Wednesday, May 23, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Missing jet points to gaps in technology, security

Wireless technology enables people to locate a missing dog or change the home thermostat from thousands of miles away. Yet a commercial jumbo jet with 239 passengers and crew can disappear after an hour into flight and remain missing for days despite a global search effort involving more than 80 aircraft and ships from at least 10 nations. What happened to Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 raises many questions, chief among them the poor use of technology in modern aviation and security gaps that remain long after the 9/11 attacks.

The Boeing 777 vanished early Saturday after taking off from Kuala Lumpur en route to Beijing. Its last recorded position put it north of Malaysia over the Gulf of Thailand, and the search was expanded far beyond the plane's last location and path. The Malaysian military said the plane flew another hour after vanishing from air traffic control screens, heading west at a lower altitude before being picked up by Malaysian military radar. The uncertainty over the plane's location only divided and slowed the rescue effort. China's official news agency reported late Wednesday that satellite images from Sunday showed possible plane debris just to the south and east of the plane's last known location.

Authorities are a long way from determining whether mechanical failure, pilot error, terrorism or some other cause is to blame. But what is jarring in this age is the difficulty in finding the plane. Satellites and other technology could have helped close a critical gap, from giving the plane's position and feeding real-time flight data to providing automatic reports of mechanical malfunction or dangerous flying. Much of that information, which is critical to understanding what happened in-flight, is currently contained in cockpit recorders. But they have limited batteries and can be difficult to find.

The plane's disappearance also exposes an alarming gap in airline security. Authorities said two people boarded the flight using stolen passports. While Interpol played down any hint of terrorism, the news underscores how most countries have refused to use Interpol's database of lost and stolen passports to screen for terrorists, traffickers and criminal fugitives. According to the international law enforcement agency, only three nations — the United States, Britain and the United Arab Emirates — routinely screen passengers against the database. And last year, Interpol reported, passengers around the world were able to board planes more than 1 billion times without having their passports checked against the registry.

It will take time to unravel the mystery of the Malaysia Airlines flight. But civil aviation needs new technology and tougher security to improve flying safety and the international response to catastrophic events. Interpol's announcement that it would allow two airlines to query the passport database as part of a test project was a good step. But governments and carriers need to make a larger commitment if they hope to boost passenger safety and better manage their resources in any future disaster.

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Editorial: Candor key step to restoring trust at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Heart Institute

Editorial: Candor key step to restoring trust at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Heart Institute

Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital has begun the important work of rebuilding trust with its patients and the community following revelations of medical errors and other problems at its Heart Institute. CEO Dr. Jonathan Ellen candidly acknowledges...
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Editorial: Tampa Bay House members fail to stand up to Big Sugar

Editorial: Tampa Bay House members fail to stand up to Big Sugar

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Editorial: Bondi holds drug industry accountable for Florida opioid crisis

Editorial: Bondi holds drug industry accountable for Florida opioid crisis

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Editorial: A sweet note for the Florida Orchestra’s violin program for at-risk kids

Editorial: A sweet note for the Florida Orchestra’s violin program for at-risk kids

This is music to the ears. Members of the Florida Orchestra will introduce at-risk students to the violin this summer at some Hillsborough recreation centers. For free.An $80,000 grant to the University Area Community Development Corp. will pay for s...
Published: 05/17/18
Updated: 05/18/18
Trump backs off China tariff threat as China pumps money into a Trump family project

Trump backs off China tariff threat as China pumps money into a Trump family project

In barely six weeks, President Donald Trump has gone from threatening to impose $150 billion in tariffs on Chinese goods to extending a lifeline to ZTE, a Chinese cell phone company that violated U.S. sanctions by doing business with Iran and North K...
Published: 05/17/18
Editorial: Activism as seniors helps put Hillsborough graduates on the right path

Editorial: Activism as seniors helps put Hillsborough graduates on the right path

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Published: 05/17/18
Editorial: Bondi holds drug industry accountable for Florida opioid crisis

Editorial: Bondi holds drug industry accountable for Florida opioid crisis

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi’s lawsuit against the nation’s largest drug makers and distributors marks a moment of awakening in the state’s battle to recover from the opioid crisis. In blunt, forceful language, Bondi accuses these companies of ...
Published: 05/16/18
Updated: 05/18/18
Editorial: Johns Hopkins All Children’s should be more open about mistakes

Editorial: Johns Hopkins All Children’s should be more open about mistakes

A state investigation raises even more concern about medical errors at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital and the venerable St. Petersburg institution’s lack of candor to the community. Regulators have determined the hospital broke Florida law by ...
Published: 05/16/18
Updated: 05/17/18
Editorial: St. Petersburg recycling worth the effort despite cost issues

Editorial: St. Petersburg recycling worth the effort despite cost issues

St. Petersburg’s 3-year-old recycling program has reached an undesirable tipping point, with operating costs exceeding the income from selling the recyclable materials. The shift is driven by falling commodity prices and new policies in China that cu...
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Editorial: HUD’s flawed plan to raise rents on poor people

Editorial: HUD’s flawed plan to raise rents on poor people

Housing Secretary Ben Carson has a surefire way to reduce the waiting lists for public housing: Charge more to people who already live there. Hitting a family living in poverty with rent increases of $100 or more a month would force more people onto ...
Published: 05/15/18
Updated: 05/18/18