Editorials from around New York
Recent editorials of statewide and national interest from New York’s newspapers:
New York Daily News on separation of families taken into custody for crossing the border illegally
After months of holding hostage hundreds of thousands of undocumented young people who came to the United States with their parents, President Trump now sets his sights on a new set of young victims to try to force passage of an immigration overhaul that has scant public support.
That is what’s at the heart of the administration’s heartless policy holding the ax of parent-child separation over the heads of asylum-seeking migrants.
Over the weekend, the President tweeted, “Put pressure on the Democrats to end the horrible law that separates children from there (sic) parents once they cross the Border into the U.S. Catch and Release...” He added, ”(diversity visa) Lottery and Chain (migration) must also go with it and we MUST continue building the WALL!”
For those paying attention, this is exactly the formulation that Trump used when he pulled the DACA bait-and-switch last winter in negotiations with Congress.
The “horrible law” Trump assails this time is one his administration is gleefully enforcing — in fact, one the President is using to justify levels of inhumanity toward children previous administrations deliberately attempted to avoid.
A law signed by George W. Bush in 2008 gives the President wide discretion on what to do with minors crossing the border. Generally, the Obama administration used that power to keep migrant parents and children together in family shelters until a determination could be made on asylum or deportation, a process that can take many months.
The Trump administration is wielding it to deliberately rip families apart. Chief of Staff John Kelly declared this “zero tolerance” approach would be a “tough deterrent” to border crossings.
Earlier this month, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, standing at the Arizona border, declared: “If you’re smuggling a child, then we’re going to prosecute you, and that child will be separated from you, probably, as required by law.”
A more honest, more morally upright President would at least own the consequences of his shift. Shameless as ever, Trump instead points a finger at Democrats. He hopes the images of separation and deportation will force them to swallow a host of reforms that have nothing to do with families crossing the border without permission.
Rarely have cynicism and cruelty so perfectly converged.
New York Post on sexual misconduct charges against film producer Harvey Weinstein
To hear his lawyer tell it, Harvey Weinstein is in trouble for merely defending one of Hollywood’s longest and best-known traditions.
“Mr. Weinstein did not invent the casting couch in Hollywood,” attorney Benjamin Brafman said Friday after the Manhattan district attorney charged his client with raping one woman and forcing another to perform oral sex.
Added Brafman: “To the extent that there is bad behavior in that industry, that is not what this is about. Bad behavior is not on trial in this case.”
Actually, it is. Because prosecutors allege that Weinstein’s behavior wasn’t just bad, but also violent, coercive and criminal.
As prosecutor Joan Illuzzi said in court: Weinstein “used his money, power and position to lure women into positions where he was able to violate them sexually.”
It was not, in other words, a case — actually, scores of cases — of women eagerly throwing themselves into Weinstein’s bed for a shot at stardom, or even of him enticing them with offers of fame.
No: As the criminal complaint charges and dozens of women (many of them A-list stars) have testified, it’s a case of Weinstein forcing himself on his victims and then using his money and power to buy their silence.
That’s not someone greedily helping himself to goodies in the cookie jar of gorgeous starlets; it’s predation.
Weinstein and his lawyer seem set to argue that anything that happened was consensual, nothing more than the age-old pattern of powerful Hollywood moguls enjoying one of the job’s biggest perks.
Funny: It’s the same “that’s how business has always been done” argument that Sheldon Silver used in his trials. Corruption, he said, is built into the system; juries twice decided otherwise.
Now, another 12 men and women will decide whether Weinstein also crossed the line into criminal behavior. He might want to consider a better line of defense than “everybody does it.”
Niagara Gazette on state legislation that would require schools to notify parents about bullying
Nearly everyone agrees that something needs to be done about bullying. The problem is prevalent in schools where that ugly habit continues to threaten a student’s emotional and physical safety.
Ostensibly, the classroom and adjacent surroundings should be a safe environment where young people can focus on their studies without worrying they will be disrupted or even hurt in some way. Educators and school staffers have cautioned that if the bullying isn’t prevented, it will adversely impact the students’ ability to learn.
The bullying in schools didn’t start yesterday. In fact, records show the concern erupted several years in some districts across New York state. It even caught the attention of our state senators who passed a measure to address the issue. For one reason or another, however, it has never gained sufficient support in the Assembly.
State Sen. Jim Tedisco, R,C,I-Glenville, and Assembly member Patricia Fahy, D-Albany, joined forces to support the legislation known as “Jacobe’s Law,” which requires that schools notify parents when a child is being threatened by a bully. Jacobe Taras, 13, of Fort Edward, N.Y., tragically took his own life as a result of bullying. Earlier this year, the bill was approved in the Senate by a vote of 59-0. It mandates that school employees charged with receiving reports of harassment, bullying or discrimination contact the parents or guardians of the students involved — both the bullies and victims — when such an incident occurs. Sadly, Jacobe’s parents contend they were not notified by his school of the extent of bullying he confronted, according to Sen. Tedisco. It was, of course, not an isolated case as there are many heartbreaking stories of young people injuring themselves, or worse yet, taking their own lives.
At a state budget hearing earlier this year, Sen. Tedisco stated, “If the statistics and incidences of bullying are important enough to report to the administrators at the State Education Department, then they are urgent enough to make parents aware of the need to intervene to develop a plan of action and help avert a potential tragedy. My heart goes out to the Taras family and all the families that have faced the devastating tragedy related to bullying.”
Closer to home, Niagara Falls Schools Superintendent Mark Laurrie and his staff have developed pro-active programs to deal with the issues. Those steps include forming a unified sports league (e.g. basketball and bowling) to pair regular education students with those in special ed classes; a campaign urging students to stop using the word “retard,” what the unified league coaches, athletes and fans are calling the “R-word,” and Mental Health First Aid Training for staff so they can recognize signs of depression and other problems. The Falls school district is to be commended for adopting such a strategy.
Experts on the subject emphasize that training school staff and students to prevent and address bullying can help sustain bullying prevention efforts over time.
Poughkeepsie Journal on student loan debt for higher education
Students have been graduating from local colleges the last few weekends, amid hopes for the future and with a much stronger economy than during the depths of the recession about a decade ago.
Perhaps that can help reverse an alarming trend: For most of those 10 years, student loan debt has outpaced credit card debt in this country, and the gap has been growing.
Let that sink in for a minute. It’s no secret millions of college graduates are swimming in debt, and the impact is detrimental to the country.
Yes, efforts have been made to drive down college costs, including New York’s Excelsior Scholarship program, which is providing free tuition for more than 20,000 students. This income-dependent, first-in-the-nation program gives the tuition to students at The State University of New York’s 64 campuses, but it doesn’t address other significant costs, such as room and board, fees, books and transportation. And, of course, it doesn’t address tuition at private colleges or higher education institutions outside of New York.
A comprehensive solution is in the hands of the federal government, specifically President Donald Trump and Congress. But, so far, they are failing miserably.
During the Barack Obama administration, Congress did act in a more decisive manner, hammering out an agreement allowing undergraduates to borrow at 3.85 percent interest rates at the time. In addition, graduate students had access to loans at 5.4 percent, and parents could borrow at 6.4 percent. But that agreement was linked to the financial markets, so, as the economy has improved, the rates have been climbing. And they could go to as much as 8.25 percent for students and 10.5 percent for parents before caps kick in.
The U.S. Education Department is the largest issuer of federal loans. Of the $1.5 trillion of student loans outstanding, more than $1 trillion are federal loans issued by the department. But the government outsources the work to various private lending companies. As it cuts back on deregulation and oversight, the Trump administration also runs the risk of giving those lending companies far too much leeway to undertake predatory pricing. Instead, federal officials should be working on sensible plans to allow graduates to refinance their loans at a lower interest rate — and to ensure rates on new loans don’t balloon.
Surely, the federal government shouldn’t be profiting in a way that hinders people from getting an education or sets them back so substantially that they can’t afford to buy homes or start a family or business. A strong economic argument can be made to help these students lower their bills.
Press-Republican of Plattsburgh on wedding costs
The world’s attention was focused on last weekend’s nuptials of Prince Harry and actress Meghan Markle, with more than 2 billion people tuning in worldwide.
North Country residents who are planning weddings were likely among the 29.2 million who watched in the United States. Obviously, they will spend nowhere near the $45 million dished out for the royal wedding (94 percent for security), but wedding costs are still a major expense for families in the United States.
Besides the intense organizational demands involved in planning venues, food, flowers and guest lists, there is the matter of figuring out how to foot the bill. In the United States, the average wedding in 2016 cost $35,329, according to the latest survey by the Knot magazine and website.
“It is very expensive, but people are still spending on this part of their lives,” the Knot Editor in Chief Maxwell Cooper says. “But the guest count has dropped. They want to create a one-of-a-kind experience. Something that stands out as an amazing event on social (media) — that’s where they want to put their money.”
The average cost depends on where you live — a Manhattan wedding can cost $78,464, the Knot reports, but you can get hitched in Arkansas for $19,522.
Certainly the North Country is among the more reasonable places for a wedding, in terms of cost. But it is still a major strain on the people paying the bills.
Times have changed, and the bride’s parents should no longer be expected to pay for the whole shindig. That antiquated tradition was linked to the idea of a dowry being paid to the groom for becoming the provider for the bride, no longer an issue in modern society.
Deborah Moody, director of the Association of Certified Professional Wedding Consultants, told the Huffington Post: “Nowadays, with the economy, there is a lot of group participation. Most of the time, I see the bride’s parents paying for a quarter of the wedding costs, the groom’s parents paying for a quarter, and the bride and groom paying for the other half.”
We remind acquaintances of families who are planning weddings that it is an emotional — and expensive — time. To control costs, guest lists may have to be pared and corners might need to be cut. Friends who are supportive and understanding are greatly valued.
Though it is a very important day in the lives of the couple, it is, after all, just one day. Some celebrate their union with far more simple affairs, out of preference or, in some cases, so they can put the money to more practical use, toward buying a home, for example. But those less pricey events are nonetheless magical.
After all, the extravagance of the event is not what counts. The whole idea of a wedding is to gather family and close friends together to celebrate what is intended to be love that lasts a lifetime.