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Constant cycle of violence in Israel, regulating working hours in Japan, Bangladesh’s quiet mobile revolution, Kenya standing against terrorist attacks, Latvia's first openly gay politician

This week's round-up of commentaries covers the constant cycle of violence between Israel and Palestine, protecting workers from long hours in Japan, the rise of cell phones in Bangledesh, Kenya coming together after terrorist attacks, and the need for cultural change after politician says he is gay.

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    A Palestinian boy looks out his family's house that witnesses said was badly damaged during the 50-day war between the Hamas militant movement and Israel, in the east of Gaza City October 12, 2014.
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The Daily Star / Beirut, Lebanon
Constant cycle of violence won’t bring peace to Israelis and Palestinians

“The escalating cycle of tensions in recent weeks, Israeli settlements expansion, murderous attacks by both Israelis and Palestinians, and reprisal demolitions of Palestinian homes may well escalate into something much more vicious and terrible...,” writes Rami G. Khouri. “[S]uch violence is not going to achieve anything that can help us find a peaceful resolution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict that will be seen to be fair by both sides.... The events of recent weeks are neither surprising nor unprecedented, but rather a natural outcome of the continuing events of the past 66 years. The surprising and depressing elements are that neither popular grassroots movements nor enlightened leaderships have emerged on either side to pull us all out of the endless cycle of death.”

The Japan times / Tokyo
Keeping workers healthy by regulating work hours

“A law aimed at preventing karoshi, or death from overwork, took effect [in November] as the first legislative action of its kind...,” states an editorial. In 2013 alone, 133 people in Japan died from suicide or health-related issues attributed to being overworked. “The law ... requires the government to implement public-enlightenment programs about the risks of overwork, establish counseling systems and provide support for nongovernmental organizations dealing with the issue.... The business community, which has called for deregulation of the work-hour rules, is opposed to the introduction of a uniform cap on the maximum work hours including overtime. But the key to eliminating death from overwork will be efforts to curb the long working hours of many corporate workers.”

The Daily Star / Dhaka, Bangladesh
Bangladesh’s quiet mobile revolution

“According to a report ... Bangladesh tops the list of mobile users in South Asia followed by Pakistan and India.... The sheer number of [100 million] mobile users in Bangladesh ... reflects a huge stride taken in ownership of a powerful communication device.... [Mobile phones are] being widely used for exchange of information and data related to marketing, agriculture, health and education...,” states an editorial. “[P]ublic and private sectors should now work together to foster a conducive atmosphere for promising youngsters to invent subject specific apps.... [T]he task is to create mobile based employment opportunities to the fullest.”

Daily Nation / Nairobi, Kenya
Standing strong against terrorist attacks

“The [Nov. 22] killing of 28 people in Mandera [Kenya] has [caused] the teachers’ and medical practitioners’ unions [to ask] their members to stop working in Mandera...,” states an editorial. “[T]he attacks by Al-Shabaab militants are intended to create fear and despondency and cause differences between communities and religions. They seek to create the impression that there is a deep conflict between Muslims and Christians and exploit that to institutionalise hatred and violence. By decreeing that their members should not work in Mandera and other conflict zones, the unions are implicitly promoting the Al-Shabaab ideology. Instead of helping to write the enemy’s narrative, the massacre should embolden the resolve to ... guarantee peace and safety to all citizens....”

EU Observer / Brussels
Latvian foreign minister is the country’s first openly gay politician 

“An unusual sight appears to anyone browsing Latvian media outlets...: All major publications and news sites are full of stories touching on the theme of homosexuality and gay rights.... Edgars Rinkevics, the foreign minister, made it a public issue when he became the first politician in the history of Latvia to come out,” writes Linda Zeilina. “The move represented a major step forward for Latvian gay rights, but fundamental societal changes still need to take place.... [This] is a great opportunity to start a proper debate to both examine and challenge the attitudes and prejudices held by the Latvian population.”

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