What they're saying…

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Here are some editorials from around the world, on current events

Nov. 22

Yomiuri Shimbun, Tokyo, on summit talks with Russia:

Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and Russian President Vladimir Putin ended their summit talks Monday in Tokyo with only spoken confirmation of the validity of past bilateral agreements on the territorial issue because of the considerable difference in opinions on ownership of the four islands off Hokkaido.

The situation between Tokyo and Moscow is such that no real progress in the longstanding territorial dispute could be expected.

Russia has taken a tougher line on the territorial row with Japan because Putin's political foundation and Russia's economy are both strong.

Its friendly relations with China of late also have a potent influence on its policy in the territorial dispute with Tokyo.

It is reasonable for Russia, which has been developing friendly ties with China, to consider improving its relations with Japan, a U.S. ally, a low priority.

Under the circumstances, any hasty move Japan makes on the territorial row is more likely to harm its own national interest. ...

Nov. 22

Red Deer Advocate, Alberta, Canada, on gang warfare on the Hobbema reserves:

It's hard to imagine how nine police officers are going to turn around a trend of violence and gang warfare on the Hobbema reserves, but all of Alberta certainly wishes them well in their efforts.

You'd pretty well have to leave Canada to find a self-contained community that is more overrun by criminals.

There are only about 12,000 people on the four reserves, and more than half of them are under the age of 18. But last year, there were almost 900 assaults reported ... and it would be safe to say that drugs or alcohol are connected to almost all of them. ...

When some residents can pick up a cheque worth more than $80,000 at age 18, with guaranteed payments to follow, rampant drug use can be the only explanation of how poverty manages to keep such a stronghold in the town. ...

If a young person could be persuaded to put sudden wealth out of reach, as an investment in education or to start a business or to own some real property, then it wouldn't be available to be squandered, stolen, wasted or given to criminals for crack cocaine. ...

In the meantime, we have to back up the authority of the law on the reserves, until a better understanding can take hold.

Nov. 23

Daily Telegraph, London, on Merkel's swearing in:

Germany yesterday swore in its first female chancellor, after two months of horse-trading following an inconclusive election. Angela Merkel is also the first head of the federal government from the former Communist east of the country. Yet these historic achievements are clouded by the economic legacy inherited from Gerhard Schrder and the nature of the new governing coalition. Unemployment, at over 11 per cent, is near the post-war high. Growth this year is expected to be under one per cent, and the budget deficit continues to breach European Union rules. Booming exports constitute the only bright note.

In seeking to revive the domestic economy, Mrs. Merkel is hampered by a grand coalition with the Social Democrats, who, after seven years in power, had made only modest moves towards loosening a sclerotic labour market and had twice broken electoral pledges to reduce joblessness.

Yet through these upheavals, and the earlier disgraceful attempt by Mr, Schroder to claim an election victory, Mrs. Merkel has kept her head. She may lack the media presence of her predecessor, but she is undoubtedly tough and has a clear idea of what is needed to restore German economic health. The new Bundeskanzlerin, to give her official title, campaigned on a programme of labour and fiscal reform. She deserves a shot at implementing it without the baggage of her predecessor's legacy.

Nov. 23

Daily Nation, Nairobi, Kenya, on the constitutional referendum:

Three months of hard and aggressive referendum campaigns finally ended on Monday. Kenyans cast their ballot to put the constitutional debate to a peaceful end. And they made their verdict loud and clear and, most importantly, did so calmly and with dignity.

In all this, it is the voters -- the ordinary Kenyans -- who deserve commendation. They turned out in large numbers to express their views and ensure that the national task was discharged successfully.

Now that the Electoral Commission of Kenya has declared Orange the victor (with 3.5 million votes against Banana's 2.5 million) and Banana has conceded defeat, it is time for reconciliation and nation-building.

... What is critical is how to proceed in the search for a new governance charter. It is a moment at which to look back and reflect on the long path to the referendum and to draw some valuable lessons. ...

Any decision that touches on the people's lives must be discussed with the people, not pushed down their throats. Brute force, political demagoguery and abuse of financial might will no longer guarantee results.

But, after the polls, the big question remains: Where do we go from here? ... The country needs a constitution that is all-inclusive, one that serves and protects everybody's interests, one that unites the people and, at the same time, celebrates diversity while fostering economic prosperity. The referendum was not a competition just between Orange and Banana. It was a call to the Government to heed the people's voice on how they want to be governed.

Nov. 21

Jerusalem Post, on Prime

Minister Ariel Sharon:

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is clearly a full-service provider. Disengagement realigned the political spectrum on the policy level; now, by forming a new party, he is realigning the political map along the lines he has already incised in the ground.

The results of any "big bang" are by definition uncertain. Sharon is not just risking his own political future, but that of the entire political system, in a way that could reverberate long after he is no longer on the scene.

But certain things have actually become clearer. We will now have three major parties, each of which is better defined ideologically than either Labor or Likud were just a few weeks ago.

Thanks to the election of Amir Peretz, and despite his recent tacking to the center on diplomatic issues, Labor will be clearly identified on the Left, primarily on the economy, but also on foreign policy.

On the other side, rump Likud will clearly stand on the Right, with its primary job being, in its own eyes, to block future unilateral withdrawals.

Finally, Sharon will run in the center, pledging his commitment to the road map but with a record of unilateralism that is in contrast to the unconditional negotiations approach of the Left and the not-one-inch approach of the Right.

Clear choices like this are democracy's friend. ...