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Editorial Roundup: Excerpts from recent editorials

Published on NewsOK Modified: March 12, 2014 at 2:48 pm •  Published: March 12, 2014

Excerpts from recent editorials in newspapers in the United States and abroad:


March 10

Charleston (W.Va.) Daily Mail on how Marcellus gas can make the world a safer place:

Right now, Europe would love nothing more than to stop Vladimir Putin from reassembling the old Evil Empire of the Soviet Union

But Putin has Europe cornered this winter. Russia supplies 36 percent of the natural gas consumed by Germans.

Twelve other European countries are even more dependent with the three Baltic states and Finland receiving all of their natural gas from Mother Russia. It is difficult to stand up to someone when you are shivering from the cold.

West Virginia can help. The U.S. Energy Information Agency estimates that West Virginia and its neighbors are sitting on 141 trillion cubic feet of natural gas in the Marcellus shale formation.

Surely some natural gas from West Virginia and other sources in the United States can be sold and shipped to Europe to end the Russian monopoly.

But federal law restricts exports of natural gas, as House Speaker John Boehner pointed out in a column in the Wall Street Journal.

"These policies have amounted to our nation imposing economic sanctions on itself — sentencing consumers in the U.S. and abroad to higher prices and slower growth while ceding the international energy marketplace to countries such as Russia, Venezuela and Iran," Boehner wrote.

Exporting natural gas to Europe would benefit West Virginians. State government receives about $175 million a year in severance taxes from oil and gas. Increased sales abroad would increase those tax revenues. The state already exports more than $7 billion a year worth of coal.

Boehner called upon President Obama to approve the Keystone pipeline, lift his restrictions on oil and gas from federal lands and expedite applications to export liquefied natural gas.

Ending the Russian monopoly on natural gas throughout central and eastern Europe would allow those nations to be truly independent of Putin and Russia. Sales of natural gas from the United States to Europe would hurt Moscow in the pocketbook as half of Russian tax revenues come from oil and gas exports. The soft power of exporting energy would be far more effective than the current timid diplomacy displayed by Europe and Washington.

Drill, baby, drill — and make the world a safer and more peaceful place.



March 9

The Augusta (Ga.) Chronicle on 100-year checkup:

Audits are a fundamental tool to hold government and quasi-government entities accountable.

Without thorough examination by independent parties, citizens would have to rely on the agency's word that its operations and accounting are above-board.

When it comes to the activities of the Federal Reserve, the nation's central bank, verbal assurances just aren't good enough.

Thankfully, momentum is building for legislation to enable the General Accountability Office to audit the Fed, something that has not happened in the 100 years since it was created to set monetary policy.

The bipartisan Federal Reserve Transparency Act passed the House late last year. A similar bill co-sponsored by Sen. Rand Paul is making its way through the Senate. The Kentucky Republican's father, former Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, a longtime Federal Reserve critic, tried unsuccessfully to get similar bills passed.

Though the proposed legislation provides no specifics about the scope of the audit, there already is substantial pushback from former and current Fed officials, who are used to doing most of their work in secret. Officials fear, for example, that their closed-door Federal Open Market Committee will be subject to "second guessing." Transcripts of deliberations are released five years after the fact to shield members from political blowback arising from policy decisions.

When government is nervous about openness, it should make everybody nervous.

We hardly would advocate micromanaging Fed operations, but there should be significant oversight. Deciding how much money enters the economy, and under what terms, are critical Fed responsibilities that should be better monitored.

We need increased transparency at the Federal Reserve. Considering its massive influence over the U.S. economy, its bureaucratic movements cry out for consistent oversight. That's something all citizens should approve of, regardless of where they fall on the political spectrum.

Government simply can't be trusted to watch itself, and neither should its biggest bank.



March 7

Arizona Republic on border patrol doing better:

The U.S. Border Patrol, kicking and screaming, on Friday announced clarifications in its use-of-force policies.

They are small changes, just a statement of common sense. That they have to be said — and come only because of pressure from Congress and the press — says much about the need for greater oversight and restraint at this agency.

Border Patrol Chief Michael Fisher told agents to stop jumping in front of vehicles they're trying to stop. He said they can no longer fire on a vehicle "merely fleeing from agents."

And if someone starts throwing rocks at them, agents should move out of range instead of immediately shooting.

Recommendations to this effect were blacked out of a congressionally requested report into 19 deaths, only to later be revealed by press reports. That's an indication that enough pressure driven by disturbing truths can bring change even to this recalcitrant agency.

Had these policies been in force, Jose Antonio Elena Rodriguez might be alive today.

He's the 16-year-old boy shot in the back while walking down a street in Nogales, Sonora. Border Patrol agents firing through the border fence hit him multiple times.

Pressure needs to continue on the agency to fully reveal its use-of-force policies, as all other police agencies do. The Border Patrol needs to be pressed to acknowledge mistakes and release a full accounting of deaths at the hands of its agents.



March 12

Boston Herald on traveling dirty secrets:

It is apparently the dirty little secret of international airline travel that more than 1 billion times a year passengers board planes without ever having their passports checked against Interpol's database of 40 million lost or stolen passports.

Even as investigators search for the Malaysia Airlines flight that disappeared out of the sky after leaving Kuala Lumpur, the tale of two men who boarded the jet with stolen passports was raising even more speculation about its fate. That the two men, ages 19 and 29 were Iranian, traveling together and traveling light, hasn't calmed any nerves.

But even if the two turn out to be simply unfortunate travelers — along with the other 237 souls on board — there is now no longer denying the security lapses that are a part of hopping a flight from most locations around the globe.

Only a relative handful of countries — the United States, Britain, the United Arab Emirates — bother to check passengers' passports against the Interpol database.

Interpol Secretary General Ronald Noble said his agency has long asked why countries would "wait for a tragedy to put prudent security measures in place at borders and boarding gates."

Fighting terrorism isn't the only reason for making those cross-checks either. There really is no good reason to be traveling with a stolen passport, now is there? Think drug smugglers, money launderers, criminals of all sorts.

The other take-away from this disaster is the revelation that Thailand is apparently the stolen passport capital of the world, where gangs of thieves have been known to go room to room at less-secure hotels.

It will ultimately be up to travelers to vote with their feet and their travel dollars for nations and airlines that put security first.



March 10

Akron (Ohio) Beacon Journal on federal assistance program:

More than two months have passed since Congress failed to extend emergency unemployment benefits. The National Employment Law Project reports that 2 million Americans have been cut from the federal assistance program, many struggling to make mortgage and car payments, even to hold their households together. They have faced the misfortune of losing their jobs through no fault of their own and now seek work in a weak recovery.

In February, the economy added 175,000 jobs, the 48th straight month in which employment levels have expanded in the private sector. Unfortunately, the pace has not matched the stronger recoveries of the past, during which 200,000 jobs to 300,000 jobs per month have been generated. No surprise, then, that long-term unemployment (jobless for 27 weeks or longer) has remained frustratingly high.

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