- Associated Press - Wednesday, October 21, 2015

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

The Middletown Times Herald-Record on Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s continued support of General Electric.

Oct. 15

The dredges are gone, taking with them the possibility that General Electric might clean up more of the cancer-causing pollutants it dumped for years in the Hudson River and extend the cleanup to other waterways where local officials now are wondering how they can take on this costly project.

The man who could have kept GE working on the river, or at least given a hint that he might care, remains silent. Andrew Cuomo has stubbornly refused to get involved, saying that our polluted waterways are not of any interest to him. A few years ago GE worked out a deal with the federal Environmental Protection Agency and he sees no reason to get involved.

This is not the first time that Cuomo has shown such callous disregard for the well-being of New Yorkers victimized by GE. As a story on the Politico New York website revealed this week, the governor showed no interest when GE expanded a non-union plant in Florida, shifting jobs from a plant in Fort Edward, not far from the Hudson River pollution.

Workers at the capacitor plant tried to interest the governor in their plight but he ignored them. As one worker put it, “There’s a lot of hypocrisy there . Now they’re opening their arms for the corporate offices.”

Having successfully ignored environmental concerns, the governor is now facing some other questions in his zealous pursuit of GE, a quest to promise so many financial incentives that the company could not resist moving its corporate headquarters a few miles across the border from its present location in Fairfield County, Connecticut.

Most of the questions that critics are posing are the kind that the governor can answer only if he sticks to the pattern he preferred on pollution and simply ignores them.

For example, here’s what Ron Deutsch, who is executive director of a labor-backed think tank, the Fiscal Policy Institute, wants to know: “Does a $253 billion company that pays no corporate income tax really need more corporate tax breaks to relocate in New York?”

It’s a legitimate question, one that legislators should be pressing the governor to answer. Unless they know of some hidden pile of cash in Albany, they would have to agree with Deutsch that “This would not be an effective use of state resources when our physical infrastructure is crumbling and we have record child poverty levels in our upstate cities.”

All the governor will say for now is that he has met with GE officials. He refuses to tell New Yorkers what kinds of incentives, financial and otherwise, he is offering to get the 800 or so executives to commute to a new office in Westchester.

Instead of answering questions or providing details, the governor prefers to taunt New Yorkers by saying only that in his discussion with GE, discussions that remain private, he put “a lot of love” on the table.

Other legislators need to join Kevin Cahill, the Kingston Democrat, who has been outspoken in his criticism of the end of the dredging and the governor’s quest to land another corporate trophy, no matter what it costs the state.




The Adirondack Daily Enterprise on further attempts to fix New York’s education issues.

Oct. 19

How many task forces does it take to fix the same problem in New York state?

When it comes to education standards, the answer is at least two.

For the second time in two years, Gov. Andrew Cuomo has announced a task force to review and reform the state’s Common Core learning standards. In his 2014 budget address, Cuomo announced a panel of educators and legislators that would fix the flawed rollout of the Common Core because there had been too much “uncertainty, confusion and anxiety.” The panel was to generate recommendations by the end of the 2014 legislative session so they could be passed by the state Legislature. That group - announced in February - released recommendations in March.

Seventeen months later, the state is admitting that work didn’t solve the problem.

“The evidence of failure is everywhere,” Cuomo said when announcing the new task force. “Today many teachers and superintendents across the state will rightfully point out errors in the program. They will point out that they did not receive enough support to fully understand and implement this dramatic transition. It is time to overhaul the Common Core program and also the way we test our students.”

Cuomo is right on all counts. Teachers, superintendents and parents are quick to point out flaws in the program. Schools did not receive enough help in the transition. It is indeed time to overhaul the Common Core program and make it the set of learning standards New York’s children need.

And, he’s right that the evidence of failure is everywhere - including the governor’s office.

We hope this task force gets it right. Education is too important to drop the ball again.




The New York Times on stopping the use of the term “alien” when referring to immigrants.

Oct. 20

Lawmakers probably meant no harm when they codified the term “alien” into the landmark 1952 bill that remains the basis of America’s immigration system. Since then, “alien” has found its way into many parts of the statute: foreigners granted temporary work permits are “non-permanent resident aliens;” those who get green cards by making investments in American businesses are “alien entrepreneurs;” Nobel laureates and pop stars who want to make America home can apply to become “aliens of extraordinary ability.”

Over the years, the label has struck newcomers as a quirky aspect of moving to America. Many, understandably, have also come to regard it as a loaded, disparaging word, used by those who regard immigrants as less-than-human burdens rather than as assets.

Recognizing how dehumanizing the term is to many immigrants, officials in California recently took commendable steps to phase it out. In August, Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law a bill that deletes the term from the state’s labor code. Last month, the California Republican Party adopted a new platform that does not include the term “illegal alien,” saying it wanted to steer clear of the vitriolic rhetoric that the presidential candidate Donald Trump has injected into the 2016 race.

Several news organizations have adopted policies discouraging its use in reporting about immigrants. According to a review by the Pew Research Center in 2013, the use of the term in newspaper articles dropped sharply between 2007 and 2013. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, the federal agency that administers immigration benefits, has removed the word from some documents, including green cards.

But the term remains firmly embedded in conservative discourse, used by Republicans to appeal to the xenophobic crowd. Mr. Trump, the leading Republican presidential candidate, uses the term 12 times in his ruinous immigration plan, which calls for the mass deportation of millions of unauthorized immigrants and proposes that Washington bill Mexico to build a wall along the border. It was often uttered by former Gov. Mitt Romney, the 2012 Republican presidential nominee, whose idiotic immigration plan called for “self-deportation” by unauthorized immigrants.

“If you want to demonize a community, you use words that demonize,” said Muzaffar Chishti, the director of the Migration Policy Institute at New York University School of Law. “Alien is more demonizing than immigrant.”

Semantics may seem like a trivial part of immigration reform, but words, and their evolution, matter greatly in fraught policy debates.

States that use the word alien in their laws should consider following California’s lead. The federal government should scrub it from official documents where possible. In the end, though, it will be up to Congress to recognize that there is no compelling reason to keep a hostile term in the law that sets out how immigrants are welcomed into the country.




The Gloversville Leader-Herald on the United States’ support of Syrian rebels.

Oct. 19

Americans can’t be trusted. They don’t keep their commitments. That is the message heard loud and clear throughout the world as a result of President Barack Obama’s capricious foreign policy.

The most recent victims of it are rebel groups fighting both Syrian dictator Bashar Assad’s regime and Islamic State terrorists.

Proclaiming that Assad had to go, the Obama administration began aiding the rebels about two years ago. The rise of the Islamic State lent new urgency to that assistance, because many of the rebels also oppose the IS.

Then, a few days ago, the Russian military began taking an active role in bolstering Assad. Its first airstrikes were against the very rebel groups we have been supporting.

U.S. aid since then has been restricted to a few airdrops of supplies. There are no plans to give the rebels weapons for defense against Russian warplanes.

“We’ve aligned ourselves to these guys, we trained them and paid them and sent them off to battle, and when the going gets tough, we’re not there,” commented one defense analyst.

Indeed. But given Obama’s record, one has to wonder why on earth the rebels ever thought they could trust us.




The Dunkirk Evening Observer on President Obama and the recently passed Department of Defense appropriations bill.

Oct. 16

When President Barack Obama can blame a “government shutdown” on conservatives in Congress, he spares no demagoguery in portraying them as arch-villains. But when it comes to funding for national defense, that’s different.

An appropriations bill for the Department of Defense was approved a few days ago by the Senate - in a 70-27, bipartisan vote. Obama does not like the measure and has vowed to veto it if the House of Representatives passes the same bill.

It is not the amount - $612 billion - that annoys the president. Funding in the Senate bill is approximately what the White House has requested.

But Obama is up in arms about how the money would be doled out. Specifically, he claims part of the Senate bill could allow the Pentagon to avoid spending cuts required by the “sequestration” law.

Because the bill has widespread bipartisan support, however, a presidential veto could result in something of a “defense shutdown” - though, as is the case when other branches of government are involved, essential spending would proceed.

Still, Obama’s stance makes it clear he views national security as less important than other functions of government. He is wrong about that, of course - and the House should remind him of his primary duty to Americans by passing the Senate bill by a veto-proof majority.




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