Editorial Roundup: Kentucky

Bowling Green Daily News. September 5, 2021.

Editorial: Afghan refugees should be welcome here

America has long been called a nation of immigrants, a place where those who come to our shores and borders in a proper and legal fashion are welcome to build new lives and opportunities.

And with the American military withdrawal from Afghanistan now completed, thousands upon thousands of refugees are bound for our country, with many expected to complete their journeys in southcentral Kentucky.

Albert Mbanfu, director of Bowling Green’s refugee resettlement agency the International Center of Kentucky, told the Daily News’ Aaron Mudd recently that the community can expect about 200 Afghan refugees to arrive in coming months. In addition, Mbanfu said Owensboro can expect about 100 Afghan refugees.

We have a duty and obligation to welcome them.

We are told these refugees are not lawbreakers trying to force their way across the border; in fact, many have been our friends for years.

Mbanfu said all of the refugees “have helped a U.S. entity in one way or another,” whether they worked as interpreters for American troops on the ground, a nongovernmental organization or other entities with U.S. ties during the long war in Afghanistan.

It would be American dereliction of duty and, for most of the refugees, a death sentence to force them to remain in Afghanistan, where the Taliban are now in control. After all, many of these expected refugees put the lives of themselves and their families at risk by working with the U.S. against the Taliban.

And for those who still fear the refugees and possible ties to terrorist groups, Biden administration officials have gone to greater lengths in recent days to explain the vetting process, The Washington Post reported.

After flights filled with Afghans left Kabul, they said, evacuees were flown into third-party countries. At that point, they will undergo biometric and biographical background checks. If they are cleared, they can fly to the United States and must submit to health screenings, which include coronavirus testing and soon will likely also include vaccinations.

They fill out applications for work authorizations and are connected with refugee agencies that can help with resettlement. Many will continue to be housed at military bases – Fort Bliss in Texas and Fort McCoy in Wisconsin are two of the main sites – before being cleared to leave. A senior administration official wouldn’t say how long that process might take but said the expectation is not for refugees to spend months on the military bases.

“Anyone arriving in the United States will have undergone a background check,” President Joe Biden said. “And we must all work together to resettle thousands of Afghans who ultimately qualify for refugee status.”

We simply cannot turn our backs on them, and steps are being taken to welcome them here.

Mbanfu noted that superintendents of both local public school districts, Bowling Green Mayor Todd Alcott and Warren County Judge-Executive Mike Buchanon were all briefed on the expected influx of refugees before the agency publicly announced it.

And in the midst of deep partisan divides over Afghanistan, COVID-19 and nearly any other issue, polling suggests there is widespread bipartisan support for helping Afghan translators and others who aided the U.S.-led war effort. Some 81% of Americans said the United States should support those Afghans, according to a CBS News/YouGov poll published last weekend, with 90% of Democrats and 76% of Republicans backing the efforts, The Washington Post said.

“Any Afghani who was an interpreter, lashed to Americans in the fight, with hot lead flying in their direction, can live in my neighborhood,” Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., told The Associated Press last week.

They should be welcome in our neighborhood, too.

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Ashland Daily Independent. September 7, 2021.

Editorial: Came home, gave back

The title lyric from Billy Joel’s 1977 hit, “Only The Good Die Young,” doesn’t always ring true, but when it does, it sure rings loud and clear.

Julie Ditty Qualls was just 42 at the time of her passing — a youthful, active 42. And “good” doesn’t even begin to describe her.

Both generous with her time and abilities, she never let breast cancer interfere with her contributing to the community.

Ditty Qualls applied her giving spirit in many aspects in her life, from helping her family to assisting other area children, and, well, everybody in general.

The infectious smile to which her family refers didn’t fade.

That smile was even brighter when devoting her unparalleled tennis gifts to area youth.

As former Russell tennis coach Larra Ferguson said so accurately, “She wasn’t just out there to teach kids tennis, Julie wanted to teach them about life, and she wanted to teach kids about kindness and sportsmanship, and she lived that way.”

After a storybook high school career — which began in second grade, by the way — an outstanding college career at Vanderbilt and a remarkable 10-year pro career, Ditty Qualls was ready to teach the game she adored. She did so at many levels, but perhaps derived the most joy out of seeing northeastern Kentucky kids learn the sport. She played a huge role in doing just that with free lessons to 150 children in 2019, and with a league that she and her husband, Josh, formed at the Ashland Tennis Center.

She traveled the world, and could’ve landed anywhere, but she was drawn back to her roots.

She came home, and she gave back. She gave it her all while doing so. For that, Julie Ditty Qualls will always be fondly remembered and admired.

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Frankort State Journal. September 6, 2021.

Editorial: The proverbial ball is in state lawmakers’ hands

In a landmark Kentucky Supreme Court decision two weeks ago the state’s highest court upheld laws passed by the legislature last winter that took away the governor’s pandemic policy-making power and put the proverbial ball in the hands of state lawmakers, who will convene Tuesday, to strategize how best to combat the latest COVID-19 record surge.

On Saturday, Gov. Andy Beshear, who said he and key leaders agreed on several of the issues relating to the coronavirus pandemic, called for the special session of the Kentucky General Assembly, which is expected to last for five days.

In the special session, lawmakers will address extending the state of emergency until mid-January when legislators will reconvene in regular session and will also “set forth the criteria pursuant to which the governor may exercise authority to require facial coverings in indoor settings” while Kentucky is in a state of emergency.

What remains to be seen is how the Republican-dominated legislature will vote on granting Beshear the power to require face masks indoors to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The governor isn’t expecting lawmakers to give him blanket authority for universal masking, but would like to be able to require facial covering mandates in counties with high infection rates.

“I believe this authority is absolutely necessary, as we would not have been able to stop the previous surges without using it. We would not have been able to flatten the curve without the ability to require masking,” the governor explained, adding that he hopes the session is “constructive” and “a low-drama experience.”

We hope so too. As we have said before and will say again, requiring face masks during a global health pandemic that has already claimed the lives of 7,845 Kentuckians — including 65 Franklin Countians, is not and should not be political.

It is a scientific issue and, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the science says that facial coverings may limit exposure to respiratory droplets and large particles and help prevent people who have COVID-19 from spreading the virus.

We hope that our elected officials keep this in mind as they figure out how to combat the latest spike in coronavirus cases that has saturated the state.

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