Editorial Roundup: Excerpts from recent editorials
(Associated Press Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Excerpts from recent editorials in newspapers in the United States and abroad:
The Korea Herald, Seoul, South Korea, on cuts, tax hikes inevitable if growth stays sluggish:
Korea is standing its ground at a time when some Asian countries, such as India and Indonesia, and other emerging economies are taking a drubbing as the United States prepares to phase out quantitative easing. The Korean currency remains stable while stocks are rallying.
No wonder Korea is now touted as one of the most attractive investment markets among the emerging economies. The Korean economy, policymakers say with confidence, will be able to fight back a financial squeeze, should it come as a consequence of cheap financing coming to an end. Their optimism is based on what they call sound fundamentals.
Indeed, foreign exchange reserves have expanded to $330 billion as Korea has continued to generate consecutive monthly current account surpluses since February 2012. Its short-term foreign debt as a percentage of the total external debt is the lowest since the third quarter of 1999 ? at 29.1 percent at the end of June. Growth is recovering, albeit at a snail's pace.
But not all economic fundamentals are sound, as evidenced by an enormous fiscal deficit the Korean government sustained in the first half of this year. The deficit, the largest ever, amounted to 46.2 trillion won.
Policymakers sound smug when they claim that it is not unusual to sustain a huge fiscal deficit in the first half of a year. The reason, they say, is that the government customarily frontloads spending. Maybe so. As they say, more money was allocated for the first half this year.
But here the size matters. ...
Fiscal soundness, if sacrificed to meet a growing demand for welfare, will undermine the nation's creditworthiness. That is why the Park administration will have to strive to balance annual budgets in the near future. Options are few. The administration will have to spend less, collect more taxes, in particular from the wealthy, or both, if growth remains sluggish.
The Khaleej Times, Dubai, on basketball diplomacy:
Kim Jong-un is once again playing host to Dennis Rodman. The United States basketball player, though on a private sojourn to the Stalinist state, has stirred the media over his possible role as an emissary to build bridges between Pyongyang and Washington.
But that doesn't seem to be the case. Apparently, Rodman before flying off to Pyongyang from Beijing said that he will be meeting his 'best friend', who is a great fan, and his visit is merely part of a basketball diplomacy tour. So far so good! But the fact is that the reclusive leader had agreed to host Rodman just days after refusing a formal diplomatic request from the US special envoy for North Korean rights, who wanted to deliberate with Kim over the fate of jailed Korean-American Kenneth Bae, who is facing a sentence for illegally entering the country and allegedly plotting to topple the regime. Thus, this faceoff speaks for itself.
As they say in diplomacy too many explanations also make it smell a rat. So is the case here. Though it would not be appropriate to get judgmental in this case, nonetheless, it goes without saying that while Kim is eager to reach out to the corridors of power in the White House, Rodman can inevitably help broker that deal. Rodman credentials speak for him, as he remains the most high-profile American to meet Kim since the leader took over after his father died in 2011. It is also a fact that Kim had expressed his personal desire to Rodman, in his previous visit, to be invited by Barack Obama and nurse his dream of rubbing shoulders with the who's who in Washington.
If ping-pong diplomacy could broker the world's greatest diplomatic thaw between China and the United States in the 1970s — through the auspicious of Pakistan — what is stopping a repeat now between Pyongyang and Washington? Rodman can take a lesson or two from Henry Kissinger's yesteryears policies — and help Kim and Obama opt for a handshake over a game of basketball anywhere in the world! Let sportsmanship triumph in the midst of brinkmanship.
The Clarion-Ledger on Syria:
Regardless of motives, President Barack Obama made the right decision in seeking congressional support for a military response to Syria's (alleged) use of weaponized gas on rebels.
While history and precedent provide a clear enough path for the president to make the decision himself, this particular incident at this particular time holds tremendous importance for the future of the Middle East and for the direction of our country.
Syria is but a minor player among Arab nations, but its allies are strong. Furthermore, we have seen all too well how American intervention without well-planned strategies for post-success actions can make matters far worse than before. Look to Iraq. Look to Egypt.
Compound this with the increasing reports of a strengthening al-Qaida presence in Syria, and we must be more vigilant than ever in vetting any military response that leaves Syrian power in place — which is the extent of any military reaction that most even would consider supporting.
At home, the divide among our national leaders is clear, and it worsened by the divide among our people. If the backlash against former President George W. Bush was bad after his decision to invade Iraq, the backlash against Obama for launching a military action against Syria could be devastating to our domestic agenda.
With Great Britain unlikely to join us in a military response and with the United Nations deciding against any retaliatory action, Obama would be unwise to move forward alone. Congress must be his ally in this action, or this action must not take place.
Congress, however, now has a bigger job to do. ...
There is no good decision, no right and no wrong. And while the president could have made it himself, he was right to heed the calls of congressional leaders and many Americans who said he should seek the approval of Congress.
This will now be an American decision, one made by all we have elected to represent us, lead us and protect us.
The Seattle Times on Microsoft buying Nokia, keeping smartphone choice alive:
WITH the $7.2 billion Nokia acquisition, Microsoft becomes a player in making smartphones.
The Finns are sore about this. Nokia is Finland's flagship company. In 2010 Stephen Elop, a Canadian, left Microsoft to become the first foreign chief executive of Nokia. Now he's headed back to Microsoft with a shot at becoming CEO and taking half of Nokia with him.
That is the sort of thing that happens when a company falls behind. In 2007 Nokia had 40 percent of the world market in handsets. That share has slipped to 15 percent, and in the next-generation product, smartphones, it has only 3 percent. Without a new owner, it could be the end of the road for Nokia's phone business. With a new owner comes cash, talent and another chance.
It just won't be a Finnish chance.
Microsoft needs to take some chances. It is sitting on a $77 billion cash mountain, the legacy of a near-monopoly in PC-operating systems. Self-respect forbids it to pay it all out as dividends, which would be an admission of impotence. Also, some of the company's billions are overseas, outside the firing range of the U.S. corporate-income tax.
It has an incentive to invest abroad, as it already did in buying Skype.
Microsoft's move also pre-empts a Chinese telecom company, Huawei Technologies. In June, when Microsoft was in acquisition talks with Nokia, Huawei expressed an interest in Nokia — but not in Nokia's commitment to Windows Phone.
Microsoft's acquisition buys a lease on life for Windows Phone. Google and Apple have 90 percent of the smartphone operating-system business — this time around. But in technology, change is the one constant. Any strong player can win the next round, provided it stays in the game.
In any scenario, the shopper with the most choices wins.
Omaha World-Herald on swimmer's feat offers lessons:
Diana Nyad's successful effort in swimming across 110 miles of open water to get from Cuba to the Florida Keys says a lot.
It speaks of Nyad's amazing determination — the swim across the Florida Straits requires overcoming wind, waves, sun, currents, stinging jellyfish and more, and all without benefit of a protective shark cage.
It speaks of Nyad's commitment — the swim took nearly 53 hours of near-constant exertion.
It speaks of Nyad's persistence — she first tried this feat in 1978, and success finally came on her fifth attempt.
It speaks, too, of the power of the human spirit. Nyad, after all, is 64 years old and accomplished something she couldn't do at age 28. After reaching Florida, she said the swim showed that "we should never ever give up" and "you're never too old to chase your dreams."
Those are powerful lessons for anyone at any age.
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