Excerpts from recent editorials in newspapers around the world:
The Jerusalem Post on the euro zone:
It would be incorrect to conclude that the formation of a new government in Athens categorically pre-empted the looming Greek tragedy which threatened the entire euro zone. Europe is by no means safe, although the Greek electorate's narrow pro-euro preference is clearly better than the alternative that would have triggered potentially catastrophic chain reactions.
It's a relief but at best a very temporary one. The pro-bailout coalition doesn't represent a decisive turning point. It's merely a brief intermission in the unfolding drama. Europe was spared an immediate crash but the deep divide remains between its wealth-generating northern economies and the welfare-reliant south.
Hence initial upbeat responses were short-lived. Early gains for the euro and Spanish and Italian bonds soon evaporated. The continuing plotline promises hair-raising twists and turns. ...
Dangerous as the Greek situation still is, it may _ hyperbole and doomsday scenarios notwithstanding _ prove to be the least of Europe's worries. ...
... What will ensue in Spain, Italy, Portugal and Ireland is anyone's guess.
This is foremost a glaring European failure. The EU superstructure, in which separate economies are excessively interconnected, couldn't prevent countries with over-sized public sectors from cooking up their books to the European collective's detriment.
The entire euro zone may yet be terminally destabilized.
Unfortunately, no facile formula exists for the EU's greatest-ever predicament. ...
In such circumstances there may be no sidelines and no safe vantage points.
The Telegraph, London, on the death of Lonesome George, giant Galapagos tortoise:
Like Mohicans and big spenders, there had to be the last of the Pinta Island tortoises. For some years it had been George, Lonesome George. Now he is no more, cut off in his tortoisy prime of 100 or so. For an unfurry animal, he had great appeal.
In some ways his was a privileged life. Not for him the name Ptolemy, with which so many of his smaller cousins had been landed. Latterly, George was lodged in a roomy corral with attractive lady tortoises, and if he failed to secure the Georgian succession it was not through a panda-like disdain for the mechanics of paternity. There have been other losses to the tortoise world - Timothy of Powderham Castle, aged 165, in 2004; Harriet, a giant Galapagos tortoise too, quite falsely believed to have been collected by Charles Darwin, aged 176, in 2006. They had their followers, but George stood alone. That was his sorrow.
The Japan Times, Tokyo, on Egypt:
It took longer than anticipated, but there is finally a victor in Egypt's first truly competitive presidential elections. Mohamed Morsi, the candidate of the Muslim Brotherhood, prevailed over former Gen. Ahmed Shafik. The outcome is symbolic on many levels, but most significantly because it is not clear if Morsi is president in any real sense. Egypt's old order is waging a battle behind the scenes _ and under cover of the judiciary _ to strip the new administration of any real power. ...
The new president's powers are uncertain; the interim constitution vests all authority over legislation and the budget, as well as control over the prime minister, in the military council, although Mr. Morsi has the power to appoint the Cabinet. The military claims that it will oversee the drafting of yet another constitution and that a new parliament will be elected. But the fact remains that Egypt has a new, democratically elected president, and he and the people who elected him expect him to govern.
Unfortunately, distrust of the Muslim Brotherhood runs deep in Egypt. The organization has existed for 84 years as a secret society and is considered by many, in Egypt and elsewhere, to be a front for radical Islamists who seek to impose a fundamentalist state. ...
The challenge now is to find a way for the military to return to the barracks without losing face or undermining the nascent democracy in Egypt. Pressure must be kept on the generals to honor the intent of the revolution and the majority of voters who chose Morsi. Egypt's politicians can look to Turkey for ways to enshrine democratic principles in a new constitution that would shield the country from creeping Islamic fundamentalism and prevent the military from exercising a veto over politics. ...
Los Angeles Times on juveniles convicted of murder:
Ruling on two cases involving 14-year-old murderers, the U.S. Supreme Court rightly struck down laws in 28 states that require some minors convicted of murder to be sentenced to life without the possibility of parole. Unfortunately, the justices stopped short of prohibiting all such sentences, thereby muddying the legal waters and making it likely that they will have to consider future cases from states, such as California, where that penalty is permissible but not required.
The 5-4 decision involved two crimes. Kuntrell Jackson participated in an attempted holdup of a video store in Arkansas in which another boy shot a clerk to death. Evan Miller was convicted by an Alabama court, along with a 16-year-old friend, of killing a neighbor by beating him and setting his trailer on fire. The question was whether, despite these offenses, it amounted to cruel and unusual punishment to deny Jackson and Miller a chance at some point to demonstrate that they had reformed.
In a 2005 ruling prohibiting capital punishment for juveniles, the court, reflecting the findings of psychologists and neurologists, cited three differences between younger teenagers and adults: Adolescents are likelier than adults to display a "lack of maturity and an underdeveloped sense of responsibility"; they are more susceptible to negative influences and peer pressure; and "the character of a juvenile is not as well formed as that of an adult." Using the same reasoning, the court in 2010 ruled that states could not sentence juveniles to life in prison without the possibility of parole for non-homicide crimes. ...
Whatever the explanation, the court has not yet done away with the need for legislation _ such as California's proposed SB 9 _ to make it possible for juveniles convicted of even the most heinous crimes to prove that they are entitled to another chance.
The Holland (Michigan) Sentinel on the U.S. Affordable Care Act:
Whatever the ruling, high court won't have last word on health care
No Supreme Court ruling since Bush v. Gore has generated as much anticipation as the court's pending ruling on the constitutionality of President Barack Obama's landmark Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. ... But however the justices rule, we can be sure about this: The court won't have the last word on health care reform in America.
If the Supreme Court upholds the entire law, or strikes down the individual mandate but lets the other parts of the 906-page statute go into effect, the law's full implementation is still far from certain. Republicans in Congress (and a possible Republican in the White House) will continue fighting to repeal it, though they might be pressured to retain certain popular provisions, such as the prohibition against denying coverage for pre-existing conditions. But many Democrats may even want to tinker with the law, because so many of its effects are uncertain. Will employers drop employee health care plans, finding it cheaper to pay the federal penalty than to continue offering coverage? Will the new insurance exchanges create real competition and affordable options for consumers? Can the federal government afford the increased number of people covered by the Medicare system? Those are questions impossible to answer in advance. ...
Americans want something better. An Associated Press-GfK poll found that while only 21 percent of respondents supported the Affordable Care Act, 77 percent of those surveyed, including majorities among all political persuasions, said they want Congress to start working on a new reform law if the current one is thrown out. ...
Regardless of the Supreme Court's ruling, we have to find something better.
Houston Chronicle on oil leases in the Gulf of Mexico:
If we can get beyond the inevitable who-should-get-the-credit arguments, the record sale of oil leases in the Gulf of Mexico is good news. The Houston region should benefit from some of the jobs added, while the country will get an added measure of energy security out of the expansion of drilling offshore.
The record bids, totaling $1.7 billion, went for leases on 454 tracts covering 2.4 million acres in waters as deep as 11,000 feet.
The highest single bid was made by Statoil, the Norwegian national company, for a tract in the Mississippi Canyon in the Central Gulf. Houston-based Shell Oil submitted the highest total of bids, $763.8 million for 24 tracts.
The squawking about who deserves the credit probably stems from the high-profile presence of Energy Secretary Ken Salazar at the announcement of the new leases and his assertion that it proves "the Gulf is back."
Many in the oil industry have accused the Obama administration of slow-walking or blocking new activity in the Gulf since the BP spill in April 2010 that led to a moratorium on new drilling. We prefer to move forward. It's done.
What's ahead is a challenge to the industry to demonstrate its commitment to drill and produce in the Gulf while meeting stricter environmental standards in the wake of the worst environmental disaster in U.S. history. We agree with the assertion that this robust bidding for the Gulf leases offers evidence of the industry's confidence in its ability to meet that challenge.
This lease sale should signal a new day in the Gulf of Mexico, characterized by a firm commitment to bring these vital resources to market safely and with utmost care for the Gulf's fragile environment.
The Daily Sentinel, Grand Junction, Colorado, on Arizona's immigration law:
Most Americans no doubt learned that the U.S. Supreme Court struck down key provisions of Arizona's controversial immigration law on a 5-3 vote. Or they may have heard the court upheld one of the most significant portions of the law.
Depending on their political perspective and views on immigration, they may curse the court for its liberalism and its acceptance of the claims of the Obama administration. Or they might blast the court for its right-wing ways and its willingness to uphold states' rights, even if they lead to racial profiling.
But Americans of all political persuasions should applaud the court's careful consideration of this issue and its refusal to simply accept what either side was saying as gospel.
In fact, the Roberts Court, like its predecessors, is doing exactly what is expected of the judicial branch of government. It has acted as a neutral arbiter of what passes constitutional muster, not as a partisan cheerleader.
Evidence of this is in the vote split. While the main decision was the 5-3 vote, conservative Chief Justice John Roberts and frequent swing vote Justice Anthony Kennedy both sided with the more liberal members of the court to reach the majority.
Also, the three dissenting justices each wrote separate opinions, explaining that they dissented on different parts of the main decision, and for different reasons. ...
However, the court sent a warning to Arizona authorities, saying there could be further litigation if the law is used to allow harassment or unreasonable detention of people for minor crimes or... creating new crimes for immigrants who fail to carry appropriate documents or who seek work when they are here illegally _ were pre-empted by federal immigration law.
Omaha (Nebraska) World-Herald on Operation Fast and Furious:
No one at any level is claiming that the federal government's "Operation Fast and Furious" gunrunning investigation was anything but botched. Yet despite the disappearance of hundreds of guns and the killing of a federal agent, Washington is giving the American public another political showdown rather than answers.
Congress is rightly asking questions; Attorney General Eric Holder won't hand over all the documents Congress wants; President Barack Obama claims executive privilege; the House is poised to cite Holder for contempt. It needn't have come to this.
Just tell us what happened.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives began Fast and Furious in 2009. The plan was aimed at Mexican drug cartels and the smugglers supplying them with weapons. "Straw buyers" were allowed to purchase guns in Arizona, and the ATF was going to follow the weapons into the hands of cartel thugs and leaders.
The plan went horribly wrong. The ATF lost track of hundreds of those guns. Many have been recovered at crime scenes in Mexico. On Dec. 14, 2010, in the Arizona desert just north of the border, U.S. Border Patrol agent Brian Terry was gunned down. Two guns from the operation were found nearby.
Americans deserve to know all the facts. But neither the ATF nor its parent Justice Department has been fully forthcoming. ...
At this point, it appears there's no evidence that the initial denial was anything but a bureaucratic mistake. Holder has testified several times and ordered an investigation by his agency's inspector general. The department turned over 7,600 of the 140,000 documents congressional investigators seek.
Mistakes obviously were made. Common sense was lacking. The truth has taken too long to come out. Serious questions remain unanswered, and Congress is right to ask...
Just tell us what happened.
The Miami Herald on the "Dream Act":
Gaby Pacheco, Carlos Roa, Felipe Matos and Juan Rodriguez, please take a bow.
Thanks to the efforts of these four Miami-area immigrants and Miami Dade College alums, who walked from Miami to Washington to plead their case for immigration reform in 2010, a version of the "Dream Act" is now a reality.
Many other young people from throughout the United States have been involved in pressing their members of Congress for action, but these four took great risks to get their message out. Some of them faced deportation back to their parents' home country and were spared by various legal maneuvers, often with the help of South Florida's Cuban-American lawmakers.
President Barack Obama didn't wait for Congress to pass the Dream Act proposal, which has long received bipartisan support but has been blocked by political machinations as tea party activists have hijacked the Republican Party. He signed an executive order that would grant work permits to young adults brought to the United States before they turned 16 and who have been in this country for at least five years, with no criminal record. They must graduate high school or serve in the U.S. military to qualify.
It's a shame that such a common-sense proposal _ to legalize the status of young adults who were brought to this country by their parents when they were children and who often don't even know that they are undocumented _ has not been embraced by Congress. It's a shame, too, that the president waited until just a few months before the presidential election to act. Clearly, there are political motivations on both sides of the aisle. ...
The Telegraph, Macon., Georgia, on the campaign politics of immigration:
President Barack Obama and the assumed Republican nominee, Gov. Mitt Romney, both appeared before the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials at their political conference in Orlando, Florida.
Romney had the first opportunity to speak on June 21. The attendees didn't hear about self-deportation that Romney spouted during the primary season. Nor did he talk about his opposition to the Dream Act, an idea shared by potential running mate, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla. ...
To put it bluntly, Romney had to walk a tightrope of his own creation. He did say he would make a path to citizenship for those who served in the military, but that was hollow promise. While many illegal immigrants served, particularly during our last buildups for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, illegal immigrants can't legally join the military.
Obama confidently strode into the hall at Disney on June 22 knowing his reception would be warm. He may have pulled off the most timely political coup of his presidency by, through executive fiat, implementing a plan where illegal immigrants brought to this country as children, could stay without fear of deportation.
In reality, the Hispanics in the room should have been disappointed. While Obama says he's been working on immigration issues for the length of his presidency, very little has been accomplished. ...
Still, some decisions are made with the heart, not the head, and for a group that voted for Obama by a 2-1 margin, he's done nothing but solidify his standing with that community. Romney, on the other hand, is in a hole when it comes to Hispanics. At least with his appearance at NALEO, he stopped digging.
The Commercial Appeal, Memphis, Tennessee, on the new Southern Baptist Convention president:
It seems odd to still have to say in 2012 that an African-American has become the "first" something.
Rev. Fred Luter of New Orleans on June 19 became the first African-American president of the Southern Baptist Convention, the nation's largest Protestant religious body.
It's quite a step for one of the nation's more conservative denominations, and it should be another reminder for those who still haven't gotten the message that ability, potential and leadership are not grounded in the color of an individual's skin but in an individual's ability to get the job done.
Formed in 1845 by men who defended slavery as biblical, the SBC in 1995 formally apologized for the role slavery and racism played in its founding.
It takes a lot of strength for an organization so steeped in tradition to admit that it was wrong.
And it also took a lot of strength for Luter to remain with the SBC when his peers were probably telling him there was no future in sticking with the SBC.
Luter's election shows what can happen when people and organizations are willing to push racial perceptions into the background.
Excerpts from recent editorials in newspapers around the world: