The Egyptian regime of Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi again demonstrated its violent and cynical nature last weekend, as the country marked the fourth anniversary of the popular revolution that overthrew former ruler Hosni Mubarak. More than 20 protesters were killed by police, including liberal human rights activist Shaimaa al-Sabbagh, who was shot in the back as she walked toward Cairo’s Tahrir Square to lay flowers. Five witnesses who tried to give testimony about her slaying were charged with staging an illegal protest.
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Some people intend to be national security threats. Others are just drunk. In the case of Monday’s drone crash on the southeast corner of the White House grounds, the immediate problem seems to have been an inebriated pilot. But the underlying issue is the federal government poorly regulates the booming drone industry. The right response is not overreaction but rather tightening rules and procedures in some ways — and loosening them in others.
President Barack Obama sounded a triumphant note about the federal government’s fiscal condition in his State of the Union address last week, boasting that the budget deficit has fallen by two-thirds since 2009, his first year in office. He then went on to outline new plans for tax and spending increases, framed as “middle-class economics,” with nary a word about how he would bring down the country’s national debt over the long term. Whereas he entered the White House promising that “some of the hard decisions” about entitlement reform would be “made under my watch, not someone else’s,” Obama seems inclined to declare victory in the debt battle and pull out.
U.S. officials are celebrating a modest victory in the war against the Islamic State in Syria — the apparently successful defense of the Kurdish town of Kobane, on the border with Turkey. Under siege since early October, Kobane has little strategic value but came to be seen as a test of whether the United States and its allies could stop the expansion of the Islamic State and the humanitarian crimes that accompany it.
President Barack Obama and the new Republican majorities in Congress have spent the past few weeks posturing on tax policy rather than advancing serious proposals. This ought to change — and it can. The U.S. badly needs tax reform, and there’s surprising scope for cooperation.
Whether Republican state leaders like it or not, the Environmental Protection Agency is going to require them to cut their states’ greenhouse-gas emissions. They can choose to do it the easy way or the hard way. One Virginia Republican is proposing they choose the easy way — and the smart way.
A federal judge has done what Congress and the Obama administration have failed to do — open a discussion on whether marijuana should continue to be listed as a Schedule 1 drug, a classification that is supposed to be used only for the most dangerous, addictive drugs, such as heroin and LSD.
In rolling out the issues he hopes will define the final two years of his administration, President Barack Obama has proposed two workplace initiatives: requiring companies with 15 or more employees to provide them seven days of sick leave per year to their full-time workers, and encouraging states to establish paid family leave programs for new parents or workers tending to family members with significant health issues. As with most such proposals, the devil will be in the details, but we believe the president is on the right track.
We’ve faulted President Barack Obama for his less-than-full-throated support of free-trade agreements that enjoy the nominal backing of his administration. There was no such cause for complaint about his State of the Union address Tuesday night, however, in which he called on “both parties to give me trade promotion authority to protect American workers with strong new trade deals from Asia to Europe.” In practical terms, that means Obama believes his negotiators are close to cementing market-opening pacts with 11 Pacific Rim nations — most importantly, Japan — and with the European Union and that passing a bill authorizing an up-or-down congressional vote on the final agreements will strengthen his hand at the bargaining table.
Almost all candidates for public office have one thing in common: They have to be very good at asking people for money. Except if they happen to be running for judge in Florida, where judicial candidates are prohibited from personally soliciting contributions. They can, however, have surrogates ask — and they are allowed to send personal thank-you notes to those who donate.
President Barack Obama’s annual State of the Union addresses have been more fanciful than most. Not because he has championed colonizing distant galaxies or dispensing free ice cream, but because for the last four years half of Congress — this year, all of it — has been controlled by a party that has starkly different ideas about the role and purpose of government.
The Internal Revenue Service may be the least-loved arm of the federal government. For tax-hating Republican lawmakers still angry over what they see as IRS malfeasance, the antipathy is especially strong. That explains why GOP lawmakers repeatedly have cut the agency’s budget over the past several years, including a 3 percent reduction this year. But no matter how therapeutic it may feel to hack away at the IRS, it is deeply irrational.
Glaring, and growing, inequality of wealth and income is one of the most troubling issues facing the United States and other democratic, capitalist societies. So far, this threat to social stability and political legitimacy has proved as intractable as it is worrisome. The lawmaker and the party that devise an effective solution could deserve a grand electoral prize.
President Barack Obama’s neglect of the anti-terrorism march in Paris seemed reflective of a broader loss of momentum by his administration in combating Islamic jihadism. Five months after the president launched military operations against the Islamic State, fighting in Iraq and Syria appears stalemated. The training of Iraqi army units for a hoped-for counteroffensive is proceeding slowly and, according to a report by The Washington Post’s Loveday Morris, looks under-resourced. Weapons and ammunition are in such short supply that trainees are yelling “bang, bang” in place of shooting.
There has been been a welcome evolution by Attorney General Eric Holder on the issue of government interrogation and investigation of reporters. The new approach reflects more thought and balance than the administration’s earlier efforts. Holder’s final actions before leaving office do not entirely ease worries about leak investigations, but they do show that Holder was listening to reasonable objections and willing to change.