Saudi Arabia inflames the Sunni-Shiite divide and sets a pernicious example of intolerance by banning churches.
If only meat weren't so delicious! Sure, meat may pave the way to a heart attack. Yes, factory farms torture animals. Indeed, producing a single hamburger patty requires more water than two weeks of showers. But for those of us who are weak-willed, there's nothing like a juicy burger.
Our public figures are often narcissists, utterly self-absorbed in their quest for power.
I think humanitarians really feel very awkward and embarrassed about marketing, but it really doesn't matter whether a shampoo gets better marketing. It does matter when a famine or a huge crisis is - oh - well, I hate to use the word 'marketed' better but, you know, is publicized in a way that will be more effective.
What use could the humanities be in a digital age? University students focusing on the humanities may end up, at least in their parents' nightmares, as dog-walkers for those majoring in computer science. But, for me, the humanities are not only relevant but also give us a toolbox to think seriously about ourselves and the world.
Saudi Arabia isn't the enemy, but it is a problem. It could make so much positive difference in the Islamic world if it used its status to soothe Sunni-Shiite tensions and encourage tolerance. For a time, under King Abdullah, it seemed that the country was trying to reform, but now under King Salman, it has stalled.
In America, we have subsidized private jets, big banks and hedge fund managers. Wouldn't it make more sense to subsidize kids?
I can't help thinking that if the American West were discovered today, the most glorious bits would be sold off to the highest bidder. Yosemite might be nothing but weekend homes for Internet tycoons.
Ben Affleck exec-produced a documentary for HBO called 'Reporter' about my 2007 win-a-trip journey. I take the trip each year partly to encourage young people to think about global humanitarian issues: I think blogs by a student may be more compelling for that audience than my own work.
Every high school and college graduate in America should, I think, have some familiarity with statistics, economics and a foreign language such as Spanish. Religion may not be as indispensable, but the humanities should be a part of our repertory. They may not enrich our wallets, but they do enrich our lives. They civilize us. They provide context.
The photos were taken by African Union soldiers. People in Congress saw them. I thought if people could see them, there would be public outcry. No one would be able to say, We just didn't know what was going on there.
We all stand on the shoulders of our ancestors. We're in a relay race, relying on the financial and human capital of our parents and grandparents. Blacks were shackled for the early part of that relay race, and although many of the fetters have come off, whites have developed a huge lead.
Abortion politics have distracted all sides from what is really essential: a major aid campaign to improve midwifery, prenatal care and emergency obstetric services in poor countries.
Most of the villagers were hiding in the bush, where they were dying from bad water, malaria and malnutrition.
A few countries like Sri Lanka and Honduras have led the way in slashing maternal mortality.
Saudi Arabia has supported Wahhabi madrasas in poor countries in Africa and Asia, exporting extremism and intolerance. Saudi Arabia also exports instability with its brutal war in Yemen, intended to check what it sees as Iranian influence.
In Angola, I visited 'HeroRats' that have been trained to sniff out land mines (and, in some countries, diagnose tuberculosis). In a day, they can clear 20 times as much of a minefield as a human, and they work for bananas!
Inequality causes problems by creating fissures in societies, leaving those at the bottom feeling marginalized or disenfranchised.
Traditionally, what we in the news business do is cover what happened yesterday.
The north of the Central African Republic is now a war zone, with rival armed bands burning villages, kidnapping children, robbing travelers and killing people with impunity.
Our world is enriched when coders and marketers dazzle us with smartphones and tablets, but, by themselves, they are just slabs. It is the music, essays, entertainment and provocations that they access, spawned by the humanities, that animate them - and us.
One of the things that evangelicals do really, really well is to make giving a joyous, social enterprise. Too often, the world sees giving as a burden, a sacrifice, when in fact it's more like an opportunity to help others and oneself at the same time.
It really is quite remarkable that Darfur has become a household name. I am gratified that's the case.
One of the most crucial kinds of intervention is in advocacy. We can think about charities in the context of delivering services, and indeed that is part of their job, but advocacy is also getting governments to step up to the plate. They can also give more voice to those who don't have one.
I wouldn't want everybody to be an art or literature major, but the world would be poorer - figuratively, anyway - if we were all coding software or running companies. We also want musicians to awaken our souls, writers to lead us into fictional lands, and philosophers to help us exercise our minds and engage the world.
I think we need to rethink a lot of business skills. In finance, for example, social impact bonds are potentially a way of providing capital for investments that save the public money in a context in which government often doesn't invest in things that would save it money.
My take is that the optimal approach to food, for health and ethical reasons, may be vegetarianism.
The ice bucket challenge went viral in 2014, partly because it was so much fun to watch videos of celebrities or friends dumping ice water on their heads. Videos of people in the challenge have been watched more than 10 billion times on Facebook - more than once per person on the planet.
I have often tried to tell the story of a place through people there.
Sure, food stamps are occasionally misused, but anyone familiar with business knows that the abuse of food subsidies is far greater in the corporate suite. Every time an executive wines and dines a hot date on the corporate dime, the average taxpayer helps foot the bill.
One of our worst traits in journalism is that when we have a narrative in our minds, we often plug in anecdotes that confirm it. Thus we managed to portray President Gerald Ford, a first-rate athlete, as a klutz.
In effect, Saudi Arabia legitimizes fundamentalism, religious discrimination, intolerance and the oppression of women. Saudi women not only can't drive, but are also told by some clerics that they mustn't wear seatbelts for fear of showing the outlines of their bodies.
Seniors vote, and that is why we have, you know, Medicare since the 1960s for seniors, and we didn't have a national healthcare program for children, even though it's a lot more cost-effective to deal with children than with seniors.
Every year 3.1 million Indian children die before the age of 5, mostly from diseases of poverty like diarrhea.
A basic element of the American dream is equal access to education as the lubricant of social and economic mobility.
Zimbabwe has far fewer tourists than South Africa or Kenya, and there's less crime as well.
One of the things that really got to me was talking to parents who had been burned out of their villages, had family members killed, and then when men showed up at the wells to get water, they were shot.
Perhaps no country in Latin America is more picturesque than Bolivia, and the most memorable Bolivian city may be Potosi.
Literature seems to offer lessons in human nature that help us decode the world around us and be better friends.
Young people often aren't in a position to write checks to charities. But there are two things they can do that are invaluable. One is volunteering, especially mentoring other young people with reading, math or help thinking about college. Through iMentor, one can even mentor people online.
It's easy to keep issuing blame to Republicans or the president.
I was the first blogger on the Times's website. That happened during the Iraq war, when I wanted an outlet for the things I was seeing every day that couldn't fit into just two columns a week. Then I became interested in using multimedia, specifically as a way to engage young people.
Since the end of the 1970s, something has gone profoundly wrong in America. Inequality has soared. Educational progress slowed. Incarceration rates quintupled. Family breakdown accelerated. Median household income stagnated.
Too often, wealthy people born on third base blithely criticize the poor for failing to hit home runs. The advantaged sometimes perceive empathy as a sign of muddle-headed weakness rather than as a marker of civilization.
Girls' education is no silver bullet. Iran and Saudi Arabia have both educated girls but refused to empower them, so both remain mired in the past. But when a country educates and unleashes women, those educated women often become force multipliers for good.
However imperfectly, subsidies for the poor do actually reduce hunger, ease suffering and create opportunity, while subsidies for the rich result in more private jets and yachts. Would we rather subsidize opportunity or yachts? Which kind of subsidies deserve more scrutiny?
You don't need to invade a place or install a new government to help bring about a positive change.