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From the charges against Jeffrey Epstein to the opioid crisis to the future of the Electoral College, here are some of our top columns this week.

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In today's fast-paced news environment, it can be hard to keep up. For your weekend reading, we've started in-case-you-missed-it compilations of some of the week's top USA TODAY Opinion pieces. As always, thanks for reading, and for your feedback.

— USA TODAY Opinion editors

1. Do charges against Jeffrey Epstein signal 'bigger targets'?

By Barbara McQuade

"(Jeffrey Epstein) was the subject of a controversial nonprosecution agreement that was negotiated in 2007 with former Miami U.S. Attorney Alexander Acosta. ... In a particularly unusual provision of that agreement, Acosta agreed that prosecutors would 'not institute any criminal charges against any potential co-conspirators of Epstein' and would 'suspend' the grand jury investigation. That provision suggests Epstein was seeking to protect others beyond himself. It is unclear what has prompted the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York to file charges after the passage of so much time, but it is not bound by any promises made by another U.S. Attorney’s Office. ... Perhaps prosecutors simply want to vindicate the rights of victims who were mistreated in Florida. Or perhaps prosecutors have bigger targets than Epstein in mind."

2. Joe Biden taught me about loss and love. Now, he can teach us how to make a graceful exit.

By Steven Petrow

"(For) much of my adult life, I’ve looked to Joe Biden as a role model — as a father, a spouse, a politician and simply as a man. ... In recent months, I’ve watched Biden with anticipation, only to find my enthusiasm curbed. ... Biden has taught me so much in my lifetime — about loss, about love, about virtue. I now wish the former vice president would extend a final lesson as a public servant and show us how to make a graceful exit before his accomplishments of the past are erased by this new day. We, too, owe him that. Joe Biden means too much to me and to so many other Americans for his next — and final political chapter — to be one of missteps and gaffes, but most of all a tone-deafness that reveals a man whose time has come and is now over."

3. The real reason why the left was against Donald Trump's July 4 speech

By Gary Varvel

"Now we know why the Democrats were so upset about President Donald Trump speaking on the Fourth of July. It was not because it was political or partisan. It was patriotic, and that is what annoys the left the most. ... We heard that Trump’s desire to have tanks on the National Mall was an out-and-out authoritarian performance art. But that wasn’t really the issue. Neither was the fake outrage over the cost. There was no mention of political opponents and no mention of the fake news media. And this wasn’t Trump co-opting the nation’s birthday to celebrate himself. In fact, for a man who loves to talk about his accomplishments, he never mentioned himself. No, Trump did something far more dangerous to the left. He gave America a strong dose of patriotism."

4. To fight opioid epidemic, treat drug use with compassion, not judgment

By Travis Rieder

"As a researcher at the Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics, I didn’t start thinking about America’s problems with pain and drugs through dispassionate research. I got there thanks to a motorcycle accident, after which I was given lots of prescription opioids and then left to my own devices. The result was that I formed a profound dependence on the drug, and then went through the agony of withdrawal as I tried — with no help from my doctors — to get off the meds. ... Some people are and will become addicted despite their best efforts, and they are at risk of dying until we can help them recover. This means we need more. We need to keep people struggling with an addiction alive until they are willing to enter recovery. We need harm reduction."

5. Republicans are eating our lunch. I want a 2020 Democrat tough enough to eat theirs.

By Jill Lawrence

"I wrote a book about political compromise, but I am getting less interested in it all the time. ... We need a nominee who understands, as today's Republicans seem to know from birth, that paeans to bipartisanship won't cut it. Not after the decade we've had. This is a time for Democrats to be as clear as Republicans about their hopes and dreams, whether they are achievable or not. It is time for them to be as tough and relentless as Republicans. And it is time for them to make sure their gains cannot be erased by technicalities that thwart the will of the people. ... Democrats need a nominee ready to wield the weapon of the presidency with everything they have. There is a time to talk about political compromise. It's after Democrats are running the table."

6. Ex-Romney strategist: Kill the Electoral College to help America and, yes, Republicans

By Stuart Stevens

"The math is simple and compelling: America is becoming a less white country, and unless white people can figure out how to quit dying, the Republican Party is facing a crisis. What does this have to do with the Electoral College? Under the EC, it is possible, though increasingly difficult, for a Republican candidate to win the presidency without substantial nonwhite support. As long as the Republican Party believes it can win as an overwhelmingly white party, it will never feel the political pressure to change. ...  Let’s quit pretending there is some great benefit to the national good that allows the person with the least votes to win the White House. Republicans have long said that they believe in competition. Let both parties compete for votes across the nation and stop disenfranchising voters by geography. The winner should win."

7.  Trump plan to incarcerate migrant children at Fort Sill again shows worst of America

By Mari Matsuda

"My father was one of more than 10,000 Japanese Americans incarcerated at Wyoming's Heart Mountain relocation camp. It was 1942, and the nation was in the throes of World War II, fighting Hitler's fascism. From behind barbed wire, my father volunteered for combat. Just as he fought then, Japanese Americans are fighting once again, as they watch the Trump administration call for the incarceration of asylum-seeking children at Oklahoma's Fort Sill military base — one of about 10 locations used to lock up Japanese Americans during World War II. ... We now acknowledge that World War II's incarceration was driven by racial hatred. It was a failure of democracy that this nation came to regret. President Ronald Reagan signed an official apology in 1988. While formal pronouncements of regret matter, the Japanese-American community is attempting to give meaning to the phrase 'never again.'"

You can read diverse opinions from our Board of Contributors and other writers on the Opinion front page, on Twitter @usatodayopinion and in our daily Opinion newsletter. To respond to a column, submit a comment to letters@usatoday.com.

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