U.S. Army Pfc. Bradley Manning, an Oklahoma native few Oklahomans want to claim, leaked thousands of classified documents to WikiLeaks. He’s now among 259 nominees for a Nobel Prize, as is Malala Yousufzai, a 15-year old Pakistani girl nearly killed by the Taliban.
These nominations show an astounding level of moral equivalence.
Yousufzai was shot in the head because she was attending school, which the Taliban consider heinous and worthy of a death sentence. In comparison, Manning put the lives of his fellow soldiers at risk, as well as individuals in nations like Afghanistan who cooperated with U.S. forces. He now faces charges of aiding the enemy and espionage.
Yousufzai risked her life to stand up to violent oppressors; Manning’s actions put others’ lives in danger while aiding the cause of oppressors. Yousufzai is a worthy nominee, but Manning’s nomination (the second in two years) further diminishes the Nobel Prize.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton didn’t like being pressed this week about the different stories offered by the administration following September’s terrorist attack on the Benghazi consulate. “Was it because of a protest?” Clinton responded to a senator’s query. “Or was it because of guys out for a walk one night decided they would go kill some Americans? What difference, at this point, does it make?”
That takes some gumption, suggesting it doesn’t matter what triggered the attack — our ambassador and three others were killed — or what the administration knew and told the American people about it.
Clinton spent much of her time at Wednesday’s hearing suggesting breakdowns in security and other areas were the fault of others within the State Department. It was five hours of tap dancing.
Soon she’ll be leaving the job at State and may very well set her sights on the White House in 2016. If so, opponents are sure to bring Benghazi up again, and they should.
South Koreans have just elected their first female president, Park Geun-hye. That’s especially notable in a country with a strong patriarchal culture. It’s also notable because Park was the more conservative choice in the election, particularly on national defense issues.
Her opponent promised to hold a summit meeting with North Korea; Park said she would not unless North Korea apologized for its recent military provocations. She is also expected to reaffirm South Korea’s ties with the United States.
In the United States, attitudes toward female candidates are also changing and, as in South Korea, most prominent female candidates who’ve won in recent years have been conservatives. Oklahoma’s 2010 gubernatorial race was actually only the fourth such race in U.S. history to offer a choice between two female candidates.
Here and across the globe, voters clearly are less concerned about gender than a candidate’s platform.
President Barack Obama insisted during Tuesday night’s debate with Mitt Romney that the day after the Libyan embassy was attacked on Sept. 11, he called it an act of terrorism. He did no such thing.
In his remarks that day in the Rose Garden, he referred to 9/11 and other terror attacks and said, “No acts of terror will ever shake the resolve of this great nation …” But he certainly did not call the Benghazi attack the work of terrorists.
Indeed for two weeks afterward, the administration tried to sell the idea that the attack that claimed our ambassador and three other Americans sprang suddenly from an Internet video that was critical of Islam.
We understand that spin is part of the game in politics, but Obama and his team are treating the American people like fools with their continued bobbing and weaving on this issue.
How refreshing it would be to see the president stand up and say of Benghazi, “We failed.” If that happens, it surely won’t be until after Election Day.
In an address to the Clinton Global Initiative this week, President Barack Obama announced that he has issued an executive order to strengthen prohibitions against human trafficking in government contracting.
Sadly, the United States has become complicit in the horrendous crime of modern-day slavery through the actions of subcontractors working for the State Department to supply workers to embassies in global trouble spots. Those subcontractors are known to lure foreign workers with false promises and then trap them into servitude at American facilities.
The order is based on legislation authored by U.S. Rep. James Lankford, R-Edmond, which has already passed the House of Representatives with bipartisan support and awaits a vote in the Senate.
While Obama’s actions are a nice gesture, Lankford said the problem “can’t be solved through an executive order.” In a meeting with The Oklahoman editorial board, he noted roughly 20 previous executive orders on the topic haven’t ended the problem. By nature, those orders are temporary; statutory changes have more effect. Lankford’s bill would require that U.S. government contracting include worker protections provided even in some Third World countries to prevent human trafficking.
If Obama had pressured Senate leadership to schedule a vote on his bill, Lankford noted, the president “could have had a big bill signing today” instead of announcing a mere order. Lankford’s bill is tentatively scheduled for a Senate vote in a November lame-duck session. Here’s hoping the president’s dedication to this issue extends beyond the desire for one day’s headline.
Rachel Beckwith’s story is a testament to human kindness.
Rachel, a 9-year-old from Bellevue, Wash., died last year in an automobile accident. At the time, she was trying to raise $300 to help bring clean water to Africa.
As her 10th birthday approached, she asked friends and family to forgo buying her presents and instead donate to a New York-based group called charity: water. News of Rachel’s quest spread following her death, and it resulted in nearly 32,000 people giving a total of $1.27 million.
This week, the girl’s mother, grandparents and others were in Ethiopia visiting the wells built with Rachel’s gift. That money will go a long way. Charity: water says a $20 donation can provide one person with clean drinking water for decades.
“There’s something about Rachel and her story that has touched people and inspired them,” her mother told The Associated Press. “She was such a special girl.”
Oklahomans have long been known for their generosity. After the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995, the “Oklahoma standard” became nationally known due to the response of local citizens to the tragedy. We take pride in being good neighbors.
Citizens of Ethiopia knew about the Oklahoma standard long before the 1990s even though their neighborhood is far, far from Oklahoma. A new documentary highlights that fact, focusing on efforts by Oklahoma professors and students to share agriculture knowledge with the people of Ethiopia decades ago.
The project was conceived in 1949 and resulted in development of a rich coffee industry in Ethiopia at that time. Mel Tewahade, whose father was governor of Harer in Ethiopia in the 1960s, recalls how his dad “used to tell me how beautiful these people are.” Until that time, Tewahade “didn’t know what Oklahoma was.”
Oklahomans should take pride in that legacy.
We’ve often noted that government policies, particularly overzealous environmental regulations, needlessly thwart safe domestic energy production. Turns out, the U.S. government isn’t the only one that can mess up a good thing.
The Wall Street Journal reports that oil production in Brazil has also been hampered by short-sighted regulations. Brazil has been ranked fourth in the world in terms of ability to boost oil output over the next decade, yet the country isn’t living up to its potential.
In Brazil, the red tape is created by regulations to benefit local business and discourage foreign capital. The result is development efforts have been slowed and inefficiencies are embedded, driving up production costs.
In Colombia, policies have been relaxed to encourage foreign investment. It’s ranked third in “ease of doing business” in Latin American (Brazil is 26th). Surprise, surprise: Columbia production is growing 6.5 percent annually.
Although most of the more than 3,000 soldiers from Oklahoma’s 45th Infantry Brigade Combat Team have returned from Afghanistan, more than 285 remain on active duty…because they are at military hospitals. That’s a somber reminder of the price these men and women paid to defend the rest of us. Those soldiers are undergoing rehabilitation for wounds suffered during their service, and recovery is expected to continue for years for many. When we think of military sacrifice, our thoughts usually go to the fourteen soldiers killed in action during the nine-month deployment. The news that hundreds of Oklahomans suffered serious wounds that have prolonged their service is a somber reminder of the enormous debt we owe them. Even those who make it back home often have a long road ahead. They deserve our thanks and strongest support.
Photo by Bryan Terry, The Oklahoman
The cold war heated up in Edmond this week with a red scare that was really a red herring. Small but vocal opposition to a plan for Edmond to partner with a city in Russia focused on the city’s past as part of a communist regime rather than the present post-Soviet Union era. Russia has its problems and Russian President Vladimir Putin deserves the title of “strongman.” Nevertheless, the good folks of Edmond, OK and Engles, Russia have no reason to distrust each other or worry about the United Nations Agenda 21, a favorite bogeyman of the right-wing fringe. Edmond city councilors unanimously approved a sister city agreement with Engles, ignoring pleas from the fringe to avoid ties linking a city in this red state with one in the former red nation.