Benghazi-gate. A new report on the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi confirms what many have asserted and Susan Rice, among others, has denied: It was the result of a “systematic failure” to properly address security needs. The report stopped short of calling the event a terrorist attack but did acknowledge “a lack of proactive leadership and management ability” by State Department personnel “in their responses to security concerns posed by Special Mission Benghazi, given the deteriorating threat environment and the lack of reliable host government protection.” The attacked killed Ambassador Chris Stevens, information specialist Sean Smith, and former Navy SEALs Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods, two contractors working for the CIA. Stevens’ slaying was the first of a U.S. ambassador since 1988.
Global “nones.” Back in October the Pew Research Center released a report saying those who have no religious affiliation represent a growing number of Americans—perhaps as many as 45 million people. This week, Pew widened the survey and said the trend is global. One-in-six people worldwide answer “none” when asked for religious affiliation. That makes the “nones” the third-largest group worldwide, behind only Christians (2.2 billion people) and Muslims (1.6 billion). The study also notes that the world has about 1 billion Hindus and a half-billion Buddhists.
Scientology unmasked. Twenty-five years ago, Los Angeles Times investigative reporter Joel Sappell wrote a series of articles that exposed the cult of Scientology. Then strange and unnerving things started happening to him. His dog was poisoned. When the stories broke, the furor they generated caused his paper to send him out of town for a few days until things cooled down. Today, Sappell has investigated Scientology again—to find out what they did to him. It’s a fascinating read. You’ll likely never view Scientology—or investigative journalists – the same again.
Marriage undone. Speaking of fascinating reads, since 1999, the University of Virginia’s National Marriage Project has published “The State of Our Unions.” This annual report uses statistics to portray the health of marriage and family life in America. The news in this year’s report is not good. The authors say 44 percent of the children born to parents in what they call “Middle America” are now born outside of marriage. The report defines “Middle America” as the “nearly 60 percent of Americans who have completed high school, but do not have a four-year college degree.” According to the study co-author Brad Wilcox, “Marriage in Middle America is at a tipping point, with unwed childbearing threatening to become a new norm.”