- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 21, 2009

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

The following are excerpts from recent editorials in newspapers in the United States and abroad:

The Press of Atlantic City, Pleasantville, N.J., on a school district’s “zero tolerance” policy: … The Pinelands Regional School District, like so many other districts, has a zero-tolerance policy barring any “illegal or dangerous item, product or commodity” from its schools. So what do school officials do when they find an eighth-grader with a perfectly legal Alavert allergy tablet in his backpack? Well, this district smacked the student with a five-day suspension. Never mind that it is virtually impossible to figure out how an over-the-counter allergy pill could be called illegal or even dangerous. …

The ACLU is also involved this time - it’s suing the district on behalf of the student, who is now a freshman at Pinelands Regional High School. …

School administrators are paid to exercise common sense and discretion. In fact, the exercise of discretion - that is, learning to understand distinctions and differences - is exactly what schools should be teaching students. …

On the Net:

https://www.pressofatlanticcity.com/

San Antonio Express-News, on the violence in Mexico: The prognosis for the violence in Mexico is eerily similar to the forecasts about the economy in the United States: It will get worse before it gets better. That is bad news for both countries. …

“Anything you can think of that’s happened in Mexico, we have to think could happen here,” Steve McCraw, the director of homeland security for the state of Texas, told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “We know what they’re capable of.”

U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano expressed the same sentiment. “This is a very serious battle. It could spill over into the United States. If it does, we do have contingency plans to deal with it.” Napolitano did not reveal those contingency plans, but the best plan is to help our neighbor before the Mexican violence becomes the U.S. violence.

This was the motive that led to the Merida Initiative, a $1.6 billion package to help Mexico combat the drug cartels. U.S. officials, however, must not be content to stop with the initiative. If the program is helping, officials must increase the aid to achieve even greater success, and if it is not working, they must come up with an initiative that does. …

On the Net:

https://www.mysanantonio.com/opinion/

The New York Times, on preserving presidential electronic records: Every new administration arrives heady with resolve to make history. Unfortunately, the Bush administration was determined to hide a lot of it. It somehow deleted hundreds of days’ worth of official White House e-mail from the public record. Also gone missing are messages from top Bush appointees who improperly used private Republican Party e-mail accounts to conduct public business. All this underscores the need for legal protections to ensure that the nation’s increasingly electronic history is preserved.

A measure moving through Congress would strengthen the power of the National Archives to require that the White House and other related agencies preserve all of their electronic records. …

Bush officials pleaded faulty technology as the cause of the missing e-mail. Maybe it was an accident that entire workdays turned up blank at the offices of President George Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney. Maybe it was a coincidence that hundreds of thousands of the missing e-mail messages went missing during the lead-up to the Iraq war - with its manipulated intelligence - and the outing of Valerie Plame and the decision to destroy CIA interrogation tapes.

All such maybes are no substitute for the actual historic record. Congress must protect this priceless taxpayer property before any more history goes missing.

On the Net:

https://www.nytimes.com

The Gazette, Colorado Springs, Colo., on earmarks: During his hot-blooded adolescence, while grappling with the urgency of conversion and the pleasures of the flesh, St. Augustine is said to have prayed: “Lord, grant me chastity and self-control - but not just yet.”

President Barack Obama may have uttered something similar to himself Wednesday, as he delivered a speech criticizing pet spending-project earmarks in the morning and announcing new guidelines designed to curb them, and in the afternoon, away from the cameras, signed a $410 billion spending bill containing at least 8,500 earmarks costing more than $7.7 billion. …

Obama’s reform proposals are modest. Congress members would have to publish on their Web sites all requests they make to appropriations committees - currently they have to publish only those that are granted. Agencies would have 20 days to deem proposals inappropriate, and agencies would have to conduct competitive bidding for earmarks targeted to private companies. The lobbyists must be trembling in their Guccis.

Earmarks are mostly egregious, but until the public mindset changes away from seeing Washington as a giant piggy bank and toward a serious demand for smaller, more limited government, earmarks will persist. Since the current administration seems to see larger, more ambitious government as a positive good, don’t expect much beyond empty rhetoric about responsibility and accountability.

On the Net:

https://tinyurl.com/co5xxh

Gulf News, Dubai, United Arab Emirates, on AIG bonuses: It is easy to understand the anger of taxpayers and U.S. president Barack Obama after it emerged that executives at American International Group (AIG) have received $165 million … in bonus payments. AIG has received $170 billion in bailout money from the US government, with more on the way. Obama has reportedly ordered that every legal avenue be explored to recoup the payments.

Obama is right to choose the legal route - tearing up a contract between a company and any one of its employees is not an option. The business world operates on trust and the strength of contracts between companies and other parties. If executives were wrongly paid performance bonuses, then the money should be reclaimed. Incompetence should never be rewarded. But if those that have received payments are due the bonuses, then the rule of law must be respected by the company and politicians alike.

On the Net:

https://tinyurl.com/dh5wmy

Asahi Shimbun, Tokyo, on stem cell research: Multipotent stem cell research in the United States is likely to accelerate following a recent decision made by President Barack Obama. …Obama lifted the restrictions imposed by his predecessor on federal funding of research on embryonic stem (ES) cells, an important class of multipotent stem cells extracted from embryos, which could turn into any of the human body’s tissue types. …

Obama is seeking to establish a sound science policy not distorted by political or religious influences. His stem cell initiative is a major step in that direction.

Along with Nobel laureates and other leading scientists, Kyoto University professor Shinya Yamanaka was invited to the White House ceremony for signing the executive order by Obama. Yamanaka is known worldwide for his discovery of a method of producing a new type of versatile cell, known as induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells, from ordinary cells, instead of an embryo. After the ceremony, Yamanaka voiced alarm about the state of stem cell research in this country, saying, “Japan will find itself left behind if things remain unchanged.” Yamanaka says Obama’s decision will accelerate further the remarkable progress already achieved in the United States in this field. …

On the Net:

https://tinyurl.com/c5ojka

The Times, London, on AIDS and the Vatican: Roman Catholic teaching rejects artificial methods of birth control. … You either accept the teaching or you do not.

But statements about the effects of contraception are different. While traveling to Cameroon on his first trip to Africa, Pope Benedict XVI declared that Aids “cannot be overcome through the distribution of condoms, which even aggravates the problems.” The Pope’s comment is a testable proposition that has immense implications for human health and welfare. …

The Church’s position on the virtues of chastity outside marriage, and fidelity and natural family planning within it, has consistency but it is inadequate to the gravity of the epidemic that afflicts Africa. The United Nations estimates that worldwide there are 33 million adults and children living with the HIV virus - of whom two thirds are in sub-Saharan Africa. While the position is stabilizing in some African countries, such as Malawi, others report an increase in new infections. …

The Church, through its hospitals, hospices and orphanages on many continents, has provided compassion and selfless care for Aids sufferers. But it has opposed the most reliable means of preventing Aids: the distribution of condoms and education in safe sex. Africa has suffered as a result. …

On the Net:

https://tinyurl.com/djdd4s

Hufvudstadsbladet, Helsinki, Finland, on Avigdor Lieberman and Israeli politics:

It looks like Israel is set to appoint a foreign minister who is a clear provocation to Palestinians, other Arabs and the rest of the world with the United States and the European Union at the forefront. The leader of the ultra-nationalist Yisrael Beiteinu faction, Avigdor Lieberman, does not want to hear about a Palestinian state and calls into question the citizenship of Israeli Arabs.

One can say that Israel is now simply playing it tough. Neither have the Palestinians in Gaza been any wiser when they opted to give power to the Hamas terrorist organization.

The kind of government that (Prime Minister-designate) Benjamin Netanyahu is now forming is a shame on Israel, and it will become more difficult for her friends in the world to understand the country’s goals and actions.

On the Net:

https://www.hbl.fi/

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