• The Boston Globe on Guns and Background Checks  The Boston Globe editors are disappointed by the lack of concern Arizona officials have for the recently-exposed federal law violations taking place at gun shows within their state. The editors don't think it is good enough for "occasional" gun sellers, those who take their products to gun shows, to simply be required to refuse sale to anyone "if they have reason to believe that person would be a prohibited purchaser." Too many people are slipping through the cracks, as this requirement is ignored easily and often. The editors point out that Arizona is not the only state in which such violations have been discovered, prompting them to conclude that Congress should close this gun-show loophole once and for all and mandate background checks for any and all gun purchases.

  • Matthias Gebauer and Yassin Musharbash on Al-Jazeera's Reach  In a column today for Der Spiegel, the two authors comment on Al-Jazeera's long reach in the Arab world, and speculate that the network's coverage could have led to the overthrow of Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in Tunisia. "Could the same fate be in store for Egyptian President Mubarak?" the authors wonder. They note that "Al-Jazeera's Arabic-language station is broadcast into about 50 million households," surpassing that of any other newspaper, TV show or radio program in the Middle East. But, they say, it's "clear that the network has obvious biases"--and the course of world events may not go unaffected.

  • Robert Dreyfuss on the United States' Fading Influence in the Middle East  Dreyfuss's op-ed in The Nation highlights both the United States' failure to respond appropriately to the unfolding crisis in Egypt--being "one step behind at all times"--and the futility of current U.S. policy in a Middle East that is rapidly shedding even the veneer of stability. "The era of American domination of the Middle East has unraveled, and neither the Egyptian military nor the protesters look to the United States to carry their banner," Dreyfuss writes. But it may not matter that America seems powerless to affect politics in the region: "It's only a matter of time before the authoritarian regime collapses in Cairo," Dreyfuss writes, "and the revolutionaries don't need the White House's help."

  • The National Review on a Realistic Plan for the Budget  In a staff editorial today, the National Review editorial board endorses Paul Ryan's modest budget proposal, and suggests that the Republicans follow his path along the way towards "reestablishing their credibility as the party of fiscal responsibility." Senator Ryan's plan, which asks for $74 billion more cuts than Barack Obama's budget, is a more realistic, they argue, than Rand Paul's drastically ambitious call for $100 billion in reductions. Taking a more moderate route would help the Republican Party avoid the pitfall of trying "to do too much, too quickly" that led to the Democrats' "shellacking" at the polls in November.

  • Amy Alkon on How to Make L.A. Less Rude  Los Angeles was named the rudest city in America by readers of Travel + Leisure magazine, and Amy Alkon confronts this bad press head-on. She acknowledges that in a large, sprawling city like L.A., where you are most often surrounded by strangers, people may be tempted to act ruder than they would in a small town where everyone knows each other. Since Los Angeles won't shrink in size, Alkon insists that it is up to the people who live there to create a more polite society. The best course of action, she says, is to act neighborly by doing favors for your actual neighbors and helping strangers in your vicinity. "A minute or two of generosity of spirit is probably all it takes to leave people with a lasting good impression," Alkon writes. "More important, it might just compel them to pass on a little goodwill to the people they encounter--to spread the nice instead of the mean."