- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 2, 2006

Protecting the elderly from abuse

The recent articles concerning the reported mistreatment of Brooke Astor, 104, by her son and guardian are particularly shocking because of Mrs. Astor’s wealth and prominence (“Socialite’s son accused of ‘abuse,’” Nation, Thursday).

However, the unfortunate reality is that every year in this country, hundreds of thousands of older people are beaten; left to lie in their own waste; denied food, water and medical treatment; and robbed of their hard-earned money.

Heartbreakingly,these abuses most often are inflicted by their own adult children, grandchildren or other relatives behind closed doors, where the mistreatment is invisible to outsiders.

State Adult Protective Services programs are charged with responding to these types of abuse reports and working to protect not only older people, but also younger ones with disabilities. Many readers may be shocked to know that the federal government provides no direct funding for these victim services even though people 85 and older make up the country’s fastest-growing population group.

Startlingly, there is not a single federal employee who focuses solely on the abuse of elder and vulnerable adults, and very little money is available for research or training on how best to protect them.

Contrast this with the approximately $7 billion dollars a year the federal government spends on Child Protective Services and the hundreds of millions it appropriates every year to fight violence against women.

The Elder Justice Act (S.1020), with bipartisan support led by Sen. Orrin Hatch, Utah Republican, and Sen. Blanche Lincoln, Arkansas Democrat, is pending in the Senate Finance Committee.

This bill would provide federal leadership and funding for Adult Protective Services to meet the challenges of identifying and protecting vulnerable seniors and persons with disabilities, for research and for training.

This bill needs to be passed as soon as possible so that the members of the “greatest generation,” the people who built the prosperity and fought for the freedoms we all enjoy, can be better assured of living out their lives in dignity and safety.

Far too many of them spend their final months and years waiting in fear, violence and degradation for us to hear and respond to their calls for help. It is time for Congress to enact an Elder Justice Act that funds and improves the Adult Protective Services on which our most vulnerable citizens depend.

JOE SNYDER

President

National Adult Protective

Services Association

Boulder, Colo.

Rep. Dingell responds

In over fifty years in the House of Representatives, I have been accused of many things but saying one thing in my district and another in Washington has never been among them. And complete and balanced coverage of my recent remarks on a Detroit television show — coverage you have chosen not to provide your readers — would show that this same consistency is the case (“Rep. Dingell and Hezbollah,” Editorial, yesterday).

For those truly interested in reporting, rather than acting as part of an organized right-wing public relations machine, the unedited version of my comments make it clear I condemned the terrorist organization Hezbollah, as I have done in the past and will continue to do so, for its terrorist violence. Hezbollah is dedicated to the destruction of the State of Israel and they undertake despicable methods of combat like using civilians as shields. They are terrorists pure and simple and the world community should work together to eradicate their presence. I also spoke to the role the United States must play in reducing violence. This position is consistent — consistent with my vote in March 2005 condemning Hezbollah, my fifty years of support for the State of Israel as a Member of the House of Representatives and the over $300 billion dollars I have supported in aid to that state, and my signing of a letter as recently as July 28, 2006 calling on the European Union to add Hezbollah to their terrorist list.

Secondly, your attack on the Arab-American citizens of Dearborn is entirely unwarranted. They are loyal Americans, with sons and daughters serving in Iraq, and they have never asked for anything other than to be treated with the same dignity and respect afforded all of us.

I understand that right-wing blogs and talk radio will take one word from a longer answer and try to make it something it is not to inflame readers and listeners and add to the increasing polarization of our political process. The Washington Times should now be added to the list of those who would rather be right-wing than right.

REP. JOHN D. DINGELL

House of Representatives

Washington

Democrats sell out parents on CCPA

Senate Democrats who claim they are pro-family have once again displayed their hypocrisy. Sen. Richard J. Durbin, Illinois Democrat, no doubt with the approval of Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, has prevented the Child Custody Protection Act (CCPA) from progressing to a House-Senate conference committee for final passage.

The CCPA would make it a crime to transport a minor across a state line for an abortion in order to avoid a state law requiring that a parent be told of a minor’s abortion.

Your editorial “Aborted parental rights” (Tuesday) correctly stated the Democratic party’s stand regarding parental and family values: The Democrats have sold out parents in favor of abortionists and sexual predators.

The Democrats’ position potentially will backfire and help Republicans retain control of the Senate. For example, Republican Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania is in a tight race to retain his seat against a candidate who is nominally pro-life. Mr. Santorum can show the electorate that even if a Democrat claims he is pro-life, he will be forced to follow the pro-abortion position of the Democratic Party.

WILLIAM LUKSIC

Rockville

High fructose corn syrup and obesity

In her book review “Food for thought,” Lorna Williams notes that author Michael Pollan suggests a unique causal link between high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) and obesity (Books, Sunday).

Dr. Walter Willett, chairman of the Harvard School of Public Health’s Nutrition Department, recently told the New York Times, “There’s no substantial evidence to support the idea that high-fructose corn syrup is somehow responsible for obesity.”

Additionally, recently published scientific papers have concluded that HFCS is not a unique contributor to obesity. The November/December 2005 issue of Nutrition Today includes a report from the Center for Food, Nutrition and Agriculture Policy and its Ceres Workshop, which was compiled by scientists who reviewed a number of critical commentaries about HFCS. Their analysis found that HFCS is not a unique contributor to obesity.

Many parts of the world, including Australia, Mexico and Europe, have rising rates of obesity and diabetes despite having little or no HFCS in their foods and beverages. According to the World Health Organization, throughout the world there are more than 1 billion overweight adults, at least 300 million of them obese.

The WHO cites the main reasons as increased consumption of energy-dense foods high in saturated fats and sugars as well as reduced physical activity.

In fact, U.S. Department of Agriculture data show that per capita consumption of HFCS has been declining in recent years, yet the incidence of obesity and diabetes in the United States remains on the rise.

As a safe, natural, nutritive sweetener, HFCS can be enjoyed as part of a healthy, balanced diet. In 1983, the Food and Drug Administration listed HFCS as “generally recognized as safe” (known as GRAS status) for use in food; it reaffirmed that ruling in 1996.

According to the American Dietetic Association, “Consumers can safely enjoy a range of nutritive and nonnutritive sweeteners when consumed in a diet that is guided by current federal nutrition recommendations … as well as individual health goals.”

AUDRAE ERICKSON

President

Corn Refiners Association

Washington

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