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Highlights from the world's press

Compiled by Ravi Agrawal for CNN
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(CNN) -- Climate change is the issue taking the papers by storm today: the British treasury published a report by Sir Nicholas Stern, who estimates that spending 1% of GDP each year to tackle climate change could save potential costs of up to 20% of GDP by the turn of the century.

The Times says: "The report is absolutely right to take a rigorous look at the potential costs of adaptation and mitigation. International co-operation is clearly essential to combating this problem. But international co-operation cannot mean that all countries contribute equally.

"Some politicians still seek to argue that there is no point in Western nations taking steps to combat global warming while China, for example, is opening one new coal-fired power station every week.

"This is jingoistic nonsense .Developing countries such as India and China may be the fastest growing contributors to greenhouse gas emissions, but this must be seen in context. The average US citizen still produces six times more carbon emissions than the average Chinese citizen, according to the World Resources Institute."

The Guardian makes a similar argument: "If the likes of China and India saw western countries who have talked a lot about climate change actually doing something to cut emissions in a big way, then they will be far more likely to sign up to a global plan."

Untracked arms in Iraq

The New York Times has slammed the US government for making an "inexplicable decision" to not apply standard Pentagon regulations for weapons transfers in the Iraq war.

"Of more than 500,000 weapons turned over to the Iraqi Ministries of Defense and Interior since the American invasion - including rocket-propelled grenade launchers, assault rifles, machine guns and sniper rifles - the serial numbers of only 12,128 were properly recorded.

"Some 370,000 of these weapons, some of which are undoubtedly being used to kill American troops, were paid for by United States taxpayers, under the Orwellian-titled Iraq Relief and Reconstruction Fund.

"These findings go a long way toward explaining why Iraq appears to be ever more violent, with no clear plans yet coming from Baghdad or Washington that seem likely to restore a semblance of order."

Meanwhile, The Independent in the UK says, "the vanquished always pay the victor," in reference to the $21.4 billion that Iraq has paid out in "war reparations" to some of the richest countries of the world.

"The latest payment is more than Iraq's annual health and education budgets combined. Things are bad enough in Iraq without this added burden... But for the occupied to pay the occupiers - much of the "reparations" go to the United States and Britain - is little short of an obscenity.

"At a time when the battle for hearts and minds is being lost on a daily basis, it is patently a political absurdity too."

The New York Post says that other than attacking what the Bush administration is doing in Iraq, the Democrats running for office in next week's congressional elections have done "little to articulate foreign and national-security policies of their own.

"On Iraq, many Democrats - led by Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.) - have said they'd push for an immediate 'redeployment' (i.e. withdrawal) of U.S. troops, leaving who-knows-what kind of nightmare behind. A premature withdrawal would cause unimaginable instability in the Middle East. And there's no doubt that jihadists would chalk up Iraq as proof positive that terrorism works - adding it to other 'successes' in Lebanon (1983) and Somalia (1993)."

Do good fences make good neighbors?

After US president George W. Bush signed into law a plan authorizing 1,127 km of new fencing covering a third of the US-Mexico border, The Montreal Gazette suggests it is a "sop to voters anxious about massive inflows of illegal immigrants" with the congressional elections a week away.

"The idea that a country half a continent big can keep out everyone of evil intent, not to mention poor people looking for gardening jobs, is laughable. That does not mean border security should be ignored. But there are smarter ways to do it than endless fences."

The International Herald Tribune is equally critical: "The party of the Iraq war and family values desperately needs you to forget about dead soldiers and randy congressmen, and to think instead about the bad things immigrants will do to us if we don't wall them out... Across the country, candidates are trying to stir up a voter frenzy using immigrants for bait. They accuse their opponents of being amnesty-loving fence-haters, and offer themselves as jut-jawed defenders of the homeland because they want the fence."

Pakistani rape crisis

Pakistan's Dawn says it is "simply appalling" that the "gang rape of a 20-year-old woman in Multan by her former, cleric fiance and three of his accomplices on Sunday is the latest act of violence against women in the long list of such crimes that have gone unpunished in recent months.

"It should come as an affront to civil society and to those at the helm, that the government has been tarrying with a bill aimed at curbing violence against women by amending the Hudood laws and those pertaining to admissibility of evidence of women in a court of law.

"As a consequence, the latest rape victim has been added to the long list of women like Mukhtaran Mai, Shazia Khalid and Sonia Naz, who in recent times have suffered equally in pursuit of justice because of state apathy. There are hundreds more whom justice has eluded, reinforcing the country's bad image at home and abroad."

Uganda's nightmare

The Washington Post says the conflict in northern Uganda is "perhaps the worst humanitarian catastrophe to have gone practically unnoticed by most of the world."

"The two decades of violence in Northern Uganda have had devastating consequences -- nearly 2 million people have been run out of their homes and forced to live in overcrowded, squalid camps; tens of thousands have died; 30,000 children have been abducted by an organization called the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) and forced to fight as child soldiers or used as sex slaves. Hundreds of villages have been abandoned and destroyed."

Halloween

While people around the world celebrate Halloween today, The Sydney Morning Herald laments that Halloween is not celebrated with as much passion in Australia than it is in other countries.

"We need to do Halloween here in Australia. And by do, I don't mean the token last-minute party where everyone rocks up clad in some half-arsed devil get-up and gets trashed among dodgy paper cut-outs of ghosts. I'm talking the whole shebang, with kids clad in homemade costumes moving in packs to belt on every door in the street and scream 'Trick or treat!'

"The great thing about Halloween is its simplicity. Dress up, demand confectionery. If confectionery is not forthcoming, attack person and their home using eggs and/or toilet paper. Other holidays just can't compete."

Of course, Americans are not short of passion for celebrating one of their favorite days of the year: The Houston Chronicle reports that "Halloween has grown into a $5 billion industry" in the US.

"Although the big day is today, themed displays appeared in stores as early as August. Bags of bite-size candy have been on grocery shelves for at least a month. And decorative skeletons, spider webs and tombstones have dominated some front yards for much of October."


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