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Hot Buttons: Talk show topics

By ALEX CUKAN, United Press International   |   Oct. 17, 2002 at 3:15 AM
SCARED TO TRAVEL?

Airfares are being discounted by up to 80 percent for U.S. coast-to-coast, Europe, the Caribbean, South America, and even Hawaii, according to a statement by Bestfares.com.

"The major airlines are begging for passengers, and they're making deep fare cuts for travel through March 2003," says Tom Parsons, chief executive officer.

It's a buyer's market when it comes to worldwide fall and winter air travel and the airlines are practically giving away air deals, and that's great news for John Q. Traveler," Parsons says.

Some travel deals available are: U.S. coast-to-coast -- fly between 60 U.S. cities from $174 roundtrip through March 8; Europe deals -- fly from $193 roundtrip through March 31; and cruise deals -- Many three- and four-night cruises from $199 per person. An 11-night Hawaiian cruise from $299 per person -- less than $30 a day for food and room.

-- Are people scared to fly or take a cruise?

-- Would a great travel deal change your mind on taking a vacation?


'IF IT SCARES, WE CARE'

Despite all the talk about taking a higher road post-Sept. 11, television news relies more heavily than ever on cheap scare tactics -- particularly in its promotion -- as a means of getting viewers to tune in, according to The Los Angeles Times.

Television news has always been accused of taking an "if it bleeds, it leads" mind-set. Yet in an age when sniper killings and anthrax mailings instantly yield their own slickly packaged graphics, an equally valid description might be "If it scares, we care."

For TV news, the allure of "this could happen to you" stories is intoxicating, the latest case study being the sniper shootings near Washington, D.C., the Times says.

As terrible as those reports are, they pale compared to the number of homicides seen almost nightly in an average big-city, according to the report.

-- Ted Koppel conceded on "Nightline" the media was "going nuts" over what he characterized as a "dreadful but relatively minor threat" in the bigger scheme of things. Do you agree?

-- Why is there so much interest in the Washington serial sniper?


BAD BATHROOMS

A recent national survey by Opinion Research Corp. on behalf of toilet paper maker Kimberly Clark says many middle and high-school students avoid the school restrooms because they are dirty or unsafe.

"The state of school restrooms in this country is a national disaster," says Dr. Tom Keating, coordinator of Project CLEAN -- Citizens, Learners and Educators Against Neglect -- in a statement.

CLEAN is a national effort dedicated to safe, sanitary school restrooms for all school children.

"You have conditions that are so bad, 21 percent of kids are literally holding it in all day," he says.

Keating says it's easier to find the toilet paper hanging from the ceiling than in the stalls. In other bathrooms toilets are chronically backed up, obscenities are scrawled on the walls and cigarette butts litter the sinks.

-- Keating says kids have to respect their school restrooms as if they were their own, because, in a sense, they are. How do we do that?

-- Bad school bathrooms have been around for decades. Can the situation be changed?

© 2002 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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