The following are excerpts of editorials in other newspapers across New England:
If you were Leanne Smith’s family in North Conway, would you travel to Sochi, Russia, to watch her compete for the U.S. Olympic alpine ski team? What if you were a friend of Olympic ski jumper Nick Alexander of Lebanon?
Numerous Olympic athletes with New Hampshire ties headed to Russia to compete. But the excitement that accompanies this year’s winter games -- for athletes, families and viewers alike -- has been tempered by a real fear of terrorist attacks. So far, no athletes have pulled out. But many families are weighing whether the trip is truly worth the risk. It’s easy to understand why -- and nearly impossible to put ourselves in their shoes.
International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach was compelled to defend the choice of Sochi as host of the Winter Olympics and expressed confidence that they would be “safe and secure.” He told reporters he was “sleeping very well” in the run-up to the games.
Hard to imagine, actually. Recently, the Olympic teams from the United States and some countries in Europe received emails warning of attacks if they participated in the games. The messages were determined to be a hoax, but the recipients were rattled.
Sochi is close to the terrorist hubs of Chechnya, Dagestan and Ingushetia. There have been suicide bombings not far from the Olympic venues -- and threats of more to come, including from three “black widow” bombers reportedly on the loose. And a top leader has called for his followers to “do their utmost” to derail the games.
The Boston Marathon bombing (not to mention the Olympic Games in Atlanta and Munich) showed that no mass gathering can be guaranteed safe from such threats. But the notion that Sochi would make the best possible Olympic venue now seems dangerously far-fetched.
Fears about Sochi are certainly not unreasonable. Let’s hope they are unrealized.
--The Concord Monitor
Setting nutrition standards
Potatoes get a bum rap. Like any food that’s fried in oil, french fries and potato chips should be eaten in moderation, but that does not mean that eating potatoes is unhealthy. They are a source of dietary fiber, potassium and vitamin C, among other benefits. They are also an inexpensive vegetable that’s easy to cook and should be a part of a balanced diet.
So we were disappointed that the U.S. Department of Agriculture, acting on the advice of a scientific panel, excluded white potatoes from the list of groceries subsidized by the Women, Infants and Children nutrition program. But that doesn’t mean we support the industry’s efforts to lobby furiously to get its product back on the list, or the championing of the cause by members of Maine’s congressional delegation.
Bad nutrition is a source of many of the nation’s most persistent health problems, from diabetes to heart disease, and government programs like WIC should be used to leverage the best habits to keep people healthy. Food-industry interests have already had outsize influence on American policy, and we are all paying the price.
WIC is a supplemental nutrition program, meaning that it is used to make sure that certain healthy foodstuffs are available to pregnant women and families with young children.
Potatoes -- unfortunately, mostly in their fried form -- are already a part of the American diet, and they don’t need a nudge from a government program to remind people to eat them.
Potatoes are not bad for us, but letting industry rewrite nutrition policies so it can avoid bad publicity is very bad for us all. The USDA should make its WIC list based on the best scientific advice, and the department should work with growers to educate the public about the real value of potatoes.
--The Portland (Maine) Press Herald