This week, a world facing crises on many fronts rang in Christmas. Though this is traditionally a season of good cheer, in his holiday address at the Vatican, Pope Francis showed it could also be a time of sober reflection. The often good-humored pontiff delivered a somber message of concern for abused children, refugees, and victims of violence and war. The speech was similar in tone to his annual message to the cardinals, bishops, and priests who run the Vatican, delivered earlier in the week, in which the Pope decried 15 "ailments of the Curia." These included "careerism and opportunism," "social exhibitionism," and "spiritual Alzheimer's," seen in those who "become enslaved to the idols that they have built with their own hands." His words stand as a worthy challenge to us all to combat indifference and tap into the better angels of our nature -- no matter what religious tradition you may follow (including none at all).
Let's face it, turning this kind of microscope on our own actions brings with it a lot of controversy, calls that we are endangering or damaging the CIA, or opening a can of worms that is best left closed. The dilemmas of a free society are many, and this is one of them. And the dilemmas of a free society are messy. But we should never walk away from them because of that.
Something is deeply awry in our nation with the world's biggest economy that lets its children be the poorest group and the younger they are the poorer they are during their years of greatest brain development. The Prince of Peace is mocked as we let a child be injured or killed by guns every thirty minutes.
I pray for unity in the city, as pain runs deep in many communities. But, we will no longer tolerate those, like Pat Lynch, who want to create more pain by attempting to divide the people and those who have taken an oath to protect and serve them.
Americans are skilled at that combination of complacency and despair that assumes things cannot change and that we, the people, do not have the power to change them. Yet you have to be abysmally ignorant of history not to see that our country and our world have always been changing.
According to a recently released report from the nonprofit organization China Labor Watch (CLW), many popular toy brands are manufactured in Chinese factories that have been found to have repeatedly committed a vast number of worker rights violations.
Boys of parents who encourage high standards and moral courage have an easier time thinking independently and standing up for what they believe in. And that can be as simple as being brave yourself: After all, you are the best role model for your son.
Some political events mark their importance less by their content than by their timing, circumstances and presentation. That is the case for the Senate Intelligence Committee's report on CIA torture. It contains little new to the attentive observer and none of that is of major consequence.
Apparently it wasn't Napoleon who said an army travels on its stomach. But surely the necessity of providing appropriate gear, food, water and other basics to troops was clear after his troops, freezing and dropping from starvation, staggered in retreat after the disastrous 1812 invasion of Russia.
I don't like -- don't approve, refuse to throw myself into -- the spirit of obligatory gift-giving. In my lifetime, this has become existentially linked to a commercial orgy that has now even co-opted the ritual angle
Instead of pitting the deaths of Liu and Ramos against Garner and Brown; we can join them together, understanding them as martyrs whose lives inspire us on both sides of the blue line to work for a more just, safe and united America.
Hope is not a feeling. It is a decision -- a choice you make based on what we call faith or moral conscience, whatever most deeply motivates you.
I found myself driving by his condo one evening in early December. Through the long rectangular windows, I saw the white lights of a Christmas tree sparkling against the glass. And I knew, in my heart, he had found someone else.
I stand on both sides of the so-called "blue line," placing one foot in the world of the NYPD furious over the murder of two of our own and another foot in with the black and brown people of this city angry with the senseless deaths of young people at the hands of the police.
Some believe the central political issue of our era is the size of the government. They're wrong. The central issue is whom the government is for.
As we steel ourselves to keep combatting this crisis, it's important to highlight the public health lessons learned over 2014. Such crucial lessons will be critical for nations, health systems, and donors to embrace as Ebola evolves and other challenges emerge in 2015.
For me, Christmas is a reading, restful time and I like particularly to read a book that sweeps me into a complete world, somewhere else. It may be a true somewhere else, but it should be far from our own every day. That is precisely what The Queen of Four Kingdoms will do.
We have to start imagining a new reality -- this will mean fewer police and more social workers and teachers. This will mean creating more economic possibilities and investment that preserves and does not displace our communities. This will mean confronting decades of disinvestment in our communities.
Education is the most powerful weapon to fight extremism and terrorism. The forces attacking schools and killing our children are clearly feeling threatened and cornered. They are trying to demolish humanity at an insane and inhuman low, but the power of innocence, knowledge and compassion can never be undermined.
We won't be able to stop disasters from happening. On the contrary, climate change may increase the frequency and severity of floods, droughts and storms. But we are better equipped today to prepare for them and reduce their impact.
The Heathrow plot is among the clearest. Heathrow is certainly a prestigious target -- the IRA fired mortars onto runways during a series of attacks in 1994 -- but the CIA didn't prevent an attack on the airport by torturing information out of prisoners.
I held her in my arms the day she was born, and I will hold her forever. That is my final wish, and promise, for my remarkable little sister.
Two weeks before Charles Schumer once again delivered for Wall Street with the omnibus budget deal, he gave a major speech in which he sounded like a progressive champion. He embodies the contradictions that will tear the Democratic Party apart over the next two years.
But instead of looking the monsters in the eye and calling them out for what they really were, we let them into our mosques, our markets and our homes. It was only a matter of time before they came for our children too. And now in their tiny coffins, lie their dead bodies and our dead souls.
"All men are created equal, endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights..." We may not live this creed every day; surely we have fallen short. But to deliberately betray it, especially for gains which are "unknowable," is a betrayal of our very identity as a nation.
The story is as old as the tale of Moses but to see it repeated and repeated is shocking - the deliberate killing of children for political or religious reasons.
Consider this: The federal government could, without any new laws, significantly restrict both the supply of, and demand for, fossil fuels. Only the state has the power to euthanize the fossil fuel industry. If the climate movement is serious about controlling Big Carbon it needs to get serious about Big Government.
Each year, millions of books make their way through The New York Public Library system. With so many books to choose from, it would seem an impossible task for our librarians to select their favorites. But, shockingly, it wasn't nearly as difficult as we thought!
Since many traditional Democratic constituencies strongly oppose these deals it is reasonable to ask why the Obama administration is so intent on pushing them. The answer is simple: money.
Normalization with Cuba will be a process, and its pace and scope will depend in part on the actions of the Cuban government to permit dissent. A good start would be to join international conventions that protect human rights.
In the morning, every morning, when my husband Michael first awakes, he rolls over and drapes his long, lean arm across my body. "You are the prettiest wife in the world," he sings, and the hairs along my neck and in my cochlea are all tall and listening.