- Associated Press - Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Recent editorials of statewide and national interest from New York’s newspapers:

The Rochester Democrat and Chronicle on the state of Uber in New York.

Nov. 19

In short order Uber has revolutionized the age-old taxi service business. Riders love it and drivers love it. What’s not to love about a service that is more affordable, amazingly efficient and that uses technology to create untapped value? Uber is yet another example that entrepreneurial ingenuity fostered by free markets can revolutionize even the most mundane of businesses.

Most New Yorkers however have so far been shut out of the Uber revolution thanks to state and local law. The Empire State ranks consistently last or near last nationally for business friendliness not just because of our high taxes, but also because of the myriad of regulations that hinder innovative new enterprises from existence on New York soil. Thanks to the immense popularity of Uber around the world, we will likely get a reprieve this time as the politicians jump aboard to change the law, much to the chagrin of the special interest taxi unions looking to extend monopoly control. The news may not be so rosy for the popular fantasy football industry, however, now that New York Attorney General has issued a court order to shut down the hugely popular gaming sites in the state.

The justification in both cases is that government intervention is the only way to protect consumers from greedy and unscrupulous business owners and even from themselves. How much longer will New Yorkers be duped into accepting the concept that government bureaucrats are somehow more qualified than we are individually to make the right choices? In the case of Uber, individuals by the millions have flocked to the service thanks to the value created by technology to make the service safer for both the rider and the driver, not to mention less expensive and with more pricing transparency. The government has consistently demonstrated that it does not have the capability nor the aptitude to manage a system like what Uber has created and yet that the rationale is that the state cannot allow new services like this without first regulating them. In the name of consumer protection, riders are prevented from using a service that they have deemed superior.

Quite simply, the seemingly good intentions of government often create perverse results. The pages of regulations in New York always tend to stymie new business creation and existing business expansion all while leading to higher consumer prices. The smarter path would be to reduce and even eliminate burdensome state controls and let markets run free thus allowing consumers to decide winners and losers. We the people of New York would all be beneficiaries!




The Gloversville Leader-Herald on the power of every vote cast.

Nov. 20

Every election season, it’s common for all of us to hear a cynic opine that “one vote doesn’t matter.”

The next time you hear someone say that, remind them of what happened in Caroga earlier this month

The Fulton County Board of Elections recently confirmed a Caroga Town Board candidate won a seat by one vote.

For the Nov. 3 general election, Caroga voters had to pick two candidates for the Town Board.

Final certification resulted in Republican/Hear the People candidate Beth Morris having the most votes with 299. She will be joined on the Town Board by independent Jeremy Manning, who received 209 votes, edging out Republican Richard E. Szurek, who received 208 votes, the Board of Elections said.

Democracy requires a number of things to work correctly, and a major one is the belief in the power of voting.

Losing faith in the ability of voting to change our politics, our representatives, our laws - in effect, our own lives - is a sad but all-too-common occurrence today.

One of the things people can do to try to change this is point out instances where votes have mattered, where one vote did make a difference.

So the next time someone says “one vote doesn’t matter,” remind them of at least one race where it very much did.




The Albany Times Union on allowing Syrian refugees into the United States.

Nov. 19

The debate over whether America should bar Syrian refugees may sound like a reasonable dispute over national security. It isn’t. It’s political fear-mongering. It’s despicable.

And as if it wasn’t enough for politicians to capitalize on human suffering and stoke the xenophobia that is polluting our public discourse these days, some are embellishing their rhetoric with religious bigotry, proposing America require a religious test for people fleeing the more than four-year civil war that has claimed an estimated 250,000 lives.

This is not America at its best.

Someone unfamiliar with U.S. refugee policy might believe people can just come here fresh from fleeing their country. While that may be happening in Europe, where refugees are arriving on foot and by boat, that isn’t how it works here.

As the Department of State and sources like the Politifact, a fact-checking feature of the Tampa Bay Times, explain it, the process begins with a referral from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, a U.S. embassy, or an authorized nongovernmental organization. Just the review to get such a referral can take four to 10 months.

Once refugees are referred to the U.S. Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration, they must undergo a security clearance check and a face-to-face interview with the Department of Homeland Security. If they pass, they must then get medical exams and obtain sponsorship from a nongovernmental organization. They are offered a short cultural orientation program on life in the United States. All this happens, mind you, before they even enter this country.

The Department of State says the average time for this is 18 months. More complex cases take years.

Yet such facts seem to elude many critics of President Barack Obama’s plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees next year. Thirty-one governors, all but one of them Republican, either oppose accepting Syrian refugees altogether or want assurances that they’ve been vetted. What more they want isn’t clear.

Republican presidential hopeful Sen. Ted Cruz demands America accept only Christians -a repugnant twist on our refugee policy, which recognizes religious persecution as a basis for admission. Mr. Cruz would turn a program to protect people from persecution into an instrument of anti-Muslim bigotry.

We understand that recent terror attacks, particularly those in Paris, intensified Americans’ post-9/11 sense of vulnerability. There are plenty of things to worry about, but a refugee program that to date has let in not a single terrorist isn’t one of them.

These are people fleeing a war between a brutal dictator and vicious religious fanatics. What message will we send the world? That America, land of the free and the home of the brave, embraces them? Or that America, captivated by cynical purveyors of fear and hate, has no more room in its heart for huddled masses yearning to breathe free?




The Staten Island Advance on Donald Trump’s anti-Muslim rhetoric.

Nov. 21

The Donald has finally overplayed his hand.


The terror attacks in Paris have provided plenty of political grist for everybody’s particular mill.

It’s spawned heated debates over national security, immigration and even gun control. It’s given us bunches of new things to be angry at each other about, even as the terror danger we face was underlined by the hotel massacre in Bali on Friday.

You didn’t expect Donald Trump, the leader for the GOP presidential nomination, to stay on the sidelines, did you?

He first said that the U.S. should shut down mosques in the country “where some bad things are happening.”

We guess he hasn’t seen that “freedom of religion” thing in the U.S. Constitution. The freedom to worship whatever God you choose was one of the very things that led the founders to establish this country in the first place. Maybe Trump needs to brush up on that stuff. Maybe he should go see “Hamilton.” If he can get a ticket.

But even that aside, closing mosques that are thought to be breeding grounds for radicalism would actually make it harder to track suspected bad folks. Should we just scatter them to the winds, and hope to catch up with them in some Internet chatroom or through an app that we may not be able to hack into?

Or would you rather have them in a centralized location where the NYPD and the feds can keep a lawful eye on them?

Of course, none of this stopped GOP Sen. Marco Rubio from trumping Trump, saying he would shut down anyplace that could possibly inspire radicalism, be it a mosque, a café or a website.

Marco needs a whole refresher course in constitutional law.

But Trump has even bigger things in mind. The Donald said he would “certainly implement” a database for all Muslims if elected.

Remind you of anything? Gee, maybe we can have them all sew little patches onto their sleeves as well. Maybe a crescent moon?

If we as a country start targeting Muslims, there’s no telling where it will end. It’s not the kind of country we are, nor the kind of country we should be. If plans like this actually go through, then we really will be at war with Islam, because what self-respecting, law-abiding Muslim would stand for such treatment?

Trump tried to walk the comments back, but the damage is done.

There’s a big parlor game going on right now in American politics: When will Donald Trump go too far?

His Republican and Democratic opponents, and pundits across the spectrum, have asked the question for months, ever since Trump’s stranger-than-fiction candidacy gained traction back in the spring.

Every time we think we’ve seen the death-knell of Trump’s candidacy, every time those shaking-in-their-boots pundits and observers think that Americans “have finally come to their senses,” the Donald only seems to go higher in the polls.

Case in point: He got a boost right after the Paris attacks.

But sooner or later he’s going to overplay his hand. Right?


It hasn’t happened yet, and the members of the professional political class and the punditocracy are beside themselves. Not only can’t they stop Trump, they can’t even figure how he’s doing the things he’s doing.

But as he rose on his own, Trump will likely fall on his own. His dangerous rhetoric on Muslims should give pause to every American who is thinking of voting for him.




The New York Times on a better way to screen for prostate cancer.

Nov. 25

With prostate cancer, as with other diseases, there has been a vigorous debate about who should be tested. Screening too many people leads to unnecessary treatment, too few and you miss cancers that could have been stopped. A new study points to what may be a better approach: “screen smarter.”

Back in 2012 the federal government’s chief advisory group on screening tests, known as the United States Preventive Services Task Force, came out against routine blood tests to detect a protein associated with prostate cancer. It said such screening was unlikely to save many lives and would lead many men to undergo harmful surgery or radiation that could make them impotent or incontinent.

Although not all doctors agreed with it, that advice had a profound impact. Two studies published last week in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that fewer men were screened for prostate cancer after a draft of the task force’s guidelines was released in late 2011 and made final in 2012. One of the studies also showed that fewer early-stage cancers were detected as the screening rates dropped. The number of early-stage diagnoses in men 50 and older fell to 180,000 in 2012 from more than 213,000 in 2011.

It is not yet known whether this drop in early-stage diagnoses has saved many men from needless treatment or a dangerous development that will increase the death rate from prostate cancer because tumors won’t be found until they are harder to treat successfully. The answer may not be known for five to seven years.

An editorial in the journal suggested that the pendulum has swung too far against prostate cancer screening and that it is time to focus on ways to use the screening test more effectively, perhaps by reserving it for men at high risk based on such factors as race, ethnicity, age, family history and the results of rectal exams. Men facing only an average risk of dying from prostate cancer might simply have blood tests and possibly biopsies every other year and undergo surgery or radiation only if there is evidence that they have a tumor that is growing and becoming more aggressive.

Virtually all experts agree that patients who receive diagnoses of prostate cancer need to explore the options thoroughly - surgery, radiation or “watchful waiting” - before making a decision that depends heavily on what risks they are willing to take.




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