Editorial voices from elsewhere
Excerpts from recent editorials in newspapers in the United States and abroad as compiled by the Associated Press:
The Obama administration is reportedly poised to ask Congress to exempt Egypt from the law that requires ending financial aid in the event of a military coup, and that would be a misreading of the situation.
Any support for such an exemption would have to be based on the belief that Egypt’s recent referendum, which passed with overwhelming approval by voters, means the military leadership is actually practicing and embracing democracy.
The evidence, unfortunately, points in the opposite direction.
Egypt’s opposition media have been shut down, and three journalists for Al Jazeera have been imprisoned without any charges. Meanwhile, the constitution adopted last weekend exempts the army, police and intelligence services from civilian control while allowing these very same arms of the government to prosecute anyone they deem threatening in military courts.
The great promise of 2011’s Arab Spring, which began in Tunisia and spread very quickly to Egypt, took its time before reaching its goals in the former but has not even come close to bringing about the kind of pluralistic, democratic government so many Egyptians had in mind when they demonstrated against the stifling regime of former dictator Hosni Mubarak.
But as bad as Mubarak may have been, he was at least a staunch ally of the United States. The government now calling the shots in Cairo is no such ally, and pouring American dollars into its treasury won’t change that unhappy truth.
Incredibly, the World Health Organization says 5.4 million people around the planet suffer early death each year because of tobacco smoking. Cigarettes are an international curse, the worst cause of unnecessary sickness and lost lifespan.
The latest New England Journal of Medicine says the world could avoid 200 million needless deaths by 2025 – and also gain trillions in tax revenue – if tobacco taxes were tripled worldwide, preventing millions of youths from becoming addicted.
Most American states have boosted taxes to prevent the young from becoming addicts. The U.S. average now is around $1.50 per pack. But West Virginia lags far behind, with just a 55-cent tax – the nation’s 44th lowest.
Each year, health reformers in the Legislature try to boost the state’s cigarette tax, but high-paid tobacco lobbyists defeat this lifesaving attempt. As a result, West Virginia continues to have America’s worst smoking rate – an ugly distinction.
With the 2014 Legislature in full swing, conscientious senators and delegates who oppose unnecessary sickness and death among West Virginians – and who see a need for extra revenue – should rally behind an effort to help this state catch up with the rest of America.
Barack Obama has been wise to largely ignore the lunar left’s clamor for what would amount to the crippling of America’s intelligence-gathering capabilities following the allegations made by the National Security Agency defector Edward Snowden from his sanctuary in Moscow.
The president deserves credit for the way in which, in his keynote Washington address on the issue, he emphasized the crucial importance of intelligence gathering in the post-9/11 world and pointed out that the NSA has not abused its powers, violated the law or been cavalier about civil liberties.
The 9/11 Commission’s report devastatingly detailed how Washington’s inability to track terrorist communications allowed the hijackers to go undetected. There is always a legitimate case for control over agencies involved in surveillance. But crippling them would be a sure-fire way of allowing more 9/11s.