Other Voices

A sign is taped to the front window of a business in the Sandy Hook section of Newtown, Connecticut December 15, 2013. Locals have been striving to return to normal even as yesterday marked the one year anniversary of the shooting rampage at Sandy Hook Elementary School, where 20 children and six adults were killed by gunman Adam Lanza.

Being left alone is par for course for families of Newtown

on Dec. 19, 2013, at 6:51 a.m.
For Saturday’s one-year anniversary of the massacre of 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School, the victims’ families and friends asked to be left alone. Their town was similarly inclined. First Selectman Pat Llodra of Newtown, Conn., asked that residents be spared a media spectacle in favor …
Mexican congressmen applaud after the Mexico Congress approves the biggest oil sector shake-up in the lower house in Mexico City December 12, 2013.

Mexico dismantles state oil monopoly, government sets functional example for U.S.

on Dec. 17, 2013, at 10:49 a.m.
While Congress was congratulating itself on reaching a minimalist budget deal, Mexico demonstrated how a more functional democracy can tackle a nation’s biggest problems. The ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, and the opposition National Action Party, or PAN, joined last week to pass a constitutional amendment dismantling the state’s …

Protection for needles in the haystack: Striking a balance on cellphone records

on Dec. 16, 2013, at 1:01 p.m.
As long as your mobile phone is on, your wireless carrier tracks your location. It’s relatively easy for law enforcement to obtain and sort through phone companies’ geolocation records. A Gannett investigation published last week examined 125 law enforcement agencies in 33 states and found that a quarter have conducted …
A man watches television footage of Cuban President Raul Castro and U.S. President Barack Obama talking during the national memorial service for the late former South African President Nelson Mandela at the First National Bank Stadium, also known as Soccer City, in Havana Dec.10, 2013.

Cubans worthy of respect

on Dec. 15, 2013, at 1:37 p.m.
President Barack Obama’s homage to Nelson Mandela on Tuesday was moving and heartfelt. He celebrated a “great liberator” who demonstrated the power of words, ideals and actions to change history. But the president added an awkward footnote to his tribute in Soweto by stopping to shake hands with Raul Castro, …
Some of the hundreds who gathered to attend the 29th annual Ram Pasture Tree Lighting look on in Newtown, Connecticut December 11, 2013.

Gun research shows which behaviors can put others at risk

on Dec. 12, 2013, at 11:32 a.m.
Some people, according to the federal government, are more dangerous than others. Among those so designated are convicted felons, fugitives, drug addicts and people prone to domestic violence. All are prohibited, under federal law, from owning a gun. The government’s power to restrict gun ownership has limits. At the same …
Former Chairman of the U.S. Federal Reserve Paul Volcker addresses the Economic Club of New York in this May 29, 2013, file photo. U.S. banks will no longer be able to make big trading bets with their own money after regulators on December 10, 2013, finalized the Volcker rule and shut down what was a hugely profitable business for Wall Street before the credit crisis.

Volcker rule finds the right middle ground for banks

on Dec. 11, 2013, at 12:24 p.m.
The immediate goal of the Volcker rule, which U.S. regulators approved after a troubled four-year gestation, is to end speculative trading by banks. It also has a larger ambition — to tame the culture of excessive risk-taking that had Wall Street in its grip by 2008. How does the final …
This working "cogeneration" coal facility sits just outside Kulpmont, Pa.

EPA needs latitude to enforce air pollution controls

on Dec. 10, 2013, at 2:39 p.m.
Since 1998, the Environmental Protection Agency has tried to enforce the Clean Air Act’s “good-neighbor” provision, which obliges states not to foul each other’s air. On Tuesday, the Supreme Court will hear arguments over whether the agency’s latest attempt is legal or whether it is an overly grasping application of …
U.S. President Barack Obama speaks about Affordable Health Care to volunteers at the Temple Emanu-El in Dallas, Texas, November 6, 2013.

A little-noticed benefit of health care reform

on Dec. 09, 2013, at 1:08 p.m.
Should you get surgery for your back pain or physical therapy? When is heart surgery preferable to drug treatment? Before too long, you might get some answers. Doctors, hospitals and researchers often don’t have the information they need to gauge the effectiveness of one test or treatment against another — …
A man looks over the Affordable Care Act signup page on the HealthCare.gov website in New York in this Oct. 2, 2013 photo.

With website ‘fixed,’ time for Obamacare’s next problems

on Dec. 04, 2013, at 1:38 p.m.
The federal government says HealthCare.gov is now working for “the vast majority of users.” Now comes the more important part. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has plenty of numbers to back up its claim that the website is mended. It cites more than 400 bug fixes, pages that …

Why families need a tax break for second earners

By Peter Orszag, Bloomberg News on Dec. 04, 2013, at 11:56 a.m.
Conservatives who worry about the ill effects of marginal tax rates on high earners rarely discuss the even higher marginal tax rates that some low- and moderate- income families face. A low-income single parent can experience a marginal rate as high as 95 percent — for each dollar earned, the …
Monserrat Arredondo (center, in orange) of Phoenix, Ariz., and Reyna Montoya (far right) of Mesa, Ariz., lead protest songs in front of Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-OH, during a march by the Fair Immigration Reform Movement (FIRM) and its Keeping Families Together: Youth in Action campaign on the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., Thursday, November 14, 2013.

GOP immigration reform opposition needs clear eyes

on Dec. 02, 2013, at 12:48 p.m.
Many Republicans in Congress oppose immigration reform for fear of it creating millions of new Democratic voters and putting the White House forever beyond the GOP’s electoral reach. That conviction helps explain the party’s opposition to a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. But there are at least two reasons …

Sweet nothing, or lots of sugar: What the U.S. gets from its nonsensical sugar policies

on Nov. 29, 2013, at 6:16 a.m.
Federal policy coddles the U.S. sugar industry. The result is higher consumer prices — and fewer jobs in the U.S. food industry. Still, for many years Big Sugar could claim the program was designed to avoid any direct expenditure of taxpayer funds and that it had achieved that goal. Not …
Rep. Trey Radel, R-Fla., leaves D.C. Superior Court after pleading guilty Wednesday to one count of misdemeanor drug possession.

Congressman Radel’s rehab. For real?

on Nov. 28, 2013, at 9:04 a.m.
Drug and alcohol addictions are serious matters; we hope Rep. Trey Radel, R-Fla., succeeds in his recovery. But — given the congressman’s cynical actions in the wake of getting busted for drugs — it’s hard not to wonder whether the steps he is taking are just part of a crass …

Finally, cellphones are allowed on planes

on Nov. 28, 2013, at 5:30 a.m.
The federal Communications Commission may permit airlines to experiment with allowing passengers to use cellphones in flight, officials said last week. The agency should do so, and airlines should get on with experimenting. Permission is not requirement; a change in federal rules would not necessarily mean the ruination of air …
An interpreter, left, speaks during a news conference with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, right, Libyan Prime Minister Ali Zeidan, center, and British Foreign Secretary William Hague, at Winfield House, the residence of the U.S. Ambassador to Britain, in London, Nov. 24, 2013. Kerry arrived in London on Sunday to meet British and Libyan officials after taking part in breakthrough talks curbing Iran's nuclear activity.

This Iran deal is done, so focus on the bigger one to come

on Nov. 26, 2013, at 2:35 p.m.
Of all the details about the historic deal limiting Iran’s nuclear program, the most salient one may be its scope: It is intended to last for only six months. The focus should now turn to forging a permanent agreement to prevent Iran from ever obtaining nuclear weapons. Increased sanctions pressure …

Liberalism gone awry: Don’t spend more on Social Security when so many children live in poverty

on Nov. 22, 2013, at 5:45 a.m.
President Barack Obama and the Republicans never have struck a “grand bargain” on spending and taxes. Nor does it appear likely that the current budget bargaining between Democratic and GOP negotiators in Congress will produce one. Even so, Obama faces rising pressure from the left flank of his party to …
President Ronald Reagan and Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher take a spin around the dance floor in the foyer of the White House during a State Dinner in the Prime Minister's honor in this Nov. 16, 1988, file photo.

Lessons from Reagan, 1983 ‘war scare’

on Nov. 21, 2013, at 10:12 a.m.
One of the most enduring mysteries of the final years of the Cold War was a period of great worry about nuclear conflict between the United States and Soviet Union. The “war scare” of 1983, which unfolded 30 years ago this month, is still shrouded in unknowns, but new information …
An E85 fuel pump fuel, which consists of 85% ethanol, is seen at a UPI Energy gas station in Chatham, Ontario, in this April 11, 2008 file photo.

Ethanol takes a hit, finally

on Nov. 20, 2013, at 11:16 a.m.
Once touted as a climate-friendly renewable alternative to foreign oil, the corn-based liquid ethanol has been exposed as an environmental and economic mistake. Lured by federal subsidies, Midwestern farmers have devoted millions of acres to corn that might otherwise have been devoted to soil conservation or feed-grain production. Meanwhile, a …
President Barack Obama meets with health insurance chief executives at the White House in Washington on Nov. 15, 2013.

Obamacare’s policy fix won’t work, and that’s a good thing

on Nov. 17, 2013, at 6:15 a.m.
President Barack Obama is trying to make up for an exceedingly dumb promise with a moderately dumb compromise. When Americans first began complaining last month that the Affordable Care Act meant the cancellation of insurance plans that didn’t meet the law’s coverage requirements, Obama responded that the new plans available …
A U.S. Airways jet departs Washington's Reagan National Airport next to American Airlines jets outside Washington, in this February 25, 2013 file photo. U.S. Airways Group Inc and American Airlines have agreed to give up landing spots and gates at several U.S. airports to win U.S. antitrust approval for their proposed merger, the Department of Justice said on Tuesday.

All American and cleared for takeoff

on Nov. 15, 2013, at 5:56 a.m.
Next month, the largest airline in the world will be American. Literally — the merger between the parent companies of American Airlines and US Airways to create “the new American” will consolidate two major international travel networks. The merger represents the final phase in an industry consolidation. Delta and Northwest …