- Associated Press - Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Recent editorials from Mississippi newspapers:

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Oct. 15

The Greenwood Commonwealth on the decision to pull “To Kill a Mockingbird” from school reading lists:

The Biloxi School District is receiving some criticisms over pulling “To Kill a Mockingbird” from the required reading list for eighth-grade English.

Reportedly, the decision was made because of sensitivity over the use of the N-word in Harper Lee’s 1960 novel, which won a Pulitzer Prize and was later turned into an Academy Award-winning movie. If that’s the reason, it’s a poor one.

Anyone who has ever read the book knows that Lee’s use of the racial epithet is not gratuitous. It accurately reflects the way most white Southerners talked at the time in which the story is cast.

Besides, the novel, rather than condoning racism, is a poignant rebuttal of racial prejudices and the injustices that such bigotry breeds.

All that said, the book’s subject matter - not just on race but also on rape - may be more mature than eighth-graders are ready for.

Every American student should read the book. If it waits until high school or even college, they may actually get more out of it.

Online: https://www.gwcommonwealth.com/

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Oct. 18

The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal on the Tupelo Regional Airport’s impending decision on an airline to provide commercial flights:

After one more presentation today, community leaders that oversee the Tupelo Regional Airport should have all the information needed to make an important, yet difficult, decision in determining the airline that will provide commercial flights for the next two years.

Earlier this month, those leaders narrowed the field of prospects from six companies to two, leaving behind Contour Airlines, which currently provides flights in Tupelo, and Boutique Air to compete for the service.

San Francisco-based Boutique, which now provides service for Greenville and Muscle Shoals, Alabama, made a presentation last week to the airport board regarding its bid, which offers several options using either the single-engine Pilatus PC-12 or the twin-engine Beechcraft King Air 350. The PC-12 seats eight, but the company is in the process of reconfiguring them to seat nine, while the King Air already seats nine, as reported by the Daily Journal’s Dennis Seid.

Destinations in the mix include a combination of Nashville, Atlanta and Dallas/Fort Worth.

A popular route discussed at the meeting last week was having the King Air fly three daily flights to Nashville and two to Atlanta. Boutique is asking for a subsidy of $4.168 million a year for two years.

Contour Airlines, which currently is providing service with 30 weekly roundtrip flights between Tupelo and Nashville, is getting paid $4.2 million a year.

Officials with Contour will meet with the board today at noon, and an open house will be hosted at the airport at 10 a.m.

Ahead of its meeting and presentation, Contour is seeking to gather public support for its bid. The airline’s Facebook page began promoting a hashtag, #keepcontour, this week, asking residents who have had positive experiences to use the hashtag in social media posts, attend the presentation today or reach out to Tupelo’s airport director, Cliff Nash, directly.

Contour’s current two-year contract expires next March, but the airline hopes to continue service for about $300,000 less.

The number of enplanements, or passengers, Contour has flown in the past year is the highest Tupelo Regional Airport has seen in four years, and it hopes to continue that momentum.

The company has three “service pattern” options for its next bid:

Pattern A - 30 weekly flights to Nashville

Pattern B - 24 weekly to Nashville as well as six weekly flights to Atlanta

Pattern C - 18 weekly flights to Nashville and 12 weekly to Atlanta

Both options present unique opportunities for Tupelo residents and all Northeast Mississippians who hopefully see these commercial flight options as a benefit in terms of services offered for our region.

Online: https://www.djournal.com/

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Oct. 12

The Commercial Dispatch on automation:

Americans are fascinated by technology, including automation and robotics. We are also more than a little frightened of it.

This week, polling by the PEW Research Center confirmed out mixed emotions about the subject.

The polling indicated that while Americans understand the potential that automation/robotics holds for making our lives better, there are also some real worries.

For example, 72 percent of those polled said they are worried about the technology replacing the work now performed by people and believe our government should adopt policies that protect workers. Seventy-five percent support policies that would limit robotics to jobs that are dangerous or unhealthy for people to perform and 58 percent believe companies should put a limit on how many jobs can be replaced by automation, even if the robots can do the work better and cheaper than humans. Thirty percent believe their own jobs are threatened by the emerging technology.

On a more positive note, a major of college-educated respondents believe that automation will create new opportunities or make their jobs more interesting and rewarding.

Those mixed feelings should not be surprising. Throughout history, advances in technology have created a mix of anticipation and dread.

In the early 19th Century, British textiles workers violently protested when new machinery was introduced into the workplace, which threatened the job security of skilled weavers. Ultimately, that movement, called “Luddites” was suppressed only through military action.

Throughout the industrial and, now, technological ages, similar fears — some justified, other not — have emerged. The goal of all technology is efficiency, after all, and that translates most often into labor cost savings, i.e., fewer workers need to do the same or more work.

Here in the Golden Triangle, the emergence of automation/robotics has been warmly embraced, both by industry, local government and by our educational system.

In order to provide the skilled workers who will operate and maintain today’s modern industrial automation, East Mississippi Community College had invested heavily in its workforce development programs. In 2018, the $42-million Communiversity will open near the Industrial Park. The federal-state-local collaboration hopes to ramp up the production of highly-skilled technicians to meet the needs of local industry.

The idea that we are training one person to do the work of what 10 or more employees may have done in the non-automated factories of the recent past is a bit worrisome, though.

While this move creates good-paying jobs, there will be fewer jobs available, a fear those polled expressed — 72 percent said they fear automation will only increase income disparity. Automation will create both more “haves” and more “have nots.”

Those who embrace automation make two points. First, you cannot stuff the genie back into the bottle. For better or worse, automation is here to stay. We should make the best of it by making sure we are suited to this new world of automation.

Second, if automation proves more efficient, it may well lead to more and cheaper product. It may turn out that the factory jobs lost will be gained in related field such as sales, transportation and service.

In some respects, automation is still a new dynamic in the workplace.

As such, we simply do not know the implications and are a bit fearful.

That’s understandable. The fear of the unknown has always been a part of the human psyche.

So we continue on, hopeful and a bit apprehensive.

We don’t really have a choice, after all.

Online: https://www.cdispatch.com/

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