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Shame at a terrible price

The immortal songstress Ella Fitzgerald once sang of Love for Sale “Who’s prepared to pay the price, for a trip to paradise… If you want the thrill of love, I’ve been through the mill of love. Old love, new love, every love but true love. Love for sale.”

No Prince among the royalty

Today marks an important popular culture milestone. Late in the evening of Jan. 28, 1985, a group of musical artists assembled to record “We Are the World,” a megahit whose proceeds aided famine relief in Africa.

Fizzy history moves a nation

We’ve all heard the phrase, “Necessity is the mother of invention.” While the precise origin of this aphorism is lost to time, this weekend we note an important milestone in technological innovation: the 80th anniversary of the first canned beer.

The Five Year Election Sale

It’s often amazing how one U.S. Supreme Court can change the whole course of American social and political life. There are cases in pursuit of social fairness, the most famous of which is the 1954 decision in Brown v. the Board of Education. Then there are cases of fair process, like Miranda v. Arizona. Then there are cases that serve to protect our right of free speech. It’s difficult to single out a single case as the exemplar of protecting speech, but we know one where oligarchical designs masquerading as a speech interests has been allowed to poison American politics: Citizens United v. the Federal Election Commission.

Verdict uncertain motives unclear

Sixty-five years ago today, disgraced State Department official, Alger Hiss, was convicted of perjury, in what has become one of the most hotly debated cases of the 20th century. Hiss had been the subject of aggressive investigation by the House Un-American Activities Committee, led by an ambitious California representative, Richard Nixon.

Enough humility to be courageous

All we can say is ‘Wow!’ When is the last time you heard an elected official come right out, admit a mistake and then apologize for it? And to boot, this one wasn’t one of those I-got-caught-and-now-I-better-appear-contrite apologies; this was a straight up, acknowledgement of fault and mea culpa.

Dreams, tears and new lives

On its website, the National Park Service introduces Ellis Island with the phrase, “Island of Hope, Island of Tears.” From 1892 to 1924, Ellis Island, located off the southern tip of Manhattan Island, was the United States’ largest and most active immigration station, where over 12 million immigrants were processed.

Careful what you want

The election held Tuesday is arguably the greatest post-Reconstruction moment in the history of the Arkansas Republican party. With almost every constitutional office either filled by or awaiting a Republican incumbent, it is important to take stock of what this election is, what it isn’t and what their newfound mantle requires.

Five hundred years and counting

Earlier this fall, the Palo Alto Longevity Prize was inaugurated by physician, life-enhancing advocate, and hedge fund manager Joon Yun. The goal of the contest is largely the same as Ponce de Leon’s expeditions during the sixteenth century: finding the fountain of youth. Of course the Palo Alto Prize is couched in modern medicine, not magic-infused waters, but the promise of it remains the same.

One crisis begets another

On this day 35 years ago, hundreds of Iranian students stormed the United States embassy in Tehran and in the process took more than 60 Americans hostage. Apart from the abject horror of the immediate crisis, these events would effectively seal the fate of beleaguered U.S. President Jimmy Carter.

Halloween history agendas and errors

As the annual ritual of disguised children panhandling for confections is upon us, it’s proper we examine what we think we know about Halloween. Many religious conservatives eschew Halloween, referencing its alleged demonic connections. Given the murky origins of the holiday, a little lesson in history and culture is warranted.

Dreading Ebola

One of the profound challenges of our age is how to evaluate risk from complex threats. At one level, experts provide scientific facts about, say, the transmissibility of a disease, and they can quantify the prospects for contagion. At another level, human emotions measure risk with irrational but powerful gut feelings. In a 1987 essay in Science magazine, Paul Slovic of the University of Oregon cautioned that emotions and science must be given equal weight. He wrote that “there is wisdom as well as error in public attitudes and perceptions.” His message was that, in communicating and dealing with perceptions of risk, fears and dread need to be considered as carefully as precise measurements by experts.

Distilling facts about Prohibition

On this day in 1919 the United States Congress passed the National Prohibition Act (more commonly called the Volstead Act). This law provided for the implementation of the Eighteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which established National Prohibition of alcoholic beverages.