Our view: Diamonds for Scranton’s Brain Bee

Diamonds to the University of Scranton for hosting a local “Brain Bee” for high school students Feb. 3. There are many such academic competitions that too often get short-changed in favor of the ever-popular athletic contests. This one is distinctive because it focuses on neuroscience, the effort to understand the brain, that thing that lets us understand everything else. The university gets extra credit for not charging anything to participate. Students in grades 9-12 can register online at sites.google.com/site/nepabrainbee, or contact Robert Waldeck at the university, 570-941-4324 or [email protected]

Coal to businesses that plow vast swaths of parking spaces yet fail to clear their own sidewalks. This is depressingly common along South Main Street in Wilkes-Barre, among other places, and is often easily avoided because the sidewalks are wide enough for some snow plows to make a quick pass while clearing the car lots. The most egregious situation, though rare, happens when a plow inadvertently or deliberately banks snow across a walkway while clearing a drive way. It’s disappointing when walks are untouched and pedestrians must trudge through the snowy aftermath; It’s obnoxious when a wall of snow is added to their obstacles in the name of clearing the road for automobiles.

Diamonds to the mayors of Luzerne County’s four cities for trying to work together on shared issues. Three of them — Wilkes-Barre’s Tony George, Hazleton’s Jeff Cusat and Pittston’s Mike Lombardo — met in Wilkes-Barre Tuesday to discuss possibilities. To be sure, the county’s history is littered with such attempts to cooperate, usually dubbed a Council of Governments (COG). This instance has the potential to be different because the cities collectively face different problems than many townships and boroughs surrounding them. It’s important for these officials to pay more than lip service to the ambition, and to work together consistently, forming achievable joint plans and forging bonds that can outlast their individual terms in office. The region has long been hampered by too many small municipal governments fighting for limited resources rather than working together for a greater good.

Coal to the bizarre series of circumstances that led to a harrowing false alarm in Hawaii, when residents were alerted to an incoming ballistic missile that didn’t exist. So far it appears to have been human error in pressing a wrong button, but it exposes a larger concern about the whole “Integrated Public Alert and Warning System” at the heart of this failure. Clearly states should have local control over some aspects of a system that can warn about dangers both natural and man made, but there has to be a firmer link between the people who actually detect distant missile launches and those who hit the warning button. And while the failure happened in our 50th state, it involved a risk that can just as easily happen here.