Monday, April 16, 2012

7th 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. Eric Reinstein, period 7
    For Two Economists, the Buffett Rule Is Just a Start
    Annie Lowrie, New York Times
    April 16, 2012

    Emmanuel Saez and Thomas Pikkety are two liberal French economists who have spent the last ten years addressing the issue of tax fairness, tracking incomes of the middle class and the rich in America and other countries. Their studies show that the United States has, undoubtedly, the severest amount of tax inequality of any first-world nation. They’ve mapped data all the way back to 1913, finding that after World War II, inequality was at its lowest. That lasted until the 1970s, when the top 1 percent started drawing a bigger share of income every year. The recession of 2007 dropped it a little, but since 2010, it has rebounded to higher rates than even before.

    “The United States is getting accustomed to a crazy level of inequality” said Mr. Pikkety. “People say reducing that is radical. I think that tolerating the level of inequality we tolerate is radical.”

    Unfortunately, some may argue these two are a bit too liberal, proposing much, much higher tax rates on the rich, up to 50-70%. That alone earned them an entire article about how wrong they are - on the cover of the Wall Street Journal. They defended their proposal by saying that even the Democrat’s “Buffett Rule” to increase taxes on the rich would do little to help the issue. Mr. Saez added that without drastic policy changes, nothing will change and inequality will never decline on its own.

    I completely agree with their work. Like they said, the gap here is insane. Mitt Romney pays 14% income tax on his millions of dollars. Most Americans pay 35%, and definitely not all millionaires. The 99% struggle, and the richest continue to profit without giving their fair share. Government just can’t function without taxes. Conservatives say higher tax rates are unconstitutional and would slow economic growth. But the truth is, many countries have higher tax rates in the past, including us, with little effect on economic growth. I admit that a 70% income tax is a little extreme, but even a flat tax would be better than this. Like I said, Mitt Romney pays 14%, and it doesn’t matter if you are Republican or Democrat - that’s not right. Tax increases are the only way to get out of our deficit and save our society from this inequality.

  2. On April 6th, 2012, a recent mover from South Florida to Orange County, CA, got a taste of Southern Californian kindness when his lost wallet was returned to him.
    Although this is a seemingly normal situation--someone loses something, a kind soul finds it and turns it in to be returned--the man had left a whopping sum of ten thousand dollars in his wallet. Anyone who had found his misplaced wallet would have been thrilled at the idea of taking that much money and keeping it for themselves.
    The man went for a walk near Main Beach and sat down on a nearby bench at around 1:15 P.M., where he misplaced his wallet. A passerby found the wallet and then handed it to the beach lifeguards.
    “When the lifeguards opened the wallet, they saw all that cash and they called the police,” commented Lieutenant Jason Kravitz. According to Kravitz, the man was absolutely shocked when he found that all his money was still in the wallet. He explained to the police that he was simply distracted and forgot that he had left his wallet on the park bench.

    Well, I don’t know what kind of karma this guy has got, but he should bottle it and sell it. Although people are generally pretty nice and will do the right thing, there’s a lot that you can do with ten thousand dollars. I have found some nice things that people owned and returned them before, but I feel like if I found a thousand dollars I would have a hard time turning it in without wondering what I could have done with all that money if I’d kept it for myself. However, ten thousand dollars is a lot to work for. Whoever has that kind of money in their pockets probably spent a lot of time and effort in making a career for themselves in which ten thousand dollars would become chump change. Whoever this man was, he is really lucky that his wallet was returned to him. I just hope that he got that money through good means.
    I guess that in the end, if I found a wallet with ten thousand dollars in it... I would return it.
    But maybe I’d give him the wallet and then ask for a ten thousand dollar reward.

    Published: April 6, 2012
    Article: Forgotten wallet with $10,000 inside returned to owner
    By: Jonathan Lloyd

  3. Jonah Horwitz
    Rapper's De-Light: Tupac 'Hologram' May Go on Tour
    Ethan Smith, Wall Street Journal
    April 16, 2012

    Sunday, at the Coachella music festival, Tupac Shakur, the long missed rapper who died 15 years ago was brought back to life in a hologram form to perform. He performed alongside Snoop D-O-double G and Dr. Dre, rappers he used to collab with. Tupac performed 2 of the rapper's hits "Hail Mary" and "2 of Amerikaz Most Wanted" which he raps with Snoopy. This ghostly image was made by Digital Domain Media Group inc. Snoopy and Dre are trying to go on tour with their old friend. There are many options to this idea like having other rappers perform with tupac who collabed with him in the 90's. digital domain's chief producer said that creating a digital human being is the hardest thing to do. Also, very costly. The performance at Coachella costed over $100,000.

    This is the coolest thing I've ever seen and though as awesome as it is, it would be kinda weird to have him go on tour. There will probably be many problems in the performances because of how complicated it was just to create 2 songs. Watching the video literally gave me the chills. At the end of his second song, it showed him spreading his arms out, then completely deteriorating. I think that this idea of holograms is great, but instead of making just Tupac go on tour, maybe they can have another performance of Biggie, Pac, Big L or even Michael Jackson. Any legendary artists deserves this.


    One Out Of Five Still Wont Get Online
    By Iain Thomson in San Francisco
    April 16th 2012

    A pew study taken recently show that 20% of Americans are not using the internet. This was taken by the American Life Project. Their data shows that over the last 15 years the percent of American using the internet rose from 10% to 78%. Over the last few years the numbers haven't risen indicating the market has matured. This article outlines just why some wont use the web. A few of the reasons were; its too expensive, people live in areas that cannot access internet and a small number cannot use it because they are physically unable. They also compare the number of people who have phones to the number people with laptop computers. It shows that more people have phones than laptops. This is a large 35% difference.

    What I found interesting is that their are people who still don't use it. The internet is such a large part of my education and daily life, thinking of choosing not to use it is weird. That makes me realize I live in the first generation to face this "problem" of the internet. I say "problem" because depending on who you ask the internet is either an amazing innovation or a troubling distraction. I think it will be interesting to watch younger kids grow up with such easy access to the internet. I wonder how that will shape us. I believe it is for the good but I can see the down sides of such a powerful resource so readily on hand. This article does a great job showing you just how popular the internet has become. While 20% is a large amount of people who don't, many millions do. And across the world there are even more. I hope to see what this graph will look like in 25 years..

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  6. Luthfi Bustillos, period 7
    Competition pushes Nokia into losses
    BBC news
    April 19, 2012

    Nokia the Mobile phone Company has said it had a net loss of 929 million Euros. They also had a net loss in 2011 of 344 million Euros. The competition from rival mobile companies had led to the loss of sales. The loss came from companies based in India, the Middle East and China. Nokia said the profits were worse than expected. Even though many of Nokia’s phones have received praise for their phones, they still face trouble with the sales. The company will reform their sales team in a bid to improve their sales. Nokia’s net sell fell to 7.35billion Euros less quarter, an astonishing 29% less than last year in the same period.

    I think that it’s interesting that Nokia has lost so much money considering how big they once were. I think that their sales team isn’t very good and they need to do better with their advertisements. Their phones don’t seem that attractive either so they need to make them appeal to the public. I don’t see their advertisements often here in the US and their commercials don’t general appeal to me. I think that if they want to be successful they will need to change the look of their phones so that people will be interested in them.

  7. Peter Norwood
    GOP blocks Buffett Rule
    Summary: The Buffett Rule, inspired by billionaire Warren Buffett is tax codes in which people who earn over 2 million dollars a year will have to pay a 30% income rate. The bill is supported by president Obama, and the majority of the Democratic Party. After debate senate democrats were unable to obtain 60 votes so the bill was eventually blocked by the GOP.
    Opinion: The Buffett Rule has good intentions I will agree, I do not think a teacher or social worker should give a higher percentage of their income to the government than a millionaire. I think most Americas would agree on that because it generally makes sense. The problem with the Buffett Rule is that it is a waste of time. Barack Obama knew that the GOP would not allow the Buffett Rule but he perused it anyway. The GOP would perhaps support a change in tax code, but not one who only raises taxes on one group of people. The bill fights for tax equality, but created inequality in the tax code! If Barack Obama wants to provide the change he promised to the American people he should generate a more moderate and fair tax rate for all people. People who support Obama in changing the tax code need to realize that nothing is being done with these useless ideas, which don’t even give the “99%” any tax relief! You can agree with Obama that the tax code needs to be more equal, but if you believe that philosophy you cannot support a bill you know cannot be passed. Supporting the Buffett Rule essentially is supporting the same Bush Era Tax Cuts. Supporters need to be more moderate and reasonable if they actually want change.

  8. Juno Park 7th
    Understanding North Carolina's Proposed Amendment One
    Mark Geary April 18 2012

    Recently the state legislature of North Carolina has passed a bill, commonly known as Amendment One, which would discriminate against same-sex couples by not recognizing them as a domestic legal union. Voting for this amendment will be on the ballot on May 8th, which is very soon. The Bill would install a new section into Article 14 of the North Carolina state constitution stating that only unions between a man and woman will be considered valid and fully recognized by the state. The goal of this bill is to ensure that the courts and judges cannot freely interpret the phrase “domestic legal union” and prevent gay couples from getting married. Because the courts have yet to clearly define domestic legal unions there will be much future litigation over who it applies to and what it means. That will be the main issue: the uncertainty of what domestic legal union means.

    I think that this bill is ridiculous and should not pass, nor should it have ever been proposed. The passing of amendment one will not recognize same-sex couples as married even if they were not married in the state of North Carolina. This will affect many persons who are professionals and hold jobs with benefits. Since the couples will not be seen as married by the state, employers will no longer be required to supply benefits to the families or partners of gay men and women. North Carolina is discriminating against same-sex couples, AND their families. In my opinion this is wrong and unconstitutional because the federal constitution states that one cannot pick out a certain class of people and pass legislation that would lay extra burden on them. I find this to be wrong and immoral because the population of people this will affect will be not only same-sex couples, but also their straight children. How will people feel when they are told that benefits for their families will no longer be given? I am curious as to how this will affect married gay couples in the army and if this will mean that their BAH (basic allowance for housing) will also be dropped.

  9. Jayson Williams
    7th Period
    China’s Supreme Court Overturns Former Tycoon’s Death Sentence
    By: Associated Press

    In Beijing, the Chinese Supreme Court overturned the death sentence of Wu Ying, who was an ex-tycoon who had illegally got money from investors for her businesses. In China ths case has become extremely controversial for having such a severe sentence. The Chinese Supreme Court decided to give Ms. Ying a retrial back in her home province. The media has portrayed Ms. Ying as a rags to riches story and has been praised for setting a great example for new Chinese female entrepreneurs. The crime she committed was illegally raising $120 million U.S. dollars from her investors. Chinese entrepreneurs have been having a hard time with their businesses so they have been resulting into taking risky approaches with their investments. Before recent times, the Chinese government has been tolarable towards undergorund banking and lending but, now the Chinese have been cracking down more harshly, like with Ms. Ying's case.

    I definitely think that this is really ridiculous that any government would, find it ok to give someone the death sentence for stealing or illegally lending money for their business. She may have not been doing the right thing but, to kill someone for something like this isnt right, she never really hurt anyone physically so, there should be no reason for a death sentence. I really hope for Ms. Ying's sake that the Chinese really reconsider her sentence, it almost sounds like because she's a woman she should get a worse punishment since, most criminals get to walk away from cases like these.

  10. Cameron Baker 7th
    University hopes to repel stoners on '420' day
    Jim Spellman (CNN) April 20th, 2012

    The term 420 is widely known across the country as reference or code for marijuana use. Although the exact origin is unknown, the number most likely came from several high school students in the 70's. Today: April 20th is 4/20, an unofficial holiday recognized for smoking pot. Across the country many college students come out of the shadows and smoke on public campus in large numbers. This happens most notably in Boulder, Colorado, where near 10,000 people gathered at UC last year to get high. It has become somewhat of a tradition at this school, over the past ten years a 'festival' has been held. Out of 10,000 people, only 24 tickets were given and 5 arrests made for marijuana possession. This year however, the school hopes to tone-down the event, and in an effort to ward off stoners fertilized the field most commonly occupied, hoping the smell will discourage the event. "It's hard to keep track of that many people high on marijuana" said the campus chief of police.

    I think all the hype over 4/20 is kind of funny, and more importantly it sparks up a lot of debate. Why on this day only should it be more so "ok" to smoke marijuana? The police essentially accepting the events on 420 seems ridiculous when they will go out of their way to make petty arrests on any other day. What really annoys me is just today police will also go even MORE out of their way to enforce marijuana laws. Is it fair to only sometimes strictly enforce a law? In the case of marijuana it seems to be, so why is there a law in the first place? I don't understand the argument given to keep marijuana illegal, and today is one of the reasons why.

  11. Jack Keissler
    7th period
    Understanding North Carolina's Proposed Amendment One
Mark Geary
    April 18, 2012
    This article discusses a major issue in North Carolina in recent months and has stirred up a lot of controversy. It is about a bill that has been passed in the general assembly and which will be voted on by the people of North Carolina on May 8th. If the bill is passed then it will be illegal for gay couples to marry in this state. The bill states that a marriage is only between a man and a women, therefore making it impossible for a same sex couple to marry. If a person votes yes that will be the case but a negative vote is saying you disagree that a marriage can only be between a man and a women.
    I think this is just sad to be honest. It is disappointing to live in a state that will consider passing such a bill. In my opinion people should be allowed to do as they please and not be discriminated against based on their race, gender, age or sexual orientation. Who am I to tell someone that they cant be allowed to marry because I think its wrong or I think I read it in the bible. The population of same sex couples is very small so I feel it is important for everyone who is apposed to the bill passing needs to do something about it. It is not right for the government to restrict someone’s rights like that.

  12. Katie Alexander 7th period
    President Obama to visit UNC-Chapel Hill next week to push for lower student loan interest rates
    John Frank, The News and Observer
    Fri, Apr 20, 2012

    President Barack Obama is scheduled to visit UNC-Chapel Hill on Tuesday as part of a nationwide tour to encourage lower interest rates on student loans. More than 7.4 million students with federal student loans are expected to see interest rates double to 6.8 percent on July 1st. UNC-CH is the first of three colleges on a two-day tour the promoting lower interest rates on student loans. The White House hopes this tour will pressure Congress to stop a student loan interest rate increase this summer. Obama will also speak at the University of Colorado at Boulder and at the University of Iowa.

    I feel that student loan interest rates are an important issue. Education is something I believe is very important. The increasing interest rate will probably turn away people from going to college, which I believe is a very bad thing. I think everyone should be given the opportunity to go to college and high loan interest rates is something that is hindering people from doing so. I fully support Obama’s position on encouraging lower interest rates! Also, it’s pretty cool that Obama choose to visit Chapel Hill, North Carolina.(even if he is going to talk to UNC)

  13. Aaron Smith 7th Period
    Union trying to remove Derek fisher
    April 20th, 2012

    On Wednesday, the National Basketball Players Association's executive committee had a unanimous vote to remove current Oklahoma City Thunder point guard, Derek Fisher, who is refusing to step down. Fisher has reportedly been involved in many negotiations that have hurt the NBPA. Executive director, Billy Hunter, has called for a meeting today and had conflicts with Fisher for awhile now.

    This was a very interesting and informative article. Derek fisher is a veteran in the NBA and over the past couple of years I have really taken a liken to him and it is as to see him have these kind of problems. Although, it's seem quite obvious that he is holding the NBPA back and he most likely will be forced to step down from his position. This is very unfortunate but it is for the best and hopefully Fisher will continue to have success on the basketball court.

  14. Stefan Steiner 7th period
    Zimmerman apologizes as judge sets $150,000 bond
    4/20/12 CNN wire staff

    George Zimmerman apologized to Trayvon Martin's family. It came during an unusual direct appeal to the family. Moments later, the judge set a $150,000 bond. Zimmerman's attorney stated that the apology was a response to an interview with Martin's mother. She said she wanted to hear from the man who shot her son.
    I think that the apology by Zimmerman was a good gesture. A little compassion can go a long way. Although this small apology might not be enough when compared to what actually happened with Zimmerman and Martin. We will find out soon enough.

  15. Kiara Luna / 7th period
    On the line for Secret Service chief: Agency’s reputation, his job
    Tom Cohen, CNN
    April 19, 2012

    A scandal concerning partying with prostitutes in Colombia has put a rare spotlight on the Secret Service agency. This occurred shortly before President Obama’s appearance at the Summit of the Americans this previous week. An investigation is being done as to how eleven alleged agents ended up in a situation that was risky and in violation of their agency’s standards. Some have turned in their resignations are there are more to be expected. The members of the Congress, instead of making the Secret Service director the main target, they instead give him an opportunity to investigate and bring in outsiders to have a look at the agency culture. I think that it was very unethical. This opens the possibility of there being previous events like this among people in the agency. It looks like they are not always as focused as they should be and that they are willing to put in risk of danger people like the president.

  16. Kabir Kumar-Hardy 7th Period
    Three More Secret Service Employees Resign over Prostitution Scandal
    4/20/12 Eyder Peralta

    11 to 12 CIA agents were involved in a prostitution scandal that could result in the expulsion of at least five agents. A full investigation is being done by the CIA. At this point the agents remain unnamed, and sources say it will stay that way. At least five arrests will be made and many think the incidents may have involved drugs.
    I think the CIA needs to take care of this quickly. Our intelligence agency has lost respect and credibility due this scandal. Obama and the head of the CIA should address the scandal and apologize for the action of those agents.