Excerpts from recent editorials in newspapers in the United States and abroad:
Richmond (Va.) Times-Dispatch, on Tiger Woods situation:
If cartoonists always have pressed against the limits, then situations such as the Tiger Woods affair have taken them to realms readers find offensive. The Eliot Spitzer scandal raised similar concerns. The next eruption will raise others. Yesterday's cartoon by Steve Kelley struck critics as going too far. Although a panel of that nature probably would not have appeared a decade ago, the cartoon made its point with brutal directness. We understand the reservations, but stand by the cartoon.
The whole sorry story reeks of pathos. Woods finds himself a subject of mockery and mirth. We are neither professional counselors nor wearers of the cloth, nor, for that matter, entertainers on radio and cable TV, so we will not inflict our advice on a troubled family.
The issue transcends Woods as a person, however; it affects pro golf generally. Golf relies on corporate sponsorship. Attendance does not approach the levels typical of Major League Baseball and the National Football League. Television ratings do not approach NFL numbers, either. Woods has boosted interest. His skill and his charisma pump up viewership and generate attention, although golf's standing as a spectator sport still falls far short of that enjoyed by football and baseball, and probably basketball (certainly as exemplified by March Madness and the NBA finals). Golf occupies a niche, albeit a bigger niche with Woods in the mix. We have not missed any of his majors.
If Woods' decline leads sponsors to abandon not only his personal endorsements but also support for entire tournaments, then other golfers will suffer the consequences. Woods could serve as an excuse for companies to drop sponsorships difficult to justify during a time of economic uncertainty. The women's tour already has had to prune its slate. The men's circuit faces uncertainty.
Woods' absence from the tour creates problems; his presence on the tour could create problems as well. So-called hospitality contributes to golf's presumed ambiance. Will grinning corporate types welcome photo-ops that show them handing Woods vulgar trophies or toasting him at banquets and the like? Woods represents a paradox for his fellow duffers.
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The Plain Dealer (Ohio), on a U.N. climate deal is possible at Copenhagen:
The cynical view on Copenhagen has been that no global deal on climate change is possible given the rancor and recessionary constraints. Well, welcome to what can happen when both poor and rich nations awaken to their shared goals in averting catastrophic ocean rise, widespread droughts, deadly agricultural shifts and killer storms. And when countries and major corporations alike discover that money is to be made from the technological changes and shifts in energy use certain to occur.
That doesn't mean a final deal is likely at the 192-nation climate talks that end Friday.
It does mean that just days before 110 heads of state _ including President Barack Obama _ descend on Denmark for the final push on a new U.N. compact, the talks are revealing widespread consensus for change.
Whether that consensus is enough for a firm deal _ either at Copenhagen or in follow-up talks _ depends greatly on whether negotiators can get past some nations' expectations that U.N. climate pacts are a one-way street of money and technology flowing from richer countries to "developing countries," and a process that exempts some from having to adopt real limits.
Simply put, any deal that is not binding on all nations and also fair across national borders will backfire _ as happened with the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, which willfully ignored the obligations of major polluters such as China and India, and whose inequities in approach are hampering talks now. Without a fair deal, there will be no deal _ and fewer possibilities for breakthrough compromises on equitable carbon reductions in U.S. domestic legislation.
The idea should not be just to agree to some pie-in-the-sky numbers and leave the specifics about exactly who sacrifices to the future _ but rather, to drill down to nitty-gritty specifics with actual limits, money and teeth. Above all, countries must accept that a truly binding global deal will be good for everyone, by making cooperation on controlling the worst potential offshoots of climate change economically desirable for all nations.
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The Des Moines (Iowa) Register, on how H1N1 can happen to anyone:
The H1N1 flu scared the heck out of many Americans. Nervousness was fed by a growing number of death reports and an H1N1 vaccine shortage. Americans stood in long lines _ in the cold and rain sometimes _ to get vaccinated. And those fortunate enough to get protection were usually considered at high risk of having complications if they got sick. They were among those in "priority groups" because there wasn't enough vaccine for everyone.
Now everyone is a priority.
Any Iowan who wants an H1N1 vaccine is eligible to receive one. The Iowa Department of Public Health recently announced there is enough vaccine to go around.
Iowans should go get vaccinated.
Because the flu season is far from over. Winter hasn't even officially started and the holidays will bring people _ and all their viruses _ together. You could leave a family gathering with more than a present you didn't want. You could leave with a strain of flu that can make you very ill _ deathly ill.
Health officials say at least 10,000 Americans have died from H1N1 so far. Thousands of people across the country have been hospitalized. By now, most of us know someone who has been sick with the bug.
The vaccine will prevent that from happening to more people. It is highly effective. And it is safe. The H1N1 vaccine is made in exactly the same way the seasonal flu vaccine is made each year, and by the same manufacturers. Early on, it was tested on thousands of Americans _ including many Iowans. With hundreds of thousands of people vaccinated over the past few months, few side effects have been reported.
Get vaccinated for selfish reasons. You don't want to be sick in bed and aching for a week or more. You think you won't get ill, but that is likely what many of those who died thought as well. It's easy to believe your child won't get sick or die from the new virus, but children continue to die. Go get a shot and put your mind at ease.
Go get an H1N1 vaccination. It's a gift to you and your family that will keep on protecting.
On the Web: http://tinyurl.com/y8efx66
San Diego Union-Tribune, on the troubling case of Americans arrested in Pakistan:
For as long as America has been taking in immigrants in other words, as long as there has been America there have been concerns about divided loyalties. At one point or another, members of just about every group of newcomers the Greeks, Italians, Irish has been accused of leaving their heart in their home country and willing to put the interests of the place they left behind ahead of American interests.
We're glad to report that, for the most part, these fears have been unfounded. Often, they're nothing more than the paranoid fantasies of nativists who are afraid of immigrants and the changes they bring and who are thus eager to apply sinister motives to every new arrival. However, there's a disturbing story developing in Pakistan that raises new concerns about loyalties divided by culture.
Last week, Pakistani officials reported the arrest of five young Muslim-American men, at least two of whom are foreign-born immigrants and all of whom carried American passports showing they now live in Northern Virginia. They had somehow made their way to the Pakistani town of Sargodha. This was no holiday visit, or college field trip. According to authorities, the youths had gone to South Asia with plans to wage jihad against American interests in Pakistan and possibly Afghanistan by linking up with militant groups in the region. They were rejected by the real terrorists there, who considered these wannabe jihadists too Westernized to be trusted.
Too Westernized? How ironic that these young men who obviously don't feel completely American were certainly seen that way by our enemies. It was probably lucky for the Americans that they were turned away. Of course, now they're in the hands of authorities and being questioned both by Pakistani officials and the FBI about why they were in Pakistan and what they had planned. We're eager to learn the answers to those questions.
This kind of cultural alienation in which young Americans can be radicalized against America by what they hear, see and read is troubling, indeed. But there's another, more encouraging side to the coin. The case of the Sargodha 5 came to light after the families of the young men went to a local Muslim community organization to report their sons missing and someone there contacted the FBI, which began to investigate. By all accounts, the Muslim community in Northern Virginia cooperated fully with federal authorities once the inquiry started. It was the patriotic thing to do.
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Arizona Republic, on the Mexican wolf:
In a wintry forest in eastern Arizona, wolf howls cut the cushiony silence of falling snow. It is eloquent testimony to the success of the Mexican-gray-wolf reintroduction effort.
Yes. We said success.
We say this as the program continues to be tarred by both supporters and critics. Mexican gray wolves were reintroduced more than a decade ago from a remnant population of captive animals. They learned to live, hunt and reproduce in the wild.
That's success. But the program was dogged by the low growl of politics since before the first wolf took her first step to freedom. The thud of legal papers hitting the courts is another familiar sound.
Ranchers who lease grazing rights on public land say the wolves threaten their livelihood. Environmentalists say the reintroduction effort was designed more to placate public-land ranchers than to serve wolf recovery.
Wolf numbers support the argument of environmentalists. The current population is about 52 animals; wildlife biologists expected twice that many by now.
The paltry population is largely the result of a long-controversial policy that doomed a wolf after his or her third confirmed livestock kill. Environmentalists say the policy resulted in 66 wolves being killed or removed from the wild - and they say careless ranching practices led wolves to kill cattle.
The three-strikes policy was ended as part of a settlement of a lawsuit by a coalition of environmental groups. In addition, the settlement makes it clear that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has the final authority over wolf recovery, not a committee of agencies that was formed after the reintroduction effort began.
Dumping the odious three-strikes rule was necessary. Clarifying the chain of command was also important because environmentalists raised troubling questions about whether the committee was too easily influenced by local ranchers.
This is not a local issue. The preservation of species diversity is a national goal reflected in the federal Endangered Species Act. It has significance well beyond the perceived or real inconveniences wolves cause public-land ranchers.
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Fort Worth (Texas) Star-Telegram, on miscalculating U.S. attorney firings:
Faux talk show host Stephen Colbert runs a hilariously subversive, sort-of educational segment on Comedy Central's Colbert Report called "Better Know a District" that features sit-downs with members of the U.S. House.
Colbert starts out providing tidbits of information about a congressional district then shows himself interviewing its elected representative. Those members of Congress who consent to be a target and actually get the joke play along gamely, understanding that even humiliation equals national face time. The interview video inevitably is edited to make the officials look ridiculous and draw laughs.
Point is, you never quite know how the original interview went or what was left out from the publicly presented version.
Esquire magazine is no Colbert Report. But a new interview with former U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales makes a reader want to know what else he said.
Titled "What I've Learned," the piece is presented strictly as quotes from Gonzales on controversies during his 31-month tenure as the nation's top lawyer, from the Geneva Conventions and Abu Ghraib photos to Washington politics and the removal of nine U.S. attorneys in 2006.
But it's not clear that Gonzales who resigned in 2007 and now is helping Texas Tech University recruit more minority students learned at all.
If the quotes are to be believed, Gonzales considers it "totally ridiculous" to suggest that the abuse of Iraqi war prisoners at Abu Ghraib resulted from Bush administration policies.
He believes that "90 percent of what happened to me" stemmed from politics aimed at trying to "knock out" his boss, rather than from his own poor judgment and flawed actions.
And he's now second-guessing the U.S. attorney firings, but not in a remorseful way.
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The Lincoln (Neb.) Journal Star, on Congress examining the Native trust system:
If members of Congress take the time to examine the history of the Native trust system, they won't have to think twice about approving the proposed $3 billion settlement in a long-running lawsuit over the way it was managed for more than a century.
The sordid history of the trust was laid out in the series "Broken Trust" by Jodi Rave Lee in the Journal Star in 2002.
As the editorial board said then, "One only needs a faint streak of cynicism to suspect the system was designed to create a swindler's paradise."
The system was fashioned in 1887 under the Dawes Act. It broke up reservations and assigned parcels to individual citizens. The government, however, continued to hold the land in trust, leasing it to oil and gas companies, miners and loggers.
The government began losing track of the accounts almost immediately. As generations passed, the land was broken into smaller and smaller pieces until the standing joke among the tribal members was that they had just enough land to stand on.
That was about the only humor that could be found in the trust's history. One of its bloodiest chapters was a spree of murders targeting Osage tribal citizens after oil was discovered on their reservation.
The sorry state of affairs was exposed repeatedly in court because of a lawsuit filed by Elouise Cobell of Montana's Blackfeet Nation in 1996. U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth, who heard much of the case, eventually was removed by a panel of federal judges who said Lamberth had lost his objectivity.
Lamberth held secretaries of Interior in both the Clinton and Bush administrations in contempt of court for failing to adequately administer the Native trust. Lamberth described the federal government's management system as "so decentralized and disorganized that it cannot function as a responsible trustee."
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The Star-Ledger (New Jersey), on Sarah Palin needing to settle down:
Give this much to Sarah Palin: She is so dependably wrong that she makes it easy to pick sides.
After exposing President Obama's plans to kill the elderly and disabled with his death panels, she has moved on to climate change, seizing on the recent scandal over stolen e-mails as evidence that global warming is a liberal myth.
Let's look at the record. A few weeks ago, a computer hacker stole documents and e-mails from a server at Britain's Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia. Some of the e-mails were between scientists at the center and a leading climatologist at Penn State, Michael E. Mann.
It turns out, assuming the documents are authentic, that these elite climate scientists were spinning their research. They hid data they didn't like. They discussed boycotting publications that questioned their conclusions. They talked about using a "trick" to massage data.
They behaved, in short, like a bunch of hacks. And that has given climate-change skeptics their biggest propaganda win in years. It has allowed people like Palin to score points.
But it is beyond silly to suggest, as Palin does, that Obama should boycott the climate summit in Copenhagen in response to this kerfuffle. The science behind global warming does not depend on these climatologists alone. An overwhelming majority of climate scientists across the world believe that human activity is warming the planet, and that this presents a dire threat to Earth's environment.
Scientists differ about the precise causes and the severity of the problem. But only an extreme fringe challenges the consensus among scientists who see this as a serious threat. That hasn't changed a bit since this "climategate" scandal broke.
So please, Sarah, give it a rest. This scandal is about a few human beings who lost their way. Using it to justify a cease-fire in the fight against climate change is about as sensible as hunting from a helicopter.
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The Australian, on China must be part of the Copenhagen solution:
IF it is to have clarity from the Copenhagen climate change summit, the world needs leadership from China and the US. A political agreement that keeps open the prospect of a legally binding agreement in the future will not be achieved without Beijing, in particular, recognizing that it must be part of the solution. A cashed-up China, more powerful than ever since the global financial crisis, must step up to play a lead role with the US.
As the summit moves to the business end of the proceedings, the debate is narrowing to what is politically achievable. China's official party line, spelt out in The Weekend Australian by the Chinese ambassador to Australia, Junsai Zhang, is presumably an ambit claim as it moves to position itself as a key player in the formulation of the final communique. There is a long way to go for the world's biggest producer of greenhouse gases as it argues that the rich, industrialized West owes a "carbon debt" to the developing world and refuses to be legally bound to targets. In the next few days, the world will want movement from China on two key issues - acceptance that carbon cuts must be binding and subject to monitoring, reporting and verification (MRV); and recognition that the rules are changing around financial assistance to countries such as China, India and Brazil.
China has complained about the moves to jettison the Kyoto Protocol, but it is clear that document does not capture the complex range of economies within the developing world. It makes sense to distinguish between developing countries such as China and poorer, vulnerable nations when it comes to assisting them to adapt to climate change. China's claim for access to new technology, regardless of patents, is part of its bargaining to receive help other than direct grants. Beijing has committed to reducing its carbon intensity by 40-45 per cent by 2020 compared with 2005 levels, but its refusal to agree to outside scrutiny runs counter to the spirit of a shared response to global warming. China was adamant again yesterday that it would "do its own checking".
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The Japan (Toyko), on the Realistic view on war and peace:
In the October announcement of its decision to bestow the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize on U.S. President Barack Obama, the Norwegian Nobel Committee attached special importance to his "vision of and work for a world without nuclear weapons." The committee also praised the U.S. president by stating: "Only very rarely has a person to the same extent as Obama captured the world's attention and given its people hope for a better future."
But the prevailing political circumstances seem to have forced Mr. Obama to put more stress on realism in international politics than on ideals and hope. In his acceptance speech, entitled "A Just and Lasting Peace," given in Oslo Dec. 10, he acknowledged that occasions arise when use of military force becomes necessary to realize peace.
Clearly aware of criticism, especially in the United States, that he cannot claim any concrete achievements of a global scale, Mr. Obama was humble in the opening part of his speech. He said, "I am at the beginning, and not the end, of my labors on the world stage."
A Gallup poll taken a week after the Norwegian committee's announcement found that 34 percent thought that Mr. Obama deserved the prize, while 61 percent did not. The results of a CNN/Opinion Research Corp. survey released Dec. 9 showed that only 19 percent of respondents thought Mr. Obama deserved the prize now, with 35 percent regarding it likely that he will eventually accomplish enough to deserve it, and more than 40 percent believing that he will never deserve the prize.
Mr. Obama also admitted that "my accomplishments are slight" when compared with people like Albert Schweitzer (the 1952 Nobel Peace Prize winner), Martin Luther King Jr. (the 1964 winner of the prize), George Marshall (former U.S. Secretary of State known for the Marshall Plan for European reconstruction after World War II) and Nelson Mandela (the 1993 recipient of the prize).
The acceptance ceremony came nine days after Mr. Obama announced that he will send 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan, and the fact that his administration is waging war in Iraq and Afghanistan clearly weighed on his mind. He acknowledged that "perhaps the most profound issue surrounding my receipt of this prize is the fact that I am the Commander-in-Chief of the military of a nation in the midst of two wars."
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London Evening Standard, on U.S. decision on troops needs more support:
It has taken months of deliberation but the move is the right one. It gives a renewed sense of purpose to the mission for all the coalition forces in Afghanistan, not just the Americans.
It also provides the means to implement the strategy of General Stanley McChrystal, which focuses on engaging with civilian populations while stepping up the training of Afghan forces.
There is also a timetable for withdrawal of US forces _ this will begin in 2011 _ and there is already controversy about whether announcing this in advance sends quite the right signals to the Taliban. Politically, however, it is one way to quell popular doubts in the US about the strategy.
The approach is risky, of course. There is no certainty that Afghan forces will be capable of taking charge of the country within the time allowed, even given intensive training.
Their calibre is generally regarded as patchy, though possibly better than that of the police, and the quality of its leadership is not high.
More worryingly, the regime of Hamid Karzai, the Afghan president, is sufficiently corrupt to make it a fragile basis on which to repose hopes for future stability.
And, as both President Obama and the Prime Minister have indicated, the situation in Pakistan, arguably more important than Afghanistan, is becoming more febrile and dangerous.
Having said that, the new robust counterinsurgency strategy has a sense of direction. The question for us is how British troops fit in with it.
As our correspondent Robert Fox argues, a crucial choice for British commanders is whether to remain in Helmand or to join US forces in combat operations elsewhere.
The latter is more dangerous but it may maximize the effectiveness of the British deployment. This deserves public debate.
However, while the Prime Minister commits himself to deploying 500 more British troops to Afghanistan, other allies seem less keen. The French president supports the courage of the US strategy but declines to send more troops.
The Germans are holding fire. The Italians will send more troops but it is unclear how many. Yet as the head of Nato has said, there needs to be a deployment of 5,000 overall from other coalition members. Britain has played its part, now other partners must do the same.
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The Globe and Mail, Toronto, on Iran needing to be warned about harsher economic sanctions:
Iran needs to be firmly warned that harsher economic sanctions are pending, now that documentary evidence has been found that the Iranians are testing an essential component for a nuclear weapon, equipment that could have no other use, either civilian or military.
Negotiations between Iran, on the one hand, and the United States, Russia and France have bogged down, without a definitive rejection of a draft agreement for Iranian export of its low-enriched uranium for further enrichment elsewhere. Moreover, the momentum of the discovery of the nuclear facility at Fordow near Qom has diminished, though Barack Obama has set an end-of-the-calendar-year deadline for progress in restraining the Iranian nuclear program.
Robert Gates, the U.S. Secretary of Defense, said late last week in Iraq that he expects the international community will impose "significant additional sanctions," if Iran does not change course, and Hillary Clinton, the Secretary of State, praising some enforcement action by Thais of the sanctions against North Korea, said, "I think there's a lesson there for people around the world to see when it comes to Iran."
The evidence obtained by The Times of London appears to show work by Iran on a "neutron initiator" that could trigger an explosion, a device made from uranium deuteride (a substance particularly favoured by Dr. A.Q. Khan, the notorious Pakistani nuclear scientist and metallurgical engineer). The documents seem to give the alleged Iranian nuclear-weapons program a name, the Field for the Expansion of Deployment of Advance Technology, with a chairman called Mohsen Fakhrizadeh.
The existing sanctions, however, are undoubtedly being felt. Major Iranian companies are having a hard time getting financing, being caught between President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's low-interest-loan policy that favours small businesses and short-term investment, and the lack of access to loans from international banks as a result of the sanctions.
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