- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 7, 2015

The Confederate flag is scarce in South Carolina these days. But the cultural backlash against the flag has sparked self-examination in two more states far from the Deep South: The state flags of Minnesota and Massachusetts are under scrutiny by critics for possible inappropriate symbolism.

A close examination of Minnesota’s flag “shows the central figure to be a white pioneer dressed in work clothes, wearing a wide-brim hat and pushing a plow. He is an iconic image of a hardworking, rugged individualist who works alone to chop the trees, plow the land and protect his home. He is looking over his shoulder at the Indian, who is riding a horse and holding a spear,” writes Judith Harrington, an assistant professor of educational studies at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, in a Minneapolis Star Tribune op-ed.

“The image of the pioneer, a peaceful man who has laid down his gun and is plowing his field, is juxtaposed with the image of the Indian, who may still want to fight (his spear is at the ready) but who seems to be riding away,” Ms. Harrington continues, noting that the flag has drawn criticism from human rights groups for 50 years. “While the current flag may represent a certain view and vision of the past, it does not reflect the values and sensibilities of Minnesotans today.”

Several state legislators in Massachusetts, meanwhile, have called for a redesign of their state flag, which depicts an Algonquin tribal member with bow and arrow, standing beneath a golden sword and other symbols.

“It’s no Confederate flag, but our banner is still pretty awful,” writes Boston Globe columnist Yvonne Abraham. “This state was born and has thrived in part because of Native Americans’ massive losses. Our flag ought to reflect the huge debt we owe them. And a larger sense of who we are and want to be.”



WEATHER OR NOT

Though scientists and policy wonks disagree on the validity of climate change, the Department of Homeland Security has waded knee-deep into the matter and produced much research for the last three years. “Parts of the United States will experience an increase in frequency and intensity of hurricanes, massive flooding, excessively high temperatures, wildfires, severe downpours, severe droughts, storm surge and sea-level rise throughout the 21st century,” the agency notes in its most recent dispatch.

And someone is watching.

Scheduled for tomorrow before the House Subcommittee on Oversight and Management: “Examining DHS’s Misplaced Focus on Climate Change,” a hearing chaired by Rep. Scott Perry, Pennsylvania Republican, to examine the agency’s “rhetoric, role and budget regarding climate change,” he advises.

The witnesses: Thomas Smith, acting assistant secretary for strategy, planning, analysis and risk at DHS; Robert Kolasky, deputy assistant secretary for infrastructure protection at DHS; Roy Wright, deputy associate administrator for federal insurance and mitigation administration at FEMA; and Marc A. Levy, deputy director at the Center for International Earth Science Information Network at Columbia University.

Many titles, much talk, possible stormy weather.

MR. ISTOOK TO THE RESCUE

Fed up with big government demands on the public, talk radio host and columnist Ernest Istook has founded Americans for Less Regulation, a new nonprofit that spells out the toll and provides some actionable intel.

“Runaway regulations will never be reduced until the American public understands the burden on everyone and demands reform and relief,” Mr. Istook says. “It’s the biggest untold story in America. The crushing burden of regulations hurts people, families and households far more than it hurts businesses.”

The former Oklahoma congressman notes that new federal regulations raised prices by $567 per person last year, warning that the same regs place a $1.88 trillion annual burden on the U.S. economy.

“Nobody can grasp that massive number,” Mr. Istook says, promising to collect the complex but important research from, among others, The Heritage Foundation, American Enterprise Institute, Competitive Enterprise Institute and Americans for Tax Reform. A new website is up and running at AmericansforLessRegulation.com.

AMERICAN AFFECTION FOR SMALL BUSINESS

“Americans are more than three times as likely to express confidence in small business as they are in big business. Sixty-seven percent of U.S. adults report having a great deal or quite a lot of confidence in small business, far eclipsing the 21 percent who are similarly confident in big business,” reports Gallup analyst Andrew Dugan.

“Small business remains one of the most popular institutions in the U.S., and is so far weathering the tide of dissatisfaction that is eroding public confidence in most other institutions. Other than the military, small business is the only major institution in 2015 that is polling above its historical average,” adds Mr. Dugan.

ON THE RADAR: THE URBAN CONCERN

Presidential hopefuls have a chance to discuss the visceral issues of the day at month’s end. The National Urban League Conference is scheduled to begin in Fort Lauderdale July 29 with a lineup that so far includes 2016 candidates Hillary Rodham Clinton, Martin O’Malley, Jeb Bush and Ben Carson.

“As we convene in Florida to deliberate solutions to the economic and social challenges our cities are facing, it’s vital that those contending for the highest office in the land be part of that conversation,” says Marc H. Morial, president and CEO of the National Urban League. “Our focus was inspired by a year that saw little accountability for law enforcement responsible for killing unarmed black men, teenagers and children; a continual assault on voting rights; widening economic inequality gaps; and an increasingly partisan education debate far more rooted in political agendas than in putting our children first.”

Also among the attendees: Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, former Essence editor Susan L. Taylor, former U.N. ambassador and ex-Atlanta Mayor Andrew Young and Al Sharpton.

THE HOPEFULS: WHERE ARE THEY?

From the heartlands, a brief update on the whereabouts of the ever-restless presidential hopefuls on Wednesday:

New Hampshire: Jeb Bush is in New Hampshire for a town hall meeting at a VFW post in Hudson; Carly Fiorina is in Salem for a coffee, a luncheon and a dinner; Ben Carson is in Ashland, Concord and Tilton, where he will stop at the Tilt’n Diner; and Martin O’Malley is in the Manchester and Concord for six events, including a “Politics and Pints” gathering in the state’s capital.

Iowa: Sen. Marco Rubio is in Urbandale, Cedar Rapids, Wilton and Davenport for a breakfast, lunch, poolside happy hour and a meet-and-greet. Last but not least, John Kasich is in South Carolina for a pair of events in Bluffton and Hilton Head Island.

SURVEY DU JOUR

91 percent of local police departments serving 10,000 residents or more have a website.

90 percent use video camera technology that includes automated license plate readers and public surveillance.

71 percent require uniformed patrol officers to wear protective body armor in the field.

68 percent have in-car video cameras, 32 percent provide officers with body-worn cameras, and 6 percent provide weapon-attached cameras.

4 percent use gun-detection systems, 1 percent use airborne drones.

Source: A Bureau of Justice Statistics survey of 12,000 local police departments, conducted in 2013 and released Tuesday.

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