‘A lasting legacy’

Now that the Summit Bechtel Reserve is full of Boy Scouts, these young leaders of tomorrow are about to embark on myriad trips into many communities spread across southern West Virginia to perform thousands of hours of public service work for the betterment of our region.

More than 300 projects are on tap in counties including Fayette, Raleigh, Greenbrier, Wyoming, Summers, Monroe, Mercer, McDowell and Nicholas.

Thousands of Scouts will be fanned out performing a multitude of sweat equity tasks, a perfect example of the BSA’s new focus on sustainability. Please welcome these youngsters into your communities and say thank you to them if you have the chance.

The vast majority of the work being performed would likely have taken years for many places to pull off, if ever.

What is about to happen is a positive transformation that will leave a lasting legacy that every town can be proud of.

While it is easy to point to the economic benefits that the Summit, the quadrennial Jamboree, and the permanent High Adventure base will provide for decades to come, these community service projects — some big and some small — are permanent memories and testaments.

— From the July 16

The Register-Herald, Beckley



A war on women

So far this year, Republican-controlled state legislatures across America have passed 40 new laws curtailing the right of women to terminate pregnancies — and the total since 2011 is 170 such restrictive laws.

A PBS NewsHour report said this GOP drive may “reignite the culture wars.” It said the snowballing effort has been “building at the state level for years, beginning when Republicans captured larger majorities in legislatures as part of the 2010 tea party wave that returned them to control of the House of Representatives.”

In Wisconsin, Republican Gov. Scott Walker signed new laws that are expected to force two of the state’s four women’s clinics to close.

In North Carolina, the state Senate forbade insurers to cover termination of pregnancies.

In Texas, Democratic state Sen. Wendy Davis became a nationwide hero when she staged a one-woman filibuster against a bill that would have crimped women’s right to choose and forced closure of most of the state’s women’s clinics.

In Ohio, Republican Gov. John Kasich signed a law expected to cut funding for Planned Parenthood — as Texas GOP Gov. Rick Perry did previously.

In several states, Republican legislators try to shame girls into canceling abortions by forcing them to view pictures from ultrasound probes inserted into their vaginas. In both South Dakota and Iowa, GOP proposals would have changed the definition of justifiable homicide to allow murder of abortion doctors.

Obviously, a systematic “war on women” is proceeding on many fronts. Republicans — especially tea party hard-liners — attempt to block equal pay laws, obstruct day care help that lets mothers hold jobs, drive Planned Parenthood out of existence, curtail birth control programs, and similar crackdowns.

The Sacramento Bee points out that Republicans took control of 22 state legislative chambers in the 2010 election, so “no one should be surprised” that these GOP strongholds are trying to revoke “the fundamental right of the woman to choose whether to bear children.” After all, the paper said, “that is part of the Republican platform.”

No wonder American women have become a major segment in the Democratic Party’s base.

—From the July 14 Charleston Gazette



Combating abuse

Domestic violence cases are among the most difficult for law enforcement and the justice system to handle.

By their very nature, they involve the most personal of relationships among people and are often fraught with extreme passions. And, as the name of such cases makes clear, those passions often escalate into violence or the threat of violence. All too frequently, the result is that someone is injured, perhaps killed.

In Kanawha County, a new approach is being tried to keep cases from reaching such a serious level, and those involved say they believe it is doing a better job of keeping victims safer.

A pilot program, sparked by two deaths related to domestic violence in the past few years, began last summer in the home county of West Virginia’s capital city.

Previously, the county’s domestic violence cases were handled by 10 magistrates and five family court judges … The end result is that people who pose real threats are more likely to end up in jail and not be free to end up in another altercation with the victim. As one judge told the Gazette-Mail, he sleeps better at night because he believes victims or potential victims of domestic violence are safer.

That’s an important result, considering the volume of domestic violence cases in the state. The West Virginia Coalition Against Domestic Violence says 14,880 domestic violence cases were filed in West Virginia Family Court in 2010 and that about a third of all homicides in the Mountain State are related to domestic violence.

With a toll of that magnitude, it’s laudable that Kanawha County is trying a new strategy. Other counties as well as the entire state may not want to wait that long to adopt the same approach.


— From the July 16

The Herald-Dispatch, Huntington


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