Editorial Roundup: U.S.

Excerpts from recent editorials in the United States and abroad:

July 27

The Wall Street Journal on proposals for a Civilian Climate Corps:

As the U.S. recovers from a pandemic, with workers in services and manufacturing in short supply across the economy, here’s what no one sensible thinks America urgently needs: a huge new federal Civilian Climate Corps.

Yet that’s exactly what Democrats want to create as part of their plan to expand government into every corner of American life. It isn’t enough to lecture Americans about the supposed perils of climate change. Now they also want to tax you and other Americans to pay your children to spend years lecturing you.

President Joe Biden has requested $10 billion for the climate shock troops in his American Jobs Plan. Like so many other ideas in this Administration, the idea comes from the Democratic left, specifically the Sunrise Movement and Evergreen Action. Their idea was adopted by New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Massachusetts Sen. Ed Markey, who have proposed a Climate Corps that employs 1.5 million Americans over five years.

The precedent is FDR’s Civilian Conservation Corps, which paid Americans to work when the jobless rate was more than 20% in the Depression. But Sunrise says that program had “deep flaws, including exclusionary racist and sexist practices of hiring almost solely white men and its nonconsensual development on stolen Native American land.” Evergreen Action says the Climate Corps would “confront the interlocking crises of climate change, environmental and racial injustice, and economic inequality.”

If that mission sounds grandiose, you’re understating things. “The climate crisis is impacting every aspect of our lives,” so “the only way we are going to fully combat it is if we fully transform every aspect of our society and economy as we know it,” says Ellen Sciales, a Sunrise spokesperson.

The White House says the Climate Corps would “put a new, diverse generation of Americans to work conserving our public lands and waters, bolstering community resilience, and advancing environmental justice.” Democrats envision a Corps that’s part green-jobs program, part behavioral hectoring squad, part social-justice brigade, and part union-recruitment effort.

According to Mr. Markey’s summary, Climate Corps troops can work on coastal restoration, repair national park trails, install rooftop solar panels, and help with climate disaster recovery, among other jobs. The Senator has also promoted an origami fortune-teller to help potential recruits decide a Climate Corps career path. He doesn’t say if a Patagonia fleece is included as a signing bonus.

Another Climate Corps option is to become a “clean energy educator.” Some recruits could design posters to encourage climate-friendly behavior, and Ms. Sciales says other jobs “could include things like caring for the elderly, community, and childhood education, building community structures to bring communities together, and in the process talk to people about limiting carbon emissions in their communities.” Brace yourself for teach-ins on the sins of meat eating and natural-gas stoves.

Under the AOC-Markey bill, Climate Corps enrollees would earn at least $15 an hour. They’d also get health coverage, “child care services, counseling services, and other supportive services when needed.” Oh, and education grants of $25,000 a year. Eighty House and Senate Democrats said in a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer last week that the Climate Corps “must provide a pathway to good jobs, and especially union jobs.”

Mr. Schumer, who fears a primary challenge from AOC, is backing the Climate Corps, so it will make it into the reconciliation bill. If only we could get a climate change against progressive folly like this.

ONLINE: https://www.wsj.com/articles/civilian-climate-corps-democrats-ed-markey-alexandria-ocasio-cortez-sunrise-movement-evergreen-action-11627337295

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July 23

The Guardian on the climate summit: 100 days to save the world

The global reality of the climate crisis could hardly be more stark. A common theme is clear, from western Germany, where about 200 people perished in floods, to Henan province in central China, where at least 50 have died and about 400,000 have been evacuated after overwhelming downpours, to western Canada and the US, where a blistering set of heatwaves has provided the tinder for wildfires on a growing scale, through to the Middle East, where drought threatens communities from Algeria to Yemen, triggering unrest and regional disputes. On this planet there is no hiding place.

A hundred days now remain before the nations gather in Glasgow at the United Nations Cop26 climate conference on 31 October. More than 190 world leaders are expected. The UK government calls the summit the world’s last best chance. That is true. Yet words are cheaper than actions and sustained effort, especially when Boris Johnson is involved, and the last best chance is at serious risk of being lost. As things currently stand, the governments of the world, the UK included, are heading to Glasgow without having made the ambitious strategic decisions and collective sacrifices that might enable Cop26 to mark a genuine turning point that is needed in the battle to contain and reverse global heating.

This week, environment ministers from the G20 powers – representing more than 90% of the world’s economic production – have been meeting in Naples. This gathering ought to have provided a tremendous springboard towards Cop26. But the meeting has been short on concrete joint policy commitments of the kind that might create the necessary new political momentum. At the heart of the problem is the failure of the G20 to agree on actions and timetables to achieve global net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. This is umbilically linked to the similar failure to set the more ambitious global goal of restricting global heating to an increase of 1.5C in the same period. Reports suggest that the ministers will recognise that 1.5C is preferable to 2C but not do enough about it.

This is unacceptable, but it is characteristic of a world struggling to recover economically from the pandemic. Governments’ recovery plans are increasingly falling short of what is needed to reach existing climate goals, never mind new ones. Globally, carbon emissions are again set to rise in 2023, not fall. The world is in danger of losing the path towards net zero. That failure comes down partly to money and partly to politics. Today, as in the past, responsibility should be widely shared. European countries, the UK included, often talk a better game than they play. On Thursday, Angela Merkel admitted as much about Germany’s record. “We can’t continue at the current pace but have to up the tempo,” she conceded.

There is little concrete evidence that Britain, as the Cop26 host nation, has done enough to make sure this happens. The task remains urgent. Without big developing countries such as Brazil and India on board, agreement is difficult, and these countries know they have bargaining power. The biggest carbon emitter remains China, where totals are still rising, and the US, whose emissions are falling but historically (and per capita) far exceed China’s. Together they are responsible for 40% of global emissions, so without them nothing decisive is achievable. The US climate change special envoy, John Kerry, is pledging extra money to support global climate initiatives but insists there will be no trade-off with China on human rights in order to secure a stronger climate deal. If an adequate agreement can still be reached, then Cop26 may yet be a success. But the clock is ticking and the stakes are getting ever higher.

ONLINE: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2021/jul/23/the-guardian-view-on-the-climate-summit-100-days-to-save-the-world

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July 28

The Kansas City Star on making lists of abusive Catholic priests more accessible:

The Catholic Church’s attempt to repair the damage caused by decades of priestly abuse would be vastly improved by a full, transparent, easy-to-use national list of abusive clerics. And no, that still doesn’t exist.

Two years ago, many dioceses — but not all — began publishing lists of priests “credibly accused” of abusive behavior. But these are too often incomplete, as well as difficult to find and use.

“There are far more names out there now than ever before,” said David Clohessy of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP. “Is it anywhere near the totals? Absolutely not. … Bishops always have, and still, put out the very least amount of information as possible.”

The Catholic Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, for example, has published a list of “substantiated abuse allegations” against nearly two dozen clerics. Yet the list lacks photographs of the offenders, or full work histories, or the names of any lay offenders.

Other dioceses provide this critical information. A comprehensive list would better notify the community.

More fundamentally, the Church’s decision to allow each diocese to decide for itself how to compile and publish abuse lists virtually assures that they will be incomplete and confusing. A church member, or abuse victim, seeking information about a priest must sort through dozens of lists in different jurisdictions — all using different standards.

“Each diocesan bishop makes the decision whether or not to publish a list of credibly accused clerics,” said a statement from Ashlie Hand, speaking for the Kansas City-St. Joseph diocese.

“This decision is based on multiple factors informed by each bishop’s advisors and state laws that impact the consequences of the level of detail shared,” she said.

Private groups have stepped forward to aggregate the information as best they can. More than a year ago, ProPublica published a searchable database of abusive priests, drawing information from published diocesan lists and other records.

“The list does not constitute a government-run sex-offender registry,” ProPublica said when it published the database, “but it does raise important questions about the men, such as their location, access to minors or vulnerable adults, and whether or not they can be realistically and properly supervised.”

The website Bishopaccountability.org also contains in-depth information about abusive priests and the abuse crisis.

But the Catholic Church itself has failed to assemble all of the information it has in one central place, for easy use and consultation by the public.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has long said they haven’t produced a comprehensive list because of varying state laws. “The decision of whether and how to best release lists and comply with varying civil reporting laws have been the responsibility of individual dioceses,” said Chieko Noguchi, a USCCB spokeswoman, last year.

Clohessy isn’t convinced. “If they genuinely want to protect kids, and genuinely want to heal victims, and genuinely want the trust of their flock, why would they not put out a national list?” he asked.

That’s a valid question.

This is not about punishing the Catholic Church, or extending the crisis of clergy abuse. The church — or any organization with a similar record of ignoring and hiding predatory behavior — will only find absolution after full transparency.

For Catholics, nothing can be more important than fully facing the long history of clerical abuse, and demanding full transparency and accountability from church leaders today.

A national clearinghouse and database, compiled and published by the Catholic Church itself, would be a good step in that direction.

ONLINE: https://www.kansascity.com/opinion/editorials/article252932523.html

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July 20

The Winston-Salem (N.C.) Journal on DACA and congressional inaction:

It must be so tiring — and stressful — to be a dreamer.

To be, we mean, one of the young people enrolled in the Obama-era DACA program — Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals — caught between here and there, trying to build a future in the only country they’ve ever known while Congress and courts play volleyball with their lives. These people, doing the best they can with limitations that would drive many crazy, deserve our respect and our admiration.

They also deserve some action from Congress. But it’s anyone’s guess when they’ll get it.

The latest plot twist in their drama occurred last week when a federal judge in Texas ruled that DACA was an “illegally implemented program” and said “the public interest of the nation is always served by the cessation of a program that was created in violation of law.” His ruling prohibits the Department of Homeland Security from approving new applications to the program, which grants work permits and reprieves from deportation to the dreamers.

Despite his disfavor, the judge allowed its current recipients — over 600,000 — to keep their protected status. That’s something.

Congressional Democrats and advocates for immigrants called for the government to appeal the ruling, which Rep. Katherine M. Clark (D-Mass.) described as “cruel.”

President Joe Biden agreed, called the ruling “deeply disappointing” and saying the Department of Justice would appeal the decision “in order to preserve and fortify DACA.”

“While the court’s order does not now affect current DACA recipients, this decision nonetheless relegates hundreds of thousands of young immigrants to an uncertain future,” he said in a statement.

The ACLU and Google, one of many companies that employs DACA recipients, also disapproved of the ruling.

But Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who was among those who brought the case to court, tweeted that he “defeat(ed the) Biden Administration — AGAIN — on illegal immigration.”

At least we know what really matters to him, as he plays with these people’s lives.

To recap, “dreamers” is the short-hand name for illegal immigrants brought to the U.S. by their parents when they were children. They grew up here, attending our schools, buying our goods, in some cases believing themselves to be U.S. citizens. In every sense but on paper, they’re Americans.

Almost 25,000 of them live in North Carolina.

The DACA program, created by then-President Barack Obama, allows them to remain here with no threat of deportation — in many instances, to countries in which they have no ties and don’t even know the language. To participate in DACA, they must contribute to society by working, attending college or serving in the military. They also must stay out of trouble with the law.

More than 90% of DACA recipients are employed and 45% are in school, according to a government study released last year. Many of them — one estimate is 30,000 — work in the health care industry and are currently helping to fight COVID.

Public sentiment favors them, as do a majority of Democrats and Republicans in Congress.

But the DACA program itself has been under constant attack because, you know, Obama. The courts have kicked the program back and forth, sometimes affirming it, other times, undermining it.

Despite the overall agreement that dreamers deserve our support, Republicans and Democrats have failed to agree on legislation to assure their permanent safety.

It’s not for lack of trying. Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) and our own Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) have proposed legislation that would offer permanent legal status to current participants in DACA.

But Democrats want a broader agreement that would cover thousands more. In theory, this makes sense — more sense than having to reinvent the wheel for the next group of dreamers — but “sense” doesn’t always win in Congress.

Resolving this matter would be a win for Democrats and Republicans alike, proving to critics that they can cooperate for the good of the country. We hope the judge’s ruling will provide a little extra push.

It would also, of course, be a win for the dreamers, one that is long overdue. They deserve better from the country they love.

ONLINE: https://journalnow.com/opinion/editorial/our-view-dreamers-on-the-line-again/article_62d672e4-e966-11eb-82b6-1bfb4350050a.html

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July 27

The Minneapolis Star Tribune on getting to the bottom of Jan. 6:

On Jan. 6, Americans witnessed on live television what few could have imagined: a violent, real-time invasion of the U.S. Capitol as part of an attempt to halt the peaceful transfer of power from one president to the next.

It has taken until now, seven months later, to even begin the congressional investigation that should have begun soon after these events. But that delay has not dimmed the power of the gut-twisting testimony offered Tuesday by four police officers who found themselves in hand-to-hand combat that day, determined to protect the Capitol and its inhabitants at the risk of their lives.

That it has taken so long to investigate is shameful testament to Republican leaders who are more worried about crossing former President Donald Trump than they are about defending our democracy. Of the 211 Republicans in Congress, only two — Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming and Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois — had the courage and integrity to step forward and serve on the House Jan. 6 commission. Kinzinger, a former military officer, fought back tears listening to the officers’ testimony, saying, “You guys may individually feel a little broken … but you guys won. You guys held.”

He noted, correctly, that the reason not enough is known about that day is because “many in my party have treated this as just another partisan fight.” He said this was “toxic and a disservice” to those who served at the Capitol, the American people and “the generations before us who went to war to defend self-governance.”

If that sounds a bit grandiose, it’s not after hearing testimony from officers. U.S. Capitol Police Sgt. Aquilino Gonell, an Army veteran who served in Iraq, said rioters called him a traitor and said, “If you shoot us, we all have weapons and we’ll shoot back.” Gonell was kicked, punched, sprayed. Rioters, he said, used hammers, police shields, rebar, knives, batons, bear spray and officers’ own weapons against them. “It was like a medieval battle,” he said.

Officer Daniel Hodges described lines of men fully outfitted in tactical gear who appeared to be coordinating efforts. At one point, there were nearly 10,000 rioters by some estimates, against 150 officers. This was no spontaneous demonstration that got out of hand, but a coordinated effort that took hours to push past barriers, viciously attack police and finally breach the Capitol itself.

Hodges heard rioters informing him, “You’ll die on your knees.” It was Hodges who was caught on a now infamous video clip, bleeding from the mouth and screaming while being crushed by the mob as he braced himself against a door, trying to prevent their entry.

Washington, D.C., Officer Michael Fanone went voluntarily to the Capitol because he “could not ignore what was happening.” He was beaten unconscious, tased repeatedly at the base of his skull and suffered a heart attack, concussion and brain injury in the battle. At one point, he heard, “Kill him with his own gun,” as rioters attempted to wrest his firearm from him. Still, Fanone said, “nothing has prepared me to address those elected members of government who deny the events of that day and in doing so betray their oath of office — those I was fighting so desperately to defend.”

“It’s disgraceful,” he said, giving the table at which he was sitting a hard slap.

Capitol Officer Harry Dunn started his testimony asking a moment of silence for Officer Brian Sicknick, who died of a stroke the day after the battle. Dunn, who is Black, told of how he was repeatedly called the N-word, the first time that had ever happened while he wore a police uniform. He urged committee members to get to the bottom of the events of that day.

Cheney is right when she says that the investigation must know what happened every minute of that day in the White House, every phone call, every conversation, every meeting leading up to, during and after the attack. Tuesday’s testimony, as powerful as it was, was only Step 1 in what must be a fearless and relentless look into what led up to the invasion of the Capitol. Officers testified that at a Black Lives Matter protest the previous summer, Capitol Police had ample resources and reinforcements in place from the start. What happened this time?

The committee will need access to phone records, texts and other documents. They should subpoena whoever they need testimony from, up to and including the former president and the current minority leader.

Dunn noted that Cheney and Kinzinger were being praised for their courage in stepping forward to be on the panel but questioned why. “Because they told the truth? Why is telling the truth hard? I guess in this America, it is,” he said.

It shouldn’t be.

ONLINE: https://www.startribune.com/get-to-the-bottom-of-jan-6-invasion/600082067/

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July 23

The Portland (Maine) Press Herald on fresh remedies for modern inflation:

Anybody who remembers the 1970s remembers the Great Inflation, when retirees on fixed incomes struggled to make ends meet.

They probably also remember what happened next, when the Federal Reserve under Paul Volker tightened the money supply, driving down prices by driving down the economy, forcing two recessions that lowered consumer spending and increased unemployment.

For the last four decades, inflation has been not much more than a bad memory for most people. This year, however, it has reappeared as a cause for concern. Fear of a return to 1970s-style inflation is driving calls for a retreat from the free-spending goals of the Biden administration, which some Republicans claim have overheated the economy.

They are calling for Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell to do what Volker did, and raise interest rates to cool demand. That would be a mistake.

The circumstances driving this economy are much different from those in the 1970s, and the kind of inflation that persisted then is not likely to come back.

Powell is right to reassure lenders that he’ll take action if inflation spirals out of control, but we are nowhere near that point. Reining in the economy too soon would unnecessarily hurt lower-wage workers at a point when the recovery is finally showing signs of reaching them.

Inflation is measured by the Department of Labor, which tracks over time the prices of a list of goods and services it considers typical for an urban family’s budget. The department expresses the overall change in prices with one number, the Consumer Price Index.

Earlier this month, the department reported that CPI has risen 5.4 percent over the previous 12 months, the greatest one-year increase since the period that ended in August 2008.

CPI is just one number, but that doesn’t mean that all prices increased equally. The 5.4 percent annual increase includes a 2.4 percent increase in food prices, 4.9 percent increase in apparel and a 24 percent increase in energy costs.

That is driven by a 45 percent increase in the cost of gasoline, which is what you might expect following 2020, a year when lockdowns and layoffs cut demand for gas.

This is very different from what happened to gas prices in the 1973-74, when an embargo by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries cut off supply, driving up prices – not by 40 percent but by 400 percent, bringing on a prolonged energy crisis.

Most prices in the June report are increasing moderately, as should be expected in an economy where people have pent up demand and maybe some money that they didn’t spend last year. A glaring exception is the price of used cars and trucks, which shot up 45 percent over the previous year, but that also seems to be a COVID phenomenon.

Car makers scaled back production at the start of the pandemic and reduced their orders for parts. When demand for new cars rebounded last fall, there wasn’t enough inventory to meet it.

Now the automakers can’t get the semiconductor chips they need to build a modern car because the chip makers moved to other product lines when demand shifted.

That crunch is starting to ease now, and even though it will take time for new car production to scale up, the price of used cars is already dropping.

As we saw during the pandemic with toilet paper, two-by-fours and chicken wings, small changes in behavior by large numbers of people can shock the system. But markets have an ability to respond.

We are still climbing out of a very unusual recession, and there are bound to be more surprises ahead. But like double-knit leisure suits, 1970s-style inflation is probably not making a comeback.

ONLINE: https://www.pressherald.com/2021/07/23/our-view-this-is-not-your-fathers-inflation/

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