The Citizen of Laconia (N.H.), Sept. 28, 2012
If only he were Hispanic, Mitt Romney mused in his secretly recorded comments unearthed by Mother Jones magazine, his electoral prospects would be so much brighter. ‘‘I say that jokingly,’’ said the Republican presidential nominee, who plainly wasn’t joking at all, ‘‘but it would be helpful to be Latino.’’
Looking at his poll numbers, the reasons for Romney’s wistfulness — and for his angst about Hispanic votes — are apparent. Among that fast-growing segment of the electorate, President Obama enjoys better than a 2-to-1 lead over Romney, roughly the same margin that helped him win key swing states in 2008.
So in search of some street cred that might lift his chances in Colorado, Nevada or Virginia, Romney has cited what passes for his Hispanic roots — the fact that his father, George, was born (to American parents) in Mexico — and has deployed his son Craig, who speaks Spanish, in ads on Spanish-language media.
Very nice. But if Romney really wants to make inroads into Obama’s lead among Hispanics, what he needs is an immigration policy that is fair, cogent and economically rational. That would be a refreshing change from his stance of the past six months, during which he first embraced harsh rhetoric and draconian policies, then tried to fuzz it away at the margins.
In Romney’s latest foray into immigration policy, during a forum broadcast online by the Spanish-language Univision network, he promised to ‘‘put into place an immigration reform system that resolves this issue.’’ And how exactly would he do that? The candidate wouldn’t say.
Romney did say what he wouldn’t do — he wouldn’t round up and deport 11 million undocumented immigrants. But he remains stuck with the more punitive policies that he favored during the GOP primaries, when he said he would push illegal immigrants to ‘‘self-deport’’ by making it impossible for them to work; vowed to veto the Dream Act, which would grant legal status to undocumented young people who were brought into the country by their parents; pledged to complete the 2,000-mile border fence along the Mexican border; cozied up to Arizona’s draconian ‘‘show me your papers’’ law by promising to drop the federal litigation against it on his first day as president; and enlisted Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, a leading crusader against illegal immigration and an architect of the Arizona law, as an adviser to his campaign.
The Hartford (Conn.) Courant, Sept. 24, 2012
An estimated half-million elephants still live in Africa. But tens of thousands are slaughtered illegally each year for their ivory tusks in a poaching binge the likes of which has never been seen before.
In some cases, large groups of elephants are mowed down by heavy weapons fired from helicopters.
The losses are so bad that this noble creature conceivably stands on the brink of extinction. Humans, too, are being killed in the war between poachers and those trying to protect the elephants.
One way to stop the slaughter may be to share the game park revenues with local communities so they have a stake in the animals’ survival.
Even though the trade is illegal, elephant ivory is an easily obtainable source of cash in a region where poverty rules and outlaws thrive. China, with its emerging middle class, provides a vast market, buying well more than half of the poaching ‘‘harvest’’ because ivory is believed to have religious significance.
The international ban on ivory trade that went into effect two decades ago was effective until organized crime, rebel militias and even rogue nations got into the act, and the rich China market opened up.
The United States and others nations that give military aid in the form of helicopters and fuel to regional clients must monitor what the aid is used for or quit donating it.
Most important — and difficult — will be the successful application of pressure on China and other violators to abide by the ivory trade ban. Countries in leadership positions such as the United States must make saving African wildlife a high priority. Otherwise, a priceless link in the chain of life will be forever lost.