Aug 13, 2015 7:00 am

70 years after WWII, the Holocaust is still very important to American Jews

Six memorial candles are lit to remember the 6 million Jews killed during the Holocaust during a 70th anniversary remembrance in Denver of the Allied liberation of concentration camps. Credit: Helen H. Richardson/The Denver Post
Six memorial candles lit in honor of the 6 million Jews killed during the Holocaust, part of a remembrance in Denver of the 70th anniversary of the Allied liberation of the concentration camps in Europe. Credit: Helen H. Richardson/The Denver Post via Getty Images

Seven decades after the end of World War II, most American Jews say remembering the Holocaust is essential to what being Jewish means to them, personally.

About 6 million European Jews (roughly two-thirds of the continent’s Jewish population at the time) were killed by the Nazis during the Holocaust, which began in about 1941 and ended in May 1945 when Germany was defeated by the Allied Powers. The war came to a close in August 1945 when the Japanese surrendered.

What Does It Mean to Be Jewish?

About three-quarters (73%) of American Jews say remembering the Holocaust is an essential part of being Jewish, according to a 2013 Pew Research Center survey. Those surveyed also were asked about whether other aspects of Jewish life (such as observing Jewish law or being part of a Jewish community) were important to their Jewish identity.  Only one of these eight other options, “leading an ethical life,” ranked almost as highly (69%) as “remembering the Holocaust.”

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Topics: Jews and Judaism, Wars and International Conflicts

Aug 11, 2015 7:00 am

Amid debate over labeling GM foods, most Americans believe they’re unsafe

Views on Safety of GMOs by Key DemographicsThe debate over the safety of genetically modified foods has put state lawmakers who favor requiring labeling of these products at odds with counterparts in Congress who oppose it. Americans’ concerns about GM foods are providing the backdrop: A majority of them believe such foods are generally unsafe to eat.

The House last month passed a bill that would nullify any state laws that require labeling, dealing a blow to state lawmakers and advocates who support such a move. A similar bill has yet to be introduced in the Senate. This comes after three states – Vermont, Connecticut and Maine – passed legislation this year making GM food labeling mandatory; dozens of other states are exploring similar bills on the issue.

As this issue plays out on Capitol Hill, polls show that a majority of Americans support labeling genetically modified foods, and half check for GM food labels while shopping.

More than half (57%) of U.S. adults believe that GM foods are generally unsafe to eat, while 37% say these foods are safe, according to a Pew Research Center survey. Women are more likely than men to view GM foods as unsafe (65% vs. 49%). Opinions also vary by race and ethnicity; blacks and Hispanics are more likely than whites to say that genetically modified foods are generally unsafe to eat.
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Topics: Domestic Affairs and Policy, Science and Innovation

Aug 10, 2015 7:00 am

5 facts about America’s students

In a few weeks, America’s roughly 53.5 million K-12 students will head to the classroom. Trading in swimming pools and summer jobs for math problems and history homework, these students will hit the books at one of more than 129,200 schools across the country, including about 5,700 charter schools and 30,900 private schools.

Pew Research Center has found today’s American students as a whole to be more diverse and on track to be better educated than their parents and grandparents. Here are five key findings about these students:

1As a whole, America’s K-12 students are more racially diverse than ever. The U.S. Department of Education projected that minorities would outnumber whites at public schools by fall 2014, due largely to fast growth in the number of Hispanic and Asian school-age children born in the U.S. Since 2000 there has also been a large increase in the number of states where at least one-in-five public school kindergartners are Latino.

These changes reflect a broader shift toward a majority-minority youth population. Young Americans are far more likely than older Americans to be racial or ethnic minorities. Data from the Census Bureau show that half of Americans younger than 5 were minorities in 2013, compared with just 17% of those ages 85 or older.

Public Schools in the United States Projected to be Majority-Minority in 2014

2Enrollment at Majority-Minority SchoolsYet, even while school-age children as a whole have become more diverse, most white students still attend largely white schools. Just 17.1% of whites attended a school where minorities made up at least half of all students in 2012. Meanwhile, more than three-quarters of Hispanics and blacks (and six-in-ten Asians) attended these majority-minority schools. But many of these minority students are going to school with classmates of their same race or ethnicity. For the 2011-12 school year, the average Latino student attended a school that was 56.8% Latino, and the average black student attended a school that was 48.8% black, according to a recent report from the Civil Rights Project at the University of California, Los Angeles. (The average white student attended a school that was 72.5% white.)

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Category: 5 Facts

Topics: Education, Educational Attainment, Race and Ethnicity, Teens and Youth

Aug 6, 2015 10:00 am

6 takeaways about teen friendships in the digital age

From measuring teens’ internet usage to finding out what devices they own, Pew Research Center has been examining the digital lives of teenagers for over a decade. Our latest report focuses on how teens, who often live tech-saturated lives, develop and sustain friendships in the digital age, including where they meet, communicate and spend time with friends.

Here are six key facts about teens, technology and friendships:

57% of Teens Have Made at Least One New Friend Online1More than half of teens have made at least one new friend online. Fully 57% of teenagers have met a new friend over the internet, with nearly three-in-ten teens (29%) saying they have made more than five friends this way. But most of these relationships remain online, with a majority (77%) of all teenagers saying they have never met an online friend in person.

2Social media sites are popular places for teens to make friends online: About two-thirds (64%) of teens who have met a friend online say they have met new friends via a social networking site. Additionally, a majority of teens say social media platforms have made them feel more connected to their friends’ lives and feelings. Roughly eight-in-ten social-media-using teens (83%) say that sites like Facebook or Instagram make them feel more connected to what is happening in their friends’ lives, while 70% say these social platforms make them feel more in tune with their friends’ feelings.

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Category: 5 Facts

Topics: Internet Activities, Social Media, Social Networking, Teens and Technology

Aug 6, 2015 8:45 am

As Jon Stewart steps down, 5 facts about The Daily Show

Jon Stewart is stepping down as host of The Daily Show after 16 years, handing the job over to 31-year-old South African comic Trevor Noah. During that time, the show has served not only as a source of media criticism, but also as a source of news in its own right.

As Stewart’s tenure comes to an end, here are some key facts about how his program has made its imprint on journalism.

1While it’s nowhere near the top, 12% of online Americans cited The Daily Show as a place they got their news. This audience share was on par with that of USA Today (12%) and The Huffington Post (13%) among 36 different news outlets Pew Research Center asked about in a 2014 survey. Roughly equal shares of online Americans trust (16%) and distrust (18%) The Daily Show as a source of government and political news, but there is a strong ideological split in who trusts the show: Almost half (45%) of consistent liberals say they trust The Daily Show, while less than 1% of consistent conservatives say the same. Read More

Category: 5 Facts

Topics: Digital Media, Generations and Age, News Audience Trends and Attitudes, News Media Trends, Political Polarization, Television

Aug 5, 2015 10:00 am

5 questions about the contraception mandate

The Obama administration has issued its final regulations governing how the Affordable Care Act’s mandate to provide contraception coverage applies to religiously affiliated nonprofits and businesses.

But the announcement has done little to quell the objections of some religious groups. Indeed, in the weeks since the new regulations were published, one religious charity (Little Sisters of the Poor) has asked the Supreme Court to overturn a decision upholding the regulations, and a Christian school (Wheaton College in Illinois) has announced that it will stop offering its students health insurance due to the mandate.

Contraception Mandate Timeline

March 23, 2010 – Affordable Care Act becomes law

Aug. 1, 2011 – HHS issues rules requiring contraceptive coverage

Feb. 1, 2013 – Obama administration proposes opt-out compromise for religious nonprofits

July 2, 2013 – Faith leaders petition President Obama to expand exemptions for religious objections

June 30, 2014 – Supreme Court rules in Hobby Lobby case

July 10, 2015Final regulations issued on applying the mandate

July 23, 2015 – Little Sisters of the Poor file appeal to Supreme Court challenging mandate

The issue first arose in 2011, when the Department of Health and Human Services released proposed regulations under the ACA requiring many employers to provide health insurance that offers female employees free contraceptive services. While faith groups directly involved in religious ministry (such as houses of worship) were exempted from the requirement, religiously affiliated nonprofits (such as hospitals, universities and charities) and for-profit businesses whose owners opposed some or all contraception on religious grounds were not.

Efforts by the administration and religious groups to find a compromise for nonprofits largely failed, and many religious nonprofits and businesses sued, arguing that requiring them, even indirectly, to provide free birth control violates First Amendment protections of religious liberty as well as federal law.

As the debate over the mandate continues, here are five questions and answers about the controversy: Read More

Topics: Church-State Law, Religion and Government

Aug 5, 2015 7:00 am

When discussing politics, family plays larger role for women than for men

Women More Likely Than Men to Turn to Parents, Children for Political DiscussionOne important way many Americans stay informed about politics, including the 2016 elections, is through conversations with others. About seven-in-ten U.S. adults talk with others about politics at least a few times a month, according to a 2014 survey by the Pew Research Center. But a new analysis of survey data finds that whom they talk with most often about the subject varies a great deal between men and women.

Those who talk about politics at least a few times a month were asked to identify the three people with whom they discuss this topic the most, and to describe  their relationship to these people. It turns out that women are more likely than men to say their conversations about politics are most often with a parent or child, while men are more likely than women to rely on people outside the family.

As might be expected, younger adults are more likely than older people to say they talk politics with their parents, while older adults are more likely than young adults to name their children.

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Topics: Family and Relationships, Gender, Political Attitudes and Values

Aug 4, 2015 9:55 am

70 years after Hiroshima, opinions have shifted on use of atomic bomb

Memorial for Hiroshima
Visitors look at a photograph of the area surrounding the Atomic Bomb Dome, captured after the atomic bomb was dropped in Hiroshima, Japan. Credit: Junko Kimura/Getty Images

On Aug. 6, 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the Japanese city of Hiroshima, killing tens of thousands of people – many instantly, others from the effects of radiation. Death estimates range from 66,000 to 150,000.

Declining Support in Both the U.S. and Japan for America's Bombing of Hiroshima and NagasakiThis first use of a nuclear weapon by any nation has long divided Americans and Japanese. Americans have consistently approved of this attack and have said it was justified. The Japanese have not. But opinions are changing: Americans are less and less supportive of their use of atomic weapons, and the Japanese are more and more opposed.

In 1945, a Gallup poll immediately after the bombing found that 85% of Americans approved of using the new atomic weapon on Japanese cities. In 1991, according to a Detroit Free Press survey conducted in both Japan and the U.S., 63% of Americans said the atomic bomb attacks on Japan were a justified means of ending the war, while only 29% thought the action was unjustified. At the same time, only 29% of Japanese said the bombing was justified, while 64% thought it was unwarranted. Read More

Topics: Foreign Affairs and Policy, Wars and International Conflicts

Aug 4, 2015 7:00 am

In the news industry, diversity is lowest at smaller outlets

Minorities Especially Underrepresented at Low-Circulation Daily NewspapersThe past two years have seen Dean Baquet become the first black executive editor of The New York Times and Lester Holt become the first black solo anchor of a weeknight network news program. But minorities are still underrepresented at U.S. news organizations, especially when it comes to the places that would-be journalists traditionally try to break into the business: smaller local TV and newspaper outlets.

Although minorities (including black, Hispanic, Asian American, Native American and multiracial populations) make up over a third of the U.S. adult population (35%), they make up only 22% of the local television news workforce, according to a study by the Radio Television Digital News Association. The figure is even lower for daily newspapers, where only 13% of newsroom employees are minorities, according to an annual survey of newsroom employment by the American Society of News Editors (ASNE). These figures have changed little over the past two decades. Read More

Topics: News Media Trends, Newspapers, Newsroom Investment and Resources, Race and Ethnicity, State of the News Media

Aug 3, 2015 12:44 pm

Partisans differ sharply on power plant emissions limits, climate change

President Barack Obama today unveiled stricter environmental regulations aimed at reducing carbon emissions from power plants, an issue over which there is a deep partisan divide. The new guidelines are part of the White House’s larger push to combat climate change and promote renewable energy sources.

Sharp Partisan Divides over Moves to Limit Power Plant EmissionsOverall, a majority of Americans support stricter limits on power plant emissions, but as with climate change, the views of Democrats differ markedly from those of Republicans, both in the public and among elected officials. Even before the formal announcement, GOP leaders vowed to mount a number of challenges to Obama’s Clean Power Plan.

Nearly two-thirds (64%) of U.S. adults favor stricter limits on power plant emissions to address climate change, while 31% oppose such regulations, according to a Pew Research Center survey from November 2014. These opinions, however, vary greatly by party.

Fully 78% of Democrats and those who lean Democratic back stricter emissions limits, compared with only half of Republicans and those who lean Republican. Tea Party Republicans (including independents who lean Republican) are especially resistant to stricter emissions limits for power plants, with 71% opposing stricter guidelines.

In addition to partisan differences, opinions vary by age, gender and educational attainment. Women are more inclined than men to approve of stricter emissions standards, while younger adults are more likely than their older counterparts to say they support curbing power plant emissions. College-degree holders are more supportive of curtailing power plant emissions than are those with lower levels of educational attainment. Views vary little by race or ethnicity. Read More

Topics: Energy and Environment, Political Attitudes and Values