Excerpts from recent editorials in the United States and abroad:
The LNP newspaper in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, on the death of Ricardo Miguel Muñoz, who was fatally shot by Lancaster city police:
The family of Ricardo Miguel Muñoz — who was fatally shot Sunday afternoon by a Lancaster city police officer, after brandishing a knife at that officer — told LNP ' LancasterOnline’s Dan Nephin that the 27-year-old was mentally ill and hadn’t been taking his medications. The family had been calling police and a crisis intervention agency in an effort to get Ricardo Muñoz involuntarily committed, his parents and sister said in interviews with Nephin on Monday. The family said he had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. A document shown to Nephin also stated that Muñoz was diagnosed in 2018 with dysthymia disorder, or chronic depression.
The overwhelming majority of people with mental illness do not commit violent acts. Indeed, according to the American Psychiatric Association, they are far more likely to be victims of violence than perpetrators of it.
Ricardo Muñoz was charged with stabbing four people last year. He was facing trial next month.
His sister, Rulennis Muñoz, described him as a “sweetheart” when he was taking his medications. But on Sunday, she said, he was experiencing “an episode. He was just incoherent and acting out.”
Schizophrenia, a brain disorder with symptoms including hallucinations and delusions, can be devastating. It can be treated with medication and therapy, but as Ricardo Muñoz’s father told Nephin, his son stopped taking medication when he felt fine. “You think you’re normal and you’re not and this happens,” Victor Fernandez said.
What happens is the return of psychosis, “the inability to recognize reality,” according to a Harvard Medical School website, and “each returning episode may be worse.”
It’s easy to say that, well, then Ricardo Muñoz’s family should have ensured he was taking his medication — but you can’t force an adult to take something he doesn’t believe he needs.
His family tried to get him treatment. Anyone who has a loved one with mental illness knows how frustrating the process can be. Mental health services can be hard to find and pay for, and sometimes the ill person refuses to take part.
The Muñoz family said they were trying to get their son and brother help on Sunday.
His mother, Miguelina Pena, said the calls made to the police that day were meant to “bring my son to the hospital, not to kill him.”
“He was sick,” Rulennis Muñoz said of her brother. “It’s not a crime to be sick.”
In the words of Milzy Carrasco, Lancaster city’s director of neighborhood engagement, “The system failed this family, we all failed this family. We can do better and we need to see change in our behavioral health services in Lancaster County.”
We think many people — no matter their view of Sunday’s shooting — can agree this is true.
A PLAN NEEDED
At a news conference Monday, Lancaster Mayor Danene Sorace said the police “respond to many calls for service related to mental health.”
Sometimes, she noted, “police have considerable information and ambulances are dispatched concurrently. Many times these are de-escalated and individuals are able to get the treatment they need.”
But as things stand, she said, “the only system in place for someone who calls 911 for a mental health crisis is police and/or ambulance dispatch.”
“Who should respond, under what circumstances, and what protocols should be followed?” Sorace asked. “How are these calls dispatched from Lancaster County 911? There are a lot of uncertainties and nuance to these situations, which can change and rapidly escalate. We need an evidence-based protocol for responding. What is that protocol? Additionally, how do we create and staff a system that can respond 365 days a year, 24 hours a day, within minutes? These are just a few of the questions that need to be answered to create a countywide plan.”
Sorace called on Gov. Tom Wolf, state lawmakers, the county commissioners, behavioral health experts and police “to come together and put forward human-centered solutions that will work in every county of our commonwealth.”
The Lancaster City of Bureau of Police has one social worker, and is in the process of hiring another, and that’s helpful.
The Wall Street Journal on the rift between the House and the Senate over a new pandemic relief bill:
Nancy Pelosi must be supremely confident of a sweeping Democratic victory on Nov. 3. How else to explain why she refuses to compromise on a coronavirus relief bill when President Trump is aching for her to accept another $1.5 trillion?
The House Speaker issued her latest refusal to negotiate on Tuesday, saying “the skinny deal is a Republican bill: That’s not a deal at all.” Only a Beltway lifer would call “skinny” the Senate GOP’s offer last week of $500 billion. And that’s only the Senate offer.
Mr. Trump, through Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, the Speaker’s favorite negotiator, is all but begging Mrs. Pelosi to accept the proposal of some $1.5 trillion that a bipartisan group of 50 House Members released on Tuesday. Yet the Speaker had her committee chairs dismiss even that as inadequate. She’s holding out for no less than $2.2 trillion—on top of the nearly $3 trillion in relief that Congress has already passed this year.
So much the better if this means no deal. The House compromise would still do more economic harm than good by handing $500 billion more to the states that most don’t need, another $1,200 check to individuals, and reportedly $450 a week in enhanced federal jobless benefits. The jobless aid would slow the labor-market recovery by paying many Americans more not to work than taking one of the millions of jobs the Labor Department says are available.
Mr. Trump wants a deal anyway so he can hand out money before the election. Like Mr. Mnuchin, he believes this would help the economy, but at most it would give a short-term lift to consumer spending. The economy is expected to grow by 30% in the third quarter in any case, and consumers have savings they put away during the lockdown months.
There’s also no reason for Mr. Trump to give a break to the swing-district Democrats who are shouting at Mrs. Pelosi to do a deal. Politico reports that backbenchers grew heated on a call Tuesday as they demanded that Democratic leaders pass something they can boast about in the campaign’s final weeks.
Which is all the more reason for Mr. Trump to stop begging and campaign from here to November against the Pelosi Democrats for refusing to compromise. She’s putting a bailout for progressive politicians in blue states ahead of genuine Covid relief, and the voters ought to hear about it before they cast their ballots.
The Greensboro News & Record of North Carolina on revelations that President Donald Trump admitted to “downplaying” the coronavirus pandemic:
Now we all know what President Trump knew and when he knew it.
Because he’s told us so ... in his own words.
The president knew the coronavirus was a deadly menace in February and did nothing about it.
In tapes from journalist Bob Woodward’s interviews with the president for his forthcoming book, “Rage,” Trump told Woodward what he wouldn’t admit to the public.
“This is deadly stuff,” Trump said in a Feb. 7 interview. “It’s also more deadly than your strenuous flus.” Five times as deadly, he said.
But in public, he downplayed the seriousness of the virus, saying it would pass quickly and wasn’t that severe anyway. By Feb. 28, he was calling it the Democrats’ “new hoax.”
Not long after that, he began praising himself for his amazing response, the most amazing response to any problem ever.
But since he first learned of the virus’s severity, more than 190,000 Americans have died.
In a March 19 interview with Woodward, he acknowledged that young people were susceptible to the virus.
But on Aug. 5, while speaking to the public, he claimed that children were “practically immune.”
TO AVOID ‘PANIC’
After Woodward’s tapes began airing, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany quickly called a news conference to claim, “The president never downplayed the virus.”
“I wanted to always play it down,” Trump told Woodward on March 19. “I still like playing it down, because I don’t want to create a panic.”
“I don’t want to create a panic,” explained the man who has been shouting to Americans through a bullhorn about killer Mexican caravans, antifa terrorists and Joe Biden, if he’s elected president, destroying suburbs.
Trump said he kept quiet about the coronavirus’ deadliness because he wanted to portray “confidence and calm.”
But Trump didn’t portray confidence and calm. He encouraged his supporters to buck state authorities and “LIBERATE” themselves from safety precautions. He held close-quartered pep rallies. He played games with supply chains, conspiracy theories and miracle cures. He pushed for schools to reopen, despite knowing the threat to young people. He allowed hundreds of thousands if not millions of small businesses to be shuttered permanently.
And as medical professionals struggled to keep up with the first surge, some doctors and nurses gave up and killed themselves.
Trump egged people on, most recently over the weekend, to flout public health rules at campaign events, ridiculing former Vice President Joe Biden for wearing one. He did this while knowing that the virus was killing Americans.
Speaking on CNN, Woodward’s Watergate colleague, Carl Bernstein, said, “Thousands and thousands and thousands of people died” because Trump is “putting his own reelection before the safety, health and well-being of the people of the United States. We’ve never had a president who’s done anything like this before.”
North Carolinian Mark Meadows, Trump’s chief of staff, expressed his dismay last week that Trump chose to sit with Bob Woodward. Talk about missing the point.
On Thursday, Trump defended his approach, telling the press, “I don’t want to jump up and down and start screaming, ‘Death, death’ because that’s not what it’s about.”
But no one is suggesting that that should have been his response. He should have been upfront with the American people about just how dangerous the virus is, like other world leaders were. He should have set a better example of mask-wearing and social distancing. He should have encouraged everyone, including his base, to work together to avoid spreading the virus. Lives could have been saved.
He could have made wearing a mask as patriotic as wearing a flag pin.
As if that weren’t enough, we also learned that Chad Wolf, acting secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, allegedly urged a former chief of intelligence, Brian Murphy, to withhold reporting on potential Russian threats to the election because it “made the president look bad.” Murphy says he was told to emphasize potential threats from China and Iran instead.
Murphy also alleges he was told by the department’s second-highest ranked official, Kenneth T. Cuccinelli II, to modify intelligence assessments to make the threat of white supremacy “appear less severe” and include information on violent “left-wing” groups and antifa, according to his whistleblower complaint, which was released on Sept. 9 by the House Intelligence Committee.
The White House and DHS denied the claims, saying that Murphy was a “disgruntled former employee” — there sure are a lot of those — but his claims have a ring of truth.
Two weeks ago, Elizabeth Neumann, a former assistant secretary of counterterrorism and threat prevention for DHS, told NPR that the Trump administration had urged her to downplay the threat of right-wing extremism to U.S. security.
Also, we learned that Attorney General William Barr intervened to move a defamation lawsuit against Trump to federal court so that his Department of Justice could defend the president — meaning that U.S. taxpayers are now on the hook to defend Trump in what should be a civil suit.
TRUMP’S RIGID CORE
It goes without saying that all of this is beyond irregular for American presidential politics.
Our country is facing serious challenges. We’re in the midst of a severe economic downturn. We’re more deeply divided, politically, than we’ve been in decades. Violence is bubbling up on American streets. A deadly pandemic is raging across the country. And Trump has only fed the flames.
Trump’s base seems immune to legitimate criticism of their leader. Some of them say there’s nothing he could do to lose their support.
If they’re not moved by the tens of thousands of American deaths that Trump could have prevented, it’s difficult to imagine what would move them.
Whatever political gain some might imagine in Trump’s presidency, it’s not worth this chaos and death.
The Guardian on the EU's immigration policy and migrant camps in Greece:
Despite the searing heat and the absence of a viable alternative, it was reported this week that some former occupants of the burnt-out Moria refugee camp on Lesbos were refusing to move to temporary tented accommodation elsewhere on the island. They fear that if they do so, they will just be forgotten about all over again.
Who can blame them? For years the rest of Europe has known of the squalor, overcrowding and desperation at Moria and other detention camps on the Greek islands. The European Union has thrown some money in the direction of Athens and, to a shameful extent, left the Greek government to get on with it. At the end of last year, Greece was hosting around 200,000 migrants, the vast majority of whom had crossed the Aegean Sea from Turkey. Yet during the past five years, a mere 15,000 arrivals have been relocated to other EU countries.
As the numbers have grown, the initial generosity of spirit shown by islanders has evaporated. Mainland politicians have become justifiably embittered by the disproportionate burden that Greece, along with Italy and Malta, is being asked to carry. Resentment has bred cynicism. It was clearly hoped, though never publicly stated, that the appalling living conditions endured by migrants, and the interminable wait for their applications to be processed, might discourage others from making the same journey. As arrivals continued this summer, Greece’s conservative government was accused by human rights organisations of illegally and secretly expelling more than 1,000 asylum seekers. A Guardian investigation found similar tactics being used off the Maltese coast.
The Moria blaze, and the migrant protests that followed it, must mark the end of this scandalous escalation of hostilities against the vulnerable, and the rest of Europe must recognise its complicity in it. Britain, predictably and shamefully, has sat on its hands since the fire and done nothing. Angela Merkel on Tuesday pledged that Germany would take 1,500 migrants from the Lesbos camp. But more important in the long term is the commitment by Mrs Merkel and the European commission to take a direct role in building and running a dignified reception site for migrants on the island.
Most crucially, other member states must be persuaded to take seriously article 80 of the EU treaty, which demands a “fair sharing of responsibility” on migration issues. Next week, the European commission will unveil its long-delayed plan to establish a common asylum and migration policy. Once again, countries will be asked to accept a more equitable distribution of migrants across the union. The European commissioner for home affairs, Ylva Johansson, has expressed hope that the spirit of the coronavirus recovery fund, which pooled EU debt to help hard-hit nations, can be replicated. But given the implacable opposition of eastern European countries such as Hungary and Poland to a quota system of any kind, it is hard to see how a scheme could work without a mandatory component.
Since the peak of 2015, the number of irregular migrants seeking to enter the EU has plummeted. Ms Johansson put it well when she said that Europe does not have a migration crisis right now, but “some migrants are in crisis”. It is past time for something to be done about their predicament.
The Washington Post on President Donald Trump's holding an indoor rally in Nevada:
We know from reporter Bob Woodward’s new book, “Rage,” that last spring, when the coronavirus pandemic was spreading across the United States, President Trump was aware that it posed a grave threat. Still, he lied to the public frequently and unforgivably, saying the virus would just go away. Yet it may be even less forgivable that now, six months later, Mr. Trump is still lying and still denying the reality of the virus. His campaign rally on Sunday in Nevada is clear evidence.
Thousands of Mr. Trump’s supporters crowded into a manufacturing hall in Henderson, a Las Vegas suburb, most of them forgoing face masks and not socially distanced, violating Nevada’s pandemic rules limiting social gatherings to 50 people or fewer. Mr. Trump’s supporters were crammed together on white folding chairs on the floor of the Xtreme Manufacturing plant for his first indoor rally since June 20 in Tulsa. Face masks were mandatory only for those standing directly behind Mr. Trump, who would be in the television shot.
Beyond any doubt, the coronavirus transmits from person to person. An enclosed space, with people shouting, has frequently led to outbreaks: a choir practice, a wedding, a summer camp and cruise ships, to name a few. The Nevada rally was a potential superspreader event, led by the president in pursuit of political gain. He has refused to wear a face mask on the campaign trail and has belittled the Democratic nominee, former vice president Joe Biden, for wearing one. In Pennsylvania recently, he asked a largely maskless crowd whether they knew “a man that likes a mask as much” as Biden. “It gives him a feeling of security,” the president said. “If I was a psychiatrist, I’d say this guy has some big issues.”
Mr. Trump is the one with the big issues. His appearance Sunday was not a misunderstanding but a deliberate defiance of rules intended to keep people safe, rules that were advanced by Mr. Trump’s own White House. A spokeswoman for Henderson told reporters that the city had issued verbal and written warnings to Xtreme Manufacturing before the event, reminding the company to honor social distancing restrictions. Judging by reports from the rally, they were largely ignored. Mr. Trump’s rhetoric was also disconnected from the reality of a nation still staggering under the pandemic wave, with at least 191,000 people killed and 6.5 million infected. “We will very easily defeat the China virus,” Mr. Trump sunnily declared. “That’s what’s happening. And we’re already making that turn. We’re making that round beautiful last turn, but it should have never happened.”
Mr. Trump plays a huckster’s game, thinking he can fool enough of the people all of the time. The clock is running out on this gambit. The nation is long past his misplaced bravado and happy talk. Behind it lies reckless abandon with people’s health and well-being.
The Los Angles Times on the ambush-style shooting of two Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies:
The ambush-style shooting Saturday evening of two Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies as they sat in their patrol car at the L.A. Metro station in Compton was cruel and disgusting, as were the words that some demonstrators reportedly shouted outside St. Francis Medical Center in Lynwood, where the two deputies were being treated.
Witnesses said some in the crowd outside the hospital shouted, “Death to police” and “Kill the police.” The Sheriff’s Department tweeted that some shouted, “We hope they die,” and blocked the hospital’s emergency entrances.
At this time, there is no evidence connecting the attack to killings of Black people around the country by police officers. But tensions over those killings, and the protests that have followed, make the mental juxtaposition of the events unavoidable.
Earlier in the day, hundreds of protesters demanded justice for Dijon Kizzee, a Black man who was riding a bicycle when sheriff’s deputies attempted to stop him for a vehicle code violation. They shot him dead, and the supposed violation still has not been explained.
The shooting of the deputies and the cruel chants at the hospital, it should go without saying, do nothing to further the investigation of Kizzee’s killing. Or to explain the fatal shooting of Andres Guardado by deputies in June. Or to alter the law enforcement practices that led to the deaths.
They add nothing of value to the argument over the proper role of armed law enforcement agents in patrolling Metro or other transit systems.
Nor do they justify the deputies’ arrest of KPCC reporter Josie Huang, who was covering the scene at the hospital. Huang appears to have been simply doing her job.
Nor was anything useful added by President Trump, who ghoulishly tweeted: “If they die, fast trial death penalty for the killer.”
Thankfully, the deputies have not died.
The nation, in desperate need of cooler heads and an end to a season of death, must for the present make its way with neither. We have in our hands the power to destroy ourselves and one another, and we seem bent on exercising it.
In the meantime, though, the quest for justice must continue, however plodding it may be, however dull it may seem when compared with protests, killings and presidential tweets. The hunt for the deputies’ shooter must continue. If a suspect is caught and tried, the proceedings should be conducted with truth and fairness. Law enforcement practices must be scrutinized and, where needed, corrected. Racism must be acknowledged and combated. Our communities, our people, must get a chance to breathe.