Editorials from around New England:


Congress should protect Dreamers from deportation

New Haven Register

June 19

The Dreamers will not have to live in fear now that they could be deported to a country they might not remember.

The fear should not have been the incessant hum in their everyday lives in the first place, but that’s been the threat for three years under the Trump administration.

The threat was lifted — for now — by the U.S. Supreme Court in a 5-4 decision announced Thursday. Chief Justice John Roberts, in writing for the majority, called the administration’s move to dismantle the Dreamers’ protection as “arbitrary and capricious.”

The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, DACA, began in 2012 under an executive order by then-President Barack Obama. Under strict guidelines, including no felony charges, young adults who were brought to this country illegally by their parents as children could apply for protection from deportation.

Nearly 700,000 Dreamers applied in good faith — about 4,000 in Connecticut. While DACA does not provide a path to citizenship, the security from deportation enabled them to pursue higher education and careers.

Studies have shown that most DACA recipients are employed — contributing taxes. The American Action Forum estimates they contribute nearly $42 billion annually to the U.S. gross domestic product.

But in 2017 the Trump administration said the program was unlawful and tried to phase it out. No new applications have been allowed since then.

While the Supreme Court decision is welcome, it does not resolve whether DACA is lawful, only that the administration did not follow proper procedures in attempting to unravel it.

Congress must step in and provide permanent protection. Congress should finally adopt the Dream Act — Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act — first proposed in 2001.

Immigration reform is a thicket of controversy. But this much is clear: Children who came to this country through no will of their own do not deserve to be punished.

It could reasonably be argued that taxpayers’ money spent on rounding up undocumented youth and deporting them could be better directed at other efforts, such as improving lives with opportunity.

Connecticut politicians reaffirmed our state’s identity in their quick reactions to the Supreme Court decision. Gov. Ned Lamont said: “Tearing people from the only homes they have ever known is cruel, heartless and — despite what the administration may claim — doesn’t even serve a national security purpose.”

Once again, we are grateful for the compassion that drives policy in Connecticut.

In 2011, state law extended in-state tuition rates to undocumented students who attended all four years of high school in Connecticut. In 2015, the law was amended to lower the requirement to two years.

In 2018 the General Assembly approved allowing undocumented students to apply for financial aid through a program funded by student fees.

These members of society should have permanent federal protection from deportation, as long as they remain lawful, so they can live their lives without fear.

Online: https://bit.ly/3hJufrY



Trump appointee launches assault on Voice of America, affiliates

Boston Globe

June 19

The bodies continue to pile up at the nation’s government-funded but editorially independent news services, raising fears that they will soon become a propaganda arm of the Trump administration.

If that happens, the loss of credibility to a 78-year-old effort to bring straight news to people around the world where it is often in short supply, will be immeasurable.

The respected Voice of America and its affiliates, including Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and Radio Free Asia, are all part of the US Agency for Global Media, which this month came under the leadership of Trump appointee Michael Pack. Pack is a conservative filmmaker and ally of former Trump strategist Steve Bannon with whom he has done several film projects.

The global news service, which operates in 47 languages and employs more than 1,100 journalists, was founded in 1942 to tell “America’s story,” but to do it free of government interference, to always observe the “firewall” that separates news from propaganda — a firewall that is at the heart of independent journalism.

Senate Democrats skeptical about Pack’s commitment to that mission — and concerned about a still-pending investigation of his business dealings by the attorney general of the District of Columbia, managed to hold up his confirmation for nearly two years. This April, however, the White House turned up the heat, berating the Voice of America for being pro-China in its coverage of the coronavirus outbreak there. President Trump personally entered the fray May 15 saying, “Voice of America is run in a terrible manner. They’re not the Voice of America. They’re the opposite of the Voice of America.” Senate Republicans got the message and pushed through Pack’s confirmation.

By Monday VOA Director Amanda Bennett and Deputy Director Sandy Sugawara had resigned, telling staffers that Pack “has the right to replace us with his own VOA leadership.” Bennett is a former editor of the Philadelphia Inquirer and a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner.

Bannon celebrated by telling the Washington Times, “Now patriots can begin the process of cleaning up the mess she leaves behind.”

That foretells a horrifying reality about the new agenda at VOA and its affiliates.

In his Wednesday memo to staff, Pack insisted, “I am fully committed to honoring VOA’s charter, the missions of the grantees, and the independence of our heroic journalists around the world.”

By Wednesday night, the heads of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, the Open Technology Fund, Middle East Broadcasting, and Radio Free Asia, were gone. CNN quoted a source saying the head of the Open Technology Fund, which helps support a free and open Internet, had resigned effective in July but was fired Wednesday anyway.

Another Bannon ally, Jeffrey Shapiro, was expected to take over the Office of Cuba Broadcasting. And conservative talk show host Sebastian Gorka was also reported to be in the running for a VOA post or membership of the agency’s governing board.

Senator Bob Menendez, ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said in a statement issued Wednesday night, “The wholesale firing of the agency’s network heads, and disbanding of corporate boards to install President Trump’s political allies is an egregious breach of this organization’s history and mission from which it may never recover.”

The latter, of course, is the truly troubling part. VOA reaches some 280 million people in 60 countries — many of them places where free and independent media are virtually unknown.

A congressional inquiry is surely be in order to determine if VOA will continue to abide by its charter which demands it “serve as a consistently reliable and authoritative source of news. VOA news will be accurate, objective, and comprehensive.”

Taxpayers deserve to know whether the $637 million in funds the agency is looking for will pay for something they can be proud of, or whether this once respected news service is becoming an international Trump News Network.

Online: https://bit.ly/2Nf8LW8



Juneteenth offers reckoning on race

Portland Press Herald

June 19

On this day 155 years ago, a detachment of the U.S. Army entered Galveston, Texas, and read Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation to the city’s enslaved residents. They learned that the Civil War was over and that they were free.

June 19th – “Juneteenth” or Emancipation Day – has been observed ever since in African American communities, where the descendants of slaves celebrate an end to their bondage and mark the still unfulfilled promise of full participation in the American story.

Juneteenth has not been a big holiday in Maine, which was not a slave state before the Civil War and has one of the smallest African-American populations in the country. But since the date comes up on the calendar this year on the heels of mass protests against systemic racism – a legacy of slavery – 2020 might be different

Among the events in Maine will include a concert recorded in an empty State Theatre in Portland, featuring local black artists. It will stream on the state’s Facebook Live page at 8 p.m. Friday.

At noon the University of Maine School of Law is hosting a virtual panel discussion titled “Racial Injustice: Reimagining Policing and Public Safety.” Interested participants can find registration information by clicking on the events tab of the Maine Law website.

And the youth-led Black Lives Matter Portland is planning a Juneteenth rally and march beginning at 3 p.m. Friday outside City Hall.

These events are ongoing evidence that racial disparities in law enforcement are not just a problem of a few bad apples in a few police departments, but something that’s wrong with the system itself. According to data collected by the Portland Police Department, black people were far more likely to be arrested, issued a citation and be subject to the use of force by an officer than their white neighbors. The numbers here echo national statistics, which show black people are arrested in numbers far out of proportion to their share of the population.

It’s not just an issue of criminal justice: Black Americans are twice as likely to be unemployed than white workers, even in a strong economy. Black workers with jobs earn on average 27 percent less than white workers. And the net worth of a typical white family ($171,000) was nearly ten times greater than that of a black family ($17,150) in 2016, according to a study by the Brookings Institute. The COVID-19 crisis also has exposed undeniable racial disparities in health, in that black Americans are three times more likely to die when they are infected with the coronavirus than their white counterparts.

The death of George Floyd in Minneapolis last month has demanded a national reckoning on the racial discrimination that’s built into so many of our institutions.

One of the ways the reckoning is taking place is the removal of monuments dedicated to Confederate soldiers and politicians. This is not a matter of erasing history: It’s choosing not to glorify men who fought a four-year war of rebellion in order to keep others in chains.

As the statues come down, it’s good for white Americans to honor the memory of Juneteenth. Just like the signing of the Declaration of Independence, ending slavery in America was a significant event in world history – not just American history. Many white Mainers can trace their ancestry back to the people who fought the war that ended slavery, and proof of those soldiers’ sacrifices can be seen in cemeteries in every corner of the state.

We can’t fully understand the present without understanding the past. A good hard look at how we got here may be what it takes for us to move forward as a nation.

Online: https://bit.ly/2BmCgmc



We must never, ever forget

June 15

The Nashua Telegraph

No one knows with certainty how many human beings — men, women and children — were forced to stand on the 800-pound stone that remained planted in the ground on a street corner in Fredericksburg, Virginia for 176 years. What we do know is that each and every one of them was treated like an animal. Each and every one was sold and bought.

They were enslaved black Americans. The stone was an auction block used solely to display human beings being bid on by white people.

Last week, Fredericksburg officials had the stone removed. The local NAACP chapter had called for the action in 2017. Fredericksburg City Council voted in 2019 to remove it, but a lawsuit filed in an attempt to block the action delayed it until last week.

Of course, the key consideration regarding the stone was the pain it caused modern-day black residents of the area. Removing it, for that reason alone, was the right thing to do.

But in seeking such action, the NAACP put its finger on why the stone should be on public display, as is the plan. It is to be placed in a museum — with accompanying material explaining and, in pictures, portraying the barbarity of slavery.

The stone was a relic of ” a time of hatred and degradation,” the NAACP pointed out.


We Americans must never, ever be allowed to forget the terrible evil that existed for far too long in “the land of the free and the home of the brave.”

Relics such as the slave auction block are critical reminders of tolerated, even encouraged, violent bigotry. We must never, ever forget that it existed — and that, among what we hope and pray is an infinitesimally small percentage of people today, racism persists.

Online: https://bit.ly/30ZUjJu



Another Good Week

The Caledonian Record

June 19

Over the past week we’ve enjoyed reporting on the vast and varied achievements of local people improving our community.

Schools will reopen in the fall.

NVU-Lyndon is partnering with local businesses to train students for the local workforce.

Construction will begin on Bluffside Farm biking trails, Prouty Beach, and the Gardner Park playground that will add to Newport’s outdoor recreation offerings.

The Barnet board OK’d fireworks at Harvey’s Lake.

Local legislators sponsored a resolution to be read into the legislative record on “Juneteenth,” to honor Alexander Twilight.

Four local farms (Cate Hill Orchard, Stannard Farm, Jasper Hill and Snug Valley Farm) were among 16 in the state named to receive grants from the Working Lands Enterprise Board.

Local retailers are offering great deals for Fathers’ Day. SHOP LOCAL!!!

Rep. Kitty Toll helped lead a House effort to direct critical financial support to local hospitals.

Littleton was awarded $575,000 in tax credits for its town commons plan.

Lyndon Institute and Kingdom East are in negotiations for the former to lease space to the latter on the independent school campus.

Lyndonville plans to resume its schedule of coin drops, with the fire department, H.O.P.E., Darling Inn Senior Meals, Cobleigh Library, and Lyndon Food Shelp on the docket.

Girls youth lacrosse will host a program in July.

Ben Arsenault will coach the NVU-Lyndon women’s soccer team. He’s already the college’s basketball and lacrosse coach.

The Physically Health Collaborative Action Network of NEK Prosper – Caledonia and southern Essex Accountable Health Community has launched the second summer of Energize Expedition as part of the Energize 365 campaign.

Weeks Medical Center recently announced that it now offers Genius 3D mammography exams.

The Northeast Kingdom Artisans Guild will be presenting an interactive exhibit, June 19 through Aug. 1, featuring the work of artist, Amy Young’s art, “What were They Thinking?

The Fairbanks Museum will reopen on July 1.

The Summertime Marching Band will perform a series of pop-up parades and mini concerts at nursing homes, senior apartment buildings and hospitals.

Rare Poitou donkeys have taken up residence in the NEK thanks to the efforts of Sue Arnold, her friend Bari Fischer, and Sue’s rescue non-profit - Arnold’s Wildlife Rehabilitation Center.

Lyndonville Trustees approved a Cobleigh Library plan to set up a story walk in Bandstand Park.

Jolene Alice Stauffer was born.

The Lyndon Area Chamber of Commerce is going forward with an innovative take on its beloved Stars & Stripes tradition.

Tanya Norris and Clinton Fournier, of Homer, Alaska, announced their engagement.

The Rider Hill dirt track reopened in Derby.

Bethlehem is in discussions with Kim and Mark Koprowski for the sale of the town-owned Bethlehem Country Club.

RCT resumed normal bus schedules and will get two new electric vehicles through a federal grant program.

The St. Johnsbury School is hosting a “Hike for Hope” on Sunday.

H.O.P.E. reopened retail operations by appointment.

Thanks to a $25,000 grant from the A.D. Henderson Foundation, $3,000 from the Vermont Humanities Council and $6,500 from the Francis R. Dewing Foundation, the Old Stone House Museum will expand educational programming to include the youngest members of the community.

Thaddeus Stevens School held a parade for its preschoolers.

Five local student athletes at NVU-Lyndon (Alisha Celley, Gracie Ducker, Matt Page, Zosia Prince, Lauren Young) were named to the North Atlantic Conference All-Academic Team for the Winter 2019-2020 and Spring 2020 seasons.

Haverhill Library is doing curbside service while the Dailey Memorial Library reopened in Derby.

The Green Mountain Farm-to-School program is offering free lunch to Kingdom kids.

Bethany Goodwin was recently accepted into the Upward Bound Program at Northern Vermont University-Lyndon.

The Derby Select Board voted to donate $1,000 from its recreational fund to support fireworks in Newport City this year.

Northern Vermont University has launched the #NorthernVermontStrong campaign, seeking to receive gifts from 250 donors by June 30.

The Littleton Parks and Recreation Department will open its summer day camp for kindergarten through sixth-grade youth, beginning July 6.

Riverside Speedway reopened.

The Plymouth State University baseball team is full of local ballplayers.

NVRH’s Laural Ruggles published “Frameworks for Community Impact — Community Case Study” in Frontiers in Public Health, a multidisciplinary open-access journal that publishes rigorously peer-reviewed research.

Littleton Regional Healthcare announced Heather McKean is the new Marketing Manager.

We congratulate and thank them all … both for their efforts and for allowing us the privilege of sharing their great news.

Online: https://bit.ly/2NauZIP