Visitors to the memorials established at the sites of concentration camps like Auschwitz and Buchenwald almost always come away astonished at the meticulous care the Nazis took in cataloging all the items their victims brought with them before they were consigned to forced labor or ushered to the......
With the informal arrival of summer this weekend, you’re bound to see more and more people out on our streets and highways on motorcycles, revving up their engines and blasting off with the strains of the Steppenwolf oldie “Born to be Wild” ricocheting through their heads.
Too many of those heads, unfortunately, will be unprotected.
It never ceases to flabbergast us that so many motorcycle enthusiasts are willing to pilot their bikes down our woefully uneven roads, at speeds that often exceed those of the cars and trucks they share those roads with, without the slightest protection for their craniums. In Pennsylvania, they get no official discouragement for embarking on such foolhardy behavior – the commonwealth repealed its universal helmet law in 2003, after years of agitating by biker groups, who proclaimed that it was all about “freedom.” When the law was repealed, Erie-area state Rep. Linda Bebko-Jones, who died in 2011, said it sent the message that Pennsylvania residents who decide to leave the helmet at home should “think about signing an organ-donor card at the same time.”
She was being prescient. The number of motorcycle fatalities in Pennsylvania and in other states soared skyward over the last decade.
To be sure, some of that has been driven by increased numbers of cyclists, led by baby boomers who decided to rekindle their youthful enthusiasm for motorcycles in their retirement years. But the death toll was surely not helped by laissez-faire helmet laws. Only 19 states and the District of Columbia require that motorcyclists wear helmets. It wasn’t always this way: Congress once mandated that states have universal helmet laws on the books if they wanted to qualify for federal highway funds. But those restrictions were lifted in 1995, and states started repealing the laws that had played a part in keeping some of their residents alive.
In the decade after the repeal of Pennsylvania’s universal helmet law, deaths in motorcycle accidents increased by 35 percent. And how’s this for a grim statistic: According to the Governors Highway Safety Association, deaths in motorcycle mishaps rocketed by 122 percent between 1997 and 2013, when states were busy repealing their helmet laws. In the same period, deaths in cars and trucks plummeted by 66 percent.
Motorcyclists who crash and are not wearing a helmet are three times more likely to suffer a traumatic brain injury, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The Office of Highway Safety Planning in Washington, D.C. reports that, if you ride a motorcycle without a helmet, you are 40 percent more likely to die if you are in a crash.
And deciding against wearing a helmet, rather than being a matter of personal choice, has broader consequences. Aside from the impact a debilitating injury or death would have on family and friends, an increase in the number of severe injuries resulting from motorcycle accidents raises insurance and hospital rates for everyone. And what about the folks who are lucky enough to stay alive after suffering a severe head injury after getting in a crash, but are unable to ever work again? Chances are, they’ll be receiving Medicaid and disability benefits courtesy of you and me, with our tax dollars.
Feeling the wind through your hair may feel romantic and rebellious, but it could carry an awfully steep price for someone who takes a curve in a road a little too fast or swerves to avoid an obstruction.
Besides, who wants all those bugs in your hair?
Excerpts from recent editorials in newspapers in the United States and abroad as compiled by the Associated Press:
It never made sense for the Pentagon to offer surplus materiel such as grenade launchers and mine-resistant armored personnel carriers to local law enforcement agencies. The practice helped increase the militarization of the nation’s police, leading to such jarring images as assault-gun-toting officers in full body armor arriving in armored vehicles to confront demonstrators during the Ferguson, Mo., protests last year.
So we were heartened by President Obama’s announcement Monday that the federal government will remove some of the more extreme tools of war from the list of free items, including tracked armored vehicles, weaponized aircraft, grenade launchers and bayonets. We take heart as well in the president’s reported desire to find a way to retrieve now off-limits items already in the hands of local police.
As we’ve said before, there is no legitimate reason for law enforcement agencies not to revisit and revise protocols and training that guide how officers engage with their communities. And they should be open about their methods and results, so the public can measure the actions of its protectors.
The 2014 midterm elections will be remembered for creating a new balance of power in Washington, D.C.
But they also will be remembered as a new benchmark on America’s continuing slide in voter participation. About 36 percent of the nation’s registered voters turned out the worst showing since World War II.
Without a presidential race, midterm elections have traditionally had lower turnout, but with so much at stake, having just a little more than a third of registered adults vote is discouraging.
Many would argue that is because the core problem is voter engagement, and there seems to be a host of reasons that Americans have tuned out to the political process from growing distrust of institutions to an overall decline in civic literacy and responsibility.
But the one thing that has dramatically increased as turnout has dramatically declined is negative advertising. Despite mounting evidence that all the mean-spirited attacks just turn off voters, court decisions have opened up the floodgates to even more of it.
The foundation of democracy is robust participation by an informed public. Otherwise, the power gradually flows into the hands of a few.
Outside of a full-scale National Rifle Association gathering, rarely has so much paranoid delusion been stuffed into one space as when gun-rights advocates filed into the state Capitol for a rally last week to preach their special brand of unsubstantiated fear....
Until the recent appointment of Senior Judge Hiram Carpenter to handle some of the caseload, Greene County has had only one judge on its Court of Common Pleas bench following the retirement last year of William Nalitz after he reached 70, the mandatory age when judges must step down in......
In Tuesday’s primary election, Republicans in Greene County have two candidates on the ballot for the county’s Board of Commissioners, in incumbent Archie Trader and newcomer Keith McClure. Barring an unexpected write-in campaign, Trader and McClure will both advance to the fall......
At first glance, the field of candidates vying for spots on Washington County’s Board of Commissioners looks mighty crowded, with a total of nine candidates among both Democrats and Republicans represented on Tuesday’s primary election ballot....