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The Hartford (Conn.) Courant, April 15, 2015

The story of Aaron Hernandez is one of waste: wasted talent, wasted future, a wasted life. His life and his victim's. The guilty verdict returned Wednesday in Fall River, Massachusetts, in his trial on first-degree murder charges will mean, if appeals fail, that the Bristol native will spend the rest of his life in prison with no possibility of parole.

And even if somehow that verdict is overturned, the former professional football player faces a further double-murder charge that, court observers say, is an open-and-shut case.

What a sorry turn in a life that was once so full of promise. He blew his talent and besmirched his team. He murdered Odin Lloyd, a 27-year-old linebacker for the semi-professional Boston Bandits, a man described by his coach as "personable" and his sister as a "class clown."

Hernandez has been called the best athlete ever to come out of the city of Bristol. A star wide receiver at Bristol Central High School, in his senior year he was named the Connecticut Gatorade Football Player of the Year. At the University of Florida, he won the John Mackey Award, given to the country's best college tight end. He then entered the National Football League's 2010 draft and signed a four-year contract with the New England Patriots.

At 20, the youngest player in the NFL, he had it all, including the $1.3 million mansion that seems to be required equipment for pro football players.

Then came June 17, 2013, when the bullet-riddled body of Lloyd, who was dating the sister of Hernandez's fiancee, was found. Though the case was largely circumstantial, it didn't take police long to arrest the football star.

His trial was an ordeal: It involved nine weeks of testimony, during which the prosecution called 132 witnesses, and more than six days of jury deliberation. In the end, the jury found him guilty not only of the homicide but of two related firearms charges.

What can cause such a athletically gifted young man to throw away his future? Is it simple thuggishness? The misguided belief that sports superstars are above the law? Some deep psychological flaw?

In the wake of the verdict, there is sadness and regret for lives lost.

The Bennington (Vt.) Banner, April, 16, 2015

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced through social media that she will indeed be running for president in 2016. In a big change from 2008, her shared video focused more on the hopes and dreams of ordinary citizens than on her abilities and ambitions.

Many of her supporters back in 2008 thought at that time that it was her "turn" to get the nomination for president and the relatively young Sen. Barack Obama could wait. But that's not how it worked out. Now, at age 67, it does indeed seem to be Clinton's "turn," but there are reasons for caution.

The national electoral college map for the presidency — as opposed to gerrymandered Congressional districts in red states — definitely leans blue, as the demographics of the U.S. overall are tending more toward groups that tend to vote Democratic.

However, Clinton and the Democrats must beware of a "coronation." One or two serious challengers who can take the debate to Clinton would be most helpful in sharpening her message and campaign operation.

No one currently "exploring" a run for president comes close to Clinton's name recognition. These include former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley; former governor and U.S. Senator from Rhode Island Lincoln Chafee, who once was a Republican; and former Virginia Sen. Jim Webb, who served as Secretary of the Navy for in the administration of President George H.W. Bush.

Vermont's own junior senator, Bernie Sanders, an independent, will reportedly announce his decision whether to run at the end of April. If he runs, his decision also will include whether to run as a Democrat. One possible candidate with name recognition approaching Clinton's is vice president Joseph Biden, but as time goes on a run by him seems less likely. Firmly ruling out a run is Sen. Elizabeth Warren, of Massachusetts, a rising star in the party.

Another danger for a 2016 Clinton run for president was quite humorously summed up in the opening skit on Saturday Night Live, hours after Clinton's announcement. It's the looming presence of her husband, former president Bill Clinton, a politically brilliant and famously roguish, larger-than-life character. Though popular with the people, he can be either a huge asset or a great liability. At times during the 2008 primary campaign, it seemed like a "two-headed Clinton" monster emerged, with undisciplined comments by Mr. Clinton on behalf of his wife creating unneeded waves.

Yet, when restrained and used properly, Mr. Clinton is a potent weapon. His speech demolishing the Republicans at the 2012 Democratic National Convention arguably provided a huge boost to the re-election of Barack Obama as president.

Indeed, an article in The New York Times indicates that Obama, who owes both the Clintons for their service and support, will be used to get out the African-American vote — and not only there but around the country. Clinton does not intend to run away from the president's record. Nor should she. For his part, Obama wants to see a Democrat succeed him to the oval office to build on his legacy, not destroy it.

The time for presidential endorsements is far off. Yet one can say from here that the prospect, in this era of tea party radicalization, of a Republican president working with a Republican-controlled Congress would be a disaster for the country. Imagine: The Affordable Care Act dismantled, Social Security privatized, government employees prohibited from saying "climate change" in public, etc. It's not a pretty picture. Divided government is preferable to a wrecking crew on steroids.

Whoever the Democratic nominee for president is, that person must win.

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