- Associated Press - Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Recent editorials from Georgia newspapers:

April 12

Savannah (Ga.) Morning News on charity:

If it’s better to give than to receive - charity is, after all, one of the three theological virtues - then Georgians should pat themselves on the back.

Modestly, of course.

That’s because the Fraser Institute, a respected public policy research group in Canada, has ranked Georgia second only to Utah among the 50 states in the percentage of income given to charities.

But what’s eye-opening, and heartening, is that Georgians are digging deeper into their own wallets than residents in other states - even though people elsewhere have higher incomes.

To put it another way, it’s easy for a fat cat to write a check. It’s tough for an ordinary citizen on limited means to donate to charity, especially during difficult economic times.

The Georgia Public Policy Foundation, a think tank in Atlanta, highlighted the Fraser Institute’s report Friday. The Canadian organization annually produces a “Generosity Index” that examines charitable giving in Canada’s 10 provinces and three territories, as well as in America’s political subdivisions. Researchers used data from income tax filings (from 2011) and other sources to calculate which places are more generous or more miserly.

Here’s how Georgia stacked up.

Researchers found that nearly 28 percent of Georgia tax filers gave to charity. That’s a respectable 18th place nationwide (Maryland was No. 1, with an amazing 40 percent).

But when you look at the percentage of aggregate personal income donated to charity - a fancy way of saying how deep did givers dig - Georgians jumped all the way to No. 2, donating 1.84 percent of their incomes to worthy causes.

The researchers concluded that Canadian charities have a tough time helping those who need assistance. Fortunately, thanks to generous Georgians, that’s less of a problem here.




April 15

Albany (Ga.) Herald on Putin and Ukraine:

As much as the world would like for it to settle into a resolution, the face-off between Ukraine and Russia shows no signs of tapering off.

On Tuesday, the stakes escalated when Ukrainian officials sent troops into the eastern part of the nation to reclaim a military base from pro-Russian separatists. Officials in Kiev described the retaking of the airfield as a “special operation.”

Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin again proved he has no sense of irony - or, more likely, he simply loves to stir the pot more - when he called U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon Tuesday and demanded that the United Nations and the international community condemn what he described as “anti-constitutional actions” by the government in Kiev.

This demand from the man who sent Russian troops without insignia into sovereign Ukrainian territory to slice off the Crimea region by force so that Russian could orchestrate a vote that was decided long before anyone went to a ballot box and annex the region, all of which was done in clear violation of international law.

The burr in Putin’s saddle was the February ouster of pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovich by Ukrainians who want stronger ties with the West. Fueled by hardliners in Russia who long for the so-called glory days of the Soviet Union, Putin has gotten bolder and more boisterous seemingly by the day.

The fact is, the government change in Kiev was made by Ukrainians who want a different, more productive direction for their country, which is mired in debt to Russia. The fear is that Putin will continue to ignore the nation’s right to sovereignty and reclaim it, piece by piece.

The famed Russian propaganda machine has been churning away, claiming crimes against ethnic Russians in Ukraine. It doesn’t take a genius to see that Putin is attempting to lay groundwork, as he did in Crimea, for a deeper incursion.

While the White House said Tuesday that Kiev’s security action in eastern Ukraine was warranted, it added that only sanctions were being considered against Russia. There are no plans to provide arms to Ukraine, and Western governments won’t look at ratcheting up sanctions until Thursday.

Diplomacy, of course, is still the best avenue to proceed on.




April 20

The Augusta (Ga.) Chronicle on Memorial Bridge:

This time, the fuss is over saving the bridge - not whether to save it.

That’s a nice development.

Fifteenth Street’s historic Archibald W. Butt Memorial Bridge over the Augusta Canal - linking our vast medical complex to the downtown business district - is 100 years old this year, and clearly needs a makeover.

But unlike in past years, no one’s talking about retiring the old girl or replacing her. Rather, city officials are moving smartly to use $1.5 million in new “T-SPLOST” transportation sales tax monies to give her an extreme makeover: reinforcing her deck, modernizing her for bike traffic and smoothing over her careworn face. Construction is expected in nine months.

It’s the right thing to do. We owe it to history, to the future and to ourselves - particularly considering how meaningful it is, how sturdy they made her, and how this community rallied to save her from oblivion in the 1990s.

It is a striking endowment from our ancestors - “the best they had to offer,” as Georgia Regents University historian-in-residence Dr. Lee Ann Caldwell puts it.

“Our landmarks need to be preserved because they are our identity,” Historic Augusta Inc. Executive Director Erick Montgomery adds.

And the thing is, the old girl is still made of sturdy stuff at 100.

“The bridge itself is really quite strong,” Robertson told us, adding he hopes it will last another hundred years.

We do too. That would be a beautiful tribute to the past, and an enduring gift to the future.



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