Five Best Wednesday Columns

On regulating the global media, Chicago's approach to global warming, and immigration

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Li Congjun on a U.N. for the Media  Li Congjun, president of China's state-run Xinhua News Agency, proposes the creation of "more civilized rules to govern international mass communication," like a "media U.N." In today's Wall Street Journal, Li notes that information flows largely "from West to East, North to South, and from developed to developing countries" and argues that "an unjust and irrational order hinders the global media industry's sustainable development and contributes to the problems in today's world." In order for the media "to play a more active role in promoting the advancement of human civilization," Li suggests its new "value system" should include a dedication to fair coverage, an "all-win" situation for media organizations worldwide, inclusive discussion between cultures, and a facilitating transparency. He explains that the need for "checking superpower" and "maintaining equilibrium" in sports in which one country excels--such as China and ping pong--is just as necessary with media. "It is time to reverse the marginalization of developing nations in the media, change their underdeveloped status, and enhance their rights of expression in the international media market."

Rich Lowry on the Case for Arizona-Style Laws  Last week, the Supreme Court upheld Arizona's "requirement that businesses use the federal E-Verify system--a database accessible through the Internet--to confirm the legal status of employees." This, Rich Lowry argues at National Review Online, is proof that President Obama and everyone else who "practically expelled [the state] from the out of line, not Arizona." He points out that Arizona's E-Verify law, passed in 2007, is the ratification of a voluntary Congressional program--"Arizona's offense is to take the federal law at face value and act on it." The state's use of E-Verify is already working by discouraging illegal immigration, he argues: "The Institute for the Study of Labor finds a statistically significant reduction in the state's population of Hispanic noncitizens, a category overlapping heavily with illegal immigrants." He predicts that "the Supreme Court decision will encourage other states to follow Arizona's lead" and, eventually, "it will make more sense for Congress to require the system nationwide." Lowry says we should thank Arizona for being the first state to move us "from a culture of permissiveness to a culture of enforcement on illegal immigration."

Jonathan Powell on Advising Strong Leaders  "That televised high-five during David Cameron and Barack Obama's game of table tennis last week didn't happen by accident. Nor did the apparently relaxed barbecue in the garden of No. 10. Both were the subject of months of intensive, and often frustrating, planning by aides on the two sides and lots of changes of mind." Jonathan Powell, Tony Blair's former chief of staff, explains the role of presidents' and prime ministers' closest advisers in The Telegraph today. This adviser must know what the president wants, or will want, at all times and must wake up as early or stay up as late as the President wants. To become trusted, an adviser must give good advice, be relied upon to deliver bad news, and "most of all, ... be able to challenge the President," such as Karl Rove did with Bush's selection of Dick Cheney as his running mate. Though Powell acknowledges the similarities between his role as Blair's adviser and that of a butler, he refers to Machiavelli's notion that "a prince who is not wise himself cannot be well-advised by others." In other words, he explains, "trusted advisers are only any good if they are working for a great leader."

Los Angeles Times on Releasing Non-Threatening Prisoners  California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a "medical parole" bill in 2010 "under which inmates who are deemed 'permanently medically incapacitated' may be released and their medical costs shifted to themselves or their families." Yet, notes the Los Angeles Times editorial board, "dozens of sick, aged, infirm and even comatose inmates who authorities say pose no further threat to the public" continue to sit in prison, their medical treatment costing taxpayers, in some cases, around $600,000 a year. While the editorial board acknowledges the poor optics and seeming significance of release, and "no one is eager to release brutal criminals," they add that "given California's extraordinary budget crisis and last week's U.S. Supreme Court order that the state reduce its inmate population by at least 33,000 (because the current overcrowding constitutes cruel and unusual punishment), it defies common sense to continue holding inmates who are permanently incapacitated." Releasing such prisoners as a rapist whose case they review could save the state over $10 million each year. It "does not mean that he has been forgiven or that the state is no longer repulsed by his crimes," the editors argue. "It reflects the reality that California's prisons must reduce overcrowding and cut costs in a manner that is safe and sensible."

The New York Times on Climate Change and Chicago  The New York Times editorial board praises Chicago's proactive adaptation to the climate change which will mean "snowier winters, wetter springs and hotter summers." Long known for its extreme weather conditions, Chicago attempts to save money and lives by "using thermal radar [to pinpoint] the hottest areas and find ways to cool them: removing impermeable blacktop that traps water and heat, building rooftop gardens, planting southern varieties of trees and adding air-conditioning to classrooms." The Kyoto global warming conference hit home with former Mayor Richard Daley, who instigated many of these programs, but pressure also comes from insurance companies. "It would be far better if there were a framework to plan and guide the nation's adaptation to the challenging years ahead," the editors write. "Given the politics on Capitol Hill, we are not optimistic. But at least in Chicago the change is taking hold."

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.