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Middle East medicine too late

Not since the early days of the Cold War has American society faced as large an existential crisis as it does now. We know from high school civics class the nation we ought to be. Sadly, international terrorism and xenophobic hate speech from the political margins is turning us away from those simple, but noble ideals.

A day of thanks

It would have been easy on Oct. 3, 1863, for President Lincoln — or anyone else — not to be thankful. The nation (or nations, depending on one’s perspective) was still mired in a terrible Civil War, and while the Union had enjoyed victories that summer in Gettysburg and Vicksburg, much bloody fighting remained. Earlier that year, Lincoln’s wife, Mary Todd, had been injured in a carriage “accident” caused by an assailant sabotaging the driver’s seat. Their beloved son, Willie, had died the previous year at age 11.

Council makes right decision

At its most recent meeting, members of the Pine Bluff City Council voted to reject council member Thelma Walker’s proposed ordinance to increase the tax on hotel stays. While opposition was motivated by different reasons, the council arrived at the correct decision. Whether a general rejection of new taxes or a vote against an ill-conceived measure, this was a step in the right direction.

Republican tax fantasies

The Republican presidential candidates have not rallied behind Ben Carson in his clash with the news media, but they should be grateful to him. His misrepresentation of reality on matters concerning his past has distracted attention from his rivals’ misrepresentations of reality on a matter concerning the nation’s future: tax policy.

Opening the Great Wall

Often likened to an immense dragon flowing across the mountains, deserts and grasslands of northern China, the Great Wall is one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. On this day in 1970, the Chinese government finally opened the Wall to tourists. Previously only the Badaling section near Beijing had been accessible.

On pot, can we keep up with the neighbors?

Canada was recently ranked the freest country in the world, but newly installed Prime Minister Justin Trudeau isn’t about to let it rest on its maple leaves. He won the October national elections after proposing something no major American presidential nominee has ever dared to endorse: legalizing marijuana.

Right-wing rhetoric helping both parties’ major candidates

I swear, if I was a Democrat running for president I would divert as much of my campaign treasury as I could to Donald Trump, Ted Cruz and Arkansas’s own Mike Huckabee. If I was any Democrat angling to see my party’s nominee win next year I would do the same. Moreover, if I was a Republican trying to set my party aright (but cantered still to the right) I would send all three money, knowing, as do the Democrats (and independents), that not Trump nor Cruz nor Huckabee has a hope of the White House and that their campaigns will serve only to soil the eventual GOP candidate and thus hasten a much-overdue reconsideration of what the party should represent.

Same debate a half century later

Fifty years ago today, President Lyndon Johnson signed a bill creating the national Medicare and Medicaid programs. The ceremony was held at Independence, Missouri, the birthplace of President Harry Truman. Truman, who was issued the very first Medicare card, had lobbied unsuccessfully for similar programs during his time in office.

Enabling change 25 years later

Imagine that you have just graduated near the top of your class at an elite collegiate engineering program. Now imagine you go out into the world only to be repeatedly rebuffed by prospective employers. Their reasons for your rejection? You credentials are first order: good school; good grades; good recommendations. It’s none of those things. It’s because you use a wheelchair.