Excerpts from recent editorials in the United States and abroad:
The New York Times on opioid addiction:
Opioid addiction has developed such a powerful grip on Americans that some scientists have blamed it for lowering our life expectancy.
Drug overdoses, nearly two-thirds of them from prescription opioids, heroin and synthetic opioids, killed some 64,000 Americans last year, over 20 percent more than in 2015. That is also more than double the number in 2005, and nearly quadruple the number in 2000, when accidental falls killed more Americans than opioid overdoses.
The President’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis said in July that its “first and most urgent recommendation” was for President Trump to declare a national emergency, to free up emergency funds for the crisis and “awaken every American to this simple fact: If this scourge has not found you or your family yet, without bold action by everyone, it soon will.” The commission’s final report is due out in a month.
Mr. Trump has not declared an emergency, and “bold” would not describe the steps the White House has taken so far. The president’s 2018 budget request increases addiction treatment funding by less than 2 percent, even including $500 million already appropriated by Congress in 2016 under the 21st Century Cures Act.
Families across the United States are demanding that more be done to end the despair and devastation of addiction … The government needs to save Americans, not cast them off.
Los Angeles Times on Attorney General Jeff Sessions and free speech:
Attorney General Jeff Sessions delivered a powerful message in support of free speech on college campuses, warning that the American university is being transformed into an “echo chamber of political correctness and homogeneous thought.” He also promised that the Justice Department would support students who have gone to court to challenge restrictions on their speech.
There was a lot of truth in the attorney general’s indictment, and much of his speech at Georgetown University Law Center sounded as if it had been lifted from editorials on this page.
We too have expressed concerns that controversial speakers might be silenced because universities fear violent protests, effectively granting protesters a “heckler’s veto.” We too have criticized college administrations that have confined students expressing their opinions and passing out literature to tiny “free speech zones.” …
But while we find much to admire in the attorney general’s message, he is a flawed messenger. We worry that Sessions’ embrace of free speech on campus — and his plan to deploy the Justice Department in vindicating it — might be designed to protect only conservative speech or to score political points with those on the right who believe liberal-arts campuses have turned into socialist re-education camps.
One problem with Sessions as a free-speech champion is that he serves a president who repeatedly has shamed and threatened those who exercise that right … if Sessions’ free-speech campaign is to be credible, it mustn’t be applied in an ideological or politically motivated manner … Otherwise he will encourage cynicism and undermine support for the ideal that college campuses be the “forum for the competition of ideas” he rightly celebrated in his speech.
Houston Chronicle on President Donald Trump’s tweets:
On an October afternoon in 1926, Baylor and Texas A&M students attending the Baptist university’s homecoming game in Waco poured out of the stands at halftime and erupted into a riot that was wilder than anything their respective teams had managed during the first half. In a frantic effort to halt the fist-swinging, board-wielding fracas, the Aggie Band launched into “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Aggie cadets immediately unclenched fists and snapped to attention. Unfortunately, the Bears kept whaling. A cadet hit in the back of the head with a board died the next day.
In the aftermath, the two schools’ presidents decided to call a halt to the Battle of the Brazos for the next five seasons. Seventy-one years later, another president — of the United States, no less — heard the strains of the national anthem and kept on whaling.
Never mind that 3 1/2 million of President Donald Trump’s fellow Americans are in clear and present danger because of the havoc wrought by Hurricane Maria. The president who may not have known that Puerto Rico was a commonwealth of the United States preferred to stoke anger and divisiveness over that most urgent of issues facing the country: not nuclear-armed North Korea or extreme weather or decent health care for all Americans, but whether professional athletes have the right to kneel in protest during the playing of the national anthem.
The president visited beleaguered Puerto Rico, but for more than a week he was Twitter-fixated on NFL players protesting police brutality against African-Americans …While Puerto Ricans coped with a lack of clean water, an inoperable electricity grid, impassable roads, rotting food and the sick and elderly bereft of care, Trump pounded out at least 20 tweets about football … Imagine the outrage if a President Barack Obama or a President George W. Bush had responded to urgent needs in such a callous and cavalier manner …
Let Donald Trump boast and blather all he wants, but don’t take him seriously. Let him tweet while the world burns, even as we hope that dedicated members of Congress, conscientious Cabinet secretaries, devoted public servants and true patriots everywhere carry us through a dark time.
The Philadelphia Inquirer on Trump tax reform proposal:
President Ronald Reagan, who honed his speaking skills as a Hollywood actor, knew how to make a good speech. But perhaps his most memorable line, spoken during a 1980 debate with the incumbent president, Jimmy Carter, was: “There he goes again.”
Those four words came to mind as President Trump trotted out the framework of his promised tax reform plan, which is supposed to boost the middle class …
Boiled down to its essence, this is just another iteration of the trickle-down theory, or “Reaganomics,” that the Gipper insisted would boost the economy 30 years ago. It didn’t work then, and it won’t work now. Trump proposes giving huge tax cuts to corporations, which he says will use the money saved to create jobs. But the theory always fails because corporations put profits before job creation every time.
“My plan is for working people and my plan is for jobs. I don’t benefit. Very, very strongly I think there’s little benefit for people of wealth,” Trump insisted. And he said it with a straight face. A businessman as astute as Trump professes himself to be could not have missed the nuggets in his tax plan that will make the rich richer.
An analysis for Fortune magazine by Seth Hanlon of the liberal Center for American Progress details exactly how Trump’s plan would benefit the wealthy. The plan would create a new preferential tax rate for so-called pass-through businesses, including limited liability companies (LLCs), partnerships, and S-corporations, which are privately held corporations that choose to be taxed as partnerships …
As disingenuous as Trump is being about his tax plan favoring the wealthy, it is more disturbing that the document doesn’t include how he is going to replace the $2.2 trillion in revenue lost through his tax cuts …
Republicans in Congress are desperate for a win after failing to kill Obamacare as they promised. But a more realistic tax plan than Trump’s proposal must be negotiated if the goal is to both help the middle class and pay this country’s bills.
Khaleej Times on gun violence:
What would have been a happy ending to a three-day country music event turned into a long night of blood, pain, helplessness and terror. The Route 91 Harvest Festival turned into a combat zone when a 64-year-old decided to interrupt an evening of liveliness and good music with a rapid-fire barrage of bullets. People were suddenly scrambling for any kind of cover. Fear and chaos were unleashed. Over 50 people were reportedly killed and more than 200 injured, making it one of the deadliest shooting in the history of the United States. The incident has painfully refreshed memories of the attack in Manchester earlier this year when the concert of American pop artist Ariana Grande was targeted by a lone wolf terrorist, and of the nightclub shooting in Orlando in 2016. Why have events as innocuous as these become battlegrounds for people? Why is hatred finding its way out through guns and bullets in civilian areas? We do not know the motives or state of mind of the killer who chose to decide the fate of a number of innocent revelers … But the killer accomplished what he set out to (do) — stir anger, hatred and create chaos.
There is no solace in knowing that we live in the age of terror and bigotry. There is no comfort for families in knowing that the person responsible for such a heinous crime is dead, too … Would controlling pervasive gun culture in the US help? Or taking a tough stand on terrorism do the trick? Our thoughts are with the affected families.
The Miami Herald on Equifax hacking scandal:
Whether you know it or not, chances are you have been a potential victim of the huge Equifax hacking scandal that exposed the personal information of 145 million Americans to thieves because of weak security by a giant credit bureau.
That includes Social Security numbers, birthdates, credit history and much more. In short, the crooks managed to gain access to everything they need to steal your identity as a means of personal enrichment, all the while destroying your credit and your economic security.
Think fake new mortgage, stolen tax refund — whatever your personal credit nightmare may be. The security failure by Equifax made it possible.
Given all the other news lately — natural disasters, mass shootings, the daily embarrassment emanating from the White House — many Americans may not have heard of the Equifax mess, but everyone should get up to speed on it immediately because of the extensive damage it produced.
On Capitol Hill Tuesday, former Equifax chief executive Richard Smith answered questions from angry lawmakers for the first time, but he hardly made a good impression … On Tuesday, Smith, who resigned as CEO following the hacking disclosure, acknowledged that the critical software flaw the hackers exploited had been known since March. But the employee responsible for assigning a correction, he said, failed to act, despite knowing the patch was critical.
And Smith never properly explained the delay in informing the public and other parts of the bungled response, including inadequate staffing of the call centers that left consumers who called in angry and frustrated.
Lawmakers weren’t happy. They called the company’s responses “unacceptable” and “ham-fisted,” among other things.
Agreed, but epithets aren’t enough. Congress must pass legislation to protect consumers by setting a better standard for public disclosure over security breaches, requiring improved protection of sensitive information, and strengthening oversight of credit bureaus like Equifax and the others.
The company is responsible for the biggest data breach on record. Unfortunately, it probably won’t be the last.