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Alexei Navalny won’t be silenced

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Alexei Navalny won’t be silenced

Moscow is determined to silence Alexei Navalny’s damning criticisms of the Putin regime: A kangaroo court on Saturday rejected his appeal of the judicial order sending the Russian opposition figure to a remote prison camp for at least 2 1/2 years.

This after the Kremlin tried to assassinate Navalny twice, most recently with a lethal nerve agent. He spent five months recuperating in Germany, only to be arrested on his Jan. 17 return home.

The European Court of Human Rights, among others, deems the 2014 embezzlement conviction behind this sentence unlawful. Will Europe put any teeth behind its findings?

From a glass-walled cell in the Moscow courtroom, Navalny again spoke the truth. “The explanation is one man’s hatred and fear one man hiding in a bunker”: Vladimir Putin. “I mortally offended him by surviving. . . And then I committed an even more serious offense: I didn’t run and hide.”

Putin may have succeeded for now, but he won’t have the last word. Navalny has too many supporters to be silenced, even if he’s sent to Siberia.

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Opinion

Texas shows the way on COVID rationality

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Texas shows the way on COVID rationality

Last week, a US state decided to throw off the shackles of prolonged pandemic restrictions that have done very little good and much harm. That state will reopen libraries, museums, houses of worship and most businesses at full capacity.

No uproar ensued. The state in question was, of course, deep-blue Connecticut. A day earlier, however, when the governors of Texas and Mississippi announced their states were reopening, they got a very different reception. When Texas Gov. Greg Abbott also noted he will be lifting the statewide mask mandate, the liberal establishment reacted as if had vowed to personally inject the novel coronavirus into the bodies of Lone Star residents.

President Biden slammed the move as “Neanderthal thinking.” NBC’s Lester Holt declared the country at “an unsettling crossroad tonight.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention boss ­Rochelle Walensky warned against a “premature lifting of these prevention measures.” Federal coronavirus guru Anthony Fauci called the news “inexplicable” and said “now is not the time to pull back.”

Actually, the time to pull back was months ago, but better late than never. A year into the pandemic, we easily forget that the lockdowns and other draconian restrictions were imposed as a temporary measure to “flatten the curves” and prevent hospitals from being overwhelmed. We did that successfully. Months ago. 

No one signed up for living in lockdown indefinitely.

Red Mississippi, Florida and Texas are getting slammed in the prestige press, even as hard-line blue states like New York and California have done a far worse job mitigating COVID-19. 

As for mask mandates, if these are going to become a semi-permanent feature of life in our societies, then we need to have a ­rational, open discussion about that. My two cents: No. Hell no. 

Meanwhile, their high-handed imposition has decimated common sense, empowered busybodies and promoted irrational ­behaviors like widespread outdoor masking.

How useless is outdoor masking? In late November, right before New York’s winter spike, Gov. Cuo­mo bragged that mask compliance in the state was 98 percent. Seven out of 10 states with the highest number of COVID deaths per capita have mask mandates; New York and New Jersey “win” that awful contest. Why continue something that hasn’t worked?

When my middle son was a baby, he was a poor sleeper. Other parents of bad sleepers would try to give me advice. But why would I want advice from such parents? If their advice worked, they would see results. I wanted advice from parents who had gotten their kids to sleep. Advice, even if it sounds reasonable, is only helpful if it produces a desired outcome. 

The same principle applies here. States with far higher death rates per capita than Texas tried ­a ­restrictive technique for fighting COVID-19. Their people have suffered immeasurably because of their failed, for-show-only policies — and they have failed to contain the virus.

Even Cuomo, who clearly ­enjoyed his stint of unchecked power, has realized this nonsense has to eventually end. In January, he registered that yes, we do need to reopen at some point. “We will have nothing left to open,” he warned, sounding like he was lecturing the guy in charge who wasn’t him. “We must reopen the economy, but we must do it smartly and safely,” he added. 

Appending the word “safely” to calls for reopening doesn’t actually make the opening safer. It’s akin to people who would post pictures of themselves in large groups throughout the pandemic but hashtag the pictures #SocialDistancing!

What works, rather, are vaccinations, coupled with bolstered health facilities and treatments and a rational ­approach to risk. We have the first two things: Vaccines are working remarkably well to prevent serious illness, and our health systems are ready. 

It’s the third — rationality — that is most needed. People won’t get back to their normal lives at the flick of a switch. They have to be eased into it, and that easing should have begun long ago. It’s long past the time to face reality, reopen our states and get on with our lives. Reopened states like Texas should be lauded, not ridiculed.

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Opinion

Shootings will keep rising until the politicians admit their disastrous mistakes

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Shootings will keep rising until the politicians admit their disastrous mistakes

Despite the wintry chill last month, the anti-police policies of recent years kept things pretty hot on the streets of Brooklyn, The Bronx and other crime-ridden parts of the city that continue to experience an epidemic of gun violence.

NYPD figures for February show a 26.5 percent drop in overall crime but a 75 percent jump in shootings for February 2021 over the same month last year. The NYPD made 400 gun arrests last month, up 63.9 percent from February 2020.

Since Commissioner Dermot Shea last summer pulled the plug on the plainclothes anti-crime units that had been central to the NYPD’s anti-gun efforts, the increase in gun busts suggests there’s a lot more guns on the street now.

Yes, the NYPD added 200 cameras and 12 square miles of shot-spotter coverage over the last year to help reduce police response time for shootings. But that’s about catching up after the fact. It plainly isn’t keeping perps from carrying and using their guns.

While the pandemic has ebbed and flowed, the surge in gun violence has been steady — with both the virus and the violence hitting the same communities hardest. Yet New York’s leaders are silent on the “racial inequity” resulting from higher crime.

Don’t expect this grim trend to reverse until lawmakers and prosecutors accept the folly of everything they’ve done to embolden career criminals.

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Opinion

Is Andrew Cuomo too weakened to stop the left from destroying NY?

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Is Andrew Cuomo too weakened to stop the left from destroying NY?

With state Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins now calling for his resignation, Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s position just got even more untenable. He can claim it’s “all politics” and vow to keep governing, but he may well be unable to do his job without selling out the people who elected him.

Over the weekend, fourth and fifth accusers came forward to finger him for off-color behavior in the workplace. New questions also arose about why his staff ignored the procedures for investigating such charges, as did claims that he sent a ringer to his mandatory training on harassment.

And the bleeding will continue. More women may speak out, or more shoes may drop on his coverup of nursing-home fatalities in the wake of his March 25 order that sent COVID-contagious patients into care homes, leading to hundreds of needless deaths. 

The woman in charge of the harassment probe, state Attorney General Tish James, surely has ambitions for his job. And the Legislature may feel compelled to finally open a true independent probe of the care-home horrors.

Meanwhile, Cuomo is now negotiating a new budget with a state Senate and Assembly that have shifted far to the left in recent years. Even though a generous federal bailout will solve New York’s immediate budget problems, they still want higher taxes and other burdens on business — likely triggering a rush to the Empire State’s exits now that the lockdowns have proved that it’s easy to work thousands of miles from Wall Street.

Ominously, the governor’s pretending the cash bath from Washington isn’t enough, and already saying tax hikes are on the table.

It’s no coincidence that the loudest voices in his own party condemning the governor have been the lefties: Because he’s resisted their pernicious policies in the past, they want him sidelined.

 Cuomo may well make catastrophic concessions to buy them off. 

As Stewart-Cousins herself said: “New York is still in the midst of this pandemic and is still facing the societal, health and economic impacts of it. We need to govern without daily distraction.”

Ominously, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, a longtime Cuomo ally, echoed her concern, albeit without flat-out calling on Cuomo to quit. The “deeply disturbing” allegations “have no place whatsoever in government, the workplace or anywhere else,” said Heastie, adding he shares the Senate leader’s “sentiment” about the gov’s “ability to continue to lead this state.”

Moderate New Yorkers who once bought Cuomo’s argument that he’s their best hope for staving off left-wing lunacy must now consider whether a new governor, unhindered by scandal and with a fresh reservoir of public support, can do better.

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