Excerpts from recent editorials in the United States and abroad:
The Telegraph on Turkey joining the Europeans Union:
Just as important as what we are being told during the EU referendum campaign is what we are not being told. Developments are due to take place over the next few years that those arguing for Remain are reluctant to acknowledge or which they dispute, despite evidence to the contrary. Perhaps the most problematic concerns the future status of Turkey. When he was asked on the BBC on Sunday whether he would use the UK veto to stop Turkey from joining the EU, the Prime Minister declined to answer. The circumstances would simply not arise, he said.
However, it is Britain’s long-standing policy to facilitate Turkey’s membership of the EU. Shortly after he became Prime Minister in 2010, Mr Cameron said Turkey joining the EU was “vital for our economy, vital for our security and vital for our diplomacy”. He restated this position in 2014. How are these two positions to be reconciled? Mr Cameron maintains that while he favours Turkey’s accession, it will take decades for Ankara to meet the conditions for joining, including human rights obligations.
But the real reason why EU leaders are so reluctant to scupper Turkey’s hopes is that it is on the frontline of the fight against Islamist terrorism and its help is essential to counter the immigration crisis in Europe. Ankara’s leverage, in other words, is considerable, which is why Turkey is to be granted visa-free access to the Schengen area. Leaked diplomatic papers suggest the UK may also allow special travel rights for some Turkish citizens. The implications of Turkey joining the EU are significant, not least for immigration. We need to be told what is going to happen before the referendum, not after.
The New York Times on net neutrality:
With a ruling that high-speed internet service should be equally accessible to all Americans, a federal appeals court has come down forcefully in favor of competition and consumer protection. The 2-to-1 decision by a three-judge panel prevents cable and phone companies from blocking websites or creating fast and slow lanes for delivering content on the internet.
The decision helps to ensure a level playing field for smaller- and start-up internet businesses because it precludes larger, established companies like Amazon and Netflix from simply paying broadband companies for faster delivery. Equally important, it ensures reliable service and choice for consumers by acknowledging that the internet, now a requisite of modern life, is akin to a utility, subject to regulation in the public interest.
The simple yet profound classification of broadband connections as a type of utility was central to winning the case, which was heard in the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit and pitted the Federal Communications Commission against trade groups for the broadband companies. The agency had tried twice before to establish rules for competition and consumer protection on the internet. The broadband industry successfully challenged both proposals, largely on the ground that it was primarily an information provider, more like a discretionary convenience for consumers than a utility, and thus not subject to FCC authority. The industry’s goal was to kill off net neutrality — the doctrine that cable and phone companies should treat all information equally as it travels over their broadband networks.
In late 2014, the ground under the debate shifted when President Obama called on the commission to treat broadband service providers more like utilities, subject to rules similar to those governing telephone services. At the same time, millions of Americans weighed in on the FCC’s proposed rules, saying much the same thing. In response, the FCC developed the new and stronger regulations that prevailed this week. Gone were earlier proposals to let cable and phone companies offer separate (and unequal) high-quality and low-quality tiers. Gone were proposals to regulate some provider practices while putting others outside the purview of federal regulation.
Even before the ruling, cable and phone companies had vowed to challenge any unfavorable outcome, possibly by taking the case to the Supreme Court. The industry is also virtually certain to ask Congress to pass legislation to revoke or water down the FCC’s regulations.
It is hard to imagine lawmakers taking a stand to make the internet less accessible. It is unknown whether the Supreme Court would hear an appeal. The ruling is a step forward for the internet and its users, and deserves to stand.
The Orange County Register on federal regulations:
The federal government’s massive $4 trillion budget and $19 trillion official national debt (the real tab is much higher) are evidence of an out-of-control government that seeks to seep into every aspect of Americans’ lives. But even these spending and debt measures fail to account for the full reach of the government.
More difficult to tabulate are the plethora of regulations emanating from numerous federal agencies. But a new study from the Heritage Foundation helps to quantify the toll these regulations take on our economic and personal liberties.
According to the study, 43 new major rules costing more than $22 billion a year in regulatory costs were imposed in 2015 alone. During the first seven years of the Obama administration, there have been 229 major regulations totaling $108 billion a year. And, if past administrations are any indication, we are in for a flood of additional regulations during the final year of President Obama’s tenure. Add in the eight years of George W. Bush’s presidency and Washington has added $176 billion in annual regulatory costs in just the past 15 years.
Even this understates the scope and cost of federal regulations because it only counts “major rules,” which are estimated to cost at least $100 million a year. Moreover, “Regulatory cost estimates are notoriously inaccurate and imprecise at present and subject to political manipulation,” the Heritage Foundation study affirms.
“This unparalleled burden spells a decline in economic freedom, replaced by political influence and gamesmanship — all of which inhibits innovation and investment, increases prices and limits consumer choice,” the Heritage study concluded. “Congress must take immediate steps to control this excessive regulation and to prevent further harms to the economy and to the personal liberties of Americans.”
To this end, the study makes some common-sense recommendations, such as requiring congressional approval of new major regulations, vesting authority for regulatory analysis in a congressional institution such as the Congressional Budget Office or the Government Accountability Office instead of relying on the agencies themselves or the White House’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (much like the CBO does for the budget), subjecting independent agencies to regulatory review and adopting a sunset provision for all major regulations, so that major rules would expire after a reasonable time unless they were explicitly reauthorized by Congress.
These measures would restore some of the oversight and lawmaking power that Congress has ceded to the executive branch and, hopefully, stem the regulatory tsunami plaguing Americans. To truly turn the tide, however, Congress needs to strike at the root and finally make good on promises to reduce the size of government and eliminate unnecessary and burdensome regulatory agencies so that they are not able to issue their diktats in the first place.
The Minneapolis Star-Tribune on student resource officers:
On one side of St. Paul this spring, a veteran school-based police officer was honored for his rapport with students and calming presence at Johnson High School. Across town at Central High School a week later, students demonstrated against a white officer who had pinned a black teen to the ground and arrested him for trespassing.
Those two very different takes on school resource officers (SROs) have prompted a new round of discussions in St. Paul and Minneapolis about cops in schools. Supporters argue that SROs help protect students and staff members and that they can reduce criminal activity and violence. Opponents say a police presence has a negative impact by criminalizing minor offenses and compromising students’ civil rights.
Our view is that when well-trained and used properly, SROs are an important part of the school staff team. But their effectiveness hinges on having more positive interactions with students than negative ones. As many have said during student and community conversations, SROs should be more counselor, adviser and mentor to students — and less harsh enforcer.
In other cities, there have been high-profile examples of cases in which the actions of SROs have been questioned. Last fall, for example, a South Carolina police officer was captured on video grabbing a girl by the neck as she sat at her desk, then dragging and throwing her across the floor.
Video of the 16-year-old’s arrest at Central led to outrage on social media. The teen, a former student at the school, was seen pinned on his stomach by an officer and could be heard insisting that he was there only to visit a teacher. But police said the officer’s actions were justified. They said school staff members had asked for the officer’s help after the teen was at the school for about an hour without permission, refused requests to leave and shoved the officer.
Some national experts on school discipline and students with disabilities say SROs should understand that they are not there to handle the most routine discipline problems. Experts recommend that SROs get to know students and learn about potential criminal activities to keep schools safe from threats. And they should learn de-escalation techniques specific to children and teenagers. Some situations call for diversion to calm a situation — not direct commands for compliance. Training also should help SROs recognize kids with disabilities or mental illness issues.
Only 12 states have laws that specify training requirements for SROs. And, according to an Atlantic magazine report, those laws are inconsistent. Some states mandate training and responses to an active shooter. Only a few call for training on dealing specifically with children and teens. Minnesota has no requirements.
The Minneapolis School District pays $1.2 million for 16 SROs at secondary schools; St. Paul spends nearly $855,000 for nine officers.
To get the most from that investment, the officers must be well-trained, work well with students and have the right temperament for the job. The community conversations about SROs that are underway in both St. Paul and Minneapolis can be constructive. With input from students, parents, police, school staff and other community members, the districts and individual schools can discuss how SROs can be most effective.
The Washington Post on Donald Trump’s comments on the Orlando shooting:
It had not seemed possible, but Donald Trump descended this week to a new low of bigotry, fear-mongering and conspiracy-peddling. Republican leaders who said last week that they expected a change in tone after Mr. Trump’s racist attacks on a California judge quickly received their answer. What can House Speaker Paul D. Ryan, R-Wisconsin, or Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, possibly say now? As the country mourned the wanton slaughter of 49 people early Sunday, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee took a victory lap, hinted darkly that President Obama is an enemy of the nation, libeled American Muslims and, in grotesque punctuation, finished up with a vindictive attack on the media.
“Appreciate the congrats for being right on radical Islamic terrorism,” he tweeted. “I don’t want congrats,” he continued, as though that were not exactly what he wanted, “I want toughness & vigilance.” Mr. Trump may have calculated that a suddenly anxious electorate would be more receptive to his campaign of fear and prejudice, emotions he immediately attempted to inflame.
In a Monday speech, Mr. Trump painted a false picture of a nation infiltrated by waves of unscreened Muslim refugees and immigrants, who, abetted by Democrats, are destroying American values and threatening the public. Among other things, he chillingly accused Muslim Americans of complicity with terrorists: “The Muslims have to work with us,” he said. “They know what’s going on. They know that (the Orlando shooter) was bad. They knew the people in San Bernardino were bad. But you know what? They didn’t turn them in. And you know what? We had death, and destruction.”
The following shouldn’t have to be repeated, but most American Muslims are as patriotic and law-abiding as most American Christians, Jews and Hindus. Many have fought for and are fighting for the United States in dangerous theaters far away. To generalize as Mr. Trump does about “the Muslims” is to set the nation down a dangerous road it has trod, to its eventual regret, in the past: banning Chinese immigrants a century ago, rounding up U.S. citizens and noncitizens of Japanese descent in the 1940s, expelling Mexicans a decade later.
Mr. Trump also raised suspicion in television interviews that Mr. Obama wants terrorists to strike the United States, or at least looks the other way as they scheme. “We’re led by a man that either is not tough, not smart or has something else in mind. And the something else in mind — people can’t believe it. People cannot believe that President Obama is acting the way he acts and can’t even mention the words ‘radical Islamic terrorism.’ There’s something going on.” He invited poisonous speculations about his Democratic opponent’s motives, as well: Hillary Clinton “wants to allow radical Islamic terrorists to pour into our country,” he said.
Mr. Trump capped a day of assaulting fundamental liberal democratic values by announcing he would ban Post reporters from covering his campaign events. If this is his inclination now, imagine how he might wield the powers of the presidency.
Before the Orlando shooting, Beltway analysts speculated about how a terrorist attack might affect the presidential election. Now we know part of the answer: Mr. Trump would reveal himself more clearly than ever as a man unfit to lead.
The Chicago Tribune on federal overtime assault weapons:
All guns kill. Some do so with horrifying efficiency.
In Orlando early Sunday, a heavily armed madman opened fire on the crowd at a gay nightclub. The attack killed 49 people and wounded 53. It also reopened the tortured debate about gun ownership in America, where the Second Amendment protects the right to bear arms. In many states that protection translates into the ability to walk into a store, fill out minimal paperwork and leave with a military-style rifle.
The Orlando killer, Omar Mateen, is responsible for shooting more than 100 people. With the law enforcement investigation in its early days, there is a lot we don’t know about Mateen’s motives and rampage. We do know something about his arsenal. He was carrying a semi-automatic rifle and a semi-automatic pistol, which he purchased legally in Florida in the days before the attack.
We also know — from a brief video uploaded to Snapchat by one of the victims, Amanda Alvear, before she died — what the early moments of the massacre sounded like: a frantic drumbeat of shots, 17 or more in about nine seconds, one shot per trigger-pull in a continual barrage.
Mateen carried an AR-style assault rifle with 30-round magazines, giving him 30 shots before reloading. These civilian versions of the military’s M16 rifle are fast, accurate and comfortable to fire. They are bought by Americans for target shooting, hunting and self-defense — but designed to kill as many people as possible, as quickly as possible. Crack-crack-crack-crack-crack-crack-crack-crack-crack, went Mateen’s rifle in the video. Crack-crack-crack-crack-crack-crack-crack-crack.
There is no simple solution for eliminating the scourge of gun violence in America. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2008 that the Second Amendment guarantees individuals the right to own guns for self-defense. But even if the bedrock principle of gun ownership is here to stay, the high court noted that “the right secured by the Second Amendment is not unlimited.”
If you’re looking to apply that legal guidance to the reduction of killings, especially the horror of mass shootings, one place to look is Highland Park. That’s where a recent ban on assault weapons has survived judicial scrutiny. While the Supreme Court knocked out Chicago’s prohibition on handguns in 2010, it declined last year to consider a challenge to Highland Park’s ban on assault weapons and large-capacity magazines, passed in 2013. We don’t know the high court’s thinking because it took a pass, but the lower court, Chicago’s 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, said assault weapons were dangerous and unusual enough to justify banning.
“Why else are they the weapon of choice in mass shootings?” Judge Frank Easterbrook asked. “A ban on assault weapons and large-capacity magazines might not prevent shootings in Highland Park, but it may reduce the carnage if a mass shooting occurs.”
Wise words. And all too accurate, given the ugly history of mass shootings in America. The Washington-based Violence Policy Center counts five incidents in the past year in which a mass killer used high-capacity ammunition magazines: Orlando; Kalamazoo, Mich. (six dead); San Bernardino, Calif. (14 dead); Chattanooga, Tenn. (six dead including the shooter); and Charleston, S.C. (nine dead). Go back further: Newtown, Conn. (28 dead, including the shooter); Fort Hood, Texas (13 dead).
The history of assault weapon bans is murkier than many might remember. A federal ban on the manufacture and sale of such weapons was in place from 1994 to 2004, but possession of those already in existence remained legal.
Given the Supreme Court’s recent Second Amendment decisions, restoring the assault weapon ban is constitutionally questionable. A limit on the size of magazines would be more likely to survive court scrutiny. And it would serve to make semi-automatic weapons somewhat less lethal. Limiting magazines to eight or 10 rounds would hinder mass shooters while imposing minimal inconvenience on law-abiding gun owners.
On what grounds can the country justify giving citizens the ability to fire off 30 or more rounds in a near burst? Or 50 rounds? Or 100? In the hands of a killer, that kind of firepower overwhelms even crowds of people. Forcing an assailant to reload, though, buys time for victims to flee or defend themselves.
In the 1993 Long Island Railroad shooting, a passenger charged the assailant, who was reloading; that disruption of the shooter’s intent limited the death count to six people.
Would such a limit have reduced the bloodshed in Orlando? It’s impossible to answer. What we know is that the pattern of mass shootings is set and quite possibly will intensify, given the grave terror threat the country faces. Combating our enemies takes a coordinated response. That has to include a serious national debate about the role of guns in American life and justifiable limits on gun ownership.
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