Florida editorial roundup


Associated Press

Posted on May 14, 2013 at 12:00 PM

Updated Tuesday, May 14 at 12:00 PM

Recent editorials from Florida newspapers:

May 14

The Gainesville Sun on fixing financial aid:

A 3 percent tuition increase for state colleges and universities sounds pretty minor.

It only equates to about $93 a year more for a student taking 30 credit hours. It seems like a reasonable increase when Florida's tuition ranks 41st in the nation. And following years of state funding cuts, universities could use the $18.5 million in operating funds that the increase would generate.

Those facts make it tempting to blast Gov. Rick Scott for considering a veto of the proposal in the state budget. It's unclear whether the governor even has the power to veto such an increase, so this could provide another example of Scott making a power grab in higher education.

But Scott deserves credit for continuing to speak out about college affordability. Student loan debt is an issue that deserves attention across the nation, as crushing debt is creating an unsustainable burden for this generation of students.

Sure, Scott deserves criticism for being hypocritical in signing a budget with $300 million in higher education funding cuts last year at the same time that he railed against tuition hikes. But this year's budget restores those cuts and provides even better news for the University of Florida in the form of money to propel its national standing and other goodies.

State financial aid is another story. ...

Scott is right to be proud that Florida's universities rank among the most affordable in the nation. But the state is also ranked 38th in the U.S. for its percentage of need-based aid, according to the Council of 100.

We'll withhold the temptation to view Scott's possible veto of the tuition hike as simply playing the populist card in advance of his re-election campaign. But leadership means more than wielding a veto pen. If the governor is seriously concerned about college affordability, he'll pay as much attention to fixing financial aid as he has opposing tuition hikes.




May 13

The Tampa Tribune on hacked off at China:

Relations between the United States and China have always been rocky, and it was no surprise when Washington accused the Chinese of using electronic technology as their weapon of choice in their bid to win the economic rivalry between two of the world's most powerful nations.

The White House made clear, the rivalry is much more than merely economic. There clearly are fears that the Chinese also are anticipating, if not actually planning, an eventual military clash with the United States.

Citing a report issued by the Pentagon, the Obama administration accused China's military of electronically attacking our government's computer systems as well as those of American defense contractors. The White House warned that the Chinese may be attempting to map this country's military capabilities so that they "could be exploited during a crisis."

Previously, the White House had not directly accused the Chinese of waging cyberwarfare against the United States, but there were clear signs that the administration strongly suspected China of embracing a systematic strategy to steal intellectual property and to thus gain strategic advantage. ...

The Chinese didn't take kindly to Washington's assertions. In Beijing, a Ministry of Foreign Affairs representative declared that "China has repeatedly said that we resolutely oppose all forms of hacker attacks" and suggested the Pentagon's report consists of "groundless accusations and speculations."

The Pentagon report insists China has risen into the top ranks of offensive cybertechnologies by investing in electronic warfare capabilities in an effort to blind American satellites and other space assets. China, it said, also hopes to use electronic and traditional weapons systems to gradually shove the American military back to nearly 2,000 miles from China's coast.

The report argues that China's first aircraft carrier, commissioned last year, is only the first of several the country will deploy over the next 15 years. Although the new carrier may not reach "operational effectiveness" for as long as four years, it is already set to operate in the East and South China Seas, the report continued. These seas are where China is entangled in bitter territorial disputes with several neighbors, including Japan, Indonesia, the Philippines and Vietnam.

The Chinese government can deny the report's allegations all it wants, but the evidence is compelling that China will use whatever means possible to enhance its power and undermine ours.

We may have better relations with China than 40 years ago, but they are not our friends. The United States must remain prepared to expose and defuse the schemes of this most perplexing nation.




May 11

The Miami Herald on rape in U.S. military:

If the military were truly serious about stemming the plague of sexual assaults in the ranks, the number of incidents would drop dramatically. Instead, rapes and assaults have increased.

If the officers in charge were deeply committed to protecting women serving their country, they wouldn't issue memos that, in effect, tell those women who have been violated to shut up and get over it.

If servicemen who rape their fellow soldiers had any reason to fear punishment, they wouldn't do it. But when women are muzzled, and the few convictions are overturned, then what's a guy got to worry about?

And if Air Force Lt. Col. Jeffrey Krusinksi really believed that the rules applied to him, he would not have allegedly grabbed a woman's breasts and rear end in an Arlington County, Va., parking lot. She was a complete stranger. He is the officer in charge of the Air Force's sexual-assault prevention program. He was arrested. ...

President Barack Obama sounded appropriately outraged at the news of Krusinski's arrest and the Defense Department report. Talk is cheap. He needs to push his military leaders to act. Women in the Senate already are taking the lead.

Sen. Claire McCaskill has put the brakes on the nomination of Lt. Gen. Susan Helms for vice commander of the Air Force Space Command. Sen. McCaskill first wants a clear explanation as to why Lt. Gen. Helms last year overturned a jury conviction in a sexual-assault case. Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand, Patty Murray and Kelly Ayotte propose a special victim's counsel.

Gillibrand also proposes removing the investigation and prosecution of a sexual assault case from the victim's chain of command, which clearly has led to an insular and secretive process that too often gives transgressors a pass. That authority would rest instead with impartial military prosecutors. In addition, Gillibrand's bill would eliminate the ability of a senior officer to toss out a jury's guilty verdict.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, however, is balking at what could be a major step forward in giving victims' justice and punishing the guilty. Sexual assault is as much a crime in the military as it is in civilian society. Hagel must set the tone for zero tolerance and swift consequences. Discipline and integrity must rule.