Editorials from around New England:
This week President Trump banned a CNN reporter – Jim Acosta – from the White House after Acosta asked some tough questions during a press conference.
It was the latest move by a President with a proven hostility toward fair-minded journalists and open disdain for the Constitution.
Recall that Trump pulled credentials from the Washington Post and Politico during his campaign because their perfectly fair and accurate coverage was “unfair” in Trump’s eyes. And in July Trump yanked credentials from another CNN reporter – Kaitlan Collins – after she asked Trump a question about an audio recording with his former attorney, Michael Cohen, about a payoff to a Playboy model.
Trump has also called for violence against detractors and adopted rhetoric from Joseph Stalin when declaring the United States media as the “enemy of the people.” His attacks against the press are constant and deeply disturbing.
Justin Silverman, of the New England First Amendment Coalition, called Trump’s latest move unconstitutional; threatening to journalists; and an infringement on the public’s right to know. NEFAC appropriately demanded immediate re-instatement of Acosta’s credentials.
“The role of our watchdog press is to ask difficult questions to those in power and to hold government accountable,” said Justin Silverman, NEFAC’s executive director. “Journalists must not be punished for the questions they ask or have their credentials pulled based solely on the content of their speech. This type of retaliation is an affront to the First Amendment and unbefitting of any democratic institution, especially the White House.”
Silverman explains these types of retaliatory acts, intended to punish reporters for holding government to account, “sets a dangerous precedent for reporters covering state and local government.”
We couldn’t agree more. Of all Trump’s chilling rhetoric, little is scarier than his open derision of a free press. Until Acosta’s credentials are fully restored, we hope the White House press corps is smart enough to recognize the collective danger. The appropriate response is for all reporters to walk out in solidarity.
The Nashua Telegraph
For weeks, small forests of signs promoting dozens of political candidates have been demonstrations of the vigor of our system of government.
Now, they are just litter.
Some candidates and their supporters started the process of picking up their signs on Tuesday evening. It is pleasing to note that the vast majority of those running for office in our area understand their responsibility in that regard.
Some do not. As is the case after any election, a few of the signs will remain visible for weeks, even months.
So, candidates, we urge you to mobilize the same small armies of people who supported you to get the signs picked up. Those of you who don’t see that as important should think about this:
Signs left in place too long are litter – and no one likes a litterbug.
The Bangor Daily News
Just weeks after the United Nations delivered a devastating report on the consequences of climate change, the U.N. offered cautious hope about another environmental disaster – the hole in the Earth’s ozone layer.
Holes in the ozone, which captured public attention in the 1980s, are healing. The upper ozone above the Northern Hemisphere should be repaired by 2030, scientists reported Monday at a meeting in Ecuador. A hole over the Southern Hemisphere is closing more slowly and is expected to be covered by 2060.
Although it isn’t time to declare victory (the use of some banned chemicals is rising in Asia), the ozone improvement shows the path the world must take to avert the current environmental disaster – climate change. That path includes heeding warnings from scientists, understanding – not downplaying – the risks and, most important, taking action.
Scientists discovered that the ozone layer, gases high up in the atmosphere that protect the Earth from ultraviolet rays, was thinning in the 1970s. The ozone hole was caused by the use of chlorofluorocarbons, which were used as refrigerants in air conditioners and in aerosol spray cans.
The public concern was fueled by worries about skin cancer and crop damage, among other problems, that could come from a thinned or depleted ozone layer.
Leaders from countries around the world came together to reach an agreement to phase out CFCs. In 1987, the Montreal Protocol was signed. Despite uncertainties around the science, which were exploited by industry to derail regulations, Republican President Ronald Reagan signed the agreement, calling it “a model of cooperation” and “a product of the recognition and international consensus that ozone depletion is a global problem.”
Another benefit of the Montreal Protocol, although it wasn’t clear at the time, was to slow climate change. CFC are powerful greenhouse gases that trap heat in the Earth’s atmosphere. Phasing out their use delayed the current consequences of climate change, perhaps by decades.
Thirty years later, there is international consensus that climate change is a global problem. Nearly every country in the world has signed on to the Paris climate accord, an international agreement to lower emissions of greenhouse gases, which trap heat in the atmosphere. President Donald Trump has pledged to pull the U.S. from the agreement. He has argued that climate change is a hoax by the Chinese to harm U.S. businesses. He is abetted by climate deniers in Congress and industry-funded efforts to create doubt about climate change and fears that the U.S. economy will be harmed if the U.S. takes significant action to cut greenhouse gas emissions. Despite this rhetoric, many U.S. businesses are cutting emissions and becoming more environmentally friendly because it is good for their bottom lines.
An important lesson from the ozone lesson is that certainty isn’t needed for leaders to take action, scientists say. “When Montreal was signed, we were less certain then of the risks of CFCs than we are now of the risks of greenhouse gas emissions.” Sean Davis, a climate scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, said last year.
“We don’t need absolute certainty to act,” he said.
What is clear is that action is needed. Last month, the U.N. warned that humans have only 12 years to make dramatic reductions in greenhouse gas emissions before it is too late to slow the trend of warmer temperatures, rising sea levels, raging wildfires and widespread droughts. The calculus is simple – we can pay now in the form of investments in cleaner technologies and fuels – or pay later in deaths, upheaval and violence.
The focus on the ozone hole shows that when action is demanded and countries work together, climate disasters can be avoided. It is past time to take that lesson to heart when it comes to climate change.
Cape Cod Times
Yarmouth recently took a giant step toward becoming a green community, a process that began nearly eight years ago. The designation, which carries with it the weight of environmentally friendly approaches throughout the town, also opens the door to potential grants and funding mechanisms, as well as the knowledge that the town is doing its level best to act as a good steward of the environment.
It’s not easy being green. A community seeking the state’s green community status must make a firm commitment to adopting environmentally friendly approaches to its governance, as outlined in five criteria it must meet. These include crafting zoning for facilities that either generate power from renewable or alternative energy sources, or that research, develop, or manufacture such capabilities. Towns must also create an accelerated application and permitting process for locating facilities within this zone.
In addition, the community must inventory its energy usage and then adopt a plan to reduce that same usage by 20 percent during a five-year period. The municipality must also create a fuel-efficient vehicle policy that mandates that all town departments purchase such vehicles moving forward. A handful of town-owned vehicles – including police, fire, and highway department vehicles – are exempt. Finally, the town must adopt so-called Stretch Code building regulations, which are designed to reduce the operating costs and energy usage of new homes and buildings.
Yarmouth is nearing the end of its application process, and if successful, it will join more than 200 towns throughout the commonwealth that have already earned the green community designation, including four on Cape Cod and two on Martha’s Vineyard. Other towns on the Cape, including Falmouth, are also moving in this direction.
Not everyone, however, is thrilled with the idea of becoming a green community. Some have argued that the regulations associated with the Stretch Code hamper development; that towns that adopt the stricter standards are passing additional construction expenses on to homeowners. And in truth, the cost to build a more energy-efficient house, or purchase a more energy-efficient vehicle, very likely will be more pricey in the short term, but a long view that includes the lifetime energy usage associated with that building or vehicle demonstrates real cost savings year after year.
Similarly, towns like Yarmouth that commit to reducing energy usage by 20 percent over five years may find themselves with capital expenses that initially seem high. Think back to a couple of years ago when one could purchase an incandescent light bulb for about a dollar, while LED bulbs were retailing for upwards of $10 each. But the long-term savings – both in terms of durability and lower energy consumption – made LED bulbs the logical choice in the long term. Towns that strive toward achieving green community status will likewise reap the benefits of lower energy bills on an annual basis for years to come.
In the end, a green community designation is about looking at that long term, because it is only through the concerted efforts of individuals and communities that we will stand any chance of reducing our overall carbon footprint on this planet, helping to ensure that there is something left for our children and their children to call home.
The United States, as a nation, has historically been slow to adopt international environmental standards, and in the last couple of years, has actively stepped away from taking anything resembling a leadership role when it comes to environmental awareness or activism.
Fortunately, forward-thinking states, such as Massachusetts and California, have picked up the mantle and worked to implement regulations that make sense from both an environmental and economic perspective. Towns like Yarmouth that are willing to take up the green community challenge are doing their part, putting both their self interest and the interest of the planet, as a whole, at the forefront.
Tuesday’s election altered the power sharing structure of the federal government. The temptation will be strong for Democrats, the new majority in the House of Representatives, to exact political revenge on President Donald Trump.
There should be scrutiny through House investigations of Trump’s tax records, his investments, his creditors, and the money that foreign governments funnel into his privately-held company.
But while oversight is an important role of the legislative branch, one which the Republican-controlled House has largely abdicated, it is not the only role. Yes, those who voted to send Democrats to Congress want the president held accountable, but they also want actions taken to improve their lives. Democrats will make a huge mistake if they settle only for being the anti-Trump party. Democrats must show the country that they know how to govern better.
The 2018 election cycle was more than a counter punch to the overreach of an unfit president. The election was the first confirmation of a country on the cusp of rapid social transformation. The new House of Representatives will have more women and more ethnic diversity than ever before, reflecting demographical shifts.
A new country is emerging, one where minorities, collectively, will be the majority population. The east and west coasts and the large urban areas of America are transforming into a post-industrial, high-tech, socially progressive and demographically diverse society. The Democrats recognize the changes. The Republicans, under the Trump influence, pretend it is not happening.
But it is not enough to simply recognize and celebrate diversity. What is required is a political party that can unify the diversity of the population under policies that advance the nation.
A prime example is health care. The momentum for expansion of national health care insurance is building. Many Democrats campaigned on a “Medicare for all” update to Obamacare. That’s a swell slogan, but it is not a plan of governance. Democrats should develop a health care plan that identifies both the costs and the ways those costs would be covered through taxes and/or diversions of government spending.
Republicans, with no vision for how to provide for health care needs, have left a vacuum Democrats can fill if they coalesce behind a plan. Allowing individuals 50 and older or the companies they work for to buy into Medicare may be a start. Rep. Joe Courtney, D-2nd District, is among the proponents of this idea.
With Republicans in control of the Senate there is no chance for major health care reform, but using the House to frame the debate could propel the Democrats in 2020.
Immigration is another issue where Democrats need a coherent policy, devising a comprehensive, compassionate and rational approach that puts America back in the business of welcoming immigrants, fairly assessing the cases of refugees, providing the resources to secure the border and better tracking those who exceed their authorized stays.
Concerning potential malfeasance by this president, his administration and his 2016 campaign, protect the Mueller investigation and let it run its course, then assess its findings. Until then, talk of impeachment is premature and unhelpful.
Trump will try to paint the House Democrats as obstructionists. They should not play into his hands. This moment calls for leadership to put America back on the historic path of its noble journey to improve the lot of mankind. The challenge for Democrats is to lead the way and rise above revenge politics.
Throughout America’s tumultuous history the country has advanced the cause of human rights. America became a better country by ending slavery, extending voting rights to blacks and women, and welcoming tides of immigrants from all oppressed parts of the globe.
Every thrust of progress on human rights was met with resistance. Backlash from counter movements caused the county to regress a few steps before regaining forward momentum.
Recent American history is rife with dramatic change from the election of Barack Obama, to the advancement of gay rights, technology advancement, global trade, the disruption of mass migrations and the growing threat of climate change.
These dramatic changes created unease and push back. That push back led the nation, unfortunately, to the election of Trump.
Trump has squandered his presidency and thwarted America’s forward movement by promoting divisiveness and demonizing every opponent who crosses his path.
The Trump Era is destined to be assigned a role of disgrace in the American story. The faster our politics can regain its faith in the American ideal of justice for all, the faster the nation can put the sorry aberration of Trump’s presidency into the rear-view mirror.
Jasiel Correia is innocent until or unless he’s judged guilty in court.
Jasiel Correia should step down as mayor of Fall River, Mass.
These two ideas are not in conflict. Both are true.
A quick recap, for those who have tuned out this cartoonish saga:
Last month, the U.S. attorney for Massachusetts indicted Mr. Correia on a series of charges related to his operation of a startup digital app company called SnoOwl. The prosecutors said Mr. Correia, now 26, lied to SnoOwl investors about his bonafides in order to separate them from their money.
Prosecutors say “seven individuals invested a total of $363,690 in SnoOwl. However, rather than using the investment funds to develop the app as Correia certified in signed agreements with investors, it is alleged that Correia used at least $231,447, approximately 64 percent of the money invested, to purchase tens of thousands of dollars of luxury items, including a Mercedes, jewelry and designer clothing; to pay for personal travel and entertainment, including tens of thousands of dollars on airfare, hotels, restaurants, casinos, and adult entertainment; to pay down personal student loan debt; to fund his political campaign; and to make charitable donations in his own name.”
Further, charge the prosecutors, Mr. Correia gave false updates to investors and filed false statements with the Internal Revenue Service, avoiding paying taxes that he owed.
Meanwhile, Mr. Correia has been playing hide-and-seek, declining even to answer questions before the City Council. On his Facebook page, he called for support: “In the event a recall petition does gain the necessary signatures, I ask that the citizens re-elect me so that our progress can continue. I ask that the people of Fall River show their support by not signing the recall petition.”
Earlier, he declared to a group of supporters, “I will not resign.” They applauded.
The charges have led a variety of leaders, from the governor of Massachusetts to U.S. Rep. Joseph Kennedy, to ask Mr. Correia to resign his seat as mayor. Said the campaign of Gov. Charlie Baker, “Mayor Correia should act in the best interests of the people of Fall River and step aside until the case is resolved.”
As Mr. Correia awaits trial, he is required to have no contact with his investors or potential witnesses, illustrating how he has been hamstrung as a political leader. Residents have launched a recall campaign, which is in its early stages. They will need to collect 2,510 certified signatures to trigger an election.
One of the residents calling for a recall, Dawn Saurette, wrote that the mayor has been tainted by the indictments. “(T)here is and should be a degree of distrust, no reasonable person would do business with the office of the mayor or the city of Fall River,” she wrote.
Fall River, once a thriving manufacturing city, struggles with poverty, an opioid epidemic and crime. It has serious problems, requiring serious governance. It doesn’t have time for a mayor who is wrestling with his own problems.
For the good of the city he was elected to govern, Mr. Correia should resign. If, as he says, he is innocent, he will be cleared and, at his tender age, stage a political comeback.
After all, America loves second acts.