Excerpts from recent editorials in the United States and abroad:


April 17

The Des Moines Register on asylum seekers and Iowa's aging population:

Whether he's advocating a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border or threatening to completely shut down entries, President Trump is more about theatrics than logistics on immigration policy.

His latest idea: Send undocumented immigrants to so-called sanctuary cities — loosely defined as jurisdictions that refrain from cooperating with federal immigration authorities who want city jails to detain people who have not committed serious crimes.

He recently warned via tweet if "Democrats" don't change immigration laws "Sanctuary Cities must immediately ACT to take care of the illegal immigrants — and this includes Gang Members, Drug dealers, Human Traffickers, and Criminals of all shapes, sizes and kinds."

Trump seems to think relocating immigrants to these places would be some kind of punishment.

Except many of those flooding the southern border in recent months are bedraggled families from Central America. They are fleeing violence and seeking economic opportunity. They present themselves to border agents with stories of husbands who were murdered and daughters who were raped.

They are looking for a job and a better life.

In fact, they are very much like the Southeast Asian refugees whom former Iowa Gov. Robert Ray helped settle after the Vietnam War. The Republican leader responded to a humanitarian crisis with compassion and practicality.

Can Trump send some of the southern immigrants to Iowa?

Though the United States cannot accept everyone seeking asylum, this state should gladly take some. Our population is aging. Companies cannot find employees to fill positions, particularly in the agriculture industry. We need people.

They are not going to simply appear. And since much of the country is experiencing the same demographic struggle, the people are going to need to come from other countries.

Iowans should be raising our hands to resettle more refugees.

"The crux of the problem is that we don't have the people here," the president of a manufacturing company told the Wall Street Journal in a 2018 story about Iowa's labor plight. The hydraulic truck equipment producer could not find workers it needed for the second shift, resulting in the largest backlog of orders ever.

Employers across Iowa — from restaurants to agricultural operations to biotechnology companies — can tell similar stories about searching for good workers. Many industries compete for the same pool of people, and the pool is too small. That ultimately reduces the quality of employees and hurts business.

Also, this country's heroin epidemic and the legalization of recreational marijuana in some states has resulted in more and more native job applicants failing employer drug tests. Companies are turning to refugees who pass the screening.

While the president cracks jokes and plays politics with immigration policy, this country needs more workers who buy homes, purchase goods and pay the federal taxes to fund everything from Medicare to Social Security.

If only this president would recognize the humanitarian and economic importance of attracting newcomers, particularly refugees.

Gov. Ray did it in the 1970s.

President Ronald Reagan did it in 1982 with a Christmas Day radio address in which he read a letter a U.S. soldier had written to his parents about rescuing refugees.

"I hope we always have room for one more person, maybe an Afghan or a Pole or someone else looking for a place where he doesn't have to worry about his family starving or a knock on the door in the night," wrote the young man.

The Republican president called the letter "a true Christmas story in the best sense."

Where is that compassionate conservatism now? Where is the economic practicality?

We need it now because immigrants could be a boon to population-short regions, not the penalty Trump seems to think.


April 17

The Richmond Times-Dispatch on Gov. Ralph Northam, months after the release of a racist photo from his 1984 medical school yearbook:

On Monday, Gov. Ralph Northam announced he would not be delivering the commencement speech at his alma mater, Virginia Military Institute, nor will he attend any other graduation ceremonies this season.

Last week, the governor appeared ready to emerge from his self-imposed hiatus that began in February following the release of a racist photo from his 1984 medical school yearbook. Northam initially issued an apology for the photo on Feb. 1, the day it surfaced, but the next day, he recanted and claimed it wasn't him in the picture. At a press conference, he denied it was him in the photo but admitted to wearing blackface during a Michael Jackson skit in 1984, which only seemed to make matters worse. Democratic leaders on both the state and national levels demanded he resign. But Northam insisted he was going to remain in office.

For more than two months, the governor made almost no public appearances (although he was able to work well enough with the General Assembly to pass some significant legislation).

But by April 10, Northam seemed ready to reenter the public arena and state Democrats appeared ready to welcome him back on the campaign trail. As all 140 seats in both the House of Delegates and state Senate are on the ballot this year, candidates were willing to see if his presence might be helpful. On Wednesday, he attended a private fundraiser at the Richmond home of Del. Betsy Carr. No protesters were present and the event seems to have gone smoothly.

But that wasn't the case with the April 14 barbecue fundraiser for Fairfax Sen. David Marsden that was held in Burke. About 90 demonstrators from the Fairfax chapter of the NAACP, the Republican Party of Virginia and some pro-life advocates assembled outside the neighborhood's community center before the event began. Because of that, the governor decided not to attend, citing "safety concerns." Apparently his concerns now extend to graduations and other public events.

Northam's spokeswoman, Ofirah Yheskel, told The Washington Post "the governor's decision to stay away from graduations was not a reversal of that trend (to appear in public again). He decided weeks ago to skip those ceremonies 'out of concern he would pull focus from the achievements of graduates and their families.'"

While that decision might have some validity to it, we find it very unfair to the schools and students who now must scramble to find new commencement speakers.

And we can't help but wonder: Is Northam planning to remain a recluse for the rest of his term? Calls for his resignation continue to come from voices on the left and right and protesters are going to continue doing what they do. He isn't going to be able to avoid that. But to remain inaccessible and out of sight is unfair to his constituents. Perhaps he needs to reconsider his decision to remain in office.



April 17

The Boston Herald on former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld running for the Republican nomination for president:

Former Gov. William Weld has announced that he will run for the Republican nomination for president against Donald Trump in the 2020 primaries.

Weld, a fierce critic of President Trump is very much a longshot at this point, but his entrance into the race could completely change the dynamic of the contest. Weld would bring a level of fun and vibrancy to the race, and his wit and disciplined approach to the issues would allow for lively, robust debates with President Trump.

The experience would benefit Trump by compelling him to explain his platform, defend his first-term record and outline a clear vision for the future rather than twitter-bomb the Democratic field from a distance.

The task will be daunting for Weld but the results might provide a service to the former governor, to Trump and to the voting public.



April 16

The Telegraph, UK, on the fire that tore through the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris:

There are few more iconic buildings in the world than the cathedral of Notre-Dame de Paris. The fire that has ripped through the great building is not just a tragedy for France but for the whole of Europe.

The church, with its familiar double towers and spire, now sadly destroyed, is a masterpiece of European medieval Gothic architecture, though modified on many occasions down the centuries. It is also a centre for worship for the Catholic faith filled with priceless artefacts, paintings and holy relics, including a piece of the true cross.

These past few years have been difficult for France. The spate of terror attacks two years ago in Paris, Nice and other cities left scores dead and plunged the country into a state of emergency.

In recent weeks, the centre of the French capital has been ravaged by street protests staged by the so-called gilets jaunes movement. Each weekend they have smashed up the centre of the city around the Champs Elysee, wrecking cars and shops.

President Emmanuel Macron was due last night to address the French people on the outcome of the national debate he launched to address voters' concerns. Instead, he was on his way to witness his country's most cherished building engulfed in flames.

Here in the UK we have seen Windsor Castle gutted by fire and parts of Hampton Court and York Minster badly damaged. As with Notre-Dame they happened while repair work was under way. Mercifully, those buildings were rebuilt though the damage to Notre-Dame may be more extensive.

This is a dreadful moment for France and its people. We share their pain. Notre-Dame can and must rise again.



April 16

The Washington Post on presidential candidates' tax returns:

One by one, Democratic presidential hopefuls are releasing their tax returns. Years of them. Longtime holdout Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) revealed 10 years of returns at the tail end of Tax Day, which arrived on Monday this year. Later that evening, former Texas representative Beto O'Rourke unveiled a decade of his personal tax information. Both followed Sen. Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.), who released 15 years of tax returns on Sunday, enabling her campaign to boast that Ms.?Harris is "the most transparent candidate in the field when it comes to information about her personal finances."

It is nice to see a race to the top, rather than the bottom, for a change. This is the kind of political one-upmanship Americans should welcome.

Clearly, part of the point is to draw a contrast with President Trump, who routinely promised during the 2016 presidential race to offer his tax information for public scrutiny. He has instead revealed nothing. His excuse is that his returns are under audit, but that would not prevent him from releasing tax documents he signed and swore to be true — and certainly does not explain why he refuses to reveal returns from years ago, as his challengers have done.

The president's staff has offered nothing more persuasive. Acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney said earlier this month the public would "never" see the president's tax returns, arguing that the 2016 election had settled the question over whether Americans cared. In fact, Mr. Trump's persistent promises to disclose more personal financial data remain unfulfilled campaign pledges. White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said Sunday that Democrats were not smart enough to understand Mr. Trump's tax returns, a new defense of Mr.?Trump's indefensible refusal to come clean that hardly rises above the level of a schoolyard insult.

Ever since President Richard M. Nixon set the example, presidents and major candidates have revealed their tax return information to offer voters a view of how these national leaders conduct their private affairs. The returns sometimes expose nothing surprising. Sometimes they result in a headline or two, as when the socialist Mr. Sanders was revealed to be a millionaire. The Post's James Hohmann pointed out Tuesday that the most interesting nugget from the Democrats' recent tax revelations is that many of the candidates have not given much to charity.

Each of these women and men has years, if not decades, of public service that voters can judge. Mr.?Trump entered office with a privately held business of unknown value and a Twitter feed. It was all the more important for voters to see how reality matched up to his claims of private business success. Tax returns should have been only the baseline for transparency; a thorough accounting of his business arrangements and possible conflicts of interest was also needed.

It is needed still. Americans remain in the dark about Mr. Trump's potential conflicts. As Democratic candidates do the right thing, Mr. Trump continues to insult the voters who entrusted him to lead the nation.



April 14

The Miami Herald on Haitians who were granted Temporary Protected Status in the U.S. due to a devastating 2010 earthquake:

For the umpteenth time, the facts didn't matter to the members of the Trump administration. This time, a federal judge last week called them on it, resolutely.

U.S. District Judge William Kuntz, of New York, blocked the Department of Homeland Security from deporting up to 60,000 Haitians in this country covered by Temporary Protected Status (TPS). In 2017, President Trump petulantly terminated TPS for Haitians and citizens of several other countries after reluctantly granting one final extension. TPS, created by Congress in 1990, protected them from deportation to countries in the throes of recovering from natural disasters or violent political turmoil.

The ruling is the second shot across the administration's bow in six months. In October, federal Judge Edward Chen, of the Northern District of California, ordered a temporary injunction that blocked citizens of Haiti, Sudan, Nicaragua and El Salvador from deportation.

In the Haitians' case, the Obama administration granted TPS to thousands after a 2010 earthquake devastated huge swaths of their country. Nine years out, Haiti has yet to fully recover. Factor in a cholera epidemic and Hurricane Matthew in 2016, and it's obvious that the poorest nation in the hemisphere cannot absorb the thousands who would be forced to return. Obvious to most, of course, except the Trump administration.

South Florida, naturally, would be hard hit if deportations occurred. There are about 24,000 Haitians with TPS in the region. They have gamely remade their lives, found jobs, gone to school, grown families and contributed financially and socially to the country that gave them a reprieve.

After a three-day trial in Brooklyn, New York earlier this year, Kuntz found that, instead of basing its decision on conditions on the island, as required by law — woefully incomplete quake recovery, many thousands still homeless, exacerbated by Hurricane Matthew's landfall, one of the worst storms ever to hit Haiti, a cholera epidemic, plus perpetual political instability — the White House unlawfully started with a pre-determined goal to terminate TPS, then worked backward to rationalize getting there.

The suit, which included several plaintiffs from South Florida, contended that the administration's decision is based on a "racially discriminatory attitude toward all brown and black people." That's a hard one to refute with a straight face. Trump officials intentionally ignored or misrepresented conditions on the ground in Haiti. Their contortions were obvious: looking for evidence of Haitian "criminality," although criminals aren't eligible for TPS; peddling the refuted stereotype that Haitians were AIDS carriers; referring last year to Haiti, among other nations, as "shitholes."

Career officials' analyses were discarded. It was clear that Haitians already covered by TPS merited an extension based on how severe and recent the blows were that their country had sustained. Just the cholera epidemic alone, introduced by U.N. troops, had killed 10,000, sickened 800,000 and was still raging at the time of the administration's cruel decision. The evidence of extraordinary conditions was overwhelming. But the administration moved the goalposts, maliciously and incorrectly saying that it could only consider post-quake recovery, not hurricane damage, not rampant disease.

It's true — "temporary" is part of the program's name. But facts matter, and the Trump administration maliciously twisted them. Fortunately, the courts continue to get the facts straight.



April 14

The New York Times on U.S.-Cuban relations and baseball:

When President Barack Obama began thawing long-frozen relations with Cuba — a drive that included attending a baseball game in Havana alongside President Raúl Castro — Major League Baseball began negotiating with the Cuban Baseball Federation to start legally bringing Cuban stars to play in the United States. The deal, heralded as a way to combat the illegal cross-border smuggling of ballplayers, was finally clinched in December, and the Cuban federation sent over its first list of 34 candidates on April 3.

They won't be coming.

At least not legally, after the Trump administration abruptly ended the deal, announcing last Monday that the Cuban federation was not independent of the Cuban government, as the Obama administration had ruled, and so paying it the fees mandated in the agreement would be a violation of American trade rules.

Officials in the Trump administration also linked the reversal to Cuba's support for the Venezuelan dictator Nicolas Maduro, whom Washington is trying to oust. "America's national pastime should not enable the Cuban regime's support for Maduro in Venezuela," tweeted John Bolton, the national security adviser, on the day before the baseball deal was canceled.

The administration's arguments are not without merit. No organization as prominent as the Cuban Baseball Federation can be fully independent of the Havana government. And Cuba has remained a firm ally of Mr. Maduro, receiving Venezuelan oil in exchange for doctors and other specialists and intelligence, which has helped him remain in power despite demands from Washington and more than 50 other governments that he end his terrible rule.

But that is not entirely what this is about. Mr. Obama's effort to end more than five decades of hostility toward Cuba was approved by a large majority of Americans as an opening that was long overdue. Allowing some players from baseball-mad Cuba to play legally in the major leagues was a win-win proposition: Players who might have risked dangerous flight could legally reach for stardom and wealth; Cuban baseball would make some money; and their presence would be tangible evidence of a crack in the ice. Accepting the myth of an independent Cuban Baseball Federation was deemed a necessary wink.

The thaw was bitterly opposed from the outset by anti-Castro Republicans, including Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, a Cuban-American, and President Trump soon set about reversing some of what Mr. Obama had done. The baseball deal was in the opponents' cross hairs even before the drive to oust Mr. Maduro began. Mr. Rubio assailed it repeatedly, and in December, before Elliott Abrams became Mr. Trump's special representative for Venezuela, he wrote a scathing attack in National Review.

Yet canceling the deal was a bad move done for the wrong reasons. Cuba's decision to let its athletes earn their living outside Cuba was a step in the right direction, even if some dollars might have spilled into government coffers. And while Cuba should be dissuaded from propping up the Maduro regime, that should not be a pretext for indulging the right-wing obsession with maintaining a permanent freeze on relations with Cuba.

In the end, what Mr. Rubio and the administration largely achieved was to deny Cuban baseball players their right to play at the highest level without having to sneak circuitously and dangerously into the United States and to forgo the right to ever return to their homeland.


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