Excerpts from recent editorials in newspapers in the United States and abroad:
The Philadelphia Inquirer on NFL player safety:
Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson joined the ranks of brain-injured National Football League players recently. The toll is an almost weekly reminder that the league still hasn't taken the necessary steps to make the game safer.
But that may change, finally, with league officials announcing Oct. 19 that they will impose suspensions on players for delivering devastating helmet-to-helmet hits. The pros, whose style of smashmouth play is emulated by younger players, can't move soon enough on player safety concerns.
Jackson suffered a concussion that he doesn't even remember following a vicious hit that sidelined both him and the guy who tackled him, Atlanta Falcons cornerback Dunta Robinson.
After years of denial, NFL officials have finally acknowledged the long-term health risks from concussions, including depression, memory loss, and dementia. The league has taken positive steps by requiring that injured players be cleared for a return to play by independent doctors. But that's not enough. ...
A recent Harris Interactive poll shows most Americans don't enjoy seeing football players get hurt. They want changes to helmets and other equipment to be made, and they believe players who cause head injuries should be hit with penalties, up to and including suspension. ...
Sports such as football and hockey will always be violent, but there are ways to minimize life-altering injuries and retain the games' popularity. Players and coaches should be the first to insist on aggressive reforms that will make contact sports safer.
The Seattle Times on NRC chairman Gregory B. Jaczko:
The shenanigans at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission over shutting down the nation's high-level nuclear waste repository have gone beyond suspicious to downright brazen.
Despite the NRC's own licensing board ruling that says the Obama administration does not have the authority to shut down Yucca Mountain unilaterally, NRC Chairman Gregory B. Jaczko directed scientists to stop work on a nearly finished evaluation of the project. Two of the five commissioners unsuccessfully challenged Jaczko's tactic recently. ...
Jaczko's opposition to Yucca Mountain is so well-known that at his confirmation hearing in 2005 he pledged not to vote on the issue for at least a year. Probably wasn't long enough.
Three of his NRC colleagues at their February Senate confirmation hearing affirmed they would not second-guess the Obama administration's unilateral decision. All three and Jaczko should have recused themselves from the decision, but only one did.
Jaczko's inaction is particularly confounding because of the NRC's earlier urgency on the matter. In a rush last spring, the NRC told the Atomic Licensing Safety Board to hurry its ruling on the question of whether the Obama administration could unilaterally kill Yucca Mountain.
The board returned its decision, including briefings and oral arguments, in less than two months. But three months later, plaintiffs and their lawyers are still waiting while Jaczko shuts Yucca down.
The NRC's conduct on this issue has been suspect from the beginning, and Jaczko's apparent reticence to issue a ruling makes it more so. At the very least, the agency's inspector general should review Jaczko's conduct, as a former commissioner has requested.
The federal court put its proceedings on hold while the NRC deliberated. But the NRC has abused that deferral. Regardless of whether Jaczko gets around to issuing a ruling, the Circuit Court should take up the issue right away.
About $10 billion and 30 years of work are about to be squandered and a credible legal proceeding in the federal courts awaits.
The Miami Herald on the slow clean up in Haiti:
When a savage earthquake nearly destroyed the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince in January, the world responded at once. Food, medicine, makeshift shelter, and brigades of aid workers arrived within days to begin the massive task of rescue and recovery. Fortunately, Haiti has avoided the worst outcomes many feared. Famine, deadly epidemics, widespread disorder and worsening conditions due to perennial tropical storms haven't happened. That's a tribute to the many volunteers, governments and organizations that labored to give the people of Haiti a helping hand, with an assist from Mother Nature.
Yet a visitor to Port-au-Prince and surrounding areas would be surprised _ and dismayed _ to see mountains of rubble everywhere, nine months after the quake. Not until recent days, according to a report in The New York Times, has the government begun the essential task of removing debris.
It's a small start _ a contract worth up to $13.5 million out of a debris removal program expected to cost $1.2 billion _ but hopefully a sign that Haitian authorities and their international backers finally realize the importance of the cleanup job.
Wonderful plans for the future of Haiti can't begin to materialize as long as the capital is mired in rubble.
The Times-Picayune, New Orleans, on the military's "don't ask, don't tell" ruling:
U.S. District Judge Virginia Phillips of California didn't mince words in ordering a permanent end to the military's "don't ask, don't tell" ban on openly gay men and women serving.
In her order Oct. 12, Phillips said the 1993 law "infringes on the fundamental rights" of military men and women, violates their freedom of speech and negates their right "to petition the government for redress of grievances" in order to keep their jobs.
She's right. "Don't ask, don't tell" put gay members of the military in an impossible position, allowing them to serve only if they lied about who they are or if no one else found out and made a complaint. More than 13,500 service members have been discharged under the policy.
The Obama administration has said it plans to appeal Phillips' order. The administration should decline an appeal and let this flawed policy die. At the same time, the president should speed up efforts to pass a repeal of the law in Congress, so the issue is put to rest once and for all. ...
The fundamental flaw of "don't ask, don't tell" is that it forces gay men and women in the military to give up their rights in order to defend ours.
That's wrong _ and it should end now.
Loveland (Colo.) Daily Reporter-Herald on the killing of an American allegedly at the hands of Mexican drug gangs:
Yet another American has died at the hands of Mexican drug gangs. David Hartley and his wife, Tiffany Young-Hartley, who both grew up in Colorado, were riding Jet Skis Sept. 30 on Falcon Reservoir, which straddles the U.S.-Mexico border. According to Young-Hartley, David Hartley was gunned down by apparent pirates connected to a Mexican drug cartel.
His body has not been found.
Some Mexican authorities were at first skeptical of Young-Hartley's story. But any doubt likely was put to rest recently after the severed head of Rolando Armando Flores Villegas was delivered in a suitcase to a Mexican Army base. He was the state police commander investigating the case. ...
Mexican drug violence is so horrific, and the authorities sometimes appear so compromised, that the situation can seem hopeless. ...
It is unacceptable for large swaths of a country that shares a 2,000-mile border with the U.S. to be ruled by narco-psychos. It is unacceptable for border waters to be controlled by drug pirates.
The violence will continue to claim American lives unless the drug gangs are countered with a force commensurate to their threat.
The New York Post on Obama's health care reforms:
Americans, it turns out, might yet be spared from the horrors of ObamaCare.
Not only are many Republican candidates running on vows to repeal the odious "reform," but a federal judge in Florida recently ruled that a major lawsuit challenging the health care law can proceed.
Judge Roger Vinson's action is only preliminary: In refusing the Obama administration's request to dismiss the suit, Vinson said the plaintiffs _ attorneys general from 20 states _ had raised enough legitimate issues to continue the process.
Yet Vinson's 65-page ruling sounded sympathetic to the plaintiffs' arguments.
That's especially true with regard to ObamaCare's individual mandate _ the requirement that everyone must buy health insurance or pay a fine. ...
ObamaCare's "individual mandate applies across the board," Vinson writes. "People have no choice, and there is no way to avoid it. ... (People) either comply with it, or they are penalized. It is not based on an activity that they make the choice to undertake. Rather, it is based solely on citizenship and on being alive." ...
Opponents should be encouraged that at least one federal judge is concerned over the significant constitutional issues it raises.
Los Angeles Times on legalizing marijuana:
If California voters were still under the illusion that Proposition 19 would legalize marijuana, U.S. Atty. Gen. Eric H. Holder Jr. sought to disabuse them of the notion recently. "We will vigorously enforce the (federal Controlled Substances Act) against those individuals and organizations that possess, manufacture or distribute marijuana for recreational use, even if such activities are permitted under state law," Holder wrote in a letter to nine former heads of the Drug Enforcement Administration who had lobbied the Obama administration to forcefully oppose California's overreaching ballot initiative.
Proposition 19 would allow people 21 and older to possess up to an ounce of marijuana and would authorize cultivation of cannabis plants on up to 25 square feet of land. But only under state law; under federal law, smoking a joint would still be a crime. It isn't news that federal officials oppose Proposition 19 _ President Barack Obama himself has said he's against legalizing marijuana _ but supporters of the Nov. 2 ballot measure appear to have hoped the administration would be as tolerant toward recreational users as it has been toward medicinal marijuana users. That's not going to happen. ...
Chicago Tribune on federal farm subsidies:
American taxpayers say they're sick of federal bailouts, but here we go again.
This year, the government expects to pay almost $12 billion directly to one small sector of the economy where incomes have skyrocketed even as the recession has hammered so many others.
Wall Street bankers? Nope, your friendly family farmers.
Seems like the government can never do enough. Recently, another gift arrived in the form of new environmental rules allowing the sale of motor fuel with an increased percentage of ethanol, which U.S. producers brew from corn. It's a great way to keep grain prices high _ and they have just set a two-year record.
Funny how you haven't heard much about farm subsidies in the run-up to the Nov. 2 election. Farm lobbyists, and the landowners who mainly benefit from these programs, know enough to lie low when the money is pouring in.
And is it ever: The current farm programs pay almost as much in good times as in bad. During August, federal analysts forecast a 24 percent gain in farm incomes this year, on top of banner years in the recent past. For every dollar of that income _ $77 billion in all _ taxpayers contribute 16 cents. ...
After the election, lawmakers need to approve a federal budget. The farm lobby is gearing up to fend off the predictable attacks on their little piece of it, hoping at least to postpone the day of reckoning until the current farm bill expires at the end of 2011. ...
The nation faces its third consecutive trillion-dollar federal deficit this fiscal year. Wasteful and trade-distorting agricultural subsidies have to be led to the slaughterhouse.
The Toronto Star on court ruling on Muslim women removing their niqabs to testify:
Canadians have a constitutional right to a fair trial. But not to expect that Muslim women must invariably take off their niqabs _ headgear that typically covers all but the eyes _ before testifying in court.
That's the gist of a controversial but sound judgment from the Ontario Court of Appeal. Justice David Doherty and two other judges ruled unanimously recently that "the niqab must be removed" if the accused's right to a fair trial requires it. Few will argue with that.
But in a nod to Canada's evolving society, the appeal court also cautioned that judges must respect the rights of witnesses to exercise their religious beliefs. Depending on the case, that could mean allowing Muslim women in some cases to testify while veiled.
"Departures from the traditional face-to-face public confrontation between accused and witness will run afoul of the Charter only if they result in a denial of a fair trial to the accused," the court found. ...
On balance, the ruling affirms that "where the accused's right to make full answer and defense would be infringed, the witness's right must yield." Short of that, however, Canada's judges should do what they can to ensure that Muslims don't need to compromise their beliefs to do their duty in court.
Khaleej Times, Dubai, United Arab Emirates, on French pension reform:
Capitalism seems to have come full circle in Europe. What France is experiencing today could have been staged in most countries of old Europe, as and when governments try to "reform" the economy. The strike that has brought laborers, pensioners and students on the streets from Paris to Marseilles is, however, more of a political nature than economic.
The growing unpopularity of center-right President Nicolas Sarkozy is at the heart of the movement. Although Sarkozy says he has pondered over its socio-political consequences of the controversial pension reforms, it is unclear how he will be able to sail through the Senate as the bill comes up for a vote. In an attempt to derail his initiative, the Left and Right both have introduced hundreds of amendments to delay the vote. No matter what fate awaits the bill on the floor of the house, out there on the streets of an agitated France, the French leader appears to have already lost the battle. Sarkozy may be right in a way to regulate pensionable age and financial benefits, which in the long run will encourage greater productivity and create a hardworking generation. ...
In the 21st century, most governments have given up the utopia of taking care of their people from cradle to the grave. The few still practicing it do so with heavy indirect taxations. The current struggle in France may end up defining the future of Europe and the struggling European economy as it prepares to lead the Group of 20 in an era where growth and productivity are still uncertain.
China Daily, Beijing, on U.S. investigation of China's clean energy policies:
The astonishment that China's top energy official expressed over the United States' decision to investigate the country's clean energy policies must be widely shared by global proponents of a greener and more sustainable future.
With international negotiations being painfully stalled on a coordinated and adequate global response to the increasingly obvious consequences of climate change, it is disheartening to see that the Obama administration is trying to politicize another country's green energy policies for nothing more than midterm election votes.
In an ostensible attempt to appeal to voters who are deeply disappointed about their domestic woes, the U.S. started an investigation into China's clean energy sector on Oct 15, the same day as the U.S. Treasury Department postponed a report on whether China is manipulating its currency to obtain an unfair trade advantage.
Though blaming others for domestic troubles has become a political tradition in the U.S., especially since the 2008 economic meltdown, the latest move against China's clean energy policies is not only totally groundless, it is also absurdly irresponsible. ...
While its ambition to go green has so far made itself the world's most dynamic market for green energy development, China is fully aware of the great challenges it still faces and its responsibilities in helping the world avoid the worst effects of global warming.
It is with such a mindset that China has been sincerely and enthusiastically pursuing a green energy partnership with the U.S., another big greenhouse gas emitter, in the hope that the combination of its market growth and the latter's technological advantage will deliver results in mitigating climate change. ...
Fast development of clean energy demands political will to overcome election season short-termism. The US should now stop politicizing it.
The Telegraph, London, on the German chancellor's belief that multiculturalism is a failure:
Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, has provoked heated controversy with her declaration that attempts to build a multicultural society in Germany have "utterly failed." The "multikulti" concept, as the Germans call it, had led immigrants to believe that they need not integrate, learn the language or adopt the customs and practices of their new home. To some extent, the Germans have only themselves to blame, because they were less than welcoming to the millions of Turks and others who arrived under the Gastarbeiter scheme to help build the post-war economic miracle. Many were given a right to reside but denied full German citizenship _ excluding them from certain jobs such as teaching. Most of the immigrants have settled; but in the eyes of many, they have not made much of an effort to become Germans.
The same is true in this country, if not more so. British tolerance of other people's ways, religions, cuisines, languages and dress has not always been matched by an equal willingness on the part of immigrants to subscribe to the value system of the host nation. That was principally the fault of the multiculturalist creed espoused by the Left, which encouraged different ethnic groups to do their own thing, meaning they became more estranged from mainstream society and from one another. ...
This is a subject political leaders usually recoil from discussing _ and Merkel may pay a price for doing so. But the alternative is to leave the debate exclusively to the extremists.