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Editorial: Opinion roundup (June 23,2014)

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‘Trash Bash’ key to cleaner roadsides

Times-Mail (Bedford)

Kudos again are in order for the Indiana Department of Transportation for going an extra step to clean up after careless Hoosiers and visitors who throw their litter along roadsides.

Thanks to the efforts of INDOT employees, as well as thousands of volunteers and Indiana Department of Correction offenders, motorists traveling the Hoosier state are seeing cleaner roadsides this summer.


Each year since 1997, INDOT has coordinated with Adopt-A-Highway volunteers and the Department of Correction to clean up the roads as part of what is called a “Trash Bash.” Each year, hundreds of tons of trash are collected.

As always, the numbers best tell the story of what crews are up against. Statewide this year, more than 9,300 cubic yards of debris and 16,500 bags of trash were collected from along 1,480 miles of Indiana roadways.

While the “Trash Bash” provides opportunity for important partnerships, the need to have anyone pick up thousands of bags of trash from roadsides is unfortunate.

Ideally, Hoosiers would collectively create a culture where litter simply isn’t tolerated. Too many people won’t accept the responsibility for appropriately disposing of their own refuse.

What’s wrong with Redskins decision

Chicago Tribune

Stanford’s sports teams weren’t always known as the Cardinal. Dartmouth squads have been called the Big Green for only the past four decades. Generations of students passed through Marquette before any began cheering for the Golden Eagles.

Those schools once had Indian-themed nicknames. They gave them up in response to complaints from Native Americans who found them insulting, and the schools have all done just fine. The NFL team in Washington would as well, if owner Daniel Snyder would abandon his obstinate attachment to the name “Redskins.”

He ought to change the name. That said, what the government did to force his hand is troubling.

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office canceled the club’s trademark on the grounds that the law bars registration of insulting trademarks and “a substantial composite of Native Americans found the term ‘Redskins’ to be disparaging.”

That doesn’t mean Snyder has to change the name. But he stands to lose the right to prevent other companies from selling merchandise with the name or logo.

The government, in effect, is penalizing Snyder for exercising his First Amendment rights.

The name of the team is offensive. But the First Amendment does not protect Americans from being offended. It protects them from being silenced or punished by the government for what they say.

Daniel Snyder is stubborn, tone deaf and insensitive. But a censorship-minded government is the bigger danger.

Revive Free Flow of Information Act     

Los Angeles Times

Last year the Senate Judiciary Committee approved a bill affording some protection for reporters’ confidential sources, similar to the protection that is already provided by the vast majority of states. But the bill — known as the Free Flow of Information Act — has languished in the Senate, despite widespread and bipartisan criticism of the Obama administration’s aggressive efforts to obtain information from journalists.

In a letter to the Republican and Democratic leaders of the Senate, 75 media organizations have called for a floor vote on the bill. The letter was sent a few days after the Supreme Court refused to hear the appeal of James Risen, a New York Times reporter who has been contesting a subpoena requiring him to testify at the upcoming trial of a former CIA agent.

The Free Flow of Information Act requires that a judge must weigh the public interest in disclosure against the public interest in “gathering and disseminating the information or news at issue and maintaining the free flow of information.”

Opinion in Congress might be shifting. Recently the House approved an amendment to a Justice Department spending bill that would prevent it from compelling reporters to testify about confidential information or sources.

Senate leaders should maintain the momentum by bringing the Free Flow of Information Act to the floor for a vote.

Invest now to combat Alzheimer’s

Cincinnati Enquirer

Every 67 seconds, someone in the U.S. develops Alzheimer’s — the sixth-leading killer in the nation, and the only disease among the top 10 that has no survivors, no cure or even a way to slow it down.

Alzheimer’s also is the most expensive disease in the U.S., with an annual cost of $214 billion, $150 billion of which is paid by Medicare and Medicaid. That number will grow to $900 billion by 2050 unless we act now.

Incredible advances in medicine and technology have occurred over the past decade, driven in large part by significant government-funded research that has resulted in lower mortality rates from major diseases including cancer, heart disease and HIV/AIDS. However, during the same time, deaths from Alzheimer’s — a disease that receives billions less in National Institutes of Health funding — have increased 68 percent.

June is Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month — a fitting time to think about concrete steps each of us can take, like asking our congressional leaders to support the Alzheimer’s Accountability Act, so that someday soon we will end this epidemic.

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