Senior Year Scoops
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Rand Paul Says He's 'More of a Target' Now That He's Topping the Polls

Rand Paul Says He's 'More of a Target' Now That He's Topping the Polls | Senior Year Scoops | Scoop.it
In an interview, the Kentucky Republican speaks out about his rivals, the NSA, and what to do next in Ukraine.
Jason West's insight:

Week 31 (March 16 - 22)

 

Recent polls in various states have highlighted Sen. Rand Paul as the man to beat. On top of that, he appears to be in the forefront of the 2016 Republican field of presidential hopefuls according to an early CNN/OPC International poll. Sen. Paul has responded to the hype by saying he’s “more of a target” now.

 

Continuing his stride, the Kentucky Republican again spoke out against the National Security Agency’s domestic activity. Paul hopes to sway some young voters into the Republican fold for 2016 by appealing to them in regards to spying and data tracking. He has regularly voiced his opposition to the NSA working within American borders to spy on citizens as if they were the enemy.

 

The other topic Sen. Paul touched on was the conflict in Ukraine and Crimea. By stoking the fire in that region, Russia has undoubtedly become the key antagonist. Thus, Paul reasons that “…if Putin and Russia act like a rogue nation, they should be isolated.” He also claims that Putin has “miscalculated” his odds of success in whatever he plans to do.

 

My man, Republican Senator Rand Paul out of Kentucky, ladies and gentlemen.

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Back in Spotlight, Christie Offers G.O.P. Subtle Advice

Back in Spotlight, Christie Offers G.O.P. Subtle Advice | Senior Year Scoops | Scoop.it
At the Conservative Political Action Conference, Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey urged the Republican Party to broaden its electoral appeal.
Jason West's insight:

Week 29 (March 2 - 8)

 

Following the image-shattering George Washington Bridge scandal in his home state of New Jersey, Gov. Chris Christie has reemerged onto the national political stage. The governor feels he has some wise words for the GOP, warning that “we’ve got to start to talk about what we are for and not what we are against.” It seems Gov. Christie views the Republican Party as powerless in its current state, remarking that a powerless party cannot govern.

 

The new spirit Christie encourages his party to embrace is a refreshing one. He emphasizes pragmatism and broadening the appeal of the Republican Party as the key to a brighter future for the GOP in upcoming and future elections. Rather than pressuring the conservative wing as he might have done in the past, Christie offered subtle advice to his party as a whole. In doing so, he effectively gave the GOP a mission to renovate its image, while somewhat restoring his own image on the political scene.

 

This move by Gov. Christie is extremely admirable. Yes, he was pulling the strings in a political scandal but American politics in modern times have been anything but pure and clean. He acknowledges what the GOP must do and encourages them to do just that. If the Republican Party can act appropriately on his words while maintaining it’s overwhelmingly conservative ideology than it can recover as the dominant party. I now quote one of my good friends in saying, “Guess who’s back? Back again? Christie’s back…”

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Venezuelans in U.S. Rally To Draw Attention to Political Crisis - NBC News

Venezuelans in U.S. Rally To Draw Attention to Political Crisis - NBC News | Senior Year Scoops | Scoop.it
In front and inside the El Arepazo restaurant in Miami, Florida on Tuesday, a crowd of Venezuelan-Americans gathered to monitor the news from the country tha...
Jason West's insight:

Week 27 (February 16 - 22)

 

Maduro’s regime in Venezuela can be described as a nightmare for people who were hopeful for more peace and stability following the governance of Chavez. Venezuelan-Americans throughout the United States have held rallies and have launched mass communications to raise awareness to the struggles faced by their compatriots back home. Mireya Granadillo has voiced that keeping in contact with her relatives in Venezuela has become more difficult as phones are being blocked in and around the hotbeds of protest. Therefore, according to Granadillo, the Internet is one of their greatest weapons.

 

The civil unrest in Venezuela is indeed a global crisis. As United States citizens, Venezuelan-Americans with ties to home have grave worries regarding the state that the country is currently in under Maduro. They reasonably call on American politicians to take what action they can to reverse the direction that Venezuela is headed in. Due to internal pressure and clear global ramifications, the Venezuelan crisis is likely to remain a top concern for the American government.

 

Venezuela and the United States have a distinct history of interaction. Particularly in times when fascism has surmounted democracy in Venezuela, the United States has frequently stepped in. It is uplifting to hear politicians such as Sen. Marco Rubio, Sen. Robert Menendez, and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen denouncing the whole situation. I am eager to see the degree to which this issue is globalized, and how the problem will eventually be solved. Will the tension dissipate? 

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Keystone XL Pipeline Report Creates Political Headache For Obama

Keystone XL Pipeline Report Creates Political Headache For Obama | Senior Year Scoops | Scoop.it
A new State Department report that concludes the proposed 1,179-mile oil pipeline would not worsen global warming has alarmed environmentalists and increased the volume of Republican calls for its approval.
Jason West's insight:

Week 25 (February 2 - 8)

 

This Keystone XL Pipeline continues to be a divisive issue on the political scene, becoming increasingly complicated. The original plan for the 1,179-mile pipeline stretching from western Canada’s tar sands to a Nebraska transfer station has yet to be wholly approved by the U.S. State Department. Most the concerns regarding the pipeline focus on environmental protection. Despite the State Department conducting it’s own studies, in addition to reports from other expert agencies and the EPA, determining the true potential effects of Keystone on the climate and environment remain unclear. Environmentalists, nonetheless, have rallied to the cause by orchestrating demonstrations to highlight the prospective damage to certain areas of the United States.

 

President Obama has a decision to make; regardless of whether he approves or disapproves, his response will be extremely difficult to defend to the opposite side. Republicans have made this pipeline project “key to their jobs-and-energy- argument” and, with the voiced support of some Democrats, continue to push for the establishment of Keystone. It has been noted that the pipeline will pump not just crude oil, but $3.4 billion into the economy as well. Many other Democrats in Congress claim that if the President were to sign off on the pipeline that he would be betraying the environmental cause, including the fight against severe climate change.

 

The battle over Keystone will impact the upcoming midterm elections in November, I presume. Of extreme political importance is the party balance in the Senate; particularly the fate of Democrats in energy-producing states that tend to lean toward the conservative end. We’ll see how it all plays out based on President Obama’s decision.

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Texas executes Mexican national despite diplomatic pressure

Texas executes Mexican national despite diplomatic pressure | Senior Year Scoops | Scoop.it
The U.S. Supreme Court rejected appeals Wednesday night for Mexican national Edgar Tamayo, clearing the way for the Texas death row inmate to be executed for the slaying of a Houston police officer 20 years ago.
Jason West's insight:

Week 23 (January 19 - 25)

 

The nation’s most active state for capital punishment is at it again with the first execution of the new year. Edgar Tamayo, 46, was dealt a lethal injection at the state prison in Huntsville, Texas. Tamayo had been charged with murdering Houston police officer Guy Gaddis in 1994 as he and an accomplice tried to escape after being nabbed at a robbery scene. The execution occurred at the behest of Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, after both the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court rejected a pair of appeals that could have saved Tamayo or at least delayed his ultimate punishment. Governor Rick Perry and the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles rejected Tamayo’s plead for clemency.

 

This event holds significant political weight in the realm of foreign affairs. While the Texans acted constitutionally to avenge a fallen officer, they did so despite the ardent protests of the Mexican government and clear expressions of disapproval by Secretary of State John Kerry and the State Department. Individuals such as Ray Hunt, president of the Houston Police Officers’ Union, have stressed that, “He [Tamayo] had the same rights as you and I would have.” On the contrary, the Mexican government stated that failure to review Tamayo’s case and reconsider would be “a clear violation by the United States of its international obligations.”

 

We have a rough situation here. An invalid resident of the United States, a native of Mexico, killed a United States law enforcement officer and was therefore subject to the full severity of the law. However, the Mexican government was largely excluded from matters regarding their own citizen in foreign territory. This appears to have happened before in similar criminal trials with varying charges. The argument that this is our land and our law stands firm, in this case, directly challenges the legitimacy of a prominent political entity in the world. Yikes....

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Christie drops swagger amid heat of scandal

Christie drops swagger amid heat of scandal | Senior Year Scoops | Scoop.it
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's usual swagger and bluster were gone.
In its place was a contrite Christie trying to control an unfolding political scandal.
Jason West's insight:

Week 21 (January 5 - 11)

 

Everything is fine until someone finds out. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has his hands tied with damage control on what could be considered disastrous for his dreams of the White House. He and some of his top aides have been exposed of using some form of political bully tactics to exact their revenge on Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich for his failure to support Christie for re-election. This scheme to punish Sokolich called for the use of “the authority of a transportation agency to alter traffic patterns at the head of the George Washington Bridge, creating days of gridlock in Fort Lee.” The embarrassing political stunt has forced Christie to try distancing himself from the situation, claiming to have known nothing about it.

 

I am extremely curious to see just how detrimental this event is to Gov. Christie’s political future. It shocks me to hear about such a blatant example of bullying in our nation’s politics. How can political leaders encourage an end to bullying in our schools and on the Internet, yet engage in their own form of the distasteful behavior? Gov. Christie could have catapulted to prominence cleanly as the man who led his state through onslaught of complications brought by Hurricane Sandy in 2012, putting himself in a solid position in the people’s eyes. Instead, he decided he must abuse his power and resources to establish dominance. Now that this whole shebang is uncovered we will see how the wily politician handles it.

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Approximately 1.3 million to lose unemployment benefits Saturday as tense political battle looms

Approximately 1.3 million to lose unemployment benefits Saturday as tense political battle looms | Senior Year Scoops | Scoop.it
More than 1 million Americans are bracing for a harrowing, post-Christmas jolt as extended federal unemployment benefits come to a sudden halt this weekend, with potentially significant implications for the recovering U.S. economy. A tense political battle likely looms when Congress reconvenes in the new, midterm election year.
Jason West's insight:

Week 19 (December 22 - 28)

 

Government’s “emergency unemployment compensation” will reach its official end-date after Christmas this year. As part of a budget deal, Congress determined that the monthly stipends for enrollees would seize, leaving over one million people with a gash in their incomes. President Bush had initiated the program in 2008 when so many Americans lost their jobs in the havoc brought about by the recession. Since then, the monthly stipends aimed at keeping people out of poverty have cost the government $225 billion. The length, and therefore the total amount of financial relief a person could receive depended on one’s state of residence.

 

Recently, there has been a downward trend in unemployment rates that stands as another sign of recovery for the country. As more people recover lost jobs and revamp their income, it appears to many politicians that the stipends are no longer necessary, even despite the efforts of President Obama and Speaker of the House Boehner to prolong the recovery program. Some economists warn that the end of these unemployment benefits could shock the economy, leaving many people with less money for clothes and food.

 

The destruction of this safety net will prompt many Americans to double their efforts to rejoin the economy in some fashion. However, the direct effect of jobless benefits on unemployment rates has yet to be determined and agreed upon. Senate Democrats and some Republicans plan another push to keep these benefits going.

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'Under a cloud': Dems advance DHS pick despite claims of political favors

'Under a cloud': Dems advance DHS pick despite claims of political favors | Senior Year Scoops | Scoop.it
Democratic senators appeared to gloss over new allegations -- as well as an internal investigation -- against a Homeland Security nominee, forging ahead Wednesday with a vote over the stiff objections of Republicans.
Jason West's insight:

Week 17 (December 8 - 14)

 

This news story is the product of the perfect execution of the three roles of media: gatekeeper, scorekeeper, and watchdog. Media agents have gotten the story out there, identified specific prominent figures for viewers so that they construct their own perceptions of the individuals involved or affected, and has exposed shady dealings that would have otherwise gone uncovered.

 

Democratic senators have pushed for the appointment of Alejandro Mayorkas to the No. 2 position at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). However, in a classic act of Republican defiance, many Republicans have objected to the appointment of Mayorkas on the grounds of his involvement in securing visas for foreign investors (whose investing was politically charged). Democrats and Republicans in the Senate continue to hash it out over whether not it would be beneficial or detrimental to the DHS to approve Mayorkas for the position. Democrats argue that the appointment of such an extraordinary candidate as Mayorkas is being needlessly delayed; Republicans counter that confirming Mayorkas under a cloud would not be helping anyone or anything. Meanwhile, Mayorkas and other individuals suspected of aiding the company that facilitated securing visas for investors have become the subjects of an inspector general probe.

 

Personally, I am pleased that there is some hesitation among senators when it comes to confirming someone who is currently a subject in an investigation. It’s reassurance that they remember and honor their duty of giving the American people the best that they have to offer. Go U.S.

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Senate-ejected Berlusconi vows to stay in Italian politics - Xinhua | English.news.cn

Senate-ejected Berlusconi vows to stay in Italian politics - Xinhua | English.news.cn | Senior Year Scoops | Scoop.it
Italy's former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi on Wednesday was stripped of his seat in parliament for immediate effect of a Senate-ejection vote over his conviction for tax fraud, but he pledged to remain in politics.
Jason West's insight:

Week 15 (November 24 - 30)

 

Wow, this is ridiculous. Italy’s former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi is a trip. The media tycoon was convicted of tax fraud by Italy’s highest court in August of this year. In accordance with an anti-corruption law adopted in 2012, the Italian Senate has voted to eject Berlusconi from Parliament and any other official government activity. The announcement came from Senate Speaker Pietro Grasso following a long, heated debate among senators.

 

The ridiculous thing is, Berlusconi isn’t giving up. He has vowed to remain a force in Italian politics even after being convicted and ejected, claiming that his “fight for the good of Italy” will continue regardless. What a fighter…

 

Berlusconi is the “leader of the center-right” and still claims a significant following among the Italian people. He was originally sentenced to four years in jail, which was cut down to a single year of incarceration, and then further reduced to a year of social service. This event could render Berlusconi a kind of martyr in the eyes of his loyal supporters, as he always played the victim, especially of the hateful endeavors of the left-wing magistrates. Berlusconi stated, “No political leader has suffered a persecution such as I have lived through.”

 

It is weirdly admirable that this Senate-ejected, convicted felon of a politician is so dedicated to his people that he is trying to reassure them that he will not stop fighting on their behalf. With around 20 years of political service under his belt, I feel like this Berlusconi is special to a lot of people in Italy and that he is well-liked. However, rules are rules! Pay your taxes.

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Democrats feel political heat despite ObamaCare ‘fix’

Democrats feel political heat despite ObamaCare ‘fix’ | Senior Year Scoops | Scoop.it
President Obama's proposal to allow insurance companies to keep offering consumers plans that would otherwise be canceled under ObamaCare may have eased slightly the political pressure he faces, but Democrats at state level are still feeling the...
Jason West's insight:

Week 13 (November 10 - 16)

 

The Affordable Care Act has come into law, but not without some hitches. Terrible confusion surrounds the implementation of the legislation and what it means for people who are satisfied with their health care plans before ObamaCare. With some politicians promising their constituents one thing about the health care law, and others feeding their constituents conflicting information, the American people are unsure what ObamaCare means for them.

 

President Obama has proposed a solution to dispel the confusion. After millions of insurance cancellation notices were doled out to citizens across the country, that never anticipated that they would lose their existing coverage, the Obama Administration had to act quickly to recover the situation and clarify things. However, Democrats at the state level have already suffered from the mistakes in the implementation of ObamaCare. These politicians worry they have lost ground in their states, and even more so they fear that the trend will be reflected in the 2014 midterm elections. Many Democrats echoed Obama’s assurance that citizens could keep insurance coverage they liked, but people were shocked when they started receiving word that their existing coverage was to be nullified. President Obama has assumed responsibility for the nationwide misunderstanding and has urged voters that their political representatives are not to blame. To the Republicans, ObamaCare is a costly mistake by the Democrats, who will see some unfavorable party realignment among voters in future elections.

 

 ObamaCare = GOOD. Initial execution and implementation is where the problems lie and rightfully so. If it were going to be easy, then politicians would have made it happen long ago. Be patient and optimistic.

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Top senator: Obama didn't know of U.S. spying on Germany's leader

Top senator: Obama didn't know of U.S. spying on Germany's leader | Senior Year Scoops | Scoop.it
Wall Street Journal: White House stopped surveillance of some allied leaders after learning of it this summer.
Jason West's insight:

Week 11 (October 27 - Novermber 2)

 

Another shocking story has emerged that could further diminish the public’s faith in federal government. Apparently, the United States has been spying on German Chancellor Angela Merkel and possibly on other foreign officials throughout the world. The National Security Agency (NSA), under the cover of the Patriot Act passed under the Bush Administration, has conducted much of the alleged spying.

 

The NSA, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Justice Department have been struggling to preserve their investigative powers largely against public sentiment. Most people condemn such subservient methods of gathering intelligence, but these federal agencies stress that these methods have been instrumental in stopping and preventing terrorist activities.

 

President Obama has stated that he had no direct knowledge of the United States spying on Germany’s leader. Whether or not he was cognizant of the surveillance, it occurred (or continued) and was exposed under during his term and so the public will undoubtedly blame the administration as a whole. This is a common trend when it comes to popular opinion, as media dictates most of what the public hears and how it sounds.

 

Gathering intelligence is absolutely encouraged. Spying and invading privacy could be considered bad. However, spying in order to gain valuable intelligence that would otherwise be unavailable sounds sinister, but is ultimately necessary in the Information Age.

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With budget ‘deal,’ national debt free to soar again

With budget ‘deal,’ national debt free to soar again | Senior Year Scoops | Scoop.it
Fiscal conservatives reacted with dismay Thursday after Washington, following weeks of hard-nosed negotiations, produced only a stopgap bill to end the partial government shutdown and raise the debt ceiling.
Jason West's insight:

Week 9 (October 13 - 19)

 

Ooooooh, so close!

 

To be fair, standard government function has been restored, people are back at their jobs, and national parks have reopened to be enjoyed by all. How were Congress and the President able to hammer out a solid plan of government action needed to end the shutdown? Trick question; they weren’t able to accomplish this feat. The “deal” that was reached is comparable to the resolution regarding the fiscal cliff established in the beginning of 2013.

 

The primary federally financed benefit programs in the United States (Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security) are significant contributors to the issue of increasing government expenditures, however the liberal foundation of the dominating party (Democratic) in the Senate and the White House encourages many politicians to resist drastic alterations to the programs. Well when push comes to shove, just raise the debt ceiling, right? The House of Representatives and the Senate have managed to maintain their stalemate even through what has been presented to the public as a solution.

 

I don’t know what baffles me more; the stubbornness of these politicians even in a state of political emergency, or the positive public reactions to this “deal” that has solved a monumental economic problem. The fear that the United States might become fully insolvent has raised foreign doubts about our economic soundness and political competence, even regarding internal issues. It’s crazy that a government collapse (scheduled, partial shutdown to refinance) failed to persuade enough politicians to yield a bit and grant some concessions to the opposing party. Cain 2016, We Believe!

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House GOP adds NIH, National Guard to shutdown bill strategy

House GOP adds NIH, National Guard to shutdown bill strategy | Senior Year Scoops | Scoop.it
House Republicans plan to keep trying their new piecemeal approach to solving the shutdown, setting up yet another round of votes Wednesday on bills that would fund veterans affairs and national parks — and adding new bills to fund the National...
Jason West's insight:

Week 7 (September 29 - October 5)

 

In passing civil rights legislation in the 1950s and 1960s it was both necessary and wise to work toward the goal at a steady pace, as to not rustle up opposition by being too ambitious. However, with your government temporarily out of action due to a lack of compromise, it is utterly ridiculous to try to approach problem step-by-step. It’s like trying to win a race by doggy-butt-scooting from start to finish instead of running with a teammate or against a competitor. It is not nearly enough to for the House of Representatives to be trying to inch their way toward a restored government. As White House budget office stated, “Consideration of appropriations bills in a piecemeal fashion is not a serious or responsible way to run the United States government…”

 

I share the office’s sentiment that the House needs to look at the bigger picture: re-opening government as a whole. Granted I do not know every detail about the process, every aspect of the problem, or other factors at play; I can’t help but feel frustrated that grown men in our nation’s capital cannot manage a functioning government. It’s mind-blowing, the government was legitimately dormant and House Republicans saw it fit to prove that slow-and-steady wins the race. They felt such a strong conviction that they were willing to sacrifice so much in order to maintain a stalemate with the Senate. It is quite possible (and probable) that both sides are to blame, but the House Republicans’ piecemeal restoration plan infuriates me.

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National Rifle Association wants to shoot down Obama's surgeon general pick

National Rifle Association wants to shoot down Obama's surgeon general pick | Senior Year Scoops | Scoop.it
Dr. Vivek Murthy is under fire from the group and some Senate Republicans for asserting that gun violence constitutes a health problem. There is some question whether he will be confirmed by the full Senate.
Jason West's insight:

Week 30 (March 9 - 15)

 

President Obama has selected Dr. Vivek Murthy to serve as the next U.S. Surgeon General after Rear Admiral Boris D. Lushniak, M.D., M.P.H. Murthy is the founder of Doctors for America, originally known as Doctors for Obama, which is a group that has promoted Obamacare and gun control measures. On that note, the notorious National Rifle Association staunchly opposes Murthy’s confirmation. This pro-gun group and a number of Senate Republicans have denounced Murthy for asserting that gun violence constitutes a national health problem.

 

When the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee voted on his confirmation last month Murthy received only one Republican vote, Sen. Mark Kirk. Based on this, the likelihood that the full Senate will vote to confirm Murthy as the next surgeon general is shady.

 

Amid the conservative, pro-gun clamor Murthy has defended himself by claiming that he does not plan “to use the Surgeon General's Office as a bully pulpit for gun control." He has also explained that his concerns with gun violence stem from his experiences as a physician.

 

There are a number of positions within the government system in place in the United States that can (and should) be non-partisan because the cause is above party squabbles. I believe this is one such position. Therefore, Murthy should not be confirmed primarily because he is in accordance with the current party in power in the White House, and his confirmation should not be challenged so strongly because he voices concerns that members under a rival ideology find threatening. 

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Obama warns Russia against Ukraine intervention, says 'there will be costs'

Obama warns Russia against Ukraine intervention, says 'there will be costs' | Senior Year Scoops | Scoop.it
Ousted Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych said Friday in Russia he was not overthrown, but was forced to flee Ukraine under threat to his life.
Jason West's insight:

Week 28 (February 23 - March 1)

 

Russia’s incursion into the Crimean Peninsula has not gone unnoticed. In fact, it has been characterized as the sort of action that has sparked world wars in the past. Foremost among the opposition to the encroachment on Ukraine is the United States. President Obama said, “We are now deeply concerned by reports of military movements taken by the Russian Federation inside Ukraine.” Ukrainian officials, most notably Interior Minister Arsen Avakov, have described the presence of Russian military forces as an “armed invasion” by unidentified militants.

 

On Russia’s behalf, President Vladimir Putin called for the world to essentially accept what has happened and move on. Russian higher-ups have assured the world that the country has acted within the parameters of any and all agreements with foreign powers. In addition to this, Russia insists that the extent of its shockingly assertive endeavors has been exaggerated.

 

President Obama has made it a point to warn Russia that there will be costs to its continued behavior, and the costs will be levied on a global front. The United Nations Security Council, of course, has declared Russia’s actions intolerable and prone to serious punishment. Regardless of Putin’s true intentions with these ‘military exercises’ the Ukraine remains prepared to defend itself in order to maintain sovereignty and legitimacy.

 

Tension continues to build as world powers lie in wait to see what will happen next. I hope that we do not have a potential World War III situation on our hands but the possibility is not completely out of the question. Russia has typically been quite volatile on the world stage in the past; the combination of Russia’s formidable military power and a character like Putin at the helm certainly warrants a red flag (pun wholeheartedly intended).

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Immigration activists threaten GOP political payback

Immigration activists threaten GOP political payback | Senior Year Scoops | Scoop.it
With hope for immigration reform all but dead in the House of Representatives, immigration activists vowed Tuesday to move the fight from Capitol Hill to congressional races nationwide.
Jason West's insight:

Week 26 (February 9 - 15)

 

Speaker of the House Boehner has expressed that his caucus’ lack of trust in the President to enforce immigration laws that increase restrictions and harshen punishments deterred any possible progress toward new legislation under current political circumstances. For many individuals, especially those for whom immigration reform is a salient issue, this dashed all hopes for the realization of their goals. In order to keep the movement alive and potentially spark new life in the push for immigration reform, these activists have vowed to move the fight from Capital Hill to congressional races nationwide and to urge President Obama to unilaterally curb deportations.

 

Groups like the Fair Immigration Reform Movement (FIRM) maintain hopes for action in 2014, but have virtually declared war on the GOP. “Persuasion only goes so far, and now, with Speaker Boehner casting doubt that he can actually deliver immigration reform, FIRM is switching tactics from persuasion to punishment,” explained Kica Matos, a director of the Campaign for Community Change. Another ardent immigration reform supporter, Frank Sharry (executive) of America’s Voice has outlined the tactics to be employed by activists to achieve their goals: “If the House Republicans are going to protect people who are in ruby-red districts because they fear primaries, they are going to pay a price with Republicans who are in purple districts, even if they are supportive of reform.”

 

I expect more drama than ever before surrounding this November’s midterm elections. The issue of immigration reform just adds to the list of hot topics to be covered halfway through Mr. Obama’s second term. Popcorn ready…

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Obama to sign executive order raising minimum wage for federal contractors

Obama to sign executive order raising minimum wage for federal contractors | Senior Year Scoops | Scoop.it
Obama to raise federal minimum wage in executive action tied to State of the Union
Jason West's insight:

Week 24 (January 26 - February 1)

 

President Obama looks to get the ball rolling again on minimum wage in the United States. Since he addressed the issue in his 2013 State of the Union address, Democrats across the political spectrum have lobbied for a higher minimum wage and union-organized demonstrations have kept the topic on people’s minds. Obama plans to sign an executive order that will unilaterally increase the minimum wage for future employees under federal contracts to $10.10 an hour. The primary goal of this action is to spark momentum for a more inclusive wage increase. However, by law, the president does not wield the power needed to change the national minimum wage with a single (in reality, about 8473 per piece of legislation) stroke of the pen.

 

There is abundant opposition to increasing the minimum wage, fierce enough to prevent the passage of significant legislation. Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell and others fear that requiring businesses to pay employees more will hinder bosses from hiring more workers, resulting in fewer moneymaking opportunities for young people in particular. Then there are individuals like House Speaker John Boehner who denounce President Obama’s action as flippant and ultimately ineffective.

 

As White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said, “This has always been done legislatively. And it has been done with support from Republicans and not just Democrats in the past.” The fact that the President of the United States must take executive action to ensure that American employees are paid a living wage in their own country is so disturbing to me. The United States (in cooperation with the United Nations) encourages fairness, free trade, and equality abroad; yet workers at home are struggling as well, albeit to a lesser extent due to disparities in the standard of living throughout the world.

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U.S. to Expand Rules Limiting Use of Profiling by Federal Agents

U.S. to Expand Rules Limiting Use of Profiling by Federal Agents | Senior Year Scoops | Scoop.it
The new rules will prohibit federal agents from considering religion, national origin, gender and sexual orientation in their investigations, a government official said.
Jason West's insight:

Week 22 (January 12 - 18)

 

The Bush Administration banned profiling in 2003, with the following provisions: national security cases were exceptions, and it covered only race (not religion, ancestry, or other factors). Current conflict surrounding profiling is centered on these aspects of the ban. Senator Richard J. Durbin claimed that, “These exceptions are a license to profile American Muslims and Hispanic-Americans.” Civil rights groups have voiced their own concerns regarding the lenient profiling rules. Democrats in Congress have been increasing pressure on Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. to make some changes.

 

Many strong proponents of civil liberties have called out the Justice Department, specifically the Federal Bureau of Investigation, on their expression of the desire for better relationships with religious minorities. However, law enforcement groups have failed to alter practices that are clearly damaging to these relationships on a fundamental level.

 

This is clearly a case of how “talking the talk” is so much easier than “walking the walk”. I compare this to how in American government, everyone wants to solve the debt crisis and alleviate poverty, but the notion of NIMBY and facets of reality remain as seemingly insurmountable roadblocks to achieving these goals.

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McCain, Graham blast Obama for Al Qaeda-related takeover of Fallujah, call situation 'predictable'

McCain, Graham blast Obama for Al Qaeda-related takeover of Fallujah, call situation 'predictable' | Senior Year Scoops | Scoop.it
Top Republican senators on Saturday blamed the Obama administration for Al Qaeda-affiliates purportedly over-running parts of Iraq, including the city of Fallujah that the United States secured before President Obama removed all U.S. forces from that country in 2011.
Jason West's insight:

Week 20 (December 29 - January 4)

 

Only Hannah Montana can have "the best of both worlds."

 

In spite of the jubilee surrounding the return of scores of United States soldiers previously serving active duty in the Middle East, conditions in Iraq have turned grave. Insurgents have capitalized on the void left behind by America's military presence, seizing their opportunity to reassert themselves. Al Qaeda affiliates have stormed areas of Iraq including the city of Fallujah, which had been secured by United States forces prior to the withdrawal ordered by President Obama, but only after a grueling three-day battle described by many as one of the bloodiest in the Iraq War. Sen. John McCain and Sen. Lindsay Graham called the events “as tragic as they were predictable,” also stating that “While many Iraqis are responsible for this strategic disaster, the administration cannot escape its share of the blame.”

 

The senators can blame President Obama for the consequences of acting against the advice of those in charge of American military operations. However, the Obama Administration cannot be blamed for not being able to cease the seemingly endless bout between Sunnis and Shi’ites that has raged for so many moons. Any POTUS would want to be responsible for seeing so many American families reunited. No one could have expected Al Qaeda to sit on their hands while their most formidable opposition flew out of their way. It remains uncertain what action the United States will take next, in light of recent events.

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Record High in U.S. Say Big Government Greatest Threat

Record High in U.S. Say Big Government Greatest Threat | Senior Year Scoops | Scoop.it
A record-high 72% of Americans name "big government" as the greatest threat to the country in the future, over "big business" and "big labor." In 1965, when Gallup first asked the question, 35% named big government.
Jason West's insight:

Week 18 ( December 15 - 21)

 

Since the founding of our great nation, the fear of an all-powerful central government has heavily influenced American politics.  In Gallup’s latest comprehensive poll, Americans have named big government the greatest threat to the future of the United States. Even with the recent recession still fresh in American’s minds, the fear of government’s growing prevalence in everyday life and some people’s increased dependency on federal subsidies have both contributed to the 72%, overwhelming majority, of Americans reported by Gallup to cite big government as their primary concern. In the past, big business and big labor have been the other two considerable fears held by Americans. Especially among Republicans and voters who tend to align with conservative principles, the perception of big government as a threat is quite considerable.

 

 I trust Gallup’s polls to convey an overwhelming message, regardless of potential mistakes in punching the numbers. Polls conducted by Gallup are known to be rather unbiased and are asked in a neutral way. I think a huge reason that big government has leaped so far above big business as a perceived threat is because our government today has grown to be incredibly business-like. This development and the trend toward an expanded government are all thanks to the answer to everything in the study of United States government: the New Deal, of course.

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President Obama lights National Christmas Tree, with homage to Nelson Mandela

President Obama lights National Christmas Tree, with homage to Nelson Mandela | Senior Year Scoops | Scoop.it
The First Family and entertainment's A-list kicked off a damp but gleeful holiday season Friday with the lighting of the National Christmas Tree.
Jason West's insight:

Week 16 (December 1 - 7)

 

In a grand holiday celebration featuring the First Family and several of entertainment’s hottest artists of today, President Obama lit the National Christmas Tree. This 31-foot Colorado spruce lit by the White House continues a tradition initiated by President Calvin Coolidge in 1923. With this wonderful procession of music, dance, lights, and jubilee the First Family sought to bring the whole country into the holiday spirit together.

 

Amid all the celebration, President Obama gave a special tribute to Nelson Mandela. “In his life he blessed us with tremendous grace and unbelievable courage. And we are all privileged to live in a world touched by his goodness," Obama said of the South African hero.

 

I admit I was previously unaware of the attention garnered by the lighting of the National Christmas Tree. Moreover, I was not exactly aware that the country had such a tree. Now that I know though I think it’s a wonderful event. The combining music and a family atmosphere contributes a lot making people feel good about the holidays. Merry Christmas, America!

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Decision time for Tea Party movement in U.S. political contests

Decision time for Tea Party movement in U.S. political contests | Senior Year Scoops | Scoop.it
LOUISVILLE, Kentucky (Reuters) - After a string of setbacks and losses, the insurgent Tea Party movement is at a crossroads, between learning to live within the Republican Party or pursuing its fight against...
Jason West's insight:

Week 14 (November 17 - 23)

 

The infamous intraparty struggle in politics is not unprecedented. In 1860, the Democratic Party was split between John C. Breckenridge’s southern Democrats and the northern Democrats led by Stephen Douglass. The presidential election of 1896 was marred by the conflict between Democrats and Populists, as both groups selected William Jennings Brian as their candidate. In both of these elections, the divisions within the party proved fatal and the opposing political party was able to capitalize and capture the office.

 

Today, the Republican Party is plagued by such an intraparty bout between the extremely conservative members of the Tea Party and the Republicans whom Tea Party activists claim to have abandoned the conservative cause. It is arguable that this division has been detrimental to the party in recent congressional elections and in some elections in states like Virginia and Alabama. To make matters worse for the Republicans, many people blame them for the partial government shutdown that occurred earlier this year. While more mainstream Republicans plan to use the shutdown and the crisis of President Obama’s healthcare overhaul as a springboard to victory in November 2014, Tea Party activists claim that the Republicans who accepted the end of the shutdown had given up the fight against the healthcare bill.

 

Tea Party activists are steadfast in their determination to restore conservative politics. The Tea Party movement, which has become increasingly regional and based in some southeast states such as Georgia, remains an influential, albeit polarizing, force within the Republican Party.

 

I am curious to see what course of action Republican leaders take: whether they look to reign in Tea Party dissent or alienate supporters of the Tea Party and identify against them as say more level-headed politicians.

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Obama, McCain to huddle on immigration

Obama, McCain to huddle on immigration | Senior Year Scoops | Scoop.it
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) will meet with President Obama at the White House Thursday afternoon.
Jason West's insight:

Week 12 (November 3 - 9)

 

A refreshing, cooperative spirit between President Barack Obama and Sen. John McCain of Arizona could revamp support for comprehensive immigration reform in the United States. In recent months, support for the massive bill from some key political figures as Sen. Marco Rubio has declined. POTUS and Sen. McCain look to combine their knowledge, resources, and utilize their personal followings to inspire more support for the legislation. They and other politicians pushing for immigration reform have noticed the waning reformative spirit required to push this immigration bill into law. Acting as the leaders that they are, Obama and McCain have leaped into action on a national stage to discuss immigration reform, among other significant issues on the political agenda.

 

While support for the bill has wavered, the problems associated with immigration persist. Along with all the socioeconomic and cultural benefits brought on by immigrants to the United States, immigration, unfortunately, also gives rise to divisiveness and contempt in society for a number of reasons. As pessimistic as it may sound, only some economic and political issues will be solved with comprehensive immigration reform. Many mindsets will have to change in order to ensure considerable positive change on the status of many immigrants in the United States. All of these things will take time, but the amount of time it will take will remain a mystery until the movement toward such reform produces change in Washington D.C.

 

Plus, it’s nice to see people whom our adversarial society would label as enemies working together toward a common goal. That’s politics.

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Obama urges more education spending, calls for ‘political courage in Washington’

Obama urges more education spending,    calls for ‘political courage in Washington’ | Senior Year Scoops | Scoop.it
The president, visiting a technology training school in New York, calls for “political courage in Washington.”
Jason West's insight:

Week 10 (October 20 - 26)

 

See? President Obama gets it. At the heart of 99.9999% of the country's problems lies an education deficiency. As Mayor Bloomberg of New York stated, “A high school diploma is no longer a ticket to the middle class.” People must go further in their education, and they must do so willingly. The continued globalization of the job market means there will an increasingly international competition for jobs. In order to win that competition, one must be sufficiently educated and competent. President Obama explains that other countries know this as well, and so have kept education high on their priorities list.

 

It can be argued that the United States is in no position to keep spending. However, more education spending and the efficient use of such government funds can lead to a bolstered educational foundation for millions of Americans, empowering them to take better jobs and increased their own well-being. This development would also enable these Americans to give more back the government and to the national economy by paying more in taxes and through increased spending.

 

I always say that education is key. Well, the big man in the Oval Office agrees with me (at least I hope so). There are two frighteningly significant education rifts to pay attention to: the educational asymmetry tied to the economic gap between rich and poor in the United States, and the disparity between the United States and the nearly 20 other countries ranked higher than US (haha) in terms of education levels. Let’s try to fix both.

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Libya demands explanation for US 'kidnapping' of al-Qaida leader al-Liby

Libya demands explanation for US 'kidnapping' of al-Qaida leader al-Liby | Senior Year Scoops | Scoop.it
Demand for answers after 'citizen' is captured comes hours after separate failed US military raid on terrorist target in Somalia
Jason West's insight:

Week 8 (October 6 - 12)

 

It appears the United States is taking military action following the recent Westgate mall massacre in Nairobi, Kenya orchestrated by the militant group al-Shabaab. The Navy Seals launched twin operations on Saturday aimed at capturing two alleged terrorist leaders. One target, a suspected al-Qaida leader known as Abu Anas al-Liby (Nazih Abdul-Hamed al-Ruqai), was wanted for the 1998 bombings of the United States embassies in Kenya and Tanzania that cost more than 220 people their lives. The other target was Islamist militant leader Ahmed Godane, a supremely wanted man in Africa connected to the al-Shabaab group responsible for the incident at Westgate in Nairobi.

 

Al-Liby was successfully apprehended and transported safely to the Navy vessel USS Antonio for interrogation. Unfortunately, Godane’s Somali militant forces thwarted the Seals operation and he remains at large. The Libyan government has demanded an explanation for the capturing of its citizen, al-Liby, following an unexpected armed assault. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has justified United States actions as the moves necessary combat terrorism.

 

Clearly, these twin operations exhibit the mounting United States military presence in Africa. The problem is, nations not involved directly (or maybe secretly involved) are quick to label many American anti-terrorism endeavors outside of United States borders as “unilateral aggression.” I believe that with covert operations such as these, we are approaching the worldwide problem of terrorism as best as we can while avoiding full-fledged war. Although tactics may not be as peaceful as desired, the ultimate goal remains positive and that is to stifle terrorism.

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