Editorial voices from U.S., elsewhere
Excerpts from recent editorials in newspapers in the United States and abroad as compiled by the Associated Press:
What does it say about the state of Russia today when the official state news agency is dissolved to make way for another that presumably will toady up more reliably to President Vladimir Putin?
RIA Novosti, which had acquired a certain credibility for fact-based reporting, must have been too credible and too serious for its government sponsor.
So with a flick of his pen, Putin dissolved RIA Novosti and announced the creation of Rossiya Segodnya (Russia Today) to be headed by former news anchor Dmitry Kiselyov, a Putin loyalist and unrepentant homophobe.
Reporting on its own demise, RIA said in its English-language version of Putin’s actions, “The move is the latest in a series of shifts in Russia’s news landscape which appear to point towards a tightening of state control in the already heavily regulated media sector.”
Just what the world – and Russia – needs more of: propaganda. Russian media is already replete with happy talk and trivia passing for “news.” Its television programming, which remains influential in all Russian-speaking elements of the old Soviet Union, including Central Asia, gives new meaning to the old term “vast wasteland.”
Is it any wonder that hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians have taken to the streets to protest the turn toward Moscow of their own president? The old Soviet handwriting is on the wall. But a generation raised with new freedoms and new ways of communicating wants no part of it.
Just a handful of people in the last century have made the kind of sweeping impact for good in the way that Nelson Mandela did – think Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. He was a charismatic man who in a non-violent way put his life on the line – and his person in prison – for his convictions. He changed the face of South Africa and, really, the world.
While Mandela was still a young boy, his father died, and he became a ward of the acting king. Leaving his village and joining the royal family exposed Mandela to the thinking of tribal elders and put him on the path to learning about African history and dreaming of freedom and equality for black South Africans.
He was arrested and put on trial several times. Perhaps the most significant was the 1964 Rivonia Trial where he and seven others faced the death penalty but were convicted of sabotage and sentenced to life in prison. In February 1990, Mandela was released from prison after 27 years of incarceration.
The name of Nelson Mandela will live on in history – and in the hearts and minds of those who believe equality and freedom should be the destiny of all people.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai is playing a dangerous game. His term in office expires next April, and to preserve his leverage over political developments, he has withheld assent to a security agreement with the United States that sets the terms for the future U.S. troop presence.
Washington has threatened to pull most of its troops out if he does not move quickly. Karzai remains unbending, putting his personal interest above that of his country.
The United States, along with other foreign countries, seeks to withdraw the bulk of its troops at the end of 2014, when the NATO mandate for operations in Afghanistan expires. It has for about a year negotiated the terms of an agreement with Karzai’s government that would allow roughly 8,000 U.S. troops to stay on in Afghanistan after that scheduled departure date.
Since the outline was agreed, Karzai has piled on additional conditions. He has demanded assurances from the United States that it will not interfere with Afghan elections scheduled for next April.
Karzai needs to start acting like a president. His actions appear to be driven by pique and the substitution of his own interest for that of the country.