• Nicholas Kristof on Chemicals and Cancer  In a column tinged with urgency, Kristof turns his discerning gaze to the "Mount Everest of the medical mainstream," the president's Cancer Panel, which is releasing a 200-page report warning that the government's "lackadaisical approach" to the regulation of chemicals has widespread consequences for public health in America. The report "blames weak laws, lax enforcement and fragmented authority, as well as the existing regulatory presumption that chemicals are safe unless strong evidence emerges to the contrary," writes Kristof, warning that the report should not become a political issue. "Some 41 percent of Americans will be diagnosed with cancer at some point in their lives, and they include Democrats and Republicans alike."
  • Gail Collins on the Sacrosanct Second Amendment  Writing in The New York Times, Collins examines the paradox at the heart of the present gun-control conversation: "There seems to be a strong sentiment in Congress that the only constitutional right suspected terrorists have is the right to bear arms." Legislators in thrall to the powerful gun lobby are protesting a bill that would prevent anyone flagged on the FBI terrorist watchlist from buying weapons. Abandoning her usual tone of detached amusement, Collins makes no effort to hide her bewilderment, or her anger: "A guy who stands up in the House and defends the torture of terror suspects will nearly faint with horror at the prospect of depriving someone on the watch list of the right to purchase a pistol."
  • Charles Faddis on Nuclear-Plant Security  In a guest turn at The New York Times, Faddis, a former CIA officer, briefs readers on an overlooked security risk: Sharif Mobley, a nuclear-plant maintenance worker turned al-Qaeda hopeful. Mobley might know only a minimal amount about the American nuclear plants where he worked, but as Faddis explains, that would be more than enough to compromise security on a disastrous scale. "For now, we have no choice but to assume that Mr. Mobley did in fact pass on details about plant security, and we need to take immediate steps to head off any possible terrorist attack," Faddis warns. "For too long we've assumed that a nuclear plant is safe as long as its reactor is protected. Sharif Mobley knew better. Now, chances are, so does Al Qaeda."
  • George Will on Afghanistan's Ticking Clock  After sitting down with David Petraeus, the Washington Post columnist questions whether the White House's pullout date in 2011 undercuts the long-term goals of the counterinsurgency: clear, hold, and build.
First, is an area 'cleared' only because the Taliban have cleared out, knowing they can wait out the enemy and then return? The Americans are going home; the Taliban are home. Second, what can be held by a counterinsurgency force focused on an exit strategy? Third, can anything lasting be built when what has been only tenuously cleared is only conditionally held?
  • David Broder on Two Risks to the Two-Party System  The Washington Post columnist waxes hyperbolic about the danger Nick Clegg and Charlie Crist pose to the two-party system in the U.S. and U.K. "The ranks of the disaffected have exploded over proposals on health care, immigration and other issues, targeting Republicans, Democrats and politicians in general as the mood strikes them," he argues, setting the scene for the the two-party system's nightmare scenario:
If either of the third-party or independent challenges succeeds on either side of the Atlantic, it would clearly signal to other ambitious politicians that old loyalties of the two-party era have been so weakened by the combination of modern media politics and tough economic times that they cannot prevail.