Saturday, April 21, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Moving forward on North Korea’s nuclear threat

North Korea’s latest nuclear test certainly raises the danger threshold; whether it could also provide cover for managing this escalating crisis remains to be seen.

The ballistic missile tested by North Korea on Nov. 28 flew higher than ever, and the government said its estimated range of more than 8,000 miles put the entire mainland United States in the crosshairs. That trajectory is open to dispute; the North could have fired the intercontinental ballistic missile, the Hwason-15, with a light or no actual payload. Still, it flew higher and longer than a Hwason version the North tested in July. Experts are rightly worried about the resumption of Pyongyang’s rapid testing pace and its apparent ability to boost its military reach.

With the launch, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un declared, the North had achieved its goal of becoming a "rocket power." That, too, is not clear; the North still has not shown it has a warhead capable of surviving the intensity of re-entering Earth’s atmosphere. Still, with an arsenal of nuclear weapons and a commitment to continue testing — even in the face of harsh economic sanctions — the North remains a serious and unpredictable destabilizing force on the international stage.

Pyongyang’s declaration, though, that it had achieved something of national ambition might create an environment to wind down the threat. There is no serious sign that President Donald Trump is prepared to accommodate a nuclear North; he escalated the rhetoric again after the test, denigrating Kim as "Little Rocket Man" and "a sick puppy." The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, continued the war of words. But the test might create some space for Kim to take a breath and for China, which has some leverage over the North, to explore grounds for trading off a testing moratorium in exchange for a loosening of sanctions.

Such an agreement seems farfetched in the current climate, but it could lead to the creation, at least, of confidence-building steps to manage the crisis. Like it or not, Kim has been consistent about the North’s ambitions to be treated as a nuclear power. The days of bombast from the West are over. The task now is to limit the North’s nuclear capabilities, and in the shorter-term, to create a mechanism for keeping North Korea and the United States from slipping accidentally into war.

Both sides have unrealistic expectations, and the threats and name-calling from both leaders have contributed to a dangerous level of suspicion and paranoia. It’s time for the administration to ratchet down the rhetoric and to send signals through China that a diplomatic solution is the only pragmatic one. That would allow the United States to retake the high moral ground and — more practically — to send a signal to the North about America’s intentions.

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Editorial: New Cuba president is chance for new start

Editorial: New Cuba president is chance for new start

For all the symbolism, Raul Castro’s handoff of the Cuban presidency this week amounts to less than meets the eye even if his handpicked successor, the Communist Party functionary Miguel Diaz-Canel Bermudez, is the first person not named Castro to le...
Published: 04/20/18

Editorial: A missed chance for open primary elections

The Florida Constitution Revision Commission did a lot of things wrong this week by combining unrelated or unpalatable provisions into single amendments that will appear on the November ballot. It also wasted an opportunity to do one thing right. The...
Published: 04/20/18
Editorial: When they visit Nature’s Classroom, kids are right where they belong

Editorial: When they visit Nature’s Classroom, kids are right where they belong

The Hillsborough school district planted a fruitful seed with the opening of Nature’s Classroom five decades ago on the cypress-lined banks of the Hillsborough River northeast of Tampa. • The lessons taught there to some 17,000 sixth graders each yea...
Published: 04/20/18

Editorial: Equality pays off on Southwest Flight 1380

The passengers of Southwest Flight 1380 can be thankful that, 33 years ago, the U.S. Navy took the lead on equal opportunity.Capt. Tammie Jo Shults was piloting the flight from New York to Dallas on Tuesday when an engine exploded, blowing out a wind...
Published: 04/19/18
Updated: 04/20/18
Editorial: Why single-member districts would be bad for Hillsborough commission

Editorial: Why single-member districts would be bad for Hillsborough commission

Anyone looking to make Hillsborough County government bigger, costlier, more dysfunctional and less of a regional force should love the idea that Commissioner Sandy Murman rolled out this week. She proposes enlarging the seven-member board to nine, e...
Published: 04/19/18
Updated: 04/20/18
Editorial: Improving foster care in Hillsborough

Editorial: Improving foster care in Hillsborough

A new foster care provider in Hillsborough County is poised to take over operations in May, only months after its predecessor was fired for what was alleged to be a pattern of failing to supervise at-risk children in its care. Many of the case manage...
Published: 04/18/18

Another voice: Back to postal reform

President Donald Trump is angry at Amazon for, in his tweeted words, "costing the United States Post Office massive amounts of money for being their Delivery Boy." Yet in more recent days, Trump has at least channeled his feelings in what could prove...
Published: 04/17/18
Updated: 04/18/18
Editorial: Congress should protect independence of special counsel

Editorial: Congress should protect independence of special counsel

A bipartisan Senate bill clarifying that only the attorney general or a high-ranking designee could remove a special prosecutor would send an important message amid President Donald Trump’s attacks on the investigation into Russia’s inter...
Published: 04/16/18
Updated: 04/17/18
Editorial: Don’t fall for Constitution Revision Commission’s tricks

Editorial: Don’t fall for Constitution Revision Commission’s tricks

The Florida Constitution Revision Commission has wasted months as a politically motivated scam masquerading as a high-minded effort to ask voters to improve the state’s fundamental document. The commission on Monday added amendments to the Nove...
Published: 04/16/18
Editorial: Redner’s court win on medical marijuana sends message

Editorial: Redner’s court win on medical marijuana sends message

Florida regulators have done far too little to make voter-approved medical marijuana widely available for patients suffering from chronic illnesses. A circuit court judge in Tallahassee ruled last week there is a price for that obstruction, finding t...
Published: 04/15/18
Updated: 04/16/18