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Editorial Roundup: Excerpts from recent editorials

May 9, 2019

Excerpts from recent editorials in the United States and abroad:

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May 9

The Japan Times on the importance of calm demeanors when it comes to U.S.-China relations:

The intensifying confrontation between the United States and China significantly amplifies uncertainties in the future of the global economy. Their trade conflict should be solved by thoroughly and repeatedly having cool-headed talks.

U.S. President Donald Trump announced that, effective Friday, punitive tariffs on $200 billion (about 22 trillion) worth of Chinese goods will be raised from 10 percent to 25 percent.

Trump seemingly aims to extract further concessions from China at ministerial-level trade negotiations between the two countries that will start Thursday.

Optimistic views had recently been spreading in markets that an agreement would be reached soon during bilateral negotiations. The sudden announcement of tariff hikes reversed these views. Investor sentiment has quickly deteriorated and has caused a spontaneous, worldwide decline in stock values.

In the United States, the Dow Jones Industrial Average temporarily dropped nearly 650 points on Tuesday. On Wednesday in Tokyo, the Nikkei Stock Average also dove 321 points.

The United States and China account for about 40 percent of global gross domestic product (GDP). If their confrontation intensifies with the tariff increase, that would bring an even more serious level of damage to the markets and economic activities. A situation should be avoided in which the trade dispute gets bogged down.

In the bilateral ministerial-level trade negotiations, both countries need to make concessions to avoid the raising of punitive tariffs.

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Against the background of Trump’s abrupt announcement was apparently the fact that the United States maintained robust growth and stock prices were approaching their highest levels ever. It seems the judgment was that even if a hard-line stance toward China is taken, the negative effect on the United States would be minimal.

However, the target of the increase in tariffs includes many goods related to daily life, such as home electrical appliances and furniture. The price increase in imported goods could cool down consumption, a driving force behind U.S. economic growth. It is desirable for the United States to more carefully determine the risks from raising tariffs.

Primarily, if the United States wields punitive tariffs, wouldn’t China take a tougher stance and the two countries be further apart on an agreement? Trade issues should be solved not through intimidation but through dialogue based on mutual trust.

Of course, China’s response is also indispensable for the negotiations to advance. Frustrations over China’s continuing unfair trade practices and restrictions are mounting not only in the United States, but also in Japan and European countries.

The United States is especially dissatisfied over China distorting free competition by providing huge subsidies to its state enterprises. Unless China revises its policy of giving excessively preferential treatment to its industries, it will be difficult to solve the trade dispute.

The Chinese economy has just come out of a slump due to the government’s economic stimulus measures. To put an end to its sluggish economic growth, it is becoming important for China to present its own positive reform plans.

Online:

http://the-japan-news.com

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May 9

The Boston Herald on U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s call to impeach President Donald Trump:

Make no mistake, Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s call for impeachment is nothing but a product of poor polling. Since her presidential announcement in early February, she has seen many in the field pass her by and with Joe Biden holding steady at the top spot, she will take any and all measures to catch a tail wind.

And so it is that Elizabeth Warren took to the Senate floor Tuesday and declared, “The information that has been given to us in the Mueller Report clearly constitutes adequate information to begin an impeachment proceeding in the House of Representatives. No matter how many times Mitch McConnell or the rest of the Republicans want to wish that away, it’s there in black and white in the report.”

Of course, nothing is there in black and white other than the fact that, “The investigation did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.”

But that is not enough for Sen. Warren, who managed to keep a straight face on the Senate floor. “This is not a fight I wanted to take on but this is the fight in front of us now,” she said. “This is not about politics, this is about the Constitution of the United States of America. We took an oath not to try to protect Donald Trump. We took an oath to protect and serve the Constitution of the United States of America.”

Back on March 25, back when Biden hadn’t entered the race but was still trouncing her by 24 points in the Real Clear Politics average, she told Stephen Colbert that voters she’d talked to didn’t care about the Mueller report, “Because what people are talking about, what they’re asking about, are the things that touch their lives every day.”

Now, many weeks later, as the Biden campaign surges ahead, Warren finds herself behind him by more than 30 points in the Real Clear average. Polls in New Hampshire and Massachusetts show her running fourth and third, respectively.

That is bad news. And that is why Sen. Warren is throwing around soak-the-rich tax schemes, slavery reparations, college debt forgiveness and now impeachment.

It never ends. Unless the polling trends continue, in which case Warren will be relegated to the role with which the voters of Massachusetts entrusted her. That could be a good thing. Her constituents have needs and should not be pushed aside while their senator chases her pipe dreams.

Online:

https://www.bostonherald.com

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May 8

The New York Times on President Donald Trump’s tax returns:

President Trump owes the American people a fuller account of his financial dealings, including the release of his recent tax returns, because politicians should keep their promises, because the public deserves to know whether his policies are lining his pockets and because the integrity of our system of government requires everyone, particularly the president, to obey the law.

Mr. Trump promised to release his tax returns before his presidential campaign and in the early stages of that campaign, then reneged, offering a long series of inconsistent excuses for breaking his promise. Now Mr. Trump is resisting the lawful request of the House Ways and Means Committee for the Treasury secretary to release the last six years of his tax returns.

In seeking the president’s returns, the House is clearly acting in the public interest.

First and foremost, the public deserves to know more about Mr. Trump’s finances: from whom he has borrowed, with whom he has done business, to whom he may be beholden. This is relevant information about any president, but it is particularly important in the case of Mr. Trump, because he refused to divest his business holdings following his election, breaking with the practice of his predecessors.

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A tax return is far from a complete picture of a person’s financial life. For one thing, it is an accounting of income rather than wealth, so it would not establish whether Mr. Trump is a billionaire. But Mr. Trump’s tax returns could provide significant information about matters of greater public import, including his debts and the sources of his income. For example, if Mr. Trump deducted the interest payments on a loan from his taxable income, he would be required to disclose information about the source and amount of that loan. Another example: A partnership that sells real estate, and includes foreign partners, must disclose information about those partners.

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The disclosure of Mr. Trump’s tax returns could also help to verify, or falsify, a range of assertions that Mr. Trump has made about his own life — stories that he used to build support for his candidacy and continues to use to build support for his policies.

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Reporting on Mr. Trump’s financial past by Times reporters, including David Barstow, Susanne Craig and Russ Buettner has already undermined the president’s confected image as a hugely successful businessman. In a piece published Tuesday evening, Ms. Craig and Mr. Buettner reported Mr. Trump “appears to have lost more money than nearly any other individual American taxpayer” year after year in the late 1980s and the early 1990s. Mr. Trump has long said he suffered setbacks during the recession in the early 1990s, and then bounced back to rebuild his fortunes. But tax records and other sources show Mr. Trump lost big during the boom years of the late 1980s.

Far less is known about Mr. Trump’s more recent financial dealings.

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The returns also could help to clarify whether Mr. Trump continues to cheat on his taxes. The Times has previously reported that Mr. Trump engaged in fraud to avoid taxation during the 1990s. In requesting Mr. Trump’s tax returns, the House has said it seeks to evaluate whether he is being properly audited by the Internal Revenue Service, which audits all presidential returns as a matter of policy. It has asked for the last six years of the president’s personal tax returns — the period likely still subject to an I.R.S. audit — and tax information for eight of Mr. Trump’s businesses.

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Online:

https://www.nytimes.com

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May 8

The Denver Post on the school shooting in Highlands Ranch, Colorado:

Kendrick Castillo is a bright light of selflessness and love in days where Americans move from one tragedy to the next, marking their sorrow with headlines and social media posts.

The 18-year-old Colorado senior died Tuesday while saving his classmates from one of two shooters who police say opened fire in STEM School Highlands Ranch. Eight other students were injured and we pray the three who remained hospitalized Wednesday afternoon survive and thrive following this tragedy.

Castillo was no superhero or well-trained Marine. He was just a kid. His father, John Castillo, called him “the best kid in the world.” We have to agree. Colorado owes Kendrick more than it could ever repay. According to his classmates and his father, Kendrick lunged at the shooter who had brought a gun into his British Literature class, giving students precious time to escape or hide.

“It doesn’t surprise me,” John Castillo told Denver Post reporter Sam Tabachnik. “He cared enough about people that he would do something like that.”

Remarkably, Castillo wasn’t alone in his courage. Reports indicate that other students joined in his gallantry, physically confronting one of the two people arrested in connection to the shooting.

Student Nui Giasolli was on NBC’s “Today” Wednesday morning and thanked Castillo and the other young men who she said went after the shooter.

“They were very heroic. I can’t thank them enough,” she said.

We can’t thank them enough either.

Nor can we express enough appreciation for the security guard who was on campus and apprehended one of the suspects, or the first responders who rushed into the building within minutes of getting the call for help, or the teachers and administrators who did their best to protect their students.

“We’re going to hear about some heroic things inside the school,” Douglas County Sheriff Tony Spurlock said Wednesday morning. Indeed.

Spurlock and his team have handled the situation with efficiency and professionalism that inspires confidence that if we cannot prevent every shooting, at least we can limit the loss of life with an immediate response. Every parent should demand that their school have security guards or police equipped to respond to an armed threat on campus at all times.

This is the fourth school shooting in Colorado since 1999. Four in 20 years is hardly an epidemic. But school shootings — and mass shootings in general — have spiked in recent years in America.

While we will never regain the innocence our schools enjoyed prior to the tragedies in Columbine High School, Platte Canyon High School, Deer Creek Middle School or Arapahoe High School, we can take the glimpses of good that emerged from each tragedy and celebrate and honor them.

Coloradans should ask themselves what they can do today to honor Kendrick Castillo, and then do it tomorrow, next month, next year, and the year after that, until the distant day when we can say with confidence our schools are safe.

Online:

https://www.denverpost.com

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May 8

The Washington Post on reactions to mass shootings:

When A gunman opened fire in a synagogue in California, 60-year-old Lori Gilbert Kaye jumped between the shooter and the rabbi. She was killed, but the rabbi credits her with saving his life.

When another man started shooting inside a classroom at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, 21-year-old Riley Howell charged him. Shot three times, he died. Authorities said he stopped what would have been a far worse massacre.

And when gunfire broke out Tuesday at a science, technology, engineering and mathematics school in Colorado, 18-year-old Kendrick Castillo lunged at the shooter. He was fatally shot. Witnesses said his actions gave other students a chance to safely get away.

We mourn the loss of these people. They were heroes. Faced with the unimaginable, they were unshrinking. But the fact that people going about the business of everyday life — saying a prayer, giving a college presentation, sitting in English class — feel compelled to throw themselves into the line of fire puts to shame our so-called political leaders, who don’t even have the guts to pass sensible gun reform.

Rather than take proactive measures aimed at preventing shootings (such as New Zealand’s swift move to ban assault weapons), the United States operates on the seeming assumption that mass killing is inescapable, so citizens should learn how to best react. “Run, hide and fight” was the message blasted out to the UNC Charlotte campus when a gunman went on a rampage last month. “I heard a gunshot,” said Makai Dixon, a second-grader at STEM School Highlands Ranch who knew exactly what to listen for because of the drills and lockdowns that are now a core curriculum of U.S. schools. “I have to believe that the quick response of officers that got inside that school helped save lives,” said Douglas County Sheriff Tony Spurlock of Tuesday’s events, which occurred not far from the site of the Columbine school shooting of two decades ago.

It’s good that lessons have been learned in dealing with emergencies. Much credit and gratitude go to the first responders who don’t flinch in racing toward danger. But they — and people such as Lori Gilbert Kaye, Riley Howell, Kendrick Castillo and Makai Dixon — deserve better. They deserve lawmakers who put their safety ahead of gun lobby interests and are willing to enact common-sense gun-control measures — such as universal background checks, a ban on assault rifles and safe storage requirements. That will take courage, but not nearly so much as what we’ve seen from those unelected Americans.

Online:

https://www.washingtonpost.com

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May 7

The Post and Courier on bombings in Syria:

Despite a solemn promise made last fall, Russia and Syria have started a massive bombing campaign against a rebel Syrian province, targeting civilians with barrel bombs, so far displacing an estimated 200,000 people. The United States and world opinion must apply maximum pressure to halt a potential slaughter of innocent people.

Last fall, as Russia and Syria planned a major offensive to drive a small number of rebels from Idlib province that was expected to endanger huge numbers of refugees from other war-torn areas of Syria, President Donald Trump spoke up forcefully, saying the two “must not recklessly attack” the civilian areas. He must do so again.

The massive attack on Idlib did not materialize due to an agreement between Turkey, which assumed a protective role for the endangered civilians, and Russia to create a demilitarized zone for the roughly 3.5 million civilians, including over a million refugees, living in the province.

Following the agreement President Trump claimed credit for stopping the planned assault, apparently because of pressure the United States quietly put on Russia.

Now the threat is back. It brings the potential for more human misery and new floods of refugees fleeing Syria for Turkey and Europe.

In the recent attacks, Syria is once again using barrel bombs dropped by helicopters and designed to wound and kill civilians. The United Nations Security Council in 2014 specifically condemned the use of these cruel and devastating weapons, and Russia’s ambassador to the U.N. said in 2015 that Syria would no longer use them, a promise that Syria and Russia have ignored. Their use in the Syrian civil war is considered a war crime.

Last Friday, reports The Wall Street Journal, Syrian helicopters dropped more than 100 barrel bombs on villages and hospitals in what was ominously described as a prelude to a ground offensive.

The independent Syrian Network for Human Rights, which has carefully documented the use of these weapons during the civil war, reported that Russian and Syrian bombardments have killed 441 civilians including 130 children since last September’s ceasefire. The recent bombings, which continued this week, have killed an estimated additional 100 civilians and damaged 10 hospitals. Unfortunately, this might be just the beginning of broader, unconscionable carnage.

The attacks appear to signal the end of Russian-Turkish cooperation to preserve a ceasefire in the province. As recently as April 8, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Russia’s President Vladimir Putin agreed on a plan for joint Russian-Turkish patrols to prevent attacks by rebel forces in Idlib. “Another significant step taken with Russia is to cooperate against terrorist acts in Syria,” said Erdogan at the time. It turned out to be another broken promise.

In a statement issued last week, State Department spokesman Morgan Ortagus said, “We call on all parties, including Russia and the Syrian regime, to abide by their commitments to avoid large-scale military offensives, return to a de-escalation of violence in the area, and allow for unhindered humanitarian access to address the humanitarian disaster created by the ongoing violence.” The European Union has also protested.

These are fine words, but unless backed by a credible threat of consequences, they are unlikely to have any impact.

Meanwhile, other reports say Iran has made preparations to attack U.S. forces in Eastern Syria.

Mr. Trump is being tested. To prevent a massive loss of civilian life, the president needs to make it clear to Russia, Syria and Iran that they must back off.

Online:

https://www.postandcourier.com