Banks County Opinions...

NOVEMBER 19, 2003


Column

By: Rochelle Beckstine
The Banks County News
November 19, 2003

Public opinion be cudgeled
Public support and confidence in the United States is waning in Iraq, at home and abroad as the end of official fighting is more than six months past and Iraq appears to become more uncontrollable every day. But abroad (and perhaps at home, too) blame for the degenerated confidence seems to be lumped on President Bush. As key government officials grapple with a new deck of policies on Iraq’s governing agreed to over the weekend, Bush plans to travel to Britain to meet with Prime Minister Tony Blair and attempt to stop the tide of bad public opinion. He has quite a load to haul. According to Newsweek, in a poll taken in the last week, Britons identified Bush as “not very intelligent” (62 percent), “insincere” (53 percent), “not very well informed about the world” (62 percent), “a bad advertisement for America” (65 percent) and “foolish” (63 percent). They also felt he “does not care much about the views of people in other countries” (82 percent)—I don’t feel he cares about their views either, nor should he. Perhaps more importantly and I do think British polls are important, because, face it, we do need a friend in this world, 57 percent of Britons said they had “not much” confidence or “no confidence at all” in the ability of the U.S. to act responsibly in its role as the sole superpower. And 42 percent felt the U.S. would behave more responsibly with a different president. Hmmmm. The tough guy may say, “And what do they plan to do about it?,” but it is up to the rest of us to ponder how come.
In a press conference where Blair addressed the Iraq war and his relationship with Bush, Blair says that it doesn’t appear progress is being made in the war because this conflict has evolved into a war between freedom and extremism. If the extremists gain control, then it is disaster for Iraq and the larger world; if freedom prevails, then it is a symbol of hope for the region and a powerful act of reconciliation for the Arab, Muslim and the Western world. The extremists are fighting for power not only in Iraq, but everywhere. They get more terrorists by breeding hate against the Western world, not by citing instances when the Western world came in, overthrew a terrorist regime and installed democracy. With this philosophy, Iraq can be the final battlefield that wins the war or perhaps not.
I see Iraq as a house of cards. Cards perhaps with holes in them and bent corners. Can we build a house strong enough to outlast decades of fear and hate? For this to work, terrorists can not exist in any large numbers and people must feel like they have a legitimate say in their own lives and that they will not be killed by the next group wanting power. The alternative is years of chaos and civil war that will bring on poverty and deprivation and more fuel for the anti-Western fire. It is an awesome task but this is not another Vietnam. The policy of the U.S. pre-Vietnam was battle communism on every front—anywhere communism existed, help the locals drive it out and install democracy or else the U.S. will be consumed by socialists. Iraq is quite a different policy—fight terrorism because they will attack us in our offices and in our homes for everything we stand for: freedom, democracy, and, yes, capitalism. We don’t fear terrorists will subvert our children through television ads; they attacked us, killing thousands in a single morning and causing everyone to fear what will come next. We entered into Iraq post-September 11. Our country stood firm behind our president who said Iraq was the next step in the anti-terror campaign. And I believe him. To allow public opinion to sway us to act differently, perhaps to elect a new president in 2004 or to end the occupation, would be disastrous. Though clearly this is exactly what the enemy would have us do.
Rochelle Beckstine is a columnist for MainStreet Newspapers.

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Column

By:Jana Mitcham
The Banks County News
November 19, 2003

Hot cocoa is good for you
Have you heard? Hot cocoa is good for you.
Really! No, really.
I like to look at the netscape Internet home page from time to time to see what the “top” stories are for the moment, as well as the “odd” stories, and to check the forecast as colder weather is moving in, and, to my surprise, I saw “Stunning Health News About Hot Cocoa.”
A big fan of chocolate of most any kind, I had to check it out.
None of the “it warms your heart” or “brings your family together” or some such advertising shmoo as I expected, and none of the “I’m really grouchy and I really want some chocolate therapy,” either.
There had been a study done at Cornell University about the disease-fighting anitoxidants found in hot cocoa. According to the research findings, which appear in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, the level of antioxidants found in hot cocoa surpasses that found in red wine, green tea or black tea.
“Antioxidants — vitamins C and E and beta carotene — are widely believed to fight cancer, heart disease and aging,” reports Science Daily. “They may even help stave off the memory-robbing Alzheimer’s disease.”
And these antioxidants are apparently found in abundance in hot cocoa.
Who knew?
Of course there is a drawback. Scientists don’t really know how much of the antioxidants you need per day to be effective.
Still, isn’t it nice to know that something that tastes really good can actually be good for you on some level?
The key, however, is “hot,” meaning, sadly, that a good old Hershey bar probably won’t do the trick. The heat is what releases the higher level of antioxidants.
And I’m supposing they mean the cocoa like you’d buy in a big tin and scoop out with a spoon — maybe it’s more pure than the hot chocolate you’d get in a packet with mini-marshmallows? — because they suggest using skim milk and artificial sweetener rather than real milk and sugar if you are concerned about fat content.
Ah, well, I still think my box of Swiss Miss with marshmallows is close enough, right?
So, raise a hot mug of cold weather cheer — and antioxidants.
Jana Adams Mitcham is features editor of The Jackson Herald and a reporter for MainStreet Newspapers, Inc.


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