Recent editorials from Tennessee newspapers:
The Herald-Citizen on the importance of the peaceful transfer of power:
Although some predicted Jan. 20's inauguration and transfer of presidential power from President Donald Trump to President Joe Biden would be anything but peaceful, we’re grateful that the tradition that’s lasted more than 200 years continued once again.
Many people were feeling on Jan. 20 what those on the opposite side of the political aisle were feeling four years ago. That the world was ending. That we wouldn’t survive it.
But here we are, and we believe we will still be here in four more years under the policies of a new president.
The same democracy that allows for these transfers of power also permits your individual freedom to go where you want and do what you want and the freedom to read this newspaper you hold in your hands.
That same democracy allows you to express yourself, to speak up when you think your leaders aren’t doing the right thing and to offer solutions to problems.
It is wonderful to be passionate about your beliefs. It is admirable to want to make this country the best it can be, but it is not okay to assert that your way is better than anyone else’s and to threaten or carry out violence against anyone who doesn’t agree with you.
According to a story in The Hill, former presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama attended the inauguration and reflected on the importance of a peaceful transfer of power.
“The fact that the three of us are standing here talking about a peaceful transfer of power speaks to the institutional integrity of our country,” Bush said.
Clinton, Bush and Obama all wished Biden a successful presidency and offered to do what they could to help.
We could all benefit from following the lessons of our former leaders, who all swore to promote and protect the following words:
“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”
The Johnson City Press on Tennessee laws related to the proper use of car headlights:
Most drivers know that car headlights are essential at night, but how many are aware that their headlights should also be on whenever the windshield wipers are in operation or when weather conditions make it difficult to see or to be seen?
Tennessee law requires car headlights to be turned on 30 minutes after sunset until 30 minutes before sunrise. The state’s Comprehensive Driver’s License Manual also requires headlights to be used in the daylight during periods of inclement weather.
The manual also says headlights must be turned on when daylight is not good enough for you to see people or vehicles clearly at a distance of 200 feet ahead; and when rain, mist, snow, or other precipitation requires constant use of windshield wipers.
As the manual says: “Remember, using headlights when wipers are in use is not just a good safety precaution — it’s Tennessee law!”
Starting in 2018, Tennessee banned colored lights other than white and amber on the fronts of cars to avoid confusion with emergency vehicles. Violations can result in a $50 fine.
Also remember that headlights turned on during daylight hours will make your car or truck easier to be seen by oncoming vehicles and pedestrians.
Another important tip is to always use headlights when driving at dusk. Even if you think you can see clearly, headlights can help other drivers see you as much as they help you see them.
There are also times when headlights should be dimmed. State law requires high beam headlights to be dimmed when an oncoming vehicle is within 500 feet (which is approximately the distance of one city block), or when you are following another vehicle within 500 feet.
This is a very important safety step because the glare from headlights in a rear view mirror of another vehicle can blind that driver.
The Kingsport Times-News on recent paleontological discoveries in a Tennessee county:
A piece of tooth from what was thought an ancestor of the gray wolf, found in a cave in Sullivan County, has contributed to an incredible discovery of worldwide paleontological significance.
Dire wolves are among the most famous prehistoric carnivores in North America along with their extinct competitor, the sabertooth tiger, or smilodon. Dire wolves weighed about 150 pounds, about 25% bigger than gray wolves. Their skeletons are nearly exact copies of the gray wolf which is why, from their discovery in 1858, they have been considered the ancestor of modern North American wolves.
But they are not. From that tooth and fossils from three other locations, it has now been determined that dire wolves likely originated in North America, while the ancestors of gray wolves and coyotes evolved in Eurasia and colonized North America only relatively recently.
This surprising finding comes from the first study of its kind that analyzed several full genomes of the dire wolf that has reclassified the dog family. It involved some 50 scientists from around the world, including Dr. Blaine Schubert, executive director of the Center of Excellence in Paleontology at East Tennessee State University and a professor in the Department of Geosciences. “The genetic work reveals dire wolves branched off early, and gray wolves are more closely related to African wolves and coyotes,” said Schubert.
That Schubert could be at ETSU to help make this discovery is due to an event in 2000 when the Gray Fossil Site was discovered by geologists investigating unusual clay deposits in a road construction project to widen State Route 75. It turned out to be among the most significant discoveries in North America, rivaling the La Brea Tar Pits.
What was once a pond environment preserved the remains of ancient plants and animals from nearly 5 million years ago, including the world’s largest tapir fossil find, the most complete skeleton of Teleoceras (an ancient rhinoceros) yet found in eastern North America, a new species of red panda that marks only the second record of this animal, and a newly identified species of an ancient plant-eating badger.
The site was quickly protected and resulted in the building of the Gray Fossil Museum, a $10 million museum and working site where discoveries represent finds from approximately 1% of the total area that has been explored. Future fossil recovery from the entire site is projected to continue on for the next 100 years.
The Gray Fossil Site led to the creation of the Center for Excellence in Paleontology at ETSU, and through the work of Schubert and others, this most recent remarkable discovery is another credit to Northeast Tennessee’s growing reputation in the world of paleontology.