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Editorials from around Ohio

July 8, 2019

Recent editorials of statewide and national interest from Ohio newspapers:

The Akron Beacon Journal, July 4

On Wednesday, President Trump tweeted: “Many of these illegal aliens are living far better now than where they came from and in far safer conditions.” He was responding to outrage in the wake of a report from the inspector general at the Department of Homeland Security, released a day earlier. The report cites “serious overcrowding and prolonged detention” at a handful of migrant centers along the southwestern border. It describes squalid conditions, detainees, including many children, without proper hygiene, nutrition or sleeping arrangements.

Perhaps, in some instances, the circumstances are better, say, for those migrants fleeing for their lives. Yet that misses the point of the fury. What many Americans find disturbing is the violation of our shared values, the report revealing a lack of compassion and simple decency, not to mention respect for the rule of law.

In almost all cases, these migrants are desperate to improve their lives. Many are seeking asylum, and their stories deserve to be heard. That doesn’t mean all applications will be granted. Rather, the expectation and legal requirement are that they will be treated humanely as they wait.

This is what our history teaches, the virtue and reward in embracing newcomers.

The Trump White House has been transparent about its intention. It wants to discourage migrants from coming. Thus, it has taken such steps as raising fees on asylum applications and forcing more than 13,000 migrants to wait in Mexico for the outcome of their cases. The darkest elements have been the “zero tolerance” policy resulting in children separated from their families (without adequate tracking to ensure eventual reunification) — and now this.

The Homeland Security inspector general report finds that “at one facility, some single adults were held in standing-room-only conditions for a week, and at another, some single adults were held more than a month in overcrowded cells.” Children and adults received only wet wipes to clean themselves. They were fed bologna sandwiches. The report notes that as inspectors visited facilities, migrants banged on cells and pleaded for help.

The report concludes that both border agents and detainees are at increasing risk. One facility manager called the conditions a “ticking time-bomb.”

What about deterrence? Border apprehensions actually have increased sharply since last fall, analysts suggesting that migrants are coming in greater numbers to beat a future presidential bid to shut the border door. Whatever the reason for the surge, the administration has responded poorly. And, yes, Congress has been slow to act.

The recently enacted $4.6 billion for improvements and humanitarian assistance at the border will help. So will the recent agreement with Mexico concerning more cooperative action. Yet it is worth emphasizing the inspector general report builds on an earlier assessment, released in May, which reached similar conclusions and made recommendations that have yet to be implemented.

It disappoints, too, to learn from reporting by ProPublica that current and former border patrol agents have contributed to a Facebook page jokes about migrant deaths and threats to members of Congress. As it is, the New York Times points out that since September, at least six migrant children have died in federal custody or shortly after they were released.

All of this should shock the conscience. Federal authorities have a process for handling migrants. For instance, children who cannot be deported are supposed to be moved to proper facilities with 72 hours. The White House argues that the system has been overwhelmed. The trouble is in responding to the crush, the administration has abandoned the spirit of the law and past practice. It has opted for cruelty, or actions at odds with what long has won admiration for this country.

Online: https://bit.ly/30kGIc7

___The Marietta Times, July 8

Teaching our children how to enjoy healthy lifestyles, both in the positive sense of doing things like eating right and in the negative of avoiding hazards such as tobacco and illicit drugs, ought to be a priority in public schools.

Teaching our children how to enjoy healthy lifestyles, both in the positive sense of doing things like eating right and in the negative of avoiding hazards such as tobacco and illicit drugs, ought to be a priority in public schools.

But in Ohio, a peculiar approach — if it can be called that — to the task has been pointed out. Ohio is the only state that has no health education content standards for use by public schools, according to The Columbus Dispatch.

Local control over schools is one thing, but leaving hundreds of districts on their own in teaching health classes is another. It makes no sense.

A legislator, state Rep. Beth Liston, D-Dublin, is sponsoring a bill (HB 165) that would require the Ohio Board of Education to develop health education content standards for schools throughout the state.

“We face so many challenges,” Liston told The Dispatch. “Some schools are doing an amazing job; others could use help.”

One objection some may have to that is education dealing with sex. Many Ohioans don’t like the idea of schools dealing with that very private matter. But surely some compromises and/or safeguards on local control can be built into the proposed standards. It also makes no sense to avoid teaching kids how to make healthy decisions because of skittishness on one topic.

Online: https://bit.ly/2La2SKB

___The Sandusky Register, July 1

We’ve marveled at what our grandparents and great-grandparents accomplished at the NASA Plum Brook Station. They built the B-2 Spacecraft Propulsion Research Facility, the world’s only facility capable of testing full-scale, upper-stage launch vehicles and rocket engines under simulated high-altitude conditions, and the Space Power Facility, the world’s largest space environment vacuum chamber. The 6,400-acre NASA Plum Brook also has the Hypersonic Test Facility, which the U.S. Department of Defense wants to spend $20 million to upgrade to be fully functional and usable.

U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur — long a champion for NASA Plum Brook — announced the funding is on its way to being fully approved. But, what is a Hypersonic Test Facility? According to NASA, it was originally designed to “test nuclear thermal rocket nozzles, is a hypersonic (Mach 5, 6, and 7) blowdown, nonvitiated freejet facility that tests large-scale hypersonic air-breathing propulsion systems.”

While not fully understanding what that means, we can observe what a fantastic asset Plum Brook is to our region. There is nothing more high-tech we know of than that, right there, whatever that means, for which NASA provided further clarification.

“Its experimental infrastructure includes a shop area for fabrication of materials for facility subsystems and assembly of customer hardware. Due to the high-energy nature of the facility, it is operated remotely from a control room approximately one-quarter mile from the actual facility.”

We’re sure some readers can fully understand what it is. What we understand, and what we’re grateful for, is the enormous investment — tens of millions of dollars — the federal government has re-invested in the station over the last decade, or so.

We’re grateful, too, for the Friends of NASA Plum Brook, a group of local leaders who saw this diamond in the rough and helped convince the world of its value, spurring that investment. The flight plan to Mars will go through Sandusky because of the foresight of our ancestors and the vision of these current leaders, who lobbied without fail to tout the amazing assets that have been right here for decades.

Online: https://bit.ly/32iDqrA

___The Toledo Blade, July 6

Americans who need insulin to survive should not have to caravan across the Canadian border to get it. And yet, in recent weeks, groups of desperate American diabetes patients have organized caravans to Canada to get the drug they say is now dangerously expensive in the United States.

Insulin prices have been skyrocketing for at least seven years. A yearly supply that cost an average of $2,864 in 2012 cost $5,705 in 2016. A study earlier this year, however, showed the price hikes have made insulin too expensive. The border-crossing patients who would pay $320 for a vial of insulin in the United States found the same vial for $30 in Canada.

Not all diabetes patients need insulin to manage their disease, but those who do rely on regular doses to prevent complications including blindness, nerve disease, kidney failure, and stroke. In some cases, diabetics have resorted to rationing their insulin supply, leading to a handful of highly publicized deaths in recent months.

And while access to insulin gets tougher, worldwide diabetes rates are on the rise. Stanford researchers have predicted that by 2030 only about half the people who need insulin will be able to get it. Increasing demand for the drug as the number of diabetes cases grows will inevitably force the price of insulin higher and higher.

The Senate held hearings on the insulin shortage last year, and President Trump pledged to address the issue as part of his broader prescription drug plan. Yet so far, no relief is in sight as insulin prices continue to climb and patients book seats on caravans headed for the Canadian border.

Congress must move the issue of high drug prices — particularly high insulin prices — to the top of its agenda. The lawmakers have long debated a menu of solutions from allowing U.S. consumers to legally import Canadian pharmaceuticals to speeding up approval of generic competitor drugs. It is time to move bills that accomplish drug-price reform through Congress and on to President Trump’s desk.

Diabetes is treatable. No American should die from it simply because they cannot access affordable insulin.

Online: https://bit.ly/2YI3ytV

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