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National Commentary

Dying days of financial reform?

This week marks the fourth anniversary of the most wide-sweeping financial reform since the Great Depression (known as Dodd-Frank). To avoid another 2008 would be great, but at this date and rate, astonishingly, only half the provisions have been implemented.

Rick Perry’s kid-size standoff at Texas border

WASHINGTON — Texas Gov. Rick Perry recognizes that a crisis is a terrible thing to waste. Tuesday, wearing his smart glasses, his hands chopping the air, he called out the National Guard to go to the border to deal with the influx of more than 50,000 children crossing into the U.S. illegally.

Malaysian Air can use crisis to root out problems

TOKYO — What a difference four months can make. In March, Malaysian leader Najib Razak was widely criticized for mishandling the search for aMalaysian Airlines jet that disappeared with 239 people on board. His government’s unsteady initial response to the Flight 370 tragedy deeply tarnished the Malaysia brand.

When Gaza fighting is over, there is a way to change for the better

Since this is the third mini-war between Israel and Hamas in less than six years, some of the consequences being predicted by pundits sound pretty familiar. Such as: Israel’s offensive in Gaza will have the effect of destroying “moderate” Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Or: Hamas is actually “winning by losing,” gaining new support among Palestinians and across the Middle East by standing up to Israel. Or: The stories of civilian casualties and accusations of “disproportionate” force are devastating Israel’s standing in the West.

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Why Israel and Hamas need each other

WASHINGTON — In her fascinating book “A History of God,” Karen Armstrong posits that people believe in God because God “works for them.” That is to say, God is compelling because the idea of a divine being serves a useful purpose in people’s lives. That utilitarian argument may be masked beneath a deep layer of spiritual devotion — but it’s a pragmatic decision all the same.

Putin’s missing chance to escape a losing war

President Vladimir Putin is missing a golden opportunity by not disowning the pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine. Instead, as pro-Putin media and social network trolls invent increasingly fantastical versions of the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17, Russia risks becoming a pariah even to developing countries that have sympathized with its anti-American stance.

Helping children is better way to fight inequality

Malefactors of great wealth get a lot of press these days. The poor, not so much. There might be a connection. Concentrating on the super-rich seems to divert attention from the more serious social injustice at the other end of the income scale. If you’re born into a poor family in the United States, you’ll find moving up is harder than it would be in many other rich countries. That’s a deeply troubling fact, or it would be if more Americans could bring themselves to believe it.

Who’s telling a story now?

For this administration, failure is always the result of a “communications” problem. Otherwise, failure might be taken as evidence of misguided ideology and incompetent execution, right? It’s a weird excuse for the president who fancies himself to be the most eloquent man on the planet. And it is equally weird when someone whose job it is to communicate U.S. policy makes that excuse.

Obama can’t afford to plunge war-weary U.S. into a sectarian civil war

COLUMBUS, Ohio — The horrors that Iraq is experiencing these days cannot be blamed on President Barack Obama. He can’t put troops back into Iraq for a full-scale fight against ISIL — the Islamic State of Ira and Levant — the group that is taking over swaths of territory there. We would be on one side of a sectarian war, with no end in sight.

I was a heroin baby

MINNEAPOLIS — I’m told the first months of my life were torture. I screamed constantly, spat out milk, and vomited all the time. I was going through withdrawal.