Editorial roundup – June 29

Exercise caution around railroads

(Marion) Chronicle-Tribune

We’ve all been there before.

You’re running late for an important appointment and the arms on the railroad crossing begin to drop and the warning lights begin flashing. You check both directions and see the train is a few hundred yards away. You ask yourself, “Should I speed up and make it across the tracks?” We’d like to think that you chose not to do so but, unfortunately, that is not always the case.

In 2012, there were 337 railroad crossing accidents resulting in about 19 fatalities in the state of Indiana. These numbers only reflect people who were injured or killed, not those people who broke the law and suffered no consequences.

Operation Lifesaver officials remind individuals that:

Freight trains don’t travel at fixed times, and schedules of passenger trains change. In other words, always expect a train at each crossing.

The average locomotive weighs about 200 tons and can pull up to 6,000 tons. That makes the weight ratio of car to train proportional to a soda can and a car.

Trains have the right of way 100 percent of the time, even over emergency vehicles.

Remember that the train you see is moving faster and is closer than you think.

Remember, too, that trains can’t stop quickly. Even if the engineer sees you, a train moving at 55 mph can take up to 18 football fields to stop.

Never drive around a downed gate, even if you think it is malfunctioning. It is illegal to do so. If you think it is malfunctioning, there is an emergency number to call posted near the signal, or call local law enforcement.

If walking, remember the only safe place to cross is at designated cross walks. Crossing elsewhere along a track constitutes trespassing, as the tracks are private property owned by the railroad.

State gets report card on prosperity

KPC News

Indiana is making strides, but we still face a long road ahead to meet goals set by some of the state’s leaders. The Indiana Vision 2025 Report Card, issued by the Indiana Chamber of Commerce, tracks our progress toward an overall goal set for 10 years from now: “Indiana will be a global leader in innovation and economic opportunity where enterprises and citizens prosper.”

The report card does not give us grades in a traditional A through F format. It tracks our performance on a whopping 33 goals designed to help us reach the big goal. Compared to two years ago, Hoosiers have moved forward in several areas, the report says. Our schools showed significant gains in math and reading scores for fourth and eighth grades. Hoosier fourth-graders ranked No. 4 in the nation in math. Our poverty rate improved from 35th to 12th in only two years.

The report gives credit to the strong rebound of Indiana’s manufacturing industries coming out of the recession. We’ve moved up in spending on research and development at universities (18th) and businesses (12th).

Our rate of adult smoking has dropped from 25.6 percent to 21.9 percent, although we still rank 39th among the states in that category. We also held steady at an embarrassing 42nd place in obesity with a rate of nearly 32 percent.

Hoosiers still have plenty of room to improve in other areas. The biggest challenge will be meeting the goal to offer “outstanding talent” to potential new businesses. Indiana ranks 45th in the percentage of adults who hold an associate’s degree or higher — at 30 percent. If we measure Hoosiers who have a bachelor’s degree or higher, it’s 24 percent, which ranks 42nd in the nation. We need to reach 29 percent just to match the national average.

State leaders need to make it more convenient and affordable to continue our education beyond high school. It’s in the best interests of all Hoosiers to get more training and better jobs. But a little encouragement would help us hit the books.

U.S., Russia need to back off threats

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (TNS)

The situation along NATO’s border with Russia, in the region of the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, remains dangerous in terms of a renewal of the U.S.-Soviet Cold War or, worse, an incident which could launch a hot war there.

The three nations have reason to be concerned about Russia’s intentions. Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine last year and has had some success in bullying neighbors such as Georgia and Moldova. Substantial numbers of Russian-speaking people live in the Baltic states. Yet Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine, the principal victim of Russia’s current activism in its region, are not members of NATO, unlike the three Baltic states.

The real defense of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania lies in their NATO membership. If Russia were to attack them, the other 25 members of NATO, including the United States, would be bound to come to their aid — a mighty, permanent guarantee of their security.

Given that, threatening statements to build up forces in the Baltic states, notably by Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Martin E. Dempsey, are unhelpful and provocative. If there were a buildup of U.S. troops there, the activity, combined with Moscow’s own sometimes foolishly bellicose attitude, would run the risk of a serious military incident which could easily escalate into war.

An achievement shared by nine U.S. presidents between 1945 and 1990 was to manage foreign policy during a difficult period of confrontation and, eventually, Soviet decline without a war having broken out directly between the world’s two superpowers. The idea that it could now occur, when the world can least afford it, is appalling.