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ITALY



Published: Mon, July 29, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



Corriere Della Sera, Milan, July 23: With the demise of WorldCom we have the biggest bankruptcy in the history of the United States, and perhaps of all time. It comes as no surprise then, that the stock market continues to fall and we still don't know what will stop it. This crisis does not seem as if will last only a few months. It looks more like a vital component that gave American investors faith -- a naive faith -- in the markets' self-regulating mechanisms, has been broken.

In the climate of fear that has been created, even irrelevant issues get blown up, like shadows when the sun goes down.

Is there a cure? And if so, what?

Timid proposals

Certainly not President George W. Bush's timid proposals. The U.S. president -- maybe because of his own alleged involvement in shady corporate dealings -- looks increasingly like a lame duck.

Perhaps only the conviction that the market has developed its own antibodies that could protect it from similar episodes in the future, can provide a solution. Yet today, this moment does not seem to have arrived.

SOUTH AFRICA

The Sowetan, Johannesburg, July 24: We must admit that the habit of developing champions at the international sporting level is one that any nation would cherish.

And South Africa is in that fortunate situation today.

The magnificent return to winning form that saw Ernie Els capture the British Open Golf Championship at Muirfield, on Sunday, instilled the pride.

We have been yearning for this for some time now.

That Els realized his long-cherished dream to perform better than the great Tiger Woods in a championship that connoisseurs tip as the most prestigious is cause for celebration.

Junior golfers

We also exude pride at the emergence of world champion in the making, Siphiwe Siphayi, 11, who will join two other SA juniors -- Kasheev Albertus and Bryce McCabe -- in competing in the World Junior Golf Championships in Virginia, in the United States.

It is not much Siphayi's tender age that inspires as his confidence and vision for the future.

His vision and that of our world matchplay champions -- Els and Retief Goosen -- shows they are made of sterner stuff. This augurs well for the golfing future of our country.

And, that makes us all as South Africans immensely proud.

JAPAN

Asahi Shimbun, Tokyo, July 23: The pattern of businesses expanding by depending on rising share prices -- and giving their managers accordingly huge remunerations -- has been a distinctive character of American capitalism in recent years. In that sense, the low share prices in the United States must be shaking the very foundation of American businesses. Not only the stock markets, but the American economy as a whole, should be regarded as having entered a period of adjustment.

To overcome unease in the financial markets, strict rules will have to be put in place to prevent improper accounting practices. Share prices have continued to drop, even after U.S. President George W. Bush visited Wall Street to announce the measures he plans to take against improper accounting, probably because their effectiveness is viewed with some doubt.

Tables have turned

The U.S. government has repeatedly urged the Japanese government to "promptly" sort out the nonperforming loans problem, on which it has long procrastinated. It is now Japan's turn, as the United States' biggest creditor, to call on the Americans to "promptly" solve their problem.

EGYPT

Egyptian Gazette, Cairo, July 22: The Anglo-American bombing of Iraq may have been routine since the U.S. and Britain set up two no-fly zones in the northern and southern parts of the country in the wake of the 1991 Gulf War. But of late, the two countries have noticeably stepped up their raids against Iraqi sites.

Does this surge in the American-British raids over Iraq point to what is lying ahead?

There is no clear-cut answer yet. Nonetheless, there are growing signs that Iraq may be the next target of America's sweeping drive against terrorism.

Weapons of mass destruction

The U.S. officially accuses Iraq of developing weapons of mass destruction in a manner it deems perilous to its national security. While failing to come forward with substantial proof, the United States is toughening its anti-Iraq line. The stakes are that the United States will manipulate any Iraqi move, even if it were illusory, to strike at Iraq and reshape its political future.

In the post-September attacks era, the United States no longer deems it important to verify claims before pulling the trigger. This impetuosity will prove to be a Pandora's box for the entire world.

SINGAPORE

Straits Times, Singapore, July 24: Warnings by maritime authorities that international crime syndicates are being drawn to the lucrative piracy activity in South-east Asian waters should sound alarm bells beyond the shipping and insurance industries.

There is a plausible link with terrorist organisations which requires the attention of the littoral states' governments. Procurement and transport of terrorist material through sea routes have been described as a real possibility by United States security agencies, as sea freight is harder to detect than air and overland cargo.

Step up vigilance

It is entirely imaginable that liberation movements and terrorist organisations (not necessarily confined to Al-Qaida) have taken over some of these syndicates, or are in league with them. If they have not, the opportunity certainly presents itself. Governments in this region need to step up vigilance, in concert with their security allies.




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