- Associated Press - Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Recent editorials from South Carolina newspapers:

Oct. 15

The Post and Courier, Charleston, South Carolina, on increasing defense budget:

It is time for Congress and the president to reach a new budget agreement. The current one, in force since the fall of 2011, does not match the military needs that have arisen in the past year and that will continue for the foreseeable future. The need for action is growing urgent. The nation can’t wait until after the next presidential election.

A new war in the Middle East, Russian aggression in Eastern Europe and aggressive Chinese territorial claims in the South China Sea all challenge the existing international order. President Obama has given rhetorical support to the need for the United States to support allies in Europe and Asia and take action in the Middle East. Now he needs to get behind a budget that addresses the military burdens these commitments will impose.

The Army’s top general, Chief of Staff Gen. Raymond Odierno, said Monday current budget plans, which would force the army to shrink by nearly 20 percent, must be rethought because “the world is changing in front of us” and new risks are emerging.

Top Navy and Marine Corps officials have made the same point.

The current defense budget plan was adopted after President Obama backed out of a 2011 deal with House Speaker John Boehner on a long-range overall budget plan, including taxes and spending cuts, to address what the Congressional Budget Office continues to describe as a debt burden slowly growing to unsustainable proportions.

The long-range budget remains a major concern. But the short-term damage to national security in the current budget plan needs immediate attention.




Oct. 14

The Herald, Rock Hill, South Carolina, on stopping Ebola in West Africa:

The United States seems to be suffering from extreme exposure to Ebola - not to the virus itself but to the viral speculation about the danger it poses to Americans. It’s time to calm down.

Ebola is an intrinsically frightening disease. It’s a terrible way to die, and that naturally heightens fears about contracting the disease.

But so far, only one person has died of the disease in the United States, a man who traveled here from Liberia after contracting Ebola in his home country.

The number could rise. Several Americans have been exposed to the disease and are under close watch by health authorities.

But all indications are that the United States is fully equipped to treat those who get Ebola and stop the spread of the disease before it becomes anything close to an epidemic. We have the doctors, the health facilities, the isolation rooms, the protocols to limit contact with patients by health workers and the basic equipment needed to keep them safe.

The real crisis is in Africa, particularly the three West African countries where the disease is quickly spreading - Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea. The death toll as of Tuesday was nearly 4,500 people from about 9,000 cases of infection, according to the World Health Organization.

But the situation could grow much worse. WHO officials warn that the death rate among those with the disease has increased from half to nearly 70 percent, and that there could be 10,000 cases a week within two months.

If Americans want to prevent Ebola from coming here, the best way to do that is to help battle the disease at its epicenter in west Africa. The three countries where the epidemic is raging have almost no chance of stopping the spread of the disease without outside help.

We need to be concerned about Ebola but not simply about the possibility that it might immigrate to the United States. It is both a humanitarian and strategic priority to help Africa contain and halt this epidemic and to help save the lives of tens of thousands of vulnerable people there.




Oct. 13

Times and Democrat, Orangeburg, South Carolina, on obesity:

South Carolina’s youth have the second-highest obesity rate in the nation, according to the latest report by the Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

More than 21 percent of young people in the state between ages 10 and 17 are considered obese. Obesity is defined as an excessively high amount of body fat compared to lean body mass.

For South Carolina, a state whose population already ranks high nationally for health problems, doing something about obesity is a primary issue for human well-being and the economy. That is being addressed through new emphasis by the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental.

But in South Carolina and around the country, there is another problem that may come as a surprise to many: 20 percent of American children are going hungry. Sixteen million children live in households that struggle to afford food, according to a 2012 report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The problems are not unrelated, as poor diet can be a factor in both obesity and hunger.

“We hear about ‘food insecurity’ quite a bit, especially after the 2008-09 economic crash, but I think most people don’t have a clear picture of what that means,” says Lois Brandt, a former Peace Corps volunteer and author of “Maddi’s Fridge,” (MaddisFridge.com), a children’s picture book that asks the question: what do you do if your best friend’s family doesn’t have enough food?

“Food insecurity means an empty refrigerator. Food insecurity means soda instead of milk. Food insecurity means a child coming to school hungry and unable to focus. Poverty may not look exactly the same in our country as it does in a war-torn region or a developing country, but it is affecting our children and their futures. Sometimes, working parents have to choose between rent and food, medicine and food, or gas and food.

Volunteering also has personal benefits, not the least of which is knowing that, despite whatever problems you’re facing, you were able to help someone else.



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