Society and Culture

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The days of elite immunity from public knowledge of their words and actions are over. The iPhone and Twitter are stripping away the thick walls that used to hide what was said and done in oak-paneled conference rooms or the hothouse of a Cambridge, Mass., apartment.

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Pope Francis leads his Wednesday general audience in Saint Peter's square at the Vatican December 10, 2014.  Reuters

The news media has a Pope Francis problem, and the dog-that-didn’t-ascend is only the latest example.

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Americans, by and large, believe that they can achieve their own version of the American Dream, and it is a personal vision. This view has changed little over the past 30 years.

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What exactly are Americans saying about the American Dream and how have their views of it changed over time? Do Americans believe the dream is endangered? The answers are more complicated than one might think.

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We are supposed to revel in gift-giving and generosity, yet the season’s lavishness and commercialization leave many people cold. The underlying contradiction runs throughout modern life.

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Percent of civilian population age 18-34 who are veterans by decade, 2009-2013

Compared to the less than 1% of the population that serve in the armed forces anymore, that paltry 7% of veterans in the population looks almost robust.

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Less decent-paying work for less-educated men, cultural shifts away from marriage-centered familism, and the erosion of masculinity have drastically reduced marriage rates and eroded American society.

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President Barack Obama signs executive orders on immigration reform. Reuters

The separation of powers is not the only significant constitutional matter at stake in the debate about President Obama’s decision to grant amnesty to illegal immigrants. In contention as well are the contours of representative government itself.

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In this photo, reviewed by the U.S. Military, leg shackles are seen on the floor at Camp 6 detention center, at the U.S. Naval Base, in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, January 21, 2009. Reuters

If I torture a fiend to find out where he left a child to suffocate or starve in some dungeon, that’s a less evil act than torturing someone just to hear them renounce their god or country.

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Image Credit: shutterstock

As Shakira parrots numbers, keep in mind that these statistics are true for one specialized program, and were never meant to be applied universally to all preschool initiatives.

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