Editorial voices from elsewhere

May 16, 2014

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

Chicago Tribune

After a harsh winter, it’s time to get out and hit the open road. So what’s with $4-a-gallon gasoline? North American oil production is on the rise, so you might have expected a break at the pump by now. Yet gas prices remain stubbornly high.

What happened to the homegrown energy boom? Wasn’t North Dakota supposed to be America’s Saudi Arabia? How come gas isn’t back to $2 a gallon?

Gasoline, alas, is not going to be half price anytime soon, if ever. America’s oil boom is delivering broad benefits, but not necessarily at the pump.

Prices bounce around during the year. It’s not unusual for prices at the pump to rise in the spring, ahead of the summer driving season. That’s due in part to refineries switching to a different formula for gasoline that meets clean-air requirements during the warm-weather months.

The controversial extraction technology known as fracking is contributing to the enhanced production of domestic oil and natural gas. The U.S. shale boom is replacing oil being kept off the market because of geopolitical issues in Ukraine, Iran and elsewhere. But the United States can’t insulate itself entirely from global energy markets.

Gasoline may not seem cheap these days, but it’s a relative bargain. America needs to keep conserving and producing energy to keep those costs in check.

Kansas City Star

The tragic plight of the missing girls of Chibok, Nigeria, triggered heartbreak and hand-wringing around the world. And it opened vexing examinations of a nation in chaos and an international community unsure of how best to respond.

The fact that the girls’ kidnappers – the fanatic, anti-Western Islamists known as Boko Haram – are terrorizing their nation’s impoverished northeastern region for years has prompted appropriate questions about the abilities and priorities of the Nigerian government.

The United States and other nations are supplying advisers to help gather intelligence and to aid a rescue of the kidnapped teenagers. Still, it’s abundantly clear there are limits to what Americans and other outsiders can do.

The Nigeria story seems especially alarming on a human scale. All those girls, taking a test at their high school when they were abducted, represent an incalculable future. It reminds us that certain values, like universal education, are worth fighting for.

The Australian

Ingrained loyalty to the African National Congress, the liberation movement led by Nelson Mandela against apartheid, guaranteed the party another commanding victory in South Africa’s fifth general election since white rule ended. A small but significant decline in ANC support, however, suggests its glow is wearing off. Unless it changes course to deal effectively with high-level corruption and poor governance, the ANC will have a hard time arresting the steady erosion of its electoral base.

The ANC scored 62.1 per cent of the popular vote, down from 65.9 per cent five years ago. But the outcome is not the two-thirds majority the ANC wanted to amend the constitution. Nor does it deflect from the success of the main opposition, the liberal Democratic Alliance, in increasing its vote from 16 to 22 percent and its parliamentary numbers to 89.

Economically, the achievements of the thriving black middle class are offset by unemployment levels worse than those under white rule: 50 per cent of graduates are jobless and South Africa is ranked 146th out of 148 on the World Economic Forum’s school standards rankings.

The ANC would be shortsighted to ignore the signs of disenchantment.



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