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Editorial Roundup: Excerpts From Recent Editorials

By The Associated Press

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

Feb. 1

The Tampa (Fla.) Tribune on Florida's GOP primary:

In a bruising presidential primary, Florida Republicans signaled they care more about winning the White House than defying the establishment.

Though state GOP voters have been rebellious of late, they went with the insider candidate in Mitt Romney by a sizable margin.

It was a sensible choice. Romney may be cautious, stiff and sometimes mutable on the issues, but the former governor also is well-financed, disciplined and smart. He's an astute businessman who understands that freedom leads to prosperity. His character is above reproach.

We worry that Romney's Massachusetts health care plan will weaken his arguments against President Barack Obama's massive entitlement expansion. But Romney makes clear he believes in federal restraint, in contrast to Obama's ceaseless activism.

Romney may instill confidence, but he has yet to inspire much passion. His triumph had the feeling that it was the result of voters making a rational choice, not mobilizing for a cause. ...

Gingrich is not out of it, but the lopsided loss returns him to the long-shot role he seems to relish. The constant barrage of negative ads ' one analysis found that 92 percent of all Florida primary ads were negative ' obviously deflated the momentum Gingrich enjoyed after his surprise win in South Carolina ...

Florida, with its large and diverse population and troubled economy, was the first real test for the candidates. .... There may be surprises to come in the primary season, but in Florida, Romney showed he has the toughness and widespread appeal needed for the November showdown.



Jan. 30

The New York Times on cancer screening:

A new federal study found that Americans are getting screened for three major cancers ' breast, cervical and colorectal ' at rates far below national targets. The shortfall is especially high among adults who lack insurance or regular access to a doctor, partly because the recession drove employers to lay off workers or cut health benefits.

Many low- and middle-income people are now unable or unwilling to pay for screening tests or visits to the doctor. Their plight underscores the urgent need to retain the health care reform law that will expand proven screening and prevention programs at no charge to patients.

The study, based on a survey taken in 2010, was conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Cancer Institute. The three types of cancer were chosen for scrutiny because there is good evidence that, for certain age groups, screening for these cancers can reduce illness and save lives.

The survey results were discouraging.

The health care reform law will ensure that all Americans have access to vital preventive care. It already eliminates cost-sharing for the screenings in Medicare and new private policies, and, starting in 2014, it will expand Medicaid for the poor and provide subsidies to help middle-income people buy private health insurance. Republicans won't stop pressing for repeal of the law. American consumers, so many of whom are struggling to pay their health care bills, need to think a lot harder about what they would lose if Republicans get their way.



Jan. 28

San Antonio Express-News on Mexico's drug war.

Mexico's drug war isn't only a problem for Mexico. It's also a problem for the United States.

The victims of cartel violence may overwhelmingly be Mexican citizens ' 47,000 dead in six years. The destabilization such violence creates in Mexico, however, poses economic and security threats to Americans.

The drug war is a bi-national phenomenon. The cartels reside in Mexico. The demand for illicit drugs resides in the U.S., which gives the cartels the cash they need to procure the weapons they use in their reign of terror. The weapons typically come from the U.S. as well.

If the drug war is a bi-national problem, it calls for a bi-national solution. That's why cooperative efforts such as the Merida Initiative ' a $1.6 billion program to bolster Mexico's security and judicial institutions ' is so vital.

Another positive example of U.S.-Mexican cooperation came recently from Washington. Express-News staff writer Gary Martin reported from the Hearst Washington Bureau that a federal judge indicated he would allow Mexican prosecutors to join their U.S. counterparts in the case against Julian Zapata Espinoza, a member of the Zetas cartel.

Mexican and U.S. law enforcement agencies worked together to identify and capture Zapata Espinoza for the slaying last year of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement special agent Jaime Zapata of Brownsville. The Mexican government extradited him to the U.S. for trial in December.

Zapata Espinoza and other cartel gunmen aren't particular about the nationality of the people they kill. Citizens of Mexico and the U.S. have a vested interest in seeing such criminals brought to justice and the cartels they defend crushed.



Jan. 25

The Plain Dealer, Cleveland, on Gabrielle Giffords:

Gabrielle Giffords said goodbye to the U.S. House of Representatives. A political moderate and conciliator in a profession that seems to value neither these days, she will be missed.

Giffords' recovery from a horrendous mass shooting at a Tucson, Ariz., shopping center last January has been both remarkable and inspiring. But it also remains a work in slow, painful progress. And Gifford admitted to her constituents that it was too slow for her to give them the representation they deserve. Therefore, she was resigning from the House and ending her bid for a fourth term.

Giffords was the last lawmaker to greet President Barack Obama before he mounted the podium to deliver his State of the Union speech, and their embrace triggered bipartisan tears and cheers. At the speech, Giffords sat between two Arizona colleagues, one Republican and one Democrat. Even in Washington, some things transcend party labels.



Jan. 29

New Ulm (Minn.) Journal on federal school lunch rules:

For the first time in years, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reworked nutrition rules for school meals. The effort was billed as a step in the fight against childhood obesity, and part of Michelle Obama's pet Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act. New rules will limit the number of calories served and require schools to offer more fruits, vegetables and whole grains, among other changes.

All this sounds fantastic, but the details do not bear up under scrutiny.

Gridlock and ineffective leadership meant the new rules will not touch one of students' favorite sources of fat, salt and starch. French fries were saved, and remain on the "vegetables" list, through the efforts of lawmakers and lobbyists.

Worse, another food of which schools will be able to serve more, because of its designation as a vegetable, is pizza. Yes, that doughy, greasy, cheesy treat covered in fatty pepperoni is, according to the federal government, a vegetable by virtue of the dollop of tomato sauce on each slice ...

As always, it is the parents' job to teach their children how to eat healthy foods in sensible portions. Now, however, the federal government has forced them to also explain why pizza and French fries ' frowned upon as junk foods in their health class textbooks ' are considered vegetables in the cafeteria.



Jan. 30

The Advocate, Baton Rouge, La., on Somalia hostage rescue:

When President Barack Obama exchanged a few words with officials in the House chamber before his State of the Union address, the microphone picked up a cryptic comment to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta: "Leon, good job tonight."

The president did not mention the then-secret rescue of two aid workers ' one an American and one a Dane ' by a U.S. special forces team.

Nine of the hostage-takers were killed by a U.S. team that included some members of the same team of Navy SEALs that carried out the raid against Osama bin Laden's headquarters in Pakistan.

It is a dangerous world for aid workers. The government-stoked violence in Syria claimed the life of the director of the Red Crescent, the Muslim equivalent of the Red Cross.

Aid workers, particularly foreigners, have died in Afghanistan and Iraq during the wars there.

That the American troops were able to rescue the hostages taken in Somalia, though, is good news and worthy of congratulations to the SEALs and other troops, backed up by intelligence officers.

Good job, indeed.



Jan. 27

The Post and Courier of Charleston, S.C., on General Motors:

Some House Republicans say the Obama administration cut General Motors self-serving slack on a safety hazard. Officials at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration deny it. But even if the agency didn't shirk its regulatory duty on the Chevrolet Volt, with the federal government now owning more than a quarter of GM, the suspicion of a conflict of interest is inevitable.

President Barack Obama proudly pointed out in his State of the Union speech that while "on the day I took office, our auto industry was on the verge of collapse," GM is now "back on top as the world's No. 1 automaker." He also hailed Chrysler for growing "faster in the U.S. than any other car company" and Ford for "investing billions in U.S. plants and factories."

The president left out the fact that Ford, unlike GM and Chrysler, took no help from a federal bailout that began under President George W. Bush. ...

Nor did Obama mention those electric-powered Volt battery fires, which weren't revealed by the NHTSA until two months ago. ...

Agency administrator David Strickland told a House oversight committee that his agency "pulled no punches" on the Volt, adding that he would feel safe driving one with his "mom, wife and baby sister" as passengers.

GM Chairman Daniel F. Akerson offered the panel this bitter lament: "Although we loaded the Volt with state-of-the-art safety features, we did not engineer the Volt to be a political punching bag."

Maybe Akerson and Strickland are right, and the Volt doesn't represent a higher fire-safety risk that gas-run cars. But the NHTSA's five-month delay in making those test fires public does represent, at the least, troubling timing. ...

And beyond the auto-safety issue, when big government owns a big chunk of a big business, there's a heightened risk of Washington playing marketplace favorites ' particularly in an election year.



Jan. 31

San Francisco Chronicle on Twitter censorship:

Twitter's decision to start censoring tweets at the request of repressive governments represents a regrettable retreat from the free-flowing ethos that has made it such an essential social networking site.

Our preference, in 140 characters or fewer, would have been for Twitter to just say no to censorship.

Instead, Twitter is trying to make a good-faith effort to uphold the values of transparency and free speech while complying with the laws of countries that have no respect for either.

It's a difficult balancing act, to say the least. Some might call it a fool's errand.

Here's how the new Twitter policy will work:

It will block tweets deemed to be illegal by a government only when requested ' and only after the content is posted. The tweet will be withheld only in that country, and it will be replaced with a gray box indicating "tweet withheld." The message will be available in the rest of the world. Disclosure about government-blocked tweets will be available for the world to see at the website

The policy has set off a torrent of criticism from users who regard such deference to government authority as undercutting its power as a weapon of democracy. Social networking was widely credited with helping mobilize and embolden the Arab Spring uprisings against repressive regimes.

It was a bit distressing, though not surprising, that Twitter's move has drawn praise in the Chinese and Thai press.

Despite its anything-goes image, Twitter all along has been removing content that violate copyright or child pornography laws when it gets complaints.

But there is something qualitatively different about having an enterprise that was founded on the principle of free expression bowing to any government's demand to suppress what should be the most basic right of any citizen to speak his or her mind. ...



Jan. 30

The Gazette, Montreal, on women at the World Economic Forum:

The goal of meeting a minimum quota for women at the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, has not been crowned with success.

... Just 17 percent of those gathered at the Swiss Alp resort were women.

No matter how good of a face organizers have tried to put on this year's level of female participation, the fact remains that the modest 20-percent minimum wasn't reached. ...

Davos organizers cannot be blamed. Klaus Schwab, founder and chairman of the forum, said last year: "A world where women make up less than 20 per cent of the global decision-makers is a world that is missing a huge opportunity for growth and ignoring an untapped reservoir of potential."

Global statistics buttress Schwab's case that the reservoir is untapped. Fewer than 10 percent of global corporate boards are women. In 2011, only 3.6 percent of CEOs at Fortune 500 companies were women. ...

Women make up more than half of the world's population, but own less than one percent of the world's wealth. The men at Davos missed an important opportunity to start correcting a terrible imbalance. Heaven help them if they think women will be satisfied with having German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Christine Lagarde, head of the International Monetary Fund, as the only ones there to represent them. It's time to move forward toward true representation.



Jan. 31

International Herald Tribune, Paris, on the EU summit:

European Union leaders failed on Jan. 30 to move forward on their most urgent task: increasing the bailout fund to protect Europe's ailing economies from defaulting on their bonds.

Instead, leaders of 25 of 27 European countries agreed to sign a new fiscal compact that will legally restrict them from fighting recessions with robust fiscal stimulus. Most economists outside the euro zone consider this approach a dangerous one. Those countries account for more than 20 percent of the world's economy. Condemning them to longer and deeper recessions will drag down economies elsewhere that depend on trade, from the United States to China.

Without a bigger bailout fund, investors will likely keep betting against weakened economies like Italy and Spain, pushing up their interest costs and, consequently, adding to their deficits. Nevertheless, Europe's leaders deferred action on more money until March. Market speculators may not agree to wait.

The world has gotten used to failed European summit meetings. What is particularly disheartening about this one is that some European leaders seem to believe they succeeded. "Considering the time frame, this was a real masterpiece," Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany said of the new fiscal pact. It was only in December that she made clear to other European leaders that adopting a fiscal pact to balance their budgets and reduce debt was an essential precondition for Germany to continuing to pay its fair share of European debt-relief costs.

The fiscal pact imposes substantial fines on any signatory nation whose deficit averages more than 0.5 percent of gross domestic product over a full economic cycle, a condition the United States would have had great trouble meeting over the past three decades. ...

Poor German leadership in this crisis has exacted an increasing economic and social price from Greece, Ireland, Portugal, Spain, Italy, Belgium and France. The longer Germany insists on putting fiscal austerity ahead of growth, the more likely it becomes that Germany, too, will suffer economic pain.



Jan. 31

The Asahi Shimbun, Tokyo, on Japan's shrinking population:

New forecasts about Japan's population for the period until 2060, released on Jan. 30 by the National Institute of Population and Social Security Research, paint a gloomy picture of the nation's demographic future.

The speed at which the Japanese population will shrink in the coming decades is simply stunning. The number of Japanese will decrease by 41.32 million in the next half century to about two-thirds of the current figure, according to the forecasts. ...

Can we change the predicted demographic future of our country?

If the fertility rate gradually rises until it stabilizes at 2.07 in 2030 onward, the percentage of senior citizens will peak in the 2040s in the 30 to 35 percent range, and then fall before stabilizing around 25 percent range over the long term, according to an estimate by Shigesato Takahashi, deputy director-general of the institute.

That is a tough target to achieve. But growth of the child population would certainly stabilize the nation's demographic structure.

There is a huge difference in vitality between a society where one in every 2.5 members is an elderly citizen and a society where the ratio is one in every four.

What is especially notable is the fact that the number of women giving birth to a child at the age of 30 or older is larger than the number having a baby at younger than 30.

The number of babies born to a mother aged 35 or older has increased by about 130 percent from 15 years ago. ...

Meanwhile, already married couples are not expecting to have the number of children they actually want.

Behind these facts is widespread anxiety about economic future. From this point of view, policy efforts to improve the employment situation of young Japanese are very important.

Each one of us Japanese living today is responsible to do what he or she can to change our society's demographic future for the better.



Jan. 30

The Jerusalem Post on the term "Israel-firster":

Finally, after nearly two months of bickering, controversy surrounding the use by some on the American Left of the term "Israel-firster" to describe American Jews with a hawkish, pro-Israel orientation seems to have finally settled down. In the process, some important distinctions have been made and lines drawn.

Significantly, some on the Left have stood up and acknowledged the anti-Semitic roots of the slur, which apparently originated with Holocaust deniers on the extreme Right in the 1970s and was co-opted in the past decade by radical leftist, anti-Israel bodies ...

Besides the distastefulness of using a term with anti-Semitic roots, naming someone an "Israel-firster" is highly problematic because it tends to completely and utterly delegitimize by issuing a nonnegotiable verdict. Thus, free debate is shut down instead of encouraged. Jews are not the only ones in U.S. history who have been vilified for purported "dual loyalties."

President Theodore Roosevelt denounced the "hyphenated Americanism" of German-Americans during World War I. And during World War II, President Franklin Roosevelt authorized the internment of about 110,000 Japanese-Americans. Both instances are stains on America's history. ...

The controversy surrounding the use of the "Israel-firster" slur has seemingly increased appreciation in America for the need to debate positions on U.S. policy vis-a-vis Israel in an environment untainted by intimidation. Issues such as Israel's settlement policies in Judea and Samaria must be conducted in a free and open manner regardless of where one is positioned on the political map. Claiming that the building of settlements is opposed to either U.S. or Israel interests or both is legitimate. But those who believe differently should not be silenced with the accusation that they are putting Israel's interests before America's. Better to let rational argument and a free exchange of opinions determine American policy.


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Related Keywords:AP-Editorial-Rdp,Economy,Population growth and decline,Government and politics,2012 United States Presidential Election,Healthy eating,World Economic Forum Annual Meeting,Health care reform,State of the Union Address,Primary elections,Recessions and depressions,Nutrition,


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