Zuckerberg testimony tees up urgent questions about Internet giants and how we interact with them

The tumult in Washington over Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s two days of testimony before Congress is the best opportunity yet for all of us to re-examine our relationships with the Internet giants that exert enormous influence in our society. Facebook as well as Google and the vast number of other companies that trade free services for access to our private information, now occupy a central place in too much of our daily lives.

The dogs of war are howling

WASHINGTON — As sabers rattle ever louder across fields, plains, oceans and deserts, President Donald Trump’s words from earlier this year haunt the stable mind:

Shame on NIH; government researchers took beverage industry money for alcohol study

When leading alcoholic beverage makers pay the bulk of $100 million for a study to determine whether a daily drink leads to better health, can the research results believably be free of bias? The National Institutes of Health has seriously damaged its credibility as one of the world’s leading medical research centers by obtaining industry funding for such a study.

College essay tests deserve to die

Every year more than a million students pay an extra fee to do the optional essay section of the SAT and ACT, though according to a Princeton Review analysis only 27 colleges and universities in the country require submission of an essay score. Half of those 27 schools are in California, which means the Golden State is well-positioned to put an end to what is a huge waste of time and money for millions of high school students and their parents each year.

South Dakota asks the Supreme court to circumvent Congress and the market

WASHINGTON — South Dakota has become what South Carolina once was — stubborn, pugnacious and wrong. In 1860, South Carolina became the first state to vote to secede. In 2016, South Dakota’s Legislature picked a fight in the hope the U.S. Supreme Court would reverse a prior decision, thereby handing the state a policy victory it failed to win in Congress.

Jimmy Kimmel’s joke about Melania Trump’s accent hurts all immigrants

Our middle child, Marco, had a grade-school teacher named Miss Meece. My husband, with his strong Italian accent, pronounced her name as “Meese Meese.” I love my husband’s accent, so I giggled inside but said nothing. Finally, though, I decided to coach him on his pronunciation. He quickly grew frustrated and said, “What kind of a name is Miss Miss anyway?”