Day: January 16, 2015

Don’t say Islam is violent

By DEBRA J. SAUNDERS Here’s what I love about the French: They’ve long understood the dangers presented by radical Islam. French President Francois Hollande swiftly called the deadly shooting at Paris’ Charlie Hebdo magazine “an act of exceptional barbarity,” without doubt a terrorist attack. There was no hedging. The Socialist leader didn’t engage in the sort of blather White House spokesman Josh Earnest offered on MSNBC shortly after the shootings. Earnest called the attack a “terrible act of violence,” but not necessarily terrorism. He repeated the mantra that Islam is a “religion of peace.” Given that the shooters proclaimed “Allahu akbar” (God is great) and “We have avenged the Prophet Muhammad,” Earnest came across like an addict in denial. The Council on American-Islamic Relations knew better than to throw out the “religion of peace” line. In its statement, CAIR condemned the shootings as an assault on free speech. CAIR supports free speech, “even speech that mocks faiths and religious figures.” Back to Hollande, who understood how to react to the carnage. No hand-wringing about welcoming people of all faiths. No need to state the obvious —that most Muslims don’t go around killing cartoonists. No hesitation to call this rampage what it was. The shootings of journalists in their office were meant to make critics hesitate before stating what they think and believe. When these masked murderers shot cartoonists and...

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Climate change hurts the valley

By CAMILA THORNDIKE and DAN GOLDEN The region’s economy is heavily dependent on agriculture, viticulture and forestry—all of which are climate-sensitive.  Summers are hotter and dryer with rains occurring as storms, rather than replenishing drizzles. Snowpack is decreasing.  Less water for irrigation, increasing incidence of pests and disease, and growing competition from weeds threaten local agriculture. It is becoming less attractive to grow some of the region’s most popular wine varietals.  In the forest, the range and growth rates of trees such as Douglas fir are increasingly restricted, diminishing the profitability of forestry.  Hot summers and more particulate matter from forest fires severely impact the health of the elderly and those with respiratory problems. But these hardships are tiny compared to the challenges our children and grandchildren face if we fail to act on climate change. Every reputable authority—from the Pentagon to the United Nations—warns that our current trajectory will lead to unprecedented social, economic and military crises. If we cannot secure a transition from fossil fuels before the end of the decade, it will not be possible for future generations to adapt. Fortunately, the solution is in sight. Oregon has the rare opportunity to lead our country and the world with the policy economists and climatologists say we need. We can hold out-of-state polluters accountable for climate change with a price on carbon, either by charging them a fee...

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Washington’s psychological polarization

By MICHAEL GERSON As the 114th Congress begins in earnest, there are a number of things —such as tax and immigration reform and trade agreements—that political adults would like to get done for the good of the country. A commitment to incrementalism and compromise can be found, with sufficient diligence, among individual lawmakers in both parties. But these scattered good intentions are as unlikely to cohere as dry sand.  This is not just a function of policy disagreement. President Obama and congressional Republicans hold fundamentally different views of recent political history, particularly the outcome of the November midterm election. The GOP is feeling the momentum of its best congressional performance since the New Deal, and Senate Republicans are enjoying the pleasing weight of committee gavels in their hands. Elected Republicans generally believe that Obama was humbled by voters and should act like it—that he should make concessions commensurate to his losses, as President Clinton did following his 1994 midterm defeat. Obama, in contrast, seems to view the November outcome as his final liberation from a dirty political game characterized by complete Republican bad faith. He finds no repudiation in the verdict of an unrepresentative, midterm electorate. And he is no longer required to pretend that he cares about the political fate of the 4th District of Podunk. His reaction to the election has been to seek new avenues of...

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Putin’s follies have harsh consequences

The Financial Times of London reported the other day that Russia’s former Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin has said of Russia: “There will be a fall in living standards. It will be painful. Protest activity will increase.” What prompted Kudrin to make such a statement? Not having heard a lot of talk about Russia of late, what’s going on now?  The Western sanctions on Russian President Vladimir Putin’s banks, combined with the drastic drop in oil prices and the flight of capital, also caused by the sanctions, means that Russia is realizing a rather dramatic difference between money flowing into the nation’s economy and what it must have in its reserves to pay debts and finance its imports. Putin can do little if anything about his country’s plight as long as the Western sanctions are in place, while ending them would require him to pull out of Crimea and leave the independent Ukraine alone.  But, Putin would have to admit that his adventure into Ukraine was wrong and that means the long knives in the Kremlin, reputed to be sharp as razors for centuries, and never hesitated for use when “needed,” could be used to cut him from office. So, while at present he’s been immensely popular, and has pulled many a shenanigan to keep the “wolves” from his door, if Putin does not back down, Russia will continue to pay a steep price.  It’s well known that a lot of Russians...

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