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OTHER VIEW
Other View: Trump, NATO could team up to put Putin on notice

The following editorial appears on Bloomberg View:

U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg have taken a tough line against Russia’s many recent provocations. Other than calling for all members of the alliance to pay their fair share of the military bill, however, they have offered no real plan of action.

Russia’s aggressions call for a stronger response. While Mattis is right to tweak the Europeans for slipping on defense spending, the metric that is repeatedly cited — committing 2 percent of GDP to the military — is arbitrary. After all, Greece, which uses the army as a jobs program, makes the cutoff, while France, which has arguably the continent’s most capable force, spends only 1.8 percent. Members should be judged not just on what they spend but how they spend it, in terms of readiness, force projection and equipment.

The alliance could also make an adjustment to its chain of command that would get the Russians’ attention: giving the supreme military commander authority to act independently of the bureaucratic structure in an emergency.

While NATO and the U.S. have increased their presence in the Baltics and Poland, these forces only rotate in and out of the region. The Pentagon should draw up plans for keeping at least two armored combat brigades and their heavy artillery in the region permanently, and to rotate in more aircraft to bases there and in Bulgaria and Romania. Granted, these troops would be little more than a speed bump in the event of a full-scale Russian invasion, but they would be a barrier to the more stealthy sorts of quasi-military aggressions the Kremlin used to destabilize Ukraine, and would ease anxiety in the Baltics.

Looking further ahead, the U.S. should look deeper into the past. One of former president Ronald Reagan’s great successes was the so-called dual-track approach to the Soviet Union’s nuclear threat. While increasing the West’s military capability against the Soviets — notably, getting permission from European allies to place nuclear-tipped Pershing missiles on their soil — this strategy also coaxed mutually favorable nonproliferation agreements out of the Communist leadership.

President Donald Trump could do worse than following Reagan’s lead. This would involve renegotiating treaties to further cut weapons levels, extend expiration dates, and clear up the ambiguity over systems like Russia’s new cruise missile, which it reportedly deployed last week. Meanwhile, the U.S. could start discussions with with Eastern European allies on a new conventional missile system along Russia’s Western flank.

Of course, it may be worth asking if Trump, given his kind words for Russian President Vladimir Putin, would be willing to take this more assertive approach. This is why NATO needs to carry more of the load — and why Trump needs to reaffirm his commitment to an alliance that is as vital now as it was during the Cold War.


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Letters of Thanks

Thanks, contributors

The board and staff of Gooding Helping Hearts & Hands Inc. would like to thank our 2016 contributors: United Way, St. Luke’s Community Health Improvement Foundation, Idaho Foodbank, Unrestricted Southwestern Region Fund in the Idaho Community Foundation, Idaho Power, IDACORP Employees, South Central Community Action Agency, American Legion Post #30-Gooding, Northern Lights Woodcraft, Ridleys, M & W Market, Simerlys, Gooding United Methodist Church, St. Elizabeth’s Catholic Church, Gooding LDS 1st Ward, Wendell LDS 1st Ward, First Christian Church, First Baptist Church, First Southern Baptist Church, Desert Hills Community Church, Wendell New Life Church, ShuFly Arena, Catholic Women’s League, Methodist Men’s Club, Gooding Elks Lodge 1745, Chobani, all Gooding schools, P.E.O. Chapter G, Judy Erdman, Russell Visser, Dustin Vincent, Shannon and Gary Sackman, Claire and Gary Major, Chris Peterson, Lucile Bickett, Gooding Christmas Craft Fair, Glanbia, Gooding Basque Association, Demaray Funeral Service, D & D Transport, Grocery Outlet, La Posada, L.M. Davenport Inc., Wendell Magic Valley Growers, Pizzaz Pizza Inc., Sliman and Butler Irrigation, Park Pump Service, Stampede Burger, Columbia Bank, Wells Fargo Bank, Locke Agency, Cheney Bus Inc. and many other individual people. God bless you!

Cindi Canine, president, Board of Directors

Helping Hearts & Hands Inc.

Gooding

Letter carriers, thank you

Thank you to our business and residential customers who helped the letter carriers this winter by clearing safe passages to their respective mail receptacles. As you well know, the weather this time was extremely challenging with heavy snowfalls and bitter cold temperatures. Your support, understanding and cooperation show that you have a bonding with the Constitution of the United States of America by helping getting the mail delivered. Your continued support with postage sales, instead of using tax revenue, helps the U.S. Postal Service grow to maintain six-day delivery, and current door-to-door delivery, of first-class mail and in some locations, seven-day delivery of packages, to all Americans, city and rural. In the first quarter of 2017, (October, November and December 2016) the Postal Service obtained an operating profit of $522 million. This demonstrates a strong showing total of $3.7 billion since the start of FY 2014. The main burden of the USPS finances is the pre-funding mandate by congress for future retirees health benefits 75 years into future. A bipartisan congress is now currently working, with the input of all involved coalitions, to positively work out the financial challenges of the Postal Service. Again, thank you for your support and involvement to serve you the best and safest way possible, all year round. Together, we can make this upward swing of the USPS continue for future generations.

John Paige

President

Idaho State Association of Letter Carriers


Editorial
Our View: Cheers and Jeers

Cheer

A new bipartisan bill brought by Boise Democrat Ilana Rubel and Nampa Republican Christy Perry would put an end to mandatory minimum sentencing for drug offenders.

We think it’s a great idea.

As Rep. Greg Chaney, R-Caldwell, pointed out, there’s a big difference between notorious Mexican drug kingpin “el Chapo” and a teenager who made a mistake. Judges should have the discretion to acknowledge the difference.

Besides being the morally correct thing to do, ending mandatory minimums could also save the state money. Idaho spends about $7 million a year incarcerating non-violent offenders sentenced under the current mandatory minimum rules.

Rep. Raul Labrador, a libertarian-minded Republican, has fought for similar changes at the federal level for years, most notably by sponsoring the Smarter Sentencing Act.

A wave of states has implemented similar justice reforms over the past two years, as attitudes about drug crimes shift away from punishment and toward treatment. It’s time Idaho make the same move.

Jeer

The Idaho Legislature is again pitching a solution in search of a problem. This time, it’s a proposal to strip away local control when it comes to early voting.

Under current law, counties get to decide when to open early voting before elections. Casting an early ballot has become extremely popular in Idaho, one of 37 states that allows voters to cast ballots ahead of Election Day. It cuts down on lines at the polls and encourages more people to vote because they can cast ballots at their convenience.

In the November election, more than 193,000 Idahoans voted early.

But a bill by freshman Republican Rep. Dustin Manwaring of Pocatello would give the state power to limit when early voting would take place.

“This is a new layer of consistency that we’re adding. We’ll actually increase voter access to the polls and fairness because we’ll have that consistency statewide in our counties when early voting will be open to the public,” Manwaring said.

We don’t understand why this bill is needed. Doesn’t it make more sense that county officials know their voters’ preferences better than the state? And so what if one county allows early voting to begin sooner than another? How is that disenfranchising anyone?

To us, this smacks of another legislative power grab at best and an effort to suppress voting at worse.

The bill squeaked through committee and now heads to the House floor. We hope the larger body leaves well enough alone and votes down this bill.

Cheer

Linda Clark believes in angels.

Their names are Caden Avila and Anna Jones, and they’re 13 and 12 years old.

Early last month, Clark, a 68-year-old grandmother of 22, went out to get the mail, slipped on ice and broke her leg when she fell head-first into a snowbank.

Alone and in the cold, her pleas for help went unanswered on her quiet street in Heyburn.

That’s when Caden and Anna, who by chance took a different route to their friend’s house, came up Clark. They helped her back into the house, got her an ice pack and called 911.

Clark credits them with saving her life.

“I was praying to God to send me some angels,” she said, “because I totally believe in angels.”