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Editorial: Opinion roundup (August 29,2014)

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Bullying measure shouldn’t be taken lightly

South Bend Tribune

It’s clear that bullying in schools so concerned the Indiana General Assembly that lawmakers passed a measure requiring schools statewide to track cases.

Those statistics then would determine what resources would be provided to schools to address the issue.

But the bullying report released recently by the state shows a significant variance in numbers from school to school.


That raises concerns that schools aren’t being consistent or, even worse, aren’t taking seriously the need to track incidents and file such reports.

For instance, Penn High School, the area’s largest with 3,300 students, reported one incident of bullying last year while New Prairie High School — with fewer than 1,000 students — reported 23. Mishawaka High School, which has about half the enrollment of Penn High School, reported 37 incidents of bullying last school year.

Something in those numbers just doesn’t ring true.

South Bend didn’t even meet the initial deadline and so was not included in the report. South Bend’s numbers since have been received by the state.

Once considered almost a rite of passage among students, bullying is now being treated as it should be — a serious problem that can have a real impact on victims.

Bullying can damage the lives of young people. It needs to be taken seriously by schools and acted upon swiftly.

Kids need to be protected from e-cigarettes

Tribune-Star (Terre Haute)

Technology, it seems, finds solutions for just about everything. So it should surprise no one that the tobacco industry, under siege for years for marketing and selling unhealthy products, found a way around the anti-smoking fervor through a smokeless nicotine delivery system.

They’re called e-cigarettes. And while they may not be as dangerous as cigarettes (studies still are exploring that issue), most early research indicates they are still harmful and highly addictive.

Adults will be left to make their own decisions about the product when credible information is compiled. But it is the potential impact on youths that alarms us. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is working on that and has proposed rules to regulate the product.

But there are public officials across America, including Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller, who believe the FDA’s approach is not aggressive enough when it comes to young people and e-

cigarettes. We think those officials are right and support their drive to persuade the agency to step up its efforts to regulate marketing of the products to protect minors.

Prohibiting “flavors” in new tobacco products and restricting marketing of e-cigarettes in the same manner as for cigarettes are among the group’s proposals. It also advocates strong health warnings.

We applaud Zoeller and his colleagues across the country for providing leadership on this public health issue. We hope the FDA is listening.

Panel finally taking steps to rein in NSA      

Los Angeles Times

A little more than a year after former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden revealed that the federal government was collecting and storing the telephone records of millions of Americans, Congress is poised to end the program and provide significant protection for a broad range of personal information sought by government investigators.

Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has proposed a version of the bill that is significantly more protective of privacy than one passed by the House in May. Like the House bill, Leahy’s proposal would end the NSA’s bulk collection of telephone “metadata” — information about the source, destination and duration of phone calls that investigators can “query” in search of possible connections to foreign terrorism.

Finally, the bill provides for the declassification and publication “to the greatest extent practicable” of opinions by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court and its appellate arm, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review.

For all its limitations, the USA Freedom Act is a testimony to the importance of informed public debate.

Bombing holy sites shows jihadist barbarity

The Commercial (Memphis, Tenn.)

The radical Islamic jihadists are good at many things — beheadings, amputations, terrorizing helpless schoolgirls, alienating populations — but public relations are not one of them.

They should have learned their lesson in March 2001, when they blew up, over the objections of most of the civilized world, including respected Muslim leaders and scholars, two massive sixth-century Buddhist sculptures in Afghanistan. Their argument, not supported by serious Muslim scholarship, was that they were pagan idols and thus under Islamic law had to be destroyed.

The radical Sunni militias recently destroyed prominent religious sites such as the tombs of the prophet Jonah and Jersis, known to Iraqi Christians as St. George.

The destruction of thousands of years of religious treasures and Iraqi culture goes on. If conversion is the goal of this conflict, a visit by more U.S. F-15s and A-10s might make true believers out of these vandals.

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