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The reality behind those curtains

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Letters home ...

Traveling abroad for personal, educational or professional reasons?

Why not share your impressions — and those of residents of foreign countries about the United States — with Trib readers in 150 words?

The world's a big place. Bring it home with Letters Home.

Contact Colin McNickle (412-320-7836 or cmcnickle@tribweb.com).

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'American Coyotes' Series

Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

Saturday, Feb. 9, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
 

“Raise the minimum wage,” went the headline on one newspaper's editorial pages. It was followed by this secondary headline: “There's a growing consensus that we must make work more meaningful.” Never mind that tying pay to anything other than productivity, skill set or any other value as determined by the employer (not the government, mind you) renders that work meaning less. ...

• A variation of the line “No one needs an AR-15” was uttered or written more than a few times by pols and/or pundits this past week. Never mind that among hunters, sport shooters and other gun enthusiasts, this semiautomatic rifle is favored for its handling and accuracy. More than 3 million Americans own AR-15s. But there's a deeper ignorance, if not arrogance, in the “No one needs ...” statement, given that there's a fundamental, Supreme Court-affirmed constitutional right to keep and bear arms. It's like saying “No one needs a microphone or a pulpit or a soapbox or a printing press.” ...

• In the debate over the slippery slope that is presidential “authority” to order, without congressional notification or judicial review, the killing by drones of even American citizens who become “enemy combatants” abroad, the question is posited, “Where does it end?” As in will some president attempt to use this execution-by-drone power on American soil against anyone he tags as an “enemy”? It's a fair question and not merely an academic one. As is this question: No matter who puts drones in the air — be it the local gendarmes, state revenuers or the executive branch army of one — what happens when America's sons and daughters of liberty start shooting down those drones? ...

• In proposing his massive tax increase (that's supposedly, if not comically, not a tax increase) on the wholesale price of each gallon of gas, Republican Gov. Tom Corbett trotted out a pol 'plaint straight from boilerplate talking points usually associated with regressive, er, “progressive” Democrats. It's time for those nasty oil companies to pay their “fair share,” he said. This, from the same fella who's giving Shell a $1 billion tax break for its proposed Beaver County “cracker plant.” That said, if approved, Pennsylvania would have the highest gasoline tax in the nation. Which will be quite the incentive for businesses looking to open shop in the Keystone State, right? ...

• Oh, by the way, Big Oil's profit these days on a $35 tank of gas is about $2.17. Under the Corbett proposal, and combined with the federal gasoline tax, Big Government's profit on that $35 tank of gas will be just under $9. ...

• When the White House finally released a photo purportedly showing President Obama skeet shooting at Camp David (something he says he does all the time), it came with a prohibition against using the photo “in commercial or political materials, advertisements, emails, products, promotions that in any way suggests approval or endorsement of the president, the first family or the White House.” Who paid for that photograph? Unless Mr. Obama personally paid for its taking and dissemination, taxpayers own that photo and should feel free to use the image any way they please.

Colin McNickle is Trib Total Media's director of editorial pages (412-320-7836 or cmcnickle@tribweb.com).

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