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Executive session out of bounds

Yet again we feel compelled to express our displeasure with the antics of Jefferson County Election Commission Chairman Ted Davis. At the most recent meeting of the commission, Davis called for an executive session without announcing a reason for it. Upon review of the session’s contents, Davis’ request may well violate the Freedom of Information Act.

Old path new troubles

As Americans watch the unfolding crisis in Syria and the zealous treachery of the ISIS terrorists, a number of moments stand ready as catalysts for greater U.S. military involvement. Gruesome acts such as the beheading of American journalist James Foley only serve to inch us closer to all out war.

New school BUS program announced

With the waning days of summer comes the clatter of children returning to school. For many students the journey to the halls of academe is made via school bus. The increased presence of school buses on our streets reminds us to slow down and be more watchful anywhere students and roadways come together.

Doubling down on failure

When President Obama announced in 2011 the withdrawal of all U.S. troops from Iraq, he was sanguine about that nation’s future. U.S. soldiers could be “proud of their success,” he said, and he was “confident” that Iraqis would “build a future worthy of their history as a cradle of civilization.”

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.

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.

Praying for victims of tornado

We don’t ever get used to hearing about the dead in the aftermath of tornadoes. No matter how many of the deadly storms twist through our region in a year, the next year the stories of the dead still land like a punch to the solar plexus.