Thursday, June 21, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: U.S. snooping damages alliances

The Obama administration's massive spying program undermined America's national interests again this week when France condemned the wholesale snooping as "totally unacceptable." While the French government's hands are not entirely clean, the powerful language from Paris highlights the threat of a public backlash against cooperating with Washington. Harming U.S. alliances across the globe makes no sense at a time when America is looking for more partners to help ease violent situations in the Middle East.

The French Foreign Ministry summoned the U.S. ambassador for an explanation after a report Monday in Le Monde that the U.S. National Security Agency had collected 70 million digital communications on French phones in a monthlong period beginning in December. The report, based on documents leaked by Edward Snowden, the former NSA contractor whose disclosures have brought intense scrutiny to the Obama administration's surveillance practices, did not identify whose conversations might have been intercepted. But it appears the dragnet reached far wider than a circle of terror suspects, involving conversations and text messages of French business and political leaders at a volume that averaged about 3 million data intercepts a day.

France deplored "this kind of practice between partners" and demanded that the sweeping surveillance end. The revelation came as Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Paris for talks on the Syrian peace process and on a strategy for neutralizing Iran's nuclear program. The episode only adds to the fallout among America's allies, following reports the United States spied on Brazil, Germany, Mexico and other Western partners. Brazil called the spying a breach of national sovereignty, and its president called off her scheduled visit to Washington this week. On Wednesday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel called President Barack Obama to complain after she learned that U.S. intelligence may have been monitoring her mobile phone.

The French condemnation was partly domestic politics, aimed at deflecting criticism of France's own sophisticated surveillance program. But the report creates a point of contention between two major allies — the latest in a series between the United States and its most important global partners. France is pivotal to resolving the security issues with Syria and Iran, just as Brazil and Germany are key to managing relations with China and Russia. Mexico is the front line in America's effort to control the border and the drug trade. Yet the surveillance program is creating obstacles to cooperation by driving a wedge between these leaders and their domestic audiences. This week, a committee in the European Parliament backed a broad set of new privacy rules that could impose huge fines on companies for providing personal data to the government. The United States should recognize these concerns and address the imbalance between security and privacy before its allies start to back away from America's larger foreign policy goals.

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Editorial: Congress should ban splitting kids, parents

Editorial: Congress should ban splitting kids, parents

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Updated: 24 minutes ago
Editorial: A court victory for protecting Florida’s environment

Editorial: A court victory for protecting Florida’s environment

A Tallahassee judge has affirmed the overwhelming intent of Florida voters by ruling that state lawmakers have failed to comply with a constitutional amendment that is supposed to provide a specific pot of money to buy and preserve endangered lands. ...
Published: 06/18/18
Updated: 06/20/18
Editorial: Trump should stop taking children away from parents at the border

Editorial: Trump should stop taking children away from parents at the border

Innocent children should not be used as political pawns. That is exactly what the Trump administration is doing by cruelly prying young children away from their parents as these desperate families cross the Mexican border in search of a safer, better...
Published: 06/17/18
Updated: 06/19/18

Editorial: ATF should get tougher on gun dealers who violate the law

Gun dealers who break the law by turning a blind eye to federal licensing rules are as dangerous to society as people who have no right to a possess a firearm in the first place. Yet a recent report shows that the federal agency responsible for polic...
Published: 06/17/18
Updated: 06/18/18
Editorial: Encouraging private citizens to step up on transit

Editorial: Encouraging private citizens to step up on transit

The new grass-roots effort to put a transportation package before Hillsborough County voters in November faces a tough slog. Voters rejected a similar effort in 2010, and another in 2016 by elected officials never made it from the gate. But the lates...
Published: 06/15/18
Editorial: 40 years later, honoring remarkable legacy of Nelson Poynter

Editorial: 40 years later, honoring remarkable legacy of Nelson Poynter

Forty years ago today, Nelson Poynter died. He was the last individual to own this newspaper, and to keep the Times connected to this community, he did something remarkable. He gave it away.In his last years, Mr. Poynter recognized that sooner or lat...
Published: 06/15/18

There was no FBI anti-Trump conspiracy

The Justice Department released Thursday the highly anticipated report on the FBI’s handling of the Hillary Clinton email probe and other sensitive issues in the 2016 election. It is not the report President Donald Trump wanted. But there is enough i...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/15/18

Voter purge may be legal, but it’s also suppression

The Supreme Court’s ruling last Monday to allow Ohio’s purging of its voter rolls is difficult to dispute legally. While federal law prohibits removing citizens from voter rolls simply because they haven’t voted, Ohio’s purge is slightly different. T...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/15/18

Editorial: Free rides will serve as a test of whether the streetcar is serious transportation

Who wouldn’t jump at the chance to ride for free?This fall, the TECO Streetcar Line eliminates its $2.50-a-ride-fare, providing the best opportunity yet to see whether the system’s vintage streetcar replicas can serve as a legitimate transportation a...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/15/18

AT&T and the case for digital innovation

A good way to guarantee you’ll be wrong about something is to predict the future of technology. As in, "One day, we’ll all …" Experts can hazard guesses about artificial intelligence, driverless cars or the death of cable television, but technologica...
Published: 06/14/18