Recent editorials from Georgia newspapers:
The Brunswick News on new measures aiming to combat human trafficking in Georgia:
Members of Glynn County’s delegation to the Georgia General Assembly who believe in safety for all citizens will get solidly behind legislation that takes direct aim at human trafficking. This is a despicable crime all lawmakers ought to support.
Gov. Brian Kemp is taking a lead on this. He’s at the vanguard of measures that will strengthen state efforts to combat the abduction and selling of human beings and help those rescued re-enter a normal life, as much as that is even possible.
On behalf of victims, Gov. Kemp is championing new laws that will enable them to seek monetary damages from their kidnappers. This will do nothing to remove their pain and suffering at the hands of abductors and tormenters, but a successful suit could prove helpful in eventually easing their way back into a normal routine.
The other bill designed on behalf of victims makes it easier for them to change their identities. If the legislation passes, they no longer would be required to file a public notice of an intent to change their name. They would be able to simply petition a judge for approval of a new identity.
Last but not least, Gov. Kemp is asking for a law that would require individuals earning or renewing a commercial driver’s license to familiarize themselves with trafficking in this country. It would make it mandatory for them to take an anti-trafficking course.
It’s a continuation of the war Gov. Kemp and his wife, Marty, began waging when he took office two years ago. It compliments their other initiatives, including the creation of a shelter for young trafficking victims and the establishment of a unit within the Georgia Burean of Investigation to investigate these crimes. They also can be credited with starting a statewide hotline to report crimes at 1-866-ENDHTGA (End Human Trafficking in Georgia).
It goes without saying that the GBI and local law enforcement need the eyes, ears and cooperation of citizens to effectively battle human trafficking. Report suspicious activity immediately. Help rid the state, the nation and the world of these vermin and save children and adults from a cruel life in the process.
Gov. Kemp and wife Marty are to be applauded for finding and supporting weapons in the state’s arsenal to fight human trafficking. But they need the help of the General Assembly. That should not be an issue considering trafficking is a crime against all humanity.
Georgia ranks among the top 10 states in the number of human trafficking cases, behind Nevada, Mississippi and Florida, with 417 incidents in 2019 alone, or 3.89 persons per 1,000. That’s 417 too many.
The Daily Citizen-News on practicing coronavirus measures during Super Bowl Sunday:
Super Bowl Sunday brings together things that many of us love: football, food, drinks, friends and camaraderie.
Many of us are excited for Super Bowl LVII, which will be played on Feb. 7. We are eager to watch legendary quarterback Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers take on fellow quarterback Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs.
Unfortunately for those of us who look forward to the event, this year’s Super Bowl and its corresponding festivities could bring something more sinister to the party: COVID-19.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has consistently warned against hosting large, indoor gatherings with people you don’t live with. This past holiday season, the agency asked people to avoid such gatherings during Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Eve/Day. Many people disregarded those pleas from the CDC and other public health officials, and COVID-19 cases spiked across the country.
And they continue to increase.
As of Monday, the U.S. had 24,876,261 confirmed, cumulative COVID-19 cases -- an increase of 171,844 new cases from Sunday. There have been 416,010 deaths attributed to COVID-19, with an increase of 3,414 from Sunday to Monday.
Whitfield County is responsible for 13,177 of the state’s 722,062 confirmed, cumulative COVID-19 cases and 159 of the state’s 11,854 deaths attributed to the virus. Whitfield County still ranks second in confirmed cases per 100,000 residents among the state’s 159 counties, trailing only Chattahoochee County just south of Columbus.
The CDC recommends taking these four steps for “the most protection” from COVD-19:
• Wear masks.
• Stay 6 feet apart.
• Avoid crowds and poorly ventilated places.
• Wash your hands.
According to the CDC, “People who are physically near (within 6 feet) a person with COVID-19 or have direct contact with that person are at greatest risk of infection.”
Think about a Super Bowl party with 10 to 12 friends, all huddled close together indoors, and you can see how such events could potentially spread COVID-19. This year, put those large Super Bowl parties on hold. They simply aren’t worth the risk.
By continuing to wear masks, keeping our distance, practicing good hand hygiene and getting vaccinated, we can ensure that the Super Bowl parties in 2022 can safely happen.
The Valdosta Daily Times on President Joe Biden's inauguration:
President Joe Biden struck the right tone.
Republican leadership in the House and Senate did the right thing.
Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy began Inauguration Day by attending church with the Biden family as they observed Mass at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle.
Biden called for unity.
Republican leaders welcomed his words.
Inauguration Day was not about policy and position. It was about playing the right chords, demonstrating the grace of leadership and peacefully transferring power in the quintessential celebration of democracy.
Biden was humble and gracious in his words of reconciliation. There was no gloating over victory, no name calling and no lines drawn in the political sand.
Hear his words: “I will be a president for all Americans, all Americans,. Politics doesn’t have to be a raging fire destroying everything in its path. Every disagreement doesn’t have to be a cause for total war.”
Our nation needs Republicans.
Our nation needs Democrats.
Our nation needs Republicans and Democrats working together to battle and defeat a global pandemic, to keep Americans safe at home and abroad, to seek social justice, to reform immigration, to rein in the national debt and to heal the great divide.
Some among us will continue to choose hate.
Some will not give healing a chance.
In Biden’s words, “America is better than this.”
But that remains to be seen.
Are we better? Can you be better?
Joe Biden is now the 46th President of the United States.
Kamala Harris is the first female vice president and the first Black vice president in our history.
Will we let them work together to find common ground, to build consensus and unite us?
Can we turn down the temperature of our rhetoric, listen to one another and “see each other again”?
The days ahead will be no easy task for Biden, Harris and the nation.
Biden asked questions we must each ask ourselves: (1) Can we see each other as neighbors rather than adversaries? (2) Can we treat each other with dignity and respect?
The days, weeks and months ahead will show whether actions will match words in Washington, D.C.
We may not be able to control what happens in the nation’s capitol now, but we each can can control our own words and actions.