Voices from the U.S, elsewhere

April 12, 2013

Editorial voices from newspapers in the United States and abroad as compiled by the Associated Press:

Chicago Sun-Times

We were all better for knowing Roger Ebert.

Do you love what you do?

Do you go to work every day and try to master your job and feel deeply that it matters? Do you believe that you can, through sheer excellence, make it matter even more?

Roger Ebert did.

Roger loved the movies and big ideas and great conversation and hard work. He loved the very idea of living a full and examined life, and he was an inspiration to millions of others. Movie fans adored Roger, of course, but so did all of us who at times can feel that electric surge that is life itself.

Roger grew up in Urbana, Ill., a pudgy only child, a questioning Catholic boy, in the thrall even then of movies and journalism and ideas, and blessed even then with a stunning work ethic. As a kid in high school, he would work all night covering sports for the local paper, then hit the bars – underage – with those glamorous local reporters he couldn’t get enough of. But when the drinking got the best of him, Roger quit cold. He wanted to do so much more of everything else – he knew he had it in him – and the drinking got in the way.

Roger grew wiser with age. A bit less prideful. A good deal more forgiving. You could see it in his film reviews which, frankly, turned more thumbs up over time. Roger did not agree this was so – he was as tough as ever, he would insist. But he also once wrote, late in life, that while it is easy to find fault in a film or in any work of art, our obligation to each other is to see and appreciate that which is great.

The Herald-Dispatch, Huntington, W.Va.

Everyone agrees that it’s a shame 29 miners lost their lives in April 2010 when an explosion ripped through Massey Energy’s Upper Big Branch mine in Raleigh County, West Virginia.

While mining inherently is fraught with dangers, separate investigations determined this particular explosion – the deadliest in mining in four decades – was sparked by worn and broken equipment, fueled by accumulations of methane gas and coal dust, and able to spread because of water sprayers that didn’t work.

As the three-year anniversary of the explosion was observed April 4, several lawmakers decried the lack of response by Congress to enact new mechanisms to protect miners using the lessons learned from Upper Big Branch. Legislation that would address some of the issues laid bare at the mine has stalled in the U.S. House, and Democratic members of the House have criticized their Republican peers for allowing it to languish.

To its credit, West Virginia last year passed a mine safety law that aimed to address some of the issues raised at Upper Big Branch. But implementing pieces of the law has either been slow or not yet accomplished more than a year later.

Let’s hope the shame of inaction and a missing sense of urgency ends soon.

The Japan Times, Tokyo

One of the sore spots in the foreign policy of U.S. President Barack Obama has been his relationship with Israel. The special relationship between Washington and Tel Aviv has been one of the cornerstones of U.S. diplomacy.

Critics have charged that Obama is less than committed to the defense of Israel, pointing to his criticism of Israeli settlements and statements that endorsed returning to borders that existed before the 1967 Arab-Israel war. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made common cause with those critics to increase his leverage in negotiations with Obama.

By almost all accounts, he succeeded. From the moment he landed in Israel last month, Obama told Israelis they are not alone and that their alliance with the U.S. remains strong. In a speech in Jerusalem on March 21, he planted himself firmly on the side of the Israeli people, and then made an impassioned plea to see the world from a Palestinian perspective. It was a masterful performance, the high point of the trip, and one that won over his audience.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is returning to both Israel and Palestine to press for the resumption of peace talks. Deep engagement by Kerry will be one sign that Obama is now committed to substance rather than symbolism when approaching this intractable problem.



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