- The Washington Times - Saturday, February 21, 2009



The following are excerpts from editorials that ran in other newspapers:

Chicago Sun-Times, on autism and vaccines: Forget vaccines, hunt for real autism cause. … In a highly anticipated ruling, three federal judges concluded that childhood vaccines do not cause autism, despite claims otherwise by a powerful grass-roots movement led by parents and activists.

This ruling, though painful for parents searching for answers on the cause of autism, affirms what respected scientists have been saying for several years. … Specifically, the judges denied three families compensation from a federal vaccine-injury fund. To win, those families had to demonstrate that their children’s autism was caused by the measles-mumps-rubella shot alone or the shot combined with thimerosal, a mercury-containing preservative that most vaccines no longer include.

The judges, after hearing from a combined 28 experts and evaluating 50 expert reports, said science was not on the parents’ side. … It’s time to shift resources toward the hunt for the cause of autism elsewhere. Though there are no guarantees in science, continuing to look at vaccines is no longer fruitful. … Science has spoken. It’s time to move on.

On the Net:


Sarasota (Fla.) Herald-Tribune, on the recession and state law enforcement: The high cost of death penalty cases becomes ever harder to justify as recession threatens basic law enforcement funding.

Last month, dozens of probation officers and about 100 positions at the Florida Department of Law Enforcement were cut, with others barely escaping the state budget blade. Counties are trimming sheriff’s personnel. Many jails are overcrowded.

All of this occurs as violent crime in Florida persists at rates higher than the national average.

In such a climate, the state should rethink its pursuit of the “ultimate punishment.”

Because of heightened constitutional requirements, death penalty cases are far more expensive than murder trials in which life without parole is sought.

Differentials vary, but last year a major study in Maryland concluded that in that state “an average capital-eligible case resulting in a death sentence will cost approximately $3 million, $1.9 million more than a case where the death penalty was not sought.” In the comparison, the cost of a death penalty case is weighed against figures that include the cost of lifelong imprisonment. … Because of the tens of millions of dollars spent adjudicating them, death penalty cases may soon be seen as detracting from - not contributing to - a safer society. …

On the Net:


The Austin (Texas) American-Statesman, on the stimulus bill: The $789 billion stimulus bill that President Barack Obama is expected to sign soon is being assailed from the left as not big enough and by the right as way too much. But under the urgent circumstances faced by the American people, the bill is good enough at least for now.

The essence of the bill is to spend money, to buy products, services and work that will, in turn, stimulate the pace of commerce and revive the economy. If it works, that should eventually help stop the bleeding of jobs and, instead, encourage employers to start hiring and investing.

About two-thirds of the bill is spending and, unlike the hundreds of billions poured into Iraq and Afghanistan over the past six years, this money will be spent at home, on highways, bridges, Internet lines, water treatment plants and the like. It will help put people to productive work building something useful. It will also extend unemployment aid, food stamps and other programs in which those who get the money almost certainly will spend it rather than save it. … Democrats politically will own this bill, for better or worse. If the economy revives sooner and stronger than expected, they will be able to take a lot of credit to the ballot box in November 2010.

If not, Republicans will be able to shout “told you so” from the rooftops, for no Republican in Congress has supported the stimulus legislation except for a few senators. …

On the Net:


Los Angeles Times, on food safety: The federal agencies that are supposed to safeguard the nation’s food have long resisted calls … for merging into a single food authority. Amid the peanut-product salmonella outbreak, though, it’s hard to imagine how their objections can stand.

… Countries that have reformed their food-safety oversight - Canada and Japan, for instance - switched to a single agency. They also gave their food regulators more authority, and technology that allows quick tracking of food from farm to table. Yet such transformations won’t help unless the agency is properly funded and required to perform regular inspections.

The tainted peanut products, which have sickened hundreds and may have caused nine deaths, represent a new level of food outrage, more serious than even the salmonella salsa and downer-cow beef recalls of 2008. In this case, the plant’s management allegedly knew it was shipping food products that could kill, and then lied about it. The ongoing criminal investigation is an appropriate response; this should be treated as seriously as a multiple homicide. What, you might wonder, were these people thinking? Possibly that food inspection is so lax, and the responses to mass poisonings so predictable - official indignation followed by complacency - that nothing much would be done about it.

On the Net:


Spartanburg (S.C.) Herald-Journal, on oil drilling: The Obama administration is heading in the wrong direction on oil drilling and exploration.

America needs to use the resources it has in this country while it pursues the development of alternative energy sources. Refusing to drill here merely makes us dependent on foreign oil.

Former President George W. Bush and Congress abolished bans on increased offshore drilling last year. Before he left office, Bush authorized a five-year plan that would have encouraged more offshore drilling.

The Obama administration has already postponed that plan and pulled oil and gas drilling licenses in Utah.

We need to tap our nation’s oil and gas resources. President Obama says we need to pursue offshore drilling as part of a comprehensive energy policy, and he’s right, but further postponing drilling and exploration while that policy is drafted serves no purpose. … Over the past three decades, while our leaders have refused to allow this nation to use its own resources, foreign oil has risen from 36 percent of our consumption to 65 percent.

It’s time to reverse that trend and use the resources we have here.

On the Net:


The Jakarta (Indonesia) Post, on U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s visit to Indonesia: It may be just coincidence. And even if it weren’t, we may be making too much of the situation.

Nevertheless, the arrival of U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to Indonesia as part of her first foreign tour abroad is a distinguishable compliment speaking volumes about Indonesia’s global profile. …

The relationship with Washington must be treated with an altogether different guile to that of most other states.

The United States is not like any other. It can be the bully on the block, the wise man on the hill, and the kind philanthropist all at once.

During her brief stay here, the conversation should not be focused on what the U.S. wants, but what the world’s largest archipelago, third largest democracy and the nation with the world’s biggest Muslim population needs.

In other words, it is about defining Indonesia’s position amid the global challenges of the next decade vis-a-vis the American hegemony. …

We look forward to engaging with the new secretary of state, working with a hope-giving U.S. president, and an America that has returned to its Wilsonian values of liberal democratic internationalism.

On the Net:


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