Saturday, October 31, 2015

The Politics of Daylight Saving

In the midst of our busy lives, gaining an extra hour on the weekend with the end of daylight saving time (DST) is always a huge relief. This year, some see it as an extra hour of Halloween (yes!). On the other hand, losing an hour when saving time starts can be fairly frustrating. However, the costs and benefits of daylight saving extends beyond just gaining and losing an hour. 

On a local level, many businesses must continue to operate the extra hour, but employees are not paid for this extra time. Others say that, for some jobs like being a waiter or waitress, it is a helpful extra hour to gain tips on a busy night (Source). In addition, when it's more light out, then people are more likely to stay out and spend money. This is why many businesses support DST- more time to gain business and money. 

On the state level, fourteen state legislatures have debated bills to stop daylight saving time last year. Currently, both Arizona and Hawaii do not practice daylight saving time. Proponents of such bills argue that the time switch simply confuses the public. In addition, it can cause disconnect between different states and time zones. Most of the time, these bills are shut down by state chambers of commerce, as businesses are often helped by DST. 

People who argue for the continuation of daylight saving time, besides businesses, argue that DST reduces crime rates, since when it's light out, people are less likely to commit crimes.  Other claimed social benefits are that, when adults spend more time awake when it is light out, people are generally happier, and there are fewer car accidents. All of these contribute to economic benefits as well, since less state money is spent with lower crime rates. 

Daylight saving time was signed into federal law by Woodrow Wilson during WWI, in order to save fuel by reducing energy usage as it is light out for later under DST. However, the idea was unpopular and Congress abolished it and even managed to override Wilson's veto. DST was reintroduced during WWII and generally remained afterward as a state option. 

Is daylight saving too much of a hassle? Do you think the benefits of daylight saving time outweigh the costs? Or vice versa? Is the continuation of DST mostly due to support from businesses? 
Should implementing daylight saving time continue to be a state level decision, or should it be required under federal law to maintain consistency between states?

Don't forget to turn back your clocks tomorrow, and Happy Halloween! 

Opinion: ProCon

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Alena Mulhern For President 2040

Alena Mulhern, a 10 year old from Kingston, wants to run for president as an adult. Her mother, Barbara Mulhern, reports saying "unfortunately that's the only thing you can't be" when Alena informed her of this goal (video/source). This is because the constitution states that the President must be a natural-born citizen of the United States. She was adopted from China when she was 10 months old.
Alena, feeling that this is an unfair rule, took her proposal for an amendment to the constitution (regarding the presidency's qualifications to include foreign-born and adopted citizens (specifically children) -source) to a Massachusetts state house committee where she testified for her cause. She states "I would be a great leader and bring people together......I love my country. I want to serve my country, and this is my country" (quote source) and to "just think of all the great candidates that would not be able to serve our country because of a law that came into existence more than 200 years ago" (sourced from video in above paragraph).
>Is her goal to amend this qualification realistic?
>A lot of the Constitution can be argued as out-dated, is this out-dated? What was the Framer's intent in making this qualification for the Presidency? What could happen if this was amended? Would it be better if they had to be adopted as children under a certain age in order to be considered?
>Is patriotism an important quality for a President (Is it important enough to continue Mulhern's crusade- as this her love for her country is one of her main arguments for presidency)
>Does Mulhern's young age play a part in this? (toleration in committee) Would this be taken seriously if it reached higher government institutions?



Photo- still from news video (source)

Paul Ryan Elected as House Speaker

On October 29, Republican Paul Ryan was elected as Speaker of the House. Republicans mostly all united behind Ryan as he gained 236 votes on the floor, 184 to minority leader Nancy Pelosi, and only 9 to Daniel Webster, the choice of the most conservative House Republicans. Lately, the House, and especially Republicans, has been through lots of events and turmoil, with Boehner's resignation, McCarthy, the previous expected Speaker, dropping out of the race, and a recent passing of a bill for the huge Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 through the House just a day before the vote. Articles claim that many members were seeking an end to infighting within House GOP, so were more willing to unite behind Ryan (Source).

Ryan was the chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, the powerful committee that writes bills for taxes. He was elected to the House as a representative from Wisconsin in 1999, and was Mitt Romney's running mate in the 2012 presidential election. Allegedly, he repeatedly refused to be nominated for Speaker until McCarthy dropped out from the race and after gaining support from the House Freedom Caucus, a strong conservative group (Source).

Do you think Ryan will be able to better unite House GOP members after extensive conflict? Or will he face issues similar to those Boehner faced, being unable to satisfy both the more conservative Tea Party members and the more moderate members? Was Ryan a good choice, or did House members simply settle for this decision, tired of all the conflict and looking for a fresh start? Ideally, what do you think Ryan should do to be a good Speaker?

Sources:
CNNChicago TribuneNBC v. Fox (comparisons!)

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

House Republicans Move to Impeach IRS Commissioner

Rep. Jason Chaffetz 
House Republican Jason Chaffetz, the chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, introduced a resolution to begin impeachment proceedings against Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Commissioner John Koskinen, on Tuesday, October 27. Chaffetz was joined by 18 other Republicans in the committee, and they accused Koskinen of failure to comply with a congressional subpoena (writ to attend court) and allowing evidence in the form of emails to be destroyed and not notifying Congress, as well as misleading the public. The resolution now goes to the House Judiciary Committee.

This bid came only a few days after the Justice Department ruled that no IRS official would be charged for accusations of bias against conservative groups. Allegedly, this bias made it harder for conservative groups to be tax-exempt, and these accusations angered Republican Congressmen. This decision ended the Oversight Committee's two-year investigation, as the Justice Department said they found no evidence suggesting that any IRS official acted in a discriminatory or political way that would justify criminal prosecution.

Do you think that introducing this impeachment resolution is justified? Chaffetz claims that this will help restore public confidence in the IRS—is this worth all the time and taxpayer money? How much of the motivation behind this was a partisan attack, as opposed to restoring the confidence of the American people? And, after the Justice Department ruling, is there enough evidence to back this impeachment?

Sources: Huffington Post, Washington Post
Blog Read: AJC

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Social Media And Its Role In Exposure of Police

In recent years, social media has become a popular medium for news to spread. There has been a large number of posted stories and videos of various violent situations between White police officers and African American citizens. Shootings have occurred during some of these altercations, outraging the victims' families as well as Americans across the country. For example, "The deaths of Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Walter Scott, and Freddie Gray are -some claim- evidence of long-standing problems with the police racism and excessive violence" (source). Viral videos have become a major part of the exposure of these stories to the public. Recently, while looking on Facebook I came across a link to this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KjSY0EoWSVc which shows a young African American boy being arrested for supposedly jay walking and disregarding the police's orders. Throughout the video a woman shouts 'he's just a kid' repeatedly. Eventually, nine police officers enter the scope of the video as they arrest him and put him in the back of a police car. This was just one example, as more of these videos have begun to surface (link to a list of videos). 

The most recent incident occurred this week in a South Carolina high school, Spring Valley High, when Ben Fields, a  sheriff's deputy named cop of the year and an assistant coach at the high school who has had previous violations regarding citizen's free speech and excessive force, flipped an African American girl out of her desk and arrested her. It was reported that she was using her phone, was asked to put it away several times, called into the office, and refused to move or leave the room; leading the administration to involve Officer Fields. In the video, the girl hits the officer with her fist but was reported to not have any weapon nor threatened his life. He continues to flip her and arrests her on the ground in the front of the class. The FBI and Department of Justice are getting involved and Fields has been suspended without pay. Field's Sheriff, Leon Lott, disregarded the matter of race and stated that Fields has an African American girlfriend (source). However, many are still suspicious of Fields' motives. The girl who was flipped has been arrested as well as her classmate, Niya Kenny, who tried to "stand up" to the officer, cursing at him as he arrested the girl (source).  New York Magazine called it "the latest in a depressing series of filmed violent encounters between cops and black teens" (source). There is even a hash tag trending titled "#AssaultAtSpringValleyHigh" (hashtag).  Three different videos of this incident have surfaced on social media, expanding its audience across social media platforms. This large audience creates a strong debate setting in the comment sections of the videos. Some have argued that police should take any measures necessary in order to arrest (source) while others believe he did not have a strong enough incentive to use such force (source). What do you think?

>Do you think that social media is a positive reinforcement to spreading news stories across America?
>Some have argued that the media ignores cases where there are altercations between African American cops and white citizens. Has social media created a focus on cases with white cops and African American cops?
>Does the media ignore the special circumstances of each case and generalize? Or do they generalize because each case has created a similar outcome?
>How effective is social media vs specialized news outlets in providing the full story?

Left: Portraitt of Brian Fields 

Right: Still from one of the viral videos posted online

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Veterans and Suicide

Since the world wars when medicine and protective gear had started improving more soldiers have been sent home alive, but with heavy consequences of war. PTSD is especially high in soldiers and in some cases like that of the Seventh Marine Regiment so are suicide rates. Due to losing 20 men in combat since 2008 it has lost over 13 more to suicide and has an average suicide rate 14 times that of the average American.

Although the argument remains that "the risk was known", and they "have a chance to come home" it is not that simple. I am not calling for an immediate end of all wars (which would be nice but unrealistic). Yet I would hope that with numbers these high there be some type of safeguard or reforms to help combat this soldiers epidemic. Furthermore many times the military is romanticized to young men and women who wish to be "army strong" and do not realize how deeply it could change their outlook on the world to loose an arm, leg, friends, or who do not know the risks of mental illness among soldiers.

With Veterans Day approaching I would like to call attention to the hardships our US soldiers go through and I would like to ask what type of reforms do you think could help this problem? Also I ask for a moment of silence for those who have fallen protecting us or those who have fallen to mental illness due to their involvement in the military.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Supreme Court to hear teachers union case

In early 2016, the US Supreme Court will hear the Friedrichs v. the California Teachers Association et al. case, a lawsuit that challenges the authority of the CTA and public-employee unions to collect mandatory "agency" fees. The Supreme Court will be ruling on whether Abood v. Detroit Board Education should be overruled and public-sector "agency" fees be invalidated under the First Amendment, and on whether it violates the First Amendment to require public employees to affirmatively object, rather than affirmatively consent, to subsidizing public-sector union speech (source).

In 1977, the Supreme Court ruled that it was legal in the public sector for unions to charge fees for "collective bargaining, contract administration, and grievance adjustment purposes" in the case Abood v. Detroit Board of Education (source).  The plaintiffs of Friedrichs v. CTA are hoping that the court overturns the Abood decision.

Friedrichs and the other plaintiffs argue that the agency fees violate their First Amendment rights because the CTA bargaining is "inherently political," and the CTA could be bargaining issues that certain teachers in the union don't agree with. According to the Center for Individual Rights, which represents the plaintiffs, "the union's negotiating positions embody political choices that are often controversial."

The defendants, the CTA and the state of California, argue that the state as an employer is well served to convey the views of workers and that loss of money from those who benefit from negotiations would threaten the union's ability to effectively represent employees (source).


This ties into our current unit on the judiciary system. Is it constitutional for the Supreme Court to reverse a prior decision? Disregarding constitutionality, is it morally right or wrong for the Supreme Court to reverse prior decisions? To what extent would the Supreme Court's ruling on this case be political vs legal?

Hillary Clinton in 11 hour Benghazi hearing

On September 11, 2012, the United States mission in Benghazi, Libya was attacked, causing the death of four Americans, including US ambassador Christopher Stevens. The attack was initially thought to be a spontaneous protest due to an anti-Islam video, but it was determined that the assault was a planned terrorist act. An independent review of the attack in December 2012 reported that there were "systemic failures and leadership and management deficiencies" in the US State Department and another report by the Senate Intelligence Committee in January 2014 stated that the attack was "likely preventable." However, in November 2014 the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence reported that there was no intelligence failure prior to the attack and no stand-down order to CIA operatives trying to assist the consular building. They also reported conflicting intelligence in the wake of the attack about the motive and cause (source).

Hillary Clinton was Secretary of State during the Benghazi attack, so her administration and handling of the situation has been highly scrutinized in the attempt to determine if the attack was preventable, and if so, who is at fault. On October 22, Clinton publicly testified before the House Select Committee.

The question of whether Clinton is responsible for allowing the attacks to happen has become an increasingly partisan issue, with Republicans more likely to be critical of Clinton's response  and Democrats more likely to believe that she did not mishandle the attack. Many Democrats were also critical for the need to further investigate the Benghazi attack. Also, given Clinton's current run for President, many Republicans hoped to use the Oct. 22 hearing to damage her campaign. However, many people were more impressed by Clinton's calm demeanor than by the mainly Republican line of questioning from the Committee (source).

The hearing did reveal that Clinton had told an Egyptian official and her family that the attack was done by a terrorist group, despite the current statements saying that the attack was due to the anti-Islam video. Clinton maintained that the conflicting reports were due to the confusing flood of information coming into the State Department and the "fog of war" (source).

Pictures: US mission in Benghazi in flames the day of the attack(source), Clinton during the hearing (source).

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Pres. Obama publicly supports Black Lives Matter movement

During a panel discussion on criminal justice reform, President Obama openly defended the Black Lives Matter movement and stated that the more harsh and less fair treatment of black Americans by police officers is a real issue (sourceanother source).

Black Lives Matter is currently calling for a Black Lives Matter themed Presidential debate that focuses on important issues to the Black community, such as criminal justice reform, and what the candidates propose to do about these issues (Black Lives Matter source).

When President Obama first became president he was more distant from racially charged issues, something he was occasionally criticized for. For example, he was criticized by some African-Americans for his sub-par statement following the death of Michael Brown last year (source). However, as Obama's second term comes to an end, he has been more open with his opinions on controversial issues such as race, drugs, and crime.

"But I'm in my last term, I only got a year left, and it's not like my poll numbers are that high. I figure I can go ahead and say it," President Obama said in a speech about drug abuse in West Virginia yesterday, in which he talked of his own illegal drug use (source).

There is a growing bipartisan consensus in Washington, DC that sentencing reform for nonviolent crimes is needed. In fact, today the Senate Judiciary Committee voted to send legislation to the full Senate that would reduce mandatory minimum sentences for nonviolent crimes, reform the early release system, and create programs to help offenders return to their communities.

We have learned in class that a president's approval rating does go down as their term goes on, but that their effectiveness due to experience tends to go up. How do you think this trend will affect the passage of prison and police reform legislation? And because it is unlikely that these national issues will be solved while Obama is still in office, to what extent should the next president follow up with these issues (especially given that prison and sentencing reform has bipartisan support)? To what extent should candidates address these issues?

Photos: Obamablack lives matter


California's Slippery Slope

Since this topic came up in class, I wanted to get a bit deeper into the PAS conflict that will be testing our home state in the coming years as this law takes action. Many of us have heard the term slippery slope when regarding PAS due to its nature, but wether it is or is not something to worry about is almost as controversial as the topic itself.

If insurance companies are faced with prescribing patients with a prescription to help prolong their life, but that medication was more costly, would they choose to cover it? Or is it just as likely that they would offer to cover the prescription to end a patients life instead of that which would prolong it due to cost? Supporters of the law say that just because it may be covered by insurance will not push people to make the choice to end their lives. They add that the cost that would be saved would be insignificant enough to incentivise and pressure PAS to patients that did not want it.

Taking a life goes against the code of a doctor, taking a life is a federal offense, but PAS gets close to that line, and this is why people have such strong opinions about it. "The barbiturates prescribed to patients to end their lives cost about $1,500. Average healthcare spending in a patient's last year of life is $33,486, according to federal data." What is a persons life worth to you? What is is worth to keep a person happy in their final days? To remember them with family instead of with suffering? What are these lives worth to the insurance companies? To the hospitals? Is this a flaw in bureaucracy? Big business? Or just the way the world works?

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Best College Towns?

Many of us are working our tails off trying to get into a good college, one with prestige as well as some sort of personal factor that makes it appealing to us, however overlooking the cities just for the sake of the education is not the safest way to go.  Hopefully factoring in the surrounding cities may make our jobs as college applicants just a bit easier. 

With one of the lowest crime rates, a prestigious school and relatively affordable housing Princeton is of course one of those colleges on lists of good college towns. However other towns offer other benefits, Kearney Nebraska offers one of the lowest unemployment rates in the whole country. Although we already discussed that these numbers may be skewed due to how numbers of those who are unemployed are taken, it is still reassuring that those who look for jobs seem to get them. Yet another interesting requirement that could attract people towards a particular town is the life, the entertainment and the food. Bolder seems to offer this diversity in culture and entertainment. 

What criteria would you have as most important in a college town? Which surprised you? what other towns besides those which I mentioned did you expect to hear? Does this complicate or help those of you who have no strong feelings about college and which institutions are right for you? 

Ballot initiative proposed to soften California's three strikes law

The California secretary of state approved the request to petition filed by a Half Moon Bay resident to add an initiative to the November 2016 ballot (source).  Currently, California's three strikes law requires sentences of at least 25 years for those convicted of three violently felonies (source). The proposed initiative would reduce the number of crimes that count toward California's three strikes law and make it easier for prisoners to petition judges the get their sentences reconsidered. According to the Legislative Analyst's Office, the proposed initiative could save the state several million dollars a year in prison expenses, but cost counties around $100 million a year because offenders would go to jail instead of prison. (For those wondering, jails are locally-operated short-term facilities, while prisons are state or federal long-term facilities.)

We've learned in class that individuals or groups of citizens can get their own propositions on state ballots, thereby directly influencing the state government and elections. We are also currently learning about the judiciary, and the necessary balance between consistency and discretion in enforcing the law.

What do you think of the three strikes law? What do you perceive to be the pros and cons? Do you think this grass root movement will be effective? How will softening it change the balance between consistency and discretion in the judicial system, if at all? How does changing the three strikes law contribute to the overall trend of prison and sentencing reform?

photo: Rich Pedroncelli/Associated Press

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Illegal Rights

I understand giving people a better opportunity in life, helping wounded veterans walk, helping autistic people learn, its rewarding. I also understand why giving people an opportunity that they would not get in their country could be good too. Yet I still believe that Obama may be crossing the line.

I am a first generation American, my parents came here to escape the communist takeover in Poland, and to look for better opportunities. Yet the difference between my parents and the families of these immigrants coming in is that my parents were never illegal, and the other people who did come in illegally did whatever they could to become legal citizens as fast as possible; being a citizen was respectful, proper and it gave them pride to be considered not only Polish, European, or wherever they came from-- but American as well. and yet the immersion was made difficult for them. Now many illegal families do not care to even try to become US citizens, they take advantage of their ability to get California licenses, federal aid to go to schools, and other such things.

Giving people opportunities is a beautiful thing. However can we just agree that an immigrant does not have to, and possibly should not, be treated as equally as in need as an orphan girl, or a girl with only one leg. When a bunch of immigrants were let into europe from Syria and other neighboring countries the European economy almost collapsed under the pressure, would we be safe from that sort of thing? Are there ways to help those who need it and help create opportunities for those from less privileged countries without making them into their own sort of privileged or special needs students? Would it not be fair to limit the aid to those who are showing effort to gain citizenship into America instead of handing it out to everyone despite where they decide to place their loyalty?

The Lonely Death of George Bell

In a recent story by the New York Times, the writer follows what happens when George Bell, a man in New York City with few friends and no close relatives, died in anonymity last year, and why it took 4 months for his body to be cremated and 14 months for his estate to be settled. Although not a story about a current political event, I think that this story reveals some of the more hidden jobs and functions of government bureaucracy and ties in with our last unit.

Here's a summary of the bureaucracy involved when someone dies in anonymity:

A public administrator manages estates when there is no one else to do so, usually when there is no known heirs or will. They must evaluate a person's assets to determine the worth of the estate, and extracts a commission for handling the estate. This money is put toward the city's general fund and the public administrator office's expenses. Investigators who work for the public administrator go through the residences and belongings of the deceased, and determine if there is anything of value that can be added to an estate, from loose change to cars. The public administrator gives valuables like cars or antique watches to private companies that auction off the items. The proceeds of the auction are added to the value of the estate.

In the case of George Bell, the public administrator learned that Bell had an honorable military discharge, so the made a request to the National Cemetery Administration, which is part Department of Veterans Affairs (see, I told you there was bureaucracy involved.) When the National Cemetery Administration responded that George Bell did not qualify as a veteran because he had not seen active duty or died while in the military, the public administrator appealed. According to the article, "16 pages came back from the centralized satellite processing and appeals unit that could be summed up in unambiguous concision: No." Bureaucracy at it's finest.

New York City law specifies that a body cannot be cremated unless a corpse's identity is confirmed. In order to confirm that the body really was George Bell, the medical examiner needed x-rays from Bell's doctor. "A radiology provider had chest X-rays of George Bell dating form 2004. They were in a warehouse, though, and would take some time to retrieve...In late October, the radiology service reported: Sorry, the X-rays had been destroyed...Never mind, the X-rays were there. In early November, they landed at the medical examiner's office." George Bell's corpses' identity was confirmed, and he was cremated nearly 4 months after his death.

The death of George Bell involved city, state, and federal bureaucracies. It also showed that while the bureaucracy is slow, it does things that no one else can. How else do federal, state, and local bureaucracies affect everyday lives. How would the contracting of some of the jobs of the public administrator to private companies be beneficial? How would it not be?

Jim Webb withdraws from Democratic presidential race

Today Jim Webb, a former Senator and former Republican, announced that he was no longer campaigning for the Democratic presidential nomination. Most attention on the Democratic nomination race has been focused on Hillary Clinton and Senator Bernie Sanders, and in comparison Mr. Webb has raised little fundraising money and stood low in the Democratic polls. During the Democratic debate last week, Mr. Webb spoke for only about 15 minutes of the 2 hour debate, and he complained that the debate was staged as a showdown between Clinton and Sanders (source). Although dropping out of the Democratic race, Mr. Webb has that he might still run as an independent candidate (source). You can watch a video clip of his press conference here.

Although it is relatively easy to be listed has an independent, also known as third party, candidate--file as a candidate with the Federal Election Commission--succeeding in an independent campaign is incredibly difficult. Most news sources tend to focus on the candidates of the Democratic and Republican parties, and third party candidates tend to be obscured.

Does the media's focus on only a few candidates from each party detract from the democratic intent of the election process by obscuring other candidates? If so, is there any way for this to be fixed, or is the obscuring of certain candidates inevitable in an election? In this line of thought, does the increased difficulty of running an independent campaign also detract from the democratic intent of elections, or is it necessary to prevent just anyone from becoming President?

Photo: Jim Webb at the Iowa Democratic Party's Hall of Fame Dinner. Scott Olson/Getty Images North America. photo source

Monday, October 19, 2015

Migrants left, Rules stayed

Although migrants from Syria and the middle east, who were escaping the attacks from ISIS, are no longer flooding into Europe the countries who were most impacted by them at the time are still dealing with the aftermath. The countries economies could not deal with such a large flow of people and therefore had to create much more strict boarder laws.

The immigrants may have left/settled down/ or just stopped showing up in as large of groups but the easygoing laws between the countries in the European Union are long gone. Border controls in Germany will remain till at least the end of October and Hungary decided to go as far as to close its boarder with Croatia until further notice.

Do you think this problem was created by a lack of control within the bureaucracy? Would better decisions at the start have created a system that would allow those who need help in while still maintaining an open border up to current times? Or do you agree that no economy could have withstood the amount of immigrants coming in, no matter their intentions. Any ideas on how to make the boarders more open again without creating this drama again?

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Qaeda Cell Leader Killed in Airstrike in Syria, Pentagon Says

On October 15, a US airstrike in Syria killed Al Quaeda cell leader Sanafi al-Nasr. He was the highest-ranking leader of the Khorasan Group (learn more about them here: BBC Khorasan Group) which had been plotting attacks against the United States and Europe. He was also experienced in retrieving money and fighters for Al Qaeda.

American officials describe the operation as a drone strike which was used to prevent confrontation with Russian planes. The Pentagon claims that Al-Nasr is the fifth Khorasan leader to be killed by the US in four months. The US believes that the Khorasan group is the most capable of hurting American civilians and should be most intently focused on in order to prevent possible terrorist attacks.

People are debating about the effectiveness of the "decapitation strategy" which is when a terrorist group's leaders are killed. Some believe that by causing the fear of strikes, these terrorist groups will not meet as often or as openly and therefore make it harder to find them. They also believe that the decapitation approach causes terrorist group's to prepare for strikes and thus prepare deputies to succeed the deaths of their leaders. This makes the airstrikes rather ineffective.

How should the US be attacking these terrorist groups? Are airstrikes/decapitation strategy the most effective way of doing so? Does it make sense to fight violence with violence, and when does this cycle end? Should the US government heighten national security? Should there be something like the War Powers Act for these attacks that aren't considered war (or should the War Powers Act apply to this)? Ever since 9/11, how has the amount of federal government control changed and developed?

NY Times
Wall Street Journal

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Careful Calculus Guides Obama Administration in Health Insurance Projections

This week, secretary of health and human services Sylvia Mathews Burwell predicted that there will only be small gains in enrollment in private health insurance plans (under the Affordable Care Act) during the upcoming year. She predicts that enrollment will be millions of people below earlier projections. The White House aims to have 10 million people enrolled by the end of 2016, but at this point it is hard to find and insure people who have refused to sign up for the past two years.

Recently, Hillary Clinton has suggested that the ACA may not be affordable enough for some people. Some fail to pay their monthly premiums or can't pay for medical services. Those with the lowest incomes receive the largest subsidies, but those with higher incomes receive less financial assistance and thus marketplace coverage has begun to look less attractive. It seems that it will take much longer than expected for the marketplace to reach equilibrium.

The ACA was passed without any Republican votes and it seems that they are continuing to criticize the program, making many have doubts about its possible benefits. What will happen to Obamacare if GOP wins the White House?

This reminds me of class discussions about the ACA and the controversy surrounding the act. Do you think the Obama administration might give up on Obamacare? Is the ACA working? If it's beneficial for some but harmful to others, how can we balance those different sides of the spectrum to make more people content? How highly do you think people value health insurance? Should government be restructured so that an act cannot be passed when it only receives votes from one party?

NY Times
CNBC

Thursday, October 15, 2015

E.U. Beginning to Consider Large Deportation Plans for New Migrants

Isis' horrific attacks over many Middle Eastern families have caused others to flee by flying, or through the Mediterranean sea and into Europe. The amount of immigrants transporting in to Europe have been in the thousands, and the European Union is panicking.
Many European leaders believe their strategies to let in these fleers should be nothing but welcoming. Germany, for example, opened up office spaces to become shelters for some. However, that is not enough. Because there has been a huge, myriad amount of immigrants coming into these countries, many Europeans don't know what they can do to contribute in time, and as a result, many immigrants are homeless.
However, not every European country is as welcoming. Hungary has openly reflected its intolerable approach to these immigrants by strengthening their border control and tolerance to illegal immigrants. Immigrants who are caught illegally entering through the Serbian-Hungary border are instantly arrested and deported back to wherever they originally came from, no questions asked.
E. U. officials have stated that immigrants who "don't belong" in Europe, meaning they snuck in illegally, are the ones being targeted for deportation and arrest. Even countries like Germany, who stated previously want to aid to as many as possible, are being to look helpless.
This topic relates to the ongoing current event debates we have about this issue, like whether or not the U.S. should interfere more or less. My questions are, do you think Europe is blockading, as some would argue, a human's natural right of movement? Why or why not? Do you think Europe could continue sheltering more than 600,000 immigrants, or do you think it is time to publicize their capacity? Explain your thoughts.

Medicare Costs May Rise, Seniors at Risk

We already learned that many seniors live off a fixed income, and that this makes dealing with inflation difficult; as prices soar, they receive the same pay. Well, medicare prices may go up from $104 in the next calendar year. Medicare was started by the federal government and although it is up to the states to expand the coverage it does not cover all costs, doctors visits, prescriptions, even some surgeries have some out of pocket expense for these seniors.

At first glance it may be tempting to simply blame the government, their seniors--their problem. However is it really all the fault of the government? Per capita americans spend around $7,300 a year versus the United Kingdom which spends around $3,000 dollars per year per person. The UK is not a third world country, so we cannot blame low costs simply on quality, so could corporate greed be causing our insurance and our health care costs to rise? The government does not run hospitals just helps guarantee that people who qualify for medicare get some aid, can they be the only ones to blame.

Although I do think that seniors should receive the help from the government, my point is it is too simple to blame this problem completely on the incompetence of bureaucracy when it is not so simple. Thoughts about how the government could help? Could/should something be done about the corporate greed that is costing millions of americans thousands of dollars?

link to articleHealth care
insurance costs

Online Attacks on Infrastructure Are Increasing at a Worrying Pace

For the last four years, foreign hackers have infiltrated the Department of Energy's network 150 times through stolen source code and blueprints to water and oil pipelines and the power grids of the US. The number of attacks against industrial control systems has more than doubled since 2013, causing some people to fear that a "cyber-Pearl Harbor" could occur in the near future.

Many attacks have happened recently. The Department of Homeland Security was just looking into an attack against 1,000 European and American energy companies last year. There was also an attack on Sony and Televent. The most significant attack was on the world's largest oil company, Saudi Aramco, in 2012.

Like in Cold War situations, larger countries such as China and Russia have less of an incentive to attack the US because of the fear of retaliation. However, there has been concern about possible attacks by Islamic State militants who have been exploiting social media for their own personal gain.

Hackers have been increasingly finding new ways to hack into systems without being caught. With cyber and control systems, it's hard to know for sure who is the suspect. Forensic investigations have not been completely successful in solving such hacking cases because it's hard to tell what exactly has happened and if it was intentional or not.

How should the US go about increasing online national security? Can the Department of Homeland Security do something that would prevent these hacks from occurring, and how can we persecute those guilty of the crimes? When hacks occur, how does it affect company management/the bureaucracy? How is technology affecting security, both at a national and personal level, and is it worth the potential risks?

NY Times
Wall Street Journal Blog

From "No Means No" to "Yes Means Yes"

Sex Ed Lesson: 'Yes Means Yes,' but It's Tricky
A political cartoon against affirmative consent.
http://rall.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/9-12-14.jpg
As public high school students, most, if not all, of us have already gone through sex ed and learned about the phrase "no means no," which means that sexual advances must stop at any and all forms of the statement "no." Recently, however, there has been a shift towards a new mantra, "yes means yes," which makes the line between consensual sex and rape more distinct: one can only make sexual advances when his or her partner has given explicit consent. In fact, under the new legislation signed by Governor Jerry Brown, public high schools that are already teaching sex ed. must teach the new mantra and teach sexual consent.
Already, California has required colleges to use affirmative consent, and established standards for what consent is. Over a dozen states are following suite by establishing their own standards.
Critics of this new mantra, including John F. Banzhaf, a professor at the George Washington University of Law, argue that the initiative towards affirmative consent is "illogical," and that "nobody works that way." Indeed, a class of high school students in a sex ed class seem to feel awkward about the overly "clinical" way of asking for consent: asking questions like "can I touch you there." 
Sex ed can sometimes be quite an awkward topic to talk about, even though we have already experienced the class years ago. This issue, however, like many others, is certainly not going to improve by avoiding it, no matter how awkward it may be. Are these rules really practical? Is mandating that consent be an explicit verbal "yes" too intrusive and impractical to our private lives? Or is it a necessary law to make the lines of the law clearer, and to lower sexual violence? 

Source: http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/b/jerry_brown/index.html?inline=nyt-per

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Treasury Considers Plan to Help Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico is currently in extreme debt (~$72 billion) and fiscal chaos. The United States Treasury Department has been talking about aiding Puerto Rico with a type of debt exchange assisted by the federal government, known as a "superbond." Because Puerto Rico has been having difficulty collecting taxes, the plan proposes that the federal government help them collect and account for local tax revenues. These proceeds would be overseen by the Treasury and then paid out to holders of the new bonds that Puerto Rico would issue in the exchange. This would make these bonds more attractive to creditors.

It seems like a good idea in theory, but there are a lot of issues that could arise. It is unlikely that Puerto Ricans would agree to pay the US government if they won't even pay their own. Furthermore, the Treasury's involvement could change the motives of the creditors. If the plan causes a loss for them, they might sue and rebel.

Instead of this plan, Puerto Rico wants a bankruptcy law amendment that would send some of their government agencies into Chapter 9 municipal bankruptcy court (explained here: Chapter 9 municipal bankruptcy). There have been no moves to follow through with this law amendment.

Because Puerto Rico is only a US territory, they do not have a vote in Congress, but Puerto Ricans are considered natural born US citizens. They have their own local constitution and elect a governor. This reminds me of past conflicts about US foreign (although Puerto Rico is a US territory) policy and debt crises. This also goes all the way back to APUSH and the Northwest Ordinance of 1787 which addressed how states should join the union. Would admitting Puerto Rico as a state help the debt issue or make it worse?

What do you think the US should do? Does the US have an obligation to help to the best of their ability because Puerto Rico is a US territory? How far does the power of the US extend/should extend? Should we follow through with the debt exchange plan or is this too risky and cause Puerto Ricans to rebel? What can they do to prevent tax evasion?

NY Times
The Wall Street Journal

88 ACT Tests Lost by US Postal Service

ACT, SAT, our futures depend, at least partially, on these tests and many students go through hours of studying, stressing, some even going to the lengths of paying for classes to prepare ourselves for these tests. We all know of their importance yet what happens when they get lost? 88 Maryland students had their answer sheets lost, despite being sent first-class in the mail. Although they have been refunded the full price and been given the opportunity to retake the test for free some of the students worry that their results won't be back in time to register for certain scholarships or worry that the added stress will cause them to do worse this time around when retaking the ACT.

A spokesman for an Iowa based testing organization stated that although it occasionally has flaws it is unfair to blame the USPS  because such a thing could happen to any system not just government based, and continues to defend it by stating that the US postal service has been an outstanding service through many years of working with the Iowa testing organization.

We all know the pain of lost/delayed mail. Sometimes this can lead to serious consequences, tax penalties, extra charges, but this seems to be a bit close to home. Do you think the ACT people dealt with the problem well? When can we say it is more than just isolated incident for lost mail? Is the loss of tests due to government bureaucracy's inadequacy? If so what could they do to fix it? Or do you agree with Colby that the government does the best it can and as good a job as anyone would and that no one is immune to mistakes?

Chicago School Refuses to Let Transgender Girl Use Girl's Locker-room

Township High School District in Chicago, Illinois has recently declared they will not allow Transgender teenagers to use the locker room of their transitioned gender.
This all began when a transgender girl of many years who was recognized in class and sports as a girl, asked her permission to finally use the girl's locker-room. This request was brought to the School's District office, where the Superintendent answered that this was a very touchy subject because of other student's feelings about their privacy. The School District had concerns for how girls would handle it, for this had been a new issue to the school district, and did not know how other students would react. They agreed to let the transgender girl use the girl's locker-room, however it was required she use private stalls rather than use communal areas. The School District stated this was for the privacy and respect toward all students.
An official with the American Civil Liberties Union made an announcement that they believed this was "blatant discrimination" due to the School District's request the transgender girl change in a private stall. The official thought that everyone should be exposed to equal treatment, and that this girl was not receiving that.
I believe the School District created a fair compromise with the transgender girl and the other students. I support the LGBT community completely, but realistically, not every girl would be comfortable with the idea to let this girl in, and I think allowing her to come in and change in a different area is okay. I do acknowledge this could be viewed as discrimination, but these sort of issues are relatively new to some areas, and I think this is a good beginning approach to dealing with these.
This reminds me of the conversation we discussed in class when a baker refused to make a wedding cake for a gay couple, and it was deemed discrimination. It also reminds me of the current events discussion we had in class talking about the secretary who refused to give gay couples wedding licenses, which was also considered discrimination.
How do you guys feel about this? Do you think the School District handled the situation well? Why or why not? Would you consider this discrimination, explain.
Sources: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/education/wp/2015/10/14/school-district-refuses-to-let-transgender-student-use-locker-room-defying-federal-officials/
http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/ct-transgender-student-locker-room-palatine-met-20151012-story.html
http://chicago.suntimes.com/news/7/71/1022712/suburban-district-challenges-education-department-transgender-students-request-locker-room-access

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Democrats Purpose Their Ways to Lower College Tutions

During the recent Democratic Party debate, many intense ideas were brought forth. One of them happened to be college tuition and what to do with it's expenses. It is reported that 1.3 million student's take out college loans (ticas.org), and to Democrats Bernie Sanders and Hilary Clinton, that's 1.3 million too many.
At the debate, Clinton announced that her plans to lower public college tuitions was to begin funding about $350 million dollars towards the public universities, which would eliminate any sort of tax that would raise the tuition of colleges. The money would then be sent to public universities who take in large amounts of lower and middle class students to reduce expenses. Clinton also stated that she believed students who wanted a cheap college tuition should be obligated to work at least ten hours a week.
Sanders stated that his plan to create free public college tuition was to tax Wall Street transactions and use that money to give students opportunities to enroll in free college.
However, Don Heller, Dean of the College of Education replied to the Democrats statements in an email saying that many families can pay for college and should be enforced to do so. Some agree with that statement due to the complicated plans the Democratic candidates are willing to test.
Clinton and Sander's purposes can connect to the information in class that discusses the budgeting and money power Presidents have. Presidents are capable to promote these ideas to Congress and the public and figure out what would work with America and what wouldn't by having a team of advisers to research outcomes.
Although I don't truly understand the downsides to these ideas, I do think it is great that Presidential Candidates are taking a step forward to lower college tuition. Having students pay $200,000 a year to attend an out of state, public university seems foolish to me, and I do think there are ways to lower the ridiculous costs.
Which idea do you think could help lower tuition fees? Clinton's or Bernie's? Do you think these plans could truly be an answer to lowering tuition? Lastly, do you think all families should have the opportunity to have little to no college fees, or do you agree with Heller? Why or why not.
 
 


A Push for Anti-Terrorist measures in Australia.

The other day the Australian government responded to a shooting by proposing new legislation that would lower the age required to impose court ordered restrictions on a persons movements or communications. They state that this is for anti-terrorist and terrorist prevention, and the age change proposed would be from the current requirements (16 years old) to 14 years old. This would mean that with court order a 14 year old suspected of terrorism could be monitored by the government. Although this proposal was a direct response to a shooting the Attorney General also states that it would help in preventing action of the terrorist group ISIS in Australia and would help limit the problem by keeping it from spreading.

Although not directly related to US politics I was curious as to what your opinions on the legislation were as well as if something similar could ever pass here with all the checks balances and hoops it would have to go through (including public opinion). Although it is still unclear if this legislation will pass in Australia what are your opinions on privacy? Should a known terrorist/ terrorist sympathizer be allowed unmonitored and unlimited access to the internet? Would this be considered a breach of 1st amendment rights in America and when would those rights be ok to breach if ever?


Proposal

Lawsuit Targets Psychologists Who Designed CIA Torture Program

Psychologists James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen helped design the CIA's interrogation program and are now facing a lawsuit filed Tuesday (today) on behalf of three CIA prisoners who claim to have been unfairly tortured. Their company, Mitchell Jessen & Associates, was paid $81 million by the CIA to help oversee the program. Mitchell and Jessen claimed their program was "scientifically based, safe and proven" which was completely false.
ALCU sues CIA

These three men were allegedly tortured at a site called the Salt Pit and underwent sleep deprivation, hypothermia, being confined in small boxes, and being thrown against a wall. The interrogator's theory was based on "learned helplessness."

The lawsuit was filed by the American Civil Liberties Union based on a summary of events found in the Senate report. This brought up debate about CIA techniques used on Al Quaeda members previously. Although the CIA did regard these techniques as something of the past that would not happen again, they claim that the program was effective in both national security and furthering terrorist knowledge. They seem to have been using these methods again.

There is debate over how to exactly approach the lawsuit. The Obama administration hesitates to become involved because the CIA program is classified, and in the past the government has used its states secrets privilege to bar lawsuits dealing with classified CIA information. Furthermore, although the Justice Department has investigated the situation three times, they decided they couldn't prosecute because doing so would expose classified information and the torture techniques used were backed by the Justice Department in 2002.

What do you think should happen to these men? Should defending civil liberties take precedence over keeping classified information secret? Should the CIA be allowed to hire people without consulting other executive officials or the president (do we need more of a bureaucracy?)? And going all the way back to spin, is there anything we can do to prevent people from lying for personal gain, or at least figuring out they're lying before hiring them?

CNN Article
US News Article

Monday, October 12, 2015

Conneticut Schools Cancelling Halloween Celebrations Causes Much Upset

The Milford School District in Connecticut recently announced their cancellation of Halloween festivities in their schools. Their reason was due to
"cultural sensitivity" and "awareness". The
School District claimed that they received
many complaints addressing the fact that
some cultures don't celebrate Halloween, and that acknowledgment should be shown towards
children who cannot participate in Halloween
festivities due to religion and other beliefs. The announcement also included that students and staff were not allowed to wear costumes as a celebration of the holiday.
However, this announcement did not go well with many Connecticut school parents. Parents of children belonging to the Milford School District created an online petition to bring back the Halloween celebrations for their children. Their argument was that even with all respect towards cultures who don't celebrate Halloween, children who do celebrate should be able to participate and experience this holiday.
The Superintendent of the school district didn't budge, and the Halloween celebrations have been officially canceled. 
I personally do not find it right for a school district to completely forbade children and teachers from participating in the celebration of Halloween. I think this holiday should be treated that children who want to dress up, can, and whoever does not want to, doesn't have to. I find it hypocritical the school district is cancelling the celebration for cultural awareness, even though it is blockading many cultures from participating in a holiday they celebrate.
What do you guys think? Do you think cancelling Halloween for elementary school children teaches them a lesson of cultural awareness, or is the school district looking too deeply into the meaning of Halloween? If you were a parent or student, how would you handle this situation? Is this a good, progressive way to appreciate other cultures? Why or why not?
Sources:  http://connecticut.cbslocal.com/2015/10/12/milford-parents-upset-over-halloween-parade-cancellations/
http://www.wtsp.com/story/news/2015/10/12/connecticut-parents-upset-over-halloween-parade-cancellations/73826128/
http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2015/oct/12/halloween-cancellation-connecticut-schools-provoke/

Update of the Trans-Pacific Partnership


Deal close on landmark trade pact
After nearly six years of negotiations with countries including Japan and ten pacific-rim countries, the TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership) may soon reach a conclusion. The TPP would break down trade barriers, and establish rules in areas like e-commerce, labor, and environment for countries that produce 40% of the world's economic output. Negotiators stayed an extra three days to hash out final auto, drug, and dairy regulations. Among the heated debates includes the issue of drug protection, and how long it takes for a company to legally make generic brand drugs. Another issue regarding dairy products is whether certain regulations may cause U.S. producers to require their market to open more imports from New Zealand than they gain in exports from Canada and Japan. Furthermore, business groups have pushed for protective tariffs and intellectual property protections. All in all, it is clear to see why debates are so heated and have lasted so long.
According to article author Doug Palmer, the Partnership is a key in allowing the U.S. to establish a foothold in the Asian market that is dominated by China. The TPP can, according to many environmental groups, establishes much needed environmental and safety regulations.
As the negotiations seem to draw to a close, Obama now faces the daunting task of presenting the treaty to Congress.
What are some possible cons and or shortcomings to agreeing to the treaty? Would this be a step towards the right direction in fostering good relations with the rest of the world, or should America not even concern itself with foreign affairs, and instead focus on domestic affairs?

Governer Jerry Brown Bans Concealed Weapons on Campuses Across California

In the course of a month, there have been three, large college shootings in the Oregon, Texas, and Arizona. School shootings have been an unfortunately reoccurring problem in the United States, and as a result, Senator Lois Wolk introduced Senate Bill 707. SB 707 bans people with concealed weapon permits from bringing firearms on school campuses. It also creates extensive background checks, which Wolk deems necessary because she claims that gun permits are becoming easier to obtain.
On October 10th, Governor Jerry Brown signed the bill, causing it to be a law in California that bans permitted firearms on campuses, expect police officers and any other figures school districts allow.
This bill has spurred controversy over multiple gun associations. Some claim this strips citizen's rights under the Second Amendment to own and carry a weapon. Others, like the Firearm Policy Coalition claim that gun violence will increase because taking these rights away will threaten self dense on school campuses.
I believe this new law won't necessarily withhold and diminish any new gun violence, for people who are willing to shoot students, most likely do not care if they're breaking gun permit laws. However, I do think it's smart to try anything to lower the amount of school shootings.
What do you think about this new law? Do you think it'll truly decrease gun violence on student campuses or create more? Do you believe this bill could've included more citizen debate, like including the pro-gun association points of view, or do you think Brown did the right thing by immediately signing it? This reminds me of class discussions addressing the powers of Senators and other political figures. Clearly, there is a large upset because of this law; perhaps Brown should've listened to citizens more? What do you think?

 

Jerry Brown Passes California Law That Will Automatically Register Drivers to Vote

On Saturday, October 10th, governor Jerry Brown of California signed legislation that automatically registers people as state voters when they get a driver's license. Because of voter identification laws, voter turnout in recent elections has been significantly low. This law is designed to increase voter participation as well as improve elections by allowing a new influx of voters to vote, and it is planned to take effect in January.
Governor Jerry Brown

In an article by the New York Times, California secretary of state Alex Padilla stated that in the past November election, "The 42 percent turnout of registered voters was a record low for a statewide general election; in addition, 6.6 million people who are eligible to vote are not registered." He believes that the "motor voter" law will increase participation by allowing people to skip the registration process at DMVs and automatically be registered to vote when they obtain a driver's license and if they are legally eligible to vote. People can opt out of voter registration, but if they don't act, they will automatically be registered. This makes it extra work to opt out and discourages people from doing so.

There is controversy over the possible effects of this law. Many people believe that it makes for a more democratic system because it allows a wider range of people to vote and doesn't limit certain groups from casting ballots like other state laws are starting to do. The signing of the law is seen as a victory for young minorities who make up a bulk of California's eligible unregistered voters.

However, some oppose the law because it could increase voter fraud, and by allowing people to vote with fewer restrictions, we could be allowing people with more limited knowledge of politics and policies or even non-citizens to vote. This could have negative effects and already eligible registered voters might see this new law as a threat.

This reminds me of the bureaucracies we have been talking about in class as well as how political parties play into elections. Do you think that this law is an improvement in expanding voter rights or does it go too far by registering even those that don't want to vote (and making it more work to not vote)? If contests for state government posts are usually partisan, how will registering all people with driver's licenses--which includes moderates--affect election results? Does this make it easier for non-citizens to vote, and what effects will that have? If we consider the DMV a bureaucracy, is it right that this law increases efficiency at the partial cost of personal choice?

New York Times
The Washington Times

Million Man March 20th Anniversary

Above: Million Man March,, 1995
Below: Million Man March, 2015
 This Year's Million Man March Transcended The Nation Of Islam’s Involvement
"Fifty years ago we were marching in Selma, and there's no change. We want justice. We want accountability," march participant Cleo Jeffryes states. "This is our generation. This is our movement. This is not our mom's or our granddaddy's." Jeffryes highlights a key generational difference in the march that was called by Louis Farrakhan in 1995. 
Farrakhan, leader of the Nation of Islam, has been criticized for being homophobic, transphobic, and sexist. Many, including him, do not believe in attaining equality through peaceful and civil means. Despite the prevalence of what some see as a "regressive" view, others are more optimistic, and see a shift towards more equality among people. "When you talk about 'Justice or Else,' it's not just impacting men, it's impacting our entire country," says Zephia Bryant, who participated in both the 1995 and the 2015 marches.
How do you feel about the progressive beliefs that have arisen in not only the march, but in the movement in general towards equality? How might a disunified body of activists, with varying beliefs, impact the overall progress towards equality?

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Outside reviews conclude Tamir Rice shooting justified

Last year, Cleveland police officer Tim Loehmann shot and killed 12 year old Tamir Rice as Loehmann mistook Rice's fake gun for a real one. This incident sparked much outrage as many people assumed that the shooting was racially motivated as Loehmann is white and Rice was black.

The reports released on Saturday by a Colorado prosecurtor and a former FBI special agent claim that Loehmann was "reasonable" when he shot and killed the 12 year old child. Loehmann did not know that Rice's realistic gun was fake and did not have enough information to act accordingly. Although the 911 caller did state that the gun was likely fake, Loehmann was never told this crucial piece of information.

However, although these reports say Loehmann acted reasonably, there is still a lot of evidence that states his actions were unreasonable. Some say that Loehmann acted too quickly. He did not asses the situation well enough to realize that there was no threat to anyone's life. He rushed to shooting when he should have been more careful. Some even claim that the reports are trying to shield police and are not as unbiased as they claim.

These investigations do not clear Loehmann of his mistake. Although there still needs to be a grand jury hearing, some believe it is highly unlikely that Loehmann will be indicted as no arrests or charges were ever placed on Loehmann, and these reports state that he acted reasonably.

I think that there is definitely enough evidence for Loehmann to be put on trial. I do not know if he should be convicted for his mistake, but there is enough evidence on both sides for the decision to be questionable and warrant such a trial. These reports are slightly biased as both reports were commissioned by people who have some connection to the U.S. government and therefore want to make it look better.

What do you think about these reports? Do you think that Loehmann will be indicted for the shooting? Do you think he should be? What should change to prevent shootings like this from happening in the future?

Sources:

Fewer than 160 families account for nearly 50% of all 2016 campaign financing.

The Most Expensive Street in America
Thanks to Citizens United, wealth can buy more power than it used to. Just a few people, mostly from financial and energy sectors, are providing most of the funds for the 2016 presidential election candidates. Most of the money is going to Republicans. These large donations are especially alarming considering the growing closeness between super PACs (political action committees) and candidates, relationships that are technically unlawful according to the FEC (Federal Elections Commission).

The donors represent just a handful a geographic areas, mostly big cities such as New York, San Francisco, and Houston, and their influence has the potential to shift political party politics, for good or for bad, and that's definitely something we should watch out for.

It's easy to get angry at these elite donors for having a larger say than you or me, but let's consider their point of view for a second. Most of them are self-made (new money). If I was able to accumulate that much wealth, I might want to spend some of it on political campaigns, and I don't think I would feel that bad about doing so.

I'm not sure we can really blame people for donating to causes they are passionate about, but what do you guys think? What measures could we take to help equalize the amount of influence everyone has in the political process? Is equalizing influence the right thing to do?


LA Times