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Guest Editorial

Players and fans, enjoy your Friday night lights
Kentucky New Era

As many high school football teams return to the field today, it’s easy to revel in America’s No. 1 sport. It’s exciting. It’s loud. The energy is contagious as a competition mixing brute force with agility and finesse. It’s a spectacle that’s hard to beat. But just as easy as it is to love football, it’s equally easy to ignore the risks — until it’s too late — and to forget that good sportsmanship extends far beyond the field of play.
By its very nature, football is a game of injuries. Anyone who’s played the sport long enough will certainly agree as he is almost guaranteed to have been hurt at least once in his career. Injuries are just a fact of football. That said, the tackling techniques taught by coaches were designed with players’ safety in mind, and the athletes should heed the good advice if they want to maximize their chances that an old football injury won’t stick with them the rest of their lives. That does happen.
Collisions are also a reality of football, and that means concussions are, too. Minimizing the long-term damage associated with head injuries is more important than anyone’s playing time, spot on the depth chart or even winning, for that matter. Coaches, players and parents alike need to realize that reality — that concussions are serious business and cannot be overlooked.
In short, a concussion is a brain injury. The brain is made up of soft tissue, and a hard knock to the head can leave the brain confused, vision blurry and the equilibrium out of whack. Remember how cartoon characters see stars or Tweety birds when they take a frying pan to the head? It’s a crude depiction of what happens when someone is concussed, but it’s really not all that inaccurate.
The immediate symptoms include confusion or feeling dazed, clumsiness, slurred speech, nausea or vomiting, headache, dizziness, blurred vision, sensitivity to light and noise, a ringing in the ears, memory loss or difficulty concentrating. The long-term effects — permanent brain damage — are even scarier, and become more and more likely with repeated head injuries, especially ones that go untreated or aren’t given time to heal before another one is suffered.
Winning should never take a backseat to safety. As much as it might distress a dedicated player to do so, anyone who suffers a big hit and shows signs of any one of those symptoms must come out of the game immediately. He cannot return until he has clearance from a medical professional — no exception. Concussions end careers. It’s also important to remember that anyone who suffers a concussion may not be willing or able to make that call himself.
Then there are the fans, who so many times make the games that much better. At football games, it’s not just about the game. There’s a social aspect that makes getting a little bit crazy, be it with face paint or with cow bells, a lot more fun. Unfortunately, there will inevitably be some students and, sadly, some parents who just don’t get it. They are the ones who yell profanity, threaten refs and act as if winning is more important than how we play the game. Don’t be that person. Football, and prep sports in general, aren’t about tearing anyone down; they’re about building young people up. Bring the bells, but leave the insults and derogatory remarks at home. If you’re sitting next to someone who either doesn’t know how to or won’t act right, speak up and tell that person that it’s about the children and there’s no place for it in your team’s cheering section.
Football is king in America. The NFL surpasses all other major professional sports in the U.S. in terms of popularity and revenue, and our high school games are some of the best attended — or at least should be — that any high school offers.
We as Americans love our pigskin, and when played as safe as possible with the right attitude, it’s hard to imagine a better show. With that in mind, we only have one question: Are you ready for some football? Because we certainly are.

Darts and Laurels

A laurel to neighbors that help neighbors in times of crisis — it’s the way it’s done in the mountains!

A dart to flash flooding and the extreme damage that can be left in its wake.

A laurel to the ‘Plate it Up” program for sharing healthy recipes!

A dart to thunderstorms that bring lightning severe enough to destroy and kill.

A laurel to our county firefighters and rescue workers that offer no hesitation to help!

Aug 27, 2014, 07:39

Guest Editorial

U.S. has moral obligation
in Iraq

The State Journal

There’s a saying that’s become strangely popular recently: “Not my circus, not my monkey.” Folks are applying it to most any situation, it seems, in which they do not wish to become involved nor feel any responsibility.
Granted, sometimes it may have merit. But in the decision by the Obama administration to begin airstrikes in Iraq, it does not.
Iraq may technically not be our “circus” today but what’s going on there is, at least in part, the result of a rogue “monkey” of our uncaging.
Whether or not we agreed with then-President George W. Bush to invade Iraq following the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on this country to go after weapons of mass destruction, is a moot point.
We did, we toppled Saddam Hussein, and a few short years ago we declared hostilities to be at an end and opened the door for a free and democratic Iraq to emerge, a part of Bush’s dream to bring democracy to the world.
Since the last combat troops took their feet off the ground and climbed into planes for home, tensions have steadily escalated as violence along sectarian lines — which has gone on for, oh say 3,000 years or so — slowly went from a glowing ash to a full-scale forest fire as the Islamic State extremists set out upon their mission to retake all of the Middle East.
For students of that area of the world, and those who’ve studied the theological history that’s part and parcel of the very sands of the Middle East, this really came as no surprise. Few in that group ever thought a peace brokered on principals espoused by the hated West would hold among the extremists without a fight to the end. In great measure unlike much of the western world, adherents believe the good of the cause trumps that of the individual.
Now we have the fighting and it’s our responsibility to put the “monkey” back in the cage as innocents are dying daily because they will not leave nor will they convert to a radical brand of Islam.
As despicable as he was, Hussein kept things in check – granted sometimes not using the most humane of techniques but nonetheless under control. And, he followed in the footsteps of despots that had ruled across millennia in precisely the same fashion.
-It would be easy to say, “we gave them a chance” at democracy and just let the Islamic State march on to, through and right on over Baghdad, but we have a responsibility to help that’s beyond protecting a major portion of our oil supply.
We are appalled when we read of populations of entire villages being rounded up like the Yazidis in Irbil over the weekend. Then, after being offered the “opportunity” to deny the faith of their ancestors, before they can decide the men and teenage boys are separated and “cut from the herd” like cattle, taken to the edge of town and gunned down.
-Like it or not, agree with the president or not, this is our “monkey” since we unleashed it and we have a moral obligation to try to get it back in the cage.

Darts and Laurels

A laurel to the recent Awaken conference — good to see positive messages!

A dart to the coming retirement of BSCTC President Dr. George Edwards — he will be missed!

A laurel to the Johnson County Fiscal Court and its recent decision to not raise taxes — thanks from local taxpayers!

A dart to being trusted with a chance to redeem oneself only to take advantage by doing wrong.

A laurel to those who helped ensure our county’s children had all they needed to begin a new school year — backpacks, shoes, supplies. Thank you!

Guest Editorial

Exemptions undermining ACA coverage mandate

The Paducah Sun

In 2012 the Obama administration argued before the U.S. Supreme Court that the Obamacare “individual mandate,” and more specifically the provision for a fine for those people who failed to sign up for insurance, was essential to the law’s survival. Without it, argued administration lawyers, the entire Affordable Care Act would collapse financially.
What to make, then, of a Congressional Budget Office analysis that finds almost 90 percent of the nation’s 30 million uninsured won’t pay a fine in 2016 under the ACA. The reason? A broad and growing list of exemptions being created by the administration.
Got a notice your electricity is going to be shut off? That qualifies for an exemption. Been the victim of domestic violence? You’re exempt. In the country illegally? You’re exempt. Belong to a faith-healing sect? If you’re not already exempt, you will be soon, and that includes Christian Scientists, for whom specific legislation is advancing through Congress even now.
In all the administration has come up - so far - with 14 hardships people can invoke and not be fined for not having insurance. Suffering fire or flood loss qualifies. So does the recent death of a close family member. Also, if you are being evicted or if you’ve had substantial medical expenses in the last 24 months that can’t be paid, you qualify for an exemption. There’s also a catch-all exemption for “people who experienced another hardship” obtaining health insurance.
There are beyond that broader exemptions built into the law. For instance, many people in the 21 states that opted not to expand Medicaid under Obamacare are exempt from the insurance requirement. So are all Native Americans.
And then there’s that broad group that got caught in the “if you like your insurance you can keep it” windmill. Many will recall the furor that erupted when millions of Americans had their insurance canceled last year because their policies did not meet the minimum coverage standards required by Obamacare. In an effort to save face, President Obama asked companies to rescind the cancellations. Not all of them could or did. So if you are one of the people who actually lost your insurance due to Obamacare, you too are exempt.
The problem with this development is that the administration’s lawyers were correct when they argued before the Supreme Court that the individual mandate is essential to the functioning of the law. The implications of 90 percent of the uninsured avoiding a penalty is ominous, particularly to the extent those who are exempted are younger, healthier individuals.
A lengthy Wall Street Journal article about the exemption statistics quotes insurance executives expressing deep concern about the impact on health insurance premiums if, as is now feared, their insurance pools are disproportionately filled with older people with more health problems. The article quotes a North Carolina insurance actuary as saying the number of more-expensive, older Americans in his company’s plans is greater than projected. He told the newspaper the penalty (currently a fine of the greater of $95 or 1 percent of family income) needs to be stronger and the exemptions fewer if the system is to work financially.
This latest troubling finding by the CBO is just one in a growing list of problems that seem to threaten the viability of the ACA. We’ve previously mentioned on this page concerns from another agency - the Health and Human Services Inspector General’s office - that millions of people receiving ACA subsidies are receiving incorrect amounts or aren’t entitled subsidies at all. Add it all up, and the finances of the ACA seem to be teetering on the brink.
Time will tell, but Sen. Max Baucus’ 2013 warning that implementation of the ACA was shaping up as a “huge train wreck” may yet prove prescient.

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