Editorial voices from the U.S., elsewhere

May 3, 2013

Excerpts from recent editorials in newspapers in the United States and abroad as compiled by the Associated Press:

Los Angeles Times

At his news conference Tuesday, President Obama made a powerful plea for ending the humanitarian and diplomatic disaster created by the continued detention of more than 160 prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, more than 100 of whom are engaged in a hunger strike that necessitated the dispatch of an emergency medical team. The problem is that Obama has contributed to the crisis by acquiescing in congressional obstruction of his promise to close the facility.

It has been more than four years since the newly inaugurated president issued an executive order promising “promptly to close detention facilities at Guantanamo.” Yet the prison remains open. Guantanamo is a stain on this nation’s reputation because the men held captive there are languishing in a legal limbo that would be just as hopeless if they were transplanted to American soil. Notwithstanding Obama’s comments about the un-American nature of indefinite detention, more than 40 inmates are being held without the prospect of even a military trial.

As he “re-engages” with Congress, Obama should also reconsider his own decision to deny those detainees their day in court.

The Kansas City Star

Poorly paid Third-World workers are dying – literally – to produce low-cost clothing that’s sold at leading retailers around the United States and the world.

Last week, more than 3,000 people were inside Rana Plaza when some workers saw cracks in the building. But its owner – who is politically well connected – claimed: “There is nothing serious. It will stand for a hundred years.” Instead, it soon fell down; police caught the owner Sunday as he tried to flee to India.

Unfortunately, owners of many overseas garment factories are more interested in squeezing extra money out of their operations and less inclined to take worker protection seriously. So the profitable Western retailers that buy all of this low-cost clothing must more aggressively promote employee safety.

The companies should conduct more on-site visits to these factories. They ought to insist on higher levels of worker protection and wages for employees. Retailers should reject buying from factory owners who don’t meet stricter safety standards.

Many Bangladesh citizens are outraged by last week’s disaster. Rightly so, they expect their government to insist on more humane working conditions. The concerns of these citizens and garment industry workers must be taken seriously, not just in Bangladesh but in corporate boardrooms around the globe.

The Star, Toronto

It was only a matter of time before someone did it. And the first gay athlete to come out, who is active in a major North American pro team sport, is hardly a household name. But none of that diminishes the impact of Jason Collins’ blunt announcement: “I am a 34-year-old NBA center. I’m black. And I’m gay.”

It’s certain he’s not the only one. Thanks to Collins, it will be easier for the next NBA player, hockey star, baseball idol or football hero to tell the public he is gay. And as the pro sports locker room – one of the last bastions of traditional macho attitudes – becomes more welcoming, fans and players at every level and of all ages will be encouraged to tell the truth about who they are.

Times are changing. Gay marriage has become routine in Canada and is winning increasing acceptance in the United States. Gays and lesbians can now openly serve in the U.S. military and have been standard bearers of progress in all walks of life.

As if to underline that the time is right, mainstream reaction to Collins’ announcement has been overwhelmingly positive. Some hostility remains, in dark corners of the Internet and among retrograde politicians and preachers. But they can’t tarnish the example set by Collins. Building on it by having more high-profile athletes come out is the best way to defuse any lingering hate.



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