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An offer police can’t refuse

If you’ve ever tried to hammer a screw into a board then you know there’s a high probability of breaking the screw. Sadly, that’s exactly what the United States has chosen to do with millions of people who have a mental illness. According to recent report in “USA Today,” American jails and prisons are overflowing with the mentally ill. By failing to provide adequate public mental health care, millions of Americans are simply swept into the dust bin of society.

Garner, Maverick and Rockford

The actor, James Garner died last week at age 86. Garner was beloved by several generations of film and television fans. In a career that spanned seven decades, Garner twice struck television gold.

Lights dimmed over long legs

Elaine Stritch once quipped, “I don’t think there’s any thrill in the world like doing work you’re good at.” If she was right, she led a life filled with thrills. Stritch, a mainstay of Broadway theater, died this week, at age 89.

Heading into overtime

The public outlining by Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif of his government’s negotiating position in the ongoing talks on its nuclear program was a tip-off that Tehran isn’t aiming to conclude a deal by the July 20 deadline. Instead, Zarif’s Monday interview with The New York Times, in which he described an Iranian position that was unacceptable to Western governments but better than Tehran’s previous, blatantly unserious offers, was designed to provide Iran’s interlocutors — and in particular the Obama administration — with a rationale for extending the talks for up to six more months.

Regulating e-cigarettes

Electronic cigarettes, now a $1.5 billion to $2 billion business, have become difficult to ignore. The electronic devices, which might look like cigarettes or cigars or even pipes, come with different battery sizes and burn a variety of vapors that might contain a greater or smaller amount of nicotine and a flavor enhancer, according to a February Times Record report.

On town prayer, the majority has its way

The United States was founded mostly by Protestants and remained overwhelmingly Protestant for many decades, a fact Protestants did not want Roman Catholics to forget. When Catholics began arriving here in large numbers in the middle of the 19th century, they found that in public schools the majority religion was pervasive and inhospitable.

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.

Obama in Arkansas

My hope is that by the time you read these lines the, president of the United States, Barack Obama, is back safely in Washington, secure in the White House. Or, should he be elsewhere, that he is similarly insulated from bodily harm.

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.