Recent editorials from South Carolina newspapers:
The Herald, Rock Hill, S.C., on HPV vaccination lagging:
In Afghanistan, the Taliban has murdered United Nations health workers attempting to administer the polio vaccine in rural villagers and has convinced villagers that the vaccine is a Western plot to infect Afghan children.
While U.S. health workers aren’t being gunned down, misguided, backward thinking also has prevented American families from taking full advantage of a vaccine that could prevent thousands of cases of cervical cancer each year.
Researchers believe that the Gardasil vaccine to block infection by the human papillomavirus could prevent up to 70 percent of all cervical cancers and 90 percent of genital warts. But the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported last week that immunization rates across the nation have stalled over the last year. …
HPVs are the most common cause of sexually transmitted infections. More than half of people who are sexually active become infected with one of the more than 40 types of HPV that are known to spread during vaginal, oral or anal sex, according to the National Cancer Institute.
The viruses are responsible for nearly all cases of cervical cancer and most cases of anal cancer. The viruses also cause more than half of the cancers in the middle part of the throat and about half of vaginal, vulvular and penile cancers.
But the vaccine can practically eliminate that risk, especially if it is administered to teens before they become sexually active so their bodies can develop immunity. Since 2006, the Advisory Committee on Immunization practices has recommended routine vaccination of adolescent girls ages 11 or 12.
Last year, state Rep. Bakari Sellars, D-Bamberg, sponsored a bill that would have provided free vaccinations for all of the state’s 7th-grade girls.
Parents would have had the option of refusing the vaccine for their children. But the measure would have extended the vaccine to many children who otherwise could not have afforded it.
The bill picked up support across both sides of the partisan aisle, with a 63-40 House vote and 40-2 Senate vote in favor of the initiative. Unfortunately, Gov. Nikki Haley vetoed the bill, calling it a “precursor to another taxpayer-funded health care mandate.”
But the need to inoculate children against HPV remains no matter who pays for it. We shouldn’t let superstition, ignorance – or false economy – deter us from ensuring that as many as possible receive this lifesaving vaccine.
The Post and Courier, Charleston, S.C. on ending NSA collection of phone records:
Administration officials have defended the National Security Agency intelligence programs disclosed by former NSA consultant Edward Snowden by saying they are essential to national security and have uncovered over 50 terrorist plots. But several senators last week challenged the official line, saying that no plots had been uncovered through the bulk collection of American telephone records. …
Certainly, it’s another good reason to curtail the program.
He rightly called the sweeping program a “massive” invasion of privacy. Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., went further, saying the bulk collection of phone records, although permitted by a secret federal Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act court, is not only at odds with the language of Section 215 of the Patriot Act that allows collection of business records in connection with terrorist investigations but also with the Fourth Amendment’s prohibition of unreasonable searches and seizures.
Sens. Udall and Ron Wyden, D-Oregon, both members of the Senate Intelligence Committee, accused the administration of deliberately exaggerating the usefulness of the bulk collection of phone records by lumping it together with another program that allows the NSA to listen to foreign telephone calls and read foreign emails.
The senators also expressed frustration with secrecy rules that for years have prevented them from discussing the privacy issues raised by the NSA programs. …
The latest hearing should give impetus to legislation to restrict the NSA accordingly. Not only does the program raise constitutional issues, there’s the practical question — does it even work?
Aiken (S.C.) Standard on study Atlantic Coast for new oil production:
Despite a boom in production, the profits of oil companies are actually slumping, according to The Associated Press. Companies are reportedly being hindered by the growing lack of conventional oil resources outside of the Middle East.
While it’s hard to categorize billions of dollars in revenue as being much of a dip in the pockets of Big Oil, the need for added equipment and harder extraction methods have made it increasingly expensive for companies to generate oil. Exxon Mobil, Shell and BP have all recently posted disappointing earnings, largely because of the cost to get oil from remote locations and tightly packed rock.
In pursuit of more easily accessible reserves, companies will look to explore oil production in new places, including expanding extraction in the United States. Oil production in the U.S. is actually already the highest in more than 20 years, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. However, any new oil leases will likely not be signed for drilling off South Carolina’s coast any time soon. An edict from President Barack Obama’s administration rules out all Atlantic Coast oil lease sales before 2017. Obama’s directive was spurred by the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico that raised environmental concerns about whether oil could be extracted safely. The same reasoning has delayed development of the Keystone Pipeline, a nearly 2,200-mile pipeline that would transport oil sands from Canada and the northern U.S. to refineries in Texas.
Rather than sitting on our hands as gas prices go up, steps should be taken to examine the possibility of extruding oil off the Atlantic Coast. Analyzing, of course, is different than actually drilling. According to Newsweek, data has not been collected on East Coast drilling since 1981. Newer and likely more accurate data would give us a much stronger sense of what to do off our coast. Ideally, if the environmental risks of drilling can be minimized and oil production can be significantly profitable for our state, it can serve as a bridge to renewable energies. Profits from oil production can be used to help build infrastructure for cleaner energies such as solar, wind, and natural gas. That could be an optimal model for our future and the national energy policy moving forward.