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Sounding off: Say 'no more' to sexual violence

| Saturday, Sept. 30, 2017, 9:00 p.m.
Meghan Downey, 22, a recent graduate from the College of William & Mary, reacts outside an auditorium after Education Secretary Betsy DeVos spoke about proposed changes to Title IX, Thursday, Sept. 7, 2017, at George Mason University Arlington, Va., campus. 'It's pretty expected based on this administration,' says Downey, 'they don't condemn violence they perpetuate it.'
AP Photo / Jacquelyn Martin
Meghan Downey, 22, a recent graduate from the College of William & Mary, reacts outside an auditorium after Education Secretary Betsy DeVos spoke about proposed changes to Title IX, Thursday, Sept. 7, 2017, at George Mason University Arlington, Va., campus. 'It's pretty expected based on this administration,' says Downey, 'they don't condemn violence they perpetuate it.'

Many parents have just sent their young adults back to college, expecting them to have a safe environment in which to learn. Unfortunately, that is not always the case. One of every five women and one in 14 men in college are victims of sexual assault.

Locally, the Blackburn Center has been working closely with our colleges and universities to prevent sexual violence. This work was recently bolstered through the efforts of several Westmoreland County college presidents. Mary Finger of Seton Hill University, Sharon Smith of the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg, Tuesday Stanley of Westmoreland County Community College and Brother Norman Hipps of Saint Vincent College are featured in a video series that includes leaders from 13 universities in our region talking about their commitment to safety and to hearing and supporting victims of sexual assault.

Sexual violence on campuses is a serious problem, a violation of human dignity and against the law. I am proud to live in a community in which our educational leaders have made such a sincere commitment to those impacted and to preventing further occurrence.

Bobbi Watt Geer, Greensburg

The writer is regional vice president of the United Way of Southwestern Pennsylvania .

Friday, Sept. 29

Library and taxes

Regarding Sophia Schierer's letter “Seniors can't take tax hikes”: First, I do not earn a lot of money. I am 74 and live on a small pension and Social Security. A tax increase hits me just as badly as others. And yes, I pay property tax.

It would have helped Schierer's argument if she knew who I was and my circumstances instead of making a faulty estimation of my earnings or what I own.

Senior citizens are the very people who take advantage of the library and its programs. And if they live in low-income housing, they will pay no tax.

These arguments against enacting a 1-mill tax to support Greensburg Hempfield Area Library are disingenuous. First it was property owners, now it's senior citizens. No one wants to pay a tax and no one wants to lose a library. If the state won't step up, what's the alternative: ignorance?

Mary Ann Mogus, Greensburg

Sunday, Sept. 24

Antifa are not thugs

It deeply disturbs me that Fox News, which is apparently our bumbling, inept president's main source of information, continues to classify the “antifa” movement as a leftist organization of thugs. Trump has done so as well.

My father was a member of the antifa. He joined it in 1942. He served in it through two wars and was awarded two Purple Hearts and a Bronze Star. He spent 23 years total in the antifa. He then took a civil service job as a supply clerk for Army recruiting in Pittsburgh for the next 30 years, a total of 53 years of service in the antifa.

Trump avoided service in the antifa, deciding that it would be better if he served his country by running a phony populist campaign, and then, when elected, helping fellow billionaires lower their tax obligations.

Fascism is defined as “a governmental system led by a dictator having complete power, forcibly suppressing opposition, and emphasizing an aggressive nationalism and often racism.” The current “antifa” movement is nothing but a group of patriots defending American principles against a gang of white supremacists and xenophobes. Which side are you on?

Joe Lucas, South Side

Monday, Sept. 25

Steel workers support tax reform

The steel industry is a critical part of our nation's economic stability and provides good-paying jobs with benefits that support middle-class families. Yet U.S. manufacturing, including the steel industry, faces significant challenges to its international competitiveness, in part due to a domestic tax code that imposes the highest corporate tax rate among developed nations.

For tax reform to produce real economic growth and jobs, however, it cannot simply be a statutory rate reduction. Several recent studies by well-respected think tanks have found that for tax reform to have the maximum impact in growing the economy, it must encourage investment in property, machinery and equipment.

This is why it is critical that tax reform include a robust cost-recovery system, including preserving the Modified Accelerated Cost Recovery System (MACRS) and current bonus depreciation at the 50-percent level.

For capital-intensive industries like steel, accelerated cost recovery is extremely important for promoting capital investment, as it directly impacts a company's cash flow. By providing a faster return on capital investment, MACRS and bonus depreciation provide strong incentives to undertake new investments which require significant cash expenditures and take a number of years to yield a return.

On behalf of the nearly 18,000 steel-industry workers in Pennsylvania, the American Iron and Steel Institute encourages members of Congress to support preserving MACRS and bonus depreciation in any corporate tax reform proposals.

Tom Gibson, Washington, D.C.

The writer is president and CEO of the American Iron and Steel Institute .

Tuesday, Sept. 26

Who cares, celebrities?

Earlier this month there was a telethon to aid victims of the recent hurricanes that impacted Texas and Florida. Some of the celebrities involved felt the need to become political.

Let me tell you something, Hollywood: Those affected by the hurricanes do not care about your political views. Some of these people have lost everything and their lives are changed forever.

Once again it is all about you, and once again you are completely out of touch with everyday Americans.

Laura Guskiewicz, Unity

Wednesday, Sept. 27

Racism double standard

There have been protests and riots over the tragedy in Charlottesville, Va. One crazed white lunatic allegedly is responsible for the death there. I have thought of a few other racist groups to protest.

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People is racist. The Black Panthers is the black version of the KKK. The Black Lives Matter movement is racist. Affirmative action and quotas are just reverse discrimination. Black awards shows are racist.

After this racism is ended, blacks should tear down statues of Martin Luther King Jr. The FBI investigated him for years. His records are sealed until 2027. His peaceful marches usually ended in violence.

Current political correctness forgives black racism. White racism is severely punished. The First Amendment guarantees freedom of speech for everyone. That includes both black and white extremists. White supremacists should be able to express their views.

Kathleen Bollinger, Tarentum

Thursday, Sept. 28

Aquion added to Pennsylvania economy

A number of publications have covered Aquion Energy's path through bankruptcy into new ownership and the subsequent movement of some production assets to China (while keeping research and development and global headquarters here — a fact not mentioned in many articles).

The editorial “Aquion's move to China: Winner-picking folly” (Sept. 21) intimates that the $16.6 million in Pennsylvania money disbursed to Aquion (by the Republican administration of Gov. Tom Corbett) was lost without the people of Pennsylvania receiving any benefit.

The reality could not be further from the truth. What the editorial fails to mention or account for (and what is often overlooked in many cases of government investment) is a reasonable assessment of the total economic activity generated.

In addition to the state money (some of which has been paid back), Aquion also garnered over $200 million from private investment sources outside of the state, and much of that money was spent in the Pittsburgh region to the direct benefit of many individuals, businesses and the public.

A conservative assessment shows Aquion spent $30 million to $40 million in Western Pennsylvania over the past five years in salaries, rent, infrastructure improvements and equipment sourcing/servicing. Had the state not invested in Aquion, the company would have scaled its operations elsewhere, and this economic activity would have been lost.

Given these facts, it is less clear that state funding decisions like this are without benefit — this decision resulted in over $30 million in local economic activity, a 2-to-1 return on the state's investment that also resulted in recruitment and training of technically skilled employees who will stay in the region.

Jay Whitacre, Squirrel Hill

The writer is a Carnegie Mellon University materials science and engineering professor who founded Aquion Energy in 2009.

Saturday, Sept. 30

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