EDITORIAL ROUNDUP
October 13, 2013 1:10 AM

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

TUSCALOOSA, Ala., Oct. 7, Tuscaloosa (Ala.) News on Venezuela finds U.S. a handy scapegoat:

Americans have been laboring under the delusion that we had to travel halfway around the world to find a gaggle of dangerous nut cases. Who knew we could have hung out in the Western Hemisphere and found all we wanted just across the Gulf of Mexico in Venezuela?

Things are going badly in that workers’ paradise. Inflation is rocking along at 45 percent, and they’re running out of foreign currency to use because their own probably sees its highest and best use in Venezuelan restrooms. So what do the leaders of that fair nation do? In that grim state of affairs with an election looming on the horizon, they kick out three American diplomats, including Charge D’Affaires Kelly Keiderling, the top diplomat in the absence of an ambassador.

Dealing with that bunch, the diplomats are probably about ready for a break..

President Nicolas Maduro assured himself of a nomination for an Oscar in the “Most Worn Clich´┐ę of the Year” category in announcing the expulsion. “Yankees go home,” he said in English. (No, he really did; we can’t make up this stuff). Who knew he was a Red Sox fan?

Maduro accused the Americans of conspiring with the “extreme right” and attempting to sabotage the country’s power grid. Really? Why stop there and leave Bigfoot, UFOs and Elvis on the table. But then again, it’s hard to argue about meeting with the “extreme right” when everybody not to the left of Josef Stalin looks right-wing to the Venezuelan leadership. Jane Fonda and Ed Asner would qualify as stodgy conservatives there.

The Obama administration engaged in the necessary waste of time defending its diplomats and denying that it threw squirrels into substation equipment or whatever means of sabotage it was supposed to have used. ...

There is likely little Obama can or should do with the oil rich country that seems to have made tweaking Uncle Sam’s nose its national ambition. He can hope that the Venezuelan people eventually tire of the foolishness and elect sane leadership. Until then, his best hope is to just ignore the yapping little dog next door and hope that he stays in his own yard.

PHOENIX, Oct. 8, Arizona Republic on settling shutdown now:

Washington’s game of political chicken has a clear loser: the American people.

So settle this.

The nation needs a clean continuing resolution to end the partial shutdown.

The nation also needs a clean bill to raise the debt ceiling. The sooner the better.

President Barack Obama says he’s willing to negotiate with “reasonable” congressional Republicans “over policies that Republicans think would strengthen the country” — including the Affordable Care Act — as soon as the shutdown is over and the debt ceiling is raised.

Arizona Republican Reps. Matt Salmon, David Schweikert, Paul Gosar and Trent Franks are opponents of “Obamacare.” Fine. But these lawmakers need to stop obstructing and help get the government running again. Then they can make their case against the Affordable Care Act.

Holding your breath until America turns blue is not an acceptable way to win an argument.

America is polarized. Debate and compromise are essential to reach consensus. ...

People have already suffered from the partial shutdown. Ask a hotel owner near the Grand Canyon. The stakes for default are much higher, and it isn’t just the Obama administration saying that.

James E. Staley, managing partner of the hedge fund Blue Mountain Capital, says failing to raise the debt limit would be “calamitous.” Worse than the financial meltdown in 2008.

The International Monetary Fund’s chief economist, Olivier Blanchard, said the recovery could turn into recession if we miss the Oct. 17 deadline. A big dose of uncertainty between now and then won’t help bring back the economic good times, either. Meanwhile, America is wearing a clown nose on the world stage. President Obama missed the summit of Pacific Rim leaders in Indonesia this week because of the turmoil. ...

Congress needs to get past this latest exercise in governing by crisis.

Vote to fund the government and raise the debt ceiling. Without conditions. After that, everything is negotiable. It should be negotiable. Republicans who believe their ideas represent the will of the people should be willing to debate those ideas on their merits without the leverage of a looming catastrophe.

NEWARK, N.J., Oct. 8, The Star-Ledger on AT&T takes the lead on texting:

The world’s largest telecommunications company has launched a massive public service campaign to tell people not to use its own products — not behind the wheel, anyway.

And somehow, it feels less self-serving than a cigarette company warning about the dangers of smoking, a liquor company telling you not to drink and drive or a Bushmaster manufacturer preaching about gun safety.

After all, this isn’t an inherently dangerous product. This is about a total misuse of phones, a relatively new phenomenon. A decade ago, who envisioned sending a text message at 70 mph on the Garden State Parkway?

Randall Stephenson, AT&T’s chairman and chief executive, said in an interview a few years ago that someone close to him caused an accident while texting.

The smartphone “is a product we sell and it’s being used inappropriately,” he told The New York Times.

And to make that clear, his company has enlisted the aid of its fiercest rivals, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon, which together have spent millions on co-branded ads and public events since 2010, to warn against texting while driving. AT&T even got the legendary German filmmaker Werner Herzog to direct a series of short films on the dangers.

As a result, the number of people who had sworn off texting and driving has risen from 2.5 million to more than 3 million nationwide.

Many did so after hearing the publicized stories of accident victims who were texting — such as a young woman trapped screaming inside her burning car for 23 minutes, in a harrowing video recorded on a police cruiser’s dash cam.

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates, Oct. 8, The Khaleej Times on Nobel Prize:

Americans James Rothman and Randy Schekman along with German-born researcher Thomas Suedhof have won this year’s Nobel Prize in medicine, a feat that indicates the U.S. still retains its edge in some areas imperative for human development worldwide.

The trio received the prestigious award for solving “the mystery of how the cell organizes its transport system.” The collaboration will enhance the understanding of how molecules move around cells in small packages called vesicles. As Jan-Inge Henter, professor of clinical child oncology at the Karolinska Institute, explained at the news conference that followed the announcing of the award: “These beautiful discoveries have importance for the understanding of the human body and obviously implications for diseases in various organs such as the nervous system, diabetes and immune disorders.”

The human body has billions of nerve cells and how they communicate with one another is a mystery that is being unraveled down the ages by scientists, giving civilization more potent tools to fight diseases that still remain dreaded. Since the immune system is also regulated by the vesicular transport mechanism, this year’s award-winning discoveries could one day lead to medicines to cure AIDS.

The Nobel awards remain a beacon of hope, despite the controversies over some, like U.S. President Barack Obama receiving the Nobel Peace Prize in 2009 and in 1973 Henry Kissinger, national security adviser and architect of the Richard Nixon administration’s policies in Vietnam. However, the humane researchers’ work, whose fruits would be shared by all humanity, goes a long way in eradicating such injustice.

SYDNEY, Australia, Oct. 9, The Australian on Hamid Karzai:

It would be hard to imagine a more galling expression of ingratitude than Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s assertion in a BBC interview that NATO forces — which include our Diggers — have brought only suffering and loss of life to his country, and no gains in terms of security. Not a word from him, of course, about the 3,500 NATO soldiers who have been killed over the past 12 years, their lives sacrificed in the cause of propping up his government and defending Afghanistan against the obscurantist Taliban, or of the thousands more wounded or permanently maimed.

In specifically Australian terms, too, no word about the 40 valiant soldiers who have died or the hundreds wounded, or of the $7.5 billion that fighting there has cost our country, as well as the $1 billion in civilian funds we have provided and the $200 million a year we are now committed to giving Kabul. Instead, more invective. Karzai used the interview to make the fatuous suggestion NATO was colluding with the Taliban to justify an ongoing military presence after the scheduled 2014 pull-out of international forces.

Karzai owes his position entirely to the 2001 U.S.-led invasion that expelled the Taliban from Kabul. Without the NATO coalition, it is unlikely Karzai and his corrupt regime would have survived for long. Yet six months from the end of his presidency, with the pull-out imminent, he articulates a position that will cause outrage and make many wonder about the grim sacrifices made in the cause of helping Afghanistan.

It is nonsense to aver, as Karzai does, that NATO’s efforts have been a waste of time and brought nothing but death and misery. His cynical, self-serving motive is clear: survival. He is trying to cozy up to the Taliban ahead of the NATO withdrawal, even talking warmly about their return to Kabul and insisting it will not undermine progress; his insulting denigration of NATO’s efforts is unforgivable.

The achievements in Afghanistan of our Diggers and coalition forces drawn from across the world have been magnificent. Their sacrifices have not been in vain. They have improved the lives of millions of Afghans — especially women and children — and helped defend the world against murderous Islamic terrorism. That is the reality; it cannot be erased, or even diminished, by anything the insufferable Karzai says.

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