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Editorial: Opinion roundup (July 11,2014)

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Erase distractions for teen drivers’ safety

South Bend Tribune

A recent study shows Indiana is the worst state in the country when it comes to teen driver fatalities.

The study, done by WalletHub, a personal finance website, ranks Indiana 50th behind Kentucky and New Mexico when it comes to the worst teen driver fatality rate.

There are 33 times more teen driver fatalities per licensed teen drivers in Indiana than in Utah, which ranked the best in the study.


Safety conditions, economic environment and the driving laws of each state were some of the metrics considered for establishing the rankings.

Indiana’s ranking may also be the result of weaker laws and weaker enforcement of those laws compared with other states, according to a spokesman for the study.

Experts say young drivers tend to overestimate their own driving abilities and, at the same time, underestimate the dangers on the road.

Parents must set good examples for their children and not do the very things that are distracting to teen drivers — texting and talking on the phone.

Teens need to be aware of their surroundings and eliminate distractions that divert their attention from the task at hand: Driving safely.

Allow jailed Hoosiers awaiting trial to vote

The Times (Munster)

Lake County is trying to figure out how to allow incarcerated voters to cast ballots. If you think that’s a bad thing, think again.

It’s important to remember that county jails, in many cases, house people awaiting trial. They have the same right to vote as any other citizen.

Prompting the discussion is Albert Pabey, 61, of Hammond, who wanted an absentee ballot so he could vote in the spring primary. Pabey was at the Lake County Jail at the time.

Pabey had a valid voter registration in Lake County and wasn’t a convict, so he was eligible to vote. Prisoners serving time after a conviction are ineligible to vote.

Pat Gabrione, the top Republican on the election board staff, said he can’t remember a request like Pabey’s during his many years with the board.

Pabey’s request came after a state deadline for mailing an absentee ballot to his cell, so Michelle Fajman, the county elections director, sent election workers to him.

A travel board delivers ballots to voters confined, due to illness or injury, those caring for individuals confined at private residences and unable to vote in person on Election Day.

Pabey qualified as confined, Fajman said. That’s certainly true, considering his circumstances.

Send election board representatives to the jail to supervise voting and allow anyone who wants to vote, and qualifies, to do so.

Little to ‘like’ about Facebook’s practices     

Los Angeles Times

Facebook is an extraordinary tool, but its pitfalls have become increasingly apparent. Users’ personal information, interests and habits are all fair game for the company.

Now Facebook has become creepy. For a week in 2012, it seems, the company manipulated users’ news feeds as part of a psychology experiment to see whether happier or sadder content led users to write happier or sadder posts.

The result? Facebook has altered people’s emotional states without their awareness.

It was unethical for Facebook to conduct a psychological experiment without users’ informed consent.

Facebook conducted its research by altering the feeds of some 700,000 users, increasing or decreasing the number of “positive” and “negative” messages they saw to study the “emotional contagion” of social networking. The company recently published the results in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

In the study, Facebook asserted that users had given informed consent. But that’s disingenuous. It’s hard to believe that users who took the time to read Facebook’s 13,000-word service agreements would have understood they were signing on to be lab rats.

How to dislodge youth immigration crisis

Chicago Tribune

The desire of parents to give their children a safer, better life is leading mothers and fathers in the violence-wracked Central American countries of Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras to take terrible risks. By the thousands, they are turning over their kids — many of them teenagers but others as young as 4 — to smugglers, praying they’ll get through Mexico and into the United States.

Once here, mainly in Texas, the kids — several hundred of them every day — are picked up by the U.S. Border Patrol and detained temporarily in military bases and other government facilities.

Central Americans are taken into our overburdened immigration system, held for a time and then pushed out to family members or foster care to await a distantly scheduled immigration court hearing. Some don’t appear at those hearings.

Spread the word to Central America as loudly and clearly as possible that there is no successful smuggling route into the U.S. There is only danger for children, followed by a traumatizing stay in a government holding center and then deportation.

That’s the only way to convince Latino parents there is no point to putting their children in the hands of smugglers.

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