- Associated Press - Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Sept. 2

A step toward closer ties with Mexico

Donald Trump’s pettiness and bombast about Mexican immigrants obscures an important point: Mexico is a key ally and a valued trading partner.

That was underscored in Milwaukee last week, even as Trump’s whipsawed policies were grabbing headlines.

On Tuesday, Gov. Scott Walker, Mayor Tom Barrett and other officials welcomed the Mexican government to the city to officially open a consulate. The new diplomatic mission is a recognition of the growing influence of the region’s Mexican immigrants and people of Mexican heritage - and a nod to the healthy business relationships between Wisconsin and America’s southern neighbor.



The consulate was Mexico’s 50th in the United States. It also has consular offices in Chicago and Minneapolis. Walker had lobbied the Mexican government to open an office in Wisconsin.

“We are more competitive when we work with one another,” Mexican Foreign Minister Claudia Ruiz Massieu told the Editorial Board during a meeting after the ceremony. Earlier, she noted that “this consulate will become a space of bi-national friendship that will shape and no doubt have a promising future for our societies.”

People of Mexican heritage make up a little more than 4 percent of Wisconsin’s population and number about 224,000 overall, according to 2010 Census data. In a commentary on these pages last week, Massieu noted that bilateral trade between Wisconsin and Mexico had grown 4 percent annually since 2005 and amounted to $5.6 billion in 2015. Wisconsin’s dairy farms would be lost without immigrant labor, which accounts for about 40 percent of all dairy workers.

Trump, the Republican nominee, has suggested that the North American Free Trade Agreement should be torn up; the Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton has sought to distance herself from the treaty. But Massieu said NAFTA “has been largely a success story for the three nations” and improved the trading competitiveness of the North American bloc with other regions of the world. Because of the interwoven supply chains in the age of globalization, changes to the agreement would be problematic, she said.

“There are many sectors that are so integrated that you can’t really tell - for example in the automobile sector - whether an automobile is American or Mexican.”

We believe the new consulate can help foster a better understanding of these and other important issues facing the two nations, and we welcome its opening here.

___

The Capital Times, Sept. 2

Independent probe of King veterans home is essential

We applaud Gov. Scott Walker, legislative audit committee chairman Sen. Robert Cowles, R-Green Bay, and a host of other legislators, both Democrats and Republicans, for calling for an investigation into the Wisconsin Veterans Home at King.

The home was the subject of an investigation by The Capital Times earlier this week that raised issues from employees, residents and family members about dismal care, medical errors and staffing shortages.

Reporter Katelyn Ferral spent weeks interviewing more than two dozen people with intimate knowledge of the conditions at King, which is one of the primary care facilities for aging Wisconsin veterans. She also reported that the state has diverted millions of dollars in surplus federal money intended for veterans care at the home into other programs in the Department of Veterans Affairs, though the department claims it has reinvested more money in King than it has diverted.

Gov. Walker commented later this week that King has always received top ratings from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and other federal government agencies, which The Capital Times’ investigation pointed out in the original story. But it was also revealed that many of those ratings are derived from self-reporting by the state.

Ferral’s thorough probe into King’s conditions and the treatment of vets there needs to get a thorough airing. The governor has suggested that the State Department of Health Services could conduct such an investigation, but we firmly believe it needs to be conducted by an independent agency not within the governor’s control as is DHS.

A better idea is the one advanced by five Democratic senators - Julie Lassa of Stevens Point, Jennifer Shilling of La Crosse, Dave Hansen of Green Bay, Janis Ringhand of Evansville, and Jon Erpenbach of Middleton - and endorsed by two Republican senators, Cowles and Luther Olsen of Ripon, to ask for a federal review of the King facility. The Democrats have already sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs asking it to look into the situation.

Republicans Cowles and Olsen have also called for an audit by the Legislative Audit Bureau to determine how King’s finances have been handled in recent years.

The King Home for Vets has long been a key piece of Wisconsin’s care for the men and women who have honorably served their country and now need care and assistance in their old age. When questions are raised about how managers of the facility are doing their jobs, answers are needed.

That’s why it’s so important that Ferral’s revelations be taken seriously and that a proper - and impartial - investigation is launched as soon as possible.

This isn’t a partisan issue, but an issue that speaks to the care our veterans deserve.

___

The Journal Times of Racine, Sept. 4

FAA opens skies to new technology

The Federal Aviation Administration finally put into effect long-awaited rules for the use of smaller commercial drones that will open the skies to valuable and innovative uses across a wide spectrum of potential uses - in agriculture, mining, rescue operations, home and building construction, insurance inspections after storms or disasters, utility line inspection, security system operations and hundreds of other business applications.

“These aircraft truly have the potential to transform the way we fly,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx as the new regulations were rolled out.

Indeed, they do. By the end of the year the transportation department expects some 600,000 commercial drones will be operating in the United States. That should help the U.S. catch up in the global use of the airborne devices where it has lagged behind other countries.

Chief among the FAA rule changes is the ending of a requirement that only licensed aircraft pilots can fly drones that are being used for business purposes. Instead, operators will have to get a remote pilot command license which simply requires a written test. That license costs $150 and the operator must be at least 16 years old.

Kept in place are restrictions such as a 55-pound limit on the weight of the drone, a requirement that drones must be kept in sight of the operator at all times, a ceiling limit of 400 feet to keep drones out of the way of commercial planes, and a requirement that a drone cannot be flown over people.

While the rules retain a ban on night-time operation, the FAA will allow exceptions to that if a company or operator demonstrates it can be done safely.

We expect some of the other limits will also change over time as the safety and efficiency of commercial drone use can be demonstrated.

For now it is a good first step toward - a mix of caution and innovation - that will put new tools in the sky that can cut costs and enhance efficiencies for thousands of businesses.

The sky is the limit.

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