Excerpts from recent editorials in newspapers in the United States and abroad:
Express News, San Antonio, Texas, on Atticus Finch:
The murder of Kathryn Steinle in San Francisco — allegedly committed by a much-deported undocumented immigrant — has fueled the immigration debate just as presidential candidate Donald Trump has been fanning some familiar flames.
There are a couple of lessons when it comes to immigration in this tragedy. They just aren't the ones that Trump and other fan-flamers are citing.
Trump, you'll recall, in his candidacy announcement seemed to lump all undocumented immigrants together as criminals Mexico is sending this country — labeling them as rapists and drug dealers, specifically.
And then Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez came along. He is accused of shooting Steinle with a stolen gun on a pier in San Francisco on July 1. He has been deported five times, has a criminal history and, before the shooting, was in jail. Immigration authorities asked local authorities to hold him for yet another deportation, but he was released anyway.
San Francisco, it turns out, is one of those dreaded "sanctuary cities" that will not turn its police force into immigration agents.
Here's what is important to remember in this debate. As heinous as this crime is, it and its alleged perpetrator are the exception. Yes, there are criminals among undocumented immigrants but not to any great degree.
A look at various studies by the American Immigration Council reveals, "Immigrants are less likely to commit serious crimes or be behind bars than the native-born, and high rates of immigration are associated with lower rates of violent crime and property crime."
The group also analyzed data from the 2010 American Community Survey and found that roughly 1.6 percent of immigrant males age 18 to 39 are incarcerated, compared to 3.3 percent of the native-born. "This disparity in incarceration rates has existed for decades," according to the report's authors.
The sanctuary cities debate is not cut and dried, either. It would be unconstitutional for jail and prison officials to hold a person longer than his sentence. If there are no crimes left to adjudicate for an immigrant, the same constitutional protections apply.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents obviously knew of Lopez-Sanchez's detention. After he served his sentence, they should have been waiting at his release, not pointing fingers after the fact.
Funny. One of the motivations behind President Barack Obama's executive actions on immigration was to prioritize deportations — those who have committed no crimes at the back of the line, and those who have in front. And he has been decried as a dictator ever since.
Moreover, there was a 20-year-old warrant on marijuana possession that could have been a means to hold him. The San Francisco district attorney declined.
And there's this: Lopez-Sanchez has much in common with many other San Franciscans. He was homeless. Jail authorities just dumped him on the streets. This is a problem that goes way beyond immigration.
Comprehensive immigration reform would do much to plug the holes in the system, both in terms of justice and humanity. And Congress won't go there.
If Lopez-Sanchez is found guilty, he deserves to feel the full weight of the law. But as a boogeyman propped up by those who rail against undocumented immigrants, his utility is limited in real terms because he is hardly representative.
The best solution is comprehensive reform that leads to a more efficient and orderly system in which we know better who should be here and who shouldn't. Congress is simply disinterested in crafting this.
The Telegraph, Macon, Georgia, on celebrating US education:
In 1994, the United States took a victory in Hong Kong that was much more important than any athletic victory it had ever won on the world stage. That victory was won by mental athletes whose names most people have never heard: Jeremy Bem, Aleksandr Khazanov, Jacob Lurie, Noam Shazeer, Stephen Wang and Jonathan Weinstein. The U.S. team had a perfect score and beat China, Russia, Bulgaria and Hungary. The competition? The International Mathematical Olympiad.
The United States was notably proud, as it should have been. However, the ensuing years did not show much promise for America's mathematical expertise until last week, 21 years after the perfect score.
We have been presented time and again with evidence that our nation's educational system has slid into disarray, particularly when compared with international standards, and particularly in math and science. The Washington Post reported: "While U.S. teenagers were average in reading and science, their scores were below average in math, compared to 64 other countries and economies that participated in the 2012 Program for International Student Assessment."
In math, 29 countries had better scores than the U.S. In science, the U.S. was bettered by 22 countries. Even our top-performing state, Massachusetts, which took the test, was outperformed by Shanghai, the top international performer. A new Pew study shows 28 countries with "significantly" higher math scores than the U.S., and 21 countries with "significantly" higher science scores (www.goo.gl/wwRSLR).
That said, the U.S. team can take this victory as a sign that something is headed in the right direction. The Washington Post reported that the team's coach, Po-Shen Loh, said, "This is a matter of national pride. One reason we are super excited is that for the past five years or so, we've been consistently second or third. It's actually quite difficult to win. We are going up against a natural population disadvantage in the sense that China, which is the usual winner, has four times as many people. Finally, to topple a country that should beat us by all expectations is a fantastic achievement for these six students."
While we know it won't happen in our entertainment-focused society, these students -- Ryan Alweiss, Allen Liu, Yang Liu, Shyam Narayanan, David Stoner and Michael Kural -- should get a ticker-tape parade. Brains don't wear out as quickly as bodies.
American Press, Lake Charles, Louisiana, on think tank saying U.S. is in ecological deficit:
The United States is using more natural resources than can be regenerated within its borders, according to a new report by international think tank Global Footprint Network.
The report, "State of the States: A New Perspective on the Wealth of Our Nation," says the nation is using twice the renewable natural resources than is available within its borders.
"With domestic and global pressure increasing on natural resources, it's more important than ever to manage them carefully," said GFN president Mathis Wackernagel.
Which states need to start managing their ecological budgets?
All of them.
"Although the United States is one of the richest nations in the world in terms of natural capital, it is running an ecological deficit," the report states. "U.S. citizens demand twice the renewable natural resources and services that are available within our nation's borders. Yet the economic vitality of our nation depends on these valuable ecological assets."
The U.S. has the second-largest share of the world's overall ecological footprint, trailing only China, whose population is more than four times that of our great country. The total footprint of the U.S. is also nearly twice that of India, although nearly four times as many people live in India.
The GFN found the states with the largest per-person ecological footprints are Virginia, Maryland and Delaware; the states with the smallest are New York, Idaho and Arkansas.
The ecological footprint measures a population's demand for plant-based food and fiber products, livestock and fish products, timber and other forest products, space for urban infrastructure, and forest to absorb its carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels.
Louisiana is about in the middle.
The Bayou State's natural resources include varied ecosystems and environments, from oak forest to cypress swamp. We have extremely fertile soil and a long growing season conducive to agriculture. Our state is rich in wetlands and has sizable reserves of oil, natural gas, salt and sulfur. Because Louisiana values natural capital — such as the benefits of wetlands for buffering hurricanes, providing water, reducing floods and increasing fish — GFN says the state is on the right track in developing solutions to the ecological deficit.
"Cities, states and nations shape this future every time they spend taxpayer money, particularly on longer-term projects such as energy and water infrastructure, transportation networks, housing, flood protection and land conservation," the report states. "Tools that recognize the value of ecological assets in the same way that we value infrastructure are needed to guide leaders at all levels of government."
We need to create a resilient future for our children and grandchildren and do our part now. That's the only way to ensure Sportsman's Paradise will continue to exist.
New York Times on no fishing at the North Pole:
Fishing at the North Pole may seem ludicrous to a world raised on the notion of the top of the world as a deep-frozen wasteland, but at the rate the Arctic Ocean is melting it may not be long before fishing trawlers can operate in waters that have been inaccessible for more than 800,000 years.
So it was a good idea for the five nations that have territorial claims around the Arctic Ocean — the United States, Canada, Russia, Norway and Denmark — to put a "No Fishing" sign on the high seas portion of the central Arctic until full scientific studies have been conducted.
The declaration to prevent unregulated fishing in the central Arctic acknowledged that fishing beyond the 200-mile exclusive economic zone of the coastal states is not likely to start in the near future. But it is not too early to take precautions: The annual "State of the Climate" report by the American Meteorological Society disclosed the highest average sea surface temperatures on record last year, with especially high temperatures in the Northern Pacific.
It's a good idea, too, because the agreement by the five nations signed in Oslo last Thursday provides a template for the kind of cooperation that is critical as the melting ice opens vast new commercial possibilities, including shipping lanes and access to deposits of oil, gas and minerals.
The fishing moratorium does not prevent the five nations from fishing in their own territorial waters (the United States has banned commercial fishing in its exclusive economic zone off Alaska's North Slope since 2009), nor is it binding on other countries, Asian or European, that are watching the great northern thaw with interest. But the declaration explicitly invites other countries to join in the process of developing fishing regulations when commercial fishing becomes possible in the central Arctic Ocean.
The United States, which holds the rotating chairmanship of the Arctic Council, the eight-nation group that is supposed to promote cooperation around the top of the world, has made protection of the Arctic from the consequences of climate change a top priority. Given the rapid changes in that region, the fishing ban hasn't come too soon.
The Orange County Register, Santa Ana, California, on finding lone wolves before they strike:
When we read the report this past week from Pew Research Center noting that 53 percent of Americans are "very concerned about Islamic extremism in our country," we chalked it up to irrational fear.
Then came Thursday's shootings in Chattanooga, Tenn., at both a military recruiting center and a nearby Navy operations support center.
Had 24-year-old Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez not been the perpetrator of the attack that killed four Marines, we might think it simply, tragically a random act of violence.
But Mr. Abdulazeez, it turns out, was an Islamic extremist. And it is not irrational for Americans to fear that there are others who, like Mr. Abdulazeez, appear on the surface to be a "good kid" or "a great student" - as the shooter was characterized by those who thought they knew him - but in whose breasts beat hearts of darkness.
Indeed, last week's bloodshed in Chattanooga is just the latest jihadi attack on U.S. soil since Sept. 11, 2001.
In 2002, Egyptian national Hesham Mohamed Hadayet killed two Israelis and wounded four others during a shooting at the El Al ticket counter at Los Angeles International Airport. In 2006, Pakistani-American Naveed Haq shot six women, one of whom died, at the Seattle Jewish Federation office.
There were two Jihadi attacks in 2009.
In November, U.S. Army psychiatrist Nidal Malik Hasan shouted "Allahu-akbar" before opening fire in a medical facility at the Fort Hood, Texas, military base, killing 13 people and wounding more than 30 others. And, in June, Abdulhakim Mujahid Muhammad committed a drive-by shooting at Little Rock, Ark., recruiting office, killing one soldier and wounding another.
In 2013, there was the Boston Marathon bombing, perpetrated by brothers Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, which took the lives of four people. In 2014, an Oklahoma woman was beheaded by aspiring jihadist Alton Noel, who injured another person. That year also witnessed a killing spree in Washington state and New Jersey by Ali Muhammad Brown.
We are confident there was no direct link between jihadist killers Hadayet, Haq, Hasan, Muhammad, Tsarnaev, Noel, Brown and Abdulazeez. But there is no denying that the attacks committed by these apparent lone wolves represent a terrifying pattern about which the American people understandably are very concerned.
That's why we think the Justice Department's Domestic Terrorism Committee - suspended in 2001 as the focus shifted to terrorists outside the U.S., but revived last year - should concentrate its attention on the Islamist extremists within our midst.
That does not mean mass surveillance of the Muslim-American community, the vast majority of whom are law-abiding citizens who offer no succor for those among them who would commit acts of terror. It means ferreting out those who are closeted jihadis, who aim to do the people of this nation harm.
Oklahoman, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, on change-up in GOP presidential debates:
"INCLUDE them all!"
That's the call from Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia Center for Politics, regarding the number of Republican presidential candidates who should be part of the televised debate process. Donald Trump's continuing misadventures give credence to Sabato's suggestion.
Trump's derogatory remarks about Mexicans during his campaign kickoff announcement resulted in NBC cutting ties with The Donald, but didn't hurt his candidacy. The king of bombast has remained at or near the top of various polls tracking Republican voters' preferences in the crowded field.
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who won the Republican nomination for president in 2008, said last week that Trump had stirred up the "crazies" during an earlier appearance in Phoenix. The two went back-and-forth a few times after that, with Trump ultimately saying during an appearance Saturday in Iowa that McCain was "not a war hero."
Of course, McCain absolutely is a war hero, having survived 5 1/2 years of torture and maltreatment in a North Vietnamese prisoner of war camp after his Navy jet was shot down in 1967. The physical toll from that experience lingers with McCain today.
Trump sniffed that, "He was a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren't captured." Cute.
Yet given the rules in place for upcoming GOP debates, Trump is almost guaranteed a spot on stage while more serious and viable candidates will be left out. That's because only the top 10 candidates in recent national polls will be included in the Fox News debate on Aug. 6 and the CNN debate on Sept. 16.
Sabato noted that those who fall outside the top 10 "will attend separate debates guaranteed to have a fraction of the viewership and a fraction of the potential payoff."
The GOP field stands at 16 after the announcement Tuesday by Ohio Gov. John Kasich. Writing last week at politico.com, Sabato made the point that the margin of error in surveys "is so large that it is statistically impossible to determine who should fill the last two or three spots in the top 10. Effectively, all the polling bottom-dwellers (those who have 1 percent to 4 percent) are tied — and a good chunk of the field is now in this category."
The 10-person cutoff was made with convenience in mind. It's easier to manage a group that size than it would be to manage 16 or 17 people. The flip side is that impressive candidates like Carly Fiorina and Chris Christie could very well fall outside the top 10, which would hurt their chances of staying in the race, while Trump gets the opportunity to further his sensational, shock-jock cause.
Sabato suggests that all candidates with at least 1 percent in the polling averages, or who are current or former governors or senators, be invited to the first two prime-time debates. Make them back-to-back 90-minute debates, with a lottery to determine who's in the first debate (the remainder would appear in the second debate).
"If both Fox and CNN adopt this arrangement, the selection process would almost certainly produce four different combinations of candidates going head-to-head in August and September events," Sabato said. "Or perhaps the CNN face-off could switch up the candidates in some reasonable fashion to ensure variety and feature very different combos from the earlier Fox debate."
It's a sound idea, one that would allow a better chance for every candidate to make their case to the same audience. The networks ought to give it some thought.
China Daily on financial system:
Many people and organizations are giving China lessons about managing its financial system. However, gaps in the regulatory authority are not a product of intentional design, as conspiracy theorists suggest.
Instead, they arose because of the difficulty of keeping up with the rapid evolution of the economy and, on the corporate and individual level, increasing ways to chase higher returns from money, most importantly those extralegal and downright illegal ways, not from a lack of understanding or ability to monitor and regulate the new business activities.
The same might be said of the claim in a United States Department of State document alleging that "China leads the world in illicit capital flows." The State Department's 2015 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report quoted the non-profit, Washington, DC-based research and advisory organization Global Financial Integrity, that over $1 trillion in illicit money left China between 2003 and 2012.
One trillion dollars is a serious number, though where it comes from and whether it is close to the truth, is contested by many critics. However, for a Chinese citizen, the research, not merely the number, has three significant implications.
Point one: The period covered by the research was indeed a time in which tremendous wealth was created in China's market-oriented reform, and not matched by equal growth in the central government's financial regulatory power.
Point two: That so much of a nation's newly created wealth could have been directed abroad as illicit money reflects all the more the necessity in China's ongoing anti-corruption campaign to root out bad officials and executives of State-owned enterprises and to strengthen its financial regulatory authorities. Admittedly, a good justice system cannot be built through just one campaign. But Chinese citizens are glad that their nation is making progress that they didn't hear about as often just a decade ago.
Point three: Some developed countries, the United State being the leader of the group, are the choice destinations of the Chinese illicit financial outflow, as Chinese law-enforcement departments have discovered.
Playing with different justice systems has been a modus operandi for all illicit money in the world. The best way to fight back is through international cooperation.
It is therefore the responsibility of the US government to not just announce to the world how illicit money once flowed from China, but also to help China - and through that to do a favor for the world as well - catch the corruption suspects that are still at large in its country.