Sunday, December 4, 2011

4th: Current Event due 12/9

Great job with your current events last week. I think that those House and Senate floor debates served as great reminders for your homework. :) This week in class, we will be bringing the Legislative Branch to a close and gearing up for the Executive Branch. In honor of these fantastic topics, you will chose an article dealing with Congress/General Assembly or the Presidency. This includes, but is not limited to, information about legislators, specific pieces of legislation, actions of President Obama or the GOP candidates/debates. Have a great week and do not forget that we have a test on the Legislative Branch (Thursday for 4th and 6th and Friday for 7th). STUDY! :)


  1. Nate Montano/ Pd. 4
    Senate passes defense bill with detainee policy compromise
    By Ted Barrett
    updated 5:33 AM EST, Fri December 2, 2011

    The Senate on Thursday passed a giant defense bill that includes a new policy for detaining and trying suspected Al-Qaeda terrorists, a policy that attracted controversy during the debate and may draw a presidential veto.
    The defense authorization bill passed by a vote of 93-7.$662 billion bill shrinks Pentagon spending by $43 billion from last year. However, an amendment specifically excludes U.S. citizens or legal residents.

    Well maybe in my opinion there should have been a defense bill that was passed prior to the 9/11 attack. Better late then never though, but what a US citizen conspires with the terrorist. There is an amendment that protects US citizens and legal residents. Maybe a new amendment might be made that allows the military to arrest legal residents. If President Obama vetoes the bill hopefully it will become overridden since now that Bin Laden is gone Al-Qaeda will be determined to have there revenge on America. I would support this bill.

  2. Period 4
    Title: Obama Expresses 'Condolences' to Pakistan's President
    Author: CNN Wire Staff
    Date: 12.4.11
    Source: CNN

    After an airstrike that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers near the Afghanistan border Obama expressed deep compassion to Asif Ali Zardari, president of Pakistan. Obama asserted the attack was not intentional though Washington has not formally apologized to Pakistan. On November 26, a preceding airstrike took place which weakened the alliance between the U.S. and Pakistan. After addressing an apology about the predicament, Obama and Zardari reconciled and have agreed to maintain a coalition, which is fundamental for the defense and protection of both countries. Pakistan would like to remain in association with the U.S. as long as there is mutual respect and respect for their government.

    In my opinion, we have been a bit disrespectful to Pakistan especially after the killing of Osama bin Laden because it was preceded without their consent. I think Obama was gracious and respectable in his decision to articulate his commiseration to Pakistan. The reconciliation assured the relationship between the U.S. and Pakistan, which is vital to the security of both countries.

  3. Anna Baynes Period 4
    Obama Challenges G.O.P. on Payroll Tax Stance
    Robert Pear and Helene Cooper
    The New York Times
    Monday, December 5, 2011
    In Washington DC, President Obama said the payroll tax cut was necessary for middle class Americans. Earlier Congressional Republicans disagreed with paying for tax cuts and now they do not want to pay tax cuts unless it is balance with other money coming to the government. Americans want the payroll tax cut and it is about to expire at the end of the year. If the payroll tax cut expires, Americans will have to pay about $1,000 more than usual in taxes. Democrats and Republicans cannot come to a decision on how the government will pay for the tax cuts. Democrats have come up with a new plan to maintain the pay roll tax reduction. They will decrease the tax of workers from 4.2% to 3.1%, but not decrease the amount employers have to pay. If something is not agreed on the tax of workers will be raised to 6.2 % in January. This is important because taxes are what keep the United States going, but Americans have to be able to afford the taxes. Taxes give the country money to build, protect and maintain the United States.
    I think Congress should come to an agreement and the payroll tax cuts should be paid. If Congress does not reach a decision by January the taxes are going to become unfairly high. I feel like president Obama is trying to improve the country, but his attempts are not going anywhere because everyone one wants it their way and are not willing to give in to a compromise. In class we are talking about the legislative branch, the president, and the general assembly and how they work together to make laws. I am concerned that if a decision cannot be reached by January then the pay roll taxes will be raised to 6.1% and many Americans cannot afford that.

  4. Alex Adams
    Period 4
    “Gingrich with double digit lead in new national poll”
    By Paul Steinhauser
    Summary: A recent poll by Gallup has Newt Gingrich ahead of Mitt Romney by 15 points. The poll was conducted via the phone and was given to all registered Republican Party members. A previous poll done in mid-November, shows Gingrich with a lead of only a point. The new survey comes just four weeks before the presidential primary begins in Iowa. Therefore, this poll may be a very good predictor to the GOP primary.
    Response: Frankly, I don’t care about the GOP at all. As long as Herman Cain doesn’t start running again I’ll be perfectly happy. If you haven’t noticed from the previous statement, I lean more toward the Democratic Party. Since I must write a question for this article, my question is: who cares? There aren’t any distinct differences between the candidates and even if they win the primary they’re going to have to run against Obama, who is the incumbent.

  5. Laura Buczek/4th Period
    BBC News/ Author: N/A
    Obama in Kansas slams Republicans over inequality
    December 6th, 2011

    President Obama addressed the distinction between republicans and democrats in his speech in Kansas. He discussed more than his legislative plans when he “offered a broader critique of key Republican ideas on how the economy can be revitalized.” Obama believes that income tax inequality distorts democracy. He discussed the growing levels of the income taxes while he did “renew his call for Congress to pass an extension of a payroll tax cut due to expire in 2011.” When discussing occupy Wall Street Obama told the supporters of Kansas that “sharing responsibilities for the economy's success were not ‘1% values or 99% values’”. According to Obama, the republicans in Washington are refusing to ask the wealthiest Americans to go back to the same tax rates that they had when Clinton was in office. According to the article, republicans still believe that Obama has failed to rebuild the economy.

    At the end of the article it read that “Mr. Obama called for legislation that would create stronger penalties for financial firms that repeatedly violate anti-fraud laws.” I see this as one of the steps that Obama was finally able to do, despite republican criticisms. Even though our country’s economy is still not as good as it has been in the past, it is not all due to Obama’s “failure”. I think that Obama has made many changes that he tried to propose and because of the republicans in Congress, he can’t get anything passed. I think that this is disappointing because president Obama seems like he has many great ideas that could improve our country. I don’t understand why the republicans won’t ask the wealthiest people to go back to tax rates that they used to pay.

  6. Casey Molina
    Period 4
    December 7th 2011
    Fox news
    GOP bill would increase congressional powers Republican lawmakers wish to give congress more power to approve or reject federal regulations. They believe these regulations are costly and kill jobs. This bill is not expected to pass the senate which controlled by the democratic party. Republican leader of the judiciary committee, Lamar Smith, says the increased regulations passed by the Obama administration impede economic growth and job creation. Representative Steve Cohen of Tennessee asked why Congress should get these powers when they have such a low approval rating. Republicans responded that the administration was using these regulations as a “end run around Congress” and that the bill would prevent a filibuster when voting on a regulation. Either way the bill is likely to be vetoed if it even reaches the President’s desk.
    This situations demonstrates the strategy and complicated process of getting a bill passed. It also shows how there are disputes about how much power Congress should have and what that would cause. Republicans think it would allow small businesses to accumulate money to hire new people while Democrats think it would do just the opposite. These regulations however, seem to be completely necessary in my opinion. The bill would possibly undermine the clean air and water acts and also make it more difficult to regulate food, drug, and consumer product safety as well as other safety laws. In my opinion I think it is a good thing that this bill does not seem likely to pass. Regardless of hypothesized economic stimulus the safety of the environment and citizens should come before economy. It is this failure to put safety before work that caused these laws to be made in the first place.

  7. Shelby Casabura
    4th period
    President Obama taunts GOP foes, says ask Osama Bin Laden about his appeasing terrorists and tyrants
    By Thomas M. Defrank & Jonathan Lemire
    New York Daily News
    December 8, 2011

    President Obama fired back at GOP presidential candidates that claimed he runs soft foreign policies. Obama said “Ask Osama bin Laden and the 22 out of 30 top Al-Qaeda leaders who have been taken off the field whether I engage in appeasement," Thursday at the White House. Several GOP candidates such as including Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney were attacking the president the day before. Also Obama also warned the Congress that they wouldn’t go home for the holidays until they extended unemployment insurance and payroll tax. The payroll tax deduction is scheduled to expire at the end of the year. Republicans and Democrats on Capitol Hill haven’t been able to agree on anything on how to settle the tax. Democrats still want the nations wealthiest to pay a surtax to cover the middle-tax break. Republicans don’t agree on any tax raises.

    My opinion is that Obama is right congress needs to find some middle ground so both parties can be happy in ways. Hopefully the thought they won’t do anything for that holidays will make them work together faster. It’s being dragged out so long that it doesn’t look like they will ever agree though.

  8. Max LeMoine/period 4
    Congress takes on insider trading … by Congress/James O’Toole
    Cnn Money/December 7 2011

    I read an article about congress trying to figure out insider trading. Both houses have drafted a bill known as the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge Act or the “STOCK Act”. Some say it is legal because they do not have a legal obligation but others say it isn’t because Congress owes it to the people. The rate of people has decreased greatly in the past 30 years and it is expected to go down even more. Finally, people really think that something needs to be done soon before Congressmen and women get away with anymore cheating.

    I think that something does need to be done about the congressmen and women doing insider trading. These people are supposed to represent us and if they are just using the opportunity to embezzle money than they need to leave. In the end I think this is a terrible thing and it needs to end.

  9. Nakeisha Revels/4th
    Kaine stands by Obama, despite polls, in debate with Allen/ Robert McCartney
    December 7, 2011/ The Washington Post

    On Wednesday Democrat Tom Kaine stood and defended President Obama from the criticism by Republican George Allen because he shared the standard GOP list of Obama Failings. Allen kind of discredit Kaine by relation him to President Obama in the 90 minute debate at the state Capitol. When they tried to blame President Obama about the $800 Billion stimulus package that added to the federal debt didn’t help the unemployment, Kaine still stood up for him. Allen thinks that most of the federal debt has piles since Obama took office and he had a bar graph to prove his point. Kaine and Allen tried to blame other’s party because Kaine said it was Allen fault for supporting tax cuts and overspending on wars and prescription drugs form federal overspending.
    Allen said “The policies and agenda of President Obama, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid: were you or were not advocating for their agenda? And their Agenda surely was not consistent with the best interest of Virginia. This Affects me because everything isn’t suppose it be happening like this, President Obama has help the County by killing and finding Osama Bin Laden and Gaddafi. It will also affect the next president because he will have take Obama’s place and if the congress and the president don’t get along then it will be wasted 4 years because all they’ll be doing is arguing and debating.

  10. Maddie Mesaros

    Period 7

    Title: Obama whacks Republican economics

    Author: David Jackson

    Source: USA Today

    Date: 12/7/11


    Obama had a speech in Osawatomie, Kansas yesterday. He promptly argued for fierce critique
    of Republican economics. He said that Republicans’ philosophy is basically people fending for
    themselves and playing by their own rules. Obama believes that we should all share the wealth no
    matter if one person works harder than the other. Obama also stated that conservative Republicans
    overemphasis on markets has led to growing income inequality and economic unfairness. He referred
    to President Theodore Roosevelt using a similar technique. He said "It didn't work when it was tried in
    the decade before the Great Depression. It's not what led to the incredible postwar booms of the '50s
    and '60s. And it didn't work when we tried it during the last decade."

    I don’t think President Obama is giving the Republican Party enough credit. He basically accuses
    Republicans of hoarding money when that’s not true. What I’ve come to notice is Republicans lean
    more towards keeping what they fairly earned. Obama believes sharing means caring and that
    wealthier people should pay more taxes so they aren’t hoarding money. Obama has been trying to pass
    multiple new laws and ideas through Congress but Republicans are just thinking about the future before
    passing tons of new laws. Both parties need to come together and think responsibly. Leave out the
    small arguments and just think about what’s best for our country.

  11. Sean Dawson
    4th period
    “Obama to Mark end of Iraq War at Fort Bragg” by the Associated Press

    The time has finally come that we have all been waiting for. President Obama has decided to take our troops out of Iraq by the end of the year. Next week, he will be giving a speech to the troops in Fort Bragg about how much he has appreciated their dedication in fighting for our country. They have been fighting there for many years, as we all know. Obama says that he wants to speak to the troops and their families directly, to thank them properly. Vice President Joe Biden will be attending the traditional Army vs. Navy football game this Saturday, in honor of the war coming to an end.
    I think this will really benefit us as a whole. It is very important for those troops to be with their familes instead of being killed. I fully support this decision, and I think our world will be a much better place without this seemingly never-ending war.

  12. Connor Smith
    Period 4
    Cain leaves door open to media gig
    By Ashley Killough, CNN

    GOP member Herman Cain decided on Saturday to drop out of the candidacy for president. After proven counts of sexual harassment and allegations that he cheated on his wife, Cain says that he has dropped out due to the effect the media has had on his family. He now says that he is leaving all doors open, including the doorway to the media. Cain says that he would be interested in being on tv or radio, and insists that he will maintain a public presence. Some people have begun to say that this was his plan from the start, and he was never a serious candidate at all.

    I think that many people including myself are relieved at Hermain Cain’s withdrawal from the presidential race. If he does pursue a media related career, I think that he will just embarrass himself further. His regressive tax ideals and ignorant views on foreign policy should not be emanated more than they have to. After his outright lies to the people, I don’t think that he deserves a spot in the public eye.

  13. Garrett Young-Wright
    Period 4
    Romney: Why I'd be better for Israel than Obama
    Gabriella Schwarz

    Presidential candidate Mitt Romney has accused President Obama of "hindering peace in the [middle east]" and spoke of how committed he is to Israel in a recent speech in front the Republican Jewish Coalition. Romney said he wants to create indefensible borders for Israel and to restore peace. He said that if he were president he would warn countries that surround Israel that attacking them would be very bad for them and would pay a price. Romney also accused President Obama of "setting back the prospect of peace." Obama didn't directly respond, instead saying that Romney has outsourced jobs to make himself rich.

    I think the reason Romney said that he wanted to do all these things for Israel because he was in front of Jewish people. Myself being Jewish, I want as much peace in the middle east as there can be. But I'm not sure if threatening surrounding regions is the best way to do that. Romney also accusing Obama of not really doing enough for foreign policy seems silly to me. There are too many problems at home to be spending all the time on the middle east.

  14. Caroline Stanton
    4th period
    Romney surrogates: Gingrich not 'reliable or trustworthy'
    Author: Garrett Haake and Alex Moe

    One of the Republican presidential candidates and former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney caused a chaos with the release of his new commercial targeting Newt Gingrich. Many other politicians weighed in on the subject attracting a lot of attention to the issue. Former New Hampshire governor John Sununu commented in an interview supporting Romney, this was planned by the campaign coordinators. For senator Jim Talent spoke out against Gingrich, saying he was “not a reliable or trustworthy leader” (referring to his time as Speaker of the House. The call ended with Sununu saying that Romney is more fit to be commander-in-chief.

    This was no doubt a scheme that Mitt Romney’s campaign staff organized. With Gingrich up in the polls Romney decided to play the defensive side which I think worked in his favor. This ties into the executive branch because these are the GOP candidates for the 2012 presidential election.

  15. Gabrielle Pura/ period 4
    December 8, 2011
    Obama: Morning- after pill decision 'common sense'
    Business Week/ Lauran Neergaard

    Obama has decided, in cooperation with his health secretary Kathleen Sebelius, that Plan B should only be sold behind pharmacy counters. They have also decided that females of 17 years or older are allowed to purchase this pill without a prescription. Plan B is a pill that used within 72 hours of unprotected sex. It's use is to prevent the female from pregnancy. Part of the decision making, mostly from Sebelius, derived from her concern toward 11 year olds ability to use Plan B properly. When defending the decision, he stated "'I think it is important for us to make sure that we apply some common sense to various rules when it comes to over-the-counter medicine'".

    I am in agreement with their decision about taking Plan B from off the shelves and transferring them behind the counter. This medicine should be accessible to a specific age range, not to everyone. Although medical officials say this pill is safe, that does not mean that it cannot be used improperly. If an eleven year old were to need Plan B, they would most likely be embarrassed to purchase the pill by themselves. It may occur that they would steal the product, so it is a good idea that a prescription is needed when someone less than 17 years plans to buy Plan B. I think that the minimum age could become an age higher than 17 because 17 year old's should not even be having sex. Though, it is a reasonable minimum age since most 17 year olds are already in college.

  16. Justine Lockhart
    Period 4
    Date: 12/9/11
    Source: NPR

    The Republicans in the House of Representatives passed a new GOP bill Friday dealing with taxes. This bill will renew the Social Security payroll tax cut and benefit job-less people, giving them extra long term coverage. However, the Democrats don’t agree entirely with the bill, because they feel it’s still not generous enough for job-less people and doesn’t give enough taxes for wealthy people. The GOP plan also would not benefit seniors who pay Medicare, it’s estimated that with this bill Medicare will be destabilized for 47 million seniors and disabled people. Also, 25 percent of Medicare users would have to pay more due to their income rate, while only 7 percent pay higher monthly charges now. Without action from the bill, the payroll tax paid by 160 million workers will return to 6.2 percent on January 1st up from the current percent 4.2. Obama is working on making compromises and changes for the bill so the Congress can come to agreement.
    As we learned in class during the standing committee debate simulation—it’s difficult to make decisions in the Congress. However, if the Republicans and Democrats don’t make a decision and take no action with the bill, the current percent on taxes will go up to 6.2 percent. A lot of Americans are unemployed or struggling financially already then this will be bad news for everyone, it will be hard to pay higher taxes. Obama is right for trying to make compromises for the bill. Hopefully the Congress can come to an agreement.

  17. Eli Grobin
    Period 4
    David Welna, NPR

    This article talks about the appointment of presidential nominees, something about legislative and executive powers (OH YEAH). It talks about the fact that Senate republicans have used the filibuster to prevent his two most recent attempts at appointments. It talks most specifically about the president being able to make appointments without the approval of congress while they are in recess. This technique has been used in the pass to push through controversial nominees; however, Obama can't take advantage of it if there is no holiday recess. The Republican controlled House seems hellbent on stopping Obama in any way shape and form; for this reason it seems like they might not even break for the winter holidays (while most of our Representatives consider themselves devout Christians who would never work on the Sabbath). But the Democratic majority Senate seems like it while recess for Christmas; but the two houses can't recess at different times. So the President has the power to adjourn congress if they can't agree on a recess; something Obama seems willing to do, but republicans tell him not to.
    This article really strikes me. I have heard nothing bad of Richard Cordray, one of the nominees, and I don't see why Republicans are trying so hard to stop him. I think in reality it all boils down to the fact that republicans are so fed up with their lack of complete and total dominance of the government they feel they need to do everything in their power to impede Obama for no real reason. Also these representatives are complete hypocrites. They base their campaigns on being super-good Christians but no super-good Christian would work through Christmas especially with it being on a Sunday this year. I also think this is a blatant misuse of constitutional powers. The Senate is supposed to be the one confirming nominees which they technically are, but the House is the major player in this. Not to mention cloture should require less of a majority but filibuster should only be used in dire circumstances. If the Senate just voted on it the appointments would all be confirmed. The current overuse of the filibuster by republicans is ruining our government in general; it's preventing anything from getting done and it's wasting everyone's time. Also I don't think the president should be able to get appointments without the approval of the senate or to be able to adjourn congress without the approval of the houses. In this specific situation I don't really mind it because certain political parties are being stupid and not doing their job. All the same I think we give to much power the executive branch as it is and I think we should not do that as it might actually push through nominees that aren't good for the country, just for a president's campaign account although maybe we should wait 'till Obama is out to make that change.

  18. Desaree Johnson
    4th Period
    North Carolina General Assembly Votes To Repeal Landmark Racial Justice Law

    Yesterday there was a bill passed in the Senate to repeal the Racial Justice Act with a 27-14 vote. Prosecutors are worried that this may be jeopardizing the fowarded process of the criminal justice system. This act which was passed in 2009 allowed inmates on death row to appeal on the grounds of racism playing a role in their sentencing. The first defendant to make a case under the act was Marcus Robinson.
    I think this is sad that this act has been appealed. There is racism still going on and this could play a big role in some of the ways defendants get sentenced.

  19. Charles Wang / 4th Period
    Republicans to offer payroll tax / Deirdre Walsh, Ted Barrett and Kate Bolduan
    December 8, 2011 /

    The House Republican leaders plan to vote on an extension for the payroll tax cut and unemployment benefit. The Senate however blocked Democratic and Republican proposals for the payroll tax cut with them both failing to get 60 votes. The Senate Republicans also stopped the surtax in income over $1 million to help pay for the lower payroll tax rate. They are seeking to shrink the size of government oppose for tax increases. With these outcomes, the party leaders and Obama must work out a way to fix this by the end of the year when the payroll tax cut is set to expire. Otherwise, Americans will have to pay higher taxes in the election year of 2012. Obama has clearly stated that he would reject any attempt to tie the pipeline project to the tax issue because it has nothing to do with it, it is a rider.
    I think that they should seriously just come to a compromise. It has been a very long time and the super committee has failed to reach an agreement. I really don’t see how hard it is to do it. They seem to be arguing just for the sake of doing it since they seem to place what they are doing higher than the health of the economy and America. I have a question for the Democrats and Republicans which is why can’t they come to a compromise. They should each state what they are willing to do and not and they form a joint committee which will have them work out a new solution for the problem.

  20. Samantha Joy Straughan
    4th period

    President Obama and his national security team have made many attempt to work with Congress on a new military defense bill. The main disagreement goes along with the terrorism suspects that are linked to the al-Qaida that are captured in the U.S. The White House and Congress can not come to an agreement about whether these suspected terrorists are prisoners of war or criminals.
    I am unaware of where I stand on these kind of issues, mainly because I feel uneducated in the topic to the point where I don’t feel comfortable forming an opinion. While there are obvious ups and downs from both views I can confidently say I do not agree with the right to imprison citizens without a right to trial. It is obviously unconstitutional and makes me feel uncomfortable that our basic rights are unraveling right before our eyes.

  21. Marc Ordronneau

    Poll: Voters want to throw 'em out
    By: Rebecca Stewart
    December 9, 2011

    According to a Gallup pole, the most amount of voters since 1993, want incumbents to
    lose their jobs. This resulted in the end of the Democratic control of the House and inserted
    republican Newt Gingrich. 70% of voters do not want congressmen to be re-elected. All 3
    parties agreed about equally on the anti-incumbent voting. But, about half of the voters do want
    their Representative to be re-elected. After losing control of the House again in 2010, this anti-
    incumbent voting could work for or against them since both sides are about equal.

    I was interested in this article because I like to know who has control of the House and the
    Senate. Even though I already knew that the republicans ruled the House, this shows what the
    future could possibly be like and what chance the democrats have of taking it back. But, it is
    very hard to tell since the parties are very equal on the matter. Also what interested me is that
    although these are some of the highest numbers ever for anti-incumbent voting, about 50% of
    voters want their Representative re-elected.