After Labor Day, Mary McBride and her band take their State Department-sponsored charm offensive to Libya and Afghanistan, among other countries. For the past 12 months McBride and her band have toured their mix of country-western rock'n'roll to Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Pakistan and Turkey, among other nations such as Vietnam and Laos. This spring they toured Iraq for eight days. In each trip, they do outreach concerts for abandoned and disabled people in institutional homes, hold workshops with students, meet prominent local musicians, play for international personnel, and appear on local media. "I've never felt as welcome as I have in Pakistan and Iraq," said McBride during a two-hour in-person interview in Brooklyn in June. She has the voice of a full-throated blues singer and a camp counselor's infectious enthusiasm.
As negotiations aimed at controlling Iran's nuclear program continue, two things are crystal clear. First, our national security and intelligence leadership believes a negotiated solution is our best path to resolving the issue. Second, Americans strongly favor a negotiated solution and oppose another Middle East war.
Sports can't save the world from the effects of global warming or by themselves solve economic inequality in the world economy. For that, politics is required. But with the Olympics approaching, we should remember that a love of sports -- playing, watching, arguing, rooting, buying gear -- is one of the great commonalities of being human.