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Guest op-ed: Gov. Paterson on international trade

Today's "Another Voice" column is by Gov. David A. Paterson, who's trying hard to sell the notion that he's trying hard to sell Buffalo to foreign trade officials. We especially like the line about, "Now that we have stabilized our state's finances . . ."

Anyway, the guv had his say. What say you?

Editorial: Offshore wind power worth exploring

Today's editorial takes note of the New York Power Authority's proposal to site 25 to 40 windmills in Lake Erie, Lake Ontario, or both. We're intrigued, and think the idea is worth exploring -- although there are serious aesthetic and technical questions that must be answered.

This is a very early stage -- NYPA is just now asking wind energy developers whether they mighbe interested in submitting proposals. So there's no detail on where this offshore wind farm might be or what it might look like.

Here are the links cited in today's editorial, in clickable form:

Our main story is here.

The American Wind Energy Association's summary of offshore wind power is here.

The Cape Winds proposal for Nantucket Sound is here.  Evidence against it is cited in a Beacon Hill Institute (at Suffolk College) study found here.

The New York Power Authority is here. And here's a direct link to the "Request for Expressions of Interest."


Teen driving rules

Teenagers already think adults are too strict, always telling them what to do and limiting their mobility.  But The New York State Legislature has a chance to clamp down even further on teenagers – and it should grab the opportunity.

Today’s lead editorial, “Pass teen driving rules,” touches on the issue of tougher standards for young people on the road.  That collective howl you may be hearing is probably the cry of teenagers upset about any restrictions being placed on their newly acquired driving habits.  But the numbers, and even one is too many, of accidents involving teenagers should be enough to have more stringent restrictions passed through the legislature.

Is this the result of adults going too far in trying to limit teen behavior, or are tougher driving rules long overdue?


Dawn Marie Bracely/Editorial Writer

Immigration and medical marijuana

Today's lead and secondary editorials deal with sensitive subjects for many Americans.  The first has to do with immigration and President Obama signaled desire to move forward on the issue.  It's an effort the previous administration attempted but failed to gain support.  With border issues in Mexico and Canada as examples, though, it is an issue that cannot wait. Without specifics, this latest effort will fail again.

The Obama administration is in favor of legislation that would legalize immigrants but recognize that they previously violated the law, imposing fines and other penalties to fit the offense. This may not sit well with groups opposing the president's broad-based plan, which he plans to speak about next month. 

Interestingly, the AFL-CIO and Change to Win recently announced they are joining the administration's effort for immigration reform.  Perhaps these groups understand the cost of undocumented workers versus the savings of reform. The Immigration Policy Center recently released a review indicating the benefits of legalizing undocumented workers.

On another note, but no less controversial, New York has the opportunity to join 14 other states in legalizing the use of medicinal marijuana.  The News' editorial stance has been, and remains, in support of such a measure but with tight controls to avoid making marijuana more readily available for non-medical uses.

However, compassion should weigh heavily in favor of those who stand to gain relief from the pain from diseases such as multiple sclerosis or experience nausea from undergoing chemotherapy.  Anecdotal reports of people like Joel Peacock, cited in News Albany chief Tom Precious' article, who practiced responsible, lawful use while living in another state, should be considered.  And the measure proposed here, as in other states, would include restrictions to discourage illicit trade.

In an Another Voice by Andrea J. Wanat and Robert Whitney, the other side of the issue is heard.  In their piece, they argue that "when THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, is inhaled, many other harmful substances are distributed throughout the body."  They are not alone in their objections, which include the risks associated with long-term use and the possibility of physical dependence and impaired immune and lung functions -- as well as risks to society and impressions made on teens.

Dawn Marie Bracely/Editorial Writer

Editorial: Keeping the power profits

As promised in today's editorial, here are links to stories and documents on the power issue:

The initial news story on the Power Authority's retention of profits from excess locally-targeted power is here.

The story about Rep. Brian Higgins effort to change that is here.

The story about NYPA chairman Rich Kessel's support for keeping the profits in WNY is here.

Audio excerpts from Kessel's visit to The Buffalo News is here.

And Jim Heaney's latest blogs on power issues are in his Outrages & Insights blog here.

power allocation

wind jobs

wind energy timing

renewable energy plans

wind power potential

five-year projection

wind power feasibility

Viewpoints: Kevin Gaughan's campaign against bloated government

Today's Viewpoints section cover story is by veteran community activist Kevin Gaughan, who champions government downsizing and consolidations . His latest weapon in that campaign is the petition, and he's using that and a series of public hearings to draw attention and spur action.

His Sunday take: "The degree to which local government holds us back is even worse than we know."

His tax burden comparisons make for some interesting reading.

Mandy Patinkin on Israel, Palestine and the President

Recently, I had the opportunity to interview Broadway and screen star Mandy Patinkin for The News features section (the story runs in Sunday's features section, Spotlight). We discussed a variety of topics, including his views on Israeli-Palestinian relations.  As some may already know, Patinkin is eloquent and outspoken and his opinion on both national and world politics is worth sharing in this forum.

Earlier in the year, he told "Jewish Community Online" that he felt incredibly fortunate Barack Obama had been elected president and fortunate to be living at this time, particularly in light of what is happening in Gaza. A short time later, he said "I still think, as citizens of the world, we're the luckiest people in the world that this man is president. He is a great leader. He is only beginning and I think the healing process is massive that needs to take place and we couldn't be in better hands. It is a traumatic time for our country and the world and he is helping it, as fast and as wisely as he can.

"In terms of Gaza and the situation in the Middle East, I think it's a tragic situation that the Palestinians and the Israelis are constantly butting their heads up against each other with," he said, adding that he is currently trying to understand the Palestinian point of view by reading, to a much deeper degree, a number of Palestinian books.

"I certainly know the Jewish point of view and I just want to be more versed in the Palestinian point of view," he said, citing "Palestinian Walks," by Raja Shehadeh.Patinkin is reading several of the books by the lawyer who has worked for Palestinian people's rights. Shehadeh, also author of another book the actor is reading, "Strangers in the House,"strikes Patinkin as an articulate, brilliant Palestinian man. "He has a unique voice and you don't often hear the Palestinian voice articulated so beautifully."

Patinkin also grabbed Edward Said's book, "Orientalism," he said, "because I really feel that there's a void of American Jewry's understanding of the Palestinian people's situation. And I feel that to really help this situation we need to educate ourselves, not just about the Israeli point of view but the Palestinian point of view to equal stature.

"I think the more we understand each other's history and current event the more compassionate we might be able to be to each other and the quicker we might find our way to a solution, which I believe will be some form of a two-state solution living side-by-side, which is incredibly complex. But, I think, what's missing is an understanding and compassion to a sufficient degree that can facilitate some change."

Having Barack Obama as the world leader, he said, will eventually bring a good deal more energy and attention to that process. "And it may not happen in our lifetime but it needs to happen, soon."

Dawn Marie Bracely/Editorial Writer

Editorial: A county planning board

Today's lead editorial focuses on an issue that will come before the Erie County Legislature today. The proposal to create a county planning commission should pass, but at last count proponent -- including proposal champion Maria R. Whyte -- had 9 votes, one vote short of a veto-proof majority. And County Executive Chris Collins threatens to veto.

Collins should reconsider. The proposed commission would promote smart planning that conserves county resources (and taxpayer dollars) by regulating the use of county-funding resources, not by usurping town planning board powers. Its a good idea. 

Read the full story.

Pundits and Pulitzers

One of our frequented syndicated columnists, Eugene Robinson , has just won the 2009 Pulitzer Prize for commentary, for columns written about Barack Obama's presidential campaign. We'll be running columns by him on Wednesday and Sunday; Wednesday's is his take on the April 15 "Tea Party" protests, which he says as all over the map in terms of issues but also as a clear indication of an us-versus-them "mad as hell" movement a-building.

Another of our syndicate regulars, Steve Breen of the San Diego Union-Tribune, won this year's editorial cartooning prize. He last won the honor in 1998.

Our Pulitzer-related elation today, though, stems more from the awarding of the 2009 prize for editorial writing to friend and colleague Mark Mahoney of The Post-Star in Glens Falls, down the Thruway a bit before Albany. Mark's a great guy, active not only in his own newspaper but in the editorial writers' professional conference at both the state and national levels. He has been a one-person editorial page shop at a 32,000-circulation paper for more than a decade, and this just couldn't happen to a better person. Here's a link to his prize-winning package:

Editorial: Trouble with the Taliban

Today's lead editorial deals with the Taliban's overreaching influence in Afghanistan and President Hamid Karzai's willingness to sell the souls, bodies and minds of women in his country for small, short-term political gain.   

The result -- dozens of Afghan women protested in front of a Kabul mosque in an effort to win repeal or reform of the Shia Personal Status law, which regulates marriage, divorce and inheritance. Women would have to ask permission to leave the house except on urgent business and exercise a duty to "make herself up" or "dress up" for her husband when ordered, and not refuse sex when her husband wants it. 

The fact that this law directly contradicts the Afghan constitution, which bans any type of discrimination and distinction between citizens of Afghanistan and contradicts the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against women, to which Afghanistan is a state party, seems meaningless.  

One would hope appropriately strong protests from the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Italy, Canada and NATO might push Karzai in the right direction. He's asked the Ministry of Justice to review the law. Human Rights Watch has justifiable concerns over the amount of independence in the process.

Just as bad, if not worse, is a story out of the southwestern portion of the country in which a young couple was executed for the apparent "crime" of attempting to elope. The woman, Gul Pecha, 19, and the man, Abdul Aziz, 21, were accused by the militants of immoral acts and sentenced. The role of the parents in returning the couple and, possibly, reporting them to the Taliban, is not readily understandable in western culture. This, of course, is not western culture but one, like all others, that demands humanity.   

Meanwhile, the Taliban have dug deeper into Pakistan in engineering a class revolt, according to reporting in The New York Times, by exploiting the divide between wealthy landlords and their tenants.    

Such lawlessness demands pressure applied by the international community. Unless and until that happens more reports will filter through about human atrocities and exploitation.

Dawn Marie Bracely/Editorial Writer

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