Proposed trade deal with Japan would threaten US auto industry

Proposed trade deal with Japan would threaten US auto industry

Kudos to Vindicator reporter Jamison Cocklin for explaining how a proposed trade zone with the U.S. and 11 other countries — including Japan — would affect American automakers (“Auto industry gets tough on Japan in trade agreement talks,” Sept. 7, 2013).

The Trans-Pacific Partnership deal — as it stands now — could threaten the remarkable recovery of the U.S. auto industry. After all, Japan is the second-largest source of the U.S. trade imbalance after China, with automotive products accounting for more than two-thirds of that deficit in 2012. In fact, Japan is the most closed auto market in the world with a history of unfair treatment against U.S. autos.

That’s why in March, I led a letter with 50 of my congressional colleagues urging President Obama to put the best interests of American workers and businesses first as Japan considered entry into TPP. We specifically cited Japan’s longstanding efforts to impose trade barriers and block U.S. exports as actions that have hurt the American economy, domestic job creation, and particularly our auto industry.

More recently, Japan has also undervalued its currency to make its exports even cheaper. That is why Congress should pass my bipartisan legislation, the Currency Exchange Rate Oversight Reform Act of 2013, which would use U.S. trade law to counter the economic harm to U.S. manufacturers caused by currency manipulation and would provide consequences for countries like Japan that fail to adopt appropriate policies to eliminate currency misalignment.

Our state has a proud auto history. But with 1 in 8 Ohio jobs supported by the auto industry, and with Japan firmly entrenched in TPP negotiations, the stakes couldn’t be higher for the Mahoning Valley and our state’s economic livelihood.

Sen. Sherrod Brown, Washington, D.C.

Brown, a Democrat from Cleveland, represents Ohio in the U.S. Senate.

River in Pa. needed protection of an environmental bill of rights

Is the Allegheny River, a national Wild and Scenic River, being degraded because a community failed to approve an environmental bill of rights such as is proposed for Youngstown?

This might be argued, since the apparent pollution of the river in Warren, Pa., by the Waste Treatment Corp. has put an environmental group on the verge of filing a lawsuit.

On Aug. 21, my wife and I (we live seasonally on the Allegheny) attended a meeting about the possible suit at Warren’s First Lutheran Church, which was convened by Pittsburgh-based and partially Pitt-funded Clean Water Action.

The legal action the group may file focuses on the company’s continued operation despite the failure of the state Department of Environmental Protection to renew its waste discharge permit, and the recent detection by the DEP of serious water pollution downstream from the plant, as well as radioactivity.

Although the environmental group West Side Alliance was represented, there was standing room only in the downtown Warren church’s large meeting room as it was packed with employees of the waste company and by members of the Pennsylvania Independent Petroleum Producers.

They directed often hostile questions to Myron Arnowitt, the Pittsburgh environmental group’s state director, after Arnowitt detailed both the basis of the lawsuit and steps the company could take to head it off, such as recycling the wastewater. I didn’t think that a remark by one oil worker during the Q&A that perhaps it was time “to get out the guns” was at all humorous.

Two years ago, voters in Warren rejected an environmental bill of rights amid stridency on the part of the opponents similar to what we are now witnessing in Youngstown. One of the key issues was the disposal of fracking waste from Tioga County to the east where the geology doesn’t allow injection wells.

I can recall how in 1992, after lengthy study, Congress OK’d the inclusion of 86 miles of the Allegheny River in the national Wild and Scenic River system. Only two other Pennsylvania rivers share this status, the Clarion and the Upper Delaware.

Since I own property on this beautiful river, I consider it a personal affront that fracking waste is being dumped upstream from my modest 50 feet of river frontage.

As an example of the river’s quality, a few years ago divers from the U.S. Geological Survey were assessing the river off our property. I spoke to one who remarked that one didn’t find a river of such high quality “this side of Maine.”

This situation in Warren whereby the oil and gas industry fervently supports contamination of a cherished national waterway illustrates why the fracking advocates must be held in check in Youngstown.

Robert R. Stanger, Boardman

Youngstown Bishop Murry can’t stay silent on priest abuse

The child sex-abuse victim who spoke during a recent news conference in Youngstown is a brave man. He explained that he reported his abuse by the then-teacher at St Christine to Youngstown diocesan officials several times. The accused child predator also was a Mooney High School teacher and a deacon.

Bishop George Murry removed this accused predator’s name from the Mooney website before SNAP held that press event, and now his name has been removed from the diocese website “deacons” list.

Bishop Murry’ has called this man “poorly informed.” And Murry claims “the accused is no longer working in the diocese in any capacity.”

Bishop Murry is right about one thing. The accuser has been poorly informed. That is because Murry is so secretive in clergy sex-abuse cases. Why is Murry keeping this accused name a secret, and why is the accused no longer working in the diocese in “any capacity”?

How are parents supposed to protect their children? We believe Bishop Murry is not following the U.S. bishops’ child protection policy, and we worry about where this accused child predator is now, and how many innocent children has he harmed who are still suffering in silence and shame.

Bishop Murry, silence is not an option any more. Parents, victims, and the public need honest answers from you; otherwise the child sex abuse and the cover-up are still going on to this day, and kids are still very much at risk.

Judy Jones, Marthasville, Mo.

The writer is Midwest associate director of Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.

PUCO falls short in its mission

Under “free enterprise”, we can shop for anything to get the best “deal” — everything except electricity it seems. The Public Utilities Commission, Ohio Edison and FirstEnergy call it comparing “apples to apples.”

I tried trading a new energy provider for FirstEnergy. I was fined $25 for doing this; check PUCO on the computer, and PUCO says it can do this. FirstEnergy canceled the $25 fine if I went back to dealing with it. Knowing what I know since, I would have been better off paying that $25 fine. My meter was changed and my last bill was $113.19. Who gives anyone the right to fine you for free enterprise? I called PUCO. The agent at the PUCO says they do. The PUCO agent said I probably wasn’t paying enough before.

I always thought the PUCO was supposed to look out for customers’ problems to solve, not stick up for utilities. She did not mention looking into the problem. Even worse now if I try to compare “apples to apples” the fine could be as high as $1,000, which I consider blackmail.

PUCO is supposed to be good for customers, but I think its agents should be elected by the citizens and not appointed to those jobs by the “in” power political party. It would be more fair.

John Polish, Youngstown

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