Sunday News: From the Editorial pages


MAIL SERVICE IS CRITICAL TO 2020 ELECTIONS, TRUMP NEEDS TO END IRRESPONSIBLE ATTACKS: In his short tenure DeJoy has taken action making mail delivery slower, less sure and inefficient. He ordered a halt to paying postal workers the overtime so mail carriers could complete their daily rounds. Amid the coronavirus pandemic, postal package volume has nearly doubled – exacerbating the opportunities for Trump to find ways to exploit his feud with Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s top executive and owner of The Washington Post. It has caused significant delays in deliveries of letters and packages. In the midst of his actions that effectively are dismantling the postal service, that service has never been more critical to the nation and especially with the approach of the national election. Wendy Fields of the Democracy Initiative, a coalition of voting and civil rights organizations, said the president was “deliberately orchestrating suppression and using the post office as a tool to do it.” This is no political biased pot-shot. It is a very real worry that will have an impact on Democratic, Republican and unaffiliated voters alike.

STORMS AND COVID 19 REVEAL THE NEED FOR CHANGE IN HOW NC CARES FOR THE ELDERLY: Some nursing homes and assisted-living centers provide excellent care delivered by dedicated administrators and a well-trained staff. But that level is achieved despite the system, not because of it. Hurricanes and the pandemic are exposing the weaknesses in the system that is supposed to protect vulnerable people in congregate care settings in North Carolina. For-profit chains tend more to the bottom line than to their residents. Smaller operators run one or a few homes and accept fines for poor care as the cost of doing business. This year, when North Carolina has seen more than 800 deaths from COVID-19 among long-term care residents, the legislature did not tighten accountability; it loosened it. Tucked into a COVID-19 relief law is a provision giving long-term care facilities immunity from most legal claims for the duration of the state of emergency. Improving nursing home care requires driving out unscrupulous nursing home operators. But responsibility for tough regulation tends to get lost amid the tangled overlap of local, state and federal regulation. Should Gov. Roy Cooper win re-election, as seems likely, he and state lawmakers should make it a priority to protect nursing home and assisted-living residents from neglect and exploitation.

REAL SCIENCE VS. TRUMP'S "DEMON SPERM": The mission Perseverance is about ambition, innovation and embracing the future. Exploration of the Jezero Crater located in a basin slightly north of the Martian equator will seek REAL evidence of past microbial life and test out conditions for possible human exploration. There were no Tweets about the launch from President Trump – though in earlier Tweets he’s confused the Moon with Mars. Facebook, YouTube and Twitter removed several versions of another video that Trump re-tweeted about dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic because it violated policies on false data and misinformation. The “very impressive” doctor turns out to be Stella Immanuel of Houston, Texas. She is a doctor, who says that there is demon sperm and the uterine condition “endometriosis” is caused by sex with demons during dreams. She spouts fiction and myth. When a reporter, during a White House COVID-19 briefing last week, presented Trump with the bizarre statements Immanuel had made the president abruptly and inexplicably walked out. It was a stark affirmation of Trump’s empty evidence. The NASA Perseverance team is focused. Information is checked, double-checked and checked again. They rely on honesty and facts. It is a stark contrast from the false, fanciful, and contradictory statements along with hypocritical behavior and B-S from the White House.

THE THREAT TO U.S. ELECTIONS IS REAL AND FRIGHTENING. THE PUBLIC HAS THE RIGHT TO KNOW: The warning lights are flashing red. America’s elections are under attack. This week, I reviewed classified materials in the Senate’s Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility and received a similarly classified briefing on malign foreign threats to U.S. elections. I was shocked by what I learned — and appalled that, by swearing Congress to secrecy, the Trump administration is keeping the truth about a grave, looming threat to democracy hidden from the American people. On Friday, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence issued a statement that only hints at the threats. The facts are chilling. I believe the American public needs and deserves to know them. The information should be declassified immediately. The publicly available facts are terrifying enough. A report released on Wednesday by the State Department outlined in detail attempts by Russian front groups, fake individual online identities and state-funded media to sow disinformation and dissension about U.S. allies around the world. Russian intelligence operations have perfected the art of laundering distorted and fabricated narratives through media networks, covert hacking, international proxies and others to undermine democracies, attack the United States’ global image and silence criticism of Russian President Vladimir Putin. The Trump administration’s refusal to share with the American public any information about the Russian threat to the November election is simply unacceptable. Making parts of intelligence reports public is hardly unprecedented. In fact, classified reports frequently include declassified summaries in recognition of the fundamental role transparency plays in a functioning democracy.

AS SCHOOLS REOPEN, WE'RE ROLLING THE DICE WITH PEOPLE'S LIVES: There remains much that we do not know about the role that children and young people are playing in the pandemic. A new study released just last week from experts at Children’s Hospital of Chicago found sobering evidence that infected young children — even those who are asymptomatic — may carry large quantities of the virus and be capable of spreading it. Now add to this the enormous difficulty (most would say impossibility) of getting children to consistently abide by social distancing, handwashing and mask-wearing protocols — which many communities are having enormous challenges in getting supposedly responsible adults to comply with — and the situation looks that much more worrisome. And, college kids? Who really thinks that it will be possible to safely house thousands of full-of-life 18- and 19-year-olds in crowded college dorms without creating multiple new virus hot spots? Heck, at UNC Pembroke on July 31, the university itself tweeted out an invitation to its thousands of followers to attend a Saturday night welcome-back party on the campus quad featuring ice cream and music. And at UNC Chapel Hill, the campus “CV-19 dashboard” listed a total of 173 positive cases among students and employees (13 new cases in the last seven days) as of Saturday, Aug. 1 — two days prior to the start of dorm move-in week. And, of course, that doesn’t even take into account the thousands upon thousands of teachers, professors, custodians, housekeepers, food service workers and administrators (many of whom are at-risk) who will interact with students every day. How many beloved individuals in these ranks will the virus claim? And at what point will such losses cause sufficient anger and sadness in the public to inspire a change? That said, when it comes to the State Board of Education and the UNC Board of Governors, it’s possible that some of the power and emotion of such pleas will be difficult to convey. You see, those boards continue to conduct their meetings in an online-only fashion due to the pandemic.


LAURIE MCDOWELL: TILLIS & BURR DID NOTHING AS TRUMP APPOINTS TATA TO DEFENSE POST: Once again, President Trump circumvents political norms by placing an un-vetted crony and big-dollar donor in a powerful position, this time in the Pentagon. Tony Tata, a controversial figure due to his well-publicized bigotry, has now been designated as the official person performing the duties of the deputy undersecretary of defense for policy, since his nomination for that position would not have passed Senate confirmation. Sens. Richard Burr and Thom Tillis, as usual, sit on their hands while Trump siphons off more and more Congressional power to the executive branch. One shudders to think what Republican reaction would have been had President Obama done this. Trump has surrounded himself with “acting” cronies and big donors, which the Senate should be vetting and confirming. These men, and they are by far all white men, answer to no one but Trump, and Trump answers to no one.

JIMMY HOLCOMB: RELIGIOUS SCHOOLS SHOULD NOT BE INCLUDED IN VOUCHER PROGRAM: I commend the parents who are suing the state over religious discrimination at voucher schools (July 27). These voucher programs are anti-education and should be rejected by all. We should reject vouchers, not because some schools that receive our money reject gay children and parents, for instance, but because many of them use textbooks from fundamentalist publishers that teach innocent children that dinosaurs lived peacefully with us 6,000 years ago when Earth was “created.” It’s disingenuous to demand accountability, rigorous curriculum, and success from public schools while funneling millions to religious schools and requiring little accountability from them. America requires children to be educated. Do we really want to give precious money to let parents define that word however they want?

MICHAEL MOORE: NC'S JOBLESS BENEFITS ARE MEAGER: If you are unemployed in North Carolina right now, as I am, the message from our state lawmakers is: “You’re out of luck.” Our state has the stingiest unemployment insurance program in the country, thanks to the Republican-led legislature’s decade-long war on working people. I work scoring standardized tests for public school systems. That ended with the pandemic. I am about to celebrate my 66th birthday, and I have never been out of work this long in my life. The federal unemployment benefit of $600 a week saved me. Without it, I would have slid into a financial hole from which I would probably never have recovered. But those benefits ended last week, and now I’m back to less than $150 a week, which won’t begin to cover my mortgage, utilities, gas, groceries and Medicare premiums. I’m lucky to have almost reached full Social Security age, so I can scrape by for a while. Many others cannot. We desperately need new leadership in Raleigh, and that’s why I am supporting Guilford Democrats like Nicole Quick and Michael Garrett. I am excited to vote for candidates who will fight for fair treatment of working people.



Yes, that was an earthquake you felt

Matching the record 5.1 that occurred in NC over a century ago:

Personal anecdote time: When I was twelve and living on an island in the Pacific (Kwajalein), my mom and I flew to Honolulu so I could get braces put on. While she went out to the store to get some things, I remained in our hotel (34th floor) to watch cartoons, because we didn't have TV on our island. As I was watching, an ash tray slid off the counter onto the floor. I picked it up and put it back, and resumed cartooning. When it fell off again, I knew something was going on. So I went out onto the lanai (balcony), and watched the skyscrapers in downtown Honolulu swinging back and forth like blades of tall grass. When I realized I was swinging too, I ran down the hallway to the elevator, which was full of frantic adults trying to get down. When I tried to squeeze in, they literally pushed me back out right before the doors closed. So I went back to watching cartoons.