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Editorial Roundup: Excerpts from recent editorials

November 22, 2017

Excerpts from recent editorials in the United States and abroad:


Nov. 22

Los Angeles Times on the Thanksgiving turkey:

Observing an annual pre-Thanksgiving rite, President Trump pardoned two big white fluffy turkeys Tuesday in a photo op at the White House. (Named Drumstick and Wishbone, the birds will end up at an enclosure on the campus of Virginia Tech.) That leaves 46 million other turkeys that won’t get pardoned. Instead, they’ll wind up on someone’s dinner table during this holiday season, a fate that is expected to befall about 245 million gobblers all told this year. And none of them will make the journey from farm to table via the Willard InterContinental Hotel, where Drumstick and Wishbone hung out before Drumstick was ceremoniously presented to Trump.

No animals raised on factory farms are kept and killed under worse conditions than turkeys and chickens, which make up most of the animals raised for food in the U.S. Nearly 9 billion chickens are slaughtered each year for food. And because poultry is exempt from the federal Humane Methods of Slaughter Act, which the U.S. Department of Agriculture enforces, there are not even minimum federal standards governing how they live or die.

Turkeys and so-called broiler chickens are genetically bred to grow fast (to satisfy our love for breast meat) and, typically, grow so big that they can barely walk by the time they are killed. As a result, they can suffer from painful skeletal disorders and leg deformities. The vast majority spend their short lives (about 47 days for chickens) in artificially lit, windowless, barren warehouse barns. So that turkeys won’t peck one another in these crowded barns, their beaks are painfully trimmed.

When it’s time to slaughter them, the live birds are shackled upside down on a conveyor belt, paralyzed by electrified water and then dragged over mechanical throat-cutting blades. The birds are supposed to be stunned unconscious by the electrified water, but that doesn’t always happen. Sometimes the birds miss the blades and end up tumbling into the tanks of scalding water, where they drown. These methods are so cruel that they would be prohibited by federal welfare laws — if the animals in question were cows or pigs.

These are the grim realities behind Americans’ traditional Thanksgiving meal. But there are ways to make life and death somewhat better for the turkeys that wind up on your table. Of course, we could all just eat less turkey and chicken, which would reduce the demand for these animals. But to make a bigger impact, the major buyers of chicken and turkey meat need to push their suppliers to adopt less grisly practices.

The Humane Society of the U.S. has launched a campaign to get producers to pledge to raise healthier, less bloated birds, to provide them with better living conditions — more space, more stimulating environments and more sunlight — and, perhaps most important, to render the birds unconscious before they are shackled and slaughtered. The campaign also seeks to persuade buyers to obtain meat only from producers that honor this pledge. Meanwhile, Temple Grandin, the animal science professor known for designing more humane procedures for slaughtering beef cattle, has called for “controlled atmosphere stunning,” a process of using gas to make the birds unconscious before they get shackled for slaughter.

Just as pressure from animal welfare advocates, consumers and California voters led poultry farmers to free egg-laying hens from tiny cages, industry is now responding to similar pressure to implement more humane conditions for turkeys and broiler chickens. Whole Foods announced last year that it would begin to replace meat from fast-growing chickens with products from slower-growing breeds that are given more space. Perdue Farms Inc., a major chicken producer, has changed some of its plants and has incorporated gas stunning at its turkey plant in Indiana. And nearly 70 companies have signed on to the Humane Society’s campaign, including Burger King, Subway, Aramark and Panera. Many of these companies have put out new policy statements of commitment to obtaining poultry only from producers that raise smaller chickens and render them unconscious before shackling them.

Installing new procedures takes time and money. All the buyers and producers that have signed on to the Humane Society campaign have agreed to fully convert to a new system by 2024. Companies should be held to that time frame, and more should be encouraged to take that pledge. If enough consumers demand it, companies will do it. That’s not too much to ask for the sake of the bird you’ll be carving up on Thanksgiving.

Online: http://www.latimes.com/


Nov. 18

AL.com on Alabama’s Senate race:

This election is a turning point for women in Alabama. A chance to make their voices heard in a state that has silenced them for too long.

The accusations against Roy Moore have been horrifying, but not shocking.

Every day new allegations arise that illustrate a pattern of a man in his 30s strutting through town like the cock of the walk, courting and preying on young women and girls. And though Roy Moore has denied the accusations of these women, his own platform and record is hostile to so many Alabamians.

Unlike the national party, the Alabama Republican establishment has chosen to stand by him, attacking and belittling the brave women who have come forward.

As a news organization, we have independently investigated stories of several Alabama woman who have spoken to us and the Washington Post about the abuse they say they suffered at the hands of Roy Moore decades ago.

The seriousness of these incidents, including one involving a 14-year-old child, cannot be overstated. Nor can the growing number of accusations — from the women who were at the receiving end of unwanted adult male overtures as teens, to those who say they were physically assaulted — be parsed with talk of statutes of limitations or whether proof has been recorded on a stone tablet. In the American system, proof beyond a reasonable doubt is a consideration for the courtroom, not the ballot box. It is our job as voters to look closely at the candidates and make up our own minds.

Do not let this conversation be muddled. This election has become a referendum on whether we will accept this kind of behavior from our leaders.

Alabamians have never cared about what the rest of country thinks of them. And we do not expect all the handwringing from national pundits, conservative or liberal, to make much of a difference. This election isn’t about what a late-night comedian may think of Alabama or whether Sean Hannity can sell advertisements; it’s not about Saturday Night Live or Mitch McConnell. It’s not about Breitbart or National Democrats. It is about the moral values of the people of Alabama.

Do not make your voting decision based on who it will affect on a national stage. Vote based on who it will affect in your hometown.

We each know someone in our lives who is a survivor of sexual assault or child abuse. Many of us are still searching for the words needed to tell our own stories and some may never find that voice. This election is about them.

How can we look our neighbors, our parishioners, our colleagues, our partners, or our children in the eyes and tell them they are worth less than ensuring one political party keeps a Senate seat? How can we expect young Alabamians to have faith in their government or their church, when its leaders equivocate on matters as clear cut as sexual abuse?

A vote for Roy Moore sends the worst kind of message to Alabamians struggling with abuse: “if you ever do tell your story, Alabama won’t believe you.”

Or, worse, we’ll believe you but we just won’t care.

To be clear: it’s not only his record on women and children that disqualifies Moore. If we vote for Roy Moore, Alabama will also show that we don’t care about you if you’re gay or Muslim or Catholic. If you’re an atheist or an immigrant. We’ll show each other that we only care about Roy Moore’s definition of Alabama. And that there’s not room for the rest of us.

Roy Moore says he has faith in the Alabama voters. But apparently only a select few.

This utter disregard for people unlike himself, his pathological fixation on sex, and the steps he’s taken to actively diminish other people’s freedoms, is more than enough to have disqualified him from this office long before these women stepped into the public eye.

Alabamians opposed to Roy Moore have three options on election day: stay home, write in a candidate, or vote for Doug Jones.

As a news organization, we could never advise voters to stay home. Low turnout in the Republican primary contributed to Roy Moore winning a spot on the ballot. Elections matter. And from soldiers overseas to Civil Rights foot soldiers at home, too many people have risked their lives to secure that privilege for Alabamians. And given what’s at stake in this election, we urge you to register by November 27.

If your conscience tells you that you cannot vote for either man, write in a candidate that shares your convictions. While we believe that state Republicans response to the allegations brought against Roy Moore has cast a permanent shadow on many others — particularly GOP Chairwoman Terry Lathan who has threatened any Republican who speaks out — there are good options in the Republican Party.

Despite what you may have heard, Doug Jones is a moderate Democrat and a strong candidate for all Alabamians. As the son of a steel family, he understands the concerns facing working class families as factories close and jobs disappear. He’s been an active member of Canterbury United Methodist Church in Birmingham. He has built a platform around issues that will define Alabama: job creation, small business development, child healthcare, criminal justice reform and, perhaps most needed of all, compromise.

By bringing justice to four little girls killed at Birmingham’s 16th Baptist Church, Jones helped Alabama move forward from the sins of our past. But unlike some national Democrats, he isn’t interested in shaming Alabama voters because of their history. As a Red State Democrat, we expect Jones would have a larger seat at the table crafting policy in the Senate. Neither Majority Leader Mitch McConnell nor Minority Leader Chuck Schumer would be able to take Jones’ vote for granted (for relevant examples look to West Virginia’s Joe Manchin, Montana’s Jon Tester or North Dakota’s Heidi Heitkamp). That would put Jones in a strong position to work with Sen. Shelby to secure policies that benefit Alabamians.

While Jones is a vocal Christian, despite Moore’s claims to be the sole Christian in politics, we know his pro-choice stance may be a deal breaker for some Alabamians, but his stance only advocates the law as it is currently written. After a year of complete control of the White House, the Senate and the House, we are skeptical that this Congress plans to pass any relevant legislation on abortion. Jones’ commitment to affordable healthcare for women and children will improve the lives of Alabama’s families, and, for us, his pro-choice stance is not disqualifying.

What is disqualifying is the conduct of Roy Moore against women and children. It was disqualifying for his party leaders. It was disqualifying for Alabama’s senior senator. And it should be disqualifying for his state party.

By the various misdeeds, miscalculations and mistakes of its voters and leaders, Alabama has left itself with few options. Alabamians must show themselves to be people of principle, reject Roy Moore and all that he stands for.

There is only one candidate left in this race who has proven worthy of the task of representing Alabama. He is Doug Jones.

The voters must make their voices heard.

Online: http://www.al.com/montgomery/


Nov. 21

The Washington Post on the possible naming of Thomas Brunell to be deputy director of the Census Bureau:

One of the most important functions the federal government performs is the decennial census, which not only provides a demographic snapshot of the country but also determines how much representation each state gets in Congress. It has been a thankfully nonpartisan effort in past years, run by experienced professionals who offered critics little basis on which to accuse them of tilting the count. The Trump administration might soon break that tradition.

The latest reason for concern came into view Tuesday, in a Politico report revealing that President Trump might name Thomas Brunell, a professor at the University of Texas at Dallas, to be deputy director of the Census Bureau. He would be a poor choice.

Though he is a serious academic, there is nothing in Mr. Brunell’s background suggesting he is qualified to run a large government bureaucracy in general or the Census Bureau in particular. Previous Census Bureau leaders generally served extensively in government roles directly related to the bureau’s work. Mr. Brunell has not.

These facts have led many to wonder why Trump administration officials might want Mr. Brunell running the bureau. The answer may lie in his past work helping Republicans in electoral map cases, or in some of his views on voting issues. Mr. Brunell has criticized partisan gerrymandering — but also early voting and nonpartisan redistricting commissions. Something of an iconoclast in his field, he is most notable among political scientists for arguing that electoral districts should be drawn to maximize the proportion of like-minded voters in each, limiting the number of competitive seats on electoral maps.

None of this proves that Mr. Brunell would run a partisan Census Bureau. But his political affiliations and previous work would nevertheless harm perceptions of the bureau’s integrity, an institution in which Americans must have complete faith. His possible appointment has inflamed preexisting worries that the Trump administration will meddle with the count. Of particular concern is the possibility that the president would order that census forms ask about immigration status, which would result in low response rates and, potentially, massive undercounts in minority communities.

Republicans in Congress have badly underfunded the census the past several years, leading the bureau to cancel or put off important programs, which could harm the quality of the 2020 count. This fact alone argues for picking Census Bureau leaders seasoned in government operations and ready to take on a huge management challenge.

Mr. Brunell, Politico reported, was considered for the Census Bureau’s top job, but opposition in Congress nixed that plan. Unlike candidates for the director’s job, those picked to be deputy director do not need Senate confirmation. If tapped, Mr. Brunell could start immediately, even while the bureau lacks a confirmed director. That would be damaging to an enterprise already at risk. Mr. Trump should find someone else.

Online: https://www.washingtonpost.com/


Nov. 20

Sun Sentinel of Fort Lauderdale, Florida on Trump administration’s plans to end Temporary Protective Status for roughly 59,000 Haitians in the U.S.:

The Trump administration’s mind is made up. It plans to end Temporary Protective Status for about 59,000 Haitians living in the U.S. It says these immigrants must leave the United States by July 2019 or face deportation.

The deadline is 18 months longer than what the administration had proposed earlier this year. And it’s going to take that long, or longer, to prepare Haiti for the return of so many people, to prepare our region for their departure and to prepare families for the heartbreaking choices ahead.

These Haitians had the good fortune to be in the United States when a massive earthquake struck their impoverished island nation in 2010. In a humanitarian gesture, the Department of Homeland Security invited them to apply for Temporary Protected Status, or TPS, in the department’s jargon. The program was invented to help people in precisely this set of circumstances, 18 months at a time.

Their 18-month reprieve has been extended several times over the past seven years, each time because conditions on the island had barely improved. Such is the case today. The earthquake woes have been compounded by the wind and rain of Hurricane Matthew. And all has been capped off by a cholera epidemic.

But support for extensions wore thin under the Trump administration. And Monday evening, an unsympathetic White House announced the ax is going to fall.

Haiti is ill-equipped to handle the return of 50,000 countrymen looking for work, places to live, food and all the basics of life. And the loss of money earned in the U.S. and sent home to help struggling relatives is going to compound the problem.

The entire South Florida congressional delegation had supported extending their protected status, but lawmakers elsewhere showed little concern for poor people forced to return to terrible conditions. So lacking congressional cover, the White House now expects everyone to pick up and leave or be rounded up and deported.

We fully understand the position of those who argue that repeated extension of the waiver has become a de facto grant of permanent status. For it is true, the TPS Haitians have become deeply rooted in our country.

Plus, they’ve had children who are American citizens who can’t be deported.

Now these parents face a “Sophie’s Choice” dilemma. Do they leave the children behind in the care of who knows who, or take them back to Haiti to live as strangers in a country they barely know?

As we have noted before, the TPS program is another piece in a complicated immigration puzzle that Congress refuses to solve.

Some kind of temporary protection status is needed to keep people from being forced back to countries in chaos. But we also need a mechanism to reduce the possibility of extended stays that morph into permanency.

Fixing the TPS program is but one step in the multi-step immigration reform process that should begin soon.

The Trump White House leans toward a more-restrictive policy that would move away from one that now favors family reunion. Advocates of a more open-door policy argue that, on balance, the U.S. fares better when immigration policy is more welcoming. Immigration is good for the economy, they argue.

Thrashing out the differences between those two approaches is essential. We can ignore the 10 to 12 million undocumented immigrants for only so long. We must deal with the Dreamers — undocumented children brought here as youngsters — before they become embittered. But it’s an election year, so as always, expect nothing to happen.

In the end, rather than address the consequences of inaction — families who’ve become Americanized while escaping disaster and disease back home — President Trump wants to round them up and send them back to join the misery.

Online: http://www.sun-sentinel.com/


Nov. 20

The New York Times on the estate tax:

As he raised estate tax rates to fund work programs during the Great Depression, Franklin Delano Roosevelt said, “The transmission from generation to generation of vast fortunes by will, inheritance or gift is not consistent with the ideals and sentiments of the American people.”

It’s plenty consistent with the ideals and sentiments of President Trump, who began lying about the merits of an estate tax repeal on the day he began the tax overhaul effort.

“To protect millions of small businesses and the American farmer, we are finally ending the crushing, the horrible, the unfair estate tax, or as it is often referred to, the death tax,” Mr. Trump said in late September.

Congressional Republicans echoed Mr. Trump’s whoppers.

“You actually create jobs by getting rid of this death tax,” said the House speaker, Paul Ryan. “Because you know what kills one family business from passing their business on to the next generation? The estate tax.”

“For too long, this tax has threatened family-owned businesses — including women- and minority-owned businesses — from being passed down to their children and grandchildren,” said Representative Kevin Brady, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, which produced the tax legislation.

Wrong, wrong and wrong. So who actually does pay estate tax?

1. The top 0.2 percent. Some 11,300 American estates — about 0.2 percent — are estimated to be subject to the estate tax this year. The top tenth of income earners pay nearly 90 percent of estate taxes collected, and about one fourth of that total is paid by the richest 0.1 percent. The tax itself has been whittled down significantly. Until 2001, it applied to inheritances starting at $650,000 for an individual. Today, an inheritance must be larger than $5.49 million for an individual or $10.98 million for a couple for their heirs to be liable for any estate tax at all. Opponents of the tax say it taxes earnings twice. But more than half of the biggest estates consist of unrealized capital gains — like stocks that have appreciated without being sold — that have never been previously taxed.

2. A few dozen farmers, and even fewer minority business owners. About 80 family farmers or small-business people would be subject to the estate tax this year, according to an analysis by the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center — a far cry from the “millions” Mr. Trump wrongly claims. The biggest winners in an estate tax repeal wouldn’t be struggling ranchers, minority contractors or mom-and-pop grocers. They’d be people like Mr. Trump’s kids, unless they’re .

3. Morons. “Only morons pay the estate tax,” Gary Cohn, Mr. Trump’s chief economic adviser, told Senate Democrats, meaning, it was later explained, “rich people with really bad tax planning.” Many of the very wealthy use loopholes, like trusts, to avoid paying inheritance tax. We don’t know where Mr. Trump’s kids would stand because Mr. Trump has never fulfilled his promise to publicly release his tax information.

An estate tax repeal would provide a tax windfall of more than $3 million apiece for the top 0.2 percent of earners, and more than $20 million for the wealthiest Americans. It would cost $239 billion in revenue over a decade. It offers nothing for middle-class people, except more evidence of Mr. Trump’s and Republicans’ bad faith.

Online: https://www.nytimes.com/


Nov. 22

China Daily on President Donald Trump putting North Korea back on the U.S. terrorism blacklist:

Despite his war of words with the leader of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea Kim Jong-un, US President Donald Trump expressed his preference for a diplomatic solution to the Korean Peninsula nuclear crisis during his recent trip to Asia.

Yet in a move that seems to go directly against this professed intention, Trump put the DPRK back on the United States’ terrorism blacklist on Monday.

The designation of the DPRK as a state sponsor of terrorism will only further alienate the country. It makes the prospects for talks much dimmer, and may even eliminate the possibility of any talks.

The move comes at a time when the Korean Peninsula had become calmer. For more than two months, Pyongyang has refrained from conducting any missile and nuclear tests.

The US’ designation of the DPRK as a state sponsor of terrorism could lay waste to the efforts of China and Russia to bring the DPRK back to the negotiation table. Instead, it could be used by Pyongyang as a pretext to renew its weapons tests, thus restarting the vicious circle of escalating tensions on the peninsula that had seemed in danger of spiraling out of control.

Besides whether the DPRK meets the legal requirements for being relisted as a state sponsor of terrorism is questionable, even at the US State Department. Trump has based the designation on the alleged killing of Kim’s half-brother Kim Jong-nam by DPRK agents at Kuala Lumpur airport in February. But even if this proves to be the case, lawyers say there has to be more than one terrorist incident to substantiate the claim.

The designation seems more like an excuse for the US to seek the highest level of sanctions against Pyongyang as part of its proclaimed “maximum pressure campaign”.

But the DPRK has already been under crushing sanctions imposed by the United Nations and other countries, which restrict its oil imports and ban most of its exports, aimed at depriving it of funds for its nuclear and missile programs. It takes time for such sanctions to bite, there is no evidence that further sanctions will achieve more immediate results in constraining Pyongyang’s nuclear ambitions. Even US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson admitted the designation is a “very symbolic move” and their “practical effects may be limited”.

The DPRK has justified its pursuit of nuclear weapons with its existential concerns, insisting the weapons will help it better defend itself from the threat of a US invasion. The latest US move only serves to fan that fear — given what happened to Iraq and Libya — and does a disservice to easing the already tense situation on the peninsula. Instead, as China said on Tuesday, “more should be done” to resolve the crisis through dialogue.

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

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