Editorial Roundup: Excerpts from recent editorials

Published on NewsOK Modified: March 13, 2013 at 1:23 pm •  Published: March 13, 2013

You don't stop brushing your teeth because your dentist says you don't have cavities.

Keeping potential weapons off planes is not a violation of passengers' rights.

Keeping terrorists off planes is an affirmation of passengers' rights.




March 11

San Francisco Chronicle on China's climate change initiative:

Finally, a nation that is contributing heavily to climate change is taking a major step to reduce its emissions. Unfortunately, this global leadership is not coming from the United States. It's coming from China.

China is the world's largest emitter of greenhouse gases, so the news (reported by Xinhua, a state-owned media service) that it's going to introduce a carbon tax is huge. The tax is unlikely to be on the scale that experts suggest would make a serious dent in climate change: In 2010, China's ministry of finance suggested levying a carbon tax of 10 yuan ($1.60) per ton in 2012, to rise to 50 yuan ($8) per ton in 2020. Experts have suggested a tax of 500 yuan, or $80 per ton.

Still, even a small Chinese carbon tax would mean a dramatic step forward for the planet. And it's a lot more than anything the United States has done.

China's announcement also comes as a bit of a surprise. For years, China has been a strident opponent of coordinated international efforts to combat climate change — rivaled only by the United States in this opposition.

Yet China has much to lose from the steady encroachment of climate change, and it's finally starting to acknowledge that fact. ...

... Improving the environment isn't just a matter of good policy for the Chinese government, it's a matter of political survival.

Even if China's plan is driven by its own internal politics, it's still a better plan than what the United States has — which is no plan at all. ...

It's just one more sign that the rest of the world is moving forward on climate change, boosting their own renewable energy industries and improving the health of their populations in the process. Meanwhile, the clock is running out and the United States is still running in place.




March 10

Texarkana (Ark.) Gazette on North Korea:

Let's not hold our breath over the latest United Nations sanctions against North Korea for pursuing nuclear weapons capability. We will turn blue and pass out long before the megalomaniacs running the rogue nation give up their nuclear ambitions.

Many believe the latest round of sanctions only will aid Kim Jong Un's propaganda machine by shoring up nationalist fervor. The latest sanctions will affect only the North Korean elite class. The majority of North Koreans already live in abject poverty and have been hit hardest by previous sanctions.

The newest Security Council punishment cracks down on the sale of luxury items. ...

The ruling class that will be hit by these latest sanctions lacks the numbers — most likely the guts — to mount much of a protest.

So Kim Jong Un, like his late father, Kim Jong Il, will bluster about the UN being controlled by the U.S. which, North Koreans believe, bullies the smaller nation. Even as their stomachs rumble and they lack medical aid, North Korea's masses embrace nationalism in this David and Goliath scenario. They will consider their nation at war. ...

The world's diplomatic options are limited, but there is one flicker of hope — although it rests with a nation we cannot exactly call an ally.

North Korea's rulers have managed to carry on despite previous sanctions because China has skirted the crackdowns and provided oil and food. That has kept the country going through famine, disasters and the biggest disaster of all, poor leadership. ...

North Korea will continue its slow, steady efforts to arm itself with nukes. We only hope China's disenchantment with the leadership there steadily and swiftly grows.




March 11

The Jerusalem Post on Hungary's Jews:

The populist, conservative prime minister of Hungary, Viktor Orban, is once again at odds with the European Union. As part of a wider campaign to consolidate and perpetuate right-wing control over central Hungarian institutions, from the courts and the press to religious expression and confidential information, the Hungarian parliament — two-thirds of which is controlled by Orban's Fidesz party — is poised to vote in amendments to the country's constitution that the Council of Europe, the body responsible for defending human rights in the EU, has warned will put Hungary's democratic checks and balances at risk.

This is not the first time Budapest has clashed with Brussels.

Last year, similar amendments to the constitution proposed by Hungary's parliament were sharply opposed by the EU. European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso launched "infringement proceedings" in a successful bid to torpedo the laws. ...

Now the Hungarian prime minister is back to his old tricks. Hiding behind the claim that the amendment proposals are "private bills," Orban wants to institute limitations on political advertising in commercial media, make recognition of religious groups dependent on cooperation with the government and curb the constitutional court's powers.

The Jewish community, which numbers about 100,000, has served as the canary in Hungary's coal mine. As the history of civilization demonstrates, whether in Catholic Spain, in Nazi Germany or in Hamas-controlled Gaza, anti-Jewish sentiments are an unfailing prognosis of wider trends of antagonism to democratic ideals and freedom.

And Hungary is no exception. ...

Hungary is a sorrowful example of how rampant anti- Semitism can be a surefire barometer for reactionary, antidemocratic trends. Wherever Jews live in an atmosphere of antagonism and fear, it is likely that democratic checks and balances and other ideals of an open society are in the process of being dismantled.




March 13

The Japan Times, Tokyo, on UN sanctions against North Korea:

The United Nations Security Council on March 7 unanimously adopted a resolution that tightened sanctions against North Korea in response to its nuclear weapons test on Feb. 12, its third such test.

Opposing the resolution, the country has hardened its attitude to the point of threatening a pre-emptive nuclear attack against the United States. North Korea's isolation will become deeper if it continues to ignore the international community's warnings about its development of missiles and nuclear weapons.

Even China, the benefactor of North Korea, supported the sanctions. Pyongyang should take the meaning of the sanctions very seriously and return to the six-party talks, which are aimed at denuclearizing North Korea, as soon as possible. ...

... What is different from the earlier U.N. sanctions against North Korea is that the new UNSC resolution obliges the U.S. member nations to take the actions specified by the resolution, instead of requesting them to do so.

Another critical difference is that China took part in writing the provisions of the resolution, indicating that Beijing feels that North Korea's long-range rocket launch in December and nuclear test in February made its new leader, Xi Jinping, lose face and that China has lost patience with North Korea. Pyongyang should take these facts seriously and realize that it is on the brink of complete isolation in the international community. ...

The international community, in the meantime, should make sure that the sanctions will be tight and effective. China's role is especially important since it accounts for more than 80 percent of North Korea's total trade.

Full implementation of the UNSC resolution by China will deliver a strong message to North Korea. Beijing should refrain from any actions that will weaken the sanctions.




March 12

London Evening Standard on Falkland Islands referendum:

The outcome of the March 11 referendum in the Falkland Islands was never in doubt: as it turns out, 99.8 per cent of islanders voted to remain British, with just three people voting against. Nor does the vote have any legal force. Still, it sends an important message at a time when Argentina has been renewing its claim to the islands, almost 31 years after the Falklands War: the islanders want to remain British and do not want to be part of Argentina.

The impact on the islands' status is likely to be negligible, given that Argentina had already refused to recognize the referendum and the British government had no intention of giving them up anyway. But the vote does affirm the crucial principle of self-determination. For Argentina to take control of the islands in the foreseeable future would make a mockery of that principle; this would not serve the islanders' wishes. Whatever the emotional significance that the islands have assumed in Argentina — their recovery is enshrined in its constitution, despite Argentina having owned the islands only for a few years in the early 19th century — any sensible Argentine politician should surely accept that the nation has more pressing problems to confront. The Falklands wish to remain British: we should leave the matter there.




March 11

The Globe and Mail, Toronto, on post-Chavez Venezuela:

Venezuela's acting president, Nicolas Maduro, has revealed a clear strategy to win election next month to replace his late mentor, Hugo Chavez: cast himself as much as possible as the second coming of the populist leader who died March 5, tap into the wellspring of grief among the country's poor, demonize the opposition as enemies of those same people and promise to pursue the identical, badly managed socialist agenda that has left the oil-rich country's economy in tatters. ...

Opposition leader Henrique Capriles, who lost to the cancer-stricken Chavez last October by 11 percentage points, is the better choice. But the larger-than-life ghost hovering over this election seems an all but impossible hurdle to overcome.

After defeating a top Chavez lieutenant to become governor of one of the country's largest states in 2008, Capriles pursued policies to rebuild schools, improve health care and tackle hunger. This pragmatic centrist advocates a Brazilian style of moderate left-leaning reform, which helped revitalize that country, alleviate poverty and attract foreign investors. He has opposed the Chavez government's heavy-handed meddling in the economy, including the wave of nationalizations and expropriations that left the vital energy sector starved for capital, and has called for a crackdown on the rampant corruption that went unchecked during the Chavez years.

These are all reasonable policies badly needed by a country facing chronic shortages of staples, one of the world's biggest fiscal deficits, 20-per-cent-plus inflation and a badly distorted exchange rate. If Maduro genuinely wants to preserve Chavez's legacy by finally making good on his unfulfilled promises to create a more equitable society with a thriving economy that would benefit all Venezuelans, he needs to set aside the borrowed vitriol and let his natural pragmatism take over while pursuing policies to win back badly needed investment for the oil-and-gas sector and rebuild relations with the U.S., Venezuela's most important paying customer.