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Editorial: Opinion roundup (August 15,2014)

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Indiana needs more data on school bullying

Evansville Courier & Press

Indiana had more than 9,000 cases of bullying reported in its schools last year, but even that may fall short of what actually occurred between schoolchildren last school year. In fact, officials expect even more. According to The Associated Press and other media reports out of Indianapolis, student advocates say Indiana needs more data to fully assess the size of the problem in Indiana.

What is known from an Indiana Department of Education website is that of 9,396 reports of bullying, 44 percent were verbal incidents. Another 21 percent were physical.

According to the wire story, Indiana Safe Schools coordinator David Woodward said the data from the first year of the program is insufficient to provide a full assessment of bullying, only a starting point.


Interestingly enough, of the state’s more than 1,000 schools, 240 reported no bullying incidents, a difficult-to-believe statistic.

This data comes to Hoosiers as the result of a 2013 law endorsed by parents of bullying victims. It requires Indiana public schools to begin collecting data on bullying incidents. Looking at those schools that reported no bullying, they either need to tell the other schools how they do it, or they need to sharpen their reporting skills.

Mishandled executions demand moratorium

South Bend Tribune

The recent prolonged death of a convicted killer in Arizona — which that state’s Republican senator, John McCain, described as tantamount to torture — led the state attorney general to call a halt to all executions, pending an investigation.

The incident should give Indiana, which recently announced it would use a new drug as part of its lethal injection protocol, plenty to think about. And Arizona to act upon. Death row inmate Joseph Wood died nearly two hours after receiving a two-drug lethal injection combination.

The episode comes after botched executions in Oklahoma and Ohio. As drugmakers have begun refusing to sell their products for execution use, states have scrambled to come up with new drug combinations.

Indiana’s switch to Brevital is because of a shortage of sodium thiopental. State officials said that the powerful anesthetic is appropriate for executions. The company that makes Brevital strongly disagrees, arguing that the drug never has been used in lethal injections and isn’t approved for that purpose.

Indiana’s first execution since 2009 — which could come later this year — might proceed exactly as expected. The drug newly added to the protocol could act just as Indiana officials appear confident it will.

Gov. Mike Pence should order a moratorium on all executions until the state can be certain that its next execution won’t resemble an experiment in state-sanctioned torture.

Actor remembered for making world laugh      

Gannett Suburban Newspapers (New York)

Robin Williams did it all, but what he did most was make us laugh. The guy whose physical comedy and funny voices launched his TV sitcom stardom in the 1970s, shaping the oddball alien Mork into everyone’s friend, with his signature greeting, “Nanu, nanu.” His death Monday left a hole in the entertainment universe.

He spent much of the 1980s and 1990s on the big screen, playing a rogue radio DJ in “Good Morning, Vietnam” in 1987, an inspiring English teacher in “Dead Poets Society” in 1989, and so many more roles that mixed light-hearted comedy with dramatic undertones.

In the late ’90s, he won an Oscar for his role as a therapist counseling a math genius with a troubled childhood in “Good Will Hunting.”

In the days/weeks to come, Williams’ death will bring examinations of mental-health issues, and treatment and stigma, and suicide risks.

Twitter carried scores of mini eulogies for the comedian, actor, philanthropist, friend. Fellow comedian Steve Martin tweeted: “I could not be more stunned by the loss of Robin Williams, mensch, great talent, acting partner, genuine soul.”

The world shares in mourning this unbelievable loss.

Phone scammers searching for new prey

Albany (Georgia) Herald

Americans are finding their lives more and more virtually wired to the Internet.

Our dependence on being connected to the Web for everything from finding our destination to paying our bills is scary enough. But with all that information is packed into electronic devices, our lives are at the tips of our fingers every day.

That’s why a recent alert issued by the Better Business Bureau is worth mentioning. An old scam has resurfaced in search of new prey.

People are getting calls at home from scammers claiming to be Microsoft support employees. The caller claims that he or she is alerting the call recipient to a real-time problem — a home computer that is uploading a virus as they speak. The caller wants the computer owner to provide him/her with information about the computer before directing them to a website.

If you get a call like this, the agency suggests you take these steps: Hang up immediately; do not try to call the number back; do not provide any information that will allow the caller remote access to your computer; and contact your local Better Business Bureau for assistance.

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