- Associated Press - Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Recent editorials from North Carolina newspapers:

Sept. 23

Charlotte Observer on airstrikes in Syria:

In an otherwise unhinged diatribe, the Islamic State’s chief spokesman made a boast that is uncomfortably close to the truth:

“O crusaders, you have realized the threat of the Islamic State, but you have not become aware of the cure, and you will not discover the cure because there is no cure,” Abu Mohammed al Adnani said on an audiotape released Monday. “If you fight it, it becomes stronger and tougher. If you leave it alone, it grows and expands.”

This is precisely the predicament in which the United States and the West find themselves. Ignoring this growing threat only invites its expansion and increased stability. Attempting to destroy it requires a level of engagement that most Americans will not support, and is probably futile in any case.

A majority of Americans, and of Congress, support the Obama administration’s current airstrike campaign against ISIS targets in Syria. A new Washington Post-ABC poll found that 71 percent of respondents back airstrikes against ISIS in Iraq, and nearly two-thirds support them in Syria.

That’s nearly a complete reversal from a year ago. Public support for military action is fickle, though, and could taper quickly the deeper America and its allies trudge in chasing President Obama’s stated goal of “destroying” the Islamic State. The airstrikes are easy to get behind, given the low risk they pose to U.S. personnel. They are insufficient, however, for eliminating the extremist network. That would require a significant and prolonged American military presence on the ground in Syria and elsewhere, a scenario that neither we nor a majority of the public embraces.

The airstrikes are necessary. They will disrupt the Islamic State, perhaps kill some of its leaders, and make it more difficult for the group to launch a successful attack on the West in the near term. That the U.S. was joined by five Arab nations in the attack is unprecedented and important. Containing the extremists will require Arabs and Muslims combating them internally, not only with military might but also with efforts to cut off their financing and their popularity.

Americans, though, need to fully understand that the bombing is just one more step in a very long fight. Obama’s goal of eliminating ISIS and other al-Qaida offshoots is admirable. It is also, we believe, unrealistic. The unsettling truth is that international relations have evolved and the West is now in a fight not with a nation-state but with a radical ideology that spreads like a virus across parts of the world. The fight against that virus is likely to last as long as we all live.




Sept. 22

The Herald-Sun, Durham, North Carolina, on staying on healthy path:

The Partnership for a Healthy Durham’s website offers a fascinating snapshot into the health of the county’s population. In its State of the County Health Report, the partnership examines demographics, looks at the leading causes of death and examines the county’s six health priorities. It also spotlights emerging health issues.

Among the statistics on the site are the percentage of people in Durham with health insurance, how many people live in poverty and how many are overweight and obese.

Those statistics tie into two recent events that took place in Durham.

Over the weekend, Lincoln Community Health Center opened its doors for a free men’s health fair and clinic. Sponsored by the Duke Division of Urology, the event had Duke doctors on-site to perform screenings.

In past years, the clinic has seen 300 to 400 men over two days. This year, it sought to widen its reach, emphasizing outreach in the Asian and Latino communities. By 9 a.m. Saturday, almost 100 patients had already been seen.

Those numbers are encouraging. Nadine Barrett, director of the Office of Health Equity at the Duke Cancer Institute, said the clinics are important because many men are less likely to seek out health care unless they believe their condition is serious or if they are in pain. But based on the response, the clinic may provide a way to engage more men in their health with better long-term outcomes.

The other health event, which took place last week, was a conversation on obesity and chronic illness that the Partnership for a Health Durham organized. It was one of a series of community meetings that will help the organization in creating the 2014 Community Health Assessment report.

The proportion of Durham County residents who are obese has remained level since 2008, as has the proportion or residents who are overweight.

The lack of progress is disturbing, particularly in light of local efforts to increase exercise and spur weight loss that range from building trails to planning events that encourage physical activity.

Finding ways to encourage people to eat better and exercise more is a national challenge, and one for which we hope residents here will help health officials find a solution.

Engaging local residents and listening to their ideas on how to create better health outcomes seems like the right path to leading us to a healthier community.




Sept. 24

Fayetteville (North Carolina) Observer on e-cigarettes:

Teens have embraced the message that tobacco use is addictive and unhealthy. Fewer North Carolina youngsters are using tobacco than ever.

But their use of e-cigarettes and other vaporized nicotine delivery systems is soaring. E-cigarette sales to minors are banned but enforcement is difficult.

E-cigarette companies say all nicotine products, including theirs, are for adults. But they also point out that these products lack the cancer-causing ingredients that make smoking tobacco so hazardous.

That’s misleading. Dr. Ruth Petersen, chief of the Chronic Disease and Injury Section of the N.C. Division of Public Health, notes that the nicotine in e-cigarettes is highly addictive and use during adolescence can harm brain development. She warns that too many teens think they’re just inhaling flavored water vapor instead of a harmful product.

County officials are concerned about e-cigarette use on public property and may add these products to their definition of smoking, which is already banned.

Clearer state and local rules on vapor products are needed. The state should also add e-cigarettes to its effective anti-tobacco campaign. Arming kids with the facts has empowered them to reject tobacco use. The same should work for all nicotine products.



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