Editorial voices from U.S., elsewhere

January 18, 2013

Excerpts from recent editorials from around the United States and abroad as compiled by the Associated Press:

The Republican of Springfield (Mass.)

Unsafe food has a constituency.

There are those in Washington, D.C. who support policies that would put more potentially contaminated foods on store shelves and into people’s kitchens. And there are folks across the land who back these officials.

Not that anyone says this, of course. No one campaigns for office talking up salmonella. But the anti-government set, the free-market zealots who believe, and repeatedly argue, that the federal government should do almost nothing save operate the Pentagon, are effectively gunning for more bad food.Thankfully, the Food and Drug Administration has been hard at work for the past two years crafting new rules to protect the nation’s food supply.

The FDA, which oversees roughly 80 percent of the nation’s food – the rest is the purview of the Agriculture Department – needs to be working to ensure that the peanut butter and fruit and all the other items in your shopping cart are as safe as is humanly possible.

Anyone who would suggest otherwise, who’d facilely suggest that the feds ought to keep their hands off our food, could be quickly disabused of that dangerous notion with a few sobering statistics:

Each year, 130,000 people are hospitalized after eating tainted food. Some 3,000 of them die. An astonishing one out of six people will be sickened from bad food annually.

Those who offer up only the same old platitudes about government inefficiencies, about the marvels of the free market, would do well to take a close look at those numbers.

Knoxville (Tenn.) News-Sentinel

In recent years, the General Assembly has considered amending the way public notices are handled in Tennessee. This is understandable. The communications world is changing, and newspapers, where many public notices historically have been published, are in transition.

But the assumption that government could save money and still adequately notify the public by simply posting notices on government websites is flawed.

The idea presupposes that web postings would be a cheap and easy alternative to newspaper publication. Yet, many local governments in Tennessee don’t maintain active websites now. Bringing web operations up to speed and keeping them there across Tennessee would entail large hidden expenses that legislators seeking to end newspaper notices largely have ignored.

More important, though, is the effectiveness of public notice.

The United States has a long history of requiring the government to announce its business through newspapers. In more recent years, lawmakers required notices alerting the public to meetings, foreclosures, elections, auctions, changes in land use and many other matters of general concern. This was done to assure that due process of law was carried out and that government was held accountable to the citizenry it represented.

Shifting public notices to government websites would undermine these goals. Without newspaper publication, a permanent record of notices is lost, and putting officials in charge of their own methods of notification would open the door to possible manipulation.

Also, notices on government websites simply don’t reach the public the way notices in newspapers do.

Arab News Jeddah, Saudi Arabia

Winter is not a good time to fight in Afghanistan. Each winter NATO forces have tried to kid themselves that the decrease in Taliban attacks represents the imminent collapse of the insurgency. However, with the melting of the snows each spring, the Taliban have proved them ever more wrong.

Nevertheless, something important and new seems to be happening, as the Afghan conflict goes into semi-hibernation, for the worst of the winter weather.

State Department officials have been deeply involved, no doubt with their CIA opposite numbers, in little publicized talks in both Pakistan and Afghanistan. What they seem to be talking about is peace.

Could it really be that the Taliban, whatever the contrary views of their erstwhile Al-Qaeda allies, actually do see that Afghanistan has had enough of pain and misery, death and destruction initiated by the Russian invasion 34 years ago?



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