- Associated Press - Wednesday, December 2, 2015

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

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Dec. 2

The New York Times on the international fight against AIDS:

International health agencies continue to lose ground in the struggle against H.I.V., the virus that causes AIDS. Each year the number of people who become infected outpaces the number of people starting treatment for the virus. That is discouraging given that the opportunities to control the spread of the virus have never been better, scientifically and financially. It is imperative to move aggressively to change the trajectory of this epidemic.



Even in the United States, where great progress has been made, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned on Tuesday that hundreds of thousands of people with diagnosed infections are not receiving drug treatments or other care and are transmitting the virus.

Still, several developments have opened the way for the world to turn this story around in the next five to 15 years. Scientists have discovered that if people with the virus take antiretroviral drugs as soon as possible after diagnosis they can live relatively normal lives with very little risk of passing the virus to their sexual partners. The World Health Organization issued guidelines in September that urged patients to be treated immediately instead of waiting until their immune systems deteriorate.

Manufacturers have learned to put several antiretroviral drugs in a single pill that is taken once a day, making treatment remarkably easy. Companies are greatly reducing prices for countries that cannot pay much, including for a pill that may be less than $100 per patient per year. And some uninfected people at high-risk of infection, like gay men who have sex with strangers or drug users who share needles, are now taking a daily pill to prevent infection.

The office of Ray Chambers, an assistant secretary general at the United Nations, estimates that 28 million infected men, women and children can be in treatment by 2020 - nearly twice as many as today - with the current funding provided by international donors and the countries afflicted with the disease. The long-term goal is to virtually end the AIDS epidemic by 2030, a daunting task given that almost 37 million people are infected and roughly half are unaware of it.

In the United States, about 1.2 million people are infected and one in eight don’t know it. There are, however, signs of progress. San Francisco, which pioneered many of the tactics now recommended globally, has greatly reduced new infections. And Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced a big increase this week in the amount of money New York will spend annually to fight the disease, with a goal of reducing new infections to 750 a year by 2020, down from 3,000.

Some experts are rightly skeptical that current measures will be enough to end the global epidemic. They think funding should focus on a vaccine to prevent infection and a cure to eliminate the virus from those already infected. Both are formidable challenges. The Foundation for AIDS Research (amfAR) and the University of California, San Francisco, Medical School announced a collaboration this week to find the scientific basis for a cure within five years, a goal the project’s leader described as more aspirational than realistic. However long it takes, research is needed to provide lasting success.

Online:

https://www.nytimes.com

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Dec. 1

China Daily on China’s role at the World Climate Change Conference in Paris:

The 2009 climate conference in Copenhagen was at the time deemed humanity’s “chance” to address global warming.

We missed it.

This time, with US President Barack Obama “hamstrung” by a Congress at home that is yet to even agree that human activities are the cause of global warming;

With countries divided on how to assign “common but differentiated responsibilities”;

With countries’ combined commitments to reducing greenhouse gas emissions falling dramatically short of what is needed to limit the rise in temperature within 2 degrees Celsius by 2030;

And with developed countries failing to honor their promise of $100 billion to support climate-change mitigation actions by developing countries;

It will take strenuous endeavors by all parties to make sure the Paris gathering will not be remembered as another lost chance.

Whatever happens, whatever it takes, China will, and must, be a staunch forerunner in humanity’s fight against global warming. That message grew louder and clearer not only with President Xi Jinping’s presence at the Paris event, the first time a Chinese head of state has attended the global climate talks, but also his pledges of China’s action.

Expectations run high that China and the United States, the world’s two largest greenhouse gas emitters, can lead by example, especially because the two issued a joint announcement on climate change late last year.

Although progress on the US side has been less than desirable, it is time for both nations to demonstrate what being a “responsible major country” means.

And China’s contributions and leadership are more credible than ever because they are more deeply and firmly rooted in the country’s own needs to deliver “green development” and upgrade its industrial structure.

The confidence, optimism, and sense of urgency Xi is delivering to Paris have the support of a widening domestic consensus driven home by practical needs for clear air, clean water and safe soil. There is growing confidence in China that a difference will be made, even at the cost of an economic slowdown.

An important goal of the Paris summit is to reach a legally binding agreement that applies to all signatories. This should be more likely with China committing more.

For a long time, developed countries have dragged their feet on the pretext that developing countries like China had not committed enough.

Now it is their turn to catch up.

Online:

https://usa.chinadaily.com.cn/

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Dec. 1

The Wall Street Journal on Chinese economic reform:

The International Monetary Fund announced Monday that it will include the Chinese yuan in its reserve-currency basket, also known as special drawing rights. The symbolic milestone shows the world is open to China playing a larger role as befits its status as the world’s biggest trading nation. But if the yuan is to become a real international currency, Beijing must prepare its financial system for far greater openness.

The yuan now accounts for less than 3% of world trade and an even smaller fraction of foreign-exchange reserves. And while the IMF has declared it “freely usable,” that’s a stretch.

Officially Beijing has lifted many of the limits on the international use of the yuan, but in practice its supply is limited. A true reserve currency can be accumulated freely, which requires running deficits on the current or capital accounts or both. To put yuan in the hands of foreigners, China must be a net buyer of goods or allow a net outflow of investment.

China’s financial system will also have to be much more integrated into the international system. It’s worth remembering that the yen is also part of the IMF’s reserve basket, though Japan’s currency has never gained the global acceptance of the dollar and euro. Even when Tokyo lifted capital controls in the 1980s, it kept its financial system largely walled off from foreign competition. The result is that Japan is saddled with less competitive financial companies that shy away from financing entrepreneurial start-ups. Artificially high investment combined with low consumption ends in deflation.

Opening the capital account does bring the danger of destabilizing outflows of capital. But the ability of savers to move their money to find higher returns imposes discipline on the entire economy, because companies must pay market rates for capital.

If China is to escape the middle-income-nation trap and grow through productivity gains rather than ever-increasing investment, it must welcome this discipline. That will require the end of government interference in bank-lending decisions and a clean-up of nonperforming loans left over from such lending.

Now that Beijing has the recognition from the IMF that it sought, Communist Party Secretary Xi Jinping must decide whether to go forward with a true internationalization of the yuan. The answer will largely determine the course of Chinese economic reform.

Online:

https://www.wsj.com/

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Dec. 1

The Washington Post on the imprisonment of journalist Jason Rezaian:

On Thursday, The Post’s Jason Rezaian marks another dismal milestone: his 500th day of detention in Iran. He is held in Tehran’s notorious Evin Prison, where political prisoners are kept; his principal companion is a cellmate who speaks neither English nor Persian, making communication difficult. Mr. Rezaian is no longer allowed contact with his lawyer nor fresh supplies of reading material. His exercise time was cut back after Iran finished negotiating its nuclear deal with a U.S.-led coalition over the summer. Though his trial on espionage charges ended Aug. 10, neither he nor his lawyer has been formally informed of the verdict or sentence against him.

This outrage will have continued for 56 days longer than the hostage crisis of 1979-81, when 52 Americans were held captive at the U.S. Embassy. Though Iran has previously arrested journalists with foreign citizenship, Mr. Rezaian has been held far longer than any of them. His wife, Yeganeh Salehi, an Iranian citizen, also remains in limbo: Arrested with Mr. Rezaian on July 22, 2014, at their home, she was released after two months but has not been allowed to return to her work as a journalist and remains under threat of prosecution. The couple are allowed to meet every other Saturday for an hour, and Mr. Rezaian is also allowed a weekly meeting with Ms. Salehi and his mother. Otherwise, he is subjected to a cruel isolation.

It has been widely speculated that Mr. Rezaian is a pawn in an internal Iranian power struggle. Hard-liners are said to be using him, and at least three other Americans they are holding, to block any further improvement in relations between the United States and the government of Hassan Rouhani. While that may be true, Mr. Rouhani and his foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, haven’t been encouraging about Mr. Rezaian’s case. Mr. Zarif has gone from describing him as a “friend” and “good reporter” to suggesting he might be guilty of wrongdoing, while Mr. Rouhani floated the idea that he should be traded for 19 Iranians being held in the United States.

What seems clear is that the Obama administration has failed to create incentives for the regime to release Mr. Rezaian and other Americans. It continues to implement the nuclear deal; in a change of policy, it invited Iran to participate in political talks on Syria. No one has been sanctioned - or even threatened with sanctions - in response to the Rezaian case.

Iran appears content to allow Mr. Rezaian and the other Americans to rot in prison indefinitely, even as the regime collects more than $100 billion in sanctions relief and is granted the role it has long sought as a regional power. That should not be an acceptable outcome.

Online:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/

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Dec. 1

The Augusta Chronicle on American liberals’ perceptions of conservatives:

Our president is so concerned about not painting all Muslims with the terrorism brush that he won’t even acknowledge that Muslim terrorists exist.

Such a benefit of the doubt never seems to extend to Americans who consider themselves pro-life.

Nope. Whereas the plethora of murderous radical Muslim terrorists over these many decades don’t speak for Islam, one psycho shoots up a Planned Parenthood and it’s a hate crime resulting from anti-abortion “rhetoric.” In other words, many accomplices.

Nice. Not sure exactly how that makes sense, side by side. But nice.

We just enjoyed a holiday over which the black cloud of potential terror attacks hung - not from pro-lifers, but from radical Muslims. The concern was very real, in the wake of the slaughter of innocents in Paris and amid reports that the FBI has ISIS investigations in all 50 states.

In contrast, how many anti-abortion extremists can you name?

Yet, the left can’t wait to tar an entire movement for the reprehensible actions of one man.

“Republicans have yet more blood on their hands. All this heated rhetoric about Planned Parenthood and abortion,” broadcaster Norman Goldman tweeted.

Heated rhetoric? You mean calling on Congress to defund Planned Parenthood because it’s been selling fetal body parts illegally? Is that the “heated rhetoric” you mean? Or is it the undercover video that showed Planned Parenthood types casually discussing it over lunch?

Negar Mortazavi, a liberal media commentator, called the Colorado Springs shooter a “Christian terrorist” and wondered what “moderate Christians are doing about their extremists.”

First, there is no evidence religion played any part in this tragedy. According to CBS News and the Associated Press, “Those who knew (the shooter) said he seemed to have few religious or political leanings.”

Second, isn’t it a bit much to then extrapolate that we’ve got a problem with lots of “Christian terrorists”?

Recall that after the Tucson shooting of Rep. Gabby Giffords and others, the left jumped to conclusions about the shooter’s motivations and their connection to conservative political rhetoric. It was ludicrous. And it was off-base: Turns out the shooter wasn’t a conservative and didn’t have political motivations.

Yet, the same folks who decry even talking about Islamic radicals, who are quite real and present, are the first to profile pro-lifers.

Why is it the left is so accommodating when it comes to trying to excuse away Muslim terrorism, but so quick to condemn so many peaceful, faith-driven American conservatives?

How does that make a bit of sense?

Online:

https://chronicle.augusta.com/

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Nov. 30

The Chicago Tribune on the fatal shooting of 9-year-old Tyshawn Lee

Graze wound, right upper back. One superficial wound, right forearm. Two perforating gunshot wounds, right hand, with thumb partially amputated, as if victim was trying to block the gunshot. Gunshot wound to the head. There was evidence of close range firing.

- Cook County prosecutors’ accounting of gunshot wounds documented in the autopsy of 9-year-old Tyshawn Lee.

Any time is a grand time to be 9 years old. But early November is special, the post-Halloween bridge from warm autumn play weather to all those upcoming vacation days. How sensible, then, for Tyshawn Lee to stop at Dawes Park en route to his grandmother’s house. He set down his basketball. Within minutes it would lie on the ground, a helpless companion, near his 83-pound corpse.

A basketball, even a favorite basketball that goes everywhere with a boy, can’t warn him. Can’t protect him. Can’t tell police and prosecutors who shot the boy five times, including the shot through his head that made sure he couldn’t talk with anyone about the atrocity he suffered in an alley on Chicago’s South Side.

More than 400 times a year in this city, killers snuff out lives. Most of the victims are young but not this young. Put a digit in front of Tyshawn’s age - a 1 or a 2 - and he’d be an unremarkable entry on Chicago’s long roll of the dead. But because intentionally slaughtering 9-year-olds still is uncommon, many among us are paying uncommon attention.

If only all of us could pay attention to every victim of the terrorist cells also known as Chicago street gangs. Then we never would grow numb to the calculation, the viciousness, of these killings. Instead we would demand that Illinois lawmakers toughen the penalties for gun crimes. And we would encourage Chicago’s 50 aldermen, the putative little mayors of their wards, to get far more involved in mobilizing strong communities that will not tolerate chronic violence.

The way prosecutors have laid it out in court, Tyshawn is dead because one terrorist cell was in extended combat with another. We won’t replay here the elaborate, familiar saga of why members of one gang wanted to avenge shootings allegedly perpetrated by a gang that includes Tyshawn’s father. Assistant State’s Attorney George Canellis Jr. said of a defendant in the slaying of Tyshawn: “He allegedly said since his brother was killed and his mama was shot he was going to kill grandmas, mamas, kids and all.”

That rage allegedly came to focus on Tyshawn, frolicking on a swing set in a play lot at Dawes. The authorities say three suspects had been driving around daily, firearms in tow, seeking their revenge. They exited a black SUV at the park, then departed, then returned and walked to the play lot. Two departed in the SUV; the remaining suspect picked up the boy’s basketball and dribbled it a few times before returning it to Tyshawn.

Prosecutors say that “Tyshawn and this individual were then seen walking off together, out of the park and into the alley just off of Damen and across from the park” near 80th Street and Damen Avenue. The black SUV reappeared and followed them into the alley. “Once Tyshawn reached approximately the middle of the alley he was ultimately shot multiple times as witnesses did hear several gunshots,” a prosecution document states. One assailant allegedly did the shooting while the other two watched from the vehicle. Then they sped away.

The Tribune reported Saturday that the fourth-grader’s basketball was found lying a few feet from his body.

We don’t yet know how police and prosecutors are building their case against the three suspects. But prosecutors said authorities had recovered the SUV, and GPS data put it at Dawes a few minutes before Tyshawn was shot to death. One suspect has been charged in the killing; one is jailed on unrelated charges; at this writing, authorities are searching for the third.

In the wake of the killing of Laquan McDonald by a Chicago police officer, there is much discussion in Chicago - we hope productive discussion - about policing and crime, shootings and victims. One task for all of us is to keep maddening cases separate from one another, in our minds and in our discourse.

This killing should enrage Chicagoans. Someone felt comfortable using this city as the ideal locale for his revenge - as a safe place to kill a 9-year-old boy.

Judge Peggy Chiampas sounded enraged when she ordered one suspect held without bail, shouting that she had to protect “grandmothers, mothers and children” from him. “This was a predator grabbing his prey and luring that child into an alley (to be) executed by a close-range gunshot wound. This poor 9-year-old boy stuck in the middle of a gang war by adults is playing on a swing.”

Whatever path the discussion of public safety in Chicago takes, one thought should stay in all of our minds:

Don’t lose sight of Tyshawn Lee. Ever.

Online:

https://www.chicagotribune.com/

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Nov. 29

The Denver Post on a fatal shooting at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado:

Surely no one is surprised to learn that the man arrested for the vicious attack at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs has been described as angry, unsociable and quick to vent emphatic opinions, with hints of violence in his past.

Oh, and well-armed. But perhaps that almost goes without saying in modern America, unfortunately.

Robert Lewis Dear appears to be the latest example of a dangerous type we have become all too familiar with. And which we seem powerless to defuse. But nevertheless, let us not flinch from stating the obvious even if it has been said multiple times before.

Yes, the “easy accessibility” of weapons undoubtedly contributes to these incidents of carnage, just as President Obama said over the weekend. One can defend the Second Amendment and an individual freedom to own guns for self-defense while still acknowledging that it sometimes empowers the deranged zealots of this world.

And it is no stretch to call the incident a version of domestic terrorism, assuming the assailant’s motives were in fact what every sign seems to indicate. NARAL Pro-Choice America is right to suggest that a violent attack on a Planned Parenthood clinic sends an intimidating message to employees at every other such facility in Colorado and the nation. And that’s true even if the perpetrator was acting alone and without counsel or coordination with other extremists. People capable of such vile deeds may be few in number, but the last thing they need is the example of a killer in Colorado Springs.

Some commentators are blaming the harsh rhetoric of anti-abortion activists and right-wing media in the wake of undercover videos released this year by the Center for Medical Progress for inflaming the unstable. And while some rhetoric has indeed been vitriolic, the fact remains that vehement political language is a reality in a society that always has had, and always will have, deep and passionate disagreements over issues of conscience. Strong rhetoric is a far cry from threats or attempted coercion, let alone violence with a gun.

Finally, the word “hero” is grossly overused these days in a media culture always on the hunt for superlatives, but the word is apt indeed when applied to the police who responded Friday to the active shooter at the clinic and found themselves under fire. In another sad and tragic weekend for this state, their unflinching resolve to rescue innocent people in and around the clinic stands out as an exemplary contrast to the depravity that summoned them to the scene.

Online:

https://www.denverpost.com/

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