- Associated Press - Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Excerpts from recent editorials in the United States and abroad:


June 5

China Daily on the United States’ approach to Chinese telecommunications equipment company Huawei:

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo may think he has been doing a good job in throttling the growth of Chinese telecommunications equipment company Huawei.

Because, wherever he goes, he has tried to sell the notion that the company poses a severe threat to national security and intelligence, and dissuade the countries concerned from doing any business with it.

But he might have been overdoing it a little bit, even to the extent that the well-intentioned advice, as he claims it is, has sounded more like coercion that even his hosts find it hard to accept.

During his visit to the Netherlands early this week, Pompeo told his hosts not to do “anything that would endanger our shared security interests” by embracing Huawei, prompting his Dutch counterpart to retort that “every country must make its own security decisions”.

The US top diplomat had already harped on the same string in Germany last week, urging Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government to take actions against Chinese “espionage” and warning the US might have to change its “behavior” regarding intelligence sharing if Berlin failed to do so.

The fact that Pompeo has often received a cold shoulder when trying to smear Huawei in this way, shows his audiences know when they are being fed a line. He seems to have forgotten that country-to-country relations are built on common interests, not one dictating to another what the other can and cannot do.

That’s why the United Kingdom has so far resisted Washington’s call to shun Huawei in its new 5G network despite the tremendous pressure it faces from the US, because it knows firsthand that the Chinese company does not threaten its national security as it has already been closely involved in its 4G network.

If he truly believes that Huawei is bent on helping the Chinese government spy on other governments, even after it has proposed to sign “no-spy” deals with possible partners, and even after countries have put themselves on high alert in response to the US sounding constant alarm bells, Pompeo should at least consider changing tactic, rather than keep on babbling about an imagined danger.

He should have confidence in the counterintelligence capabilities of the world’s sole superpower, and let other governments give Huawei’s equipment and system a try. If Huawei is spying, the US should be able to catch it red-handed.

That outcome, if it materialized, would save Pompeo all the trouble of traveling around the world trying to convince a largely incredulous audience.

After all, facts speak louder than words.




June 4

The Virginian-Pilot on the victims of a mass shooting in Virginia Beach:

Keith Cox served the residents of Virginia Beach in the public utilities department for 12 years.

Well-liked by co-workers, he spent his final moments on Friday working to protect them from a gunman in the municipal center - sacrificing his life in the process.

The remembrance of Cox, published in The Pilot on Monday, is one of many heartbreaking stories to emerge from the darkness that still hangs over this community, four days after the worst mass shooting in the city’s history.

Attention should be paid to the criminal investigation being conducted by local, state and federal law enforcement agencies. They are diving into the details of the shooter’s life, his movements prior to the attack and the possible motivation for this horrific act in the hope of gaining some insight into why and how this happened.

But for now, our focus should be on those precious lives cut short on Friday, celebrating their memory and paying tribute to their selflessness. They deserve no less from the community they served.

So let us remember Cox, the public utilities account clerk who was described as a jovial, caring co-worker and a talented singer in the choir at New Hope Baptist Church, where his father serves as pastor. As the shooter roamed the building, Cox ushered several employees into an office, telling them to lock the door while he looked for others to help.

Rich Nettleton spent 28 years working for the city as a utilities engineer. A Norfolk resident and Old Dominion University graduate, he was a lieutenant for the Army’s 130th Engineer Brigade in Germany, where he served with Beach City Manager Dave Hansen.

Joshua Hardy spent more than four years as an engineering technician, but loved ones remembered him as a devout Christian whose love for children led him to author “The ABC Book on Protecting Yourself from Strangers,” a book he self-published in 2011.

Missy Langer worked as an administrative assistant in the public utilities department for 12 years. Neighbors recalled her as a passionate Pittsburgh Steelers fan. She had a tough few years, long both her parents in the last five years, but was proud of the life she built in Virginia Beach.

Kate Nixon was an engineer with a decade of experience working for the city, whose love of her husband and three children was plainly evident to all who knew her.

Alex Gusev came to this country from Belarus in 2003 and was recalled by a colleague as “a model professional” who handled right-of-way issues for Virginia Beach. He was also a graduate of ODU who was quick to help friends and loved ones in need.

For most of her 24 years in Virginia Beach government, Mary Lou Gayle worked as a right-of-way agent who was recalled by neighbors for the upkeep and improvements made to her home, which was described as “gorgeous.” A parishioner at St. John the Apostle Catholic Church, Gayle was well thought of by all those in her orbit.

Tara Gallagher, a graduate of Portsmouth’s Woodrow Wilson High School, earned two engineering degrees from ODU before joining the city six years ago. LaQuita Brown, a Chesapeake resident, was a right-of-way agent for more than four years. Bert Snelling was a contractor visiting Building 2 for a permit when the shooting began.

Another ODU graduate, Chris Rapp, joined the city 11 months ago after serving as Stafford County’s public works director for two years. He was recalled for his love of bagpipes, which he played with Tidewater Pipes & Drums, and his devotion to family and friends.

And Bobby Williams, who joined the city in 1981, was repeatedly honored for his lengthy public service throughout his career. He was the type of employee who provides invaluable continuity and institutional memory to municipal government.

Stories about each of the victims are available to read. They have been told with respect, grace and sensitivity, honoring the memory of each life lost and the emotional toll on those left behind.

Hold them all in your hearts.




June 4

The Wall Street Journal on U.S. economic policies:

As the election results became clear in 2016, financial markets rose amid a surge of economic optimism. That surge continued for two years as Donald Trump and Republicans pursued a pro-growth agenda of tax reform, deregulation and encouraging domestic energy production. But with Democrats now controlling the House and Mr. Trump already campaigning for re-election, Washington is again taking an anti-growth turn. Don’t be surprised if slower growth follows.

That’s the disappointing big picture if you step back from the daily fray and look at the direction of U.S. economic policy. Mr. Trump’s first two years were focused relentlessly on ending the economic malaise of the Obama years. Nearly every policy was seen through a growth prism.

But as he focuses on re-election, Mr. Trump is returning to the issues that marked the worst moments of his 2016 campaign. He is restrictionist on immigration, increasingly protectionist on trade, and more interventionist in regulating business. He favors price controls on drugs, a mandate for paid family leave, and his regulators are revving up what looks like it could become the largest federal antitrust campaign since the 1970s.

Meanwhile, House and Senate Democrats are advancing their own election agenda that includes higher taxes and new regulation on finance and industry. The only pro-growth measure that could pass would be Mr. Trump’s renegotiated NAFTA deal, but that is in greater jeopardy after last week’s tariffs on Mexico. Gridlock will probably prevail through 2020, but investors will have to start discounting the chance that Democrats could implement much of their agenda in 2021.

All of this is already hurting growth, and especially business investment. The Institute for Supply Management’s manufacturing index fell to 52.1% in May, its lowest since 2016. Surveys of CFOs show that investment plans for 2019 have slowed sharply amid the new policy uncertainty. A majority of business-earnings calls mention trade as a major concern.

The residual good news is that the policy reforms of 2017 built considerable pro-growth momentum that led to 3.1% growth in 2018. The labor market is still buoyant, and wages are rising. Yet these are often lagging indicators, and consumer confidence typically declines if markets and growth fall.

Falling bond yields are signaling a growth slowdown and the yield curve is inverted in what nearly always predicts a recession if it continues for three months. The Atlanta Federal Reserve’s “GDP Now” estimate for second-quarter growth is down to 1.3%, and even some long-time bulls are warning that we may be looking at a return to the slow growth of the Obama years.

Mr. Trump seems to believe the Federal Reserve can make everything great again by cutting interest rates, and he may get the rate cuts he wants this year. We opposed the Fed’s rate increase in December, and that advice looks vindicated by declining inflation. But the Fed can’t offset bad trade policy by itself.

U.S. tariffs have a negative impact on growth around the world, which in turn hurts U.S. exports. That’s part of the explanation for the recent decline in U.S. manufacturing, as slower growth abroad means declining demand for American goods. We aren’t predicting recession, though you can’t rule that out if Mr. Trump follows through on his worst trade threats against China, Mexico and Europe.


A conceit of nearly all politicians is that they can get away with bad economic policies without paying too high a price. Barack Obama believed that his regulatory assaults on business had more benefits than costs. His economic advisers told him that higher tax rates don’t matter. They should have learned otherwise after eight years of 2% growth and slow wage gains that laid the path for Mr. Trump in 2016.

Now Mr. Trump and his Republican fellow-travelers think they can impose tariffs willy-nilly with little damage. They say the doomsayers were wrong about the impact of the initial round of China tariffs, and in any case the tariffs are popular with the public. They say Mr. Trump needs wedge issues against Democrats in 2020, and he can run as a trade hawk on China against Joe Biden.

But Mr. Trump campaigned in 2016 on reviving the economy, and the surge of growth has helped to offset his personal unpopularity. Bad policies operate at the margin and their effect is cumulative. The initial tariffs were dwarfed by the growth effects of tax reform and deregulation, but the damage from tariffs will rise if they increase in severity and are imposed impulsively. Sooner or later bad policies always exact a high economic and political cost.




June 4

The Plain Dealer of Cleveland, Ohio, on the anniversary of D-Day

On June 7, 1944, readers of The Plain Dealer got a firsthand account of the Allies’ pivotal D-Day landing the day before from the paper’s war correspondent, Roelif Loveland, writing “from a balcony seat high up in God’s heaven,” as flak and tracer bullets lit up the sky around his aircraft.

And the Cleveland family of 1st Lt. Howard C. Quiggle was also able to read that he was alive and well - and piloting the B-26 Marauder that had ferried Loveland to his eagle’s perch above the battle, “riding the tail of a comet to see history in the making,” as Loveland wrote in his Page One story after that fateful day.

The D-Day landings that changed the course of war and accelerated Adolf Hitler’s slow descent to defeat were launched 75 years ago this week.

“We will accept nothing less than full Victory!” came the order from Supreme Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force, U.S. Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Yet victory was never certain. A handwritten note from Ike, written in case of defeat, concludes, “The troops, the air and the Navy did all that Bravery and devotion to duty could do. If any blame or fault attaches to the attempt it is mine alone.”

Fortunately, bravery and devotion, as well as luck, planning, daring and deep sacrifice by those who launched and fought on those bloody beaches, did the trick. Attacking along 50 miles of shoreline, more than 4,000 Allied troops fell on that first day. But many more followed, beginning the drive for Berlin.

Where are they now, those intrepid paratroopers, bombardiers, pilots, medics, Army Rangers and all those others who stormed ashore on June 6, 1944?

Like 1st Lt. Quiggle and Roelif Loveland, a World War I combat veteran considered one of the greatest writers ever to grace the pages of The Plain Dealer, most have passed on to their rewards. Only about 30 American survivors are expected to attend this year’s D-Day battle anniversary in France. Nearly 350 World War II veterans die every day, the U.S. Veterans Affairs Department estimates, according to the Associated Press.

Pretty soon, they all will be gone - and the rest of us must be the ones to carry forward their stories, and remember the history they forged and their sacrifice and that of their fallen comrades.

Longtime Plain Dealer military affairs reporter Brian Albrecht has helped by spending years compiling vivid stories from D-Day survivors and others who fought in or contributed to the war effort during World War II. Twelve of those stories were highlighted in Sunday’s Plain Dealer, from the 2008 remembrances of the late English clerk Betty Leighty of Parma Heights, who came to the United States as a war bride in 1946, to John Bistrica’s vivid 1994 depiction of the tumultuous, bloody landing at Omaha Beach and the night he spent freezing, wet and hungry in a 20-foot hole he had to dig himself. Bistrica at 95 was recently profiled in The Vindicator of Youngstown, where he lives.

Their powerful stories need to be remembered, along with the D-Day fight, so crucial to ultimate victory in that war.

But are our collective memories fading too fast? An Associated Press story in The Plain Dealer Tuesday reported that many states no longer require D-Day to be part of the history curriculum.

The Ohio Department of Education’s 52-page model “American History” curriculum, posted at education.ohio.gov, does not mention D-Day.

That doesn’t mean that teachers can’t teach it - and many probably do. And educators might argue that, as we get farther away in time from a conflict, teaching its root causes and long-term impacts becomes more important than the specifics of any given battle.

But specifics of battle also matter. The nitty-gritty reality of war matters.

So on this 75th anniversary of the D-Day battle, we collectively should resolve to work harder to make sure this history, this sacrifice, this longest day, isn’t lost when the last veteran of that battle departs his Earthly existence.




June 4

The Los Angeles Times on the Tiananmen Square protests:

Thirty years ago (Tuesday), the world watched in horror as Chinese troops cracked down brutally on peaceful protests by students who sought to give the Chinese people more say over their daily lives. The lingering image of the pro-democracy movement, though, was from the next day, when a lone, unarmed man stopped a column of tanks in Tiananmen Square. It was a symbol of courage, defiance and the power of an individual - sustained, perhaps, by the fact that he’s never been identified and his fate is unknown.

To many in the West, the crackdown was but a death rattle of an authoritarian system on the wrong side of history. As the growing, liberalized Chinese economy spread prosperity across the country, and as the internet opened a window into free-world thought and culture, they believed the pressure for democracy and self-determination would become irresistible.

In the three decades since then, the Chinese economy has, in fact, grown spectacularly, lifting tens of millions of people out of poverty and creating a strong middle class. But the technology that helped Chinese people to connect to one another in unprecedented ways also enabled Orwellian surveillance and propaganda operations that have helped cement the Chinese Communist Party’s autocratic grip on power. The Chinese government has also used concerns about terrorism as a pretext to enact cynical security laws that give it even more power to spy on online traffic, suppress dissent and block foreign nonprofits from assisting its critics.

Meanwhile, by allowing some public pushback on the digital margins, tolerating small-scale online agitation for consumer protection or improvements in public works, the government pantomimes the accountability found in a democracy. True change remains a mirage.

As a result, China’s pro-democracy movement seems to be sustained mainly by activists who’ve fled to safer shores. It’s telling that while we in the West can still see the “Tank Man” photos, watch the video and read about the incident, the Chinese government is trying to erase them from its people’s memory.

But then, tanks are so 20th century. Today, the fist of Chinese oppression is best symbolized by the “reeducation” camps in Xinjiang province, roughly 2,000 miles west of Tiananmen Square, where the Chinese government has detained up to 2 million Muslims in an effort to combat alleged separatism and religious extremism among the native Uighurs. Not coincidentally, the province is a key outpost in China’s “Belt and Road” initiative that aims to increase China’s exports to and its influence over south Asia, Africa and Europe.

We certainly hope that China’s growing prosperity and integration into global commerce will prove inimical to its authoritarian impulses. But the years since the Tiananmen Square protests have shown us that progress toward liberty and democracy is not inevitable. In China, the government sells “stability” as the guarantor of the economic growth that the public craves, when its real aim is to keep the forces of change at bay.




June 4

The Houston Chronicle on storm-recovery funds:

Can you hear us now? The Trump administration’s outrageous delays in making available more than $12 billion in storm-recovery funds - about $4.3 billion of the total is for Texas - have finally been dealt with.

The House on Monday approved a Senate bill that sets a 90-day countdown for the administration to formally invite states such as Texas to submit spending plans for the money. That will kick-start the release of the funds. That means flood recovery funds approved by Congress just months after Hurricane Harvey hit in 2017 will get to Texas in 2020.

That’s astoundingly tardy, and yet even getting that much grease in the gears took - quite literally - an act of Congress.

When Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush began raising hell with the administration over the delays early this year, folks at Housing and Urban Development, which administers the funds, and the Office of Management of Budget, which approves all new rules, seemed anything but fazed. At that time, aides to both Sen. Ted Cruz and Sen. John Cornyn told the editorial board that they had also been hammering at the administration to add a sense of urgency. None of that got far.

Instead, what worked was individual members of Congress decided to cross party lines and introduce legislation that would force the administration’s hand.

Cornyn teamed with Sen. Joe Manchin, the West Virginia Democrat, on a bill to require the disbursement of the funds. A similar bill was authored in the House by a gaggle of members of Congress, including Rep. Lizzie Fletcher, D-Houston. Neither bill passed, but Cornyn and others managed to include its basic provisions in a larger disaster funding bill that did. Now all that’s required is President Donald Trump’s signature, which he’s expected to give.

Congratulations to Cornyn, Manchin and the House members who made it so. Perhaps there’s a lesson about dealing with the president: Talk is cheap, but legislation can produce results.

As we await the presidential signature, we note that many questions have been left unanswered. Why was the administration so slow? HUD officials told the editorial board earlier this year that because the funds were being spent in new ways - on preventing future flood damage rather than repairing damage from previous floods - new rules were needed. Congress was right to change the focus of these funds, but HUD should never have allowed the simple change to slow things down so profoundly. Others worried that the real reason for the delays flowed from the president’s bitter reaction to Puerto Rico and the recovery it so badly needs in the wake of Hurricane Maria.

Absent proof, we’ll pray that the latter feud played no role in the delays. And either way, the intricacies of Team Trump’s machinations can be the subject for a debate another day. The welcome news this week is that Congress intervened in a way that should pay dividends for Texas, and fairly soon.




June 1

The New York Times on recent deaths on Mount Everest:

“Because it’s there.” For those who grew up on George Mallory’s famous explanation for his yearning to scale Mount Everest, with all the romance, danger and spirit of exploration it implied, that viral photograph of an endless line of climbers in puffy parkas inching their way to the summit came as a profound shock.

Danger there is. At least 11 people died on the mountain this year - as did Mr. Mallory in 1924, the year after that interview with The Times, leaving forever open the question of whether he had first reached the summit. All but two of those who died this climbing season perished on the way down, overcome by altitude sickness and exhaustion after the hourslong delays created by the traffic jam in the oxygen-starved atmosphere above 28,000 feet (the other two fell). As the snow and ice on the mountain succumb to climate change, it is becoming common for climbers to come across the remains of those who died over the years.

But romance? For Mr. Mallory, the need to reach the highest point on the planet was “instinctive, a part, I suppose, of man’s desire to conquer the universe.” The conquest, however, has turned out to entail a landscape littered with tons of plastic bottles, food tins, excrement, ropes and tents and scores of oxygen-starved tourists lining up to take a selfie on the summit.

The fatalities this year were more than double last year’s, and the estimated 810 climbers to reach the 29,029-foot-high (8,848 meters) peak were the most ever. As the climbing season came to an end, the recriminations began, many focused on the loose standards set by the government of Nepal and the proliferation of dubious expedition companies. China also runs expeditions from its side of the mountain, but fewer use that route and the controls are said to be tighter.

On the Nepal side, anyone can pick up an Everest permit for $11,000, and the total package, with guides, equipment, food and lodging for a six-week expedition can easily exceed $50,000. In one of the world’s poorest countries, that’s a flow of money the government is loath to reduce.

Nepalese officials are belatedly considering setting proficiency standards for climbers and limiting the numbers on the mountain to reduce congestion and garbage at the summit. That should happen before the next climbing season begins.

But however disturbing the deaths and the queues, Everest still poses one of the greatest physical and mental challenges our planet has to offer, and trying to deny it to people is as futile today as it was when the Times writer interviewing Mr. Mallory concluded with this appeal: “Be not beguiled, O armchair explorer! Stick to the comparative security of your subway strap.”



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