Excerpts from recent editorials in newspapers in the United States and abroad:
Miami Herald on the Trans-Pacific Partnership:
After more than five years of negotiation, the United States and five Asia-Pacific nations reached a potentially transformative trade deal last week that once again puts this country at the forefront of the global economy.
The Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP, includes countries that account for 40 percent of the world economy. That alone makes the effort worthwhile, even if the details remain unknown. It is the biggest international trade deal ever negotiated, and probably the most complicated, containing more than 30 chapters on a bewildering array of trade issues, from patents to wildlife protection.
Until the full text is published — President Obama said it would be "soon" — precedent suggests it's best to withhold a full embrace of the agreement. But what we do know at this point is that the deal has a number of advantages for American workers and consumers.
The proposal will end 18,000 tariffs on American products across the board, including automobiles, machinery, information technology and consumer goods. That will not only make it easier for U.S. products to compete in the vast area covered by this agreement, but it also will open new markets previously closed to U.S. goods. And that, in turn, leads to job creation inside U.S. borders and reduces the attraction of off-shoring jobs.
Previous agreements have been criticized for shortchanging labor and environmental standards, effectively giving other countries a pass even while the United States stayed true to higher standards. This one, Mr. Obama promised, attempts to learn from past mistakes by adding enforceable new provisions.
Thus, in what is probably a first, the measure won strong praise from environmentalists because it requires the pact's signers to abide by existing treaties on the environment and also places new limits on wildlife trafficking and subsidies for illegal fishing. "We see this as a very big deal," said David McCauley, an official of the World Wildlife Fund.
In an interview Tuesday, Mr. Obama conceded that TPP alone would not raise labor standards in countries like Vietnam to U.S. levels overnight, but it requires signatories to ban child labor in those countries ...
No doubt, the pact will become fodder during the presidential campaign. Candidate Hillary Clinton has already registered her disapproval of TPP. Fair enough, as long as she and other candidates stick to the facts instead of indulging in phony scare tactics. If the pact lives up to Mr. Obama's promises, it will bolster the U.S. economy and America's position around the world.
The Augusta (Georgia) Chronicle on how rhetoric is tearing U.S. apart:
As never since the Civil War, America today risks tearing itself apart.
Not even in the tumultuous '60s did it probably occur to most people that the country could come apart. We were at war with North Vietnam, and at war with each other - over race, over Vietnam, over competing cultures of tradition and rebellion. But even then we stuck it out.
Today, we are at relative peace, save for the war on terror the Obama administration declines to acknowledge. And while race relations are strained by tragic clashes and an incendiary news media, they've nonetheless improved exponentially in the past half-century. Imagine telling someone in 1965 that we'd have a black president!
So why does it feel like our country is coming apart at the seams?
Maybe because it might be.
This is perhaps best demonstrated by the acid, even violent political rhetoric that has exploded onto the scene in the past 15 years or so.
Exhibit A: GQ Magazine last week published a blog headlined "F--- Ben Carson."
It matters not what the article had to say about the presidential candidate - whom we've met, and who we can tell you is as good and decent a man as we've ever had run for that office.
Nope, GQ lost us at "F." Hopefully, they lost most of the country there, too.
How telling - how depressing, dismal and disheartening - that our public discourse has come to this, and that it's sanctioned by a historically legitimate magazine brand.
They apparently have a different view of "Gentlemen" than we do!
The Wall Street Journal on Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 crash:
The Dutch Safety Board released a comprehensive report Tuesday on the July 2014 downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17. Through painstaking analysis, investigators concluded that the Boeing 777 was brought down by a Russian-made Buk missile fired from territory controlled by Russian-backed rebels in Ukraine. Two-hundred ninety-eight people were killed. Dutch prosecutors have also joined the investigation.
So now we know what we already knew. The problem is that Western authorities continue to treat MH17 as a forensic puzzle and a criminal act rather than a moral outrage and a warning of the danger that Vladimir Putin's adventure in Ukraine poses to the interests and values of Europe.
The Russian President has signed, and then violated, two cease-fire agreements with the Ukrainian government since MH17 was shot down. The second of these agreements was negotiated with the leaders of Germany and France. Yet European consensus behind the sanctions on Russia continues to fray, even as the Kremlin is stepping up its military intervention in Syria.
Governments and aviation authorities have learned some lessons from MH17. European and United Nations authorities last week warned airlines about the danger of flying over Iraq, Iran and the Caspian Sea, lest passenger jets get caught out by the missiles Mr. Putin is firing toward Syria. The Dutch report faults Ukrainian authorities for not establishing a no-fly zone before MH17. Perhaps governments should be quicker to do so in the future.
That might improve passenger safety. But the larger point is that commercial aviation, like so many global civilian endeavors, depends upon predictable conditions and routine procedures on the ground. Western leaders who aren't prepared to uphold world order against reckless men like Mr. Putin had better get ready for an ever-expanding no-fly zone_and future Flight 17s.
The Los Angeles Times on life without parole for juveniles
Three years ago the Supreme Court rightly struck down laws requiring minors who commit murder to be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. On Tuesday, the justices considered a different question: whether the decision should be made retroactive, which would require states to grant new sentencing hearings to prisoners who were younger than 18 when they committed their crimes. The case concerns Henry Montgomery, who was 17 when he shot and killed a Baton Rouge, La., police officer in 1963.
Montgomery vs. Louisiana involves the question of whether the Supreme Court's 2012 ruling was "substantive" (in which case it can be applied retroactively) or merely "procedural." It is complicated by an even more technical dispute over whether the Supreme Court even has jurisdiction over this state court issue. We hope the court focuses on the big picture: that its 2012 ruling is indeed a substantive change in the law that must be applied retroactively in all proceedings.
There is no doubt, as Justice Elena Kagan put it Tuesday, that the 2012 ruling "fits on the substantive side." Although the court in that decision stopped short of holding that juveniles could never be sentenced to life in prison without parole, it required judges and juries to consider "youth and attendant characteristics" as possible extenuating factors before imposing such a sentence. As a result, the court suggested, life sentences without the possibility of parole for juveniles in the future would be "uncommon."
That was almost as significant a change in legal doctrine as the court's 2005 decision holding that states couldn't execute murderers who were younger than 18 when they committed their crimes. Both rulings were based on the court's recognition that juveniles have "diminished culpability and greater prospects for reform" — an insight that reflects recent research on how adolescent brains function. It would be an injustice if prisoners such as Montgomery were kept behind bars simply because they committed their crimes before the court saw the light.
At Tuesday's argument, there were suggestions that the court might not use this case to decide whether its 2012 ruling is retroactive, deferring such a decision until a prisoner files suit under a federal habeas corpus statute rather than in state court. We hope the court doesn't dodge the question in that way, but sooner or later it will have to confront the question of retroactivity. When it does, the only just conclusion is that prisoners such as Henry Montgomery are entitled to a new day in court.
The New York Times on the Democratic presidential debate:
It was impossible not to feel a sense of relief watching the Democratic debate after months dominated by the Republican circus of haters, ranters and that very special group of king killers in Congress. For those despairing about the future of American politics, here was proof that it doesn't have to revolve around candidates who pride themselves on knowing nothing or believe that governing is all about destroying government.
Civility was a big winner on Tuesday night, and the discussion of real issues was refreshing. But what stood out most was the Democratic Party's big tent, capable of containing a spectrum of reality-based views. All five candidates - including two refugees from what had been the Republican Party, Lincoln Chafee, a former Republican senator, and Jim Webb, Secretary of the Navy in the Reagan administration - have real records. They also have real differences on important issues — national security, foreign policy, gun safety, financial reforms. Those differences illuminate the choices that have to be made in governing, some likely to be successful, some ineffective.
The debate probably won't change much in the polling. Hillary Rodham Clinton reminded us why she's the front-runner, with her experience, command of the issues and strength in communicating ideas. ...
On guns laws, there was great divergence. Mr. Webb has earned an A rating from the National Rifle Association; Mr. Chafee and Martin O'Malley, the former governor of Maryland, have Fs; Mr. Sanders said he had received a D-minus, but had a tough time explaining his vote against the Brady Bill. He seemed so determined to continue pandering to his gun rights constituency in Vermont that he got lost in the odd idea that he is more in touch with rural voters than the governor of Maryland and ended up undermining his image as the righteous truth teller.
On foreign affairs, there was disagreement over the American role in the war in Syria and against the Islamic State. Mrs. Clinton supports a no-fly zone in Syria, an idea opposed by Mr. Sanders and Mr. O'Malley. Likewise on surveillance and security issues, Mrs. Clinton defended her support for the Patriot Act, which allowed the National Security Agency to create a vast secret surveillance program, while Mr. Sanders opposed the act and said he would shut down the program.
These are healthy and necessary disagreements on difficult challenges that America faces. There is no one way to achieve a more economically equitable and just society, but these Democrats have that common aim. Their discussion showed a capacity to absorb facts and adjust plans to consequences. The Republican candidates may have a lot of fun campaigning for office, but they haven't a prayer of knowing what to do if they ever entered the White House.
The Telegraph on immigration crisis
One aspect of our unwritten constitution that the judiciary is rightly keen to uphold is the separation of the courts from the executive and legislature. Parliament makes the law and the judges enforce it. True, there have been occasions when ministers forget this and castigate the courts for upholding the legislation they have promoted. But if that is wrong, so too is the involvement of judges - even retired ones - in the political process.
The migrant crisis that has overwhelmed Europe is a serious matter which is taxing, and may well topple, governments across the Continent. How to respond to it is a matter for politicians who are accountable to the electorate for their decisions.
David Cameron has decided that the best course of action is to help refugees from the Syrian civil war stay near their home country in the expectation they will one day be able to return. Other countries, notably Germany, have said that Syrian asylum seekers are welcome but are beginning to regret an approach that has triggered an unprecedented wave of economic migrants into the EU.
Which of these policies is correct? A group of lawyers and ex-judges has decreed that Mr. Cameron's is wrong and that it has dragged this country's good name as a sanctuary for the persecuted through the mud. The Government's decision to take 20,000 refugees from the camps by 2020, rather than accepting a share of those already in Europe, is "too low, too slow and too narrow".
This blatant political intervention is made all the more egregious by the fact that the judiciary and immigration lawyers have a specific role to play in the process. They should avoid such posturing and stick to the law.