- Associated Press - Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Recent editorials from Georgia newspapers:

Dec. 16

Morning News, Savannah, Georgia, on police standoff in Sydney, Australia:

Experts seemed divided about whether the self-proclaimed Islamic “sheikh” who was killed Monday in a standoff with police in Sydney, Australia, was a nutcase or a terrorist who was acting alone.

It doesn’t matter. Both are essentially the same thing.

What matters is that citizens in America and in other countries targeted by Muslim fanatics keep their guards up. Intelligence is vital.

Individuals with a history of violent acts and links to terrorism must be monitored. While that’s tough to do within the confines of existing laws, local and national authorities must not forget that America is in the cross hairs. It takes just one lunatic to cause havoc.

Man Haron Monis, 50, who was identified by Australian media as the gunman behind a tense 16-hour standoff inside a Sydney coffee shop, fits that bill.

Monis was born in Iran - a sponsor of terrorism - then migrated to Australia in 1996. He pleaded guilty last year to sending letters to the families of fallen Australian servicemen in which he called them “murderers” and child-killers. This creep was sentenced to community service but appealed that ruling - an appeal that was denied Friday, which may have triggered the hostage-taking.

Monis also had been linked to other crimes and violence. He had been charged in connection with the death of his ex-wife, who had been stabbed 18 times and set on fire. He was charged with more than 50 allegations of indecent and sexual assault related to a time when he worked as a self-proclaimed “spiritual healer.”

Why someone with this disturbed and violent background was still walking the streets is a question Australian authorities haven’t answered.

Sadly, two innocent people were killed during the rescue operation. Their deaths are tragic reminders of what’s at stake in the battle against terror.

But in describing Monis, don’t call him a “lone wolf.” That’s an insult to wolves.

Instead, it’s important to be accurate. Call them “lone rats.”




Dec. 17

The Telegraph, Macon, Georgia, on gambling machine payouts:

Several convenience store owners have gotten themselves in a pickle — a peculiar position created by Georgia’s General Assembly. Now, local and state law enforcement agencies have to fight a gambling war they had no part in creating, the cost of which is borne by the state’s taxpayers. In fact, even the store owners are caught in the middle of human nature and the law.

It’s perfectly legal to have Class B gaming machines (video poker) in a convenience store. However, it is against the law to distribute cash payouts. The winnings are supposed to be in store merchandise. But in the words of Capt. Earl Humphries of the Jones County Sheriff’s Office, “When you walk into a convenience store and you see six machines in the corner and there are five to six people playing them, they are not putting $20, $50, $100 in these machines when the off chance is that they are going to win a Coca-Cola and a pack of crackers.”

This latest bust is the largest in Bibb County history, but that doesn’t mean the gambling problem and cash payouts is solved. Other locations still make illegal payments to winners and we look to law enforcement to crack down on them, too. But they are also caught in the middle. It’s against the law to pay cash for winnings, but what’s the penalty? It’s only a misdemeanor. It becomes a matter of effective use of resources. Should law enforcement go after such crimes when there are other crimes that have real victims, not people sitting around on stools throwing their money away?

This investigation as it proceeds is upping the ante. The businesses stand to lose much more than just a slap on the wrist. They could lose their livelihoods. Now that the Georgia Lottery Corporation oversees the machines, it can suspend, as it has, the stores’ licenses for not only the Class B machines but their ability to sell lottery tickets. And they could forfeit any assets that are decided to have come from gambling machine proceeds. Some of the stores have been closed for more than a month. A receiver has been appointed to manage the accused businesses until the cases are settled. That may take a while. In the meantime store owners have bills to pay and their entire investment, to the point of their arrest, is at risk.

These machines have had a corrosive impact on this state. South Carolina experienced the same situation before it kicked the machines out. However, they migrated to Georgia and into thousands of convenience stores, and their influence coalesces under Georgia’s Gold Dome. We understand how hypocritical our gambling laws are. The only real gambling allowed is the state-run lottery.

While the measure passed in the 2013 session giving the lottery corporation oversight was a step in the right direction, the only way to end video poker cash payouts is to outlaw the machines.




Dec. 11

The Augusta (Georgia) Chronicle on insulting U.S. intelligence:

Aside from Democrats scoring political points in the most cynical way imaginable, is there any upside to releasing a summary report on CIA “torture” methods in post-9/11 interrogations?

Declassifying decade-old tales of waterboarding, sleep deprivation and other “enhanced interrogation techniques” will only further inflame terrorists against the United States and its allies.

A motive behind the searing document appears to be to allow the Democrat-controlled Senate Intelligence Committee to plant a parting below-the-belt punch on the GOP before they relinquish control of the committee - and the Senate - in January.

The 500-page summary focuses on the harsh treatment by CIA interrogators and contractors on al-Qaida prisoners during the Bush administration’s war on terror. It’s the result of several years of committee investigative work.

Amazing, isn’t it, what Congress can unearth when the topic is politically expedient?

Though torture revelations are not new, the report concludes the tactics failed to gather any useful information to save American lives - a conclusion that Jose Rodriguez Jr., the CIA official who ran the program, calls an “egregious falsehood.”

Crying foul over torture puts Democrats’ hypocrisy on full display. They, along with the rest of Congress, were briefed multiple times on enhanced interrogation between 2002 and 2009.

We do not condone excessively harsh treatment of enemy combatants. We, too, are distressed by some of the treatment described in the report.

But we also can put America’s wartime tactics into perspective. We invite others to do the same by seeing the film Unbroken - a true story about the torture of American POWs by the Japanese during World War II - when it opens in theaters later this month. We also invite Americans to listen to the testimony of Jewish Holocaust survivors.

They should come away from the experience realizing there is no comparison to Americans fighting to protect free people from the retrograde tyranny of barbarians who slaughter innocents by the thousands.

This country doesn’t need to prove it is better than the terrorists.

It already is.



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