Newtown is proof that nothing will change US gun laws
- 30 May 2014
A review of the best commentary on and around the world...
If the murder of schoolchildren in Newtown, Connecticut didn't prompt the US Congress to pass stricter regulations on firearms, writes Tim Krieder for the Week, then the Isla Vista killings certainly won't.
"Look, we've collectively decided, as a country, that the occasional massacre is OK with us," writes the author of the book We Learn Nothing, a collection of essays and cartoons about the "dark truths of the human condition". "It's the price we're willing to pay for our precious Second Amendment freedoms."
We're content to forfeit the lives of a few dozen schoolkids a year as long as we get to keep our guns. The people have spoken, in a cheering civics-class example of democracy in action.
He doesn't blame the National Rifle Association or politicians for the situation. They're just capitalising on the apathy of a US public that doesn't care enough about the issue to do anything about it.
If this is going to change, people will have to do more than mouth empty condemnations and make calls to "do something". They would have to take action - becoming single-issue voters, donating money to gun-control groups or writing their politicians, for example.
If not, then Americans should stop "pretending to care", he says. The next time a mass shooting occurs, he writes, let's just "skip the histrionics":
No pro forma shock, condolence photo ops, sombre speeches, flags at half-mast, meaningless noises from liberals about legislation, meaningless counter-noises from the NRA about armed guards in elementary schools. Why bother going through the motions of soul-searching when we know very well there's nothing to search?
No good path home - When Secretary of State John Kerry called NSA leaker Edward Snowden a coward and a traitor, it rankled Daniel Ellsberg, the former Defence Department worker who leaked the Vietnam War Pentagon Papers to the New York Times.
Mr Ellsberg writes in the Guardian that although he stayed in the US and was out on bail after being indicted for revealing Pentagon secrets, Mr Snowden's situation is different.
If Mr Snowden returned to the US, he writes, he "would come back home to a jail cell - and not just an ordinary cellblock but isolation in solitary confinement, not just for months like Chelsea Manning but for the rest of his sentence, and probably the rest of his life".
The Espionage Act ensures that the rights of national security whisteblowers are greatly limited, Mr Ellsberg writes. Mr Snowden would never have a chance to defend himself and explain his actions in a US court.
"Nothing excuses Kerry's slanderous and despicable characterisations of a young man who, in my opinion, has done more than anyone in or out of government in this century to demonstrate his patriotism, moral courage and loyalty to the oath of office the three of us swore: to support and defend the Constitution of the United States," he concludes.
Lessons from Libya in chemical weapons deal - If you want to know why Syria keeps missing deadlines for the destruction of its chemical weapons stockpiles, writes former US Deputy Secretary of Defence Paul Wolfowitz, you need only look at what happened in Libya 10 years ago.
Following the invasion of Iraq, he writes in the Wall Street Journal, Libyan leader Muammar Gadhafi agreed to give up his weapons of mass destruction. Although observers believed he followed through on his promise, when Gadhafi's regime fell, it turned out Libya still had two large caches of weapons.
"The experience with Libya demonstrates that there is no reason to be confident that Syria has even declared its entire stockpile of its more lethal weapons, such as sarin," he writes.
What's worse, he says, the US should have expanded its focus beyond just chemical weapons and include Syria's air power in its demands for disarmament. The US has emboldened its enemies around the world and "left Bashar Assad free to keep killing citizens with impunity and millions of Syrians embittered", he writes.
Press downplays rape and murder of girls - The story of the two girls who were raped and hanged from a tree in Uttar Pradesh received limited coverage in the major Indian newspapers, writes Anand Soondas for the Times of India.
"One had it as a small single column inside on day 1; the other, also a national daily, as a brief, again in an inside page," he writes. "That such things happen in today's India, in 2014, and that such barbarism continues to exist in a country whose first-world aspirations have just decimated a non-performing party and thrust into power another that sells dreams well didn't merit more space."
The mainstream Indian media seem to think that stories of crime and violence far from the major cities - "even those with larger ramifications" - aren't of interest to its readership, he says.
That shouldn't be the case, he argues. "Just because we think the poor and the uneducated unwashed don't read the flashy dailies and aren't our target audience, we cannot stop writing about them when they need to be written about the most."
Not out of the woods yet - Despite some significant progress in enacting political and economic reforms over the past few years, writes New York University Prof Maha Hosain Aziz, Myanmar still has major hurdles to overcome before its stability is certain.
Corruption is still a problem, she writes for CNN.com, food and water shortages abound, and a lack of education and training continues to prevent many from working their way out of poverty.
International investment in Myanmar is on the rise, she says, but if any of these difficulties lead to civil unrest, it could undo all the progress made so far.
"Myanmar is still a potential time bomb," she concludes.
BBC Monitoring's quotes of the day
Regional press reacts to former General Abdul Fattah al-Sisi's victory in this week's Egyptian presidential elections.
"It is the 30 June [2013 revolution] that brought Mr al-Sisi to the presidential palace, carried by the millions who put their trust in him … and who voted for him to repay him. Therefore, this man is indebted to no one." - Faruq Juwaydah in Egypt's Al-Ahram.
"Egyptians have had their say, they have made their voice heard, they have expressed their will freely, and they have said a big yes to a new era with an eye on the future. By voting for Mr al-Sisi, Egyptians have voted for the real Egypt and for its pivotal role in joint Arab action." - Editorial in United Arab Emirates Al-Bayan.
"Instead of becoming a step toward restoring the stability and unity of the Egyptian people, the elections have become a step in cementing the split because they lacked any fair criteria." - Muhammad Yaghi in Palestinian Al-Ayyam.
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