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State of the Debate
George Pyle
George Pyle has been a newspaper writer in Kansas, Utah, Upstate New York, and now Utah again, for more than 30 years - most of it as an editorial writer and columnist. Now on his second tour of duty on The Salt Lake Tribune Editorial Board, he has also done a stretch as a talk radio host, published a book on the ongoing flaws of U.S.agricultural policy and, in 1998, was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Editorial Writing. His most active bookmarks are Andrew Sullivan, Christopher Hitchens and Tina Brown. And he still thinks the Internet can be used for intelligent conversation and uplifting ideas.

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Western Newspaper Sampler: Fire, fire everywhere ...

- Fire warning: With freedom comes responsibility - Salt Lake Tribune Editorial

It’s true. The Founding Fathers — John Adams in particular — allowed themselves to dream of a day when the anniversary of American independence would be, "celebrated by pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations [fireworks] from one end of this continent to the other."

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It is extremely unlikely, though, that the proper Bostonian would have expected his posterity to abuse the freedom he helped to win by engaging in staggeringly foolish activities that would endanger themselves and their communities.

This Independence Day, in Utah and in many other places across the West, finds us dry, windy and otherwise ripe for explosions of forest, range, car and house fires that will threaten entire neighborhoods, whole communities and many thousands of acres of public and private land.

The freedoms we celebrate on the 4th of July aren’t worth much if they are not accompanied by the responsibility that citizens of any nation and community should be expected to uphold. So, even if state and local officials have failed to screw their courage to the sticking place and issue bans on all fires, target shooting and, especially, the private use of fireworks, that doesn’t mean the rest of us can’t act with intelligence. ...

- Fire season is just getting started - Peg McEntee, The Salt Lake Tribune

... Despite some serious restrictions in Salt Lake and in other cities, I’m more than a little worried about July Fourth and the bunch that usually gathers near our house to light fireworks. ...

- Local stores make the right move with fireworks; will you? - Park Record Editorial

... That means exercising extreme caution with cigarettes, guns and ammunition. We can't control natural causes like lightning, but certainly we can avoid the kinds of stupid human tricks that could turn thousands of acres into a deadly torch.

- Wildfires are a stark reminder to be safe in open space - Idaho Statesman Editorial

... Breaking the fireworks rules isn’t harmless fun. It’s reckless. You’re putting yourself in danger, and you’re putting your neighbors’ lives and property at risk. Surely, there’s a better, smarter way to celebrate our nation’s birthday.

- Feds bungled new fire fighting technology - Colorado Springs Editorial

... If the federal government is to own 190 millions acres of forestland, then the federal government needs to manage it better. That includes controlling fires before they devour neighborhoods and kill people in nearby cities.

- Development decisions fuel fire danger - George Wuerthner, for The Helena (Mont.) Independent-Record

... When someone chooses to build a home in flammable landscapes, they wind up enjoying the benefits of a home in the woods, while society often gets stuck with the costs of protecting those homes. ...

- Please – let's not re-enact Gettysburg on this Fourth - Tacoma News-Tribune Editorial

In theory, the "rockets’ red glare and bombs bursting in air" in the national anthem is about fighting off trespassing British ships, not a personal call to arms. ...

- Thank you to firefighters from a grateful community - Fort Collins Coloradoan Editorial

Could be worse. The power could be out:

- On the eve of the Fourth, a fifth day without power - The Washington Post



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