The U.N. Security Council delegation visiting South Sudan last week came face-to-face with a troubling reality: The country has been seized by an eight-month civil war between parties that have committed violence against civilians on a devastating scale.
When most people look at ISIS, they see the incarnation of evil. Among its many horrific acts, the Islamic militant group beheaded American journalist James Foley and posted the video this week in retaliation for U.S. airstrikes in Iraq. The Pope typically protests violence, but he implied that he supports the use of military force to combat ISIS. Even al Qaeda says ISIS is too violent. Across the political spectrum, public officials and pundits have characterized them as "savages," a "cancer" and the "face of evil."
It was late afternoon in Kiev on July 17 when I spotted the tweet: a commercial airliner had been downed over eastern Ukraine.
The intense situation in Ferguson, Missouri, is disturbingly familiar to us. In November, it will be eight years since we suffered the same tragedy as Michael Brown's parents. Our unarmed son, Sean Bell, was killed in a barrage of 50 shots fired by New York plainclothes police officers on his wedding day, November 25, 2006.
They lined up for a group portrait. Hank Aaron. Sandy Koufax. Reggie Jackson. George Brett. Al Kaline. Ernie Banks.
I never set out to be an Olympic gold medalist. I never said out loud that I wanted to be the world's best at any particular thing. As a scrappy little girl I certainly never imagined that I would be the most decorated at any given sport. I was a shy middle child, the peacemaker, growing up in Oklahoma. At 5 years old, I followed my older sister into the sport of gymnastics.
The major portion of the area Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is attempting to control for the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria is the same place I called home for 16 months of my life.
This month, a federal judge allowed North Carolina to put into effect new laws that would make it more difficult to vote. Most of the American public didn't notice.
Does money make you happy? Does being rich contribute to your spiritual life and its possibilities?
We all know the slogans meant to express empathy and solidarity: "We are Columbine." "We are all New Yorkers." "I am Trayvon Martin." The "We are Ferguson" messages have already begun, and we will likely see more.
At first glance, it seems obvious -- of course Twitter and YouTube have the right to take down a video showing the American journalist, James Foley, being beheaded. The question is why taking it down is controversial at all. The answer, I think, shows how important services like Twitter have become, and how this has thrust unexpected responsibilities onto them.
The recent video depicting the final words and beheading of U.S. journalist James Wright Foley by someone that seems to be a British foreign fighter has sent shockwaves across the West.
Freelance journalist James Foley was brutally killed yesterday after being held for 21 months by Islamic militants in Syria. Despite the increasing dangers of working in the region, despite the many journalists who have been kidnapped or are still missing, and despite dreading this news, it has taken us all by surprise and we are deeply, deeply shocked.
I am a mother who watched her mother bury her only son.
On Wednesday, angry residents of West Point, one of the poorest slums of Liberia, clashed with police when they discovered that the government has quarantined the entire area in an effort to contain the spread of Ebola. This comes on the heels of another incident at West Point a few days ago, when people attacked an Ebola clinic, releasing patients and taking bedding and other items. When the international community heard about the incident, it could not understand such reckless behavior in the face of a deadly outbreak. But living here in Liberia, we understand.
Pope Francis' trip to South Korea memorialized the atrocities of the last century. On the way home, the Pope became embroiled in controversy about a conflict raging in the current one.
Three summers ago, my wife and I were settling into a short summer holiday when I received an unexpected phone call from the police chief in Tottenham, the part of North London where I grew up and now represent in the UK Parliament. Phone calls from police officers are not uncommon in my line of work, but when the chief's number appeared on my screen I knew this was serious.
American journalist James Foley was murdered, beheaded by an English-speaking member of ISIS, the extremist group that calls itself the Islamic State and has already conquered large swaths of two Middle Eastern countries. The sickening execution, recorded and released online for the world to see, came with a warning to the U.S.: ISIS showed another captive American journalist, believed to be Steven Sotloff, and threatened to kill him too if the U.S. does not stop helping those fighting to stop ISIS advances.
It was a gruesome act performed atop the stage of the global theater -- the grotesque image of a masked man, dressed all in black, beheading an American journalist in a production intended to strike terror into the hearts of millions around the world.
Michael Brown, Eric Garner and John Crawford all have one thing in common: It's not just that they were unarmed men of color killed by police officers -- it's that the responsibility to investigate each of their deaths fell to a medical examiner.
An autopsy report has revealed that Michael Brown was shot six times. It's among the few bits of concrete information released to the public, another being the name of the officer, Darren Wilson, who shot dead an unarmed and (by some accounts) surrendering Brown on August 9 on the street in Ferguson, Missouri.
So what kind of new political system do I want for Pakistan?
Residents of Ferguson, Missouri, were newly infuriated this week to learn from an autopsy report that Michael Brown, the man whose killing by a police officer on August 9 has set off days of ferocious clashes between police and protesters, had been shot six times. People who are unfamiliar with police work can reasonably ask, why was an unarmed man shot so many times, and why was deadly force used at all?
Humans have driven to extinction four marine mammal species in modern times: Steller´s sea cow in 1768, the Caribbean monk seal in 1952, the Japanese sea lion in 1970 and the baiji or Chinese river dolphin in 2006. As you read this, we are on the brink of losing the fifth.
It used to be billy clubs, fire hoses and snarling German shepherds. Now it's armored personnel carriers and flash-bang grenades. The weaponry has changed, but the target is still the same.
What's going on in Ferguson? It's been nine days since Michael Brown was killed, and his family is still waiting for information from investigators about what happened to their young man.
For many Americans, the scariest phrase in the English language is "changing demographics."
The protesters in Ferguson, Missouri, want justice for the unarmed black teenager shot and killed there by a police officer. But the protests also reflect broader patterns of racial injustice across the country, from chronic police violence and abuse against black men to the persistent economic and social exclusion of communities of color.
The indictment and possible trial of Texas Gov. Rick Perry for allegedly applying illegal coercion to a district attorney will complicate -- but not kill -- his all-but-certain run for President in 2016. It's a sure bet that voters outside of Texas will forgive, ignore or overlook any outcome short of a conviction.
U.S. officials are claiming that the terrorist group Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, is "now a credible alternative to al Qaeda."
Hillary Clinton got herself into a frenzy of controversy as a result of an interview with The Atlantic in which she took some shots at President Obama's foreign policy.
Almost a century ago Eglantyne Jebb, the founder of Save the Children, said that the only international language the whole world understands is the cry of a child.
For many people the financial sector appears to be a sprawling, interconnected mass of colossal banks, complex jargon and mind-boggling numbers.
I believed we had learned lessons from the George Zimmerman case in how to better handle cases like the Michael Brown shooting. Zimmerman, you'll recall, was charged with shooting Trayvon Martin, an unarmed black teenager in Sanford, Florida, in 2012. I was Zimmereman's lawyer. That case caught national attention for the shooting itself, but almost more for the way law enforcement was perceived to have mishandled it and for the racial animus it exposed over how young blacks are treated in the criminal justice system.
Having had to request and frequently justify force requirements for combat and noncombat missions, I know that terms like "mission creep" and "boots on the ground" in connection with America's intervention in Iraq are frustratingly ill-defined and usually improperly used by those who have likely never had to plan or execute a military operation.
The offensive by ISIS militants against civilians and religious minorities in the northern Iraqi governorate of Nineveh has created a catastrophe.
President Obama spoke Thursday about the unrest in Ferguson, Missouri -- an unrest that began in response to the shooting of Michael Brown, an 18-year-old boy with no criminal record.
Over the past two days, President Barack Obama has finally weighed in on the tragic shooting of Michael Brown, as well as the wave of protests that emerged in its aftermath. In an official White House statement on Wednesday and a brief speech from Martha's Vineyard on Thursday, the President played his usual role of "the uniter," preaching calm and healing to the American public.
Seventy-nine years ago this week, as he signed the Social Security Act into law, my grandfather, President Franklin D. Roosevelt, observed, "The civilization of the past hundred years, with its startling industrial changes, has tended more and more to make life insecure. Young people have come to wonder what would be their lot when they came to old age."
My son has recently been released from active reserve duty in the Israel Defense Forces in Gaza, and the two sides are again talking about a serious ceasefire. I am relieved to have my son back and to see that we are talking instead of shooting, and pray that this latest round of negotiations succeeds in bringing us stability and progress towards peace.
It was with some difficulty that Hamas agreed to extend the ceasefire with Israel for another five days Wednesday.
For the first time in nearly 40 years, Congress looks poised to limit the powers of the U.S. intelligence community, an opportunity it should seize.
President Obama's remarks Thursday on the death of Michael Brown were an echo of his powerful 2013 speech on Trayvon Martin's shooting. Notably absent was any mention of race.
Millennials will represent nearly 40% of the voting population by the year 2020, and the race is on to win this crucial voting demographic.
Fifty years ago, America's living rooms were interrupted with images of peaceful protesters in Selma or Washington or Chicago being bitten by police dogs, sprayed with fire hoses and pummeled by batons.
The fate of Syria's Western-backed opposition hangs on a knife edge in the northern part of the war-torn country -- and with radical Sunni militants and regime forces closing in on them from all sides, time may be running out.
The suicide death of Robin Williams has generated interest in the relationship between creativity and depression. No one knows the nature of Mr. William's problems (added to them today was the revelation that he was suffering with early stage Parkinson's disease), but the possibility of a link between "madness" and creativity is ancient and persistent. It is also controversial; some believe that making such a link romanticizes painful, potentially lethal illnesses and ignores the diversity of temperament and imagination that is essential to artistic work as a pathology.
Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon has appointed Capt. Ron Johnson of the Missouri State Highway Patrol, a black man, to take over the security on the ground in Ferguson. The President has issued a call for calm in the wake of a weekend police shooting that left teenager Michael Brown dead.
The stories coming out of Ferguson, Missouri, paint an increasingly worrying picture?that of a Middle America city like most any other being turned into a war zone.
What if this was your town?
The tragic death of much loved actor and comedian Robin Williams took the world by surprise. There has been a steady stream of news reports -- at first conveying shock and disbelief then, disappointingly, moving on to salacious speculation about the cause and method of his death.
In 1955, in the midst of the fabulous '50s, as America was roaring through unprecedented prosperity, none of the Top 10 songs of the year contained anything about sex. There were great songs like "The Yellow Rose of Texas," "The Ballad of Davy Crockett" and "Love is a Many Splendored Thing." But they were the kind of songs you could listen to with your grandmother.
Over the past few days, politicians and experts have been debating the merits of the Obama administration's strategy in Iraq -- or whether there is in fact a strategy.
The decision by the Obama administration to intervene militarily in Iraq to prevent a potential "genocide" against a religious minority, could potentially strain relations with Sunnis, who constitute the overwhelming majority of Muslims in the Middle East and wider Muslim world.
The tragic death of Robin Williams has once again taught us a bitter lesson: Depression does not discriminate, cannot be bargained with and shows no mercy.
Suicide should NEVER be presented by media as a means to resolve or escape one's problems (contrary to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' twitter post, the genie is not free, the genie's pain has now been dispersed to a very large audience).
Lauren Bacall, who died Tuesday at the age of 89, always said, not altogether happily, that she would be defined by her relationship with her husband, the great actor Humphrey Bogart.
I recently met a woman, the mother of three black teenagers. She told me that after the Trayvon Martin shooting, she forbade her boys to wear hoodies. She warned them never to walk around with their hands in their pockets. She was terrified that someone would find her boys acting suspiciously and one of them would end up being killed.
It hurts me to say this, but I bet when I say "Kim," you know the last name.
If you have ever tried to grab a bargain that appears online, you'll know you have to be quick. The business of high frequency trading -- using algorithms and superfast computers to conduct trades in a fraction of a second -- is a supercharged version of this, with the potential to execute millions of buy and sell orders electronically each day through the myriad exchanges currently in existence.
The simple answer to the question why Pope Francis is headed to South Korea, in the first papal trip to Asia in 25 years, is straightforward. The pope is going to celebrate the sixth Asian Youth Day and beatify 124 martyrs of Korea.
Smart, successful, funny and handsome. Robin Williams seemed to have it all. And yet, today he is dead. Apparently, by his own choice.
In the absence of any serious Democratic opposition, Hillary Clinton appears to have decided to run against Barack Obama in the 2016 primaries. An interview with Jeffrey Goldberg in the Atlantic revealed her frustrations with the over-caution of the White House. Its maxim "don't do stupid stuff" might display post-Bush wisdom, says Clinton, but it also betrays a lack of a plan: "Great nations need organizing principles, and 'Don't do stupid stuff' is not an organizing principle," she said.
Although details are still emerging in this most recent tragedy, we know an officer repeatedly shot and killed an unarmed 18-year-old black man, Michael Brown, in a St. Louis suburb last weekend -- less than two days before he was scheduled to attend college.
President Obama's decision to target militants from ISIS -- which is now calling itself the "Islamic State" or "IS" -- operating in Iraq comes as a huge relief to the Iranians. Officials in Tehran have been panic stricken since ISIS forces overran the northern Iraqi city of Mosul on June 10.
Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky is giving people whiplash. In the last month, he has shifted, flip-flopped and pandered so strikingly on a range of positions and statements that it makes you wonder whether he has suddenly developed a deep disregard for his own convictions, or never had any to begin with.
Every day, you have a close personal encounter with methane, a key ingredient of something we don't usually mention in polite company: farts.
It always made me laugh to hear stories about the insanity that would go on between Robin Williams and Gilbert Gottfried during the making of the movie "Aladdin." The truth was Robin and I didn't bump into each other once during the making of that film. I recorded the Parrot role, and he recorded the Genie separately. So when I saw the film for the first time at the premiere, I was able to laugh along with the rest of the audience at Robin's performance. I had never heard it before.
Most of the shock that resounds after hearing that Robin Williams died Monday comes from its utter implausibility. How could Robin Williams, of all people, just stop breathing, moving and, most of all, talking?
Delon Beckett is losing it. He's drunk, stumbling around his living room wrestling with his 3-year-old daughter, Jayla. She kicks him in the groin, and he mumbles "stop."
Even hardened race fans, accustomed to witnessing spectacular crashes, were stunned to see the shattered body of 20-year-old race car driver Kevin Ward Jr. sprawled on a New York dirt track Saturday night.
Yes, Hillary Clinton is running for president, and she is running away from President Barack Obama's record on foreign policy.
I am tired.
A few decades ago, marijuana was a topic that relatively few people, mostly counterculture musicians and comedians, spoke about in public. The comedy team of Cheech and Chong made films such as "Up in Smoke" that extolled the pleasures of smoking pot at a time the subject was still taboo.
Grim, unyielding and violent reality is beginning to confront the American political establishment with facts from which it cannot hide.
The new ISIS offensive in the North of Iraq has both shaken the Kurds and threatened the Yazidi minority with not only genocide, but also cultural extinction. In response the United States early Friday morning used airpower against ISIS targets inside Iraq. This is the first use of force against ISIS both since ISIS rebranded from al Qaeda in Iraq and since the departure of U.S. forces at the end of 2011.
For many years, I had a pretty good working definition of cool: It was the thing that I was not.
Barack Obama may be a risk averse president focused more on the middle class as his legacy than on the Middle East. But ISIS' advances against Irbil (where there are U.S. troops and diplomats) and its brutality against the Yazidis and Christians gave him no choice but to become more risk ready.
When President Obama spoke to the nation about military action in Iraq, it was hard to directly catch his eye.
Selfies are everywhere. Even Indonesian macaques are getting into the game. In 2011, two of these Old World monkeys borrowed photographer David J. Slater's camera and reportedly snapped some pictures of themselves. One of the selfies by a female macaque has since gone viral, making its way to Wikipedia's free-to-use website.
As a former U.S. brigade commander of several thousand coalition forces during surge operations in Iraq, it is difficult to watch this country fall apart.
Israel's monthlong assault on the Palestinians has taken a heavy toll, with some 2,000 Palestinians killed and 10,000 more wounded. Most of these victims were civilians and many of them children, representing just the latest bloody chapter in a tragic history.
More than 200 years ago, part of a stone tablet was discovered in Egypt that provided the first reliable way to translate ancient hieroglyphics into a modern language. The Rosetta Stone, as the tablet is called, proved to be the key to unlocking details of the rise and fall of civilizations that flourished on our planet many thousands of years ago.
The situation along the U.S. southern border is complicated. There are no easy answers to the problem of thousands of desperate children, many unaccompanied minors, fleeing chaos, violence and governmental collapse in Central America.
The guns of August 1914 unleashed a debate that is still with us: Can the laws of war actually impose limits on how war is carried out?
The streets of Ashkelon were half empty when I arrived on a Monday afternoon. The latest war was under way, and Haaretz had just published a critical article I'd written about Israel's air force pilots and the grave consequences of their bombardment of Gaza.
The killing of 298 innocent people on board Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was a crime, a consequence of the war against Ukraine that Vladimir Putin started, and which he supplies, directs and controls. The Russian President bears full responsibility for this war, including the downing of the Malaysian airliner.
Sometimes the hardest thing is to say "no" to a friend. All the more reason to applaud the bravery of Lee Saunders and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.
The terror group ISIS (Islamic State in Iraq and Syria) which has shortened its name to "Islamic State" or "IS", led by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, its self-proclaimed caliph, has hit a new low. Having spread across huge swathes of Iraq and Syria, leaving absolute devastation in its wake, its latest offensive has brought it to Sinjar, a city in the north western region of Nineveh in Iraq and home to at least 200,000 of the world's 700,000 members of the Yazidi faith
Africa has indeed turned the corner. A continent once synonymous with death, disease and destruction is showing signs of improvement.
At least 1.2 billion usernames and passwords hacked. Is this truly scary or corporate fearmongering?
The worst measles outbreak in 20 years continues to grow. Most recently, there was a new case in Ohio, where there are already 377 cases. So far this year, measles has infected 593 people in 21 states.
When Israel is forced to defend its citizens from Palestinian terrorism originating from Gaza, we've come to expect outrage around the world. Critics are quick to condemn Israel's military actions -- some with such heavy-handed charges as "war crimes," "atrocities" and even "genocide," while remaining silent about the terrorists who started the conflict.
As you may have read, Hachette Book Group (my publisher) is experiencing challenges with Amazon, as a result of negotiation over new selling terms for ebooks.
"Mr. Speaker, We are being slaughtered, we are being exterminated," cried out Vian Dakhil in a devastating appeal to the Iraqi parliament that deserves the attention of the entire world.
Words like "landmark" and "historic" are being used to describe this week's U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit. More than 40 heads of state, the President, dozens of American CEOs, celebrities, activists and several members of Congress -- myself included -- are participating in the three-day event.
Most people's first response on hearing that 1.2 billion usernames and passwords have been compromised by a group of Russian hackers? We check our own most important accounts for evidence of misuse, and change our passwords. If a week or two goes by with nothing out of the ordinary happening on our credit cards, we breathe a sigh of relief and go back to life as normal.