POLS ON THE STREET: Trump on Syria Unites Toomey, Casey

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U.S. SEN. Pat Toomey

BY JOE SHAHEELI
For the first time in a long time, two affable colleagues but ideological opposites came down on the same side on a fundamental policy issue.

Pennsylvania’s two U.S. senators, Pat Toomey (R) and Bob Casey (D), joined in denouncing President Donald Trump’s sudden decision to withdraw troops from Northeastern Syria, where they have long been allied with Kurdish forces in a successful effort to defeat ISIS.

But Turkey, which has long oppressed its own Kurdish minority, opposes the Syrian Kurds’ Syrian Democratic Forces, and has said it wants to invade their land to establish its own control over them.

Trump abruptly reversed longstanding U.S. policy after a telephone call from Turkish President Recep Erdoğan asking him to do so.

Toomey said Trump should immediately rethink his decision.

U.S. SEN. Bob Casey

“The president’s decision to withdraw U.S. forces from the northern Syrian border poses a significant threat to our national security and risks reversing the progress made in the region to destroy ISIS.

Toomey stressed the president’s decision “could also lead to war between Turkey and Syrian Kurds, a result that will boost enemy regimes in Syria, Iran, and Russia. This betrayal of the Kurds will also severely harm our credibility as an ally the world over.”

Speaking from safety as a Democrat, Casey was equally forceful in opposing the president’s decision to abandon a brave American partner. “Kurdish forces have been a steadfast U.S. ally and President Trump has shamefully betrayed them,” Casey said.

“Thousands of Kurds died in the fight against ISIS only to be abandoned by President Trump, whose fascination with authoritarian dictators, like Erdoğan, seems to control U.S. foreign policy. Turning our back on the Kurdish people in their time of need will make our nation less safe. Potential allies will no longer trust our government.

RENOVATION of a pedestrian footbridge at 29th Street & Pennsylvania Avenue by people who have campaigned for it: L-R, Charlie Neff, Sarah Jane Blair, State Rep. Donna Bullock, contractor Sean Duff, State Sen. Larry Farnese and Councilmember Bill Greenlee. Photo by Wendell Douglas

“President Trump’s decision to pull U.S. troops from Syria also underscores the problematic nature of his continuing involvement in his business, the Trump Organization. Since President Trump has not fully divested from his private business, our nation is left to wonder whether the fact that the Trump Organization has dealings in Turkey impacted his decision.”

Safe Injection Sites Draw Williams’ Ire

State Sen. Anthony Williams (D-W. Phila.) is seeking cosponsors for legislation that would prohibit supervised injection sites.

“Children and families should not have to witness a constant flow of drug users wandering the streets of their neighborhood. And let us not forget that heroin remains an illegal drug and a deadly killer of Pennsylvanians across the Commonwealth,” the senator said. “In the midst of an epidemic, we should not be providing spaces for users to continue to use without requiring treatment.”

THE UNITED Republican Club held its traditional Shrimp Night last Saturday, packing the hall with 200 happy diners and socializers. Busily working the tables were several candidates, including mayoral ticket-leader Billy Cinacaglini.

Williams opposes the nonprofit Safehouse’s plan to open a supervised-injection site in the city.

“Instead of dedicating resources to aid in the continued use of drugs, the General Assembly should seek to provide additional funding to treatment and use prevention, to mental health and trauma-informed education, and to reducing the amount of opioids on our streets,” Williams insisted.

Williams’ move would be a severe blow to Mayor Jim Kenney, who has full-throatedly endorsed the idea of safe-injection sites. Although a Democrat, Williams has decades of experience working across the aisle in Harrisburg; his legislation will likely win approval in the State Senate.

“Let us not forget that heroin remains an illegal drug and a deadly killer of Pennsylvanians across the commonwealth,” Williams continued. “In the midst of an epidemic, we should not be providing spaces for users to continue to use without requiring treatment.

STATE REP. Donna Bullock, 4th from L, put on a rip-roaring Girard Avenue Street Festival in Brewerytown. She was joined by State Sen. Sharif Street, 3rd from L; State Rep. Stephen Kinsey, 6th from L; and their staffers. Photo by Leona Dixon

“Clearly, we must continue our efforts to rid Pennsylvania of the scourge of heroin, fentanyl, and other deadly drugs, but state-sanctioned drug use is not the way. Instead of dedicating resources to aid in the continued use of drugs, the General Assembly should seek to provide additional funding to treatment and use-prevention, to mental health and trauma-informed education, and to reducing the amount of opioids on our streets.”

Wolfe Chimes in on Opioids

A Republican city candidate has joined the dialog on drugs.

City Council at Large candidate Matt Wolfe released a detailed plan for action to combat Philadelphia’s opiate epidemic. Wolfe stated, “The number of lives ruined by opiates in Philadelphia over the past few years is truly unbelievable. This is the greatest health crisis of my lifetime, and when elected to City Council I will take immediate action to solve this epidemic. I don’t know anyone who has not either been personally touched by this or had someone close to them who has.”

Wolfe calls to revamp drug education for students, communities and first responders; increase enforcement efforts against bad actors such as illegal “pill mills”; secure Philadelphia’s port from drug smuggling; ensure people who legitimately need pain medication can access them easily; hold the pharmaceutical industry accountable; combat recidivism through criminal-justice reform; and seek more funding from State and federal governments.

Wolfe, however, also stands against the implementation of safe-injection sites.

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