Make no mistake. A handshake is just a handshake.
Last week, I had the honor to visit the Fast for Families tent on the national mall. The fasters welcomed me with open arms and a smile despite their struggle. The tent was full of messages of encouragement, expressions of admiration and symbols that remind every visitor of the reason for the fasters' sacrifice: the rights of immigrants and a House vote on the Senate immigration bill.
On Tuesday, I was free. On Wednesday, I became a criminal.
On its face, the now-viral photo of Denmark's Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt taking a "selfie" with President Barack Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron?at a memorial service for anti-apartheid hero Nelson Mandela, no less?looks wildly inappropriate. And no question, President Obama has taken a lot of media heat for participating. (It didn't help that the expression on Michelle Obama's face appeared to be disapproving.)
The two-year budget agreement crafted by Sen. Patty Murray and Rep. Paul Ryan can best be understood as a deal that is convenient for members of Congress. It is pretty bad news for the rest of the country.
Denmark's Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt made headlines after snapping a selfie of herself nestled in between UK Prime Minister David Cameron and U.S. President Barack Obama at Mandela's memorial service on Tuesday.
I was a young man fresh out of police college when I suddenly found myself stepping over fingers, arms, legs and other body parts. We suspected that the deceased may have been affiliated with the Umkhonto we Sizwe, the militant arm of the African National Congress.
After 50 years, a seismic shift is taking place in the international drug policy debate, both at the level of individual countries and also at the U.N.
Progress against global diseases is typically slow, incremental and hard-won. But there are moments -- such as Wednesday's release of the World Health Organization's World Malaria Report -- when the cumulative effort of dozens of nations, millions of people and billions of dollars adds up to a true breakthrough.
As the National Transportation Safety Board begins public hearings on Wednesday into the crash of an Asiana Airlines Boeing 777 in San Francisco in July, one question is certain to keep popping up: Have pilots become too dependent on computer systems to fly their airplanes?
As the anniversary of the Sandy Hook massacre approaches, it's time not only to remember the lives lost on that awful December day but also to reimagine how we think and talk about guns in America.
This week, Time magazine named Miley Cyrus a finalist for Person of the Year, the annual award bestowed on the person editors think has "most affected the news and our lives, for good or ill, and embodied what was important about the year." A true testament to the global influence of twerking, she was the only nominee from the entertainment industry.
Nelson Mandela managed one more victory in death: subjecting a who's who of the world's dictators to the indignity of sitting through a memorial service that overflowed with praise for the principles of democracy, freedom and equality.
In a closely watched vote, Uruguayan lawmakers approved a proposal to make recreational marijuana legal for adults and to regulate its production, distribution and sale. Once it's signed by President Jose Mujica, who initiated the proposal, Uruguay will be the first nation in the world to fully legalize the drug.
Let us not doubt, even in the age of deep cynicism, the power of words can still stir the spirit.
I've been to Africa many times in my career, but nothing could have prepared me for a trip that would turn into this moment.
There are certain moments of parental pride you know are coming: their first words, first steps, first date. And then there are the ones that blindside you. Like this: The night before the Nelson Mandela memorial service, my 13-year-old son said, "Dad, I'm going to wake up at 4 to watch the Mandela memorial."
As President Barack Obama made his impassioned speech at Nelson Mandela's funeral at a soccer stadium in Soweto, the poverty-stricken Johannesburg township that was a stronghold of support for the anti-apartheid struggle, he was standing at the procession of one of the people who had the greatest impact on his life. Mandela shaped his career.
After the surprisingly harsh response from some conservatives to my statement honoring President Nelson Mandela, I replied last week with a question to his critics: What would you have done, in his place, faced with a crushing apartheid regime determined to eliminate all rights for your race?
On Monday, the world's leading technology companies, including Google and Microsoft, published an open letter to President Obama and Congress demanding reform of U.S. privacy laws to restore the public's "trust in the Internet."
Perhaps history will not remember me kindly. Perhaps I will be a reminder of an oppressive era, a warning to future generations of small-mindedness in a grainy photograph. Perhaps I'm a dinosaur. Why?
The chilling images from North Korea brought back memories from one of the most disturbing and important moments of none other than Saddam Hussein's tactics for establishing his iron-clad rule of Iraq. The young North Korean leader, Kim Jong Un, it appears, has learned from the most ruthless and long-lasting of modern dictators.
Most people are yet to learn about the progress most countries have made in recent decades. The reason media and schools have failed to communicate a fact-based world view is probably due to the continuous use of the outdated concept of a "Developing World." A mindset upgrade with a division of countries into more than two groups is long overdue.
The world is focused on forging a durable agreement to prevent Iran from developing a single nuclear weapon. While critically important, these efforts ignore a far greater danger: the thousands of weapons that already exist.
According to the statisticians, the U.S. economy has been expanding since June 2009.
It was a quiet Sunday morning in Johannesburg and I was photographing people who were registering to vote. It was my third day in South Africa and I was wondering if I'd made a mistake, hopping on a plane and flying for over 20 hours to document a struggle that I had made my struggle since I was 10 years old, growing up in Detroit.
A recent article in The New York Times noted that the nation's divorce rate -- which plateaued for years at around 50% -- has significantly dropped -- to just above 40%. As almost an aside, the writer mentioned that only one group, the 50-plusers, have seen their rate of divorce surge 50% in the past 20 years.
In 2010, the American Board of Internal Medicine suspended or revoked the certification of 139 physicians for giving away or soliciting examination questions for a board review company.
As you celebrate the holiday season, make time to see Alexander Payne's brilliant new film, "Nebraska." The movie is a riveting story, filmed in black and white, about an elderly man named Woody Grant (played by Bruce Dern) who takes a road trip with his youngest son, David (played by Will Forte).
Attention, holiday shoppers: Put away your wallets and credit cards.
The deliberate policies of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and his late father, Kim Jong Il, may have killed millions of North Koreans, either by starving them to death or sending them to die in a system of political prisoner concentration camps unlike any since the regimes of Hitler and Stalin.
"Get over there, girl, can't you read? Stand in this line," the customs agent, armed with a machine gun, barked at me while pointing her finger in my face.
The first time I met Nelson Mandela was almost exactly 20 years ago. It was my first week in the Clinton administration and I had joined a trip to South Africa with my boss, Commerce Secretary Ron Brown. South Africa had yet to complete its transition to representative democracy, yet to put the stain of apartheid behind it. But the transformation had started.
Science has brought us incredible gifts: life-saving vaccines and clean water, air travel and instant communication.
Fasting and praying for immigration reform is not my story.
When President Barack Obama proclaimed the fight against income inequality is "the defining challenge of our time," you might have dismissed his words as the effort of a struggling president to revive his political fortunes. But anyone looking at the relentlessly expanding income gap can see that the problem is real -- and it is serious.
In case anyone had a shadow of a doubt that most Harvard students are precocious, smart, if not learned, we hear from the lips of Harvard's Dean of Undergraduate Education, Jay M. Harris, that nearly all the students at Harvard are indeed above average -- so much so that the median grade given is an A- and the most frequent grade awarded is an A!
Kim Jong Un has further solidified his control over North Korea by reportedly purging his uncle Jang Sung-taek, Vice Chairman of the important Nation Defense Commission.
Today, as we mourn the loss of one of history's most transformational leaders, let us also pay tribute to his life and legacy. Let us dedicate ourselves to remembering his lessons and continue his efforts to spread democracy, freedom and equality across the globe.
Fear is a terrible thing to waste. Yet modern Americans have squandered it as a tool for managing burgeoning populations of wildlife.
I cried several times yesterday. This happened as I was reviewing scripts for CNN's upcoming coverage of the one-year anniversary of the Sandy Hook tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut.
Who could've ever predicted that 140 characters could screw up so many people's lives?
The Obamacare website is open for business. But the Charlton Memorial Hospital in Folkston, Georgia, is closed.
In 2009, Shanghai participated for the first time in the OECD's Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), the tri-annual survey of the world's school systems.
Less than a month ago Bob Dylan could justifiably feel he was revered in France. The singer was in Paris to receive France's highest public award, the Legion d'Honneur.
While tragedy envelops the families of the injured and dead in New York's Metro North train derailment, the train's operator could be facing a crisis of his own from criminal charges, if compelling evidence supports them.
CNN Flims' "An Unreal Dream: The Michael Morton Story," describes in chilling detail how a young father's life was turned upside down and forever changed after his wife was murdered and he was wrongly convicted of the crime.
Even by the standards of supercars, and nearly a decade after it was first introduced, the Porsche Carrera GT is something remarkable.
I'll never forget that day, back in the 1970s, when I first experienced the intense -- and probably addictive -- state of mind that would become a powerful force in my life.
Ultimately, it's about power.
When Edward Snowden unleashed the flood of classified documents and surveillance data secreted from U.S. spy agencies earlier this year, it is unclear if he anticipated the high-level damage it would do to U.S. international relations.
Some people see a silver lining and go looking for a cloud. They just can't feel good about the world they live in, even when they're presented with a feel-good story. Instead of rejoicing in a positive development, they're critical and cynical and mean.
Radio personality Rush Limbaugh declared himself bewildered by recent papal statements "about the utter evils of capitalism." In his broadcast, titled "It's Sad How Wrong Pope Francis Is (Unless It's a Deliberate Mistranslation by Leftists)," Limbaugh said the remarks add up to "just pure Marxism coming out of the mouth of the Pope." This would indeed be remarkable, if true. Is it?
Elan Gale, producer of "The Bachelor," is under heat for his live-tweet-turned-hoax aboard US Airways over Thanksgiving weekend. His live tweets about a feud with a disgruntled passenger went viral and garnered him tons of attention and sympathy.
After Sunday's commuter rail derailment next to the Hudson River in New York killed four passengers and injured scores more, observers are once again ready to assail the backwards state of the nation's rail infrastructure. How could Americans let something like this happen in the 21st century in one of the nation's greatest global cities?
It feels like a rerun of the Orange Revolution. Similar to late 2004 when hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians took to the streets to protest what they saw as a fraudulent presidential election, mass demonstrations have been taking place ever since the government in Kiev suspended an association and trade agreement with the European Union some days ago.
On Sunday's CNN "State of the Union" show, anchor Candy Crowley asked Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D- California), the head of the Senate Intelligence Committee, and her counterpart in the House, Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Michigan), a simple question: "Are we safer now than we were a year ago, two years ago, in general?"
Nearly 30 years ago, Congress embarked on a remarkable and ultimately tragic transformation of criminal law. Through the establishment of mandatory sentences and sentencing guidelines, discretion in sentencing was shifted from judges to prosecutors.
As Afghan President Hamid Karzai's calculated and risky backtracking on the U.S.-Afghan security agreement puts him on a collision course with most Afghans, the United States needs to demonstrate patience, take the Afghan public's side and be tactful at a sensitive time in a highly volatile part of the world.
In a global economy, the benchmark for educational success is no longer improvement by national standards alone, but the best performing school systems internationally.
A superpower needs a super attention span. Unfortunately, Americans seem to take little interest in the troubles of the world around them, even when those troubles threaten soon to vex Americans themselves.
Recent headlines make clear that the American public is troubled by government secrecy. But what should be done to address these concerns is less clear.
What will President Obama's historical legacy look like decades from now? As the media sort through the debates over the Affordable Care Act and the budget, or the implications of the recent deal with Iran, many Americans are starting to think about how we will remember this president.
For the first time since the Great Depression, the U.S. Census Bureau tells us, middle-class family incomes have lost ground for more than a decade.
There were headlines when one of Tesla's Model S electric cars caught fire in late October after the battery case was pierced by a piece of road debris. There were bigger headlines, and much speculation, when within six weeks, a second and then a third Model S fire occurred in the wake of accidents.
Is the Central African Republic the world's next Rwanda? That's the question some are beginning to ask about a crisis that has been going on for most of this year but has only just burst through into the mainstream international mass media.
I have an uncle who has always been a robust and healthy guy. He drank a glass of skim milk every day, bragged about how many pull-ups he was doing and fit into pants he was wearing 20 years before. He didn't take a single medication and retired early.
U.S. Vice President Joe Biden arrives in Tokyo on Monday on the first leg of a major week long trip to Asia. Biden lands at a time of significant regional tension following Beijing's announcement last week of a new "air defense identification zone" situated between China and Japan.
You've probably seen it hundreds of times over this long holiday weekend:
We are the most narcissistic generation in American history. And when I say "generation" -- I'm not pointing my finger at millennials, gen X/Yers, or baby boomers. The generation I speak of is defined by people who use social media to incessantly share information about their favorite topic: themselves.
For all the difficulties of the Affordable Care Act's rollout, Americans are more patient than you might think: A new poll shows a majority expressing optimism that the problems are going to be ironed out.
For many of us, the holiday season is a time to count our blessings -- and then open our hearts and our checkbooks to those who have far less than we do. But for a handful of extraordinary leaders, giving means something more.
A decade ago, over 1 million people in Zambia were living with HIV.
One year ago, Lord Justice Leveson delivered his damning report on the "culture, practices and ethics" of the British press. Called into action following the revelations of widespread phone hacking at the best-selling (and now defunct) News of the World tabloid, Leveson concluded that sections of the press "had wreaked havoc with the lives of innocent people whose rights and liberties have been disdained."
Travel back in time with me to 1988: Guns N' Roses was blasting onto the music scene, Dustin Hoffman turned in an award-winning performance in Rain Man, and Nike coined the now-famous tag line, "Just Do It." But the year also brought a cultural touchstone with much deeper significance: the first World AIDS Day.
Every year on World AIDS Day, old-timers like me are trotted out to say a few words to well-motivated audiences, while over the years, the over-riding themes become more empty and banal.
This is a country which says races don't exist: there is only the human race, to which we all belong.
Since President Xi Jinping assumed power, he's reshaped China's foreign policy by recalibrating its stresses on sovereignty and stability, what the Chinese call wei quan and wei wen.
When the Dow Jones Industrial Average topped 16,000 earlier this month, headlines throughout the country trumpeted the milestone as a sign of recovery for the economy.
I'm no stranger to poverty. I've lived it. I don't forget it. And when I saw Katherine M. pick up aluminum cans while walking her granddaughter home from school, I couldn't stop the rush of emotions. I wasn't reporting from a developing country. This was a New York street in the heart of Harlem.
A new report said that "Super Mario Brothers" was a favorite video game of Sandy Hook shooter Adam Lanza. He had no history of violent behavior. But he was interested in mass murderers.
I love Thanksgiving. I love everything about it: gathering three generations around the table, pausing for a moment with heads bowed to thank God for our abundant blessings, carrying a tradition across the centuries, watching my beloved Texas Longhorns play football. I even love clanging the pots and scraping the plates afterward. And I especially love the eating. We are traditionalists in my family, so it's turkey and stuffing, and three kinds of pie.
The time was always going to come when society would need to face the pointy end of the voluntary euthanasia debate: Those hard cases that would challenge most people's support for the issue, the cases and circumstances which constitute never-before trodden ground.
Disabled people, elderly people, adults made vulnerable by terminal and other illnesses, and now children are being told that their lives are not worth living.
A new CNN poll shows that it's back to a toss-up for the 2014 midterms elections. A month ago, Democrats were comfortably ahead 50-42%. Now the Republicans are marginally ahead 49-47%: a 10-point swing in public opinion.
When asked over the years if he can use executive power to stop deporting illegal immigrants, President Barack Obama has responded: Yes, we can! Other times, the answer was: No we can't!
In a tent on the lawn just in front of the United States Capitol, immigration reform advocates are entering their second week without food to protest congressional inaction on legislation that would create a road to citizenship for 11 million aspiring Americans.
Once again, Obamacare has made its way back before the Supreme Court.
"Watch out for the stupid girls," I tell my son. "They are trouble."
I had an experience recently that reinvigorated my faith in humanity -- and bureaucracy.
If you're confused about whether the Iran deal is an awe-inspiring breakthrough or a cataclysmic disaster, let me help you: The answer is it depends.
The loss of native tropical forests accounts for more than 10% of the carbon emissions responsible for the changing climate, receiving much-deserved attention at the recent U.N. climate change conference in Warsaw.
Egypt expelled the Turkish ambassador and scaled back diplomatic relations at the weekend over Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's vocal and persistent criticism of the interim government that replaced the former short-lived presidency of Mohamed Morsy, who hailed from the Muslim Brotherhood.
The nuclear talks with the P5+1 -- that's France, Britain, Russia, China, the United States and Germany -- this past week in Geneva left much to be desired for Iran in terms of final outcomes. The joint action plan calls on Iran to take steps to verify the peaceful nature of its nuclear program. In return, it receives limited sanctions relief until a comprehensive solution within the year takes shape.
The deal struck at the weekend between Iran and world powers over its nuclear program is not just a triumph of Western diplomacy, but a step forward in the budding rapprochement between Iran and the U.S. that had been long in the making.
The U.S. Department of Education is legally prohibited from having any control over curriculum or instruction in the nation's public schools, but nonetheless Secretary of Education Arne Duncan is a zealous advocate of the new Common Core standards for students' proficiency in English and math.
To assess this weekend's nuclear deal with Iran, here are the key questions that must be answered: