- Associated Press - Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Recent editorials from Alabama newspapers:

Sept. 2

Anniston (Alabama) Star on the aura was broken for journalists:

Twelve years ago, the beheading of the Wall Street Journal’s Daniel Pearl by al-Qaida jihadis in Pakistan reaffirmed the dangers of reporting from the world’s most dangerous places.

Caught up in the turbulent times just after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Pearl died at the hands of radical Islamists committed to violence against America and its closest allies. The ghastly manner in which he perished - a videotaped beheading - made it all the worse.

Twelve years later, two more American journalists have suffered similar fates - not by al-Qaida, but by the Islamic State, a nebulous group that claims to have established an Islamic Caliphate in parts of Syria and Iraq. James Foley, a reporter and videographer captured in Syria in 2012, was beheaded in August as retaliation for U.S. airstrikes against Islamic State sites. On Tuesday, the world learned that another American journalist, Steven Sotloff, had also been beheaded.

Journalists have died in dangerous places for as long as newspapers and war correspondents have existed. Some left behind spectacular examples of reporting and photography - think Ernie Pyle, the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist killed in the Pacific during World War II in 1945. Others have been lost to history, a statistic for those who document the risks journalists in war zones take.

The Committee to Protect Journalists says 1,073 journalists have died, worldwide, since 1992. The deadliest places for journalists coincide with nations corrupted by war and unrest, and those whose governments turn a blind eye toward press freedoms.

The Islamic State governs neither a nation, state or recognized boundary. Bruce Riedel, a former CIA and White House official now at the Brookings Institution, told the Orlando Sentinel that the Islamic State “is far more difficult to deal with” than Iran or the militant group Hezbollah.

The group “wants to terrorize Americans, it’s not really interested in deals.”

We remind those who say journalists shouldn’t be in these places of extreme violence that despots, warlords and jihadis would act free of detailed scrutiny if this reporting was silenced.




Sept. 2

Decatur (Alabama) Daily on costs and profits:

Critics of the Affordable Care Act, popularly known as Obamacare, are often loud in their disdain for the federal regulation of health insurance companies. Their criticism should be dampened by new evidence that insurers are up to their old tricks.

Health insurer profits increased 250 percent from 2000 to 2010, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Toward the end of the decade, when tens of thousands of people lost their employer-provided coverage in the wake of the Great Recession, profits really went up because older workers, who tend to have more health issues, were dropped from the rolls.

The most popular element of the Affordable Care Act is the prohibition against insurance companies turning away people with health issues or charging higher premiums. The idea is to provide care to all, often through state insurance pools, and keep people out of costly emergency rooms for primary care.

Now, consumer advocates say, insurance companies are gaming the system to discourage the sick from seeking insurance. They cite three tactics: Forming narrow networks with limited numbers of doctors and hospitals, causing prescription sticker shock with high co-pays, and by delaying entering public insurance exchanges.

The overhaul in health coverage created by the ACA establishes a pool of money the insurance providers pay into to help offset higher costs to companies that have a higher number of people with serious health problems. Still, some of the companies are slow to shoulder their responsibilities.

Many of the cost-saving elements of the Affordable Care Act were stripped away in Congress, and should be revisited. The cost of health cannot continue to rise at current levels and still be accessible to all.




August 31

Dothan (Alabama) Eagle on injustice in Geneva County:

It’s reasonable to believe that there are many factors that come into play in court proceedings that color the outcome, and that unless one is intimately involved with the case as judge, juror, attorney or defendant, all those factors may not be common knowledge.

However, in criminal cases, it’s reasonable to expect that adjudication would not only strive for justice for the accused and the victim, but for society at large. After all, it’s logical that a criminal code would be in place to maintain lawful civility and punish those who violate its statutes.

That’s why the outcome of two recent cases in the Geneva County courtroom of Circuit Judge William Fillmore has left many area residents scratching their heads.

Earlier this month, 21-year-old Andrew Dylan Chandler and 19-year-old Bridget Marie Chandler appeared before Fillmore on felony aggravated child abuse charges after having been originally charged with willful torture and abuse of a child under 18. The Chandlers were arrested after a 4-year-old was admitted to a local hospital with multiple bruises and burn marks consistent with being burned with a cigarette.

Fillmore granted both defendants youthful offender status, which affords the defendants a great measure of protection from harsh punishment, and the defendants pleaded guilty to a lesser charge. They are not pleading guilty to a felony charge. Youthful offender status is essentially a second chance for those defendants granted such a distinction, and the options for punishment are limited. The Chandlers each received 36 months with the state Department of Corrections. Fillmore suspended the sentences and gave the defendants three years’ probation.

What the public sees is that a 4-year-old is hospitalized with bruises and cigarette burns and the two people charged with serious child abuse felonies in the case walk away with probation.

If the case outrages people, it’s because it’s outrageous.

Crimes such as these demand harsh punishment, and the public has a right to know what judges and prosecutors are thinking when they return admittedly guilty defendants to society with a slap on the wrist instead of a stint in the penitentiary.



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