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Opinion

U.S. needs fresh ideas for a new kind of unemployment

The U.S. labor market is still a long way from healed. The unemployment rate of 6.1 percent, down from 10 percent in 2009, is misleading: Long-term unemployment accounts for a much bigger share of the total than usual. Millions who would like full-time jobs are having to work part time. And millions more have given up looking for work and are no longer part of the count.

The heavy burden of college aid

Return on investment is a clear measure of what you get for your money. Incredibly, the federal government doesn’t apply that simple concept to the $137 billion a year it spends on college financial aid.

The dystopia next door

WASHINGTON — In 1993, Lois Lowry wrote a slim book for youth about totalitarianism, euthanasia, suicide, sexual awakening and infanticide. “The Giver” created a blooming genre — the dystopian youth novel — and considerable controversy. Some parents wanted the book banned from schools, thus unintentionally re-asking the book’s central question: How comprehensively should children (and other humans) be protected from risk and pain?

Widening the loopholes for business

This past week, two more U.S. companies moved to re-establish themselves overseas, allowing them to pursue lower corporate tax rates. They will join dozens of others who have chased lower tax bills abroad while maintaining operations in the United States, benefiting from the U.S. business climate, legal stability and research investments without helping to pay for these advantages. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew pressed Congress on Tuesday to close the avenues in U.S. law that allow companies to evade corporate taxes by moving to foreign countries.

Downing aircraft a heinous crime

In recent days there has been abundant evidence of Russia stepping up supplies of heavy weapons to rebels in eastern Ukraine, including advanced anti-aircraft systems. The Kiev government reported that two of its military aircraft were shot down in the past week, either by separatists, Russian planes or batteries operating from across the border. On Thursday came a greater tragedy: the destruction of a Malaysia Airlines passenger jet with 298 people aboard. Ukrainian authorities charged that it had been struck by a missile fired by a Russian-made surface-to-air battery supplied to Moscow’s Ukrainian proxies.

No relief on the debt

Washington has taken an indefinite break from the budget debate that marked the early part of this decade. No one’s expecting a grand bargain any time soon. Nor a small bargain, nor even serious incremental reform. Deficits have come down from their historic highs during the Great Recession and its aftermath. Health care costs have not risen as quickly in the last few years, helping to right the country’s fiscal balance and making the long-term budget outlook a bit more manageable.

A lawsuit with little merit

WASHINGTON — Rep. Pete Sessions, the House Rules Committee chairman who led Wednesday’s hearing on Republicans’ plans to sue President Obama, presented the legal credentials that have put him in this position of responsibility.

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Colleges are slowly taking away your First Amendment rights

PHILADELPHIA — Sept. 17 last year was a pretty bad day for the Constitution on our campuses. Robert Van Tuinen of Modesto Junior College in California was prevented from passing out copies of the Constitution outside of his college’s tiny “free speech zone.” Near Los Angeles, Citrus College student Vinny Sinapi-Riddle was threatened with removal from campus for the “offense” of collecting signatures for a petition against NSA domestic surveillance outside his college’s tiny free speech area. I mention September 17 because that was Constitution Day.

What happens after ‘Hobby Lobby’?

When business owners enter the public marketplace, they should expect to follow laws with which they might disagree, on religious or other grounds. This is particularly true when they form corporations, to which the government offers unique benefits unavailable to individuals.

Curse of judicial minimalism

WASHINGTON — Even when Supreme Court decisions are unanimous, the justices can be fiercely divided about fundamental matters, as was demonstrated by two 9-0 rulings last week. One overturned a Massachusetts law restricting speech near abortion clinics. The other invalidated recess appointments that President Obama made when the Senate said it was not in recess. In the first, four justices who concurred in the result rejected the majority’s reasoning because it minimized the law’s constitutional offense. In the second, four justices who concurred with the court’s judgment that Obama had exceeded his powers argued that the majority’s reasoning validated the Senate’s long complicity in practices that augment presidential power by diminishing the Senate’s power to advise and consent to presidential nominations.

Most invasive species is Homo sapiens

Perhaps those among us who have lately become unnecessarily hysterical about the plethora of invasive species both recently introduced and long entrenched on Hawaii Island at the behest of Department of Land and Natural Resources’ overpaid bevy of career puritanical scolds should temper their sentimentality with a dose of science — and a little thoughtfulness. Allow me to present a few facts:

Hobby Lobby case is an attack on women

On Monday, the Supreme Court ruled in the nationally followed Hobby Lobby case. The for-profit corporations that brought these cases to the Supreme Court — a craft store and a cabinet manufacturer — argued that the corporations’ religious convictions should excuse them from compensating their employees through the comprehensive health insurance required by law. Specifically, these private employers sought to exclude insurance coverage of several forms of birth control because, contrary to medical and scientific evidence, the corporations’ owners believe some birth control causes abortions.