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Fredericksburg News

Saving area’s rich history / Sun, 20 Apr 2014 00:00:00 -0400
ARE "EARTH DAY" and historic preservation two sides of the same coin? We may not readily connect these two movements, but perhaps we should. While the Virginia landscape, especially in the Fredericksburg area, has changed dramatically over the past 50 years, the need to protect both our natural and historic resources has not. In fact, it has never been greater....

Is an independent investigation needed? / Sun, 13 Apr 2014 00:00:00 -0400
WASHINGTON--Richard Nixon insisted, "I'm not a crook," and now so has Barack Obama. When the president told Fox News' Bill O'Reilly that there's "not even a smidgen of corruption" in the IRS political targeting scandal, he destroyed any credibility his administration had to investigate itself....

Inquiry would widen partisan divide / Sun, 13 Apr 2014 00:00:00 -0400
WASHINGTON--Renewed calls by Republican hotheads for an independent special prosecutor to investigate whether the IRS engaged in criminal conduct during the 2012 campaign should fall on deaf ears. It would be silly to elevate what appears to be an egregious mistake by bureaucrats to the level of a constitutional crisis--particularly at a time when the nation faces what is arguably its widest partisan divide of the 21st century....

In real world, big donations buy influence / Wed, 09 Apr 2014 00:00:00 -0400
IN HIS 1972 epic on the origins of the U.S. war in Vietnam, the great journalist David Halberstam told of then-new Vice President Lyndon Johnson's coming back from his first meeting with the top people President John F. Kennedy had picked to serve in his administration. Johnson was dazzled by how brilliant they all were and told his mentor Sam Rayburn how smart each Kennedy appointee was. After listening to his fellow Texan, Rayburn said: "Well, Lyndon, everything you say may be true, but I'd feel a whole lot better if one of them had ever run for sheriff." I thought of Rayburn's rejoinder after the Supreme Court voted 5-4 to remove the "aggregate" limit (a measly $123,200) an individual can give, every two years, to federal candidates and party committees. On behalf of all but one of the Court majority that only four years ago had told a surprised nation that corporations, because they were…

Declassify CIA report, learn from its lessons / Wed, 09 Apr 2014 00:00:00 -0400
WASHINGTON--We begin by lifting today's bottom line right to the top. After years of ducking, dodging, disclaiming and self-deceiving, Washington is about to be ramrodded into finally confronting, under democracy's spotlight, the central war and peace controversy of our post-9/11 times:...

The boss is pickpocketing you / Sun, 06 Apr 2014 00:00:00 -0400
LAST MONTH, McDon- ald's was hit with multiple class-action lawsuits alleging the company routinely violated minimum wage, overtime and other workplace laws through illegal schemes that had one goal in common: drive down labor costs by stealing from workers. Then we learned that law-breaking in the fast-food industry is not limited to McDonald's. A national poll of workers at nearly two dozen fast-food chains finds that 89 percent had wages stolen by their employer....

Are higher wages good or bad? / Sun, 06 Apr 2014 00:00:00 -0400
THERE'S nothing more important than creating good jobs and building a strong economy that works for everyone. Right now, though, too many of our small businesses, workers and families are struggling to make ends meet. If you talk to most small business owners, they'll tell you that the problem is they don't have enough people buying things. How can we help put money in people's pockets so they can go out and buy things? One way is to halt the decline in the buying power of the minimum wage and increase it so that hardworking families have enough money to support themselves and invest in their communities....

SOLs don’t gauge deep thinking, creativity / Sun, 06 Apr 2014 00:00:00 -0400
IMAGINE, as a kind of odious thought experiment, that your job involved an endless series of competency tests. All too frequently, you'd show up at work, maybe grab a quick cup of coffee and then head into some uncomfortable and airless room where your boss would quiz you on how well you knew your job. It wouldn't be a hands-on type of test either, just multiple-choice items. Some of the questions would be sort of vague and poorly worded, but here's the thing: You had better correctly choose most of the right answers if you expect to make progress in your career. If you didn't meet some arbitrary score and were therefore not deemed suitably "proficient," you could expect to be drilled for the next few weeks on those things you'd answered incorrectly. And this unappealing vista would stretch before you, interminably: Memorize some new stuff, be tested on it, memorize, test, memorize, test.…

Millennials might embrace high-speed rail / Fri, 04 Apr 2014 00:00:00 -0400
CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas--Two questions: Why doesn't our nation have more passenger trains? And does the younger generation's declining interest in driving imply an opening for the expansion of public high-speed rail? Last May, The New York Times reported that all of us, and especially the so-called millennials, are driving less. The Times cites a report from U.S. PIRG, a nonprofit advocacy organization, that documents a six-decade increase in miles driven per capita, and then a surprising eight-year decline in total miles driven and a corresponding per-capita decline since 1996....

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