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The making of a disaster

LONDON — Almost 13 years after 9/11, a jihadi organization with a murderous anti-Western ideology controls territory in Iraq and Syria, which are closer to Europe and the United States than Afghanistan is. It commands resources and camps and even a Syrian military base. It spreads its propaganda through social media. It has set the West on edge through the recorded beheading of the U.S. journalist James Foley — with the promise of more to come.

Rap can help fight Ebola crisis

Efforts to control the outbreak of Ebola in Africa have gotten so desperate that public-health officials are turning into music producers. The “Ebola Rap,” now trending on Liberian radio, is performed by locally famous hip-hop singers and underwritten by the ministry of health and others, including UNICEF.

Time for later start times at schools

Despite the harmful effects of sleep loss on adolescents, many school districts maintain cock-crow start times for high school students. Reasons for the status quo run the gamut from “it’s always been this way” to “it’s too hard to change.” But a national organization of doctors who treat children is weighing in on what it calls a public health issue. We can only hope its definitive call for more sensible schedules will spur school officials to stop making excuses.

Let the music play

Forbes magazine recently named Washington, D.C., America’s “Coolest City” for 2014, which is, well, cool. But in many respects, the District of Columbia remains a button-down kind of place — sometimes a little too button-down.

In defense of the defenders

WASHINGTON — What is called “the” 1964 Civil Rights Act is justly celebrated for outlawing racial and other discrimination in employment, “public accommodations” and elsewhere. But that year’s second civil rights act, the Criminal Justice Act, which is 50 years old this month, is, some say, largely a failure because of unanticipated changes in the legal and social context. Is it?

Strong terror policy would cure Obama’s golf woes

It wouldn’t matter that President Barack Obama played golf after responding to the appalling death of journalist James Foley, if he were visibly carrying out a coherent plan to deal with the monsters he so passionately described as a “cancer.” The world, however, can’t see such a plan.

Cabin air tainted on planes?

Can airplane-cabin air kill? The question has nagged at airplane manufacturers, crew and passengers ever since the jet age shut us into pressurized metal tubes. As far back as 1955, aviation engineers worried about contaminated air in plane cabins, and in 2009, Boeing settled a lawsuit brought by an American Airlines flight attendant who claimed that toxic air leaking into a 2007 flight had caused her health to fail. In the wake of that suit, Boeing insisted that “cabin air is safe to breathe.” And until recently, airlines and planemakers could legitimately claim that there wasn’t enough scientific evidence to support the accusations.