Clean air attack
In the middle of the summer ozone season, as we are entering the months where ozone is highest, the U.S. House of Representatives may vote soon on H.R. 806, the “Smoggy Skies Act,” a harmful bill that would delay life-saving ozone standards.
Ground-level ozone pollution, or smog, is dangerous. Many Americans are especially vulnerable to ozone, such as the 1 in 10 Georgia children and the 1 in 12 Georgia adults with asthma. Two weeks ago, the New England Journal of Medicine published new research showing ozone is dangerous at levels far below the current standard.
H.R. 806 deserves the name “Smoggy Skies Act.” It would delay ozone protections for years and permanently weaken one of the nation’s strongest public health laws, the Clean Air Act. This bill would make it harder to protect people from ozone induced asthma attacks, emergency room visits and premature deaths. In light of recent evidence, we should be strengthening the Clean Air Act, not weakening it.
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Thanks to the Clean Air Act, we have made great progress in cleaning up ozone and other harmful pollutants. Still, millions of Americans live where the air is unhealthy to breathe and, literally, can threaten their lives. Weakening their protection is simply wrong.
Anne Mellinger-Birdsong, M.D.,
Director, Mothers and Others for Clean Air
Summer federal hiring waves present attractive employment opportunities for residents of Middle Georgia. From outstanding health insurance and generous retirement incentives to job security with nearly guaranteed promotions, there’s no shortage of reasons why most citizens want a federal job. Despite the allure, federal hiring processes tarnish what would otherwise be a pristine example of what a modern employer should look like.
High degrees of nepotism and partiality riddle the employment process, effectively rendering anyone without “insider help” incapable of acquiring a position. To a large degree, qualifications and status (i.e. veteran, disabled, etc.) have very little to do with getting hired as long as an applicant’s name is familiar to the hiring official. While this methodology may exist as a way to deflect responsibility or guarantee an applicant’s proclaimed capabilities, it is ultimately wrong and unethical. This method precludes highly-qualified candidates from selection and can lead to departments becoming exclusive and lacking objectivity. Either way, it’s a disservice to not afford taxpayers a fair opportunity at working for the very same government they’re funding.
Voting from the grave?
The New York Times in its editorial, “Combating a Real Threat to Election Integrity,” addresses an important issue for Georgians. The editorial identifies the many and varied ways in which voting machines in many states — and Georgia is one of them — create an uncertain voting environment. It is breathtaking to think that anyone believes voting on machines over 15 years old is satisfactory. No one would entrust any other part of their lives to a computer that old — a computer beyond warranties and not supported by manufacturers.
Yet this is only the beginning of the issues that we must address. The list is long: hours or locations making it difficult to vote; mazes of regulations on absentee voting; complex and discriminatory voter registration requirements; training of poll workers; a dangerous lack of security for machines. I am not alleging that any of these were the deciding factor in the outcome of an election, but when combined with the issues the NYT identifies, that day is not far away and it well could be in Georgia.
A comprehensive assessment and prioritization of key steps — as has been recommended to Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp by the Department of Homeland Security — to improve the election system would be a far better expenditure of monies than looking for those rare individuals who voted from the grave.
In our politically divided nation, I think there’s one American value we can all agree on: everyone deserves to be free. On Tuesday, June 27, the State Department released the 2017 “Trafficking in Persons Report,” which ranks 187 countries on their efforts to combat human trafficking, including the U.S. This report sheds light on the hidden crime of modern-day slavery — a crime that holds more than 45 million men, women and children in bondage. The 19th century abolitionist William Wilberforce said, “You may choose to look the other way, but you can never say again that you did not know.” What does this mean for us? For one thing, our members of Congress should recommit themselves to protecting the integrity of this report and the U.S. foreign aid programs that help rescue slaves and put traffickers behind bars.
It is up to individuals to learn about trafficking and to know the signs that indicate someone is being trafficked. Trafficking may be happening in your neighborhood. Be a good neighbor and keep your eyes open so that you can help someone who needs your help. The following Homeland Security website has good videos on spotting trafficking victims: https://www.dhs.gov/blue-campaign/videos
Adeline Hursey’s July 12 letter asking Macon residents to accept and accommodate the LGBTQ community was heartfelt. Be patience and don’t concern yourself with the 33 Bible verses that condemns same sex relationships and forbids the dressing and acting contrary to one’s birth gender.
The unlocking of their closet door by Barack Obama and the Democratic Party was approved by the majority of Christians according to the 2012 and 2016 election stats. And when the Christian dominated Supreme Court approved same sex marriages they tore the closet door right off its hinges.
Besides LGBTQ activities there’s a heap of other stuff the Bible condemns that are now socially acceptable and protected by law.
Be encouraged and take comfort in knowing state governments, Congress and the Supreme Court have determined archaic laws put forth by a mystic God, recorded in an antiquated book called a Bible are no longer reverent in today’s America.
Be patience Adeline, it’ll happen for you, American Christians are not called appeasers for nothing. So good luck and may the government bless you.
Travis L. Middleton,
Donald Trump is president of the United States and will win re-election in 2020. The people of this country have two clear choices. Either get on the Trump train and help get this mess straight or get run over and left behind by the Trump train.
Good jobs will always beat poverty level government cheese.