Short takes on issues
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Take a walk • U.S. Surgeon General Regina Benjamin, Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams and Gov. Gary Herbert took a stroll around the Utah Capitol Tuesday to talk about health and lifestyle. Benjamin was in Utah to emphasize to public health professionals that when they talk to Utahns about getting healthy, they should focus on what's possible. She rightly said that changing exercise and eating habits can be accomplished a little at a time. "We have to stop telling people what they can't do, what they can't eat, and start telling them what they can do," she said. She is on target, of course. And, while Utahns are, on average, healthier than many other Americans, we face a 25 percent obesity rate, and 59 percent of us are overweight. With springtime weather approaching, maybe it's time we follow Benjamin's example and start walking.

Check on Grandpa • Utah has been called America's scam capital. Some Utahns are trusting folk, and there are scam artists who try to capitalize on that innocent nature, using church and family connections to get close to victims they want to bilk. Then there are the criminals who use technology to gather information they can use to get loving grandparents to fork over cash they believe will go to help a grandchild in trouble. A caller who targeted the elderly father of Utah's top consumer cop Francine Giani was one of those. Her dad did the right thing and called his daughter for help. Since the rest of us don't have that kind of official backup, we should, as Giani advises, keep in touch with elderly parents and grandparents to make sure they know what to do in such cases and whom they can contact and how if they receive requests for money in the guise of helping a family member. Keeping family close, even when you aren't related to someone with clout, is important.

Pay attention • As if we needed any more evidence of the danger in texting while driving — or operating aircraft — the National Transportation Safety Board says the crash of a medical helicopter in Missouri that killed four people in 2011 was in part caused by the pilot texting. The use of electronic devices by pilots has not been blamed for any U.S. airline crashes — yet. But in 2010 two Northwest Airlines pilots overflew their destination by 100 miles as they paid more attention to their laptops than to flying the plane. Those incidents should underscore the need for a ban on flight crew members using cellphones and other wireless devices while a plane is in the air, as proposed by the Federal Aviation Administration. The feds shouldn't wait for a crash before taking action.