Editorial Roundup: Georgia
Recent editorials from Georgia newspapers:
Valdosta Daily Times on domestic violence during the holiday season:
Sadly, during the holidays law enforcement typically responds to the most incidents of domestic violence.
This should be a joyous time, when people spend special days and create memories with family and friends.
In many cases, however, the memories will not be pleasant ones.
Domestic violence is a problem everywhere, including Valdosta, Lowndes County and South Georgia.
During this time of year, a large percentage of 911 calls and law-enforcement responses are the result of domestic violence.
According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence:
— Every nine seconds, a woman is assaulted or beaten in the United States.
— An average of 20 people are physically abused by intimate partners every minute in the U.S.
— There are more than 10 million abuse victims across the U.S. annually.
— One in three women and one in four men have been physically abused by an intimate partner.
— One in five women and one in seven men have been severely physically abused by an intimate partner.
— One in seven women and one in 18 men have been stalked. Stalking causes targets to fear they or someone close to them will be harmed or killed.
— On a typical day, domestic-violence hotlines nationwide receive approximately 20,800 calls.
— The presence of a gun in a domestic violence situation increases the risk of homicide by 500%.
— Domestic violence accounts for 15% of all violent crime.
— Domestic violence is most common among women between the ages of 18-24.
— Nineteen percent of domestic violence involves a weapon.
— Domestic victimization is correlated with a higher rate of depression and suicidal behavior.
— Only 34% of people who are injured by intimate partners receive medical care for their injuries.
The Haven provides services to area women who have suffered from domestic violence along with offering educational programs available to individuals and community groups throughout the year.
Schools in the Valdosta, Lowndes County and adjoining school districts have trained counseling professionals on staff to help young people address issues associated with violence in the home.
Our law-enforcement agencies have trained professionals who are often called upon to diffuse dangerous situations and to deal with victims in caring and sensitive ways.
Domestic violence knows no socio-economic, racial or geographical boundaries. It exists among all social groups and in every community.
Recurring domestic violence within families is something no one wants to discuss but it is a conversation that must take place. The culture needs to be changed and the cycle must be broken.
We encourage more public dialogue and more conversations among families, especially children, to make it clear that violence is not a solution to problems in relationships and is never the right way to express frustrations or anger.
Finally, we urge all of our readers to protect women and children and err on the side of caution by reporting suspected violence and abuse to law enforcement.
If you see something, say something.
Savannah Morning News on a rate hike package approved by Georgia Power:
Georgia Power’s regulator-in-chief summarized the rate hike package approved last week glibly.
“They ought to be happy,” said Lauren “Bubba” McDonald, the chair of the state’s Public Service Commission.
Now, Georgia Power will be working to make ratepayers happy by delivering on the increased investment.
This editorial board has long supported the electricity utility, which serves most of the Coastal Empire. Georgia Power provides reliable energy at reasonable rates and is a good corporate citizen in the community. Their response following hurricane near-misses in recent years has been exemplary.
Still, the rate increase is significant, adding $175 annually to residential bills, on average, once fully implemented in 2022. Ratepayers will monitor Georgia Power to see that they are being a good steward of the additional dollars.
This hike is meant to cover a variety of expenses aimed at infrastructure improvement, storm damage contingencies and environmental cleanup. All are vitally important to us here on the coast and need to be addressed.
The increase will also allow Georgia Power to maintain its profit margin, one that is higher than the industry average. According to the utility’s leadership and PSC members, the rate is justified because it keeps Georgia Power’s credit rating high and interest rates on infrastructure and other investments low.
Ratepayers will accept that but recent public hearings and “listening sessions” have demonstrated that Georgia Power’s goodwill with the public is running short.
Sources of angst
Frustration is found on many fronts, from Plant Vogtle’s delays and cost overruns to its customers’ desire for renewable energy to the large base fee increase initially proposed this summer.
The utility seems to be listening. The base fee increase was cut in half and its implementation delayed until 2021. The rate will jump $2 a month in 2021 and another $2 in 2022.
Georgia Power also agreed for the first time to pilot net metering for customers with rooftop solar arrays, with an initial cap of 5,000 customers. Net metering incentivizes homeowners and businesses to install panels and become energy providers by measuring and crediting them for the kilowatts they generate.
As for Vogtle, the project is an ongoing source of concern. The two new nuclear reactors are years behind schedule and are now projected to come online in November 2021 for Unit 3 and November 2022 for Unit 4.
Georgia Power is working to rebuild public confidence in Vogtle by then. The utility is currently paying only the debt service, as reflected in the “nuclear construction cost recovery” fee on all our bills. Once the reactors are generating power, ratepayers will start to pay down the principal, adding another increase to monthly bills.
That looming bump makes it imperative for Georgia Power to shore up its other issues in the near term. Clean up the coal ash. Restock the storm contingency funds. Upgrade, don’t just patch, infrastructure. Continue to identify and develop sustainable energy opportunities.
Georgia Power is justifiably pleased with the rate decision. True happiness, though, will come from satisfied customers.
The Augusta Chronicle on increasing opportunities for cyber and biomedical careers in Georgia:
When new Georgia Tech President Ángel Cabrera visited us at The Augusta Chronicle last week, he had just come from a visit to the Georgia Cyber Center downtown and left impressed with the level of collaborative innovation that’s growing there.
That’s high praise indeed coming from the head of one of the top science-centered universities in the nation. The center reflects an amped-up approach to innovation and entrepreneurship - such as nurturing tech startups - that is part of this university’s new strategic plan that’s still taking shape.
Cabrera also talked briefly with Augusta University leaders about possibilities for collaboration between the two schools. Two fields of shared study - cyber and biomedicine - are no-brainers. Such academic collaborations are tides that lift all boats - both schools benefit.
One of the newest AU collaborations got little fanfare earlier this month. Augusta University and Clark Atlanta University announced Dec. 3 a partnership on cyber-physical and cybersecurity research, and chances for both schools’ students to earn degrees in those fields.
Specifically, the agreement is between the CAU Department of Cyber-Physical Systems and the School of Computer and Cyber Sciences at AU. It’s the second agreement forged by the schools this year. This past summer the universities agreed to partner on prostate cancer research.
For years, both the private and public sectors have been clamoring for more job candidates trained in STEM fields - science, technology, engineering and math. And they needed those workers yesterday. By some estimates, the shortfall of STEM workers is about 1 million.
The partnership also would fill a need among black professionals. While the historically black CAU is turning out quality graduates, only a fraction of African-Americans are working in STEM fields.
A cyber-physical system integrates other systems to control a physical process. You might have heard it described in what’s called ’the internet of things.”
One real-life example of cyber-physical potential would be in automobiles, which these days are stuffed with electronic sensors. It could reduce accidents and save lives. The multinational telecommunications giant Ericsson explains it this way:
“Consider a highway fitted with different sensors that are able to detect objects or obstacles that could cause accidents in real-time. A quick analysis of the data supplied by these sensors by a cyber-physical system could send an instant alert across a communication network to all potentially affected vehicles.”
Cyber-physical systems also require cybersecurity, because even those devices can be hacked. Consider virtual assistants dependent on smart speakers. When you speak to Siri or Alexa, you don’t want a cyber-criminal to be listening. Cyber-physical devices ideally have to easily detect, and be resilient to, malicious electronic attacks and other intrusions.
It’s exciting to see Augusta University seizing another opportunity to play a larger role in developing and studying the kind of technology with the potential to affect everybody. Helping another institution of higher learning achieve its goals just sweetens the deal.