"If you give me Times Square, I want to give it back to the people."
Photographer Arne Svenson's show, "Neighbors," consists of photographs taken of the residents of a building near his studio in New York through the windows of their apartments. A few residents, unaware they were being photographed, have raised objections. In this column, Svenson explains his process and his work.
This week on "The Big Three," we take a look at what might have been Obama's worst week ever -- as a negative trifecta of scandals threaten to overwhelm his administration and derail his ambitious legislative agenda. We get a reality check with special guest, U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison. And no talk about the biggest stories of the week would be complete without a conversation about Angelina Jolie's decision to have a preemptive double mastectomy and the message it sends to millions.
I have the great privilege of writing the theater column for The New Criterion, the arts-and-culture journal founded by New York Times art critic Hilton Kramer and pianist Samuel Lipman in 1982. Some people have to be in an office at 8 a.m., but I get to be at the theater at 8 p.m. It is a pretty sweet gig.
The press has turned on President Obama with a vengeance.
The outrage over the IRS's conduct in targeting certain tax-exempt groups is based on a misunderstanding. Obviously, mistakes were made in how the IRS examined the groups, but what should not get lost amid the resulting hue and cry is that this is fundamentally about disclosure of donors, not tax-exempt status.
Today was a strange day. I'm used to handling the brief but overwhelming burst of media attention that comes with new stories about medical breakthroughs and ethical issues. But I don't often get an accompanying deluge of passionate e-mails and phone calls from people who had read my comments, denouncing me for criticizing science, especially medical research that "can save millions of lives."
Listening to the radio was something I did -- when I was a teenager.
"LMAO @ L.A.," came the text.
I first saw the headline early Tuesday on Real Clear Politics, a political news site where I generally start my morning. It's not where I expect to see a story on breast cancer.
Earlier this year, the Justice Department filed a $5 billion lawsuit against Standard & Poor's -- one of the nation's Big Three credit rating agencies, which also include Moody's and Fitch.
It's time for some tiger cubs to approvingly roar for our strict parents, their domineering ways and their inflexibly high standards.
The images still inspire. Children sitting on their parents' shoulders amid a sea of American flags, fluttering on a cool Chicago night. A young black woman running to get as close as possible to the stage.
Father, son, husband of a Spice Girl, fashion icon, role model, sporting ambassador. It is sometimes easy to forget that David Beckham was ever a midfielder of the highest caliber with more than 100 appearances for England.
Coming out of the closets of our culture seems to be the thing to do these days, but it is not a new phenomenon.
The horrifying video of a Syrian rebel leader apparently eating the heart of a dead government soldier, which has been circulating this week on the internet, has caused a storm of instantaneous outrage and disgust on social media such as YouTube, Twitter and Facebook.
The Internal Revenue Service has admitted that it targeted groups with "tea party" or "patriot" in their names. We've since learned that a wider array of groups concerned about spending, debt, high taxes, government growth, the Constitution, the Bill of Rights -- basically any conservative or libertarian issue you can name -- was targeted.
Almost every American ally in the Middle East is desperately calling out for help, and we are ignoring them. Turkey, Israel, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain -- and behind closed doors, even Egypt -- want American involvement in Syria to stop the blood bath.
It happens every so often: A military sexual assault scandal hits the headlines. Most recently, an Air Force general decided to pardon an officer convicted of rape. Then came revelations that not one but two of the service members that the military assigned to prevent sex abuse are under investigation for perpetrating it.
Celebrity mugshots are hilarious, aren't they?
Pakistan's election campaign was heavily infused with the rhetoric of change. Voter turnout was the highest since the 1970s. A large number of new youth voters also entered the fray.
It's been a bad month for Japanese conservative politicians who can't seem to resist the temptation to rewrite history and make provocative gestures while shifting and minimizing war responsibility.
For some Republicans, 2016 is 1992: Hating Hillary Clinton is chic again. Only more so, since the former secretary of state is also the partner of and potential successor to the last two Democratic presidents?Bill Clinton and Barack Obama.
One of the most perverse results of the IRS's lame, overzealous -- and possibly criminal -- behavior in looking into the tax-exempt applications of assorted advocacy groups is this: They're a lot safer from scrutiny today than they were yesterday.
"Government should be transparent. Transparency promotes accountability and provides information for citizens about what their Government is doing. ... My Administration will take appropriate action, consistent with law and policy, to disclose information rapidly in forms that the public can readily find and use." -- President Barack Obama, memo to heads of executive departments and agencies, 2009
Angeline Jolie, who has stated that she is a carrier of the gene mutation BRCA1, appears to have been a good candidate for the bilateral prophylactic mastectomy she underwent recently to remove both of her breasts. In Jolie's case -- as with others who have openly discussed a similar action, such as Miss American contestant Allyn Rose and celebrity Sharon Osbourne -- the decision is appropriate: Having a genetic mutation, as these women do, puts a woman at very high risk for developing breast cancer in her lifetime.
Consumer Reports, self-promoted as the largest independent consumer-testing organization in the world, recently subjected Tesla's all-electric vehicle to its standard gamut of automotive tests. The results were nothing short of extraordinary, as the model came just one point short of acing the 50-test evaluation regimen. Its final score of 99 out of 100 meant the Model S "performed better than any other car we've ever tested," said Jake Fisher, director of auto testing at the publication (Lexus owners will correctly argue that the 2007 Lexus LS 460L also earned a score of 99 in a Consumer Reports comparison years ago).
Fifty years ago this month, I chanced to hear the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. I was a mild-mannered kid with a speech impediment and a love of math. That day, I was focused on solving math problems, not issues of justice and equal rights. But King broke through to me when he said this: If the children of Birmingham march, Americans will see that what they are asking for is a better education. They will see that even the very young know the difference between right and wrong.
A Syrian rebel carves the heart out of a dead man and bites it. His comrades nearby cheer: "God is great."
What are the chances you walk into work and the lead story is Angelina Jolie has had a double mastectomy when you are facing one yourself?
It's hard to overstate how frustrated Republicans have been over the last few years by their failure to gin up a juicy Obama administration scandal.
In the three days since Disney crowned its 11th official princess and people got a glimpse of the "new" Merida -- Disney's doll version of the fire-haired heroine of the Oscar-winning animated film "Brave" -- there's been much uproar. The princess-ified Merida aimed at the merchandising market is hippier, her neckline a little more plunging and off-the-shoulder than it was in the film. Her features are softer. And is that lipstick she's wearing?
Fresh accusations that the Assad regime has used chemical weapons in the ongoing civil war have led many to renew calls for the world to take stronger actions to stop the growing humanitarian crisis.
Angelina Jolie stunned many people with an op-ed Tuesday describing her reasons for choosing to have a preventive double mastectomy. Her mother passed away at the age of 56 after battling ovarian cancer. Moreover, Jolie found that she had the BRCA1 gene, which significantly increases the lifetime risk of breast cancer. In fact, she reports that her doctors estimated that she had an 87% chance of developing breast cancer.
By making public her story about how she dealt with the high risk of getting breast cancer, Angelina Jolie has done a real service for women around the world.
One question that policymakers might have overlooked in trying to come up with a long-term strategy toward North Korea is this: Could the Hermit Kingdom be the next Myanmar?
Is Rush Limbaugh becoming a relic, a human version of "Mad Men," except without the style or cool clothes? Has Limbaugh become as dated as Jazzercise or "Macarena?"
The media verdict is in: Barack Obama is cursed.
I didn't want to start my new job as the president of a national pro-choice organization by taking a close look at the shocking case of Dr. Kermit Gosnell. I couldn't avoid the ugly truth of Gosnell's actions, and like everyone else, I recoiled in horror when I learned what he had done. On Monday, Gosnell was found guilty of three counts of first-degree murder.
Ever since Watergate became the shorthand for a government run amok, the political cliché of our time has been about the political lesson of that era: That the coverup can be worse than the crime.
Turkey's tragic loss of at least 47 people in the car bombings in the border town of Reyhanli illustrates vividly that Turkey is not immune to the raging violence next door.
A decade ago, Britain's Labor government was badly divided over whether to join the Euro. The prime minister strongly supported the idea, as did much of the British business community and many leading media voices. One of the proponents' most effective tactics was to ridicule opponents as cranky and xenophobic -- even borderline racist.
Both Americans held captive in distant lands and their anxious relatives back home hope that somehow, someone can come up with the formula to win their freedom. That's why relatives of Kenneth Bae, an American prisoner in North Korea, probably welcomed a Tweet from the flamboyant ex-basketball star Dennis Rodman addressing Kim Jong Un, his powerful North Korean pal.
Ever since H. G. Wells' trailblazing novel "The Time Machine," time travel has been a staple of science fiction. The idea of traveling through time is deeply fascinating: you get into a machine, press a few buttons, and step out not just somewhere else, but "somewhen" else. It's easy to imagine, but can it really be done?
Spring may be graduation season, but the most coveted rite of passage for many teenage girls is the prom.
Never before in Pakistan's history has a parliamentary election resulted in a true democratic transition. Despite militant threats and attacks that left at least 21 people dead on election day, Pakistanis bravely voted in record numbers Saturday.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie made headlines last week when one of his aides admitted that he had surgery to lose weight. Christie said that the surgery had nothing to do with politics and everything to do with his health and his family. Christie said: "It's not a career issue for me. It is a long-term health issue for me and that's the basis on which I made this decision. It's not about anything other than that."
The extraordinary revelation this week that the Internal Revenue Service targeted tea party groups for more aggressive enforcement highlights exactly why caution is needed in any response to the much-vilified Supreme Court decision in Citizens United v. FEC.
The letter in the U.S. mail came as a surprise.
The State of the World's Mothers is ... strong. In Finland, that is. Or anywhere in Scandinavia. And most of Western Europe, Australia, New Zealand and Singapore. They all place in the top 20 of Save the Children's annual Mothers' Index.
Dean Obeidallah, John Avlon and I kick off this week's episode of "The Big Three" podcast by tackling Congress' Benghazi hearings from three distinct perspectives.
Our failure to give women in certain parts of the world the ability to decide the timing and number of their children is deeply damaging -- not just for the women themselves but for societies, too. Lifting the obstacles is not something that can be tackled half-heartedly.
"If personality is an unbroken series of successful gestures, then there was something gorgeous about him, some heightened sensitivity to the promise of life, as if he related to one of those intricate machines that register earthquakes ten thousand miles away. This responsiveness had nothing to do with that flabby impressionability which is dignified under the name of the 'creative temperament' -- it was an extraordinary gift for hope, a romantic readiness such as I have never found in any other person and which it is not likely I shall ever find again. No -- Gatsby turned out all right at the end; it is what preyed on Gatsby, what foul dust floated in the wake of his dreams that temporarily closed out my interest in the abortive sorrows and short-winded elations of men."
In testimony that sharply contradicted the Obama administration's initial narrative of the September 11, 2012, terrorist attacks in Benghazi, Libya, three witnesses shared firsthand accounts this week of what happened before, during and after the attack.
Miracles do happen. Like this week, when Amanda Berry, Georgina DeJesus and Michelle Knight escaped their captor after being missing for a decade.
You wouldn't think that gay rights would be on a collision course with immigration reform. After all, what does one of these things have to do with another?
We mothers spend a lot of time saying, "I love you." We don't always use words: it can be wrapping that squeaky-clean baby in a fluffy towel or warming up cider for the kid who comes in wet and cold after playing in the snow.
When I was a kid, I was obedient and quiet. I automatically knew that talking too loud, making a fuss or being assertive would never fly. I did what I was told.
Eleven years ago, Brenda Heist's marriage fell apart. She was trying to find housing and had been refused financial aid; she was depressed, in despair, crying on a park bench. And then she vanished. What a heartbreaking, terrifying time for her family, who suspected the worst, even declared her legally dead. When she reappeared to great media fanfare last week in Florida, reaction ranged from confusion to scorn.
The recent call by the United States and Russia for an international conference on Syria offers the best chance for a peaceful resolution to the escalating conflict that has claimed more than 70,000 lives and turned an estimated 1.4 million Syrians into refugees.
Pakistan's former president Pervez Musharraf is back in Pakistan after years of self-imposed exile and is facing a hard time from courts in Pakistan amid a range of charges, including claims he illegally placed senior judges under house arrest during a period of emergency rule he imposed in 2007.
Rep. Darrell Issa must be ruing his bad luck. The hearing he carefully orchestrated to pick at the scab of Benghazi was stepped on by the verdict in the Jodi Arias murder trial and by the story of three women held captive and brutalized for a decade in Cleveland. He was out-sensationalized and out-tawdried this week despite his own best efforts and those of his committee colleagues and staff members.
Our country is obsessed with the perils of attractive young white women, as this week's trio of high profile crime stories about Amanda Knox, Jodi Arias and the Cleveland kidnapping victims demonstrates. We don't see breathless coverage of the disproportionately large number of African-American men tried for crimes in our system. We see almost no coverage of missing boys, or missing children of color, or crimes against nonwhites.
When Jerry and I first started slinging scoops in 1978, we knew that it was about more than just the ice cream; it was about community.
It has taken almost three months and more than 100 men embarking on a life-threatening hunger strike for President Obama to remind himself and the nation why the prison at Guantanamo Bay needs to be closed.
Dear Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight,
"But if we know enough to be hung, we know enough to vote. If the Negro knows enough to pay taxes to support the government, he knows enough to vote; taxation and representation should go together. If he knows enough to shoulder a musket and fight for the flag, fight for the government, he knows enough to vote ... "
There is an old African proverb: "If you want to walk fast, walk alone. But if you want to walk far, walk together."
The Cleveland kidnapping drama was unfolding on the airwaves, hour after hour, a riveting spectacle that was overshadowing every other conceivable story.
When the public thinks about suicide, they tend to see it as something that typically affects adolescents and people in later life. But alarmingly, more middle-aged Americans are dying by suicide.
How do you keep hope alive?
Oh no, he didn't go there. Even in a political climate where it sometimes appears that anything goes, Bill Richardson crossed the line.
It is almost miraculous that three women who have been missing for a decade have turned up. The story of Amanda Berry, who screamed for help and got the attention of a neighbor who broke down a door that set her and two other women free, is riveting. Police have already arrested three suspects.
"To This Day" had a very small beginning. The poem itself was written in 2009 after rereading a series of notebooks I had written in as a child.
The Republican Party is in the midst of a historic debate over what role it will play in immigration reform.
It will take a long time for the people of Bangladesh to get over deaths of more than 700 people crushed under twisted metal and shattered concrete at the workplace where they spent hours each day.
Supreme Court justices are in the top 10% of earners in this country. They attended the best universities and have access to the best health care, a pension plan unaffected by the economy and oh, by the way, immense power.
When does a romantic anniversary trip with your hubby to celebrate five years of marital bliss become an international kerfuffle, complete with calls for you to be prosecuted for treason? Well, when it's Cuba, where Americans are banned from traveling to for tourism, thanks to one of the most enduring embargoes in the history of mankind.
Good move, governor. And you didn't even let on.
The detainee hunger strike at Guantanamo Bay is entering its third month. Official reports say 100 of the detainees remaining at the detention camp are refusing food; lawyers for the detainees say the number is closer to 130.
Since the bombing of the Boston marathon -- in which three people, including a child, were killed and more than 200 injured -- attention has naturally focused on what could have been done to prevent it.
Let's assume you live in Utah, Hawaii or South Carolina, and you go to Nevada for a vacation. While in Las Vegas, you spend some money in the casinos.
For those out there worried that our nation's stern gun laws were keeping firearms out of the hands of too many people, the solution appears to have arrived: the printable gun.
On Monday, a U.N. official said that Syrian rebels had likely used the nerve agent sarin.
The annual festival of conspiracy theorizing, belligerent fist-shaking and anxious masculinity known as the National Rifle Association convention came to Houston over the weekend, and it was everything the organizers hoped it would be.
As Congress debates immigration law, it cannot avoid debating citizenship. Who gets to be a citizen? And what should citizens know, believe, and do?
The U.S. economy added 165,000 jobs in April. That's not a bad result, except for this fact: Technically speaking, the economy has been in recovery since the summer of 2009. Yet after nearly four years of economic expansion, nearly 12 million people remain unemployed.
What Syria asserts is Israel's launch of two air strikes on Damascus last week presents a marked and dangerous escalation of that country's involvement in the Syrian war.
On April 27, NASA's Fermi and Swift satellites detected a strong signal from the brightest gamma-ray burst in decades. Because this was relatively close, it was thousands of times brighter than the typical gamma-ray bursts that are seen by Swift every few days. Scientists are now scrambling to learn more.
The Republicans have an authenticity problem. After many decades of enjoying huge political power, elected officials are struggling to energize voters about the party's brand name. Even the troubles faced by President Barack Obama don't seem to help.
"The name's Bond, Commander Bond." Words uttered by the world's most famous secret agent who is adored by his country, feared by the bad guys and trained by Britain's Royal Navy.
I have been a professional educator for 40 years. I have worked at every level of the public school spectrum?elementary through high school. Having been in education for such a long time, I have witnessed many changes, all aimed at school improvement. Needless to say, not all the suggestions have been sensible.
"We don't really care what the federal government wants to call us," Aran Rush was saying the other afternoon. "We know that we're a good place."
Eleven years ago, Brenda Heist dropped off her young kids at school -- and never returned. Not to pick them up later, and not to their Pennsylvania home. The family thought she was dead. That something terrible had happened to her. What else could explain the sudden disappearance of a woman her daughter, then 8, later described as a "great" mom?
If any doubt remains that the world stands shivering in a cold moral vacuum -- devoid of meaningful leadership -- they are quickly fading.
During London Mayor Boris Johnson's recent visit to Dubai on an investment promotion trip, he jokingly declared that he is "mayor of the eighth emirate." Though uttered in typical self-deprecating jest, the mayor of the world's greatest city proclaiming that London is a mere province of the United Arab Emirates is revealing about how Dubai's fortunes have revived since the punishing real estate crash and debt restructuring following the financial crisis.
It is just a brief moment in time, the time it takes to draw a breath, to click your fingers, the time it takes to detonate a bomb. Life, as you knew it, changed forever.