As for the president's meetings at the White House recently, all you really have to know is that the Rev. Al Sharpton was on the guest list. Yes, the same man who on Sunday told an audience at the Friendly Temple Missionary Baptist Church in St. Louis, "You won the first round Mr. Prosecutor, but don't cut your gloves off, cause the fight's not over."
Memo to the president: If healing is supposed to be the message, Sharpton will never be the messenger.
Orange County Register, Santa Ana, California, on police body cameras:
In the wake of the fallout from the police shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., President Barack Obama announced Monday a proposal to improve community policing efforts and address the "simmering distrust that exists between too many police departments and too many communities of color."
The three-year, $263 million effort would aim to increase the use of body cameras worn by police to record interactions with civilians, expand law enforcement agency training, encourage community-oriented police efforts and bring together law enforcement, civil liberties and civil rights interests to determine best practices on community policing and issue recommendations over the next few months.
There is $75 million to purchase approximately 50,000 body cameras, and additionally provide state and local law enforcement agencies with a 50 percent federal funding match.
The use of body cameras is an excellent idea that these pages have advocated for in both dissuading the unnecessary use of force by offices against civilians and preventing civilians from making false claims of police brutality against law enforcement agencies. When the Rialto Police Department experimented with officer body cameras in 2012-13, it found that officers used force nearly 60 percent less often, and the number of citizen complaints against officers dropped 88 percent.
It is wrong, however, to use additional federal funds to accomplish these worthy goals. If federal funds must be used, there are more than enough examples of government waste that could be cut to provide funding, such as a U.S. Postal Service program to provide soda, frozen chicken wings and other consumer goods - not just mail - to remote Alaskan villages ($77 million) or gratuitous "cultural exchange programs" ($90 million) that include public concerts with a rapper and a nose flutist.
The very fact that the federal government is increasingly getting involved in the funding and equipment decisions of local police departments - whether for unnecessary anti-terrorism programs, surplus military weapons and armored vehicles or body cameras - is deeply disturbing. The Posse Comitatus Act was passed in 1878 precisely to prevent the federal government from intervening in state and local police affairs. We have seen how federal strings have diminished local education and welfare programs. We should not endeavor to add policing to that misguided list.
Oklahoman, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, on EPA regulations:
That the U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear challenges to federal environmental rules targeting mercury emissions is welcome news. A favorable ruling could rein in the Obama administration's out-of-control Environmental Protection Agency, whose efforts do little to significantly improve the environment but much to harm citizens' quality of life as they pay ever-higher prices for power and goods.
A new study by Energy Ventures Analysis notes that dramatic cost increases are possible under the EPA's Clean Power Plan, proposed guidelines unveiled in June to cut carbon dioxide emissions from existing fossil-fueled power generating units. The EPA claims that plan will ensure emissions in 2030 are 30 percent lower than they were in 2005.
The EVA report notes the Clean Power Plan is just the latest in an astounding string of EPA regulations focused primarily on power plants. The EPA's recent regulations "include, but are not limited to" new National Ambient Air Quality Standards, the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule, Mercury and Air Toxics Standards, and regional haze regulations intended to improve visibility in public parks. All will increase consumer costs.
Since the Clean Power Plan hasn't been finalized, it's not among the regulations now being challenged before the Supreme Court. But if the court strikes down all or part of the challenged regulations, it will impact the Clean Power Plan as well. That would be good news. If the Clean Power Plan is enacted, the EVA report predicts average annual household gas and power bills will increase significantly by 2020, even after accounting for inflation.
Because the Clean Power Plan would force states to shift power production from low-cost coal to natural gas, the EVA report predicts increased demand will ultimately cause the wholesale price of natural gas to double by 2020. The EVA estimates the regulations will dramatically reduce the amount of Oklahoma electricity produced by coal plants from 38 percent in 2012 to just 14 percent by 2020. Natural gas plants, which produced half of Oklahoma electricity in 2012, would account for 74 percent by 2020. Production from renewable energy in Oklahoma would actually decline slightly.
The negative impact of direct and indirect price increases will likely be far greater for lower-income citizens. The EVA report notes inflation has outpaced income growth for many Americans with the lower-earning half of U.S. households experiencing a 25 percent decline in real income from 2001-2014.
Thus, as we've noted before, the Obama administration's war on fossil fuels is also a war on the poor. If the so-called Clean Power Plan becomes reality, citizens will pay more for electricity, more for home heating and more for a wide range of goods.
Americans need less protection from dubious pollution problems and more protection from their environmental "protectors."
China Daily on more HIV/AIDS awareness needed:
On the 27th World Aids Day on Monday, it is easy to brag about what we've achieved in the fight against the virus, but that does little to help locate where more urgent efforts are needed.
Despite the drop in HIV infections by almost 40 percent globally since 2001 and AIDS-related deaths by 35 percent since their peak in 2005, the number of new AIDS infections and patients from January to October this year was 2,932 in Beijing, a 21.3 percent increase over the same period the previous year. The national statistics are not available yet.
What is particularly worrying is the increase in AIDS infections among students. From January to October this year, the capital reported more than 100 cases of infections among students. In the same period, 10 other provinces have also reported more than 100 students infected with the virus.
Five provinces reported more than 100 students infected with the virus last year. The youngest one is only 14 years old in North China's Hebei province.
It is a reality then the HIV virus is spreading among students, and not just university students but students in middle schools. How can this be?
On the one hand, the social media network has greatly increased the opportunities for homosexuals to get in contact with each other and have sex, which has increased the possibility of homosexuals being infected with the HIV virus. Statistics suggests homosexuals account for 73. 5 percent of people infected in Beijing. On the other hand, the lack of sex education has resulted in a lack of AIDS awareness among them.
In the majority of Chinese primary, middle schools and even universities, there are almost no sex education courses, and HIV/AIDS awareness is far from enough. A survey in Guangzhou shows that only 40 percent of students on campus have received any knowledge about AIDS.
So it is not enough to just raise the issue when World AIDS Day is observed, instead, it is something that should attract serious attention from the government, parents and schools.
Students should be instructed about the disease and safe sex. We should no longer take it for granted that sex, safe sex in particular, is something that everyone finds out about by themselves. The cost will be prohibitively high otherwise.
And if so many students, university ones in particular, know little about safe sex and about how to take precautions against the disease, how can we expect other ordinary people to know?
It is obvious that awareness about HIV and AIDS is far from enough.