- Associated Press - Wednesday, July 20, 2016

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

The Syracuse Post-Standard on the central New York city setting an example for activists and police through peaceful protests.

July 20

After Monday afternoon’s peaceful, incident-free Black Lives Matter marches through downtown Syracuse, where everything seemed to go right, it is worth remarking that a similar march 11 days earlier in another Upstate city went very wrong.

The protest in Rochester was held July 8, one day after a sniper in Dallas killed five police officers and wounded nine others after a Black Lives Matter march in that Texas city. Emotions were raw. Tensions were high. Rochester police, dressed in riot gear and carrying nightsticks, formed a line to push back the nonviolent marchers. By the end of the day, 74 people had been arrested, many of them after sitting down in passive protest.

By contrast, the two Black Lives Matter protest marches in Syracuse on Monday, one at lunchtime and one in late afternoon, proceeded without incident. Police were present to direct traffic but did not make a show of force. Indeed, Police Chief Frank Fowler, accompanied by Mayor Stephanie Miner, addressed hundreds of noontime protesters who gathered at the steps of Syracuse City Hall. Taking a page from Dallas Police Chief David Brown, Fowler responded to calls for more black officers on the force by asking protesters to step up and apply for the job.

It’s impossible to know exactly why the Rochester and Syracuse events went so differently.

Maybe it was the timing, though Syracuse’s march came just one day after three Baton Rouge, Louisiana, police officers were murdered in cold blood, and on the same day another Baltimore police officer was acquitted in the death of Freddie Gray while in police custody.

Maybe it had something to do with the history of police-community relations in the two cities, though the fallout from the Father’s Day shootings on the Near West Side continues to cast a pall over Syracuse.

Maybe it was simply the tenor of the protesters, the attitudes of the police who were sent to watch them, or a combination of the two. In retrospect, the decision of officials at the federal building to send workers home early in advance of the late-afternoon march, followed by the shutdown of several downtown businesses, seem a gross overreaction. There were no arrests and no incidents of vandalism. We should have expected no less.

Whatever factors led to this result, we are proud of Syracuse for achieving it, and grateful to the leaders and participants on both sides who found peace in their hearts when they could have just as easily found enmity.




The Glens Falls Post-Star on continuing questions about the state and federal responses to PFOA contamination in Hoosick Falls.

July 17

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand’s appearance in Hoosick Falls last week could very well be the turning point for the small town in Rensselaer County to get the help it needs.

It has been two years since it was discovered that the Hoosick Falls water supply had been contaminated with perfluorooctanoic acid, a chemical used in non-stick coatings, by the Saint-Gobain and Honeywell companies.

Residents made it clear in the town hall meeting hosted by Gillibrand that they remain frustrated about the state’s response and lack of concern about their health.

Sen. Gillibrand, wiping away tears at times, said she would like the state to pass new legislation that would allow residents affected by the contamination to receive monitoring in the long term, much in the way Ground Zero first-responders were monitored after the 9/11 terror attacks in New York City.

At first glance, it seems like a good idea, but detailed studies of how much the contamination has impacted residents’ health could take decades. The long-term health effects of PFOA have not been studied to anywhere near the extent of something like lead.

In addition, the comparison to first responders at Ground Zero doesn’t work. First responders experienced a far more intense initial exposure and the effects surfaced soon afterward.

Regardless, the visit by a sitting U.S. senator got Hoosick Falls residents’ attention and action from their state Legislature.

It was clear at the town hall meeting that many Hoosick Falls residents are at the end of their ropes with the foot-dragging at the state level.

The response has been so bungled that a congressional oversight committee rode to the rescue this past week and demanded documents from the Cuomo administration related to the water contamination.

You know you are in trouble when Congress is the cavalry.

Rep. Jason Chaffetz of Utah, who chairs the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, questioned why the state had told residents that their water was safe.

It is an excellent and overdue question that residents deserve to have answered.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has defended the actions of his administration on one hand, while wondering why the EPA has not done more. Congress is asking that question, too.

What we fear now is that every politician facing re-election in November - that would be the entire state Legislature - is now screaming to get answers for Hoosick Falls while making themselves look good.

Until the federal government got involved, the New York State Legislature didn’t want to do anything.

While Hoosick Falls residents have been able to count on Assemblyman Steve McLaughlin to fight for hearings in the Assembly, their representative in the Senate - Sen. Kathy Marchione - has been asking for a task force instead. But nothing came of that either.

When your own elected representative shows little inclination to get to the bottom of a serious health crisis in her own district, you know you are in trouble.

To say Sen. Marchione has been indecisive would be kind. In June, she proposed legislation that would allow people harmed by contamination to bring a lawsuit against the polluters. But a day later, she amended the legislation, essentially gutting the bill.

Hoosick Falls residents called her a “Benedict Arnold” on social media and environmentalist/actor Mark Ruffalo tweeted her actions were “disgusting.”

Marchione didn’t stick to her guns long, doing another about-face the next day and saying the original bill was her top priority.

With the outcry mounting at the federal level, our state political leaders did what they do best - they tried to save face.

Days before Gillibrand’s appearance, the state Assembly overcame its initial reluctance to hold hearings on the crisis in Hoosick Falls and moved forward.

Two days later, just minutes after Sen. Gillibrand’s town hall meeting ended, the state Senate announced it would hold hearings as well.

Better late than never.

What Hoosick Falls residents should especially fear is that the politicization of the water contamination issue will lead to lots of empty promises right up until the day after the election.

The question we’re asking, and we suspect the people of Hoosick Falls are asking, is not what took them so long, but whether any of this will get them the help they need.




Newsday on standing for love in the wake of violent acts that have recently occurred across the country.

July 17

Sunday morning in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, a lone gunman named Gavin Long killed three police officers and wounded three more in a vicious, pointless and soulless attack.

Sunday afternoon in Cleveland, thousands of people gathered at the Hope Memorial Bridge in an event called Circle the City With Love. Organizers said the event was intended to embody the power of love that can bring peace and justice.

Participants, including some police officers, held hands silently for 30 minutes under a hot afternoon sun and radiated peaceful energy. Some wore shirts saying “Stand for Love.” The event was planned to set a standard for the Republican National Convention, which begins Monday. If the rhetoric of presumptive nominee Donald Trump is an indicator, the convention could be hugely divisive in tone.

After Sunday’s shootings, President Barack Obama asked the nation to soften the heated rhetoric dominating this political season and infiltrating so many discussions on race, class, policing and civil rights.

Our highly charged debates are no reason to kill, but neither are angry hearts and furious words conducive to peace. That is the truth of the world right now: thousands and millions and billions of good people driven into a fearful mindset by a few murderous deviants.

In Cleveland, police have set up barricades and brought in backup officers. We know precautions must be taken - and that they might not be enough. Anyone willing to die to kill others can do plenty of damage, precautions or not.

We’ll learn more about Gavin Long. We’ll try to make sense of the senseless. And we will keep worrying about this debilitating spate of public violence. But in the end, the thousands and millions and billions of people committed to goodness will win out over the killers.

How could they not? They stand for love.




The New York Times on the economic impact of Great Britain’s exit from the European Union.

July 20

It was always clear that Britain’s divorce from the European Union would be painful and costly. Nearly a month after the country’s ill-advised referendum on union membership, it is becoming clear just how bad it will be.

The British economy will slow noticeably this year and in 2017, the International Monetary Fund and the European Commission, the union’s executive arm, said in separate reports released on Tuesday. The I.M.F. now expects 1.7 percent growth for 2016, down from its April forecast of 1.9 percent. It predicted a drop to 1.3 percent for 2017, almost a full point below its earlier forecast of 2.2 percent. The chief economist of the fund, Maurice Obstfeld, said that growth could be much lower if negotiations between Britain and its European partners drag on or become contentious.

The European Commission is even more pessimistic. It says Britain’s economy could shrink 0.3 percent next year under its “severe” scenario. Both bodies also warned that the uncertainty caused by Brexit will slow growth in the rest of Europe. The I.M.F. lowered its forecasts modestly for global growth in 2016 and 2017.

British and European leaders need to take these forecasts seriously as they negotiate how to remove Britain from the union and structure a new economic relationship. Britain trades extensively with the E.U., and London is the biggest financial hub in the union. Economists say a disruptive breakup would be bad for everybody, leading to job losses and a spike in the prices in Britain of basic necessities like food that it imports from Europe. The pound has already fallen about 11 percent against the dollar and 9 percent against the euro since the referendum, raising prices in Britain for imports of goods and services.

It is clear that British politicians, especially those who campaigned the loudest for Brexit, did not prepare for this eventuality. Now, it is up to Prime Minister Theresa May, who took office just last week, and her new team to come up with a strategy to minimize the economic damage. Perhaps the best outcome Britain could hope for is an arrangement similar to the one Norway has with the E.U. It is not a member of the union but has access to the European common market and agrees to abide by its regulations and to allow free movement of Europeans across its borders.

So far, Ms. May appears to be wisely ignoring calls by some anti-E.U. politicians to quickly start the formal process of leaving the union by invoking Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty. British officials recently said they would not invoke the article this year.

But a long delay would carry risks, too, by increasing uncertainty, which would depress business investment and consumer spending. What is clear is that Britain now finds itself in a no-win position.




The Gloversville Leader-Herald on which of the presumptive presidential candidates will keep us safe.

July 18

Nice, France.

Of all places.

But of course a terrorist in love with death would choose one of the world’s most beautiful coastal cities to mow down innocents in a moment of celebration.

There are no words.

Over the next few days, as Republicans convene in Cleveland to celebrate another sort of pagan ritual, we’ll hear the familiar words and refrains. Solidarity. We mourn with the world. We pray for the victims. We won’t let terrorists ruin our way of life or take away our freedom. Won’t we?

A friend calls predawn from Cleveland: “What are we going to do? No one’s coming,” she says.

Even before Nice, people were canceling. Seven hundred rooms for volunteers who were to double up - 1,400 people - had to be returned, she says. They’re not coming.

None of the party’s previous presidents is attending. Trey Gowdy, one of the most respected members of the GOP House caucus, isn’t going. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, the highest-ranking Republican woman in the House, is skipping it.

Not even Tim Tebow is going.

Tebow, who was part of the “winners” lineup Trump was trying to build for the convention, posted a video online saying it was just a rumor.

Amid this disorganization came chaos in Nice. As America did after 9/11, French President Francois Hollande has said, “We’re at war.”

And who should lead this war in the American theater I think is the question before us this convention month. Democrats meet in Philadelphia the week after the GOP grapples with internal problems, not the least of which is a consortium of delegates who want no part of a Trump nomination.

Overnight, however - with at least 84 dead in Nice, including two Americans, and more than 200 injured - the inner workings of a party at war with itself seem less compelling than the larger, existential battle we seem destined to fight. Thus, most people today are likely thinking: Who will keep us safe?

The answer may seem obvious to Trump supporters and others leaning in his direction. He’s the one who promises to build a border and tighten immigration; monitor Muslims and limit their access to the U.S. He’s the one who will protect citizens’ right to bear arms without further limitations.

You don’t need an AR-15 to mow down pedestrians along a promenade on Bastille Day, after all. But you might need one to stop the driver of the truck.

Trump has also said he wouldn’t take nukes off the table should some country become excessively troublesome. He has sworn that he’s the most militaristic person in the world.

These are musical notes to the rough-and-ready - those who are weary of what they view as the Obama administration’s weak leadership against the Islamic State. But President Obama has done his fair share of killing. He just doesn’t brag about it, in part because his use of drones isn’t very popular among the collateral population.

Does Trump give one a sense of security, or does his impulsive nature give one pause about his trustworthiness in a crisis?

As for Hillary Clinton, Republicans would simply point to Benghazi and her lack of attention to repeated requests from Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens for heightened security, followed by the fiasco on the night he and three others were killed when the Obama administration seemed to be in disarray.

They would also point to her conflicting reports about what happened that night, as well as to her “extreme carelessness” with classified documents.

Are these enough to disqualify Clinton from the presidency?

The question may not be, “Who will keep us safe?” but “Who is least likely to make things worse?”

The choice is not as simple as it may seem.

Words and policies are only part of the equation. Temperament and character are paramount, as is wisdom based on experience.

In the war on terror, our arsenal isn’t only bullets, bombs and drones. Fighting an idea requires greater skills than a sniper’s eye. You also have to counter the ideas that attract terrorists to an absurd and deadly cause with better ones.

The slog we were warned against long ago is our reality for now and perhaps for generations. We’d best hire a commander-in-chief who also understands this - and who can rally the troops starting on Day One.




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