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Congress: Stick to budget for foreign travel

first_imgThese trips can serve valuable purposes — boosting the morale of troops, promoting commercial opportunities for U.S. businesses, evaluating foreign-aid spending.They can foster bipartisanship by offering a chance for Democrats and Republicans to spend time together (though the most ideological members mostly opt to travel with their own kind.)In recent months, senior lawmakers have mounted emergency missions to soothe the nerves of allies alarmed by President Donald Trump’s erratic foreign policy. Despite the benefits, the weak oversight of congressional trips lends itself to abuse.Overseas travel by members and their staffs must be approved in advance by committee chairs.But under a law dating to the 1970s, Congress doesn’t pay for its trips out of appropriated funds.Instead, the government is obligated to pay for any and all congressional travel expenses, with almost no strings attached. Categories: Editorial, OpinionThe following is an editorial from Bloomberg News: Responding to revelations of the Trump administration’s luxe travel habits, which have already cost one cabinet secretary his job, the House government oversight committee has opened an investigation.That scrutiny should apply to members of Congress and their staffs as well. By its own accounting, Congress spent 27 percent more on foreign trips last year than it did in 2015.The Treasury Department, which pays the legislative branch’s travel expenses, estimates that Congress spent a record $20 million on overseas trips in 2016.And that only covers commercial flights — Congress does not itemize the cost of flying on military planes, whose premium services are typically used by large delegations.Nor does Congress account for the costs borne by U.S. embassies to organize and host congressional delegations, which often include not just aides but members’ families, too.  Lawmakers thus have little incentive to limit what they spend. Some of the costs are eye-popping.In 2016, lawmakers and their staffers booked at least 557 commercial flights costing $10,000 or more.Last November, a six-day trip to Australia, Indonesia and the Philippines by three staff members on the House Armed Services committee cost more than $105,000 in airfare alone.Earlier this year, two Senate staffers flew commercial to South Africa on behalf of the Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship. Transportation costs were $48,460.24. The public deserves more transparency about what it’s getting.Senators and their aides don’t even have to disclose dates of travel and the numbers of days spent in each country.center_img They should, as their colleagues in the House do.All members should be limited to one staffer on foreign trips, a rule currently enforced only by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.And it’s more than reasonable that Congress establish and adhere to an annual budget for its international travel. Stricter limits on taxpayer-funded congressional delegations should also be accompanied by tougher disclosure requirements for overseas trips funded by private organizations, which totaled at least $4.4 million in 2016. Americans give their elected representatives considerable discretion to travel widely and engage with the world.Congress needs to be careful not to abuse that privilege. More from The Daily Gazette:EDITORIAL: Beware of voter intimidationEDITORIAL: Thruway tax unfair to working motoristsFoss: Should main downtown branch of the Schenectady County Public Library reopen?EDITORIAL: Find a way to get family members into nursing homesEDITORIAL: Urgent: Today is the last day to complete the censuslast_img read more

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Not enough good shows in cable deal

first_imgI looked forward to reading the results of the Golden Globe Awards in The Gazette. Perhaps there would be some great new winning shows that I could watch on TV. Unfortunately, most of the winners are not available to me because they are on HBO, Hulu, Netflix and Amazon. Last month I paid Spectrum $189.00. Something is wrong with this picture — no pun intended.Joanne CoppolaNiskayunaMore from The Daily Gazette:EDITORIAL: Beware of voter intimidationEDITORIAL: Urgent: Today is the last day to complete the censusPuccioni’s two goals help Niskayuna boys’ soccer top Shaker, remain perfectFoss: Should main downtown branch of the Schenectady County Public Library reopen?EDITORIAL: Thruway tax unfair to working motorists Categories: Letters to the Editor, Opinionlast_img

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Now is time to ban AR-15 assault rifles

first_imgCategories: Letters to the Editor, OpinionThe NRA is a special interest group designed to spread fear and create profit for U.S. gun manufacturers. It has nothing to do with the Second Amendment. We should ban AR-15 semi-automatic assault style weapons immediately. The U.S. Supreme Court has found that ownership of certain “banned” weapons under Federal Law 26 USCA 5681 doesn’t violate the Second Amendment.The current popular weapon of choice in school shootings and mass murders in the United States is the AR-15-style weapon. According to pro-gun survivalist website www.armsbearingcitizen.com, the AR-15 is the citizen’s weapon of choice because, “the caliber itself has a much higher velocity than the 22 Long Rifle. It’s used by most law enforcement agencies and the military for a reason. … [it] has stopping power for survival and urban warfare …”So, what does that mean? Wired magazine published a June 17, 2016, interview with emergency room trauma physician Peter Rhee. It goes into detail about the damage done to a human body from these weapons. The bullet from a handgun is slow compared to that of an AR-15. The AR-15 bullet “has so much energy that it can disintegrate three inches of leg bone, it would turn to dust…the exit wound can be …a jagged hole the size of an orange.”Finally, “…[a] wound from a handgun might require only one surgery, but an AR-15 bullet wound might require three to ten.”The AR-15 style weapons are easy to shoot, have minimal kickback, and are designed for maximum damage and death. There’s no reason in a sane society that these weapons should be available and legal to our citizens. The NRA pawns in Washington continue to have our children’s blood on their hands. It’s time to legally ban these weapons now.Michael WinnSaratoga SpringsMore from The Daily Gazette:EDITORIAL: Beware of voter intimidationEDITORIAL: Thruway tax unfair to working motoristsEDITORIAL: Urgent: Today is the last day to complete the censusEDITORIAL: Find a way to get family members into nursing homesSchenectady, Saratoga casinos say reopening has gone well; revenue down 30%last_img read more

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Letters to the Editor for Sunday, Sep. 8

first_imgCategories: Letters to the Editor, OpinionAssault weapons are not what many thinkRegarding Virginia Newton’s Sept. 5 letter, “Assault weapons not for sport or defense.”With all due respect to the letter writer, she just doesn’t understand what she is saying. There are no assault weapons out there. That is the definition that the media gives to rifles that are black in color.Unfortunately, the uninformed follow like sheep and repeat what the liberal news media says. Once again, assault weapons are not used for sport or hunting or home defense. Assault weapons are for war and are used to kill as many and as fast as possible. Those are the weapons that we used in the Vietnam War and not the ones the letter writer thinks she speaks of.Also speaking about the NRA, myself and 5 million more members do not have assault weapons the liberal media speaks about. Please inform yourselves before the untrue lies about gun ownership spread faster than they are now.Rick SplawnikAmsterdam Teamwork leads to improvements in citySara Foss recently highlighted the positive impact that demolition of 16 Jefferson St. will have on the Front Street neighborhood.On behalf of the Capital Region Land Bank, I would like to thank Mayor Gary McCarthy and his staff for the work they do leading up to a Land Bank demolition project.The day an excavator demolishes an eyesore property follows months of work by the Land Bank staff working closely with the team at City Hall. The Law and Building departments work together to identify abandoned properties and obtain site control. The Water Department terminates connections. The Department of Development creates strategies for new uses for properties once they are demolished. The City Council provides the OK to transfer title to the property to the Land Bank so that demolition can occur.The partnership between the Land Bank, the county, the city of Schenectady and our community lending, renovation and foundation partners is essential in our efforts to fight blight and encourage new development in our neighborhoods.Behind every demolition is a much larger team working to improve our community every day. The adage, “working together works,” has never been truer.Richard RuzzoSchenectadyThe writer is chairman of the Capital Region Land Bank and a member of the Schenectady County Legislature. Pro-life Democrats need to speak upI would support pro-life Democrats. The problem is, they’re an endangered species. The abortion expansion law passed the New York Senate with only two Democrats voting against. It passed the state  Assembly with only seven Democrats voting against. All the Democrat senators and assemblymen in our districts, including phony Angelo Santabarbara, voted in favor of abortion expansion and denying care to abortion survivors.I sympathize with pro-life Democrats who with a heavy heart continue to pull the lever for their party. They vote out of habit and identity. It’s to these voters that I plea to please accept reality The Democratic Party will never change its stance on abortion. They believe it’s a fundamental right at any stage of development, including after the child is born. The Democrats keep moving the goal post on abortion to include older and older babies.There once was a time when voters could discuss pro-life views with Democratic lawmakers, but that time has long since passed. The Democratic Party bullies pro-life voters, telling them to get out of the party and get out of New York.Pro-life Democrats need to get over their identity crisis and stop being complicit in the murder of pre-born and just-born babies. Next fall, voters have a real choice: vote for the party of life or the party of death.Jennifer RichardsBurnt Hills Show more concern for global warmingIn this time of uncertainty about literally everything, there seems to be little in this world that doesn’t have a contradiction to it.But one thing that is certain is that our time on Earth won’t last much longer unless serious changes are made.But all the times are different/ Some scientists say that we have about 50 years to reduce carbon emissions; others say we’ve already gone over the edge. Action isn’t “not using straws” or “saving the turtles” because the main danger facing humanity is global carbon emissions, which have now exceeded 416 ppm.For comparison, global carbon dioxide in the atmosphere was on average 280 ppm in the 10,000 years leading up to the 19th century.Humanity isn’t concerned enough about global warming, and that is a serious issue.Kristian PowellAverill ParkRemind kids to look both ways on streetWith the start of the new school year, there has been much publicized awareness regarding people breaking the law by driving past stopped school buses.  I have yet to hear one specific aspect of school bus safety get mentioned on the news. No one seems to be reiterating the simple importance of looking both ways before crossing the street. Perhaps some people may think this goes without saying, but it can’t be said enough.I’m amazed when watching videos, or real-life experiences of kids getting on or off school buses. Many just dart out onto the street without looking to see if there is oncoming traffic. Parents, teachers, care givers and bus drivers should continually tell children to be aware of traffic before crossing the street. Look both ways, whether retrieving a ball or, yes, getting on or off a school bus.  There is too much credence given to the idea that school buses will give children a safe right-of-way when crossing the street.The school buses’ stop signs and flashing lights do not stop oncoming traffic; only the braking of the individual driving the passing vehicle does. Common sense precaution should take precedence over assumption when doing something as simple as crossing a street. Look both ways before crossing.Louis Restifo Sr.Burnt Hills More from The Daily Gazette:Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s press conference for Sunday, Oct. 18EDITORIAL: Beware of voter intimidationEDITORIAL: Thruway tax unfair to working motoristsEDITORIAL: Urgent: Today is the last day to complete the censusFoss: Should main downtown branch of the Schenectady County Public Library reopen?last_img read more

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The revolution within

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Hammersmith – Set for a hammering?

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Land prices around the regions

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Europe performance hits JLL results

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Telereal completes £270m sale of portfolio to Rotch subsidiary

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Style heads for Ipswich wharfside

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