Oldest congressman forcibly retired by voters

Representative Ralph Hall speaks on a cell phone on 27 May, 2014. Image copyright AP
Image caption When Ralph Hall leaves office in January 2015, there will be no World War 2 veterans in Congress

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Representative Ralph Hall of Texas, who at 91 is the oldest member in the history of the US House of Representatives, was defeated on Tuesday in a Republican primary vote.

Mr Hall's opponent in the runoff election, grass-roots conservative, Tea Party-backed attorney John Ratcliffe, made the representative's age an explicit issue in the race. An independent political action committee, Now or Never PAC, aired a television advert featuring a rocking chair and the words: "After 33 years let's bring Ralph Hall home."

"The message of these attacks: because the incumbent's age is a large number and because he or she looks older now than when first elected, it is time essentially to put them out to pasture," writes ThinkProgress's Josh Israel. "By even hinting that the older opponent is no longer fully lucid or able to meet the rigours of the job, these attacks often make age - rather than issues, records or ideas - a main campaign issue."

Although Mr Ratcliffe's attacks were particularly pointed, age - and tenure in Washington - has been a recurring theme in this year's congressional elections, writes Israel. In addition, questions about health and age already have been raised in regard to Hillary Clinton, who is 66, and her possible run for the US presidency in 2016.

"While the age issue is nothing new, the way it is wielded politically has evolved with the changing times," Israel writes. Independent groups, which have proliferated following recent US Supreme Court decisions on campaign finance, have proven to be less reluctant to target age and health concerns than candidates have.

With Tuesday's vote, Mr Hall becomes the first incumbent member of Congress to lose a re-election bid this year. It also means that when Mr Hall leaves office in January 2015, there will be no World War 2 veterans serving in Congress. Representative John Dingell of Michigan, the only other veteran of the war serving in the Capitol, is retiring.

Nigeria

Boko Haram's ideology - The militant Islamic group Boko Haram subscribes to a global ideology that is "based on a warped and false view of religion" that is "incompatible with the modern world", writes former British Prime Minister Tony Blair for Project Syndicate.

He says the West must confront the ideology and "cleanse the soil in which this poisonous plant takes root" - or put our security at risk.

He recommends an "open-minded" education programme promoting religious tolerance, both in Western school systems and around the world.

"Nigeria's kidnapped girls are victims not just of an act of violence but of a way of thinking," he writes. "If we can defeat that ideology, we will begin to make progress toward a more secure world."

Afghanistan

Open-ended US troop commitment is required - Former US Ambassador to Iraq James F Jeffrey and former Ambassador to Afghanistan Ronald E Neumann write that President Barack Obama was wise to announce he is keeping almost 10,000 US troops in Afghanistan but foolish to set a timeline for their withdrawal.

By making a long-term commitment to a US military presence in Afghanistan, they write in the Washington Post, President Obama could have pushed back against accusations that the US lacks "firmness in standing up to challenges to the international order".

Anything short of this, they conclude, is "likely to fail", as US efforts to withdraw troops while preserving stability in Iraq are faltering. Instead of a set deadline, the US should stay in Afghanistan until "the mission that these troops have risked their lives for is accomplished".

Cuba

Technology is beating censorship - Thanks to black-market thumb drives loaded with movies, music and news, information is finding its way around the Cuban government's attempts at censorship.

The journalists using these memory stick "paquetes" to get their stories to the people, writes the Miami Herald's Andres Oppenheimer, are part of a drive to push "the limits of Cuba's censorship like nobody has in recent memory".

The Cuban government might as well embrace a free media, he says, so it can convince the world that its reforms are real. As technology becomes increasingly widespread, the nation's attempts at censorship will prove fruitless anyway, he concludes.

Thailand

A military power grab - Last week's military coup in Thailand appears to have been "the final step in a script deftly managed by the conservative 'royalist' establishment to thwart the right to govern of a populist political bloc that has won every election since 2001," writes Walden Bello for the Nation magazine.

Members of the elite class exacerbated "middle class rage", he says, to force the resignation of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and create an unstable atmosphere suitable for a power grab.

He says that the "elite-middle class alliance" will not be able to impose its will on the Thai people for long. Class conflict is simmering in the country, and the oppressed lower classes will start a campaign of civil resistance that could turn into a "prolonged and bitter descent into virtual civil war".

BBC Monitoring's quotes of the day

Pakistani papers react to Narendra Modi's meeting with his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif for talks in Delhi. (Indian media reaction is covered here.)

"Time will tell how Narendra Modi deals on matters and on what conditions Nawaz Sharif promotes ties with India. But the apparent signs are very positive. Complicated disputes are there, however. Unless these disputes are resolved, talks of friendly ties between the two countries will remain mere talk and it will be difficult to translate them into reality." - Editorial in Daily Express.

"Nawaz Sharif should take the nation into his confidence over his policies and steps regarding ties with India. Otherwise, he will not be able to save his rule from the wrath of the masses." - Editorial in Nawa-i-Waqt.

"India should end its egocentricity and resume talks on equal grounds. Both the countries are nuclear powers. Therefore, better ties between them are necessary for peace in the region." - Editorial in Jinnah.

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