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Summary of recent Mississippi newspaper editorials


Recent editorials from Mississippi newspapers:

June 24

The Greenwood (Mississippi) Commonwealth on U.S. marines possibly being on foreign ships:

During the third presidential debate in 2012, Mitt Romney attacked the Obama administration for advocating cuts to the military when some aspects of the U.S. armed forces are out of date or undermanned.

"Our Navy is smaller now than at any time since 1917," said Romney. "The Navy said they needed 313 ships to carry out their mission. We're now at 285."

Obama shot back something like this: "I think Gov. Romney maybe has not spent enough time looking at how our military works. We also have fewer horses and bayonets because the nature of our military has changed. There are these things called aircraft carriers where planes land on them. We have these ships that go underwater, nuclear submarines. ... The question is not a game of Battleship, where we're counting ships, it's what are our capabilities."

Who won the debate can be argued, but Obama won the election. In light of the news three years later, though, it appears Romney was correct, if not as glib as the president.

The U.S. may have enough big aircraft carriers and submarines (although that too may be debatable), but there obviously is a shortage of the amphibious vessels the Navy uses to deploy Marines to respond to global crises around the world, including incidents such as attacks on U.S. embassies.

USA Today reports that the Marine Corps, faced with a shortage of the type of assault ships they use to get troops, helicopters and other equipment to hot spots, is exploring a plan to use foreign ships.

The newspaper quotes Brig. Gen. Norman Cooling, deputy commander, U.S. Marine Corps Forces Europe Africa, as saying the measure is a stopgap way to deploy Marines aboard ships overseas until more American vessels are available. The Marines have been working with Spain, Italy, the United

Kingdom and other close allies to determine the suitability of foreign ships for U.S. personnel, the report said. The units would be for limited operations and not major amphibious assaults.

The Navy has 30 amphibious ships but says it needs 38, and because of budget constraints it won't reach that level until 2028.

That's unacceptable. Depending on foreign ships to carry our troops doesn't seem like a good option.

We agree with Rep. Randy Forbes, R-Va., a member of the House Armed Services Committee, who says: "Allowing the continued atrophy of the Navy-Marine Corps team's amphibious capacity is simply not an option given national security challenges facing the United States and its allies."

Foreign policy and military preparedness should be a major issue in next year's presidential election.

Let's hope glib doesn't carry the day over accuracy.



June 24

Sun Herald, Biloxi, Mississippi, on the state and confederate flag:

In these searing days of late June, Mississippians are at once confronted by our past and given the rare gift of writing a new chapter of history that can be regarded with pride for generations to come.

The awful events in a Charleston, South Carolina, church a week previous have caused Americans, and especially Southerners, to reflect on the Confederate flag. It is a symbol which still holds a place of prominence on our state flag, causing a sense of disquiet by many of our own citizens while eliciting harsh judgment against Mississippi and those who live here by many beyond our borders.

For too long, we have lived with the fantasy that we can exist in the splendid isolation of an era shrouded in romantic notions and a remarkably wrong understanding of its meaning.

Yes, the time of the Confederate States of America existed -- now a century and a half removed -- but it caused a tear in the nation, and death and carnage on an unimaginable scale. It was a lost cause, and that military defeat, and Reconstruction hardships, have existed through our generations as a seminal part of our psyches.

Our attachment to the time and its painful memories has overcast the hope of the succeeding years.

"Forget, hell!" has been our battle cry too often on the road from then to now, and too many of our leaders have used the sentiment like a narcotic to dull the pain of our economic and educational deficits.

The tragedy in Charleston has launched a stirring new sentiment within that seems to speak to many and offers a new will across the South for us throw off the weight of the past and to embrace a new day.

If in these days of reflection we can remove the battle flag from our public spaces and retire them to museums and books, we will have written our own chapter of Mississippi history, one in which we can say WE THE PEOPLE honored those victims of hatred with this inestimable gift of understanding and even peace.

It is the next step on our journey to a more perfect union, and it is a gift to our children and theirs that will allow them to be free of a symbol of the past we have carried far too long.

We will be forever indebted to leaders such as Gov. Nikki Haley in South Carolina, and to our House Speaker Phillip Gunn, and those who have joined in this righteous cause to turn the page to a remarkable and heartening next chapter.



June 21

Northeast Mississippi Journal, Tupelo, Mississippi, on water decision in 1988:

NASA and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, released results last week about worldwide depletion of many aquifer (groundwater) systems, including the Atlantic and Gulf Coastal Plains Aquifer from which parts of Northeast Mississippi and other parts of our state get water.

The information places in sharp historical perspective a decision Tupelo and Lee County made in the face of overwhelming adverse evidence and economic distress to pay for a surface water distribution system from the Tombigbee River near Fulton.

A countywide referendum in 1988 approved by a 96 percent margin a .25 percent sales tax only in Tupelo to finance the $21 million system. As a result, in 1988 the Northeast Mississippi Regional Water Supply District, was founded, and it distributes water from the Tombigbee River. Its first, principal customer was Tupelo, but now it provides water for Fulton, Mantachie, industrial parks and the Toyota site near Blue Springs.

Those customers no longer depend on aquifer water. The Atlantic and Gulf Coastal Plains Aquifer is identified as distressed because its withdrawal exceeds recharging by 5.932 millimeters per year. It could increase as the region grows and water demand goes up.

Tupelo's moving off the aquifer serving the area stopped a declining water table. As a result, the Eutaw-McShan aquifer can, for example, help sustain Union County's total reliance on groundwater for its public supply.

Consuming groundwater supplies more quickly than aquifers recharge is an eventual dead end.

The Northeast Mississippi water supply district's customers, Jackson's water customers, customers of the Coleman-Short Rural Water System in Tishomingo County, and Corinth's customers are the only public systems in Mississippi using surface supply. On balance, 93 percent of Mississippi's public water is drawn from aquifers.

The special satellites NASA uses are able to detect and precisely measure subtle changes in the Earth's gravitational pull, The Washington Post reported, and register where the heavier weight of water exerts a greater pull on the spacecraft.

"The situation is quite critical," NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory senior water scientist Jay Famiglietti said. "The water table is dropping all over the world," he said. "There's not an infinite supply of water."

"We need to get our heads together on how we manage groundwater," he said, "because we're running out of it."

Knowing the consumption and availability of an essential resource like water is beyond necessity.

NASA's new information reinforces that need, as did factual information used in forming the Northeast Mississippi Regional Water Supply District in 1988.



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