- Associated Press - Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Recent editorials from Alabama newspapers:

Dec. 9

Anniston (Alabama) Star on U.S. torture:

The debate over this week’s release of a version of a Senate intelligence committee report on U.S. torture techniques employed after the 9/11 attacks boils down to a fight over words and deeds.

Releasing the details (words) of the nation’s use of torture (deeds) will inflame parts of the world, say some architects and supporters of the Bush administration’s use of torture on suspected terrorists. The greater crime, at least in their eyes, is discussing abuse and not the actual abuse itself.

“They deserve a lot of praise,” former Vice President Dick Cheney said this week of the CIA agents who carried out the program. “As far as I’m concerned, they ought to be decorated, not criticized.”

President George W. Bush echoed those sentiments, calling the agents “patriots.”

In truth, the Bush administration and its embrace of torture is the reason why parts of the world see the United States as an oppressor. The administration’s actions turned a sympathetic world following 9/11 into one that distrusted the United States.

Our nation once occupied a high moral ground when it came to torture. Techniques such as waterboarding, exposure to extreme temperatures and sleep deprivation were exclusively in the toolbox of our godless enemies. We trained our soldiers how to resist their cruel tactics. We understood that torture tends to produce false confessions. We joined the civilized world in banning torture and in the process wove that prohibition into U.S. law.

This isn’t the first time our nation’s ideals have tumbled off the righteous path, nor will it be the last. History shows that the best way forward is to acknowledge our mistakes and work to improve. We use our words to call out our deeds.




Dec. 10

Dothan (Alabama) Eagle on culture of corruption:

As Alabama lawmakers begin preparations for the next regular session in early March next year, members of the House of Representatives granted another term as Speaker to Lee County lawmaker Mike Hubbard.

It apparently mattered little to the House that Hubbard is under indictment on 23 corruption charges, just as it mattered little to the voters of Lee County, who returned Hubbard to his House seat less than a month after his indictment.

Hubbard was to have gone on trial this week, but the court delayed the proceeding at the request of the defense. Barring other continuances, the trial will take place in early January, and should conclude before the Legislature convenes on March 3 for its regular session.

As is any defendant, Hubbard is considered innocent until proved guilty in court. However, we cannot forget that Hubbard crafted an attack on what he called “a culture of corruption in Montgomery” to lead a sweeping GOP takeover of the legislature four years ago, wresting control from Democrats who had held the majority for more than a century.

Considering that he now stands accused of the same sort of corruption he used as a springboard to power, it’s reasonable to conclude that his ability to effectively lead our state’s governing body would be undermined by both his circumstances and the distraction of his defense preparations.

Members of the House should have considered the good of the body and the people it serves when selecting a Speaker. Their having done otherwise suggests that the perception of corruption is immaterial, which erodes public confidence in the prospect of a productive upcoming session.




Dec. 9

Gadsden (Alabama) Times on Industrial maintenance training program:

The numbers for industrial maintenance specialist from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbook are pretty impressive:

- Median Pay (2012): $45,840 per year; $22.04 per hour.

- Number of Jobs (2012): 447,600.

- Job Outlook (2012-22): 17 percent growth (6 percent above the national average for all occupations).

It sounds like a field worth considering for those with mechanical abilities and aptitude, and a disinclination to attend a four-year college.

So we’re happy to see the Etowah County Career Technical Center begin offering industrial maintenance classes to prepare local students for those opportunities.

The fact that it’s fun - one student last week said, “It’s made me like school again” - is an extra benefit.

We can see how it would be an enjoyable way to make a living, because a modern industrial maintenance specialist has to be a true “Jack (or Jill) of all trades,” able to do solo what multiple people may have done in past years.

Students at the tech center study electrical repair, precision machining, robotics, welding - anything that’s involved in keeping manufacturing equipment running.

That involves more than manual labor, however.

Students must also have a knowledge of hydraulics and mathematics, and the creativity and ingenuity to improvise if necessary, like building a replacement part from scratch should one not be available from a vendor.

The Career Tech Center, partially through a grant, has added $500,000 in equipment for the program, and that’s absolutely a wise investment.

Google “industrial maintenance job openings” and you’ll find a bunch of listings, with salary scales that would grab anyone’s attention.

Representatives of Alabama industries say there’s a shortage of those specialists in the state and are happy to see and support these kinds of programs.

Of course it’s to their benefit. It’s also to the benefit of schools and instructors, who are constantly battling for ways to keep kids interested and motivated; and students, who have another option for a gainful and rewarding career.

Everyone benefits - sounds like a plan.



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