Roundup of Oklahoma editorials

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Here are excerpts from recent editorials in Oklahoma newspapers:

The Oklahoman, April 8, 2014

Push to reveal execution drugs is part of larger plan

Oklahoma has a new protocol regarding the drugs used to execute death row inmates. The state will test the drugs and make results of those tests known publicly, an effort to alleviate concerns that the condemned may suffer cruel and unusual punishment while on the gurney.

Attorney General Scott Pruitt says a new batch of execution drugs has been tested and the results turned over to attorneys representing two inmates scheduled to be put to death later this month. One attorney, a federal public defender, said the names of the drugs and the test results "only give us surface-level information of the execution."

She wants to know where the state purchased its drugs. Pruitt isn't saying. This isn't unusual. The Associated Press reported over the weekend that of the 32 states with the death penalty, the "vast majority" don't disclose their drug source.

Oklahoma's drugs, Pruitt says, came from a licensed compounding pharmacy in the United States. They were tested for potency and contaminants. "If that can be affirmed, the source doesn't matter, unless, again, your desires are different," he said. Of course, they are different.

The goal of anti-death penalty advocates is to change the practices, through harassment or intimidation, of companies that produce execution drugs. Pressure on European drug makers got this ball rolling because it led them to stop selling their products in the United States if they were to be used in executions.

An Oklahoma County judge ruled recently that secrecy surrounding execution drugs violated the constitutional rights of two condemned inmates. Thus the executions of Clayton Lockett and Charles Warner were postponed. Pruitt says he expects to win his appeal and that the executions will happen.

Meantime the push will continue to force states like Oklahoma back to the firing squad, a method death penalty foes are betting will make the public uncomfortable enough that capital punishment one day comes off the books entirely.

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Stillwater NewsPress, April 4, 2014

Protect your home from wildfires

To most people, fuel is what you put into your gas tank. To firefighters, it means something altogether different. To people who make a living putting out fires, fuel is that material that feeds wildfires — and there is an abundance of it this year in the area.

Almost every day, a dispatcher announces on the newsroom scanner that a grass fire has sprung up in Stillwater or Payne County.

Responders are rushing out of firehouses across the city on a regular basis to put down fires.

Firefighters are concerned wildfires could be on the rise in the area because of the abundance of fuel to sustain them. Flammable materials that can feed a wildfire can be found everywhere in the county.

Payne County officials have considered issuing a burn ban for the area, but have not done so — yet.

Temperature, wind and lack of moisture each play a part in wildfires, but flammable debris keeps them burning. That's why firefighters advise residents be firewise.

Fire officials have many helpful tips about the best ways to make your home and neighborhood more safe in the event of a wildfire.

Clear leaves and debris from gutters and porches, remove dead vegetation within 10 feet of your home, remove items stored under your porch, remove flammables such as wood stacks and propane tanks away from your home, trim your trees so the lowest branches are at least six feet from the ground and keep your lawn watered and cut.

For more information about protecting your home from a wildfire, visit www.firewise.org.

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Tulsa World, April 7, 2014

Don't block teen access to contraception

A measure to ban the sale of emergency contraceptives — Plan B — to women under age 17 without a prescription is headed to the House for consideration.

Already passed by the Senate, the proposal went through the House Public Health Committee Tuesday, despite the opposition by Rep. Doug Cox, R-Grove, a physician. Cox pointed out that more than 2,000 Oklahoma children, including one who was 10 years old, had babies in 2010.

Denying sexually active teenagers access to effective birth control is condemning them to unwanted pregnancies —— the pathway to abortion or poverty.

Oklahoma has the second highest teen pregnancy rate in the nation. More 18- and 19-year-old women in Oklahoma give birth every year than there are freshmen women entering the University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State University.

The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy reports that unplanned teen pregnancies cost the state at least $190 million a year.

If Oklahoma legislators are serious about wanting to stop abortion and poverty, preventing access to Plan B is exactly the wrong policy to take.

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