Lessons from Hawaii’s incoming missile false alarm, Why the Aziz Ansari story is important, Is Latin America withdrawing support for Palestinians?, Ramzan Kadyrov’s brutal war on drugs, European Union takes a different tack from the US on Cuba

A roundup of global commentary for the Jan. 29, 2018 weekly magazine.

Mary Altaffer/AP
A fallout shelter sign hangs on a building on East 9th Street in New York. A generation of Americans knew just what to do in the event of a nuclear attack — or during a major false alarm, like the one over the weekend in Hawaii –: Take cover in a building bearing the yellow fallout shelter symbol. But these days, that might not be the best option, or even an option at all.

The Japan Times / Tokyo

Lessons from Hawaii’s incoming missile false alarm

“Residents of the U.S. state of Hawaii began their weekend with warnings that a missile was heading toward them...,” states an editorial. “Upsetting as the incident was, it is a vivid reminder of the reality of the tensions that dominate political dynamics in Northeast Asia.... It is important that U.S. decision makers appreciate the reality of regional dangers, and not dismiss them as abstract or distant threats.... One lesson of this incident is that there should be shock absorbers to slow decision making and prevent mistakes from having disastrous consequences.... Reportedly, the administration of President Donald Trump has not held a principals – Cabinet level – exercise to test how top officials would deal with a similar crisis.” 

The Daily Telegraph / Sydney, Australia

Why the Aziz Ansari story is important

“For better or worse, everyone has an opinion on the behaviour of Aziz Ansari right now...,” writes Katy Hall. “Irrespective of ... what you think ... there is something vitally important in this particular story being made public.... In recounting their date, Grace called Ansari’s advances ‘aggressive’ and says the events ... made her feel ‘violated.’ Ask Ansari though, and he claims the activities ... were ‘completely consensual.’ And it’s for this reason that [this] story matters so much. It is a story that so many of us know.... If we can figure out how to bridge that gap, maybe one day we won’t be reading these stories, not because they are still being covered up, but because they no longer occur with ... horrific frequency....” 

Haaretz / Tel Aviv

Is Latin America withdrawing support for Palestinians?

“ ‘God bless Guatemala,’ ” writes Massimo Di Ricco. “Last Christmas eve, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu thanked Guatemala’s President Jimmy Morales with these words for his decision to move his country’s embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.... But Guatemala ... was not the only country in Latin America that tried to please ... [President Trump, after he announced that the US Embassy would relocate to Jerusalem] at Palestine’s expense.... [S]everal other Latin American and Caribbean countries had abstained in a UN General Assembly vote against the US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.... The shift in Latin America’s attitude towards Palestine is symbolic of a stronger Israeli influence in a region historically neglected by Tel Aviv. But it is also concomitant to the consolidation of right-wing governments in Latin America....”

The Independent / London

Ramzan Kadyrov’s brutal war on drugs

“If there is one man in the Russian Federation willing and able to plausibly out-Putin Vladimir Putin as an authoritarian, reactionary and violent menace to his own people, then he may be found in the Presidential Palace of the autonomous republic of Chechnya...,” states an editorial. “The latest evidence of [Ramzan] Kadyrov’s ... ways is his prosecution of what we in the West mildly call ‘the war on drugs’. In Chechnya, the war is being waged with a savagery that is difficult to believe. Trivial offences of possession are reported to be met with sadistic torture, beatings and disappearances.... He makes President Duterte of the Philippines seem like a bit of a softy.” 

The Nassau Guardian / Nassau, Bahamas

European Union takes a different tack from the US on Cuba

“Speaking before Christmas to the Cuban National Assembly about the U.S., [President Raúl Castro] said that the country had in 2017 ‘witnessed a serious, irrational deterioration in relations...,’ ” writes David Jessop. “[H]e said, however, that Cuba ... was willing to continue negotiating bilateral issues on the basis of equality and respect for Cuban sovereignty.... Europe’s high representative for foreign affairs and security [traveled] to Cuba.... [T]he E.U. has come to recognize that generational change and a fragile economy mean that supporting stability and the Cuban people through dialogue and engagement represents the only practical way forward.”

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