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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.

Obama needs Congress to approve this war

WASHINGTON — The United States last declared war many wars ago, on June 5, 1942, when, to clarify legal ambiguities during a world conflagration, it declared war on Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria. Today’s issue is not whether to declare war but only whether the president should even seek congressional authorization for the protracted use of force against the Islamic State.

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.

Can Congress be responsible?

WASHINGTON — There was a moment in the last quarter-century when the Congress of the United States made the nation proud. It did so across all its usual lines of division: Republican and Democratic, conservative and liberal, hawk and dove.

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.

Dove Obama makes a reluctant hawk

As he offered to the nation his prescription for the most recent Middle East crisis, President Barack Obama reminded me of Michael Corleone in “The Godfather: Part III.” “Just when I thought I was out,” sighed the young mob boss about his efforts to leave the family business, “they pull me back in.”

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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.

2014 and the limits of rage

WASHINGTON — The short-term future of politics in the nation’s capital will be determined in large part by which party ends up in control of the Senate. But for a sense of the long-term future of politics in the country as a whole, watch the governors races.

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.