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Editorial Roundup - Excerpts from editorials around the nation - Jan. 6, 2012

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The Des Moines (Iowa) Register on the Iowa Caucus (Jan. 4) — Iowa receives a lot of national attention during presidential caucuses. It also receives a lot of criticism. This year was no exception.

The state isn’t representative of the country, some say. It isn’t diverse enough to be the place political parties begin selecting their nominees.

When the Rev. Jesse Jackson visited the Des Moines Register recently, he said holding the first caucuses in Iowa was akin to looking at candidates through a keyhole. “There are almost no blacks in that keyhole” and important issues like poverty aren’t addressed, he complained.

The implication of such criticism: Iowa is one, large culturally challenged cornfield.

It isn’t.

Yes, agriculture is a dominant industry in Iowa. Rather than making us provincial, however, that means we do business with the entire world. This state has both wealth and poverty. We have a higher percentage of older residents, but that is a demographic reality the rest of the country is aging toward. Iowa represents both rural and urban interests. Our businesses range from very small to Fortune 500 large. Our Latino population is growing.

What Iowa may lack in cultural or racial diversity, it makes up for in diverse political viewpoints. Iowans have sent to Congress some of the most conservative members (think Rep. Steve King) to the most liberal (think Sen. Tom Harkin) to represent us ...

Again this year, Iowa approached its first-in-the-nation caucuses with a seriousness of purpose. That is something to be proud of. It is something the entire country should appreciate. We look forward to doing it again in four years.

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The Anniston (Ala.) Star on hazing (Dec. 30) — Hazing is a chameleon activity: one minute it can be harmless, the next minute it can be hazardous, or worse. The centuries-old practice still draws strong rebukes and surprising defenses from those who think it’s more about tradition than foul play.

Our view: hazing is no joke.

It is disappointing that news of an alleged incident has marred this holiday season at Jacksonville State University. Tight-lipped university officials acknowledged that a fraternity had been suspended and an investigation had started into an alleged off-campus hazing in November. Sam Monk, acting general counsel for JSU, told The Star that one victim was treated at Regional Medical Center, and another was taken to UAB Hospital. ...

In an odd bit of timing, recent hazing incidents at Florida A&M University and within the U.S. Army have returned this unseemly topic to national prominence. ...

Among the most serious findings: More than half — 55 percent — of U.S. students involved in clubs, teams or organizations have experienced hazing; 47 percent come to college having already experiencing hazing; and excessive drinking is involved in hazing more than any other method ... Let’s call hazing what it is: a tradition that should be stopped.

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The Sacramento (Calif.) Bee on Verizon’s fee rebellion (Jan. 4)  —  ... Corporations persist in trying to foist new fees on the public. Then once outrage invariably builds, they have to do an embarrassing U-turn, plus damage control to their brand.

The latest mea culpa mambo was almost immediate. Verizon Wireless, the nation’s largest cellphone company, pulled the plug Friday on a plan to charge $2 for some customers to pay their bills, just one day after announcing it.

As fees go, this one was more ridiculous than most.

Starting Jan. 15, it would have hit customers who choose to make one-time credit or debit card payments, either online or over the phone. To avoid the fee, customers would have to enroll in automatic credit card payments, go into a store to pay, or mail a check.

That’s right — you would have been charged for paying your bill on time.

Even more amazing, Verizon Communications, the landline phone company that owns most of its wireless cousin, tried last year to introduce a similar fee but was forced to back off after customer complaints ...

At the mercy of short-term investors, corporations are looking for any possible way to pad their bottom lines. Still, too many have forgotten the fundamentals of growing a business: Provide products or services that people want, make them available at a fair price and treat customers with respect. Charging exorbitant or unnecessary fees is the opposite of those principles.