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Highlights from the world's press

Compiled by Ravi Agrawal
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(CNN) -- For another day, American foreign policy dominates the opinion pages of the world's prominent papers. The New York Times says "America's badly overstretched army cannot sustain present force levels... without long term damage."

"A bigger army does not fit into Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's version of a technologically transformed military. And Congress prefers lavishing billions on Lockheed Martin to build stealth fighters, which are great for fighting Russian MiGs and Chinese F-8s but not for securing Baghdad. Foot soldiers are not as glamorous as fighter pilots and are a lot less profitable to equip."

As if the U.S. needed more bad news, many papers believe the "war on terror" has made America less safe, instead of more. The UK's Guardian says the "idiotically named 'war on terror'" has "galvanized terrorism. Sections of a U.S. National Intelligence estimate that were declassified last week say the war has become the "cause celebre for jihadists" and that "jihadists regard Europe as an important venue for attacking Western interests."

"Iraq has done the opposite of making America safe and with five weeks to go to the mid-term congressional elections, the Democrats now have an opportunity to make that case. Bill Clinton... went on Fox TV last Sunday and made the case about bin Laden in a pugnacious interview with Chris Wallace, pointing out that it was his successor, not he, who had downgraded the al Qaeda threat and demoted the counterterror expert who so feared bin Laden."

India's Asian Age disapproves of the recent passing of a U.S. bill to authorize torture on suspected terrorists.

"The U.S. President is now authorized to interpret the Geneva Conventions as he deems proper. The law is retroactive and so no CIA officer can be prosecuted in any country for discharging his duty in the past. Thus, the Congress, with great majority, has now rallied behind the President who is out to flout all international obligations on all suspected terrorists detained in the U.S. and also in Eastern Europe and other countries."

Corruption in China

The UK's Times says last week's "dramatic political defenestration" of Chen LIangyu, a party supremo in Shanghai, has been presented as proof in China that no one can get away with violating anti-corruption laws. But apparently, for once the politicians aren't the problem.

"The trouble is that most Chinese, with reason, believe the opposite to be true. Official corruption is so pervasive that it has become collectivized and the laobaixing, the "old 100 names" as the masses are known, know that the pursuit of wrongdoers is sometimes selective. Probity may be a priority but so is political loyalty."

Assertive Abe

This week's Economist says that while prevailing opinion is that new Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe "will not have the flair, the authority, or perhaps even the gumption to carry forward the structural improvements to Japan's economy," a more hopeful prospect would be that "Mr Abe, representing a generational change, pushes forward reforms at home and reaches for a bigger role abroad, while undoing the damage to Japan's relations with its neighbours caused by[Junichiro] Koizumi's stubborn visits to Tokyo's Yasukuni shrine, a symbol of Japan's past militarism."

But Japan's Asahi Shimbun does not feel too hopeful about his reign.

"Abe has defined his enthusiasm about amending the Constitution with the slogan, "Breaking away from the postwar framework." His first speech as prime minister, however, made no concrete mention of this and was mostly focused on economic growth, social security reform and other issues... We can't help feeling disappointed."

Trial by... potatoes

And in a lighter vein, the UK's Sun reports Prince William will be pelted with potatoes by a mock angry mob, to teach him riot control as part of his army training. "An insider said: 'Spuds are deemed a little safer than rocks. But if anyone suffers a direct hit, even a potato can be very painful. Trainees are expected to crack under the pressure."


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Prince William is to be pelted with potatoes as part of his military training.

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