International Affairs

Margaret Benison

Lebanese Prime Minister Tammam Salam (center) casts his vote to elect the new Lebanese president in the parliament building in downtown Beirut on April 23, 2014. (Photo: AFP-Joseph Eid)

Corrie Hulse


U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry

The funny thing about moving back home after living abroad for years is that nothing ever feels quite the same. What was once home now feels foreign. Your old haunts and old friends are now strangely unfamiliar; leaving you wondering if the home you remember is simply an elaborate story you dreamt up over the years. In grasping for the familiar, you find yourself questioning what you once took for granted and hoping to discover how exactly it all changed while you were gone.

Chris Haddix

Shaun Randol

Paul Berman reads at PEN World Voices Festival's opening night as Salman Rushdie and Judith Butler look on (© Beowulf Sheehan/PEN American Center)

[Read part one of this dispatch.]

Shaun Randol

Since the 1960s, Noam Chomsky has been a formidable critic of U.S. foreign policy; many (most?) of his ideas highly unwelcome in corporate media. Though the decades march on, his biting critique remains sharp, his political philosophy unwavering. In this interview, Chomsky discusses self-censorship and names the political crises intellectuals and activists should be acting on now. 

Michael J. Jordan

Twenty years after the fall of Apartheid in South Africa, racism isn't the country's biggest problem. Nowhere is this more evident than in the town of Ventersdorp, where the ultra-right separatist Afrikaner Resistance Movement (AWB) was founded. In this once-hotbed of racist fervor, along comes Samuel Phutiagae, the first black man to be admitted membership to the Ventersdorp Golf Club. He's playing golf ... and changing minds.  

Shaun Randol

Something is being lost in our age of physical and metaphorical din. Political leaders, pundits, activists, journalists, intellectuals, and ordinary citizens are engaging in shouting matches in all forms of media, including social media platforms. The most radical act one can take at this moment, says George Prochnik, is to engage in a patient, reflective retreat from all the noise. A more empathetic society may emerge from the quiet. 

David Fogel

For more than twenty years, David Fogel has been chasing and documenting one of nature's most beautiful—and dangerous—phenomena: the tornado. Lately the field has become crowded, luring adrenaline junkies and increasing the danger for witnesses on the hunt. Isn't this supposed to be about science? About awe? Veterans like Fogel wrestle with whether to continue the chase. 

Ed Hancox

JoJo Brisendine

To be alive is not to be made of certain building blocks, as if "life" was a structure built of component parts. No, it's much, much more complicated. To be alive is to be engaged in a metabolic, information-sharing process, argues JoJo Brisendine. In this rebuttal to a more conventional definition, Brisendine offers a more precise (and dynamic) definition of life.