- The Washington Times - Saturday, August 9, 2008

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Pensacola (Fla.) News Journal, on the electoral process and the next elections:

Barack Obama’s request that all Florida and Michigan delegates be counted in the Democratic convention is a gracious gesture, if basically meaningless because he already has clinched the nomination.

It’s also clever politics, because the Republican Party has yet to call off the restrictions that allow only half of Florida’s delegates to count toward the equally secure nomination of John McCain.

Score one for the more nimble Obama campaign.

From here, it is important for both parties to get a handle on the nomination process. When both major parties are at war with their own state parties and delegates, it’s hard to say they need to be kinder to the opposition.

Worse, it is an unhealthy distraction from the what should be paramount: nominating presidential candidates.

Combined with recent problems with elections themselves in a number of states, including Florida, there is a growing lack of confidence in the electoral process itself. That is supposed to happen in banana republics, not here. …

On the Net:

https://tinyurl.com/5rdpum

El Paso (Texas) Times, on Congress’ time off:

Federal lawmakers in both houses of Congress and on both sides of the aisle have been outspoken, particularly toward the end of last week, about how this do-nothing Congress accomplished little, but is still eager to take its August recess.

Having said that, they then hopped a plane, train or car to head home, apparently satisfied with having done little or nothing. The country is facing enormous energy problems that need to be addressed now, not later.

Their constituents are suffering with gasoline running nearly $4 a gallon. Your senators and representatives couldn’t care less about that, certainly not enough to shelve the vacation in favor of staying in Washington and working on the problem. …

Given current conditions, we need senators and representatives with the guts and commitment to work for their constituents and country instead of for themselves. We see no signs of that happening. …

On the Net:

https://www.elpasotimes.com

Vindicator, Youngstown, Ohio, on the global AIDS bill:

It was the right thing to do. And if, by chance, it results in America’s reputation getting a boost around the world, so much the better.

But the $48 billion global AIDS bill passed by a bipartisan vote in Congress and signed into law by President Bush isn’t about public relations. It’s about our nation’s humanity, that which sets us apart from most others. As we’ve shown time and time again, we care about the downtrodden, about children dying of diseases for which there are cures, about the poor falling through the cracks. …

Americans who question the expenditure of such a large amount of money at a time of record budget deficits and a rising national debt should not ignore the fact that nations in throes of death and destruction are easy prey for terrorist organizations that have vowed to bring down the United States.

But beyond the geopolitical considerations, the most powerful nation in the world cannot sit idly by while millions of poverty-ridden people in Africa and other underdeveloped countries perish because of a lack of medicine and preventative care. …

On the Net:

https://tinyurl.com/5qr9ov

Dagens Nyheter, Stockholm, Sweden, on China’s handling of terrorist threats:

Muslim extremists in China didn’t use to be a well covered topic. In the prelude to the Olympic Games it has been reported that a number of terror acts and taped threats warn of terrorism. … Police men were killed in a bloody attack against a police station in Xinjiang, the northwestern province where about eight million Uigurs live – most of them Sunni Muslims.

It’s the most serious incident in many years and is described by authorities as a terror attack. China accuses Muslim separatists in the province for more than 200 terror acts between 1990 and 2001. “Muslim terrorists” are also thought to be behind the latest attacks. …

The most serious domestic threat is thought to come from East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM). The group demands independence from China and has been labeled terrorist by the U.N. and the U.S. In the beginning of last year, China executed one of ETIM’s founders for having “attempted to split the mother country.” On July 9 this year, two Uigurs were executed because of their membership in ETIM…

Two Japanese journalists were assaulted by Chinese police … when they tried to cover the aftermath of the terror attack against the police station in Xinjiang. The lack of further information surrounding China’s domestic terrorism seems to depend on the communist power’s scanty reports and oppression of the free word – not the lack of incidents to report.

On the Net:

https://www.dn.se

The Hindu, Madras, India, on Afghanistan and the Taliban:

While India’s foreign policy establishment might have erred or under-performed on several fronts, its efforts in respect of Afghanistan deserve commendation. From 1996 to 2001, the only part of the Taliban-ruled country that New Delhi could treat as friendly territory was the small pocket controlled by Ahmed Shah Massoud’s Northern Alliance. Seven years down the line, the relationship between the two countries is flourishing. It was a blessing in disguise that the United States-led coalition forces, which took on themselves the responsibility of fighting the Taliban insurgency, treated India as an outsider, to be kept at arm’s length. That helped New Delhi resist any temptation to get embroiled in the conflict and instead focus its energies on the reconstruction effort. With the fresh tranche of $450 million promised by the Manmohan Singh government during President Hamid Karzai’s visit, the total aid is set to cross $1 billion. This money is spent on building dams, transmission lines, and roads. Aside from the assistance provided for the reconstruction of schools, India has awarded 1,000 scholarships to Afghan students every year over the past half-decade. … From all accounts, Hindi movies and soap operas constitute the primary source of entertainment for the people of Kabul and other cities and towns. In essence, Afghanistan is one arena in which India has been able to use “soft power” successfully, to mutual benefit.

There is, unfortunately, a downside. The Taliban, which is extremely hostile to India, retains a powerful presence on the ground. It is unlikely to recapture power so long as foreign forces remain in the country but it will continue to disrupt reconstruction efforts. …

On the Net:

https://tinyurl.com/65q5k8

The Observer, London, on fuel prices and poverty:

Since oil and gas are costly to produce and much in demand, it makes sense that they are expensive to use. Given the additional cost to Britain of dependency on unreliable energy-exporting regimes and the cost to the world of climate change it is also, arguably, no bad thing if high prices encourage people to be frugal with fuel.

But that is no consolation to those who struggle to pay for even modest energy consumption. It is the poorest in society who suffer most when heating bills soar.

So when last week, customers of British Gas learnt simultaneously that their fuel bills would go up by around a third and that the company’s owner, Centrica, made profits of 992m, they did not accept the news as evidence of global markets not working properly. They were angry. …

A much more activist approach is required by government. That does not mean hitting the energy companies with a crude tax that would, in all likelihood, by purloined by the Treasury to cover its other liabilities. A neater solution has been identified by the Liberal Democrats. They advocate compelling energy producers to divert money they have made through the European Union emissions trading scheme. Since they got those lucrative permits free from the government, they have enjoyed a de facto subsidy - 9bn over five years, according to energy regulator Ofgem. …

The utility companies have responsibilities to the public just as pressing as the commercial dues they owe to shareholders. …

On the Net:

https://tinyurl.com/6k8vpc

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