Online Opinion Outpost: Nov. 4, 2014


The Online Opinion Outpost features opinions and commentary on the latest hot topics from national news sources. As much as you love hearing from The Universe, we thought you might like to hear from journalists around the nation.

Ebola quarantine
The Los Angeles Times

Neither side in the Ebola quarantine debate has presented enough facts to buttress its beliefs about healthcare workers returning to the U.S. from the three afflicted West African nations. But the weight of evidence falls strongly against the use of mandatory quarantines for those who worked with Ebola patients.
The safest, most conservative step obviously would be to require volunteers returning from the front lines to stay at home for 21 days, the incubation period of the disease. But look at the reality: Of the hundreds who have worked with Doctors Without Borders and other groups and have returned to their home countries over the last six months, there is not a single known instance in which any of them has infected others.
At the same time, though, the government officials and nonprofit aid agencies opposing quarantines have been less than thoroughly persuasive in arguing that quarantines would be so onerous for overseas volunteers that many would decline to help anymore. They have offered no real proof but have merely suggested broadly that a quarantine period would serve as a “disincentive.”
If there were evidence that firm quarantine rules would prevent significant illness, then more stringent policies would be justified.


Men and catcalls
Mel Robbins, CNN

If you are a woman, you’ve likely experienced the creepy, disrespectful and sometimes scary way some men treat you as you walk down the street.
It can be very hard to explain why catcalls and unwanted comments amount to harassment. Thankfully, there’s a new video online that drives it home. In it, a woman walks around Manhattan for 10 hours (a hidden video camera is in front of her and she’s got microphones in each hand.) She’s harassed 108 times as she walks (silently) down the streets of the city.
Since so many of you believe that women provoke violence and even rape based on how they dress — get this, the woman in the video is wearing a plain T-shirt and jeans. There’s no cleavage or midriff or bare leg showing — she’s just a gal walking down the street.
The video is compelling, particularly for women. It is uncomfortable to be harassed like this walking down the street, and yes, harassment is exactly what it is. In fact, in many states, it’s also illegal.
When you catcall, the attention, the comments, the looks are unwanted and they can make a woman feel emotionally and physically uncomfortable. A woman (or a girl) walking down the street just wants to be left alone.


Midterm election discontent
The Washington Post

As next week’s midterm elections approach, Americans are in a dark mood. The latest Washington Post-ABC News poll, released Tuesday, reports that 68 percent of likely voters think that the country is “on the wrong track”; a CNN-ORC International poll that came out the same day says 68 percent are angry “about the way things are going in the country today.”
The roots of this election season’s discontent seem to lie not so much in the ebb and flow of events but instead in a spreading sense that national political institutions, beset with partisanship, no longer work well.
Candidates of both parties in this fall’s races are boasting of their willingness to work “across the aisle.”
We shall see. In the Senate, members from both parties are said to be chafing under the hyperpartisan control of Democratic boss Harry Reid (Nev.) and his Republican nemesis, Mitch McConnell (Ky.). They reportedly want to get things done on a bipartisan basis. Yet, with a handful of exceptions, their efforts have born no legislative fruit, and few have dared to speak out forcefully against their leaders’ obstructionist ways.


Apple’s announcement
USA Today

When Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple, makes a big announcement, it’s usually in front of a large crowd, on a tricked out stage, with an iGadget firmly in hand. And the world is usually watching. This time, the world reacted, but the announcement was more personal than professional. Cook came out as gay in an Oct. 30 column for Bloomberg Businessweek.
While the late-night comics have embraced the announcement, they are also wary of the Apple pitfalls. As one comic states, in true Apple fashion, a new Tim Cook is going to come out next week. Another points out how Samsung’s CEO is going to make his own, even bigger announcement to one-up Apple. Listen to today’s Punchlines to find out what that is.
This year alone, at least 28 states have introduced or have pending legislation to curb the posting of humiliating sexual images, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. It’s all well-intentioned, but on thin ice constitutionally.

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