Excerpts from recent editorials in newspapers in the United States and abroad:
PARIS, TENN., Nov. 4, Paris Post-Intelligencer on global warming:
Name some of the world’s major problems: Poverty, disease, starvation, war. All of them are likely to be made worse by man-made climate change. That sober scenario is painted by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a winner of the Nobel Peace Prize. It plans to issue a report next March on how global warming already affects how we live and what is likely to happen in the future. A leaked copy of a draft of the report appeared Friday on a climate skeptic’s website, The Associated Press reports.
The report says the most vulnerable people are the poor and residents of cities, where most of the world’s people now live. ...
The report concludes that scientists have high confidence in the predictions. ...
Global warming isn’t the only cause of these ills, the report points out, not even the leading cause. It uses the word “exacerbate” a lot to describe the effects of warming.
The report details risks on each continent and suggests ways that countries can adapt. In North America, for instance, the highest long-term risks are wildfires, heat waves and flooding.
It’s not just gloom and doom, the report’s director said, because it suggests what countries can do to avert some of the damage.
“I see the difference between a world in which we don’t do anything and a world in which we try hard to get our arms around the problem.”
NEW YORK, Nov. 6, New York Times on Asia’s college exam mania:
The university entrance examination system across East Asia might once have been needed to allocate scarce university slots. But even with expanded college enrollment, and more slots, the competition to get into higher-ranked universities is destroying the lives of young people and their families in countries like South Korea and Japan.
On Thursday, 600,000 South Korean high school seniors were to take the brutal university entrance exam, which many have been preparing for since primary school. The results will shape the rest of their lives, their jobs and even their marriages. The stress is such that the suicide rate among young people up to age 24 rose to 9.4 per 100,000 in 2010, a nearly 50 percent increase from 2000.
In South Korea, where more than 70 percent of high school graduates enter university, education is a national obsession that the government worries is actually damaging society. Education accounted for nearly 12 percent of consumer spending last year, and parents spent the equivalent of 1.5 percent of G.D.P. on cram schools for their children. There are now more cram school instructors in South Korea than regular schoolteachers, and the exams are so difficult that even college professors admit they could not pass them.
Excessive spending on education in South Korea accounts in significant part for the 45 percent poverty rate among the elderly, who cannot save for retirement because they have spent so much of their money on educating their children. ...
Some governments are starting to reconsider this maniacal focus on entrance exams. Japanese officials have talked about moving toward admissions systems that evaluate the applicants more broadly. But many universities resist this change because, they say, it would make admission decisions subjective.
SYDNEY, Nov. 6, The Australian on intelligence sharing vital to Australia and Indonesia:
On one level, Jakarta’s indignant reaction to claims of a joint US-Australian effort to spy on Indonesian officials during the UN climate summit in Bali in December 2007 was predictable.
As with Germany’s response to revelations that America’s National Security Agency tapped Chancellor Angela Merkel’s telephone, the revelation, which is front-page news in Jakarta, has drawn out Indonesian nationalism.
On another level, governments tend to feign outrage in such situations. Indonesia would be under no illusions about Australia listening to its communications. As Michael McKinley, a senior lecturer in global politics at the Australian National University, said on Sunday, nations not involved in such activities “either lack the technical expertise or the finance. It’s not because of virtue”.
Indonesia itself, of necessity, maintains an extensive domestic and regional intelligence service. And information exchanges between Canberra and Jakarta and between the Australian Federal Police and the Indonesia National Police have been critical to turning the tide against Indonesian terrorism since the Bali 2002 and Australian embassy bombings, a fact acknowledged by Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa.
At a delicate juncture in the bilateral relationship, after upheavals over live cattle exports and people-smuggling, when ongoing co-operation is vital to stop the boats, the latest controversy is a distraction the Abbott government does not need. ...
The most pressing challenge arising from the latest leak, unleashed by disgruntled former U.S. National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden, however, is for the U.S. to overhaul and secure its intelligence processes and storage.
That imperative has been obvious since disgraced Army Private Bradley Manning admitted providing WikiLeaks with a trove of classified documents. ...
Tony Abbott got off on the right foot with his management of our relationship with Indonesia when he visited Jakarta on his first overseas trip as Prime Minister.
Indonesia, along with Germany and Brazil, will co-sponsor a U.N. resolution calling for an end to excessive electronic surveillance. However irritating the issue, Australia and Indonesia have too many common interests at stake to allow it to sour the relationship.