Excerpts from recent editorials in the United States and abroad:
The London Evening Standard on racist chants and gestures during the football match between Bulgaria and England:
It was vile, hateful and shames a country.
The behaviour of some Bulgarian fans during their team’s match against England in Sofia (Oct. 14) was more than just a passing disgrace.
It demands a direct and tough response, because the racist chants and gestures that fouled the Euro 2020 qualifying match were sadly not a surprise.
They had been predicted — even if, absurdly, Bulgaria’s coach Krasimir Balakov had suggested that England had a bigger problem with racism in football than his own country.
… Anyone who turned on their televisions and endured this nasty display of hate from some in the crowd could see the truth.
England’s players took a stand against this racism on the pitch, and the match was interrupted.
Should they have walked off and ended the game for good? Some will say yes.
But there is no reason why England should have had to enforce decent standards of behaviour alone.
It shouldn’t have to be up to one team to act: Uefa (the Union of European Football Associations) needs to do it — and fast. That means it should show that zero tolerance of racism is real.
It should suspend the Bulgarian team from international competition.
On the pitch, England’s players stood firm: “Feeling sorry for Bulgaria to be represented by such idiots in their stadium. Anyway… 6-0 and we go back home, at least we did our job,” tweeted Raheem Sterling after the match.
Meanwhile, Bulgaria’s feeble performance in the game was matched by disgrace in the stands.
Racism can be kicked out of football. Over to Uefa to act.
The Dallas Morning News on the murder charge against a white police officer who shot and killed an African American woman who was inside her home:
There are moments that mark not just turning points in history, but points where it is evident that leaders must step forward and do the work to change the course of history.
The murder charge against former Fort Worth police officer Aaron Dean, who (last) weekend shot and killed Atatiana Jefferson in her home, is one of these moments. The charge Dean now faces is what the facts, as they are known, appear to demand. Our community as a whole must see this as a crucial moment.
We don’t pretend to know how this case will play out. Dean will now face a fair trial. And there will likely be twists and turns yet to come as we, as a community, come to grips with this tragedy and before the final chapter of this story is written.
Part of that story now is, according to the police, Jefferson may have pulled a pistol from her purse as she determined what was happening in her backyard. This is Texas, after all, where a person has a right to self-defense, especially at home, and why many people are still asking why the officer didn’t knock on the front door and make himself known before entering the backyard. As this case advances, we will likely yet learn more about what happened.
But what we do know is that for the third time in two years, our region has seen a police officer charged with murder in the slaying of an innocent African-American resident. All were incidents involving officers in different departments — Balch Springs, Dallas and Fort Worth. And each victim was very different than the other two. One, Jordan Edwards, was a 15-year-old honor student at a high school party. Another, Botham Jean, was a 26-year-old accountant and immigrant in his own apartment. And now, Jefferson, 28, a woman sitting in her house playing video games with her nephew and caring for an ailing parent.
All of these people are now names in tragic stories.
There are other stories that also need to be part of our narrative. Although it is still within living memory, we are no longer in a period when the sanction of law perpetrated violence against racial minorities. Over the past several decades, laws have changed and many hearts have changed, too. Casting aspersion on all police officers based on the actions of a few is not only unfair, it is also damaging to us. Our assessment of police officers needs to be based in reality, and that reality is that there are millions of unseen actions that reflect the honor, integrity and respect our officers bring to work every day. Losing sight of that will make it harder for the men and women in blue to patrol our streets, to reduce crime, to keep us safe.
That doesn’t erase the fact, of course, that innocent African-Americans have been killed under circumstances that demand both justice and change. The depth of the damage to our society with each death necessitates clear, compelling and public responses. Three deaths in our area is more than enough to compel such a conversation in North Texas.
We fully expect that each of these cases will now be woven into training at police academies and for more experienced officers. We also expect leaders within our communities to step into the fray with reasoned responses driven toward viable solutions. To unfairly castigate officers is to undermine our community in profound, if often invisible, ways. Doing so destroys the trust that is crucially important for a department to police a city, and it frays the bonds that enable officers to be connected to the community. Those bonds help residents better understand the role of police officers, and they help police officers better understand and stay in tune with concerns and issues facing the community.
If this sounds like we believe that in the aftermath of these shootings we should find ways to be better connected to our police departments, it is because that is what we are calling for. We are also calling for police departments to expand efforts to absorb the concerns of the community and take steps to reinforce the kind of culture and practices that can prevent these shootings.
It is possible to prevent these shootings. It is possible to build trust. But with each shooting, the hard task of doing such work falls farther out of reach.
The Los Angeles Times on two utility companies that enforced preventative power outages that affected millions of people:
Last year, state officials changed the law to allow power companies to be more aggressive shutting down electrical lines in areas where strong, dry winds were predicted so that even if they were downed, they wouldn’t spark a fire. The idea was that the outages would be used only as a last resort and that, ultimately, a little bit of pain and inconvenience was worth avoiding another deadly wildfire. Nearly all the deadliest fires over the last 20 years have been blamed on electrical lines and equipment.
The state’s two largest utilities — Pacific Gas & Electric and Southern California Edison — employed that preventive move in a big way last week, plunging millions of people into the dark from Humboldt to Ventura counties, bungling communications with the public and prompting questions about whether the weather in the end had justified such an extreme reaction. The PG&E shutdowns were staggeringly broad in scope, affecting hundreds of hospitals, thousands of homebound ill and infirm Californians, and hundreds of thousands of students whose schools were temporarily closed. All this by a company that has lagged badly on its tree-trimming efforts and other fire safety programs.
Now that the winds have died down, state officials should hold utilities executives to account for answers. Gov. Gavin Newsom on Monday asked the Public Utilities Commission to undertake an immediate review of PG&E’s outage of 738,000 customers. And it should do so, ideally, before the Santa Ana and Diablo winds return.
The review should include Edison’s outages as well. Edison was much less aggressive, shutting down power to only 24,113 customers at the peak, but the outages were still disruptive.
Among the questions that need answering is why the power was cut to some communities and not others. We know that shutting down power lines has ripple effects, but without explanation, the outages felt random. Also, why were the utilities not better prepared to communicate with customers about what was coming? Edison and PG&E had been working with the PUC for more than a year to hammer out rules governing “public safety power shutdowns.” Yet last week, both had website problems when customers logged on to find out if they were on the outage list. Honestly, these two utilities collectively serve most of California. How could they not have foreseen this demand for information?
But the most important question to be answered is whether the outages accomplished anything. PG&E’s equipment didn’t start any fires last week, but that might have been the case even if the lights had stayed on. Meanwhile, thousands of Southern Californians had their power cut, but the power continued to flow through lines at the ignition point of the Saddleridge fire near Sylmar. It’s still too early to say if those live wires caused the fire, but Edison reported that they were malfunctioning.
Newsom has called on PG&E to offer a $100 credit to residential customers and $250 to businesses left in the dark last week. That’s a nice gesture, but we think it would be even better if people could feel confident that the pre-emptive blackouts were actually making people safer.
The Washington Post on President Donald Trump’s decision to pull U.S. troops out of Syria:
Until now, it was possible to hope that the damage caused by President Trump’s terrible incompetence, ignorance and impulsivity in foreign policy was largely theoretical, and possibly reparable. That is no longer true. The cost of his latest Syria blunder is unfolding before our eyes: Innocent lives lost. U.S. servicemen and -women betrayed. Butchering dictators emboldened. Dangerous terrorists set free. A ghastly scene is playing out, and it almost surely will get worse.
How often have Mr. Trump and his Republican enablers in Congress berated President Barack Obama for allowing Syria to cross his “red line” without dire consequences? None of them is entitled ever to mention that again.
Mr. Trump — with no consideration, no warning, no consultation with allies, no regard for the other nations that have fought alongside the United States and risked their men and women in the fight — has turned tail. In the past two years, courageous U.S. troops cooperated with our Kurdish allies to defeat the deadly Islamic State caliphate. These allies lost more than 11,000 men and women killed; the United States, a dozen. It was a rare U.S. success in the Middle East.
The president has thrown it all away. His surrender is so hasty that U.S. forces could not execute a long-standing plan to take dozens of high-profile Islamic State detainees with them; we can expect to hear from those terrorists before long, in the region, in Europe or in the United States. The Islamic State is likely to exert its malign force again. The allies who fought alongside us are being slaughtered, and noncombatant women and children, too. Iran is strengthened, which threatens Israel. The murderous Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad is strengthened, too. Russia is taking charge. America’s adversaries could not have scripted a better outcome.
Mr. Trump likes to preen and posture as a champion of American fighters. But what more bitter medicine could any commander in chief administer to U.S. troops than ordering them to abandon the comrades who fought alongside them? He likes to preen, too, as a great enemy of Iran, and even as he runs from Syria he is ordering 1,800 U.S. troops to Saudi Arabia, ostensibly to deter Iran. But that deployment, while proving the utter incoherence of his claim of “ending wars in the Middle East,” will have far less effect on Iran than the U.S. pullout from Syria, which opens the door for it to swell its influence there, on Israel’s border.
And speaking of preening: Republican senators such as Lindsey O. Graham (S.C.) and Marco Rubio (Fla.), who have cheered and celebrated Mr. Trump and his national security team, now huff and puff about imposing sanctions on Turkey as punishment for its invasion. Mr. Trump said Monday that he now supports such sanctions. But only one week ago he greenlighted Turkey’s incursion, and on Sunday he further encouraged it with his announcement of a hasty U.S. withdrawal. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan bears responsibility for Turkey’s depredations, of course. But if there is any coherence — or morality — in Mr. Trump’s position, he is doing a good job of concealing it.
The Wall Street Journal on the trade deal truce between the U.S. and China:
President Trump on Friday (Oct. 11) announced a trade deal with China that he called “tremendous” or “tremendously” positive 15 times. The details look far more modest to us, but this truce in the trade war beats the alternative of escalating tariffs that have already caused a significant global economic slowdown.
Mr. Trump said China will make some $40 billion to $50 billion more in agricultural purchases over two years and has promised to better protect intellectual property and welcome more foreign financial services. In return the U.S. won’t increase tariffs to 30% from 25% on $250 billion of Chinese goods (this) week as Mr. Trump had planned.
The two countries also agreed to keep talking toward what Mr. Trump called a “phase two” agreement that would include the tougher issues such as Chinese technology theft and predatory regulation against American companies. There will also be a new consultation process to address disputes and monitor enforcement. The implication is that if progress continues, Mr. Trump will cancel the tariffs planned for December on more Chinese goods.
In essence both sides sued for a temporary peace to forestall further economic damage. China avoids a tariff escalation that has been hurting its exports and induced Beijing to impose capital controls to avoid capital flight and a run on the Chinese yuan.
Mr. Trump gets election-year farm purchases that will alleviate the harm his tariff war has done to American farmers. Equity markets should be relieved, and higher stock prices would buoy fading consumer confidence. …
None of this amounts to the kind of grand deal that would fundamentally shift China’s relationship to the world trading system. President Xi Jinping will still be able to avoid the hard decisions that would require him to reform state-owned industries or rein in the thieves at the ministry of security.
Assuming the truce holds through the 2020 election, Mr. Trump may believe he can then resume negotiations in a stronger position vis-a-vis China. He made no concessions on Huawei, the Chinese telecom company whose chief financial officer has been charged with fraud in an attempt to evade U.S. sanctions against Iran. If Huawei is a threat to U.S. national security, then it should be considered separately from these trade talks. …
Mr. Trump deserves credit for challenging China’s abusive practices, but he’d be in a stronger negotiating position had his tariffs not done so much to weaken the U.S. economy. By withdrawing from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, he reduced U.S. trade leverage with China. By imposing steel and aluminum tariffs on allies, he made it harder to form a coalition of trading partners to confront China as a united front. By focusing on the economically irrelevant bilateral U.S.-China trade deficit, he distracted from China’s serious trade abuses.
If Mr. Trump gets a second chance with China in a second term, these are the mistakes to avoid if he wants a better deal.
The New York Times on recent changes made by the Trump Administration that have gone against rules made by the Obama Administration:
On the campaign trail in 2015, Donald Trump said it was “disgusting” that a big corporation could escape taxation by using bookkeeping tricks to shift profits out of the United States.
Now the Trump administration is thinking about making it easier to play those tricks. Bloomberg reported (last) week that the Treasury Department, in a development sure to gladden the hearts of the corporate class, was considering a rollback of rules written by the Obama administration to prevent the very kinds of shenanigans Mr. Trump once condemned.
While Congress focuses on the question of whether to impeach Mr. Trump, the potential change in tax policy is a reminder that the wheels of the government grind on — and that Mr. Trump’s administration continues to make decisions that are bad for most Americans.
In recent months, the Agriculture Department has decided to reduce inspections at the slaughterhouses that process the nation’s pork; the Environmental Protection Agency has decided to let farmers and factories dump toxic chemicals into thousands of acres of previously protected wetlands; and the Labor Department has ruled that states can perform drug tests on applicants for unemployment benefits, allowing Texas, Mississippi and Wisconsin to begin efforts to curtail aid for people who need help.
These changes in regulatory policy are part of a clear pattern. The Trump administration has worked assiduously to reduce federal protections for consumers, workers and the environment, making the United States a dirtier and more dangerous place in which to live.
The Trump administration also continues to flout its obligation to comply with existing law.
A federal judge said (last) week that the Education Department, under the leadership of Betsy DeVos, had committed 16,000 violations of a court order by improperly seeking to collect student loan payments, including docking paychecks and confiscating tax refunds.
Magistrate Judge Sallie Kim of the United States District Court in San Francisco described the department’s behavior as “deeply disturbing,” adding, “I’m not sending anyone to jail yet, but it’s good to know I have that ability.”
The Obama administration erased the debts of thousands of former students of Corinthian Colleges, a for-profit company that went out of business in 2015, under a policy that forgives the loans of students who are the victims of a fraud. Under Ms. DeVos, however, the department began to grant only partial debt relief to Corinthian students, prompting a lawsuit. Judge Kim ordered the government to suspend its collection efforts while the case winds through the courts. She said she was “astounded” by the failure to comply.
Meanwhile, the department has finalized a new rule making it much harder for future student loan recipients to get relief from the government even if they are victims of fraud.
The Trump administration’s regulatory policy can generally be summarized as marching to the orders of the businesses it regulates. Indeed, the administration has pushed so hard to reduce regulation that even companies have sometimes expressed reservations: Four major automobile manufacturers have refused to embrace Mr. Trump’s campaign to prevent California from reducing air pollution, instead striking a deal with California to meet stricter emissions standards.
Mr. Trump also has an obsession with erasing rules written under President Barack Obama.
The potential rewrite of the tax rules governing corporate profits is an example of both tendencies. Corporations dislike the Obama-era rules, which cracked down on the practice of sending profits to a foreign branch, lending the money back to the home office and then writing off the interest expense. Under the rules, the government can prevent companies from treating those transfers as loans, and thus from claiming the resulting tax benefits.
Corporations argue that the current rule is broad, burdensome, and no longer necessary because the 2017 tax law limited the incentive for profit-shifting by reducing the tax rate on corporate income. But that overstates the effect of the law, which still leaves room for companies to hide profits in other jurisdictions. There is simply no good reason to weaken the Obama-era rule.
The administration’s penchant for this kind of petty vandalism does not add one whit to the case for Mr. Trump’s impeachment. It is instead a reminder that if Mr. Trump does stand for re-election in 2020, Americans can improve their lives by voting for someone else.
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