- The Washington Times - Friday, March 9, 2007

Excerpts of editorials from newspapers around the world:

Observer

Female prisoners

LONDON — One day, society will look back on the treatment of women prisoners at the start of this millennium as scandalous. The alarming and simple conclusion will be that we locked up vulnerable people who had no place in prison. In 2007, we have scarcely advanced from the 19th century, when people were jailed for no offense greater than an inability to pay their debts or the misfortune of suffering from a mental illness. Most of Britain’s 4,300 female inmates have at least one psychiatric problem; many are drug addicts; more than half have suffered domestic violence. Fewer than 10 percent have committed a violent crime. …

This month, the Corston Review, commissioned by the Home Office following the deaths of six female offenders at Styal prison in Cheshire, will be published. … The report will recommend the expansion of options to custody and new ways of improving women’s life chances. Such approaches require investment. But they would bring long-term dividends by curbing recidivism. …

In 2001, the government said the best strategy to reduce offending would be: “To improve women’s access to work; to improve women’s mental health services; to tackle drug abuse by women; to improve family ties; and to improve the life chances of young women at school and in the community.” But the huge gulf between that goal and action to meet it has not closed.

Corriere della Sera

Afghanistan offensive

MILAN, Italy — The NATO offensive in Afghanistan has ambitious goals. Among these, preventing … the Taliban’s moves, striking their militias, breaking the connection with drug dealers and opium producers and bringing back electric power. But the troops deployed on the field are only 5,500 (including 1,000 Afghans) and the main role assigned to negligent U.S. aviation increases the risks of new civilian bloodshed. …

If NATO does not obtain a definitive military victory (and that would be surprising) it will find itself involved in an identity crisis. And Italy, with or without Romano Prodi’s government, will be stuck between an impossible withdrawal and an impracticable peace mission.

Star

Ghana after 50 years

JOHANNESBURG — Ghana celebrated 50 years of independence this week in a grand ceremony attended by many African leaders, including President [Thabo] Mbeki. They were there not only to mark the huge moment in Ghana’s history but also, more broadly, the start of the liberation of the whole of sub-Saharan Africa from colonialism.

The country has been a leader and a microcosm of the continent all along. Its first president, Kwame Nkrumah, led Ghana and Africa down an adventurous but often rocky road. He inspired and helped other countries to break their shackles. But he also led the way in introducing one-party, dictatorial rule and state-controlled communist economist policies that aggravated poverty and provoked military coups.

Mr. Nkrumah himself was toppled by the generals in 1966, starting a turbulent period in Ghana’s history that really only ended in 2000, when Flight Lieutenant Jerry Rawlings, who had seized power in a 1979 coup, allowed it to pass peacefully to John Kufuor, who had won the election.

Ghana has now become one of the leaders in Africa, showing other nations a new road to recovery, via multiparty democracy and free-market economics. …

This isn’t to say Ghana doesn’t have problems. It has many. …

Ghana’s infrastructure is weak, it suffers frequent power outages, many of the country’s best brains have sought a better life in the West, and it remains far too dependent on foreign aid. But the World Bank says more than half of all Ghanaians were very poor in 1990; now only 37 percent are.

So if the path is not yet smooth, it at least points in the right direction, and Ghana seems determined to stay on it. The rest of the continent should continue to take its lead from the pathfinder.


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