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A better side of America

WASHINGTON — In the first days of the Iraq war 11 years ago, Army reservist Jay Briseno was shot in the back of the head at a Baghdad market. The bullet left him blind, brain-damaged, paralyzed from the neck down and unable to communicate, eat or breathe on his own.

The people’s party

Now that pro-democracy protests have shut large swaths of central Hong Kong, China’s leaders find themselves in a trap of their own making. Denying residents authentic democracy has not led to stability nor peace in the city-state. Crushing the demonstrations would do even more harm to the international reputation for freedom and the rule of law that has allowed Hong Kong to prosper as a semi-autonomous piece of the People’s Republic of China. The future of the city-state — and much more — rests on whether the Chinese central government realizes that its tight grip is ultimately counterproductive.

Runaway Obamacare costs will hurt Senate Democrats

As we start the final stretch before the midterm elections, many analysts are convinced that Obamacare isn’t the hot political issue it once was. While the flood of negative publicity about the law has subsided of late, a majority of people still oppose it, according to a Real Clear Politics average of polls taken from Sept. 2 to 15. And I’ve always believed the voters’ negative impressions of the law were “baked” into their assessments of Democratic incumbents.

Holder and RFK’s legacy

WASHINGTON — When he announced his leave-taking last week, Attorney General Eric Holder spoke of Robert F. Kennedy as his inspiration for believing that the Justice Department “can and must always be a force for that which is right.”

Battle royal brewing in Iowa

URBANDALE, Iowa — The Machine Shed restaurant, where the waitresses wear bib overalls and suggest a cinnamon roll the size of a loaf of bread as a breakfast appetizer, sells a root beer called Dang!, bandages made to look like bacon strips, and signs that proclaim “I love you more than bacon.” For Joni Ernst, however, the apposite sign reads “No one ever injured their eyesight by looking on the bright side.”

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.”

Introspection time for evangelicals

WASHINGTON — Christian conservatives are often the subject of study by academics, who seem to find their culture as foreign as that of Borneo tribesmen. And this is a particularly interesting time for brave social scientists to put on their pith helmets and head to Wheaton, Ill., Colorado Springs or unexplored regions of the South. They will find a community under external and internal cultural stress.

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When moderates fight back

WASHINGTON — The missing component in the machinery of American politics has been moderate-to-liberal Republicanism, and the gears of government are grinding very loudly. You wonder if Kansas and Alaska have come up with a solution to this problem.

What is Congress doing about cyberthreats and hackers?

The recent disclosures that hackers had made off with nude celebrity photos stored on Apple’s iCloud and credit card information collected by Home Depot were just the latest in a seemingly endless series of headline-grabbing data thefts. But the timing was propitious, given that the Senate is resuming work on a long-overdue bill to protect online data and corporate networks by letting government and the private sector share more information about cyberthreats. Sadly, this year’s version and the House’s counterpart have at least as many problems as their predecessors, putting far too much trust in the government and the private sector to do the right thing.

Russia sees a military solution in Ukraine even if the West doesn’t

President Barack Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel have been insisting for months that there is no military solution to the crisis in Ukraine. Unfortunately, Russian President Vladimir Putin did not agree with them. When Ukraine’s army appeared on the verge of recapturing the last cities held by “rebel” forces marshalled and supplied by Russia, the Kremlin chief dispatched several thousand Russian regulars and hundreds of tanks and armored vehicles across the border, according to NATO officials. By Thursday, the Russian forces were on the outskirts of the key southern city of Mariupol, threatening to open a land corridor to the occupied province of Crimea.

Viewpoint: Chamber takes position on NPS petition

In September 2013, Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park petitioned the State Commission on Water Resource Management to designate the Keauhou aquifer of North Kona as a state Water Management Area for groundwater. What does this mean and why should we be concerned?

In a NATO state of mind

WASHINGTON — Speaking on Aug. 29 — at a fundraiser, of course — Barack Obama applied to a platitude the varnish of smartphone sociology, producing this intellectual sunburst: “The truth of the matter is, is that the world has always been messy. In part, we’re just noticing now because of social media and our capacity to see in intimate detail the hardships that people are going through.” So, if 14th- century Europeans had had Facebook and Twitter, they would have noticed how really disagreeable the Hundred Years’ War was.