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Sunday, Jul 22 2012 11:07 PM

HITS & MISSES: Beware: Cough is back, and it's whooping

By The Bakersfield Californian

MISS: This could be the worst year in the last half-century for pertussis, or whooping cough as it's commonly known. The illness, once a terrible menace with hundreds of thousands of U.S. cases reported annually, is back with a vengeance. Already there have been nearly 18,000 cases this year, due largely of the failure of parents to vaccinate their children.

Get those shots, folks: A child must have five doses, with the first shot at age 2 months and the last between 4 and 6 years. A booster shot is recommended around 11 or 12. It also protects against diphtheria and tetanus.

MISS: Black eye for men in blue

We don't expect the men and women sworn to protect us from crime to be capable of crime themselves, but evidence of police officers' human failings is never difficult to come by. Latest case in point: Bakersfield Police Officer Patrick Lefler was arrested last week on suspicion of possession of stolen property, making annoying telephone calls and filing a false report. Lefler allegedly refused to return a woman's recovered stolen property unless she had sex with him; his text messages to that effect were reportedly on her phone. Such actions reflect badly on an agency that otherwise works so hard to earn and keep our trust.

MISS: The contraband train derails

Andrew Lucas, an electrician who worked inside Taft Correctional Institution, was busted last week for smuggling contraband into the prison — and using the $7,000 in cash he collected to support his addiction to the pain killer Oxytocin. The arrest underscores two persistent issues: Oxytocin’s tragic ability to addict and, more immediately, the difficulty of securing prisons against contraband. The demand for cellphones and other electronic devices behind prison walls is great, and the willingness of those with access to both prisoners and contraband to compromise our trust is boundless. Until our prisons buck the unions and beef up screening procedures, it will continue to be a problem.

HIT: Born to be Wild-ish

Score one for Bakersfield's unofficial diplomats: The local motorcyclists who rode their vintage BMW airheads from this Bakersfield to three others: Bakersfield, Texas; Bakersfield, Mo.; and Bakersfield, Vt. Along the way they checked in -- and were warmly received -- at Cincinnati's Bakersfield-themed Tex-Mex restaurant, Bakersfield OTR. The idea for the trip started with friends Ryan Smith and Jorge Gonzalez, and it eventually included Californian photographer Felix Adamo. The trip, some 6,500 miles long, included 18 states and took 22 days. No word on whether the group will next take a cross-country journey in honor of McFarland -- there are three in the U.S.

MISS: We're still heating up

A report by the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency and the European Union's Joint Research Centre says the burning of fossil fuels and other human activities produced 3 percent more carbon dioxide in 2011, bringing such emissions to a record high. Carbon dioxide emissions in China and India leaped by 9 percent and 6 percent, while the E.U., U.S. and Japan all decreased. Cause for concern? Depends on which cable news network you watch.

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