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Editorial: Darts and laurels

Laurels to people who do the right thing after realizing they’ve done the wrong thing. Residents of a Statesville neighborhood found themselves in that position recently after they unwittingly helped burglarize a house. According to police reports, two men posing as IRS agents convinced nearby residents that the house had gone into foreclosure and they were there to repossess household belongings. After loading up a trailer full of items, the men invited the neighbors to help themselves to what was still inside the house ó and they did. Neighbors returned most of the stolen items upon learning of the scam. The lesson here: Don’t fall for glib explanations ó especially if you see a strange vehicle being loaded with your neighbor’s possessions. Thieves can be brazen as well as cunning, and the increase in foreclosures has brought increased opportunities for all types of scams. Offers of “free” furniture should be approached with the same wariness as other giveaways.
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Dart to driving while distracted, a safety issue that embraces a multitude of sins behind the wheel, from fiddling with radio buttons to sending text messages. Amid mounting evidence that new portable communication technologies are rapidly expanding distractions on the road, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has called for a summit on driving while distracted. The summit goal, according to the Washington Post, is to forge some consensus among experts on how to make drivers as aware of these dangers as they have become with regard to drunken driving. The summit was spurred in part by new research into the dangers of texting while driving, which has been banned by North Carolina and 16 other states. Although such bans aren’t easily enforced they underscore the substantial dangers of driving while distracted. A national summit could also help boost awareness.
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Laurels to health-care proposals that help put medical resources in rural areas where they’re most needed. That’s the aim of the Rural Physician Pipeline Act, a bill sponsored by Sen. Kay Hagan (D-N.C.) that would offer incentives to doctors who agree to work in those areas. The legislation, co-sponsored by Sen. Mark Udall of Colorado, would provide funding to create a specific degree track for those who’ll make a commitment to practice medicine in rural areas. Rural regions are routinely neglected, despite overwhelming evidence their residents would enjoy healthier lives if they had easier access to the types of care available in more urban areas. This measure, which is not part of the broader health-reform package under debate, offers the possibility of addressing a major inadequacy and deserves bipartisan support.

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