Bewildered by US Congress’s apathy on mass shootings, Why US Congress will not pass gun laws, Myanmar’s openness to a Rohingya return is the first step, Saudi Arabia’s female driving ban lift is a smokescreen, Catalonia crackdown is democracy’s slow death

A roundup of global commentary for the Oct. 16, 2017 weekly magazine.

Elaine Thompson/AP/File
Rifles line a wall above in front of people standing in a gun shop in Seattle. The slaying of five dozen people at a Las Vegas music festival did little to change American opinion about the nation’s gun laws, and the country is divided over whether restricting firearms would reduce the number of such mass shootings or homicides, according to a new poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.

The Sydney Morning Herald / Sydney, Australia

A world bewildered by US Congress’s apathy on mass shootings

“Around the world, people are aghast at the latest atrocity in the US...,” writes Mark Kenny. “The Las Vegas mass shooting is ‘the worst in US history’.... If ... Sandy Hook ... didn’t shake the polity free from ... the National Rifle Association, then this ... won’t.... To the Western world, ‘the great republic’ is the apex of economic and strategic power. But apex of cool reason it is not. It is bewildering that a country furiously girding its security to defy Islamist terrorism ... will not act to keep its people safe.... America’s lawmakers stand in the blood of their citizens, spinelessly ... peddling a pervasive fairy tale in which guns connote freedom and independence, and where a horrendous death toll is somehow acceptable.”

The Globe and Mail / Toronto

Why US Congress will not pass gun laws

“In the wake of the Las Vegas massacre, there’s a lot of talk in Washington about not politicizing this horror...,” writes Lawrence Martin. “It’s understandable.... [Republican lawmakers] have their current legislative priorities. One of them ... is to make it easier for gun owners to purchase silencers.... One of Donald Trump’s campaign promises was to eliminate gun-free school zones.... [He] ... never used to be on the side of the gun lobby.... U.S. Senator Chris Murphy, a Democrat, said this: ‘It is positively infuriating that my colleagues in Congress ... pretend there aren’t public policy responses to this epidemic.... It’s time for Congress to ... do something.’ Indeed it is. But it is not going to happen....”

The Daily Star / Dhaka, Bangladesh

Myanmar’s proposal to allow the Rohingya to return is a first step

“The proposal by the government of Myanmar to take back the Rohingyas is a positive development...,” states an editorial. “[B]ut of course nothing has been said precisely about how this repatriation is to take place.... But before we get to the subject of Rohingyas returning ... three imperative conditions must be fulfilled by Myanmar. Firstly, the flow of Rohingyas from that country must be halted.... [U]nless Myanmar ... halt[s] the ongoing military action in Rakhine State, the refugee crisis will not end.... Secondly, the Myanmar authorities must ensure a stable, congenial condition in Rakhine to generate a sense of safety in the minds of the Rohingya.... Thirdly, there must be a timetable for completing the repatriation....”

Al Jazeera / Doha, Qatar

Saudi Arabia’s lifting of female driving ban is a smokescreen

“King Salman’s directive [Sept. 26] granted Saudi women, eternal passengers until now, the freedom to drive...,” writes Rafia Zakaria. “The news ... engendered great jubilation.... It is no surprise that the driving decree was greeted with such profuse praise. The world loves simple solutions.... Driving may be off the list of forbidden acts for females ... but everything else remains on it.... The lifting of the ... driving ban is not motivated out of concern for women’s rights.... [Its] lifting ... had the potential to be just the feel-good smokescreen that could detract from ... the suppression of dissent within the Kingdom and the slaughter of Yemeni civilians.... In the interest of rescuing brand Saudi Arabia, a shred of misogyny was thus sacrificed....”

EUObserver / Brussels

Catalonia crackdown signals democracy’s slow death

“It has become evident that the attachment to democracy by mainstream European parties has become increasingly precarious...,” writes Marianne Thieme. “What is happening in Catalonia ... is simply the next episode of the attempt to kill democracy in Europe by a thousand cuts.... [I]n Barcelona, citizens were being wounded by rubber bullets and forcefully manhandled by police. And only because they want to enact their democratic rights.... Europe – the self-professed guardian of democracy – suppress[es] the right to participation of innocent citizens with a display of unnecessary violence.... We, Europeans, don’t hesitate to raise our voices if in Myanmar, Beijing or Washington democratic rights are being breached. Can we then let this black day ... pass without ... collective condemnation?”

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