- Associated Press - Wednesday, March 26, 2014

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - The New York Post on Gov. Andrew Cuomo and charter schools.

March 25.

As Albany wraps up talks on the budget, it’s time for Gov. Cuomo to make good on his vow to save charter schools.

Parents, students and teachers at these public schools are desperately hoping a budget deal, expected within days, will ensure a secure future for charters.

Mayor de Blasio put the whole future of charters at risk by attacking their weak spot: their lack of guaranteed space. Even though they are public schools, charters have no automatic right under current law to a building or to funds to pay for space.

Up to now, charters in the city received their space mostly by the grace of the Bloomberg folks. In sharp contrast, Mayor de Blasio has imposed a moratorium on co-locations, denied charters funds for buildings, vowed to charge them rent and taken back space promised to three of them.

In so doing, de Blasio exposed their vulnerability. This is what needs fixing. And lawmakers have already floated proposals to grant charters the funding they need. It’s now up to Cuomo to see that it happens as the budget is settled.

Yes, de Blasio tried to make nice with charters after his attack on them sparked an uproar. He now says he’ll end his ban on co-locations after devising “a fair system.”

But why should charters be asked to rely on the word of a politician who has also vowed to squash them? What kind of guarantee is that? Remember, in seeking to make amends, de Blasio apologized mostly for what he characterized as a miscommunication. And though he also offered to find space for one of the three charters he axed, he hasn’t said much about the other two.

By contrast, Cuomo told 11,000 charter parents, kids and teachers at a rally that he stands with them. He said he’s “committed to ensuring charter schools have the financial capacity, the physical space and the government support to thrive and grow.”

Charter kids couldn’t ask for more encouraging words. Now they need the action that makes them real.




The Albany Times Union on the Dream Act legislation rejected by the state Senate.

March 23

New York just had an opportunity to bring some compassion - and common sense - to the illegal immigration debate. Unfortunately, too many senators refused to seize it.

The New York DREAM Act is not a giveaway to illegal immigrants. It would not provide them something citizens can’t get. The cost would be minimal, and the returns - both real and intrinsic - would far exceed the investment.

And, it’s the right thing to do.

But it was not to be, not yet, anyway. Every Republican senator voted against it, and so did two Democrats.

This vote, however, doesn’t change reality. It just denies it.

At the last estimate by the Pew Hispanic Center, there were about 625,000 undocumented immigrants in New York. An estimated 146,000 of them are the children of people who entered the country illegally, in large measure on the hope of a better life for themselves and their families.

Are they here in violation of the law? Yes. Are they leaving? Not likely.

The question is, do we consign a generation of young people to live on the fringe of society, not just denying them the chance to do better in life - an unconscionable thing in itself - but depriving society of the benefit of having them be as productive as possible? Do we force them to be a burden, or help them become an asset?

The DREAM Act, similar to measures that have passed in Texas, California and New Mexico, would make these young people eligible for college scholarships, financial aid and participation in tuition savings accounts - if they meet certain conditions. They would have to have attended a New York high school for at least two years and graduated, or obtained a New York equivalency diploma; be enrolled as a full-time student in a college or university in the state within five years of graduation; maintain at least a C average and have a declared major; affirm that they would apply for legal immigration status as soon as possible; meet the Higher Education Services Corporation’s requirements; and be income eligible.

The cost? Perhaps $17 million a year. In exchange, New York would have tens of thousands of young residents who are able to earn more money and pay more state and local taxes - far more than the cost of this program. And it would mean far fewer of them burdening the social welfare and criminal justice systems.

We’re not unaware of the objections to this. We know that some people are frustrated with the illegal immigration issue, and that law-abiding, middle-class families struggle to pay for higher education.

But opposing the DREAM Act is short-sighted. New York would be a better state for this - with more productive people and no doubt less crime, less stress on the public assistance programs, and more opportunity for everyone who is willing to work for it.

To the supporters of this law, we say: Keep the DREAM Act alive. Bring it back for another vote.

To those who opposed it, we ask: Rethink your position, and then help make the dream come true.




The Leader-Herald of Gloversville on President Barack Obama’s reaction to the Ukraine crisis.

March 24

Russian leader Vladimir Putin and many other world leaders know how to use power. They understand diplomacy, military might and economics. Some use their personalities to exert pressure.

President Barack Obama seems to comprehend none of this. Confronted by a crisis in Ukraine and a leader - Putin - who could not be manipulated by his personality, Obama simply did not know what to do.

So he did what comes naturally. He threw what amounts to a diplomatic temper tantrum.

First, Obama said that in response to the Ukrainian crisis, he is freezing U.S. assets held by seven Russian leaders in this country. That will accomplish nothing other than to make the seven angry.

Then, White House spokesman Jay Carney lashed out - blindly. “Together with North Korea and I think Syria … (Russian leaders) are alone in that belief,” Carney said of Putin’s claims his country’s actions in the Crimea region of Ukraine were necessary to safeguard Russian military bases and ethnic Russians.

What? Putin and leaders in the North Korean and Syrian regimes must be scratching their heads. U.S. relations with all three are difficult, but for very different reasons.

And why was Iran left off Carney’s list?

Obama cannot seem to understand why his powers of persuasion don’t work with Putin and other world leaders. Clearly, his understanding of power is limited severely, and that does not bode well for U.S. interests abroad.




The Daily Star of Oneonta on getting children vaccinated.

March 26

If you recently became the parent of a healthy child, we have two things to say to you.

No. 1: Congratulations.

No. 2: Get the kid vaccinated for measles, mumps and rubella.

Don’t listen to any of the nonsense you might hear from pseudo-celebrities who say there might be a link between vaccinations and autism.

Get the kid vaccinated.

Don’t fall for the irrational paranoia that so readily spreads on the Internet.

Get the kid vaccinated.

Recently, Kristin Cavallari, an actress and former MTV personality married to Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler, appeared on the Fox Business Network and said she hadn’t had her first child vaccinated and - pregnant again - won’t have the next one vaccinated, either.

Her reasons: “books” and “studies.”

As it turns out, there are no valid “studies.” In 1998, a team of London researchers led by now-discredited Dr. Andrew Wakefield published a study of only 12 children who had a form of autism that - the group concluded - established a link with their vaccinations.

In 2011, the British Medical Journal wrote an editorial titled: “Wakefield’s article linking MMR vaccine and autism was fraudulent.”

“Authored by Andrew Wakefield and 12 others,” the editorial said, “the paper’s scientific limitations were clear when it appeared in 1998. . By the time the paper was finally retracted 12 years later . few people could deny that it was fatally flawed both scientifically and ethically.”

On the other hand, you’ve got the crusade of actress Jenny McCarthy, whose credentials include posing in Playboy and being a co-host of “The View” television program. She has a son with autism-like symptoms and will not be persuaded - despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary - that the child’s vaccinations aren’t the cause.

Dr. Wilson Woo, an assistant professor at Harvard Medical School, quoted on the Youbeauty website, wrote three years ago: “We can’t blame specific actors or actresses . as intelligence and rationality are not necessarily considered virtues in their particular profession. But . very tangible damages can result and society can even be destroyed; in this case, one’s child could die, say from meningitis, as a result of his neighbor’s stupidity.”

And that is why vaccinating your kid is important beyond how it affects your family. Among those at risk for infections are those who have reduced immune systems or are pregnant.

Dennis K. Flaherty, Ph.D., an associate professor of pharmaceutical sciences at the University of Charleston, opined in the Annals of Pharmacotherapy that “the alleged autism-vaccine connection is, perhaps, the most damaging medical hoax of the last 100 years.”

Whether you have all the shots done all at once or every month or so, just get the kid vaccinated.




The Daily Gazette of Schenectady on sexual assault cases in the military.

March 25

From the time she started it last year, we’ve supported Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand’s crusade to take military sexual assault cases out of the chain of command and let independent military prosecutors decide whether to bring charges. The case of Gen. Jeffrey Sinclair, whose prosecution was dropped last week for a plea bargain that brought him the lightest of punishments, is a good example of why that needs to be done.

This wasn’t the classic case of a commander not believing a victim, usually a woman, or protecting a perpetrator, usually a man and often of higher rank to the victim. The commander continued to push for prosecution even when the story of the alleged victim, a captain and Sinclair’s former mistress, started to unravel and she was apparently caught in a lie. Even when two successive prosecutors and two successive staff judge advocates agreed the case should be dropped.

Looking at all this, and emails suggesting Defense Department interference, the presiding judge concluded that this prosecution was driven by political considerations - that is, the military’s determination to look tough on sexual assault in the face of public outrage and congressional pressure - and ordered a possible plea deal. That’s not an argument against Gillibrand’s quest to let impartial prosecutors make these decisions, but another argument for it.




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