Editorial Roundup: Excerpts from recent editorials
Excerpts from recent editorials in newspapers in the United States and abroad:
The New York Times on the UN Commission on the Status of Women:
Some horrific events over the past few months, including the shooting of a Pakistani schoolgirl and the rape and murder of a young Indian physiotherapy student, should have been an alert for the world to unite in preventing violence against women.
But if a conference now under way at the United Nations is any guide, that message has not resounded with the necessary urgency. Halfway into their two-week annual meeting, delegates to the Commission on the Status of Women fear they will not be able to agree on a final communiqué, just like last year.
Who is to blame? Delegates and activists are pointing fingers at the Vatican, Iran and Russia for trying to eliminate language in a draft communiqué asserting that the familiar excuses — religion, custom, tradition — cannot be used by governments to duck their obligation to eliminate violence. The United Nations Human Rights Council endorsed similar language just six months ago.
Conservative hard-liners seem determined to fight it out again. They have also objected to references to abortion rights, as well as language suggesting that rape also includes forcible behavior by a woman's husband or partner. Poland, Egypt, other Muslim states and conservative American Christian groups have criticized one or more parts of the draft. The efforts by the Vatican and Iran to control women are well known. It is not clear what motivates Russia, although there is a strong antifeminist strain in President Vladimir V. Putin's government. He may also be trying to curry favor with Islamic states.
In any case, the suggestion that traditional values justify the violation of basic human rights is spurious. As Inga Marte Thorkildsen, Norway's gender equality minister, has noted, "Violence against women must be seen as a human rights issue, and that has nothing to do with culture or religion."
... The conference will be a failure if it cannot produce ambitious global standards that will deliver concrete results to protect women and girls.
Chattanooga (Tenn.) Free Press on choosing the next pope:
For the sake of the relevance and growth of the Catholic Church, the College of Cardinals might consider a man who, as pope, would champion more reasonable stances and help the church to become better suited for modern times. But that wouldn't be the right move.
If the Catholic Church is to be the least bit credible, it can't operate relative to the times or in a way that reacts to changing societal norms. It should stay exactly how it is — even if it may appear to some to be sexist, homophobic, closed-minded and/or antiquated.
Since, Catholics would argue, God's primacy, God's teachings and God's expectations of man aren't subject to change, the cardinals should not elect a man whose vision of the church is subject to change.
The cardinals should, however, strongly consider electing the first non-European pope in 1,272 years — especially since most of the Church's recent growth has taken place in Mexico, South America, Western Africa and the Philippines.
Also, unlike the last time the conclave met, they should refrain from electing a cardinal with any history of covering up sexual abuse of children by Catholic priests.
Daily News, Bowling Green, Ky., on border security:
The apprehension of a Nepalese man who tried to cross our southern border illegally last November near McAllen, Texas, makes the very unsettling point that border security could be a life and death matter for our citizens.
The man in question was found to be infected with a particularly deadly strain of tuberculosis known as XDR, which can be almost untreatable. ...
This strain had only been seen once before in this country prior to last November.
It is gratifying that the Nepalese man was apprehended and placed in quarantine, but the great unknown is how many more similarly infected individuals may have slipped across the border undetected.
Border security is certainly better now than it was a few years ago, but the real question should be is it good enough.
The fact our border is still more porous than it should be is certainly not lost on the likes of al-Qaida. Are terrorist sleeper cells here already that used this entry point?
For the health and safety of our citizens, border security must be an integral part of needed immigration reform.
There is another reason found in the U.S. Constitution that in our judgment has received far too little attention.
Article 4, section 4 states that "The United States shall guarantee to every state in this Union a Republican Form of Government and shall protect each of them against invasion."
It is not much of a stretch to suggest that when millions of illegal immigrants enter our country contrary to our laws, it rises to the level of an invasion.
Houston Chronicle on restricting executive authority for drone strikes:
There was a sense of a Senate returning to form as Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., munched on a Kit Kat bar in the middle of his 13-hour filibuster — a break from his reading articles about military drones. This grandstanding didn't stop the confirmation of John Brennan as CIA director, unlike the silent holds that have blocked qualified candidates from filling the holes in our judiciary.
Now it is time to turn that rhetorical passion into legislative action. If Paul and his acolytes are serious about restraining executive authority, then they should set their targets on the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Terrorists. Passed after the terrorist attacks on 9/11, the AUMF granted the president authority to use all necessary force against those who planned, authorized committed or aided in the 9/11 attacks or those who harbored them. Since then, it has been used to justify military force not just in Afghanistan, but Pakistan and Yemen. And against U.S. citizens. Without any explicit restrictions, folks outside the White House are left wondering whether Congress authorized the president to use military force anywhere that could possibly house al-Qaida sympathizers. Legislative history implies that Congress specifically did not include authority within our national borders, but we shouldn't have to guess at whether the president can kill citizens on domestic soil.
Texas Sen. Ted Cruz has joined Paul in introducing a bill to prohibit drone killings of citizens on U.S. soil if they don't represent an imminent threat. But why not look at the AUMF itself? When contemplating presidential authority, we hope that Democrats always imagine a President Dick Cheney. And for Republicans, well, President Barack Obama seems to foster enough healthy skepticism. But for too long both parties have cared more about partisan politics than the ramifications of unchecked presidential power. We hope Paul's filibuster will help bring an end to that era.
The Republican American, Waterbury, Conn., on home mortgages:
Six years after the collapse of the housing bubble inflated by the political treachery of then-Sen. Chris Dodd and others, 27.5 percent of U.S. home mortgages still remain under water. That's almost 14 million homeowners with more mortgage debt than equity, according to the Zillow Negative Equity Report. ...
Where they got in trouble was believing prices would rise forever, freeing them to cash out their equity periodically to buy expensive consumer goods, pay for lavish vacations, finance grand home improvements or simply afford lifestyles their incomes couldn't support. During the housing boom, Americans cashed out more than $1 trillion in equity by refinancing or through second mortgages or lines of credit, all with variable interest rates below those of traditional fixed-rate instruments. But when the bubble burst, they were submerged by rapidly falling prices and rising interest rates. And the rest, including trillions in lost household wealth and 5 million-plus foreclosures, is Chris Dodd's legacy.
Did Americans learn anything about reckless borrowing? CNBC reports a $7.2 billion (19 percent) surge in new equity lines of credit in the last year. That's a far cry from the $28 billion likewise financed in 2006, and industry observers say, based on anecdotes, this new equity borrowing is funding home improvements, college tuition and other worthwhile expenses.
Maybe so, but that doesn't mean the new loans are risk-free to borrowers or taxpayers. It's not as if the mortgage and housing crises have passed. ...
Notwithstanding the copious grandstanding by politicians and government bureaucrats, nothing fundamental has changed since the bubble burst. And almost every new mortgage continues to come with the implied backing of taxpayers because the Obama administration actually has expanded the role of Fannie and Freddie in housing finance, even as they are stuck with more than $5 trillion in essentially worthless mortgage-backed securities. So almost every new dollar borrowed presents a new risk for taxpayers. ...
Muskogee (Okla.) Phoenix on pocketknives on commercial planes:
Dropping our guard again can't become the legacy of the 9/11 terror attacks.
The Transportation Security Administration's decision to let passengers carry pocketknives on flights unnecessarily rolls back protections designed to keep 9/11 from happening again.
Terrorists used simple box cutters to take over planes and crash them into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon in 2001.
Now the TSA will allow smaller pocketknives — blades less than 2.36 inches long and less than half an inch wide — on planes.
Small blades can be sharpened into deadly weapons.
At least that was the fear when pocketknives were banned in the first place.
Those blades are just as deadly now as they were in 2001.
The TSA policy aligns the United States with international standards and allows the TSA to concentrate on more serious safety threats, the agency said.
The TSA may believe those knives and small bottles of shampoo or lotion are harmless. But terrorists have hidden explosives in tennis shoes.
Criminals and terrorists count on people letting down their guard because they don't like the inconvenience of being diligent.
Many of the things that are banned for carry-on are acceptable to be in luggage kept in the plane's cargo hold.
Anyone who is surprised by having a pocketknife seized has not been paying attention for the last 12 years.
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