Opinion Outpost Feb. 9

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Zika Virus

We had never heard of it until a few weeks ago, and we are naturally afraid of something unknown or new – especially when it is something we can’t control.

… But the most powerful virus of all is fear. It’s very contagious. Travel advisories make sense, but the need for them inflates the perception that simply traveling south puts you at risk. No public health official wants to be responsible for even one horrible birth defect, but the perception of risk is far greater than the reality.

—  Dr. Marc Siegel
Fox News

We’re not dealing with a killer like Ebola. Zika typically produces a mild fever, a rash, conjunctivitis (the once-dreaded “pink eye”) and aches and pains.

… So what should Americans do? First, don’t panic. Then it’s a matter of the same things Americans have been advised to do for years where mosquitoes are concerned. It’s common sense stuff, really.

—  Editorial Board
Burlington Times News

The problem is that Zika is not Ebola, or anything like Ebola, and declaring Zika an emergency will simply stoke fear, and even panic, in a public that deserves to have public health decisions made on the basis of facts and science, rather than on politics and fear.

— George Annas, Sandro Galea and Donald Thea
The Boston Globe

If it’s possible to do the right thing and send the wrong message at the same time, the World Health Organization has managed the feat.

Monday’s declaration that the Zika virus constitutes an international public health emergency will help mobilize resources and action. But the agency’s language…served more to frighten than illuminate.

— Editorial Board
USA Today

Syria Suffers

The brutal Syrian civil war has reached a crisis point, with more than 250,000 dead and 12 million Syrians homeless. The cancer of this war has metastasized into neighboring countries and the heart of Europe. It could destabilize the Middle East for a generation.

We believe that President Obama can no longer avoid providing stronger American leadership to reverse this tidal wave of suffering and violence.

— Nicholas Burns and James Jeffrey
The Washington Post

After almost five years of civil war in Syria, a three-week postponement of United Nations negotiations to end the conflict might seem like a minor setback.

… But the causes of the delay…are not procedural quibbles. If they aren’t addressed quickly there could be a collapse of the diplomatic process, more bloodshed and a further exodus of refuges from a country that has already seen more than 4 million people seek haven outside its borders.

— Editorial Board 
Los Angeles Times

The truth is that this war is not about to end anytime soon. It is a conflict in which the various sides are fighting for power, for territory, for sectarian advantage, for religion and ideology, but one in which no one seems to be fighting for the interests of the Syrian people themselves.

— Frida Ghitis
CNN

New Hampshire

I suspect “the Donald” will not do as well as predicted by the pollsters. He may still win the majority of “Live Free or Die” voters of New Hampshire, but I suspect (predict) the road forward to the GOP nomination will be a slippery slope for Trump. He will be hard-pressed to keep a voter lead.

— Raymond Bateman
Daily Record

New Hampshire is not America. New Hampshire is even whiter than Iowa. Its largest “city” has 110,000 people in it. Its population is slightly more educated and well off than the rest of the country.

… This distorts results for both parties, but it especially affects Democrats because minorities vote in Republican primaries far less.

— Dick Meyer Scripps
The Grand Island Independent

Before the word “focus group” was ever invented, New Hampshire has acted as one, a place where every voter has the opportunity to listen to what all the candidates have to say, ask them questions and judge them on more than just the quality of their TV ads.

— Editorial Board 
Kennebec Journal

If polls are to be believed (and they were not terribly accurate in Iowa), Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump are clear favorites in New Hampshire, the first primary.

… We don’t believe their leads are as big as the polls suggest. And Voters in New Hampshire are notoriously fickle late deciders …making any predictions about what they will do several days before an election dangerous.

— Larry J. Sabato and Kyle Kondik 
The Daily Progress

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