Recent editorials from North Carolina newspapers:
The Daily Reflector of Greenville on state flu preparedness:
Though many consider it little more than a miserable extended inconvenience, influenza afflicts between 3 million and 5 million people around the world each year, killing between 250,000 and 500,000 in its seasonal epidemics. In the United States alone, it has been responsible for as many as 49,000 deaths in a given year, making it annually one of the deadliest illnesses.
North Carolina health officials are already calling this the worst flu season in a decade and have blamed this year's strain for at least a dozen deaths statewide, with the worst months yet to come. For this reason, area residents — particularly those most at risk — should strongly consider seeking out and receiving a flu shot, which is widely available, in order to protect themselves. ...
In most years, doctors report the highest number of flu cases in February, though scientists offer competing theories as to why the illness occurs most frequently in winter months. Last year was relatively mild, and the state reported a small number of cases. This year, however, many hospitals have been forced to take an aggressive approach to vaccination due to the frequency of infection.
Influenza can affect anyone, but it is especially dangerous to children younger than age 2, pregnant women, those already afflicted with serious diseases and the elderly, mainly because related complications like pneumonia can prove fatal. Therefore health officials strongly urge these at-risk populations to receive the vaccination, which is available free at county health departments and for a small fee at most pharmacies.
... State health officials report that this year's vaccination is well matched to the strain of influenza seen across the state.
Given the risk and the severity, this is no time for bravado. Stop by the health department today and get the shot.
The Charlotte Observer on the NRA:
The National Rifle Association claims to do some worthwhile work. It teaches people how to shoot, care for and safely store firearms.
Those are about the only worthwhile things it does, and if you think about it, they don't really matter much. Even if there were no NRA, responsible gun owners would know how to shoot, care for and safely store firearms, and teach their children accordingly. It isn't brain surgery or rocket science. Only the NRA would have you believe it's a big deal.
The NRA probably knows it's not a big deal. What is a big deal for the NRA is to block any sort of reasonable gun control legislation. In that effort, it does nothing for target shooters, hunters or people who want a firearm to protect their homes and families, because nobody in any position of potential authority over such matters objects to firearms for those purposes.
Nor does it do anything to protect the Constitution. The Second Amendment doesn't mention assault weapons. The mass murderers and potential mass murderers whose right to own assault weapons is so zealously protected by the NRA aren't part of any militia.
The NRA leadership says the appropriate response to the tragedy in Newtown is to put an armed security officer in every school in America. Fine. Then maybe the NRA will take the money it uses for lobbying against reasonable gun controls and give it to local school systems to help pay for those thousands of additional security guards. But it isn't going to do that. Instead, it will continue to use its resources to try to assure that a mass murderer will have easy access to a weapon with which he could commit mass murder before an armed security officer could stop him. ...
In fact, since the NRA does so much real, bloody harm and so little practical good, maybe it's time for everyone who cares about public safety and the safety of children to stop paying dues or otherwise supporting the NRA. Just get rid of it. America would be a safer, saner place without it.
News & Observer of Raleigh on Gov. Perdue:
In the heady days after she became North Carolina's first female governor and Democrats exalted in Barack Obama's historic election to the presidency, Beverly Perdue may well have dreamed that late December 2012 would find her on the eve of her inauguration and the threshold of her second term.
That dream, like the dreams of so many others, withered in the Great Recession. From the start, Perdue's options as governor were dictated by the economy. She came to office facing a $4 billion state budget deficit that immediately forced her into cutting budgets and proposing tax increases.
That was a responsible approach, but it won't make a governor popular, and Perdue wasn't. That disfavor fed a Republican surge in 2010 that saw the GOP take control of the General Assembly for the first time in more than a century. Perdue, who had served long and well in the Legislature as a representative and senator from New Bern, found her knowledge of the legislative process and her knack for compromise often useless in the face of Republican insistence that it was their turn and it would be their way.
The GOP's approach changed Perdue's role. She was less of a governor and more of a Democrat. At times, she was the only check against Republican excesses. She vetoed 19 bills (11 overridden) during the 2011-2012 legislative session. She battled to hold off laws that would require ultrasound exams before abortions, give a tax break to the wealthy in a time of budget cuts, open North Carolina to fracking, cut public education funding and impose restrictions on casting a ballot through voter ID requirements. ...
A voter ID bill is likely to be among the first pieces of legislation that will roll through to become law in 2013 now that Republicans control the Legislature and the governor's office. Some Democrats didn't feel enthusiasm for Perdue, but all Democrats will miss her when she's gone.
Perdue's tenure was defined by what she stopped — or tried to stop. And her place in political history will be defined by what she decided not to do. Facing a shortfall in fundraising and concerned about the toll a campaign would take on her family, Perdue announced last January that she would not seek a second term.
That decision left Democrats in the lurch despite Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton's noble effort to carry the party's banner. But Perdue, much battered by the economy and Republican legislative leaders, likely would not have won re-election. It was a clear-eyed, if belated, decision. ...