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Yelling protesters at health care reform town hall meeting in West Hartford, CT, in 2009. Sage Ross

Digital town halls take political discussions beyond sound and fury

Politics as partisan blood sport may be fun to watch but may undermine discourse necessary for democracy. A study finds that online town halls may re-engage potential voters in the political process.
The growing inequality that triggered the Occupy protests, such as this one in Bennington, Vermont, is now registering as an issue with politicians at the highest level. Wikimedia Commons/Daniel Case

The growing opportunity gap facing American children

The opportunity gap between well-off and poor American children is vast and, more alarmingly still, it is growing. Some political leaders are starting to take note of the grim consequences.
Could former Florida governor Jeb Bush (right) join his brother George (left) and father in having held America’s top office? EPA/Shawn Thew

Family ties: why political dynasties rule in America’s democracy

Political dynasties have played a significant role throughout America's history. Their ongoing existence and prominence convey a level of inequality in access to political influence.
Benjamin Netanyahu was the first foreign leader to be invited to address Congress without a US president’s consent or knowledge. EPA/Michael Reynolds

Netanyahu address to Congress was more about domestic politics than Iran

For many Israelis, the potential danger of a bad deal with Iran pales in comparison to the damage caused to US-Israeli relations by Benjamin Netanyahu’s trickery.
In this 2008 photograph, former ambassador to the United Kingdom Robert H Tuttle greets President George W. Bush. Prior to becoming an ambassador, Tuttle was known for his empire of car dealerships. Jason Reed/Reuters

How do you become an ambassador?

If you want a desirable ambassadorship, becoming a Foreign Service Officer and earning the relevant degrees – in other words, accumulating experience – might not be the best plan of action.
If you’re in favor of copyright extensions – and aren’t a corporation holding the rights or a descendent of the original author – you probably need some sense knocked into you. Flickr

Why Batman and Rhapsody in Blue should be in the public domain, but aren’t

In 1998, if Congress hadn’t extended copyrights by 20 years, George Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue, Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises and Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind would all be in the public domain…
Barack Obama outlined a vision of post-recession liberalism that was at once hopeful and limited in his State of the Union address. EPA/Astrid Riecken

With a liberal State of the Union agenda, Obama revives theme of hope

On Tuesday night (US time), President Barack Obama gave his second-last State of the Union address – and the last one that has the potential to shape his legacy. Next year the country will be caught up…
Barack Obama is now entering the period when the notion of his legacy as US president becomes increasingly pertinent. EPA/Mandel Ngan

Obama defies lame duck fears with State of the Union address

President Barack Obama has pointed to an improving economy and the need for a taxation system that shares the benefits in an agenda-setting State of the Union challenge to the Republican congressional…
The US Supreme Court will consider whether state bans on same-sex marriage are constitutional. Flickr/vpickering

Court to rule on same-sex marriage and American freedom

The US Supreme Court agreed last Friday to hear four cases about same-sex marriage. Essentially, this means that, having previously avoided doing so, the court will finally consider whether or not same-sex…
How well this lot can get along may depend most on the growing group of politicians hoping to sit in the president’s chair in two years. Reuters

What the budget deal means for Congress and the ‘16 elections

Given the contentiousness of recent fiscal negotiations, the prelude to the budget passed by the Senate last month was surprisingly placid. Will a uniquely unproductive Congress be followed by a more conciliatory…
Direct negotiations between top leaders may be the best and only way to get significant trade deals done, which requires fast-track authority. Reuters

Updating ‘fast-track’ is key to getting a trade deal in 2015

With the resounding Republican victory in November’s midterm elections, most pundits are despairing that Congress and President Barack Obama will find any areas for cooperation in the coming two years…
Stephen Colbert created an extraordinary character: a right-wing, bloviating pundit who was both outrageous and adorable. Lucy Nicholson/Reuters

The Stephen Colbert legacy

If you were following politics over the last few election cycles, you were most likely getting some of your information from satire. In fact, research has shown that in today’s political climate, satire…
As much as we like to think that we vote on substance – not style – studies have shown that physical appearance matters to voters. Carlo Allegri/Reuters

Welcome to Politics4K

While much of the 2014 midterm election analysis centered on the Republican takeover of the Senate, the pundits may have overlooked an important development: the end of a time when politicians looked a…
Obama announces the biggest Cuba policy shift in 50 years. EPA/Doug Mills

After a tense 50 years, Obama and Castro announce US-Cuba thaw

In the United States and Cuba’s strained relationship over the past 50-odd years, certain key flashpoints stand out: the Bay of Pigs incident, the Cuban Missile Crisis, and many more. December 17 2014…
Congress raised the cap on how much an individual can donate to political parties in its spending bill that just passed last week, giving wealthy Americans a greater voice in elections. Shutterstock

Lawmakers show indifference to Americans' needs by gutting campaign finance caps

The political system’s indifference to the needs of the American people could not have been made clearer in recent days. At a time when economic inequality is increasing and the US racial divide is ever…
Secrets out? EPA/Dennis Brack

Senate CIA torture report release: expert reaction

The US Senate has released the executive summary of a long-withheld report on harsh interrogation techniques used by the CIA in the post-9/11 era. Previously undisclosed techniques have been revealed and…

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