Excerpts from recent editorials in newspapers in the United States and around the world:
The Ottawa Sun on possibly strained royal relations:
The tea-towels and souvenir spoons are in the works.
It's a fairy tale ending to a long courtship and we wish Prince William and Kate Middleton all the best as they start their married life.
But when Kate leaves Westminster Abbey after the wedding, April 29, and starts a new life as Her Royal Highness, Canadians will be pondering the future of the monarchy in this country.
Make no mistake. Queen Elizabeth is much loved and highly respected in this country. The outpouring of affection shown to her during her recent visit to Canada made that abundantly clear. Cheering crowds waited for hours just to catch a glimpse of her.
The problem for the monarchy will arise when she dies and the crown passes to Prince Charles.
The Queen will not abdicate. She is the anointed sovereign and nothing will force her to quit.
Ditto for passing over Prince Charles and putting William on the throne in his stead. You think a guy who's waited 62 years for a job is going to get passed over that easily? Not a chance.
That said, Buckingham Palace needs to buck up if they want a smooth transition here in Canada. They seem to be in a different era when it comes to media relations.
Charles gave a rare interview to NBC anchor Brian Williams recently, telling him Camilla may one day be queen.
Hello? Why isn't he giving interviews to Canadian journalists?
Charles will never be King of the United States. ...
We are the land of empire loyalists. That little country to the south is the place that, figuratively, tossed Charles' ancestors into Boston harbor, alongside a ton of tea.
The U.S. may be his friends, but we are his family. ...
If he wants Canada to remain loyal, though, he needs to look north of the 49th parallel _ and open up to us.
The Asahi Shimbun, Tokyo, on U.S. war in Afghanistan:
U.S. President Barack Obama recently released a review of his new strategy for Afghanistan announced a year ago. In assessing the current situation in Afghanistan, the report says there have been gains but they remain "fragile and reversible."
Can the Obama administration achieve its strategic goal of dismantling the international terrorist organization al-Qaida while restoring stability in Afghanistan? There are so many questions to be asked about the conflict, which has come to be called "Obama's war." ...
The principal headache for the U.S. is that armed groups can freely cross the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan.
The tribal areas of Pakistan adjacent to the country's border with Afghanistan where armed groups find shelter remain a "sanctuary" U.S. forces cannot enter.
Putting down the insurgency in Afghanistan is impossible without taking control over this safe haven for armed groups. ...
Even more distressing is huge number of civilian victims. The death toll among civilians hit 5,480 as of October, a 20-percent increase over last year, according to United Nations statistics. ...
It is simply impossible to win the hearts of Afghan people without addressing the pain the local communities are suffering.
Only a half year is left until U.S. forces begin pulling out of the country.
The Obama administration has decided to complete the transition of security responsibility to Afghanistan by the end of 2014. ...
The question, however, is whether the government of President Hamid Karzai, which is thoroughly infested with corruption at all levels, has the ability to govern the nation. ...
The reality is that the Afghan government needs to win over some of the groups to stabilize the situation.
With the U.S. making aggressive efforts to secure stability in the country, it is time for the Afghan government to start serious talks with various groups for the transition of power.
The Daily Star, Beirut, on the state of the Middle East as 2010 closes:
At a time when countries around the world are making strides toward greater political and economic integration, the Arab world appears less united than ever. Not only has the region long abandoned its oversized dreams of pan-Arab unity, but it is also facing a series of crises that revolve around the disintegration or erosion of state authority.
The region's largest country is just days away from a historic referendum that is widely expected to carve it into two independent states: North and South Sudan. Meanwhile the specter of secession continues to haunt Iraq, threatening to break the country into two or three smaller autonomous nations. Yemen, whose unification was celebrated in 1990, is again on the verge of returning to fighting itself, while simultaneously facing off the menace posed by al-Qaida militants.
Palestine, already partitioned by the creation of Israel in 1948, has been further divided into Gaza and the occupied West Bank, two separate political entities that are themselves each plagued by internal divisions. The only unity that one can speak of in Somalia is that of the militants who are increasingly banding together in their effort to topple the state. And of course, no one can mention divisions in the Arab world without referring to Lebanon, a country which many observers say is again facing the prospect of civil war.
Elsewhere in the region, in countries like Syria, Tunisia, Morocco, Libya and Egypt, the calcification of political systems is being met with increasing dissent, creating the potential for future instability in the region.
Likewise, the failure of many Arab leaders to deliver on promises of economic development and political reform has undermined their credibility, putting the future stability of their countries in doubt. Across the region we can see governments that are mired in corruption, nepotism, sectarianism, stalemate and stagnation. ...
Next year will see the creation of two new states in the region. And if the current trends continue, we can expect even more in the future.
The Telegraph, London, on a princes and princesses without staff:
Prince William and Kate Middleton have decided that they will not employ servants after they are married. They will therefore be the first senior members of the Royal family to do without domestic help since when, exactly?
Even in the middle of wars, or locked up in the Tower, princes and princesses have had staff. No doubt this decision reflects the unstuffy manner of Prince William and his bride-to-be, who herself may one day be the first Queen to have grown up without servants.
Then again, perhaps the Prince has learnt from the experience of his late mother, many of whose employees ended up with publishing deals. Doing the washing up is boring, but at least no one is taking notes.
Chicago Tribune on Mexico's war against drug cartels:
Jack Riley left El Paso, Texas, to become the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration's top man in Chicago. Even though he's 1,500 miles from the border now, Mexico's war against drug cartels still matters to him. It should matter to all of us. More than 90 percent of the marijuana, cocaine and heroin in the Chicago area enters the U.S. from Mexico. Drug rings are expanding into the Midwest to control distribution with violence a good bet to follow.
"If we're going to be successful, Mexico needs to be successful," Riley says. "We can't do it without them."
Sadly, Mexico is falling short.
Mexico's occasional triumphs are starting to seem more and more hollow as the death toll of the four-year-long drug war tops 30,000. Every day seems to bring another horrific tale _ most recently, cameras rolled while masked gunmen mowed down anti-crime activist Marisela Escobedo as she held vigil at the doorstep of the Chihuahua governor's palace.
If the mayhem continues unabated, we worry that Congress will lose the will to renew the $1.4 billion Merida Initiative _ an infusion of U.S. equipment and training to combat international drug trafficking and other organized crime _ when it expires in about a year.
Now is the time to demand results from Mexico that have nothing to do with body counts. ...
Some in Congress have had enough. A bipartisan team of three senators proposed an independent commission to re-evaluate the U.S. approach to illegal narcotics in the Americas. As it is, Republicans are already skeptical of foreign aid while Democrats worry about militarizing drug enforcement in our hemisphere. ...
They need to do better, especially if we are counting on them as our first line of defense.
The Lima (Ohio) News on the FCC's "net neutrality" decision:
The Federal Communications Commission, by an expected 3-2 vote, decided to assert its own control over the Internet under the attractive-sounding label of "net neutrality." This new power-grab will likely be challenged in court, but it is unfortunate that the commission went ahead with this ill-considered idea.
The FCC ruling, which essentially bans Internet service providers from blocking lawful content to their customers, addresses a nonexistent problem. The fear, hypothetical so far, is that companies that sell both Internet access and Web content will block access to competitors' content. Since ISPs know customers prefer open access and have choices when it comes to ISPs, their business incentive is to provide open access without unreasonable restrictions, and, so far, there have been no examples of ISPs doing otherwise as a matter of policy.
However, lack of a real problem or lack of statutory jurisdiction, for that matter has seldom stopped a government agency intent on increasing its power. The Internet has thrived in an environment of virtually no government control and become increasingly important in peoples' lives. Those whose lives are devoted to increasing the scope of the regulatory state have trouble dealing with the idea that some aspect of life is beyond their control. So they reach for rationales.
The Seattle Times on aid bill for 9/11 responders and survivors:
After much talk about a weak-kneed lame-duck Congress, lawmakers ended up accomplishing a lot. Appropriately, final efforts included the important business of providing aid to survivors and responders sickened in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 terrorism attacks.
If Democrats and Republicans in the U.S. House and Senate cannot demonstrate to the American people that this nation respects _ and is grateful for _ the sacrifice of those who got sick toiling in the polluted ruins of that horrible event, what kind of country are we?
Researchers suspect a link between clouds of burned building materials and asthma and sinus ailments. Some firefighters have noticed a reduction in lung power. A connection between the dust and potentially fatal illnesses is not yet known.
The legislation that passed the Senate and House was described by some New York Congress members as the "Christmas miracle we have been looking for."
The agreement provides money for illnesses related to Ground Zero and reopens a victims' compensation fund another five years to cover wages and health benefits of workers and nearby residents who became ill. ...
Like any compromise, this one does not fulfill every need. It is not perfect. But it is the decent and honorable thing to do.
Excerpts from recent editorials in newspapers in the United States and around the world: