Harrop — And the Oscar for Most Stunning Actress goes to...

We are here not to discuss the complex #OscarsSoWhite controversy but to address another sore point with perhaps similar origins: the #OscarsSoGorgeous phenomenon.

At the risk of running afoul of some ardent fan clubs, let us note that the Academy Awards for best actress tend to favor the young and beautiful, often for playing the down and out. Some older actresses survive the nominating process, but observe how many wouldn't be there had they not established their careers on earlier goddess roles.

This helps explain why there are so few good parts for women who are dark and short — or, for that matter, white but less than spectacular. As with the lack of black nominees, the perpetual dearth of non-beautiful actresses surely reflects the socializing preferences of the white men in charge.

This is not to disparage Jennifer Lawrence's acting talents, which many say are considerable. But it seemed odd that she was chosen to play the lead in "Joy," a performance for which she has been nominated as best actress. "Joy" is based on the true story of Joy Mangano, a hard-luck working mother who found success inventing and selling homely mops.

Now the real Mangano is a fine-looking woman with strong Mediterranean features. But she was not born porcelain-skinned and blue-eyed. She did not pursue her dreams with a team of hair stylists maintaining the highest standards through her deepest indignities.

The Hollywood version lingers on endless close-ups of Lawrence's mug — a picture of northern European perfection, currently a "face of Dior." Of course, Lawrence has been on the cover of Vogue, which calls her "Hollywood's blockbuster blonde."

In 2006, Julia Roberts won best actress for "Erin Brockovich," a real-life story about a blunt, working-class girl's legal victory.

Nothing wrong with the real Brockovich's looks, but Erin was never the Roberts-level babe who could dominate the glossies from the lowliest fan mags to Vogue.
Roberts broke into stardom in "Pretty Woman," playing a character who was supposed to be beautiful. Had Roberts not already achieved stardom as a dazzler, would she have been cast in the meaty role of a vulgar crusader?

The 2003 Oscar went to former model Charlize Theron for her role as serial killer Aileen Wuornos in "Monster." Fan magazines at the time marveled at how teams of makeup artists were able to turn a stunner into an ugly wretch.

You'd think that roles to play these tortured women would create opportunities for extraordinarily talented actresses of ordinary appearance, but that's not how Hollywood usually works. Hollywood demands that female actors do double-duty as thespians and glamour queens.

On Oscars night we see how, when it comes to gender, Hollywood actors inhabit two entirely different planets. The men romp into the Dolby Theatre, while the women must run the gauntlet of red carpet humiliation. You see them freeze in cheesy poses, every detail of their facades followed by a week of microscopic critique.

At the ceremony itself, the male winners joyfully bound up the stairs to the stage. The female winners in spikes gingerly climb the stairs, no doubt terrified that a heel could lock into a long hem.

So this is a night to pity the bombshells as well as the great female actors who never had the chance to win the great parts. Why even bother with this dated vision when we can stream fascinating stories of three-dimensional women on our own screens day or night? And small wonder the Oscar audience numbers have been tanking.

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Buchanan — How Republicans perish

If you believed America's longest war, in Afghanistan, was coming to an end, be advised: It is not.

Departing U.S. commander Gen. John Campbell says there will need to be U.S. boots on the ground "for years to come." Making good on President Obama's commitment to remove all U.S. forces by next January, said Campbell, "would put the whole mission at risk."

"Afghanistan has not achieved an enduring level of security and stability that justifies a reduction of our support. ... 2016 could be no better and possibly worse than 2015."

Translation: A U.S. withdrawal would risk a Taliban takeover with Kabul becoming the new Saigon and our Afghan friends massacred.

Fifteen years in, and we are stuck.

Nor is America about to end the next longest war in its history: Iraq. Defense Secretary Ash Carter plans to send units of the 101st Airborne back to Iraq to join the 4,000 Americans now fighting there,

"ISIS is a cancer," says Carter. After we cut out the "parent tumor" in Mosul and Raqqa, we will go after the smaller tumors across the Islamic world.

When can Mosul be retaken? "Certainly not this year," says the head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, Lt. Gen. Vincent Stewart.

Vladimir Putin's plunge into the Syrian civil war with air power appears to have turned the tide in favor of Bashar Assad.

The "moderate" rebels are being driven out of Aleppo and tens of thousands of refugees are streaming toward the Turkish border.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is said to be enraged with the U.S. for collaborating with Syrian Kurds against ISIS and with Obama's failure to follow through on his dictate — "Assad must go!"

There is thus no end in sight to the U.S. wars in Afghanistan, Syria and Iraq, nor to the U.S.-backed Saudi war in Yemen, where ISIS and al-Qaida have re-arisen in the chaos.

Indeed, the West is mulling over military intervention in Libya to crush ISIS there and halt the refugee flood into Europe.

Yet, despite America's being tied down in wars from the Maghreb to Afghanistan, not one of these wars were among the three greatest threats identified last summer by Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford, the new chairman of the Joint Chiefs.

"Russia presents the greatest threat to our national security" said Dunford, "If you want to talk about a nation that could pose an existential threat to the United States, I would have to point to Russia ... if you look at their behavior, it's nothing short of alarming."
Dunford agreed with John McCain that we ought to provide anti-tank weapons and artillery to Ukraine, for, without it, "they're not going to be able to protect themselves against Russian aggression."

But what would we do if Putin responded by sending Russian troops to occupy Mariupol and build a land bridge to Crimea? Send U.S. troops to retake Mariupol? Are we really ready to fight Russia?

The new forces NATO is moving into the Baltic suggests we are.

Undeniably, disputes have arisen between Russia, and Ukraine and Georgia which seceded in 1991, over territory. But, also undeniably, many Russians in the 14 nations that seceded, including the Baltic states, never wanted to leave and wish to rejoin Mother Russia.

How do these tribal and territorial conflicts in the far east of Europe so threaten us that U.S. generals are declaring that "Russia presents the greatest threat to our national security"?

Asked to name other threats to the United States, Gen. Dunford listed them in this order: China, North Korea, ISIS.

But while Beijing is involved in disputes with Hanoi over the Paracels, with the Philippines over the Spratlys, with Japan over the Senkakus — almost all of these being uninhabited rocks and reefs — how does China threaten the United States?

America is creeping ever closer to war with the other two great nuclear powers because we have made their quarrels our quarrels, though at issue are tracts and bits of land of no vital interest to us.

North Korea, which just tested another atomic device and long-range missile, is indeed a threat to us.

But why are U.S. forces still up the DMZ, 62 years after the Korean War? Is South Korea, with an economy 40 times that of the North and twice the population, incapable of defending itself?

Apparently slipping in the rankings as a threat to the United States is that runaway favorite of recent years, Iran.

Last fall, though, Sen. Ted Cruz reassured us that "the single biggest national security threat facing America right now is the threat of a nuclear Iran."

"Of all the enemies to public liberty war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded," wrote James Madison, "No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare."

Perhaps Madison was wrong.

Otherwise, with no end to war on America's horizon, the prospect of this free republic enduring is, well, doubtful.

Patrick J. Buchanan is the author of the new book "The Greatest Comeback: How Richard Nixon Rose From Defeat to Create the New Majority."

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DuBois — Climbing a legend: Cannon Mountain



Last week I emailed my hiking comrades inviting them to join Reuben and me on a hike to the summit of Cannon Mountain. This was really Reuben's hike, as he is working on his "Winter-48" list, which means hiking in the winter months to all the mountain summits in New Hampshire with elevations over 4,000 feet. One my friends responded, "I'm not going, it's supposed to snow that day." My response, "Isn't that what winter is all about, snow?"

The weatherman predicted several inches of snow, so perhaps winter had finally arrived, hallelujah! What could be better than a winter hike in fresh falling snow to the summit of a classic New England mountain. Five friends did decide to join me and Reuben. We met at the Cannon Tramway parking lot, adjacent to the trail head for the Kinsman Ridge Trail. As we were getting geared up, skiers were unloading their cars, preparing to ski on fresh powder.

Cannon Mountain, 4,100 feet, formally known as Profile Mountain, is at the northern end of a high ridge of mountains and forms the western wall of Franconia Notch. It is well known for the cliffs that tower above Route 93. Cannon cliffs once held the famous rock formation, Old Man of the Mountain, which fell in 2003 due to natural forces of weathering and erosion. The iconic stone profile captured the imagination of the American public with Daniel Webster's words, "Men hang out their signs indicative of their respective trades; shoe makers hang out a gigantic shoe; jewelers a monster watch, and the dentist hangs out a gold tooth; but up in the Mountains of New Hampshire, God Almighty has hung out a sign to show that there He makes men." Sadly, the Old Stone Face now lies in a pile of stone rubble at the bottom of the cliffs.

Cannon is also widely recognized as a rock climbing mecca. Routes were established in the early 1920s, and climbers can still be seen today scaling the rock face. At roughly 1,000 feet high and more than 1 mile long, Cannon Cliff is the largest vertical rock face in the Northeast. There are more than 50 climbing routes. The mountain is also the home to one of the first ski areas in North America, having trails cut in 1933 and the Aerial Tramway, built in 1938, was the first lift of its kind in North America.

So, here we were, climbing a mountain legend, with light snow falling. What could be better? The hike began with a moderate climb on hard crusty snow, but soon the trail began to wind steeply to the summit. We needed light traction aids to gain footholds as heavy rains the week before turned parts of the trail into sheets of ice. The trail wove in and out of recently cut back country ski trails. The snow was beginning to lessen as we approached the section of trail that runs along the ledges above the cliffs. Since I have made this climb many times in the past, I knew we were missing out on really spectacular views because of the low cloud cover. From the ledges, we began the final accent to the peak. Within a quarter mile, we reached Cannon summit and the observation tower, which can be climbed in summer, but not recommended in winter.

Here we paused for a few moments, but having no views to keep us we headed to the Tramway Summit Station for lunch. This was the highlight of our climb: eating our lunch in a warm sheltered pub with hot food and drinks available from the posted menu. The staff at the station were very welcoming, even to Reuben, though he had to stay in the waiting room while we downed our lunch and chatted with skiers. We had the option of taking the Tram down the mountain for a modest fee of $13, but decided to make the hike back down the Kinsman Ridge Trail. The Tram runs on a regular basis, daily from 9 to 3. Interested riders should call the Cannon Office at 823-8800 to ensure that the Tram is in operation that day. The Tram serves as a great alternative for hikers who don't want to make the hike back down the mountain or if the weather turns bad and you want to make a safe return to the base station. When the ski area is not operating, one can always descend on the open slopes of the ski trails.

The descent back down the mountain became difficult with the new snow covering the expanses of ice that covered the trail, and we switched to crampons. We were back safely to the parking lot in less than two hours. We had some time to kill before heading home, so we paid a visit to the New England Ski Museum. This was certainly a great way to finish the day. The museum is free and open daily to the public. It offers fascinating displays on the history of skiing, with a wonderful exhibit on the development of skiing, from its prehistoric roots, up until the advent of the shaped ski in the 1990s. The exhibit even includes a display of the Olympic medals and world cup trophies won by Bode Miller, who first started skiing on Cannon as a small boy. The museum is a New Hampshire treasure that should not be missed.

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Sanborn — Winni waterfront sales report, January 2016

Off and running! There were eleven Winnipesaukee waterfront sales in January, at an average price of $835,091 and a median price point of $726,000. That's a lot better start than last January, when there were just five sales on Winni, but the average did come in higher at $1.084 million.

The entry level sale was down in Alton on Route 11, otherwise know as 2800 N Mount Major Highway. This 1950s vintage, 1,328 square foot, two bedroom, two bath ranch style home had been updated and offers fantastic views across the Lake to Mount Washington. This sunny and bright home might be sandwiched between the highway and the lake on a tiny .13 acre lot, but the 100 feet of frontage, a great waterside patio, a nice lawn area, and dock will key your eyes lakeside instead of on the road. This home was offered at $499,900 and sold for $490,000 after just 12 days on the market! It is assessed at $475,500. That's a pretty good deal, I think!

The median price point sale coming in at $726,000 is located up at 36 Leaward Shores in Moultonborough. That's just over the bridge on Long Island so Jo Jo's Country store will be your lifeline out there. This 4,248 square foot, 15 room, five bedroom, five bath contemporary should have enough room for you to entertain all your friends at the same time. It appears some work was needed to bring the home up to snuff but with a guest cottage, one car garage, one acre of land, 300' of frontage, a perched beach and dock, some things can be overlooked if the price is right. This home was first listed back in December of 2009 at $1,579,725, again in January of 2010 for $989,000, and then in December of 2015 for $700,00 and closed that little bit higher as a cash deal in just 26 days. It is currently assessed at $1,010,700. Jo Jo's will be a little busier this year.

The honors for highest sale of the month go to the property at 161 Pinnacle Park Road in Meredith. This newly constructed 4,319 square foot, four bedroom, five and a half bath contemporary sits on a level .54 acre lot with 128' of frontage on Meredith Bay. It has got all the features one would expect, with gleaming hardwood and tile floors, natural woodwork, cathedral wood ceilings, floor to ceiling fireplace, and a great open floor plan. The gourmet kitchen has beautiful cabinetry, granite counter tops, tile back-splash, and stainless appliances. There's a first floor master suite, a lower level family room with a wet bar, a huge playroom over the garage, a screened porch, large deck, and a slate stone patio with a fire pit down by the lake. There's a sandy beach and 50' dock just waiting for summer fun. This home was listed at $2,298,000 and sold for $2,350,000 after 229 days on the market. The current tax assessed value does not reflect the completed building.

There was only one sale on Winnisquam in January, but that's OK, we are just getting started. This sale was at 36 Nancy Drive in Belmont which is actually on the pond that connects to the lake by a canal. This home is an early eighties vintage Cape Cod style home with 2,252 square feet of space, four bedrooms, and two baths. The home has been well maintained and has had recent updates including a new kitchen. There is also a cute cottage on the property that is perfect for those unexpected guests over the holiday weekend. There are two lots of record, totaling a half acre with 296 feet of frontage on the pond, providing some good privacy. This property was first listed at $419,000, was reduced to $364,900 and sold for $350,000 after 164 days on the market. It is currently assessed an $313,800.

P​ease feel free to visit www.lakesregionhome.com to learn more about the Lakes Region real estate market and comment on this article and others. Data compiled using the NNEREN MLS system as of 2/10/16. ​Roy Sanborn is a sales associate at Four Seasons Sotheby's International Realty and can be reached at 677-7012.

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Cracraft — Guys: don't like abortion? Don't be the reason for one.

To The Daily Sun,

In a recent letter to The Sun, one writer let us know how he attended the anti-choice march and rally in Washington, D.C. on the anniversary of the Roe vs. Wade decision. Another complained that the "liberal media" did not properly cover this rally. In both cases, the writers were male.
This writer is not sure that "us guys" get a vote on this issue. After all, it is a woman who has to carry a fetus for nine months, go through labor, and if dad shirks his responsibilities, all he has to be is a sperm donor. Perhaps the best thing that men can do, if they oppose abortion, is to make sure they are not the reason that women make that choice.
This writer is proud to have attended rallies in Washington and elsewhere to protect a woman's reproductive freedom and right to choose. But, he has also has marched, rallied and stood for causes that just might make abortion a bit less common: for social justice, for a living wage, for universal health care, and against violence against women and children.
Unfortunately, with the exception of many Roman Catholics and a few others, it seems that the most vocal "pro-lifers" are conservative fundamentalist and Evangelical Protestants who include their opposition to a woman's right to choose as part of a wider, meaner, inhumane and selfish social and political agenda. It is uncertain that they should wear the label "pro-life." At least some who oppose abortion do their part and advocate for children and even adopt the "unadoptable."
They often are against welfare programs, nutrition programs and child advocacy programs while at the same time supporting the death penalty and the "military-industrial complex." Some even demand that women give birth in cases where the mother's life or health or in danger or in cases of rape and incest. How is this pro-life? It is better to call them "anti-choice" than "pro-life."
Conversely, it is unfair to label pro-choice advocates as "pro-abortion." This writer is not female but if he were, he is not sure he could make that choice. Most women who make that choice will tell you that it is one of the hardest they ever made. Most women do not terminate a pregnancy on a mere whim.
Many anti-choice advocates seem to be more concerned about a fetus before it is born and want to deny services and support to mothers and children after the child is born. Many also oppose contraception and whine that their First Amendment rights are violated when, as employers in profit-making, non religious enterprises, they are asked to provide birth control coverage to their workers. Funny, they do not seem to mind coverage for Viagra!
It would seem that availability of contraception would cut down on the incidence of women terminating their pregnancies. Still, many promote misinformation about Planned Parenthood and demand that its funding be even though abortions are a small fraction of what Planned Parenthood does.
Other's picket clinics and harass women who might be there for contraception or for pre-natal care because they WANT their baby.
Other Christian conservatives lobby against comprehensive sex education. In many school districts dominated by conservative Christians, the only thing that students can be taught when it comes to avoiding STDs or pregnancy is "abstinence until you are married." One supposes this is based on the perfectly "logical" premise that if adults tell teens over and over not to do something, they just won't do it!
Also, these public schools also invite thinly-veiled Christian guest speakers who engage in misinformation about sex as well as "slut shaming" which is typically most directed toward young women. Predictably, schools employing this model frequently have higher rates of teen pregnancy and STD infection.
Many anti-choice advocates are proud that they march against abortion. What are they doing to make abortion less common?
(Scott CRACRAFT) is a citizen, taxpayer, veteran, and a resident of Gilford)

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