Recent editorials from Louisiana newspapers:
The Advocate, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, on author E.B. White:
Considering the headlines about lone gunmen and ISIS, war abroad and political bickering at home, one might be forgiven for feeling a little pessimistic about the future these days.
And that has us thinking about a similarly anxious time in our national life during the 1970s, when the economy was sputtering, the Middle East was fuming, and the war in Vietnam was working its way toward an agonizing close.
In March of 1973, a man named Mr. Nadeau — his first name is now lost to us — surveyed the scene and felt pretty blue. He wrote a letter to E.B. White, the author best known for children's books such "Charlotte's Web" and "The Trumpet of the Swan," to get White's views on events of the day.
White sounded an encouraging note.
"As long as there is one upright man," he told Nadeau, "as long as there is one compassionate woman, the contagion may spread and the scene is not desolate. Hope is the thing that is left to us, in a bad time. I shall get up Sunday morning and wind the clock, as a contribution to order and steadfastness."
"Sailors have an expression about the weather: they say the weather is a great bluffer. I guess the same is true of our human society — things can look dark, then a break shows in the clouds, and all is changed, sometimes rather suddenly. It is quite obvious that the human race has made a queer mess of life on this planet. But as a people we probably harbor seeds of goodness that have lain for a long time waiting to sprout when the conditions are right."
White's parting words to Nadeau? "Hang on to your hat. Hang on to your hope. And wind the clock, for tomorrow is another day."
White's letter seems more topical than ever, and it's been getting a renewed profile lately, thanks to its appearance in "Letters of Note," a new anthology of classic correspondence, and its republication in a recent edition of Reader's Digest.
"Wind the clock" sounds like as good an answer as any to the bleakness of the news cycle — a small gesture of resolve, marking the hours until happier tidings arrive.
American Press, Lake Charles, Louisiana, on Department of Health and Hospitals and sexual assault victims:
Louisiana's Department of Health and Hospitals took a step in the right direction last month when it announced a plan to keep victims of sexual assault from being billed for sexual assault exams. Instead, the Crime Victim's Reparation Board will be billed directly.
Whether they will have to pay for such an exam may not be at the top of a victim's thoughts after such a heinous act, but every effort should be made to encourage victims to come forward, report what happened to them and undergo a sexual assault exam. DHH also said that reimbursement will be available to those who ultimately decide not to file a police report.
DHH announced the changes in a news release.
Part of the issue is that the Reparation Board cannot accept billing directly from a provider. Hospitals bill the victims, who may use insurance or Medicaid, thus leaving a paper trail outside of the exam and test results.
Nothing should stand in the way of that examination, which are of vital importance in bringing perpetrators to justice.
Ultimately, it's up to a victim how they choose to move forward. While they certainly should be encouraged to file a police report, sexual assault is often perpetrated by someone close to the victim, thus making reporting the assault complicated. But having an exam completed immediately following an assault provides necessary details if the victim decides at a later date to report the crime.
While some change will go into effect immediately, some laws will have to be changed. DHH said it will work with the legislature to have the Reparation Board billed directly and to have the requirement of a police report removed. Those changes aren't likely to be met with much resistance.
The goal should be to accommodate victims every step of the way — they have already gone through enough. This will make the road to recovery a bit easier.
The Daily Star, Hammond, Louisiana, on space travel:
Americans are spoiled when it comes to space travel. We beat the Soviet Union (now Russia) to the moon. We've sent unmanned crafts to Mars. We've sent craft toward Jupiter. Our satellites roam the nightly skies.
So when there's an accident involving a rocket, such as the one involving an unmanned Orbital Sciences rocket carrying supplies to the International Space Station that exploded just above the launching pad, or the "anomaly" experienced by the Virgin Galatic test vehicle SpaceShipTwo that crashed in the Mojave Desert Friday, the question comes up as to how such a thing can happen.
Virgin Atlantic chief Richard Branson expressed shock at the crash but vowed to push on.
"Space is hard - but worth it. We will persevere and move forward together," Branson said.
Admirable, to be sure, but is it really achievable in the long run? When tragedy struck the American space program (the National Aeronautics and Space Administration) with the fire aboard the Apollo spacecraft that killed three astronauts, NASA and the space program rebounded.
When the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded on liftoff or when the Shuttle Columbia blew up upon return, the space program rebounded.
But will those who can afford the $250,000 ticket for three exhilarating minutes want to take the chance? Time will tell.
The accident left one pilot dead, the other seriously wounded. But it leaves an even greater void. NASA has already seen its budget diminish, and the shuttle program has been mothballed. The public hasn't demonstrated a strong desire to see the billions of dollars in taxpayer money sent into outer space.
It all begs a larger question. Is there truly a place for space travel for private companies taking civilians up into the outer reaches of space?
Given the exploratory nature of humans, it's a question that at some point, those companies and the American people may not know how to answer.