Summary of recent North Carolina newspaper editorials


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Recent editorials from North Carolina newspapers:

Feb. 25

Fayetteville (North Carolina) Observer, on measures to mothball the 440th Airlift Wing at Fort Bragg:

Amid criticism over measures to mothball the 440th Airlift Wing based at Fort Bragg's Pope Airfield, Air Force spokesman Col. Robert Palmer has fired back with assurances that steps taken included "no actions prohibited by law."

An Air Force Reserve Command team is assisting 1,200 airmen in finding other jobs, even though Congress passed a measure to keep the unit's planes at Fort Bragg. Moving pilots and crew isn't the same as moving planes, explained Palmer.

As Sen. Thom Tillis' communications director, Daniel Keylin, noted, "Only in Washington would bureaucrats believe that C-130s can fly themselves without pilots and maintainers."

The word for this kind of argument is a "dodge." It may all be technically legal, even if it's the opposite of what Congress had in mind. But it's still a horrible command decision.

Employing similar feats of logical acrobatics, the Air Force said the Army had access to these plans and didn't object. But making a thick set of budgetary proposals available isn't the same thing as drawing the Army's attention to a specific plan laid out within. Army commanders certainly weren't asked to sign off on inactivating the 440th or assess the impact on their own mission.

Certainly no one from the Air Force bothered to ask Lt. Gen. Joseph Anderson, commander of Fort Bragg and the 18th Airborne Corps. He was in Afghanistan when inactivation came up last year, but you might think somebody from the Air Force would have made a courtesy call.

As Anderson noted Monday, the airlift wing's mission is to support the 18th Airborne Corps and special operations forces with training and readiness. There's no way that could be done effectively without planes permanently stationed at Fort Bragg. The commander is aware of the budgetary constraints in which all branches of service are operating right now. But inactivating the 440th doesn't add up.

"Of all places in the world, why would we take that capability away from Fort Bragg?" Anderson asked. He said they "should not go," the strongest public statement on the subject to date from a high-ranking Army officer.

The general's observations show why Congress needs to step in and halt the dismantling of 440th personnel that's already underway. It also begs the question of how we ever got to this point.

How could one service branch make a decision of such substantial impact without high-level discussions with other branches and leadership from the Pentagon?



Feb. 23

Winston-Salem (North Carolina) Journal on film tax credits:

Despite the legislature's elimination of a popular tax-incentive program for TV and film projects, film is not dead in North Carolina - at least, not film appreciation. Film creation may be another story.

But film supporters haven't given up hope of restoring the incentives program for this money-making industry in our state. As part of an apparent push for awareness, a new film and exhibit series - "Made in Winston-Salem" - starting next month will focus on movies that were filmed in Winston-Salem, the Journal's Tim Clodfelter reported recently. The program is a collaboration between Aperture Cinema, the Piedmont Triad Film Commission and the New Winston Museum.

The films will include the 2006 documentary "The Trials of Darryl Hunt;" ''George Washington," which features Paul Schneider of the recent "Goodbye to All That" and the late Eddie Rouse, a character actor who lived in Winston-Salem for many years; "Junebug," written by local writer Angus MacLachlan; and "Mr. Destiny," a 1990 comedy starring Jim Belushi. A schedule and more information can be found online at:

The screenings will include panel discussions. We suspect that restoration of the film tax credits will surface in those talks.

Winston-Salem supporters aren't alone in the fight. Wilmington Mayor Bill Saffo and other community leaders spoke Thursday at EUE/Screen Gems Studios, a 50-acre soundstage lot in Wilmington, about the loss of tax credits, The Associated Press reported last week. Saffo spoke about the 2015 grant-based program providing $10 million in rebates for qualifying projects, a bone the legislature tossed to filmmakers after the loss of the tax incentives. Saffo said that that's not enough; he said that increasing the amount of money available in the new grant program is essential to making North Carolina's film industry competitive again.

The film industry in North Carolina was a proved commodity, with returns, in terms of money spent and jobs created, far outpacing the investment in the tax credits - as high as nine to one. From 2007 to 2012, the film industry spent more than $1 billion here, which included not just the salaries of movie professionals, but those of caterers, carpenters, hotel owners and other North Carolina residents.

With the passing of the film tax incentives, film professionals have moved to other states, including those who were shooting the FOX TV series "Sleepy Hollow" in Wilmington. After decades of activity, there are now currently no major motion pictures scheduled to be filmed in North Carolina.

If the legislature truly intends to improve our economic picture, it dropped the ball on this one. We once again urge it to restore the tax incentives program.



Feb. 25

News & Record, Greensboro, North Carolina, on free-speech fight over nutrition blog:

Steve Cooksey was in bad shape. He was overweight and newly diagnosed with diabetes in 2009. So he did something about it, in dramatic fashion.

After radically changing his diet, he lost 78 pounds and saw his blood sugar return to normal. He was so enthusiastic about his accomplishment — who wouldn't be? — that he started a blog to share his story.

Then he heard from the N.C. Board of Dietetics/Nutrition.

The board's mission is to "protect the health, safety, and welfare of the citizens of North Carolina from harmful nutrition practice by providing for the licensure and regulation of persons engaged in the practice of dietetics/nutrition and by establishing educational standards for those persons."

By late-2011, Cooksey's blog had become so popular that readers were seeking his advice about diet and healthy practices, and he was using his own experience to offer suggestions. That is where he ran into trouble.

When Cooksey answered a reader who asked about a friend: "Your friend must first and foremost obtain and maintain normal blood sugars," the Board of Dietetics/Nutrition responded that he was "assessing and advising — requires a license."

It elaborated: "If people are writing you with diabetic specific questions you are no longer just providing information — you are counseling. You need a license to provide this service."

Nowhere on Cooksey's blog,, did he claim to have professional credentials. He didn't say he was a doctor or nutritionist. He didn't charge for giving advice. He was just a guy who found a healthy formula for himself and wanted to share it.

Nevertheless, Cooksey discontinued his advice column after hearing from the state. He also initiated legal action to secure his right to do what he'd been doing. With the help of the Institute for Justice, a civil liberties organization, he's finally prevailed.

The board recently adopted new guidelines making it clear that people can give ordinary diet advice without a license.

"North Carolina cannot require someone like Steve to be a state-licensed dietitian any more than it could require Dear Abby to be a state-licensed psychologist," Institute for Justice attorney Jeff Rowes said.

That's good. While it's important that people who are providing professional medical services maintain the proper credentials and comply with licensing requirements, laymen should not be held to the same standards. Otherwise, Grandma's cure-for-what-ails-you would violate some rule or regulation.

People love to give advice, which usually amounts to endorsing a treatment that "always worked" for members of the family. Listeners take it with a grain of salt and usually know when it's time to seek professional care.

Steve Cooksey may have been unusually passionate about his path to better health, but he was still just an amateur who'd had the good fortune to find what worked for him. By sharing his story, he may have helped some other people, or maybe not.

Whatever the case, he didn't do anything that should have made the licensing board ill.


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