- Associated Press - Thursday, October 2, 2014

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - The New York Daily News on the indictment of another state lawmaker.

Oct. 2

The throw-the-book indictments dropped on Queens Assemblyman William Scarborough send the welcome message that “broken windows” law enforcement has come to a state Capitol that sorely needs it.

Scarborough stands accused of pocketing $38,000 in campaign donations, filing false disclosure reports and padding his expenses to the tune of another $40,000 - types of offenses that routinely get ignored in anything-goes Albany.

Not this time, thanks to Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and the feds.

Which hopefully will throw a scare into fellow lawmakers who have gotten used to playing fast and loose with impunity.

The New York Public Interest Research Group last year spotted 100,000 violations of campaign finance law, virtually none of them penalized by the dozing watchdogs at the Board of Elections.

Which brings us to the woman who is supposed to change that - the board’s chief enforcement counsel, Risa Sugarman.

Hand-picked by Gov. Cuomo for a newly created post, Sugarman bears no responsibility for what Scarborough did in the past. Her mandate is to provide tough, independent policing that will make pols toe the line going forward.

And she’s off to a horrendous start.

As Daily News Albany bureau chief Kenneth Lovett reported Wednesday, Sugarman has been quietly sharing information on her activities with an aide to the governor - who is, after all, a Democrat and a candidate in this fall’s elections.

He also happens to be her former boss and the man who installed her in this job. Keeping him at arm’s length is especially critical.

But when board members challenged Sugarman for, in effect, using a member of Cuomo’s staff as her press aide, insiders tell Lovett that she arrogantly replied: “I’ll use who I want to use.”

After the mess caused by excessive cross-talk between the governor and his supposedly independent anti-corruption commission, Sugarman should know better - and Cuomo should instruct her that success depends both on true independence and the appearance of independence.

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Online: https://nydn.us/1oE62Ao

The Syracuse Post-Standard on high school students donning Indian-themed items at a football game.

Oct. 2

To the Liverpool High School football fans who donned headdresses, feathers and “Tribe” gear for Friday’s homecoming game against Cicero-North Syracuse: What were you thinking?

Liverpool’s nickname is the Warriors but its mascot is a Spartan, not a Native American. Adopting those denigrating and cartoonish images for the purposes of rooting for your team was insensitive and offensive. A fan showing up in blackface would never be tolerated. Why is this display allowed?

Let’s not fall back on the excuse, “Kids will be kids.” High school students with an ounce of schooling in American history are well aware of the “cowboys and Indians” stereotypes they are perpetuating.

So are football fans, what with the simmering national controversy over the Washington, D.C., NFL team.

It’s been 13 years since the state Education Department urged school districts across New York to abandon their native mascots. Many schools have done so, most recently Cooperstown, which replaced “Redskins” with “Hawkeyes.” Many schools have not, including several in Central New York. It’s time they took steps to dump their native mascots.

Meanwhile, high school football fans who think dressing up like Native Americans is all in good fun should think again.

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Online: https://bit.ly/1oE8Ygr

The Buffalo News on problems within the Secret Service.

Oct. 2

Fixing the monumental problems in the Secret Service is a matter of national security. That fact was made clear by the blunders revealed in the past few days.

Also clear was the fact that Director Julia Pierson was not up to the task. She resigned Wednesday, a day after facing a blistering interrogation by members of a House committee. She was brought in a year and a half ago to clean up the agency after agents were involved in a series of inappropriate actions. Those incidents pale beside the recent revelations, which involved improper response to threats to the safety of the president.

The uproar began after a man climbed the Pennsylvania Avenue fence at the White House Sept. 19, crossed the lawn and made it inside the White House. He was carrying a knife and overcame one Secret Service agent before being tackled. Agents later found an arsenal in the intruder’s car that included 800 rounds of ammunition, two hatchets and a machete.

The Secret Service originally downplayed the threat, saying that the man, Omar Gonzalez, had been stopped soon after entering the White House. Now it turns out he ran to the East Room and was headed into the Green Room before agents caught up with him. More troubling, he passed right by the stairs to the living quarters.

Gonzalez was not a stranger to authorities. He was stopped last month carrying a hatchet in front of the White House. And he was arrested this summer in Virginia with what the New York Times reported was “a mini-arsenal of semiautomatic weapons, a sniper rifle and a map clearly marking the White House’s location.”

Pierson admitted during the hearing that proper protocols were not followed - among other things, alarm boxes were turned off and dogs were never released - during the intrusion.

It’s incredible that Gonzalez could have surprised the guards as he did. In the past five years 16 people have jumped the White House fence, according to Pierson.

And the Gonzalez intrusion is not even the most dangerous incident to come to light in recent days.

The Washington Post reported over the weekend that it took agents four days to realize that seven shots from a high-powered rifle had hit the White House in 2011, and then only because a housekeeper noticed broken glass and concrete.

After Tuesday’s hearing we learned of another incident. A contract security guard who was armed managed to ride in an elevator with President Obama last month at the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, violating Secret Service protocols.

Pierson said the agency is addressing what has been correctly called a cultural failure in the Secret Service. But her statement that “the president is safe” is insufficiently supported by the evidence. She had 18 months to make the appropriate changes in the agency, and failed. New leadership was needed.

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Online: https://bit.ly/1CHhy6l

The Albany Times-Union on air strikes against the Islamic State.

Sept. 24

In ordering U.S. airstrikes in Syria as part of a multinational effort to stop the barbaric band of thugs that calls itself the Islamic State, President Barack Obama has made the right decision at the right time.

Until recently, Mr. Obama resisted the calls of the hawks in Congress and elsewhere to plunge the U.S. into the Syrian civil war. Even as the U.S. pushed for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s removal after his regime used chemical weapons on its own citizens, the Obama administration carefully avoided the risky arming and training of Syrian rebels. Some were linked to radical Islamic groups, Mr. Obama noted, and putting weapons into the hands of those who could turn out to be our enemies and threaten the stability of our allies in the region was a risk to avoid.

So what has changed?

In recent weeks it has become increasingly clear that the Islamic State terrorists needed to be, in Mr. Obama’s words, “degraded.” The horrific beheading of two U.S. journalists and a British aid worker underscored the brutality of the Islamic State. It has engaged in mass killings and human enslavement. Action was needed before the Islamic State made further gains posing a broader threat.

In announcing the airstrikes this week, Mr. Obama stressed the important support of the operation from Islamic countries in the region: Saudi Arabia, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Bahrain. It is essential that this not be seen as an attack by the West on Islam, and that point is underscored by this coalition.

As British Prime Minister David Cameron aptly put it after the Islamic State had executed British aid worker David Haines, “They are not Muslim; they are monsters.”

Mr. Obama has attempted to draw a distinction between this latest initiative and the two wars begun by George W. Bush. Yet it isn’t hard to suppose that our actions now could lead to a deeper engagement, beyond the surgical airstrikes and training of rebels currently envisioned. We may be in for a long haul, perhaps again putting U.S. troops at risk.

The president has seemed to rule out a ground combat mission, displaying the restraint voters seemed to expect when they chose him over more bellicose opponents. Yet the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, has said that American ground forces may be needed.

In a rare bipartisan move, Congress has backed Mr. Obama. While this restraint may arise from legislators wishing to skirt any major commitment near midterm elections, the narrow military involvement now authorized offers a war-weary nation an opportunity to weigh the progress of our limited efforts in the coming weeks, before any decision to escalate.

Being pulled back into a protracted military conflict may be the last thing the U.S. wants. But it’s increasingly evident that the battle against these vicious terrorists is both complicated and necessary, demanding the flexible strategy we have now embraced.

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Online: https://bit.ly/1pIrjIE

The Schenectady Daily Gazette on the retirement of New York Yankees star Derek Jeter.

Sept. 25

The other day, ESPN commentator Keith Olbermann felt it was his journalistic duty to call into question the perceived greatness of Derek Jeter.

In an excoriating 7-minute rant, Olbermann charted a pile of statistics, which he used to systematically denigrate the Yankee shortstop’s fielding skills, his batting prowess, his lack of personal awards and his stature in the Pantheon of the game’s greats.

Olbermann’s statistics were absolutely correct. And he totally missed the point.

Today is Derek Jeter’s last game at Yankee Stadium. His retirement has been getting an unusual amount of attention, and for good reasons, not necessarily related to the record books.

While NFL players have been building a collective rap sheet that would get them a thousand life sentences in San Quentin, while Major League Baseball has finally started to emerge from the steroid scandal that tainted a generation of players, while spoiled athletes hold out for ridiculous contracts, run around on their wives and try to get their names in the news, Derek Jeter has quietly gone about the task of playing baseball.

Is he a god? No. Is he a perfect person? No. Is he the best baseball player who ever lived? No. Does it matter? No.

For the past 20 years, Jeter has gone out on the field every day and led by example. He has played with joy and passion and commitment. He once famously dove face-first into the stands to catch a foul pop-up. When he broke his ankle during the 2012 American League championship series, he tried to walk off the field without help. Rub a little dirt on it, as they say.

He has never shown up a pitcher by lingering at the plate to admire a home run, never said a negative thing about an opponent in a press conference, never gone on TV and boasted about his achievements, never been a jerk to fans or the press.

Despite his fame, good looks and money, his social life has stayed remarkably clear of the tabloids.

His personal charity, the Turn 2 Foundation, has raised more than $17 million in the past 16 years. The foundation provides grants to help give kids a place to turn besides alcohol and drugs, and rewards them for academic achievement and healthy living.

He has been an ambassador for baseball and for professional sports. Despite all his achievements, he has conducted himself with humility, dignity and class.

And that’s why Olbermann’s statistical strafing failed to hit its mark. Because being a winner, being a leader, in any endeavor, isn’t about compiling the best numbers or making the most money or winning the most trophies.

It’s about going about your business in the right way, every day, as Derek Jeter has done throughout his long career.

For youth coaches in all sports, this is the lesson you want to pass down to your players. For young athletes, this is the example you want to follow.

(Full disclosure: The writer is a Mets fan.)

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Online: https://bit.ly/1ptfPJU

The Poughkeepsie Journal

The Adirondack Daily Enterprise

The New York Post

The New York Times on the nation’s nuclear weapons arsenal.

The Watertown Daily Times


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