• Defeating ISIS

    The latest high visibility atrocity committed by the “Islamic State” (IS or ISIS) is the public beheading of 21 Egyptians — because they were Coptic Christians. ISIS was the obvious, if largely unstated, reason the White House convened a two-day conference on “international extremism.” It is also the focus of ongoing efforts of U.S. military

  • Smoking: expensive and dangerous

    Not unlike the endless litany of bad news related to the global environmental impacts of climate change, the latest news is equally bleak about that national incidence of disease and death related to the ongoing cigarette-smoking epidemic. A study published Feb. 12 in the New England Journal of Medicine shows death trends among current smokers

  • “Paralysis by Analysis”

    Water, water everywhere … and not a drop to drink?  Such may be the lament of ancient mariners, stranded at sea. Snowfall, snowfall everywhere … and who knows what to think? Such may be this week’s lament of Downeast residents, stranded at home. State law prohibits municipalities, even those located on the coastline, from dumping

  • Strategy in the real world

    The White House recently published its “National Security Strategy 2015” — the official statement of how the U.S. government sees threats and opportunities around the world and how it is responding to what it sees. The document, itself, does not make for riveting reading but it does provide a useful springboard for looking at the

  • Poliquin breaks with Republicans on ACA vote

    Freshman Rep. Bruce Poliquin of Maine’s 2nd Congressional District poked his head above the Washington ramparts in defiance of Republican leadership last week. As the House of Representatives took its umpteenth vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act, Mr. Poliquin just said “no.” It was not his love of President Obama’s health care plan that

  • Personalizing medical research

    Like snowflakes, no two people are alike in terms of their genetics, even identical twins. That biological reality complicates medicine in terms of a developing effective treatment regimens. A pharmaceutical medical response to a condition like prostate cancer that works for you may or may not work for anyone else, including your brother. For centuries,

  • Sometimes the good guys win

    To its everlasting credit, the United States emerged victorious from World War II determined to do something different, something seminal. The normal historical pattern would have seen an American empire established on the defeated remnants of Imperial Japan in the Pacific and the Third Reich in Europe. Instead, Washington set about to create a postwar

  • Playing musical ‘chairs’ in Augusta

    The assigning of legislative committee seats took longer than usual this year, complicated by the math of a Republican Senate and a Democratic House. In brief, every committee would have a Democratic majority, despite having a Republican chair from the Senate side. Eventually, leadership reached agreement on Republican majorities for three of the sixteen joint

  • Governor’s wishful thinking

    Newly rechristened Governor Paul LePage has included on his new-term to-do list lowering energy costs in Maine. Good luck with that one. The cost of electricity in Maine — residential, commercial and industrial — is among the highest in the lower 48 United States. It’s a long-standing economic reality that undermines LePage’s tepid “Open for