- Associated Press - Wednesday, October 17, 2018

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


The Post-Standard on gender diversity in college athletics.

Oct. 14

The numbers are stark: Only two of Syracuse University’s 15 head coaches are women. It had been one - the fewest in modern history - until Athletic Director John Wildhack recently hired Shannon Doepking to coach women’s softball. That’s progress, as is Wildhack’s acknowledgement that colleges need to do better.

Still, reporter Chris Carlson’s deep dive into the university’s hiring practices shows just how far SU athletics, and college athletics in general, must go to achieve gender diversity in positions of leadership and responsibility.

Only two schools in the country had fewer female head coaches than Syracuse last year.

Why is that important? Because for all the money and hoopla surrounding college sports, its core mission is developing student-athletes into well-rounded individuals who will go on to other pursuits after their playing days are over. This is doubly true in the non-revenue sports women play; few female athletes will ever go pro. In sports, in school, in the workplace and in life, it’s vital that women are seen as leaders and role models. Women who aspire to lead should have the opportunity to do so.

Carlson identified the many barriers to women in top-tier coaching: sexism, homophobia, work-family balance, societal expectations, a pay gap, and the isolation of working in a male-dominated environment.

It wasn’t always this way. Before Title IX required colleges to provide equal opportunities for men and women in the 1970s, 90 percent of women’s college teams were coached by women. As participation levels, talent, investment, pay and prestige rose, coaching jobs in women’s athletics became more attractive to men. Now, more than half of women’s teams are coached by men. Meanwhile, the number of women coaching men at the collegiate or professional levels is negligible.

At Syracuse, the number of female coaches went from six in 2003 under AD Jake Crouthamel, to four in 2005 when Daryl Gross took over, to one under Pete Sala and Mark Coyle.

Wildhack inherited a department that ranked near the bottom nationwide in gender representation among coaches. His decision to hire a man to coach women’s rowing sparked a mini-revolt among women alumni, Carlson reported. To his credit, Wildhack met with them to hear their concerns. His next hire was Doepking, breaking the school’s streak of hiring 12 consecutive male head coaches, including eight to lead women’s programs.

It’s not a matter of filling a quota. It should go without saying that the best, most qualified person for the job should get the job. But women can’t compete for a job if they’re not in the pool of candidates. Women need to be on coach search committees, and the search committees need to cast a wider net to capture female coaching candidates. Wildhack says he’ll conduct national searches to fill future coaching vacancies, to improve the odds that women are in the mix.

If he follows through and makes progress, we’ll count that as a win.

Online: https://bit.ly/2P4jqp2


The Albany Times Union on President Donald Trump and gaslighting.

Oct. 16

In the course of a month, President Donald Trump has gone from calling Christine Blasey Ford a “credible” witness against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh to mocking her testimony to calling it a “hoax” to saying the discussion is over because, in his words, “We won.”

Call it the gaslighting of America - the attempt by a president, with help from his political allies in the Senate, to persuade citizens that reality is only what their leaders tell them it is from one day to the next.

Mr. Trump’s use of this technique - well known to abusers, con artists, autocrats and the like - was brazenly on display Sunday in an interview with “60 Minutes” correspondent Lesley Stahl, who asked about his mocking of Dr. Blasey Ford in an Oct. 1 campaign rally. Mr. Trump had openly made fun of her lack of memory about certain details of the alleged sexual assault by Justice Kavanaugh in high school. He insists now, though, that he treated Dr. Blasey Ford with respect, a conclusion no one, fan of Mr. Trump or not, could honestly come away with from that speech. Pressed further by Ms. Stahl, he cut her off. “I’m not going to get into it. Because we won. It doesn’t matter. We won.”

That performance, though, pales beside the bait-and-switch Mr. Trump, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and his Republican conference pulled on the public: claiming that an investigation by the FBI cleared Justice Kavanaugh of allegations of sexual assault. Based on what? They have not produced the report of that investigation. They have not even produced whatever directive the FBI was given, including any constraints the White House imposed.

It’s apparent that this was not a serious probe. Dozens of people, including former classmates of Justice Kavanaugh’s, came forward but were not interviewed. What kind of investigation ignores potential witnesses and sources?

This is not the only inquiry into Justice Kavanaugh to go nowhere. No fewer than 15 complaints against him have been filed in recent months with the District of Columbia Circuit, on which he served. At least some of them concern inconsistencies - inaccurate, if not untruthful, statements - in his testimony in 2006 during his confirmation hearing for a court of appeals post and at his Supreme Court hearing this year. The law on complaints against federal judges, however, doesn’t apply to Supreme Court justices, for whom discipline can come only through impeachment.

And then there’s the naked partisanship and lack of judicial temperament he demonstrated in lashing out at Democratic senators in his hearing, behavior so unbecoming a judge that some of his previous supporters, including retired Justice John Paul Stevens, urged against his confirmation. And the untold reams of his papers the Senate never got to see.

Painful as this episode is, it’s vital that Americans don’t just put this in Mr. Trump’s “win” column and move on. This matters - in the diminished credibility of the high court, in the diminished faith many women no doubt have in our justice system’s ability to fairly consider complaints of sexual assault. Fifty senators may have gaslighted themselves into believing the ranting, prevaricating nominee before them was the cream of the American judicial system. Honest Americans who know better have the chance - and the power - to end this kind of abuse on Election Day.

Online: https://bit.ly/2yHNlsY


The Post-Star on climate change

Oct. 14

We apologize right up front if you find our headline offensive and inappropriate for a family newspaper.

But desperate times call for desperate measures, and when it comes to the health of the planet Earth, these are desperate times.

Last weekend, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released a report, saying we are already seeing the consequences of global warming and the only way to avoid catastrophe is to transform the world economy like we have never done before to reduce carbon emissions and slow the rise in Earth’s temperature.

We are talking about a world that will no longer be a pleasant place to live.

Far too much skepticism remains among the general public, but more specifically our political leadership is ignoring the problem.

President Trump’s response to the dire warnings from the IPCC was to say he would “definitely look at it.”

We also believe the national media shares some blame with inconsistent coverage and its inability to explain the consequences if the world does not act.

But ultimately, our crude headline is to grab your attention and hope it makes an impact.

The IPCC estimates we have 12 years to make drastic changes to reduce carbon emissions and slow the rise in Earth’s temperature.

The IPCC is considered the leading authority on climate science. Its report combines the expertise of 91 scientists and government agents from 40 countries around the world and references 6,000 studies and reports. This year’s report was its most dire yet and painted a picture that significantly worsens the risks of drought, floods, extreme heat and poverty for hundreds of millions of people.

Yet many argue its findings are political in nature and they are telling only one side of the story. This is untrue.

The IPCC findings are a consensus of the 91 scientists who are experts in the field of climate change; the report is a middle ground they all can agree upon. Ultimately, their view is a conservative view and not a worst-case scenario. We should find that frightening.

The best-case scenario is a world where the quality of life is dramatically reduced for millions - our children and grandchildren - while governments across the globe battle economic and environmental calamities.

Considering the skepticism by so many American politicians and President Trump’s decision to pull out of the Paris climate deal, the United States is not prepared to address the issue in the coming years.

The Trump administration has taken an industry-friendly stance, weakening greenhouse gas rules and vehicle fuel efficiency as well as promoting the use of more coal, instead of less.

This is the opposite of what the IPCC says we should be doing.

“It’s a line in the sand and what it says to our species is that this is the moment and we must act now,” said Debra Roberts, a co-chair of the working group on impacts. “This is the largest clarion bell from the science community and I hope it mobilizes people and dents the mood of complacency.”

The rise in global temperatures means more erratic weather patterns, droughts, heat waves, hurricanes and flooding that will become more ferocious with time. We are already seeing that.

Scientists predict as warming continues we will see more wildfires, shifts in growing areas for crops, more flooding, rising sea levels, ice melt, death of the coral reefs, more acidic oceans and thawing permafrost in the Arctic.

This will cost us trillions of dollars to address as our world becomes a less inviting habitat.

While the IPCC report holds out hope that we can still stop the warming, the changes we need to make are dramatic and would need to happen sooner rather than later.

Considering we can’t settle on a viable health care system, solving this problem seems impossible.

Scientists have estimated that warming cannot be more than 1.5 degrees C. We are currently on a track toward 3 degrees Centigrade by the end of the century, while reaching 1.5 degrees somewhere between 2030 and 2052.

That is just 12 years away.

“We need a World War II scale mobilization,” Green Party gubernatorial candidate Howie Hawkins told us this past week.

The IPCC says it is technically possible to avoid the most serious damage to the environment, but estimated it would cost $54 trillion. It also conceded it is politically unlikely, at least in this country.

We not only need the United States on board 100 percent, but every country in the world.

Consider what Popular Science said we would need to do.

“We would have to stop adding carbon dioxide to the atmosphere completely by 2050. To do this, governments need to change land use practices, make buildings more efficient, switch to clean energy sources, revolutionize manufacturing practice and change the way we get around.”

But even if we could do all that in the next few years, it would not be enough.

Popular Science says, “We also have to physically remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. In the climate models in the new report, every scenario that keeps global warming below 1.5 degrees C involved carbon capture strategies, which are currently largely theoretical or possible only on a small scale. To keep us from exceeding a 1.5 degree C increase, humans need to remove 1,000 gigatons of CO2 from the atmosphere by 2100.”

And we need to invent a way to do it.

You want more bad news - global greenhouse emissions are expected to rise this year, not fall, and most countries are not on track to meet their Paris climate change goals.

The United States no longer has any goals.

Our children are looking at a future where the world will be a significantly worse place to live. It’s time to accept that fact and demand action.

Consider the ramifications if we don’t.

And we refer you back to our headline at the top of the page.

Online: https://bit.ly/2Elql9d


Newsday on noise from helicopters in Nassau County.

Oct. 15

The percussive whop-whop-whop of helicopter blades has tormented North Fork and northwestern Nassau residents for far too long.

For more than a decade, East End residents have complained about the flights that ferry vacationers from Manhattan over Long Island Sound and turn across the bucolic North Fork to reach East Hampton airport. The Federal Aviation Administration is finally being required to re-evaluate that route, thanks to a bill recently signed by President Donald Trump. Not only does the FAA have to reassess the North Shore route and consider the impact the noise has on the communities below whose peace is routinely shattered, it also must hold public hearings. That will give aggrieved residents an overdue opportunity to state their case.

But this won’t end fairly unless the FAA changes the flight pattern to an all-water route - around Orient Point or Plum Island and along the South Shore over the Atlantic Ocean. All-water routes have long been pushed by Sen. Chuck Schumer and Rep. Lee Zeldin, who did good work in getting the reconsideration into the FAA reauthorization bill. And first-term Rep. Tom Suozzi got the FAA to agree to a six-month trial of a change at the other end of the North Shore route to push city-bound copters farther over water and away from residents of northwest Nassau County and northeast Queens.

Aircraft noise has health impacts on people living under flights. The helicopters benefit only the wealthy who can afford to pay to avoid the hassle of traveling by land to the Hamptons. It’s time they absorbed the cost and inconvenience - a longer water route that will take more time.

Online: https://nwsdy.li/2CRsQP1


The New York Times on Sears’ place in history.

Oct. 15

The orders poured in from everywhere - 105,000 a day at one point - so much so that the company became an economic force. It could make or break suppliers by promoting their products. It could dictate terms on manufacturing. Its headquarters city boomed as this tech-driven retailer built huge warehouses and factories and attracted other businesses and rivals. State and local governments complained that the company was harming small-town retailers.

That was Sears, Roebuck & Company in the early 20th century in Chicago. But at various times in the history of retailing you could apply like descriptions of retail might to Walmart, Kmart, Safeway, A.&P.;, and F.W. Woolworth, whose Downtown Manhattan headquarters building was christened the “Cathedral of Commerce” when it opened in 1913. Today the Woolworth Building is a luxury condo whose young residents are probably unaware of the extraordinary entrepreneur who built it.

Which is to say that becoming the nation’s leading retailer does not guarantee immortality, at least not beyond architecture. Sears, once America’s dominant retailer, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection after 132 years in business.

Sears became the Amazon of its day because its co-founder Richard Warren Sears harnessed two great networks to serve his enterprise - the railroads and the United States Postal Service. When the Postal Service commenced rural free delivery in 1896 (the “last mile” in today’s jargon) every homestead in America became within reach.

And Richard Sears reached them. He used his genius for advertising and promotion to put a catalog in the hands of 20 million Americans in 1900, when the population was 76 million. The Wish Book or Big Book or Dream Book, as the catalog was variously called, could run a staggering 1,500 pages and offer more than 100,000 items. And when one of his pants suppliers, the manufacturing wizard Julius Rosenwald, became his partner, in 1886, Sears was on the way to becoming a vertically integrated juggernaut. Whether you needed a cream separator or a catcher’s mitt, a plow or a dress, or an entire house, Sears had it. “No matter where you go or how long you look, you’ll not find values approaching those this book presents,” the spring 1922 catalog declared.

Sears would carve up the catalog landscape with a local rival, Montgomery Ward. Remember it? Probably not. The e-sales promotion company Groupon, itself once mighty and now clinging to life, occupies part of Ward’s former headquarters in Chicago. Sears, Montgomery Ward and another Midwestern-born general merchandise retailer, J.C. Penney, dominated postwar American retailing, controlling 43 percent of department store sales by 1975. But even by then, Sears was beginning to falter under waves of new competition.

The company was not alone. A.&P.;, which introduced the first cut-rate grocery store in 1912, was also sliding into a long decline that would last through decades of ownership and management changes. Great A.&P.; went through the final checkout lane in 2016 following its second bankruptcy. (Or was that the third?) A.&P.; once operated 15,819 stores and ran the world’s largest food packaging plant, in Horseheads, N.Y. The company was so powerful that in 1949 trustbusters tried to slice it into seven independent companies. Even before that, states passed “chain laws” that included minimum markups, so small stores couldn’t be undermined by the loss leaders that A.&P.; would offer to attract shoppers. A.&P.;, a vicious competitor, buried local retailers anyway.

By the inflation-racked 1970s, though, A.&P.; was struggling against nimbler chains such as Safeway, which became the country’s top grocer, and Kroger, as well as new models of retailing such as big-box stores. Walmart’s eventual move into groceries would help seal A.&P.;’s fate, and, at the same time, make the Arkansas company the nation’s top retailer, where it remains. For now.

A.&P.; would later show some dubious creativity when in the early 1980s management scrapped and replaced the “overfunded” pension plan, plundering it for operating capital. This piece of sliminess was copied all over corporate America, signaling the end of the pension plans that so many workers depended on for retirement income.

In its earlier days, with strong leaders such as Robert E. Wood, Sears was able to negotiate huge shifts in the economic and demographic landscape. By 1925, more Americans were living in the cities than in rural areas. Sears followed them by opening retail stores. The postwar boom would give rise to the suburban shopping mall, and Sears could easily finance and grab what were then (but not necessarily now) the best locations across the country.

By the mid-1980s, after a restructuring, the company briefly blossomed anew, in part by becoming a more full-blown conglomerate that owned Allstate Insurance and the Dean Witter brokerage. Sears also tried to crack the credit card market with its Discover card. The rationale was that Americans trusted Sears on the spending side of family finance, so why wouldn’t they do the same on the savings side? The proposal was framed this way: “Would you buy stocks where you buy socks?” Answer: Not really.

High up in the Sears Tower, management couldn’t see that the retail landscape was changing. Sears couldn’t compete effectively with Walmart and the growth of big box merchandisers such as Toys “R” Us. But more important, the company could not summon the vision to anticipate the internet. By 1993, Sears had closed its national network of warehouses and exited the catalog business - which is basically e-retailing without the “e.” Amazon shipped its first book in 1995.

Online: https://nyti.ms/2pZD8UW


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