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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.

Pride before and after falls

With the dangerous collapse of a second aging building along Main Street, Pine Bluff has arrived at a critical juncture. Either our municipal leaders step up to the plate and do what needs be done; or we steel ourselves for worse to come.

Venezuela in free fall

As Venezuela plummets toward economic and social chaos, the successors to Hugo Chavez are flailing in all directions. Some of their actions have the ring of pragmatism: With inflation nearing 60 percent and 30 percent of basic goods in shortage, the government recently modified its byzantine currency-exchange system to allocate more dollars for private-sector imports. Under pressure from Brazil and other Latin American governments, it has begun a political dialogue with moderate opposition leaders.

Public theft communal miseries

There are few instances when stealing from one of us is a theft from all of us. Perhaps the best example of such public revocations comes when great works of art are taken from their rightful owners. Today marks the 20th anniversary not of a major theft, but of an important return. On this day in 1994, The Scream, by Norwegian expressionist painter Edvard Munch, was recovered after having been stolen for three months.

Raped on campus

At American University, disturbing e-mails from male students denigrating women and making light of rape roil the campus. At Dartmouth College, the new president delivers a stern lecture about a dangerous culture of extreme drinking and sexual violence. At Columbia University, 23 students file federal complaints about a hostile school environment. At Harvard University, the student newspaper publishes a searing essay from a female student detailing how she suffered from a sexual assault while her assailant went unpunished.

Iraq’s descent

Iraq’s best days in the past decade have been its elections, and somewhat surprisingly, Wednesday was one of them. Though the country is sliding into civil war — the United Nations reported that 750 people were killed by political violence in April — about 12 million people went to the polls to vote in the first parliamentary elections held without the presence of U.S. troops. The turnout, a reported 58 percent, was higher than in most U.S. presidential elections. Iraqis remain eager to practice democracy, even if their rulers are not.

Droning on about technology

Over the last year the Federal Aviation Administration has received a lot of criticism for its rules prohibiting the commercial use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) more commonly known as “drones.” On one side of the debate are corporate interests (namely Amazon.com) who see the technology as part of an untapped delivery modality and journalists who see drone use as a matter of First Amendment expression. On the other is the privacy lobby. Those in this corner are exemplified by the likes of the American Civil Liberties Union and Sen. Rand Paul.

Good neighbors

The Supreme Court considered two cases this term in which somewhat unclear wording in the federal Clean Air Act left sensible environmental rules open to challenge. On Tuesday, in the first case, the justices rightly sided with the sensible rules.

Storm safety requires thought and planning

In the wake of terrible destruction in Mayflower and Vilonia, it’s fitting that we pause to reconsider some of the things we think we know about tornado safety. Owing to their dramatic effects, tornadoes are ripe for myths and misinformation. If we errantly follow some of these misinformed directives, we and our families can pay a dear price.

Inaugural bicenquasquigenary observed

“Among the vicissitudes incident to life, no event could have filled me with greater anxieties than that of which the notification was transmitted by your order, and received on the fourteenth day of the present month.” These were the first public words uttered by George Washington upon his inauguration as the first U.S. president, 225 years ago today.