Editorial voices from around the U.S., elsewhere

February 28, 2014

Excerpts from recent editorials in newspapers in the United States and abroad as compiled by the Associated Press:

Albuquerque (N.M.) Journal

More than one in three people in the United States is obese, the category beyond overweight, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That increases the risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes and some cancers.

A new study published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings suggests an answer as to why, and it has little to do with Washington, D.C., policy or medical insurance coverage.

Lead author Edward C. Archer, who studies nutrition and obesity at the University of Alabama, Birmingham, tracked the movements of 2,600 adults age 20 to 74 to see what they did all day.

It amounted to not a lot.

Obese women averaged about 11 seconds a day of vigorous exercise; men and women of normal weight less than two minutes a day. Archer said it’s a real commentary on how lifestyles have changed, with people today “living their lives from one chair to another.”

“We didn’t realize we were that sedentary,” he said. “There are some people who are vigorously active, but it’s offset by the huge number of individuals who are inactive. I think they’re living the typical life. They drive their children to school, they sit at a desk all day long, they may play some video games and they go to sleep.”

And while a cornerstone of Obamacare was expanding access to preventive care, that alone won’t tip the scales, as it were, on the serious health effects – and costs – of 11 seconds of exercise a day.

Kansas City Star

Here’s how President Barack Obama explained his policy in Libya: “In this particular country – Libya – at this particular moment, we were faced with the prospect of violence on a horrific scale. We had a unique ability to stop that violence.”

Judging by the administration’s tepid response to even ghastlier violence in Syria, this “unique ability” was the critical determinant in Libya – not the moral imperative to prevent more bloodshed.

But Syria is more troubling than Libya in every conceivable way. There are more than 8 million internal and external refugees and almost 140,000 people have perished, compared with 1.5 million refugees and 30,000 deaths in Libya.

Beyond the revolting human cost, there are serious strategic concerns. Syria is a more difficult situation, but there’s a lot more to lose.

Blatant rhetorical inconsistency serves as a good warning – never take high-minded presidential reassurances at face value. Yes, the chemical weapons are now secure. The people of Syria and our interests in the Middle East, on the other hand, aren’t. Let’s be honest about it.

The Japan Times

A United Nations human rights inquiry has concluded that the brutality of the North Korean government “does not have any parallel in the contemporary world.” After detailing the multitude of crimes committed by the regime against its own people, the panel said that it would refer its findings to the International Criminal Court for possible prosecution and warned North Korean leader Kim Jung Un that he could be tried for crimes against humanity.

That assessment is long overdue: The crimes and abuses of the Pyongyang government are well known; the only thing that has been missing is official acknowledgement of them.

Sadly little will come of this path-breaking report: China has objected to its content and conclusions, and will likely veto its consideration by the United Nations Security Council.

The burden is now on the rest of the world to maintain its vigilance, to not be cowed by China and to maintain pressure on the Pyongyang government to make meaningful reform. Japan should take a leading role in such efforts.



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