December 28, 2001 11:00 pm

Airline passengers foil attacker

Los Angeles Daily News:

Theres evidence that were getting over the natural anxiety that followed the terrorist attacks. The number of prescribed sleeping pills and tranquilizers, for example, is down. But that doesnt mean weve become complacent. ...

After boarding Flight 63 from Paris to Miami on Saturday, (Richard) Reid lighted a match, allegedly to ignite a makeshift bomb he had concealed in his high-top tennis shoes.

But he was quickly foiled by a new breed of heroes ordinary people who, when pressed, show extraordinary valor and selfless bravery. This new breed of heroes ... includes people like Hermis Moutardier, the American Airlines flight attendant who was quick to spot Reid lighting the match and then confront him. Moutardier called out for help and tried to extinguish Reids shoes as he pushed and shoved her. ...

Its doubtful that the response would have been so quick or overwhelming before Sept. 11. The passengers and crew aboard Flight 63 were on the lookout for suspicious behavior, and they were prepared to act in the event that they saw it.

They were cautious but not afraid. If they were afraid, they wouldnt have been on that plane at all. ... They boarded the plane, got to work and cracked open novels. Only this time, chastened by a changed world, they kept one eye out for danger. ...

Ask retirement fund questions

The Clarion-Ledger, Jackson, Miss.:

If some in corporate America arent shivering in their boots over Congress contemplating looking into the Enron corporations handling of retirement funds, they should.

Both members of the U.S. House and Senate are wondering what went wrong with Enron, the nations leading trader and marketer of natural gas, facing more than 60 lawsuits in state and federal courts from employees.

Many of those employees in recent weeks lost 70 percent to 90 percent of their retirement assets as the company headed for bankruptcy and its stock plunged below 40 cents a share from $85 a share a year ago. ...

The bigger question, though, is whether enough safeguards are in place to protect workers who are relying on 401(k) plans for their retirement. Or, are these accounts subject to being abused by corporations and their officers?

Corporations that adhere to strict accounting standards with a hands-off posture toward retirement accounts should have no need to worry. But if there are companies that are jeopardizing the retirement hopes of millions of working Americans, not only should these questions be asked, but some pretty firm answers are in order.

If there is a push for privatization of Social Security retirement accounts through payroll deduction, as President Bushs study panel has proposed, the integrity of Americans retirement savings cannot be made vulnerable.

In order to keep Social Security funds from being purely speculative, accountability must be strict.

Bin Laden most affected us

The New Straits Times, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia:

Is Time (magazine) nuts? Opium in our latte would not have lulled us from the obvious. The one person who, in the words of Time founder Henry Luce, most affected the news of our lives for good or ill, has got to be Osama bin Laden.

But the magazine editors were moved, or perhaps behooved, to name soon-to-retire New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani as Times Person of the Year. Of course, it is the editors prerogative and yes, deep inside we all yearn for heroes, but it must be asked: Why depart from the criteria? ...