NATO IN AFGHANISTAN
The Daily Telegraph (UK)
Things are not going too well in Afghanistan, according to the British Prime Minister. This British daily got hold of a confidential three-page paper from the British Foreign office, admitting to a whole series of problems in Afghanistan: the ongoing need for more aircraft, failing to convince France and Germany to do more in Afghanistan, and efforts to train and support Afghan police going badly.
RISING FOOD PRICES
Houston Chronicle (US)
Rising food prices have bred hunger and political unrest across the globe in recent weeks. Where does the problem lie? This major Texas paper reports that the state governor Rick Perry wants the US government to relax rules requiring the use of corn-based ethanol in the nation’s fuel supply. Texas is the second biggest US state, and a big producer of beef, poultry and dairy products, industries that compete for corn supplies. Perry’s argument is that added demand for ethanol is driving up world food prices – but that’s a matter for debate. This article cites studies that suggest rising oil prices are more to blame than ethanol.
International Herald Tribune
Yet, according to this piece penned by a university professor, more expensive energy and bad weather are partly to blame, but the big problem is, in fact, not enough trade. Trade restrictions skew the market. Take the example of rice: restrictions on rice producers in India, Indonesia, Vietnam, China, Cambodia, and Egypt mean there’s less incentive to produce more, and that rice shortages are not so much due to these countries keeping rice for their own consumers. Meanwhile rich countries also to blame for subsidising their own rice farmers; their rice then becomes too expensive to lessen hunger among the poor.
Diario da Noticias (Portugal)
Likewise, a university professor in this Portuguese daily says there are two decisive forces: the market and the law. He says the main cause of the current situation is something that’s actually quite positive: recent development in poor regions has boosted demand for food, which means hunger is going down, not up. And curiously, now that food prices are high, activists protest in the name of poor consumers, while when they were low, activists protested in the name of poor producers. The conclusion is that the market will correct itself, but only if politics allow it to. And there’s little hope of that, writes the author, given the passions aroused by the question of food.
New York Times (US)
Barack Obama’s former pastor refuses to pipe down, but it seems Jeremiah Wright’s recent tour of the US media has shattered some of the mystery around him. Going beyond the inflammatory soundbites broadcast via the website YouTube, the NYT characterises Wright as “the compelling but slightly wacky uncle who unsettles strangers but really just craves attention”, and it turns out Wright “doesn’t hate America, he loves the sound of his own voice”. It’s been the occasion for Obama’s campaign to again distance itself from Wright’s controversial political views: when asked why they let Wright refocus attention on himself by appearing in the media and before the National Press Club, they said the pastor is doing his own thing.