What in the world: Lessons from Healthcare.gov's rescue

President Obama grimaces during a press conference on the Healthcare.gov website. Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Time's Steven Brill writes that President Obama was hands-off both before and after the ill-fated launch of Healthcare.gov

A review of the best commentary on and around the world...

Today's must-read

Following the disastrous launch of the Healthcare.gov website last October, there was more than a fair amount of glee and concern-trolling from conservatives.

Some of the wiser heads cautioned, however, that Republicans should emphasise that their objections to President Barack Obama's healthcare reform ran deeper than a malfunctioning website that could eventually be fixed.

In the cover story of Time magazine, Steven Brill recounts the frantic mess that followed Healthcare.gov's botched launch and says that repair was no sure thing.

"This is the story of a team of unknown - except in elite technology circles - coders and troubleshooters who dropped what they were doing in various enterprises across the country and came together in mid-October to save the website," he writes. "In about a tenth of the time that a crew of usual-suspect, Washington contractors had spent over $300 million building a site that didn't work, this ad hoc team rescued it and, arguably, Obama's chance at a health-reform legacy."

And here's the takeaway on lessons learned:

Had the Obama team brought in its old campaign hands in the first place to run the launch, there would have been howls about cronyism. But one lesson of the fall and rise of HealthCare.gov has to be that the practice of awarding high-tech, high-stakes contracts to companies whose primary skill seems to be getting those contracts rather than delivering on them has to change.


The high price of discrimination - In light of Uganda's harsh anti-gay law that went into effect this week, World Bank President Jim Yong Ki writes in the Washington Post that eliminating all institutionalised discrimination should be forefront in the minds of leaders around the world.

He contends that legislation popping up encouraging discrimination against homosexuals, women and minority groups are bad for people and the societies they form.

"Eliminating discrimination is not only the right thing to do; it's also critical to ensure that we have sustained, balanced and inclusive economic growth in all societies - whether in developed or developing nations, the North or the South, America or Africa," he says.


New allies alienate US - Vladimir Putin is building bridges with a new collection of repressive regimes in Latin America, a move that may show the futility of attempts at a renewed US-Russia relationship, writes Walter Russell Mead on his blog.

"That Russia is building ties with the least democratic and most anti-American governments in the hemisphere should help us as we gaze into his eyes and try to see his soul," he writes. "He doesn't actually like us very much, and doesn't wish us well."

North Korea

A show of strength? - Following an almost unheard of admission of internal discord from Kim Jong Un, Asia expert Gordon G Chang is questioning the motives behind the country's most recent short-range missile test. While most analysts don't question the stability of Mr Kim's regime, Mr Chang is not convinced and sees the tests as a sign of the country's weakness.

"The minority view is that Pyongyang remains a dangerous place these days, with young Kim forced to purge and either imprison or execute enemies in a nationwide life-and-death struggle for many - and maybe even for Kim himself."

Great Britain

Scottish bosses keep quiet - Businesses in Scotland are facing an uncertain future if the country votes to declare independence in the coming months, writes Jason Karaian of Quartz.

While almost no one is talking, he says the corporate heads are hoping the referendum fails. With currency, membership in the EU and the burden of sovereign debt all hanging in the balance, only BP's chief executive has spoken publically about his worries.

"But according to recent surveys and executives' famous fear of uncertainty, BP's boss may be the only one brave enough to say what many of the others are thinking," he concludes.


Misperceptions of homophobia - Miz Cracker, a drag queen living in New York, tells his story in Slate of falling in love with a Senegalese man while living in the African nation. Because of how respectfully West Africans treated him, he writes, his time in Senegal caused him to look at the US with a critical eye. "I wish I could tell you that I've become an expert on gay life in West Africa, but the truth is that I'm more confused."


Allegations of apartheid - A law passed in Israel giving separate representation to Muslim and Christian Palestinian citizens for a national employment commission has critics calling it more evidence of an apartheid system, writes Ben White on Informed Comment.

"The reason why the Israeli government sees talk of apartheid as so problematic is because it shifts the discussion from a 'security' paradigm to a framework of institutionalised racism," he writes.


The water crisis isn't over yet - Brian Martin of The Star writes that while many Malaysians living in or near the capital city of Kuala Lumpur are satisfied with an agreement that has given the government power over several aspects of the state's water supply, the country's water crisis hasn't been resolved. "There will be no quick fix," he writes, due to political and financial disputes as well as rampant overconsumption.

BBC Monitoring's quote of the day

Unrest in Crimea: "It's our move now in Crimea… So, like it or not, Moscow will have to make a choice. No hiding behind the Olympic Games this time. Either you're with the Slavic people of Crimea and Sevastopol or with the American 'daddy' who looks after your reserve fund and your Miami apartments." - Valeriy Yakov in the Russian daily Novyye Izvestiya.

One more thing…

The chaotic on-the-ground implications of the Gravity scenario - On Monday Gravity will be up for a Best Picture Oscar. While the space-based adventure tale was harrowing, the on-the-Earth implications of the movie's plot device - the mass destruction of communications and GPS satellites - are even more terrifying, says Lisa Ruth Rand in the Atlantic.

"If all the satellites circling the planet were to fall out of the sky in the span of minutes, as they do in Gravity, we'd have a much bigger problem than a Facebook outage on our hands," she writes.

"We are utterly, deeply bound to our satellites," she concludes. "Bad things can happen in space - not necessarily the simultaneous collisions of Gravity, but physical and cyber attacks, space debris, and even climate change pose real threats to our information infrastructure in orbit."

Have you found an interesting opinion piece about global issues that we missed? Share it with us via email at echochambers (at) bbc.co.uk.