Editorial roundup

The Marietta Times, Oct. 22

In July 2014, Brittany Pilkington, of Bellefontaine, Ohio, smothered her 3-mont-old son, Niall. She told authorities she didn’t know what caused his death.

In April 2015, Pilkington smothered her 4-year-old son, Gavin. She told authorities much the same story.

In August 2015, Pilkington smothered her 3-month-old son, Noah. At that point, finally, she was arrested and charged with murder.

Initially, Pilkington, 24, told police she killed the boys because her husband was not paying enough attention to their daughter. Later, she reportedly added she worried the boys would grow up to abuse women.

Now, a judge is considering whether her confession should be admissible in her trial for murder.

Clearly, by any normal human being’s definition, Pilkington is mentally ill.

But the most disturbing question that ought to be asked in her case is not about her guilt or her sanity — but why she was not apprehended sooner.

It is a question that comes up with troubling frequency when there are reports of children killed by adults whose behavior, often involving abuse, makes it clear the little ones are in danger.

Again: Pilkington was not stopped after she murdered one child, nor after she killed a second, but only after all three boys were dead.

How could that have been allowed to happen?


The (Canton) Repository, Oct. 20

Autumn has awarded us a reprieve from chilly temperatures and rainy days of late. What cannot be avoided is the arrival of flu season, which typically runs from mid-October through mid-May…

Public health officials strongly urge anyone 6 months and older to get vaccinated ahead of flu season, even if you were vaccinated last year. The vaccine is updated each year to adapt to new mutations of the virus. The most susceptible to influenza are the elderly, children 2 and younger and pregnant women…

When you take the time to get immunized, you’re protecting not only yourself, but also family members, friends, co-workers — the general population. As many as 200,000 Americans are hospitalized each year from influenza-related issues like respiratory illness and heart conditions. An untold number of Americans die from these symptoms. (The CDC does not track influenza-related deaths.)

It’s true that getting a flu shot won’t guarantee that you won’t get sick, but studies cited by the CDC show it can reduce the risk of the flu illness by about 50 to 60 percent among the overall population, depending on how well it matches the strain of the virus in circulation.

Getting a flu shot is now quick, convenient and affordable, if not free. Most importantly, it’s an effective way to stay healthy…


The (Ashtabula) Star-Beacon, Oct. 21

It is difficult to understand why anyone would want to steal flowers from gravestones, but sadly that is the target for some modern-day grave robbers. These thefts are happening all too often in Ashtabula Township and it needs to stop.

Ken Mauro, Ashtabula Township’s cemetery superintendent, said thefts have gone up in recent weeks, corresponding with the placement of fall mums. While mums can be beautiful flowers, they lack the resale value that often drives theft cases — often those in search of items that can be sold or traded for drugs or drug money. In fact, Mauro said thieves will take anything, flowers, ornaments, even solar lights. If not for the monetary value, perhaps the stolen property could be the target of petty thieves or vandals just out to cause some destruction and damage. The problem is not limited to Ashtabula County, and some outside the area have speculated in various media reports that the thieves are actually taking the flowers from one grave and placing them on another…

Whatever the motivation, we hope an expected increase in sheriff’s department patrols will help put a stop to it. The families affected deserve peace and respect…


The Toledo Blade, Oct. 22

A new report raises questions about the accuracy of facial-recognition technology used by law enforcement, especially when the faces the software is trying to recognize are black.

The Georgetown University Law Center for Privacy and Technology report acknowledges that facial recognition can help catch violent criminals. But it says there is limited independent testing of the software’s accuracy…

Perhaps more relevant is that in a 2015 contract with San Diego-area officials, a facial-recognition vendor disclaimed any warranties of accuracy. And Ohio’s Bureau of Criminal Investigation, the report says, was not the only agency that failed to demand a test of accuracy.

The report argues that facial recognition “will disproportionately affect” black people. They are, it says, more likely to be in some databases because the databases are drawn from arrest records. In Ohio, however, the Bureau of Motor Vehicles puts driver’s license and nondriver-ID photos into the BCI database…

Bottom line: Law enforcement should not use facial-recognition software that cannot identify black people at an acceptable rate. For that matter, it should not use software that cannot identify any people at an acceptable rate…

This report does not mean facial-recognition software can’t be valuable. It does mean it needs to be examined, and used, carefully.