Tennessee editorial roundup

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Is it still considered bad form to talk politics during a social gathering?

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Recent editorials from Tennessee newspapers:

May 12

The Commercial Appeal, Memphis, Tennessee, on the Dragon Lady:

The U-2 “Dragon Lady” spy plane, a product of the famed Lockheed “Skunk Works,” first flew in 1955. It was one of the most successful aircraft ever built, and it is still flying.

The U-2’s designated successor, the SR-71 Blackbird, was retired in 1988. Now the same fate threatens the 32 remaining U-2s even though they continue to provide valuable intelligence, especially from remote and secretive areas like North Korea, where they peer down from the relatively safe altitude of 70,000 feet.

Unfortunately, the U-2 is best remembered for an incident when that altitude proved not quite so safe. On May 1, 1960, on an overflight of the Soviet Union, an SA-2 anti-aircraft missile exploded close enough to a U-2 on a spy mission to cripple the plane, causing it to crash and the American pilot, Francis Gary Powers, to bail out safely.

The incident wrecked a planned peace summit in Paris, ending hopes that it would mark the start of a period of “peaceful coexistence” between the U.S. and the USSR.

Relations between the two countries eventually reverted to a chilly standoff while the U-2 continued peering into the doings of our foes, likely foes and those whose mysterious activities - among them, the placement of Soviet missiles in Cuba - aroused our curiosity.

Although the military has $598 million in the 2015 budget to keep the U-2 flying, the Air Force is proposing to begin a phaseout of the U-2 in favor of unmanned drones like the Global Hawk. But while drones have more than proved their worth, there is still no substitute for on-the-spot human judgment.

Online:

http://www.commercialappeal.com

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May 9

The Post-Intelligencer, Paris, Tennessee, on solar panels:

President Barack Obama is announcing a bundle of plans for boosting solar power and promoting energy efficiency.

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