The Great Debate

Stop the Pentagon program that militarizes U.S. police forces

By Michael Shank and Elizabeth Beavers
August 14, 2014

Riot police clear demonstrators from a street in Ferguson, Missouri

The article originally ran last October. It has been updated by the authors.

There is a growing bipartisan public outrage about the local police force’s fiercely militarized response to protestors in Ferguson, Missouri.

Remember the movie ‘Outbreak?’ Yeah, Ebola’s not really like that.

By Celine Gounder
August 14, 2014

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The Ebola outbreak continues to spread in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, the countries hardest hit by the disease. More than 1,000 people have now died from the virus. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued its highest-level alert for a response to the Ebola crisis. The World Health Organization has declared the outbreak a Public Health Emergency of International Concern. The disease is intensifying in West Africa, but the epidemic poses minimal risk to Americans. So why are we so afraid?

Less than human: Do some police take a step beyond simple prejudice?

By David Dante Troutt
August 14, 2014

Riot police clear a street from demonstrators in Ferguson

When I tried to engage a friend in a conversation about the death of Michael Brown, an unarmed 18-year-old who was shot and killed by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, my friend wearily waved his hand for me to stop.

For once, the situation in Iraq wasn’t caused by an intelligence failure

By Jane Harman
August 14, 2014

Displaced people from the minority Yazidi sect, fleeing violence from forces loyal to the Islamic State in Sinjar town, walk towards the Syrian border, on the outskirts of Sinjar mountain, near the Syrian border town of Elierbeh of Al-Hasakah Governorate

President Barack Obama, in an interview earlier this year with New Yorker editor David Remnick, offered an unfortunate comparison. “The analogy we use around here sometimes, and I think is accurate,” the president said, “is if a jayvee team puts on Lakers uniforms that doesn’t make them Kobe Bryant.”

from Nicholas Wapshott:

Can I invert myself and not pay taxes?

By Nicholas Wapshott
August 13, 2014

The Pfizer logo is seen at their world headquarters in New York

The hot tax-dodging business trend of the summer is inversion. A U.S. company buys a company in a country with a lower corporate tax rate, relocates its headquarters there and funnels its income through the new head office. As long as it does not repatriate profits, the self-exiled company can avoid paying U.S. corporate taxes.

from Breakingviews:

Alibaba payments cleanup makes for neater IPO

August 13, 2014

By Peter Thal Larsen

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

With or without Maliki, Iraq will tear itself apart

By Peter Van Buren
August 13, 2014

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The word out of Washington is Nouri al-Maliki must go. A new prime minister, Haider al-Abadi, will unify Iraq with American help.

Robin Williams: Appreciations of his talent, his work and his life

By Jason Fields
August 12, 2014

File photo of actor Williams arriving at premiere of "World's Greatest Dad" during Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah

Robin Williams, the 63-year-old comedian and Oscar-winning actor who died Monday in an apparent suicide at his home in Northern California was rare. Not just in his talent, his success, or his fame or fortune, but in how universally he was loved by the public.

Putin’s already paying dearly for Ukraine – and looks willing to sacrifice much more

By William E. Pomeranz
August 12, 2014

Russia's President Vladimir Putin chairs a government meeting at the Novo-Ogaryovo state residence outside Moscow

Russian President Vladimir Putin has adopted a “go it alone” approach throughout the Ukraine crisis and regularly describes his country as “independent” and nonaligned. But Moscow is not as isolated as Putin makes out. The fact that he cannot see this reality — or chooses to ignore it — has produced a series of decisions that has seriously undermined Russia’s global role.

from Stories I’d like to see:

The price of a life and George W. Bush post-White House

By Steven Brill
August 12, 2014

A spectator smokes a cigarette as she waits for the start of the Dubai World Cup at Meydan Racecourse in Dubai

1. How government accountants value life:

Last week, the New York Times reported: “Buried deep in the federal government’s voluminous new tobacco regulations is a little-known cost-benefit calculation that public health experts see as potentially poisonous: the happiness quotient. It assumes that the benefits from reducing smoking -- fewer early deaths and diseases of the lungs and heart -- have to be discounted by 70 percent to offset the loss in pleasure that smokers suffer when they give up their habit.”