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-Mad Men
After a shockingly grim season, Mad Men's finale concluded with a quietly portentous suggestion that Don Draper may return to his old, adulterous ways.

Mad Men's quiet finale: A disappointing end to season five?

Critics are split on the moody, choppy final episode of the AMC drama's action-packed season, which leaves Don Draper pondering the question "Are you alone?"

-Gay Marriage Battle
A protester waves a gay pride flag outside a Chick-fil-A restaurant during a nationwide "kiss-in" on Aug. 13.

Will Chick-fil-A face a backlash for not opposing gay marriage?

Gay rights activists boycotted over the company's donations to anti-same-sex marriage groups. Now that Chick-fil-A has backed down, will conservatives revolt?

-The Abortion Battle
Bei Bei Shuai joins a growing number of pregnant woman criminalized in the U.S. for losing their unborn babies due to drug use or, as in Shuai's case, failed suicide attempts.

Is it murder if a pregnant woman attempts suicide... and the baby dies?

A 35-year-old Indiana woman is awaiting trial after she swallowed rat poison that killed her baby — but not her. Is she a criminal, or a victim of anti-abortion politics?

-Extreme Sports
Don't look down: Texas daredevil Faith Dickey walks across a rope strung between two big rigs as they barrel down a Croatian highway at 80 miles an hour.

The death-defying tightrope walk between two moving trucks

In a gripping video, a champion daredevil struggles to cross the gap before the rigs speed into separate tunnels — snapping the tightrope

-Driving in America
The Ford Mustang is up for a makeover, and the classic car's new look (which probably won't be rolled out until 2014) may tone down the muscle.

The Ford Mustang's new European look: A big mistake?

The Detroit auto giant is preparing to overhaul an American icon, even though many middle-aged fans of the retro car may not be ready for an update

-The National Debt
A trader on the New York Stock Exchange floor: Credit rating agency Fitch may be the next to cut America's AAA rating.

Is the U.S. headed for another debt downgrade?

Fitch Ratings warns that it will strip the federal government of its AAA rating unless Congress tackles its nagging deficit problem

-General Motors
Assembly line workers build a Chevy Volt at the General Motors Detroit Hamtramck Assembly Plant in Hamtramck, Michigan.

The Chevy Volt's $89,000 production cost: A waste of money?

Reuters reports that GM is losing $49,000 for every Volt it builds, renewing criticism that the eco-friendly hybrid will never be profitable

-Real Estate Trauma
Workers apply brick facing to a group of new row houses in Chicago on Oct. 17.

The surge in new construction: Is the housing market roaring back?

After plenty of false dawns, many experts say the recovery is for real this time

-Afghanistan War
U.S. Army soldiers scan for Taliban fighters in Kunar Province, Afghanistan: If the L.A. Times' publishing of gory photos doesn't prompt a military cleanup, there are still 16 more images waiting to see the light.

The Afghan corpse-photo scandal: A blessing in disguise?

The anonymous solider who leaked the gruesome photos says he hopes the outrage will prompt the military to clean house

-Glenn Beck, Inc.
This spring, Forbes named Glenn Beck the 23rd most powerful celebrity in America, claiming that he makes $80 million per year.

Glenn Beck's TV comeback: Can Dish recapture the Fox News magic?

A year after Beck and Fox News break up, the incendiary talk show host makes a triumphant return to TV

-Israel vs. The Palestinians
Palestinians gather around a destroyed house after an Israeli air strike in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip on Nov. 19.

The Israel-Gaza conflict: An opportunity to revive the long-stalled peace process?

The latest round of fighting has underscored the need for a viable solution to halt the region's endless cycle of violence

-Bankrupt USA
An Occupy Wall Street protester: The Occupy movement helped spotlight America's class inequality problem.

The American nightmare: What happened to economic mobility in the U.S.?

America prides itself as a land of economic opportunity. But, when Canadians have better odds of improving their lives, some say that notion has become a myth

-Unemployed in America
A new employment report suggests that even more people are back on the job than previously thought.

Has the jobless rate actually collapsed to 7.3 percent?

Skeptics accused the Obama administration of cooking unemployment data when the rate dropped to 7.8 percent. Now Gallup says it's even lower

-Cable News Feuds
A match made in hell? Loud-mouth celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain joins the buttoned-up CNN network as the host of a new weekend travel show set to debut next year.

Can celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain save CNN?

As its ratings slump, the venerable cable news outlet is recruiting the hard-drinking, outspoken Travel Channel host to diversify its offerings

-Robots
Pet-Proto, the military's human-like robot, navigates a pit of potential danger in an obstacle course.

Pet-Proto: The U.S. military's clumsy humanoid rescue robot

DARPA wants its next generation of machines to run, jump, and climb like ninjas, but they're not quite there yet

-112th Congress
President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner make nice on St. Patrick's Day in 2011: The foes will have to join forces to avoid driving the country off the so-called fiscal cliff.

After the election: Could civility possibly return to D.C.?

Republicans and Democrats are vowing to make compromises to tackle huge problems. Skeptics cannot help but scoff


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