- Used car boom -- A story in the Wall Street Journal last week talked of how the widening gap between the cost of new cars and recent, low mileage used models is fueling a boom in used car sales. This does not surprise me one bit. The last time I bought a new car was a decade ago, a used car shortly after. As automakers continue to increase the size, bells and whistles, and new technologies to cars (or outright replacing them with SUVs), the prices have increase dramatically, well out of reach of someone who is just getting by paycheck to paycheck. Finding a new car under $20,000 these days is nearly impossible. But cars seem to keep their value about as well as ever, so finding affordable used models is not only more attractive, it’s fast becoming the only option. Perhaps necessity being the mother of invention, automakers will figure out a way of reigning it in. And not by offering more risky credit schemes
- Loan forgiveness -- Speaking of which, the Education Department has released figures on the number of people who have received debt relief from the public service loan forgiveness program. This is the first year people in certain non-profit and government jobs who have made 10 years of on-time payment can apply to have their student loans canceled. It isn’t pretty: Just 96 of 30,000 people who applied were approved. I’ll save you the math. Less than 1 percent. Keeping in mind the price of college, and the lack of anything solid out the other side of it, a fluctuating economy and stagnant wages, student loans seem to be pretty big risks. Really feels like promises weren’t kept, and quite a few people have had the rugs cut out from under them.
- The ‘Why?’ Department -- It’s official, Dunkin’ Donuts is dropping part of it’s name. From January on, donut call ‘em Dunkin’ Donuts, just Dunkin’ (yes, I went there). But they are still selling donuts. Apparently, they want everyone to know they make stuff other than donuts. Except that little donut guy we remember from when we were kid, pretty sure he just makes the donuts. Sigh… IHOb, anyone?
- News of the weird -- Six Flags St. Louis has an offer for those who aren’t too claustrophobic — prizes to those able to stay in a coffin for 30 (almost) straight hours. It isn’t as bad as it sounds. You get bathroom breaks, which for an old guy like me means every hour or so, plus , you can bring pillows and blankets and your cell phone. They’ll even have a charging station. I’m not into tight spaces, but if I have enough room to see my phone, I can binge watch something on Netflix and sleep through the rest. I’m going on a limb to say I could do it, but I want cash on the barrel. Tickets aren’t enough, because I bet they’d still get me for food and incidentals.
- Recommended reading -- I had the honor of working with Dianna Cahn at Stars and Stripes. I highly recommend this story, part of ongoing coverage under the banner Holding on to Hope. A military family, divided: After deportation, a Marine veteran’s wife searches for a future Wherever you may fall on this issue, it is good to be aware of all the consequences, intended or unintended.
- In my backyard -- An amazing story that happened in our area, and a testament to the kind of people who live there. We caught wind of it when it went viral on social media. It’s the story of a N.C. Storm refugee (a formal local resident) and her farm animals who were staying in a Home Depot parking lot. Obviously forced to leave in a hurry and unplanned, she did not have a negative Coggins Test for her 12-year-old horse, a requirement for boarding. Enter a local farmer who stepped up and gave them a proper place to stay. Read about it here.
Published in the September 12, 2018 editions of the Fauquier Times, Gainesville Times and Prince William Times
Every September I wear a 9/11 pin on my lapel that says, “never forget.” Designed by a Philadelphia jeweler and sold in conjunction with Michael Smerconish on his radio program, all of the profits from sales go to 9/11 charities.
Not usually prone to such expenditures, I was drawn to it because the original charity benefiting was the Flight 93 memorial, heroes who should never be forgotten. The planes that hit the twin towers and the Pentagon that day left an indelible mark on their respective cities, but the plane that was forced down in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, before reaching its target, really only left some scorched earth on a hill. Their sacrifice deserves far better.
For many of us, 9/11 is like Pearl Harbor or the Kennedy assassination. We remember where we were and what we were doing when we first heard. I remember being woken up in time to see the second plane hit in real time. I remember that it was one of those bright, sunny September days where you don’t want to go to work, because summer is fading.
I remember that all hands were on deck at the paper, not because we received a call, just because we knew that was where we were needed. And it was a day where you wanted to be needed. To do something. All day culling stories, building pages and calling anyone we knew who might have witnessed something and had ties to our area. The entire day, the TV on in the background, as we watched the towers fall.
One of the remarkable aspects of a monumental moment such as 9/11 is the passage of time. Seventeen years have now passed. Today’s high-schoolers were too young to remember or had yet to be born. They have only known this country in a time of war.
And that’s one of the most important reasons we can never forget. The casualties of 9/11 are still happening today.
Just last week, in an insider attack, a U.S. servicemember became the sixth to die this year in America’s longest war. A war many in this country don’t really pay much mind to. A war longer than the Civil War, World War II, even Vietnam. A war that will soon be fought by many of those children currently in high school, and I’m starting to fear as I grow older, their children as well.
Meanwhile, five years after the death of Osama bin Laden, al Qaeda’s number two, Ayman al-Zawahiri is still out there. Whether he is the mastermind now, or simply a pretender, the videos keep coming. They just don’t make the news anymore. Bin Laden’s death may have provided a convenient bookend for many, but tell that to the men and women downrange.
Casualties happen here at home as well, and not just to those scarred by war.
A recent story in the Los Angeles Times documented the alarming level of cancer deaths among first responders and investigators exposed to toxins in the aftermath of the attacks. “It’s like Bin Laden is still reaching out from the grave,” FBI Agent Thomas O’Connor, president of the FBI Agents Association, is quoted as saying.
Not 17 years ago. Today.
Many first responders were lost that day. Many lives were lost in the wars that followed. And an increasing number are still dying. Each and every one should be remembered. They chose to sacrifice their lives for something greater: their fellow citizens in a moment of need, the safety of their nation from foreign attack.
That’s their legacy, and we should use it to dedicate ourselves to the greater good. To finding a way to bring those war fighters home. To do right by those FBI agents. None should die in vain or in the shadows.
Chris Six is Editor-In-Chief of the Times. Email him at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @christophersix1