- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 21, 2001

Soda pop consumption contributes to obesity

It is unfortunate that a self-appointed arbiter of "good science" is apparently so blinded by his philosophy of "companies can do no wrong" that he loses all semblance of objectivity.
Commentary columnist Steven Milloy groundlessly attacks the Center for Science in the Public Interest for criticizing the overconsumption of soft drinks and sponsoring the SaveHarry.com Internet site ("Junk activism," Nov. 15). That Web site publicizes the fact that AOL Time Warner has sold to one of the world's biggest junk-food makers the exclusive global marketing rights to a movie that is aimed at children, the new "Harry Potter" film.
Mr. Milloy cites unpublished industry-sponsored studies that purport to show that soft drinks and sugar have no effect on health. Those brief reports were designed, conducted and interpreted in such a biased manner that scientists outside of industry give them no credence.
Tellingly, Mr. Milloy ignores recent published studies that demonstrate what every parent knows: Drinking too much soda pop increases the likelihood of obesity and replaces more healthful foods in the diet.
A study by the Agriculture Department found that people who consume more sugar consume more calories, but less nutrients, than people who consume less sugar.
Researchers at Children's Hospital in Boston monitored the eating habits of middle-school children for more than a year. They found that children who consumed more soft drinks were likelier to gain weight and become obese.
In the late 1970s, teen-agers drank almost twice as much milk as soda pop. Today, they drink twice as much soda pop as milk. That's a particular problem for many girls, who are not getting the calcium they need to build their bones and reduce the likelihood of osteoporosis later in life.
I hope that parents will check up on their children's (and their own) soft-drink consumption and encourage heavy consumers to drink less.

MICHAEL F. JACOBSON
Executive Director
Center for Science in the Public Interest
Washington

New Army training school teaches Latin America to protect and serve

Your Nov. 19 "Around the Nation" column, which reported on the annual demonstration against the School of the Americas at Fort Benning, Ga., served to remind me how easily an ideology of opposition can run away from reality.
Few believers in our First Amendment would deny the protesters' right to criticize our foreign policy in Europe, the Middle East, Afghanistan or Latin America. Lately, some opponents are comparing the lecturers at the Department of Defense's new Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHINSEC) to the terrorists of September 11. They allege that the Department of Defense is conducting a "terrorist training camp for Latin American soldiers." Sadly, they cast the very soldiers who have sworn to protect their freedom to protest in the same category as the terrorists who killed our citizens, taking away our greatest freedom life itself.
To set the record straight, the School of the Americas is closed. Congress created WHINSEC, complete with a new mission, faculty and leadership. Instead of just training Latin American military, the institute provides professional education to rising military, law enforcement and civilian leaders from Latin America, Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean. Our congressionally mandated mission focuses on the promotion of democratic values such as the advancement of human rights, the rule of law and respect for civilian authority. The institute's programs, augmented by civilian professors, teach the same information taught to the U.S. military and in other government schools, except the institute offers the most extensive human rights training of any school in the Department of Defense. My staff and I ensure that our students understand the appropriate role of the military and law enforcement in democratic societies to protect and honorably serve their citizens. Courses cover medical assistance training, disaster relief, counter narcotics training, border observation, peacekeeping and human rights training, to name a few. Each includes a human rights segment.
Again, the old school is history. WHINSEC has a new approach, different policies and a civilian-led Board of Visitors. We strongly believe in the dialogue that takes place here between the students from all over our hemisphere. The WHINSEC staff, students and its curriculum contribute to peace, prosperity and freedom.

COL. RICHARD DOWNIE
Director
Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation
Ft. Benning, Ga.

Lack of choice discourages people from voting

I agree with Commentary columnist Jonah Goldberg that many times when people don't vote, it is because they are satisfied with the way things are ("Easier voting process no cure for apathy," Nov. 17). One thing he didn't address, however, is that many people (including myself) don't vote because they don't like the choices presented to them.
We need more choices on our ballots than just Democrats and Republicans. Both the Democratic and Republican parties should rethink their stance on ballot-access laws and the two-party system and make the political arena more open to Greens, Libertarians and even socialists. A two-party "duocracy" is almost as bad as a one-party authoritarian system. When people see more choices on the ballot, they may be more inclined to vote.

BERRY BERKLEY
Washington

China will cooperate in war on terrorism

The Nov. 4 report, "Chinese media see attack on U.S. as price for bullying" asserts that China's official media via several books, magazines and Web sites praised the September 11 terrorist attacks as rightful actions against an arrogant country. Concerned about this report and its implications, the Chinese government carried out a full investigation of these claims. I'd like to share the result with you and your readers.
Some nongovernmental publications (books, magazines and CD-ROMs) that address the attacks have come out in China, just as they have here in the United States and other countries. All of them, however, contain strong objections to the terrorists. Take the example of one electronic publication entitled, "Attacks on the U.S., " which was mentioned in the Nov. 4 report. Its contents condemn terrorism, saying that "terrorists have only themselves to blame for their actions" and that it's "useless for terrorists to attack in such bloody ways."
Anybody who reads these publications will arrive at the conclusion that the Chinese government and the Chinese people are strongly opposed to any form of terrorism. We are willing to promote dialogues and cooperation with the United States and the international community to jointly crack down on terrorist violence.

XIE FENG
Press counselor
Chinese Embassy
Washington


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