Excerpts from recent editorials in the United States and abroad:
The Baltimore Sun on the similarities between a woman accusing Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault and Anita Hill’s sexual-harassment allegation against Clarence Thomas in 1991:
Stop us when this sounds familiar: A woman comes forward to allege sexual misconduct by a nominee to the United States Supreme Court. Her credibility and motives are attacked. She is invited to give testimony about some of the most painful moments of her life before a panel of unsympathetic men. And many simply dismiss her claims because she did not come forward sooner.
That’s what was happening in October of 1991 when Anita Hill alleged pervasive sexual harassment by her former boss, Clarence Thomas. And it’s what’s happening now after Christine Blasey Ford went public with her accusation that Judge Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her during a high school party in the early 1980s.
One of the Senators who mistreated Ms. Hill then is still on the Senate Judiciary Committee, and he hasn’t changed much. Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah claims to welcome further investigation into Ms. Ford’s accusations but in the same breath casts the matter in a political light, claiming it has been orchestrated by Democrats to deny Mr. Kavanaugh a seat on the court.
Twenty-seven years later, amid the #MeToo movement that has forced a reckoning about how little has changed since Ms. Hill’s testimony, we can do better. Ms. Hill, now a law professor at Brandeis, has some excellent ideas for how. In an op-ed in the New York Times, she suggests a number of steps, including handing the initial investigation of the complaint not to the Senate, with its partisan interests and high pressure, but to an independent panel expert in such cases. We shouldn’t leave the truth to the mercy of people whose main concern isn’t the truth or fairness but the midterm elections. Ms. Hill also urged the committee to take more time with the matter than it now plans. If the standard was two weeks of consideration in 1991, how can it be just one in 2018?
Ms. Hill’s final admonition, that we should call Mr. Kavanaugh’s accuser by her name, is particularly poignant. What (political cartoonist) KAL depicted in 1991 was a group of thugs intent on treating Ms. Hill like a political prop to be beaten down in the name of Justice Thomas’ confirmation. A generation later, we can’t treat Christine Blasey Ford the same way.
China Daily on tariffs imposed on Chinese imports:
The Donald Trump administration would commit a serious mistake if it attempts to force China to make major concessions at the negotiation table in the face of its high tariffs on more Chinese goods.
Underestimating China’s resolve to safeguard its legitimate interests, the United States will find its protectionist measures backfiring to harm its own industries and the American people, as indicated by the swift response of American business groups that condemned U.S. President Donald Trump’s plans to impose tariffs on another $200 billion worth of Chinese imports from Monday.
Industrial groups such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Retail Industry Leaders Association have said such tariffs will weaken the U.S.’ economic growth, and their impact would mainly be borne by U.S. enterprises and families. “Now is the time for talks,” the U.S. National Association of Manufacturers urged in a statement.
Indeed, the U.S. has invited China to a new round of talks to settle their trade disputes. But the new tariffs it imposed on Chinese imports on Monday show the U.S. still prefers to use unilateral policies in an attempt to force China to accept its terms, and change its economic policies instead of engaging in talks on an equal basis to work out a solution acceptable to both sides. The new tariffs not only forced China to impose tariffs on $60 billion worth of U.S. goods but have also added uncertainties to the proposed talks.
The two countries have had the opportunity to resolve their disputes through talks since early this year, but given Washington’s refusal to give up its unilateral and protectionist stance, those talks, not surprisingly, have failed. Despite the failure, however, the Trump administration should realize China-U.S. trade and other economic differences can be resolved only through talks.
If the U.S. really wants to end the trade conflict, it should show more sincerity and adopt a down-to-earth, problem-solving approach.
The first batch of tariffs by the U.S. and China against each other has shown the U.S.’ unilateral and maximum pressure tactics cannot force China to meet its insatiable demand. The new tariffs, too, will prove ineffective, as China had made it clear it would respond in kind to the US’ tariffs.
In its four decades of reform and opening-up, China has more than once faced economic uncertainties due to external shocks, such as the 1997-98 Asian financial crisis and the 2008-09 global financial crisis, during which its economic growth fell sharply. But given its inherent resilience, China has always managed to find the proper solutions to put its economy back on track.
The trade conflict will not force China to succumb to U.S. pressure. Instead, given its economic resilience, it will squarely face those challenges, find the right solutions, and emerge stronger.
The Washington Post on President Donald Trump’s declassification order:
President Trump has demanded the immediate declassification of portions of an order allowing the surveillance of former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page, text-message records from several of Mr. Trump’s chief whipping boys at the FBI and interview records with Bruce G. Ohr, a senior Justice Department official. The White House and the president’s enablers in Congress claim the release is about transparency and exposing corruption in law enforcement. The real goal is obvious: dredge up more “evidence” that the Russia investigation is the witch hunt Mr. Trump insists it is and that senior Justice Department officials have conspired against him.
Aside from the obvious abuse of presidential power in a matter implicating himself, and his continuing shredding of norms essential to law enforcement, there is a likely flaw in Mr. Trump’s strategy: If experience is any guide, the new material will do more to undercut rather than advance the narrative about an anti-Trump conspiracy at the FBI. That is what happened when Mr. Trump forced the release of the application in which federal officials asked for permission to surveil Mr. Page. House Republicans insisted it showed that judges had been misled about the source of some of the information in the application; in fact, it showed that the judges had been told that the source was biased. No matter to Mr. Trump and his spinners. Then, as now, they pick out and warp individual bits to suit their version of the Russia story, the one that trashes people who have devoted their lives to serving the country and that erodes faith in federal law enforcement.
One such victim is Mr. Ohr, whose mistreatment at the hands of the president has been particularly nasty. The Justice Department official interacted with Christopher Steele, the former British spy who, during the 2016 campaign, created a dossier of allegations against Mr. Trump. The dossier, and whatever else Mr. Steele was hearing from his network of sources, was of legitimate concern to the FBI. Yet Mr. Trump has threatened to revoke Mr. Ohr’s security clearance and appears determined to publicly humiliate him.
It is depressingly ironic that Mr. Trump, a man who won the presidency, in part, by inflating a story about how Hillary Clinton, his Democratic opponent, could not handle sensitive information, is in turn abusing his declassification authority. “There are very good reasons that some of these documents were so restricted that very few members (of Congress) ever had access to them,” a spokesperson for Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-Va.), who has reviewed the documents, told us. “If released unredacted or insufficiently redacted, the documents would clearly identify sources and methods and potentially put the lives of individuals who have helped the United States at risk.”
As Mr. Trump has conspired with House Republicans to distract and mislead, Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) has stood by. His failure to stand up to Mr. Trump and the Trumpists in the House when the country needed a person with spine will define his legacy.
GateHouse Media North Carolina Coastal Group (via StarNews of Wilmington) on Hurricane Florence:
How much destruction and misery can one region endure?
It’s almost unfathomable that less than two years after Hurricane Matthew — the recovery from which is far from complete — much of Coastal North Carolina once again is underwater, roads are impassable and thousands of homes and other structures lie in ruins from the fierce winds and unrelenting rains of Florence.
As of Monday morning, the state’s death toll stood at 17. Just as we know the water will continue to rise in many places, we fear the death toll will, too. (Hurricane Matthew killed 26 people in North Carolina and 1999’s Floyd caused 51 fatalities in the state.)
As of Monday afternoon, the intense rain seemed to have ended as Florence inched across the Carolinas. And although about 500,000 customers remained without power in North Carolina — down from more than 800,000 — electric service was being restored in many areas, providing welcome relief in hot, dark homes, and easing the demand for gasoline needed to run generators.
Unfortunately, that’s about all the good news we can muster at this point, except for, of course, what the elder President Bush referred to as the “thousand points of light” — the people from all walks of life and working in all sorts of capacities who are doing their part to help their communities and to help each other.
For every report of looting or some other bad behaviour we’ve read about, we’ve seen a hundred documenting neighbours helping neighbours, strangers helping strangers, and workers both private and public going beyond the call of duty to help those in need and, in some cases, save lives.
Sometime down the road there will be time to look back at the response to Hurricane Florence and decisions made in the past that might be making Coastal North Carolina more vulnerable to tropical storms. But for now we should stay focused on immediate needs and feed off the spirit of the tens of thousands of people who are helping us weather yet another devastating storm. We should all offer them our sincere thanks and help them in anyway necessary.
One thing that will be absolutely essential is patience, especially in the next several weeks as emergency and life-threatening conditions persist. Patience not only with government leaders, emergency responders and private businesses, such as utility companies, but with each other.
Let’s all commit ourselves to replacing the floodwaters of Hurricane Florence with a flood of patience, goodwill and a spirit of co-operation. It’s the one thing each of us can do to ease the heavy burdens we all are carrying.
The Florida Times-Union of Jacksonville on the Second Amendment:
The ongoing debate over guns in America has led some to vociferously call for abolishing the Second Amendment.
That’s just not wise thinking.
There are common-sense restrictions on guns that fall within the scope of the Second Amendment.
So there’s no need to even consider abolishing it.
Nevertheless, calls for abolishing the Second Amendment are coming from such respected figures like retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens.
And a new poll shows that about 20 per cent of Americans favour repealing the Second Amendment.
In reality, that probably shouldn’t be a surprising statistic.
There are actually Americans, after all, who regularly support restrictions on speech that would not be allowed under the First Amendment.
So, of course, there will always be a fringe minority out there yapping for scrapping the Second Amendment.
Or the Third Amendment.
Or the Fourth Amendment.
Or the …
You get the point.
Fortunately, the anti-Second Amendment extremists have little support in Washington; even blue-state Democrats like Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California have made clear they support gun ownership for self-defence and hunting.
What’s even more striking is that noted, liberal-leaning Harvard law professor Laurence Tribe has also dismissed the campaign to abolish the Second Amendment.
In a piece for The Washington Post, Tribe wrote that the Second Amendment isn’t the problem; in fact, Tribe declared, repealing the Second Amendment would not limit a single gun or enact a single regulation.
The fact is abolishing the Second Amendment isn’t necessary because the Supreme Court has already set some reasonable parameters.
In the Supreme Court’s historic 2008 Heller decision that underlined an individual’s right to bear arms, the court also noted that right wasn’t unlimited — and that certain classes of “dangerous and unusual” weapons could be limited.
The court has also allowed limits on assault weapons, large magazines and the number of weapons that can be stockpiled.
That’s why instead of abolishing the Second Amendment, the focus should be on reducing the ability of Americans to use military-style weapons to kill innocent fellow citizens.
The focus should also be on restricting the ability of mentally ill people — and those with histories of domestic violence — to have easy access to firearms; clearly more safeguards must be built in to immediately “red-flag” such Americans whenever they try to purchase weapons.
There is certainly widespread support for that kind of proactive approach.
In a recent poll, 85 per cent even voiced support for letting the police take guns away from people deemed dangerous — and at least five states have such laws in place.
Gun advocates like to criticize the 1994 ban on assault weapons for its emphasis on cosmetic features; they deride it as a naive and unrealistic law designed by people who know nothing about guns.
For example, the 1994 law defined assault weapons based on such features as pistol grips.
In an opinion piece, Palm Beach County criminologist Thomas Gabor said such poor standards of definition have undermined attempts to strictly regulate assault weapons because “the gun industry can easily make cosmetic modifications to skirt the regulation.”
Gabor has proposed a more realistic definition of assault weapons that takes an objective, scientific approach based on lethality — as well as relevant factors like calibre, muzzle velocity, rate of fire, capacity and design flexibility.
That’s a reasonable idea.
And it’s a far more palatable idea than the harebrained suggestion that it’s time for America to abolish the Second Amendment.
Chicago Sun-Times on Volkswagen announcing that it will stop making its Beetle next year:
There has been a terrible death in the family for baby boomers: The beloved Volkswagen Beetle.
Volkswagen has announced it will quit making the Beetle next year, shutting down production of a car that debuted in 1930s Nazi Germany but became a counterculture icon for America’s hippie generation.
At one point, Beetles sold in the hundreds of thousands every year. That was back in the ’60s and ’70s, when VW “Bugs” putt-putted down streets everywhere, in powder blue and vivid orange, candy-apple red and taxicab yellow, even a few in white. The rear-mounted engine gave you just a little more horsepower than a lawnmower, or so it seemed.
That engine had to heat the car in winter, too, and it did, though often not until you got to where you were going.
Some early models had a flower vase, typically mounted on the dashboard as the perfect flower child accessory. Volkswagen offered the vase as a dealer option when it redesigned the Beetle in the 1990s.
Best of all, the 10.6 gallon tank could be filled up for less than $10, even during the energy crisis of the 1970s.
In 1968 — a turbulent year when Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy were assassinated and chaos broke out during the 1968 Democratic Convention — the movie “The Love Bug” featured a Beetle racing car named Herbie. Sales peaked at 423,000 Beetles that year.
Owners of classic Beetles, take note: Models in mint condition are selling for up to $75,000 now, so hold on to them. Once the Beetle is gone for good, who knows what price wealthy, nostalgic boomers might pay?
Volkswagen President and CEO Hinrich J. Woebcken, however, seemed to leave room for a change of heart: Could the Beetle, once again, come back?
“Never say never,” he said.