- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Excerpts from recent editorials in the United States and abroad:


April 1

Los Angeles Times on the fatal shooting of 33-year-old Grammy-nominated rapper Nipsey Hussle:

The killing of rapper Nipsey Hussle on Sunday afternoon was especially heartbreaking because of his journey - from his participation in Los Angeles street gang life in his young adulthood to musical and commercial success and ultimately leadership in the fight against violence. He emerged, he created, he invested in his neighborhood, and he led, only to be shot dead in the bright afternoon outside his own clothing store …

Born Ermias Davidson Asghedom, Hussle earned the deep respect of other artists, many of whom paid him tribute in the aftermath of the killing. That’s as it should be, but in mourning his death and decrying the killing, it’s essential to remember that too many young men whose names are known only to their families and friends are lost to violence before they have a chance to make their own mark in the world. Some of the most gifted hip-hop artists have come from the streets of South Los Angeles and used their considerable talents to document and comment upon a life that a modern, wealthy society like our own should not countenance. Young African American men deserve the same life as their counterparts in other parts of town, without guns, without gangs, without hustling, with education rather than incarceration, with safe streets, with adults able to find good jobs. Struggle and inequality can make for great art among a select few; but as Hussle’s killing reminds us, their artistry and their success does not necessarily free them.

So how do we make it better? The Los Angeles Police Department responds to spikes in gang violence by swarming the streets with cops to search cars for guns and question young men who might look like perpetrators or victims. And it works - in the sense that guns are found and confiscated, crime abates and residents are safer from gun violence for a period of time. But the police often leave behind a community that feels invaded, violated, disrespected. Hurt and anger grow. Violence returns.

There may be better ideas, different things to try, and some of them may have been among the topics that Hussle was planning to discuss with Police Commission President Steve Soboroff and LAPD Chief Michel Moore on Monday afternoon. Meetings were to go forward in Hussle’s absence, and in his memory. In remembering Hussle, let’s remember as well those many young men and women, their families and their neighbors, who continue to be affected by violence.

Online: https://www.latimes.com/


April 2

The Washington Post on President Donald Trump’s threat to shut down the southern border:

Belatedly, it occurred to the Trump administration that closing the U.S.-Mexico border, as the president threatened, posed the risk of paralyzing manufacturing assembly lines, leaving grocery shelves bare and throwing the U.S. economy into a tailspin, if not outright recession. Bad idea.

So now the White House has seized on Plan B, which seems to entail leaving commercial traffic intact while locking down the frontier for everyone else, meaning huge numbers of people who cross in both directions daily. This approach is a wild overreaction that would not stop the surge of asylum-seeking migrants. However, it is in keeping with the president’s own instincts, which are untroubled by the prospect of inflicting misery on foreigners.

Each day, about 1 million people cross the 1,954-mile frontier, making it by far the world’s most transited border. The vast majority do so legally. Mr. Trump’s closure would play havoc with those people’s lives, livelihoods, schedules and families. And make no mistake: Many would be U.S. citizens. Meanwhile, desperate refugees would continue to cross the border to request asylum; recently, some have been lining up alongside the existing border fence.

Still, in the hijacked name of border security - or, more to the point, a migrant surge he cannot abide - the president would have it be known that he is prepared to slam the door unless Mexico and Central America’s immigrant-generating countries take steps to impede the flow of migrants.

The demand is reasonable enough - although Mexico has already taken extensive steps to cooperate with Washington, both during the 2014 migration spike and in the current surge. Its government has issued work permits and asylum to thousands of migrants who want to remain in Mexico.

As for El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, the so-called Northern Triangle countries from which most migrant families are now leaving in hopes of entering the United States, there are at least two problems. One is their limited capacity to stanch emigration and close their borders in the face of waves of their own citizens fleeing crime, violence and dysfunction. Another is the diminution of Washington’s leverage by Mr. Trump’s foolish decision to halt the flow of hundreds of millions of dollars of U.S. aid intended to tackle the very problems impelling the current wave of migration.

It’s hard to know where the president’s bluster ends and real action may begin. “I’m not playing games,” he said last Friday, in threatening again to shutter the border after assigning blame to Mexico for the influx of migrants. Four days later, it dawned on him that threatening to choke off trade is, in fact, a game, and a ludicrous one at that.

The number of migrants now flooding the border is a genuine humanitarian crisis, but not one susceptible to solution by hyperbole and bluff. It must be treated with greater resources at the border and also at the source, in Central America. In the absence of a real long-term strategy along those lines, Mr. Trump can huff and puff and blow the doors shut, but the migration problem will not disappear.

Online: https://www.washingtonpost.com


April 2

Chicago Tribune on Chicago Mayor-elect Lori Lightfoot, who is the city’s first black woman and first openly gay person elected to the office:

Lori Lightfoot, a former federal prosecutor and the ninth candidate to jump into the race for Chicago mayor 11 months ago, won election Tuesday in a nearly 3-to-1 landslide over establishment candidate Toni Preckwinkle, an early favorite in a crowded field. A likely reaction from the Chicago Home for Experienced Political Pros: How’d that happen? …

Lightfoot will take her oath of office next month, replacing two-term Mayor Rahm Emanuel. He leaves City Hall steadier financially than when he took office in 2011 - although Chicago and its taxpayers still face deep debts and structural deficits. …

So who’s the mayor-elect who must confront all of this? The Ohio-born Lightfoot, 56, lives in Logan Square on the city’s Near Northwest Side with her wife, Amy Eshleman, and their 11-year-old daughter. Lightfoot got into the race in May 2018 to challenge Emanuel, who had appointed her to two police oversight posts but who, she thought, wasn’t addressing Chicago’s underdeveloped neighborhoods or the exodus of residents from them. After Emanuel announced in September that he wouldn’t run again, some higher-profile candidates - Preckwinkle among them - jumped in.

Lightfoot mounted a strong, steady campaign that broke nearly every rule in Chicago’s political playbook. Pundits dismissed her viability early on, saying she had “no path” to victory: What was the constituency for a black, gay corporate attorney facing a field of mostly insiders? …

And rather than benefit from what’s left of the Democratic machine in these nonpartisan elections, Lightfoot beat all of its preferred candidates. …

She didn’t have the endorsements of city aldermen that often translate into Election Day success. … She didn’t have a ground game.

Lightfoot comes across in person as reserved. But she dove into retail politicking and handshaking. Rather than relying solely on paid advertising, she went everywhere and met with everyone. …

She also ran on ideas. While many candidates get away with brushing past specifics, Lightfoot on several controversial subject areas - curbing violence, overhauling the Chicago Police Department, encouraging affordable housing, reforming the City Council and expanding City Hall transparency, to name a few - offered detailed proposals. She answered questions straight on. She didn’t always stick to careful talking points.

How Lightfoot embraced running for mayor, and how Chicagoans citywide embraced her, brought refreshing change to Chicago politics. She broke the typical campaign template and won. We think she’ll govern just as capably.

Online: https://www.chicagotribune.com/


April 3

The Post and Courier of Charleston, South Carolina, on a college student who mistakenly got into a car she thought was an Uber and was kidnapped and killed:

One of the first things we teach our children is to never, ever get into a stranger’s car.

In the age of Uber and Lyft, we all need to relearn that lesson. Along with: The later you’re out at night, the greater your chances of running into the wrong person. And: It’s always safer to travel in groups.

Nothing can ever mitigate the heartbreaking tragedy of the killing of University of South Carolina student Samantha Josephson, who was abducted and slain after she got into what she mistakenly thought was an Uber ride-share she had ordered. But maybe it can be some small comfort to her family if her death leads more young people to follow the advice of Ms. Josephson’s father, Seymour Josephson, who urged students to stay in groups at night and called on ride-sharing services to do more to make sure passengers get into the right cars.

It’s never been safe to be out in bar districts in the wee hours of the morning, and certainly not to leave your friends and strike out on your own. But the ubiquity of ride-sharing services - which many of us inexplicably consider safer than the more heavily regulated and more easily identifiable taxi services - has caused many people to let down their guard. Not only do we wander out alone, sometimes after consuming too much alcohol to drive safely, but we don’t follow basic safety precautions when we think we spot our ride.

Gregory Yee and Andy Shain of The Post and Courier talked to a former bar owner who recounted three instances of young women trying to get into his car on a recent night when he was serving as designated driver for a group of friends in Columbia’s Five Points, the bar district from which Ms. Josephson was abducted. …

While lawmakers, regulators and the ride-share services consider what additional measures are needed, there are several precautions everyone who uses the services can and should take to protect their own safety. …

Perhaps most importantly, if you don’t feel safe, walk away. Don’t worry about being charged for canceling a ride; ride-sharing services usually will refund the money if you don’t feel safe. And even if they don’t, the money isn’t worth your life. …

Online: https://www.postandcourier.com/


April 2

USA Today on medications that can reduce opioid deaths:

Walter Ginter began using heroin in the early 1970s while serving in the Army. By 1977, desperate to kick the habit, he turned to daily doses of methadone, a synthetic opioid that eases withdrawal and decreases cravings. The treatment worked.

“I have a good life today,” says Ginter, 69, project director for the New York-based Medication Assisted Recovery Support Project. “I wouldn’t have it without medication.”

Ginter was a member of a National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine committee that examined the three medications - methadone, buprenorphine (typically sold under the Suboxone brand name) and extended-release naltrexone (Vivitrol) - that the government has approved to treat opioid addiction.

Two days before the Mueller report landed at the Justice Department, the National Academies’ report was released March 20 with little fanfare and less attention than it deserves. Its recommendations, if more widely embraced, have the potential to significantly reduce the toll of the nation’s opioid epidemic.

The findings are unambiguous: “These are highly effective medications, and they save lives,” says Alan Leshner, chairman of the panel that prepared the study. Yet most people who could benefit from the drugs don’t receive them.

More than 2 million people in America are estimated to have opioid use disorder, but less than 20% are being treated with these medications. Of the residential treatment programs in the USA, only 36% offered any medications in 2016, and only 6% offered all three.

The medications, of course, aren’t a panacea for the opioid epidemic that has ravaged the nation by increasing crime, reducing productivity, spreading infectious diseases, clogging emergency rooms, and taking an incalculable toll on families.

It can be difficult to get people who are addicted to accept treatment, and to stick with it once they begin. Some people can succeed without medications, but the vast majority who try to do so end up relapsing.

Like any medication, each of the three Food and Drug Administration-approved drugs has drawbacks.

Methadone is typically administered only through doses given out daily at regulated clinics; areas around the clinics have been known to serve as magnets for heroin dealers looking for customers. Buprenorphine tablets and under-the-tongue films can be misused or diverted. Naltrexone can only be administered to people who’ve been off opioids for about a week, and it has high discontinuance rates.

Even so, all of the drugs alleviate withdrawal symptoms, curb opioid cravings, and reduce relapse and death rates. For people who stay on the approved medications for the long term, the risk of mortality drops by 70%, according to Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, which co-sponsored the National Academies report.

Why aren’t these life-saving drugs used more widely?

One reason is that opioid addiction is too often regarded as a moral weakness or failure of willpower, rather than a treatable chronic brain disorder.

Other reasons include inadequate education and training of personnel who work with people who are addicted, excessive regulations surrounding distribution of the medications, and highly fragmented payment policies.

Among the steps that can and should be taken:

-Allow methadone to be distributed, by prescription, in settings such as drugstores or doctors’ offices.

-Certify more doctors to prescribe buprenorphine, and loosen the unnecessarily strict training requirements.

-Require prisons to offer the medications, and Medicaid to cover their cost.

-Do more research into which combinations of medications and behavioral interventions are most effective in treating addiction.

Overdoses of legally prescribed and illicit opioids killed more than 47,000 people in 2017 alone. An additional 500,000 lives could be lost in the next decade, more people than in the city of Atlanta.

Online: https://www.usatoday.com/


April 3

China Daily on the United States’ role in NATO:

NATO will be 70 on April 4. It is a timely occasion for the world’s largest military alliance to reflect on whether it has helped make the world a safer place, and whether it has a role to play today.

Born in the Cold War era and bearing the brunt of military confrontation between the United States and the former Soviet Union, NATO expanded eastward to take in more members after the Soviet Union’s collapse and it now comprises 29 North American and European countries.

Yet rather than upholding its intended purpose of mutual defense in response to an attack by an external party, the world has been witness to its aggression as other NATO members have supported the United States in the many wars and military operations it has launched against a string of sovereign states under various excuses.

Ironically, despite allowing the US to lead it by the nose, it is the US that has become NATO’s biggest existential threat. Since entering the White House, each time US President Donald Trump has attended a NATO meeting, he has blown it up, questioning NATO’s value to the US, and whether it should continue its commitment to its allies.

On Tuesday, two days before NATO marks its 70th anniversary, Trump again urged his European allies to increase military expenditure, claiming that the US is paying a “very big” and “disproportionate share” for defending Europe.

This attitude has become the most pressing challenge to the alliance.

Yet from the first Gulf War to Afghanistan, NATO members have participated in all the US waged wars, and its military intervention footprints now extend from the Middle East to Europe, Asia, Africa and Latin America.

Each time, the US and NATO have produced justifications for these military operations - claiming they are for humanitarian or anti-terrorism purposes. And each time, the world has found it increasingly difficult to buy their excuses. So too have some NATO members.

Intrinsically, the problems NATO faces stem from the confusion among its members over what role the alliance should play amid the changing international reality.

In recent years, there has been a rising trend for international community to seek to resolve issues through dialogue and consultations, rather than force. And whether it is responding to the menace of nontraditional security threats or trying to project its power, NATO has to learn to coexist with others in a harmonious way and try to work with them to address global challenges.

To strengthen its raison d’être and credibility in a world that has fundamentally changed from that in which it was born, NATO should seek to play a constructive role in defending world peace and stability.

Online: http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/

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