Editorial Roundup: Excerpts from recent editorials
Excerpts from recent editorials in newspapers in the United States and abroad:
Miami Herald on air traffic controllers and fatigue:
The news has been scarier than usual: Iraq is on the boil, which has serious implications for U.S. security, random and mass-shooting tragedies seem to be coming at us weekly.
Add to these the fact that air traffic controllers are too sleepy, and anyone who boards a plane should be very afraid. The controllers are suffering from chronic fatigue while on the job — the task of keeping the millions of people who fly from here to there safe in the air. It remains a major threat to the safety of the flying public that the Federal Aviation Administration must address immediately.
It's not as if the FAA had no idea that too many of its 15,000 air traffic controllers are at risk of nodding off or sluggish thinking. Three years ago, it was disclosed that there were controllers who were falling asleep in front of their screens, which forced the FAA to take a closer look at work scheduling, which has contributed to the problem.
This latest disclosure is a result of a report, mandated by Congress, from the National Research Council. At issue, short-term, is the policy that allows controllers to work five eight-hour shifts over four consecutive days — the last one being a midnight shift.
Controllers love it because they get 80 hours — the equivalent of two traditional work weeks — off before they have to return to work. However, the report says that this scheduling likely results in "severely reduced cognitive performance" during the midnight shift because of fatigue.
The schedule might be popular, but it's a dangerous one. The FAA should sit down with the National Air Traffic Controllers Association and develop scheduling that reduces fatigue on the job and increases flight safety.
To its credit, the FAA imposed a fatigue risk management program after several controllers were caught sleeping on the job a few years ago. Cutbacks, however, have thwarted the program's effectiveness. This is not encouraging news. Neither is what's roaring down the pike, coming straight at helpless plane passengers and crew members at the mercy of air traffic controllers who might — or might not — be at the top of their game. The FAA is confronting a deluge of retirements. Controllers are required to retire when they turn 56. The agency will have to replace about two-thirds of this workforce — 10,000 controllers — during the next 10 years.
Flying shouldn't be a crap shoot because someone was asleep at the switch.
Post and Courier, Charleston, South Carolina, on the re-election Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos:
Colombians had reason to celebrate last week. The national soccer team trounced Greece and Ivory Coast in its two first-round World Cup games, and President Juan Manuel Santos was elected to a second term.
Santos won fewer votes than challenger Oscar Ivan Zuluaga in the initial presidential election on May 25, but neither candidate captured a majority. In the June 15 runoff, however, Santos received 51 percent of the vote.
The election was largely viewed as a referendum on peace talks with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), which Santos initiated in 2012. Prior to Santos' re-election, his government announced that it also would begin preliminary peace negotiations with the nation's second largest guerrilla group, the National Liberation Army (ELN).
The runoff outcome is major victory for stability and economic growth in the region and helps ensure not just the continuation of the FARC peace process but also sustained ties between the United States and one of its closest allies in Latin America.
But Santos' first international appearance in his second term wasn't in Havana, where the FARC peace talks have been held. He traveled to Brazil, where he applauded Colombia's national soccer team as it defeated the Ivory Coast, 2-1, last Thursday.
It was a smart populist move in a country that cares about soccer almost as much as it cares about politics.