The Great Debate

‘Living wage’ law is unconstitutional – if you ask lobbyists

By Ron Fein
October 6, 2014

Demonstrators rally to raise the hourly minimum wage to $15 for fast-food workers at City Hall in Seattle

Industry trade groups are now challenging Seattle’s new minimum wage law as unconstitutional. They claim the city’s $15 an hour rate violates the 14th Amendment. Passed just after the Civil War to ensure equal rights for the newly freed slaves, that amendment says no state may “deny to any person . . . the equal protection of the laws.”

Sonia Sotomayor v. tradition: Can charisma move the court?

October 5, 2014

U.S. Supreme Court nominee Judge Sotomayor takes her seat for her fourth and final day of testimony during her U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearings on Capitol Hill in Washington

The party celebrating the end of the Supreme Court’s annual term is an exclusive affair. Festivities are staged in two majestic rooms, facing each other across a red-carpeted hallway. Formal portraits of the nation’s chief justices, all men, line the oak-paneled walls. Crystal chandeliers hang from the gilded ceiling. In one elegant room, silver trays filled with food and drink are laid out on white linen-covered tables. A grand piano sits in the room across the hall, where the entertainment takes place. Each year, the law clerks’ write and present musical parodies.

from Anatole Kaletsky:

Will the European economy’s summer squalls turn into an autumn tempest?

By Anatole Kaletsky
October 3, 2014

Draghi, President of the European Central Bank (ECB) answers reporter's questions during his monthly news conference at the ECB headquarters in Frankfurt

Following the grim market response to European Central Bank President Mario Draghi’s latest monetary policy pronouncements, Europe is approaching another make-or-break moment comparable to the crisis of 2012. The summer quarter ended this week, and financial markets delivered their judgment on just how bad things are, pushing the euro down to its lowest level since September 2012. Europe’s quarterly stock market performance was the worst since the nadir of the euro crisis. The question is whether the miserable summer will give way to a milder autumn. Or whether the summer squalls will turn into a catastrophic tempest.

Brazil’s elections are a wake-up call for its business community

October 3, 2014

Presidential candidates Rousseff of Workers Party and Silva of Brazilian Socialist Party take part in a TV debate in Rio de Janeiro

The face of power in Brazil is becoming ever more diverse. The top two candidates in Brazil’s presidential race on Sunday are both leftists and women, one of whom is black. They are President Dilma Rousseff of the Workers’ Party and Afro-Brazilian environmentalist Marina Silva. The private sector’s preferred candidate, a white man from Brazil’s once-dominant center-right party, trails in the polls.

Five questions for America on Syria

By Aki Peritz
October 3, 2014

A pair of U.S. Air Force F-15E Strike Eagles fly over northern Iraq

When the United States began bombing Islamic State and Jabhat al-Nusra positions in Syria last month, it entered into a conflict that has been grinding on for more than three years. Here are five major questions America needs to answer as the fighting unfolds in the weeks ahead:

from Hugo Dixon:

Whatever help the West offers to fight Islamic State, it should have conditions.

By Hugo Dixon
October 2, 2014

A pair of U.S. Air Force F-15E Strike Eagles fly over northern Iraq

What should the West’s military policy be toward Islamic State?

Most observers fall into two camps. Some point to the sorry history of Western intervention in the Middle East and argue the job of combating the Islamic State should be left to local powers.

Israel’s prime minister is obsessed with Iran. The rest of Israel? Not so much.

By Dimi Reider
October 2, 2014

Israel's PM Netanyahu addresses the 68th session of the U.N. General Assembly in New York

For Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Iran and the Islamic State, also known as ISIS, are essentially the same thing.

NATO allies must work closely together, but do their missile defense systems?

By Francis Mahon
October 2, 2014

Patriot_missile_launch_b 

Since few nations can go it alone militarily, alliances are now crucial for ensuring security. To mount a common defense, allies need weapon systems that can operate together. In military parlance, the ability to work with other systems and  share data with them as if they were one system is known as “interoperability.”

High-tech medicine alone cannot protect U.S. from Ebola – we need to get the basics right

By Celine Gounder
October 1, 2014

Handout of the Aeromedical Biological Containment System before being fitted into a Gulfstream III aircraft

On Tuesday, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed that a second healthcare worker in Dallas tested positive for Ebola. The next day, the health authority issued a statement saying that the nurse travelled by air on October 12, the day before she reported symptoms.

We all know about jihadists, but what about those waging an ‘anti-jihad’?

By Karima Bennoune
October 1, 2014

Human rights activist holds a placard during an anti-Talibanisation protest in LahoreAs the UN Security Council tackles the entity claiming to be “Islamic State,” and President Barack Obama invokes global Muslim responsibility, many ask whether people of Muslim heritage do enough to counter extremism.