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A teenager fills out an application at a Queens Job fair sponsored by State Senator Jose R. Peralta and Elmcor Youth and Adult Activities on May 3, 2012 in New York City.

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BOSTON — Belief in the American Dream has long defined, distinguished and sustained our country. Our deeply held notion that people of all backgrounds who work hard and play by the rules can get ahead and begin to climb the ladder of success has changed the world, and paved the way to security and prosperity for generations of Americans.

Yet our faith in equality of opportunity is increasingly at risk. The number of Americans living below the federal poverty line remains stubbornly high, at 46 million, and millions more hover too close to that threshold. Among those paying the highest price are youth, who have been hard hit by the Great Recession.

More from GlobalPost: Generation TBD, a Special Report on global youth unemployment

Shockingly, one in seven young people ages 16 to 24 are not in school or working, a tragic loss to them personally and to our nation as a whole. The costs of such disconnection is steep, costing taxpayers $93 billion annually and $1.6 trillion over the youths’ lifetimes in lost revenues and increased social services.

Youth unemployment is unacceptably high.

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Israeli policemen (C) separate young Israelis holding national flags (R) and Palestinian protestors with their national flags (L) on May 8, 2013 in the Damascus gate in Jerusalem's Old City.

- AFP/Getty Images

OWL’S HEAD, Maine — Our peripatetic secretary of state has been less so these last few weeks since the collapse of his Palestinian-Israeli peace talks.

Lying low. And no wonder. It's hard to squeeze any good news out of the failure: Did we learn useful information about the Israeli and Palestinian positions we didn't know before the Kerry initiative? On the contrary, both sides stuck to their publicly expressed views.

Well, then did we at least lay the groundwork for the next round of talks en route to the two-state solution? Hardly. Both sides came away more recalcitrant than ever, with each taking steps to make another round impossible so long as either Israel's Prime Minister Netanyahu or Palestinian President Abbas remain in charge.

Then why did Kerry do it?

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South Sudanese women queue for water being distributed from a UN reservoir at the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) compound in Juba on December 21, 2013.

- AFP/Getty Images

The United Nations Security Council will soon decide what should be the objective of thousands of peacekeepers in South Sudan.

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An Indian school child looks at a display exhibited at a science fair at a government primary school in Hyderabad on March 24, 2014. The science exhibition has been organized for the first time at primary school-level to encourage the development of talent and activities.

- AFP/Getty Images

NEW DELHI — India’s six-week-long election, in which about 537 million out of 814 million eligible voters went to the polls, is finally over with the election of a new government led by Narendra Modi of the Bharatiya Janata Party.

While the hopes of all voters are for a future of opportunity and progress, the politicians all too often campaigned along retrograde lines, perpetuating divides on the basis of caste, religion, or ethnicity. Overcoming those enduring obstacles to social development is particularly important for the millions of children from poor and marginalized communities—Muslims, tribal groups, and Dalits—who are being denied a basic education.

India produces well-trained professionals who excel in the world economy; so much so that in the United States, there is a growing concern that the US education system is unable to keep up with India and China. Yet, India’s public education system, especially at the elementary levels, is excluding children because of bias.

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WASHINGTON, DC — At a five-year-old’s birthday party over the weekend, I chatted with a therapist, a publishing executive and a furniture maker (no, this is not the opening to a bad joke). The subject matter wasn’t the flavor of the ice cream. Everyone wanted to talk about net neutrality, the principle that all online content must be treated equally — and the biggest tech issue of the moment.

No one understood why a Democratic Federal Communications Commission (FCC) chairman President Barack Obama had appointed would make the disastrous decision to end free speech and innovation online.

“Doesn’t the president support net neutrality?” one person asked. “How could he let this happen?”

My friends were responding to last week’s vote on the future of the Internet, in which three Democratic FCC commissioners voted to move forward with a plan that would trigger a corporate takeover of the Internet, ushering in an era of inequality and discrimination online.

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Picture made on September 10, 2013 show pupils of Gambool high school in a classroom in Garowe region of Somaliland. The school is a project funded by the European Commission and has the capacity for 1,750 pupils both boys and girls. As key partners, Somalia and the European Union (EU) will be co-hosting a High Level Conference on A New Deal for Somalia in Brussels on 16 September 2013. The Conference's underlying objective is to sustain the positive momentum in Somalia, to ensure that the country stays on the path to stability, peace and brings prosperity to its people.

- AFP/Getty Images

HARGEISA, Somaliland — In the quest for independence, there are good days and there are bad days. On our Independence Day, May 18, the people of Somaliland were filled with hope and renewed determination. It was a good day.

Our Independence Day serves as a token of all that we’ve achieved thus far on the road to sovereignty, and as an aching reminder of our aspiration for recognition of our independence — an aspiration that remains unfulfilled.

In 1960, Somaliland gained its independence from Great Britain and was recognized as a sovereign state by 35 nations, including all five permanent members of the UN Security Council.

Five days later, the government of Somaliland chose to unite with Somalia to create a “Greater Somalia.” But this union proved to be catastrophic. The central government in Mogadishu brutally repressed the people of Somaliland, killing 50,000 of its citizens, displacing another 500,000, bombing its cities and laying over 1 million land mines on its territory.

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Two men walk on March 2, 2014 near the Paloch oil fields in Upper Nile State, the site of an oil complex and key crude oil processing facility in the north of the country near the border with Sudan. The area hosts the sole pipeline export route. Fighting in South Sudan has cut production from the country's lifeline oilfields by about 29 percent, the press secretary to President Salva Kiir said in Khartoum. In late February, rebels loyal to Machar captured Malakal, the capital of Upper Nile state where most of the South's oil is produced.

- AFP/Getty Images

WASHNINGTON — After a decade of focusing on the Middle East, the Obama administration has promised a “pivot to Asia” that would increase diplomatic and economic attention on US interests in the Pacific region.

This pivot is a result of Washington’s increasing concerns about the rising military and economic power of the People’s Republic of China. President Obama’s recent tour through Asia, which took him to Japan, South Korea, Malaysia and the Philippines, was a traditional measure of reassuring regional allies of the US commitment to the region.

To truly counter China’s growing economic power, however, the US should be looking to Africa.

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Armed uninformed militants block access to a Ukrainian border base.

- AFP/Getty Images

The good news is that there’s a vague agreement to find a way out of Ukraine’s deepening crisis.

Now the bad news: Neither of the major parties in the conflict is willing to talk to the other.

As talks began in Kyiv Wednesday, the interim government of Prime Minister Arseny Yatsenyuk is refusing to deal with separatists from eastern Ukraine who “have blood on their hands.”

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Animal rights activists lay down in cardboard boxes - covered in fake blood, wrapped in plastic, and with bar code labels - as they take part in a protest action against meat overconsumption, against cruelty to animals in livestock raising and for the closure of slaughterhouses, on April 24, 2014, in Toulouse, southwestern France. The protest by a handful of French animal rights activists was called by the 'Mouvement pour la cause animal' activist group.

- AFP/Getty Images

NEW YORK — In February and March, 2,500 Hasidic Jews from Eastern Europe, North America and Israel undertook a yearly pilgrimage to the small town of Lezajsk in southeastern Poland for the 228th anniversary of the death of one of the movement’s founders, Tsadik Elimelech Weisblum, who is buried in a tiny Jewish cemetery.

As they do every year, the pilgrims arrived on tour buses, rented rooms in private residences, prayed and drank kosher vodka from the town’s supermarket. But this year, the carnivores among them were out of luck. Long a major exporter of kosher meat, Poland followed other European countries in January to ban ritual slaughter.

The conflict over shechitah and dhabihah practices, as they are called in Hebrew and Arabic, center on one aspect of the process.

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US President Barack Obama speaks about the situation in the Crimea region of Ukraine during a statement in the Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House in Washington, DC, March 17, 2014.

- AFP/Getty Images

WASHINGTON — As journalists seek to understand the crisis in Ukraine and Putin’s next moves, they find themselves turning time and again to the same experts for insights and quotes.

In the media, these same talking heads have bemoaned the dearth of junior peers and dwindling resources available to educate them; the State Department recently cut Title VIII funding, which supported study of the former Soviet Union.

Longtime Russia scholar Angela Stent has written that “only a very brave or dedicated” doctoral student would become a Russia expert if he or she wants an academic job.

But these are symptoms, not the disease. The disease is a double whammy: a disregard for regional expertise and the disappearance of key rungs in the career ladder.

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