Froma Harrop - French ban of burkinis is none of our business

A few years ago, I took a French friend to a crowded beach in Rhode Island. No sooner had we hit the soft sands than she ripped off the top of her two-piece, baring her breasts to the sun and to curious boys playing nearby.

"You can't do that," I said. "This is New England. People don't go topless here."

Not entirely true. There are secluded beaches where New Englanders strip to nothing, but I kept it simple.

She gave me her you-Americans-are-so-backward smirk. I chose not to respond, regarding the region's penchant for modesty as rather nice.

Which leads to the burkini ban in France. The burkini is a bathing suit favored by many Muslim women. It covers the entire body except for the hands, feet and face. Devout Muslims believe that women's bodies must be largely hidden from public view.

The issue in France is political, not fashion aesthetics. Many worry that their large Muslim population is not assimilating into the predominant culture. French Prime Minister Manuel Valls called the burkini an emblem of "a counter-society" based on "the enslavement of women."

Others in the West may see the body-covering bathing suit as merely eccentric. In the resort town of Blackpool, England, burkinis are sold and rented.

I could turn the tables on my friend and ask, "Why are you French so darned scared of a bathing suit?" But I won't. Just as American beaches may stop women from going topless — and Iran can demand that women cover their hair — France can say non to the burkini as an offensive demonstration of apartness.

Note France's long-held aversion to displays of religious affiliation. In 2004, it banished Muslim headscarfs from public schools and also visible crosses, turbans and Jewish kippas.

Arguing, as one Muslim woman did to BBC News, that banning burkinis "just hands ammunition" to Islamic radicals is not going to work. This is an implied threat — that if French officials don't submit to their demands, violence could follow.

The French don't take such threats lightly. They remain traumatized by a string of terrorist attacks. Only last month, a Muslim extremist drove a 19-ton cargo truck through a crowd celebrating Bastille Day in the seaside city of Nice, killing 86.

If it were up to me, the French would allow more latitude in distinctive dress. But I do shudder at the sight of a burqa in Western settings. A burqa covers a woman's entire identity in a sheet, with only a cutout or mesh for the eyes.

In Manhattan, I recently saw a young man in jeans, summer shirt hanging out, walking with a woman entirely encased in a burqa. Scarves and other religion-based headgear are one thing, but the burqa, with its proclamation of female inferiority, is simply jarring.

In the opposite direction — but on a less intense level — it irks me to walk into a surf shop and see racks of roomy long shorts for the boys and tiny bikinis for the girls. At swimming areas, you see the male teens romping comfy and covered while their female companions go highly exposed and often self-conscious in their narrow strips of cloth.

In the end, it should not matter whether I or other non-French people approve of the burkini. If the French want to ban it, that's their business. And regulating acceptable body exposure on their family beaches is Americans' business.

Local authorities may set their own rules on dress in accordance with local sensibilities. One doesn't have to like them — and minds can be changed — but that's their right.

(Syndicated columnist Froma Harrop is based qt the Providence Journal.)

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Michael Barone - Identifying the real victim

Victims aren't always virtuous. That's a sad lesson that people learn from life. Human beings have a benign instinct to help those who are hurt through no cause of their own. But those they help don't always turn out to be very grateful.

And sometimes it's hard to be sure just who the victim is. The most heavily publicized and violence-prompting police killings of young black men — in Ferguson, Missouri, in 2014, and Milwaukee this month — appeared to be, as the facts became known, justifiable responses to felons' assaults.

Such incidents are, unhappily, frequent, because young black men, again unhappily, commit a wildly disproportionate number of violent crimes. The real victims of this are, again unhappily and disproportionately, law-abiding black people.

That was pointed out last week in one of three well-crafted and teleprompter-delivered speeches by, of all people, Donald Trump. (Hillary Clinton's campaign made snarky remarks about Trump's using a teleprompter, as Republicans have often made snarky remarks about Barack Obama's.) Trump's delivery of three carefully prepared and thoughtful speeches the same week he named the crass provocateur Steve Bannon head honcho to his campaign looks like one of the prime ironies of campaign 2016.

"Our job is not to make life more comfortable for the rioter, the looter, the violent disruptor," Trump said Tuesday in Wisconsin. "Our job is to make life more comfortable for the African-American parent who wants their kids to be able to safely walk the streets. Or the senior citizen waiting for a bus. Or the young child walking home from school.

"For every one violent protester, there are a hundred moms and dads and kids on that same city block who just want to be able to sleep safely at night. My opponent would rather protect the offender than the victim."

This identification of the victim is spot on. Trump and Clinton and I are old enough to remember the urban riots of the 1960s and what followed. As an intern in the mayor's office in Detroit, I witnessed the 1967 riot from city hall and police headquarters and on the streets.

I know much of Detroit block by block, and I know what happened there afterward. I know that the most victimized group was black Detroiters who worked hard and paid off their mortgages for 30 years and who, because of the riot and high crime, ended up with $10,000 of equity in a house worth 10 times that in a low-crime working-class suburb.

It's even harder to accurately identify victims who are farther away. In September 2015, when much of the world was moved by the picture of the body of a 3-year-old Syrian refugee drowned on a Turkish beach, German Chancellor Angela Merkel promised to welcome 800,000 refugees. That's 1 percent of Germany's population; the equivalent here would be 3.2 million.

It's not hard to understand what moved Merkel. She grew up in East Germany, behind the infamous wall, and like other German leaders and the German people feels an obligation to atone for the horrors of the Nazis.

Now, a year later, more than 1 million "refugees" have entered Germany, about three-quarters of them young men, most not from Syria but Muslims from places like Bangladesh, Pakistan, Libya and Eritrea.

Thousands have assaulted young women in organized attacks hushed up by the government and the press. Several have launched terrorist attacks, shooting people in shopping centers, setting off bombs or swinging an ax at railroad passengers. Few appear eager to take education classes in Western mores or to accept jobs being offered by Germans who were hoping the newcomers would supply the skilled labor that population-losing Germany needs.

In our presidential campaign Donald Trump has been criticizing Obama for promising to accept just 10,000 Syrian refugees and has charged that Clinton would welcome 620,000 more, without noting that that's far less, proportionately, than Merkel's Germany has taken in.

Whatever the number, Trump's stronger point is that in any large influx many terrorists will come in, as in Germany. He has called for "extreme vetting" of any such refugees, without specifying exactly how that could be done.

The problem is that many people we see as victims aren't, and many who are victims aren't virtuous, in the sense of being willing to assimilate to American toleration and diversity. Our natural sympathy should prompt us to find ways to help. But that need not mean inviting them here.

(Michael Barone is senior political analyst for the Washington Examiner, resident fellow at American Enterprise Institute and longtime co-author of The Almanac of American Politics.)

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Jim Hightower - Donnie's little lies are huuuuuge

An old saying asserts that falsehoods come in three escalating levels: "Lies, damn lies, and statistics." Now, however, we've been given an even-higher level of intentional deception: policy speeches by Donald Trump.

Take his recent highly publicized address outlining specific economic policies he would push to benefit hard-hit working families. It's an almost-hilarious compilation of Trumpian fabrications, including his bold, statesmanlike discourse on the rank unfairness of the estate tax: "No family will have to pay the death tax," he solemnly pledged, adopting the right-wing pejorative for a tax assessed on certain properties of the dearly departed. Fine, but next came his slick prevarication: "American workers have paid taxes their whole lives, and they should not be taxed again at death." Workers? The tax exempts the first $5.4 million of any deceased person's estate, meaning 99.8 percent of Americans pay absolutely nothing. So Trump is trying to deceive real workers into thinking he's standing for them, when in fact it's his own wealth he's protecting.

What a maverick! What a shake-'em-up outsider! What an anti-establishment fighter for working stiffs!

Oh, and don't forget this: What a phony!

Sure, The Donald sounds like a populist on the stump, bellowing that the systems been jerry-rigged by and for the corporate and political elites, which is killing the middle class. Well, he's right about that, but what's he going to do? Don't worry, he says smugly, I'll fix it, I'll make the system honest again — trust me!

As Groucho Marx said, "To know if a man is honest, ask him — if he says he is, he's a crook." Or, in the case of this phony populist, just look at the specific policies he laid out as his fixes for our economy. Trumpeting the package as his blueprint for the "economic renewal" of America's working class.

But Trump's idea of "working class turns out to be millionaires and billionaires, for that's who would get the bulk of benefits from his agenda — rewarding the very corporate chieftains he denounces in his blustery speeches for knocking down middle-income families and grabbing all of the new wealth our economy is creating. His proposed tax cuts, for example, don't benefit low-wage workers at all and provide only a pittance of gain for those with middle-class paychecks, but corporations are given a huuuuuuuge windfall with over a 50 percent cut in their rate. His tax giveaway will also take $240 billion a year out of our public treasury — money desperately needed for such basics as expanding educational opportunities and restoring our nation's dilapidated infrastructure.

In his policy speech, he offered a new tax break to help hard working people reduce their cost of child care "by allowing parents to fully deduct (such) spending from their taxes." Trump even gave this push a personal touch, saying his daughter Ivanka urged him to provide a helping hand to working parents because "she feels so strongly about this." Before you tear up over their show of dad and daughter working-class empathy, however, note that 70 percent of American households don't make enough to warrant itemizing tax deductions. Thus, the big majority of Americans that are most in need of child care help get nothing from Trump's melodramatic gesture. Once again, his generosity is for his own elite class, for the tax benefits would flow uphill to wealthy families like his who can purchase the platinum packages of care for their children.

What we have here is the same old failed, establishmentarian, economic elitist hokum that Republicans have been peddling for decades, only bigger and more extreme. Rhetoric aside, the reality of Trump's plan is to replace Ronald Reagan's trickle-down theory with his own arrogant, anti-worker scheme of tinkle-down economics. As an early 19th Century labor leader noted, "Figures don't lie, but liars do figure." That fits The Donald perfectly.

(Jim Hightower has been called American's most popular populist. The radio commentator and former Texas Commissioner of Agriculture is author of seven books, including "There's Nothing In the Middle of Road but Yellow Stripes and Dead Armadillos" and his new work, "Swim Against the Current: Even Dead Fish Can Go With The Flow".)

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E. Scott Cracraft - Back to school

This month, students will be returning to college or will be attending for the first time. They will worry about papers, exams, and of course, their social lives. But, students and their parents will also be thinking about the rising cost of higher education and how they are going to pay for it. The students, especially, will be worried that they graduate and get a job good enough to pay off student loans for the next decade or two. If they cannot, student loans cannot be discharged under federal bankruptcy laws.
At least a few students and their families will be asking "why?" Some may even ask why Germany and many other democracies are able to afford free higher education and why the world's remaining superpower cannot. In some countries, like Denmark, besides free tuition, students even get a monthly stipend for living expenses. One of the reasons that European students often know much more about their world than our students is that they often have summers to travel because they are not working to pay tuition.
Of course, we cannot expect that here from conservatives but even many liberals lack the vision that we can do this in the U.S.A. Until very recently and due in large part to the influence of Bernie Sanders, even Democrats did not take the idea seriously.
Unfortunately, N.H. has the highest student debt and the highest tuition rates for any public institutions. Why? Because conservative interests and politicians in Concord refuse to adequately fund it. In the average state, the state legislatures provide around 50-55 percent of the cost of a community college student's education. In N.H. it is around 25-27 percent. N.H. is among the worst but it is happening everywhere and the cost of tuition is more and more being laid on students and their families.
In the 1960s and 70s, students could finance an education at a public college or university with some savings from high school, a college and/or summer job, and perhaps a bit of help from family. In fact, in some states like California, community colleges (often called "junior" colleges in those days) were tuition-free or almost so.
This author's spouse completed her first two years of college in the mid-70s at such a California junior college. She only paid for textbooks and perhaps some incidental fees. She paid no tuition.
Of course, many, both Republicans and Democrats, are going to whine "but how are you going to pay for it?" Is it possible we can really can pay for it but simply do not have our national priorities straight?
Could we perhaps afford it if the wealthy and corporations paid their fair share of taxes? Or, perhaps we would have the money if we were not paying billions for military equipment that does not work and paying gouging defense contractors? Why don't more Americans question how much was spent on Bush's illegal war? Or, why aren't we more concerned about the amount of tax money going to build more and more prisons when it is actually cheaper in most cases to send someone to college than to lock them up?
National security and public safety are, of course, important priorities. But how can the nation really be safe and secure without an educated population? At the present cost of higher education, the arts, humanities and social sciences — all those things that make us better educated people — are being downplayed. There are both intrinsic and extrinsic values of an education.
Students themselves and their parents need to start asking "why" and doing something about it. We need to let our elected officials at the Federal, state, and local level that education is an investment, not a burden.
For those who find "free stuff" anathema, perhaps we could ask students for something in return to benefit our society. Perhaps we could even tie a free or very-low cost higher education system to some sort of national service, military or civilian where students could help "earn" these benefits.
(Scott Cracraft is a citizen, a taxpayer, a veteran, and a resident of Gilford.)

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Lakes Region Profiles – A Winnipesaukee whopper in Moultonborough

By Mary O'Neill,

Sales Associate at Roche Realty Group


A drive along the northern shores of Lake Winnipesaukee through the lakeside communities seems innocent enough – country roads, little town centers, and a smattering of shops and restaurants. But the reality is that there is a trove of history tucked around every bend in the road. Stop in the village of Moultonborough, sit on the wooden bench outside The Old Country Store, and let me recount for you a tale about the man after whom the town is named.

Late one night General Jonathan Moulton was nodding off as he sat by his fireplace contemplating his financial woes. He had been a very prosperous man but now was struggling. He glanced towards the chimneypiece and was surprised to see a figure sitting on a corner bench. "Who the devil are you?" he demanded. In answer, the visitor threw flaming coals into a mug of rum and drained the blazing liquid. The general now knew the devil had come to visit him "dressed in his Saturday night best, black velvet and all, with an orchid stuck through his buttonhole." What ensued was a lengthy dialogue between the devil and General Moulton whereby the general sold his soul to devil in exchange for a monthly ration of gold coins to be measured by filling the general's boots (Wilkin, Winnipesaukee Whoppers, 1949).

After the devil departed, the general, known to be a wily businessman, came up with a plan. "I'll fool the old buzzard!" he muttered gleefully. Buying the largest boots he could find and cutting a hole in the soles, he nailed the boots over holes in the wooden floor. When the devil came to make good on their agreement, the coins dropped through the boots and into the cellar below. The devil, discovering the deception, promptly burnt the house to the ground. Trapped in his cellar filled with coins, that was the end of Jonathan Moulton (Wilkin).

This is only a small slice of the stories surrounding the legendary namesake of Moultonborough. In the mid 1700s, General Moulton had led a group of settlers from Hampton, having successfully petitioned Masonian Proprietors for part of the ungranted lands in the province. The land encompassing Moultonborough was first chartered in 1763 and is described as "running along the northerly shore of Winnepisseoky Pond, and including a neck and point of land running into the pond." The party of settlers included other members of the Moulton family ( As another story goes, Moulton was very friendly with British Governor John Wentworth, who controlled the royal province. One day Moulton marched his fattest ox to Portsmouth as a gift to the governor. "The 1,400-pound beast, draped in flowers...could not have been missed by the jealous locals" (Robinson, The Devilish Fall of General Moulton, Pleased with the gift, the governor granted Moulton an additional 18,000 acres of land near Moultonborough. General Moulton, "was one of the country's first big real estate speculators, turning tens of thousands of Lakes Region land into New Hampshire towns in what is today the Moultonborough area" (Robinson).
Moultonborough abuts Sandwich to the north, Tuftonboro to the south, and Center Harbor to the west. The town has 60 square miles of land area and 15.0 square miles of inland water area ( It is one of eight towns with shorefront on Lake Winnipesaukee, but it is unique among its neighbors in that its shorefront includes many "fingers" of land that jut out into the lake, allowing for countless surprising spots to situate a home or cabin. The main waterfront areas are along the so-called "Neck." Down the length of the Neck, Moultonborough Neck Road eventually leads to a short bridge and onto Long Island, which covers about 1,200 acres. This is Winnipesaukee's largest island and one of only five bridged islands on the lake ( The early history of the island mostly revolves around farming. At one point the wheat farmed there was purchased by the Federal Government and shipped to farmers in the western half of the US because it was of such high quality. Another farmer, John Brown, developed King Philip Corn on his Long Island property. For 50 years he held the record in New Hampshire for the quantity of corn produced per acre  (
General Moulton may have found himself well at home in one of Moultonborough's most unique spots. Positioned high in the Ossipee Mountain Range is Castle in the Clouds, also known as Lucknow. Built in 1913-14 by manufacturing millionaire Thomas Plant, the castle is an arresting example of Arts and Crafts architecture and commands mighty views of Lake Winnipesaukee and the mountains. Today it is set up just as it would have been in the early 1900s. The castle has become a popular and intriguing venue for weddings, rehearsal dinners, reunions, fund raisers, and a variety of other functions. There are also many special events such as stargazing, yoga on "Wellness Wednesdays," and "Jazz at Sunset." For more information on the castle and its events, visit
As you sit on the porch of The Old Country Store in Moultonborough village, realize these grounds too are connected to Jonathan Moulton. The building sits on a parcel of land he sold to Samuel Burnham in 1777. The store has been there since 1781. At that, it may be one of the oldest in the US. The building has served as town meeting hall, library, and post office during its 235-year history. The best way to enjoy this distinctive establishment is to wander though its rooms across the wide, uneven floorboards. There are things old and new – collectibles, toys, penny candy, clothes, maple products, pickles, books, maps, fudge, gadgets, aged cheddar and much more. Additional information can be found at

Now it is time to climb back into your car and continue to explore the beautiful area and colorful history of Moultonborough. Just don't make any deals with the devil along the way.

Please feel free to visit to learn more about the Lakes Region and its real estate market. Mary O'Neill is a sales associate at Roche Realty Group in Meredith and Laconia, New Hampshire, can be reached at 603-366-6306.



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