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Darts and laurels

Laurel to a new state law that sets up rated certificates for adult-care homes, which consumers often have trouble finding out much about. The law is designed to help older North Carolinians and their families find out if adult-care homes meet state guidelines and check for violations. This will only point to the most glaring shortcomings, but when facing the confusing array of choices in care for older citizens, any guidance is better than none, which is what is available for this type of facility now. Industry advocates are not fond of the law; they say it will just reflect and perpetuate the differences between homes with a majority of private-pay residents and those that are heavy on Medicaid users. Lawmakers should monitor how that plays out. Kudos, too, to the new ban on smoking in such facilities, a law that brings back memories of the tragic fire that hit a Mocksville facility several months ago. North Carolina is trying to take better care of the frail elderly.- – –
Dart to the woes of summer air travel, which have gotten worse as Americans have patronized the airline industry more. Flight delays, cancellations, lost luggage and frustrated tempers are de rigeur this summer ó a perplexing situation for travelers who are trusting the airlines to be safe and efficient. Canceled flights have almost doubled since last summer, and one flight in four is late, numbers that will not surprise anyone who has flown the friendly skies in recent months. The Bureau of Transportation Statistics says on-time performance is the worst since it began tracking the situation in 1995. Americans are clearly over their 9-11 flying phobias. Now they face more mundane fears: missing connections and arriving without fresh clothes to put on. By comparison, that sounds like whining, but airlines should deliver what they promise.
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Laurel to speculation ó soon to be action, one hopes ó that the collapse of the Minneapolis bridge over the Mississippi last week will bring real action in state houses and Congress to repair the nation’s failing infrastructure. A recent report in the Wall Street Journal says the tragedy comes at a time “when there is broad consensus about the perilous condition of these national building blocks.” President Bush has slammed some Congressional Democrats’ suggestion that the federal gas tax be hiked 5 cents per gallon to do the job. That would be a jolt. But the search for solutions must persist before this tragedy fades from memory. It’s a hugely expensive problem, both in terms of funding solutions and in risking further inaction.

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