The Observer-Reporter building in Washington

MISS: When “Adding Machine: The Musical” bowed on Broadway in 2008, it won a glowing review by The New York Times‘ Charles Isherwood, who called it “improbably brilliant.” But presenting a well-regarded musical that has a hard edge and spoofs white nationalists in America is apparently a step too far for some students at Point Park University. The university opted to cancel performances it had scheduled in early December after some students complained. They argued that some audience members might not comprehend that racism is being mocked in the musical, and students did not receive “trigger warnings” when they were auditioning for the production. But isn’t the onus on students to research a production before they audition? And shouldn’t Point Park students have a little faith in the ability of audiences to appreciate satire? The education of Point Park students will be diminished if the school’s theater program decides after this to present productions that are sanitized and wholly inoffensive in order to avoid similar controversies.

MISS: Progress moves in fits and starts, and that point is clear when one considers life expectancy in the United States. It’s been moving on a steady upward trajectory for years, but now is in danger of slipping. That’s the grim picture offered by a report published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association. It found increased mortality among people aged 25 to 64, even as other countries have been seeing continued progress in this age group. The opioid epidemic is one culprit, but one researcher told The Washington Post that other causes could include distracted driving and obesity. The report also found that young and middle-aged adults had notably high rates of death in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana. Another researcher told the Post, “People are feeling worse about themselves and their futures, and that’s leading them to do things that are self-destructive and not promoting health.” That needs to change.

MISS: A new decade will be getting started in just one month, and one of the goals of the 2020s should be nothing less than saving the planet. That’s a tall order, but a climate report released by the United Nations this week underlines how crucial meeting that challenge is. It found that the world’s wealthiest nations are, in fact, expanding their carbon footprints despite some efforts to reduce them, and that emissions must decline by 7.6% every year between 2020 and 2030 in order for the world to avoid the most calamitous effects of climate change. If not, extreme weather events like floods, dangerous storms and melting glaciers will continue to gather in intensity. Let’s hope the leadership and the will emerges in the 2020s to make our planet more habitable for our kids and grandkids.

HIT: District council elections in Hong Kong typically attract no international attention. The winners handle nuts-and-bolts issues like traffic lights and bus stops. But the elections last weekend set off worldwide reverberations as pro-democracy candidates swept the contests decisively. For months, pro-democracy demonstrations in Hong Kong have been happening, spurred by the desire to maintain their autonomy and freedoms and not have them whittled away by the Chinese government. The vote showed that the demonstrators have the wholehearted backing of Hong Kong’s citizenry. The ball is now in Beijing’s court. They should heed the desires of thousands of Hong Kong’s citizens.

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