North Carolina Newspapers

Thursday, August 3, 2006
Campaign to fight
childhood obesity
takes entire nation
Former President Bill Clinton, and Arkansas Governor
Mike Huckabee are from different political parties, but
. they've teamed up on a new campaign: battling childhood
The American Heart Association and the Clinton
Fovmdation have partnered to create the Alliance for a
Healthier Generation, and together with Governor
S Huckabee, the AUiance is dedicated to stop
ping the rise in childhood obesity by 2010
and teaching all chUdreai about the impor
tance of good nutrition and physical activity
Black parents and aU parents need to jciin
tills fi^t to protect our children’s health.
What’s tile issue? Experts estimate 16 per
cent of American children are currently
Marian overweight—more than 11 rmllion. They’re
Wright especially alarmed because just like for
EDELMAN American adults, these numbers are rising
The rate has doubled for children over the 25 years, and
tripled for teenagers. Some adults may see a heavy child as
a sign of a healthy eater, or might think of weight as most
ly connected to looks. But we need to be reminded that
there are serious risks for some overweight children that
go far beyond teasing on the playground.
Diseases once associated only with adults, such as Type
2 diabetes and hi^ blood pressure, ’ are on the rise at
younger and younger ages. Overwei^t children are also
estimated to have a 70 percent chance of being overwei^t
adults. So for many duldren, this may be more than just a
“chubby” phase theyll someday outgrow. Instead, they
maybe getting set up for a lifetime of the increased health
risks that come with being overweight.
The most pressing one, cardiovascular disease, remains
the leading killer in America, and ifthe trends in childhood
obesity continue esqjerts predict they could cut two to five
years off the average American lifespan.
There are many reasons childhood obesity is on the rise.
For one, American children are immersed in the same
“supersize me” culture that snares adults, surrounded by
high-calorie, hi^-fat food thaf s plentiful, cheap, and often
served in unrealistically big portions. Thdays children and
teenagers are also less likely than past gen^ations to
spend fi:ee time running aroimd outdoors and more hkely
to spend it on the couch watching television or playing
video games, often with snacks and sodas right n®rt to
than. Even schools have been blamed as part of the prob
Many districts have cut back on gym time and even
recess. The quality of school meals and easy availability of
snacks and soft drinks in many school vendir^ machines
have been seme of the first targets in the new war on child
obesity, and one of the places there’s already been progress.
A number of school districts and state legislatures are
pushing to improve the health content of school breakfasts
and limches and ban or limit the unhealthy products chil
dren are able to buy instead of meals, cutting down on the
numbo* of children who ri^t now grab a candy bar and
soda fium the machine in the hallway and call that
‘lunch.” In response to growing pressure around the issue,
the three largest soft drink companies recently agreed to
new voluntary limits on the types of drinks theyll distrib
ute in schools.
Theyll now focus on providing milk 100 percent juice,
and bottled water to elementary and middle school stu
dents, with a few other low-calorie choices liks diet sodas
or sports drinks added for older students. Thismaybejust
one piece of the puzzle, but advocate are hoping as more
people become aware of the current risks to children’s
health, more and more industries, schools, restaurants,
and communities will make positive changes like this one
that will add up to make a big difference for America’s chil
Even with these kinds of changes in children’s environ
ments, tile biggest influence in their habits will come fiom
the same place it always has; Home. Parents have always
been the ones to teU thdr children to eat more green veg
etables or get some fiesh air. We know our beautiful chil
dren come in aU shapes and sizes, but by being aware of
the serious health risks some overweight children do face
and the long-term value of a balanced diet and regular
exercise for aU children, we can help make sure all our chil
dren grow up to be the healthiest they can be.
Makir^ healthy food and exercise part of family life is the
right place to start—and will be good for many advilts too!
Tfeaching good habits to children early can have lifelong
consequences, and someday our children—and grandchil
dren—wfil thank us.
MARIAN WRIGHT EDELMAN is president and Founder of the
Children's Defense Fund and its Action Council.
Celebrating black
America’s political
The 2006 midterm elections will provide more than just who wiU.
control the United States Senate and House of Representatives.
Ideological stances that may imdeipin the positions held by
Presidential candidates in the 2008 Goieral Election may find
legitimacy ia the November 2006 vote.
. Hence, considering the closeness of the vote in President George
Bush’s first Presidoitial Election, the Republican
Party cannot afibrd to continue to shim African
American voters and stay in power.
It is comm,on knowle(^ that the real add test of
party support is to demonstrate that a minority
candidate can win in a statewide race. The two key
races that show mainstream legitimacy for minor
ity candidates are the gubernatorial race and the
US Senate race. At present, the Donocratic Party
has the hi^ ground because they have elected two
people of Afiican American descent to tiie United
States Senate (Carol Moseley. Braun 1993-1999 and Barack
Obama 2005 - present), and one, (Dou^as \STlda' 1990-1994) as
governor of '\Trginia.
The Republican Party has elected only one major statewide can
didate, Honorable Edward W. Brooke - Massachusetts the first
Afiican American dected to the United States Senate in 1966.
Illinois has elected two differoit people of Afiican Amoican
descent to the US Senate. This suggests that white America is
ready to start viewing blacks as mainstream politicians and not
mere black politicians. Black politicians can win in districts over
whelmingly black but their caustic rhetoric may not make them
palatable in Mainstream America. Hence, the key political feat for
tomorrow’s black politicians is to learn to maintain their black
voter base while presenting a mainstream agenda that meets the
needs of Mainstream America.
Althou^ the Democrats have the hi^ ground on electing key
statewide candidates, the present black enchantment with the
Democratic Party needs a bit of discussion, lha July26, 2006 arti
cle, Demonizing the GOP at NAACP, Jeff Jacoby of The Boston
Globe offers Black Americans plenty to ponder.
“Look around. Blade candidates are serious contenders for gov
ernor in three states this year, and two of them — Lynn Swann in
Pennsjdvania and Kenneth Blackwell in Ohio — are R^iiblicans.
The third. Democrat Deval Patrick, is running in Massachusetts,
a quint^saitially blue state that has managed to elect only one
Afitican-American to statewide office in its entire histcoy: former
U.S. Senator Edward Brooke — a Republican.”
Jacoby offers the Democratic Party sins of yesterday that some
how get ignored by the black political zealots to where today’s
black mono-political stances are foolhardy at best whai seeking
opportunities to upgrade the hvir^ standards of the African
American community
“[Julian] Bond may not share Republican principles or priorities,
but for him to cast the GOP as the party of fascism and racism is
surreal. After all, it was the Democratic Party that defended slav
ery the Democratic Party that supported the Dred Scott decision,
and the Democratic Party that opposed the 13th, 14th, and 15th
amendments to the Constitution. It was Democrats who founded
the Ku Klux Klan, Democrats who repeatedly blocked anti lynch
ing bills, and Democrats who enacted Jim Crow segregation across
the South”
Marjdand Lt. Gov Michael Steele (Republican) is runnir^ for the
U.S. Senate in the 2006 election. His candidacy adds to the
Republican Party’s effort to enfranchise Afiican American voters
once again in their party Listening at Steel present his platform
to a gathering of Delaware black Republicans called “The
Underground Republican Network of Delaware” (TU.R.N.) offered
an opportunity to watch a black politician operate as a conduit
between white and black America versus bdng a political octoroon.
I asked him to give his positions on illegal immigration and politi
cal gridlock in the US Congress.
Steele seemed to align with the position of the US House of
Representatives that we first need to get control of our borders
before offering special treatment for the illegal immigrants who
are here now. He brought up the vexing problem of what to do with
the illegal parents of American citizens (children bom in this coun
try). Steele did not see the government getting into the foster care
business. However, I ask, what does the government do for the
children when US citizens are salt to prison for committing
crimes? Perhaps Steele’s position is underpinned by the 2004 US
Department of Health & Human Services report Children of
Incarco-ated Parents: Research and Resources.”
SHERMAN MILLER is a syndicated columnist.
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U.S. not talking
to nations at
center of major
world crises
By Barry Schweid
WASHINGTON — There is an axiom in diplomatic
cirdes that ‘You don’t make peace vrith your fiiends;
you make peace with your enemies.”
The United States, which doesn’t lack for aiemies
these days, is not talking to North Korea, Iran, Syria,
Hezbollah or Hamas _ aU of which are central to the
Bush administration’s chief overseas problons of the
While each situation is differoit, the Bush admin
istration’s underlying position is that Iran, North
Korea and Syria must change their policies and
HezboUah and Hamas are terrorist groups. That
means they all are legally off-limits to diplomatic dis
Critics say this absence of communication restricts
U.S. diplomacy and makes U.S. allies anxious
because they believe there is no way of resolvit^ most
crises without American participation.
Zbigniew Brzezinski, who helped shape a far differ- .
ent U.S. foreign policy as national security assistant
for President Jimmy Carter, responded tartly when
asked to appraise the Bush administration stance.
“Bush and Rice are pursuing a remarkably success
ful policy of self-ostracism,” he said, speaking of
George W. Bush and Condoleezza, Rice.
“Unfortunately it is a disaster for the United States.”
Madeleine Albright, who was secretary of state for
President Bill Clinton in his second term, said''"the
stakes are too high” to avoid contact with Iran and
Syria, whom the State Department for years has des
ignated as sponsors of terrorism.
“Engagement is not appeasonent,” Albright said
“Diplomacy is a mechanism for the U.S. to send a
tough message.”
A former career U.S. diplomat in the Middle East,
Edward S. Walker, said “neither side wants to have a
conversation” over the current fighting
Yet, Walker said in an interview, “The tragedy of
this administration is it doesn’t know how to use
diplomacy It seems to be actually clueless.”
The Bush administration’s pofides have been criti
cized by some Republicans, too. In a speech Friday at
the Brookings Institution in Washington, Republican
Sen Chuck Hagel suggested U.S. support for Israel
was coming at the expense of U.S. relations with
Muslims and Arabs.
Whether Syria and Iran woe directly involved in
Hezbollah and Hamas agression in Israel, Hagel
said, "Both countries exert influence in the r^on”
“As we work with our fiiends and allies to deny
Syria and Iran any opportunity to further corrode the
situation in Lebanon and the Palestinian territories,
both Damascus and Tbhran must hear finm Amoica
directly” he said.
Bush administration officials say direct negotia
tions with regimes such as Iran, North Korea and
Syria would be fiuitless. White House spokesman
Tbny Snow has specifically ruled out talking to Iran
and Syria because they support Hezbollah.
The administration has made its views clear to both
governments, and “Frankly thoe is nothing to nego
tiate,” Snow said last week.
Syria, which with Iran is a pivotal supporter of the
Hezbollah guerrillas, has been pursued by successive
administrations for more than three decades for
Middle East peacemaking. But it has been sidelined
by the United States as fightir^ between Israel and
Hezbollah r^es into its third week.
“The track record stinks,” Snow said of past U.S.
efforts to negotiate with Syria.
Syria also is close to Hamas, the radical group that
controls the Palestinian govemmoit and whose fight
ers kidnapped an Israeli soldier last month, helping
prompt Israeli incursions into Gaza.
The Syrian ambassador to the United States, Imad
Moustapha, told The Associated Press last week his
country had not heard fiom the United States. He
said Syria would likp to get started on a comprehen
sive Middle East peace effort that extends beyond the
current fighting in Lebanon.
“Syria does not consider itself an enemy of the
United States,” Moustapha said.
Rice has told Iran there wUl be no talks on its
nudear program unless it suspends enrichment of
BARRY SCHWEID covers foreign affairs and government '
for the Associated Press.

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