- The Washington Times - Saturday, September 22, 2007

Excerpts of editorials from newspapers around the world:

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On al Qaeda death threat:

HELSINKI — International Muslim organizations are now strongly distancing themselves from the death threat on Lars Vilks, the artist, and chief editor Ulf Johansson. According to secretary-general Hussein Halawa, the European Council for Fatwa and Research will soon issue an international statement which will declare the death threat “haram,” or forbidden by Islam. The Federation of Islamic Organizations in Europe is also trying to ensure that the conflict does not spread internationally.

It is a welcome sign that the Muslim organizations jointly condemn the death threat as an unacceptable action, which is not supported by anyone else except extremists.

Winnipeg Free Press

On poverty and the family:

WINNIPEG, Canada — … No one needs to go hungry or homeless in this country unless they have special problems and prefer the freedom of getting by on their own. Reports on these subjects surface annually, sometimes biannually, usually accompanied by plaintive cries for more spending on government programs.

One such report was released earlier this week. The Summoned to Stewardship report said Manitoba had the second-highest rate of child poverty in Canada and it made the usual connections between poverty, gang violence, the sex trade and addictions. The report didn’t say anyone was starving to death or dying from exposure, which would have been meaningful definitions of poverty in the past, but it stressed that society was at risk for more violence and anti-social behavior unless something radical was done to end child poverty. …

Family breakdown, therefore, can also be interpreted as a threat to social harmony. As such, family health, whether it is for families in Winnipeg’s North End or in River Heights, may be a more meaningful subject for discussion than child poverty in terms of understanding anti-social behavior.

The Independent

On the Northern Rock banking crisis:

LONDON — In the end, Chancellor Alistair Darling had little choice. All attempts to reassure the worried savers queuing outside branches of Northern Rock had failed. There was nothing left but to announce that all deposits in the building society would be guaranteed by the Government “guaranteed safe and secure,” as the statement put it for extra emphasis. That it had to resort to such a measure, however, is an indictment of the Government’s handling of the crisis and sad testimony to the continuing climate of mistrust. The more reassurances the Chancellor offered, the more worried Northern Rock’s customers became. The risk that the crisis would spread was something the Government, rightly, could not countenance.

So it is now the taxpayer who will pick up the tab for the high-risk business practices of Northern Rock. But it will also be impossible for the Government to deny equivalent support to any other banks that might find themselves in similar straits. Public confidence in the banking system has been bought at a price that could prove very high and not only in financial terms.

It will not escape attention that in the international fallout from the U.S. subprime mortgage crisis, only Britain has suffered a run on a bank. While other central banks quietly underwrote faltering institutions, the Bank of England declined to do so. …

The Chancellor’s guarantee may bring the immediate crisis to an end. But it has exposed worrying weaknesses in a banking system that we had, perhaps complacently, believed among the most solid in the world.

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