Partisan primaries must go

US Senator Charles Schumer of New York. Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Charles Schumer thinks the way the US chooses political candidates is broken

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US Senator Charles Schumer is known as a bare-knuckle political brawler. The third-ranking Democrat in the Senate and former chair of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, whose job it was to help his party win Senate seats, he has never been known to shy away from a partisan fight.

So the senator from New York turned heads when he took to the pages of the New York Times on Wednesday to endorse a major overhauling of the way US political parties choose their candidates.

Instead of the current primary system used in most states, in which each party holds separate elections to pick their nominees, Mr Schumer says candidates should be chosen in an open primary process.

In such a setup, candidates compete on one ballot, and the top two vote-getters - irrespective of their political affiliation - face off in a general election.

It's a system Louisiana has used for decades and has been implemented recently in Washington and California. Mr Schumer says it is a way to keep the extreme elements within political parties from dominating the candidate-selection process.

"While there are no guarantees, it seems likely that a top-two primary system would encourage more participation in primaries and undo tendencies toward default extremism," he writes. "It would remove the incentive that pushes our politicians to kowtow to the factions of their party that are most driven by fear and anger."

Voters in Colorado and Oregon will have the opportunity to heed Mr Schumer's call this fall, as proposals to implement open primaries in those states are on the November ballot.


Smart money knows no Chinese home - North American cities are working to create thriving offshore trading relations with China, as leaders on both sides of the Pacific talk up the strength of the Chinese currency.

At the same time, Jason Kirby of MacLean's Magazine writes, some wealthy Chinese are looking for the exit. While they may just want a greater return on investments or a means of hiding income from corrupt sources, there's a more disturbing possibility, he says.

These Chinese insiders might "know a swath of the country's stellar economic growth has been a mirage, fuelled by debt and wasteful investment," he says.

A debt crisis could be looming, Kirby writes - one that will "shake China's economy and seriously undermine faith in its currency".


European anti-Semitism hiding in plain sight - Pro-Gaza protests are revealing the presence of anti-Semitism and the tolerance of it in Germany and other European nations, according to Die Welt's Filipp Piatov (translated by WorldCrunch).

"It's absolutely fine to support the people of Gaza," he writes. "It's also OK to lay massive criticism on Israel. Freedom of speech and opinion takes precedence over objectivity. But when criticism of Israel turns into anti-Semitic heckling, that's stepping over the line."

Many pro-Gaza protests in Germany have escalated into violence, and there has been little mediation from police, Piatov continues.

"You think that anti-Semitism is a disease of the past, adequately dealt with in history class? That hostility to Jews is still very widespread and indeed even quite open in other countries but not in Germany?" he asks. "Then attend the next pro-Gaza demonstration, and head for the people yelling 'Jews to the Gas Chamber'."


Echoes of Sarajevo in 1914 - To understand the implications of the downing of MH17, writes the National Interest's Robert W Merry, one must look 100 years back.

The assassination of Austria's Archduke Ferdinand was a localised occurrence that set in motion a chain of events that led to World War One. Merry contends that a similar out-of-control spiral, in which Russian President Vladimir Putin is faced with few good options, could be unfolding now.

World opinion is turning against Moscow, he says, pushing Ukraine toward closer ties with the West. Although the crisis centres on just one part of the globe, it will have implications for the entire international order.

"There will be hardly any prospect at all of US diplomacy enlisting Russia's help in the pursuit of American goals in Iran, in the rest of the Middle East, in US efforts to deal with a rising China, in our efforts to maintain stability in the Caucasus or in global energy," he says.


Democracy on the brink - If the right person is elected in Indonesia's presidential elections, the nation's democracy will improve greatly, says Desi Anwar of Indonesia's Metro TV.

"For the first time each and every one of us realises the importance of taking part in the election, that every vote counts and everybody's involvement makes a difference," she writes in the Jakarta Globe.

True democracy requires balance, however, and this is not a simple task in Indonesia, she says. The country's new president must serve all Indonesians, not just those who voted for him.

"The pain of politics is never permanent," Anwar writes. "Soon we, too, will wake up to the fact that this has been nothing but one hairy roller coaster ride."

BBC Monitoring's quotes of the day

Pakistani commentators react to the US decision to resume drone strikes on militants in the North Waziristan tribal region.

"A military operation against terrorists in North Waziristan is playing out successfully. In this situation, the resumption of US drone strikes is totally unjustified… it makes the USA's [stated] intentions about peace in the region doubtful." - Editorial in Jang.

"It would be best if the US handed over the list of wanted people to the Pakistan army, if they have information about them." - Editorial in Daily Express.

"The US wants to create confrontation between the Pakistan army and the people. Chaos is being created through drone attacks. The government should take effective steps beyond mere words to stop the US strikes." - Editorial in Islam.‎

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