What they're saying…

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Excerpts from recent editorials in newspapers in the United States and abroad:

Nov. 15

Detroit Free Press, on state bottle deposit laws:

Michigan water that leaves the state in bottles gets a fair amount of debate. Unfortunately, the bottles themselves do not. For a state that led the nation in bottle deposits a few decades back, Michigan has proved awfully lackadaisical ever since.

Michiganders ought to tell their lawmakers that they're ready to take the next step in bottle deposits and add noncarbonated beverages to the list. Besides water, that would include beverages such as tea, sports drinks and juice. Considering the fact that drinking more of these beverages has decreased or slowed the growth in sales of colas and other carbonated beverages, the amount of plastic that heads for the landfill has likely increased here, as it has nationwide over the last decade or so. ...

The kind of plastic used in drink bottles is a premier recyclable, and goes into synthetic materials, carpets and a host of other products. It's silly in an age of tightening petroleum supplies to bury this particular part of the petrochemical supply.

As the Legislature discusses water laws for Michigan, some nervy lawmaker ought to throw an expanded deposit bill into the mix of pending legislation.

It could prove a useful bargaining chip -- or lawmakers might pass it to avert something they believe is worse, and clear the state's streets and landfills of this unsightly problem.

Nov. 19

The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer, on Barry Bonds:

On Dec. 4, 2003, Barry Bonds was summoned before a federal grand jury investigating a San Francisco-area laboratory suspected of dispensing illegal, performance-enhancing drugs to elite athletes. The outsized Giants slugger swore he would tell the truth and was told that if he did, nothing he said could be used to make a case against him.

Other stars who testified in the Balco case apparently took that immunity to heart and disclosed their use of steroids, human growth hormone and other substances they had used to get bigger, faster, stronger or to heal more quickly. Bonds, according to leaked grand jury testimony, insisted that he never knowingly used anything more potent than flaxseed oil. Federal prosecutors did not believe him, and last week they indicted Major League Baseball's career home-run leader on four counts of perjury and one of obstructing justice.

Bonds, a free agent at 43, has probably seen the end of his baseball career. His reputation is in tatters; most fans long ago concluded he was a cheat. Bonds has insisted all along that they are wrong. Now he has a chance to prove it in a court of law.

Nov. 19

El Paso (Texas) Times, on flight schedules this holiday season:

President Bush made a good move in ordering detailed steps be taken to reduce traffic congestion and long flight delays on commercial airlines. ...

Most often we favor government staying out of the private business sector, but, as Bush said, "Business as usual is not good enough for American travelers."

The airlines have been providing shoddy service. Almost 30 percent of flights do not arrive on time; it's the worst year to fly since 2000.

Opening two air corridors off the eastern seaboard that are usually restricted to military flights is a good, logical move. ...

Bush's promise to make airlines double the compensation they pay passengers bumped from overbooked flights is also a good move. That would go into effect next summer.

Also, the Bush plan includes increased airport fees at peak hours. It includes auctioning runway time for "the highest value flights" to encourage carriers to spread flights over more hours.

Obviously the airline industry is faced with several problems it has difficulty in overcoming. One such is a shortage of air traffic controllers to handle all the holiday traffic.

Bush has sent a strong message. Airlines, in conjunction with the Department of Transportation and Federal Aviation Administration must produce solutions to a national travel problem.

More air lanes at holiday times is a good first move.

Nov. 16

The Coloradoan of Fort Collins, on teen driving and cell phones:

These are chilling findings: More than half of 460 teenage drivers surveyed by AAA Colorado said they send or receive text messages on their cell phones while driving.

Of those surveyed, 66 percent said they talk on their cell phones while driving. ...

Cell phone usage alone is considered dangerous because it prompts what is referred to as cognitive blindness. The user may be looking at the road while talking on the phone, but their brain "sees" the person to whom they are talking, creating a safety distraction.

Factor in text messaging, in which drivers have to look at the phone instead of the road, and the situation is even more perilous. Compounding the problem is that younger drivers are inexperienced and more easily distracted than older drivers. ...

The next step for AAA Colorado, and perhaps the Colorado State Highway Patrol, is to determine whether those figures are connected to any increase in accidents involving teenagers. If so, stronger laws may be in order. Currently, only those who hold driver's permits in Colorado are prohibited from using cell phones while driving.

While Colorado studies the issue further, parents should seize the opportunity to take a look at this information. A change in law may be effective in reducing texting and cell phone usage, but additional vigilance from parents is likely more potent in keeping their children safe.

Nov. 20

(Melbourne) Florida Today, on port pollution:

Congress should pass bill making ships in U.S. waters clean up their act.

While America has for years fought the pollution created by cars, factories and power plants, another type of pollution has been pouring into the air with little public note.

It's the residue from the stacks of countless oceangoing ships, some of which burn the dirtiest fuel on the planet.

The results of a new study by the University of Delaware and others show the pollution calls for investigation, for the health of those living near ports, including Port Canaveral.

On entering a harbor, one ship can make as much smog-generating pollution as 350,000 cars.

That's because the fuel has nearly 2,000 times the sulfur content as diesel fuel used on our highways -- and ships' emissions are largely unregulated. The result, the study estimates, is that 64,000 people worldwide die annually from pollution-connected heart and lung disease. ...

Some industry officials call the claims exaggerated. But the Cruise Lines International Association says it's on board with pending proposals to significantly cut pollution, and we hope they aren't just blowing smoke. ...

Congress should pass a bill now under consideration to require ships to burn cleaner fuels in U.S. waters, and also put more pressure on foreign-flagged ships that profit from visiting our ports.

Clean air is everyone's concern.