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The Lessons of Sandy

Was the destruction brought by Hurricane Sandy along the Eastern Coast a freak accident that resulted because the storm happened to hit at a bad time or was it a warning about the dangers of global warming?

It’s not an academic question for Maya Faison, 16, who lost her 74-year-old uncle in the wake of the superstorm’s wrath. Her uncle, Albert McSwain, died days after falling down an unlit stairwell in the Hammels Houses in the Rockaways the day after Sandy struck.

In a conference room in Long Island City High School, Maya spoke with attendees of Youth Facing Climate Change Across the U.S., co-hosted by the U.S. State Department and the environmental nonprofit SustainUS. She participated via video link in the 2012 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Doha, Qatar.

She told the attendees, “A lot of people underestimated the storm, including me, my family and my friends. That is a decision we will never forget.”

Even before the storm Maya had become an environmental activist. Earlier this year, she attended the Rio+20 Earth Summit in Brazil.

There is a danger that environmentalists will be tempted to exploit the devastation of Sandy. There is an even greater danger that politicians will dismiss the warnings because the actions that need to be taken are too expensive.

The Gun Culture

Sportscaster Bob Costas has been raked over the coals for suggesting that Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher and his girlfriend, Kassandra Perkins, would be alive today were it not for the modern-day gun culture and the “easy access” the public has to guns.

Critics from the National Rifle Association to former basketball star Charles Barkley reacted strongly to his commentary. Barkley said he feels safer with a gun in his car and the CEO of the NRA rambled on about the U.S. Constitution and the “right to bear arms.”

We invite the critics of Costas to come to southeast Queens to witness the effects of gun violence. Too many times this year we have reported about innocent victims who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Costas is right: If Belcher didn’t have a gun, he might have hurt his girlfriend, but neither would be dead.

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