Kentucky editorial roundup

Recent editorials from Kentucky newspapers:

Sept. 8

Courier-Journal, Louisville, Ky., on war talk demands citizens’ attention:

President Barack Obama … presumably will make his best case for limited missile strikes on Syria directly to the American people, who remain deeply skeptical if not dead-set against the U.S. making such a move.

His proxies — Secretary of State John Kerry and Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel — have been making the case publicly in sessions with congressional committee members. The conversation about American intervention in response to claims Syrian government forces used nerve gas, killing about 1,400 people and injuring thousands more, will broaden in the coming days as U.S. representatives and senators return to the Capitol after a recess, and take up the debate in earnest.

It is a debate worth having. And the American people should be fully involved in it, if they are not already.

The setting for such a possibility for the opening of minds is ghastly: a civil war in Syria that already has claimed the lives of more than 100,000 people, a recent attack the U.S. asserts was chemical weapons unleashed on Syrian people by government forces, the terrible images of the dead and wounded who suffered greatly, this year’s model of the age-old argument of whether to mind our own business or to mind theirs.

Impassioned arguments are being made on all sides in this country and others. Good. That’s supposed to be the way it works in a democracy. And so is the act of the elected leader of the country addressing citizens about the ultimate flex of power: the use of military might.

Americans are understandably trying to shake off a sense of deja vu with Syria. …

Fourteen years ago, another American president was justifying the decision to militarily intervene in Kosovo in the 1990s, to save the lives of people undergoing untold atrocities and to stabilize a region. To make that argument, he reached back more than 50 years to yet another president, one four years into a world war and only a few months away from his own death, who spoke these words to a nation weary of war and death and saving the world from its darker forces.

Another president is set to speak to today’s war-weary citizens about other dark forces he says must be countered. That is his duty. It is our duty, as citizens, to listen, and to speak, as well.



Sept. 6

Lexington (Ky.) Herald-Leader on battery technology could boost state:

While the science may be beyond many of us, the economics are not at all confusing.

Central Kentucky stands to gain in a big way from the location here of a company with proprietary technology to make better, cheaper, longer-lasting, faster-charging and safer batteries to power everything from cellphones to cars to drones.

NOHMs Technologies, along with a host of local and state dignitaries, announced Wednesday that its core operations will move to the recently opened Kentucky-Argonne center. That center, opened about a year ago, was funded largely by stimulus monies and developed through a partnership among the state, the universities of Kentucky and Louisville and the Argonne National Laboratory, a leader in basic battery research.

NOHMs (nanoscale organic hybrid materials) plans to invest over $5.3 million and employ 162 people in coming years.

Those numbers are important, but if they were the whole story this would be just another welcome, but incremental, addition to our local economy.

But, as explained in a National Science Foundation grant award to the company, the technology “could transform the mobile device market, the electric vehicle market and energy storage market.”

That would mean Lexington could have a significant player in a market with an estimated value of $44 billion by 2020.

Obviously, NOHMs is not the only company trying to develop and commercialize a better battery to gain a share of that huge and growing market. …

Kentucky-Argonne has labs for battery manufacturing and testing, as well as labs for biofuels research and solar research. In the first year, research has been developed there with, among others, Ford, Hitachi and Toyota.

But NOHMs — founded in 2010 in Ithaca, N.Y., based on research at Cornell University — represents the visionary companies that Kentucky-Argonne was built to attract. …

Kentucky has languished behind the nation and the market for a long time, in part because of its devotion to old ideas and technologies. This forward-thinking investment — in Kentucky-Argonne and in NOHMs — has the potential to be transformational, not just incremental.



Sept. 9

The Independent, Ashland, N.C., on attorneys general say they profit from drug epidemic:

Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway has joined the attorneys general in Florida and Maine in asking a boutique fashion company to cease selling T-shirts that feature the names of well-known prescription drugs. In a letter to Kitson Inc., a company which sells items online and in store in California, Conway, Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi and Maine Attorney General Janet Mills called the shirts a “cynical effort to profit from people who have died from drug overdoses.”

At least initially, their pleas have fallen on deaf ears. In fact, Kitson contends the T-shirts are helping create a dialogue about drug abuse.

Kitson sells sports jersey-type shirts with the drug names Vicodin, Xanax and Adderall written on the back.

There is little or nothing the three attorneys general can do to legally stop the sale of the shirts. They clearly are legal products that be sold without restrictions. Their only offense is that their message offends some.

The letter from Bondi, Mills and Conway disputes the idea the shirts “open the door to a dialogue.” …

In a state where thousands have lost their lives by misusing prescription drugs, it is no wonder Conway is offended by what he perceives as an effort to profit off the prescription drug epidemic that continues to plague Kentucky. But other than expressing their concern about the shirts, there is little else the three can do to force Kitson to stop selling them. Before the three attorneys general get too overly concerned, we doubt anyone ever became a drug addict because of something written on a shirt. And in one way, Kitson is right: The publicity the three attorneys general have received by protesting the offensive shirts has helped generate a dialogue on prescription drug abuse. Who knows? Maybe something positive will come out of this controversy.


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