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Bill Toscano / BILL TOSCANO  

btoscano@poststar.com A tractor in a previous Greenwich Lighted Tractor Parade was set up with a reindeer display.


Local
Gun show already booked for two more appearances at Cool Insuring Arena

GLENS FALLS — Buyers and sellers had only one complaint about the first gun show held in the city in decades.

The room was too crowded.

“It’s OK, because next time we are going to have it on the ice rink, and there will be more tables and more room,” said Martin Tretola, a Long Island-based promoter who said he had 120 tables for the show in Heritage Hall for his first Glens Falls Gun Show, but had to turn dozens of dealers away. “We had plenty of dealers and plenty of people, and in March, we’ll be able to have 200 tables and probably take care of everybody.”

Tretola has booked the arena for two shows next year, one March 3 and 4 and another Oct. 13 and 14.

He said Saturday’s show drew 822 people, and Sunday drew more than 400. “We had a nice crowd,” Tretola said. “Everybody was glad we were able to come up here. They thanked us when they left.”

Jane Havens of Calamity Jane’s Firearms and Fine Shoes in Hudson Falls said Saturday was “really busy” and Sunday’s turnout was “respectable.”

Havens, whose store has been open since August 2016, said she saw a lot of familiar faces at the show.

“I saw a lot of our regular customers, but there were also some people from Vermont and western New York,” she said.

Havens was the only local gun dealer at the show, but Paul Brockway, who prints t-shirts in Glens Falls, had a table as well.

“Saturday was really busy. You couldn’t move in here,” he said.

Dealers came from across the state, and many seemed to spend as much time on the computer doing background checks as they did selling guns.

Havens said that in order to buy a handgun, customers already have to have a pistol permit from their local county. “We don’t have permitting for rifles or shotguns, but people still have to pass a federal background check before they can buy them,” she said.

“There is no ‘gun-show loophole,’” said Steve Heath of Steve’s Guns of Stephentown. “People have to pass the background check or have a permit.”

Some dealers and customers declined to talk to a reporter, but most were friendly and willing to talk about shows and shooting.

“The people you meet at a gun show — customers and dealers — are some of the best people you will ever meet,” Heath said.

Bob McQuade of Comac Guns in Glenmont had a relatively quick trip to this weekend’s show, but will be on a road trip to Chantilly, Virginia, for a big show there later this week.

Like most dealers, he had plenty of modern firearms, but he also had a large selection of classic, handmade guns, including a double-barrel rifle with a $14,500 pricetag on it.

“You look at some of the handiwork that goes into some of these guns and it is just amazing,” he said.

There were plenty of other items beyond guns and ammunition. Some dealers had knives. Others had challenge coins, backpacks, targets, pink hats and posters.

The politically motivated posters leaned hard to the right, including a “Lock Her Up” poster of Hillary Clinton.

Recent mass shootings were not a common topic of conversation, but Karen Tremblay of East Greenbush, a gun dealer with her partner, Ronald Hertzel, had some strong opinions.

“When you look at the church shooting last week, that man never should have been able to buy guns, if the Air Force had done what it was supposed to and report him,” she said. “As gun dealers, we like the laws, except for the SAFE Act. That’s just too much. But we like having to make sure people should be able to get the guns they are buying.”

Havens, who is helping to organize a trap-shooting league for local high schools, said she has had positive experiences with law enforcement.

“I work with local and national law enforcement, and they are doing their job,” she said. “I have excellent relations with them. And as a dealer, we have the right to not sell a gun to someone if we think they are suspicious.”


International
AP
His Asia trip winding down, Trump meets with allies

MANILA, Philippines — President Donald Trump is winding down his lengthy Asia trip with an international summit and a trio of meetings with Pacific Rim allies, including his host in the Philippines who is overseeing a bloody drug war.

Trump, in Manila, attended the opening ceremonies of the Association for Southeast Asian Nations conference, which began with pageantry, including a group photo of the leaders and the summit’s traditional handshake. That cross-body shake, during which each leader shakes the opposite hands of those next to him, briefly baffled Trump, who then laughed as he figured out where to place his arms.

One of the leaders on his flank: with Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, who has overseen a bloody drug war that has featured extrajudicial killings. The two men also are slated to hold longer, formal talks later today and White House aides signaled that Trump is not expected to publicly bring up human rights in their discussions.

Trump also will meet with Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India, which plays a key role in the U.S. vision of an Indo-Pacific region that attempts to de-emphasize China’s influence. And he will meet with Australian Prime Minister Malcom Turnbull, with whom he had a contentious phone call this spring.

Trump’s discussions will largely center on trade and North Korea but he remains dogged by things he has said, and not said, about Russia.

He tried to have it both ways on the issue of Russian interference in last year’s presidential race, saying he believes both the U.S. intelligence agencies when they say Russia meddled and Putin’s sincerity in claiming that his country did not.

“I believe that he feels that he and Russia did not meddle in the election,” Trump said Sunday in Hanoi, Vietnam.

“As to whether I believe it, I’m with our agencies,” Trump said. “As currently led by fine people, I believe very much in our intelligence agencies.”

But just a day earlier, he had lashed out at the former heads of the U.S. intelligence agencies, dismissing them as “political hacks” and claiming there were plenty of reasons to be suspicious of their findings that Russia meddled to help Trump defeat Democrat Hillary Clinton.

Former CIA director John Brennan, appearing Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union” with former national intelligence director James Clapper, said Trump was deriding them in an attempt to “delegitimize” the intelligence community’s assessment.

“I think Mr. Putin is very clever in terms of playing to Mr. Trump’s interest in being flattered. And also I think Mr. Trump is, for whatever reason, either intimidated by Mr. Putin, afraid of what he could do or what might come out as a result of these investigations,” Brennan said.

Clapper called the threat from Russia “manifest and obvious.”

“To try to paint it in any other way is, I think, astounding and, in fact, poses a peril to this country,” he said on CNN.

Brennan said Trump’s ambiguity on Russia’s involvement was “very, very worrisome from a national security standpoint.”

“I think he’s giving Putin a pass and I think it demonstrates to Putin that Donald Trump can be played by foreign leaders who are going to appeal to his ego and play upon his insecurities,” Brennan said.

Questions about whether Trump believes the assessment about Russian election-meddling have trailed him since January, when he said for the first time, shortly before taking office, that he accepted that Russia was behind the election-year hacking of Democrats that roiled the White House race.

A special counsel’s examination of potential collusion between Moscow and Trump campaign aides so far has led to indictments against Trump’s former campaign chairman and another top aide for crimes unrelated to the campaign, and a guilty plea from a Trump foreign policy adviser for lying to the FBI.

Multiple congressional committees also are investigating.

Trump told reporters traveling with him to Hanoi on Saturday that Putin had again vehemently denied the allegations. The two spoke during an economic conference in Danang, Vietnam. Trump danced around questions about whether he believed Putin but stressed Putin’s denials.

“Every time he sees me, he says: ‘I didn’t do that.’ And I believe — I really believe — that when he tells me that, he means it,” Trump said, arguing that it makes no sense for him to belabor the issue when Russia could help the U.S. on North Korea, Syria and other issues.

Trump originally was slated to depart Manila for Washington today. He added a day to the schedule amid criticism that he would have missed the final summit.


State
AP
Partisan divide grows in US states, with mixed results

OLYMPIA, Wash. — Democrats have hit the political trifecta in New Jersey and Washington state, seizing complete control of the governor’s office and legislative chambers in the 2017 elections.

Time to let fly with a big liberal agenda? Maybe, but taking a few modest steps to the left is probably more realistic.

In a decade that has seen a resurgence of American political polarization, two-thirds of all state governments will be fully controlled by either Democrats or Republicans. That rivals the predominant levels of single-party governance last seen in the post-World War II era.

Yet recent experience has shown that new Republican or Democratic majorities still can splinter among factions of moderates and hard-core ideologues. Even when a party bands together for bold initiatives, the results can be mixed.

Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee, of Washington, already appears to be lowering partisan expectations as he prepares to work with a new Democratic-led Senate and House that will have majorities of just a few seats over Republicans.

“With very closely held margins like this, neither party controls the Legislature,” Inslee told The Associated Press in a phone interview while on a trade trip to Zurich, Switzerland. He added: “I’m hopeful more bipartisan votes will occur.”

New Jersey might be positioned for a somewhat more aggressive Democratic agenda.

Newly elected Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy will be paired with a legislature that is roughly two-thirds Democrats and had been at odds with Gov. Chris Christie, a Republican forced out of office by term limits. The first bill the Senate president wants to send to Murphy would boost taxes on high-earners, something Christie vetoed five times. Murphy also has expressed support for legalizing recreational marijuana, which Christie also opposed.

Democrats will have full control in eight states, all touching the Pacific or Atlantic oceans, when the newly elected officials are sworn into office. Republicans will have full control of 25 states. Sixteen will have politically divided governments, most pitting legislatures led by one party against a governor of another. The Nebraska Legislature officially is nonpartisan.

Just five states — Alaska, Colorado, Maine, New York and potentially Virginia, depending on the outcome of several too-close-to-call House races — could have functional control of their legislative chambers split among the two major parties. That’s slightly less than the historic norm, according to an AP analysis of data dating to 1900 provided by the National Conference of State Legislatures.

The number of unified legislatures paired with same-party governors has surged significantly since the 1996 election, when just 37 percent of states had single-party governance. It has remained above 60 percent of all states since Republicans swept into control of many capitols in 2010. (Single-party governance peaked at 83 percent of states after the 1946 and 1952 elections).

Republicans have used their state majorities to cut taxes, limit union powers and expand school-choice initiatives, sometimes with more success than others.

This year, three states with new Republican governing trifectas made a strong push to enact right-to-work laws barring mandatory union fees in workplace contracts. Legislation passed quickly in Kentucky and Missouri, although opponents gathered enough petitions to suspend Missouri’s new law pending a voter referendum in 2018.

In New Hampshire, the right-to-work bill passed the Senate but failed in the House as 32 of 223 Republican representatives bucked the new governor on an issue that had been part of the GOP platform. Not only did the House kill the bill, it moved to “indefinitely postpone” it, meaning no similar bills can be debated for the remainder of the two-year session.

“It’s always a challenge. We never feel like we can take Republican votes for granted,” said Greg Mourad, vice president for legislation at the National Right to Work Committee.

In Kansas, Republican Gov. Sam Brownback enacted major income tax cuts in 2012 and 2013 that were touted as an economic model for conservatives. But Kansas struggled to balance its budget as tax revenue fell and promised economic gains failed to make up the difference.

The GOP-controlled Legislature reversed course earlier this year, overriding Brownback’s veto to raise income taxes by $1.2 billion over two years. Brownback has since resigned to accept a job in President Donald Trump’s administration.

Kansas is regularly cited by Republicans in neighboring Missouri and elsewhere as a model for how not to use majority powers.

Democrats also have had problems managing majorities. In 2006, the first year in office for former New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine, a Democrat, state government shut down amid a budget standoff between him and the Democratic-led Legislature.

California is often cited as the gold standard of Democratic strength, with supermajorities in the Legislature and control of the governor’s office and every other statewide office.