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A sampling of editorials from around New York

Published on NewsOK Modified: August 20, 2014 at 8:03 am •  Published: August 20, 2014
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For those fortunate enough to live in a community that still had practicing mental health professionals, a survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that many are in such demand that they no longer accept new patients and many do not accept private insurance.

The Healthcare Association of New York State found last year that 58 percent of hospitals and health systems had a shortage of psychiatrists, with nearly 40 percent of those still on staff close to retirement. Nationally, the Association of American Medical Colleges found that 57 percent of practicing psychiatrists are at least 55 years old.

The well-known, oft-talked-about stigma of mental illness shows up in other ways as well with unemployment rates running as high as 80 percent and with jails finding that half to two-thirds of those being locked up on any given day have mental health issues, many of them serious and untreated.

Each sad or tragic story leads to the same statistics and the same conclusion. While people can help those in their lives cope with mental illness, the matching public commitment of resources has not come close to keeping up with the needs.

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Online:

http://goo.gl/bYucff

The Staten island Advance on differences in the reactions to police-related deaths in New York and Missouri.

Aug. 15

We suppose no one should be surprised that just a few weeks after Eric Garner died on a Tompkinsville street after police used force to try to place him under arrest, provoking a strong reaction in the city's minority community, there has been violent unrest in the Midwest over a teenager in a mostly black suburb of St. Louis who also died after he was shot by police there.

It's a sad fact that, in our society, the inevitable interactions between people in low-income, mostly minority communities and the police, who rarely live in those same communities and are charged with preserving order amid the chaos of those tough streets, will occasionally produce flare-ups of hostility and worse.

Mr. Garner died after he protested his imminent arrest and was grabbed from behind around the neck by a police officer and pulled to the ground and then sat upon by several cops. People can quibble over whether it constituted a choke-hold officially banned by the New York Police Department, but the officer clearly did have his arm around Mr. Garner's throat as the latter was pulled backward to the ground. Whether such force was necessary, especially so early in an encounter with an unarmed man, remains a matter for considerable debate.

The tragic incident has led to protest marches and — in our opinion — baseless calls by civil rights leaders, most notably the Rev. Al Sharpton, for a federal investigation. It remains to be seen how U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and the Obama administration will respond in that case.

Meanwhile, in Ferguson, Mo., the situation has been far more combustible from the get-go. An unarmed black 18-year-old, Michael Brown, was shot and killed Saturday by a police officer after what police described as a "physical confrontation" involving the officer, Mr. Brown and another person on Saturday.

The St. Louis County Police reported that the officer, who has not been named, was pushed back inside his squad car and at least one shot was then fired from inside the car. Mr. Brown was struck "more than just a couple" of times and died.

Almost immediately, enraged members of the community erupted into violence, throwing stones, vandalizing cars and then burning and looting stores as a phalanx of police officers clad in riot gear and deploying military vehicles tried to restore order. Scores of people have been arrested.

President Obama said yesterday that Americans "have been deeply disturbed" by the violence, but adding that there is "no excuse for police to use excessive force," and that city and county officials should be "open and transparent" about the investigation into the shooting.

At the same time, Mr. Obama cautioned, "There is never an excuse for violence against police or for those who would use this tragedy as a cover for vandalism or looting."

Similarly, Mr. Sharpton said of the Ferguson incident as he met with the parents of Michael Brown, "No one has the right to take their child's name and drag it through the mud because you're angry," Sharpton told a crowd in Missouri. "To become violent in Michael Brown's name is to betray the gentle giant that he was. Don't be so angry that you distort the image of who his mother and father told us he was."

Americans can only hope that these commendable words from Mr. Sharpton, known for his fiery rhetoric (often at the expense of public order in the past), can quell the angry throngs outside St. Louis before anyone else is hurt.

But it's also worth noting that the aftermath of the death of Eric Garner, though it happened under significantly different circumstances, never descended into violence, despite the loud exhortations of a few hotheads.

The protests have consisted solely of peaceful marches and rallies for justice, as the marchers see it.

That's to the credit of Mr. Sharpton, who has certainly not ceased his condemnations of what he and others see as excessive force on the part of the police, but has confined his rhetoric to fact-based statements and calls for a thorough and unflinching investigation -- and ultimately, charges against officers who subdued Mr. Garner by force.

But we maintain that a lot of the difference between these two sources of potential unrest comes from the fact that there is a more tolerant atmosphere here and a healthier dynamic between citizens and the NYPD and this city.

Both surely have their differences and they probably won't be resolved soon.

But both tacitly recognize the fundamental truth that the occasions when things go wrong, as happened in the case of Mr. Garner, must not be allowed to explode into events that are far worse for everyone involved.

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Online:

http://goo.gl/DSsjpg

The Canandaigua Daily Messenger on NASCAR changing its rules after driver Tony Stewart hit and killed another driver during race.

Aug. 17

One week ago today, our community was waking up to the news that thousands of our neighbors and friends, enjoying an evening of dirt track racing, witnessed a horrific incident at Canandaigua Motorsports Park that took the life of a promising young driver.

NASCAR star Tony Stewart struck and killed Kevin Ward Jr. as Ward attempted to confront Stewart by exiting his car and walking toward Stewart's car, still traveling at a high rate of speed, after what Ward clearly thought was an intentional hit that spun his car into the wall.

Stewart is known for showing up at dirt tracks to promote bigger NASCAR races and to mix it up with the local sprint-car drivers. Last year, at the Canandaigua track, Stewart pushed 19-year-old sprint-car driver Alysha Ruggles out of the way, causing a wreck that left Ruggles with a fractured back. Her family is now asking why Stewart wasn't banned from racing after that incident. Ward's family is likely asking the same question.

But NASCAR breeds the Tony Stewarts. Like other high-profile sports, it's a business. Spectacles such as crashes and drivers mixing it up are part of the theater of the race. And when something happens, NASCAR the business gets the PR bump.

In 1979, Davey Allison and Cale Yarborough were involved in a legendary fight that Allison's brother, Bobby, also jumped into after a final-lap crash at the Daytona 500 in which Yarborough blamed Allison for his losing control of his car. The bump cost Yarborough his lead and Richard Petty went on to win the race.

It was the first nationally televised NASCAR race, and that event led to a rise in the popularity of NASCAR and the sport has seemingly embraced that culture in the decades to follow. By doing so, it has gained popularity.

At what cost?

That NASCAR took a good first step on the rules around driver conduct following this incident is heartening. This past week, NASCAR announced it would institute a rule that prohibits drivers from exiting their cars under a caution flag. While smaller dirt tracks individually grapple with the rules around drivers exiting their cars under a yellow flag, NASCAR takes a step toward setting an example for the tracks that are home to the less-experienced local drivers who clearly are at risk when they mix it up with the pros, if the Ward fatality and Ruggles' severe injury are any indication.

Rural communities have a long tradition of motorsports mania. The raucous, sometimes rowdy need for speed is a part of the country culture. Weekends at the Glen are a tradition, and Saturday nights at Canandaigua Motorsports Park are the stuff of local legends. It's a community, and it is a vital part of who many young rural racers are. It holds some positive benefits for many young people.

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Online:

http://goo.gl/brlHxj