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By CNN | Smart takes from CNN Opinion

Is there a criminal case in Amtrak crash? (Opinion)

More than a week later, and it's still unclear what led to Amtrak train 188 derailing in Philadelphia, leaving eight passengers dead, and some 200 injured.

To be sure, the National Transportation Safety Board is working feverishly to establish how this happened, and the findings will no doubt be …

Amtrak

What's behind Jay Z and Beyonce's charity?

Music's first family, Mr. and Mrs. Shawn "Jay Z" Carter — that is Jay Z and Beyonce -- have been on quite the philanthropic streak, blurring the distinction between entertainer and saint.

Recent reports -- based on tweets from author, filmmaker and protest organizer Dream Hampton -- suggest the …

Jay-Z

Secrets of the bin Laden treasure-trove

In his final years hiding in a compound in Pakistan, Osama bin Laden was a man who at once showed great love and interest in his own family while he coldly drew up quixotic plans for mass casualty attacks on Americans, according to documents seized by Navy SEALs the night he was killed.

On Wednesday …

Osama Bin Laden

What really motivates biker gangs (Opinion)

Even after spending five years as a private government informant infiltrating three of America's deadliest biker gangs -- the Vagos, Mongols and Outlaws -- I remained perplexed by members' single-minded motivation for warring with rival gangs to acquire turf. What was it that made them want to …

Gangs

Opinion: The madness of writing for Letterman

For the first 13 of his 33 years on the late-night airwaves (does anyone still say "airwaves"?), I was a writer for Dave Letterman. It was the best of times. It was the worst of times. The best because working with Dave was endlessly entertaining. He was and is the smartest, funniest, quickest and …

Writing

Why West's refugee response is all wrong

The world is facing a massive refugee crisis. Yet there's something missing from the international response: compassion.

Claiming threats to national security, economic and political stability, and social cohesion, governments are building fences, patrolling the high seas, pushing migrants and …

World Politics

Opinion: Women on Capitol Hill face bias?

As the media likes to point out on a regular basis, it's hard enough being a woman in certain male-dominated industries — tech, banking, politics among them — despite the considerable strides made toward gender equality. And a recent study revealed that things are perhaps about to get much worse.

In …

Gender

Boston survivor: Our 25 months

My phone buzzed. My friend texted and said, "It's coming." We made a deal -- if one of us heard first we'd tell the other. I was at home. Alone.

The verdict was in. Twenty-five months to the day, almost to the exact minute, since Boylston Street changed forever. Innocent lives were taken. No matter …

Survivor

Opinion: In Waco carnage, message to America

Even while the horrific details from the fatal gang battle in Waco, Texas, filter in, it's not too soon to ask: Is this who and what we have become as a nation? A place where a shootout between five heavily armed criminal gangs can unfold at a restaurant, in full view of law enforcement, leaving …

Twin Peaks

Opinion: Sentence has us in cycle of violence

As a Christian, I can't but feel horrified at the news that a federal jury has imposed the death penalty on Dzhokar Tsarnaev, the young man who (with his brother) was responsible for the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings.

This punishment only continues the cycle of violence, and it will not bring peace. …

Gore Vidal

Obama, Arab nations dance to different tunes

What we have been watching is a carefully choreographed diplomatic dance, starring President Barack Obama and the Arab leaders who came to the United States for high-level talks at Camp David, Maryland. But the truth is that Obama's dance partners started moving to a different beat even before they …

World Politics

No easy answers for rail safety (Opinion)

The derailment of an Amtrak train near Philadelphia, which claimed the lives of eight people and injured more than 200 more passengers, is only the latest in a rash of serious railroad accidents this year. In February, a Metro-North Railroad crash near Valhalla, New York, killed six people and …

Derailment

Kerry's pointless diplomacy in Russia (Opinion)

From the moment John Kerry's trip to Russian President Vladimir Putin's summer residence in Sochi on the Black Sea was announced, it was hard to see what the U.S. secretary of state hoped to achieve. Indeed, of the three objectives on Kerry's official agenda -- seeking Russian assistance in ending …

Russia

Kim an effective tyrant or panicking? (Opinion)

Late last month, North Korea's dictator, Kim Jong Un, reportedly ordered his defense minister killed for disloyalty.

In an unsubtle lesson, hundreds of people were required to watch as Hyon Yong-Chol was apparently obliterated by an anti-aircraft gun. Being a top official in North Korea, it seems, …

Foreign Policy

The dangerous militarization of our police (Opinion)

As Philadelphia comes to terms with the train derailment that has left six people dead and some 200 injured, it's also worth remembering another tragic event that took place in the city exactly 30 years ago. It was an incident that claimed the lives of almost a dozen people, including five …

Policing

Opinion: Attacks on aid workers attack on all

The recent visit to Somalia by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry understandably made news as a signal of support for a nation struggling to rebuild itself. But the visit also turned a spotlight on the enormous challenges the Somali people still face to build a more peaceful future -- and how …

East Africa

Opinion: Another snub for Obama?

It's hard not to read some strong messages from last-minute decisions this past weekend by Saudi Arabia's King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud. The King reportedly declined a meeting with President Barack Obama at the White House, and also said he would not join a summit at the President's private …

World Politics

North Korea returns to old strategy

Defying expectations, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un did not attend the Russian celebration commemorating the end of World War II in Europe. After Moscow confirmed Kim's attendance, it retracted it, stating that domestic issues would keep Kim at home.

Many had expected the Russian ceremony to serve …

Asia

Sexton: Are you surprised by Deflategate?

So Ted Wells' report is out, and now there is a renewed media frenzy surrounding the New England Patriots, Tom Brady and "Deflategate."

Among the findings of this extensive, gravely serious investigation into the air pressure inside the oblong leather pouch we call a football is that Tom Brady, New …

Tom Brady

Stanley: Cameron's victory a sign for U.S.?

A group of Republicans visited the UK during its recent election campaign to work for the Conservative Party. What lessons, I wonder, will they take back home with them? Perhaps that there is a growing anti-big government mood across the world, and that a laser-like focus on economics can help the …

Voting

Yang: Is Joss Whedon a feminist?

It's almost cliché to call Joss Whedon a polarizing figure, because you don't get to be an auteur of billion-dollar blockbuster epics without breaking eggs, and occasionally hearts.

He's one of those rare creators with a fan base so cultishly devoted that they'll follow him from platform to platform …

Joss Whedon

Zelizer: For GOP, too much of a good thing?

The Republicans are going to have another free-for-all primary season on their hands. Their contest for the presidential nomination is attracting a huge crowd. For a political party that once insisted on order and hierarchy, always making clear who the next deserving nominee was going to be, today …

Republicans

Moore: We Texans are brave enough to resist Pentagon

Dear America,

I write to you from behind the lines in the last free state of Texas as we prepare to resist the invasion of Jade Helm 15.

While Gen. Travis laid in a supply of extra "beeves" in advance of the Mexican assault from Gen. Santa Anna at the Alamo, we are fearful of running low on Slim Jims …

International Relations

Britain's stunning election result

CNN Opinion asked a range of contributors to give their take on Britain's election, what it means and what we can expect moving forward. The opinions expressed in these commentaries are solely their own.

Christiane Amanpour: Continuity wins

First surprise of Britain's election on Thursday -- everyone …

Elections (UK)

Opinion: When I 'came out' as Mexican

On Sundays, I make tacos and my famous guacamole for my family. Food bonds us, and it's a way for me to keep in touch with my Mexican heritage. And yet, although my childhood was full of culture, adventure and happiness, for years I denied that I was Mexican. In fact, I finally came out as Mexican …

New York

Opinion: He broke huge story and lost his job

There's breaking news, and then there's BREAKING NEWS.

Some is shock to the system: Think 9/11. Some is anticipated in a way: Think election nights. Each poses challenges to the editors and reporters covering the stories

And then there's the famous -- infamous -- AP bulletin.

Edward Kennedy's "scoop …

International Relations

Why can't America have high-speed trains?

Imagine being able to travel from New York to Los Angeles without having to step on a plane, yet be able to do so in a fraction of the time it would take to drive. On the surface, that tantalizing prospect took a step closer with the news last month that a Japanese maglev train had reached a top …

Air Travel

Drexler: The message of the Met gala

It might be easy to look at the Metropolitan Museum of Art's annual Costume Institute Gala, overseen by Vogue Editor-in-Chief Anna Wintour, as less charity event and more big, extravagant popularity contest, a who's who of fashion and Hollywood.

And it is: Each photo of the gala seems more …

Art

Opinion: Mosby's message: Your lives matter

The charges came down like a thunderous clap. No one was expecting it.

More stunning than the murder charges were the confidence and detail with which Marilyn J. Mosby, state's attorney for the city of Baltimore, laid out her homicide case Friday against the six police officers who will be charged, …

Probable Cause