December 29th, 2014
03:52 PM ET

Why giving shouldn't be a solitary activity

By Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn

Editor's note: Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn are the authors of A Path Appears: Transforming Lives, Creating Opportunity. This is the second in a series of three guest posts.

Secular people often make giving a solitary activity at the end of the year, one that feels like a sacrifice. That’s the wrong way to think about giving back. We learned a lot from churches and temples and the way they turn giving into an enjoyable, uplifting social activity. Our profile of a master pastor at a mega-church, Bill Hybels, reveals some of the magic he employs.  We all are social animals and when we do things with a group of people we like, the activity becomes more fun.

So form a book club and engage in a few volunteer or giving activities together—or link your book club to Book Clubs for Change, bookclubs4change.org. Choose a need in your community or an area of the world that you all care about. Then choose a topic and an organization you might work with. Or maybe consider an on-location trip to the area and meet some of the people you want to help?

Or join a chapter of Dining for Women, which is one of the secular organizations that borrows from the religious notion of fellowship and joyous giving for a cause.  DFW has guests bring a pot luck dish to a host's home and then they all donate the money they would spend at a restaurant to a chosen cause empowering women worldwide.   Some groups have a subcommittee screen a list of finalists and the group votes on a final selection. In A Path Appears, we list some other great organizations—there’s even one called Beer for Books—that make giving a social and fun occasion.

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December 27th, 2014
04:53 PM ET

The challenge of mapping the brain

President Barack Obama announced the “BRAIN” Initiative in 2013. It's an effort to show the brain's neural circuits work together in real time. To find out more about efforts to map the brain, watch the "Moonshots" special on December 28 at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. ET.

Zakaria: Is it more difficult to map the brain than it was to map the human genome, which took about, initially, 10 or 15 years?

Michio Kaku, theoretical physicist: It will take a lot of time.  Realize that the Human Genome Project only talked about maybe 20,000 genes or so that may that govern the human body. The brain has 100 billion neurons, each neuron connected to 10,000 other neurons.  That's as many stars as there are in the Milky Way Galaxy.

Wow!

Kaku: And so it will take time.

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November 25th, 2014
06:26 PM ET

The changing nature of representative democracy

Jorge Soto is a Mexico-based entrepreneur. This is the seventh in a series of articles from the World Economic Forum on the key challenges facing the world in 2015 as part of their Outlook on the Global Agenda. The views expressed are his own.

Since the global economy crashed in 2008, there has been an erosion of trust in political institutions and processes. Citizens now place more faith in companies than in their own leaders, and even then they don’t particularly trust the private sector, with the latest Edelman Trust Barometer showing global trust in business at 58 percent, while trust in government has sunk to 44 percent. As a Global Shaper of the World Economic Forum, this is an issue that resonates with those of my demographic: the world’s youth.

In the last two years, citizen protest has dominated the headlines in many countries around the globe. Greece and Spain have seen unrest in the aftermath of the Eurozone crisis. Ukrainians occupied central Kiev. Few nations from North Africa to the Middle East remain unaffected by the fallout from the Arab Spring, as citizens of the digital age grow ever more confident to mobilize in the face of a democratic deficit. Hong Kong is the latest place to experience large-scale protest.

Indeed, the Survey on the Global Agenda showed that in Latin America, the region I’m from, this trend has a much greater significance than in any other region. This was exemplified in Brazil, which in summer 2014 saw upheaval as people protested against income disparity and public spending on the World Cup and 2016 Olympic Games. FULL POST

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November 22nd, 2014
10:21 PM ET

On GPS Sunday: A special live panel, terrorism on the rise, and assessing drug war

Watch "Fareed Zakaria GPS," Sundays at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. ET on CNN

On GPS this Sunday: First, Fareed offers his take on how despite the gloomy mood among many voters at this month's midterm elections, the United States might be well-placed for success moving forward.

“If one looks at the rest of the world, what's striking is how well the United States is doing relative to other major economies,” Fareed argues. “President Obama says the United States has produced more jobs in its recovery than the rest of the industrialized world put together. Why is this?”

Then, a special live panel discussing key events this week, in the Middle East and elsewhere, with guests including Wall Street Journal columnist Bret Stephens, The Atlantic contributor Peter Beinart and New America Foundation President Anne-Marie Slaughter.

Also, you would be right to think that terrorism is on the rise around the globe. But it's not something to panic about. Fareed explains why.

Plus, the war on drugs has raged for four decades, with little success. Fareed speaks with Ernesto Zedillo, the former president of Mexico, who has a potential solution.

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Interdependence, not independence, key to success
November 18th, 2014
02:23 AM ET

Interdependence, not independence, key to success

Editor’s note: Gordon Brown is a former British prime minister. The views expressed are his own. This is the sixth in a series of articles from the World Economic Forum on the key challenges facing the world in 2015 as part of their Outlook on the Global Agenda. The views expressed are the writer’s own.

Jean Chrétien, prime minister of Canada at the time of its divisive referendum on separation with Québec, wrote that it took six months before wounds between Canada and Québec, even started to heal. And with 45 percent voting for independence, Scotland will be a divided country for some time to come.

For just as in the years of the Industrial Revolution people turned to political nationalism to protect and shelter their communities against the uneven and inequitable patterns of growth so, too, people seem to be turning back to – and mobilizing around – old loyalties and traditional identities as they seek to insulate themselves; whether it be in Catalonia or Belgium or Lombardy, they are demanding protection against what seems to be the economic disruption and social dislocation of globalization, which threatens to sweep aside long-established customs, values and ways of life.

But is September 18’s vote in Scotland not a moment of destiny? Not because nationalists have done so well, but because most Scots voted against an exit from the U.K.? Could the rejection of separation demonstrate that in this new global era nations can combine strong and vibrant identities with a willingness to engage in even deeper cooperation? FULL POST

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Zakaria: Russia move into Ukraine 'troubling'
November 13th, 2014
05:00 PM ET

Zakaria: Russia move into Ukraine 'troubling'

Watch "Fareed Zakaria GPS," Sundays at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. ET on CNN

CNN speaks with Fareed about recent developments in Iraq and Russia. This is an edited version of the transcript.

Is the American public ready for what potentially could be many, many years of war in tackling the situations in Iraq and Syria?

I think if it's a very limited kind of assistance then perhaps they would. But otherwise, I don't think so because really what you have is this whole region, Iraq and Syria, have been unsettled by a Sunni revolt. A revolt of the Sunnis who don’t want to be ruled by what they see as two apostate regimes – a Shiite regime in Baghdad and the Alawite regime in Damascus.

Now, how you're going to solve that is a very complicated problem. You can bomb and degrade ISIS, but somebody then has to hold the territory and build a political order that includes both the Sunnis and the non-Sunnis. That's a very complicated act of, on the one hand, being able to create and hold political order, but also then build a real nation where everyone feels invested.

The United States, especially with limited military intervention, isn’t going to be able to do that. It has a strategy in Iraq where it has a partner, the Iraqi government, that it is pressing to be more inclusive. There’s an Iraqi army that can hold territory. FULL POST

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November 12th, 2014
05:51 PM ET

Is world lacking leadership?

By Shiza Shahid, Special to CNN

Shiza Shahid is co-founder and global ambassador for the Malala Fund. The views expressed are her own. This is the third in a series of articles from the World Economic Forum on the key challenges facing the world in 2015 as part of their Outlook on the Global Agenda. The views expressed are her own.

A startling 86 percent of respondents to the Survey on the Global Agenda agree that we have a leadership crisis in the world today. Why would they say this? Perhaps because the international community has largely failed to address any major global issue in recent years. It has failed to deal with global warming, then barely dealt with the failure of the global economy, which has caused such severe problems in North America and Europe. Meanwhile violence has been left to fester in the Middle East, the region our Survey showed is most affected by, and concerned about this problem. So why are we suffering such a lack of leadership?

Well, as our governments have grown, their mechanisms have been plagued by decades of factional alignment, dynasty and deep corruption. In China, for example, 90 percent of people surveyed by Pew said corruption was a problem; separate studies found that 78 percent of Brazilian respondents and 83 percent of those in India regard dishonest leadership as a serious issue.

The deeper you go into these endemic failures, the harder it is for anyone to emerge as a strong leader; one is forced to play the game the way it’s built – which is inevitably in the interest of the system, and rarely in the interest of the people. In many countries, the only people with the institutional power to break through are strong military leaders or radicals like Narendra Modi in India. Yet, given the rise of independent and social media, populations with democratic experience swiftly become disillusioned with the excesses of these military authorities. FULL POST

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August 14th, 2014
05:09 PM ET

What I'm reading: What Silicon Valley’s favorite word says about tech priorities

By Fareed Zakaria

"Silicon Valley isn't the only jargon culprit in the corporate world, of course. But tech's semantic tics are more meaningful, because they dictate what kinds of innovations are rewarded and financed," writes Kevin Roose in New York magazine. "Words like 'functional' and 'compatible' were important in the early days of Silicon Valley, when engineers were trying to bring order to messy technological infrastructure. But in the post-iPhone world, it's no longer enough to make something work well; it has to feel good, too. This isn't just a matter of taste—it's a political shift. Emphasizing form over function is a way for designers, who typically sit lower on the Silicon Valley totem pole than their engineering counterparts, to remind executives that their opinions matter.

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"The liberal assumptions embedded in American foreign policy put the U.S. at odds with China, and also heighten Beijing's mistrust of Washington's intentions and ambitions. The spiral of animosity that threatens to culminate in a confrontation between the two countries is in large part a creation of American policy," writes Christopher Layne in the Financial Times.

"As China's rises, Washington has a last clear chance to avoid the looming Sino-American conflict. This would entail making real concessions on Taiwan and on China's territorial claims in the East and South China Seas. It would also involve a commitment that Washington would not interfere in China's internal affairs.

"America's political culture – based on exceptionalism, liberal ideology, and openness – is a big obstacle to coming to terms with a resurgent China. So is the fact that the foreign-policy elite remains wedded to American primacy, and refuses to accept that this will inevitably slip away because of the relative decline of U.S. power."

 

 

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Why Putin was in Latin America
July 28th, 2014
12:04 PM ET

Why Putin was in Latin America

By Diana Villiers Negroponte, Special to CNN

Editor’s note: Diana Villiers Negroponte is a public policy scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. The views expressed are her own.

As speculation has continued over what role Russian support might have played in the alleged shooting down of a Malaysian Airlines flight by pro-Russian rebels, one question has inevitably arisen: Is Russia becoming isolated?

But while international attention is focused on Washington and European capitals as they mull whether to impose tougher sanctions, it is worth remembering that Russian interests and influence extend far beyond Europe’s borders. Indeed, despite U.S. President Barack Obama’s suggestion earlier this year that Russia is merely a “regional power,” a recent visit to Latin America underscored that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s interests don’t end in Europe’s backyard.

On July 11, Putin began a weeklong trip to Brazil, Argentina, Nicaragua and Cuba, which included attending the sixth BRICS’ summit and the launch of the organization’s New Development Bank. But what did the trip, which included meetings with Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega, President Cristina Fernandez of Argentina and a photo-op with Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, say about Russia’s foreign policy?

FULL POST

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July 3rd, 2014
10:45 PM ET

Identity, not ideology, is moving the world

By Fareed Zakaria

The Fourth of July, for me, is one of those special American holidays that celebrates not religion, ethnicity or sect but rather freedom and the country’s unique national identity, which is based on it. But around the world these days, we’re seeing the rise of another kind of nationalism, one that can be darker and more troubling.

In the recent elections for the European Parliament, nationalist, populist and even xenophobic parties did extremely well. The U.K. Independence Party defeated all of the established parties. France’s National Front won handily against the ruling Socialist Party. In Greece, the quasi-fascist Golden Dawn won half a million votes, giving it seats in the European Parliament for the first time.

Many commentators have explained the rise of these parties as a consequence of the deep recession and slow recovery that still afflict much of Europe. But similar voting patterns can be seen in Austria, Denmark, the Netherlands, Finland and Sweden, which are thriving economically.

Read the Washington Post column

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Don’t forget about the rest of Ukraine
June 9th, 2014
11:59 AM ET

Don’t forget about the rest of Ukraine

By Sarah E. Mendelson, Special to CNN

Editor’s note: Sarah Mendelson is senior adviser and director of the Human Rights Initiative at CSIS. She served, until early last month, as a deputy assistant administrator at USAID. The views expressed are her own.

If you knew nothing about Donetsk, Luhansk or Slovyansk before this spring, you likely now associate them with mayhem and lawlessness. Since Russian troops began amassing on the border of Ukraine and local separatists, supplemented by foreign fighters, have brought death and destruction, journalists and human rights organizations have zeroed in almost exclusively on those parts of Ukraine.

Less examined and less talked about is the rest of the country, with its more subtle, and, I would argue, more important and unfinished story line.

As thousands of international election observers descended on Kiev last month and then fanned out across the country, briefings tended to focus on Russian President Vladimir Putin’s motivations, or harrowing accounts of the security situation in “Eastern Ukraine,” and what to do in case of kidnapping. “No adventures in election observation” my husband worried over the phone. “And no going to the east!”

FULL POST

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May 29th, 2014
09:00 AM ET

Gladwell: College football an inhumane spectacle

On Thursday, President Barack Obama is holding a 'concussions summit' to discuss the issue of concussion in youth sports. Last year, Fareed spoke with Malcolm Gladwell, longtime ‘New Yorker’ staff writer and best-selling author of ‘The Tipping Point’ and ‘Outliers’ about American college football. In the first part, Gladwell makes the argument that college football is little different from dog fighting. Watch the video for the full exchange.

 

You compare football to dog fighting. Why?

Yes, I did a piece for The New Yorker a couple of years ago where I said it. This was at the time when, remember, Michael Vick, was convicted of dog fighting. And to me, that was such a kind of, and the whole world got up in arms about this. How could he use dogs in a violent manner, in a way that compromised their health and integrity?

And I was just struck at the time by the unbelievable hypocrisy of people in football, for goodness sake, getting up in arms about someone who chose to fight dogs, to pit one dog against each other.

In what way is dog fighting any different from football on a certain level, right? I mean you take a young, vulnerable dog who was made vulnerable because of his allegiance to the owner and you ask him to engage in serious sustained physical combat with another dog under the control of another owner, right?

Well, what's football? We take young boys, essentially, and we have them repeatedly, over the course of the season, smash each other in the head, with known neurological consequences.

And why do they do that? Out of an allegiance to their owners and their coaches and a feeling they're participating in some grand American spectacle.

They're the same thing. And the idea that as a culture we would be absolutely quick and sure about coming to the moral boiling point over the notion that you would do this to dogs and yet completely blind to the notion you would do this to young men is, to my mind, astonishing.

I mean there's a certain point where I just said, you know, we have to say enough is enough.

FULL POST

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