Editorial voices from elsewhere

August 22, 2014

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

St. Louis Post-Dispatch

It was reported Monday by Andrea Peterson of the Washington Post that the city of Ferguson, Mo. had hired a public relations firm that specializes in crisis management. We tried contacting the firm to verify this, but no one answered the phone. As metaphors for the communications issues that have characterized the protests in Ferguson, this works very nicely.

These awful events will not be calmed until leaders emerge, on both sides, and communicate clearly, among themselves, among each other and to the public. Law enforcement should speak with one, clear voice. It must engage on social media, where it is being creamed in the info-wars. It must treat reporters fairly. In return, reporters should respect lawful orders, as they would if they were embedded in a war zone. People are frightened, and frightened people sometimes make bad decisions.

On the other side, protesters should consider who they are following, and for what purpose. There are people in this crowd who are there to create trouble, not solve problems.

If progress is going to be made in dealing with very real issues facing Ferguson and St. Louis, responsible leaders must step forward and be heard.

Los Angeles Times

A little more than a year after former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden revealed that the federal government was collecting and storing the telephone records of millions of Americans, Congress is poised to end the program and provide significant protection for a broad range of personal information sought by government investigators.

Sen. Patrick Leahy, a Democrat from Vermont and the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has proposed a version of the bill that is significantly more protective of privacy than one passed by the House in May. Like the House bill, Leahy’s proposal would end the NSA’s bulk collection of telephone “metadata” – information about the source, destination and duration of phone calls that investigators can “query” in search of possible connections to foreign terrorism.

But the Senate version, worked out in negotiations with the White House and civil liberties groups, imposes stricter limits on the search terms used to obtain not only phone data but other records as well.

Finally, the bill provides for the declassification and publication “to the greatest extent practicable” of opinions by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court and its appellate arm, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review.

For all its limitations, the U.S.A. Freedom Act is a testimony to the importance of informed public debate.

The Commercial, Memphis, Tenn.

The radical Islamic jihadists are good at many things – beheadings, amputations, terrorizing helpless schoolgirls, alienating populations – but public relations is not one of them.

They should have learned their lesson in March 2001, when they blew up, over the objections of most of the civilized world, two massive sixth-century Buddhist sculptures in Afghanistan.

Their argument, not supported by serious Muslim scholarship, was that they were pagan idols and thus under Islamic law had to be destroyed.

Having failed to learn, or at least remember, that lesson, the radical Sunni militias who recently overran the Iraqi city of Mosul set about destroying, on the grounds of idolatry, prominent religious sites like the tombs of the prophet Jonah, revered by three major religions; the prophet Seth, reputedly the third son of Adam and Eve; and Jersis, known to Iraqi Christians as St. George.

The destruction of thousands of years of religious treasures and Iraqi culture goes on. If conversion is the goal of this conflict, a visit by more U.S. F-15s and A-10s might make true believers out of these vandals.



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