Cheers and jeers from around the news:

• First, cheers to the Mountain Valley and Winthrop football teams as they go for championships today. We’re rooting for you.

• Jeers to racist idiocy. From signs in Standish to nooses on Mount Desert Island, the election of Sen. Barack Obama as president has encouraged small minds to make large displays of intolerance.

Lawmakers and town officials have responded with resolutions and denunciations – which is about the most they can do. Unfortunately, propagators of these vile displays enjoy the same First Amendment rights as the rest of us.

What shouldn’t happen, though, is letting those on the fringe have the last word.

• Jeers to piracy and the limp international reaction to treachery in the Gulf of Aden. While world powers quibble about authority and appropriateness, buccaneers are holding international trade hostage.

The latest prize, a Saudi supertanker, should be the last straw. Continuing to resolve acts of piracy through ransom, instead of action, only reinforces the lawlessness and desperation that’s plagued Somalia for too long.

The country is imperiled, and now its worst elements are becoming flush on ill-gotten royalties. A wealthy rogue nation-state is a danger far beyond its borders. For global security, this situation must be brought under control.

In the United States, the soldiers and sailors who combated piracy on the Barbary Coast in the early 19th century are the ancestors of the Marine Corps. If this modern piracy continues, a similar, but multi-national, military effort to control Somalia – on land and sea – will be inevitable.

• Cheers to call centers, which are a nondescript – but growing – part of the Maine economy. Two bits of good news for central Maine this week: 200 new jobs in Winthrop from NotifyMD, and a Barclay’s expansion of jobs at its new operation in Wilton.

Maine, apparently, is attractive for call centers because our workforce is relatively non-transient. This allows companies to avoid the expense of training and re-training workers to do the job, and a continuity of customer service that is unavailable elsewhere.

It might not be the most glamorous, but it’s the rare industry in which Maine does hold an advantage. Given this, we hope more developments like Winthrop and Wilton are still ahead.

• And cheers and jeers to Timothy Berry, the University of Maine at Farmington student who made headlines – and perhaps fashion history – with his odd, 24-hour seesawing fundraiser while dressed as the eventually beheaded 18th-century French queen, Marie Antoinette.

Berry only made it 19 hours, before frigid temperatures overwhelmed his desire to teeter-totter in a blaze-orange gown, wig and makeup. For all his dramatic preparations, it appears Berry failed with his pragmatic ones.

Still, it was a noble attempt, for a good cause, even if it was a tad OK, totally, eccentric.

Let him get warm.


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