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Highlights from the world's press

Compiled by Ravi Agrawal for CNN
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(CNN) -- After publishing an editorial on Monday discussing its decision to not endorse a single Republican candidate in the U.S. congressional elections for the first time in memory, The New York Times on Tuesday focuses on the plight of the average U.S. voter.

"Pity the poor voter who has to wade through a list of sometimes contradictory, sometimes misleading proposals, doing work that should be the responsibility of elected officials.

"We always watch with interest -- and sometimes with concern -- to see how people exercise this peculiar power. Will Alaskans stop aerial hunting of wolves and bears? What happened in Oklahoma to impel the proposal to stop paying the salary of state legislators doing jail time? Arizonans will have to decide whether they want the state to randomly award $1 million to one lucky voter in future elections, in order to encourage turnout ...

"Citizens in some states are being asked to stand up to the tobacco industry's national clout by approving higher tobacco taxes at home and greater restrictions on public smoking, while others are being asked to do the opposite."

The Washington Post says in theory today will be the beginning of Hilary Clinton's presidential campaign.

"By nightfall, she will have won a lopsided re-election to the U.S. Senate, with plenty of money left over to start a presidential effort. She enjoys the sort of name recognition a president might envy and has the unalloyed good wishes of Democratic activists who have been waiting all these dark and awful years for a Clinton Restoration. After all, if the Bushes could do it -- one mediocre, the other incompetent -- then why not the brilliant and dazzling Clintons?"

Meanwhile in the UK, The Guardian predicts that the "Democrats are going to win, and probably win big."

"If their party sweeps both houses of Congress, Democratic activists of every ideological hue should be permitted at least one night of triumphalism. Come the morning after, though, it will be crucial that the correct lessons be drawn from this year's renaissance. Conclusion Number One should be that the centrist approach best exemplified by Bill Clinton remains the only feasible route to nationwide success."

Lessons from Hungary

With the U.S. expanding international broadcasting to countries like Iran, Cuba, and North Korea, The International Herald Tribune says it should do more to ensure their peaceful evolution toward democracy.

"Looking ahead, U.S. government-sponsored radio and television stations could well find themselves broadcasting into civil unrest or violent upheaval -- as Radio Free Europe did half a century ago to Hungary. The 50th anniversary of the outbreak of the Hungarian revolution is an occasion to recall lessons of crisis broadcasting from that time ... Most of the broadcasting into Hungary 50 years ago was factual and professional -- news reports, summaries of the Western press, correspondent reports on the reactions of Western leaders.

"But listening to these objective reports, the Hungarian audience heard widespread support for their cause, and could understandably but falsely conclude that Hungary would not be abandoned by the West ... It is a legitimate mission of international broadcasters to expand freedom and democracy in controlled societies by telling people what they should know. It is not their function to tell people what they should do -- least of all under conditions of violent upheaval."

Corruption in South Africa

The Times in the UK says the "ruling by South Africa's Supreme Court of Appeal that a close associate of Jacob Zuma was correctly convicted for corruption is a devastating blow to President Mbeki's putative successor."

"In briskly dismissing the appeal by Schabir Shaik, a Durban businessman, against his conviction on three serious counts of corruption, the judge said there was a 'wealth of evidence' to show that Mr Shaik had 'persistently and aggressively' exploited his friendship with the former deputy president. This not only leaves a big stain on Mr Zuma's already dented reputation but raises the possibility of fresh charges against him, only months after he was acquitted in an earlier corruption trial."

South Africa's Mail & Guardian reports that the Supreme Court's ruling "is likely to increase the possibility that former deputy president Jacob Zuma could face new charges after an earlier graft case against him was dismissed. Such a step by prosecutors could hobble his presidential hopes."

No more spellcheck

The Scottish Qualifications Authority has declared it will accept text-messaging short forms in school examinations.

The Sydney Morning Herald says the move, on deeper analysis, is a good one. "Not to spell properly is a sign of being common, as once was ignorance of Latin. Knowing your "ie" from "ei" or "-ible" from "-able" does not affect a word's meaning one jot. It is a caste mark, its distinction deriving from its very obscurity.

"Students of English are driven to distraction by its spelling. Britons ridicule the French for their rule-based language, but at least they have a scholarly academy to discuss and approve (or resist) reform.

"While English adapts its vocabulary to circumstance, it has no way of adapting its spelling. Every time I write 'cough', 'bough', 'through' and 'thorough' (not to mention 'write,') I think of the teeming millions of students who ask their teachers: why? There is no answer. The dogmatism of English orthography is a bond of lexicological freemasonry, a conspiracy against the laity.

Orwell rightly associated such dogma with totalitarianism. Wrong is right, as in war is peace. In Shakespeare's day authors conveyed the clearest of messages with random spelling, even of Shakespeare's own name."


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