The United States, Mexico and Canada took a decisive step Sunday toward a new trade deal. The North American Free Trade Agreement, that 1994 contract that governed some $1.2 trillion in trade among the three nations and that President Donald Trump reviled, is effectively gone. Instead of the acronym NAFTA, people eventually will have USMCA — the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement — provided, of course, if everyone from top leaders to U.S. Congress, the Canadian Parliamentary System and Mexico's Congreso de la Unión signs. And the agreement won't start until 2020.
The list seems like "must-reads" for a literature class and a personal bucket list. In fact, these books share another distinction: They have been challenged and sometimes actually banned — some from specific U.S. school districts and others from entire countries. In this 21st century world in which writers — including reporters — are continually under attack for telling people's stories, the 2018 theme for Banned Books Week seems especially broad and meaningful: "Banning Books Silences Stories."
State governments have a plethora of services and information available online. People want it. They need it. Pew Research finds that approximately one-third of U.S. adults reported using an app or the internet to access information provided by their state government in the past 12 months. Availability isn't enough, however, and people too often can't get to the information or services easily, based on a new report by Information Technology and Innovation Foundation. The conclusion is that citizens deserve better.
Students are heading back to school. Take a deep breath and it's a heart-warming moment — snapping of first-day photos, meeting new teachers, seeing friends again. Then exhale and fears creep in — being bullied on the bus, being approached by strangers, worrying about school violence and specifically school shootings. No place is completely safe, but schools are the safest place overall for children to be when not at home with a caring, responsible adult. National statistics support this statement. Consider a few findings from two recent, related reports:
Pulitzer Prizes for 2018 will be announced Aug. 16. The awards — 13 each year — recognize achievements in American journalism as well as literature and music. This year's announcement day also will mark a concerted effort by numerous editorial boards across the nation to draw attention to the vital role the free press (i.e. newspapers like this one) plays in our nation.
Tourism is big business in Wisconsin and getting bigger. State Tourism Secretary Stephanie Klett's statement "When you're having fun, we're having fun" couldn't be more appropriate for local communities. Simply witness the plethora of summer festivals and resulting happy faces. The concept is goes beyond a good time, of course, because it's good business: When people have fun, they stay longer, they play harder and they come back.
Three crashes on Wisconsin roads killed five people over the 2018 Memorial Day weekend. Not to be outdone, Minnesota had six deaths in six separate crashes.
U.S. tariffs again made big headlines last week. What readers may not know is that tariffs could kill the writers of those headlines. We're talking about community newspapers. While recent stories have focused on steel, soybeans and pork — and the potentially devastating effects a U.S.-China trade war would have in the Heartland — a similar battle is underway with our neighbors to the north over a simple, everyday commodity: paper.
The balance sheet is clear. Wisconsin no longer needs a treasurer. Voters will head to the polls Tuesday—in droves, we hope—to decide some significant local races and the Wisconsin Supreme Court race between Sauk County Circuit Court Judge Michael Screnock and Milwaukee County Circuit Court Judge Rebecca Dallet. There also is a proposed constitutional amendment to eliminate the state treasurer. We hope voters don't ignore this ballot measure, because there are few direct opportunities for them to make an immediate change in their government.
This is Sunshine Week, the seven days each year since 2005 when people who believe in transparent, accountable government draw special attention to the laws that • allow us to know what our local, state and federal governments are doing every day of the year, and • point out where laws could be stronger to ensure open government today and tomorrow.