Editorial Roundup: Excerpts from recent editorials

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

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Nov. 11

News and Observer, Raleigh, North Carolina, on the FCC:

It’s no small irony that President Barack Obama supported protections for an open Internet on the same day he arrived in China, a nation that notoriously controls and censors Internet communications.

The president is trying to protect Americans from having their Internet access and usage manipulated by a dictatorship of the nation’s Internet providers. But in the United States, unlike China, keeping the Internet free requires giving a government agency, the Federal Communications Commission, the power to ensure “Net neutrality.” The term means that information moving on the Internet ” except for illegal material, such as child pornography ” is treated equally and not subject to blockages, slowdowns or special tolls determined by providers.

Net neutrality conflicts with the desire of Internet providers like Verizon, AT&T, Comcast and Time Warner Cable to establish “fast lanes” for which users pay more to move data at higher speeds.

They say that traffic controls and high-speed lanes are a natural evolution of the nation’s information superhighway and that government regulations will slow commerce and innovation.

“We are stunned the president would abandon the longstanding, bipartisan policy of lightly regulating the Internet and calling for extreme” regulation, said Michael Powell, president and CEO of the National Cable and Telecommunications Association, the primary lobbying arm of the cable industry.

But the industry’s call for “freedom” is really a demand that those who control the means of Internet communications be able to shape the flow and character of Internet content. The president and other advocates of Net neutrality say a truly free Internet will be shaped by the tastes and needs of consumers, not by the monopolies that control the pipelines.

To ensure Net neutrality, the president called on the FCC to treat Net providers like public utilities just as phone companies are regulated.

The FCC should move to protect Net neutrality. When Internet providers file lawsuits in response, the FCC’s authority should be upheld by the courts. The Internet is becoming the main transmitter of communications in the United States. How it responds to the public’s needs should not be left to phone companies and especially not to the cable titans that have already established records of high monopoly pricing and wretched consumer service.

Online:

http://www.newsobserver.com

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Nov. 11

Anniston (Alabama) Star on Obamacare’s confusing numbers:

One of the Affordable Care Act’s bothersome traits is its reliance on numbers to judge its success ” and those numbers vary, depending on who provides them.

That said, President Obama’s signature legislation is having a profound effect on health care in the United States. By any measure, more Americans have health insurance today than before the law went into effect ” a 25 percent reduction in the uninsured this year, by most estimates. Obamacare may be a flawed law, but in that sense, it is working.

Saturday marks the law’s second open-enrollment period ” a critical phase in Obamacare’s growth. But here’s where the numbers begin to vary.

On Monday, the Obama administration estimated that 9.1 million people would sign up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act by the end of 2015. That’s several million fewer than most independent projections and those of the Congressional Budget Office, according to The New York Times. The CBO’s estimate: 13 million in 2015.

Anne Filipic, the president of the nonprofit Enroll America, which advocates for expanded health care coverage, told The Times that the White House had taken “a pragmatic, analytical approach” to its 2015 projections. It’s easy to understand why.

Memories of Obamacare’s botched rollout and website issues haven’t fully subsided. What was to be the shining moment of Obama’s presidency was overwhelmed by a website that crashed under pressure. Months went by before the story about the Affordable Care Act wasn’t a story about an administration with a balky, ineffective online signup.

Today, the Obama administration’s reserved projections are in sharp contrast to its bold predictions of the past. Understandable? Yes. But it’s a byproduct of previous mistakes, an administration that would rather undersell the law’s potential now instead of being forced to address missed goals tomorrow.

As we’ve seen for the last six years, this White House hasn’t excelled at messaging and timing, especially on matters as important as the Affordable Care Act. Low-balling its projections on Obamacare may limit future disappointments, but it’s hardly the tact of a confident administration.

Online:

http://www.annistonstar.com

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Oct. 29

Wall Street Journal on :

This week’s Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Beijing shows that Supreme Leader Xi Jinping was serious when he promised in January to become “proactive” in international affairs. Deng Xiaoping ‘s maxim that China should bide its time and avoid taking the lead abroad is in the dustbin of history. This is the era of Chinese assertiveness.

Xi’s vision includes a Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific that is broader than the U.S.-backed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) , as well as two new regional development banks. Beijing will create a $40 billion Silk Road Fund to build ports, roads and rail links to link up the region, a project some have dubbed China’s Marshall Plan.

That moniker may not be officially sanctioned, but it is revealing: Xi’s charm offensive is an attempt to out-American the Americans. China played the spoiler at the World Trade Organization to defeat the Doha trade talks in 2008, but he laments that “various types of regional free trade arrangements mushroomed, creating puzzling choices.”

With $4 trillion in foreign-exchange reserves mostly in low-yielding Treasurys, China has the resources to buy some good will. The idea of aid schemes that boost demand for China’s products is hardly new; economist Xu Shanda proposed a Chinese Marshall Plan in 2009. Silk Road projects can also further the internationalization of the yuan by including yuan-denominated bonds.

Nevertheless, Beijing will do much good if it enables neighbors to lift themselves through trade. At first glance, this is the same win-win proposition that the U.S.-fostered system offered after World War II.

The larger question is whether Asians welcome a transfer of trade and investment leadership from the U.S. to China. Many nations will no doubt take Chinese loans, even if they come with strings attached. As they did during the Cold War, some nations will attempt to stay on the fence in order to play off the two competitors for maximum benefit.

Will Beijing’s gambit work? Its belief that profit and development are the keys to international relations has persuaded it that the U.S. will soon become isolated in the region. The Obama Administration’s half-hearted embrace of the TPP also hasn’t helped, though that may change with a Republican Congress prepared to give the President fast-track negotiating authority.

Then again, Asian nations have good reason to distrust an authoritarian government bent on recapturing past glories while ignoring international norms and the rule of law, as it does in the South China Sea. That gives Obama an opportunity to recapture the trade initiative in Asia, assuming he remains serious about a “pivot to Asia” that was once one of the central promises of his Presidency.

Online:

http://online.wsj.com

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Nov. 11

Seattle Times on the FBI:

Americans of every stripe should echo The Associated Press’ recent demand that the Federal Bureau of Investigation never present its agents as journalists again.

This appeal comes after the FBI acknowledged two weeks ago that one of its agents posed as an AP reporter to snare a teenager making bomb threats against a Thurston County high school in 2007.

FBI Director James B. Comey argued in a Friday letter to The New York Times that, when such tactics are employed, they are done “reasonably and legally,” and are subject to close court supervision.

Journalists disagree, and so should anyone who values the fundamental freedoms of American life. If sources think that journalists are cooperating with law enforcement, or actually are law-enforcement officers, those sources with important information to tell would not trust reporters. Stories would not be shared, investigated, published. The watchdog would not be as strong.

The AP’s demand is grounded in the constitutional guarantee that the press be free from any government interference. More fundamentally, that First Amendment aegis preserves the freedom to share ideas and convey information vital to a functioning republic.

By impersonating journalists, the FBI directly infringes upon the freedoms the Founding Fathers explicitly safeguarded in the Bill of Rights.

And instead of ensuring the safety of Americans, the secretive intelligence agency could be endangering the lives of America’s truth-tellers. Such impersonations could imperil the safety of journalists if violent sources, at home and abroad, suspect they are cops instead.

Some of America’s enemies believe that American intelligence operatives often pose as reporters to affect credible and free-ranging cover identities. By using this ruse at home, the FBI legitimizes these suspicions abroad. And American journalists might be endangered because of it.

Think of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl, who was branded a “spy-journalist” by an al-Qaida group in Pakistan and beheaded in 2002. Or American freelance video journalist James Foley, who was beheaded just three months ago. His Islamic State killers later claimed Foley was a spy.

No U.S. agency ” whether the FBI, Central Intelligence Agency, or some other entity so shrouded in secrecy that we don’t know it exists ” should ever allow its agents to masquerade as news gatherers.

This deception undermines core American principles. It should stop.

Online:

http://seattletimes.com1

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Nov. 12

Express-News, San Antonio, Texas, on senseless death in Mexico:

The warnings released by the U.S. State Department for the Mexican states bordering the United States, including Texas, are distressing in their similarities. Exercise caution. Defer non-essential travel. Travel only during daylight hours.

They point to a disturbing conclusion. No, it isn’t, don’t visit Mexico. That would be blaming the victims.

The lesson is that the war that the Mexican government, under its previous president Felipe Caldern and its current, Enrique Pea Nieto, has been waging is not making the headway necessary to keep its own citizens ” or visitors ” safe. And part of the problem is that perhaps the State Department should add another caution: Mexican police could pose as much a danger as drug cartels and other criminals.

Hundreds of people in El Control, Mexico, recently grieved for three adult siblings from Progresso, Texas, who were abducted and killed in Mexico. The main suspects: members of Grupo Hercules, an erstwhile law enforcement unit put together by Matamoros Mayor Leticia Salazar. Further south in Mexico, in Iguala, Guerrero, federal authorities may have finally found the gravesite for 43 missing teaching students who, it is believed, were abducted by that city’s police force, handed over to drug gunmen and killed.

This Editorial Board has long contended that the U.S. border with Mexico has had vastly more positives than negatives. That view has not changed. It is hypocritical to criticize solely Mexico for problems this country enables with its appetite for drugs and its penchant for selling guns.

There is no hypocrisy in noting that even this kind of money would plant fewer seeds of corruption, death and mayhem if Mexico’s civil institutions were more reliably governed by the rule of law. Fixing this is not just about combatting the cartels or attracting U.S. investment. It’s about Mexicans’ ability to have faith in their government.

We know; thousands of Americans travel to Mexico yearly without mishap. And, still, 564 U.S. citizens have been reported killed in Mexico between 2008 and June 2014, wrote Express-News reporter Aaron Nelsen recently. Our sympathies go out to the families of Erica Alvarado Salinas, Alex Alvarado, Jose Angel Alvarado and Jose Guadalupe Castaneda Benitez, (Erica’s boyfriend). Their senseless deaths must not go unanswered. And Mexico must examine root problems, starting with its civil institutions.

Online:

http://www.mysanantonio.com

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Nov. 7

Star Tribune, Minneapolis, Minnesota, on foreign policy being bipartisan:

Congressional Republicans resoundingly won the midterm election battle. Now the GOP needs to pivot from campaigning to governing, and President Obama will need to work with the new majority despite the divide, and even enmity, that separates them.

Foreign policy offers both sides a chance to cooperate, if not coalesce, on shared objectives.

For his part, Obama should better articulate his foreign policy strategy. Adversaries and allies alike perceive America as close to rudderless, which can invite aggression and even military miscalculation that could necessitate U.S. force. And Congress should consider that hobbling Obama further only exacerbates the foreign policy fecklessness that the GOP campaigned against. Instead, it’s time to bilaterally advance U.S. interests.

Obama has signaled that he will ask Congress for authorization to use force in the fight against ISIL (the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant). This is long overdue, and should spur a spirited dialogue about what Obama’s stated goal of “degrading and ultimately destroying” ISIL really means.

Those who think the fight should be left to local forces will have their say. Those who concur with the growing consensus that the U.S. strategy to rely on “moderate” forces in Syria is unworkable should make their case, too, and most important, weigh in on whether to deploy combat troops. Doing so is the most profound decision a president makes, and Congress should shoulder some of the decision.

Of course, an effective foreign policy must rely on more than force. The most effective tool, diplomacy, can be bolstered by free trade agreements. Two major pacts are pending: The Trans-Pacific Partnership, a 12-nation free trade agreement among the United States, Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam. The other proposed deal, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, would link the United States and the European Union.

As the world’s most innovative and productive society, the United States stands to benefit from free trade agreements, despite the disruption they can cause.

Politics stopping at the water’s edge may be an anachronism of a more cohesive era. For Congress and Obama, however, presenting a more united front on critical foreign policy issues should be a bipartisan goal.

Online:

http://www.startribune.com

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Nov. 9

Khaleej Times, Dubai, on secret diplomacy:

The United States president, if reports are to be believed, has sent a secret letter that many in the diplomatic circles term as an SOS to the Iranian leadership, urging upon it to work in close coordination to exterminate the ISIS threat from the region. The letter, fourth of its kind since Obama assumed office in 2008, in principle seems to be an attempt to persuade Tehran to reach an agreement on its nuclear program before the November 24 deadline. The uranium enrichment talks in Geneva and Vienna had assumed immense importance as both the rivals, the US and Iran, rubbed shoulders for umpteenth times and broadened the scope of discussion from diplomatic intrigues to socio-economic issues. That renewed understanding between them, despite serious geopolitical differences, as to how they view realpolitik had led to expectations of a thaw in their otherwise estranged relations. That is why the letter addressed to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Syed Ali Khamenei will long be remembered for the response it elicits.

The other side of this proactive diplomacy has raised many eyebrows, and America’s Arab allies are justified in questioning the wisdom behind the move. Given to understand that all the Arab states are working in coordination with Washington to fight the ISIS militants in Iraq and Syria, the extra leap forward toward the Iranians is likely to breed discontent. The argument from the White House that Tehran is an indispensable partner when it comes to fighting Al Qaeda and the like, and now the ISIS in the Middle East, is valid to a great extent and its success story is found in Afghanistan. Similarly, the way Tehran had bucked up Baghdad’s security forces the moment the ISIS started pouring inside Iraq after being pushed out of Syria had helped thwart the deadly militia’s march toward the south. Moreover, the Iranians even in the midst of nuclear talks had time and again hinted at working with the West and the Arab states to repel the ISIS, which is eventually a direct security threat to the status quo of the region. Thus extending a friendly hand toward the Iranians has its own merits. But the Americans are duty-bound to take the Arab allies into confidence and assure them that their geo-economic and strategic interests won’t be threatened, and the newfound thaw with Iran would be a bonanza or sorts.

Tehran too, on its part, has to walk an extra mile to address the grievances of many of the Arab states and come up with an irritant-free approach. Obama’s outreach will be all the more successful if it not only leads to a permanent nuclear deal but also brokers rapprochement between Saudi Arabia and Iran. The undercurrents of such a thaw will be of universal importance.

Online:

http://www.khaleejtimes.com

This story has been automatically published from the Associated Press wire which uses US spellings

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