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OTHER VIEW
Other View: Trump threatened to bury his decision on 'Dreamers.' He put neon lights on it instead.

Maybe he was just messing with the media.

President Trump on Friday told reporters that he would announce a decision on an Obama-era immigration program “sometime today or over the weekend,” raising the prospect of another White House news dump. A short time later, however, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said that Tuesday will be the day Trump makes the call on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, which offers two-year work permits to people who were brought to the United States illegally as children.

After threatening to bury his announcement under the hubbub of a holiday weekend, Trump has effectively put neon lights on it, instead. The public and the press will have almost a full business week to pick it apart.

The president’s initial tease came as no surprise. He has wrestled publicly with his decision and is guaranteed to spark outrage no matter what he does. He vowed as a candidate to rescind the executive action President Barack Obama signed in 2012 and would surely infuriate many supporters if he were to break his promise. He is equally certain to anger opponents by keeping his word.

There is even a third group, comprising such prominent Republicans as House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin and Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah, that wants Trump to tear up Obama’s order, but only after Congress passes a replacement. These lawmakers’ principal objection is not to the policy but to the way Obama implemented it.

A textbook news dump — carefully timed to avoid the full attention of the public and the press because much of the reaction will be unfavorable — would have made sense and been in keeping with White House practices.

Only a week ago, Trump dumped his pardon of former Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio and the details of a ban on transgender military service members late on a Friday as Hurricane Harvey made landfall in Texas. On Monday, he had the gall to claim that he was trying to amplify the news, not bury it, by releasing it at a time when the country was almost singularly focused on the storm.

“In the middle of a hurricane, even though it was a Friday evening, I assumed the ratings would be far higher than they would be normally,” he told reporters at a joint news conference with Finland’s president.

(What would have been Trump’s excuse on DACA? He thought TV ratings would be higher on Labor Day weekend because vacationers would be checking traffic reports?)

Trump knows how to attract eyeballs when he wants to. Think of the news conference he called in prime time on a Tuesday to nominate Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. Emailing a written statement to reporters just before a natural disaster is not the way to draw the spotlight.

It is impossible to completely hide news, of course, and anything as significant — and polarizing — as the way the country enforces immigration laws would have generated coverage long past Labor Day, anyway. The news dump ain’t what it used to be in the days when information traveled mostly on paper.

But the effectiveness of a news dump in 2017 is beside the point; the point is whether the president tries to slip one past us or boldly speaks his mind.

If Trump follows through on his campaign pledge, supporters might wonder why he did not do so on his first day in office, as promised, but they should be heartened by his willingness to make the announcement with fanfare.

And if he disappoints those same people by breaking his promise, perhaps he will get some credit for being upfront.


Columnists
OTHER VIEW
Other View: Where to draw the line on hate speech?

This appeared in Saturday’s Washington Post.

Before the death of Heather Heyer in Charlottesville, Virginia, the Daily Stormer — a neo-Nazi website involved in organizing the white supremacist rally that led to her killing — was easy to find: all you had to do was type in the Web address. Now the site has all but vanished from the Internet. That’s due to the decision of a handful of Internet companies to reject the publication as a customer in the wake of Charlottesville — a reasonable choice that nevertheless raises difficult questions about limiting speech online.

After the Daily Stormer published a post crowing over Heyer’s death, the company hosting the website and providing it with a domain name withdrew its services, booting the site offline. The website bounced from service to service as each rejected it in turn. Then, Cloudflare — a company that provides protection from cyberattacks—pulled the plug as well. Without Cloudflare’s support, hackers have knocked the website offline each time it’s tried to reemerge. Currently, the site exists only on a hidden corner of the “dark web,” off-limits to casual browsers.

While Cloudflare didn’t block the website from the Internet per se, any site without the protections it offers is vulnerable to being kicked offline by vigilante hackers. And though users banned from social-media platforms can always migrate to a new service, the Web’s infrastructure is made up of a relatively small number of companies such as Cloudflare. The fewer alternatives there are for services such as domain name registration and cyberattack protection, the more ability each provider has to decide which websites should be online.

As a space maintained by private enterprise, the Web is outside the scope of First Amendment protections. But freedom of expression has always been a key cultural, if not legal, value of the Internet — and that free flow of information has made the Web into a vibrant forum central to democratic life.

Nevertheless, in recent years, the Internet has also begun to reckon with the danger posed by certain kinds of speech. Social-media sites such as Facebook and Twitter are working to limit harassment, calls to violence and disinformation across their platforms. Companies that make up the Web’s infrastructure now face the option of taking a similar approach.

Businesses such as Cloudflare have no legal obligation to provide service to neo-Nazis. But the more power these companies have to determine unilaterally whose website gets to be online, the more carefully they should wield that power, weighing the value of free speech against its dangers. Developing clear, transparent standards for refusing a customer would be a valuable first step.

The U.S. government should hold back from weighing in on the scope of those standards. Government regulation defining which websites may be removed from the Internet would risk legitimizing the repressive tactics of governments like those of China and Russia, which censor the Web in the name of preventing harm. In the absence of government action, Internet companies should take care to be honest and open about their decision-making.


Columnists
READER COMMENT
Reader Comment: Parents must engage in their children's schooling

As a father, I have learned that my wife and I are our daughter’s best advocate, specifically in education. It’s up to me to work with my child, teachers, and administrator to create the best learning environment she needs to thrive in school. As my daughter gets older, it’s up to my wife and me to teach her to stand up and advocate for herself. As parents, we know our child’s strengths and challenges, we can help identify and help push for the resources our children need to succeed. I want to be a proactive parent and I want to find the best learning environment possible for my child.

The start of this new school year is a great time to communicate with your child and ask a lot of questions. Numerous studies show that kids make healthier choices, do better in school, and have higher self-esteem if they have positive communication with their parents. Parents who want to help their children tackle the challenges of school need to be able to ask direct questions on a regular basis and carefully consider the answers. Learning is personal to each child, so find out their concerns, learning style, and what their goals are. Take that information and research various learning options available in their school or community. If what they need is not available, talk with the teacher or administrator about creating what is needed!

Take initiative in building a good relationship with teachers from the start. Don’t wait for an issue to emerge to introduce yourself to your child’s teacher. Raising a concern or suggesting a change will be easier and less confrontational if open communication has already been established. Remember, teachers truly want to hear from parents. Get to know and build a relationship with your child’s teachers and keep those lines of communication open. Teachers want to see your child succeed and are willing to help, so if parents have insight or suggestions to make things better, speak up! Parents are equal members of the decision-making team and we can offer ideas on curriculum, teaching styles and other learning options.

Your school’s PTA/PTO is a great way to connect with teachers and other parents. These meetings can provide insight on important changes and decisions that the school is thinking about making. These changes can consist of curriculum changes or other resources that could affect students. It can also be a great opportunity to begin conversations between teachers and parents about a new program teachers are implementing, or an idea or teaching method parents would like to propose to implement in the school curriculum.

You don’t have to join your PTA to make changes. But there is strength in numbers and most likely any school-based concern is not unique to your child. That’s why when connecting with other like-minded parents, you will provide breadth and depth to your voice, in turn, helping parents be more effective in creating change. Creating a parent group can become a supportive and encouraging community of parents who can share what’s on their mind, their ideas, concerns, and experiences to create a better school year for every student. Parent groups can help support each other to become advocates for their children and school.

Showing your children you care about them and value education will teach them to value it as well. Be a part of the change, offer solutions but also offer to lead that change.


Mailbag
Letter: Manage our timber

Is it possible to have good timber management and logging instead of managed fires that usually get out of control and cost millions? I am tired of all the smoke and waste. Billions worth of timber wasted. We need a lot of common-sense involvement to get this horrible situation rectified.

Gary Bradshaw

Fairfield