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New understanding, no more child marriage, China and trade, plant opportunity, improve rural living

A roundup of global commentary for the Aug. 8, 2016 weekly magazine.

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Arab News / Jeddah, Saudi Arabia

New understanding

“Long overdue but certainly welcome are a set of new laws drafted for review by the Shoura Council that criminalizes racism, bigotry, religious intolerance,” writes Sabria S. Jawhar. “The proposed legislation sends a strong message to religious leaders and social media commentators that ridiculing tribes, individuals and promoting division among Muslims can lead to prison sentences.... This is a bold legislation for Saudi Arabia.... But it’s also a pointed message to other countries that Saudi Arabia is willing to take a hard line against racism and bigotry and religious intolerance. We should keep in mind, though, that laws on the books are all fine and good.... Yet these laws mean nothing without execution.” 

Daily Observer / Gambia

No more child marriage

“The recent passing into law of a bill criminalising child marriage in The Gambia has received plaudits from virtually all sectors and corners of the country...,” states an editorial. “[W]hile some parents would argue that, the intent and purpose of such arranged or sometimes forced marriages was merely in the best interest of the girl child, they were in fact negating the wellbeing of the girl(s) knowingly or unknowingly.... [T]aking a young girl out of school in preference of marriage, usually to some wealthy man, is both counterproductive and dangerous at a time when the role of the woman in the advancement of nation-states is under scrutiny more than ever before.” 

China Daily / Beijing

China and trade

“The decision by the European Commission ... to abolish its ‘non-market economy’ list, which includes China, is a halfway house, if not a means of expediency, when it comes to trade relations with China...,” states an editorial. “The [European Union] should realize that protectionist measures to make Chinese imports more costly are not the solution.... Its problems stem from the declining competitiveness of its enterprises and its need for economic structural adjustments. Trade serves mutual benefits, and market economy status is not a favor given to China. The EU should bear that in mind when handling trade relations with China.” 

Jamaica Observer / Kingston, Jamaica

Plant opportunity

“Russian owners of Alpart, UC Rusal, are selling the [Alpart alumina refinery]...,” states an editorial. “It’s reasonable to assume that the new Chinese owners will be moving quickly to retool and reopen the 49-year-old plant.... [A] reopened alumina plant will mean jobs for locals. The ripple effect of an Alpart reopening across the wider economy can’t be overstated.... [T]he bauxite/alumina industry does have its downsides. Environmental issues are always a concern.... The Government must also be held to account.... It is beyond scandalous that 15 years after it was first launched, the Essex Valley Water Scheme – meant to supply people in bauxite-mining areas and connected communities in south-east St Elizabeth – is yet to be completed.” 

The Irish Times / Dublin, Ireland

Improve rural living

“Last month an era for a Co Tipperary parish ended,” writes John O’Dwyer. “Eddie and Helen O’Dwyer retired as proprietors of the local shop, and the family name disappeared from the business life of the community after 70 years of unbroken service.... It is a story that has become sadly common in rural Ireland. Some are even suggesting it is better to concentrate on developing new regional cities as wealth-creating engines instead of using resources to preserve rural living.... Developing large towns as growth poles makes sense for Ireland, when we consider the disproportionate size and housing problems of Dublin city, but we don’t have to put all our economic eggs in one basket. The preservation of rural living with balanced regional development is a more attractive option, not only from an economic and housing standpoint, but also from a cultural, environmental and heritage aspect.” 

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