- Associated Press - Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Recent editorials from West Virginia newspapers:


July 8

Charleston (West Virginia) Daily Mail on U.S. Senate returning as a deliberative body:

It was known as the “world’s greatest deliberative body,” a phrase believed to have been coined by former President James Buchanan in 1867 of the U.S. Senate’s reputation for deep, intelligent and impassioned debate.

Of course, that was back in the days after legendary orators like senators Henry Clay and Daniel Webster.

Unfortunately, after Nevada Democrat Harry Reid became majority leader in 2007, the U.S. Senate was anything but great or deliberative.

Fortunately, voters sent a majority of Republicans to the nation’s upper chamber in 2014, including West Virginia’s own Shelley Moore Capito. Reid was demoted to minority leader and Kentucky’s Mitch McConnell is now the leader.

McConnell, Capito and the Senate have done well in the six months since Republicans took over.

“It is an encouraging development for the country to see the Senate addressing big problems after years of inaction when it was controlled by Democrats,” wrote former Republican majority leaders Bob Dole and Trent Lott in the Wall Street Journal last month.

“In only six months, the progress has been dramatic. Committees are up and running. Senators in both parties are debating and amending bills … Not only is legislation now passing, bills are actually making their way to the president’s desk.”

In the first six months of 2015, the Senate passed more than 40 bipartisan bills. It has reported more than 110 bills out of committee, and 18 have been signed into law by the president. The Senate also passed its first balanced budget act in more than a decade and is debating amendments to bills at nearly 10 times the rate as under Reid’s leadership.

Capito is pulling her weight. She has introduced several bills, including the ARENA Act to protect access to affordable energy. In addition to her roles on the Environment and Public Works and Energy and Natural Resources committees, she is a key voice on the Appropriations Committee.

Capito secured language in the Department of Interior appropriations bill to limit EPA funding and roll back excessive regulations. She also secured increased funding for fossil energy research - some of which will be spent at the National Energy Technology Lab in Morgantown - to spur new technologies for more efficient use of coal and natural gas.

We could go on, but suffice it to say the U.S. Senate is looking much more like the lawmaking body it was designed to be, and no longer the house of obstruction that it was under Harry Reid.




July 7

Herald-Dispatch, Huntington, West Virginia, on restrictive police chase policies:

High-speed chases provided enough excitement and comedy to fill three Smokey and the Bandit movies, but in real life, these pursuits are no laughing matter.

Hundreds of people - mostly those fleeing and innocent bystanders - are killed every year in police chases, and some law enforcement agencies now take a more restrictive approach to pursuits.

The Tri-State was reminded of the dangers last week when a Hanging Rock, Ohio, police officer began pursuit of a speeding Ford Explorer on June 28. A 20-mile chase followed, reaching speeds of 110 miles per hour, as the driver fled along U.S. 52 toward Chesapeake, Ohio.

As the vehicle reached the exit ramp to Huntington’s West 17th Street bridge at an estimated speed of 106 mph, the Explorer left the roadway, traveling about 160 feet through the air before hitting a utility pole and crashing into an embankment.

Killed were the 20-year-old driver Kimoni C. Davis of Detroit and his 17-year-old passenger Airshaan D. Warren of Nitro, West Virginia. Investigators have not determined why they sped away from police, but a search of the vehicle turned up no weapons or drugs.

Many questions remain, but the case is not unlike those that have raised concerns elsewhere. Over the past decade police organizations and other groups have begun to collect more data on police pursuits, and the research so far makes a case for more caution.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has recorded more than 300 deaths in chases every year. For 2013, it was 322 deaths, with 65 percent being occupants of the fleeing vehicle and 33 percent uninvolved vehicles.

Many of us assume that if someone is running from the police, they must have a reason. Sadly, the research shows often it is not a very good reason. One study showed about 75 percent of chases begin with traffic violations, stolen vehicles or drunk driving and only about 9 percent involved a violent felony. Apparently, a large percentage of those fleeing are young male drivers with bad driving records.

Based on some of that information, lawsuits and public concerns, more police departments are limiting chases to more serious offenses. For example, the Orlando Police Department’s guidelines require reasonable suspicion that the person fleeing has committed or is attempting to commit a violent felony.

With lesser offenses, more restrictive policies typically stress identifying the vehicle, communicating that information broadly to other agencies and exploring other apprehension methods. A National Institute of Justice report found that once the pursuit is abandoned, most offenders quickly return to a normal driving speed, reducing the risk to themselves and other motorists.

Since high speed chases are dangerous for officers, suspects and the public, it makes sense to review policies to make sure the circumstances justify the risks involved.




July 8

Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia, on the state’s summer:

Summer in West Virginia. There’s nothing better! So many activities to enjoy before cold, snow and ice descend on us once again.

Sometimes we get so wrapped up in packing as much adventure and good times into the beautiful summer days, we forget our safety.

We cite as an example a Fourth of July motorcycle accident that injured an Indiana couple who were on their bike, attempting to pass a UTV, and were unaware that the UTV was turning left.

While we don’t know all of the particulars that led to the accident, we do know the slightest distraction on the part of any driver - motorcycle, UTV, ATV or car - can quickly mean trouble.

We also know that, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), motorcyclists are 30 times more likely to die in a crash than people in a car.

Those motoring in a car or other passenger vehicle must remain alert for motorcycles on the highway. They can be hard to spot, and sometimes it’s difficult to judge their speed. For motorcycle riders, the Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF)reminds them of that same fact.

It also recommends making sure your headlight works and is on day and night; using reflective strips or decals on your clothing and on your motorcycle; being aware of the blind spots cars and trucks have; flashing your brake light when you are slowing down and before stopping.

The foundation also says that if a motorist doesn’t see you, don’t be afraid to use your horn.

Other effective mental strategies include from the MSF:

Constantly search the road for changing conditions.

Give yourself space and time to respond to other motorists’ actions.

Give other motorists time and space to respond to you.

Use lane positioning to be seen; ride in the part of a lane where you are most visible.

Watch for turning vehicles.

Signal your next move in advance.

Avoid weaving between lanes.

Pretend you’re invisible and ride extra defensively.

Don’t ride when you are tired or under the influence of alcohol or other drugs.

Know and follow the rules of the road and stick to the speed limit.

Other safety issues go hand-in-hand with summer fun. One that has had impact in this area in the past month is water safety. Three young swimmers drowned within a 10-day period in the Greenbrier River and Indian Creek at Bluestone Lake.

We know that boaters must wear life jackets when they are on the water, but not everyone realizes it is a good safety measure for swimmers to follow.

River swimming can be especially dangerous, DNR officials say. One can be wading in ankle-deep water, take few steps and be in over their heads. Currents in the rivers can be tricky as well and with all of the rain we’ve had, water can be fast-flowing and murky. Nor is undertow a problem confined to swimming at the beach.

These swimming safety tips are provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, American Red Cross and West Virginia Natural Resources Police:

Wear a life jacket in natural bodies of water, even if you can swim.

Children’s “floaties” like water wings, inner-tubes and pool noodles are not designed to keep swimmers safe. Make sure children use U.S. Coast Guard-approved personal flotation devices.

Teach children specific rules about how to behave near bodies of water.

Always swim with a buddy.

Don’t dive into natural bodies of water. It is difficult to estimate water depth and see hidden objects in the natural environment.

Watch out for the dangerous “toos”: Too tired, too cold, too far from safety, too much sun, too much strenuous activity.

Don’t let swimmers hyperventilate before swimming underwater or try to hold their breath for long periods of time. This can cause them to pass out and drown.

Remember the rules “reach, throw, row and then go” if someone needs help in the water. Have reaching or throwing equipment available and know how to use them. A cooler or sturdy branch could be used in an emergency.

Learn to swim. Formal swimming lessons can protect young children from drowning. However, even when children have had formal swimming lessons, constant, careful supervision when children are in the water is still important.(backslash)

Learn Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR). In the time it takes for paramedics to arrive, your CPR skills could save someone’s life.

Never mix alcohol or drugs and water recreation.

We love West Virginia in the summertime - beautiful green mountains, glistening lakes and rivers, both tranquil and fierce.

We want everyone to enjoy them all to the max, but be sure to always put safety first. The last thing we want are bad memories of a beautiful place.



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