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Cut emissions the cheaper, smarter way

Whether Republican state leaders like it or not, the Environmental Protection Agency is going to require them to cut their states’ greenhouse-gas emissions. They can choose to do it the easy way or the hard way. One Virginia Republican is proposing they choose the easy way — and the smart way.

The fight for the middle class

WASHINGTON — When you strip away all the layers of cockiness, preachiness and delusion in President Barack Obama’s 2015 State of the Union address, you find more cockiness, preachiness and delusion underneath.

A welcome legal review of marijuana use

A federal judge has done what Congress and the Obama administration have failed to do — open a discussion on whether marijuana should continue to be listed as a Schedule 1 drug, a classification that is supposed to be used only for the most dangerous, addictive drugs, such as heroin and LSD.

Vermont’s Sanders has mountains to climb

WASHINGTON — The young man who answered the phone in the Senate office of Vermont’s Bernie Sanders told the caller, a would-be campaign contributor, that it is illegal for funds to be accepted on federal property. He advised the person to contact Sanders’ political operation, which might become a presidential campaign.

To Obama, family leave is a family value

In rolling out the issues he hopes will define the final two years of his administration, President Barack Obama has proposed two workplace initiatives: requiring companies with 15 or more employees to provide them seven days of sick leave per year to their full-time workers, and encouraging states to establish paid family leave programs for new parents or workers tending to family members with significant health issues. As with most such proposals, the devil will be in the details, but we believe the president is on the right track.

Free trade, and US role in Asia

We’ve faulted President Barack Obama for his less-than-full-throated support of free-trade agreements that enjoy the nominal backing of his administration. There was no such cause for complaint about his State of the Union address Tuesday night, however, in which he called on “both parties to give me trade promotion authority to protect American workers with strong new trade deals from Asia to Europe.” In practical terms, that means Obama believes his negotiators are close to cementing market-opening pacts with 11 Pacific Rim nations — most importantly, Japan — and with the European Union and that passing a bill authorizing an up-or-down congressional vote on the final agreements will strengthen his hand at the bargaining table.

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A 21st-century Supreme Court

“On November 10, 1893, The Washington Post identified an emerging technology that was reshaping American society: Pneumatics!” This is how Chief Justice John Roberts began his 2014 Year-End Report on the Federal Judiciary, in which he announced a long-overdue move to put court documents online. But he stopped well short of embracing other obvious improvements, such as live video or audio from the Supreme Court chamber. “The courts will always be prudent whenever it comes to embracing the ‘next big thing,’ ” he wrote.

Diverting lava flow would only endanger other areas

We want to thank our entire community for the many suggestions the county has received in recent weeks on ways we can help Lower Puna communities now threatened by the June 27 lava flow. We are proud of the way our island community has pulled together with aloha to cope with the challenges posed by the lava, and we are always ready to consider any new possibilities for better protecting the lives and property of our residents.

The senator to watch in 2015

WASHINGTON — Standing at the intersection of three foreign policy crises and a perennial constitutional tension, Bob Corker, R-Tenn., incoming chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, may be the senator who matters most in 2015. Without an authorization for use of military force (AUMF) tailored to novel circumstances, America is waging war against an entity without precedent (the Islamic State). Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons during negotiations that should involve congressional duties. And Russia is revising European borders by force and, like Iran, is the object of a U.S. experiment testing the power of economic sanctions to modify a dictator’s behavior. As Congress weighs its foreign policy role regarding these three matters, Corker treads the contested terrain between deference to presidential primacy in foreign policy and the need for collective wisdom and shared responsibility.

Repression continues in Cuba

A Cuban performance artist named Tania Bruguera planned a simple event for Tuesday: She would set up a microphone in Havana’s Revolution Square and invite anyone who wished to step up and talk about the country’s future. Dozens of dissidents planned to participate under the slogan “I also demand” — which might be taken as an allusion to their exclusion from the secret normalization negotiations conducted by the Obama administration and the regime of Fidel and Raul Castro.