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May 26, 2016
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The status quo is no longer acceptable

The massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT casts a long shadow. Towns all across the nation have held candlelight vigils for the slain children, their teachers and principal and to mourn with the families who lost innocent loved ones. School districts everywhere are reexamining their safety policies and emergency plans. From state houses to the White House to Capitol Hill, an important debate about guns and gun control has begun, and this time around almost everyone is starting from the premise that the status quo is no longer acceptable.  Read more

Peace on earth and goodwill to all

Christmas is a time when (if we can put aside the crazy commercialism of the season) we willingly and freely talk about such lofty ideals as peace on earth and good will to all people. We hear the Christmas message of hope and its promises of redemption, forgiveness and healing. Then the season is over. The Christmas star goes off on its merry way, orbiting around the galaxy, and we go back to the world as we know it.  Read more

Punishing the poor

Somebody standing in line with you at the grocery store sometime this month likely will be paying with a SNAP Access card. SNAP is short for the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program, what we used to call food stamps. The Access card is like a debit card; once a month each state electronically deposits a predetermined amount of money in each recipient’s account. The funds for the program come from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).  Read more

For Sullivan County, our own fiscal cliff

Sullivan County property owners face the likelihood that the county legislature will pass a 2013 budget with a double-digit tax hike. In these tough economic times, putting this burden on already financially strapped citizens seems just plain wrong. Legislators know that a 13.7% tax increase will be quite painful for many taxpayers, yet few other options appear.  Read more

What the Dairy Industry Really Needs

Editor’s note: Caught between the high price of feed and fuel and the low price they get for their milk, local dairy farmers lose money every time they milk a cow. Statistics show that nationwide, dairy farmers lost $10.05 for every hundred pounds of milk they sold in July; in August, -$9.52; and in September, -$9.40. It’s a wonder any of the small, family farms we know in our area can stay in business! (If this keeps up, some will not.)
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Simpler times

While many Americans bask in the afterglow of frenzied Black Friday shopping, others among us are forced to opt out of this post-Thanksgiving ritual. Caught between rising prices for life’s basic necessities—food, clothing and energy—and wages that fail to keep pace, many simply have less discretionary income and a reduced standard of living. Thus this year, Christmas will be more modest for many of us.  Read more

Building community

Just about everybody knows the famous quote “Charity begins at home,” penned in the 17th century by an English churchman named Thomas Fuller. Or do we? Time to ‘fess up, dear readers! How many of you know the entire quote? Well, here it is: “Charity begins at home, but should not end there.”  Read more

The price of war

On Sunday, we honored America’s 22 million veterans. Nine million of these are 65 and older, veterans of long-ago wars. Another nine million are between 18 and 64. Now, our newest generation of veterans—2.4 million Americans who fought in Iraq or Afghanistan—are arriving back home to face many challenges. Far too many will not get all the help they need and, considering their sacrifices, certainly not all that they are owed.  Read more

Sitting in the dark

One has to feel compassion for the people and communities for whom Hurricane Sandy has been an unmitigated disaster. We here in the Upper Delaware Valley were lucky; we were spared the worst of what the storm had to offer, though even we did not escape totally unscathed.  Read more

The power is ours

In a democracy, there are different ways for people to be empowered. In the run-up to Election Day on Tuesday, one way seems obvious: at the ballot box, citizens still hold real power—one man, one woman, one vote at a time—if they chose to exercise it. Another vehicle for empowerment can be seen these days every time a group of citizens gathers in Orange County at the construction site of a natural gas compressor station in the Town of Minisink, NY to raise their voices and hoist their protest signs against an industrial-scale project being built in their residential neighborhood.  Read more