- Associated Press - Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Recent editorials from Georgia newspapers:

Sept. 2

Albany (Georgia) Herald on Internet thieves:

The idea of privacy is becoming more novel by the day.

Technology has changed life over the past few years. We no longer go visit friends and relatives or even talk on the phone. We text.

We no longer have “brag books” and photo albums of our kids and grandkids, or that last vacation. We “post” them on social media.

And God forbid that someone doesn’t know when we’re out of town. That must be posted as well.

We don’t buy things with cash. We swipe a debit or credit card, or electronically transfer funds online. While in the past many decried paper money that wasn’t backed by gold, there are electronic currencies now, such as Bitcoin, that aren’t even on paper.

And there’s no place to hide. If you’re not in sight of a surveillance camera on the sidewalk or in a store, chances are nearly everyone you run into has a cell phone with a still and video camera that can be whipped out and recording in the space of a heartbeat.

But while we throw our personal information out to the Internet with reckless abandon, there are those intent on tracking it down and, if possible, making a buck off of it. Flesh and blood people have been metamorphosed into data.

And data is the new gold.

The unfortunate byproduct is that not everyone out to capture your data is trustworthy. A number of celebrities - nearly all women, form what we understand - discovered that when their online storage clouds were hacked. What the hackers found, downloaded and promptly started turning into money were pictures of those celebrities in various states of undress and compromising situations.

In a society that is obsessed with celebrities, that was a gold mine. And while authorities work to find the culprits, the photos are on the Internet, where nothing truly dies.

Rather than expressing outrage at a personal violation once it happens, take precautions with a known risk. Much like with a home or business, no security system is completely theft-proof. The Internet may seem friendly and docile, but it can be a wild beast at a moment’s notice. At the very minimum, be careful what you feed it.




Sept. 2

The Augusta (Georgia) Chronicle on the vice president’s assertion:

It was a little, incongruous shall we say, for the country’s two-term vice president, Joe Biden, to say, as he did at a rally this past weekend, “It’s time to take America back!”

From whom, exactly? He and his running mate have been in power since 2009. Their party also held sway over both houses of Congress for the first two years, and it still controls the powerful Senate.

How utterly bizarre for even a gaffe-prone sitting vice president to succumb to this kind of miscue, exhorting others to “take America back” when he already, essentially, “has” it. But such are the verbal cul-de-sacs we get into when venturing into divisive rhetoric.

Alas, this kind of fire-breathing has come to be expected in the political silly season, which officially kicks off with the relative peace of Labor Day. Is there any escaping it?

One would hope so, for it is precisely this kind of circular firing squad that has America in the doldrums.

Most Americans, we would guess, are dog tired of the various political factions shooting at each other rhetorically, assassinating each other’s character and otherwise completely ignoring the country’s problems and letting them fester and ooze.

We need to do something radical in the Information Age: We need to inform ourselves. We need to decide what we believe. And we need to take action. Support your preferred candidates. Discuss the issues civilly with friends. Keep up on current events. And, of course, cast a knowledgeable vote.

Don’t take the country back. Just recognize it’s there for you - even if you haven’t been there for it.




Sept. 3

The Telegraph, Macon, Georgia, on marijuana debate:

A committee to study medicinal marijuana for the state Legislature started its work last week. Right now there are more questions than answers. Fortunately, there are 23 states that can provide guidance for one of the biggest questions. Since it is against federal law to transport the marijuana plants or the end-product across state lines, who in the state would be allowed to grow and produce it? Colorado has one model with 2,200 licenses for selling and growing compared to just five licenses to grow in Minnesota. What model would be best for Georgia?

That question is easy compared to whether narrowing or expanding the focus of the bill would be appropriate. Medicinal marijuana is said to help other maladies besides pediatric seizures — from PTSD to AIDS to cancer. Every malady has its constituency and it may not be easy to narrow the bill’s focus.

However, lawmakers have to be careful. Rep. Allen Peake, R-Macon, proposed a bill last year, House Bill 885, that has the best chance of passing. But for House and Senate wrangling, his bill had enough support to pass. But that could quickly change if it is hijacked by an ever-expanding group of people who want medicinal marijuana for their own aches and pains or those who wish to see unrestricted access to marijuana. No one wants to see, as in California, pot shops on nearby corners, catering to people who supposedly have “prescriptions.”

For the record, Georgia is looking at a form of marijuana that does not contain the ingredient that creates drug-induced highs, but has properties that quell pediatric seizures. It is not smoked, rather it’s an oil-based substance. Committee members should attempt to answer a core question: Should medicinal marijuana be an option for licensed physicians to prescribe for their patients?

Georgia is well-suited for growing and processing marijuana with excellent schools of agriculture where adequate controls could be placed and records kept to assure quality. Doctors willing to conduct research could be allowed access to supplies for their patients for peer-reviewed studies.

The bottom line is simple. Can the drug save lives? In many cases, yes.



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