- Associated Press - Monday, May 30, 2016

McCook Daily Gazette. May 26, 2016

If state’s death penalty is broken, it can still be fixed.

Death penalty opponents offer some valid reasons Nebraskans should vote against reinstating capital punishment.

Nebraska’s death penalty is broken, State Sen. Colby Coash said during a stop in McCook on Tuesday, and the state has been unable to execute anyone in 20 years.

We even spent $54,000 for one of the execution drugs, which were never delivered from India because the FDA bans their import, and a major pharmaceutical company announced last week it would not sell drugs if it knew they were going to be used in executions.

The Unicameral is officially nonpartisan, but a bipartisan majority of 16 Republicans, 13 Democrats and one independent passed a bill last year to end the death penalty, and upheld the law over Gov. Pete Ricketts’ veto.

Sen. Coash assured listeners that life in prison means just that, citing an Attorney General’s statement to that effect.

Gov. Ricketts was criticized for his sponsorship of a successful petition drive to put a repeal of LB 268, the bill ending the death penalty in Nebraska, on this fall’s election ballot.

Proponents of the death penalty say there’s no reason Nebraska can’t impose the death penalty as other states do, and a recent Supreme Court ruling made a convicted murderer, originally sentenced to life, eligible for parole in a few years.

One day after Sen. Coash’s visit to McCook, federal prosecutors announced they would seek the death penalty in the case of Dylann Roof, 22, a white man accused of killing nine black parishioners in a Charleston, South Carolina, church last June.

That case makes a good argument for allowing prosecutors to have the capital punishment option available as they do their jobs.

We agree that Nebraska’s death penalty is a broken system, and frankly have doubts about the state’s ability to apply it fairly.

But it’s in Nebraska’s nature to fix something that’s broken rather than throwing it away.


Lincoln Journal Star. May 27, 2016

Violence damages democracy.

Democrats and other activists on the left are doing their part to ensure that the 2016 presidential election is one of the ugliest in decades.

Their actions sully the democratic process and detract voter attention from where it belongs.

In the most recent incident protests turned violent Tuesday night outside the Albuquerque convention center were presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump was holding a rally.

Protesters broke a glass door, jumped on police vehicles and threw burning T-shirts, rocks and bottles at police. Police used smoke grenades and pepper spray. Protesters inside the center were forcibly removed by police when they tried to disrupt the event.

In March Trump cancelled a rally in Chicago for safety reasons after hundreds of protesters showed up in the pavilion where the rally was to be held. After the cancellation fist-fights broke out between Trump supporters and protesters.

In April hundreds of demonstrators took over streets near an Orange County amphitheater where Trump was holding a rally. Protestors threw rocks, broke a window on a police vehicle, punctured the tires on another and hurled objects at passing motorists.

Occasionally Democrats have turned on each other. After the Nevada Democratic convention gave most of the state’s delegates to Hillary Clinton, death threats were left on a cellphone belonging to the state party chairwoman. Here’s a sample: “Praying to God someone shoots you in the face and blows your democracy-stealing face off!” And, “Hey bitch..We know where you live. Where you work. Where you eat. Where your kids go to school/grandkids.Prepare for hell.”

The behavior of Sanders’ supporters have Democratic leaders understandably worried about what might happen at the Democratic National Convention in July.

Earlier this month Gabriel McArthur, a delegate from Colorado, told the Associated Press. “I don’t think we’re going to see a lot of violence, but we are going to see some screaming and shouting if the DNC does not humanize itself.”

Perhaps Sanders could be doing more to discourage violence among his supporters. Perhaps other Democratic leaders could be doing more to discourage violence at Trump rallies.

But the real responsibility for violence rests on the participants. Their actions disgrace American democracy. There should be no need for riot police at campaign events. The violence must end before it escalates into scenes that are even worse.


Omaha World-Herald. May 28, 2016

Remembering SAC’s start.

It’s been seven decades since the Army Air Forces forged the Strategic Air Command from separate groups that helped win World War II.

But we in the Midlands still celebrate SAC’s 1946 creation because of what the command has meant both to national defense and our region.

Last weekend’s re-dedication of the Strategic Air Command & Aerospace Museum in Ashland was the latest 70th anniversary marker.

SAC took shape as the military carved out the Air Force as a separate service branch. World War II had shown the importance of air power. The U.S. needed a command structure for strategic, long-range air combat missions headed into a long Cold War with the Soviet Union.

SAC’s first leader, Gen. George Kenney, is largely overlooked, but he got things started. History lauds the second, Lt. Gen. Curtis LeMay, who we know for his push to move SAC from Maryland to Nebraska in 1948. He wanted a central location, far from Soviet bombers. SAC planted new roots at Bellevue’s former Martin Bomber Plant.

On base, LeMay pushed his military charges for better performance, safety and strategy. He fought for bombers, for in-flight refueling. He even pushed local leaders for better housing and to move local feedlots to cut down on bad base smells. Americans are the better for it all.

Today, we know Offutt Air Force Base as the home of what followed SAC, the U.S. Strategic Command. We see the 55th Wing and 10,000 jobs.

We know a base with global reach and beyond, one that oversees efforts to defend U.S. interests at home, abroad, in space and cyberspace.

But SAC and its efforts to deter Soviet aggression made most of that possible, and few, if any, commands did more to win the Cold War.


Omaha World-Herald. May 24, 2016

NU leaders set priorities on funding, sound management.

One of Nebraska’s enduring needs is for the University of Nebraska system to be adequately funded and soundly managed.

The new one-year budget proposal from NU President Hank Bounds, which will be considered on Wednesday by the Board of Regents, scores on both counts.

“ Funding. In the face of state government’s revenue challenges, NU worked with the Legislature this session and agreed to pared-back spending for the university’s building renovations and construction. This was a realistic, constructive compromise, reflected in the budget proposal.

“ Sound management. NU’s one-year, $941 million operating budget proposal would rise by about 3.4 percent under Bounds’ plan. After a recent tuition freeze, NU would increase tuition by 2.5 percent. Need-based financial aid would rise by the same percentage.

The proposal sets out investments in key NU initiatives, including the Health Science Education Complex at the University of Nebraska at Kearney and a biomedical institute managed by the University of Nebraska Medical Center and the University of Nebraska at Omaha.

Other long-term projects receiving support include a virtual medical training center at UNMC; UNO’s Nebraska Business Development Center; and an institute at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln focusing on international trade and finance, named for Nebraska native Clayton Yeutter, a former U.S. trade representative and secretary of agriculture.

Maintaining the strength of Nebraska’s public university system requires a proper financial commitment by the state and forward-looking leadership by NU officials.

It’s encouraging to see that both sides are working to meet those important obligations.

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