What will end the hunger and suffering in Syria is a peace treaty. That miracle appears far off today. But, until we can find this elusive peace, we cannot forget the plight of the Syrian people.
Broadcast media are under intense pressure, given tight deadlines, security threats, competition and shrinking budgets. The key challenges are: How do we define media ethics and who sets the standards when the journalism of terror is becoming the new normal?
The seizure of Palmyra this week by ISIS could not be more emblematic of the new dark age descending on the Mideast. In the name of decontaminating Islam, the Wahhabi offshoot has pledged to demolish even the ruins of this ancient crossroads of the Roman Empire, India, China and Persia that represents the historical diversity of intermingling cultures. It is yet another sobering lesson in how the accomplishments of civilization can be rolled back by the mad pursuit of pure states of being - whether of ideal pasts, utopian futures, races or religions. As WorldPost correspondent Sophia Jones reports, Palmyra is also darkly remembered by many Syrians for its more recent history as a "death camp" of "torture and fear" in the 1980s and 1990s under Hafez al- Assad.
This is an open letter (obviously as it is on the Huffington Post). I have to inform you Amal, for pure disclosure reasons, I too could have been George's wife. Alas, I am also Druze.
We mourn what we can identify with, more than with what we can't. Part of me knows that the ruins are merely stone, and that they have already been partially destroyed or mutilated many times in their 2,000-year history. And yet if they are bulldozed to the ground in the coming days, I shall shed a tear for their loss.
In the absence of anything else, I might wish Zenobia would rise up from the sand and hold out a mailed fist to repel those faithless fighters of IS. It seems no one else will.
If you were to look at my past and present passports, you'd see a host of nations stamped on it that the White House has historically considered an adversary, an "axis of evil" state, or a security threat.
Bashar al-Assad is not going to age out of office any time soon. He refuses to be ignored. One way or the other, we're going to have to deal with the young dictator.
Now, in Greece, he and the 120 others who arrived yesterday will continue on their arduous journey, first to Molyvos, a coastal town that is about an hour's uphill walk from the shore, then on a bus to a locked detention facility in Mytilini, then to Athens where they will receive authorization for a temporary stay in Greece.
Think how 50,000 hungry Syrians in the besieged town of Al Waer must be feeling right now. They have just received their first food packages in months! They have been blocked from aid because of the ongoing civil war. Now who is WFP's largest donor in Syria to provide this life-saving food aid? It's the U.S. Food for Peace program.
Courting Arab leaders precisely as they undermine U.S. objectives gets it almost exactly backward. America's failures, under both Barack Obama and George W. Bush, stem from its unwillingness to break with allies taking actions that will result in disaster.
Morally, but surprisingly, also financially, the UK can benefit from helping refugees. In other words, Great Britain can benefit from the EU rescue plan.
The news that Isis is possibly about to over-run Palmyra in Syria hit me especially hard. It feels strange to be so affected by the plight of a ruined town so far away, especially when you equate it to the hundreds of thousands of human victims of this murderous conflict but as Stalin so sensitively put it- "one death is a tragedy; one million is a statistic." Palmyra, on the other hand is a symbol- a symbol of a tolerant, multi-cultural Syria.
War is not just another policy option. It means death and destruction. It wrecks societies. It creates harms which cannot be undone. It is the most serious action that government can take. It should be a last resort, reserved for the most important interests and most moral causes. None of these is at stake in the case of Iran. Americans demanding that Washington attack Iran demonstrate that Lord Acton's axiom, "Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely," applies even to the United States. The mere fact that America is able to war against every nation on the planet does not justify it doing so. Washington should officially take the military option off of the table when dealing with Iran.
Facebook has become the world's publishing Leviathan with 1.4 billion users - a cyberpopulation the size of China. Never before have so many of like mind and sympathetic bent been able to connect with each other. Yet, by slotting what is shared through algorithm and personalization into silos of the similar, few boundaries beyond the familiar are being crossed. As identities fortify into tribes through this increasingly dominant medium, one wonders if the information age is becoming the age of non-communication. On this point, "technosociologist" Zeynep Tufekci contests a study recently released by Facebook that claims it is not creating echo chambers. Timothy Karr also worries that Mark Zuckerberg's plan to provide cyber access to the world's poor through Internet.org will "represent the entirety of the Internet for a significant proportion of the world's population."
It's almost a year since a US-led coalition launched air strikes and increased support of Iraqi and Kurdish military forces in a bid to degrade and destroy the self-styled Islamic State; yet the jihadist group that has conquered a swath of Syria and Iraq has demonstrated resilience despite suffering significant losses.