Christie: Other child victims also deserve President Trump’s attention, Post reader says

In this April 4 photo, Abdel Hameed Alyousef, 29, holds his twin babies who were killed during a suspected chemical weapons attack, in Khan Sheikhoun in the northern province of Idlib, Syria. France’s foreign minister says chemical analysis of samples taken from a deadly sarin gas attack in Syria shows that the nerve agent used “bears the signature” of President Bashar Assad’s government and shows it was responsible. (Alaa Alyousef via AP, File)

A few weeks ago President Trump, quickly reacting to 22 children being gassed, ordered a missile attack on a Syrian airfield. Because the use of gas is universally unacceptable, the president generally received bipartisan support for his action. Although the attack was somewhat knee jerk in nature, most people gave him a pass because children were involved.

A week later, 40 children were among the scores of people who died in Beirut while trying to find something to eat. A bomb explosion may not have the same visceral effect as gas, the carnage described in graphic detail. Unless I missed the coverage, there was no reaction from the White House, although, obviously, dead children are dead children, regardless of the cause.

With so many children dying in a relatively short period of time, I wonder whether anyone thought back to the tragic killings of 20 first-grade pupils in Newtown, Conn. One life is certainly as important as another. Yet all that was asked of our Congress was to pass more comprehensive regulations  on the sale of guns. Congress, or at least the Republicans in Congress, either have no conscience or have sold them to the NRA.

According to a Huffington Post article, “There Have Been Over 200 School Shooting Incidents Since The Sandy Hook Massacre,” (Dec. 14) and Everytown for Gun Safety, an organization of more than 3 million mayors, moms, cops, teachers, survivors, gun owners and everyday Americans working to end gun violence, there have been more than 200 school shootings since the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, averaging about one shooting per week.

These shootings resulted in approximately 94 gun-related deaths and 156 injuries.

I find it difficult to comprehend why President Trump who campaigned for “America First” chooses as his first aggressive action an attack in Syria, rather than addressing the obvious problems at home. This is only one example of poor judgment our president has exhibited during his first 100 days in office.

BURT EDELCHICK, HOBE SOUND

Goodman: Now’s the time to be heard on medical marijuana in Florida

If you want to see medical marijuana made readily available in Florida to people in need of chronic pain relief — and an overwhelming 71 percent of Floridians said they did in balloting last November — you need to pay attention to what’s happening now in the Florida Legislature.

A House bill establishing regulations for medical pot is getting more restrictive, as the lower chamber pays heed to anti-drug groups.

The Sunshine State News writes:

Not only would smokeable cannabis be banned, but patients would also be barred from buying more than a 90-day supply of marijuana, edibles would be off-limits and “vaping” would only be allowed for terminal patients.

So if you can’t smoke medical marijuana, how do you ingest it?

The delivery methods, activists say, would be far and few between for suffering patients, requiring them to use different routes of ingestion, like marijuana oil or capsules, in order to find relief.

Cannabis oil can cost patients a pretty penny — up to $250 per gram. In Colorado, the same amount costs $30.

The Senate, on the other hand, is moving on a more reasonable bill that’s supported by backers of the constitutional amendment, known as Amendment 2.

“The Senate keeps making their bill better, while the House keeps making theirs worse, and I’ve got to hope they can meet in the middle with these negotiations,” Ben Pollara, campaign manager for the Amendment 2 committee, told reporters Tuesday.

Both bills would prohibit smoking of the plant, however — something that voters approved, according to backers of the amendment.

“Patient advocates, however, still prefer the Senate plan because it is less restrictive than a House proposal,” writes the Tallahassee Democrat, the capital city’s daily newspaper. “They applaud Sen. Rob Bradley, R-Fleming Island, efforts to do away with a 90-day wait period for patients whose doctor recommends cannabis as part of a treatment plan. The Senate also breaks with the House to allow edibles and vaping.”

The Senate bill (SB 406), sponsored by Bradley, sailed through the Senate Appropriations Committee Tuesday, 6-1, and is on its way to the Senate floor for a vote.

Bradley’s measure would allow for more dispensaries, now to be called “medical marijuana treatment centers,” than would the House plan (HB 1397).

The House bill flew through the House Committee on Health and Human Services on Monday by a vote of 14-4. It’s headed to the House floor. One proposed amendment would add even more restrictions, including “banning patients from consuming medical marijuana from devices not purchased at medical marijuana treatment centers and prohibiting the use of medical marijuana by pregnant women, even if it was recommended by their doctor,” Sunshine State News writes.

Questions on patient care should be left to doctors, not politicians.

Floridians who want medical marijuana — who want what they voted for —  need to let members of the Legislature know that. Right away.

Christie: American Airlines joins the unfriendly skies… Who’s next?

It appears that U.S. air carriers cannot catch a break these days.

You almost feel sorry for them … almost. Truth is, most air travelers, even if their flying experience has been 99.9 percent trouble-free are feeling somehow vindicated for the incident accounting for that .1 percent.

Video of almost every tense incident involving a passenger is finding its way onto Facebook Live, YouTube, Twitter, SnapChat or whatever. And then onto cable and network news, and so on.

RELATED: United Airlines changes policy after man dragged from plane

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An American Airlines passenger jet takes off from Miami International Airport in Miami. The company said it grounded a flight attendant who got into a verbal confrontation with a passenger after taking a baby stroller away from another passenger on a Friday flight from San Francisco to Dallas-Fort Worth. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz)

The latest involves Dallas-based American Airlines, which is now investigating after a video surfaced on social media showing a confrontation between a passenger and a flight attendant aboard one of its flights.

The video, filmed by another passenger last Friday, appears to be the aftermath of an incident during boarding of a flight from San Francisco to Dallas. It does not show what happened beforehand.
The video of the encounter starts off with a woman sobbing as she holds a baby. “Just give me back my stroller please,” she says tearfully.
A male passenger stands up and intervenes, apparently upset with how the woman’s situation was handled. He tells the flight attendant, “Hey bud, hey bud. You do that to me, and I’ll knock you flat.”
The flight attendant tells the male passenger to stay out of it, then later taunts him to “hit me, hit me … bring it on.”
From the video, it’s unclear why the woman is distraught. Surain Adyanthaya, who posted the video to Facebook on Friday, said that before the footage, the flight attendant had “violently” taken the stroller, hitting the woman in the process and narrowly missing her baby.
Adyanthaya later posted the airline had “escorted the mother and her kids off the flight” and let the flight attendant back on.
It doesn’t help that this incident comes two weeks after a United Airlines passenger was dragged from his seat and off a plane by Chicago aviation police. United was widely criticized on social media and by industry professionals for the conflicting statements it put out afterward, initially siding with its employees and appearing to blame the passenger.
American learned something from that. They quickly responded: “We have seen the video and have already started an investigation to obtain the facts. What we see on this video does not reflect our values or how we care for our customers,” it said in a statement.
“We are deeply sorry for the pain we have caused this passenger and her family and to any other customers affected by the incident.”
American said it upgraded the woman to first class for the rest of her trip and the attendant has been “removed from duty” as it investigates.
Good move.
But with the amount of flights and passengers, we’re likely to see one of these a week. How many of us haven’t been on a flight where an unruly passenger pushes things to the limit?
How long before a captain simply says, “We’re not taking off until the passenger in 15A peacefully allows a flight attendant to check their bag”? Then what?

Christie: Planned statue for former Marlins pitcher irks Post readers

MIAMI – Former Marlins ace Jose Fernandez died last September after crashing his boat while allegedly intoxicated. Two other men also died. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

Bronze statues are very often lightning rods for controversy.

It really doesn’t matter whether its a long-dead historical figure, cultural icon or game-changing athlete. There will often be some folks who don’t believe immortalizing a certain individual in bronze is a good idea.

How else, maybe, to explain why it took 70 years for the Los Angeles (formerly Brooklyn) Dodgers to erect a statue of the great Jackie Robinson at Dodger Stadium.

But sometimes they’re right. As is the case with the Miami marlins team owner Jeffrey Loria’s current plan to put a statue of former pitching ace Jose Fernandez at Marlins Park.

Do you agree with Loria’s plan?

Fernandez was a young, charismatic (and dominating) pitcher that added a hometown charm as a Cuban-American. But his death at 24 in a boat crash was caused by unlawful behavior that also cost the lives of two other men. Two other men whose families would have added to their grief, a reminder that the man responsible for their loss is celebrated every day of the Major League Baseball season.

Florida Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria puts on a new hat as he jokes with pitchers and catchers during the first day of spring training. (Richard Graulich / The Palm Beach Post)

For many Post readers, that’s just too much. We published this letter from Jim Anderson of West Palm Beach on Wednesday:

The possibility that a statue may be erected in honor of Jose Fernandez, the Marlin’s late pitcher – who died at a young age – is absurd.

It has been determined that at the time of his death, he had drugs in his system, which may have caused a lack of judgment, resulting in a boating accident, resulting in his own death as well as that of two passengers.

Why would a person be honored for such an action?

Anderson was far from alone in raising that question. Roy Martinez of Jupiter wrote:

I think the idea of erecting a 9-foot statue of Jose Fernandez outside Marlins Park is a terrible idea. Does the fact that Fernandez had a 100-mph fastball overshadow his reckless behavior on the night he and his two friends died? How will those family members feel each time they see that statue?

Playing the game after he died, that was fine. The “16” patch on the Marlins uniforms, also fine. Turning his locker into a “mini-shrine”? Not 100 percent behind that idea.

Public relations being what it is, the statue will probably get built, a big ceremony will mark its unveiling and miniature versions will be available in the Marlins gift shop for a nominal cost.

And Rona Einhorn wrote to Post sports columnist Hal Habib:

I totally  agree  with  your  article  today . I  loved  José . My husband  and  I  attended  the  last  game  he pitched , the  tickets  to the  game  were  a birthday  present  to me . We  sat right  over  the  Marlins  dugout . What  a  game! He even  said  it  was  the  best  game  he pitched.  Then to wake  up  on Sunday  morning  and  hear the  news  I just  couldn’t  believe  it. I  just  don’t  think  that  a large  statue  is the  right  way  to  honor  him.

Thanks  for the article.

After such sentiment is being espoused (maybe more so outside of Miami-Dade County) it will be interesting to see whether Loria shelves his planned monument — at least for now.

Goodman: Trump’s “Buy American, Hire American” order smacks of hypocrisy

President Donald Trump, returning to a major theme of his campaign, has taken aim at foreign workers, signing an executive order on Tuesday that will, as he said, “protect our jobs and finally put America first.”

Wait, has he forgotten who works at Mar-a-Lago?

The cooks, the waiters and waitresses, the housekeepers — Trump got permission from the U.S. Department of Labor last year to hire 64 of them from foreign countries through the government’s H-2B visa program at $10.17 to $12.74 per hour. That program allows employers to hire foreigners for temporary, seasonal, non-agricultural work and is often used in the tourism and resort industries.

But there was the president on Tuesday in Kenosha, Wis., targeting the H-1B visa program, which the White House says undercuts U.S. workers by bringing in large numbers of cheaper, foreign workers and driving down U.S. wages.

This sure seems hypocritical — as Trump’s foes were quick to point out during last year’s election campaign, when the Labor Department permitted 69 temporary visas for Mar-a-Lago. Trump defended himself by saying there simply weren’t enough skilled American workers to take those jobs. “It’s very, very hard to get people,” Trump said during a debate in March 2016. “Other hotels do the same thing.”

But employment experts in Palm Beach County said then that there are plenty of workers ready, willing and able to do that work. And Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, then a Trump opponent for the Republican presidential nomination, said Trump uses the program to drive down wages.

“When you bring someone in on one of these visas they can’t go work for anybody else,” Rubio said during that March 2016  debate. “They either work for you or they have to go back home. You basically have them captive, so you don’t have to worry about competing for higher wages with another hotel down the street. And that’s why you bring workers from abroad.”

Trump’s executive order, signed with a flourish at a Snap-On Inc. factory in a state he narrowly carried on the strength of white working-class voters, actually isn’t all that muscular. It does little more than order U.S. agencies to propose rules to prevent immigration fraud and abuse in the H-1B program, and to propose changes to ensure that the visas go to the most-skilled and highest-paid applicants.

The tech industry argues that the program is crucial to their companies’ success, because it enables smart college students to stay in the U.S. after getting degrees in high-tech specialties. And they say they can’t always find enough American workers with the skills they need — an argument that sounds just like Trump the Campaigner’s.

The program, however, has been terribly abused. Walt Disney World, for example, fired 250 employees in 2015 and replaced them with people with H-1B visas through an Indian outsourcing firm. Worse, the Disney workers had to train their own replacements.

So yes, clamp down on the misuse of foreign visas that allows cost-cutting employers to improve their balance sheets at the expense of American workers.

But Donald Trump’s turn as a hero of this political theater he calls “Buy American and Hire American” rings hollow when many of his Trump-branded products, from ties to chandeliers to vodka, are made overseas.

And when the cooks, waitresses and housekeepers at his “southern White House” are shipped in from abroad, taking jobs that Palm Beach County people could be doing.

What do you think? Take our poll …

Goodman: Scott gives welcome boost to reservoir plan south of Lake Okeechobee

Florida Gov. Rick Scott takes questions during a news conference on environmental issues at the state capitol Monday in Tallahassee, Fla. (AP Photo/Joe Reedy)

Gov. Rick Scott has given a big boost to Senate President Joe Negron’s plan for a deep-water storage reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee.

The governor on Monday endorsed the Treasure Coast Republican’s revised proposal for a reservoir that would use state-owned land at first, rather than seek to take existing farmland. The aim is to reduce water discharges east and west of the lake — overflows that led last year to toxic, stinky algae blooms — as well as help restore the south-bound water flow of the Everglades.

Scott put his own stamp on the proposal. He wants the Legislature to add $200 million to the budget to help the federal government speed up its repairs to the Herbert Hoover Dike. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers currently expects to complete a $1.7 billion project to shore up the wall around Lake Okeechobee by 2025. Scott hopes to cut that date to 2022.

The Senate voted last week 36-3 to approve the water bill (SB 10). That sent it to the House, where its fate is uncertain.

The senator who has navigated the bill through the upper chamber, Rob Bradley, R-Fleming Island, said Scott’s backing was “a huge step forward in bringing this in for a landing.”

Negron had originally sought 60,000 acres to build storage for 120 billion gallons of water south of the lake. But facing stiff opposition from sugar growers and residents of Glades communities concerned about the loss of agricultural jobs, Negron scaled back the project to about 30,000 acres, using land already owned by the state. That dropped the projected price to $1.5 billion from $2.4 billion, to be shared by the state and federal government. The Senate bill seeks $64 million for the reservoir, but the House opposes the Senate’s idea of issuing bonds in future years to help pay for the work.

The federal government hasn’t committed to its 50 percent match.

Scott said in prepared remarks:

I support storage south of the lake in the A2 Reservoir which utilizes state-owned land and does not take people’s private land. This is a big step toward protecting our pristine environment. This additional storage, in conjunction with our currently planned projects around the lake, will help reduce harmful discharges in South Florida.

The A2 is a remnant of past efforts to build a pair of south-of-lake reservoirs in the southwest corner of Palm Beach County. Taxpayers spent hundreds of millions of dollars in the early 2000s on the first of the massive water-storage projects, the A-1, before construction was called off in 2008 amid lawsuits and shifting political winds.

Negron, naturally, said he welcomed the governor’s support, but expressed some doubts about lending out state money to help repair the Lake Okeechobee dike, which he said “is unquestionably a federal responsibility.” What’s the guarantee the feds will pay us back?

Nonetheless, no one can argue that it’s a good thing to strengthen the dike as soon as possible.

Negron has done an adroit job so far of nudging many competing — and reluctant — parties together toward the goal of building the south reservoir, which the Post has argued is long overdue. By downsizing the plan and focusing on state-owned lands, he improved the project’s chances with Scott, who could no longer object that agricultural jobs would be jeopardized by the reservoir; we all know how much importance this governor places on jobs. And with Scott’s OK, now even growers seem to be on board.

That leaves matters up to the House, whose Speaker, Richard Corcoran, R-Land O’Lakes, has repeatedly echoed sugar-industry talking points. Here’s hoping he takes the same posture as the governor.

Take our poll, and let us know what you think.

Christie: Is it really United Airlines you’re mad at over the Dao incident?

CHICAGO, IL — Demonstrators protest outside the United Airlines terminal at O’Hare International Airport last week in Chicago. United Airlines has been struggling to restore their corporate image after a cell phone video was released showing a passenger being dragged from his seat and bloodied by airport police after he refused to leave a reportedly overbooked flight. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Poor United Airlines just can’t catch a break.

The way the airline mishandled and manhandled a Louisvile doctor a couple Sundays ago — and captured for all time on smartphone video — has sparked justifiable outrage from pretty much anyone who’s seen it.

As well it should. While any consumer who has flown regularly on a U.S.-based carrier the last 20-plus years has a nightmare story — usually involving the term, “stand-by hell” — watching Dr. David Dao being unceremoniously dragged off of a plan kicking and screaming is particularly beyond the pale.

This image made from a video provided by Audra D. Bridges shows Dr. David Dao being removed from the United Airlines flight in Chicago. Video of police officers dragging Dr. Dao from a United Airlines flight sparked an uproar on social media. (Audra D. Bridges via AP)

Dao, who was traveling with his wife, was flying back home through Chicago but was chosen at random (by computer) to give up his seat so that one of four United employees could get to their destination. Overbooking is a time-worn airline practice that has gotten more popular with the airline execs over the years. (We now know, however, that the fight wasn’t even overbooked.)

Anyway, Dao refused. Cue the video milieu, and still cascading outrage from airline customers the world over.

One has to wonder though whether it’s really United that everyone’s mad at, or are did the incident some old — and even recent — feelings about being allegedly used or abused by an airline.

A United Airlines passenger plane lands at Newark Liberty International Airport in Newark, N.J. Twitter users are poking fun at United’s tactics in having a man removed from an overbooked Chicago to Louisville flight on April 9. (AP Photo/Mel Evans, File)

Everybody’s got a story… Who are you really mad at?

Goodman: Ah, free time! School recess should be mandatory in Florida schools, not just folded into P.E.

Limestone Creek elementary school students play during recess on the school’s playground, February 24, 2016. Damon Higgins / The Palm Beach Post

We’re glad to see that in the Florida Senate, at least one issue has bipartisan support: school recess.

Striking a blow for a saner school day, the Senate on Tuesday unanimously passed a bill requiring 20 minutes of free-play recess in all Florida public elementary schools, kindergarten through fifth grade.

It’s about time. At present, only 11 of Florida’s 67 school districts have school-board approved recess policies, according to a Senate analysis. In Palm Beach County, the public schools’ Wellness Promotion guidelines “encourage” recess, but it’s not required.

Frankly, I couldn’t get through a work day without taking some time to loosen up after sitting at a desk for hours. I can’t imagine how children are expected to concentrate for so long without a break, let alone perform well for the standardized testing that’s deemed so all-important.

And I can’t imagine what elementary school would have been like without our morning and afternoon outdoor games of catch, or tag, or just hanging out.

As Post Editorial Page Editor Rick Christie wrote last year:

Here are some of the life lessons learned on the playground: rules of competition, diplomacy, negotiation, social networking, and here’s a biggie, just learning to decompress.

That last one is really a lost art these days.

Confirming common sense, the American Academy of Pediatrics found that well-supervised recess is needed for a child’s social, emotional, physical and cognitive development. And both the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Society of Health and Physical Educators of America recommend all elementary school children get a minimum of one daily recess period of at least 20 minutes — in addition to physical education and classroom activity — according to the Senate analysis.

But this bill is by no means assured of passage. The Florida House doesn’t want mandatory recess. Instead, it passed a watered-down bill to combine recess and physical education classes as part of the state’s 150-minute per week requirement for P.E. That would mean less recess time for more than 400,000 fourth- and fifth-graders, according to proposal’s critics.

Last year, a bill similar to the Senate plan failed when a single senator kept it from being heard in committee because he didn’t want the state to place another mandate on school districts. Ridiculous. If the Legislature were to require schools to provide students with fresh air, would you oppose that because it’s a “mandate”?

Instead of an oppressive mandate from Tallahassee, the Senate bill, sponsored by Sen. Anitere Flores, a Miami Republican, should be seen as a corrective to waves of previous state measures that turned Florida school kids into stressed-out test-taking machines.

Flores disagrees with the House proposal. “Recess should not be in competition with other things,” she told Sunshine State News. “It should be able to stand on its own. It should be able to give students and teachers… a mental break at some point in the day.”

We agree.

How about you? …