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EU surprises Putin for once with new, sensible sanctions

For the first time since Russia annexed Crimea six months ago, the European Union has surprised President Vladimir Putin instead of the other way around. Despite a cease-fire in eastern Ukraine, and despite Russia’s apparent withdrawal of troops from the region, the EU decided Thursday morning to impose new sanctions on Russia, starting Friday.

Police rake in bonanzas from people who have committed no crime

The police can take your car and everything in it — including the cash you are transporting to buy a used truck, a fixer-upper house or equipment for your restaurant — even if you’re not guilty of any crime. Getting your property back can take months and cost thousands. Sometimes authorities will offer to give those who complain half their money back, which makes little sense if the cash is free from association with a serious crime — or if it isn’t.

The global complacency on Ebola must end

The Ebola epidemic now sweeping West Africa is a public health catastrophe, yet the world’s response has been to treat it like a faraway monsoon or volcano, perhaps frightening but not something that much can be done about. This complacency is wrong-headed and dangerous. The catastrophe is worsening by the day because of the actions and inactions of people, those on the ground and those far away.

What is Congress doing about cyberthreats and hackers?

The recent disclosures that hackers had made off with nude celebrity photos stored on Apple’s iCloud and credit card information collected by Home Depot were just the latest in a seemingly endless series of headline-grabbing data thefts. But the timing was propitious, given that the Senate is resuming work on a long-overdue bill to protect online data and corporate networks by letting government and the private sector share more information about cyberthreats. Sadly, this year’s version and the House’s counterpart have at least as many problems as their predecessors, putting far too much trust in the government and the private sector to do the right thing.

Russia sees a military solution in Ukraine even if the West doesn’t

President Barack Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel have been insisting for months that there is no military solution to the crisis in Ukraine. Unfortunately, Russian President Vladimir Putin did not agree with them. When Ukraine’s army appeared on the verge of recapturing the last cities held by “rebel” forces marshalled and supplied by Russia, the Kremlin chief dispatched several thousand Russian regulars and hundreds of tanks and armored vehicles across the border, according to NATO officials. By Thursday, the Russian forces were on the outskirts of the key southern city of Mariupol, threatening to open a land corridor to the occupied province of Crimea.

US still missing 3.9 million prime-age jobs

Friday’s U.S. jobs report, which showed nonfarm payrolls increasing by a meager 142,000 jobs and the unemployment rate falling 0.1 percentage point to 6.1 percent in August, will undoubtedly rekindle a familiar debate: How much more should the Federal Reserve do to put people back to work?

McDonnell’s disgrace is also Virginia’s

In the end, it didn’t take long. After months of legal wrangling and public spinning; after five weeks of courtroom testimony; after two hours of a judge’s instructions in the legal niceties of the case, the jury in Robert and Maureen McDonnell’s trial knew public corruption when it saw it. Scarcely 48 hours after they got the case, the jurors rendered their verdict with no minced words: The McDonnells are guilty.

Common Core makes states answer for dumbed-down education

There is nothing sacred about Common Core, the educational standards that are attracting renewed criticism as the school year begins. The standards, which are intended to ensure that students graduate from high school prepared to do college-level work, were not handed down from the heavens on stone tablets. They are a major improvement over previous standards in most states, but they remain a work in progress.

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Islamic State must be stopped

Americans awoke Wednesday to a gruesome video, showing an Islamic State executioner beheading James Foley, an American. A grim President Barack Obama interrupted his vacation to condemn this act of savagery, aptly calling the Islamic State “a cancer” that must be eradicated.

Containing Ebola means sending masks and gowns, not drugs

The question of how to fairly distribute scarce doses of experimental Ebola treatments is capturing the world’s attention. Yet the fate of the epidemic doesn’t rest on getting these expensive and unproven drugs to the afflicted African countries. What medical teams there need most are protective masks, goggles, gloves, gowns and boots.

Put brakes on auto-lending bubble before it bursts

The U.S. auto market is booming, with new car sales on track to hit 16.5 million in 2014, the best year since 2006. On the whole, this is great for the economy, since more demand for cars means more jobs in automobile manufacturing, sales and service. It’s a plus for the environment, too, since the average fuel efficiency of new cars is rising. There’s just one catch, though, and it’s a pretty big one: The car boom might be a bubble.

Into a new void?

WASHINGTON — This far into the human story, only the historically uninstructed are startled by what they think are new permutations of evil. So, when Russia sliced Crimea off Ukraine, Secretary of State John Kerry was nonplussed: “You just don’t in the 21st century behave in 19th-century fashion by invading another country on completely trumped up pretext.” If, however, Vladimir Putin is out of step with the march of progress, where exactly on history’s inevitably ascending path (as progressives like Kerry evidently think) does Kerry, our innocent abroad, locate the Islamic State?

Africa’s shift

Even while irrational fears about Ebola’s spread to the United States swirled, the three-day Africa summit in Washington this last week managed to crystallize the continent’s continued evolution from a beneficiary of U.S. aid and security interventions to a partner in trade.

Obama’s authorization of Iraq airstrikes isn’t connected to a coherent strategy

President Barack Obama was right to order military action to prevent a potential genocide in northern Iraq and to stop forces of the al-Qaida-derived Islamic State from advancing on Baghdad or the Kurdish capital of Irbil. However, the steps the president authorized on Thursday amount to more of his administration’s half-measures, narrowly tailored to this week’s emergency and unconnected to any coherent strategy to address the conflagration spreading across the Middle East.

The growing scourge of cybercrime demands action from Congress

The scale of cybercrime continues to astonish. The latest eye-opener is a Milwaukee security firm’s claim that Russian hackers stole 1.2 billion usernames and related passwords. This must be one of the biggest hauls of all time, and while it is not clear what the hackers intend to do with their stolen data, the report should serve as another wake-up call to Congress and the American people to break out of their long period of complacency.