Los Angeles Times on the 40th anniversary of Roe vs. Wade (Jan. 22) — Forty years ago Jan. 22, the Supreme Court ruled that women had a constitutional right to an abortion. This one sweeping decision transformed abortion from what was often a secret, illicit and dangerous act, sometimes crudely self-inflicted, into a generally legal and safe procedure. But it also turned abortion, always an emotional issue, into one of society’s most divisive.
Unlike many landmark Supreme Court cases that have become accepted parts of our culture — such as Brown vs. Board of Education, which declared school segregation unconstitutional, or Loving vs. Virginia, which overturned state bans on interracial marriage — Roe did not lead to a clear national consensus on abortion.
A recent Pew Research Center survey found that although most Americans support the court’s decision, 29 percent said they would like to see Roe overturned. Nearly half of Americans say they believe abortion is morally wrong. Those positions have changed little in recent decades.
... We look forward to the day when a woman’s constitutional right to make such a fundamental decision about her own body as whether or not to have a child is as clearly settled and calmly accepted as the right of black and white children to attend school together or the right of people of all races to marry one another. Until then, courts and legislatures must be vigilant in assuring that a woman’s right to a safe and legal abortion is neither thwarted nor denied.
AL.com (Alabama) Editorial Board on gun clip capacities (Jan. 18) — Before the sun set on the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary, gun devotees across the country began their customary chant: “Guns don’t kill people; people kill people.”
The AL.com Editorial Board agrees that people kill people, and that high capacity magazines allow them to kill lots of people. Today we are proposing to limit the capacity of magazines for pistols and rifles to seven-rounds. ...
Today’s semi-automatic pistols commonly come from the factory with 15 or 16-round clips, and aftermarket magazines can hold many more. Combat style semi-automatic rifles come from the factory with a 20 or 30-round clip, with even higher capacity magazines readily available from dealers.
We believe President Barack Obama’s proposed 10-round limit is too timid. It would allow a perpetrator armed with two pistols to get off 22 shots without reloading. That’s a lot of casualties.
All interchangeable clips should be limited to seven rounds unless in the hands of a sworn law enforcement officer or soldier. This would have no impact on hunters; almost all sporting rifles hold fewer rounds than that. Those who keep semi-automatic pistols or rifles for protection would be limited to eight shots (if they had an initial round in the chamber) before changing clips, but that limitation seems reasonable.
Current owners of rifles or pistols equipped with magazines of greater capacity would be given a grace period, perhaps a year or two, in which to replace the clips or have them modified so they could accommodate no more than seven rounds. Once the high-capacity ban took effect, a person caught with an illegal clip would pay a steep fine, with jail possible for subsequent arrests. An illegal clip used in the commission of a crime would automatically add to the sentence. ...
The Paducah (Ky.) Sun on U.S. energy security (Jan. 22) — U.S. oil production surged almost 14 percent in 2012, despite falling domestic consumption. Production is projected to further accelerate in 2013.
The American Petroleum Institute reported that the average daily output of crude oil jumped 779,000 barrels a day last year, the biggest increase in history. New technologies, especially hydraulic fracturing, have opened up vast, previously inaccessible oil deposits for extraction.
At the same time, domestic oil consumption fell in 2012 to the lowest level in 16 years, according to The Wall Street Journal, which attributed the decline to the sluggish economy and stricter fuel economy standards. Also, oil imports fell 6.9 percent in 2012.
As a result of the converging trends, the U.S. became a net exporter of petroleum products in 2011 for the first time since 1949, according to the Energy Information Administration of the Department of Energy.
The U.S. is becoming less dependent on foreign energy sources. That’s a good thing.
Energy independence is not just an economic issue but a security issue, as the armed siege in Algeria makes clear. ...
Omaha (Neb.) World-Herald on food safety progress (Jan. 22) — New, more stringent food safety rules ordered by Congress in 2010 are a step closer to reality. But it still will be at least three years before they can begin to affect the number of outbreaks, illnesses and deaths from salmonella and other food-borne pathogens.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 3,000 Americans or more die from these diseases each year, while about 1-in-6 Americans (48 million) gets sick and 128,000 are hospitalized. The Food and Drug Administration indicated the new rules could prevent almost 2 million illnesses annually.
Congress gave the FDA authority to require U.S. food producers and manufacturers to draw up detailed plans to ensure the safety of their products, giving large producers three years to comply and smaller facilities and growers even longer. Lawmakers ordered the FDA to inspect production facilities more frequently. Many plants today are not checked for years at a time.
The FDA also will more closely oversee imported foods, which account for about 15 percent of the nation’s food supply by value. Imports totaled $76 billion through the first 10 months of 2012.
Perhaps the biggest new club given to the FDA in the legislation is the ability to order recalls of food itself rather than asking for industry cooperation. Over the years, the FDA’s weakness on this point has delayed recall action a number of times. ...
That’s not ideal, considering the number of hospitalizations and deaths, but it is definitely progress.
The Gazette, Colorado Springs, Colo., on Lance Armstrong’s TV confession to doping (Jan. 20) — Public confessions of despicable behavior are all the rage among the rich and famous. Tell the camera tales of drug abuse and alcoholism, preferably with tearful eyes, and all related behavior shall be forgiven.
Cyclist Lance Armstrong upped the ante when he confessed to Oprah Winfrey his life as a fraud, liar, cheat and bully who has ruined the lives of others around him.
Hey, Armstrong: Owning up to it — especially without a hint of remorse — doesn’t make it OK. You remain a fraudulent, cheating liar who bullied your friends.
Armstrong’s confession competed for attention with the bizarre saga of Notre Dame football star Manti Te’o, who told the sad tale of losing his girlfriend to leukemia even though the girlfriend never lived.
Arnold Schwarzenegger and Tiger Woods cheated on their wives. Penn State’s Jerry Sandusky sexually assaulted numerous boys. Lindsay Lohan stole jewelry, fell out of her sundress on stage and drove drunk.
Google “celebrity scandals” and an endless array of stories appear. Famous people are human. Often, though not always, a fall from grace has the amazing ability to revive a stagnating career.
Poor behavior of the rich and famous, coupled with the NFL’s unmerciful rejection of Tim Tebow — a successful young quarterback with a talent for flaunting ostensibly good behavior — creates a dilemma for parents. ...
Society must rethink how it chooses heroes. Stop confusing trophies, medals, fortune and fame with character. ... Good character isn’t accomplishment. It’s the way we treat the people around us.