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Lighting fuses in Oklahoma

OKLAHOMA CITY — Scott Pruitt enjoyed owning a AAA baseball team here, but he is having as much fun as Oklahoma’s attorney general, and one of the Obama administration’s most tenacious tormentors. The second existential challenge to the Affordable Care Act began here.

Terrorists win a round over Sony’s ‘Interview’

If an anonymous group threatened in mid-December to harm bakeries without saying where, when or how, would every doughnut shop and cake vendor feel compelled to shut down through the holiday season? Of course not. Yet a threat by an anonymous group of hackers led the country’s major theater chains to close their doors to “The Interview,” Sony Pictures’ edgy comedy about a planned assassination of North Korea’s Kim Jong Un. The hackers are engaged in terrorism, pure and simple, in an effort to stop people from seeing the movie. But even though the terrorists won this round, Sony still can — and should — make the movie widely available through other means.

Chuck Schumer: Take two

WASHINGTON — Sen. Charles Schumer gave Democrats a talking-to about their obligation to stand up for government’s role in helping struggling middle-income Americans — and his message got swallowed up by a few paragraphs on health care.

A slight deal on climate

Ever since negotiators failed to agree on a climate accord in Copenhagen five years ago, diplomats have been trying for a big, international do-over. Talks in Lima, Peru, this month put this effort on track to conclude an agreement in Paris next year. The trade-off is that the accord will be insufficiently ambitious and difficult to enforce, in part because of the intransigence of developing countries. It cannot be the final word on the global response to climate change — just an early step. But it’s preferable to no deal at all.

Restoration of U.S.-Cuba diplomatic relations is long overdue

Citing a half-century of failed policy, President Barack Obama on Wednesday announced he intends to normalize relations with Cuba, mending a rupture that dates to the chilliest days of the Cold War. While the move to restore diplomatic ties should not be taken as support for the Castro regime’s continuing human rights violations or its antidemocratic policies, it is undoubtedly the right step. Indeed, it is long overdue.

A Bush bonus that won’t die

The best that can be said for the “tax extenders” bill, approved in the waning days of the 113th Congress, is that it could have been much worse. After the November election, House and Senate leaders attempted to make all 55 special-interest tax breaks in the bill permanent instead of renewing them on a short-term basis, as per usual. The White House shot down that idea, which would have added more than $400 billion to the federal deficit over the next decade. Finally, all concerned settled on a $42 billion one-year renewal of the breaks, retroactive to Jan. 1, so that taxpayers can claim them on their 2014 returns — to be followed by a resumption of debate on broader tax reform in 2015.

Military action alone cannot defeat terrorism in Pakistan

After the massacre of 132 children Tuesday at a military-run school in Peshawar, no Pakistani should be under any illusions about the nature of the so-called Pakistani Taliban. Leaders across the political spectrum, including some like Imran Khan who have in the past called for negotiations with the militants, have expressed horror at the killings. Focusing solely on that despicable group, however, won’t make future generations of Pakistani children safe.

A Texas-sized plate dispute

WASHINGTON — The Battle of Palmito Ranch near Brownsville, Texas, on May 13, 1865, is called the last battle of the Civil War, but the Texas Division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV) might consider that judgment premature, given its conflict with the state’s Department of Transportation and Department of Motor Vehicles. This skirmish is of national interest because it implicates a burgeoning new entitlement — the right to pass through life without encountering any disagreeable thought.

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The British immigration test

While a pitched debate is underway in the United States over illegal immigration, an equally fierce fight rages in Britain over the legal variety — immigrant workers from other European countries who, by treaty, enjoy free access to Britain’s labor market. What the two countries share is a tide of populist sentiment that wants to tighten control over workers crossing national borders and gaining access to jobs, schools and hospitals.

A local racial clash, a national tragedy

When my fellow critics of Ferguson, Missouri, police are reduced to arguing not whether but how hard Michael Brown hit police officer Darren Wilson, I think it is time to rethink what this scandal is all about or, more pointedly, what it should be about.

‘The imperial Congress’

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama issued a veto threat last week against a corporate tax-cutting orgy that promised the world to many powerful interests but did little for the middle class and nothing for low-income Americans. The president’s move was singularly useful. It should be a sign of things to come.

Will Secure Communities work for immigration enforcement?

The federal government’s Secure Communities program has been as controversial as it has been counterproductive, so we’re glad the Obama administration’s new approach to immigration enforcement will mean the program’s demise. Yet we also harbor some skepticism about its successor, the Priority Enforcement Program — and wonder whether there will be much difference.

China’s tactics

China’s Communist authorities are nothing if not predictable. With a high-profile international summit hosted by President Xi Jinping this month behind them, they are ready for authorities in Hong Kong to crack down on a pro-democracy protest movement. On Tuesday and Wednesday, thousands of police wielding batons and pepper gas began clearing one of three sit-in sites, arresting hundreds of people — including two of the movement’s top leaders.