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Thousands gathered to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech on August 24, 2013, near the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC.

- AFP/Getty Images

NEW PALZ, New York — Recently, I found a very disturbing message on my car. Just above several bumper stickers praising President Barack Obama, someone had inked, “I love niggers.”

The car was parked in my boyfriend’s driveway in East Fishkill. He had seen the message in black marker as he was about to leave for work and asked me to come outside. “I called the cops,” he said. “It’s a hate crime.”

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Young women look out from a hut in an agricultural area south of Iraq's central Shiite Muslim Shrine city of Najaf on April 14, 2014.

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BOSTON — We are living in a dangerous reality. It’s a reality where terrorists are holding hostage Islam, a religion that, at its core, is peaceful, compassionate and tolerant.

Since Sept. 11, 2001 and continuing with the most recent executions of journalists, including James Foley of GlobalPost, a misunderstanding and manipulation of Islam and Muslims has permeated discourse about the Middle East and the Arab world. American-Muslim relations are strained and Islam is not portrayed positively in the media.

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A boy pushes a woman in a wheelchair past a wall bearing information about Ebola in Monrovia on September 25, 2014. World leaders were asked to pledge urgently-needed aid to battle Ebola in West Africa as Sierra Leone quarantined one million people in a desperate bid to beat back the deadly virus.

- AFP/Getty Images

SILVER SPRING, Md. — The news coming out of West Africa is nothing if not sobering. The number of dead and infected with Ebola continues to rise, and the outbreak shows no sign of abating any time soon. As President Obama mentioned in his remarks on Ebola, the situation will get worse before it gets better.

By putting so much emphasis on the awful effects of Ebola, are we misplacing our effort to treat the crisis? Judging from the images we are seeing in the media, there are only three types of people in West Africa: the dead, the dying, and the Hazmat-suited workers caring for them.

The reality of course is far more complex: millions of individuals are not infected, and are simply doing their best to go about their lives under these extraordinary circumstances. Any response that fails to take this into account, and focuses solely on treatment of those already infected, will undoubtedly fall short.

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A man sits on a cross in the Tweh farm cemetery on September 30, 2014 in Monrovia, where burials have been halted due to the Ebola outbreak.

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EVANSTON, Illinois — As a crowd recently stoned local officials and health education workers to death in Guinea, American households were tuning in to the PBS documentary series, "The Roosevelts."

Himself the victim of a debilitating disease and a chief executive during the international crises of the Great Depression and World War II, Franklin D. Roosevelt held an unwavering commitment to mobilizing government to better the lives of the governed. Memory of his record evokes comparisons and criticisms of national and international leadership contending with the Ebola outbreak in West Africa today.

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A woman participates in a march on the International Day of Action for the Decriminalization of Abortion, on September 28, 2012 in San Salvador. Salvadorean women marched to ask the government to legalize abortion as a right for women.

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SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador — El Salvador’s troubled past was marked by 12 years of internal armed conflict from 1980 to 1992, during which many horrific human rights abuses were committed. 



For more than a decade now, the country has enjoyed an era of peace, and major progress has included human rights treaties promising to protect the rights of its people. 



During his inauguration in June, President Sanchez Ceren announced that he will govern "for all" with an "absolute commitment to social justice." 



But my recent visit to El Salvador as secretary general of Amnesty International has revealed how far the country is from a commitment to justice for all. 



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Protestors join Rwandan opposition leaders in calling Rwandan President Paul Kagame a corrupt dictator and war criminal at a demonstration outside a Chicago hotel where Kagame addressed the Rwandan diaspora on June 11, 2011.

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TORONTO – Foreign countries, including the United Kingdom and the United States, pour nearly a billion dollars every year into Rwanda – 40 percent of the troubled African nation’s budget.

Now, these donor nations need to ask themselves why they are bankrolling Rwanda’s descent into despotism under the direction of President Paul Kagame, who has promoted economic development at the terrible cost of killing, imprisoning, intimidating or exiling his critics.

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An onlooker watches as police arrest demonstrators after they refused to move from Broadway following the Flood Wall Street protest on September 22, 2014 in New York City. The Flood Wall Street protest came on the heels of the climate change march on September 21 that attracted over 300,000 protestors.

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NEW YORK — The day after the People’s Climate March, and I’m awash with emotion. I’m exhausted, and exhilarated, from having gotten up before dawn to take a four-hour bus ride from Providence, Rhode Island to march for six hours through the streets of New York City with my 11-year-old daughter.

The streets were mobbed with 300,000 or 400,000 serious but upbeat people, making it by far the largest climate change protest in history.

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NEWPORT, WALES -- US President Barack Obama talks to reporters at the end of the NATO Summit on Sept. 5, 2014. Leaders and senior ministers from around 60 countries attended the two-day summit, with Afghanistan and Ukraine at the top of the agenda.

- Getty Images

WARSAW, Poland — The NATO summit in Wales this month was planned to tell a success story about the alliance’s engagement in Afghanistan; a historic moment after more than a decade in Central Asia and the ongoing troop drawdown from the country.

Russia’s actions in Ukraine, however, challenged the security architecture in Europe and forced NATO to change the summit’s priorities. Although not a present danger, terrorist threats both in Afghanistan and across Central Asia remain a worry for the international community and for local governments.

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Vowing to target the Islamic State with air strikes 'wherever they exist', Pres. Barack Obama pledged to lead a broad coalition to fight IS and work with 'partner forces' on the ground in Syria and Iraq.

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DENVER — The US administration seems unable to make up its mind whether the fight against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is a war but the objective has been made clear by President Obama, “degrade and defeat” the Islamic State. But how?

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A Cambodian policeman (R) escorts thirty trafficked fishermen returning from Indonesia after being freed or escaping from slave-like conditions on Thai fishing vessels at the Phnom Penh International airport on December 12, 2011.

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WASHINGTON — Last June, media reports sparked an outcry over human slavery on fishing vessels — a dark side of the cheap shrimp and other seafood now sold year-round by stores like Costco and Walmart.

The horrors uncovered by the Guardian newspaper’s investigation included Cambodian and Burmese men being sold to fishing boats, forced to work at sea against their will for months or years at a time, victimized by violence, and left with little or no earnings at the end of their ordeal on the ever-emptier, overfished oceans. These men were packed below decks like sardines and half-starved.

The exposé has led to calls for consumer boycotts of seafood from Thailand, the epicenter of the scandal. This response — although understandable — neither helps those already trapped in this industry nor addresses the root of the problem.

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