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Hijabs at a women's chess tournament

“One town’s very like another,” says lyrics in the musical “Chess,” “when your head’s down over your pieces, brother.” That is probably not the case when your head has an unfamiliar, unwanted piece of cloth draped over it because of the town — and the country — you are in and because you are a woman.

So you have to wonder what (and whether) world chess officials were thinking when they decided to hold next year’s women’s world championship in Tehran, where the Islamic Republic commands all women to wear the headscarves that its interpretation of Islamic law requires.

Nazi Paikidze, who grew up in the former Soviet republic of Georgia and now plays as an American, announced that she would refuse to participate — “even if it means missing one of the most important competitions of my career.”

Paikidze has expressed her position both in terms of her own rights and as a refusal to support the oppression of Iranian women. Both are good reasons. No one should be required to submit to laws such as the compulsory hijab as a condition of participating in a global competition. And such submission could be construed as condoning the tyranny that imposes that law on its citizens.

The question is not the hijab; the question is freedom. Those women for whom the hijab is a genuine expression of personal faith have every right to wear it. But no one has the right to impose it on women who do not believe in it.

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Oct. 10

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Trump ideas that don’t work

During this ugly presidential campaign, Republican Donald Trump has shown enough about his character and temperament to prove himself unfit for the Oval Office. But on the issues facing this country, Trump has given voters little to go on, offering mainly bare policy outlines and vague generalities. Perhaps that’s because his ideas are poorly thought out — or they don’t work as advertised.

Take Sunday’s presidential debate, for example. When asked how he would make the wealthy pay their fair share of taxes, Trump said he would get rid of the “carried interest” loophole that lets some professional investors slash the taxes they pay on much of their earnings. He conveniently failed to mention that under his plan, the same Wall Street fund managers who lose the loophole could wind up paying less in taxes, not more, because he would lower the tax rate for businesses to 15 percent.

On health care, Trump pledged to repeal the 2010 Affordable Care Act and replace it with “something absolutely much less expensive.” His prime tool for lowering costs, he said, would be to let insurers offer policies across state lines.

That’s a change that Republicans have been touting for years, premised on the idea that an insurer in a state with light regulation could undercut the premiums of those in states with tougher rules. But Trump either overlooked or ignored that insurers can’t offer policies in a new state unless they strike deals with the doctors, hospitals and other providers in every community they plan to sell coverage. And what they pay those providers is a key factor in premium rates. Importing lenient rules from low-cost states won’t change that.

What dumping Obamacare in favor of lax state rules could do, though, is let insurers turn away applicants with pre-existing conditions, or charge them higher premiums.

The details of policy matter, but Trump hasn’t shown much interest in talking about them. Perhaps that’s because the closer one looks at the plans he’s actually proposing, the less they live up to his promises.

Los Angeles Times, Oct. 11

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