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Dirty money and misguided words

Times of India: beware of foreign donors. Los Angeles Times: Greed trumps regulation on Wall Street. Moscow Times: Medvedev's fire-inspired rhetoric on climate change is too late.


Now is not the time for the U.S. to pare the role of housing lenders

Columnist Robert J. Samuelson writes in the Washington Post that the downsizing of government-backed home mortgage lenders Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae could further depress the U.S. housing market, and should be done cautiously. The lenders backed an unprecedented 95 percent of new mortgages in 2009, making them more important than ever.

QUOTE: Unfortunately, we let a sensible goal become a foolish fetish. Not everyone can become a homeowner. Some are too young and footloose; some are too old and dependent; some are too poor or irresponsible.

Democrats need to focus their campaign message

Columnist E.J. Dionne Jr. writes in the Washington Post that the Republican Party has taken conservatism to new and irrational extremes ahead of November congressional elections. That should make them easy targets for Democrats. Democrats, however, have yet to find a coherent voice that would give them the upper hand.

QUOTE: What's missing from the Democrats' campaign is a willingness to raise the stakes of the election. This may be the only way to inspire the party's own supporters and move those independents still open to persuasion.

Vietnam is losing its growth momentum

In Agence France Presse, Aude Genet quotes a recent Vietnam Academy of Social Sciences report that finds that the country’s economic growth is slowing, and Vietnam may ultimately fail to rise from the ranks of middle-income countries. The dominance of state-owned companies, lack of scientific innovation and lagging education standards hurt growth prospects.

QUOTE: The Vietnamese economy depends too much on exploitation of natural resources and its industry, often dominated by large state-owned groups, lacks dynamism…

A free press is essential to Taiwan’s democracy

The China Post writes of the importance of an autonomous news media in Taiwan following the recent remark by a Chinese official against Taiwan’s independence. A similar Chinese remark two decades ago was carried on the front page of a Taiwanese newspaper that was subsequently boycotted by the government.

QUOTE: The methods used by [former Taiwanese President] Lee and the pro-independence crowd haven't changed much since then. Whenever someone offers an opinion that differs from their own, that person is accused of being a communist sympathizer, fellow traveler or sell-out.

Foreign funding compromises the independence of Indian NGOs

Jagdish Bhagwati, a professor of economics and law at Columbia University, writes in the Times of India that the independence of local NGOs can be compromised by relationships with foreign benefactors. The Indian government and private sector should increase their financial support for NGOs to enable greater independence.

QUOTE: Funding does constrain what you will do: this is simply a matter of prudence, not of being "bought".


The Internet empowers only those who have access to technology

Ryo Takahashi, founder of Japan Commentator, writes in the Japan Times that the Internet has proven a powerful tool for democratization by giving people a means of participating in public discourse. Yet the Internet’s ability to empower fails to extend to regions of the world where technology is not easily accessible.

QUOTE: By its very nature, the Internet is a powerful democratizing tool, and it has given a voice to many who have previously not been heard. However…the Internet alone does not solve the world's myriad woes.

Greed trumps regulation every time

Neal Gabler, a public policy scholar at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington, writes in the Los Angeles Times that Wall Street reform will do little to stifle financial malfeasance because greed incentivizes bankers to find ways around the law. Historically, high marginal tax rates have proven to be the best way to tame greed.

QUOTE: Investment bankers reconstitute highly risky, highly profitable schemes such as credit default swaps or unit contingent options or other exotic inventions. That's why reform never works. It will always be outsmarted.

India needs to locate its malnourished children

Manoj Kumar, a Core Member of India’s Citizens’ Alliance to Fight Malnutrition, writes in the Hindustan Times that the campaign against childhood malnutrition in India has been hampered by a lack of data on where malnutrition exists.

QUOTE: The real challenge, which we don’t seem up to so far, is to identify all the villages and blocks where we have a concentration of hungry and malnourished children, tag them and have a targeted programme across these villages on a war footing.

Medvedev’s green energy commitment is too little, too late

In the Moscow Times Vladimir Frolov, president of government relations company LEFF Group, applauds President Dmitry Medvedev’s acknowledgement that global warming played a role in Russia’s catastrophic heat wave, and commends his backing of green energy. But Medvedev’s commitment comes too late as other countries, and China in particular, have developed a huge lead in clean technology. 

QUOTE: Medvedev has said energy efficiency and nuclear technologies are crucial to reducing greenhouse emissions that cause climate change, among the five strategic directions of his innovation agenda.

Conservatives should talk like Australia’s Tony Abbott

Mary Kissel, editor of the Wall Street Journal Asia’s editorial page, writes that American and British conservative politicians could learn from the clear-message style of Tony Abbott, who lead the recent electoral comeback of Australia’s conservative Liberal Party.

QUOTE: Few people who have heard Mr. Abbott can claim that they don’t know what he believes in. Could the same be said of British Prime Minister David Cameron?