Politics
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Definition of POLITICS: \ˈpä-lə-ˌtiks\ 1. The art or science concerned with guiding or influencing governmental policy 2. Political affairs or business; especially : competition between competing interest groups or individuals for power and leadership (as in a government) 3. The total complex of relations or conduct between people living in society and/or in a particular area of experience especially as seen or dealt with from a political point of view
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Immigration push threatens to divide Republicans

Immigration push threatens to divide Republicans | Politics | Scoop.it
In the heat of an election year, the prospect of immigration legislation appears to be striking a divide into the Republican Party on Capitol Hill.
Sidney Jackson's insight:

April 29, 2014 (Tuesday)

Semester 2 Week #15

 

Immigration legislation, among other recent social issues, has recently threatened to create greater rifts within the Republican Party. House Speaker John Boehner, however, seems adamant in taking a stand and preparing to aggressively push for an immigration bill. The Republican Party for the past few years has been accused of resisting change, even, at times, at the expense of their own party. Now Boehner is challenging his party to step up to the plate and start making the tough decisions.

Concerns over immigration policy have grown and cannot be ignored. Immigration must be addressed and stance must be taken.

 

I believe what Boehner is trying to convey to his fellow party members is that sometimes they have to get their hands dirty. It’s easy to remain rather uninvolved and allow a set, rigid wall of established ideology dictate the Republican’s stance, but this is not what is in the best interest of a party (which has a goal, essentially, to win…not necessarily stand by ideology). I think the Republican Party is beginning to better recognize the importance of flexibility and evolution, something many would argue the Party has been resisting for some time now.

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Indian parties are using Obama-style campaign tactics as hundreds of millions of voters head to the polls

Indian parties are using Obama-style campaign tactics as hundreds of millions of voters head to the polls | Politics | Scoop.it
Opposition parties have been using Obama-style campaign tactics to attract youth, middle class.
Sidney Jackson's insight:

April 6, 2014 (Sunday)

Semester 2 Assignment Week #13


“Beginning Monday, millions of voters head to the polls in an election that could oust the party that has dominated India’s politics for decades”

 

It is the Indian National Congress, led in this election by 43-year-old Rahul Gandhi, that has dominated Indian politics for so long. Now, with this coming election, it looks like change will be ushered with Modi, of the Hindu-Nationalist coalition, who is predicted to win the election with the help of campaign tactics never before seen in India, tactics actually modeling U.S. president Obama’s campaign strategies.

 

Modi has drawn more than a million volunteers to his campaign and has learned to take advantage of campaigning via social media (which is pretty important considering that voters are more urban and connected in India than ever before). He and his party, pursuing U.S.-style campaign strategies, are mobilizing volunteers, and reaching out to potential voters via social media, and are micro-targeting various groups. They “have studied Obama’s election campaign strategies and observed the elections in Australia, [but] are Indian-izing it.” Still, Western-style strategies can only go so far when only 200 million people (out of more than a billion) have Internet access.

 

All things considered, it’s pretty amazing how politicians around the world can model not just their government, but their campaign strategies off of one another. With technologies role in globalization and social media’s growing place in politics, it seems as if the world is becoming one large laboratory of democracy in which countries and politicians can see what works for other nations and use their observations to shape their own government/ party/ political image. No one knows how well such strategies will play out in India, but they definitely can’t hurt especially considering that his opponent hasn’t taken advantage of social media or campaigning technology. Now until the end of this six week long election, millions will eagerly await the outcome of the election and see whether Modi will usher in a new era of Indian politics.

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Obama looks to win back Saudi confidence

Obama looks to win back Saudi confidence | Politics | Scoop.it
Obama is off to Saudi Arabia to reassure Arab allies that the United States is not abandoning them.
Sidney Jackson's insight:

March 31, 2014 (Monday)

Semester 2 Assignment Week #11


Recently, after spending the past few days in Europe to deal with Russia's incursion and subsequent annexation of Crimea, Obama has made a stop in Saudi Arabia to give his attention to this country’s concerns over the United States’ foreign policy in the Middle East.

 

According to experts, U.S. relations with Saudi Arabia for the past 3 years have been on the decline as Saudi Arabia’s approval of the U.S.’s actions have not been positive. Our Middle Eastern ally is particularly disappointed by the United States’ recent actions concerning Syria, Egypt, and Iran, and they have begun to express their grievances quite clearly. To start, Saudi Arabia feels that Obama did not sufficiently follow through on his word to punish Assad for the illegal use of chemical weapons, that the U.S. has failed to properly support the Syrian people’s effort to exercise their right of self-defense against the murderous Alawite regime, and that our country went behind their backs to reach a nuclear deal with Iran. Now it’s become quite important for Obama to make a clear effort to calm their qualms.

 

Saudi Arabia is an important ally to the United States, so it’s important that our country recognizes our ally’s grievances and make an effort to show that we are moved by their concerns. This being said, Obama’s public move to visit Saudi Arabia is not just a functional political move but a diplomatic gesture. With his presence he is recognizing their concern and is making a statement that our country will work with them to see eye to eye. Hopefully, this move will herald the beginning of improved relations with our ally in a time when politics in the Middle East is uncertain and rather unstable.

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DC Council Votes to Eliminate Jail Time for Marijuana Possession

DC Council Votes to Eliminate Jail Time for Marijuana Possession | Politics | Scoop.it
Sidney Jackson's insight:

March 15, 2014 (Saturday)

Semester 2 Assignment Week #9

 

Under a bill recently passed by the D.C. Council, “Possessing marijuana and smoking it in the privacy of one’s home [may] no longer be [considered a] criminal offense in the nation’s capital.” This measure would not only drastically decrease the penalty of possessing marijuana, but also allow people 21 and older to possess as much as two ounces of marijuana for personal use, permit the growth of up to three plants at home, and legalize the possession/ sale of cannabis paraphernalia. HOWEVER, their actions shouldn’t be confused with the more drastic legal moves taken by Colorado and Washington State, where voters have legalized the sale and taxation of marijuana. Further, D.C. hasn’t made the move of legalizing public smoking. On another note, due to the unique rules of governance in D.C., the bill is required to sit before a congressional panel for 60 days before it becomes law, though it’s very unlikely that any one will intervene.

 

While many choose to focus on the more salient issue of whether marijuana should even be considered an illegal drug, considering that much evidence suggests that marijuana is much less harmful to society than, say, alcohol or tobacco, the legal argument has to do more with decriminalization and its implementation.  Nationwide, “decriminalization efforts have been promoted primarily as an expansion of civil liberties meant to frame recreational pot use as a personal choice with few societal consequences and little need for government oversight.” Still, many are unsure of the recent moves to legalizing marijuana. People (though parents especially) remain doubtful over how the legalization of marijuana may embolden the use of drugs and the potential harm of marijuana if/when abused. Either way, the legalization for the sale, taxation, and recreational use of this drug is looking like it’s moving forward, but how exactly these moves will impact society and the future of decriminalization will remain among the bigger questions on how to legally approach this unique issue and on the matter as a whole.

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New Central African Republic president declares 'war' on Christian militia mobs 

New Central African Republic president declares 'war' on Christian militia mobs  | Politics | Scoop.it
Catherine Samba-Panza, first female president of the beleaguered African country, says she will 'go to war' against Christians slaughtering Muslims. UN and Amnesty International says dire situation is 'ethnic cleansing.'
Sidney Jackson's insight:

February 18, 2014 (Tuesday)

Semester 2 Assignment Week #6


Rarely do I hear the word “bloodthirsty” used to describe any group of religious peoples, but in the Central African Republic, religious contention between the Muslims and Christians have fostered severe ill feelings between the two religious groups.  According to the article, “bloodthirsty gangs of Christians” have been terrorizing, lynching, and beating terrified Muslims. Now, President Catherine Samba-Panza, the first female president of the Central African Republic, is pressured to take some sort of action so as to not seem incapable as a leader.

 

No matter who you are or what kind of leader you are, resolving

social issues with religious and ethnic tension at its root is no easy task. Such tension often times leads to violence, and violence tends to thrive on the ill will it creates. Being the first female president of the Central African Republic, Samba-Panza may be anxious to make a move, but I feel that it would be wise not to jump in too quickly and to not seem as if she is favoring any one group over the other. I believe that if she is to maintain and foster the respect of the people that she should begin with treating both Christians and Muslims with equal dignity and respect.

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Israel: Peace deal requires recognition of Jewish state

Israel: Peace deal requires recognition of Jewish state | Politics | Scoop.it
Palestinians' refusal to recognize Israel as a Jewish state and to allow a long-term Israeli security presence in the Jordan valley goes against core elements of any peace deal that Israel would accept.
Sidney Jackson's insight:

February 4, 2014 (Tuesday)

Semester 2 Assignment Week #5


Palestinians' refusal to agree with security arrangements for the Jordan Valley, pursue peace, and recognize Israel as a Jewish state are making it very difficult for Palestine and Israel to hash out any sort of deal.  It seems clear that Palestine are not willing to recognize Israel as a Jewish state because they don’t genuinely desire peace (through comprise) as the recognition of Israel as a Jewish state is one condition Israel is unwilling to dismiss- even to move forward in their agreement. Israel demands it be recognized as a Jewish state, and Palestine refuses. Israel insists on maintaining a security presence in the Jordan Valley and Palestine is unwilling to comply with the terms. Palestine fears of demilitarization while Israel fears that Israel not being considered a legitimate states renders it vulnerable to threats of terror groups. Finally, neither country wants to have to do with the presence of the undesired ethnicity (one another) creating serious refugee issues.

 

The circumstances peace makers and ambassadors are dealing with seem nearly impossible to get around as Israel and Palestine have a long history of political and ethnic tensions. Because of their shared history, it’s not much of a surprise that coming to an agreement has been so difficult, but I still find it hard to imagine that compromise is so difficult. Their fears and frustrations are parallel, but they can’t come to terms with one another because of their past. From the outside, it seems like they’re just making trouble for themselves and that they’d be better off if they just called a truce or whatever. I believe if ethnic issues continue to dictate the validity of peace, that it’ll be quite some time before progress is made.


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Ukraine protesters plead for Western help

Ukraine protesters plead for Western help | Politics | Scoop.it
Protests in Ukraine have turned violent after the president curbs free speech and demonstrations.
Sidney Jackson's insight:

January 20, 2014 (Monday)

Semester 2 Assignment Week #3

 

An army of protesters in Ukraine are claiming that their government is creating an authoritarian regime similar to that of Russia’s and is moving away from Western democracy. Activists for the past few days have been trying to take over Ukraine's parliament and fight against impending governmental oppression. “Opposition leaders have been urging the EU and the United States to impose sanctions on top Ukrainian officials but so far Western nations have only threatened sanctions and issued harsh statements.” According to the protesters, Ukraine’s independence and democracy is on the line.

 

While the United States recognize that many of the actions taken by Ukraine’s government is "undemocratic," for all of the violence and upheaval taking place there, I’m surprised more attention hasn’t been brought to these protests. I agree with Valeriy Chalyi, head of the Razumkov Center think tank, in saying that "the reaction of the international community has been inadequate.” Not that I expected the U.S. to immediately send in troops, I’m just surprised that we don’t even so much as have news coverage of the events or try to reach out more. As a democratic nation that has vowed to protect democracy from exactly what these protesters fear (the taking away of their freedoms), I not only believe it would be a politically wise make, but that it would be right to aid the people of Ukraine in whatever way we can.

 

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10-Year Treasury yield jumps back up to 3%

10-Year Treasury yield jumps back up to 3% | Politics | Scoop.it
Treasuries fell Wednesday and the yield on the 10-year Treasury pushed over 3% again as investors gained more confidence in the strength of the economy and job creation.
Sidney Jackson's insight:

January 20, 2014 (Monday)

Semester 2 Assignment Week #1

 

Long-term interest rates have increased and are holding (and possibly still increasing), causing investors, savers and borrowers to wonder how exactly they might be affected. Though higher rates are possible, as the economy is firming, rising rates possibly may negatively impact several groups, including bond investors, homeowners/ buyers, and savers. Bond investors will take a hit as bond prices fall, homeowners/buyers will face higher mortgages rates, and savers will continue to be plagued with low rates.

 

Despite the relatively unfavorable side effects of increasing interest rates, from what I can tell, this doesn’t seem to be all bad. The economy is “firming” and the government is retracting stimulus (which are all good signs I imagine) and interest is rising. At least things are settling down now.  

 

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Obama to soon propose NSA surveillance changes

Obama to soon propose NSA surveillance changes | Politics | Scoop.it
President Obama's proposed changes to National Security Agency surveillance rules are likely to come this month. During his recent appearance on MSNBC's Hardball, Obama said that
Sidney Jackson's insight:

December 8, 2013 (Sunday)

Semester 1 Assignment Week #17

 

This article briefly covers Obama’s recent interview on MSNBC's Hardball, concerning Obama’s proposed changes to the National Security Agency surveillance rules, which have been perpetually admonished as a result of Snowden’s info-leak a few months ago. These changes, Obama said, would “be designed to build public confidence in the NSA and its surveillance efforts.” Obama went ahead to reassure the public by reminding them that their system of checks and balances would not allow for the extent of the perceived invasion of privacy and that the intentions of the NSA lie with protecting the people.

 

I’m still a little surprised by the amount of outcry that resulted from the whole Snowden leak. For whatever reason, I wasn’t all that fazed by the leak- I was pretty indifferent about it. Yet hearing that surveillance changed will be made and having the President reassure everyone that he is working to regain the confidence of the American people still makes me feel better about the situation even though I never had any feeling against the NSA and/or their “invasive” practices. Whether these changes are minor or significant, that Obama is doing something about certainly will, to some extent, quell America’s expression of outrage and certainly regain confidence.

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Obama, GOP take a political breather with Thanksgiving cease-fire - CBS News

Obama, GOP take a political breather with Thanksgiving cease-fire - CBS News | Politics | Scoop.it
Instead of bashing each other, President Obama, congressional Republicans thank the troops in weekly addresses
Sidney Jackson's insight:

December 8, 2013 (Sunday)

Semester 1 Assignment Week #15

 

In President Obama’s Thanksgiving CBS News Video, Obama takes the time to extend his thanks to soup kitchen volunteers, American families, and those serving in the military. Recounting the history of thanksgiving and, from there, expanding on the essence of this American Holiday, he goes onto explain in what ways our generosity and liberality embodies the fabric of who we are as Americans. The article following the video then goes onto point out the momentary cease fire between the parties as they pause to reflect on what they’re thankful for.

 

As inspiring and heartwarming as the Thanksgiving speeches made by President Obama and other large political figures were, I imagine acting on, and not just reflecting on, this same spirit should be expressed by all for more than just a few days a year. Of course, it seems totally improbable and nearly impossible, but taking the time to recognize that we are all American, be thankful, and act on out good character seems like it should be a year round endeavor. If we focused more on who we were helping and not so much on whose “winning”, I believe the American political atmosphere would decrease (even just a tiny bit) in tension and increase in a genuine desire to progress, make a difference, and allow us to find more common ground as we have seen is possible during the holiday’s.

 

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U.S. lawmakers seek tighter Iran sanctions before any deal

U.S. lawmakers seek tighter Iran sanctions before any deal | Politics | Scoop.it
WASHINGTON/GENEVA (Reuters) - U.S.lawmakers said on Sunday they aimed to tighten sanctions on Iran to prevent Washington giving away too much in a deal on Tehran's nuclear program that diplomats said...
Sidney Jackson's insight:

November 17, 2013 (Sunday)

Semester 1 Assignment Week #13

 

From what I can tell, several nations have come together to discuss the future of Iran’s nuclear program. The Iranians argue that their program denotes progress and development, and that they have a right as a sovereign country to pursue such research for peaceful purposes. Israel (and others), argues that their research will veer from the peaceful research to the production of nuclear warheads (a valid fear as these two neighboring countries don’t exactly have the best relationship). Finally, the rest of the world, rather hesitant about the continuation of the program, is currently looking at the follow up of some sort of negotiated deal that will, in the end, allow Iran’s nuclear program (with restrictions). Still “That any deal might be feasible after a decade of increasingly heated confrontation between Iran and Western powers, shows the striking shift in the tone of Iranian foreign policy since Rouhani's landslide election victory in June”. Now it seems that there’s a good chance of the negotiations producing a deal within the next few weeks after making "a lot of progress."

 

I’m not sure at all what to think of this situation. While I recognize Iran’s right as a sovereign country to pursue nuclear research (as many other countries already have), I can’t dismiss my feelings of uncertainty (and, I’ll admit, fear). I’m sure this is how other nations must feel about their dilemma. The pressure is on them to settle on some negotiation that will allow Iran, as a state, to exercise their rights, but settle the feelings of uneasy tension left over from our past. It’s understood that not everyone will be happy about the settlement, but whatever deal we settle on, I hope it’s one that addresses both major concerns. 

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The U.S. Spends Much More on the Elderly Than It Does on the Young

The U.S. Spends Much More on the Elderly Than It Does on the Young | Politics | Scoop.it
The federal government may soon be spending more on interest payments on the debt than on children.
Sidney Jackson's insight:

November 4, 2013 (Monday)

Semester 1 Assignment Week #11

 

“Across the United States,[much due to the fear of rising national debt,] the young are feeling the brunt of government cutbacks.” Without raising taxes, children's programs are being squeezed as automatic federal spending cuts limit programs like Head Start, nutrition assistance, and child welfare.

 

Through the 1960s and on, federal spending on kids in the U.S. had been raising, however, the trend ended in 2011, when it dropped by $2 billion and continued to decline since. Furthermore, it’s forecasted even that, kids are not expected to benefit much, if at all, from a big jump in federal spending over the next decade. In contrast, federal spending has increased dramatically for the elderly. Today, an elderly person gets about seven federal dollars for every one dollar given to a child. And while the elderly population is roughly half the size of all children in the U.S., taxpayers spend three times as much for them as they do on the young. From elementary nutrition programs to college debt, the young are facing tough prospects. And though the burden of today’s young to support the elderly grows, resources to do so aren’t being provided and the human capital necessary to grow America's huge economy isn't being developed.

 

There are more statistics than I can list elaborating in what ways the young of America are currently suffering. Money is tight and our ability to effectively distribute money in all necessary areas are limited; however, I believe that it is a great mistake to take away funds from an area essential to America’s future. To not provide funds to schools and American youth is to take away from the better tomorrow we claim to aspire towards. If the present’s young are said to be the foundation of the future, then shouldn’t we invest more in today's young who will face the growing issues of today later on?

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U.S. holds out possibility of restoring aid to Egypt 

U.S. holds out possibility of restoring aid to Egypt  | Politics | Scoop.it
While dissatisfied with Egypt’s progress toward reinstating a democratic government, the U.S. is holding out the possibility of restoring hundreds of millions of dollars in aid if its Mideast ally moves toward free and fair elections.
Sidney Jackson's insight:

 October 15th, 2013 (Tuesday)

Semester 1 Assignment Week #9

 

Recently the State Department clarified that their decision to end Egyptian aid wasn’t permanent and could be restored if “credible progress” could be made amidst present Egyptian governmental mayhem. It was stated that our government would make an effort to support Egypt so long as Egypt organized a government in which the American people would not be opposed to. So, in support of Egypt’s rather shaky movement towards establishing a modern democratic government, the U.S. is considering the possibility of restoring millions of dollars in aid to its Middle Eastern ally.

 

I’m neither for nor against providing aid. I recognize that as an ally of Egypt we should support them in whatever way we feel we best can aid them; however, I don’t completely feel that sending millions of dollars in aid and military support is necessarily the best option of support for them or us. Their government is unstable and both parties (the Egyptian people and the government) struggle to cooperate with one another. To want the best for a people who rejected a government we recognized as being democratic and provide aid to a government that has limited control, shaky recognizable authority, and an un-ideal democracy (though we support the country in its efforts towards becoming one) make it difficult to decide what’s best for us to do in support of Egypt. At this point, I guess, there’s no right or wrong solution; I just hope we opt for whatever ends up being the best means of support. 

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U.S. Delays Final Call on Keystone XL Pipeline

U.S. Delays Final Call on Keystone XL Pipeline | Politics | Scoop.it
The State Department will wait to decide whether to allow construction of the pipeline until it has a clearer idea how legal challenges to the route through Nebraska will be settled, sources said.
Sidney Jackson's insight:

April 29, 2014 (Tuesday)

Semester 2 Assignment Week #14

 

The huge debate over whether or not the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline should be approved has been further delayed by the State Department in order reassess the legal challenges brought up by the project; and neither supporters nor opponents are happy about the news (as the believe this is yet another political ploy aimed at “punting the final call on the divisive project until after the midterm elections in November.”) . For background, the Keystone XL pipeline construction, a project that has been under review since 2008, would create a 1,700-mile pipeline that would carry crude oil from the Alberta oil sands in Canada to Gulf Coast refineries. Opponents argue that the construction of the pipeline would  both pose a huge threat to the environment and facilitate  practices believed to be the root cause of global warming. Proponents, however, argue that the pipeline not only poses no danger to the environment, but reason that the construction of the pipeline would create thousands of much needed American jobs. Now that decisions have, again, been delayed, everyone is frustrated as they haven’t yet gotten what they want most …an answer. Most speculate that this is a Democratic move that courts voters calling for the pipelines approval while ensuring the continued flow of money from liberal donors who oppose the project. Now it’s up to the State Department, President, and courts to decide.

 

Personally, I’m split. The construction of a pipeline that potential poses an environmental threat concerns me. After the BP incident, many Americans are trying their best to take action for the environment and against reckless projects that have the potential to further scar our environment. However, it’s also been a goal of ours to create jobs and invest in our country, something the construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline definitely can fulfill. That the pipeline’s construction is being reassessed at all (no matter the speculated ulterior purposes of the move) is a comfort to me as this will give not just the President, State Department, and Courts a greater chance to look into the issue, but all of America. This is no easy decision to make, much less a decision that should be made by a few, but by everyone.

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Promises of Diplomacy but No Advances in Ukraine Talks

Promises of Diplomacy but No Advances in Ukraine Talks | Politics | Scoop.it
As Secretary of State John Kerry began his meeting in Paris with his Russian counterpart on Sunday to seek a political solution to the standoff over Ukraine, the federalization of the country was likely to be at the core of the discussion.
Sidney Jackson's insight:

April 6, 2014 (Sunday)

Semester 2 Assignment Week #12


Russia’s invasion of Crimea, a Ukrainian peninsula, has taken hold of much of the world’s attention as rising tensions have compelled several nations to take action and try to handle the situation.

 

For background, Russia invaded Crimea late February for reasons still being disputed. Putin, Russia’s leader, asserts that his reason for invading Crimea was to protect ethnic Russians in Crimea from "ultranationalistic forces" in Ukraine; however, its largely speculated that the invasion partly has to do with East-West relations and Russia’s desire to remain firmly involved in Ukrainian politics. Fortunately, despite the fact that there are thousands of Russian troop occupying Crimea and have taken control of various sites within the peninsula (airports, military bases, various buildings, etc.), the takeover has largely been nonviolent. Still, there’s a general consensus that a political solution is needed for Ukraine and plans are currently being discussed to de-escalate the crisis.

 

Though neither side is claiming a breakthrough, and though Russia isn’t committing to pulling back, negotiations have at least helped ease tension for the mean time. Now, through conferences, the concerns of Russia and the needs of the Ukrainian people are being discussed in order to bring the conflict to an end as talk has focused on securing the rights of minorities and “linguistic rights” of Russians  in Ukraine, the demobilization of militias, Ukrainian constitutional reforms, the reconsidering of the imposing tougher sanctions on Russia (by other nations), Ukraine’s degree of independence from Moscow, and many other political technicalities.

 

How events and negotiations will unfold is still largely unknown. Now all the world can do is wait to see what happens next, offer their support to those trying to de-escalate the conflict, and hope for the best.

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Dangerous smog battles the economy in China

Dangerous smog battles the economy in China | Politics | Scoop.it
XINGTAI, China – With a toothy grin and bags of energy, power plant technician Liu Shui cycles all over Hebei, his native province in north China, pursuing his other hobby, photography.
Sidney Jackson's insight:

March 16, 2014 (Sunday)

Semester 2 Assignment Week #10


China, infamous for its toxic air, is currently facing a nationwide challenge of” balancing its intense desire for increasing economic growth to raise incomes and the growing demand from citizens to protect the public health”. Now, the dirty air polluting China has become too big of an issue to ignore. The smog from factories pour dust into the atmosphere and now blanket cities “in a sickening haze that can [even] float into neighboring countries.” Unfortunately, heavy industrial centers are under pressure from the party to maintain production and so prioritize business over their impact on the environment. Though the country makes fairly strict environmental laws, has the money, and possesses the technology to deal with this issue, enforcement is weak, meaning that little is ultimately being done to address pollution.

 

Though it’s understood that the Chinese government is making an effort to revamp environmental policy and has among the most strict environmental protections laws in the world,  it all means little if its not being enforced. Conflicting governmental agendas make it difficult to progress in their efforts to address the pollution issue, and because of this, pollution will only continue to get worse. I believe that the government should recognize and begin to prioritize the well-being of the citizens over the pressure to produce industrial goods as it’s the responsibility of the government to look out for the best interest of their people, and regulate polluting companies in whatever way they can so as to ensure a better quality of life for their country’s inhabitants.

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El Chapo arrested without a shot fired

El Chapo arrested without a shot fired | Politics | Scoop.it
Sinaloa cartel chief “El Chapo” Guzmán was captured early Saturday in the resort town of Mazatlán.
Sidney Jackson's insight:

February 23, 2014 (Sunday)

Semester 2 Assignment Week #8

 

“Mexico’s most-wanted drug trafficker, Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzmán, was arrested Saturday after a months-long operation to track him down”, according to U.S. and Mexican authorities.

 

For background, “El Chapo” was the number one supplier of illegal drugs to the U.S and the world’ s richest, most powerful, most renown, and most wanted drug lord. His organized crime empire spanned several continents, comprised of the trade of a extensive variety of drugs via, seemingly, all means of transportation, and earned billions (BILLIONS) of dollars. To top it all off, he was nearly untouchable, managing to evade officials and countless government hunt downs for several years. That being said, the announcement of the peaceful capture of this legendary drug lord by the Mexican Navy (with help from  information provided by U.S. law enforcement officials on his location) came as thrilling news to the world, but especially to Mexico, its president, Enrique Peña Nieto, who scored a major political victory with “El Chapo’s” capture, and the US, El Chapo’s most lucrative place of business. As stated by U.S. Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., “the arrest [was] a landmark achievement and a victory for the citizens of both Mexico and the United States.”

 

While the drug operation is expected to continue, likely at the hands of his partner, “El Mayo,” the taking down of the ring leader of this major drug operation is still recognized as being a great victory, as this was a major step, amongst many other steps taken, toward bringing down the drug trade. Further, this victory may not only have pushed forward future security partnerships between Mexico and the United States, but may also have given a much needed boost to the crackdown on world drug trade now that “El Chapo’s” capture has gained worldwide attention. To say the least, this was not just a political victory for Mexico and America, but a victory for National Security, and a victory inspiring hope to all those negatively afflicted by the drug trade. 

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White House: Stimulus bill was good for economy

White House: Stimulus bill was good for economy | Politics | Scoop.it
The costly $787 billion spending bill that President Barack Obama signed into law soon after taking office boosted the economy and helped avoid another Great Depression, the White House said in a status report on Monday’s fifth anniversary of the law’s enactment.
Sidney Jackson's insight:

February 18, 2014 (Tuesday)

Semester 2 Assignment Week #7

 

The 5th year anniversary of the $787 billion stimulus bill that President Barack Obama signed into law after taking office has been met with both praise and admonition. While democrats argue that stimulus spending has unquestionably boosted our economy (having created 1.6 million jobs through the end of 2012, improved roads, prevented layoffs, and assisted those afflicted by the dip in our economy), Republicans argue that the bill spent too much for too little in return. Still, while the recovery act will certainly continue to deliver positive effects on our economy, it has grown “at a pace that would not be considered robust.” Further, unemployment remains fairly high. The main question, now, is whether Obama’s actions have actually laid the groundwork for stronger, more sustainable economic growth for the future.

 

Though I agree that the delivery of economic recovery via stimulus and other efforts haven’t gone as well as hoped for, I believe we should celebrate the progress we have made. Any steps forward is better than nothing, and I believe even a steady recovery should encourage the people of our country and rekindle their faith in our government. In my opinion the faith and optimism of the people in our government is the “medicine” for economy.

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Deal or no deal?

Deal or no deal? | Politics | Scoop.it
IN HIS big annual speech to Congress, Barack Obama made several promises. He pledged to raise the minimum wage for those contracted to the federal government, to...
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February 4, 2014 (Tuesday)

Semester 2 Assignment Week #4

 

President Obama’s made several points and promises in his state-of-the-union speech. He plans raise the minimum wage, to create a new tax-free savings bond, to close the Guantánamo Bay prison, to push immigration reforms, and push our deal with Iran over its nuclear program. He made it a point that this would be “a year of action”; however, in stating “Wherever and whenever I can take steps without legislation to expand opportunity” he inadvertently pointed out the inefficiency of our government in getting things done. For the past few years it seems that polarized party politics have thwarted the intention of the checks and balances from moderating system to an obstructionist system. This is not only a frustrating reality to the president, but to everyone. After the government shutdown, people now want more than anything for the government to work (together).

 

Despite all of the frustration and progress blocks out government for the past few years has encountered, AS suggested by the article, I believe that growing irritation amongst the American people and demonstrations of a “broken government (e.g. government shutdown) will encourage our government to compromise more. More deals will be made, compromised will be met with (hopefully) less reluctance, and our government will begin to take baby steps toward working together as somewhat of a team. Hopefully, this year new year will be proof of that, and we’ll all learn from the mistakes of our past and work together for the betterment of our country as a whole.

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New federal ruling forbids states from checking voters’ citizenship

New federal ruling forbids states from checking voters’ citizenship | Politics | Scoop.it
States are vowing to go to the courts for permission to ask newly registered voters to show proof of citizenship after a federal commission ruled late Friday that it’s up to the national government, not states, to decide what to include on...
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January 20, 2014 (Monday)

Semester 2 Assignment Week #2

 

The push for voter identification and proof of citizenship as some states seek to crack down on what they fear is fraudulent registration and, in some cases, fraudulent voting is seemingly being hindered. Under the motor-voter law, federal officials distribute voter-registration forms in all of the states to help increase voter participation. However, when states asked that those forms request proof of citizenship, the federal Election Assistance Commission rejected, arguing that they cannot tell the federal government what to include on federal forms that Congress is constitutionally incapable of doing so, and further, that this would hamper voter turnout. Now it looks like some states are vowing to go to the courts for permission to ask newly registered voters to show proof of citizenship on these registration forms.

 

For this issue, I’m not totally sure where to stand. In the article it’s mentioned that “every time an alien votes in an election, that vote effectively disenfranchises a United States citizen.” Generally, I would feel that this is a valid point, even a problem worth addressing. On the other hand, I recognize that many people who are citizens of the United States don’t bother voting, and that all people willing to vote and wanting to have a voice should have the right to vote. So should having a voice be limit those rightful (legal) citizens of America? Or should it be opened up to anyone living in the U.S. who simply wants to be represented in a country where the people (legal or not I guess) I have a voice?  

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Man poised to lead India barred from entering US

Man poised to lead India barred from entering US | Politics | Scoop.it
The man poised to lead India -- one of America's staunchest allies in Asia and a nation of more than a billion people -- cannot even legally enter the United States.
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December 21, 2013 (Saturday)

Semester 1 Assignment Week #18

 

Though India is one of the United States’ closest allies, the U.S. State Department is refusing to extend a visa to India’s (likely) next Prime Minister, Narendra Modi. It would seem like the U.S. would want to extend a visa to the victorious leader, however various human rights groups and U.S. law is barring Modi’s entry as it seems that he has allegedly allowed the escalation of some of the worst ethnic (Hindu-Muslim) riots in India's history (2002). Although this happened more than 10 years ago and although it’s difficult to assess the extent of Modi’s actual ability to have prevented/ended the Muslim-Hindu riots, U.S. law, considering him as “a foreign official deemed responsible for severe violations of religious freedom” is barring his entry into our country. Lifting the ban would anger human rights groups and trigger a legal battle, yet, keeping the ban could generate tension between us and Idnia, and potentially counter the efforts many have made in improving Indian-American relations.

 

I’m not sure whose decision it is to make, but I do recognize that there isn’t much room to satisfy all parties.  Not allowing Modi would make it seem like the U.S. doesn’t recognize him as a respectable leader, but allowing him to enter would violate U.S. law. If possible, I would have India and their next prime minister recognize that he is in fact recognized as a respectable leader by extending our deference in some other way (maybe have our own president meet with him or have ambassadors explain the situation). We shouldn’t risk U.S. Indian relations because we speculate that Modi could have done more to prevent the riots he’s condemned for not having done more to prevent. Still, I believe that we shouldn’t make exceptions if U.S. law is actually preventing his entry. I believe that the situation should be reviewed to see whether the law actually does apply to him, and if it does (meaning that he should not enter), that we do everything within our power (legally) to extend our welcome and convey our respect for Modi. 

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Increased polarization in politics reduces voter turnout

Increased polarization in politics reduces voter turnout | Politics | Scoop.it
As the government shutdown in October showed, the U.S. is currently in a period of deep political division. Using data collected from in dozens of U.S. Senate races between 1996 and 2006, and 50 U....
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December 8, 2013 (Sunday)

Semester 1 Assignment Week #16

 

For several decades, political analysts have argued over whether the polarization of political party ideals either increased or decreased voter/ public participation in elections and politics. In the mid-1900’s, people believed that the parties were so aligned with one another, that no “true” decision was being made amongst the people. Today, in contrast, political parties are more polarized ideologically and in policy than ever before, yet most analysts still are arguing over whether this has increased or decreased political activity. The recent study described and presented in this article suggests that rather than stimulating political participation (as many argued in the mid-1900’s and even today), increasing policy differences between candidates significantly reduced voter turnout. “These findings give rise to something of a paradox: though clearly defined differences on policy grounds may increase the relevance of programmatic differences for electoral decision-making and increase the stakes associated with election outcomes, as previous scholars argue, increased ideological conflict reduces participation in the exercise of collective choice.”

 

As mentioned by the author of this article, it’s hard to pin-point the reason for this phenomenon because all people react differently in deciding their ideological political alignment (there are too many factors to account for to make any sort of conclusion). If I had to take a guess, I would say that decreasing voter turnout is correlated to the general decrease in political alignment. Or maybe a decrease in party participation by “the silent majority” (all those who are not strictly aligned with any one policy) has allowed for the domination of politics by those most extremely aligned in their party preference. 

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Clashes stoke tension before Mozambique local election

Clashes stoke tension before Mozambique local election | Politics | Scoop.it
MAPUTO (Reuters) - Clashes in Mozambique's second city of Beira between rival party supporters and riot police injured more than 20 people and stoked tension ahead of local elections this week that will...
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December 8, 2013 (Sunday)

Semester 1 Assignment Week #14

 

Familiar only with the peaceful turn overs of political leadership from one party to the other (the Democratic Party/Republican Party) and never having witnessed political violence, its hard for me to comprehend that there are countries today that must practically overturn their current government if they want another political party to ascend to leadership.

 

Such political violence is demonstrated in the growing tensions between the political parties of Mozambique during their local elections. According to the article, the rather corrupt Frelimo government of Mozambique resorted to military action towards political activists (Mozambique Democratic Movement) whom apparently pose as a threat to the current dominating party. However, the Frelimo party activists are not the only ones participating in acts of violence, but MDM political activists as well. In order to demonstrate their actual threat, they must demonstrate their force. Considering that these recent skirmishes have been instigated by local elections, it’s chilling to imagine what the party transition of the national government will look like.

 

Until this country develops a standard means by which employ the transition of political leadership, violence is going to continue to arise wherever political factions do. It’s only natural for political parties to form and vie for power, but it is in no way beneficial for either party to cling to authority no longer granted to them by the people. Forcing this phenomenon through oppression is no way to ensure legitimate authority and will eventually result in the suffering of the people. Hopefully, in Mozambique, the actual transition of power will be less violent than the campaigns, and that demonstrations of peaceful party transition will allow Mozambique to continue heading toward a more stable, democratic government.

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Why supporting the gay rights bill should be a no-brainer for House Republicans

Why supporting the gay rights bill should be a no-brainer for House Republicans | Politics | Scoop.it
Fifty-six percent of Republicans say they support ENDA. Your move, John Boehner.
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November 17, 2013 (Sunday)

Semester 1 Assignment Week #12

 

Recently the Senate passed the Employer Non-Discrimination Act, a bill that will prohibit workplace discrimination against gays, lesbians, and transgender Americans. Despite this step made towards barring such discrimination in the workplace, however, it seems like this bill will meet much more opposition in the house, as Republican House Speaker John Boehner “opposes the legislation and has no plans to bring it to a vote.” Yet many ask, is this a wise move on the Republicans part?

 

Both Democrats and Republicans, and many others, have already begun to shift their views in support of LGBT Americans. Many believe/ recognize that the Republicans should support the bill for the good for the future of their own party. Not only is supporting this bill (and LGBT Americans) the “right and moral thing to do,” but it also expands the appeal of the party to the younger generation and other groups that are beginning to recognize the cause.

 

Strangely enough, polls show that most Republicans support the bill said to be met with much opposition. So if the bill is opposed by house republicans, it is for reasons other than that of representing the views of their constituents.

 

It’s clear that the Republican Party is going through a cultural shift as more Republican legislators consistently step up for LGBT Americans. However, the party must learn to and allow itself to evolve. Otherwise, it will lose the interest and support of potential party members.

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Amid New Storm in U.S.-Europe Relationship, a Call for Talks on Spying

Amid New Storm in U.S.-Europe Relationship, a Call for Talks on Spying | Politics | Scoop.it
The offer was an attempt to defuse a trans-Atlantic dispute over eavesdropping by the United States that has hurt its relations with Europe and prompted calls to suspend trade talks.
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November 4, 2013 (Monday)

Semester 1 Assignment Week #10

 

Throughout the world there’s been growing belief that “the balance between freedom and security [in America] has been lost.” Even after several months, the initial impact of the NSA- Snowden leak controversy has established a sense that post-Sept. 11 America has lost some of its once admired values of privacy. This unease has become such a concern that many of America’s major European counterparts speculate that the United States is participating in other invasive acts of intelligence gathering and, as a result, is  proposing new rules for the current trans-Atlantic intelligence relationship between Europe and the US out of a said “lack of trust.” These intelligence concerns, on top of already flustered diplomatic relations rising from the Syria Civil War, and America’s tiptoeing the world unto the brink of economic turmoil, have only added to the continued strain in US- European relations.

 

I understand that in certain situations the whole “spying” thing may have “good intentions,” but that doesn’t mean the ends justify the means, especially between partners. Instead of isolating ourselves by treating our allies like untrusted neighbors, we should probably work on mending the ginormous rift we’ve been creating between our European counterparts. 

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Will Oglesby's comment, November 12, 2013 8:39 PM
Great story, Sidney. How'd you find it?