- Associated Press - Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Kansas City Star, July 15

French authorities are trying to determine whether a Tunisian acted alone Thursday by driving a truck into Bastille Day crowds, killing at least 84 people and injuring many others in Nice, France. Meanwhile, U.S. and other world leaders need to regroup to devise a better strategy to protect the public.

Authorities haven’t determined whether the 31-year-old driver acted alone, was part of the Islamic State or a lone assailant who sympathized with that radical group. He was shot to death by officers at the scene.

What matters most now is the resolve of France, the United States and their allies in combating the Islamic State militants and acts of terrorism whether in France, Belgium, Iraq, Egypt, Yemen, Tunisia, Turkey or the U.S.

The nations in this fight have to share more intelligence data to prevent such violence.

But countries that stand with the United States in the struggle also must not surrender the principles that set them apart from the Islamic State.

President Barack Obama outlined the correct priorities on Friday, saying, “We will win this fight by staying true to our values - values of pluralism and rule of law and diversity and freedoms, like the freedom of religion, freedom of speech and assembly. . We cannot give in to fear, or turn on each other, or sacrifice our way of life. We cannot let ourselves be divided by religion - because that’s exactly what the terrorists want.”

No nation can afford to surrender to the whims and brutality of terrorists. But more steps must be taken to ensure the safety of all people.

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St. Louis Post-Dispatch, July 18

The world seems to be coming unglued. Just in the past week, we’ve watched in horror as a truck driver plowed through crowds in Nice, France, killing at least 84 people. Military leaders staged a coup attempt in Turkey, killing 265.

Britain’s vote to leave the European Union has prompted a change in governments there. World markets are still recovering from the investor shock of that decision. The “Brexit” vote along with a massive wave of immigration are bolstering nationalist movements around Europe as other nations question whether they want to remain in the EU.

Here in the United States, killings of police officers in Baton Rouge and Dallas, along with various police-involved shootings of black citizens, have sharpened racial tensions. Let’s not forget last month’s massacre of 49 people at a gay nightclub in Orlando.

The world unquestionably is in turmoil. As President Barack Obama noted in a statement Sunday, it’s happening as America’s political season culminates in the conventions to formally nominate the Republican and Democratic presidential candidates.

“Our political rhetoric tends to be more overheated than usual,” Obama said. “And that is why it is so important that everyone - regardless of race or political party or profession, regardless of what organizations you are a part of - everyone right now focus on words and actions that can unite this country rather than divide it further.”

Americans owe it to themselves to watch the conventions closely. Don’t confuse hyperbole and slogans for true leadership. The nation is desperate for answers because people are confused and more than a little frightened. Easy answers are worse than useless. They’re dangerous.

We as a nation must not allow fear and confusion to cloud our better judgment. Some suggest, for example, that the tragedy in Nice resulted from a lack of U.S. leadership, as if American foreign policy somehow governs the way France polices its streets. Beware the politician who blindly criticizes but fails to offer a better plan.

The coup in Turkey comes amid widespread domestic dissatisfaction over President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Islamist sympathies. The Obama administration has pressured Erdogan repeatedly over his failure to halt the influx of radical jihadis via Turkey into Islamic State strongholds in Iraq and Syria. Do Obama’s critics have a plan to keep Erdogan within the NATO fold while ensuring he doesn’t further destabilize Turkey’s neighbors?

Some crises require a firm and quick response. Most require restraint and diplomacy. During unstable times, the worst choice Americans can make is to confuse blustery language with conviction and decisiveness.

Our task, as citizens, is to demand clarity of thought and studied plans to address major challenges. If the politician at the podium seems to be selling snake oil, the answer is simple: Don’t buy it.

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Columbia Daily Tribune, July 16

Just because a public figure has been on the scene a long time does not mean she is immune from error, but U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg should have known better than to comment on the merits of Donald J. Trump.

Ginsburg got off base when she said Trump would be a bad choice for president.

The code of conduct for federal judges forbids publicly endorsing or opposing candidates for public office. No such rule explicitly applies to Supreme Court justices, but what’s good for the rank and file surely must be considered good for those on high who are charged with setting an example.

Even without rules, a Supreme Court justice should know not to delve into the murky depths of a presidential campaign. Having expressed a crass political opinion, Ginsburg allows abiding criticism of her objectivity.

She already was known as a dependable member of the liberal wing of the court. Her denunciation of Trump will prove nothing new, but she and her colleagues should never take sides in a political campaign. Roundhouse criticism of Ginsburg’s comments should help undergird that truth.

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St. Joseph News-Press, July 17

Mark and Cindy Hill of the Camden Point and Dearborn, Missouri, communities set a sterling example for everyone else as they quietly go about living their lives.

The Hills gained unwanted notoriety in 2012 for holding a winning Powerball ticket purchased at the Dearborn Trex Mart. Electing to take a lump-sum payment, the family became overnight multimillionaires.

But by all accounts, the money hasn’t changed them. Instead, we’re witnessing something quite different - a teachable moment demonstrating that it is not money, but character, that most determines how these things turn out.

As the News-Press reported previously, the Hills met as high school sweethearts in Dearborn. Married life gave them three children who have grown into adulthood and a young daughter.

These were working folks, with deep roots in Northwest Missouri and an extensive network of family and friends. They had reared children, struggled through hard times and still were focused on the future when good fortune struck.

To take the measure of what happened next, listen to the words of Steve Folck, board president for the Camden Point Fire Protection District: “When Mark and Cindy won the lottery, we all won.”

And, indeed, that is how things are working out.

Early on the Hills said they planned to help the school district in some way. They also hoped to donate to a charity connected to adoption - one of their children is adopted - or the Shriners, who had helped the family in the past.

They also said they would set up accounts in the names of nieces, nephews and other family members to help them pay to attend college.

More in the public eye, they agreed to pay for a new ball field and the land needed for a new sewage treatment plant. And a prominent gift - a new fire station.

On Saturday, the family joined with the Camden Point community to celebrate the grand opening of its new fire and ambulance service building - a state-of-the-art facility that will serve residents for many years to come.

Cindy Hill has said her family was blessed “before we ever won this.” And thanks to the family’s generosity, many more will be blessed.

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