Recent editorials from Louisiana newspapers:
The Advocate on honoring Veteran’s Day and remembering those who have served:
America is built on representative government and capitalism, two institutions that recognize how fickle humans can be.
The marketplace of ideas we call politics and the marketplace of products we call free enterprise both assume that people are pliable creatures, likely to change their minds in a hurry. We honor choice as a national birthright.
But the country’s freedom is protected by men and women who give up a world of choices so that we can continue to have ours. They are the Americans who work in our military, a call to service that doesn’t indulge inconstancy or caprice. They deserve our honor this Veterans Day - and every Veterans Day.
One cannot easily opt out once a commitment to military service is made. And when the battle is joined, we ask brave men and women to risk their lives - yes, their very lives - to defend this nation’s interests. It’s not a sacrifice that can properly be undertaken on a whim, shaped by the latest poll numbers or focus groups.
That’s why those long rows of white tombstones at our nation’s military cemeteries are such a striking part of the American landscape. They demonstrate, in a country touched by flux and equivocation and the endless mutability of opinion, that there have always been warriors who embrace principle as a fixed star, not a fashion statement.
Tiny American flags bloom from those cemeteries every Memorial Day, the day we set aside to honor the nation’s war dead. Veterans Day recognizes the veterans yet with us - the ones we can still find in our neighborhoods, our churches and temples, the grocery store. America is blessed by the presence of these veterans in our civic life. They bear living witness not only to the privilege of liberty but its costs.
Not all members of the military see battle during their service, but there are other hardships in serving in America’s armed forces. The profound pain of separation from family, the loss of privacy, the boredom - these are no small things. It is right and good that we should acknowledge those sacrifices each November, as the holidays approach. This Thanksgiving and yuletide season, as in every year, soldiers and sailors and airmen will be serving far away from home.
Today, we pause, in a month marked by gatherings for gratitude, to say thanks to our veterans. Their contributions are easy to overlook, but we forget their service at our peril.
The Advocate on the continuing need to wear masks to fight the coronavirus pandemic:
With the onset of winter in many states to our north, surges have occurred in the number of COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations. We’ve avoided much of the latest wave in Louisiana.
Gov. John Bel Edwards is right to want to keep it that way.
The surge in cases isn’t entirely limited to the Frost Belt. Folks in El Paso, Texas, have seen alarming numbers of new cases and a crisis in ICU beds, for example.
And if we don’t have harsh winters, we do get cool weather and more people will want to be inside. It’s simply a matter of common sense that the spread of the novel coronavirus is more likely inside than out.
Edwards extended the current Phase 3 restrictions through Dec. 4 by executive order, although he once again gave a little as people do want to enjoy milder days this time of year. High school football games can now seat up to 50% capacity.
However, the main thing is that restrictions are needed as the numbers of cases rise in the nation. “Now is exactly the wrong time to remove these restrictions and mitigation measures,” Edwards said.
We agree, although as always we remain concerned - as we are confident Edwards is - that economic and social costs rise during the dreadful shutdowns of 2020.
Business failures and unemployment are common and families are making sacrifices. Unfortunately, this is a situation in which there is no easy solution. Another rapid rise in cases, and thus hospitalizations, would again threaten the stability of health care.
We don’t want to be El Paso, nor where we were months ago.
There is the usual Louisiana political drama, with a GOP-led Legislature trying to suspend at least for a while the executive orders that Edwards has used, successfully, to combat COVID-19. The next court hearing in that political power struggle will come Thursday, but so far the governor has had a pretty good track record in court.
Attorney General Jeff Landry, once a backer of restrictions, is now irresponsibly attacking them: “We’ve got a governor that believes he knows what’s best for each and every one of you,” Landry said at a Livingston Parish event. “He believes you don’t have enough sense to take care of yourselves.”
In fact, the attorney general’s rhetoric reveals a truth about the pandemic: People do want to take care of themselves. That is why business restrictions, not an end but a means, are not really driven by orders and enforcement, but by residents worried about a life-threatening disease.
We don’t like restrictions, especially over Thanksgiving and potentially into the Christmas and Hanukkah season. But we see their necessity, and we’re not going to indulge in populist rhetoric over harsh necessities of life.
The American Press on Louisiana’s childhood obesity rates:
Louisiana has the sixth highest rate of childhood obesity in the country, according to new data that is stroking fears that children participating in virtual learning this school year will only make those numbers worse.
Louisiana’s rate is 20.1 percent for children between the ages 10 to 17 - well above the national average of 15.5 percent.
Even before Hurricanes Laura and Delta delayed our local schools from opening, children were already on lockdowns implemented earlier this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Those two factors combined are expected to negatively impact diet, sleep and physical activity among children with obesity.
A recent study by Dr. Steven Heymsfield, professor at the LSU Pennington Biomedical Research Center, and Dr. Angelo Pietrobelli, professor at the University of Verona in Italy, seems to confirm this.
Heymsfield and Pietrobelli examined 41 overweight children under a two-month confinement in Verona, Italy, earlier this year. Compared to behaviors recorded a year prior, the children ate an additional meal per day; slept an extra half hour per day; added nearly five hours per day in front of phone, computer and television screens; and dramatically increased their consumption of red meat, sugary drinks and junk foods.
Physical activity, on the other hand, decreased by more than two hours per week, and the amount of vegetables consumed remained unchanged.
Children and teens struggling with obesity are now being placed in an unfortunate position of isolation that appears to create an unfavorable environment for maintaining healthy lifestyle. Obese children have a higher risk of chronic health conditions, such as asthma, sleep apnea, bone and joint problems, Type 2 diabetes and risk factors for heart disease.
For the millions of American schoolchildren learning from home this school year, their “classroom” offers no recess, which has the potential to exacerbate this public health crisis.
“It’s unprecedented that we’re inside, we’re out of normal routines. So it stands to reason that levels of inactivity are only going to worsen,” Cedric Bryant, president and chief science officer of the American Council on Exercise, told The Washington Post.
The ambition for a healthier nation, during and beyond COVID-19, is to be praised. But no challenge is more urgent than protecting the health and safety of our children.
The results of doing so can last a lifetime.
All children deserve a healthy start in life; it’s our responsibility to make that possible.
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