Excerpts from recent editorials in U.S. newspapers:
Charleston, W.Va., March 10, Charleston Daily Mail on how Marcellus gas can make the world a safer place:
Right now, Europe would love nothing more than to stop Vladimir Putin from reassembling the old Evil Empire of the Soviet Union
But Putin has Europe cornered this winter. Russia supplies 36 percent of the natural gas consumed by Germans.
Twelve other European countries are even more dependent with the three Baltic states and Finland receiving all of their natural gas from Mother Russia. It is difficult to stand up to someone when you are shivering from the cold.
West Virginia can help. The U.S. Energy Information Agency estimates that West Virginia and its neighbors are sitting on 141 trillion cubic feet of natural gas in the Marcellus shale formation. Surely some natural gas from West Virginia and other sources in the United States can be sold and shipped to Europe to end the Russian monopoly.
But federal law restricts exports of natural gas, as House Speaker John Boehner pointed out in a column in the Wall Street Journal.
“These policies have amounted to our nation imposing economic sanctions on itself — sentencing consumers in the U.S. and abroad to higher prices and slower growth while ceding the international energy marketplace to countries such as Russia, Venezuela and Iran,” Boehner wrote.
Exporting natural gas to Europe would benefit West Virginians. State government receives about $175 million a year in severance taxes from oil and gas. Increased sales abroad would increase those tax revenues.
Boehner called upon President Obama to approve the Keystone pipeline, lift his restrictions on oil and gas from federal lands and expedite applications to export liquefied natural gas.
Ending the Russian monopoly on natural gas throughout central and eastern Europe would allow those nations to be truly independent of Putin and Russia. Sales of natural gas from the United States to Europe would hurt Moscow in the pocketbook as half of Russian tax revenues come from oil and gas exports. ...
Drill, baby, drill — and make the world a safer and more peaceful place.
Boston, March 12 ,Boston Herald on traveling dirty secrets:
It is apparently the dirty little secret of international airline travel that more than 1 billion times a year passengers board planes without ever having their passports checked against Interpol’s database of 40 million lost or stolen passports.
Even as investigators search for the Malaysia Airlines flight that disappeared out of the sky after leaving Kuala Lumpur, the tale of two men who boarded the jet with stolen passports was raising even more speculation about its fate. That the two men, ages 19 and 29 were Iranian, traveling together and traveling light, hasn’t calmed any nerves.
But even if the two turn out to be simply unfortunate travelers — as appears to be the case for at least one of the men — there is now no longer denying the security lapses that are a part of hopping a flight from most locations around the globe.
Only a relative handful of countries — the United States, Britain, the United Arab Emirates — bother to check passengers’ passports against the Interpol database.
Interpol Secretary General Ronald Noble said his agency has long asked why countries would “wait for a tragedy to put prudent security measures in place at borders and boarding gates.”
Fighting terrorism isn’t the only reason for making those cross-checks either. There really is no good reason to be traveling with a stolen passport, now is there? Think drug smugglers, money launderers, criminals of all sorts.
The other take-away from this disaster is the revelation that Thailand is apparently the stolen passport capital of the world, where gangs of thieves have been known to go room to room at less-secure hotels.
It will ultimately be up to travelers to vote with their feet and their travel dollars for nations and airlines that put security first.