Monday, April 16, 2012

6th period: Current Event due 4/20

Welcome to the 4th Quarter of Civics and Economics! There are only a few current events assignments left in the school year. Take your time in finding articles that are interesting to you; carefully summarize and provide insightful analysis on the article that you select. The topic for this week is your choice. There are some very interesting things going on, domestically and internationally, that involve civics and economics. I cannot wait to read your discoveries! Have a fantastic week. :)


  1. Allie Rives 6th Period
    Michelle Obama: 'I Don't Have The Stressful Job. He Does'
    Author: Alex Brandon
    Michael Martin from NPR went to visit First Lady Michelle Obama to seek out the inside scoop of her job as the President's wife and the issues she must face. As Martin gives credit to Michelle Obama for having a "fairly anxiety-inducin job", Martin learns that President Obama has the difficult job, and Michelle Obama chooses the issues she's most concerned about to work on. Over her multiple issues she's dealt with her most intriguing one she has come across has been the challenges military veterans and spouses face. For instance, the unemployment rate is sky-rocketing at the time and the longest job their resume says they have held is for two years. While the manager in charge of the company sees this as a lack of skill, they do not understand they have been moving due to the fact that the one has been protecting our country, thus leaving their job. Luckily with the assistance of the private sector, there have been 100,000 jobs set up specifically for veterans. The interview wrapped up with Michelle Obama's thoughts on the Trayvon Martin shooting in Florida. She feels as if it is very important to talk, and continuously get to know and understand our diverse world we are in.
    Overall, I feel as if this interview went very successfully. I appreciate the fact that Michelle Obama isn't given all these issues she must follow and magically fix, yet she carefully chooses ones that have significance for not only others but herself as well. The action taken by the President seems reasonable to open up those job opportunities for the veterans suffering from job loss. All in all, this article was enjoyable to read and get an inside scoop of the First Lady and her job.

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  3. Anna Zhang 6th
    Extremists poison schoolgirls' water; Afghan officials say
    From Masoud Popalzai, CNN
    April 17, 2012

    In Kabul. Afghanistan, 140 girls and female teachers were admitted into a local hosiptal due to water poisoning. The contamination was thought to be caused by extremists who were against educating women. Luckily, no one died although many passed out and experienced varying levles of discomfort and nausea. As of yet, authourities do not know exactly what caused the health problem, although they are certain that it is some type of poison. (A similar incident occurred in 2010 where more than 100 females fell ill.)They are still searching for the perpetrators.

    I think it’s cowardly and sexist that girls aren’t allowed to learn. Even if there are those that disagree, they didn’t have to resort to such a lowly method as to poison the school’s drinking water. After reading this article, I feel fortunate that, although sexism still exists and men are paid more than women, females are allowed a peaceful pursuit in education in this country.

  4. Arjun Raghavan
    India Set to Test its Long-Distance Missile
    Harmeet Shah Singh
    Tuesday, April 17, 2012

    India is preparing for the launch test of its longest-distance missile, Agni V. The rocket is expected to be able to travel approximately 3100 miles. India has clearly stated that the missile is not ‘aggressive’ and will only be used to defend the country if needed. This test is also said by strategic expert Uday Bhaskar to show India’s technological expertise to the world. Although this test is important, Bhaskar also stated that the missile would be tested several more times.

    I feel that the building of this missile is a good move by India as long as it is purely used to defend the nation. I think that it builds India’s standing as a scientific and technological powerhouse. Overall, I feel that this missile could have a positive impact if used in the right manner.

  5. Crescentia Cho/ 6th
    Secret Service Scandal Raises Question of Macho Culture, Women Agents/ Laura Smith-Spark
    CNN/ April 18, 2012

    In Columbia, when Secret Services agents brought prostitutes to their hotel rooms, a lot of questions were brought up. Even though it is unclear if all of these agents were males, some people thought that more women should be agents. Women will counter this bad behavior since they are more unlikely to get into trouble than males said Kiri Blakeley, a journalist. On the other side of the spectrum, Jeffrey Robinson, an author, said that questions should be raised on the agent program, not the gender. Not all of the male agents were there so people shouldn’t generalize.
    I think that there is no clear way of knowing if women or men are better for an agent job. Sure some agents, mostly males, made a big mistake but women could equally make that mistake. Plus, not all women could counter the bad behavior of men because some women are bad and they make bad choices. So, I agree with Mr. Robinson because I think that the questions should be focused on the Secret Service agent program and not the gender.

  6. Kaitlin Jones, Period 6
    Economists: Sluggish recovery here to stay
    By Annalyn Censky, CNN
    April 19, 2012

    Everyone knows that the United States is in a recession. Economists surveyed by CNN Money predict that the unemployment rate will drop to 8% from the current 8.2%. This is because more people are giving up on finding a job because of the lack of growth of the economy, and are dropping out of the work force. The unemployment rate only counts people who have looked for a job in the past four weeks. Economists also predict that the economy will continue its “sluggish” recovery, as the title states. The end of the year is said to trigger massive spending cuts at the same time Bush’s tax cuts, payroll tax cuts, and unemployment benefits expire. Economists also said that they had several ideas on how to help the economy, but that Congress could not agree on anything.

    The economy is one of the biggest problems present day in the United States, if not the biggest. I don’t find the predictions the economists have very encouraging, seeing as that they only see a slight improvement in the economy that is very gradual. I also didn’t know that the unemployment rate only counts people who have looked for a job in the past four weeks. This information makes me think that the economy is even worse than I had previously suspected. I hope that the economy does get better this year, even if its just a very gradual and small.

  7. Camden Van Ord, Period 6
    Small plane with unresponsive pilot crashes into Gulf of Mexico
    CNN Wire Staff
    April 19th,2012

    At about noon Thursday afternoon,a small plane containing only one pilot crashed into the Gulf of Mexico. It had been circling the ocean for more than two hours with an unresponsive pilot. The plane was a Cessna 421 and remained intact after hitting the water from a 28,000 foot fall. It fell about 120 miles off of Tampa, Florida. The plane flew out of Slidell, Louisiana earlier that day en route to Sarasota, Florida. It was reported that nothing went wrong with the takeoff out of Louisiana. The probable cause was a loss of cabin pressure, according to Miles O'Brien. It was reported that the windows of the plane were fogged and frosted over when spotted by Air Force investigation planes.

    I chose to write about this article because it caught my eye when I first saw it. It's an interesting story because it's something that doesn't happen very often anymore. You rarely hear of plane crashes, and this one is pretty mysterious. We don't know a whole lot about what exactly happened, so it will be intriguing to find out in the next few days. The article talked about a similar incident, but that was back in 1999. That was where a few passengers of a private plane crashed in South Dakota after cruising over half the country with no internal pressure. All the passengers died. This is interesting because the last time something like this happened was almost 15 years ago.

  8. Natalie Ragazzo, 6th Period
    'N.C.'s last 'honor flight' salutes World War II generation'
    by Franco Ordonez, News & Observer. April 19,2012

    Mel Dickens an 84 year old WWII veteran began to choke up as the bus pulled up to the National World War II Memorial. Dickens was one of the 120 veterans on the last "honor flight" to Washington from North Carolina. These trips include many things such as a visit to their memorial and many other monuments. It took 60 years after the end of the War for the monument to be built, which means many of the veterans have never witnessed the monument. Leading up to flight 8 of the veterans who were scheduled to go on the trip had to cancel because of health issues. This is one of the leading causes as to why this is the last 'honor flight' from North Carolina. From the 16 million Americans who served in WWII only 2 million are alive today. As the men arrived they were greeted by a chorus singing patriotic songs and hundreds of supporters. "Everyone is thanking me, I want to thank everyone else. I can't believe what everyone is doing for us." said Rene Burtner, a veteran from North Carolina.
    The memorial is a great way to show appreciation for the veterans and their families. I wish that it could have been built closer to the end of the war though so then more of the veterans could have seen it. So many lives were lost during the war and the memorial is a great way to remember all that were lost. I feel as if every veteran should be able to see the memorial because it shows that people really do care for what they did. It makes them feel as appreciated and proud of what they did, which they should!

  9. Natalie Bulik-Sullivan, Pd. 6
    “Attorney: Plaintiffs will appeal dismissal of Iowa discrimination lawsuit”
    Author – Stephanie Siek
    CNN, 18/4/12

    A landmark lawsuit in Iowa was dismissed by the presiding judge on Tuesday on the basis of insufficient evidence to support the claim being argued. The case, Pippen v. State of Iowa, involves 30 individual claims from African-American job applicants who claim that subconscious racism led to the differences in hiring and promoting frequency between African-American and white workers in Iowa. The plaintiffs assert that they were denied promotions or positions due to their ethnicity between July of 2003 and the present time. Thomas Newkirk, the suit’s attorney, filed the case in 2007 on behalf of 32 plaintiffs (only 30 of whom are still involved due to several deaths). The main basis of the claim is what is known as the Implicit Association Test, a test designed to “measure subconscious bias.” Several studies conducted using this test suggest that approximately 70% of white participants, regardless of their own opinions of their tolerance, showed a preference for whites over blacks. In the court proceedings for this case, an expert was brought in to testify that employers could be biased even if they did not know the applicant’s ethnicity. Robert J. Blink, the judge responsible for the dismissal, simultaneously raised the question of why the state is not using its power to ensure that it is an effective Equal Opportunity Employer. Newkirk stated on Wednesday that he will be appealing the case as well as asking Iowa to let him give the state’s hiring managers the Implicit Association Test, as one of the judge’s reasons for dismissing the case was Newkirk’s assumption that the test would show the same results if applied to the managers in question.
    To say the least, this case is extremely troubling. The idea that subconscious racism could be strong enough to influence hiring decisions even when awareness of ethnicity is taken out of the equation is both appalling and horrifying. I hope that Newkirk’s request to give the Implicit Association Test to Iowa’s hiring managers is granted, because I would be eager to see the results (as well as get more information about how the test is conducted and how its results are interpreted). This case has the potential to affect the hiring/applying practices of millions of people and corporations around the country.

  10. Julian Wilson
    6th Period
    Studies Question the Pairing of Food Deserts and Obesity by Gina Kolata
    New York Times
    This article is about the theories dealing with obesity and what leads to it. Many previous theories said that obesity stemmed from “food deserts” which were places in poorer areas where it was harder to obtain healthy foods. Michelle Obama has been a major spokesperson for this issue with her campaign to combat childhood obesity. Recent studies, however, suggest that “food deserts” have nothing to do with obesity, and that people are obese regardless of their access to food retailers. Some studies even suggested that in poorer areas previously thought to be food deserts there was actually a larger amount of access to grocery stores and restaurants. However, it was still hard for any study to determine the adequacy of these food stores that were readily available, and if they had good access to fresh fruits and vegetables. This is significant because it could drastically change how organizations looking to combat obesity work to solve the problem, if simply improving access to healthy foods appears to have no effect on obesity.
    I think it will be interesting to see if the conclusions of these studies hold true and change anything that is done or if their findings are ever disproved. I am also hopeful that they will find something that directly correlates with obesity in order to help organizations to better work to combat it effectively. I also thought it was interesting that oftentimes even when a study found a place to have good access to produce, it could also have even better access to fast food and unhealthy options, that could have skewed the results. I am concerned how this may or may not affect future efforts to combat obesity by perhaps causing them to lose support because people think there won’t be any effect of their efforts. I would have liked to know more of the statistics of the studies and polls and seen a map of the US or even just one city where it showed how there wasn’t a correlation between availability of healthy food and obesity.

  11. Mikko Rich-Voorhees 6th
    Starbucks Ditches Bug-Based Red Dye In Strawberry Drink
    April Fulton
    Starbucks has agreed to stop using bugs as an ingredient in their strawberry flavored drinks. The Dactylopius Coccus is an insect which when crushed excretes a red juice called cochineal. Of the groups that were against this one was the “people for ethical treatment of animals” who praised Starbuck on the decision. Another group who had been protesting the insects in the coffee were vegetarians and vegans, who could not drink or eat anything with this dye on it. Starbucks claims that this will not affect the taste or look of the pastries and drinks and that they plan the use new petroleum based dye instead.
    I had no idea that Starbucks was topping their drinks with bug juice, I don’t remember ever actually ordering a strawberry milkshake or something else they would have put it on, but I doubt anyone that has ever decided to look for bugs in the ingredient list. In relation to economics, this must have been the most cost effective option the company had, and could get large amounts for relatively cheap. Now that they have made a switch to something new I can only assume that the drink prices will inflate along with the cost of the ingredients in order to still make a positive net value off their products.

  12. Colin Bergey 6th Period
    University Hopes to Repel Stoners on "420" Day
    Jim Spellman

    The number "420" has been the number associated with the legalization of marijuana. States like California and Colorado are making efforts to legalize marijuana with expanding their medical marijuana fields. One of the biggest rallies to legalize marijuana occurs every year at the University of Colorado at Boulder. Last year, over 10,000 people attended. The university has decided to fertilize the lawn with fish-based fertilizer to discourage students from smoking weed on campus. The lawn smells quite terrible with fish based fertilizer.
    People don't really know the origin of the number "420". Some people say its a local police code for marijuana possession, while others say it is the number of active chemicals in marijuana. No matter the origin, everybody knows the secret term "420" now.
    I think it should be up to the states to regulate and tax drugs and alcohol in this country. The states know their citizens better than the federal government does. Marijuana culture has really been on a rise in the past twenty years. I think it is inevitable that it will one day become legal.

  13. Katie Mimmack pd 6
    Ann Romney Takes Center Stage In Tug Of War For Female Voters by Mara Liasson on April 20, 2012

    There is currently a lot of controversy in politics about women’s rights, especially about the Republican party’s intent on taking rights away. In almost all media sources except some with a conservative bias, like Fox News, this fight over rights is being called a “war on women.” Because of this, Republicans have not looked very good in the eyes of women, who make up 53% of the United States’ population. Recently, however, Democrat Hillary Rosen made a jab at Mitt Romney’s wife, Ann Romney, for being a stay-at-home mom, saying that she had “never worked a day in her life.” This created a lot of controversy and backlash against the Democratic party, because Ann Romney is a likeable person in the eyes of the public and because raising five children is a difficult job in and of itself. Both parties are taking jabs at each other for their different actions against women, hoping to make themselves look like the lesser of two evils, but neither has been gaining much ground in the war on women.

    Personally, I think the Republican Party needs to straighten up and recognize that women are people and deserve rights too, and the Democratic party needs to refrain from personal attacks and push their previous actions which have benefited women. But more than anything, I believe that government needs to stop speaking for women and let them speak for themselves. Only 16.8% of the seats in the current congress are occupied by women, a shocking statistic that reveals just how underrepresented we are in government, considering that women make up 53% of America’s population. Straight, white, rich men are making most of the decisions for the incredibly diverse population of the United States. Men should not be regulating decisions which apply solely to women, like in the case of women’s birth control and abortion. I don’t have the right to make decisions regarding things that will never affect me, and the men of congress should not have this right other. 77% of anti-abortion leaders are men, and 100% of them will never get pregnant. We should all just let women deal with women’s issues, and men deal with men’s issues, and deal with everything else together. I wish this article had gone into more detail regarding the actual issues in the “war on women,” rather than only talking about Ann Romney and the Parties’ reactions to Hilary Rosen’s comments.

  14. Nate Hebert 6th period
    New York Subway Bomb Plotter Breaks Down on Witness Stand
    Brittany Auger

    On thursday Najibullah Zazi, the admitted leader of a 2009 plot to bomb the New york subway broke down into tears. He was asked if he still considered his co-conspirator a good friend he broke down and said “I love him”, which he was then asked if he and his friend intended to bomb the New York subway he whispered “yes”. Zazi was born in Peshawar, Afghanistan and moved to Queens, New York as a teen. He became friends with two others who he would later conspire with. He and his friends left in 2008 for an al Qaeda compound to receive training. They taught them how to fire weapons and how to make bombs out of house hold items. Zazi claims to be inspired by the London metro bombings in which he said “That was a very big achievement, achievement through hitting the UK economically”.

    These men deserve the death penalty plain and simple. They admitted to some of the worst attempted crimes any one could do. They also admitted to be associated with a terrorist group. All terrorists need to die, so the sooner we get rid of them the better. Hopefully this sends a message to others trying to do the same.

  15. Catherine Romaine
    6th period
    Zimmerman apologizes as judge sets $150,000 bond
    by CNN Wire Staff
    April 20, 2012

    Earlier today, George Zimmerman publicly apologized to Trayvon Martin's family for his murder. A Florida judge set a bond for $150,000 so that Zimmerman does not have to be in jail before the trial. However, the Martin family was discouraged by this bond because they thought he should definitely be in jail or have a bond of $1 million so that Zimmerman could not pay it. Also, investigators have discovered that Zimmerman had a swollen face, gashes on his face, and a broken nose which possibly resulted from, as Zimmerman says, Trayvon bashing his head into the sidewalk. There is still many doubts about this case and it will be interesting to find out what happens.

    I chose this article because it has been in the news a lot recently. It has been a big controversy and there is a lot of awareness about it. Many schools, including ours, have shown support for Trayvon Martin by wearing hoodies. There have been many interviews on TV and articles in the newspaper about this case. This article has been very interesting is getting a lot of publicity so I enjoyed reading it and finding out more about the case.

  16. Grant DeSelm
    6th period
    What exactly is 'Hand Shredded A$$ Meat'?
    Bo Gu, NBC News
    April 20, 2012

    Chinese food is very distinct and even if you travel to another province, the food may be vastly different. There are so many different dishes and foods throughout China and English translations are scarce if any. The Chinese government has recently written a book for English translations of all Chinese dishes. The book started to be written in 2006 and has finally been published. They now have over 2000 dishes named. A 90 year old professor named Chen Lin was the chief consultant for the book. He was a Chinese and English major of language and loved food too.
    This is obviously a good idea. This should be in every Chinese restaurant in America too. When I’m simply trying to order some Mu Shu Chicken, I can never find it because it’s written in some fancy terms. This is also very convenient for tourists who might not know the food or atmosphere. So next time you’re in China and are confronted with a menu item like “hand shredded ass meat,” you can take a peek at the book for guidance.

  17. Ryan Castellano
    6th period
    Timeline of Events in Trayvon Martin Case Chris Lett and Diane Laposta

    The Trayvon Martin case is finally coming to an end and hopefully a truthful one. Martin was shot and killed by George Zimmerman back in late February, and since then it has been one of the most controversial cases. Zimmerman was a local watchman who claimed that Trayvon looked suspicious. He after spotting Martin called the police, the operater told him to let them handle it and to not do anything. Zimmerman did the exact opposite pursuing Trayvon, and confronted him. Martin “punched him in the nose and began hitting his head on the sidewalk”. Zimmerman then shot Martin in “self-defense”. This case has a lot of perspectives and questionable evidence, which has made it a very difficult case to reach a verdict on. Zimmerman was first let off for claiming it was self-defense. On April 11th, after many petitions and constant battles, he was arrested for 2nd degree murder.
    Of course, it should have never come to this. Zimmerman should have listened to the operator and let the police handle it. I do understand that Zimmerman was “defending himself”, although he should not have even come close to confronting Martin in the first place. The “Stand your ground” law created in 2005 does not allow you to “pursue and confront.” It just allows you to take action when truly in danger. This is one of the main reasons that this case has not gone away.

  18. Alex Walker, 6th Period
    Obama Sees Steep Dropoff in Cash from Major Donors
    Author: Nicholas Confessore and Derek Willis
    Source: The New York Times
    Publishing Date: April 20, 2012

    President Obama is struggling to raise money for his re-election campaign as he faces off with Mitt Romney (most likely to be the Republican candidate). There have been massive drops in donations from many major businesses and industries leaving the president trailing behind his 2008 campaign. This has forced Obama to shift his efforts toward grass-root donors, whose contributions made up more than half of his total money raised in the month of March. Even though his donations aren’t quite what they were in previous elections, Obama as the incumbent doesn’t have to spend as much money as before. Overall, the president’s campaign isn’t doing quite as well as it was the previous election, but its major challenges are still yet to come.

    I think it is interesting that Obama has lost much of his support from Wall Street and big businesses. Many people aren’t happy with his presidency and therefore that is reflected in campaign donations. I also find this to be a great example if what we are studying in class. It clearly shows how civics and economics are closely tied together, especially during elections. Money is an enormous factor in elections, and often the one who raises the most of it will win. The real question is who will be able to generate more of it in the upcoming months.

  19. Collin Vilen 6th Period
    Zimmerman apologizes as judge sets $150,000 bond

    The Treyvon Martin case has awoken the nation towards racial profiling and gun laws across the nation, people supporting the unarmed teenager who was killed by George Zimmerman. Zimmerman apologized to the family of Treyvon on Friday in response to the family’s request to hear from the man who killed their son. The family however did not accept the apology, their lawyer Natalie Jackson saying the apology was no more than an effort for his own good to improve his case. The judge posted bond at $150,000, which the family of Treyvon believes is much too low. Their lawyers wanted a bail of 1 million dollars or no bail at all, $150,000 was not enough for a murder case according to them. This case has sparked controversy over the “stand your ground” law, that says self defense is a reason to kill. The state of Florida will probably review this law because of this tragedy.

    The Treyvon tragedy is really going to open the gates into racial profiling and the “stand your ground” law. I believe that this law needs to be more clear. From what I have heard it says that you can shoot to kill someone if you feel threatened. I believe in some ways that is a good law but it needs to be last resort. People feel threatened every day sometimes just from talking to people. You can’t go around shooting everyone just because you feel threatened. I also think the bail was posted too low. In any murder case I think the defendant should not be able to post bail. Murder is such a serious crime. Many people have bad views of racial profiling, but I think it isn’t always bad. Some ethnicities are checked more closely at airports because of 9-11, and not all Pakistanis are bad obviously but they are more likely than other people. We can’t check everyone, so more likely candidates have to be checked more closely. It may be unfair but it saves time and the world isn’t always fair. I think that is an opinion of mine that is different than a lot of people.