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Florida editorial roundup

October 22, 2013
Associated Press

Recent editorials from Florida newspapers:

Oct. 21

Tallahassee (Fla.) Democrat on addressing poverty:

Just as Tallahassee is experiencing an upswing in economic development, from the creation of jobs in construction, retail and entertainment, there is growth on the other end of our economic model.

Thousands of people are still struggling right at or miserably below the poverty level in this community. This segment of our residents makes an impact in Tallahassee as it pertains to schools, child care, workforce training, housing and food banks.

To get a glimpse of how those who struggle trying to make ends meet daily in our community, the United Way of the Big Bend and the Village Square tonight is hosting an information session to bring awareness to the importance of addressing this issue in our community.

Volunteers will be given the chance to see how it is like for poor people to find resources to assist them on a daily basis. Volunteers will assume the role of people in need of assistance and there will be those on hand representing agencies. It can be valuable to existing social service agencies and to those who want to know more.

The goal is to help agencies of the United Way and others to understand what is needed in our community, what pitfalls those seeking help experience on a daily basis and what are some of the decisions they must make from month to month.

This is a sensitive area, but one that must continue to be addressed if this community is going to continue to make headway on helping to remove people from the poverty roles.

Free participation programs like the one this evening can help sensitize us to this issue and also create interest in working to address the needs.



Oct. 20

Gainesville (Fla.) Sun on cruel punishment:

It's hard to have sympathy for someone executed for committing a horrific crime.

In fact, some would say that murderers who make their victims suffer get off too easy when executed by lethal injection.

Yet as long as our nation's Constitution bans cruel and unusual punishment, and its people desire to be guided by their best and not their basest instincts, we need to question whether those values are consistent with our use of the death penalty.

William Happ, 51, was executed Tuesday at Florida State Prison for the rape and murder of Angela Crowley in 1986. Happ kidnapped the 21-year-old Crowley from her car before raping, beating and strangling her. It was a horrific crime by anyone's definition.

Happ's execution was the first in the United States to use a new drug in the lethal injection process. Happ remained conscious longer and made more body movements after losing consciousness than most inmates executed under the old combination of drugs, according to media witnesses.

Florida's experimentation with the drug is just the latest example of its haphazard manner of conducting executions. Its failure to conduct humane executions peels back the sanitized image of the lethal-injection process, which keeps society from facing the ethical conflicts of state-sponsored killing.

Florida switched to the new drug, midazolam hydrochloride, due to a shortage of another sedative that had been used. A Danish company that produces the former drug stopped shipping it to U.S. prisons due to opposition of its use in executions. ...

It's not necessarily preferable when executions are so antiseptic that they look like someone is peacefully going to sleep. Like drone strikes that seem like video games, making death appear so easy takes away the gravity of the state's decision to use its most serious power.

Yet we have the obligation as a society to ensure that capital punishment is not cruel, if that is possible. It's certainly harder to make that case about torturing someone before killing them.

Until Florida can assure the public that won't happen, it should stop trying to speed up executions and take the time to conduct them as humanely as possible.



Oct. 19

Miami Herald on desperation in Venezuela:

The incompetence of President Nicolás Maduro's government in Venezuela, coupled with rampant corruption, is reaching dangerous levels that could portend a social explosion in that politically tense nation. With inflation reaching just under 50 percent for September and shortages of basic consumer goods multiplying by the day, there is no clear path to resolution of the country's increasingly severe problems.

In the latest sign that the economy is falling apart, Toyota announced last week that it would have to close for two weeks because of delays in getting dollars from the state currency board, Cadivi. A shortage of materials left the company, a prominent multi-national struggling to remain productive amid the economic chaos, unable to keep its doors open.

The shortage of dollars is the inevitable result of the currency controls imposed by the late Hugo Chávez, founder of the Bolivarian Revolution who died earlier this year and left the country in the clumsy hands of his (and the Cuban regime's) hand-picked heir, Maduro. Since then, the country has been wracked by a series of crises made worse by a heavy-handed government weighed down by its woeful ignorance of basic economics.

Take the so-called "toilet paper conspiracy." ...

Once, Venezuela could have relied on its oil wealth to save the day, but ever since Mr. Chávez turned control of the government oil company, PDVSA, over to his political cronies, it is no longer as efficient or as productive.

In desperation, Maduro last month traveled to China to seek a loan of up to $4 billion to rescue his economy, but his erstwhile friends in Beijing turned him down and Maduro came away with only a few trade agreements.

Faced with a sea of troubles, Maduro has sought scapegoats. Last month, he expelled three U.S. diplomats and accused them of conspiracy and sabotage, uttering the most unimaginative cliché in the book: "Yankee, go home." (Yep, he really said that.)

Maduro is still seeking permission from lawmakers to rule by decree, but that won't solve his problems even if he can twist enough arms to get the votes he needs. Eventually, he and his gang will run out of scapegoats, excuses and imagined conspiracies, and that's when the crunch will come.

Heading into municipal elections in December, Venezuela's people are clearly fed up with his failed governance and may well send a signal by voting for the regime's opponents at the local level. At this point, the only thing that can save Venezuela is a change in course that Maduro's government is apparently unable or unwilling to provide.




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