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The law of the war

At the United Nations on Wednesday, President Barack Obama offered a powerful case for war against the Islamic State. “This group has terrorized all who they come across in Iraq and Syria,” he said. “There can be no reasoning — no negotiation — with this brand of evil. The only language understood by killers like this is the language of force.”

Nations face challenge of how to de-radicalize terrorists

President Barack Obama’s speech to the United Nations Wednesday morning may have attracted more attention, but his chairmanship of the U.N. Security Council later in the day may have the more lasting impact. The council unanimously agreed to adopt his proposal for a more coordinated global effort to track and arrest so-called foreign fighters — thousands of whom have joined Islamic State and other jihadi groups. Now it’s time to start thinking about what to do with them once they’re in custody.

Tax plan a short-term corporate fix

The Obama administration’s plan for executive action against corporate tax “inversions” is finally out, and it’s a potentially significant one. Inversion is the process by which a U.S. corporation merges with a foreign one so as to pay taxes on overseas income at the other country’s lower rates. The new plan, announced late Monday by Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, would crack down on it in several ways. It would prevent inverted companies from deferring U.S. taxes via “hopscotch” loans from the U.S. company’s foreign subsidiary to the new foreign parent. It would prevent inverted companies from restructuring foreign subsidiaries so as to give the new foreign parent access to their earnings, tax-free. And it would put extra teeth in the current law’s requirement that an inverted entity’s former U.S. owners own less than 80 percent of the new combined one.

Trespassing at the White House

The Secret Service can’t say what exactly went wrong Friday to allow an intruder to get through the front door of the White House. A review into the unprecedented security breach is underway. The lack of understanding, though, hasn’t stopped the Secret Service from floating the notion — let’s hope it stays just that — of pushing visitors even further back from the perimeter of the president’s home.

Home Depot’s breach should spur us to fight cyberattacks vigilantly

Home Depot, which calls itself “the world’s largest home improvement retailer,” can add a new distinction. It is now the scene of the world’s largest known theft of consumer credit card information. A cyberattack has put at risk the data of about 56 million customers between April and September. This exceeds the approximately 40 million credit accounts breached at Target stores, the previous all-time high.

Provide Ukraine with the military aid it needs to deter Russia’s aggression

For the sake of the cameras, President Barack Obama assured Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko at a White House meeting Thursday that “not only do we support Ukraine’s sovereignty and independence in words, but we’ve also been supporting it in deeds.” If only that were true. The reality is that the beleaguered Ukrainian leader left Washington backed by considerable rhetoric from the Obama administration but little with which he can turn back the continuing Russian aggression against his country.

The economy is improving, but not everyone is sharing in the better times

Amid other good news about the U.S. economy — a declining unemployment rate, lower child poverty — the Federal Reserve has just reported that the net worth of U.S. households rose $1.4 trillion, to $81.5 trillion, during the second quarter of 2014. This means that families’ assets, such as homes and stocks, have risen roughly $23 trillion in value since the depths of the “Great Recession” in 2009. Credit the market on Wall Street and recovering real estate prices, both partly attributable to the Fed’s easy-money policies.

Immigration stutter-steps

President Barack Obama’s zigs and zags in pursuit of immigration reform are a long-unfolding narrative now assuming epic dimensions. In the latest installment, Obama has postponed the unilateral reforms he promised to have unveiled by now. He did so not for any high-minded purpose but rather to avoid dealing mortal blows to the re-election of a handful of Democratic senators who begged the president to hold off.

Finally combating Ebola

With people dying in the streets of the Liberian capital, President Barack Obama has at last ramped up the U.S. response to the worst outbreak ever of the Ebola virus in West Africa. The fresh surge of support announced Tuesday represents a welcome change of course. No one knows if the package outlined by Obama at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will be sufficient, but at least the United States has started to act like the world’s indispensable nation.

Short on firepower

In launching two previous wars in Iraq, the United States assembled formidable coalitions of dozens of countries. Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Syria and Oman were among the Arab states that deployed substantial ground forces during the 1991 Persian Gulf War. Though derided by some as a “unilateral” U.S. action, the 2003 invasion and subsequent occupation of Iraq was supported by troops from 39 countries, nine of which deployed more than 1,000 soldiers.

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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.

Ukraine deserves support from NATO countries

As Russian soldiers and tanks advance across southeastern Ukraine, the Obama administration and the NATO alliance are making a show of defending several nations that lie far away and that are not presently under attack. President Barack Obama is due Wednesday in the Baltic republic of Estonia, and a NATO summit on Thursday and Friday is expected to approve several measures, including a new rapid-reaction force, to bolster the defenses of Estonia and other Eastern European nations that have joined NATO in the past 15 years.

NFL takes the right steps to discourage domestic violence

Video footage of Baltimore Ravens football player Ray Rice dragging the unconscious body of his soon-to-be wife from an elevator in Atlantic City was shocking and upsetting. Equally disturbing was the National Football League’s weak response to this clear-cut case of domestic violence. So it was unexpected — and refreshing — to see NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell revisit the issue with an acknowledgment he had erred with the lenient punishment and the announcement of tougher penalties for domestic violence offenses.

EPA’s limits on emissions important but not enough

The country is about to see its fiercest climate-change battle. After years of congressional inaction, the Environmental Protection Agency is applying new rules to curb greenhouse-gas emissions from cars, trucks and — most controversially — power plants, the biggest national emitters. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has said he will try to restrict the EPA if Republicans take over the Senate. President Barack Obama’s executive actions will be an issue in the 2016 presidential campaign.

Use of force by police a growing problem. Or is it?

Attorney General Eric Holder visited Ferguson, Missouri, Wednesday to assure the community that the federal government will be taking an active role in the investigation of the death of 18-year-old Michael Brown. But Brown’s death raises larger questions about the use of force by police that Holder and President Barack Obama need to confront.