [NCIS] interviewers designed questions to obtain particular results. The interviewers failed to frame their inquiries neutrally.” Moreover, by June 14, 2006, military investigators had informed all four guards assigned to Alpha Block that night, the Alpha Block noncommissioned officer, and the Alpha Block platoon leader that they were suspected of making false official statements and/or failing to obey direct orders. This suggests that NCIS investigators believed they were being consciously misled on key issues. But amazingly, when the final report issued, no disciplinary measures of any sort were recommended.

There was also a large amount of evidence which should have been assembled as a matter of routine, but which is missing from the NCIS report, the new study explains.. Most disturbing is the absence of sworn statements, which should have been prepared immediately after the events in question and then been turned over to investigators. In this case, however, it appears that affected personnel were actually ordered not to prepare such statements. Instead, the Seton Hall study notes that “the Commander assembled three or four of the Alpha guards aside to put together `the series of events,’ and he spoke with each of them for approximately four or five minutes.” Amazingly, the military investigation makes no effort to ascertain what was said or done during this meeting at which an effort was evidently made to coordinate accounts.

A videotape of the hallway and common area existed, but is not taken into account in the report. Similarly, no effort appears to have been made to examine radio and telephone communications. Other critical records, including the missing Duty Roster, Detainee Transfer Book and Pass-On Book also do not appear in the report.

When the NCIS report was finally released, it was redacted so heavily as to make it almost incomprehensible. More than a third of the pages were fully redacted, and very few pages were released without some redaction. The NCIS report itself is highly disorganized, without an index or even a chronological progression in its recounting of events. All this appears intended to make review and criticism of the report much more difficult. While the redaction of names of service personnel is appropriate, it is difficult to understand why many other redactions were undertaken.

Human Rights Watch is calling for the release of the unredacted NCIS report. HRW’s Joanne Mariner stated, in response to a request for comment, that “the heavy-handed nature of the redactions to the publicly-released reports of the investigations makes it impossible to get a clear picture of the events of that night. We think that the heavy redactions currently found in the documents — by which names, dates, and other key facts are completely obscured on many pages — raise concerns about whether the military is trying to hide embarrassing facts.”

The Seton Hall study also points to a large number of violations of Guantánamo’s standard operating procedures that appear in the investigation, many of which are linked directly to the deaths. Although the NCIS investigation flags many of these violations, no disciplinary action of any sort was taken. The Seton Hall study sees evidence of a “camp in disarray.” Professor Denbeaux notes “guards not on duty, detainees hanging dead in their cells for hours and guards leaving their posts to eat the detainees’ leftover food.” He sees the failure to take disciplinary measures as further evidence of a cover-up. Denbeaux stresses that his review not only leaves serious doubt as to the military’s conclusions that the deaths were suicides, it also exposes gross misconduct by camp guards and others that went undisciplined.

The study is the eleventh in a series of reports by the Seton Hall Law School examining issues related to the detention regime at Guantanamo and establishing that a number of Pentagon claims about Guantanamo and the prisoners held there are pure myths. One earlier report established that over 80% of the prisoners were captured not by Americans on the battlefield but by Pakistanis and Afghans, often in exchange for bounty payments. Another demonstrated that the Guantanamo Combat Status Review Tribunals consistently failed to follow their own rules and were frequently convened for purposes of overturning determinations made by earlier tribunals that prisoners were not enemy combatants. Another debunked Bush Administration claims denying the existence of tapes of prisoner interrogations, and demonstrated that 24,000 such tapes were made, together with extensive notes based on them.

This latest study comes shortly after the resignation of the Obama Administration’s two top officials responsible for detainee issues: White House counsel Greg Craig and Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Phil Carter.

A senior Pentagon official, asked about the report on Sunday, did not have an immediate response, but said one might be forthcoming. This post will be updated if and when the Pentagon has a statement.

READ the report below: Death in Camp Delta –
Evidence Of Cover-Up After Three Alleged Suicides At Guantanamo Bay
http://freedetainees.org/7590?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+freedetainees%2FZCdR+%28freedetainees.org%29

Scott Horton is a contributing editor at Harper’s Magazine, where he writes on law and national security issues, an adjunct professor at Columbia Law School, where he teaches international private law and the law of armed conflict, and a frequent contributor to the Huffington Post. A life-long human rights advocate, Scott served as counsel to Andrei Sakharov and Elena Bonner, among other activists in the former Soviet Union. He is a co-founder of the American University in Central Asia, where he currently serves as a trustee.

Scott recently led a number of studies of issues associated with the conduct of the war on terror, including the introduction of highly coercive interrogation techniques and the program of extraordinary renditions for the New York City Bar Association, where he has chaired several committees, including, most recently, the Committee on International Law. He is also an associate of the Harriman Institute at Columbia University, a member of the board of the National Institute of Military Justice, Center on Law and Security of NYU Law School, the EurasiaGroup and the American Branch of the International Law Association and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. He co-authored a recent study on legal accountability for private military contractors, Private Security Contractors at War. He appeared at an expert witness for the House Judiciary Committee three times in the past two years testifying on the legal status of private military contractors and the program of extraordinary renditions and also testified as an expert on renditions issue before an investigatory commission of the European Parliament.

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Phys Ed: Why Doesn’t Exercise Lead to Weight Loss?

November 12, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

By Gretchen Reynolds, New York Times

(image below: Sven Hagolani/Getty Images)

For some time, researchers have been finding that people who exercise don’t necessarily lose weight. A study published online in September in The British Journal of Sports Medicine was the latest to report apparently disappointing slimming results. In the study, 58 obese people completed 12 weeks of supervised aerobic training without changing their diets. The group lost an average of a little more than seven pounds, and many lost barely half that.

How can that be? Exercise, it seems, should make you thin. Activity burns calories. No one doubts that.

“Walking, even at a very easy pace, you’ll probably burn three or four calories a minute,” beyond what you would use quietly sitting in a chair, said Dan Carey, Ph.D., an assistant professor of exercise physiology at the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota, who studies exercise and metabolism.

But few people, an overwhelming body of research shows, achieve significant weight loss with exercise alone, not without changing their eating habits. A new study from scientists at the University of Colorado School of Medicine in Denver offers some reasons why. For the study, the researchers recruited several groups of people. Some were lean endurance athletes; some sedentary and lean; some sedentary and obese. Each of the subjects agreed to spend, over the course of the experiment, several 24-hour periods in a special laboratory room (a walk-in calorimeter) that measures the number of calories a person burns. Using various calculations, the researchers could also tell whether the calories expended were in the form of fat or carbohydrates, the body’s two main fuel sources. Burning more fat than carbohydrates is obviously desirable for weight loss, since the fat being burned comes primarily from body fat stores, and we all, even the leanest among us, have plenty of those.

The Denver researchers were especially interested in how the athletes’ bodies would apportion and use calories. It has been well documented that regular endurance training increases the ability of the body to use fat as a fuel during exercise. They wondered, though, if the athletes — or any of the other subjects — would burn extra fat calories after exercising, a phenomenon that some exercisers (and even more diet and fitness books) call “afterburn.”

“Many people believe that you rev up” your metabolism after an exercise session “so that you burn additional body fat throughout the day,” said Edward Melanson, Ph.D., an associate professor in the division of endocrinology at the School of Medicine and the lead author of the study. If afterburn were found to exist, it would suggest that even if you replaced the calories you used during an exercise session, you should lose weight, without gaining weight — the proverbial free lunch.

Each of Melanson’s subjects spent 24 quiet hours in the calorimeter, followed later by another 24 hours that included an hourlong bout of stationary bicycling. The cycling was deliberately performed at a relatively easy intensity (about 55 percent of each person’s predetermined aerobic capacity). It is well known physiologically that, while high-intensity exercise demands mostly carbohydrate calories (since carbohydrates can quickly reach the bloodstream and, from there, laboring muscles), low-intensity exercise prompts the body to burn at least some stored fat. All of the subjects ate three meals a day.

To their surprise, the researchers found that none of the groups, including the athletes, experienced “afterburn.” They did not use additional body fat on the day when they exercised. In fact, most of the subjects burned slightly less fat over the 24-hour study period when they exercised than when they did not.

“The message of our work is really simple,” although not agreeable to hear, Melanson said. “It all comes down to energy balance,” or, as you might have guessed, calories in and calories out. People “are only burning 200 or 300 calories” in a typical 30-minute exercise session, Melanson points out. “You replace that with one bottle of Gatorade.”

This does not mean that exercise has no impact on body weight, or that you can’t calibrate your workouts to maximize the amount of body fat that you burn, if that’s your goal.

“If you work out at an easy intensity, you will burn a higher percentage of fat calories” than if you work out a higher intensity, Carey says, so you should draw down some of the padding you’ve accumulated on the hips or elsewhere — if you don’t replace all of the calories afterward. To help those hoping to reduce their body fat, he published formulas in The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research last month that detailed the heart rates at which a person could maximize fat burning. “Heart rates of between 105 and 134” beats per minute, Carey said, represent the fat-burning zone. “It’s probably best to work out near the top of that zone,” he says, “so that you burn more calories over all” than at the extremely leisurely lower end.

Perhaps just as important, bear in mind that exercise has benefits beyond weight reduction. In the study of obese people who took up exercise, most became notably healthier, increasing their aerobic capacity, decreasing their blood pressure and resting heart rates, and, the authors write, achieving “an acute exercise-induced increase in positive mood,” leading the authors to conclude that, “significant and meaningful health benefits can be achieved even in the presence of lower than expected exercise-induced weight loss.”

Finally and thankfully, exercise seems to aid, physiologically, in the battle to keep off body fat once it has been, through resolute calorie reduction, chiseled away. In other work by Melanson’s group, published in September, laboratory rats that had been overfed and then slimmed through calorie reduction were able to “defend” their lower weight more effectively if they ran on a treadmill and ate at will than if they had no access to a treadmill. The exercise seemed to reset certain metabolic pathways within the rats, Melanson says, that blunted their body’s drive to replace the lost fat. Similar mechanisms, he adds, probably operate within the bodies of humans, providing scientific justification for signing up for that Thanksgiving Day 5K.

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