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A contrary view on the Pulitzers

WASHINGTON — On Monday, my Washington Post colleagues celebrated winning the Pulitzer Prize for public service along with the Guardian newspaper for their reporting on Edward Snowden’s revelations about the National Security Agency.

A tax break worth saving

With lawmakers showing little enthusiasm for an ambitious proposal by House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp, R-Mich., to overhaul the byzantine U.S. tax code, Congress has to decide what to do about dozens of temporary tax breaks that expired Dec. 31. Among them is an exemption for forgiven mortgage debt that’s an essential part of a broader federal effort to solve a nagging problem, namely the spate of defaults caused by the recession. Failing to renew it would cripple efforts by government and banks to mitigate the damage caused by the housing crisis.

Understanding our divisions

WASHINGTON — In a 2006 interview, Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer said the Constitution is “basically about” one word — “democracy” — that appears in neither that document nor the Declaration of Independence. Democracy is America’s way of allocating political power. The Constitution, however, was adopted to confine that power in order to “secure the blessings of” that which simultaneously justifies and limits democratic government — natural liberty.

Your new password: sur**nder

Have you changed your passwords since the security flaw known as Heartbleed emerged? Have you made sure they’re all long, alphanumeric and randomized? Did you use a unique one for every site — every bank account, every email address, every music-streaming service, every social media profile and so on?

Where the only rule is terror

BANGUI, Central African Republic — The tents of displaced people reach nearly up to the runway at the airport — the first impression of a nation in flight and in fear. Befitting the sectarian cast of the violence in this country, there are two camps, one Christian and one Muslim. The Muslim camp has shrunken in size, as Chadian planes and truck convoys have taken some people out of danger. It is both a move to safety and the victory of religious cleansing.

Permanent fix needed for tax code

Just in time for tax day, the Congressional Budget Office delivered a pleasant surprise. Based on current law, the national debt will grow by $286 billion less during the next decade than the CBO projected only two months ago. The main reason is a downward adjustment in the nonpartisan agency’s forecast of subsidy costs for health insurance purchased on the Affordable Care Act’s exchanges.

Heartburn grows over Heartbleed

Tens of millions of Americans have been affected by the theft of their personal information in the digital age. In a recent major data breach at Target stores, numbers and names were taken from about 40 million customers, and many millions more suffered compromises in other personal information such as email addresses or phone numbers. The victims trusted their retail stores, their credit- and debit-card issuers, their banks, and such security measures as a four-digit personal identification numbers, to protect their information.

Benzene spill highlights China’s latest water pollution woes

On Friday the government of Lanzhou, China, informed its 3.6 million residents that their drinking water would be carcinogenic for the next 24 hours. Benzene, a chemical used in plastics manufacture, was the immediate cause, but that wasn’t even the most horrifying revelation to come from this crisis. Today, reports from state media revealed that the benzene had been released into the environment as a result of oil pipeline explosions — in 1987 and 2002. The pipelines, owned by state-owned China National Petroleum Corporation, were repaired at the time. Some 34 tons of contaminated soil, however, were left in place, the benzene allowed to migrate into an underground water duct that empties out via household faucets.

Wall Street’s flash point

In “The Financier,” his great novel of American capitalism, Theodore Dreiser describes the thinking of his hero, Frank Cowperwood, who exploited banks, the state and investors. It isn’t wise to steal outright, Cowperwood concludes; that would be wrong. But “there were so many situations wherein what one might do in the way of taking or profiting was open to discussion and doubt. Morality varied, in his mind at least, with conditions, if not climates.”

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Gun madness in full swing in Georgia

Fifteen months ago, as the nation recoiled in horror from the massacre of 20 children and six adults by a mentally ill man armed with three semiautomatic weapons, there were firm proclamations that this time would be different. The violence at that Newtown, Conn., elementary school, it was said, would finally lead the nation to come together and embrace some reasonable gun control laws.

NLRB calls a foul on the NCAA for the status of student-athletes

It’s official, according to a preliminary ruling of the National Labor Relations Board: The college sports industry’s claim that it exists to serve student-athletes doesn’t hold, er, Gatorade. Teams are composed of full-time athletes who labor under highly restrictive, sometimes dangerous conditions, and they deserve a stronger voice in how colleges and universities treat and compensate them.

Give college athletes fairer scholarships

The decision to grant football players at Northwestern University the right to form a union, made Wednesday by a National Labor Relations Board regional director, is being decried as a sign of the apocalypse by critics and hailed as the beginning of glorious revolution by proponents. Both sides should take a deep breath.

Take a swing at these

WASHINGTON — “Andre Dawson,” Dodgers broadcaster Vin Scully once said, “has a bruised knee and is listed as day-to-day. Aren’t we all?” Yes, so use some of your remaining time constructively by identifying the player or players who:

Congress can’t get out of its own way on Medicare

Maybe it was too good to be true. A rare bipartisan health care reform proposal backed by leaders of three major House and Senate committees is foundering because Republicans and Democrats can’t agree on how to pay for it. The irony is that the measure, which would change the way Medicare reimburses doctors, would slow the growth of health care spending and taxpayers’ costs. Lawmakers should stop the partisan bickering and start working in good faith to find a way to enact the long-overdue and much-needed reform.