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Highlights from the world's press

Compiled by Ravi Agrawal for CNN
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(CNN) -- According to The New York Times, the Bush Administration will appear before the U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday to argue that it lacks the power to slow global warming by limiting the emission of harmful gases, in what may be the most important environmental case in many years.

"A group of 12 states, including New York and Massachusetts, is suing the Environmental Protection Agency for failing to properly do its job. These states, backed by environmental groups and scientists, say that the Clean Air Act requires the E.P.A. to impose limits on carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases emitted by new cars. These gases are a major contributor to the "greenhouse effect" that is dangerously heating up the planet. The Bush administration insists that the E.P.A. does not have the power to limit these gases. It argues that they are not 'air pollutants' under the Clean Air Act... The Supreme Court can strike an important blow in defense of the planet simply by ruling that the E.P.A. must start following the law."

Also, the International Herald Tribune reports that Merrill Lynch is warning Hong Kong is losing business as international companies flinch from subjecting senior employees and their families to the health hazards of this often smog-enveloped city.

"A complacent administration makes green noises but does little. It blames mainland factories or suggests that other cities in China are far worse. But a look from the surrounding hills down on the center of Hong Kong shows how much of the pollution in the center is home-generated. Hong Kong must compete not just with Chinese cities but with much cleaner places -- from Tokyo to Sydney to Singapore -- yet it subscribes to outdated pollution standards and the chief executive suggests that particulates are not bad for your health."


NATO leaders are meeting in Riga, Latvia this week, and papers around the world are calling for the group to ensure the stability of Afghanistan and to ensure it does not go Iraq's way.

The New York Times says there may not be many opportunities after this week's summit to shape international policy on Afghanistan.

"In Riga, President Bush will urge more troops and fewer caveats. But the president can't do much more than cajole the allies. Iraq has deprived him of both international credibility and the military forces to do more. It is now up to the rest of the alliance. All NATO members must acknowledge that the Afghan war is not just some post-9/11 gesture, nor publicity for the New NATO. There is a life-and-death struggle under way against terrorists and extremism that is in all their national interests to win."

The Economist says NATO leaders must find unity of purpose in overcoming the weakness of the mission in Afghanistan.

"In Afghanistan, as distinct from Iraq, there should be no quarrel about the lawfulness of the mission. NATO is in the country under a U.N. mandate, operating in defense of an elected government. The stakes are high: failure would not only bring back the Taliban and al Qaeda, but embolden jihadists around the world."

In the UK, The Times says that while Afghanistan will top the agenda in Riga, much of the corridor talk during the first NATO summit on former Soviet soil will concern the renewed threat of Russia.

"Moscow's aggressive use of energy as a political weapon is the most obvious cause for concern. Most of NATO's members, especially the Baltic states, are worryingly dependent on Russian oil and gas. And for all Russia's assurances that it will be a reliable energy partner, the threats and interruptions to supplies to Ukraine, Georgia and the Baltic states suggest a far less reassuring reality... As the Litvinenko affair has shown, Mr. Putin's Russia is brash, newly self-confident and not afraid to strike at imagined enemies."

Cease-fire in Gaza

The Boston Globe warns that the cease-fire that began this weekend in Gaza will be subject to many perils and may not hold.

"The longer the mayhem continues in Gaza, the easier it is for Islamists in Egypt, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia to depict the regimes in those countries as dupes of Israel and pawns of Israel's principal backer, the United States... [Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert] left crucial issues undefined: how the land is to be divided; what happens to East Jerusalem; and what is to become of the Palestinian refugees. But if it signals an understanding that neither side can resolve the conflict by unilateral actions, Olmert's offer of dialogue may become a first step toward the negotiated peace accord that Israelis, Palestinians, and their neighbors desperately need.

Lebanon's Daily Star says that while Olmert "broke no new intellectual ground" in acknowledging his military strategy has "failed utterly" to prevent Palestinian rocket attacks from Gaza, the realization itself constitutes a breakthrough of sorts.

"The Jewish state's leaders have tried for decades to make various Arab grievances go away by applying armed force to problems that require political solutions. If at last an Israeli prime minister has truly come to recognize the futility of that approach, there just may be hope for an imminent and productive resumption of the peace process... While the Israelis and the Palestinians managed to take this small step on their own, going much further will require considerable support from the international community. The Palestinian economy is a shambles, and people in both Gaza and the West Bank require urgent assistance to recover from months of financial strangulation."

Israel's Jerusalem Post says Olmert's offering of an olive branch should is real, and that Palestinians would be better off taking it.

"In essence, Olmert has just given the Palestinians a chance to accept the offer Israel made at the Camp David summit of 2000 that was rejected by Yasser Arafat. This is remarkable, given that Arafat's rejection set the stage for more than six years of Palestinian suicide bombings and rocket attacks that continue to this day. Yet Israel has again shown that it is still committed to creating a Palestinian state, located in the midst of the biblical Jewish homeland and cheek by jowl with Israel."


With most academics and observers now admitting that Iraq is in the middle of a civil war, U.S. President George W. Bush is seeking to meet Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki in Amman later this week to discuss a potential solution.

Pakistan's Dawn says these efforts will be futile: "Syria, which can play a key role in the pacification of Iraq, will be kept out of the moot because of the antipathy the Americans feel for Damascus. The other initiative in the Middle East involves meetings between Iraq, Iran and Syria whose leaders have been trying to draw up a common strategy vis-a-vis the turmoil in the region that is casting its long shadow on all countries in the neighborhood. More significant is the report that the Iraqi government will be holding talks with the insurgents this week to start a dialogue with them. It is plain that the Iran-Iraq-Syria move and the dialogue with the insurgents, if it takes place, have better chances of producing positive results. It is time Mr. Bush realized that he has to change his policy in Iraq if he wants to withdraw his troops from that war-torn country and also ensure that Iraq does not lapse into total anarchy."

Britain's the Guardian discusses recent comments by Bush saying the U.S. would "succeed unless [they] quit" in Iraq, by drawing a parallel with the Vietnam invasion in the 1960s.

"The problem with Vietnam was not that the US invaded a sovereign country, bombed it to shreds, committed innumerable atrocities, murdered more than 500,000 Vietnamese - more than half of whom were civilians -- and lost about 58,000 American servicemen. The problem with Vietnam was that they lost. And the reason they lost was not because they could neither sustain domestic support nor muster sufficient local support for their invasion, nor that their military was ill equipped for guerrilla warfare. They lost because it takes a while to complete such a tricky job, and the American public got bored."

The New Yorker is similarly skeptical about the underlying logic of Bush's claim.

"What did he mean? That the peaceable, bustling, unthreatening (if unfree) Vietnam of today represents an American success, made possible by the fact that we didn't quit until fifty-eight thousand Americans and three million Vietnamese were dead? Or that it represents an American failure, which would have been averted by another decade of war, another fifty-eight thousand, another three million? Who knows? And who knows, really, what this President has been taught by this month's election? The present President Bush, after all, is a decider of decisions, not a learner of lessons. And he likes to decide that he was right all along."

Pollution levels in Hong Kong are getting too much, says the IHT.




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