Excerpts from recent editorials in newspapers in the United States and abroad:
Lexington (Ky.) Herald-Leader, on climate change:
It's easy to see why people don't want to believe that global warming is real or that we can do anything about it. ...
Climate change is real, though, and judging from the loss of polar ice, it's advancing even faster than scientists predicted. ...
The Senate should quickly join the House in committing to major reductions in emissions.
The Kerry-Boxer bill approved by a Senate committee last week, despite a Republican boycott, does that by requiring a 20 percent reduction by 2020. The legislation is not perfect, but it moves us in the right direction.
By putting a price on carbon through a market-based cap-and-trade system, the legislation provides what many in business and industry are demanding: enough certainty to make long-term investments. ...
Proceeds from selling carbon allowances would go to help consumers pay their power bills.
Unless the Senate gets busy, the United States will go empty-handed to next month's climate summit in Copenhagen and be left flat-footed in the next technology race. The winner of that race will dominate the economic race. ...
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The Commercial Appeal, Memphis, Tenn., on The Delta region and poverty:
The Mississippi River Delta region can't shake the poverty, education and health blues that has crushed the area for generations. ...
It is an area where a nearly 20 percent poverty rate (1.6 million people) affects black and white residents alike. It's an area of high unemployment and underemployment, low educational attainment and high rates of obesity, which sprout related ailments such as diabetes, hypertension and heart disease.
And the region steadily has been losing population. ...
While policymakers and politicians ponder those questions, we urge them to focus on the Delta's children. Concentrate resources to make sure that they have a bright future, whether that future is in the Delta or some other place. ...
If these things can be accomplished, many of the social ills that drag the Delta down can be greatly reduced, including the number of young folks who become pregnant as teenagers or turn to crime. ...
The Delta, while rich in its own special culture, is a creature of its own history _ a history that for too long was steeped in fertile soil and poverty, aggravated by racism.
It spawned an agrarian society of haves and have-nots, which did not foster a middle class.
That legacy has been hard to overcome. We think a good start toward accomplishing that is to concentrate on preparing the Delta's children for a bright future.
On the Net:
The Star-Ledger, Newark, N.J., on the first anniversary of President Barack Obama's election:
Few presidents have come to the job bearing a bigger burden of great expectations than Barack Obama, a blessing for a candidate but often a curse for a presidency. ...
Now, a year since his historic election, the pace of the Obama agenda has the country gasping for breath. His popularity remains high; but worries have risen about the speed of the change he represents _ and especially the cost. ...
His decision to remake health care his first year, on the other hand, was a political calculation. It was his signature campaign issue, a radical reordering of the U.S. economy that could make or break his presidency. But he had to strike with his popularity at its peak, something time and midterm elections could erode. ...
GOP opposition is no surprise. Nor are complaints by Democratic Blue Dogs, a moderately conservative bunch. Bellyaching from the cranky Democratic left is, however. ...
What they've found _ what 10 months in the Oval Office have shown _ is that Obama is not really one of them. He leans left on lunch pail economic issues, but he's no true ideologue, despite GOP cries to the contrary.
He wants to win. Like most Chicago Democrats he'd deal with the devil, left- or right-wing variety, to do it. It's a bargain he may yet have to make to redeem those great expectations.
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San Antonio (Texas) Express-News, on the military budget:
Credit President Barack Obama and Defense Secretary Robert Gates for restoring a little fiscal sanity to the military budget. The president signed the 2010 defense authorization bill last month.
At $680 billion, the measure still authorizes plenty of federal spending on programs with questionable value to any military challenges on the horizon. ...
However, Obama and Gates were able to pare down some of the more egregious examples of politicians trying to use the military budget to score home-state and home-district federal spending. ...
Another sound change in the new defense measure is that it authorizes $550 billion for the Pentagon's base budget as well as $130 billion for U.S. operations in Iraq and Afghanistan for the current fiscal year. That's an attempt to actually budget those wars, something the Bush administration -- which consistently relied on supplemental funding outside the normal Pentagon budget -- never did.
The budget process isn't over. Now that Congress has authorized military spending for 2010, it still has to appropriate funds. That gives politicos on Capitol Hill and special interests another crack at larding the defense budget with earmarks for unneeded projects and weapons systems. The Obama administration and watchdog groups will need to remain vigilant.
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The Arizona Republic, on health care reform:
... There is a lot wrong with the current state of affairs in American health care. But the rapid rise in costs - including a 131 percent rise in employer-sponsored premiums in just the past 10 years - is what drives this current fight for reform.
We have concerns about whether the House bill passed by five votes on Saturday accomplishes this goal.
The Congressional Budget Office projection that the House measure would lower the federal deficit by $109 billion in its first 10 years is accurate only if one accepts the data presented to the CBO.
It is hard data to buy.
The most dubious figure is the expectation that Congress will trim $400 billion from Medicare through dramatically lowered payments to doctors and hospitals. A smaller but similar "savings" is to result from a $110 billion slash in reimbursements to private insurers running the popular Medicare Advantage program.
Many times over the years, Congress has attempted savings by cutting reimbursement schedules, and every time, its heart grew too faint to hold the knife. ...
There are changes that really can alter the trajectory of medical-care price rises. Medical-liability law comes to mind.
But for whatever reasons, the House of Representatives chose not to consider those changes. ...
On the Net:
The Greenville (S.C.) News, on honoring veterans on Veterans Day:
There are 60,000 Americans serving in Afghanistan today. Another 124,000 are in Iraq. More than a million more serve abroad or on U.S. soil to protect the nation and defend liberty. In our nation's history, tens of millions have selflessly served. ...
The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have provided a stark reminder of our veterans' sacrifices. ...
As a nation we've slowly allowed (Veterans Day) to become just another day in the year. But as we remember the tens of millions of veterans who have served our country in its 233-year history and the 1.4 million who serve now and one day will be veterans, we ought to make today special.
... If you have a family member who has served in the armed forces, whether in wartime or peace, take a moment to thank him for his sacrifice _ rest assured there was some sacrifice. If you see a veteran ... be bold, step forward and say thank you.
Our gratitude, as a nation, can never equal the thanks that the men and women who serve _ and their families _ are genuinely owed. But sometimes a word of thanks is worth more than anything else we could do.
Thank you, veterans.
On the Net:
Poughkeepsie (N.Y.) Journal, on Fort Hood shooting.
Theories will undoubtedly run rampant the next few days and even weeks, as officials try to piece together what led an Army psychiatrist to go on a shooting rampage, killing 13 people and wounding 30 others at Fort Hood in Texas.
This is a horrendous incident, believed to be the worst mass shooting at a U.S. military base, and, at this point, there are more questions than answers.
The suspect, Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, may have been distraught about facing deployment to Iraq or Afghanistan. He had been counseling scores of returning soldiers with post-traumatic stress disorder, initially at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington and then at Fort Hood. Chillingly, authorities have not ruled out the possibility Hasan was acting on behalf of some unidentified radical group. There also are some disturbing reports that, as a Muslim, Hasan was harassed by other soldiers and subsequently had doubts about whether he should stay in the military. Authorities also reportedly are investigating Internet postings by a man calling himself Nidal Hasan that referred to suicide bombings and other threats.
The public should withhold any rush to judgment. ...
President Barack Obama has vowed to "get answers to every single question about this horrible incident."
That task will be as considerable as it is critically important. Emotions are running high. But let's hope a methodical investigation will provide answers to temper all the speculation.
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Los Angeles Times, on CIA renditions:
'Extrajudicial detentions" and "extraordinary renditions" were nicely scrubbed terms for the Bush administration's policy of capturing suspects in one country and spiriting them away to another, where they were harshly interrogated and even tortured. Now an Italian court has called this CIA practice by its real name -- illegal.
The conviction of 23 Americans and two Italians for kidnapping an Egyptian cleric off the streets of Milan in 2003 in one sense is largely symbolic. ... Yet the decision matters. It repudiates President Obama's expressed desire to look away from the ugly past, and sends a strong message that the U.S. government cannot operate outside the law with impunity in the name of fighting terrorism.
The CIA abducted Hassan Osama Nasr on Feb. 17, 2003. The Muslim cleric, suspected of recruiting insurgents for Iraq and Afghanistan, was flown to Egypt, where he allegedly was tortured with electric shocks, beatings and threats of rape. He was released in 2007.
Obama has since ended CIA interrogations in secret prisons and shut overseas jails used by the CIA, but he has not stopped the practice of extraordinary rendition. The difference between his and his predecessor's policy is that the administration will now demand credible assurances that prisoners won't be tortured, and that prisoners will be "rendered to justice" rather than held indefinitely without trial.
We don't like renditions and generally think even the most dangerous criminals are entitled to due process, including extradition hearings. A war against violent extremists cannot be won by immoral or illegal means; the U.S. can't outsource dirty work and claim to have clean hands. ...
On the Net:
Aftenposten, Oslo, Norway, on Afghanistan:
An international presence in Afghanistan will be necessary for many years to come. The security situation there is demanding, and it isn't improving as we'd hoped. At the same time, it's essential that Afghans themselves take responsibility for their own security and development. It's therefore necessary for international forces in the country to push for the development of Afghan expertise and ownership _ so-called Afghanization. ...
In order to stabilize Afghanistan, we must have a comprehensive strategy that utilizes political, military and humanitarian tools, as well as the tools of global development. In principle, there's consensus on this issue in the international community, but unfortunately we've not been able to implement such a strategy. ...
Still, some progress has been made _ in education, health care and infrastructure. Last year, the mandate of the U.N.'s mission in Afghanistan was strengthened when it received the resources necessary to coordinate the international effort. ...
The recent election illustrates once again that Afghanistan's government still has a long way to go. Democracy won't spring forth fully formed over night in a country with nearly three decades of continuous conflict behind it and where illiteracy is the rule. The Afghans must want independence and the responsibility that comes with it. If there is to be peace and a stable government in Afghanistan, the Afghans must want it themselves. ...
As we move forward, we must place the Afghans at the center of their own future to a much greater extent than we have so far.
On the Net:
Financial Times, London, on the fall of the Berlin Wall:
When crowds tore down the Berlin Wall 20 years ago ... few participants in that joyously chaotic celebration of freedom foresaw the consequences. But by seizing the moment they made history.
Like the concrete masonry, the 1945 division of Germany and of Europe was removed from the map. The way opened to the end of the cold war, the advance of democracy and free markets into eastern Europe, and the enlargement of the European Union.
Two decades later, it is clear that the world won huge political and economic benefits from the collapse of communism. Despite today's difficulties with global terrorism, the Middle East and economic crisis, the end of superpower rivalry has made the world safer, freer and richer.
Difficulties remain with completing the economic integration of Germany and of eastern Europe, where living standards remain below western levels. The economic crisis will delay efforts to close the gap. But with hard work it can be done.
East European states have worked wonders in establishing democracy where it had barely existed. But they must do more to deal with the baleful legacy of communism, build trust in public institutions and fight corruption. ...
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Khaleej Times, Dubai, United Arab Emirates, on the Fort Hood shooting:
The Americans are rightly shaken by this week's rampage at the Fort Hood Army base. A US Army psychiatrist allegedly turned the gun on fellow men and women in uniform, killing 13 people and wounding at least 30.
The United States is no stranger to bizarre shooting incidents involving individuals. ...
Yet the Fort Hood incident stands out in many ways. This is the first time such a tragedy has happened at a US military facility and has claimed so many lives of army personnel. However, the highlight of the Fort Hood horror is the fact that the attacker happens to be an Arab and Muslim. ...
... The U.S. media, especially the fair and balanced networks like Fox News, are always looking for an excuse to go after the usual suspects, ratcheting up jingoistic rhetoric against Arabs and Muslims to inflate their ratings and circulation figures. ...
... However, this incident must not be interpreted and profiled as yet another act of violence against America by angry Muslims. This has nothing to do with Maj. Malik's religious beliefs. It's just another act of despair by a lonely and depressed individual who just went off the bend. Like so many others before him have. With America bogged down in two long and disastrous wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, its men and women in uniform are increasingly paying the price and not just with their lives. The U.S. authorities, ordinary Americans and Muslim groups must do everything to ensure this unfortunate but isolated incident does not spark another wave of anti-Muslim hysteria in America. We're in this together.
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Jerusalem Post, on radicalization, American-born Muslims and the Fort Hood shooting:
... Since al-Qaida launched its war of civilizations on Sept. 11, 2001, America's all-volunteer army in Iraq and Afghanistan has suffered 5,000 dead and over 30,000 wounded.
Arlington is located 5 kilometers. from the Dar al-Hijrah mosque in Falls Church, Virginia. It was there that Nidal Hasan - the Muslim-American physician of Palestinian descent who murdered 13 people and wounded 29 last Thursday at Fort Hood, Texas - crossed paths with Nawaf al-Hamzi and Hani Hanjour, two of the 9/11 hijackers. ...
The FBI has no evidence that Hasan was part of a larger conspiracy. In the fullness of time he may explain why he carried out this massacre. But it hardly requires prophecy to intuit that he opposed the presence of foreign forces in the Middle East and believed Muslims shouldn't be killing Muslims on behalf of infidels.
Hassan and Awlaki are further proof that the war of civilizations is radicalizing American-born Muslims. ...
In this context it is only mildly reassuring that the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), a mainstream group, has strongly condemned the Fort Hood attack. Such declarations don't inoculate Arab moderates if they continue to champion the policies of terrorist organizations. ...
So Muslim-American leaders need to do some soul-searching about the charities they support, the foreign causes they embrace and the clerics they tolerate.
In the wake of 11/5, President Obama needs to work on parallel tracks - to ensure that blameless individuals are not scapegoated for Hasan's crimes, and to press Muslim moderates to cut all links with those who run charities by day and guns by night.
On the Net: