The summer of 2014 has had no shortage of news, much of it troubling. We have been observing so many dire events — especially on the world front — we on the Opinions Page are curious how you rank the stories.
Below you will find an alphabetical listing of ongoing events/situations in the World, the Nation and in Idaho. In the online comments field please list your top three in each category. Feel free to add your own topics.
WORLDAfrican Crises: Ebola in the West of the continent and regime upheaval in regions to the South.
Afghanistan Unrest: Continued suicide bombings and violence by the Taliban against U.S. troops, including the recent killing of a two-star U.S. general. Hacking Away: How long before cyber terrorists breach something beyond credit cards, something critical like our power grid or weapons systems? Recent events don’t provide much of a sense of digital security. ISIS/Iraq: After disengagement from a war that took the lives of 4,500 U.S. troops, the Islamic State has asserted itself and waged a genocidal war on non-conforming factions that stand in its way. Is all for naught in Iraq?
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Israel/Gaza: Though the symptoms of this deadly situation are occasionally brought under control, how long before there is another outbreak?Terrorism: The Islamic State movement is mobilizing former Al Qaeda and other warring factions from several continents to carry out jihad. The U.S. and its allies no doubt will be among the targets. Will “lone wolf” and/or groups of insurgents attempt to pull off 9-11.2?
Ukraine/Russia: This cauldron of calamity is always simmering but occasionally boiling over — such as the shooting down of a civilian aircraft caught in the cross hairs of the conflict.
Under The Radar: What other troubling news is going on undetected that will add to this growing list of our worries? Can the U.S., with ever-diminishing resources, meet the challenge?
NATIONDomestic Terrorism: When the Islamic State jihadists recruiting includes U.S. citizens and believers already inside our borders, how long will it be before they attempt to wage terror on U.S. soil again?
Government Gridlock: The only reason Congress is not bickering right now is that it is not in session. It seems unlikely a one-to-two-week session in early September until adjournment for the midterm elections will be fertile ground for compromise.
Health Care Uncertainty: Just when you thought things were settling down with the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, along comes a new chew toy for the opposition: the wording in the 2,000-page bill which, by some interpretations, only awards government health care subsidies to the states that have their own health insurance exchanges. The ACA could have a serious relapse if the Supreme Court rules that way. That would scuttle any Medicare Expansion plans in states that have yet to adopt that option.
Immigration: Where do we begin? At the border to bolster security or at the great chasm separating those who seek “comprehensive immigration” reform and those who want to strictly enforce the laws already on the books?
Mass Shootings: The worst cases of campus and community shootings involve unstable people with guns. Can we do more to stop this deadly, tragic combination?
Police Shooting: A reminder in St. Louis that brutality can beget more violence.
Privacy: If the U.S. Senate and your cell phone are not immune to government snooping, what is next? Veterans Administration: Congress has voted to spend more money to fix some of the agency’s ills and shortcomings, but how long will it take to create a better system?
IDAHOEducation Funding: Politicians are wont to get in line under the sign that says “Education is our No. 1 issue in Idaho.” An election season is a great time to get your representatives to spell out what is meant by that pledge in financial terms. Is it “Education is the No. 1 issue after we pay for this and that pet project?” Or, is it “Let’s fund education and then see what else we can afford.”
Highway Funding: Roads and repairs do not regenerate. Pick your user fee poison — or expect to be swallowed by the potholes that neglect creates. The Legislature and Gov. Butch Otter have to face this one sooner rather than later. Prisons: No one expects a seamless transition back to state management. Everyone expects the highest degree of transparency.
Wildfires: Here’s hoping we have seen the worst — though we know August is often full of unpleasant surprises.
© 2014 Idaho StatesmanRobert Ehlert is the Statesman’s editorial page editor. Contact him at 377-6437, or on Twitter @IDS_HelloIdaho.