Excerpts from recent editorials in newspapers in the United States and abroad:
Kansas City Star on Obamacare staying put:
With a 6-3 decision announced Thursday by the U.S. Supreme Court, the Affordable Care Act stands intact.
That is great news for the nation and especially for the 6.4 million or more Americans who would have seen the costs of their insurance policies soar if the latest challenge by opponents have succeeded.
This challenge was absurd and should never have made its way to the Supreme Court. Thankfully, all but three of the nine justices rejected the argument that a one-sentence drafting error should unravel a pillar of the 2010 health care law.
While fine-combing the law in search of chinks, opponents honed in on a sentence that says income-based subsidies should be available for individuals who purchase health plans "through an Exchange established by the state."
Three dozen states, including Missouri and Kansas, opted not to establish a state exchange. Residents of those states have purchased plans, with subsidies, from a federal exchange established in the law as a backup.
It was always inconceivable to think Congress would have intentionally denied affordable health care plans to citizens because they happen to live in an uncooperative state. No member or staffer of Congress involved in the drafting of the plan has said that was the case. Removal of the subsidies would have created an insurance "death spiral," driving healthy consumers out of the marketplace and leaving only sick patients who require expensive care.
Fortunately, the court recognized all of that.
"It is implausible that Congress meant the Act to operate in this manner," Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in the majority opinion, referring to the death spiral. "Congress passed the Affordable Care Act to improve health insurance markets, not to destroy them."
Ever optimistic, we would like to think the resolution of the King v. Burwell case will prompt Republicans into a more constructive posture.
Pledges to "repeal and replace Obamacare" have been a staple of nearly every GOP campaign platform over the last five years. But the failure of Congressional Republicans to rally around any sort of backup plan should the court have ruled the wrong way exposes the hollowness of that promise.
More than 25 million Americans have gained health insurance through the various provisions of the Affordable Care Act. People no longer have to forgo medical care or fear financial ruin if they become sick.
A new analysis by the Congressional Budget Office estimates that repealing the Affordable Care Act would result in a 19 million increase in the number of uninsured, and cause the federal deficit to grow by at least $137 billion over 10 years. It is irresponsible for politicians to even contemplate such a disaster.
It's time for leaders of both parties to seek common ground. Plenty of aspects of the Affordable Care Act and the broader health care landscape need fixing.
Congress could revisit the controversial employer insurance mandate, for example. Members should take a serious look at the lack of transparency and consistency in how hospitals price their services. Consumers need better protection from unfair deductibles and copay provisions in insurance plans.
It's also past time for Republicans in state legislatures to make the Affordable Care Act work for their citizens. Thousands of low- and-middle-income residents in Missouri and Kansas continue to be priced out of health insurance because their GOP-controlled legislatures (and in Kansas, Gov. Sam Brownback) refuse to expand Medicaid eligibility.
These are people who cannot afford to get regular checkups, have necessary medical procedures and fill prescriptions. One excuse that obstinate lawmakers have used to resist Medicaid expansion has been the hope the Supreme Court or Congress would one day cut the entire health care law off at the knees.
It's not happening. The Affordable Care Act is here to stay. Lawmakers at all levels must shift their focus to making it work for the American people.
The Greenwood (Mississippi) Commonwealth on U.S. marines possibly being on foreign ships:
During the third presidential debate in 2012, Mitt Romney attacked the Obama administration for advocating cuts to the military when some aspects of the U.S. armed forces are out of date or undermanned.
"Our Navy is smaller now than at any time since 1917," said Romney. "The Navy said they needed 313 ships to carry out their mission. We're now at 285."
Obama shot back something like this: "I think Gov. Romney maybe has not spent enough time looking at how our military works. We also have fewer horses and bayonets because the nature of our military has changed. There are these things called aircraft carriers where planes land on them. We have these ships that go underwater, nuclear submarines. ... The question is not a game of Battleship, where we're counting ships, it's what are our capabilities."
Who won the debate can be argued, but Obama won the election. In light of the news three years later, though, it appears Romney was correct, if not as glib as the president.
The U.S. may have enough big aircraft carriers and submarines (although that too may be debatable), but there obviously is a shortage of the amphibious vessels the Navy uses to deploy Marines to respond to global crises around the world, including incidents such as attacks on U.S. embassies.
USA Today reports that the Marine Corps, faced with a shortage of the type of assault ships they use to get troops, helicopters and other equipment to hot spots, is exploring a plan to use foreign ships.
The newspaper quotes Brig. Gen. Norman Cooling, deputy commander, U.S. Marine Corps Forces Europe Africa, as saying the measure is a stopgap way to deploy Marines aboard ships overseas until more American vessels are available. The Marines have been working with Spain, Italy, the United
Kingdom and other close allies to determine the suitability of foreign ships for U.S. personnel, the report said. The units would be for limited operations and not major amphibious assaults.
The Navy has 30 amphibious ships but says it needs 38, and because of budget constraints it won't reach that level until 2028.
That's unacceptable. Depending on foreign ships to carry our troops doesn't seem like a good option.
We agree with Rep. Randy Forbes, R-Va., a member of the House Armed Services Committee, who says: "Allowing the continued atrophy of the Navy-Marine Corps team's amphibious capacity is simply not an option given national security challenges facing the United States and its allies."
Foreign policy and military preparedness should be a major issue in next year's presidential election.
Let's hope glib doesn't carry the day over accuracy.
The Island Packet, Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, on removing Confederate flag:
Now is the time for South Carolina to remove the Confederate battle flag from the Statehouse grounds.
It should not take a lot of time, because this topic has been at the forefront of public dialogue for 20 years.
When the legislature voted to move the flag from the capitol dome to a prominent position near the front steps in 2000, it was the first step, not the last, toward healing a festering wound among the races in this state.
Last week, the wound got ripped open. A racist massacre in a Charleston church showed the world what the flag has been since it was no longer needed on the Civil War battlefield. It is a symbol of white supremacy.
White supremacy is disavowed in the Constitution. It is not acceptable legally, morally or economically.
The flag's place on Statehouse grounds gives it state-government sanction, when in fact the flag does not stand for all citizens of the state. It is indeed very hurtful to many as it is accurately associated with slavery, segregation, unequal rights, unequal schools, Black Codes, lynching, the KKK, terrorism, extremism and heinous violence like we saw last week. It's sad but true.
The values of the 1860s and 1960s, which are why the flag is where it is today, need to be buried, not exalted by the state legislature.
The flag belongs in museums.
South Carolina's legislature holds the key to freeing the state from this anachronism.
The legislature, meeting in a special section this week to pass a budget, was quick Tuesday to enable a discussion of removing the Confederate flag from the Statehouse grounds.
Now it must act equally as fast to catch up with the rest of society that was sickened by the racist killings of nine people studying the Bible at the historic Emanuel AME Church.
The innocent victims were the best and the brightest of society, including one of the legislature's own, state Sen. Clementa Pinckney of Ridgeland. Pinckney also was pastor of "Mother Emanuel," one of the most influential churches in the state's history.
All of these South Carolinians were killed solely because they were black.
The suspect is a Confederate flag-waving, self-proclaimed racist who says he wanted to start a race war.
Instead, history must recall, he inadvertently set in motion the bright day that the state legislature moves beyond the 19th century and accepts all South Carolinians as equals.
We don't need to tiptoe around this issue anymore. The Emanuel massacre and the forgiving spirit of the victims' loved ones made it easy to see the difference between right and wrong.
The legislature should correct other wrongs of the Heritage Act that got the flag off the dome. The law requires a super-majority vote to move the flag, and it prohibits certain memorials on public property anywhere in the state from being "relocated, removed, disturbed or altered" without approval of the legislature. That is a wrong-headed move to entrench racism into the future.
Since the massacre, thousands have marched to show their unity with the African-American community. The business world reacted swiftly. Wal-Mart, Amazon, eBay and Sears announced this week bans on the sale of Confederate flag merchandise.
We are thankful to three of South Carolina's top elected leaders -- Gov. Nikki Haley and U.S. Sens. Lindsey Graham and Tim Scott -- for coming out this week in favor of removing the flag. The legislature now must get it done.
Removing the flag is the right thing to do on all counts, but it will not change the hearts of man. It will not be a cure-all any more than moving it off the capitol dome ended racism. But like that step in 2000, this next step is important. And it is the only way to get South Carolina where it needs to go.
New York Times on the Gaza War:
The United Nations report on last year's Gaza war is another marker of the deadly, endless struggle between Israelis and Palestinians. It found "serious violations of international humanitarian law" that "may amount to war crimes" by both Israel and the Palestinian militants during a 50-day war that killed 2,251 Palestinians, including 1,462 civilians, and destroyed 18,000 homes in the Gaza Strip.
Both sides were faulted, but much of the criticism was placed on Israel. The report, by a commission of the United Nations Human Rights Council, concluded that "impunity prevails across the board" regarding the actions of Israeli forces in Gaza. Among other statistics, it cited 15 cases that killed 216 people, including 115 children and 50 women, in which Israelis used precision-guided weapons, yet there is little or no information to explain why residential buildings were considered legitimate military targets. The Palestinian militants, including Hamas, were condemned for the "inherently indiscriminate nature" of rockets and mortars fired at Israeli civilians. The report said there were more than 6,000 Israeli airstrikes on Gaza and 4,881 rockets and 1,753 mortars shot by Palestinians toward Israel between July 7 and Aug. 26.
The war was the latest in a destructive cycle that will undoubtedly be repeated if leaders on both sides do not hold violators of international law accountable for their conduct, as the report recommended, and, ultimately, find a way to live in peace.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel dismissed the report as "biased" and insisted "Israel does not commit war crimes."
His government refused to cooperate with the inquiry and issued its own report on June 11 that said that neither Israeli nor international laws were broken in several attacks that led to civilian deaths. It also made clear that no charges would be brought or action taken against those involved in the most prominent cases, including the airstrikes that killed four young cousins on a Gaza City beachfront, which drew international condemnation.
The United Nations' report was not the first to issue criticisms. In May, the Israeli advocacy group Breaking the Silence issued a 237-page report that described the devastation inflicted by the Israel Defense Forces after they invaded Gaza, causing "massive and unprecedented harm" to the population and casting "grave doubt" on the army's ethics.
Hamas, which calls for Israel's destruction, welcomed the parts of the United Nations report that criticized Israel but ignored condemnation of its own actions. The group, which has controlled Gaza since driving the Fatah faction out in 2007, has regularly attacked Israel by shooting rockets across the border. And yet there are reports that Hamas has begun quiet talks with Israel through intermediaries to extend the truce in Gaza and ease tight restrictions that are crippling Gaza and its people. Making any deal with Hamas seems certain to further weaken the Palestinian Authority, whose moderate leaders help administer the West Bank and have been willing to negotiate peace with Israel.
The report is expected to serve as the basis for a fuller investigation into possible war crimes by the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court. It is unrealistic to expect Hamas, which the United States and other countries consider a terrorist group, to comply with international law or police itself. But Israel has a duty, and should have the desire, to adjust its military policies to avoid civilian casualties and hold those who failed to do so accountable. Absent some kind of peace agreement with the Palestinians, another war in Gaza seems inevitable.