July 12

The Chicago Tribune on the Justice Department telling Congress that it is looking into the 1955 slaying of Emmett Till:

The brutal murder of Emmett Till, a black Chicago youth, in Mississippi nearly 63 years ago went unpunished, but not forgotten. A decision by his mother, Mamie Till-Mobley, to allow an open casket at Emmett’s Chicago funeral represented an act of defiance as well as mourning, helping to ignite the modern civil rights movement. “Let the people see what I’ve seen,” she told the funeral director.

“I think everybody needed to know what had happened to Emmett Till,” she said in a PBS documentary interview. Those words ring loudly amid news that the U.S. Department of Justice has reopened an investigation of the 1955 slaying.

Many of the horrific details of Till’s death, including the racist intent and identities of the killers, are known. The name Emmett Till remains a powerful byword of the African-American struggle for equality.

What’s missing is closure. And justice.

Emmett Till was 14 years old in the summer of 1955, living with his mother in a two-flat at 6427 S. St. Lawrence Ave., when he was put on a train to visit relatives near Money, Miss. The story told by a 21-year-old white woman was that Emmett propositioned and whistled at her at a corner store. Days later, Emmett was abducted. His body was found in the Tallahatchie River, weighted down by a cast iron cotton gin pulley. He’d been beaten savagely and shot in the head.

The case was a sensation. Photos in Jet magazine of Emmett’s mutilated body shocked America. Two white Mississippi men, Roy Bryant and his half-brother J.W. Milam, were acquitted of the murder — by an all-white, small-town Mississippi jury that deliberated for a little over an hour, including a Coke break. Rosa Parks said she had Emmett Till in mind in December 1955 when she refused to move to the back of a bus in Montgomery, Ala.

A month later, Bryant, who was Donham’s husband, and Milam admitted their guilt to Look magazine.

The pair are dead, as is Emmett Till’s mother, but the woman from the corner store, Carolyn Donham, is alive. About a decade ago, the Justice Department and Mississippi prosecutors reinvestigated the murder; they declined to move forward. A year later, though, Donham talked to writer Timothy B. Tyson and said she hadn’t been truthful in her trial testimony. “Nothing that boy did could ever justify what happened to him,” she’s quoted as saying in Tyson’s recently published book, “The Blood of Emmett Till.”

Donham’s interview could be the reason for a renewed federal investigation, according to The Associated Press. (…) The Justice Department told Congress in a report in March that it is again looking into the killing because of “new information.” It’s interesting to note that the annual report to Congress on unsolved civil rights crimes is mandated by legislation named in recognition of Emmett Till.

His legacy endures. And now there is a new investigation. We hope that means the nation one day soon will know all the facts of what happened to Emmett Till.


July 14

Orange County Register says it is time to privatize air traffic control in the United States:

The Trump administration revived calls for privatizing air traffic control services last month as part of a broader proposal to reorganize and modernize the federal government.

The report, “Delivering Government Solutions in the 21st Century,” renews the White House’s commitment to seeing America join the rest of industrialized world by moving away from the taxpayer-funded, Federal Aviation Administration-run air traffic control system toward a non-profit system funded by user fees.

As the report notes, approximately 60 countries have shifted responsibility for air traffic control from government to non-governmental providers. Starting with New Zealand in 1987, countries like Australia, Canada, Germany, Switzerland the United Kingdom have turned over air traffic control to self-sustaining non-governmental operators.

By doing this, other countries have freed air traffic control operations from the constraints of a government entity subject to the whims of Congress to better reflect the actual needs of consumers. As Bob Poole from the Reason Foundation told us last year, “ATC is a high-tech service business that in the U.S. is trapped in a tax-funded regulatory bureaucracy.”

Among the many consequences of these constraints, the American air traffic control system has long lagged behind other countries in incorporating modern technology into its operations.

“Our current air traffic control technology is a dinosaur compared to other countries’ systems,” noted Rep. Bill Shuster in an op-ed for The Hill. “American air traffic controllers use WWII-era radar technology as the backbone of our system to manage the most congested airspace in the world.”

That could and should end if responsibility for air traffic control is spun off from the FAA and converted to a nonprofit corporation model similar to the system used in Canada, as supported by the Trump administration.

Nav Canada, created in 1996, is responsible for the second-largest navigation service by traffic volume in the world. Named a “global leader in delivering top class performance” by the International Air Transport Association, Nav Canada is funded by customers, not by government.

As a result, Nav Canada has kept ahead of the curve on adopting the latest technologies, yielding better service and greater efficiencies. It’s a model the U.S. should follow.