Sunday News: From the Editorial pages


DEBATE EXCHANGE ON DRUGS SHOWS BUDD IS MORE ABOUT RHETORIC THAN SOLUTIONS: If there’s one thing that came clear in the televised debate last week between Democrat Cheri Beasley and Republican Ted Budd – the two main candidates for U.S. Senate – is that Budd is utterly lacking in the perception and comprehension necessary. To those watching and listening, nothing demonstrated his aloofness, detachment and lack of empathy than his response to questions about potential legalization of marijuana. North Carolinians overwhelmingly back legalization – 72% favor it for medical use while 57% support it for recreational use. “I'm not a supporter of legalization, especially for recreational marijuana,” Budd declared. He then detoured off into a from-the-Trump-script rant about illegal immigration and securing the borders and veered off into drug trafficking of fentanyl. Never, in the course of his discussion of marijuana or illegal drugs did he mention the HUGE toll that drug addiction is taking on the state, any concern for those who struggle with addiction or who are its victims. Nor did he make any mention of efforts to address this. It was about law enforcement and no concern, support or help for those struggling to overcome addiction – too often at the hands of profit-hungry corporations, careless medical professionals and aloof pharmacists. Two things: Legalizing marijuana for recreational use would seriously hurt the cartels, because they rely upon the illegality to generate their profits. Second, legalizing marijuana for medical use would give patients an option other than opioids (like fentanyl) to manage their pain. Even a cursory examination of the issue reveals those two things, but apparently Budd can't spare the time or brain power for such an exercise.

WHAT MY SEXUAL ASSAULT TAUGHT ME ABOUT ABORTION RIGHTS: I blamed myself a lot after my assault. I thought that if I would have done things differently, then it wouldn’t have happened to me. I wondered if I had done something for him to do what he did. I think the hardest thing about my assault is that I knew all of them. They were people I trusted and/or loved. Sometimes I wonder if I could forgive them, and act like it didn’t happen, but it isn’t that easy. I used to get triggered when I saw the faces of my assaulters or even heard their names. It took a lot of courage and growth to get to where I am now. I would have never thought last year that I would be able to comfortably talk about what happened to me if anyone would believe me or not. Now, I don’t care if people believe me. I know what happened and eventually I want the men who hurt me to be held accountable. I am just not there yet — and that’s okay. Healing is not linear. I want people who have faced sexual assault to know that it is never their fault. You didn’t ask for it. You are not the problem. I want them to be able to take back their power. Take back their voice. I was afraid people would look at me differently when I told my story. But it feels good to have my voice back. Roe v. Wade was overturned this June. I was working when it happened. I remember looking at the TV as the news played and I stood at the host stand. I read the headline over and over again, “U.S. Supreme Court Overturns Roe v. Wade” wishing it was not real. I thought about all the times I was assaulted and how fortunate I was to never get pregnant. Not everyone has that kind of luck. There are women who now must carry a child that they do not want. It should not matter why a woman does not want a child — it is their decision. There doesn’t have to be a reason. Some people just are not ready or do not want kids. I strongly believe that if I was to get pregnant by any of my assaulters, I would have had an abortion and that would be my choice. Not someone else's. I was still a child when it occurred the first time. Thank you for writing this, Brianna. And you are correct, there doesn't have to be a "reason" to abort a pregnancy. Even in the case of rape, if a woman just wants to end the pregnancy, but is not ready to make her sexual assault known, that should be her choice. No questions asked.

WITH WORRIES OF DISRUPTIONS, JUST BE POLITE AT POLLING PLACES: Total turnout in North Carolina will far exceed voter participation in previous non-presidential year elections. There’s a bit less than a month until the Nov. 8 Election Day and already the number of requests for absentee mail-in ballots has exceeded the total requested four years ago. The number of mail-in ballots requested is nearly three times greater than those requested at the same point in the last off-year election. The completed ballots returned already is almost five times more than those returned four years ago at the same point. Prognosticators can dive into the other data – comparing number of ballots requested and returned thus far by Republicans and Democrats; women and men; Black and white voters – but the one safe conclusion is that voter turnout in 2022 will easily surpass the usual off-year election. The state Board of Elections has offered a common-sense guide so voting is safe and orderly. Start with the basics: Treat everyone with deference and respect for the important task at hand – voting. Respect the “buffer zones” outside polling places so voters are able to get in and out to cast ballots without interference. Do not interfere with voters inside the polling place and as they cast ballots. Do not interfere with elections officials conducting the election. Those designated as political party election observers should do just that – observe and take notes. DO NOT interfere with voters or elections officials. Those who ascribe to conspiracy theories, be they QAnon or some other flavor, dream of being the one who exposes something. And if you question them or attempt to reason with them, they view that as proof of their theory, not the opposite. Don't play into their delusion.

DON'T GET SPOOKED BY IMPOSTER SCAMS: Scammers often use scare tactics to trick their victims into handing over their money or personal information. In imposter scams, criminals pretend to represent a government agency, law enforcement, a company, or even a family member. These scams use threats of legal consequences or arrest to make you act without thinking clearly. Imposter scammers trick their victims into sending them money to pay fines and avoid arrests, usually on a prepaid gift card. According to the FTC, almost 1 million Americans lost nearly $2.5 billion to imposter scams last year. Here’s how you can keep imposter scams from spooking you this Halloween season. Don’t rely on caller ID to decide if a call is trustworthy. Scammers will use a fake phone number or caller ID to line up with their backstory. The caller ID might even show the government agency or company’s name to make it look real. Scammers use spoofing technology to make their calls look legitimate. Hang up and call the company or government agency directly. Using a number listed on their website, call the company to ask if the call is legitimate. Know that government agencies or law enforcement will not call and threaten you with arrest. If an unknown caller threatens to arrest you, it’s a scam. Do not send any money or personal information unless you’ve verified the call. Verify someone calling you and claiming to be a family member who is in trouble. Imposter scammers often target grandparents and families of service members using information they find on social media to act as a grandchild or family member. These calls can be scary, but it is important to stay calm and verify the situation with someone you trust, even if the caller tells you not to. Several years ago my mom called me, upset about a phone call she had received from one of my sons asking her to give him money. When I asked her if she was sure it was him, she said, "Yes, he said his name." But after probing a little deeper, it turns out *she* was the one who used his name first. "Xxxx, is that you?" These callers will muffle their voice, and wait for you to throw a name out, and then they become that person. Don't fall for it.

AFTER THE PANDEMIC, HEAVY BURDENS FOR A COVID GENERATION: Ask anyone who has experienced the lingering maladies of the pandemic, and they’ll tell you long covid is no figment of the imagination. Tiredness, breathlessness, body aches and “brain fog” hang around for millions of people. Some of these symptoms are also common without covid, and researchers are trying to pin down with precision the lasting damage this virus can do to the human body. They are far from a full understanding. That’s why a new study in Scotland is important. It was aimed at discovering the frequency, nature, determinants and impact of long covid on a large scale, to improve on previous partial results in other investigations. The first findings in the Long-COVID in Scotland Study are based on medical records and the experiences of more than 33,000 patients who had laboratory-confirmed covid and 62,957 who had never been infected. The researchers, Jill P. Pell of the University of Glasgow and colleagues, found about 6 percent of those infected had “not recovered” and 42 percent “only partially.” This reinforces earlier findings that a large segment of people who are infected continue to experience one or more symptoms long after the infection has passed. In a study published in August from the Netherlands, researchers found post-covid symptoms lingered in about 1 in 8 people. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found in a recent large study that 1 in 5 adults from 18 to 64 years old who had covid, and 1 in 4 ages 65 years and older, had at least one persisting health condition related to their covid infection. Yet another survey in April put the prevalence at 43 percent. A new study just published about long covid in Germany put prevalence at 28.5 percent. The implications of this are immense. If the prevalence of long covid turns out to be 1 in 5 people, that’s 124 million of the 623 million infected so far worldwide who will carry the scars of the pandemic into the future, creating potentially large burdens on health-care systems. There will be cascading effects in mental health and disability. The impacts will most certainly extend to jobs and education. When the pandemic is over, the world will be left with how to treat and remedy the troubles of the long-covid generation. Those in leadership positions (managers, directors) need to treat this like combat PTSD/TBI: be prepared for complications affecting job performance, and don't expect 100% from employees who are still dealing with physical damage caused by the disease. Circulatory and respiratory problems will persist, maybe permanently, so following your "point" system for attendance needs to be re-evaluated.


LINDA SUTTON: HUGE IDEOLOGICAL DIVIDE: Recently while giving out literature for Democratic candidates I met a voter who wanted to rant about our country’s problems. Since I believe dialogue between the parties is critical, I listened. Here is my recollection of the “conversation”: Horrible people are storming our borders killing and raping Americans and dispensing dope. Why doesn’t anyone prosecute those who take down statues in public places. It’s horribly illegal. Our weather problems are God’s making and have nothing to do with actions of human beings. The post-George Floyd looting and physical violence lasted the entire summer while Jan. 6 was just one day, and furthermore, “they” lie about people dying that day. My hands shook and my heart was weary for the rest of that afternoon. Is dialogue ever possible? Yes, it is possible with some people, but not others. You have to make a (sometimes quick) decision to engage (or not), to conserve your energy and mental well-being. The more they talk, the more people will reveal if they are even capable of critical thinking. If they aren't, save that energy for somebody else.

ADAM COLBORN: ANY LAW GROUNDED IN RELIGIOUS THINKING IS AN INFRINGEMENT: Recently, a group of Jewish women sued to overturn Kentucky’s abortion ban on religious-freedom grounds, citing long-standing Jewish law on the beginning of life. These women are absolutely correct to file their suit, but for too long, the media has accepted the Christian right’s framing of “religious freedom” as the de facto correct position. In addition to ignoring the diverse perspectives of other faiths, it also ignores the crucial fact that secular Americans have an equal claim to religious-freedom protections. Freedom of religious expression inherently involves the freedom to not participate in a religion at all. For a rising number of religiously unaffiliated Americans, any law that grounds itself in religious thinking should be presumptively considered an infringement on their rights. Abortion bans are an excellent example of a plainly unconstitutional law that inhibits the religious freedom of both non-Christian faiths and secular individuals. Legalized abortion did not compel a single woman to have an abortion she didn’t want, so no religious freedoms were abridged. Under the current post-Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization framework, many states are forcing women to live according to a Christian tenet they might not share. The same laws that protect individuals’ right to practice their diverse faiths must also be applied to people with no particular faith at all. Hallelujah, somebody finally said it. Freedom "of" religion includes freedom "from" religion, whether it's mentioned or not.

MARYELLEN DONNELAN: VOTERS MUST REBUKE THOSE WHO CHOOSE AMBITION OVER HUMAN DECENCY: Regarding the Oct. 9 news article “2 Republican senators to rally in Ga. for Walker after abortion claims”: When the quest for power and allegiance to a former president make GOP voters turn a blind eye to domestic violence and serial lying, constituents become part of the disease that sickens the United States’ body politic. Before Donald Trump, Republicans spent decades proclaiming character mattered, until they saw mendacity could win the White House and hold a Senate majority. When a political party refuses to speak truth to power, when its members spew bigotry and antisemitism without reproach and stay silent as peers invoke rhetoric from history’s most shameful chapters, voters must rebuke at the ballot box those who choose ambition over human decency. I grew up in suburban Philadelphia. In the 1970s, conservatives, moderates and ticket splitters huddled together under a big tent. And no one had to swallow their conscience to support Republican candidates on Election Day. The GOP has become a haven for current and aspiring politicians promoting conspiracy theories and feasting on grievance. Some even refuse to tell the emperor he forgot his clothes and lost the 2020 election. Our nation has been here before. At the 1954 Army-McCarthy hearings, Joseph Welch fatally punctured Sen. Joseph McCarthy’s red scare smears by simply asking, “Have you no sense of decency, sir?” American democracy will require the same on Nov. 8. Since the Primary concluded, I haven't seen a single GOP candidate that is worth even contemplating, much less voting for. I've never been a big fan of absolutism, but I will absolutely not vote for any Republican on the ballot.



We need answers on Raleigh shooting.

And you know what? I don't care if Austin Thompson is only 15 years old. If anybody is withholding information because he is a "minor," we are way past such considerations now.

He killed his brother, probably before going on his killing spree. But we don't know why, and that answer may provide other answers we desperately need. How? Because his brother may have been trying to stop him from going on said killing spree. Or killing his brother may have started the killing spree, driving him to mass homicide.

Reports say their father was a local handyman. WTF does that mean? Was he just handy, helping people with projects while also working at some other job? Or was that his sole occupation? Did said father have sole custody of his two teenage sons, with their mom living elsewhere?

More questions: what type of firearm(s) did Austin use? Did they belong to the father, or did the boy get them from somewhere else? A friend, perhaps? Somebody purchased and owned those weapons, and apparently did not secure them properly. Or, if it was just a shotgun (as one witness has described it), did the dad buy that for one of his teenage sons?

Because whatever motivated Austin to go on a shooting rampage, his ability to grab a lethal firearm is a key element of this story. Not mental health, or bullying, or a romantic situation gone wrong.

It's the guns.

Yes, we do need to explore the motivations, to better understand what would push somebody to do this. And maybe learn how to deal with issues before they escalate. But that can't supersede addressing the easy access to firearms. That must be paramount, because there are a multitude of potential triggers for mass shootings. For both young people and those not so young.

We need common-sense gun regulations, which include background checks, both Federal and local. Red flag laws, so that concerned citizens (or family members) can appeal to the system for safety. And we need to realize (as a society) that buying a firearm should be a privilege, and not an unfettered right not to be challenged.

Because Nicole, Susan, Mary, Gabriel, James, all had a right to live. A right to continue their existence as more than a memory to friends and family. A right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Rights that can't be (and never were) amended.