- Associated Press - Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Excerpts from recent editorials in newspapers in the United States and abroad:

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August 2

Tampa (Florida) Tribune on flogging corporate deserters:

President Obama wants to lash “corporate deserters” - companies that move overseas to avoid U.S. taxes - with penalties and additional regulations.

It is another case of the president trying to pit Americans against one another instead of supporting an economy that would offer more jobs and opportunities for everyone.

“These companies are cherry-picking the rules, and it damages the country’s finances,” the president said in California last week. “It adds to the deficit. It sticks you with the tab to make up for what they are stashing offshore.”

Decrying the lack of “corporate patriotism” may sound good on the campaign stump, but if the president was genuinely interested in keeping American companies from shifting operations overseas, he would attack the country’s tax burden.

The nation’s 35 percent corporate tax rate is the highest in the industrial world, and even though exemptions allow some companies to pay considerably less, the U.S. tax rate remains unduly burdensome, precisely the reason more companies are moving abroad.

As The Wall Street Journal points out, when state taxes are added, the average corporate tax rate in the United States is 40 percent, double the average in Europe.

Small wonder companies look for relief.

Since 1983, according to the Congressional Research Service, 76 companies have moved their corporate headquarters from the United States - 47 in the past decade.

The Journal reports 19 such deals in the past year.

In a recent Wall Street Journal article, he wrote, “American businesses are taxed on a worldwide basis regardless of where in the world revenue is earned. This means U.S. multinationals pay taxes twice, first to the foreign country in which they do business and then to the U.S. …”

It seems to us that “corporate patriotism” should mean making American businesses as strong as possible. The president - and Congress - should stop looking for scapegoats and get serious about corporate tax reform.

Online:

http://tbo.com

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August 2

The Daily News, Bowling Green, Kentucky, on Ukraine:

The situation in Ukraine is getting worse every day.

Pro-Russian rebels are destabilizing that country, and the latest reports are that the Russian military is sending in heavy military hardware such as heavy machine guns, tanks and anti-aircraft guns.

Russian officials deny they are backing pro-Russian rebels, but it is quite obvious from information on the ground that they are not being truthful.

The Russians have a lot of blood on their hands. While it has not been 100 percent confirmed, it is known that a Malaysian passenger plane shot down a few weeks ago by a surface-to-air missile was launched from an area controlled by Russian-backed separatists inside of Ukraine. The death toll from the incident is 289.

Some Ukrainian soldiers have been killed by these pro-Russian rebels as well.

The bottom line is the people of Ukraine need help. They are literally fighting for the survival of their country.

The government in Ukraine has asked for help and indicated it needs heavy weaponry to try to fend off pro-Russian rebels.

The U.S. has just given them meals ready to eat, or MREs, night vision goggles, canteens and bullet proof vests. This is a nice gesture, but these are things that aren’t really going to turn the tide on the battlefield.

We agree with President Barack Obama and other leaders that there should be no American boots on the ground in Ukraine, but we could give that nation such things as anti-aircraft guns, anti-tank weapons, heavy machine guns and artillery, ammunition, tanks and other types of hardware they need.

By doing so, we would be keeping boots off the ground, protecting an ally and showing Russia we will not tolerate its aggression on a sovereign nation.

We would also be giving the Ukrainian military a lifeline where it could prevail.

They deserve a chance to defend themselves, but they need the necessary military hardware.

Online:

http://www.bgdailynews.com

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August 5

Seattle Times on getting Kenneth Bae out of North Korea:

The longest-held American in North Korea since the Korean War is struggling from health problems that have twice put him in a hospital.

Kenneth Bae, a former Lynnwood resident, now faces the possibility of being sent back to a North Korean labor camp, according to a July 31 interview with The Choson Sinbo, a newspaper based in Japan. No one outside of the reclusive North Korean regime understands the exact nature of Bae’s alleged crimes, for which he was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor.

The 46-year-old tour operator has been held since November 2012. In a labor camp video obtained by CNN, Bae said he is trying to remain emotionally strong, but he suffers from chronic diabetes, back and oral problems.

U.S. State Department officials must act urgently to secure this American’s release on humanitarian grounds, whether that means continuing to rely on the Swedish embassy in Pyongyang, working diplomatic channels with North Korean officials at the United Nations in New York City or sending a high-level emissary the regime is willing to allow inside its borders.

On the eve of his 46th birthday on Aug. 1, Bae’s family released a statement with a desperate plea: “Twice Kenneth has been hospitalized due to his health failing after months of strenuous hard labor, eight hours a day, eight days a week. We fear Kenneth’s body will not be able to survive being sent back to labor camp for the third time.”

Columbia University Professor Charles K. Armstrong, an expert on North Korea, says Bae’s situation is unusual, but the Obama administration should remain engaged.

“This can still be solved,” he says. “There has to be pressure on Washington, D.C., to work out an agreement at a higher level to try to get (Bae) out.”

Online:

http://seattletimes.com

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August 5

Wall Street Journal on the Russian threat to NATO:

NATO’s promise of collective security rests on the notion that aggression against one member of the Atlantic alliance triggers a response from all. Yet Russia’s swift, stealthy operation to annex Crimea and destabilize eastern Ukraine has cast doubt on the alliance’s capacity to fulfill that promise. What can NATO realistically do if Vladimir Putin sets his sights on the Baltic states?

The latest warning comes in a new report by the Defense Committee of the U.K. House of Commons. The report surveys NATO’s widening conventional capability gap with Russia, highlights the Kremlin’s aggressive nuclear posture and points to the doctrinal limitations that could hamstring a response to the next round of aggression.

Its stark conclusion: “NATO is currently not well-prepared for a Russian threat against a NATO Member State.” Case in point: The British Army now fields a grand total of 156 main battle tanks, amounting to a single regiment. Russia has more than 2,800 active main battle tanks, according to a 2013 study by the International Institute for Strategic Studies. The committee notes that the Kremlin has unveiled an ambitious plan to expand and modernize Russia’s conventional forces, with the aim to increase the proportion of conventional assets classed as “modern” to 70 percent by 2020, up from 10% in 2012.

Then there is Russia’s bold nuclear-force posture. “Russia sees its strategic nuclear forces as a key deterrent to potential Western intervention or belated response to Russian aggression,” the committee notes. “Russia dedicates a third of its Defense budget to them.” Moscow has at least twice since 2009 simulated nuclear strikes, including one targeting Warsaw. By contrast, the Obama Administration earlier this year announced plans for sharp, and unilateral, cuts to the U.S. strategic force well ahead of the 2018 deadline set by the New Start treaty.

The committee’s most important findings relate to outdated doctrines that could prevent the alliance from keeping pace with Moscow’s sophisticated, evolving strategy. A linchpin of Russian strategy is what the committee calls “ambiguous warfare.” As one Russian defense theorist puts it, ambiguous warfare involves using irregular forces, cyberattacks and information warfare to “neutralize adversary actions without resorting to weapons (through indirect actions), by exercising information superiority.”

The trouble ambiguous warfare poses to NATO is that the alliance’s collective-defense obligations, and the strategic doctrines pinned to them, call for responding to “armed” assaults. But Russian aggression against, say, Lithuania may not look like an outright assault. The Kremlin is more likely to use Russian-language media to agitate the country’s ethnic-Russian population while debilitating basic state functions through cyberattacks and the deployment of irregular commandos.

The Crimean operation provided a blueprint for such attacks, and the Atlantic alliance would be foolish not to update its doctrines to meet the new Russian threat when the next NATO summit convenes in Cardiff in September. But no amount of doctrinal evolution will matter if NATO members continue to treat national defense as someone else’s burden.

Online:

http://online.wsj.com

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August 6

New York Times on Obama’s Africa Summit:

Even as the Ebola virus serves as a reminder of Africa’s manifold challenges, a much brighter future for the Continent was on display in Washington this week, where more than 40 African heads of state are attending a summit meeting led by President Barack Obama. Done right, with sufficient follow-through, the event should strengthen American ties to a continent that is expected to outpace China and India in population by 2040 and is widely viewed as the world’s last major economic frontier.

The event is a determined, and splashy, initiative by Obama to push back against other countries doing business there, especially China, which is investing heavily in infrastructure projects and using Africa as a source of vital oil and metals. It is also an opportunity to counter critics who say he has devoted insufficient attention to the continent.

Administration officials have been eager to persuade Africa that America’s democratic capitalistic system can offer advantages that China’s authoritarian system cannot. As Susan Rice, the national security adviser, said last week, “We don’t see Africa as a pipeline to extract vital resources, nor as a funnel for charity.” She described a broader vision in which the United States is committed to being a partner to create jobs, resolve conflicts and develop the human capital needed to build a better future.

To that end, the summit meeting was preceded by a gathering of 500 participants in Obama’s Young African Leaders Initiative. Other events included forums on women, health, trade, food security and civil society. Still others brought together American corporate executives with African leaders. The summit schedule will end with meetings with Mr. Obama on Wednesday.

The world has largely associated Africa with desperate struggles against war, poverty, famine and dictatorial leaders. But there are positive trends, too. Africa is home to six of the 10 fastest-growing economies in the world, an emerging middle class and markets that are increasingly open to foreign investment. In short, there is money to be made there.

There is also a growing threat from militants in some countries. And, as human rights groups point out, the summit meeting’s focus on trade, investment and counterterrorism cannot be allowed to dilute the Obama administration’s willingness to press for good and honest governance, fair elections and human rights, all essential for long-term stability and growth.

Online:

http://www.nytimes.com

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August 6

Khaleej Times, Dubai, on Africa in America:

The first black African-American president has kept a promise. The summit of African leaders in Washington D.C, where around 50 heads of states and governments have gathered, is meant to put Africa on the commerce map of the United States.

Which is why US Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker has floated business deals worth $900 million in an attempt to further trade and investment activities in the Dark Continent. This, nonetheless, is no comparison to the gigantic volume of trade Africa enjoys with China, which is around $200 billion. But as far as President Barack Obama is concerned, it is part of his opening up diplomacy with at least two hemispheres, the Latin America and Africa, with whom the US had never had its due share of interaction.

The president in his three-nation tour to the continent last year had called for a summit, wherein he wants to boost business relations and throw open US markets for mega-deals with a continent, which is buzzing with youth implosion, social media and rejuvenated economic hype. The success stories of economies in several African countries, including Nigeria, had forced the State Department to reconnect with the region. Moreover, the geopolitical fact that Beijing had made inroads deep into the continent and is virtually part of all kinds of minerals extraction and its affiliated trade and industry was a moment of concern and challenge for America. That is why this renewed focus on Africa is in wanting for quite some time. Earlier, president Bill Clinton had focused his energies on anti-AIDS campaign, but couldn’t tap the potential of business in the long run.

This time around as African leaders rub their shoulders with the business magnates in Washington, the debut conference of its kind in the US is not without controversies. Political considerations have come into play by keeping Central African Republic, Eritrea, Zimbabwe and Sudan away from the discourse. Moreover, the misfortune of the deadly Ebola virus forced the leaders from Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea to stay away. Last but not the least is the impression that though it is a summit meeting, President Obama will not be in a position to hear out and interact personally with all of his guests, thus downgrading the get-together to an expo-level affair. But Obama, as he addresses the summit today, will have to lay down a strong doctrine of interaction with the Third World, and ensure that disease, hunger and poverty - the menace that confronts the continent - are addressed in a holistic manner.

Pouring in of aid and assistance should be supplemented with transfer of technology and the political desire to see representative dispensations in Africa. That is the easiest way to end widespread political conflicts in that part of the world. Only then can the one-fifth population of the world be able to bounce back from the abyss of chaos and confrontation. It’s time for a New Deal from Obama to his paternal continent.

Online:

http://www.khaleejtimes.com

Copyright © 2016 The Washington Times, LLC.

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