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Drugs fuel US-Mexico border crisis

As is now well known, the children and families flowing across the U.S.-Mexican border are arriving for two interrelated reasons. One factor is a loophole in a 2008 immigration law that gives minors a relatively better shot at remaining in the U.S. after enduring a certain amount of legal and administrative processing.

Take the cool out of Kools

To buy cigarettes in Australia, you have to pick up a dull green package plastered with photos of a shriveled infant, a blackened lung or an old man with a tracheotomy hole in his throat.

The United States’ fiscal fizzle

For much of the past five years readers of the political and economic news were left in little doubt that budget deficits and rising debt were the most important issue facing America. Serious people constantly issued dire warnings that the United States risked turning into another Greece any day now. President Barack Obama appointed a special, bipartisan commission to propose solutions to the alleged fiscal crisis, and spent much of his first term trying to negotiate a Grand Bargain on the budget with Republicans.

A heyday for pot

It’s an exciting time for potheads. New York legalized medical marijuana on July 7; pot shops in Washington State started selling legal recreational marijuana the following day, and that same day, someone publicly offered the President of the United States a joint in a Denver bar. And then there is the Berkeley City Council in California, which broke new ground by unanimously passing a law requiring marijuana shops to give free marijuana to the poor and homeless, starting next month. They even mandated that it has to be the good stuff, not dirt weed.

Widening the loopholes

Last 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. Instead, more than a week ago, the House passed a bill that would make it more difficult to keep U.S. companies in America.

The hand that rocks the ballot box

In their denouncements of the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby ruling, Hillary Clinton and other Democrats have been accused of pandering to single women — the so-called “Beyonce voter” demographic, as one Fox News commentator sniggered.

Over the line

In somber tones, the top elected official in Virginia’s second-largest locality expresses his deep concern about the plight of thousands of undocumented minors crossing the U.S.-Mexico border — some of whom are being temporarily housed in his own jurisdiction. He says he’s very worried, not least about their unknown “medical needs.”

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.

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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.

Labor chief: Let’s lead on paid leave

Forty years ago, my father died of a heart attack at the age of 52. I was 12, so as time goes by I remember less and less about him. But one vivid memory is of him always coming to my baseball games. And so when I had children, I promised myself that I would do the same — not just to be in the stands, but on the sidelines coaching them.

Arsonists and firefighters

What’s the real fight in the Middle East today? Is it just sectarian (Sunnis versus Shiites) and national (Israelis versus Palestinians and Arabs versus Persians)? Or is it something deeper? I was discussing this core question with Nader Mousavizadeh, a former senior United Nations official and the co-founder of Macro Advisory Partners, a geopolitical advisory firm, and he offered another framework: “The real struggle in the region,” he said, “is between arsonists and firefighters.”

Charlatans, cranks and Kansas

Two years ago Kansas embarked on a remarkable fiscal experiment: It sharply slashed income taxes without any clear idea of what would replace the lost revenue. Sam Brownback, the governor, proposed the legislation ­— in percentage terms, the largest tax cut in one year any state has ever enacted — in close consultation with the economist Arthur Laffer. And Brownback predicted that the cuts would jump-start an economic boom — “Look out, Texas,” he proclaimed.