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Reversing course in Illinois

CHICAGO — The most portentous election of 2014, which gave the worst-governed state its first Republican governor in 12 years, has initiated this century’s most intriguing political experiment. Illinois has favored Democratic presidential candidates by an average of 16 points in the last six elections. But by electing businessman Bruce Rauner, it initiated a process that might dismantle a form of governance that afflicts many states and municipalities.

Wasted energy on pipeline

Climate change warriors of all stripes were focused on the White House on Tuesday, where President Barack Obama vetoed a bill that would have authorized construction of the Keystone XL pipeline. Like all the other attention slathered on this overblown issue, the focus was misplaced. It would have been better placed on the Capitol, where Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., without much fanfare, reintroduced a bill that would address the nation’s greenhouse-gas emissions in a serious way.

The fragility of life’s greatest gift

DAR ES SALAAM, Tanzania — At a health center here, a young woman is in the recovery room after a cesarean section. A nurse takes the newborn to a table for cleanup. We (a group organized by the Center for Strategic and International Studies) are allowed to enter and see the child. But the newborn girl starts struggling for breath. Three more nurses enter. One briefly applies bag-and-mask ventilation. Yet her breathing grows weaker and weaker, as she turns a horrible shade of gray.

Illogical governing

Whatever its merits or shortcomings, a federal judge’s decision last week blocking the Obama administration’s immigration policy offered congressional Republicans an escape path from the corner into which they had painted themselves by imperiling funding for the Department of Homeland Security and its 240,000 employees. Thus far they have not shown the wisdom to accept this gift.

Backup plans for the Earth

What happens if humans fail to cut carbon dioxide emissions enough to prevent worsening climate change? A new report from the National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences contemplates some very unattractive — but potentially necessary — backup plans.

Tweeting against terrorism

“We’re here today because we all understand that in dealing with violent extremism, that we need answers that go beyond a military answer. We need answers that go beyond force.” — Vice President Joe Biden at the Countering Violent Extremism Summit, Feb. 17

Thailand’s rule by force

Nine months after staging a coup against a democratically elected government, Thailand’s military has little to show for it. The economy is stagnant, one of the worst performing in Asia. The national “reconciliation” the generals promised is nowhere to be seen: There are hundreds of political prisoners, and a criminal prosecution of ousted Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra is underway. Martial law remains in effect, making it illegal to hold any gathering without permission and crippling free expression.

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The riddle of war

WASHINGTON — There’s a very 2001 feel to President Barack Obama’s request for authorization to use military force and the nauseating sense that we’ll be at war indefinitely.

A poor exchange

Five years ago, President Barack Obama declared the United States should double exports by 2015. At that time, the Federal Reserve was expanding its balance sheet and holding interest rates near 0 percent, the combined effect of which was to weaken the dollar. Americans understood that there was no overt coordination between Obama and the Fed. A foreign observer, however, could easily have concluded that Washington was manipulating its currency to meet a specific economic goal at the expense of other countries. Indeed, many alleged just that.

Immigration policy in limbo

To think, as we do, that President Barack Obama overstepped his authority by shielding more than 4 million illegal immigrants from deportation, with no assent from Congress, does not mean that a federal judge should have license to invalidate the president’s order on the basis of tendentious logic.

War authorization’s difficult debate

WASHINGTON — Americans, a litigious people, believe that rules for coping with messy reality can be written in tidy legal language. This belief will be tested by the debate that will resume when Congress returns from a recess it should not have taken, with a war to authorize. The debate concerns an Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) against the Islamic State and also against …