Tri-City Herald, Kennewick, Wash., on U.S. Forest Service:
Officials with the National Forest Service just can’t be serious.
Bobby Unser, an auto racing legend, was lost for two days in a blizzard when his snowmobile broke down in a national forest. He is now safe, sound and in big trouble for trespassing in Colorado’s South San Juan Wilderness, a protected area.
Unser could face up to six months in jail and a $5,000 fine if convicted.
Forest Service officials look like fools for pursuing this. Unser said he might have strayed a quarter-mile or half-mile into the protected wilderness. Even if he were ten miles in, who can blame him for getting lost in a blizzard.
This case should be dropped quickly before the Forest Service embarrasses itself even more.
Houston Chronicle, on U.S.-Colombia policy:
U.S. officials must decide by March whether Colombia regains the certification it lost last year as a reliable partner in this country’s war on drugs.
It is a tough decision for American officials, including White House drug czar Barry McCaffrey, because of the mixed signals Colombia is sending about its resoluteness in the deadly anti-drug struggle which has taken the lives of thousands of Colombians. ...
If Colombia fails to regain certification, it stands to feel the effects of some economic sanctions from the United States.
But in punishing the Colombians, the United States and Colombia will be losers in the drug war.
Austin (Texas) American-Statesman, on need to improve VA health care:
Health care for veterans available through the Department of Veterans Affairs is in desperate need of an overhaul to bring it in line with today’s realities.
VA hospitals have too many empty beds and are riddled with inefficiency and lack of accountability. While there have been some calls for turning to a voucher plan for medical care, both Congress and the Clinton Administration have ignored them.
The time is now for a realistic overhaul of veterans health care.
A voucher system makes more sense that the continued operations of expensive hospitals that stay mostly empty and encourage costly and unnecessary hospital stays.
This session of Congress presents another opportunity for this long overdue initiative.
The Times-Picayune, New Orleans, on America’s glass ceiling:
Eventually, we hope to get to the point where ``first woman″ is a label from the past in our nation. There has been dramatic progress in the past 20 years, with more and more women becoming astronauts and judges and lawmakers.
But we are not there yet, so Madeleine Albright’s confirmation as the country’s first female secretary of state shouldn’t pass without the celebration of the fall of another barrier.
This barrier was a biggie. Along with attorney general, the secretaries of defense and treasury and, of course, president, it has been one of the most elusive of positions for women.
Ms. Albright joins Attorney General Janet Reno as the second woman ever in that elite group. The fact that their appointments unfolded in vastly different ways may be another sign of progress.
... Maybe that is a sign that it will no longer be unusual for the United States to have a woman in one of the nation’s most powerful positions.
The Advocate, Baton Rouge, La., on Clinton’s policy on Bosnia:
Freshly installed in a second term, President Clinton has apparently taken some care to assemble a new national security team that can work together. Bosnia, where the president recently extended the presence of U.S. troops under another 18 months, could be the first test of that teamwork.
The American people have been promised once before that U.S. troops would be in Bosnia temporarily _ only to see Clinton extend their mission after he was re-elected.
... No one can blame voters for being confused. With any luck, perhaps (Secretary of State Madeleine) Albright and (Secretary of Defense William) Cohen can bridge any differences they have on Bosnia policy and bring some much-needed clarity to the issue. The American people deserve no less.
The Blade of Toledo, Ohio, on violence against abortion clinics:
The campaign of violence against abortion clinics was cranked up a notch last week. In suburban Atlanta, at least seven people were hurt when the second of two bombs exploded, a terrorist action apparently designed to cause the maximum number of deaths and injuries.
It’s possible _ but at this stage it is unlikely _ that the timing of the second explosion was a mistake; that the device was supposed to explode earlier.
More likely it was a callous and murderous attempt to claim as many lives as possible _ not of those working at the clinic, or visiting the clinic, but of firefighters and law enforcement officers.
How despicable of the bombers to take aim at those whose goal is to help and protect others. And how hypocritical it would be if this atrocity was carried out in the name of opposition to legal abortion. But that has always been the Achilles heel of the radical anti-abortionists.