Voices from elsewhere

March 1, 2013

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

The Daytona Beach (Fla.) News-Journal

A harrowing crash at the finish of the Nationwide Series race Feb. 23 nearly overshadowed the Daytona 500, but the stars aligned for NASCAR and the Daytona International Speedway the following day as Jimmie Johnson won a last-lap showdown and Danica Patrick turned in a history-making performance.

On Feb. 23, EMS vehicles became the focus of attention at the racetrack after a car driven by Kyle Larson went airborne, slammed into the catch fence and began breaking apart, sending debris, including a tire, into the stands. At least 28 spectators were injured. The carnage in the stands cast a pall over the conclusion of the race and left track officials scrambling to repair the damaged safety fence before the start of the 500.

Now DIS officials will take a new look at fan safety. The catch fence prevented a catastrophic incident, but the rain of debris unleashed by the violent crash should prompt a full safety review.

It’s not clear yet whether the fencing at DIS will need to be replaced or reinforced. But even a freakish accident in which fans are injured requires track officials to rethink safety precautions. Fan safety obviously is the top priority for all racetracks.

Evansville (Ind.) Courier & Press

Drones are coming soon to a sky near you

Perhaps it’s a good thing we have made extensive, if controversial, use of drones in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen, because it has allowed us to build up substantial expertise in operating the pilotless aircraft.

We’ll need that valuable experience at home because the Federal Aviation Administration has taken the first steps toward making drones a standard feature of the American skies – an estimated 10,000 in civilian use within five years, according to the FAA.

Small drones are in limited use in the United States now for law enforcement, border surveillance and academic research. Industry experts told The Associated Press they anticipate a multibillion-dollar market for civilian drones once the FAA finishes drafting regulations to ensure that the drones are designed and operated so they don’t create a hazard for other aircraft and population centers.

The FAA, too, has drafted a privacy policy. Originally, the drones were developed for surveillance and intelligence purposes, functions in which they’ve been almost eerily successful.

The AP noted, “Privacy advocates worry that a proliferation of drones will lead to a ‘surveillance society’ in which the movements of Americans are routinely monitored, tracked, recorded and scrutinized by the authorities.”

It may not be too much of an exaggeration to say that the horse is already out of that barn.

With a society as wired as ours, when seemingly no event goes unrecorded by camera phones, GPS units track your location and the social media generation seems indifferent to personal privacy, the drones – even misused – are only a modest addition to the growing capability for snooping.

The problem for the FAA is to keep a wayward drone from crashing through your picture window rather than peering through it.

Calgary (Alberta) Sun

Big Brother is definitely watching, and it’s got a lot of you worried. Casinos in Canada take pictures of everyone entering, but the information isn’t kept on file unless you’ve signed up for their self-exclusion programs.

While our Internet browsing is tracked, it’s usually just used for marketing. But it can be downright worrisome.

People’s lives have been impacted by identity theft. This is aided by all the information we toss out there – not just online, but through our purchases.

Australian police are planning a facial recognition databank. Thankfully Canadian police aren’t that far ahead.

The bottom line is that street smarts – or online smarts – matter.

Some people have gone online to scrub up their social media accounts. Others went as far as completely ditching the online world.

Keep that in mind the next time you tweet out your deepest secrets and personal information.



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