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Obama should seize the moment in Ferguson to lead on race

Once upon a time, there was a man who gave moving and important speeches about race. He was careful to respect history, to call out injustice, to acknowledge competing anxieties — and, crucially, to elucidate a path forward. His speeches touched Americans of every color and background and gave them hope that it is possible to make progress in their great national project of creating a more just and equal society.

Ebola threat demands attention

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 (WHO) said the scope of the outbreak appears to have been “vastly underestimated.” Tantalizing reports of experimental drugs have raised hopes and then deflated them. The drugs are not only unproven, but they also don’t yet exist in more than a tiny quantity.

Slow justice for the killing fields

As has been widely reported, a Cambodian court recently found the two most senior surviving leaders of the Khmer Rouge regime guilty of crimes against humanity and sentenced them to life in prison. The Khmer Rouge brutalized Cambodia from 1975 to 1979 and is thought to be responsible for the deaths of 1.7 million people.

Online vulnerability demands vigilance

The New York Times broke the news to us Tuesday: Russian hackers have amassed more than 1 billion (yes, with a B) Internet passwords. And you thought the Target hack — 40 million credit card numbers and 70 million other pieces of personal information — was a problem.

Walgreens takes the necessary medicine

Pharmacy giant Walgreens announced this week that it will buy 55 percent of European retailer, Alliance Boots, for $15.26 billion. Under the terms of the deal Walgreens’ corporate headquarters will remain in the United States. This move is largely a response to vociferous opposition to a previous configuration of the deal whereby Walgreens would have moved its headquarters to either the United Kingdom or Switzerland —- and a much lower corporate tax rate.

Remembering history’s longest day

Historians have called the D-Day Invasion on June 6, 1944, one of the seminal days in the Western civilization. It ushered in the final chapter to the European theatre of World War II. In so doing, it likely shaved a year, tens of millions of dollars and thousands of lost lives from the ultimate toll of war. On the occasion of its 70th anniversary, we pause to reflect and remember those whose hands wrought it into being.

Best-case budgeting

Congress has many ways to achieve its many purposes. The transparent way is to enact a program and pay for it annually out of general revenues or borrowing. The politically easier but less transparent method is to go “off-budget,” via government loans and credit guarantees. Guess which lawmakers prefer? That’s why the U.S. government has built a multitrillion-dollar portfolio, consisting of everything from mortgage guarantees to student loans.

Wise maid leaves big audience

“Some of the happiest moments of my life have been spent right here in this house,” observed Ann B. Davis in character as Alice, the housekeeper, on the Brady Bunch television series. Davis died late last week. She was 88.

Foolishly calling for justice

A recent New York Times report by Ian Lovett details brave but unwise acts by individuals whose iPhones have been stolen. In the article Lovett shares the tale of Sarah Maguire of West Covina, CA, who after a night of alcohol fueled revelry awoke to find that her (and her friend’s) iPhones had been stolen. Maguire used the phones’ “Find My iPhone” feature to track where the thief had taken them.

Will Americans ever be ready to challenge the gun cult?

Another week, another disturbed young man, another mass killing spree. It’s come to where episodes like Elliot Rodger’s murder of four men and two women near the University of California, Santa Barbara campus have become so frequent in America that the crime scene tapes have hardly been removed before people turn them into political symbols.

Tying America’s hands

President Obama has retrenched U.S. global engagement in a way that has shaken the confidence of many U.S. allies and encouraged some adversaries. That conclusion can be heard not just from Republican hawks but also from senior officials from Singapore to France and, more quietly, from some leading congressional Democrats. As he has so often in his political career, Mr. Obama has elected to respond to the critical consensus not by adjusting policy but rather by delivering a big speech.

Motoring to a better downtown

Most Pine Bluff residents would like to see our crumbling downtown made whole and useful. Instead of empty buildings and distant memories, we’d like to watch people traversing between coffee shops and art galleries. We’d like for parking downtown to become a problem — and not in the recent courthouse/election way. As is we have a lot of rubble and dust.

More than meets the private eye

The fedora, trench coat and smoky walkup office are all common tropes in the literary genre known as “hard-boiled” detective stories. So too are the rough edged, tough talking and hard fighting loners who inhabit them. They have more in common with old West gunslingers and medieval knights than the average man. There’s a code. There’s loyalty; and there’s cunning. They get bloodied, but they survive.