We don't yet know what polluted swamp of mental sickness led Ismaaiyl Brinsley to embark on a multistate rampage that culminated with the barbaric, execution-style killing of NYPD Officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos on a New York City street.
On perhaps this year's most compelling drama, the credits have yet to roll. Many have described that drama -- a story, apparently directed by North Korea, of Sony Pictures being hacked in retribution for a movie our foreign adversary considered an affront -- as novel. It is not.
"I consider the people of New York my patients," acting New York Health Commissioner Howard Zucker said this week as he cited health-related reasons for recommending New York Governor Andrew Cuomo ban hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking," to develop natural gas resources in the state. New York's environmental conservation commissioner joined in with the recommendation, which the governor quickly accepted.
When I saw these words on Twitter, I couldn't help but put down my tablet: "They say the smallest coffins are the heaviest to carry."
What dare I think about Cuba?
In opposing President Barack Obama's opening to Cuba, Florida's Republican senator, Marco Rubio, explained, "This entire policy shift announced today is based on an illusion, on a lie, the lie and the illusion that more commerce and access to money and goods will translate to political freedom for the Cuban people." Rubio has correctly touched on the core issue. But theory, logic and history suggest that he's wrong in his conclusions.
The contents of your pocket gleam up at you from the Newport, Rhode Island sidewalk like a sarcastic wink. You sit on the curb, surrounded by police cars, cuffs slicing your wrists, passersby whispering. You've told the cops you're an FBI agent.
How about a world where we have murderers but no murders? The police still chase down criminals who commit murder, we have trials, juries who judge, and justice is handed out . . . but no one dies.
It is safe to assume that the world reacting to news of Boko Haram's latest abductions will be a somewhat disillusioned one. Such weariness is understandable, considering what has happened in the eight months since the abductions that first brought Boko Haram into the global spotlight.
Let's play spot the villain.
A quote often attributed to Leon Trotsky reads, "You may not be interested in war, but war is interested in you." Although Washington would like very much to ignore North Korea, Pyongyang has just brought Trotsky's axiom into the 21st century with a seminal cyberattack that will have an immediate economic and cultural impact.
In case you haven't noticed, President Obama has been flexing his executive muscles lately. On paper, it's a head-scratcher. After all, he lost control of the Senate in the last election. His popularity is hovering near an all-time low. And, of course, he's a lame duck.
Not everyone will remember "Death of a President," the 2006 movie that included a controversial scene in which President George W. Bush was killed by a sniper. (I, on the other hand, can't forget it because my fiancé is an actress and had a big role in that movie).
No one should underestimate the historic importance of the North Korean cyberwar against America and the collapse of American defenses in the Sony Pictures attack.
The recent climate summit in Lima, Peru, has laid the foundations for a new climate treaty to be adopted in Paris in 2015. We have made significant progress toward an agreement that for the first time will involve all countries in serious efforts to combat climate change. The compromise reached in Lima ensures that all opportunities are open for negotiations to be successful over the coming year.
In 1940, Hollywood's most popular comedian made a movie that subjected a world leader to ruthless parody, turning a brutal despot into a figure of fun.
Want welfare? Pee here.
Like many entrepreneurs, I am often asked about the secrets to building a successful career. The advice I give is that whether you're in Silicon Valley creating apps, or in Unadilla Valley in upstate New York making yogurt, there are many common ingredients for success.
"I do not believe we can keep doing the same thing for over five decades and expect a different result," President Barack Obama pronounced Wednesday. "Moreover, it does not serve America's interests, or the Cuban people, to try to push Cuba toward collapse." And with these words, Obama introduced a long-absent element of lucidity into U.S. policy approaches to Cuba.
Established in 2007 following the Red Mosque siege, the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), or Pakistani Taliban, is now a prominent actor in that country's politics.
From North Korean hackers to embarrassing emails about our favorite stars, the recent hack of Sony Pictures seems to have all the makings of a Hollywood movie.
There's a sad irony in the fact that one of the great tests of America's freedom of speech should involve a movie that, according to some reviewers, utterly sucks.
President Barack Obama's announcement that the United States will move toward restoring diplomatic ties with Cuba is great news for those of us who looked at the 50-year-old embargo as an ineffective foreign policy relic.
The spending bill which funds almost all of the government through September 30, 2015, has a lot of moving parts and special provisions. There's more money to fight Ebola and less money for the IRS. The District of Columbia is prohibited from legalizing marijuana.
Another Bush? Another Clinton?
Major crimes usually shake us into action. A London fire that killed five women ultimately led to the creation of 999, a precursor to our own 911 emergency system. The rape and murder of Kitty Genovese, meanwhile, inspired the creation of the neighborhood crime watch system. Yet while the Sony Pictures Entertainment email breach is a different sort of crime, it is a crime nonetheless, and one that was perpetrated in a neighborhood where almost all of us are resident these days -- the Internet.
"All around me my friends were lying injured and dead."
What would you do if you were Vladimir Putin? What would you do if you were a Russian citizen?
On September 11, 2001, the city of Melbourne, Australia evacuated its World Trade Center.
The slaughter of more than 130 children at a school by the Pakistani Taliban on Tuesday may prove as pivotal to Pakistan's national security policy as the 9/11 attacks were for the United States.
It's getting difficult, even for a defense attorney, to keep track of the allegations against Bill Cosby. Recently, the embattled comedian's attorneys filed a motion to dismiss a lawsuit accusing the actor-comedian of sexually assaulting plaintiff Judith Huth in 1974 at the Playboy Mansion when she was 15.
In the wake of another round of national protests against police killings of unarmed black men, many Republicans seem unable to identify with protesters or give credence to the goals of the #ICantBreathe movement.
From superstorms to floods, to historic heat waves and droughts, not a week goes by without a major disruption somewhere in our communities. Between 2011 and 2013, 48 states and two-thirds of American counties endured crises severe enough to be declared major disasters.
There can be life after death -- or at least in American politics as we have just seen with the U.S. Senate's approval of Dr. Vivek Murthy as the next U.S. surgeon general. It 's a small political miracle that promises to serve the nation well over the next two years.
Would you rather be sexy or smart?
When most people think of South Sudan, if they think of it at all, they imagine poverty and war. They imagine a world and people that are far removed from the everyday life that most of us reading this are lucky enough to enjoy. But that was not my experience in the world's youngest nation.
Will Congress reform the CIA?
There was a time when Roger Ebert was, simply, "the fat one."
A story about Pope Francis allegedly saying animals can go to heaven went viral late last week. The problem is that it wasn't true. Many erroneous news reports on this incident relied on an article that appeared in The New York Times.
National Democratic leaders, fresh from a shellacking in congressional districts and statehouses from coast to coast, should wake up to the reality that the party's path to electoral power runs through the streets, where an energized portion of the party's base has been marching for many months.
"We'll be back" banners and posters proclaimed on the 75th and final day of the pro-democracy protests that have upended Hong Kong.
Twenty years ago this month, Ukraine, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States signed an agreement that represented a major step in global anti-proliferation efforts. Under the deal, known as the Budapest Memorandum, Ukraine voluntarily surrendered the third largest nuclear arsenal in the world, which it had inherited after the collapse of the Soviet Union.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe wants a mandate. Apparently, the one he and his Liberal Democratic Party of Japan, or LDP, claimed less than two years ago wasn't enough. So, as his policy agenda faltered and his approval ratings plummeted, the Prime Minister called snap elections last month (less than half way through the Japanese Diet's term) to try to claim a vote of confidence from the public and crush dissenters who oppose his agenda.
At 35,000 feet, the orange glow of a European sunrise begins to pierce the horizon from beneath a tufted layer of clouds. Unfortunately, it will be only a matter of minutes before that glow transforms into a pupil-penetrating annoyance through the windscreen of our 777.
In April 1964, only a few months after President John F. Kennedy was assassinated, his widow Jacqueline Kennedy wrote to Kay Halle -- an old family friend of both the Kennedys and the Churchills -- and gave a glimpse of the dark melancholy that shrouded her.
Jonathan Gruber, who some have called an "architect" of Obamacare, spent his Tuesday being grilled by members of Congress for having described too candidly the deception involved in passing the bill.
While others will sharply disagree, I believe John Brennan deserves a national salute for his press conference yesterday about the CIA.
The Pentagon's recent statement that Iran may have conducted air strikes against ISIS targets in Iraq's Diyala Province is tantamount to a U.S. tacit approval of Iran's growing military footprint in Iraq.
It's really hard to take anything in sports seriously when you know the bottom line is always about maximizing the top line revenue. And the NFL's "new" Player Conduct Policy is a case in point.
While studiously avoiding the word "torture," CIA Director John Brennan told reporters on Thursday that the aggressive interrogation program yielded information that helped the agency find Osama bin Laden. He also called the Senate Intelligence Committee's damning report on CIA abuses "flawed" by partisanship, as well as "exaggerations and misrepresentations."
I have been a publicist specializing in comedy for 30 years. Over the years I have transitioned like everyone else to strictly email and texting as my way of communicating with and on behalf of my clients. Whenever I feel nostalgic, I'll call someone and hang up just to relive the bygone days of dialing.
Who to believe about the CIA's program of enhanced interrogation -- aka, torture?
Detroit became the largest U.S. city to exit bankruptcy this week, with the effective approval of a plan to slash $7 billion in debt and reinvest $1.4 billion to improve city services.
Growing up in the United States, my summers were filled with trips to Little Havana in Miami, where my family and I would watch anti-communist plays featuring popular Latino actors. Those trips would include hours-long pig roasts, where family members would animatedly discuss the big policy issues of the day, like the impact of the fall of the Soviet Union on Cuba's government.
Three days ago, I decided to write an open letter to black protesters because I couldn't stay silent any longer.
"It's go time!" says a bespectacled Katherine Heigl, her bouncing, blond ponytail curled into a perfect coil.
It would be dishonest to say that 2014 has been a good year for women. We looked in disbelief as a terrorist group in Syria and Iraq turned women into slaves, and another radical group in Nigeria captured hundreds of female students and disappeared with them.
I've heard that the Senate report on CIA torture is 6,000 pages long. My story, though, takes place elsewhere: in Guantanamo, away from the CIA program that the report covers. The 6,000 pages of the Senate report are just the start of what Americans have to accept happened in their name.
We don't yet know all the facts behind the now-infamous, poorly fact-checked story in Rolling Stone about an alleged gang rape at the University of Virginia. What we do know: Rolling Stone at first blamed the alleged victim, "Jackie" -- rather than its own journalistic sloppiness -- for so-called "discrepancies" (before changing its callous statement).
Did waterboarding and other coercive interrogation techniques that were used on al Qaeda detainees in CIA custody eventually lead to the Navy SEAL operation that killed Osama bin Laden in Pakistan early in the morning of May 2, 2011?
Barack Obama never really had a chance when dealing with issues of race in America. From the moment he ran for office, critics questioned whether he was "black enough" or an "angry black man."
Come December 18, we'll have to say goodbye to our favorite blowhard political character, "Stephen Colbert." That's the day the real Colbert will retire "Colbert" the character as he signs off from his Comedy Central show, "The Colbert Report," in preparation to take over for David Letterman in 2015.
I have a confession: I love Uber.
The world will feign outrage over the "revelations" cited in the newly released Senate Intelligence Committee's torture report.
Ebola, ISIS and Ferguson grabbed the headlines in 2014, but there is another huge story that should not be overlooked. Historians could look back on this year as the beginning of feminism's third wave.
Immigration reform may be a complicated issue politically, but in economic terms, the case is clear -- it is one of the biggest levers the United States has to encourage economic growth and to raise wages.
The release of a massive report on torture Tuesday by the Senate Intelligence Committee has been accompanied by a strong statement by President Obama, who notes that it describes in detail "a troubling program involving enhanced interrogation techniques in secret facilities outside the United States" by operatives working for the CIA.
After a multi-year odyssey marked by almost nonstop partisan bickering, CIA employees hacking into Senate Intelligence Committee computers, and former Bush administration officials launching a pre-emptive public counterattack against the committee's report, we finally have a summary of the CIA's use of torture.
Once upon a time, work took place outside of the home during designated hours. Today, that world is a fairy tale. If you checked your work email this Thanksgiving, you're likely aware that at most companies there is an unspoken expectation that employees tend to emails at all hours.
Trayvon Martin. Michael Brown. Eric Garner. The list of names of black men killed by white men who have subsequently gone unpunished -- and in the case of Brown and Garner, untried -- continues to grow. In each of these cases, an ugly theme has been raised in defense of the perpetrators: The victims should have known better.
Seeing the first set of images from the typhoon zone in the Philippines is like experiencing a dreadful sense of déjà vu: Flooded roads, fallen huts, small buildings with the rooftops ripped off, and dead animals littering the streets. If this devastation appears eerily familiar, it is because we also saw the same horrific spectacle last year when Typhoon Haiyan struck. Sadly, both the Philippines and the rest of the world are proving slow in learning the most important lessons of these disasters.
Attorney General Eric Holder announced last week that the Justice Department's civil rights investigation of Cleveland's police department found that it engaged in a "pattern or practice" of unreasonable and unnecessary use of force.
One of the most successful hostage rescues of the modern era took place on July 4, 1976, when Israeli commandos stormed Entebbe Airport in Uganda to rescue dozens of Israeli hostages held there by a Palestinian terrorist group.
The Internet is one of the most powerful tools on the planet. Across the globe, millions of people connect every minute of every day to harness its wealth of information, exchange ideas in an open platform and foster the type of innovation and entrepreneurship that spurs economic growth.
As the country searches its soul in the wake of the recent wave of questionable killings by police, Americans of all races are struggling with a distressing sense of deja vu. This is not the first time we have struggled with this anguish and it will not be the last. But there may be a new prospect for hope this time.
Washington is obsessed with the question of whether government can do anything anymore. With the lame duck session of Congress mired in confrontation over immigration and Congress about to shift to Republican hands in January, gridlock seems to define Washington.
Composer Richard Wagner was an anti-Semite whose music was used, after his death, as Nazi propaganda. He was also, as some say, "one of the most gifted, historically important composers to ever grace the planet." So fans of his music, including those in Israel, are willing to overlook his hideous views and embrace his art. This is what is generally considered separating the art from the artist. As writer Jay Parini put it, "Hideous people can make great art."
In some ways, it's not surprising that Russians were happy to vote Vladimir Putin back into the presidency in 2012. After all, the economy grew by an average of 7% from Putin's emergence in 1999 as a national politician, through his first two terms as president until May 2008, while real incomes more than doubled. Pensions were paid, and Putin had been able to brag in his last annual address to the Federal Assembly that "not only has Russia now made a full turnaround after years of industrial decline, it has become one of the world's ten biggest economies."
In August 2008, Najibullah Zazi, an Afghan-American, and two friends from his high school in Queens flew from Newark, New Jersey, to Peshawar, Pakistan, where they hoped to join the Taliban.
Pundit Glenn Reynolds recently wrote: "So as I understand it, Atticus Finch is now the bad guy in "To Kill A Mockingbird," because he doubted a story about rape." How right he was.
On Tuesday, President Barack Obama pledged $263 million to procure body cameras and training for up to 50,000 police officers. On Wednesday, a grand jury declined to charge the New York Police Department officer whose chokehold contributed to the death of Eric Garner -- an incident captured in full on video. Unsurprisingly, Thursday brought cries of "what's the use?" After all, an officer walked even though there is a video of the killing.
Toilet, latrine, loo, washroom, baño, water closet, toilette -- no matter what you might call it, toilets are a basic tool for sanitation. And in many countries, access to one is taken as a given. But not for the 1.1 billion people who have to defecate in the open. Men, women and children who are left to face conditions that are unsanitary, sometimes dangerous and often humiliating.
One of the key demands from the national wave of demonstrations protesting recent police killings of unarmed black men is that law enforcement agencies expand the practice of equipping officers with dashboard cameras, body cameras and other recording devices, on the theory that visual recordings of controversial encounters will make it easier to discover the truth in situations like the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, or the choking death of Eric Garner in New York.
One minute and eight seconds.
Lost amidst the predictable clutter of the "will-he-or won't-she" questions about whether Jeb Bush or Hillary Clinton will actually run for the presidency is an unexpected development: a hint of authenticity.
With Republican majorities coming in both houses of Congress and a Democrat in the White House, many people in Washington believe nothing will get done. We'd like to nominate an exception to that expectation: Criminal justice reform.
What a difference a year makes! Last year's address by President Vladimir Putin to the Federal Council, the joint session of both houses of Russian parliament, was a rather low-key affair by international standards and the world was not exactly losing sleep over it, apart from the usual talking heads on Russian television and newspaper commentators who were listing the main points of the speech without much excitement.
As a frequent traveler to Germany, I can't help but compare it to the United States. At first, I admired its new architecture. Then I became fascinated with how many different recycling bins line the streets. Lately, I've been marveling at the country's work-life balance.
It can't be. The Republican Party's wise new sage on immigration is ... Mitt Romney?
The grand jury decisions not to indict officers in the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson and the killing of Eric Garner on Staten Island have been made. Unsurprisingly, some people agree with them and others do not.
Like thousands of other female applicants to Indonesia's National Police, 24-year-old Sari (not her real name) submitted to the mandatory "virginity test" that the authorities require women -- but not men -- to take as part of the application process.
As the streets of New York and other cities filled with people protesting the non-indictment in the choking death of Eric Garner, defenders of the police generally fixated on Garner's health. Because Garner was obese, diabetic, asthmatic, suffered from sleep apnea, and had a heart condition, goes the argument, he was somehow to blame for his own death.
Last year, after CNN readers voted for me to do a story on income inequality, I spent two weeks reporting from what was then the "most unequal place in America": East Carroll Parish, Louisiana. It's a tiny patch of land on the western bank of the Mississippi River -- home to a beautiful oxbow lake called Lake Providence. That lake, I found, is a stark barrier between rich and poor -- and a fitting microcosm for inequality across the nation.
"Take deep breaths," I tell my son. The irony of the instruction isn't lost on me after he begins to explain why he is so upset. It's the end of a long day -- dark way before I think it should be, as the cold hasn't quite taken full hold in Atlanta.
There is nothing wrong with professional athletes expressing their opinions about social or political issues. Just because you slip on a helmet or swing a racquet doesn't mean you don't have the right to voice an opinion on politics, the economy, faith or any other issue in America.
If you care about justice and about the values that our country was founded upon, you will feel sickened by the grand jury's decision not to indict NYPD Officer Daniel Pantaleo in the choking death of Eric Garner in Staten Island.
In January 1999, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced on live television that he was firing his defense minister, Yitzhak Mordechai. The minister, Netanyahu argued, had colluded with his political rivals and was aiming to undermine the Prime Minister's authority. Mordechai would go on to lead a centrist party and play a pivotal role in the victory of Ehud Barak and the Labor Party over Netanyahu. Fifteen years later, and Netanyahu has again taken to the airwaves, announcing the firing of two senior Cabinet members. Is history set to repeat itself?