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AP Government Summer Assignment Journal
Curated by Hannah Lethcoe
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Rubio’s high-stakes push for immigration reform

Rubio’s high-stakes push for immigration reform | AP Government | Scoop.it
Hannah Lethcoe's insight:

Quarter 4 Week 5: May 11

 

Republican Senator Marco Rubio is putting a lot of focus and effort into immigration reform. A bill has started to make its way through the Senate, and Rubio is one of the main sponsors of the bill. He is a Republican working for what is generally considered a liberal cause, and working for reform may potentially harm his political career.

 

Rubio is concerned a possible Republican candidate for the 2016 persidential election, but if he is unable to gain Republican support for immmigration reform, it may seriously jepordize his chances. Rubio is seen as a conservative working for something he finds important, but since the issue is typically liberal, people might start seeing Rubio as a too liberal as well. Perception is important, especially in primaries, so Rubio needs to be carefull not to alienate the conservatives of his party.

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Congress sends Obama bill to end airport delays

Congress sends Obama bill to end airport delays | AP Government | Scoop.it
Hannah Lethcoe's insight:

Quarter 4 Week 3: April 26

 

Congress has passed a bill to end the delays at airports. Because of the sequestration, the FAA has faced serious budget cuts which have caused major delays in air traffic control. The new bill will stop delays without having to add new funding to the FAA.

 

Though airport delays should be fixed now, there are still many other administrations that are negatively affected byt the budget cuts. People in the Obama administration are saying this is only a "band-aid" solution and urge Congress to address the overall problem of the sequestor. Also, fixing only some problems and not others is making people in other agencies upset because they are taking the heat too.

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Deadly explosions throw Boston Marathon into chaos

Deadly explosions throw Boston Marathon into chaos | AP Government | Scoop.it
Hannah Lethcoe's insight:

Quarter 4 Week 2: April 15

 

Two bombs went off at the finish line of the Boston Marathon. Three people were killed and over a hundred were injured. Police do not have any suspects or know the reasons for these attacks.

 

With attacks like this, many people often jump to the conclusion of terrorism. Whether or not the perpetrator was foriegn or American, this act will go down as one of the worst crimes committed against the United States. Security will go up even more for major events and life in American will forever be changed.  

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G.O.P. Senators Add Gun Protections to Financing Bill

G.O.P. Senators Add Gun Protections to Financing Bill | AP Government | Scoop.it
Hannah Lethcoe's insight:

March 13

Senate Republicans have attached several gun protections to a finance bill intended to keep the government running. These include not requiring gun sellers to take inventory to see if anything has been stolen and not having license renewal based on how many guns they sell.

Riders attached to bills are used to pass things that may not have popular support otherwise. Many democrats do not support these measures but they are not willing to risk shutting down the government by not passing a budget. It almost seems like the Republicans are taking advantage of the fragile situation, but riders are extremely common, espcially in the Senate. With the partisan conflicts in Congress, each party will do whatever is necessary to get their agenda passed.

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Congress heads out as the sequester blows in

Congress heads out as the sequester blows in | AP Government | Scoop.it
Hannah Lethcoe's insight:

February 28

The day before the sequester was set to hit, Congress decided to leave and let the sequester begin without any last efforts to stop it. Different last minute ideas were discussed but none got enough support to change the course of the sequester. The next big issue is the budget deal that must be reached by both parties.

Compromise is the only option if a budget is to be passed, but compromise does not seem likely anytime soon. Many Republicans are actually happy that the sequester has started because it will mean budget cuts that they so desperately wanted, even if not in the areas that they would like. There is a possiblity for change and compromise if the sequester has a bad enough impact on the economy, but until that becomes clear, the government is likely to remain in gridlock.

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G.O.P. Senators Block Vote on Defense Post for Hagel

G.O.P. Senators Block Vote on Defense Post for Hagel | AP Government | Scoop.it
Hannah Lethcoe's insight:

February 14

Republicans in the Senate blocked the nomination of Chuck Hagel for Secretary of Defense by filibustering. Since the Senate is on reccess, they will have to wait ten days to have a revote. Republicans are using this as a way to get more information.

This blocking of the nomination has elevated the partisan tensions in the Senate. Democrats see this as a way to take unfair advantage of a fragile situation which is hurting national security. Republicans see it as a way to play the situation to their favor and get valuable information. Either way, this is the first time that there has been a blantant blocking of a presidential appointment and the White House is not happy.

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Debt ceiling bill clears Senate; Obama expected to sign

Debt ceiling bill clears Senate; Obama expected to sign | AP Government | Scoop.it
Hannah Lethcoe's insight:

January 31

The Senate has passed a bill to suspend the nation's debt ceiling for a few months. Republicans were unseccessful in getting their spending cuts passed, and negociations are still taking place to stop the sequester from hitting on March 1.

The sequester was intened to force negociations across party lines, but it has been unsuccessful so far. If the parties cannot work together, there will be major changes in government spending and operation. If anything is going to be accomplished each side must compromise. Our government is set up to be adversarial, but this is feature seems to be stopping our government from functioning at all.

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Obama Unveils Proposals for Toughening Laws on Guns

Obama Unveils Proposals for Toughening Laws on Guns | AP Government | Scoop.it
Hannah Lethcoe's insight:

January 16

After the Sandy Hook shooting, President Obama has put more empahsis on gun control. He plans on using a combination of executive orders and legislation to limit assult weapons and high capacity magazines. Many Republicans are strongly opposed to Obama's plans and have vowed to work to protect the 2nd amendment.

Many people were greatly distrubed byt the shooting at Sandy Hook, but the major question is how much of an effect that will have on public opinion. People are opposed to gun violence but they are also very protective of their second amendment rights. In order to get bipartisan cooperation, the public is going to have to fully back the President's plan, but so far people seem to support the 2nd amendment more than gun control. 

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Democrats urge Obama to declare debt ceiling unconstitutional

Democrats urge Obama to declare debt ceiling unconstitutional | AP Government | Scoop.it
Hannah Lethcoe's insight:
December 7 Democrats in Congress are urging President Obama to declare the debt ceiling unconstitutional in order to take away some of the Republicans' negotiating power in the fiscal cliff debates. There is still much debate over whether the president is allowed to take such action. As the fiscal cliff approaches, both parties are doing everything they can to get what they want in the talks. This means that anything that they will do anything to stop something that might ultimately be harmful to them. That is why the Republicans are so against the president declaring the debt ceiling unconstitutional. If Obama does eventually declare it unconstitutional, the legitimacy of this action will ultimately be brought to the Supreme Court.
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Obama, in Burma speech: ‘We always remained hopeful about you’

Obama, in Burma speech: ‘We always remained hopeful about you’ | AP Government | Scoop.it
Hannah Lethcoe's insight:

November 19

 

President made history in his recent trip to Asia when he became the first president to visit Burma and Cambodia. He brought messages of friendship and hope for the bettering of human rights. He met with Nobel Peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi.

 

These visits were history making and extremely important. Burma and Cambodia have not had the best records when it comes to the treatment of their people, and Obama hopes to change that and possibly have economic relations with these countries. Though they are making progress, Burma and Cambodia still have a long way to go, and it may take decades for true friendship to form. The message for now is hope, and it is one that the people of Burma and Cambodia desperately need to hear.

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As election leaves Washington’s status quo intact, more gridlock is sure to come

As election leaves Washington’s status quo intact, more gridlock is sure to come | AP Government | Scoop.it

November 7

Though President Obama won the election, it is unclear if he won because people liked him or if people disliked Mitt Romney. And with the House and Senate Elections keeping the status quo as it has been for the past 4 years, will anything actually be able to change?

 

The president can want to do so many things, but if he does not have the support of Congress, all efforts will be futile. The system of checks and balances is essential to our nation's structure but it has been more harmful than helpful as of late. Partisan politics are getting out of control and if the government is going to be effective and get a higher approval rating, they need to work together across party lines.

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Two top donors from N.Y. hedge fund company on opposite sides

October 24

When it comes to individual donatations to campaigns, there are striking differences within the same groups. Two major people in Renaissance Technology donated millions to different candidates. There is also differences among families including the Waltons of the Walmart franchise.

 

The interesting part of this story is that the differences within the families tend to be similar. The younger members of the family ten o support liberal super-PACS while the older members are more conservative. People say that the younger generations are becoming more and more liberal and this may be proof of that phenomenon. People also say that you become more conservative as you become older, but one liberal supporter is well into his forties. Maybe the liberal trend is more permanent.

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Schumer: Tax reform should cut deficits, not tax rates

Schumer: Tax reform should cut deficits, not tax rates | AP Government | Scoop.it

October 9

The debate over what to do about taxes has once again taken hold of Washington. If a new tax plan has not been approved by 2013, the taxes for all people will go up to the percentage they were in the pre-Bush era. Though neither Republicans nor Democrats want that to happen, an agreement is not easy to reach.

 

Suprisingly, the Republicans and Democrats agree about the general idea behind the new tax reforms: lower taxes without raising the deficit. The problem is agreeing on how exactly to do that. President Obama and Mitt Romeny each have thier own ideas though they are rooted in the same place. The election in November  will be the key in deciding which path will be taken, but the question is, will anything been done fast enough to stop the tax increase?

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Lawmakers Call for Stronger U.S. Action in Syria

Lawmakers Call for Stronger U.S. Action in Syria | AP Government | Scoop.it
Hannah Lethcoe's insight:

Quarter 4 Week 4: April 28

 

Republicans in Congress are asking the Obama administration to step up military aid in Syria. It is believed that the Syrian government has used chemical weapons on its people, and Obama said this would be a red line that would require greater US action. The Obama administration has yet to take this action as it wants to clarify who exactly used the weapons, the Syiran government or the rebel forces. 

 

If the US does decide to provide greater support to the rebel forces, we are slowly getting closer to a war in Syria. True, neither party wants to start a war in Syria and currently just want to send aid in the form of supplies. If we fail to take action, other serious threats might take that as a sign that they can start doing things without the threat of US interference. It is a fine line between seeming weak or disinterested and seemingly over agressive.

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Ricin Detected in Letter Sent to Senator Roger Wicker

Ricin Detected in Letter Sent to Senator Roger Wicker | AP Government | Scoop.it
Hannah Lethcoe's insight:

Quarter 4 Week 2: April 16

 

The poison Ricin was detected in a letter sent to a Mississippi Senator on Tuesday. The letter had nothing suspicious about it, though it did not have a return address. The post office at Capitol Hill will most likely remain closed for the rest of the week as a percaution.

 

This event is happening at the same time as the Boston bombings. It may be a coincidence or they may be connected, but it is too early to tell. Either way, bioattacks are very dangerous and can be easily missed. Also, they not only put the Senator's at risk, but also their staffs and anyone else who handles the mail.

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Pentagon: North Korea has capacity to make nuclear warhead for ballistic missile

Pentagon: North Korea has capacity to make nuclear warhead for ballistic missile | AP Government | Scoop.it
Hannah Lethcoe's insight:

Quarter 4 Week 1: April 11

 

A report by the Pentagon states that North Korea probably have nuclear weapons that are advanced enough to reach the United States. This can not be verified for sure, but many people do believe it is likely. President Obama has asked North Korea to stop the belligerance, and Secretary of State Kerry is going to South Korea to discuss a crisis plan.

 

North Korea has always made threats of nuclear war, but has never been able to back up those threats. The fact that they may now have the capablity of targeting the US with nuclear missles has many people on edge. People are calling for more spending on nuclear defense, but Obama's budget requires a cut to nuclear programs. As time goes on, we wil have more information about the reality of the threat.

 

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Osama bin Laden’s son-in-law captured, turned over to U.S.

Osama bin Laden’s son-in-law captured, turned over to U.S. | AP Government | Scoop.it
Hannah Lethcoe's insight:

March 7

Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, the son-in-law of Osama bin Laden, was captured and will face trial in New York for his involvement in Aal-Qaeda. There is still debate over whether he should be tried in a US court or at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba. Abu Ghaith was not an important leader in al-Qaeda, but officials are hoping to learn about al-Qaeda's involvement in Iran.

Typically, terrorists have had their trials in Guantanamo Bay, but President Obama would like to change that. Obama originally planned to shut down Guantanamo Bay, but he was unable to do so. Since then, he has not sent any new prisonners there. Many people are upset that suspected terrorists are not getting military trials for their crimes, and it is a fair point. Should someone that has reaked so much havoc on our Country be able to enjoy the fairness of the American court system?

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Brennan backers to push for vote next week on CIA nominee

Hannah Lethcoe's insight:

February 22

The Senate Republicans are pressuring the White House to release information on the Benghazi attacks that took pplave on September 11 of last year. Under this pressure that White House has agreed to release certain documents, but the Republicans still want more information about the possibility of drone attacks on US citizens on US soil.

For the first time in modern history, if not for the first time ever, Senators of the opposing party are using executive appointments to further their own political agenda. Republicans fillibustered the nomination of Chuck Hagel to further their goals, and they are willing to block John Brennan's nomination to in order to get more information.

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The State of the Union game: Hopefuls jockey to get their causes a line in speech

The State of the Union game: Hopefuls jockey to get their causes a line in speech | AP Government | Scoop.it
Hannah Lethcoe's insight:

February 9

Every year, different interest groups vie to get their issue mentioned in the State of th Union. The groups hope that by getting even a small mention in the speech, that their issue will earn national attention. Hopes are espcially high for this year's State of the Union as group or hoping for more than just a mention, but also direct action.

It may seem odd that groups work so hard to get their issue into the State of the Union, but if the President cares about something, then it is bound to become a big part of the political agenda. We have seen this happen with gun control and gay rights, and other interest groups are hoping to have it happen to them. The State of the Union is less of an informative speech than it is a plan for what the President hopes to accomplish, and being a part of that plan can completely change a cause.

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Obama's inaugural speech provokes rattled Republicans

Hannah Lethcoe's insight:

January 22

The GOP was very upset after Obama's inaugural adress because he focused on more liberal issues instead on bipartisan ones. Many Republicans also feel that the issues Obama focused on were not as important as other, more pressing ones.

This article was very biased. The author was clearly liberal, but he did raise some valid points. The Republicans refused to cooperate during Obama's first term, even though his first inagural adress was very bipartisan, but now that he has been relected, they are expected courtesy. Whenever congress goes into a new term planning on being uncooperative, nothing good can come of it. Now that Obama does not have to worry about the pressures of reelection, he is free to speak his mind and take charge, and the Republicans can decide to get on board or keep fighting for another four years.

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Conn. town mourns, looks for answers after school tragedy; gunman seen as insecure, awkward

Conn. town mourns, looks for answers after school tragedy; gunman seen as insecure, awkward | AP Government | Scoop.it
Hannah Lethcoe's insight:
December 14 The shooting on Friday in Newtown, Connecticut has many people wondering what caused this tragic event. Police are still trying to figure out what cause Adam Lanza to do these horrible things and the town is still trying to figure out how to move on. This shooting is the second worst school shooting in American history, and, as usual, it has sparked a debate over gun control laws. The second amendment is one of the most controversial issues in America. This incident will inevitably spark the debate again, but the question is whether anything will actually change. This event may actually be a turning point for gun laws in America and hopefully incidents like this will be less prevalent.
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Syria’s Internet shutdown leaves information void, may signal escalating war

Syria’s Internet shutdown leaves information void, may signal escalating war | AP Government | Scoop.it
Hannah Lethcoe's insight:

November 29

On Thursday, all communications in Syria were shut down, it is suspected, by the President Bassar al-Assad. Many see this as a sign of escalating war and now have to access to the internet or other forms of communication.

 

The internet is the main way information travels in and out of Syria, and this shut down is very serious. When previous shut downs have occured, serious attacks have followed. If the war does continue to escalate like predicted, the United States will have to decide how much they want to get involved, and it may ultimately lead to sending troops into Syria.

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Report: White Christian voters no longer hold keys to the White House

Report: White Christian voters no longer hold keys to the White House | AP Government | Scoop.it
Hannah Lethcoe's insight:

November 16

Barack Obama won the 2012 presidential election with a more diversified religious coalitiion. This victory marks an important shift in the importance of White Christian votes in the presidential election.

 

The United States has long had a strong white Christian population, and this gorup has often had a strong impact on presidential elections. As the world becomes more secular and the majority of white Chrisitans age, religion is becoming a less important factor in elections. As this group loses influence, the GOP loses its most important politcal coalition. This may mean a complete shift in tactics for the GOP in the next presidential election.

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The Million Puppet March: Fighting for public broadcasting, with felt and fur

The Million Puppet March: Fighting for public broadcasting, with felt and fur | AP Government | Scoop.it

November 3

Three days before the presidential election, a march was held in Washington, DC to show support for Seasame Street and other public broadcasting programs. The march was a reaction to Mitt Romney's comment in the first presidential debate about cutting PBS. It was a peaceful protest of more than 600 people and their puppets.

 

People criticized Democrats and the protesters for focusing on such a small issue in such an important election. One of the organizers of the protest made a very good point: he said that it is a tiny issue and should not even matter because canceling public broadcasting is a ridiculous idea. There are unimportant things that can be cut out of the budget instead of public broadcasting which brings education and information to millions of people nation wide.Though the election is close, and Mitt Romeny technically won the first debate, this protest shows that there are people who are not happy with what was said and will stand up for what they want.

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5 Tips for the Presidential Campaigns After Tuesday’s Debate

5 Tips for the Presidential Campaigns After Tuesday’s Debate | AP Government | Scoop.it

October 14

The debate tonight can have a serious impact on the election, but it may be what happens afterwards that really matters. If there is no clear cut winner, then it is up to the media, the campaigns, and the candiates to spin the debate in the way that benefits them the most. Though the debate itslef matters, the perception is what really makes the difference.

 

As the election becomes closer and closer, the more pressure the candiates are under to win the support of the undecided voters and keep the support they already have. President Obama had a to do a lot of damage control after the last debate, but if he can hold strong enough in this one, he may be able to make up for lost ground. Techincally, no one even needs to win the debate, they just need to do well enough and have enough support behind them that they can turn the outcome into whatever they want. Though they have to worry about tonights debate, the cannot forget about the final one next Monday.

 

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