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Editorial roundup: Collected thoughts from around the nation
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Editorial Roundup

Editorial roundup: Collected thoughts from around the nation

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We’ve learned a lot after two decades of fighting the war on terror, but some of the most important lessons are not making their way into our basic military training. Our review of Department of Defense procedures tells us that more needs to be done in terms of training service members on post-traumatic stress and other mental health issues that are too often the byproduct of modern conflict.

In our view, the DOD should institute mandatory mental health training for all active-duty and reserve personnel. This is a simple and urgent suggestion that our vets deserve.

The need is enormous. The government recently released data showing that suicide rates among military personnel jumped by 15% last year. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said “the trends are not going in the right direction.”

Those trends affect both current and former military. Recent research by the Rand Corp. shows that veterans die by suicide at almost twice the rate of nonveterans. In 2018, the suicide rate among veterans age 18 to 34 was 45.9 per 100,000, almost three times as high as nonveterans in the same age bracket.

And this isn’t just about suicide. According to a separate Rand study, 1 in 5 veterans experienced mental health problems like PTSD, major depression and anxiety.

Those who serve need to be better served. There is no cohesive, uniform training required of all military personnel to equip those who may be dealing with mental health issues, let alone pre-emptive training before they face situations that could cause those issues. That’s what DOD should create.

— The Dallas Morning News

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Facebook doesn’t just provide a platform for those who spread disinformation and toxic discourse — it actively incentivizes those behaviors in order to hook users on its product. That’s the disturbing allegation by company whistleblowers and others, as highlighted in congressional testimony Tuesday.

Congress can’t censor content on the site, but it can certainly demand that a business that gets help from federal law must implement safeguards to disincentivize this behavior.

The reason Facebook and other tech giants can host unfiltered content that might get them sued if they were traditional publishers is that Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act provides them with special legal protection. The idea was to allow the internet to grow without being stifled by litigation. But if the result is a cesspool of anger for the sake of insane levels of profit, why keep that federal shield in place?

That’s leverage Congress should use. Facebook can’t change human nature, including that dark part of it that craves conflict. But the company can change its algorithms to punish rather than reward bombast, bullying and aggression online.

— The St. Louis Post-Dispatch

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That canny Cajun James Carville had this to say in Vox in April: “The Democratic Party can’t be more liberal than Sen. Joe Manchin. That’s the fact. We don’t have the votes.”

The Democratic strategist’s incontrovertible truth is tough medicine for the party’s aggressive progressive wing, which isn’t content with the possibility of a big win for the party by passing a $1 trillion infrastructure bill that most reasonable people can agree the country needs as part of its COVID-19 recovery. Instead, this activist group wants to tie that bill to a separate, colossal $3.5 trillion bill that includes all manner of social programs paid for by a major tax increase.

The hubristic left of the party feels the wind of power at its back and yet also fears its changing direction. Thus it wants to pass its agenda now, in the manner of Franklin D. Roosevelt, say, or Lyndon B. Johnson. But Roosevelt enjoyed a Democratic supermajority and two large electoral victories. Johnson enjoyed a similar buffer. President Joe Biden doesn’t.

The results of the election show a preference for adult ideas, incremental change, a disavowal of ideological extremism on both sides and a preference for practical legislation passed with an eye on the cost. The infrastructure bill, which enjoys wide support, mostly passes that test. It should not be held hostage to a broader agenda.

— The Chicago Tribune

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The Orange County coastline has become the latest casualty of the nation’s unhealthy dependence on oil. In one of the biggest California spills in decades, a pipeline connected to an oil platform off Huntington Beach released at least 126,000 gallons of crude over the weekend.

Some 23 oil and gas drilling platforms are in federal waters off the California coastline. While large-scale spills are somewhat rare in California, they can be devastating when they occur. In 2015, a pipeline along U.S. 101 broke and sent more than 100,000 gallons of oil into the nearby coast. Spills at sea are exceedingly more difficult to clean up than those on land, and the oil they unleash spreads with the currents.

We already know the U.S. needs to wean itself off oil and gas to help the planet avoid the worst impacts of climate change. The latest spill illustrates that the threat to the coastal environment isn’t just hypothetical and that we need to move much faster to phase out coastal oil drilling.

— The Los Angeles Times

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