Other Voices

Antennas of the former National Security Agency listening station are seen at the Teufelsberg hill, or Devil's Mountain in Berlin, Nov. 5, 2013.

Reforming the NSA

on Nov. 05, 2013, at 12:25 p.m.
Debate has continued for months about the information-gathering process of the National Security Agency. Now, Congress is starting to act. Lawmakers have offered a raft of proposals in both chambers to shake up various parts of the government’s spying operation. The most prominent comes from the Senate Select Committee on …
Crystal Fogleman (left) and Alice Goan (right), both of Bangor, smoke cigarettes as they wait for a bus in downtown Bangor in 2011.

A tax that should keep rising

on Nov. 04, 2013, at 3:20 p.m.
Boosting taxes on cigarettes is an effective way to cut smoking rates among adults and, even more, among those college-age and younger, along with tobacco-related disease and death. A case in point is Maryland, where the incidence of smoking fell by a third from 1998 to 2010, a period during …
Cathey Park of Cambridge, Massachusetts holds up her cast for U.S. President Barack Obama to sign during a health insurance event at Faneuil Hall in Boston October 30, 2013. The words on the cast read, "I Love Obamacare."

Obama’s dumb promise doesn’t necessarily undermine his law

on Nov. 03, 2013, at 2:59 p.m.
Americans are realizing that under the Affordable Care Act, many people will in fact not be able to keep their current insurance plans. That reflects poorly on President Barack Obama. But it doesn’t necessarily reflect badly on Obamacare. Obama had no business promising that people who like their insurance would …
Secretary of State John Kerry gestures at the Center for American Progress 10th Anniversary policy forum in Washington on Thursday, Oct. 24.

John Kerry’s empty words on starvation, disease in Syria

on Oct. 29, 2013, at 1:57 p.m.
According to Secretary of State John Kerry, Syrian ruler Bashar Assad now is waging “a war of starvation” against his own people. In a robustly worded op-ed column posted Friday on ForeignPolicy.com, Kerry denounced what he said was “the systematic denial of medical assistance, food supplies and other humanitarian aid …
The staff of Republican members of the U.S. congress are pictured as Cheryl Campbell (on tv screen), Senior Vice President of CGI Federal, testifies at a House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act on Capitol Hill in Washington, October 24, 2013.

Earmarks and success can help Congress get its groove back

on Oct. 27, 2013, at 9:22 a.m.
To break the cycle of failure, partisan recrimination and stalemate on Capitol Hill, Democrats and Republicans need something that looks, smells and feels like bipartisan success. And they could achieve that by aiming for modest goals. One such step could be to reauthorize a law supporting adoptions of foster children. …
 A 16-year-old inmate at Mountain View Youth Development Center underwent surgery early Wednesday to repair a broken jaw he suffered from alleged fighting at the prison.

Why children, even when violent, should never be incarcerated

on Oct. 24, 2013, at 2:18 p.m.
What do you do with children suspected or convicted of committing very adult crimes? The answer isn’t easy, particularly when violence is involved. One thing that’s clear, though: Standing policy should not be to warehouse youth in adult jails and prisons. Encouragingly, a new report from the Campaign for Youth …
Women from the Ngok Dinka tribe dance during prayers for a peaceful referendum in the Abyei region, September 14, 2013. Abyei, straddling the border between Sudan and South Sudan, is claimed by both sides, which fought one of Africa's longest civil wars. Since South Sudan's secession in 2011 after an independence vote, both countries have been unable to decide on the ownership of Abyei, which is inhabited by the Dinka tribe allied to South Sudan and the Misseriya, an Arab tribe following Sudan.

When women have the same rights as men, how will we know?

on Oct. 23, 2013, at 11:17 a.m.
World leaders have long recognized the value of empowering women. But how much progress toward gender equality is being made? This is a question that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has pledged to answer — by 2015, the 20th anniversary of the groundbreaking United Nations conference on gender issues …

Suffocating from the high cost of meds in Maine

By Sun Journal, on Oct. 22, 2013, at 6:24 a.m.
Of the $5 billion this country spends on asthma meds every year, much of that medication serves the Medicaid/Medicare patient pool.

Allow EPA leniency to limit greenhouse gases

on Oct. 21, 2013, at 12:41 p.m.
Last Tuesday, the Supreme Court declined to consider a variety of challenges to the Environmental Protection Agency’s effort to slash greenhouse gas emissions. But the news wasn’t a total victory for environmentalists. The court announced it would hear one challenge to the agency’s regulations: The Justice Department will have to …
JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon, arrives Oct. 2, 2013 at the White House in Washington to meet with President Barack Obama.

Wailing on Wall Street

on Oct. 16, 2013, at 12:15 p.m.
Not long ago, JPMorgan Chase was a sort of hero among U.S. banks. The global giant had exited the subprime mortgage market before the crash began in 2007. It entered the subsequent panic with what its chief executive, Jamie Dimon, called a “fortress balance sheet.” Today, federal and state governments …
Notre Dame law professor Mary Ellen O'Connell, a leading critic of the U.S. targeted killing program against al-Qaida militants, works in her home office in South Bend, Indiana.

Stopping al-Qaida

on Oct. 14, 2013, at 10:53 a.m.
The recent capture of a senior al-Qaida operative in Libya and a raid in Somalia the same day by Navy SEALs broke some new ground in the Obama administration’s counterterrorism operations. For the first time, the administration acted in Libya under the auspices of the 2001 Authorization for Use of …
President Barack Obama and outgoing Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke applaud after Obama nominated Janet Yellen, left, to serve as the next head of the Federal Reserve at the White House in Washington Oct. 9, 2013.

At last, a nominee at the Fed

on Oct. 10, 2013, at 12:10 p.m.
Janet Yellen was not well served by the process that culminated in her nomination Wednesday to be the next chairman of the Federal Reserve. President Barack Obama broadly implied, but did not openly state, his preference for former Treasury secretary Lawrence H. Summers, setting off a months-long struggle between pro-Summers …

Voting Rights Act should be revived by Congress, not by Justice suing states

on Oct. 07, 2013, at 10:14 a.m.
Ever since the Supreme Court gutted a key section of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, Attorney General Eric Holder’s Justice Department has been trying to patch it, using the sections of the law that the court left in place to reconstitute the checks on discrimination that had existed for decades. …
U.S. House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) arrives at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, on Saturday.

Boehner heading back to a ‘grand bargain’?

on Oct. 06, 2013, at 11:07 a.m.
When all else fails, try being reasonable. That’s our most hopeful reading of House Speaker John Boehner’s effort to get the word out, through proxies, that he will not let the United States default on its financial obligations, even if it means relying on Democratic votes to pass an increase …
In this 2004 file photo, President George W. Bush talks about Iraq at the Maine Victory Rally at the Bangor International Airport.

Forgotten allies in Iraq

on Oct. 03, 2013, at 3:26 p.m.
In December 2005, when the war in Iraq was intensifying, President George W. Bush insisted that that country could yet avoid civil war. In a speech, he praised those Iraqis who “put their lives on the line” for a free and democratic Iraq, in some cases by having the courage …
Stephen Baldwin holds his fist in the air outside a Subway restaurant during a strike aimed at the fast-food industry and the minimum wage in Seattle, Washington August 29, 2013. Fast-food workers went on strike and protested outside restaurants in 60 U.S. cities on Thursday, in the largest protest of an almost year-long campaign to raise service sector wages.

A fix for the minimum wage

on Sept. 30, 2013, at 10:40 a.m.
What is to be done with the federal minimum wage — stuck at $7.25 an hour since 2009, with no raise in sight? One approach is just that: Stay with the status quo, on the theory that a higher minimum wage is a job-killer. Backers of a higher minimum acknowledge …
Metropolitan Police Chief Cathy Lanier listens to Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI's Washington Field Office Valerie Parlave, as she hosts a news conference to share the findings about the investigation into the shootings at the Navy Yard last Monday, at the FBI's Washington Field Office in Washington, September 25, 2013. Navy Yard shooter Aaron Alexis believed he was being controlled by electromagnetic waves in the months before he killed 12 people at a Washington base on Sept. 16, an FBI official said on Wednesday.

Warning signs unheeded in DC shooting

on Sept. 27, 2013, at 6:36 a.m.
In the weeks before his murderous shooting spree at Washington’s Navy Yard, Aaron Alexis was exhibiting bizarre, if not alarming, behavior. Employees at the motel in Rhode Island where he was staying noticed it. So did police, who thought it so erratic that they alerted Naval authorities. Apparently even the …
Quebec's Premier Pauline Marois holds the Quebec Charter of Values during a photo-op at the National Assembly in Quebec City, September 10, 2013.

Quebec’s limits on liberty

on Sept. 26, 2013, at 3:12 p.m.
Taking a page out of France’s book, the Parti Quebecois has released details of a highly controversial “Charter of Quebec Values” — a program that seeks to inspire a sense of identity in Canada’s francophone province while maintaining the “obligation to remain independent of religious authority.” In the name of …
In this Oct. 25, 2012 file photo, an American flag flutters in the wind next to signage for a United States Social Security Administration office in Burbank, Calif.

Exploding disability: What to do about the ballooning of Social Security?

on Sept. 25, 2013, at 12:31 p.m.
In the debate over entitlement reform, few subjects are more fiercely debated than the cause of the explosive recent growth of Social Security Disability Insurance. Defenders of the program, which cost a record $135 billion in fiscal 2012, argue that the rolls are increasing mainly because of technical and demographic …
CDC microbiologist Johannetsy Avillan holds up a plate that demonstrates the modified Hodge test, which is used to identify resistance in bacteria known as Enterobacteriaceae in this undated handout photo provided by the U.S. Center for Disease Control.

Confront the superbugs

on Sept. 23, 2013, at 3:47 p.m.
When Dr. Tom Frieden starts using phrases such as “urgent health threat” and “potentially catastrophic consequences,” it is a good idea to pay attention. Frieden is director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and with those words Monday he introduced a new report that documents the growing threat …
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