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EDITORIALS

Roundup: Editorial opinions from other papers

Various sources
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Obama is right to push for Trans-Pacific Partnership

In his robust defense this week of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, President Barack Obama has reason on his side. But allaying anxiety, economic or otherwise, requires not so much reason as reassurance.

The challenge for Obama and other supporters of the deal is to overcome the country’s anti-trade mood without reopening the complex and hard-fought agreement, which would surely collapse in the attempt.

For starters, he could build on his budget’s “wage insurance” proposal to create a more sophisticated program to deal with trade’s economic dislocations. He should also put forward a detailed plan for how U.S. agencies will enforce the TPP’s groundbreaking provisions on labor rights and the environment.

To reassure those worried by other controversial provisions — notably the mechanism for resolving fights between foreign investors and states — the U.S. should ask its fellow TPP signers to agree to review the pact’s provisions after three years, to make sure that they are working as intended.

Of course, it’s also worth reiterating the case for this deal in particular — and free trade in general. The U.S. will be the TPP’s largest economic beneficiary in absolute terms. Its provisions have the potential to advance long-standing progressive goals on labor and the environment, dismantle a thicket of protectionist regulations, and reignite global trade liberalization largely on U.S. terms. The deal will also reinforce U.S. strategic interests in the world’s most dynamic region.

Moreover, the cost of walking away from the TPP will be measured in more than economic terms. As Singapore’s visiting Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said this week, the TPP is a test of U.S. “credibility and seriousness of purpose.” In the face of growing Chinese assertiveness, a U.S. failure to approve the pact will undermine not only its regional alliances but its ability to set the terms of global trade.

Bloomberg View, Aug. 5

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Sink your teeth into the flossing debate

For decades, dentists have drummed the same advice into Americans: Brush regularly and floss nightly because doing so helps prevent cavities and gum disease.

The flossing advice is so rote that everyone takes it for granted that someone somewhere actually studied this and can prove that flossing really works.

Wrong.

The Associated Press investigated the claims for flossing and found: The evidence is “weak, very unreliable,” of “very low” quality and carries “a moderate to large potential for bias.”

Our favorite moment in this floss beatdown: The federal government has recommended flossing since 1979, lately in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. But that recommendation must be based on scientific evidence. After AP inquiries, the feds removed the flossing recommendation from the guidelines this year ... and admitted to the AP that “the effectiveness of flossing had never been researched, as required.”

Now, before dentists and their defenders start firing off protest emails, let us hasten to add that we still floss every night and we’re no experts on the evidence behind the does-it-work-or-not controversy. If it doesn’t work as advertised, we figure, it probably isn’t doing any serious harm.

Still, the floss spool now joins a long and growing list of modern medical (and dietary) pronouncements, claims, warnings, caveats and advice that have proven over time to be unsubstantiated, misguided, wrong, dead wrong or even fatal.

Last year, the nation’s top nutrition advisory panel eased off its warnings about cholesterol, after years of warning egg-craving Americans to skip the omelet. Dietary cholesterol can no longer be considered a “nutrient of concern.”

Medicine often advances fitfully, but some prescriptions never change. For instance: The U.S. Surgeon General last year recommended a terrific pill-free way to improve your blood pressure, your mood and your overall health: Walk.

Chicago Tribune, Aug. 5