South Carolina editorial roundup
Recent editorials from South Carolina newspapers:
The Post and Courier on the impact of Hong Kong protests and trade war talks on South Carolina farmers:
South Carolina manufacturers and farmers have a big stake in next month’s trade talks between China and the United States and the final outcome of their trade war. Their hope is that tensions can be resolved, China’s temporary retaliatory tariffs on American goods will be lifted, and sales to China will surge.
But the ongoing unrest in Hong Kong, a separate source of tension between the United States and China, casts a troubling shadow over relations between the two nations. That shadow could undermine hopes for a trade deal.
The problem is intensified by the massing of Chinese troops on Hong Kong’s borders where they carry out intervention drills. An intervention would draw worldwide condemnation and effectively end any chance of a near-term settlement of the trade dispute. A peaceful resolution is desperately needed.
It is too soon to know whether President Donald Trump’s decision to comment Aug. 14 on what he has called, in a technically correct phrase, a Chinese “internal matter” will lead to a desirable resolution of the crisis. But he was right to add his voice to the conversation.
In two tweets Aug. 14, amplified on Aug. 15, Mr. Trump said “Hong Kong is not helping” to resolve trade differences, adding, “China wants to make a (trade) deal, but let them work humanely with Hong Kong first.”
Hong Kong is technically a separate administrative district of the People’s Republic of China. But under a treaty with the United Kingdom that returned Hong Kong to Chinese rule in 1997, Hong Kong is entitled to a separate political system until 2047. That makes it an outpost of democracy in China that most Americans value.
Unfortunately, the government of Hong Kong has been carefully rigged by Beijing to deny a democratic voice to Hong Kong citizens. This year, China’s handpicked Chief Executive Carrie Lam proposed a law to allow Beijing to ask Hong Kong courts to extradite individuals charged with violating China’s stringent laws against political dissent. Her act triggered massive protests generally supported by Hong Kong’s business community, which fears the erosion of Hong Kong’s independent legal system.
There could be further economic losses for Americans if the United States and China fail to resolve trade disputes. For example, according to The Washington Post, U.S. soybean farmers (soybeans are a major South Carolina crop) lost $7.3 billion in sales between 2018 and 2019, depressing prices for soybean farmers around the nation.
The South Carolina automobile industry has been hurt, but so far has escaped major damage because China temporarily rescinded an extra 25 percent tariff on American exports. But if trade tensions worsen, that tariff could be restored.
The Port of Charleston in the first six months of 2019 handled (both import and — very largely — export) 16 percent fewer automobiles than in the same period last year. This may reflect a general slowdown in the world economy as well as Chinese tariffs. But the slowdown in world economic activity also owes something to the U.S.-China tariff war.
At the same time, most Americans support Hong Kong’s democrats, if not their violent fringe. The best way out of this conflict would be, as Mr. Trump suggests, a “humane” settlement of the crisis.
Chinese President Xi Jinping is unlikely to take up Mr. Trump’s suggestion for a face-to-face meeting with the protesters. But signs are that the protesters want to turn down the flame and keep the support of the Hong Kong business community. A similar de-escalation and readiness by the Hong Kong chief executive to cancel the proposed legal changes could lead to a peaceful resolution. But President Xi has to bless this outcome. Mr. Trump is right to ask him to act.
The Index-Journal on the death of the newspaper’s president and publisher:
Losing a family member is difficult. Inevitable, but difficult.
All of us at the Index-Journal mourn the loss of a woman who was not only our boss, but a dear family member. Judi Burns, president and publisher, died Aug. 15 at the age of 72 after a lengthy battle with illness.
As with most things in her life, Judi fought this fight her way. Until the last few weeks, she maintained a schedule that included daily trips to the office and leading our weekly managers meetings.
She complained little about her own ailments. She was good at diverting attention, focusing instead on the business at hand of running a daily community newspaper. Or focusing on how others at the Index-Journal were doing. Judi much preferred talking about good cuts of meat available at Corley’s and the Pantry Shoppe than discussing any of her woes.
Judi was the mother to three daughters, two who worked alongside her at the newspaper, but she was also something akin to a mother to her employees, even those who might best be described as her contemporaries.
There is an expression among journalists and newspaper people. The ink is in our bloodstream. We say that to describe the breadth and depth of our passion for and devotion to our trade. It was in Judi’s blood too, passed down from her father and mother who were this paper’s publishers before her, and rooted in her journalism studies at the University of South Carolina. Rest assured that commitment remains in the family’s blood today as Judi’s daughters, Mundy Price and St. Claire Donaghy, take the newspaper’s reins heading into the Index-Journal’s next century.
Perhaps more important was Judi’s devotion to real community journalism. By that we mean the kind of community journalism that only locally owned newspapers can commit themselves to and give its readers. From the first edition in February 1919 to the one you hold in your hands today, the Index-Journal has maintained a proud history as a family-owned newspaper serving and reflecting its community. And with no big corporation strings attached, strings that demand bigger and bigger returns on investment at the expense of holding true to the journalism trade.
Judi believed in the public’s right to know, she believed in transparency in government — and she fought for it, with the company’s checkbook and through the judicial system.
Moreover, Judi believed in her employees. She entrusted them to do the newspaper’s business because she trusted them much like family. Of course, she also expected only the best from her employees, in much the same way family members have expectations of each other. With disappointments came appropriate measures of discipline and, yes, sometimes wrath. Bosses get upset; so do mommas. But unlike most bosses, there were plenty of moments when anger would subside and be replaced with smiles and hugs. Yes, hugs.
Greenwood and the Lakelands, you have lost a special lady. A smart lady. A true Southern lady with plenty of grit and grits. Girls Raised In The South, you know.
We at the Index-Journal have lost a dear boss, a dear friend, a second momma.
Losing a family member is difficult. Painful.
The Times and Democrat on record-high numbers of children dying in hot cars:
It seems that nearly every week during summer there is news of a tragedy or near-tragedy resulting from children being left alone in hot cars.
The number of children dying from heatstroke in cars, either because they were left or became trapped, has reached a record high. In 2018, 53 children lost their lives — the most in over 20 years, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
This year, there have been 32 such deaths as of Aug. 11, according to Jan Null, who tracks the incidents through NoHeatstroke.org.
More than half of vehicular heatstroke cases from 1998 to 2018 were because an adult forgot about a child, Null found. Among the trends he discovered in these incidents:
—About 44% of the time, the caregiver meant to drop the child off at daycare or preschool.
—The end of the workweek — Thursdays and Fridays — saw the highest number of deaths.
Knowingly leaving a child in a car is unthinkable, though it happens. According to NHTSA, a locked car sitting in the summer sun quickly turns into an oven,” and “temperatures can climb from 78 degrees to 100 degrees in just three minutes, to 125 degrees in 6-8 minutes.”
A child — or anyone — in these conditions for long is at risk of death. So how do we eliminate the increasing number of instances in which the caregiver leaves the child in the vehicle by accident?
Most parents assume they would never accidentally forget their child in a car. Unfortunately there is Forgotten Baby Syndrome — a medical term that explains how a parent can walk away from a car without realizing their child remains inside. There are a few contributing factors of which parents should be aware:
—Motor memory takes over in daily routines. Each day, people perform tasks that become routine, which means very little conscious thought goes into them. Your motor memory is in charge, and therefore, allows you to think of other things while you drive — your dinner plans, grocery list, etc. When this happens, you might drive home and go inside as usual, completely forgetting your child is in the backseat.
—Multitasking makes it easy to forget. Most modern lives are fast-paced and hectic. People can become easily distracted. Because of this increase in multitasking, even the best parents can leave home on a stressful day and end up forgetting their baby.
—Technology is a major distraction. Answering phone calls in the car while you’re driving can be a huge distraction. It’s easy to forget or accidentally ignore what is around you when you’re giving all of your attention to a phone conversation or even texting and browsing social media.
Technology, however, may be vital in heading off child-in-car tragedies.
The eClip is advertised as a device to attach inside a car to help remind parents to remove a baby from the car seat.
The eClip detects when you walk more than 25 feet from your car by alerting you through an interactive app on a smartphone. The eClip also monitors the temperature in the back of the car to keep it safe and comfortable for a baby.
The device is attached to a car seat, regular seat belt or diaper bag. It can be attached to even more places with an accessory strap. An on/off switch is designed so a child cannot accidentally turn it off and there are no small parts that pose a choking hazard.
As much as it seems unbelievable that such a device would be needed to help parents and caregivers, the number of tragedies shows that it is. There are even suggestions that automakers should make such a detection device standard equipment. At a cost of $50, the eClip or similar device would be a valuable and lifesaving addition to safety equipment.