Editorial roundup

The Youngstown Vindicator, July 1

In its latest callous display of disregard for Ohio consumers, the predatory payday loan industry again has snubbed its nose at reforms and has stonewalled the political process toward that much-needed end.

Such behavior is hardly surprising, however, given the industry’s long track record of shrewdly manipulating the system to enrich itself at the expense of hundreds of thousands of vulnerable Ohioans.

For just as long, we’ve been in the front lines of reform advocates, calling for an end to the industry’s nefarious practices of charging stratospherically high interest rates and fees for short-term loans. Those rates weigh in at a jaw-dropping average of 591 percent per annum.

Payday lenders’ latest hijinks unfolded last week, when a group of them was scheduled to meet with state legislators working on provisions of the latest pending reform measure in the Ohio General Assembly, House Bill 123. The lenders, however, never showed up, according to the watchdog group Ohioans for Payday Loan Reform.

Of course, it does not take a rocket scientist to understand why they may have chosen to play hooky: The lenders appear to have no interest whatsoever in meaningful reforms at reining in interest rates that cost Ohioans an estimated $205,479 each day.

Given that backdrop, representatives and senators should not waste any additional valuable time trying to court uncooperative lenders for constructive input. It’s already past time to schedule public hearings on HB 123 and move the bill toward adoption.

Online: http://bit.ly/2tifXFV

The Marietta Times, July 1

Unless you’re a professional, fireworks are illegal to set off in both Ohio and West Virginia, with the exception of sparklers and bang-snaps and other very small novelties. We should all make sure to follow the guidelines, not just because it’s the law but because our own safety and the safety of others depends on it.

Setting off fireworks illegally not only has a risk of injury but also of property damage, as they can set off fires to houses and other structures. According to a report issued by the National Fire Protection Association in 2016, there were 15,600 fireworks-related fires in the U.S. in 2013, including 1,400 structure fires and 200 vehicle fires. The same reports points out the majority of injuries (28 percent) are caused by sparklers. The vast majority of fireworks injuries are burns, most often to the hands and arms. The injuries can also turn fatal. In 2014, nine people died in the U.S. related to fireworks and two were not the people lighting them, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Read and follow instruction if using any legal firecrackers and use plenty of common sense. Never let children handle fireworks. While we should all have fun this holiday weekend, let’s also play it safe.

Online: http://bit.ly/2uCieLL

July 3, China Daily on how the United States’ recent agreements with Taiwan affect U.S.-China relations:

The past week was nothing but eventful considering the relative peace China-US relations have enjoyed since Chinese President Xi Jinping and his US counterpart Donald Trump struck a constructive note for bilateral ties when they met in Mar-a-Lago, Florida, in April.

Over the past few days, Washington has approved a $1.4-billion arms sale to Taiwan and blacklisted a Chinese bank for alleged business ties with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, and the US Senate Armed Services Committee has approved a bill for US naval vessels to make regular stops at Taiwan ports and help the island develop undersea warfare capabilities.

The moves run counter to the consensus reached by the two presidents on that occasion that the two countries should work together to forge a constructive partnership.

Although the approval of the arms sales to Taiwan agreed last year is the most provocative move the Trump administration has taken thus far, it is actually the latest act of a decades-old routine stemming from the US Defense Authorization Act. It is hardly a novelty in bilateral ties, and is only surprising because of its timing, scale and the technologies involved.

The proposed port visits are another matter, should they gain the approval of Congress and the authorization of the president, the consequences for ties are likely to be extremely serious, because besides sending a misleading message to the secessionist forces in Taiwan, they would constitute a substantial infringement on China’s sovereignty.

Washington is well aware that Beijing will not tolerate any external interference in its internal affairs, especially any challenge to the country’s territorial integrity and sovereignty. Something Xi spelled out very clearly during his just-concluded visit to the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.

At this stage, the moves made last week are nothing more than annoying, and they do not necessarily measure up to a reversal in the US’ China policies as some are claiming.

It may be the outcome-oriented Washington is anxious to leverage immediate gains from bilateral collaboration in relation to priority issues on its agenda or a price-hiking ploy prior to negotiations at the upcoming Comprehensive Economic Dialogue. Either way, going overboard in trying to put pressure on Beijing may prove counterproductive, since it will simply prompt a tit-for-tat response from which the US will not emerge unbruised.

Beijing, protesting against the moves, has called on Washington to correct its mistakes so that their cooperation on major issues will not be affected, showing the constructive partnership they have pledged to formulate is still attainable if there is a shared will.