Iraq's three parts ...

Barring some drastic foreign intervention in Iraq, it would appear that the new reality there is here to stay for some time. These consist of the U.S.-supported central government in Baghdad, Kurdistan in northern Iraq and the areas occupied by the al-Qaida offshoot now known as the "Islamic State."

It is unlikely that the U.S. -- though reluctant to intervene on a full-scale basis there -- will stand by and watch the embattled central government in Baghdad fall.

On the other hand, it appears that government has scant prospects of recovering territory occupied by the Islamic State. Nor does it seem likely that Kurdistan -- located in northern Iraq -- will opt for anything but independence or something akin to that, now that the nation is so fractured.

Thus, the three-way split in Iraq figures to be in place for the foreseeable future. Imagine the challenge this could pose for U.S. policymakers for many years.

Veterans Affairs

Leaders in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives hope to reach agreement soon on a bill addressing the Department of Veterans Affairs scandal. Among other things, it calls for veterans to get medical treatment from the private sector if they are placed on long waiting lists by the VA.

That would be progress. But another major section of the bill, allowing the VA to expand its facilities, is part of an old pattern in Washington. It is to throw taxpayers' money at a problem and hope it will go away.

But what of VA officials accused of keeping veterans on long waiting lists for care, then lying about it? Little has been said about consequences for them -- to discourage similar misdeeds in the future.

Until that is addressed, don't count on the VA truly improving much.

The Tribune Chronicle

Warren, Ohio

Ohio budget

The recently passed mid-biennium budget review included some tax revisions that will do much to help families and small businesses.

But the entire state also will gain, as these changes clip social-welfare costs and boost economic growth.

Among the many provisions Gov. John Kasich and the legislature included in the budget bill is one to increase the state's year-old earned-income tax credit. Doubling the Ohio benefit from 5 to 10 percent of the federal credit claimed will help about 475,000 working poor in Ohio.

The earned-income credit serves as an incentive for low-wage-earning Ohioans to leave welfare and better themselves with work. And that can have a huge effect on society and long-term costs.

"These tax credits truly make work pay for low-wage earners, " said Lisa Hamler-Fugitt, executive director for the Ohio Association of Foodbanks, prior to the passage of the budget bill.

"Research has found that lifting low-income families' income when a child is young not only tends to improve a child's immediate well-being, but is associated with better health, more schooling, more hours worked and higher earnings in adulthood," according to the nonpartisan think tank Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

Studies show most families use the tax savings for basic necessities.

The Columbus Dispatch


The declaration of a new Islamic state in the Middle East by Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi should be the wake-up call that the world has needed about the issues boiling throughout the Middle East since the United States first attempted to proclaim its best defense was going on offense in Iraq more than a decade ago.

The Arab Spring movement three years ago led to instability, and opportunity arose with the departure of U.S. troops from Iraq.

On the face of it, at least dealing with a state should be easier than dealing with the shadowy life of al-Qaida and its terrorist cells waiting to strike at any moment seemingly anywhere. No matter how reclusive, a country cannot completely hide, ever. Not North Korea. Not China. Not Iran.

But states can still sponsor terrorism and foment war.We expect nothing less of the supposed Islamic State.

Continuing to debate whether the U.S. ever belonged in Iraq, over a continued American presence there, over whatever mistakes have been made during the past dozen years won't change the new reality: There is a person with the means to have conducted a rapid takeover of large areas, to declare himself the leader, to run over or force out any opposition. It's a new day in the Middle East, and it must be dealt with by more than the United States.

The Herald-Star

Steubenville, Ohio

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