Tennessee editorial roundup

Recent editorials from Tennessee newspapers:

Sept. 14

The Daily News Journal, Murfreesboro, Tenn., on Syrian war gains face with story of victim:

While it’s not impossible, it’s unlikely that many of us in Murfreesboro will ever meet Rema Faour.

In the midst of all the debate about whether the United States should launch a limited assault against Syria because of its government’s use of chemical weapons, however, Rema Faour offered a true flesh-and-blood example of what is happening every day in Syria.

Rema Faour and her family in Syria have been among the victims of the ongoing violence there. She personally has sustained injuries as have other members of her family. Members of the family also have died.

Syria may seem quite far away, but thanks to Rema Faour’s brother, Louai, who lives in Murfreesboro and was willing to share her story and reporter Christopher Merchant who was able to tell her story, those of us in Murfreesboro got a much better understanding of the pain and frustration of this civil war.

Rema Faour’s story puts a face on the many column inches that we have published about the dire situation in Syria and the many hours of television time that is has occupied. Her story has given life to the many dry statistics about deaths, injuries and displacements in the war-torn country. …

Thomas P. “Tip” O’Neill, one-time House speaker, receives credit for the observation that “All politics is local,” but most world events also are local, particularly as Rutherford County has grown to provide home for a diverse population.

When protesters recently gathered downtown to oppose U.S. military intervention in the Syrian conflict, also present were Syrian nationals who urged the United States to act to help save their families and friends still in Syria.

Those in Syria are not merely numbers, but families with fears and aspirations — just as families who live in Rutherford County.

We only can hope that Rema Faour and her family survive this conflict. They are also part of our family.




Sept. 13

Johnson City (Tenn.) Press on turning down music and save your eardrums:

Here’s something people young and old should keep in mind when listening to music on their smartphone, iPod or other MP3 player: Blasting those tunes through your headphones can result in hearing problems.

“Turn it down” has been a warning parents have given to their children for years. And it’s still good advice. Audiologists fear young people in particular are causing serious damage to their hearing by listening to loud music through earphones for extended periods of time. This practice is likely to result in tinnitus and loss of hearing in later years.

A national study released a few years ago found as many as 6.5 million American teens could suffer some hearing loss. But it’s not just teens who risk hearing loss by listening to loud music through headphones. Adults, too, can suffer the consequences.

Some hearing experts believe MP3 players should be designed to prevent people playing music above 90 decibels, about two-thirds of the maximum volume of a typical device. Audiologists also warn that earbuds, the style of headphones favored by many listeners, may be particularly harmful. If the earbuds don’t fit properly, the user will turn up the volume to block outside noise.

By using common sense and caution when using headphones, Americans can protect their hearing and look forward to enjoying their music well into their golden years.




Sept. 16

The Tennessean, Nashville, Tenn., on failure of UT drilling deal is for the best:

It looks as though the University of Tennessee won’t be going into the “fracking” business anytime soon, and that’s a relief to more than just environmental activists in this state.

The university announced last week that the only company to offer a request for proposal, Pennsylvania-based CONSOL Energy, did not like UT’s terms. But truly, no one liked what was about to happen.

Red flags were in abundance after it became widely known that the university was seeking a partnership with a company to drill for natural gas and oil on public forest land on the Cumberland Plateau. The 8,600-acre Cumberland Forest in Morgan and Scott counties provides research for the university, in forest and wildlife management, and ecological demonstration projects to study reclamation of stripmined land.

So, from the first, organizations such as the Sierra Club questioned why the university would invite companies to drill for gas and oil in an area that scientists had worked to restore — even if the objective was to “study” the effects of hydraulic fracturing on the Chattanooga shale formation that lies under East Tennessee, northern Alabama, southern Kentucky and northeast Georgia.

Now that the university’s proposed terms for a drilling lease are readily available, we can understand, if not appreciate, what UT was up to: revenue.

It’s astonishing that the university still contends that this deal would have been about the science. What reputable government agency, academic institution or research institute would view the data collected in the course of such a partnership to be objective, even if the ultimate conclusion was that fracking is detrimental? Too much money would have exchanged hands.

Ultimately, the wheels of government couldn’t keep pace with the vicissitude of the energy market. The State Building Commission tried, pretty brazenly, to expedite approval for UT. But natural gas prices have been falling, and it just wouldn’t make sense for a company to meet UT’s demands, when it could do its own in-house “research,” and expect it to be as well-received as UT’s.

Fortunately, UT has a chance to re-evaluate and rededicate themselves to their mission as a public research institution.



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