Editorial Roundup: Excerpts from recent editorials

Excerpts from recent editorials in the United States and abroad:


Sept. 21

The Los Angeles Times on a recent Wells Fargo scandal:

U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) has been getting a lot of notice for her tough questioning of Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf, and that's as it should be. The mega-bank recently settled a lawsuit over its outrageous practice of opening fake accounts for real customers without their permission " and then charging the customers fees for the "service." At a Senate hearing Tuesday, Warren branded Stumpf "gutless" for blaming the mess on employees, called on him to resign and said he should be criminally investigated.

Federal prosecutors are reportedly looking into whether Stumpf and other senior bank officials engaged in fraud by imposing impossibly steep sales quotas that they knew " or should have known "would pressure bank workers to rack up fees by any means necessary. In the meantime, though, let's remember what landed Stumpf in the Senate hot seat and perhaps in prosecutorial sights in the first place.

It began with investigative stories by now-retired Times reporter E. Scott Reckard beginning in 2013.

It continued with a lawsuit against Wells Fargo, filed last year by Los Angeles City Atty. Mike Feuer.

Feuer? Why him rather than some state attorney general?

Well, why not? Los Angeles banking customers were among the perhaps 2 million people being charged for services they never sought, and Reckard's reporting began with a story on the firing of bank employees in the L.A. region for opening fake accounts. Feuer was elected to represent the municipal entity that is the city of Los Angeles, but also to look out for the interests of its people " and despite Wells Fargo's court pleadings to the contrary, he had the power under state unfair business practice laws to act. He acted.

Los Angeles city attorneys are sometimes belittled for operating outside their local job descriptions in search of broader glory, but they could just as easily be chided for thinking too narrowly. What's the point of voters in the nation's second-largest city electing a lawyer if that person can't or won't look out for their interests? L.A.'s city attorney represents more people than the attorneys general of nearly half the states and has the power to protect consumers. In the Wells Fargo case, Feuer wielded that power well.




Sept. 21

Tulsa World of Tulsa, Oklahoma on the shooting of Terence Crutcher, an unarmed black man:

For the second time in less than two years, the focus of the community and the nation is on the shooting of a black man by a local white law officer.

Terence Crutcher was fatally shot Friday evening by Tulsa Police Officer Betty Shelby near 36th Street North and Lewis Avenue. Crutcher's SUV was stalled in the street. He was unarmed, but according to police statements was refusing to obey orders from police.

These are perilous times for such a tragedy. Elsewhere, indignation sparked by deadly encounters between black men and white police has led to terrible consequences. The natural emotions of the latest shooting are magnified by that national environment.

After a Monday news conference, Tulsa Police Chief Chuck Jordan released police dash-cam and helicopter video of the shooting, calling it "very disturbing." We agree, but otherwise do as we advise others and reserve judgment.

At the same news conference, Jordan, Mayor Dewey Bartlett, District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler, U.S. Attorney Danny Williams and City Councilor Jack Henderson had words of solace for the Crutcher family, pleas for peace and promises of justice.

The Crutcher family has understandably reacted strongly to the loss of a loved one, but also has urged that protests be peaceful.

We hope that recent history will have earned the decision-makers in this critical case " especially Kunzweiler and Williams " the time they need to do their jobs.

Kunzweiler showed his independence and his wisdom in 2014, the last time we faced the case of a white officer shooting a black man. Despite a sheriff's office recommendation against criminal action, Kunzweiler's office charged and convicted reserve Deputy Robert Bates of second-degree manslaughter in the shooting death of Eric Harris.

In 2012, Jordan and Bartlett responded strongly and quickly to a string of hate crime shootings targeting black Tulsans " the so-called Good Friday shootings. The police arrested Alvin Lee Watts and Jacob Carl England, who were sentenced to life without parole.

We have not forgotten that Tulsa also has some difficult history to deal with " the lawless 1921 race riot that left untold numbers of innocent black people dead.

We pray that our community's self-interest and the memory of the recent history of reliable justice in critical situations will give officials the time they need to act fairly on the evidence and in accordance with the law.




Sept. 20

The New York Times on voter fraud in America:

How does a lie come to be widely taken as the truth?

The answer is disturbingly simple: Repeat it over and over again. When faced with facts that contradict the lie, repeat it louder.

This, in a nutshell, is the story of claims of voting fraud in America " and particularly of voter impersonation fraud, the only kind that voter ID laws can possibly prevent.

Last week, a Washington Post-ABC News poll found that nearly half of registered American voters believe that voter fraud occurs "somewhat" or "very" often. That astonishing number includes two-thirds of people who say they're voting for Donald Trump and a little more than one-quarter of Hillary Clinton supporters. Another 26 percent of American voters said that fraud "rarely" occurs, but even that characterization is off the mark. Just 1 percent of respondents gave the answer that comes closest to reflecting reality: "Never."

As study after study has shown, there is virtually no voter fraud anywhere in the country. The most comprehensive investigation to date found that out of one billion votes cast in all American elections between 2000 and 2014, there were 31 possible cases of impersonation fraud. Other violations " like absentee ballot fraud, multiple voting and registration fraud " are also exceedingly rare. So why do so many people continue to believe this falsehood?

Credit for this mass deception goes to Republican lawmakers, who have for years pushed a fake story about voter fraud, and thus the necessity of voter ID laws, in an effort to reduce voting among specific groups of Democratic-leaning voters. Those groups " mainly minorities, the poor and students " are less likely to have the required forms of identification.

Behind closed doors, some Republicans freely admit that stoking false fears of electoral fraud is part of their political strategy. In a recently disclosed email from 2011, a Republican lobbyist in Wisconsin wrote to colleagues about a very close election for a seat on the State Supreme Court. "Do we need to start messaging 'widespread reports of election fraud' so we are positively set up for the recount regardless of the final number?" he wrote. "I obviously think we should."

Sometimes they acknowledge it publicly. In 2012, a former Florida Republican Party chairman, Jim Greer, told The Palm Beach Post that voter ID laws and cutbacks in early voting are "done for one reason and one reason only" " to suppress Democratic turnout. Consultants, Mr. Greer said, "never came in to see me and tell me we had a fraud issue. It's all a marketing ploy."

The ploy works. During the 2012 election, voter ID laws in Kansas and Tennessee reduced turnout by about 2 percent, or about 122,000 votes, according to a 2014 analysis by the Government Accountability Office. Turnout fell the most among young people, African-Americans and newly registered voters. Another study analyzing elections from 2006 through 2014 found that voting by eligible minority citizens decreased significantly in states with voter ID laws and "that the racial turnout gap doubles or triples in states" with those laws.

There are plenty of shortcomings in the American voting system, but most are a result of outdated machines, insufficient resources or human error " not intentional fraud. All of these are made only worse by shutting down polling places or eliminating early voting hours, measures frequently supported by Republican legislators.

Those efforts are especially galling in a nation where, on a good day, only 60 percent of eligible voters show up to the polls. The truth is that those who created the specter of voter fraud don't care about the integrity of the voting system; they want to undermine the rights of legitimate voters because that helps them win elections.

The scary thing is how many Americans have bought into this charade. It shouldn't be surprising that the Republican Party's standard-bearer, Donald Trump, has elevated the lie about voting fraud and "rigged elections" to a centerpiece of his campaign.




Sept. 20

The Post and Courier of Charleston on resuming cease-fire in Syria:

A big diplomatic push by President Barack Obama to bring humanitarian relief to Aleppo crumbled Monday when Syrian aircraft resumed bombing rebel positions after a week of formal cease-fire. Because of constant small violations of the truce, the humanitarian aid, intended to reach Syrian civilians cut off from supplies by a government siege of rebel areas of Aleppo, never left Turkey.

It was a sad ending to a well-intentioned, if quixotic, idea.

Under the plan, the United Nations was supposed to deliver humanitarian aid to Syria, and the United States and Russia were to cooperate in attacking the Islamic State and other terrorist groups.

But the brutal Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad clearly did not like the idea of giving the rebels any respite. And his government's distrust of the American plan was heightened when U.S. and coalition aircraft accidentally attacked and killed more than 60 Syrian soldiers under the apparent impression that they were ISIS fighters.

That incident also highlighted the fiendishly complicated situation on the ground in Syria, where some rebel groups supported by the U.S. actually cooperate with others allied with al-Qaida and ISIS, both of which the Obama administration has pledged to destroy.

President Obama launched the drive for U.S.-Russian military cooperation against terrorist groups in Syria in a May letter to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

That was a notion enthusiastically endorsed by Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump. In July, Mr. Trump said in Winston-Salem, North Carolina: "Wouldn't it be nice if we got together with Russia and knocked the hell out of ISIS?"

The plan is apparently now on the shelf, though, pending further U.S.-Russian discussions on the resuming the cease-fire.

On Monday, the State Department said it hoped to again halt the hostilities and planned to discuss options with Russian diplomats in Geneva today.

Meanwhile, news agencies report that the initiative for U.S.-Russian joint operations in Syria troubles Defense Secretary Ashton Carter and the U.S. intelligence community. They are understandably wary of the need to share U.S. targeting intelligence " and the marked differences in U.S. and Russian approaches to bombing targets.

Russia favors massive attacks, which can inflict large collateral damage on civilians. The U.S. prefers a precision-bombing approach designed to limit such casualties.

Beyond these technical and to some degree humanitarian concerns, there are also major questions about the planned cooperation.

Working with Russia to defeat terrorist groups in Syria, including ISIS, could mean overlooking Russian incursions in the Ukraine, and accepting Russia's support of Assad, who continues to use chemical weapons despite his promise to give them up.

It also probably means ending sanctions against Russia for seizing Crimea from the Ukraine.

Mr. Trump has suggested that these concessions to Mr. Putin are worth gaining his cooperation in international affairs. That position by the GOP nominee has drawn sharp attacks from President Obama, the original author of the plan for cooperation in Syria.

The long-range benefits of cooperating with Russia appear questionable at best.

And the failure of the modest cease-fire effort to end the humanitarian disaster created by the Syrian civil war further signals continuing futility in the global community's attempts to finally end the carnage.




Sept. 20

Boston Herald on recent bombing explosions in New York City and New Jersey:

The weapons of choice in this weekend's New York City bombing tell us a lot about the motivation of the bomber " and no one in Boston needs to hear the president of the United States or FBI officials dance around that question.

The bomb that went off in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan, injuring 29, was filled with shrapnel, small bearings or metal BBs. It was designed to do grave damage " much like the ones that took three lives and changed the lives of some 260 people here on Marathon Day in 2013. A second pressure-cooker bomb was found before it could be detonated. Five more unexploded devices were found in an Elizabeth, New Jersey, train station.

This was terrorism pure and simple " even if it did take New York's perfectly pathetic mayor another 24 hours to get those words out.

Ahmad Khan Rahami, 28, shot and captured by New Jersey police yesterday, was identified by investigators as the "main guy" behind the explosion in New York City and an earlier pipe bomb explosion in New Jersey that targeted a charity road race, benefiting Marines and their families. Rahami was a naturalized citizen, born in Afghanistan, and harboring what might have been a rather large chip on his shoulder. His parents had filed suit several years ago alleging their fast-food chicken restaurant was targeted by police, not because neighbors had complained it was a late-night nuisance but " because they are Muslim.

It doesn't take much these days for those who harbor their own set of grievances to turn them into action. Meanwhile radical jihadis provide a wealth of information via the internet on how to make bombs, and at the same time they stoke hatreds which have already taken root.

Public officials, even President Obama, were a little faster to label a stabbing rampage at a Minnesota mall a "potential act of terrorism." Maybe it was because the now dead suspect was yelling the name of Allah as he did the deed and asking potential victims if they were Muslim.

Other than that, yesterday the president had one of his better No Drama Obama performances, admonishing the press to "refrain from getting out ahead of the investigation" even as Rahami was under arrest in New Jersey.

New York and New Jersey were saved from a far worse fate by alert citizens and great police work " and yes, perhaps by the grace of a higher power. But all that happened not because of but in spite of political leaders who don't lead and can't inspire.




Sept. 19

China Daily on improving ties between China and Japan:

Sept 18 holds peculiar significance in Chinese people's memories-as a "day of national shame". On that day 85 years ago, taking advantage of the Mukden Incident, which it had masterminded and blamed on the Chinese instead, the Imperial Japanese Amy started the full invasion of China.

"Never forget the national shame" has since been the main theme of commemoration on every Sept 18. Only that the call for remembering history gets louder every fifth year, or, more recently, when relations with Japan sour.

Besides serving as an occasion for driving home the message "lagging behind leaves the nation vulnerable to attacks", a lesson modern China has learnt the hard way, it has acquired a brand-new dimension-a ritual appeal to Japan to face history, instead of whitewashing it.

We had every reason to anticipate louder, harsher Japan-bashing on Sunday, because the 85th anniversary of such a date of shame coincided with an obvious nadir of bilateral ties.

There is no sign that the Shinzo Abe administration will step back from its rightist approach to Japan's militarist past. And Tokyo's moves of instigating and arming countries in territorial disputes with China in the South China Sea, along with its reported decision to join the United States and patrol the South China Sea, are only the latest hallmarks of the deep-freezing relationship.

The subdued manner the anniversary was commemorated on Sunday, therefore, was more or less out of the norm. But certainly not incomprehensible.

Beijing appears to have seen the harmful potential of its war of words with Tokyo, and it has become serious about damage control.

After all, the two countries' leaders just met on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in Hangzhou, affirming common aspiration for a thaw in ties. There is nothing wrong with Beijing's insistence on "holding history as a mirror" for Japan's obligation to face history. Or Tokyo's on "future-oriented relations".

Failure to integrate those two aspects into one organic whole, however, has driven Beijing and Tokyo, actually the entire Northeast Asia, into an endless finger-pointing game.

Many of Northeast Asia's present troubles have their roots in historical animosity. Specters of history have already dragged the region's countries into a game of mutual weakening, and are threatening to shatter their hopes for peace, stability, even continuing prosperity.

If Beijing has hinted at fence-mending through restrained rhetoric, such goodwill deserves something reciprocal from Tokyo.

The China-Japan relationship desperately needs to get rid of the vicious circle at work. Or all the words about reconciliation, of East Asia's integration, will prove empty talk.



This story has been automatically published from the Associated Press wire which uses US spellings

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