Excerpts from recent editorials in the United States and abroad:
South China Morning Post on a recent prison sentence in a ‘doxxing’ case:
The violence and chaos of last year’s social unrest prompted complaints about conduct and tactics from both sides. An egregious example was the cyber warfare weapon of doxxing, in which personal details of the victim are exposed for the purposes of intimidation or harassment.
Victims included senior government officials, police officers, their family members, protesters, journalists, and business and community figures.
A court has now punished the first person found guilty of doxxing during the anti-government protests. District Court Judge Frankie Yiu Fun-che jailed former Hong Kong Telecom worker Chan King-hei, 33, for two years after he was found guilty of offences including doxxing the father of a police inspector.
This kind of gratuitous victimisation is abhorrent. The judge’s remarks and the father’s victim-impact statement reflect that.
Yiu said doxxing could have a serious psychological impact on police and distress innocent family members. He cited the father’s description of feeling helpless, fragile and anxious about his safety.
The judge said Chan’s breach of his employer’s trust to access and share personal data when relations between police and the community were stressed warranted a deterrent sentence.
Following controversy over the outcome of recent court cases arising from the protests, a court last month granted an interim injunction to protect judicial officers and their families from doxxing and harassment. This follows similar injunctions protecting police and barring online incitement of violence.
The deterrent sentence handed down by Yiu is welcome. Doxxing may also be a criminal offence under the Personal Data (Privacy) Ordinance punishable by a fine of up to HK$1 million and five years in jail.
From June last year to the end of September, the privacy commissioner handled 4,714 doxxing-related cases, as a result of complaints or surveillance. More than 1,650, or about 35 per cent, involved police and their family members and 189 involved government officials and public servants.
Members of the public who had expressed views for or against the government or the police each represented about 30 per cent of cases.
The Washington Post on negotiations in the U.S./E.U. trade war:
When is a setback for U.S.-European trade not necessarily a setback for U.S.-European trade? When it’s Monday’s European Union announcement of $4 billion in new tariffs on U.S. goods, in retaliation for the Trump administration’s imposition of tariffs on $7.5 billion in European goods, ranging from aircraft to whiskey, last year. This latest round of tit-for-tat levies so clearly demonstrates the mutually destructive nature of transatlantic trade conflict that it may finally prompt both sides to negotiate a permanent settlement.
At issue is the United States’ 16-year-old battle at the World Trade Organization, initiated under the Bush administration, to punish Europe for subsidizing Airbus, the Franco-Anglo-German-Spanish consortium that competes for global commercial aircraft sales with the U.S. national champion, Boeing. The E.U., in effect, countersued, and the WTO — confirming its usefulness as an impartial arbiter in such matters — has ruled, correctly, that both sides are right. Each is guilty of illegally subsidizing aircraft exports, Europe via subsidized loans, and the United States through state-level tax breaks.
Therefore, unlike many other tariffs enacted under the Trump administration, the ones it imposed on Europe last year were authorized by the WTO and valid under international law. Alas for the United States, the same can be said about the tariffs the E.U. just imposed. Collateral damage may soon pile up on the various non-aircraft industries each side is punishing to gain leverage on the other.
The obvious solution is for the United States and Europe to negotiate mutual elimination of unlawful subsidies, as indeed both sides claim already to be doing. The end of tariffs and subsidized competition would be especially beneficial for Boeing, which is in deep crisis, and dependent on federal aid, due to the pandemic and problems with its troubled 737-Max aircraft, sales of which have been all but paralyzed since two fatal crashes of the new model in late 2018 and early 2019. Yet Airbus, too, has much to gain from a truce since, while the United States and the E.U. have been fighting over the past decade-and-a-half, China has been building its own commercial aircraft manufacturer, COMAC, into a serious potential competitor, both in the huge Chinese market and beyond. The pandemic may have shrunk the air travel business permanently, or at least for the medium term; if the United States and Europe want to prevent China from subsidizing its way to a larger share of that shrinking pie, jointly practicing lawful trade could help.
The Trump administration has gratuitously provoked Europeans with ill-conceived tariffs on steel and other imports, as well as threats against the European automotive industry. By contrast, peace in the U.S.-E.U. aircraft war could be a predicate for establishing the united front of democratic capitalist countries against Chinese mercantilism that the Biden campaign promised. In fact, maximizing free trade with high-wage, environmentally conscious Europe presents few of the problems trade opponents often attribute to deals with low-wage countries such as Mexico. Chastened by the costly trade wars of the Trump years, and needing new sources of growth to recover from the pandemic, both Europe’s leaders and President-elect Joe Biden have every reason to get to yes.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on statements by Georgia’s U.S. senators questioning recent elections:
Even in an election year where standards of fair play seem to plummet with each passing day, Monday’s attack by Georgia’s U.S. senators marked a new low.
Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue called on Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to resign, alleging that he had “failed the people of Georgia” and “failed to deliver honest and transparent elections.”
Those are shocking charges for this pair to level at the person – and the office – responsible for overseeing elections here. They’re even more stunning, given that Perdue and Loeffler fired their broadside against a fellow Republican – not that party affiliation should count when the integrity of a core democratic institution is under attack.
Perdue and Loeffler offered no specifics, at least not for the record. And that is what should make their campaign-speak attack message so unacceptable to fair-minded Georgians.
Specific, actionable allegations based even somewhat loosely in facts can be assessed and investigated. Which is appropriate.
Hyperbole and sly accusations cannot.
Reckless barely begins to touch on what Perdue and Loeffler have done. Without presenting reasons, they have assaulted Georgia’s election system. That is dangerous behavior in this tense moment, both for this state and for the nation that is watching this risky sideshow.
In past editorials, this newspaper has at times been critical of Raffensperger’s management of aspects of the elections system he is charged with overseeing. Too many election hardware glitches is one thing. It’s improperly far beyond that to allege that, under Raffensperger, Georgia “has failed to deliver honest” elections
We’ve seen no evidence of that. In an AJC interview Monday, Raffensperger said, “What people really want at the end of the day — I think both sides should desire honest, fair elections. That’s what we’ve been working for.”
We’ve also weighed in on issues around Georgia’s 2018 election that we believe helped get us to this present place. In a contest that saw the closest vote for governor in half a century in Georgia, Kemp’s opponent, Stacey Abrams, refused to concede in a race narrowly decided by about 55,000 votes.
It’s not hard to see in hindsight that Abrams’ decision around the election’s result is now a tactic being applied from the White House on down.
As we’ve said before, too, Gov. Brian Kemp left us open to this result. Kemp would not step down from his job as secretary of state while running for higher office in 2018. That meant he oversaw an election in which his name was also on the ballot.
That decision had the expected effect.
As we wrote in an editorial after that 2018 election, “It’s not hard to see why Democrats see this as an unacceptable conflict of interest. At the very least, candidate Kemp’s staying put during the race contributed to significant doubts about the fairness of the election he was charged with conducting. Georgia could have done without this problem.”
The 2018 voting tally stood in Georgia, despite assertions of voter suppression. Since then, Georgia has rolled out new electronic voting machines that produce paper ballots which are scanned to tabulate results. The new system seems to have, tacitly at least, acknowledged some of Democrats’ concerns about the integrity and security of ballots.
We have also offered our opinions on problems in getting the new vote-counting system up to speed, including serious malfunctions in too many places during the June primary.
Since then, state and local election officials appear to have fixed the most-serious deficiencies. From all appearances, the November election – and its record turnout – appears to have proceeded far more smoothly and competently. And no verified instances of widespread fraud have surfaced so far.
Today’s incessant partisan fighting has weakened our democracy’s systems and fed a now-rampant and corrosive distrust of government – and of each other. The latest low blows further erode the constitutional foundations of self-governance.
It’s frightening for freedom to envision a Georgia or America in which such stunts are quickly absorbed by many as near-gospel truth.
Meek acceptance of charges without facts should be unacceptable for a country of proudly stubborn, liberty-loving people, many of whom have fought or even died for freedoms that include the right to make up our own minds in choosing our elected officials.
Loeffler and Perdue are far from alone in this season of rock-throwing at American civic norms and common decency. Their attack seems directly crafted to appeal to core supporters of President Donald Trump who has, so far, refused to acknowledge the reported results of this month’s election. And too many other political leaders, in Georgia and elsewhere, have joined in this wrongheaded campaign to cast accusations against election results they dislike.
We realize Perdue and Loeffler now find themselves beginning the next, sure-to-be-brutal rounds of political battles that will continue until January’s runoff election. Given that Georgia is now a state in play, it is to be expected that both Democratic and Republican candidates will be much more aggressive in their bids for office.
Even so, there must be standards of ethical behavior that dictate lines of appropriateness – and those lines should not be breached.
Throughout America’s history, many hard-fought political brawls have been conducted without trampling boundaries of acceptable conduct.
As we have said many times before, Georgia is an influential state. Our economic strengths have long been recognized by the rest of the nation and world. Our political importance is likewise gaining prominence, especially as Republicans and Democrats fight hard for dominance here.
Politics is about nothing if not vigorous competition. Done ethically, a robust pursuit of votes can help citizens make choices. The latest inappropriate lobbing of thin accusations at election officials is nowhere near that.
Perdue, Loeffler and others should know that. We believe fair-minded Georgians already do.
The Wall Street Journal on how Joe Biden can heal the nation's divisions:
Joe Biden said Saturday night that after the election “this is the time to heal in America.” In that spirit, and to be constructive, we thought we’d offer a couple of suggestions for what you might call the healing agenda. These aren’t major policy concessions, but they would have symbolic political significance.
The former Vice President could start by ending government harassment of the Little Sisters of the Poor. That’s the order of nuns who have objected for a decade to being forced to cover contraception and abortifacients in their health-care plan under ObamaCare.
In July the Supreme Court upheld a Trump Administration rule granting the nuns a religious exemption to the mandate, but Mr. Biden criticized the ruling and vowed to restore the “Obama-Biden policy that existed before the (2014 Supreme Court) Hobby Lobby ruling.” Dropping the attempt to coerce these nuns against their beliefs wouldn’t threaten ObamaCare. But it would be an important gesture to religious Americans that Mr. Biden is going to lower the temperature in the culture war.
Next we’d suggest ending Mr. Biden’s opposition to the Opportunity Scholarships in the District of Columbia that provide a lifeline for thousands of low-income children trapped in bad public schools. The teachers unions hate this program because it challenges their education monopoly and, under Barack Obama, Democrats killed it for a while. But especially when Covid-19 has exposed the need for more options for public-school families, declaring peace over the scholarships would help thousands of poor parents and send a message that Mr. Biden’s priority is children rather than unions.
For a triple play, Mr. Biden could also speak up against those on the left who want to stigmatize and purge from civil society anyone who has worked in the Trump Administration. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is one of the instigators of the purge campaign. Mr. Biden doesn’t have to admire the Trump Administration to say that most of the people who have served in it did so honorably.
This would anger some on the left, but if Mr. Biden intends to drive his Administration rather than have it driven from the left, better to send such a signal early. It won’t reconcile all Trump voters, but it might persuade many that Mr. Biden’s call for unity is more than Beltway virtue-signaling. We have many other suggestions if Mr. Biden wants to hear them.
The Beaumont Enterprise on skyrocketing coronavirus cases in Texas:
While much of our attention was focused on the coming presidential election and then its muddled aftermath, something else was going on in Texas. Coronavirus infections were soaring to new heights, and it’s so bad in El Paso that the city is locking down. This is a serious change in this ongoing battle, and it must be met with an equally strong response from elected officials and public health leaders — as well as average Texans.
The numbers cannot be disputed, even for an illness that is usually underreported. Last week the state saw more than 8,000 new cases for two straight days, the highest back-to-back total since early August. The rate of people testing positive for the virus was above 10 percent for more than two weeks, and that had been the threshold that Gov. Greg Abbott cited in relaxing restrictions and reopening bars recently when Texas dipped below it. Now, Abbott, apparently reluctant to close bars again or order new limitations, is saying that the rate of hospitalizations, not positive tests, is the number we should be watching.
Moving the goal posts like that is not going to get virus numbers down again. Abbott is not as bad as President Trump, who keeps saying the pandemic is about to end without any proof — and in defiance of actual statistics which prove otherwise. But local leaders have to be frank about the totals they face — or they will end up like El Paso.
The outlook is not good. The weather is cooling, and that will bring more people indoors, where they could spread the disease or catch it from someone easier. The Thanksgiving holiday is a little more than three weeks away, and that could bring large numbers of people together for the first time. Sadly, that’s the recipe for a super-spreader event.
We’re all tired of wearing masks and social distancing, but that’s what we have to keep doing to get these virus numbers down again. It’s frustrating, but it’s our only option, and it actually works. If someone develops symptoms, they should be tested and isolated quickly. The chain of infection must be broken.
Until a vaccine is available, this must be our approach, not wishful thinking or hoping we stay lucky. This virus is persistent, but we must outlast it.