Editorial voices from elsewhere

August 1, 2014

Excerpts from recent editorials in newspapers in the United States as compiled by the Associated Press:

News and Observer, Raleigh, N.C.

To be a missionary or a health care worker who tends to the poor has always required an admirable level of compassion, but now in West Africa it also requires remarkable courage.

An outbreak of the terrifying Ebola virus in several West African nations is putting those who care for its victims at great risk. Some, such as Liberia’s top health official, Dr. Samuel Brisbane, have already paid with their lives.

Others have contracted the disease and are struggling to survive. Two are Americans affiliated with the North Carolina-based missionary group Samaritan’s Purse.

In a painful contrast to the compassion and courage showed by members of that organization, fear of Ebola has panicked some Liberian residents who blame health workers for the spread of the disease. Health workers have been threatened and blocked from entering some villages where infected people are.

Despite the threats of disease, these missionaries stayed to help. May their good deeds be matched by the good fortune of recovery.

Los Angeles Times

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities should not be controversial: It requires equal access for the disabled and bans discrimination against them in all countries that sign on. There is no question the Senate should ratify it. The only issue is why it has any opponents at all.

Modeled after the landmark Americans With Disabilities Act, the treaty has been ratified by 146 countries and the European Union, and has legions of supporters in the United States – veterans groups of different generations, business and civic leaders. It also has bipartisan roots: The George W. Bush administration participated in drafting it, and President Obama signed it.

In late 2012, many did vote to ratify it – 61 senators, in fact. But treaties need 67 votes, a two-thirds majority of the Senate. The treaty was opposed by 38 Republican senators, many of whom argued it would undermine U.S. sovereignty and cede too much decision-making authority to the United Nations. Strong opposition also came from vocal advocates for home schooling who were alarmed by a passage in the treaty that they believe might override parents’ ability to make decisions about their own disabled children. In fact, the treaty does nothing of the sort.

The bottom line is the treaty does not trump or alter U.S. laws or those of individual states. And if there is any lingering doubt of that among skeptics, the treaty’s backers in the Senate said they will add clarifying language as part of the ratification process to make sure there are no ambiguities. Senate ratification will bring U.S. influence and innovation to other countries that are in the process of expanding access and opportunity for the disabled. This treaty isn’t about parents losing authority over their kids or the United States losing sovereignty over its citizens. It’s about access for the disabled, and a world in which they can travel and thrive without facing discrimination. That’s something we all should want. The Senate should finally ratify this treaty.

Boston Herald

European leaders are now convinced imposing harsher sanctions on entire sectors of the Russian economy is worth the price they’ll pay (literally) on the homefront. And the White House announced this week the United States is also preparing sanctions targeting the broader Russian economy. President Obama said the sanctions with “bigger bite” will make a weak Russian economy even weaker.

We’d like to think it will all make a difference to Vladimir Putin, but that view seems optimistic in the extreme.

Sanctions imposed thus far have done little to deter Putin or his proxies battling in eastern Ukraine, even in the wake of global condemnation for the downing of a civilian passenger jet by Russian-backed separatists.

Secretary of State John Kerry himself said the Russians have indicated not “a shred of evidence that they really have a legitimate desire to end the violence and end the bloodshed.” Leaving the rest of us with barely a shred of hope.



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