We noted a couple of weeks ago that school board meetings in this region and around the country have been turned into culture-war battlefields, as some parents and community members rail against mask mandates, critical race theory or rules surrounding transgender athletes. While free speech and community input are foundational components of self-government, making threats against and harassing school board members, administrators or teachers is most assuredly not. That’s thuggish, anti-democratic behavior. It’s gotten so bad the National School Boards Association has asked the U.S. Justice Department to step in and help. It was announced earlier this week the FBI will investigate incidents that could violate federal civil rights laws, and U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland announced the Justice Department will be announcing measures to combat any threats or illegal actions taken against school officials. Again, this is not about free speech – it’s about combating behavior meant to cow or intimidate, behavior that has no place in a free society.
Shortages, supply chain issues and rising prices are problems throughout the world right now, as developed economies wake up from their COVID-induced slumber. But these problems are exponentially worse in Britain. The country is facing fuel shortages, empty grocery store shelves and jobs that are going unfilled. The reasons are many, but the country’s withdrawal from the European Union – known in shorthand as Brexit – is playing a significant part. Britain can no longer easily recruit workers from the continent to fill openings, particularly for truck drivers or at farms and food processing plants. If things keep going like this, it makes you wonder how soon Britain will be begging to be readmitted to the European Union.
With the Pittsburgh Steelers getting pounded by the Green Bay Packers and the Pittsburgh Pirates closing out their season with their 101st loss, last Sunday afternoon was not a day many people in this region will look back on with joy. But there was one undeniably good piece of news to emerge from that afternoon – Kody, the Steller’s sea eagle that escaped from the National Aviary on Sept. 25, was recovered. He was found at a home in Pine Township, located in the northern part of Allegheny County, with a team from the aviary successfully lassoing him. Steller’s sea eagles are a threatened species, so it is good that Kody is back at the aviary and will soon be available for the public to see once again.
This month marks the third anniversary of the mass shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh that left 11 congregants dead and six wounded. It was a horrifying manifestation of anti-semitism and a reminder of just how deadly unreasoning hate can be. With that anniversary looming, the first-ever Eradicate Hate Global Summit will be happening in Pittsburgh starting Monday, Oct. 18, at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center. Speakers will include former President George W. Bush, former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge, Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas, and many others. According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the summit is designed to shine a spotlight on hate and extremism so victims can report crimes and communities can combat it. That is one of the best ways to honor the memories of those who died at the Tree of Life.