Excerpts from recent editorials in the United States and abroad:
The Miami Herald on the deaths of two FBI agents while serving a warrant in a child pornography case:
South Florida just earned a shameful distinction — it is the single region in the country where the most FBI agents have been killed since G-men were created in 1908.
The latest bloody chapter played out Tuesday morning. FBI Special Agents Daniel Alfin, 36, and Laura Schwartzenberger, 43, were killed in a horrific shootout at a Sunrise apartment building where they were serving a warrant. They died in the line of duty protecting children from a man thought to be a sexual predator. Our condolences go out to their families.
Three other agents were wounded.
What went wrong is now the painful question that FBI investigators will work doggedly to answer. A somber George Piro, Miami FBI Special Agent in Charge, rightly called Alfin and Schwartzenberger heroes, who left home Tuesday morning to do their jobs.
Few details have been released about what happened. Such warrants commonly are served in conjunction with a SWAT team, although Tuesday’s operation was not. And did agents know the suspect had a high-powered weapon?
Piro told reporters that agents are “meticulous” in their preparation before they knock on a suspect’s door.
President Joe Biden publicly recognized the shooting as the tragedy it was and, as any true leader should, sent condolences to the agents’ families. We’ll soon find out “how this happened,” he promised.
The events unfolded as the agents were serving a search warrant at the home of a suspected pornographer, who may have committed violent crimes against children.
It is believed the suspect monitored the arrival of the agents from a doorbell camera and ambushed them through his closed door, firing a cascade of bullets from an assault-style rifle, the Miami Herald reported. He then took his own life.
In the coming days, we’ll learn what possibly depraved acts the suspect allegedly committed that drew the attention of the FBI’s Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force.
For long-time residents, the deadly shootout between a suspect and FBI agents recalls that morning in the Miami-Dade County neighborhood of Pinecrest in 1986 when FBI agents confronted two killer bank robbers on a quiet street.
A firefight broke out.
AGENTS KILLED IN 1986
When it was over, more than 150 bullets had been exchanged between agents and robbers as residents in the area cowered. Killed were Agents Benjamin Grogan and Jerry Dove. Five other agents were wounded. They recovered.
The serial bank robbers, William Matix and Michael Platt, died in the shootout.
That incident 35 years ago and Tuesday’s tragedy are the deadliest days in the FBI’s history — and they both played out in South Florida.
A similar incident happened less than a decade ago. In 2011, two Miami-Dade police detectives were shot and killed in a gunfight with suspects as they tried to serve a warrant inside a Miami home. Detectives Roger Castillo and Amanda Haworth were killed. One suspect died in the gun battle. Another was captured.
What’s clear is that executing a search warrant is among the most dangerous of law-enforcement duties.
While still confronting the ravages of COVID-19, the last thing South Florida needed was more heartbreak, more proof that 2020 continues to spill into the new year.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch on compensating mothers in the next pandemic rescue package:
Around 50 national personalities signed on to a recent ad campaign urging President Joe Biden to reconsider the design of his $1.9 trillion pandemic rescue package. They justifiably want him and Congress to take into account the fact that 2 million mothers have been removed from the workforce through no fault of their own during the pandemic. The simple fact is, someone had to stay home with the kids when they couldn’t go to school, and women appear to have drawn the short straw in far greater proportions than men.
Many of the job-displaced women had promising careers. Their upward trajectory has been interrupted while their male counterparts stayed on track. Others are single moms who were struggling to get by before the pandemic with near-minimum wage jobs. The choice of leaving the kids untended so the mother can go to work is a choice no one should have to make.
The Marshall Plan for Moms campaign isn’t asking for a handout. Campaigners — doctors, academics, chief executives, authors and prominent actors — are asking for America’s moms to receive compensation in recognition that someone had to take care of America’s kids when the pandemic turned everyone’s life upside down. “Motherhood isn’t a favor and it’s not a luxury. It’s a job,” the campaign stated in a full-page New York Times ad.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported in September that women have left the workforce at four times the rate of men since the pandemic began and nearly half of all U.S. school districts switched to remote learning last year, forcing kids to attend classes from home.
“This pandemic has absolutely decimated the careers of working moms across the country,” said a statement by Reshma Saujani, founder and CEO of Girls Who Code, the organization sponsoring the effort. “This is not an isolated incident — it is a national crisis, and we can start to address it within the first 100 days of this administration.”
The Biden rescue package shows signs of being rushed. Republicans are correct to challenge it for lacking greater fiscal scrutiny, but also because it proposes another massive payout to a slice of gainfully employed, solidly middle-class Americans who simply do not need this money. Meanwhile, lots of truly struggling people need an extra boost. Working moms deserve the priority consideration that recognizes the extraordinary, pandemic-related child care expenses and historic pay inequities that continue deepening their disadvantage compared with their male counterparts.
Those who would dismiss this idea as just another government handout need to try walking in the shoes of a working or unemployed mom grappling with the demands of homebound kids in a pandemic. Being pro-family, as many conservatives assert they are, means defending the women who are putting their families before their careers and sacrificing for their kids.
The Kansas City Star on removing the Chiefs' Native American imagery:
Like most Kansas Citians, we wish the best of luck Sunday to the Chiefs, who will compete in their second straight Super Bowl.
The team won last year. We like their chances this year.
Millions of casual football fans will watch the game. Some of those viewers will be perplexed, perhaps even frustrated, by the team’s continued use of Native American imagery — the name, the arrowhead on the helmet, the troubling tomahawk chop and the crude chant that goes with it.
These gestures, and others like them, are clearly and appropriately endangered. Since the Chiefs last won the Super Bowl, the Washington Football Team dropped its offensive nickname, after resisting a change for decades.
Last December, the Cleveland Indians, a major league baseball team, announced plans for a new name.
Less than two weeks ago, the Shawnee Mission School District decided inappropriate mascot names will be prohibited. Students at Shawnee Mission North and a handful of other schools will soon cheer for their teams in a different way.
“It feels historic to me,” one school board member said, and she’s right. It also feels long overdue.
The Chiefs might have joined this list. To their credit, the team made minor changes this season, and continued their dialogue with Native American groups and other interested parties about the use of imagery. But the Chiefs did not even take the important interim step of banning the offensive chop, or reconsider the team’s name.
Kansas Citians are well aware of this controversy. Most have taken positions on the name, for it or against it. We’ve implored the team several times to consider how history will judge its continued use of the imagery, and asked leadership to think again. They haven’t taken that advice.
But the Super Bowl will put the Chiefs’ decisions front and center, for tens of millions of football fans. For those fans, a message: Many Kansas Citians will cringe along with you when spectators do the chop.
We embrace the team’s on-field success, but don’t think a corrosive chant has much to do with it.
It isn’t fair to ask groups offended by these symbols to wait even longer for change.
Some day, the Chiefs will change their name. It’s inevitable. That day may be 20 years from now, or next week. But it will happen, and the team — and our region — will be better for it.
The South China Morning Post on the coup in Myanmar:
Myanmar’s military said after staging a coup and enacting a year-long state of emergency on Monday that its actions were necessary to restore order and stability. But the takeover, involving the detention of de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi and other top lawmakers and the handing of power to army commander-in-chief Min Aung-Hlaing, only furthers uncertainty. The nation is struggling with a Covid-19 epidemic and has long been riven by poverty and ethnic strife. China, the country’s top trading partner and second-biggest investor, has understandably joined other governments in calling for the sides to resolve their differences to ensure political and economic stability.
The military had cried foul over an election in November that gave Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) control of parliament. Rejecting election commission claims the vote was clean, the coup came on the day lawmakers were to have taken their seats, and troops pledged fresh polls would be held in a year. It rolls back the clock on years of political reforms to gradually usher in democracy, returning the NLD leader to detention and the army to a position it held for more than 50 years. It creates obvious domestic, regional and international concern.
Myanmar failed to live up to its potential under previous military regimes, growth and development being hampered by self-serving generals. Beijing has offered hope, supported by the China-friendly policies of Suu Kyi’s government, through its Belt and Road Initiative that includes development of an economic corridor, deep-sea port, special economic zone, major expansion of the largest city, Yangon, and high-speed rail and other infrastructure. China, Myanmar and the region will jointly benefit.
President Xi Jinping strengthened ties with Myanmar during a visit in January last year that marked the 70th anniversary of relations. Chinese support came at a crucial time, with Suu Kyi’s government widely criticised internationally for its handling of religious unrest that prompted 700,000 Rohingya Muslims to flee to neighbouring Bangladesh. Myanmar needs stability to overcome its numerous serious challenges; the coup only creates more unpredictability.
The New York Times on the GOP's relationship with U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene:
How far is too far? This is the question Republican leaders are being forced to grapple with as the public outcry grows over one of their newest House members, Marjorie Taylor Greene.
The Georgia freshman is best known for endorsing QAnon, the right-wing movement convinced of the fiction that Donald Trump is a messiah sent to defeat a cabal of Satan-worshiping, child-abusing, deep-state villains. But this is just one of the bizarre lies she has peddled. Her greatest hits include promoting the conspiracy theory that blames the 2018 Camp Fire wildfire in California on a space laser controlled by a prominent Jewish banking family, suggesting the Obama administration used its MS-13 “henchmen” to murder a Democratic National Committee staff member and floating the idea that the Clintons had John F. Kennedy Jr. killed. She has dabbled in 9/11 Trutherism and contended that various school shootings were false-flag operations. She also traffics in racist, anti-Semitic and anti-Muslim talk.
Ms. Greene does not draw the line at promoting bigotry and disinformation. Videos and social media posts from before she ran for Congress show her endorsing violence against those she sees as enemy combatants in an ongoing civil war. She has expressed support of social media calls to execute high-profile Democrats, including the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, and F.B.I. agents. When asked about such activities, Ms. Greene has dodged, asserting that her pages have been run by “teams” of people over the years, some promoting views with which she does not agree. Many of the posts in question have since been scrubbed.
Ms. Greene’s behavior since her election has been troubling as well. She has peddled false claims that the presidential election was stolen and rife with fraud. She was among the 139 House Republicans who voted to overturn the results of the Electoral College on Jan. 6, even after a pro-Trump mob sacked the Capitol. On Jan. 17, Twitter briefly suspended her account for repeatedly violating its “civic integrity policy.”
The silence from Republican leaders has been deafening. That can’t continue if the party has any hope of reclaiming conservatism from nihilistic rot — something every American should be rooting for to maintain a healthy two-party system. Ms. Greene is now a member of the House of Representatives, with a prominent platform and real power to have impact on people’s lives. She has a responsibility to act — and speak — in the best interests of the American public and of the Constitution she has sworn to serve and defend. Peddling grotesque lies, cheering talk of political violence (which she claims to oppose) and fomenting sedition run counter to her oath of office.
With each new revelation, the calls to discipline Ms. Greene grow louder. Representative Jimmy Gomez, a Democrat from California, plans to introduce a resolution calling for her expulsion from Congress, which had at least 50 members signed on as of Friday. This approach is unlikely to succeed. While the Constitution gives both chambers of Congress wide latitude to punish members, expulsion, which requires a two-thirds majority to pass, has been used rarely over the centuries. Lawmakers prefer to leave it to voters to hand down such a sentence.
Representatives Nikema Williams of Georgia and Sara Jacobs of California plan to introduce a resolution to censure Ms. Greene. This penalty is imposed more frequently and requires only a simple majority to pass. It is meant to serve as a badge of shame. Of course, Ms. Greene, who revels in shamelessness, might well wear it as a badge of honor — evidence that a corrupt, elitist political establishment was out to get her.
Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida is among those calling for a more appropriate punishment: stripping Ms. Greene of her committee assignments. Critics are particularly incensed by Ms. Greene’s being placed on the education committee, in light of her deranged theories on school shootings.
Republicans have recent experience in this area. In 2019, the House minority leader, Kevin McCarthy, stripped Steve King of his committee posts for defending white nationalism in an interview with The Times. The Iowa lawmaker had a long history of racist remarks, for which voters had largely given him a pass. But losing his committee assignments did not simply mark Mr. King, it drained his influence and his ability to serve constituents. Mr. King lost his primary race last year, ending his nine terms in office.
Mr. McCarthy needs to take substantive action of this kind with Ms. Greene. Voters may have just chosen Ms. Greene to represent them, but her Republican colleagues have the leeway to declare that she does not represent them. When Ms. Greene’s statements about assassinating Ms. Pelosi surfaced, Mr. McCarthy’s office called them “deeply disturbing” and said he would have a talk with her about them this week. Mr. McCarthy has an opportunity to make clear that there are standards of decency and duty that transcend partisanship. Others are watching, within his conference and beyond.
Ms. Greene has thus far met criticism with defiance. “I will never back down. I will never give up,” she said in a statement on Friday, which included an ominous warning to her party. “If Republicans cower to the mob, and let the Democrats and the Fake News media take me out, they’re opening the door to come after every single Republican until there’s none left.”
Ms. Greene is correct that the Republican Party is facing a serious threat from an unhinged mob. She should know; she’s one of its leaders.
The Orange County Register on President Joe Biden's cancelation of the Keystone XL pipeline:
President Biden’s decision to cancel the permit for the Keystone XL pipeline has a touch of the theatrical about it. Signing the cancellation order on the first full day of his administration, the president drew applause from environmentalists and boos from a number of labor unions. Native American governments praised the action but the premier of Alberta, Canada, was quick to give it a bad review.
The high drama speaks to the symbolic aspects of the Keystone XL project. First proposed in 2008, the pipeline was planned to carry Canadian crude oil from the province of Alberta to refineries on the Texas Gulf Coast. It would have crossed the border in Montana.
The Keystone XL pipeline drew early opposition from indigenous people in Canada and Native American leaders in the U.S. It was also opposed by ranchers whose land would be crossed by the project.
In 2011, climate movement activists raised objections to Keystone XL, citing the carbon contained in Canadian tar-sand deposits. There were protests outside the White House aimed at pressuring President Barack Obama to reject the permits for the project. By that November, facing re-election, Obama had called for a delay to allow for additional review, and in 2015, he rejected it.
In 2019, President Donald Trump granted Canadian developer TC Energy a permit to build the $8 billion project.
It was expected to employ 11,000 people in the U.S. this year. Those jobs are now gone. Officials in the Biden administration have suggested that workers may be retrained to build solar panels and other green energy infrastructure. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said they’re “very eager to see those workers continue to be employed in good-paying union jobs, even if they might be different ones.”
Not everyone sees that as a realistic possibility, especially for workers already in the prime of their careers. One member of Pipeliners Local Union 798 told Fox News, “You spend a lifetime fine-tuning your skills and if you go start another job you’re starting at the bottom. I doubt that these politicians would like it if someone told them to go start over and find a different job.”
Biden’s decision signed away potential tax revenue as well as jobs. The state of Montana had estimated that it would collect $63 million per year in revenue from the pipeline project.
Yet it is clear that the United States will continue to be dependent on fossil fuels for decades, and the Keystone XL project is only one of several planned pipelines. Biden has not made a decision about the others.
One project is the Dakota Access Pipeline, which drew protests at the Standing Rock Sioux reservation in North Dakota during the last year of the Obama administration. The other is Line 3, a pipeline that is also planned to bring crude oil from Canada to the U.S., crossing the border in Minnesota. Gov. Tim Walz has given his approval.
The Biden administration is under pressure from environmentalists and indigenous leaders to cancel those pipeline projects along with the Keystone XL, but labor groups are pushing hard to preserve the projects and their high-paying jobs. The argument for and against one is the same as for the others. There’s no moral high ground in canceling Keystone XL alone.
Perhaps the costly decision was more a political statement, a high-profile repudiation of Biden’s predecessor, than an environmental one.