Thoughts & Views: Some things on my mind …

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is playing the “Ugly American” role to the hilt, if news accounts about veiled efforts to suppress anti-smoking campaigns around the globe are to be believed.

Chamber President Thomas J. Donohue has written that the organization “does not support smoking and wants people to quit,” and that it is simply advising governments “to protect intellectual property and comply with their international commitments.”

Maybe so, but, as The New York Times and other news organizations contend, the Chamber – through its agents in various countries – have lobbied the local governments to quash cigarette packaging warnings, higher tobacco taxes and the like on the grounds that such actions unfairly discriminate against a particular industry.

So the Chamber’s real message to the international community is: Smoke ‘em if you got ‘em.

Yes, I can hear the Libertarians’ protest that the government – no matter where it is – has no right to tell us what we should ingest – no matter how harmful it may be – but not when second-hand smoke interferes with the health of the rest of the population.

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Japan – at the behest of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe – is pressing to amend its Constitution to empower its military to fight in defense of its allies – a proposal that has U.S. support.

Guess who wrote Japan’s Constitution? Its World War II conquerer – America.

Some Asia observers see the prime minister’s stirring the pot as part of his push to create a nationalist fervor and to begin an unprecedented buildup of its “Self-Defense” military, possibly to aggressively challenge China as both countries seek to take control of the islands in the South China Sea.

As the Japanese legislature debates Abe’s proposal, many thousands of Japanese civilians have organized protests against it – echoing prior demonstrations against the government’s proposed revival of its nuclear plants following the Fukushima incident.

As reported by The Times, Abe has cited the deaths of two Japanese hostages at the hands of Islamic militants in January as a motive for giving the Japanese military a freer hand in protecting its national interests.

Seventy years is a long time to be under a military occupier’s heel even with a view of Pearl Harbor reappearing in America’s rear view mirror for which we have paid back the Empire in full with our devastating nuclear attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. While Japan – having become, like Germany, a postwar ally – has every right to control its own destiny, let us hope that the course it chooses is one of intensified diplomacy rather than arming for renewed hostilities with an ancient rival.

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A bunch of idiots have, for whatever the reason, been shooting laser beams at airplanes flying over our country.

Maybe they think that it’s cool or that they’re imitating James Bond. Or they just want to see what will happen when they aim those beams at passing planes.

Just in case they didn’t know, according to various new reports, those beams directed at a cockpit can cause flash blindness, obstructing a pilot’s vision which, of course, would be dangerous at any time.

And it’s a federal crime to undertake such stupid behavior.

The Star-Ledger reported July 17 that a survey by Ars Technica, a tech website, found that 17,000 such incidents have occurred in the past 10 years, resulting in only 80 convictions, indicating that the offenders are tough to track.

On one recent night alone, the Ledger noted, commercial pilots reported 35 laser incidents around the U.S., including 11 in New Jersey. Fortunately, no crashes resulted, according to the FAA.

We’d like to see Homeland Security team up with the FAA to devise some solution to this crisis before some disaster strikes.

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