Hello, it's 06:18AM August 28, 2014

Esther J. Cepeda: Food grown for travel, not taste

CHICAGO — After back-to-back readings of three books chronicling the state of food production in the United States, I’ve realized that except for a few childhood trips to South America during which I drank warm goat’s milk and ate freshly picked corn, beans, potatoes, rice and fruits, I’m not truly familiar with what real food tastes like. I’ve done a lot of carbohydrate, fat and fiber monitoring over the past 15 year …

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Trudy Rubin: Confront Islamic State sooner, not later

How do you deal with a hideous terrorist group that has morphed into a Mideast state with a huge war chest and an aggressive army — and beheads an American journalist? Since the gruesome slaughter of James Foley, U.S. officials are debating whether the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria can be contained or must be rolled back in the near term. President Barack Obama appears wedded to a strategy of containment — so far. B …

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Cokie and Steven Roberts: Thoughtful reform may lead to leaner, less mean system

Partisan antagonism rules the capital, drowning out most attempts at constructive compromise. But on at least one issue, reasonable lawmakers from both parties strongly agree: reforming the criminal justice system to reduce the prison population and enable former inmates to become more productive members of society. This growing consensus is both surprising and heartening, especially at a time when Congress can’t seem …

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Criminal Justice Act: It’s not perfect, but what is?

WASHINGTON — What is called “the” 1964 Civil Rights Act is justly celebrated for outlawing racial and other discrimination in employment, “public accommodations” and elsewhere. But that year’s second civil rights act, the Criminal Justice Act, which is 50 years old this month, is, some say, largely a failure because of unanticipated changes in the legal and social context. Is it? In 1961, Clarence Gideon allegedly br …

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Bank of America settlement leaves big questions

The following editorial appears on Bloomberg View. The Justice Department’s $16.7 billion settlement with Bank of America Corp. is a big win. Prosecutors deserve praise for extracting the largest civil settlement with a single entity in U.S. history, as well as for forcing the bank to admit to numerous shortcomings in creating, packaging and selling defective home loans. Yet the headline figure, impressive as it i …

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Esther J. Cepeda: The right note on gender and hiring

CHICAGO — In the 1970s and 1980s, symphony orchestras around the world began implementing a system of “blind” auditions — performances given from behind a screen — in order to diversify their ranks while ensuring that elite talent and meritocracy ruled. It worked out well, with Princeton University research showing that blind auditions increased the probability that women would advance from preliminary rounds by 50 pe …

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Islamic State can’t stand up to U.S. power

BALTIMORE — President Barack Obama is now reaping the whirlwind for his feckless and sometimes politically-motivated strategy of leading from behind in the Mideast, North Africa and Eastern Europe. The good news is that his decision to use U.S. air power to protect the Yazidi people from death and torture by Islamic State fanatics has allowed Kurdish and Iraqi soldiers to recapture the critical Mosul Dam and sent the …

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U.S. should leave ground fighting to the Kurds

WASHINGTON — The best way to start winning a war is to stop losing. That axiom certainly applies to what’s going on in Iraq. But, that said, there is no place for American brigades in this battle. Yes, Americans have a huge stake in preventing al-Qaida’s cousin from setting up a brutal caliphate in Iraq. The Middle East is a crossroads of the world. If unchecked, the malevolent influence of the Islamic State could spi …

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Trudy Rubin: Time for Obama to tell the truth about Islamic State threat

President Barack Obama gave vent last week to an uncharacteristic show of emotion over the barbaric beheading of American journalist James Foley by the militant jihadi group the Islamic State. He denounced the group as a “cancer” in the region and accused it of rampaging “across cities and villages, killing unarmed civilians in cowardly acts of violence” as it seized a third of Syria and Iraq. Yet for months, as this …

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George Will: Nation fed up with cupcake cops

WASHINGTON — In physics, a unified field theory is an attempt to explain with a single hypothesis the behavior of several fields. Its political corollary is the Cupcake Postulate, which explains everything, from Missouri to Iraq, concerning Americans’ comprehensive withdrawal of confidence from government at all levels and all areas of activity. Washington’s response to the menace of school bake sales illustrates pro …

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Esther J. Cepeda: Time to face up to all our biases

CHICAGO — “War” is too strong a word to use in regard to race relations. Despite continuing income inequality or how often the justice system seems to lack fairness when applied to nonwhites, few Americans would say that whites are waging a war on people of color. Even as Ferguson, Mo., smolders after the shooting of a black teenager in a majority African-American town overseen by an almost all-white political leader …

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Byron York: Doom-and-gloom Dems draw big bucks

I’ve been getting a lot of email from Democratic fundraisers lately. They seem very worried about November’s elections. First came the highly publicized “Impeachment Red Alert” campaign, in which the Democratic congressional committee warned that Republicans will impeach President Obama if they win control of the House and Senate. Though much ridiculed, the “Impeachment Red Alert” effort was a big winner, pulling in $ …

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World must commit to fight Ebola outbreak

The following editorial appeared in Monday’s Washington Post. The Ebola virus outbreak in West Africa has seized the world’s attention like a summer horror movie. The images of a terrible disease without a cure have surged across news and social media. Late last week, a spokesman for the World Health Organization said the scope of the outbreak appears to have been “vastly underestimated.” Tantalizing reports of exp …

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Doyle McManus: Quacking the lame-duck code

There are two words every president, including Barack Obama, hates to hear: “lame duck.” He’s in year six of his eight-year run. His biggest accomplishments are all in the past; his remaining proposals are stymied by Congress. His popularity is mired near 40 percent, and voters tell pollsters they see him as a leader “who can’t get things done.” No wonder he’s a little sensitive. The president has spent much of the ye …

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Inversions: Obama upset over nothing

WASHINGTON — Barack Obama, presiding over an unusually dismal post-recession economy, might make matters worse with a distracting crusade against the minor and sensible business practice called “inversion,” more about which anon. So, consider his credentials as an economic thinker. Obama, who thinks ATMs and airport ticket kiosks cost America jobs, gave a 2013 speech regretting that Maytag workers in Illinois lost th …

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More action warranted to ease tensions in Ferguson

The following editorial appeared in Friday’s Washington Post. From the chief of the police department to the president of the United States, government officials on Thursday promised a different approach to the racially charged unrest in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson. But the situation demands a lot more than a stand-down by assault-rifle-toting police. It might require an act of Congress. Ferguson Police Chie …

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President following legal, humane policies for border crisis

INDIANAPOLIS — Far from today’s near-militarized U.S.-Mexico border, rural southwest Indiana recently was ground zero for undocumented children from Mexico and Central America. From 2004 to 2010, the federal government contracted with a privately owned juvenile detention facility in Vincennes, Ind., to house immigrant children deemed the most dangerous. These children arrived at the Southwest Indiana Regional Youth Vi …

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Obama playing politics with border crisis

WASHINGTON — Try as he might, President Obama cannot escape responsibility for the debacle at the U.S. southwest border, caused, in part, by his administration’s mismanagement. Until Congress returns next month, he should use the tools he has to secure the border and to discourage illegal crossings. One can only hope that he will not take unilateral actions that might make matters worse. The president has been trying …

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Byron York: Obamacare losing popularity as Americans get closer look

Democrats have long believed Obamacare would become more popular once it was fully in place and Americans got a chance to see it up close. So why is Obamacare less popular now than a few months ago? Because it is fully in place and Americans have had a chance to see it up close. According to new polling by the Kaiser Family Foundation, which has closely tracked Obamacare for years, 37 percent of those surveyed have a …

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Esther Cepeda: Class matters, for all

CHICAGO — “In every walk of life, there are senseless rules, payoffs and shakedowns, quirks, unjust rituals,” explains Jerene Johnston, the matriarch of the privileged Southern family so deliciously skewered in Wilton Barnhardt’s irresistible novel “Lookaway, Lookaway.” Explaining the familial responsibility of the traditional “debut,” Jerene tells her rebellious, ultra-liberal daughter Annie: “Society is just as sil …

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New void looks a lot like old voids

WASHINGTON — This far into the human story, only the historically uninstructed are startled by what they think are new permutations of evil. So, when Russia sliced Crimea off Ukraine, Secretary of State John Kerry was nonplussed: “You just don’t in the 21st century behave in 19th-century fashion by invading another country on completely trumped up pretext.” If, however, Vladimir Putin is out of step with the march o …

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Rx: Find new way to fund residencies

The following editorial appears on Bloomberg View. Here’s a deal you might be interested in. You get $10 billion a year of taxpayers’ money to do something you may well have done anyway. You don’t need to say what you spend it on, or why. You can use it wisely or wastefully; the money keeps coming regardless. That’s the nice arrangement the federal government grants U.S. hospitals when it comes to training doctors …

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Esther Cepeda: Lessons learned from STEM study

CHICAGO — Every once in a while, research quantifies the effects of certain education policies on students. Then, the results are often shelved in favor of the prevailing “common sense.” As in: If you want more scientists, mandate more science courses in school. Let’s hope this fate doesn’t happen with “Missing the Mark,” a report by the ACT college readiness test’s Research and Policy division. Authors Richard Buddi …

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Real cowboys don’t summer on Vineyard

WASHINGTON — For most people, summer is a treasured time to cool your heels in a cottage by a lake or in a hammock in the backyard. It’s not so simple for politicians. For them, deciding when and where to vacation can be perilous. Repair to a beach on the East Coast and you’re an out-of-touch elitist; stay away too long and you’ll be asked who’s minding the store. Take President Barack Obama. How dare he go away while …

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Nature’s creative danger outwits us

WASHINGTON — Although the Ebola virus might remain mostly confined to West Africa, it has infected the Western imagination. This eruption of uncontrolled nature into what developed nations consider serene modernity is more disturbing to the emotional serenity of multitudes than it is threatening to their physical health. Perhaps the world periodically needs an equivalent of the 1755 Lisbon earthquake, a chastening re …

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Congress must act to stem surging cybercrime

The following editorial appeared in Friday’s Washington Post. The scale of cybercrime continues to astonish. The latest eye-opener is a Milwaukee security firm’s claim that Russian hackers stole 1.2 billion usernames and related passwords. This must be one of the biggest hauls of all time, and while it is not clear what the hackers intend to do with their stolen data, the report should serve as another wake-up call …

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How Nixon impeachment plan adhered to Constitution

When Richard Nixon announced his resignation 40 years ago, it was for one reason: Members of Congress had informed him the night before that he would be impeached by the House of Representatives, convicted by the Senate and removed from office. In retrospect, one of the most striking features of the Watergate controversy is the continuity between a pivotal decision of the founding generation and the judgment of congre …

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Esther Cepeda: Degrading for some, upgrade for others

CHICAGO — Like beauty itself, the degradation of women is in the eye of the beholder. What’s clearly demeaning in one person’s view is but an updated version of Helen Reddy’s feminist anthem, “I Am Woman,” in another’s. Take Olivia Wilde’s breast-feeding photo from September’s edition of Glamour magazine. The actress was photographed nursing her infant son Otis in, as E! Online gushed, “a Roberto Cavalli dress, Prada …

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5 myths about border crisis

The surge of tens of thousands of unaccompanied children to the United States from Central America’s Northern Triangle — Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala — has sparked an emotional debate over the crisis on the U.S.-Mexico border. The three regional presidents and many Democrats in the United States demand more aid, arguing that the situation is a refugee crisis rooted in U.S. neglect of the region, which has led to …

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George Will: Possible roots of crime and cover-up

WASHINGTON — At about 5:15 p.m. on June 17, 1971, in the Oval Office, the president ordered a crime: “I want it implemented on a thievery basis. Goddamn it, get in and get those files. Blow the safe and get it.” The burglary he demanded was not the one that would occur exactly one year later at the Democratic National Committee’s office in the Watergate complex. Richard Nixon was ordering a break-in at the Brookings …

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Esther J. Cepeda: Well-meaning parents send children astray

CHICAGO — School starts next week and my two sons are inconsolable about having to return to their hated “prisons.” Based on the teachings of professor and researcher Carol Dweck, author of “Mindset: The New Psychology of Success,” they surely have a fixed idea about themselves. These boys believe that people are either brilliant or not — and that any effort put into activities has little impact on personal successes …

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Doyle McManus: GOP’s civil war adds to gridlock

The emergency immigration bill House Speaker John Boehner initially proposed last week was never going to become law — and he knew it. President Barack Obama had already promised a veto, so the bill was mostly a political message, designed to show that House Republicans could act decisively in a crisis. Except they couldn’t. Tea party conservatives revolted, demanding a chance to undo Obama’s decision to defer deporta …

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Byron York: Latest fiasco gives new life to nation’s death penalty debate

The surreal national debate over the death penalty reached a climax of sorts July 23 in a prison execution chamber in Florence, Ariz. Double murderer Joseph Wood was put to death by lethal injection shortly after his lawyers went to the Supreme Court raising questions about the drugs that would be used to kill him. The justices turned Wood down, but his attorneys were right to raise concerns. It turned out Wood’s exec …

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Ohio progressive has real punch

WASHINGTON — If Ohio’s senior senator were named Sharon Brown instead of Sherrod Brown, progressives would have a plausible political pin-up and a serious alternative to the tawdry boredom of Hillary Clinton’s joyless plod toward her party’s presidential nomination. Drop one of Brown’s consonants and change another, and a vowel, and we might be spared the infatuation of what Howard Dean called “the Democratic wing of t …

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Dodd-Frank hasn’t solved the problem

The following editorial appears on Bloomberg View. The Government Accountability Office has issued a long-awaited study on the hidden subsidies that large U.S. financial institutions enjoy. Many will read it as evidence that the Dodd-Frank Act has ended the threat that big banks pose to taxpayers and the economy. That conclusion would be unduly optimistic. At issue is “too big to fail,” the idea that some banks ar …

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Trudy Rubin: Stop blame, see Gaza’s humanity

On my refrigerator door I keep a photo of an exceptional Palestinian woman who ran kindergartens in Gaza in the 1990s for the Philadelphia-based American Friends Service Committee. Mary Khaas, who died more than a decade ago, would drag her teachers from their refugee-camp homes to visit her Jewish friends at a kibbutz just across the Gaza border. She believed in two states and wanted each side to stop demonizing the o …

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Both sides guilty of patronizing Hispanic voters

CHICAGO — Whenever immigration matters heat up, a stream of “what it means” articles about potential Hispanic voting behavior is sure to follow. I suspect this happens because news outlets know that anything relating to the Latino vote is sure-fire clickbait. With recent speculation that President Obama might issue an executive order expanding his 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program so that other illeg …

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Doyle McManus: Paul Ryan dares to care about poor

Quick quiz: Which potential 2016 presidential candidate had this to say about federal anti-poverty programs last week? “What do we want? A healthy economy — and a big part of that is having a strong safety net, both for those who can’t help themselves and for those who just need a helping hand. I want to talk about how we can repair the safety net and help families get ahead.” If you guessed Hillary Clinton or another …

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George Will: Oregon doctor right choice for ailing Senate

PORTLAND — “Are you kidding?” This is Monica Wehby’s amiable response to people who wonder whether she will be able to bear the pressures of office if she wins her race as a Republican Senate candidate. For 17 of her 52 years she has been a pediatric neurosurgeon, holding in steady hands sharp steel and the fate of children’s brains. She probably can cope with the strains of legislative life. Today, her task is to per …

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Rein in Putin or watch out

The following editorial appeared in Friday’s Washington Post. Vladimir Putin has responded to the international outrage over the destruction of a Malaysian airliner by his proxies in eastern Ukraine by escalating his aggression. According to U.S. officials, tanks, artillery and other heavy weapons have continued to cross from Russia to Ukraine since the passenger jet was shot down. On Wednesday, two more Ukrainian …

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Advice to Dems: Don’t repeat 2010 mistake of tax increase

‘Definition of insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.” That saying is particularly appropriate regarding Democrat legislators current talk about raising taxes. A history lesson is needed. In 2009, we had a setback: our tax initiative that year didn’t succeed. A November 2009 op-ed published in The Seattle Times was titled “End of Tim Eyman era signals opportunities for ref …

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Trudy Rubin: A way to peace in Gaza

As the Gaza war drags on and the terrible civilian death toll keeps rising, it’s necessary to look to the past to find a way to stop the killing. It’s particularly vital to revisit the moment in 2005 when Israel made a strategic error by unilaterally withdrawing from the Gaza Strip. I wrote then that Israel should have negotiated its withdrawal with the moderate Palestinian Authority president, Mahmoud Abbas, and let …

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George F. Will: Goldwater 2.0 — California dreamin’

MENLO PARK, Calif. — Fifty Julys ago, up the road near San Francisco, in the unfortunately named Cow Palace, the Republican National Convention gave its presidential nomination to Arizona Sen. Barry Goldwater, who knew he would lose: Americans were not going to have a third president in 14 months. Besides, his don’t-fence-me-in libertarian conservatism was ahead of its time. His agenda, however, was to change his party …

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Esther Cepeda: There’s no easy solution for border kids

CHICAGO — Those who want to deport the border kids immediately and those who want to extend them protections have dug into their positions — as if either course of action would suffice. Those in the “help” camp are resolute — to the point that pro-immigrant alliances are starting to crumble along the fine line of just how much help to extend and how much air should be sucked away from the bigger, decades-old immigrat …

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Trudy Rubin: After plane horror, Europe must stand up to Putin

Vladimir Putin has become a global menace. There is an irrefutable link between the Russian leader’s reckless policies on Ukraine and the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17. This tragedy is the direct outgrowth of his decision to train and arm Ukrainian separatists with heavy weapons in an effort to destabilize Ukraine. It doesn’t matter whether the triggerman thought he was targeting a Ukrainian military plane ra …

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Border no minor problem

The following editorial appeared in the Los Angeles Times on July 16. There have been some recent stirrings of reasonableness in Washington over the humanitarian crisis at the Mexican border, stirrings that should be supported and nurtured like, well, a child. But let’s not fool ourselves: The proposals being bandied about address current political and bureaucratic problems, but they will do little to resolve the i …

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Trudy Rubin: New Gaza war is the new normal

Here’s the awful truth about the Gaza war in which Israeli air strikes are matching Hamas rockets number for number. This kind of violence is likely to become the new normal now that both Israelis and Palestinians believe the peace process is over. Israelis have enjoyed a relative calm for the past several years, with West Bank Palestinians confined behind a separation fence and Gazans locked inside their wretched str …

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Margaret Carlson: Republican first round pits Paul against Perry

WASHINGTON — Texas Gov. Rick Perry and Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky are the first would-be contenders for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination to go mano-a-mano. The fight is sharply drawn. In an op-ed in the Washington Post, Perry warned of a growing “isolationism” in the country, singling out Paul as “curiously blind” to growing threats in Iraq. Perry also reminded voters that he had served in the military and …

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This fire season, watching, hoping and praying are in order

What do you say to someone who just lost their home? Is there something meaningful to contribute to people who hours before saw much of their town swept away by a wave of flame? Not just one house or two, but the town? The work of countless people over a century, to make their home and their livelihood and raise their families where Methow meets Columbia, is now an orange glow in a rearview mirror, a column of ash they …

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