- Associated Press - Wednesday, August 19, 2015

The Gazette, Aug. 16, on opposing President Barack Obama’s nuclear agreement with Iran:

During the August congressional recess, Americans should implore their representatives in Congress to vote “no” on President Barack Obama’s frightening nuclear agreement with Iran. Congress will vote in the first few weeks of September. Obama has pledged to veto a bill opposing the deal, and Congress may or may not have the two-thirds majority needed for an override.

“It is a horrible deal,” said U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn, R-Colorado Springs. “Obama gave away the store and got very little in return. Iran is the world’s largest supporter of state-sponsored terrorism and is getting a signing bonus of up to $150 billion, without any requirement they change their behavior in any way.”

Lamborn, like other opponents in Congress, fears Iran will use the money to fund Hamas, Hezbollah and other organizations dedicated to terrorizing and destroying the United States and Israel.

“It’s a historic gamble by President Obama that Iran can be made a responsible partner in the Middle East by being given a lot of money,” Lamborn said. “Yet, they have done nothing that gives any indication they are changing their revolutionary and violent ways.”

U.S. Rep. Ken Buck, a Republican representing Colorado’s 4th District, said the president’s deal has “all but guaranteed a nuclear Iran, a Middle East nuclear arms race and $150 billion to fund terrorism.” Buck said the plan is “at best delusional, at worst despicable.”

“Iran is in pursuit of a nuclear weapon and their intention for the United States is death,” Buck said.

U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman, a Republican representing Colorado’s 6th District, has been equally outspoken in opposing the deal.

“The economic sanctions should be strengthened and only relaxed when Iran stops engaging in state-sponsored terrorism,” said Coffman, a Marine Corps combat veteran. “From my experience in the region, watching Iran fund terrorist attacks against my fellow Marines, I have learned that Iran cannot be trusted. I will stand with our ally Israel in opposing this agreement when it comes before Congress.”

U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton, a Republican representing Colorado’s 3rd District, promises to oppose any deal that does not ensure “without question that Iran is not able to obtain nuclear weapons.”

U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colorado, has taken a leading role in Senate opposition to the deal, which he said “would make Iran a globally approved nuclear threshold state. It would put Israel in severe danger.”

Colorado’s other U.S. senator, Democrat Michael Bennet, promises to carefully scrutinize the agreement. “The stakes are high, and the details of this deal matter,” Bennet said in a written statement.

U.S. Rep Jared Polis, a Democrat representing Colorado’s 2nd District, has not indicated how he will vote, but told a town hall audience in Fort Collins this month “the regime supports terrorism and $50 billion in sanctions will be unlocked.”

Polis and Rep. Diana DeGette, a Democrat representing the 1st District, could support the deal and the 7th District’s Ed Perlmutter has made no secret of his support. Colorado Peak Politics, The Washington Examiner and Jewish Political News and Update have all suggested Permutter’s July 19 golf game with Obama was a reward for high praise of the president’s deal.

The deal appears worse with every day that passes. The latest concern involves secret “side deals” involving the International Atomic Energy Agency and Iran. South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, a Republican who chairs the Senate Appropriations Committee, has pledged to withhold U.S. funding of the agency unless members of Congress are permitted to review the agreements.

For whatever reason, the president may believe Iranian leaders will behave if the world’s greatest super power gives them money, trust and unearned rewards. In the likely event he is wrong, the ramifications are unthinkable. Golf games and party loyalty should not be considered by anyone voting on this deal.

“Playing politics right now is the last thing we need,” Bennet wrote in his statement.

Exactly. The only consideration should be the safety and sovereignty of the United States and our allies.

Editorial: https://bit.ly/1hovnSc


The Montrose Daily Press, Aug. 16, on cleaning up the Gold King Mine spill:

Finger-pointing has been fierce after contract workers for the Environmental Protection Agency unleashed a toxic spew from the idled Gold King Mine near Silverton earlier this month.

The breach sent 3 million gallons of highly contaminated water tumbling into Cement Creek and down the Animas and San Juan rivers, affecting people from Silverton and Durango, to New Mexico.

The disaster has prompted declarations from Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper and New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez, apologies, and, predictably (though understandably), talk of lawsuits. It even prompted an ill-advised move by Hickenlooper, who was photographed drinking water from the Animas after dropping a purification tablet into a container of it.

The full environmental effects have yet to be known; tests on fingerling fish released into the river point toward less contamination than anticipated, but the scope of this disaster cannot be overstated.

Many businesses depend on the tourism and outdoor sports the Animas draws. Tribes and municipalities - including significant population centers such as Durango and Farmington, N.M. - draw drinking water from the rivers, and agricultural users also need the Animas and San Juan.

A cursory glance at headlines indicates plenty of blame to go around. There is the staggering irony that the “P” in the EPA was sorely lacking in this incident, and it diminishes whatever trust the agency may have earned. It’s nice that EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy took full responsibility, but that doesn’t restore the Animas, or help in any way the people whose lives have been devastated.

But other headlines reveal steps that could have been taken well before the arsenic, lead and heavy metals were sent streaming down the river. The EPA reportedly pushed, for more than two decades, for its Superfund cleanup program to be applied at the Gold King mine. These overtures were shunned by local authorities and mining companies, afraid of the stigma attached to such a designation, the Associated Press reports.

This is a disaster that was waiting to happen, and should not have happened, but it did.

And we’re stuck with it.

The EPA and states have provided money to mitigate the effects, and the government is presumably on the hook for cleanup and lawsuits. But the EPA and the government as a whole derive their funding, ultimately, from taxpayers.

This means we pay for the cleanup and the damage ourselves. Unfortunately, crying over orange water isn’t going to fix anything. Neither is finding someone to blame. Everyone knows it’s bad. It’s everyone’s mess, whether by conduct or default. All we can do is expedite the cleanup so that the residents of San Juan and La Plata counties in Colorado and San Juan County in New Mexico have the water they need.

Editorial: https://bit.ly/1J3I5wm


The Times-Call, Aug. 16, on changing labels for marijuana edibles:

The Colorado Cannabis Chamber of Commerce last week warned against “a culture of dangerous potential overregulation of legal cannabis edibles in Colorado.”

In reality, the danger lies in not properly labeling or establishing potency standards of marijuana-based products. Since marijuana products became widely available in Colorado in 2009, residents - including an increasing number of children - have unknowingly ingested baked goods and candy infused with marijuana. Three Colorado deaths have been linked to the “edibles.”

That’s why the state legislature passed bills last year that give the Colorado Marijuana Enforcement Division until Jan. 1, 2016, to create new guidelines for edible marijuana. Lawmakers rightly believe that THC-laced foods should differ in appearance from other foods and that there should be standards for potency equivalents determined for concentrated forms of the drug.

The Cannabis Chamber has a point about one law - H.B. 14-1361 - that limits the amount of marijuana concentrates that can be sold to an “equivalent” of an ounce of marijuana flowers, as Amendment 64 makes no such distinction. But the industry does need potency standards, as potency still varies from retailer to retailer.

The Chamber’s further concern is that overregulation of retail marijuana will push the drug back onto the black market. And its leaders note that the responsibility of safely using edibles should be on the adults who purchase them.

While the adults who purchase marijuana should be responsible for keeping it out of reach of minors, the industry bears some responsibility for children who eat edibles that look like candy or take the form of cookies and brownies. And eliminating misleading packaging is not overregulation.

The intent is to keep the packaging regulations reasonable.

State Rep. Jonathan Singer of Longmont, who sponsored the packaging bill - H.B. 14-1366 - told the Denver Post, “I don’t think that items that aren’t attractive to kids like granola and salad dressing need to be held to the same high standard of marking, stamping or coloring. I’d like to see hard and fast rules for items that are attractive to kids and exceptions for others.”

Removing the word “candy” from packaging is one such proposal. Another is the placement of a “stop sign” shaped symbol on packaging, something one marijuana business CEO complained sends the wrong message.

“A stop sign sends the message that THC is bad. That says, ‘Stay away,’” the woman told the Post.

Well, that is the message that should be sent to children who are attracted to TCH-laced products. Colorado’s marijuana industry needs to get on board with it.

Editorial: https://bit.ly/1PkgTxg


The Denver Post, Aug. 16, on city camping bans:

Will the U.S. Justice Department’s decision this month to oppose local ordinances that ban sleeping or camping in public places tip the scales against such laws?

We hope not. It’s not that we quarrel with the department’s basic premise as outlined in a “statement of interest” it filed in a case from Boise, Idaho, that landed in federal court. Yes, people have to sleep somewhere. And yes, cities should seek to accommodate those who literally have nowhere to rest.

But to argue, as the Justice Department and homeless activists often do, that enforcement of anti-camping ordinances amounts to criminalizing homelessness is misleading and glib. It overlooks real dilemmas that city officials would inevitably confront if they were barred from telling people, “Sorry, you can’t sleep there.” It trivializes the important interest that towns and cities have in keeping vital urban spaces from being transformed into the living quarters for hundreds of people.

And it ignores the fact that people seek to camp in parks and other public spaces for a variety of reasons - that a transient passing through town, for example, might have different options from a local homeless alcoholic.

Denver and Boulder - to cite two Colorado examples - didn’t pass their anti-camping ordinances because their officials sought to criminalize homelessness. Both provide a variety of services to the down and out, with Denver in particular making massive (and steadily increasing) efforts to address chronic homelessness.

In Denver’s case, the anti-camping ordinance was partly a reaction to Occupy Denver protests in 2011 that lingered for months, with sleeping bags and tents strewn along Broadway sidewalks and in Civic Center and Lincoln Park.

As Mayor Michael Hancock said at the time, “The moment we lose downtown as a place people want to go for entertainment, recreation or a place to live, we lose the heart of Denver.”

In the three years since the ordinance passed, Denver has issued just 15 anti-camping citations - and the police department itself asked that most be dismissed. Meanwhile, literally thousands of contacts between police and transients have resulted in referrals that offer the opportunity for assistance and shelter.

Not every city may be as careful or as caring as Denver, but that still doesn’t mean that anti-camping bans are a bad idea or that people should have the right to sleep wherever they like on public property. And that’s why the Boise case could be so important to the future health of cities.

Editorial: https://dpo.st/1Jqv05D

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