If you are 53 or younger, you have never lived in a time when Cuba and the United States had diplomatic relations. With China, the communist giant, we’ve established normal relations. With communist Vietnam, our onetime enemy in war, we’ve established normal relations. But not Cuba.
That was until Wednesday, when President Obama finally took the step so many presidents and politicians knew should be taken, yet avoided because they feared a small number of very vocal, very passionate Cuban emigre voters in Miami would cause them big political trouble. Obama is not worried about that anymore, not only because he is never running for president again, but because his 50% share of the Cuban American vote in 2012 showed that minds were changing on the issue, even in that community.
Opening up to Cuba and reopening an American embassy in Havana has been a goal for the president since he first took office, but, for the last five years, he has had to wait for the release of U.S. Agency for...Read more
It seems as though low gas prices should be good news. When the cost of a gallon of gas dips well below $3 in most of the country, everybody smiles, right?
Not necessarily. Wall Street is frowning. Frackers are fuming. Electric-car manufacturers are fretting. And environmentalists are freaking out. And the rest of us? It’s a mixed bag, depending on how invested we are in the stock market, how much we want to own a Tesla, how gung-ho we are to see the Keystone XL pipeline built or how much we believe climate change is big problem for humanity.
In recent days, stocks have slumped as crude oil prices have continued a six-month descent. Investors do not like to see oil companies and drillers lose money and worry about the international market where cheap gas is coming at a high price for Russia, Saudi Arabia and other oil producing countries.
Wall Street’s worries may not last long, though, because the extra cash going into consumers’ pockets thanks to savings at the pump is bound to be...Read more
The omnibus funding bill that the lame-duck Congress passed in the darkness of Saturday night sheds light on what we can expect from the Republican-dominated Congress that will take over in January. Here’s a hint: The bankers are smiling.
In addition to providing money that will keep the government running until September, the bill included some extras that have nothing to do with the federal budget. Among these is a sweet deal for banks actually written by Citigroup lobbyists and tacked on to the omnibus legislation. It repeals a section of the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reform law passed in the wake of the near collapse of the American economy.
The repeal will allow federally insured banks to get back into the business of gambling with depositors’ money by dealing in exotic and risky securities. As long as the banks win their bets, everything is cool. Should they lose, though, as they did in a big way during the 2008 financial crisis, American taxpayers will be on the hook for their...Read more
You do not have to be a prude to worry about porn. Thanks to the Internet, Americans have been pushed, unwittingly, into a vast social experiment testing whether unfettered access to the most freakish and foul pornography will warp sexual relations for generations to come.
The days of boys sneaking peeks at Playboy on a drugstore magazine rack are long gone. Years ago, the Playboys got wrapped in plastic and stuck behind the counter to keep the glossy images of naked “girls next door” away from children’s eyes. How quaint that now seems in a world where the family computer has become a quick portal into a far more raunchy sea of sexual images.
Raunchy actually does not begin to describe the things that any kid can find with a few search words and a couple of clicks on a track pad or mouse. It’s a quick descent into an endless display of photographs and videos depicting sex in every variety, but dominated by perverse male fantasies of women performing like whores for men whose sexual...Read more
As a former prisoner of war who experienced torture at the hands of the North Vietnamese, John McCain has more standing, by far, than any of his colleagues in the U.S. Senate when it comes to rendering judgment about the CIA’s Bush-era “enhanced interrogation” program. So, his approval of the release of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s detailed report on the spy agency’s torture methods carries convincing weight.
A number of his fellow-Republicans have expressed outrage over the report’s release. Florida Sen. Marco Rubio said the Democrats who run the intelligence committee were exposing the CIA’s shocking treatment of detainees purely for “partisan joy.” Texas Sen. Ted Cruz said the “partisan report will endanger lives, drive away our allies – who have never been needed more than now – and undermine the ability of our intelligence officers and soldiers to protect our national security.” Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul said he had “mixed feelings” and was concerned that the “gruesomeness of...Read more
For years, it has been said that this country needs an honest discussion about race. Well, as a result of the uproar over recent deaths of black males at the hands of police, we may finally be getting it.
Protests on city streets from coast to coast have sparked heated exchanges in the media that are bringing into the light of day attitudes and perceptions that have long been kept in the shadows. Many white Americans are hearing for the first time something they should have known: African Americans in poorer neighborhoods -- and in not-so-poor places as well -- live with a distrust and fear of encounters with the police because so many of even the most law-abiding among them have had negative encounters with cops. And many black Americans are hearing something from white conservatives that is baffling: the assertion that “this is not about race.”
Only in the most narrow reading of the events that have captured the headlines in Ferguson, Mo., New York City and Cleveland is it not about...Read more