Editorial Roundup: Excerpts From Recent Editorials in Newspapers in the US and Abroad

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Editorial Roundup: Excerpts From Recent Editorials

Excerpts from recent editorials in newspapers in the United States and abroad:

Aug. 9

The Seattle Times on Verizon and Google’s assault on net neutrality:

The debate over preserving open, equal access to the Internet took a hard, sharp turn away from the theoretical toward a grim future of toll booths on the information superhighway.

The Associated Press confirmed Aug. 9 that Verizon and Google want to allow Internet service providers to charge customers extra for premium services over segregated networks. None of this, they claim, should come at the expense of slowing, blocking or charging to prioritize regular Internet traffic — however that gets defined. Brace for heavy eye rolls.

Columbia law professor Tim Wu, writing for Slate, likens the “content-for-cash scheme” to an earlier scandal in another medium: “We could term it ‘Internet Payola’ after the practice of record labels paying radio stations to play their songs.”

The agreement between Verizon and Google to pursue their line of argument in Congress and with regulators should be an alarm bell for consumers, lawmakers and the White House. This is a direct assault on their pocketbooks, and a productive way of doing business.

Wake up Mr. President, reintroduce yourself to your campaign persona, which was shocked and appalled by the potential tampering with a technology that thrived, prospered and evolved thanks to open access for new ideas, devices and software. …

The moment is ripe for the Federal Communications Commission and chair Julius Genachowski to reclaim the moral and legal authority to protect American consumers. A judicial setback in the FCC’s ability to regulate broadband only means the agency’s authority needs to be broadened and affirmed by Congress. …

Net neutrality is under assault and the consequences are real. The White House, Congress and the FCC must take on a potent, well-financed, politically adroit lobbying force to protect millions of ordinary customers and voters.



Aug. 5

The Charleston (W. Va.) Gazette on the terrible blunder of the Iraq war:

All American combat troops will be withdrawn from Iraq by the end of August — “as promised and on schedule” — President Barack Obama told a Disabled American Veterans convention in Atlanta recently. Only an international force of advisers will stay behind to assist Iraq’s new government temporarily.

At last, the terrible blunder by the former George W. Bush administration is coming to an end. The pointless, needless, unnecessary war that cost nearly 5,000 young American lives will pass into history.

The U.S. invasion was based on bogus reasons. Starting in 2002, the Bush White House declared that Iraq possessed horror weapons, and was in league with fanatics who would unleash those weapons on Americans. The Bush team said Iraq’s people would greet U.S. troops as liberators, and Iraq’s own oil wealth would pay the cost of the American attack.

All those pretexts turned out to be untrue. The Iraq war was a colossal mistake. …

After it became obvious that Bush’s reasons for the invasion were baseless, the White House shifted gears and said the purpose of the attack had been to remove a former dictator. …

Looking back, the Iraq invasion was a historic U.S. bungle that wouldn’t have occurred under a wiser leader.



Aug. 6

Chattanooga (Tenn.) Free Press on the U.S. District Court ruling on California’s “same-sex marriage” law:

It is truly amazing, and disgusting, that anyone entrusted with the great responsibility of being a U.S. District Court judge would defy law, reason and the will of the people to overturn a California law that banned so-called “same-sex marriage.”

Individuals may have whatever personal relationships they choose. But marriage long has been recognized in law as a union of one man and one woman. California, like many states, reasonably had legislated that same-sex relationships are not “marriage.”

But now, Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker in San Francisco has ruled that California cannot ban “same-sex marriage.”

The case had been filed by two same-sex couples who claimed that banning “same-sex marriage” violated their civil rights.

The ruling by the judge defies the majority vote by the residents of California, who specifically rejected “same-sex marriage” by adopting Proposition 8 in a statewide referendum in November 2008.

The irrational ruling has been appealed to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and may later be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

We hope sound reason, sound law and sound practice will be upheld by majorities in those courts when they are called upon to make a final decision.



Aug. 7

Dayton (Ohio) Daily News on stalled small business lending bill:

Partisan bickering in the U.S. Senate about a bill designed to offer help to small business is beyond frustrating at a time when companies that could benefit are living on the edge.

The $30 billion bill is modest in size and mostly offers tax cuts and the creation of a new fund that would allow small banks to extend more loans to small companies stifled by a credit freeze. …

It has wide support on both sides of the aisle, but Senate leaders are about to shelve the whole thing over inane disputes such as how many amendments are allowed.

Democrats say that many of the bill’s existing provisions were actually authored by Republicans, who tend to favor tax cuts and programs that support business. But Republicans object to some of the bill’s spending.

On that, though, the Congressional Budget Office says the bill would not add to the deficit because of revenue generated by closing tax loopholes for foreign companies. Republicans are blocking it by threatening a filibuster. Sen. George Voinovich, R-Ohio, supported the spending as recently as last month, but so far is honoring the call for a filibuster. Ohio Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown backs the program.

It’s time for both sides to come together and move the bill to a vote. …

The Senate isn’t helping the tentative recovery.



The Star-Ledger, Newark, N.J., on first lady Michelle Obama’s Spanish vacation:

What Michelle Obama does with her own money is her own business. But let’s face it: Taking a five-star vacation in southern Spain at a time when most Americans are brown-bagging lunch — if they even have a job — is setting herself up for criticism.

Although the first lady picked up much of the tab, she was naive not to realize this would be fodder for critics trying to brand the Obamas as elitists.

Then you have Rush Limbaugh, pandering to prejudice, saying the media gave Michelle Obama a free pass on her expensive vacation as a form of reparations for “our slave past.”

It’s a ludicrous statement. And while it is true Obama stayed at an expensive resort in Costa del Sol with a couple of friends and their daughters, they paid for their lodgings out of their own pockets.

No doubt transporting the first lady and several dozen Secret Service agents to Spain was costly, but being the first lady calls for that protection wherever she goes, be it Europe or the Jersey Shore.

So what’s the big deal?

While much of the criticism against the first lady is unjustified, this trip looked bad at a time when Americans are struggling. The White House should know facts don’t matter as much as appearances in situations like this.

Next time, Michelle and Sasha ought to hang closer to home.



Aug. 11

San Antonio Express-News on the U.S. exiting Afghanistan:

The current edition of Time magazine asks on its cover, “What happens if we leave Afghanistan?” Accompanying the question is a gruesome photograph of a beautiful young girl whose nose and ears were cut off by an abusive husband she tried to escape. The photo seemingly answers the question.

The world, the West and particularly the United States left — actually, abandoned — Afghanistan once before. After a Soviet invasion in 1979, Afghanistan became a distant battlefield of the Cold War. The Soviets departed after a decade. As the proxy battle waned, so did international concern in a nation made destitute by civil war.

Into this vacuum came the Taliban and its horrors. Afghanistan became a sanctuary for like-minded extremists and a training base for terrorists, one by the name of Osama bin Laden. The U.S. might have been done with Afghanistan after 1989, but Afghanistan was not done with the U.S. …

Recently, according to eyewitnesses, Taliban gunman massacred 10 members of an eye-care team — six Americans, one German, one Briton and two Afghans. In a claim of responsibility, the Taliban said the victims were spies on a mission of conversion.

President Barack Obama has pledged to begin pulling U.S. troops out of Afghanistan next July. …

An American departure from Afghanistan is inevitable. The massacre and the Time photo are haunting reminders, however, of what will almost certainly happen in Afghanistan if the United States leaves in the wrong way.



Aug. 9

The New York Times on Medicare and Social Security:

It’s the time of year when the trustees of Medicare and Social Security release their annual reports on the programs’ financial health. And that means Americans are likely to be bathed in a fog of political rhetoric that makes it hard to sort out fact from fiction.

Here’s the bottom line: The recently passed health care reform bill is promising to have a positive effect on Medicare, assuming Republican opponents don’t succeed in killing the reform in court or otherwise undermining its main provisions. Social Security is holding up even in the face of a weak economy. According to the reports, the date of insolvency for Medicare’s hospital fund was pushed back, from 2017 to 2029, because of cost-saving measures in health reform. As for Social Security, without any changes, it will be able to pay full benefits until 2037 and partial benefits after that, the same estimate as in last year’s report, despite temporary setbacks from the recession.

Of course, neither program is sound for the long run. But the reports show there is time for lawmakers to reform and strengthen both of the programs for the long haul. The real question is whether they will rise to the challenge or continue to view these vital programs as battlegrounds for scoring partisan points. …

Medicare is a thorny problem; Social Security, by comparison, is a cinch. More worrisome than either is the hyper-partisan atmosphere in Washington.



Aug. 10

San Francisco Chronicle on unemployment:

Just how bad is the job market?

This bad: About 8.4 million jobs have been lost to this ongoing recession. Simply to keep pace with population growth, the economy has to add more than 100,000 jobs every month. To significantly reduce the country’s 9.5 percent unemployment rate, we’d need to add at least 200,000 jobs every month.

Over the last three months, the economy has added an average of about 50,000 jobs.

It’s going to take us years to dig out of this hole. In an Associated Press survey of leading economists, a majority said it would be at least 2015 before unemployment falls to 5 percent.

It’s a rare day when a group of economists agrees on anything. We’re in deep trouble, and it’s looking increasingly likely that we’re headed toward a dreaded “double-dip” recession. …

What can we do to improve things going forward?

Some of the answers are simple: the states need more aid and the unemployed need more assistance. But first, we have to get Washington to understand how urgent the matter of unemployment truly is.



Aug. 11

The Boston Globe on the case of the Jetblue flight attendant:

In court Aug. 10, the JetBlue flight attendant who became angry at a passenger, cursed out the whole plane, opened the door, and then slid down the inflatable emergency slide to the tarmac at New York’s Kennedy Airport, defended his actions as a blow for courtesy. “This is an example of how airline civility is missing,” the lawyer for Steven Slater, 38, told the court, claiming Slater became incensed by a passenger who failed to apologize after accidentally whacking him with the door to the overhead storage bin. And, indeed, much of the coverage of the event portrayed Slater as a put-upon drudge who refused to take it any more — a workplace hero.

Workplace danger and miscreant, perhaps, but no hero.

JetBlue, which happens to be the leading airline at Logan Airport, needs to explain how it came to employ this emotional firecracker in what is, at bottom, a public-safety position. Flight attendants have played key roles in helping defuse deadly terrorist attacks on many flights, including as recently as last Christmas. Moreover, flight attendants are often charged with calming the nerves of those who suffer from fear of flying — not provoking them with outbursts of their own. JetBlue needs to examine its personnel screening — not least because Slater reportedly was on the airline’s “in-flight values committee.”

Slater can get out of jail by posting $2,500 bail on reckless endangerment charges. That’s fair enough, but the court is right to take his offense seriously — and judge him harshly.



Aug. 11

The Ottawa (Ontario) Sun on children and teenagers headed in the wrong direction:

The kids are all right? Bull. They’re not and we’re to blame.

For years now it’s been plain to anyone with eyes that children and teenagers are gradually getting lazier, fatter, less respectful of authority and narcissistic.

The evidence is everywhere: In schools, playgrounds, on the ice and in the courts.

Academics have had a field-day with this. They churn out study after study linking excessive screen time — TV, web networking and video games — with a slew of emotional, behavioral and physical ailments, led by obesity.

It’s a worldwide problem. Researchers in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou recently found 13-to-18-year-olds who spent more than five hours a day on the Web were one-and-a-half times more likely to suffer depression than moderate users.

No wonder they’re depressed. Who wouldn’t be, staring at a screen all day, lost in a world that isn’t real. …

Col. Dave Grossman, former U.S. Army psychiatrist and world-leading author on the effects and causes of violence, argues video games are teaching U.S. teens to kill — without pity and without remorse, while at the same time turning them into couch whales.

That bodes well for the future, eh? But it makes sense. …

Coupled with this we have a school system that drills children with the mantra they can do no wrong. So when a parent or teacher comes along and says get off your behind, go kick a ball, they’re met with blank stares — at best. …

Let’s pressure the school boards to reintroduce deportment and basic discipline as core objectives of education. And let’s talk about a year of compulsory military or community service at age 18.

Most of all let’s stop pointing the finger and get off our own lazy, lard-layered butts.



Aug. 9

Arab News, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on peace talks between the Palestinians Authority and Israel:

When recently the Arab League backed restarting direct peace talks between the Palestinian Authority and Israel, but only when the Palestinians believe the circumstances are right, the response of Hamas was of angry rejection. The movement’s Damascus-based leader Khaled Mashaal not only said that such negotiations were illegitimate, he denied the Arab League’s right to make such a pronouncement.

That view cannot stand unchallenged. The Arab League is the only body that can legitimately represent and endorse Arab views. It is to the Arab world what the United Nations is to the whole world. Through decisions adopted at its meetings of Arab foreign, finance or other ministers or at summits of heads of government and state, Arab policies are made. It was the league’s summit, in 2002 in Beirut, that adopted the Abdullah peace initiative. Prior to that it was merely an idea. Likewise, the league has said the only bodies that can negotiate directly with Israel are Egypt, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority. …

Questioning the legitimacy of talking to Israel wastes Palestinian energies and does nothing for the cause. Legitimacy is not the issue. The issue is Israeli political sabotage. The reality is that neither Hamas’ efforts at a prisoner exchange nor direct peace talks between the PA and the Israelis are happening because Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu does not want them to happen and continually does everything to stop them happening. …

What is so galling, though, is that President Barack Obama colludes in Netanyahu’s devious and dishonest game. The White House endorses the call for direct talks without preconditions and has been piling the pressure on Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas to agree. It is desperate for a breakthrough in the Middle East for which it can claim credit. It wants progress at any price — except there is a most poisonous one if settlements continue to grow. It is Abbas’ humiliation, Palestinian rejection and a moral victory for Hamas. Is Washington so naive not to imagine that it is going to happen?



Aug. 11

China Daily, Beijing, on China’s booming export growth:

China’s swelling trade surplus has presented yet again remarkable proof of the resilience of Chinese exporters and, at the same time, the increased difficulty of cutting down the country’s reliance on exports for growth.

If the nation is to effectively rebalance growth away from exports and investment to domestic consumption, more structural reforms, rather than a hasty revaluation of the renminbi, are badly needed.

Latest statistics show that China’s monthly trade surplus trumped almost all forecasts to hit an 18-month high, up 170 percent from a year earlier to $28.7 billion. In view of the fragile global recovery, most observers believed China could hardly run an even larger monthly trade surplus than what it posted in June, a whopping $20 billion. …

With a trade surplus close to the largest China has ever seen and record overseas sales in July, Chinese exporters have shown impressive capacity to survive what is arguably the worst global recession in more than half a century.

It seems likely that the export sector will remain a powerful growth engine of the Chinese economy for many more years.

That may disappoint people who anticipated a steady decline in China’s trade surplus to reduce global imbalances rapidly.

But it is not a reason to tout faster appreciation of the Chinese currency as a panacea. The real solution to China’s swelling trade surplus must include long-term reforms to enrich Chinese consumers and boost their consumption levels.



Aug. 8

London Evening Standard on the Charles Taylor war crimes tribunal:

The one thing to be said for the presence of Naomi Campbell at a war crimes tribunal is that, however much the prosecution dislikes the idea, a supermodel of her fame attracts enormous attention not merely to herself but to the trial of Charles Taylor for crimes against humanity and indeed to the question of blood diamonds.

Campbell’s reluctant testimony that she was presented with “very small dirty-looking stones” by two men at her hotel room as she was attending a gathering in South Africa in aid of Nelson Mandela’s charitable foundation is relevant because it suggests Taylor, the alleged donor, had stones of this kind in his possession at the time.

And the reason, it is alleged, that Taylor, ex-Liberian leader, had the diamonds is because he was given them by a particularly revolting rebel group in Sierra Leone, the RUF, in return for guns and ammunition.

The RUF activities funded by diamonds included amputating the limbs of opponents and those who got in its way, conscripting child soldiers and engaging in mass rape. …

The unhappy truth is that diamonds, like any other mineral riches, are a colossal asset to a well-run democracy but nothing short of a curse to a broken, corrupt state, aggravating civil conflict and providing means for warlords to enrich themselves and buy the arms to prosecute war. …

As for Campbell, she has reminded less fortunate souls that rough diamonds are just that: rough. And she has raised interesting questions about the whereabouts of her own — which she says she gave to Mandela’s foundation — that may take time to unravel.



will not be displayed