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  • Originally published 07/05/2013

    Claire Potter: Big Debt for Students, Big Perks for University Elites

    Claire Potter is a professor of history at the New School for Public Engagement. She blogs at Tenured Radical for the Chronicle of Higher Education. New York University's 2010 graduating class owed a total of more than $600 million in student loans. It's unlikely the university will forgive them. But NYU has forgiven portions of mortgages they have extended to President John Sexton, other university executives or star faculty - money that has been used to buy properties in Manhattan or vacation homes in the Hamptons.Does this shock you?Or, how about this: Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, a former executive vice president at NYU, received an "exit bonus" of $685,000. Just to put this in perspective, Lew's NYU exit bonus alone would have provided free tuition for 275 undergraduates, or a little more than 17% of the incoming class.

  • Originally published 07/05/2013

    Poll: Most think Founders wouldn't be pleased with America

    (CNN) – With signs of patriotism abounding for the Fourth of July, a new survey indicates seven in 10 Americans think the Founding Fathers would be disappointed by the way the United States has turned out, 237 years after the signing of the Declaration of Independence.But that doesn't mean Americans themselves are displeased. The same poll, released Thursday by Gallup, shows the number who say they're very or extremely proud to be American remains steady at 85%....Despite the high level of patriotism, 71% of Americans think the signers of the Declaration of Independence wouldn't be pleased with the nation today. That number has steadily risen since 2001, when the number stood at 42%....

  • Originally published 06/26/2013

    Julian Zelizer: History, Literature, Civics and Arts on the Chopping Block

    Julian Zelizer is a professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University. He is the author of "Jimmy Carter" and "Governing America." (CNN) - Everyone talks about our broken political system. Washington is too polarized. Money dominates politics. Politicians don't know how to lead. Citizens are not as attentive to governance and public policy as they should be. Americans either ignore politics or see it is one more form of entertainment, "American Idol" on steroids.As a result, politicians get away with all kinds of misstatements and truths, in part because the electorate is so gullible.How do we make our democracy work better?Political reform will be essential to making sure that our institutions operate effectively. The news media needs to do a better job of separating truth from fiction and backing away from the increasingly partisan outlook of journalism. Civic organizations need to do more to make sure that voters are active in politics and, at a minimum, that they actually vote on Election Day....

  • Originally published 06/26/2013

    Mary L. Dudziak: Why Affirmative Action Took a Hit

    Mary L. Dudziak is the Asa Griggs Candler Professor of Law at Emory University. She is the author of War Time: An Idea, Its History, Its Consequences, and Exporting American Dreams: Thurgood Marshall's African Journey(CNN) -- When the Supreme Court on Monday sent Fisher v. University of Texas, an affirmative action case, back to the lower court for a second look, supporters of race-conscious policies breathed a sigh of relief.

  • Originally published 06/21/2013

    Julian Zelizer: George W. Bush's Legacy is on the Mend

    Julian Zelizer is a professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University. He is the author of "Jimmy Carter" and "Governing America." (CNN) -- Former President George W. Bush is enjoying another bounce in the post-presidential polls. First, the opening of his presidential library produced a spate of positive coverage about his time in office. Now, Gallup has released a survey showing that for the first time since 2005, more people approve than disapprove of Bush.This kind of shift in public opinion is likely to continue, with more upswings as well as downturns ahead. This is the nature of presidential legacies. They are a bit like what Mark Twain once said about the weather in New England: if you don't like it, just wait a second and it will change.Presidential reputations are never fixed in stone.

  • Originally published 06/10/2013

    How a documentary changed Guatemala's history

    Most documentaries record and preserve history – only a few change the arc of history.In Guatemala in the early 1980s, a young American documentary filmmaker named Pamela Yates bore witness to massive crimes and atrocities at great personal risk to make her film.This year, a quarter-century later, her footage became critical evidence used to convict a military dictator of genocide. The Central American country had been torn apart by decades of U.S. funded civil war when General Efrain Rios Montt seized power in 1982 and launched a scorched earth campaign against the Mayans and leftist guerillas....

  • Originally published 05/30/2013

    Julian Zelizer: Fix Our Tax Headaches

    Julian Zelizer is a professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University. He is the author of "Jimmy Carter" and "Governing America."(CNN) -- Something good can come of the bad news about taxes. Last week there were more revelations about who knew what, and what actually occurred, when the Internal Revenue Service targeted conservative organizations that were seeking tax-exempt status. Former IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman told Congress he was "dismayed" about what had happened.Taxes were front and center once again when Apple CEO Tim Cook was forced to respond to a congressional report that the company had avoided paying billions of dollars in taxes.The controversies generated a big stir in Washington and the news media, though it is unclear that the general public is quite as interested as the politicians and the reporters. Nonetheless, at least for now, both stories have produced intense congressional investigations to find out who was responsible for any wrongdoing.

  • Originally published 05/28/2013

    J. Berkshire Miller: Abe's Unhelpful Historical Interventions

    J. Berkshire Miller is a fellow on Japan at the Center for Strategic and International Studies Pacific Forum. The views expressed are his own.“Japan is back,” Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced to a packed room at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington back in February. The remarks came during his first visit to the United States since he returned to power in a landslide election in December. But while Abe’s aggressive stimulus policies have sent his approval ratings soaring at home, Japan’s neighbors have been watching much more warily....

  • Originally published 05/23/2013

    Julian Zelizer: What Happened to Obama's Promise?

    Julian Zelizer is a professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University. He is the author of "Jimmy Carter" and "Governing America." Princeton, New Jersey (CNN) -- On "The Daily Show," Jon Stewart captured the frustration that many of President Obama's supporters have felt over the past week as one scandal after another cascaded into the White House.After starting with a predictable riff accusing Bill O'Reilly of ignoring facts when attacking the Obama administration, Stewart turned to the IRS story, banged on his desk, and yelled out curses....Many liberal Democrats were frustrated and shocked that the administration had permitted the seizure of the phone records, the kind of activities they would certainly have railed against had they happened under President George W. Bush.

  • Originally published 04/05/2013

    Bringing Babylon back from the dead

    (CNN) -- Babylon was one of the glories of the ancient world, its walls and mythic hanging gardens listed among the Seven Wonders.Founded about 4,000 years ago, the ancient city was the capital of 10 dynasties in Mesopotamia, considered one of the earliest cradles of civilization and the birthplace of writing and literature.But following years of plunder, neglect and conflict, the Babylon of today scarcely conjures that illustrious history.In recent years, the Iraqi authorities have reopened Babylon to tourists, hoping that one day the site will draw visitors from all over the globe. But despite the site's remarkable archaeological value and impressive views, it is drawing only a smattering of tourists, drawn by a curious mix of ancient and more recent history....

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