MASS SHOOTINGS CAN HAPPEN HERE. COMMON SENSE ACTION IS NEEDED NOW: We’re angered that, amid the recriminations and speeches, the calls for change and action will be muted by the political maneuvering of the National Rifle Association and gun manufacturers. Soon, it will be back to business as usual for those who should know better and who need to act. It is past time to get something done. In much of the world, news of mass killings comes from places in the midst of civil wars, international conflicts or violent rebellion. Weapons of mass destruction are car bombs; explosive vests worn by suicidal partisans; or combatants armed with military weapons. In the United States news of rampages comes from places of peace where people are doing back-to-school shopping, spending an evening out on the town or celebrating local heritage. The weapons of mass destruction can be purchased at a local sporting goods store by almost anyone.
AN NC COMPANY WITH A SPOTTY RECORD GETS A FEDERAL CONTRACT TO HOUSE IMMIGRANT CHILDREN. WHY?: How in the world did a company with a history of shady business practices, a company whose Robeson County group home for children was shut down by the state of North Carolina, win nearly $4 million in federal money to house as many as 72 migrant children in a shelter it didn’t yet have in Laurinburg? That’s a mighty good question, one that gives rise to a lot of other questions. Unfortunately, there are many more questions than answers surrounding the $3.9 million awarded to New Horizon Group Home LLC by the federal Administration for Children and Families. That’s the agency over the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) and its Unaccompanied Alien Children Program, which is responsible for temporary care of the thousands of immigrant children who wind up in this country without a parent, at the mercy of the Trump administration.
MOORE AND BERGER-STOP PROCRASTINATING. START NEGOTIATING: Berger and Moore say they’re willing to hold a “special” legislative session on "health care access" AFTER Cooper acquiesces to their budget. Do they think Cooper just fell off a turnip truck? Let’s have the House and Senate debate and vote on expanding Medicaid now. And, while they’re at it, do it in the open. Skip the backroom, secret partisan caucuses with direct and implied threats of political retribution. Moore is aware there are Republicans who know the right thing to do is to expand Medicaid – nearly entirely paid for with federal funds -- so more than a half-million hard working North Carolinians and their families can access health care. Berger knows that if the House passes Medicaid expansion there are Republican senators who will back it – because it is the right thing to do.
I REFUSE TO BE PART OF TRUMP'S "COMPLACENT STATE" ANYMORE: Over three tours abroad, I worked to spread what I believed were American values: freedom, fairness and tolerance. But more and more I found myself in a defensive stance, struggling to explain to foreign peoples the blatant contradictions at home. I touted the strength of the United States’ democracy at the consulate’s 2016 election-night party as a man who campaigned on racism, misogyny and wild conspiracy theories became president-elect. Since then, I have seen Trump assert the moral equivalence of violent white nationalists and those who oppose them, denigrate immigrants from “shithole countries” and separate children from their parents at the border, only to place them in squalid detention centers. But almost three years since his election, what I have not seen is organized resistance from within. To the contrary, two senior Foreign Service officers admonished me for risking my career when I signed an internal dissent cable against the ban on travelers from several majority-Muslim countries in January 2017. Among my colleagues at the State Department, I have met neither the unsung hero nor the cunning villain of Deep State lore. If the resistance does exist, it should be clear by this point that it has failed.
JEFFREY EPSTEIN IS DEAD. HIS VICTIMS STILL DESERVE JUSTICE: Even in the relatively sterile language of the legal system, the accusations against Mr. Epstein were nauseating. From “at least” 2002 through 2005, the defendant “sexually exploited and abused dozens of minor girls,” some as young as 14 and many “particularly vulnerable to exploitation.” The girls were “enticed and recruited” to visit Mr. Epstein’s various homes “to engage in sex acts with him, after which he would give the victims hundreds of dollars.” To “maintain and increase his supply of victims,” he paid some of the girls “to recruit additional girls to be similarly abused,” thus creating “a vast network of underage victims.” If convicted, Mr. Epstein would have faced up to 45 years in prison. But Mr. Epstein was not the only one for whom a reckoning is long overdue. Whatever new details emerge, whatever new participants may be implicated, whatever public officials are found to have failed in protecting Mr. Epstein’s victims, the time for secrecy and excuses and sweetheart deals is over. Mr. Epstein’s victims have waited long enough for answers, and they deserve justice.
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
DR. ROBERT H. BILBRO: EXPANDING MEDICAID LOWERS PREMIUMS FOR OTHERS: People with no health insurance use the emergency department as their base for health care. An ER visit costs more than 10 times what a clinical office visit costs. Hospitals are absorbing those costs, and they compensate for those non-paying patients with charges to patients covered by commercial insurance. Reducing the number of uninsured patients would decrease this economic burden for hospitals and result in less upward pressure on health insurance premiums which the majority of people or their employers pay. This phenomenon has been evident in multiple states which have already expanded Medicaid. Those who pay for health insurance should welcome steps that would decrease the uninsured patients who go to the ER for their health care.
PATRICIA GORDON: SAME OLD RHETORIC, SAME OLD INACTION: “Our hearts and prayers go out to the victims and their families.” “We are saddened by this/these (pick one) latest mass shooting(s).” “We condemn this/these heinous/outrageous/cowardly/deplorable/senseless act(s).” “We must pass gun control measures.” “Yada, yada, yada ... blah, blah, blah.” Rinse and repeat. Only those who have been living in a cave or completely void of common sense believe the disingenuous statements of shock, sadness or commitment to action made by politicians (at any level) following shootings. Like many, I felt that after the massacre of 26 people (20 of whom were tender-aged children) at Sandy Hook Elementary school, surely you politicians would take action and implement controls on gun ownership. Safeguards could be put into place while still honoring the spirit of the Second Amendment. However, our government officials have made clear that their allegiance is not to the people of this nation, but rather to the NRA and other gun lobbyists (and their money). Shame on you!
FRANCIS LAI: SUFFERING FROM CLIMATE GRIEF: I recently read the piece on “Climate Grief” (July 31) and found myself connecting far too heavily for my liking. Though I am only a recent college graduate, I feel an incredible amount of guilt and misery over a situation that feels increasingly hopeless as the days pass. Though I prefer more drastic reduction of carbon emissions, I believe a good start is to pass the bipartisan Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act. This bill, which has 59 co-sponsors in the House, will instill a price on carbon that promotes cleaner energy while reducing the overall level of emissions. It’s only a start, but I firmly believe it is a major step in addressing the climate crisis and a means to reduce the climate anxiety I have been feeling as of late.