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Editorial Roundup: Excerpts from recent editorials

Published on NewsOK Modified: March 11, 2015 at 10:29 am •  Published: March 11, 2015

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


March 9

Miami Herald on White House sanctions against human rights violators in Venezuela:

President Obama's executive order sanctioning some of the worst human-rights violators in Venezuela begins the process of holding individuals accountable for destroying what once was one of the proudest democracies in Latin America.

By itself, the order naming seven officials won't stop President Nicolás Maduro's regime from systematically harassing, beating and jailing members of the opposition. But it puts the bullies on notice that there is a price to pay for their actions.

The sanctions are the direct result of legislation passed by Congress in December authorizing penalties that would freeze the assets and ban visas for anyone accused of carrying out acts of violence or violating the human rights of those opposing Venezuela's government.

The not-so-magnificent seven in President Obama's executive order include officials in the intelligence service, national guard, public ministry and armed services. Among them is prosecutor Katherine Nayarith Haringhton Padrón, who has figured prominently in the effort to criminalize dissent by filing highly dubious charges against key opposition leaders, including former National Assembly legislator Maria Corina Machado and Caracas Mayor Antonio Ledezma Diaz.

The order means that she and the others will have their property in this country blocked or frozen. They are prohibited from entering the United States, and U.S. citizens are prohibited from doing business with them.

It is worth asking at this point how individuals supposedly working for "the people" and "socialism" in a country whose currency is increasingly worthless have accumulated the wherewithal to own valuable assets, possibly real estate, in the United States, and why they would need to visit "the empire" they so detest.

Surely ill-gotten gains from holding office could not account for it, because President Maduro has repeatedly assured his country that corruption plays no part in his beloved Bolivarian Revolution. If he cares, he would make it his business to find out what this property consists of, how much it's worth and where the money to buy it came from. Don't hold your breath.

The White House order is unlikely to improve the relationship between the United States and Venezuela, but for that the Maduro regime can only blame itself. The relationship is already in tatters thanks to the unrelenting stream of lies and propaganda coming out of Miraflores Palace in Caracas. Washington has been silent too long as the government denies Venezuelan citizens the human rights to which they are entitled.

The government's attack on Venezuelan democracy, as outlined by Human Rights Watch recently, consists of a systematic effort to dismantle what's left of its democratic legacy.

The latest actions include a January order granting powers to the military — trained for warfare — to use force against peaceful demonstrations, a clear tactic of intimidation. Meanwhile, there has been little accountability for numerous abuses committed by security forces last year against street protests, and prominent opposition leader Leopoldo López, a leader of those protests, remains in a military prison.

Obviously, it takes more than seven individuals to destroy democracy in Venezuela and bring the nation to the brink of ruin. The Obama administration should make sure that the notorious seven against whom sanctions were imposed on Monday are soon joined by their cronies.



March 10

New York Times on getting the whole world online:

Years before big technology companies like Google and Facebook began talking about using balloons, drones and cellphones to provide Internet access to billions of people in developing countries, leaders like President Bill Clinton were talking about bridging the "global digital divide." And while progress has been made in recent years, most of the world's 7.2 billion people still do not have access to the Internet.

The good news is that most of humanity now lives within reach of wireless networks. About half of the world's population, or 3.6 billion people, had cellphone service last year, up from 2.3 billion people in 2008. And one-third of all people used mobile networks to connect to the Internet last year. Two main forces have made this possible: rising incomes in developing countries and cheaper wireless devices and service.

The most important thing world leaders can do to make the Internet available to more people is to pursue faster and more equitable economic growth. At the same time, improving access itself can help economies grow by making knowledge more widely available. There are numerous private efforts underway that aim to make Internet access universal.

Google is working on Project Loon, which uses a constellation of giant balloons to beam down wireless signals in the Southern Hemisphere. This will be most useful to people living in remote areas without terrestrial cellular networks. And Facebook has introduced, which provides people in some countries, like Kenya, Colombia and India, with access to limited text-based content on their cellphones at no cost; Facebook and searches on Google would be included. The company seems to think that this will encourage some people who are already using cellphones to create a Facebook profile and consider paying for data plans by giving them their first taste of social networking and the Internet.

The big gains will come only when governments do more to increase investments in telecommunications directly or by encouraging private companies to build networks. The most certain way to do that is to foster competition by, for example, selling wireless frequencies to many different companies. This has been happening in places like India.

Other countries, including those in the European Union, have helped to spur Internet adoption by requiring telecom companies to share cables and other equipment with one another. Of course, many dominant state-owned or private phone companies will resist policies intended to encourage competition.

Making the Internet useful will require more than just equipment and networks. Many pages on the web are available only in English or a few other widely spoken languages like French and Mandarin, while billions do not speak those languages. Companies like Google and Facebook have invested in providing their sites in many languages and have offered free translation tools.

The World Wide Web Consortium, which is made up of universities, businesses, government agencies and other groups, is also trying to make the Web usable in more languages by making sure Internet formats and protocols work in different scripts. Governments and businesses should help those efforts by publishing educational, health and other information in more languages.

Bridging the digital divide is not quite as daunting as it once seemed. But neither is progress moving fast enough to allow billions of people to use a communications system that has become indispensable to the modern economy.



March 11

Post and Courier, Charleston, South Carolina, on Hillary Clinton:

Hillary Clinton cited "convenience" Tuesday as her motive for exclusively using private email correspondence on the job during her tenure as Secretary of State.

Of course, that depends on what the meaning of the word "convenience" is.

Clinton's use of personal emails — and a personal server — for official State Department business would be troubling enough if it were committed by a public servant with an admirable record for transparency.

However, Clinton has long seemed annoyed by questions of her habitually secretive methods. That pattern first drew widespread attention in 1993 when, as first lady, she held closed-door meetings about her proposed overhaul of the American health care system. Clinton's refusal to be more open about that plan helped consign it to political oblivion — and helped Republicans win control of the U.S. House for the first time in four decades in the 1994 midterm elections.

Then there were the Whitewater real estate scandal documents that went missing for two years before they were finally "found" in the private residence of the Clinton White House in 1996.

Much more recently, Clinton was far from forthcoming about what she knew and did before, during and after the Sept. 11, 2012 terror attack that killed Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans at a U.S. diplomatic facility in Benghazi, Libya. Irate over repeated questions during an early 2013 Senate hearing about the Obama administration's initial story on what sparked the assault, she snapped back: "Was it because of a protest or was it because of guys out for a walk one night who decided that they'd they go kill some Americans? What difference at this point does it make?"

Now comes the revelation of her dubious — and perhaps illegal — use of private emails in her role as secretary of state.

Clinton, after a week of not taking questions on the issue, tried to minimize its significance during a Tuesday news conference at the United Nations after delivering a speech there. But she did concede that the private emails practice was a mistake, explaining:

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