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American Opinion

Excerpts from recent editorials in newspapers in the United States and abroad:

On fixing gas shortages:

With motorists fuming in hours-long lines for fuel, a law requiring all gasoline stations to install electric generators sounds good at the moment. But public policy shouldn't be driven simply by the emotions in the aftermath of a disaster, and calls for gas station generators should be part of a statewide assessment of the post-storm fuel supply network.

Installing generators in gas stations planned for future construction might make economic sense since the price tag could be rolled into building costs. However, much of South Florida is already built out. So, to be effective, the law would also have to require retrofitting existing stations.

That's a trickier proposition if it forces many independent gas station owners to bear the cost. That's why either state or federal officials should help ease the burden by offering grants or subsidized lowinterest loans.

The bigger question is whether refitting all gas stations with generators will really make a significant difference. Florida has been assaulted by seven hurricanes in the past 15 months. Wilma marks the first hurricane in that string to create the kind of gas shortages most associated with oil embargoes. ...

Lawmakers and local officials are right to point to deficiencies in the supply system and to come up with effective solutions. But they must be measures yielding benefits that outweigh burdens.

-- South Florida Sun-Sentinel,

Fort Lauderdale

On the indictment of Libby:

There is a cancer on the presidency, and it cannot be exorcised by the resignation of I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby.

Libby, assistant to the president and Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, has been indicted on five federal counts, including obstruction of justice, making false statement and perjury. The charges stem from the investigation into a leak disclosing that Valerie Plame, wife of former ambassador Joseph Wilson, was a covert CIA operative.

Based on the allegations special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald laid out in the indictments, it's increasingly evident that officials within the Bush administration disclosed Plame's identity as part of an effort to discredit Wilson's criticism of one of the pretexts for war against Iraq. ...

No matter where the investigation goes from here, the question is why President Bush didn't fire Libby long ago if his role in outing Plame was as clear as the indictments indicate. It raises the uncomfortable and inevitable question: What did the president know and when did he know it?

The larger, more important context goes beyond palace intrigue: the lengths to which the Bush administration was willing to go to protect its trumped-up justifications for an unjustifiable war.

-- The Seattle Post-Intelligencer

On breast cancer:

A recent study shows mammograms coupled with the use of new drug regimens -- not screenings or drugs alone -- helped create the drop in breast cancer mortality rates recorded in the last 25 years of the 20th century.

Results of the study, funded by the National Cancer Institute and published in the New England Journal of Medicine last week, also shows that none of the popular methods for detection and treatment contributed to the decline as significantly as has been reported.

Breast cancer is the most common type of cancer in women and the leading cause of death in women ages 40 to 55. It strikes an estimated 250,000 women in the United States annually, including 1,400 in Nevada, which ranks fourth nationally in its cancer mortality rate among women.

The new analysis showed the use of post-surgical therapies, such as chemotherapy with tamoxifen, lowered deaths by about 19 percent, rather than by one-third as had been reported in previous studies.

Mammograms, the new study showed, reduced deaths by 15 percent on average, which is lower than the 20 percent to 60 percent estimated by some clinical trials. ...

Although this most recent research seems to only add to the confusion of what works and what doesn't, it shows that women should remain vigilant about exercising all of the options available to them, from screenings to post-surgical drug therapies.

And because the reductions in deaths aren't as high as past studies had led us to believe, we should continue aggressive research into detection and treatment strategies for this disease that kills nearly 40,000 women each year.

-- Las Vegas Sun