Alabama editorial roundup: Feb. 10, 2019 edition

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Recent editorials from Alabama newspapers:

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Feb. 9

The Dothan Eagle on the recent execution in Alabama: 

The State of Alabama put a man to death Thursday. He was the 217th person to die under the state’s death penalty – the 64th execution since a moratorium on executions in Alabama was lifted in 1983.

Dominique Ray’s execution is troubling. Not because there was any question about his guilt. Debates about the moral failings of the death penalty aside, there was no reason why Ray should not see the sentence imposed on him for the murder of 15-year-old Tiffany Harville almost 25 years ago carried out at long last.

What’s troubling about Ray’s execution is the constitutional question it raises. Ray, who embraced Islam while incarcerated, wanted an imam present with him in the death chamber. Prison officials refused, saying they could provide a Christian prison chaplain. Ray’s attorneys sued, and a stay of execution was issued to sort it all out.

Prison officials argue that only corrections system employees are allowed in the execution chamber as a matter of security, which is reasonable. In an earlier editorial, we suggested the prison system work to create a pool of spiritual leaders from other faiths, and vet them accordingly. That seems reasonable as well.

However, Ray’s position was that he was receiving unequal treatment because he, a Muslim, did not have the same opportunity in the execution chamber as a Christian prisoner would. And he’s right – the constitutional religious protections suggest that a condemned inmate of any stripe should have the same access to a representative of their chosen faith.

Read the rest online: dothaneagle.com 

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Feb. 10

The Gadsden Times on the U.S. cancelling nuclear weapons treaty with Russia:

Tangible is defined by “Webster’s New World Dictionary” as 1. corporeal and able to be appraised for value; 2. can be understood; definite; objective.

Those are simple definitions for a wonderful word, which is just the opposite of innuendo and gossip. I prefer to deal in tangibles, but sometimes let tradition and “it has always been that way” overcome my thought process.

A good example is the Russian/United States Strategic Arms Limitation Talks signed in 1972. The agreement was intended to restrain the arms race in strategic ballistic missiles armed with nuclear weapons. SALT I was followed by SALT II, which basically never took effect. Both sides have indicated nullification of the first accord.

At first blush, I thought the consequences of calling a halt to the treaty could be disastrous for the populations of the U.S. and Russia. However, I came to the conclusion that the U.S. cancelling the treaty is essential to maintaining substantial military superiority over not only Russia, but our No. 1 adversary, China.

While we have been limited in developing and modernizing the U.S. military by the SALT agreement with Russia, the Chinese government has been modernizing and expanding its military exponentially. The SALT agreement was an excellent deterrent to nuclear war between the then-Soviets and the U.S., but the agreement allowed China to develop a formidable nuclear military, one that has become a threat to U.S. global dominance.

Read the rest online: Gadsdentimes.com

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Feb. 9

Anniston Star on the relationship between journalists and law enforcement:

An article in Friday’s Anniston Star drew the ire of the Anniston Police Department and its supporters on social media.

The article reported on statistics provided by city officials detailing the frequency of police stops and arrests, breaking those numbers down according to race — black, white and other.

Facebook commenters describe the article as a hit piece, fake news and an obvious attempt to attack police and sell newspapers.

To the contrary, The Anniston Star works closely with Anniston PD and applauds its efforts to address crime through community policing, including the creation of a community-based committee tasked with following up on complaints from residents.

No, we’re not out to get the police. Here’s what actually happened.

A week ago, the NAACP held a meeting at the Anniston City Meeting Center where residents accused APD of disproportionately making traffic stops on African-Americans.

Their evidence, however, was all anecdotal. Coverage of that story also provided the response from city officials and police denying any notion of racial profiling.

As journalists, our aim is always to pursue truth, and collecting and reporting actual numbers is a non biased way to do that.

It’s what we did when Councilman Ben Little claimed that his district’s requests for work orders consistently failed to get response from the city. An examination of the work orders, however, showed that Ward 3 actually had almost twice as many completed work orders as any of the other wards.

Read the rest online: annistonstar.com

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Feb. 8

Montgomery Advertiser on poverty

 

It was cruel to force unemployment upon millions of Americans over a political dispute borne of a foolish promise that has nothing to do with them.

It is shameful that the president showed little if any empathy for these citizens   — many of whom supported him — and acquiesced via his silence to assessments made by his economic adviser, Kevin Hassett, and billionaire Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross. Hassett said that furloughed federal workers are “better off” because “they have the vacation but they don’t have to use their vacation days.”  Ross said there is no “good excuse why there … should be a liquidity crisis” and that he didn’t “understand why” federal employees with no income were going to food banks and homeless shelters. Ross incredibly advised those employees — already indebted beyond their ability to pay — to get a bank loan to cover expenses.

Notwithstanding these contemporary echoes of “let them eat cake,” the previous, (un)presidential shutdown of the federal government  — and the one that may reoccur next week — may force us to rethink some common misunderstandings. This third and final edition of my “start-at-the-beginning series” focuses on poverty.  Next to race relations, poverty is the longest rhetorical highway along which people begin their expository journeys miles from the beginning.

For centuries, many in the wealthy and middle classes regard poverty as a corrosive gene that engenders a noncontagious, pecuniary infection to which they are immune. Perhaps their walk in the shoes of the poor  — food lines and general dependency —   will compel all of us to refrain from equating poverty with bad character or ill repute. Perhaps the experiences of furloughed workers will permanently alter negative judgments of the poor and reverse knee-jerk opposition to legislative remedies of poverty.

Read the rest online: montgomeryadvertiser.com