Editorial Roundup: Excerpts from recent editorials

Published on NewsOK Modified: April 16, 2014 at 4:07 pm •  Published: April 16, 2014
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Excerpts from recent editorials in newspapers in the United States and abroad:

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April 15

The Tampa (Fla.) Tribune on Rwanda's turnaround:

It has been 20 years since the genocide that took as many as a million lives and left Rwanda in ruins. So it is illuminating that a new report shows that life expectancy in the formerly splintered African nation has doubled in that time.

The development reveals what can happen when murderous, corrupt regimes are replaced with leadership focused on maintaining peace and improving living conditions.

Harvard professor Paul Farmer, along with Rwandan health experts, just published a study of the life expectancy data in The Lancet, the world's most prestigious medical journal.

"In the aftermath of one of the worst spasms of mass violence in recorded history, few imagined that Rwanda might one day serve as a model for other nations committed to health equity," their report notes.

The 1994 genocide, carried out chiefly by the country's Hutus against their rival Tutsis, killed nearly 20 percent of the nation's population and displaced millions more.

One particularly horrible statistic to emerge from the genocide: Half a million women were raped during the fighting, and up to 20,000 children were born as a result.

That was then. The story now goes far beyond the life expectancy data, which obviously were going to improve somewhat once the mass killings ended.

In Rwanda today, the genocide — while it will never be forgotten — has been put aside as the victims and the perpetrators join hands in a remarkable effort to build a better nation.

Investment in Rwanda has nearly tripled since 2005, and although it lacks many natural resources, the country has become economically vibrant.

Moreover, most of the population is covered by health insurance, and malaria deaths have fallen more than 85 percent since 2005. The crime rate is low, and Rwandan women can now safely walk the streets at night.

If this kind of reconciliation and revival can happen in a forlorn corner of the world like Rwanda, couldn't it also happen in other places?

In fact, it has happened elsewhere: Just last week, Michael D. Higgins became the first president of Ireland to ever visit Britain's Parliament and be received by Queen Elizabeth at Windsor Castle.

Given the bloody history of Ireland's conflicts with the United Kingdom, it is encouraging the two sides are on friendly terms.

And although it took 20 years to overcome the horrors of Rwanda's genocide, we can only hope that the reconciliation, like that between Ireland and Great Britain, offers similar hope to other troubled parts of the world.

Online:

http://tbo.com

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April 15

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on U.S. military activities in Africa:

The Defense Department's Africa Command, created in 2008, continues to expand U.S. military activities in Africa, now in at least 18 countries.

The operations are taking place in Burkina Faso, Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Chad, Djibouti (which hosts a major U.S. base), Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Libya, Mali, Niger, Senegal, the Seychelles, Somalia, South Sudan, Togo, Tunisia and Uganda. The United States has operated drones out of Djibouti, Ethiopia, Niger and the Seychelles. A U.S.-trained officer led a coup d'etat in Mali in 2012.

Last month, a U.S. Special Operations force commandeered a tanker in international waters that Libyan rebels were attempting to use to export Libyan oil for their own profit. The armed intervention was carried out at the request of the shaky Libyan government and responded to the desires of American oil companies operating in Libya. A parallel use of U.S. military forces to protect the assets of American oil companies is the guard function they carry out on a pipeline in Colombia, South America.

In March, President Barack Obama authorized the insertion of U.S. forces into Central Africa to aid the Ugandan military in what have been unsuccessful efforts to track down the Lord's Resistance Army of Joseph Kony. This action was taken in spite of previous failures to trap the LRA and public criticism of the Ugandan government of President Yoweri Museveni for a law that its legislature has passed and he has signed that is sharply discriminatory against homosexuals.

It is difficult to argue that America has important strategic interests in any of these countries. Absent the agreement of any African nation to the establishment of a U.S. Africa Command headquarters on its soil, it remains based in Stuttgart, Germany.

It is hard to fathom why U.S. military activity is on the rise in Africa, but it may be driven to a degree by Pentagon fears that its budget will be cut in the post-Iraq and post-Afghanistan era, now that Americans are tired of distant wars. The problem is the activity is expensive — planned expansion of the Djibouti base alone is estimated to cost $750 million — and it risks involving the United States in unnecessary military adventures. Someone needs to "red pencil" the expansion before it proceeds further.

Online:

http://www.post-gazette.com

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April 10

Las Vegas Review-Journal on Obamacare's true numbers being a revealing failure:

On the afternoon of April 1, President Barack Obama pulled out the pom-poms and assumed the role of cheer captain at the White House Rose Garden to celebrate the great Obamacare victory. The Affordable Care Act had reached its purported goal of 7 million sign-ups, and by the March 31 deadline, no less.

Not 7 million paid consumers. Not 7 million who were previously uninsured, which we were told was the primary objective of the law. Just 7 million people who at least chose a plan via healthcare.gov or the state exchanges.

It was fitting that this pep rally was held on April Fool's Day.

The Obama administration continues to demonstrate an extreme lack of transparency on the president's signature legislation, particularly with regard to paid enrollment and the number of sign-ups who were previously uninsured.

The sad truth about Obamacare: It largely has resulted in a churning of the insured. The law forced the cancellation of coverage for millions of people, who were then forced to buy a new, more expensive, Obamacare-compliant policy. An extensive study released Tuesday by Rand Corp. backs that up, estimating that only about one-third of exchange sign-ups were previously uninsured.

The Rand study also estimates that, through March 28, 3.9 million people were covered through the federal and state Obamacare exchanges. That's not exactly 7.1 million. Granted, the study doesn't include a deadline surge of enrollees, but if it took from Oct. 1 until March 28 to get 3.9 million sign-ups, it stands to reason that there is no way an additional 3.2 million signed up between March 28 and March 31.

As for paid enrollees, Forbes.com's Avik Roy used the Rand study and a report last month from management consulting firm McKinsey to determine that 76 percent of those who have paid their first month's premium were previously insured, while just 24 percent were previously uninsured. A separate Forbes report estimates that 15 to 20 percent of enrollees haven't paid. It's safe to assume that many Americans who visited an exchange and selected a plan left it in their online shopping cart with no intention of ever purchasing it because the premiums, deductibles and other out-of-pocket costs were astronomical.

This was not what was promised. As Roy rightly notes, the Congressional Budget Office, in its original estimates, predicted that the vast majority of those eligible for subsidies on the exchanges would be previously uninsured individuals. Instead, the vast majority are previously insured people. The only notable achievement of Obamacare thus far is the expansion of Medicaid (5.9 million added, per Rand), which could have been accomplished without the law.

For Americans who had become uninsurable because of disease or a debilitating condition, Obamacare is working. Now they can get health insurance at a reasonable price. But Congress could have helped these people obtain coverage without ruining health care for everybody else.

Yet the celebration goes on. With the dubious sign-up goal of 7 million reached, President Obama immediately latched onto the idea that vindication is here, debate is over and repeal is unworthy. The reality is that the Obama administration has made health insurance dramatically more expensive while reducing choice and not substantially reducing the number of uninsured. That's worth repeal right there. No fooling.

Online:

http://www.reviewjournal.com

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April 11

Kansas City Star on Kathleen Sebelius helping create a fairer health system:

By agreeing to serve as President Barack Obama's health and human services secretary five years ago, Kathleen Sebelius assumed a front-and-center role in a historical effort.

Presidents since Harry S. Truman have tried to end the moral injustice that left millions of Americans without access to affordable health care. Obama and the Democrats in Congress, who at the time controlled both chambers, had a mission and an opportunity to change the system.

Sebelius left the Kansas governor's office to become a part of it. Her role in getting the Affordable Care Act up and running was never easy, and it would become excruciating. But Sebelius, who resigned her post on Friday, contributed a great deal toward creating a fairer and better health care system for America.

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