- The Washington Times - Friday, November 3, 2006

Excerpts of editorials from newspapers around the world:

Al-Ahram Weekly

The U.S. Republican Party

CAIRO — The [U.S.] Republican Party is in so much trouble it may risk a major confrontation in the Middle East before half-term congressional elections [Tuesday]. Republicans are far behind in the polls. Iraq has turned into a liability for President Bush and his party. According to a recent intelligence report, terrorist activity in Iraq escalated after the occupation, something President Bush has refused to acknowledge. A sex scandal featuring a key Republican congressman, Mark Foley, only made what was already bad worse.

… Recently, Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad said some Lebanese parties are encouraging the Americans to strike at Syria and occupy Damascus. Syria is not alone in suspecting Washington’s intentions. The U.S. administration has been trying to dismantle the Hamas government in Palestine. And when Condoleezza Rice met with eight Arab foreign ministers a few days ago, analysts said the U.S. secretary of state was seeking a consensus on future arrangements in the region.

The current crisis of the Republican Party offers a motive for dramatic actions in the Middle East. Mostly likely, Iran would be the first target, but Syria, Hezbollah and Hamas are all in the cross hairs. One can expect a variety of U.S.-Iranian skirmishes on various fronts, perhaps setting the stage for a wider confrontation. Interestingly enough, computer companies on both sides are already marketing video games based on possible war scenarios.

Belfast Telegraph

Global warming

No one, either on the left or right of politics, can deny that global warming is a reality. Green leaves, still hanging to the trees, tell the story, as do early morning temperatures. … The question is: What can we do about it, and are we prepared to pay the price?

The report by Sir Nicholas Stern, commissioned by the [UK] Treasury, confirms what scientists have been saying for years — that the Earth is warming up, as living standards and fuel consumption rise, and that the consequences will be disastrous, economically as well as environmentally, unless a global strategy is agreed and implemented. Other countries may reach slightly different conclusions, but Stern has set the standard, arguing that although stabilizing carbon emissions will be costly, it will be a lot less than a catastrophic economic depression in future.

The government has already announced that a climate-change bill will be introduced, with carrots and sticks for those who either make a large or a small contribution to environmental protection. No one can quarrel with polluters paying more, and others less, but the government’s record on climate change has been so poor that the public will suspect that extra taxes may be charged, to be spent in other ways.

Public transport, under Labor, has never been given the emphasis it should have been, to cut private motoring and road-borne freight traffic. Anything that would be unpopular with the public, especially at election time, has been ruled out, so scheduled rises in fuel duty have been vetoed and budget airlines have thrived on tax-free aviation fuel.

All the old arguments against tougher laws will be trotted out, but their effectiveness is waning, just as the Arctic ice sheet is [shrinking] by 9 percent a decade. In America, George Bush rejected the Kyoto targets because the economy would suffer, but is now being told that the ultimate cost, in a global economic downturn, would be enormously higher. If the world’s top polluter continues to ignore the consequences, how is China to be persuaded to curb the growth of coal-fired power stations, opening at one a week?

The fact that the United Kingdom is responsible for only 2 percent of carbon emissions underlines the necessity for global solutions. Climate change means not just warmer, drier summers, but stormier winters, higher sea levels — making refugees of millions — and, inevitably, a rising tide of immigration from dust-bowl countries to temperate ones.

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