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A handout photo provided by NASA shows the (Credit: EPA / BILL INGALLS / HANDOUT)

A handout photo provided by NASA shows the Orbital Sciences Corporation Antares rocket launching from Pad-0A.

On our minds: Send the plastic bags to Pluto?

Newsday's editorial board spends all week striving to be a reasoned and pragmatic voice for Long Island and its values through our editorials and columns. We debate local, national and international issues and write on those we think will impact our readers.

Some topics come up that don't turn into longer pieces, but are part of the national conversation and worth bringing up. Here's how we're telling you about them.

A very, very long road to Pluto

4.5 billion -- That's the number of miles
(Credit: AP)

4.5 billion -- That's the number of miles American spacecraft New Horizon has logged so far on its journey to Pluto. The data-gathering vessel, coincidentally launched in 2006 when Pluto was demoted to a "dwarf planet," will fly close to the distant celestial body's surface just under a year from now.

The fact that it traveled such an astronomical distance unscathed by space objects is a technological marvel. Even a tiny fraction of that distance on the Long Island Expressway would have resulted in more than a few fender-benders by now.

Take supermarket bag problem seriously

Anna Throne-Holst is a big thinker on environmental
(Credit: Agaton Strom)

Anna Throne-Holst is a big thinker on environmental issues. So it's no surprise that the Southampton Town supervisor is taking on a big problem: plastic bags.

Her target is the bags you get at the checkout counter of a retail store. Americans use more than 100 billion a year and less than 1 percent are recycled. The rest end up in landfills where they take centuries to decompose -- unless they blow away, as they often do, and become litter or, worse, environmental hazards for birds and fish.

Throne-Holst has proposed a plastic bag ban in the five East End towns and is pitching a Suffolk County-wide prohibition. Many municipalities across the country, including Los Angeles and Chicago this year, have banned the bags. Some places charge a nickel or dime per bag. It's time to consider whether we want to bag the bags, too.

A dwindling breed on Long Island

After a 52-year run, Richard Pastore will not
(Credit: Newsday / Alejandra Villa)

After a 52-year run, Richard Pastore will not be behind the chair this week in his Northport Village barbershop. Pastore has closed his Main Street establishment and retired, taking his $3.50 haircuts with him.

Every village and every downtown on Long Island has someone like Pastore, someone who contributes to the character, color and quirkiness of the community, someone often taken for granted while on the scene and then missed dearly when he or she departs.

Pastore, 69, was a minimalist when it came to the tools of his trade -- one chair, one comb, one mirror, two electric razors. But his customers praised his boundless warmth and conversational abilities.

Richard Pastore was one of a dwindling breed. Treasure each of them while you can.