Events as disparate as the cruel, escalating violence in Syria and the congested, unnerving conditions where Apple's iPads and iPhones are made at the Foxconn assembly plants in China raise a recurring question:
When do a country's internal affairs become the business of the world? And when do we make that our personal business?
You can take that question back through atrocities, crimes and outrages of recent history.
During the summer of 1972, five men were arrested in the middle of the night for breaking into the Democratic Party headquarters at the Watergate office building in Washington, D.C.
The breach went to the very top. Watergate toppled the Nixon administration and became an iconic (and exhaustively studied) American political scandal. In his new novel, Watergate, Thomas Mallon gives the story a fresh twist, retelling it from the perspectives of the involved parties — from seven different points of view.
Golden Gate National Recreation Area in California's Bay Area is expanding, quite literally, up next to some people's backyards. And while you might think neighbors would be thrilled to see this scenic landscape preserved, the relationship between the National Park Service and locals is off to a rocky start.
A Coptic Christian man holds a cross made of flowers during a clash between Christians and Muslims in Cairo in November. Relations are becoming more strained between the two communities, and there has been periodic violence.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks during a press conference at a conference on Syria in Tunis, Tunisia, on Friday. The participants were united in their calls for a ceasefire and for Syrian President Bashar Assad to allow humanitarian aid into his country.
Syrians are looking to the world in their hour of need and "we cannot let them down," U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Friday at an international conference on Syria held in Tunisia.
The dozens of countries represented at the conference, Clinton said, are united in their demands: Syrian President Bashar Assad must allow much-needed aid to his people and silence his guns or face more isolation and pressure.
But debate continues over what other steps countries in the region could take.
With a bit of reverence, librarians carefully wind an antique library clock near the circulation desk in a temple of learning called the Providence Athenaeum.
This is one of the oldest libraries in the United States, a 19th-century library with the soul of a 21st-century rave party. In fact, the Rhode Island institution has been called a national model for civic engagement.
The entire public school system in Kansas City, Mo., has flunked.
The state board of education revoked its accreditation on Jan. 1. Public schools met just three of the 14 standards set by the board for basic proficiency. They received failing grades for attendance, graduation rates, plus math and reading and writing scores.