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on January 19, 2014 1:00 AM

Excerpts from recent editorials in newspapers in the United States:

Paris, Tenn., Jan. 13, The Paris Post-Intelligencer on gun control struggle a constitutional one:

Didn’t we fight the Civil War over whether federal law prevails over states’ rights?

Now, conservative lawmakers in several states are attempting to organize defiance of certain federal laws, beginning with gun control. Their idea is that if enough states band together, they can overwhelm Uncle Sam’s enforcement power.

A measure introduced last week in the Missouri Legislature seeks to prevent some federal gun control regulations from being enforced. State law enforcement officers who attempt to enforce the federal rules would be subject to civil and criminal penalties.

That body came within one vote of passing a similar measure last year. This year’s proposal, The Associated Press reported, delays the effective date of the rebellious rules to give other states time to join the cause.

Sounding for all the world like a Confederate organizer, one Missouri senator said, “We continue to see the federal government overreach their rightful bounds, and if we can create a situation where we have some unity among states, then I think it puts us in a better position to make that argument.”

Courts have consistently ruled that states do not have the power to nullify federal laws, but that doesn’t keep the restless from trying. ...

Open defiance is not the right path. The proper arena for this struggle is neither Fort Sumter nor the Supreme Court, but Congress. Obviously, many Americans sympathize with the objection to gun control laws, so let their elected representatives sort this out, using the procedure spelled out in the U.S. Constitution.

Phoenix, Jan. 13, Arizona Republic on anti-abortion cycle to begin anew:

After 41 years of court challenges to Roe vs. Wade, American abortion law is becoming a dense thicket of case law that makes tea-leaf reading difficult when jurists decline to explain their decisions.

That is what happened on Monday when the U.S. Supreme Court decided not to hear a case involving an Arizona law limiting when a woman could seek an abortion.

Last May, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a federal judge’s ruling that Arizona’s 2012 law House Bill 2036 was constitutional.

In its decision, the appeals court panel noted that “controlling Supreme Court precedent” forbids states from denying women the right to an abortion “at any point prior to viability.”

Viability — the ability to survive outside the womb — is generally considered to occur at 22 to 24 weeks, not at 20 weeks.

The appeals-court decision affects only Arizona, however. At least nine other states have laws that ban abortions at 20 weeks, and those laws will remain in effect. If that seems confusing, it should.

It may be that Arizona’s law pushed the viability envelope a bit too far. The law is structured so that, in practice, it could affect pregnancies that are only 18 weeks along.

Regardless, we know what the outcome of this non-decision by the high court will be: The process will begin anew.

Advocates who oppose abortion already have declared their intent to bring a new proposal to the Legislature, where it’s likely to pass.

Then, it is off to the courts once again. Lawyers need not fear unemployment.

Dubai, Jan. 13, Khaleej Times on the Cuban thaw:

The emerging thaw in United States-Cuba relations is a welcome development. It is now official that both the countries are engaged in a dialogue process, irrespective of whether it is low-profile or limited to peripheral issues.

Though there are several “ifs” and “buts” in the process, and the bar seems to have been set a little higher for the communist state, the positive thing is that substantial progress has been reported. Migration and human rights issues form the core of the dialogue, with trade and tourism also on the two sides’ wish list.

The area where progress could come to naught is the expectations that Washington has of Havana. The U.S. wants to see a “fundamental change” in the Cuban attitude toward its own people, which sounds rather dictatorial. If memoirs are any testimony, then Cuban President Raul Castro has already given his reaction to such U.S. benchmarks by saying that the island-nation state doesn’t want to change or reform America’s socio-political governance mosaic, and the superpower would also be better advised not to lecture it on such issues.

Edward Lee, the U.S. state department official who has been on an official visit to the island, is, however, optimistic that the negotiations will click. Lee also said that his country is “very open” to building a new relationship with Cuba. Though no details are available on the progress that has been made, it is widely assumed that the Johannesburg handshake between President Barack Obama and Raul Castro is working as the spirit to revamp the tangled relationship. The good thing is that the talks are taking place away from media glare, which gives them an added impetus to succeed.

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