I was born 70 years ago this spring in the Bronx in New York City. In the years I've lived, more than 500,000 Americans have died and almost 1 million have been wounded in at least 15 U.S. military conflicts. Some wars were long and cost a great deal in lives and treasure, such as World War II and the Vietnam War; others were short and cheap, such as the invasion of Grenada in 1983.
The Capitol Hill hearing on the IRS scandal this week upstaged another Senate investigation into how U.S. technology companies shelter earnings from domestic taxes. That was just as well, since the real culprit here isn't tax-dodging corporations; it's America's absurd corporate tax code.
As Africa celebrates the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Organization of African Unity, the focus of the celebrations is renewing Africa's vision for continental unification as envisaged by its founding fathers such Kwame Nkrumah.
Many of the Oklahoma families whose lives were devastated by the tornado will recover over time, especially with the help and support of family and community. But children need special attention as they struggle with what happened on Monday and upheavals in their family and school routines.
Welcome to the chaotic Department of Homeland Security.
On Thursday, President Barack Obama is scheduled to deliver a major speech in Washington about his administration's counterterrorism policies, focusing on the rationale and legal framework for the controversial CIA drone program and his plans to wind down the prison camp at Guantanamo Bay.
A junior professor drives his Doppler On Wheels mobile radar trucks through Moore, Oklahoma, less than 90 seconds after a tornado has torn a path of destruction through the city. Debris -- pieces of homes -- falls from the sky onto his truck. The scene is shocking; wrecks of houses covered with dirt are all that is left in the twister's path, and people are still huddled underground in shelters.
At noon on May 16, 1990, a runaway truck struck a minibus at the foot of Jerusalem and bound together the lives of 22 people: 18 Israeli Chasidim, two American Jews, an Israeli Arab and an Israeli Jew who had just found religion. The last died at the wheel of his bus. The rest of us returned to our homes to heal -- a medical jet flying me, my broken neck and a respirator back to New York. I was 19.
According to the United Nations' mission in Iraq, 712 Iraqis were violently killed in April 2013. This is both normal and extraordinary. It is normal because it pales into comparison beside the monthly death toll in the worst years of the country's civil war. It is extraordinary because it is the highest such figure since that civil war subsided five years ago. Understanding the violence requires grasping three confluent trends: the increasingly authoritarian streak of Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, the rise of both peaceful and violent protest among Iraq's aggrieved Sunni minority (a fifth of the population), and, finally, a regional trend of worsening sectarian tensions between Shia and Sunni Muslims.
When others dismissed Detroit as a falling knife unworthy of investment, David Egner saw something else.
On Tuesday morning, the residents of Moore, Oklahoma, woke again to another nightmare.
Oklahomans have a special relationship with the sky. We know how to look up. On the prairies of western Oklahoma, the skies are so big, and so full, it is easy to feel you may begin to fall upward, or even fly. To live underneath this unbroken expanse of heaven can be at once inspiring and terrifying.
Each day more than 55 million students attend the country's 130,000 schools.
So why would Yahoo -- the original king of Internet discussion groups -- pay over $1 billion for a simple little blog-publishing tool like Tumblr? Doesn't the giant Web company have the ability to create its own application that lets people post words and pictures online? Of course it does.
Many a modern president has lost momentum and suffered what are termed "scandals" in his second term. President Barack Obama's current problems are part of that tradition. But with the exception of Richard Nixon, scandals have not proven fatal. Indeed, Ronald Reagan's Iran-Contra scandal and Bill Clinton's impeachment over the Monica Lewinsky affair were far more serious than what we know so far about Obama's involvement in Benghazi, the Internal Revenue Service or subpoenas of records of reporters' calls. Yet Reagan and Clinton finished their second terms as popular presidents.
The masked henchmen grabbed three fingers on each of the Syrian political cartoonist's hands and pulled them back all the way -- so far that they cracked.
I was once in a company meeting listening to our CEO lay out the annual new direction for the business. After the meeting, we all brought the plan back to our respective teams. As the plan worked its way through team meetings, company newsletters and the like, the original message got lost.
For some, Twitter is a social media platform that enables you to keep up with breaking news, raise political issues or offer amusing thoughts. But for many others, including myself, Twitter has become the new "Fight Club." It has in essence become the cyber version of the basement of "Lou's Bar" from that 1999 classic film.
Terrorism causes fear, and we overreact to that fear. Our brains aren't very good at probability and risk analysis. We tend to exaggerate spectacular, strange and rare events, and downplay ordinary, familiar and common ones. We think rare risks are more common than they are, and we fear them more than probability indicates we should.
On Wednesday, NASA officials announced a serious problem with the Kepler satellite, the world's most successful planet-finding machine.
The logic is so simple: If I work hard now, the money I earn will give me the opportunity to do all the things that make me happy later.
On "The Daily Show," Jon Stewart captured the frustration that many of President Obama's supporters have felt over the past week as one scandal after another cascaded into the White House.
The corpse of another man's mother always looks like firewood from afar, so says an African proverb. Until recently, terrorism, war and the accompanying human carnage in far-away countries like Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria and many other troubled countries meant just more news of the crazy world out there. Not because of my lack of empathy, but distance can be a ready-made palliative for pain.
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang is in India on his first foreign trip since assuming the post and has begun diplomatic talks at a delicate time for the world's two most populous nations.
The date, in that long-gone American spring, was the same as today's: May 19.
Our democracy is endangered. Not by the Russians, North Korea, the Iran regime, or even terrorists. To quote Pogo: "We have met the enemy and he is us."
"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.
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.
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.
How do you keep hope alive?
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.