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Columns

Valley News - Shawn Braley

Column: Tomato or Eggplant? How French Intellectuals Settled the Shape of the Earth

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Two hundred and 30 years ago, Charles Marie de la Condamine returned to France with proof about the shape of the Earth after spending 10 years in Latin America. For thousands of years, human beings had roamed the planet indifferent to its form until the 18th century, when the subject became embroiled in an intense rivalry between England and France. …

Column: Separating Secret Service Fact From Fiction

Sunday, October 26, 2014

During the past five years, the U.S. Secret Service inadvertently let uninvited guests crash a state dinner, fired 10 agents for allegedly hiring prostitutes, pulled members of an elite counterassault team back from overseas duty for drinking, learned from housekeepers that bullets had hit the White House, failed to capture a fence-jumper before …

Steve Nelson: Can We Speak of Religious Intolerance?

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Islam is all the rage these days, multiple meanings intended. Perhaps most notably, Bill Maher and his Real Time show on HBO recently kicked up a major kerfuffle when Maher and celebrity atheist Sam Harris suggested that Islam is far from an innocent faith. Other guests, particularly Ben Affleck, who maintained a steady state of apoplexy throughout the proceedings, accused Maher and Harris …

FEC Deadlock Breaks, a Little

Monday, October 13, 2014

If you were to seek out a poster child for all that is broken in Washington, you could find no better candidate than the Federal Election Commission. The agency that oversees our campaign-finance system, by law led by three Democratic and three Republican appointees, has come to a …

The Day of Infamy Hardened the ‘People’s House’

Sunday, October 12, 2014

What is the right balance between preserving the White House as a symbol of democratic openness and turning it into a fortress bristling with Secret Service agents, guard dogs and fences that scream “Keep Out”? The egregious security …

Column: Why Electric Rates Are Rising

Sunday, October 12, 2014

New England electricity is too dependent upon natural gas-fired power plants. And we are about to pay a lot for that dependence. In recent days, several New England utilities have announced major price rises for electricity. In Massachusetts, …

Column: We Shortchange Childhood With a Rush to the ‘Real World’

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Just what exactly is this “real world” I keep hearing about? Whether in classrooms or living rooms, America’s children and young adults are always warned about the “real world,” a place where naive childhood is replaced by a grim battle for survival. The phrase is usually offered with …

Column: U.S. Strategic Objective Is Failing

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Washington During the 1944 Warsaw uprising, Stalin ordered the advancing Red Army to stop at the outskirts of the city while the Nazis, for 63 days, annihilated the non-Communist Polish partisans. Only then did Stalin take Warsaw. No one can match Stalin for merciless cynicism, but President Recep …

Column: There’s an Explanation for the Incredible Shrinking Paycheck

Saturday, October 11, 2014

The extinction of the American raise — dead as a dodo, by every empirical measure — has become a truth universally acknowledged. Even Republican House Speaker John Boehner, not a fellow often glimpsed on the barricades with protesting workers, pronounced that “wages are stagnant” in his comments on …

Column: High Cost of War Against the Islamic State

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Washington Last Saturday, Oct. 4, day 58 of the American campaign against the Islamic State, U.S. aircraft carried out nine strikes inside Iraq and Syria, destroying two tanks, three Humvees, one bulldozer, and an unidentified vehicle. The strikes …

Column: Aargh! Enough With the Fundraising Emails

Friday, October 10, 2014

Washington If you receive political fundraising emails, you know the end is near. Pessimism brings in the donations, the Wall Street Journal reports: “Donors and would-be donors are more likely to click on a fundraising email and contribute if the candidate highlights a recent poll that shows him …

Column: The Case of the Bearded Inmate Inches Along in the High Court

Friday, October 10, 2014

Washington You give a prisoner an inch of beard, he’ll take a mile. At least that seemed to be a concern plaguing the nine justices at the Supreme Court on Tuesday as they explored the burning penological question: What kind of things might lurk in a half-inch beard …

Column: The Strong Economic Case for Investing in Bridges and Roads

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Fiscal consolidation ­— a euphemism for cuts to government spending — is a staple of International Monetary Fund rescue programs. As recently as last year, the IMF was suggesting that the United States had a fiscal gap of as much as 10 percent of gross domestic product that …