Excerpts from recent editorials in newspapers in the United States and abroad:
The Dallas Morning News on the results of the New Hampshire primary:
A Republican presidential race that has lurched to and fro lurched yet again Tuesday night in New Hampshire, as the slow sorting continued behind prototypical outsider and resurrected Donald Trump.
On the Democratic side, fellow non-establishmentarian Bernie Sanders validated polls that showed him comfortably ahead of Hillary Clinton. Coupled with their virtual tie in Iowa, that tees up Nevada and South Carolina, with Clinton needing to hold serve against an emboldened Sanders in states considered more favorable to her message.
Trump, off an unexpected loss in Iowa's GOP caucus, regained some of his swagger by effectively lapping the field in New Hampshire. Texas Sen. Ted Cruz contended with a less favorable demographic but managed to lodge himself in the pack far behind Trump.
Trump showed strength among independents and voters who rated the economy and terrorism as top issues. New Hampshire might not have been a must-win for the self-funded Trump, but a second defeat would have raised serious questions.
Below Trump, the "establishment lane" contenders — Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush, John Kasich and Chris Christie — battled for plausibility, perhaps outright survival.
Rubio's bump from a solid third in Iowa dissipated before the first New Hampshire vote was cast after a struggling debate effort. Kasich surged into second, and Bush nosed ahead, as well. The irony was that Christie's debate elbows did much to bring Rubio down, but the New Jersey governor benefited least.
All campaigns aren't created equal, of course, and differences in funding and organization will become more apparent going forward.
Kasich, for instance, focused almost all of his energies on New Hampshire. But he appears to lack the ground game for South Carolina and Nevada, not to mention the delegate-rich "SEC primary" states March 1, with Texas the big prize.
Clinton's campaign, once considered unbeatable in the Democratic race, still may be. She's leading Sanders in polling among pivotal African-American and Hispanic voters who will be more plentiful now that the campaigns have passed Iowa and New Hampshire.
The GOP side, meanwhile, is sorting itself out, but taking its time to get there.
The New York Times on missing child refugees:
According to the European police agency Europol, more than 10,000 children who entered Europe during the last two years have disappeared, vanishing through the gaping cracks in Europe's chaotic system for dealing with refugees and migrants.
The fear is that many of the missing children have been trafficked into the sex trade by the same organized criminal groups that are profiting handsomely by ferrying refugees into and across Europe.
In addition, many children are believed to have fled detention centers, where they do not feel safe and are too often kept in the dark about their rights. Some are teenage boys, many from Syria and Afghanistan, who have been sent ahead by families hoping to join them later. Once on the streets, they are easy prey for drug dealers, pimps or petty theft rings. Younger children and adolescent girls are also at great risk of sexual and other abuse.
Some children may have become separated from their families along the routes refugees take through Europe after landing in Greece or Italy. Others arrive in Europe as unaccompanied minors — 26,000 last year — according to the humanitarian group Save the Children.
And more are arriving every day. The United Nations says that more than a third of refugees crossing the Mediterranean by boat to reach Europe are now children. Last year, more than 70 percent of refugees who arrived in Europe were men.
"The implications of this surge in the proportion of children and women on the move are enormous — it means more are at risk at sea, especially now in the winter, and more need protection on land," warned Marie-Pierre Poirier, Unicef's special coordinator for the refugee and migrant crisis in Europe.
Britain's Department of International Development is setting up a 10 million pound ($14 million) fund to support refugee and migrant children on the Continent. That is helpful, but Britain, which has so far balked at taking any refugees already in Europe, should also take in a fair share of unaccompanied children — as should all other European countries.
The European Union also needs to increase funding to improve services for these children. The trafficking networks must be broken, and any perpetrators of crimes against children must be apprehended and punished.
All European countries have signed the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and have a duty to provide for the safety and well-being of children on European soil. That Europe has failed to protect these most vulnerable among the desperate people arriving on the Continent is unconscionable.
The Orange County Register on President Obama's budget:
When President Obama submitted his proposed budget one year ago, he claimed that he wanted to do away with the "mindless austerity" of the sequestration, which had provided some measure of limitation on government spending. Then in December, aided and abetted by a Republican-controlled Congress, he eradicated those minor restrictions and replaced mindless austerity with clueless profligacy.
Now he puts forth a budget for the 2017 fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1, that calls for $4.15 trillion in spending, a $223 billion increase over the current year's budget. His proposal, curiously released while all eyes are focused on the New Hampshire primary, spans more than 2,300 pages, which, in itself, serves as a testament to the federal government's bloat and overreach.
The president's budget contains $3 trillion in proposed tax increases over the next 10 years, according to the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget. The most controversial of these is a $10.25-per-barrel oil tax, which would be used to fund "clean" transit projects and low-carbon technologies such a self-driving cars, which the private sector is already rapidly developing. With oil prices currently hovering around $30 a barrel, that is a roughly 35 percent tax, which experts project would translate to a price hike of about 25 cents per gallon at the pump. Fortunately, this is a nonstarter for congressional Republicans.
The president's budget message reads like his State of the Union addresses, espousing his wish list, from "green energy" subsidies to universal preschool to high-speed rail and increased transit funding to $4 billion for a K-12 computer science program to two years of "free" community college to apprenticeship programs to "encouraging" state paid leave policies - none of which is the province of federal, state and local governments.
President Obama's budget would, once again, expand government control over our lives and further burden current and future generations with debt. It is understandable that a lame-duck president with a somewhat hostile Congress would advance a budget sprinkled with fairy dust, but Mr. Obama's proposal should not be taken seriously with regard to fiscal responsibility.
The Wall Street Journal on India's Internet shutdown:
India's telecommunications regulator banned Facebook's free Internet service "Free Basics" Monday, ruling that service providers cannot charge different prices for content. Net neutrality — the misguided idea that all Internet access should be the same — trumped the goal of offering hundreds of millions of poor Indians the most essential online services.
Free Basics works with mobile-service providers in 38 countries to offer free access to Facebook, Wikipedia and select other sites. CEO Mark Zuckerberg says the service has already helped 19 million people read the news, find job listings and improve their businesses or farms. Users who want full access to the Web can pay a nominal fee.
When the program debuted in India last February, net neutrality supporters complained that it preferred certain content over that of Facebook's competitors. The technology industry warned that India's fledgling start-ups were under threat. One tech entrepreneur even suggested on Twitter that Facebook would exploit the country like the British East India Company.
While Facebook's motive isn't altruistic, the suspicion that Free Basics would harm Indians is baseless. The service is an open platform that includes content from any developers that meet certain guidelines. This benefits the tech industry and consumers. Free Basics would have helped develop an online market in a country with an Internet penetration rate of about 27%, one of the lowest in Asia. Some 40% of Indians who used Free Basics went on to pay for regular Internet access, according to Facebook. It wouldn't have been long before competitors entered the market for free and low-cost Internet service.
The decision to block Free Basics shows that, despite Prime Minister Narendra Modi's efforts to woo American companies in Silicon Valley last fall, anticorporate sentiment still prevails in Delhi. India's elite would rather let the majority of the population lose out than open a new market to a foreign competitor.
The Boston Herald on Syrian refugees:
While our own nation has been absorbed in the quadrennial sport of picking presidential candidates, the humanitarian crisis on the Syrian-Turkish border grows ever worse.
Last week's carpet-bombing by Russia of Aleppo (and we truly wish those Republican candidates who so blithely reference their willingness to "carpet bomb" this place or that would look at the before and after photos of Aleppo) exacerbated the crisis. At least 70,000 more Syrians have fled for their lives — about half have already made it to the Turkish border.
The weather has turned cold and rainy and over the weekend Turkey's Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus warned that his nation "has reached its capacity to absorb" more refugees.
Monday a new United Nations report accused the Assad regime of a "systematic and widespread attack" on civilians that "amounts to extermination."
The European Union, which belatedly has figured out it's easier to provide for the refugees before they reach the borders of their own communities than after, has allocated $3 billion in aid to help Turkey deal with the refugee problem. The U.S. has pledged another $1 billion. And while the funds, no doubt, are welcome, they don't address the problem of what to do with what is estimated to be 2.5 million refugees who have made their way to Turkey during the five-year civil war.
At best the money will help feed and shelter some of them — and then what?
Turkey has long lobbied for the creation of a safe zone within Syria — not always for the most altruistic of reasons. The refugees, not surprisingly, present an internal political problem. That the most recent wave of refugees was created by Russia's attacks aimed at keeping the Assad regime in power has further complicated the issue for Turkey. But then who are we to judge. Those 70,000 human beings are not on our doorstep.
The "safe zone" is likely the best option. Of course, it would have been an even better option five years ago when U.S. Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham called for a "no-fly zone" in the same northern area of Syria to protect civilians. It might have prevented the refugee crisis that Europe faces. It would surely have prevented the disaster now at Turkey's border.
China Daily on the Chinese economy:
China's top economic planner said on Wednesday that the country's 2015 economic growth rate was within a reasonable range.
This has created enough room for policy maneuvers to underpin its ongoing transformation towards more consumption and innovation-driven growth.
Chinese policymakers are not only well aware of the huge challenges ahead but also resolved to deal with them with the required flexibility and resolve.
The $10-trillion Chinese economy grew by 6.9 percent year-on-year in 2015, its slowest growth in a quarter of a century, thanks to sluggish property investment, falling trade and weak manufacturing activity.
Chinese policymakers are ensuring they can keep deepening structural reforms as long as growth momentum allows and have more preparation time to step on the gas when headwinds blow harder than expected.
Globally speaking, China's aim and ability to achieve steady growth will be an important anchor for the world economy teetering on the brink of a repeat of 2008.
The increasing hesitancy shown by the US Federal Reserve to continue raising interest rates to a historically normal level has already laid bare the fragility of US economic growth. Worse, it has added to fears the irresponsible US monetary policy will cause more chaos and panic across financial and commodity markets around the globe.
Domestically, Chinese policymakers have more freedom to maneuver and they are doing their best to boost consumption to take up the slack in sluggish investment and factory activity. As long as the country's economic growth is healthy, employment and price pressure will all be under proper control while the strategic shift toward services and consumption-driven growth can make progress.
Actually, the green shoots of the Chinese economy are emerging despite the global chill. While the country's closely-watched manufacturing sector remained in contraction, the Caixin-Markit services PMI came in at 52.4 in January, showing that China's service sector is expanding at its highest rate for six months. That is a real cause for optimism as the service sector accounts for an ever larger share of the Chinese economy.