In every community there are people who,through their volunteer work and devotion to others,turn potentially anonymous neighbourhoods into friendly places to live.These people are the glue that binds our communities.

Every now and then the people realize the essential role community has played in their life.Perhaps you'll be inspired,and will speak to a neighbour you've never spoken to before. 

Александр Дуганов на сервере Проза.ру

Alexander Duganov 


Op-Ed: What to watch for in the first debate: The ‘fake excuse’

Jake Novak,CNBC

The polls say the number of undecided voters in this presidential election is unusually high.

In a head-to-head race between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton , the RealClearPolitics average of polls shows 11 percent of voters are still undecided. That's a very large number for this late date and more than a 37-percent increase over this time in 2012, when only eight percent of voters said they still couldn't make up their minds.

This is probably the biggest reason why so many pundits believe this close election will be decided by the presidential debates, especially the first one coming up this Monday night.

The debates will, indeed, be important, but not because they will change the minds of any voters or give guidance to those who can't make a choice. They will be crucial because they will once again provide millions of Americans with rational-sounding excuses to finally go public with their voting choices.

Here's why: There really aren't a significant number of undecided voters — despite what the polls say. Most people decided a long time ago. The problem is, a lot of people are reluctant to ADMIT who they plan to vote for.

That's where the debates come in. In fact, this is where the debates always come. What the debates provide to every voter who's wary to make their presidential choices public is a series of rational — but fake — excuses to justify a decision they made weeks or months before based on reasons that also may be a little embarrassing to admit.

Let's be clear: The reason why so many more people say they're undecided this time around is the fact that the two leading candidates are very unpopular. Saying you support either candidate publicly means you are almost definitely going to anger someone standing within earshot and most Americans don't love having political arguments (unless you live in New York!). But the debates provide shier voters plenty of real statements or candidate gestures they can use as a rational excuse for saying they've finally made a choice. And since so many people watch the debates, those supposedly once-undecided voters can be sure the excuse they use is at least something their peers saw, too. It's not like some wacky data found on an obscure or biased website.

Throughout history, the debates have provided voters some great fake reasons to finally come out of the electoral closet. In 1976, Jimmy Carter had the election sewn up as soon as he won the Democratic nomination thanks to a public that wanted to punish the Republicans and all crooked politicians for Watergate. People were relieved to see a Washington outsider it could choose instead. But it was still a little weird to proclaim support for someone with no foreign policy experience in the midst of the Cold War. Then came the debate where President Gerald Ford misspoke by saying the Soviets didn't dominate Poland or the rest of Eastern Europe. Suddenly, Ford's experience wasn't anything the voters who quietly backed Carter needed to be embarrassed about ignoring. The debate didn't change their minds, it helped them feel better about making their opinion public.

Most of the presidential debates since then haven't provided that kind of stark gaffe, but they're just as effective because it's not a slam dunk the decided-but-uneasy voters need. All they need is something somewhat memorable to use as that magic excuse. So when the supposedly unstable and war-happy Ronald Reagan seemed poised and serious in his 1980 debate with Carter, that was excuse enough. When Michael Dukakis couldn't definitely answer the question about whether he'd support the death penalty for his wife's hypothetical killer, that was excuse enough. And when George H.W. Bush committed the supposed mistake of looking at his watch during a 1992 debate, voters uneasy about admitting they were voting for the nationally inexperienced Bill Clinton had their excuse, too.

It didn't matter that each of those past debate examples, from Ford to Bush, didn't really prove anything about the candidates' abilities to lead as president. What mattered is that they were very public statements or gestures that served as something supposedly undecided voters could grab onto with reasonable assurance their neighbors and colleagues wouldn't beat them up for doing so.

With that in mind, look for a lot of closet Trump supporters to point to any signs of their candidate keeping his composure as more than enough of an excuse to finally say they've "decided" to reluctantly back him. Shy Clinton voters will probably cite any debate response where she rattles off insider expertise on foreign policy as their excuse. Physical appearance will play a big role, too, but not as many voters will be willing to admit that. Still, if Clinton looks sick or Trump makes a lot of rude and dismissive faces they too could serve as phony excuses for the supposedly undecided to make a public choice.

Debates are, indeed, crucial, because they get those publicly on-the-fence voters to finally admit they've made a choice. This helps the polls become more accurate and reduces the chance of some kind of tumultuous election night surprise. But anyone who says the debates really convinced them of anything in this or any other election is probably just not telling the truth.

Germany: Small-town clash exposes tense mood toward migrants

FRANK JORDANS,Associated Press

BAUTZEN, Germany (AP) — Standing on a hillside near this ancient town in eastern Germany, Firas al-Habbal winces as he explains why he doesn't go "there" anymore.

"There" is the center of Bautzen with its cobblestone streets, centuries-old churches and cozy cafes. In particular, it's the town square where residents recently clashed with a group of young refugees in a burst of violence that made headlines around the world, sparking days of anti-migrant protests by both far-right groups and locals.

"Over the past two years, I personally didn't have a single case where I felt people hated me or foreigners," said al-Habbal, who came to Germany in 2014 as part of the first big wave of refugees from Syria. "Life was great."

Since last week's violence, however, the 24-year-old is afraid of going into town lest anyone mistake him for one of the migrants involved in the trouble.

"Now I'm really scared," he said. "The last week was very, very tense."

Police said the violence began when one refugee threw a bottle at a group of locals. Authorities reacted by imposing a curfew and an alcohol ban on the migrants, to the consternation of left-wing activists who blamed the fighting on neo-Nazi thugs.

While such incidents are rare and most of those who have sought asylum in Germany in recent years have caused little or no problem, violence of the kind seen in Bautzen stokes anti-migrant feelings among the wider population and is driving voters into the arms of nationalist parties such as Alternative for Germany. The party swept into five state parliaments this year, boosted by anger over a string of thefts and sexual assaults by foreigners in Cologne at New Year's and two bloody attacks carried out by migrants in July.

The situation is particularly frustrating for people like Peter Rausch, one of many Germans who have worked hard to help integrate the hundreds of thousands of newcomers seeking safety and a better life in Europe.

Rausch manages a hotel on the outskirts of Bautzen that was converted into a home for 300 asylum-seekers. A native of Germany's Black Forest who moved to the city 14 years ago, he has an outsider's eye for far-right activities to which locals are sometimes oblivious.

A fire at another refugee shelter and the booing of Germany's president by a neo-Nazi mob in the city earlier this year were clear signs of the trouble to come, he said.

Yet Rausch has harsh words, too, for those who automatically defend all migrants and blame far-right extremists for the violence.

"On the one hand, there's rich ground for right-wing violence and resentment. On the other hand, we've got a few do-gooders who are wandering around the place with such rose-colored glasses that they're making the same mistakes as the right," he said.

"It should be possible to say there are a few asylum-seekers, a few kids or youths, who need to be caught and disciplined," said Rausch, acknowledging that two of the migrant troublemakers lived at his hotel. "It's not about putting them in jail or cuffs. But I think our democracy and state of law has ways to discipline these kids, just as it has ways to discipline German youths."

Back in the town, a crowd gathered Sunday on Kornmarkt Square, which was the setting for last week's violence. It's the day when stores are closed and low-hanging clouds threatened to burst open at any moment, but scores of people had come to hear far-right activists rail against migrants and the government of Chancellor Angela Merkel, whom they hold responsible for the surge of asylum-seekers to Germany over the past year.

Engelbert Merz, a local businessman, is angry at what he considers to be a soft attitude toward criminal foreigners.

"Put these boys on a boat and send them back where they came from, because they're not worthy of staying in this country since they aren't abiding by the law," says Merz.

His dim view of migrants doesn't stop at the troublemakers, though. Merz believes Germany should be helping those closer to home before taking in refugees from Africa or the Middle East.

"We have 24 million jobless young people in Europe but no money to pay for German lessons in those countries," he says. "We've got enough problems of our own."

Such talk worries Sven Scheidemantel, a local politician and chairman of a pro-refugee group, Welcome to Bautzen.

"There's a siege-like mood in the city," he says, warily watching the protest from a distance.

Scheidemantel says the problems in Bautzen won't be solved unless the authorities acknowledge that far-right extremists are exploiting a fairly minor incident involving a handful of refugees to make this city of 40,000 a symbol for failed integration.

"The problem we have is that we always ask where the criminals are from. That shouldn't be so. Criminals are criminals, wherever they're from," Scheidemantel said.

Firas Al-Habbal agrees. Having learned to speak German and worked as a translator for the past two years, he is hoping to soon start training to become a medical technician.

"There are a few of my fellow Syrians, one has to be honest and not ignore this, who didn't behave themselves. And this was the result," he said of the clashes. "What I'm sad about is that these few bad people are sullying the image of all refugees in Bautzen."

Al-Habbal thinks the troublemakers should be split up and distributed across the country. "Then we've solved the problem. Because this is dangerous for us too. I don't want to have to leave Bautzen."

On Wednesday, a 72-year-old Algerian-born man with German citizenship was knocked to the ground in the city by two youths who shouted "Foreigners out!" before running away. The victim had been living in Germany for four decades, police said Thursday.

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