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Obama Condemns Sterling's Comments

Obama Condemns Sterling's Comments | AP Government | Scoop.it
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — President Barack Obama said Sunday that comments reportedly made by the owner of a U.S. pro basketball team are "incredibly offensive racist statements," before casting them as part of a continuing legacy...
Rebecca Blais's insight:

Week #35

Obama commented on the comments made by basketball team owner Donald Sterling saying that they were “incredibly offensive racist statements.” The owner of the Los Angeles Clippers is recorded on tape telling his girlfriend not to associate with minorities and to stop bringing them to his games. He specifically tells her not to bring Lakers Hall of Fame Magic Johnson to the games. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver is addressing the matter and has commented saying the recording of Sterling was “disturbing and offensive.” Sterling has since been influenced to sell his team and basketball players from his own team as well as others are making comments on the matter. Obama has used this incidence as another example of racism in America. He point out how far we have come and that it is amazing that we have such a problem with racist comments such as the ones made by Sterling, but sometimes we must deal with problem that still exist in our society. Obama has boldly taken up racism and the horrid history of slavery in America and pointed it out. He danced more lightly around the subject when running for election and in his first term, but he now approaches it in many instances, such as with the Trayvon Martin case.


It’s sad to think that people still think the way Sterling does, but it’s not unusual. Coming from a small, private school, I see people from both ends of the spectrum: those who are openly racist and proud of it and those who are sickened by the notion. I happen to be sickened by it. I don’t understand how people can still be so ignorant in the civilized world we live in today and honestly, it does make me sad. I like how Obama approached this subject from both negative and positive sides. He applauded the country for coming as far as we have and at the same time pointed out the undeniable evidence that racism still exists. Sterling has lost all respect from the social sphere he exists in and it leaves me curious to where he will end up after this. Apparently reports on Sterling have been surfacing for the past 20 years but it took a recording posted by TMZ to really bring it to light. Hats off to their investigative journaling, regardless of whatever their intention may have been, because they brought to light a matter that needed addressing.

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Redirecting

Rebecca Blais's insight:

Week #33

Studies and interviews are finding that teens across the nation are fickle when it comes to flirting with social media. Facebook used to be the main social media attraction until Twitter briefly stole the scene only to be taken over by Instagram. These sites aren’t going to go down without a fight though. The executives behind corporations such as Facebook have designed a unite-and-conquer strategy. When a new social source steals the scene, a competition to buy it out erupts.


This article stood out to me because it is all about social networking, which is today’s generation’s media. My generation does not read newspapers or listen to the news, we check the internet for our updates. I think that social media and networking is going to completely change the way we live as adults. Not only does it affect us socially, but it adds an entirely new aspect to the political sphere. For goodness sake, the President takes selfies! Campaigning isn’t going to be about who puts up the most posters or visits the most townhall meetings, but instead it will be about who has the best Twitter posts, who shows up on Instagram, and who live chats on Google+. The politicians of the future are going to have to communicate on an entirely new and uncharted level. The social networking sites also have an effect on many other aspects of government, such as national security (see Snowden) and the broadcasting of political scandals (see Weiner). People are able to use the internet as a free forum where they can truly express their thoughts and beliefs without having to stand up and defend themselves in person. It also happens to provide a mask to hide behind when people feel that they need to speak something that may or may not be a favorable opinion. Media greatly influences American political culture; It will be interesting to see how it shapes the future of this country.

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Obama Ends Overseas Trip In Diplomatic Limbo

Obama Ends Overseas Trip In Diplomatic Limbo | AP Government | Scoop.it
* US officials wary of Putin's assurances on Ukraine * Kerry, Russia's Lavrov to meet again soon * Obama says Putin grieving for loss of Soviet Union (Updates with Kerry-Lavrov meeting next week) By St...
Rebecca Blais's insight:

Week #31

President Obama has recently returned from an international trip that’s purpose was to find a diplomatic solution to the crisis in Ukraine. The European Union has agreed that serious actions need to be taken against Russia, but the nations are worried about the implications of setting those crippling sanctions. Those sanctions are seen as the only way to really undermine Russia. Obama and Putin recently had another one of their late-night phone calls and Putin agreed to consider a diplomatic outcome. U.S. officials are wary of anything Putin says though seeing that he promised to stay out of Ukraine and then annexed Crimea. They are holding out to see if Russia is really going to be serious about diplomacy. The entire situation has put President Obama in a tough spot seeing that recent surveys have shown 65% of Americans don’t believe we should provide military aid and weapons to Ukraine and 57% don’t believe the United States has a responsibility to do something about Ukraine.

 

This is a sticky situation. On one hand it is our responsibility as a developed and powerful nation to help those who cannot help themselves, but on the other hand, is this really a situation we need to stick our nose into? Clearly nothing we or any other country has said or done is having any sort of effect on Russia and who's to say that doing anything will. Putin appears to have his own agenda. Americans are being polled as not wanting involvement in the Ukraine or Russia so I wonder if the President will listen to the voice of the American people and pull out or continue with the path he is on. We can’t exactly lose all involvement now because we’ve made so many threats that if we do pull out, we will be admitting defeat and our country will look quite weak to the international world. We must move ahead with caution and strategy if we hope to get anything accomplished. As for the sanctions that we have promised being crippling not just for Russia but for other countries as well, maybe that’s an agreement we need to reach internationally united. We have to agree as a whole to take that blow and power through it with international teamwork.

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White House Urges Putin To Back Down In Crimea

White House Urges Putin To Back Down In Crimea | AP Government | Scoop.it
BY THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

WASHINGTON (AP) — If Russian President Vladimir Putin doesn't back down in Crimea, he will face penalties from the West that will hurt the Russian economy and diminish Moscow's influence in the world, the White House ...
Rebecca Blais's insight:

Week #29

The United States has vowed to take serious action if Russia under the direction of President Vladimir Putin attempts to annex Crimea. They were reprimanded for invading Crimea in the first place because it violates international law and is upsetting the stability in that region. The White House has made a statement saying Putin will “face penalties from the West that will hurt the Russian economy and diminish Moscow's influence in the world.” They also stated that they would ignore the results of a referendum being voted on in Crimea right now that would decide whether or not that region would become a part of Russia. Democratic Senator Chris Murphy just visited the Ukraine and received work that the referendum going around is a hoax. Senior White House advisors have said that supporting the Ukrainian government is now a top priority for the United States.


I find this situation very curious because it seems very similar to Nazi Germany and appeasement. We as a nation learned the hard way that giving the government of a power-hungry country what they want may help the situation in the short-run, but it makes it much worse in the long-run. In the article, Senator Chris Murphy expressed his fears that Russia will attempt to annex more territory after Crimea if they can get away with it and White House officials have made it clear that they are being firm in their resolves because they realize Russia will push the limit as far as possible. I had heard before that there is a plentitude of Russian supporters in Crimea but I wonder what the percentage of them compared to the overall population of Crimea is. Would Crimea be better off as part of Russia and should we not interfere? Or, is Russia sticking its nose somewhere it shouldn’t be? We as individuals must decide this for ourselves because it is a situational variation of an overarching question in our country of whether or not it is our duty as a large developed nation to protect those less fortunate and in trouble. That is the current foreign affairs stage we are in right now and it does not seem like we will be transitioning on to whatever the next stage is anytime soon.

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Article - Obama calls on Russia to withdraw forces from Ukraine

Article - Obama calls on Russia to withdraw forces from Ukraine | AP Government | Scoop.it
Article - Obama calls on Russia to withdraw forces from Ukraine
Rebecca Blais's insight:

Week #27

A phone call on Saturday between President Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin is appearing to be fruitless. Obama had asked Putin to not send troops into Crimea (Ukraine) and to instead pull his troops back out of the region, but the Kremlin and Putin expressed that Russians living in the Ukraine region were in danger and it was their right to take action. The Russian Parliament in Moscow gave Putin permission to take over Crimea and shortly after on Saturday he did just that. This puts the U.S. in an awkward position because Russia clearly violated Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity as well as they breached an international law under the U.N. charter.

 

I admire President Obama for making that 90-minute phone call in the effort to sway Putin even though it turned out to be fruitless. The problems going on in Ukraine do not look like they will be coming to a close any time soon and Russia getting itself involved is only going to tangle up matters worse. Hopefully their core reasons for invading Crimea are that they are trying to protect Russians who may be in danger. However, I have a feeling that there is some other type of “Russian interest” that is compelling them to take military action. What happens between Russia and the Ukraine will only develop with time and I will be anxious to see how everything goes as well as learn more about the situation through more in-depth articles. 

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'Loud music' trial: Verdict again raises questions over self-defense in Florida

'Loud music' trial: Verdict again raises questions over self-defense in Florida | AP Government | Scoop.it
A verdict in the city of Jacksonville is again raising the issue of self-defense and race in Florida, just seven months after George Zimmerman was acquitted in the shooting of a black teenager, Trayvon Martin.
Rebecca Blais's insight:

Week #25

Michael Dunn from Jacksonville, FL is being charged with multiple counts of attempted murder. Dunn was at a convenience store when a car of teenagers pulled up beside him. He claims that the loud music they were playing is what started an argument and he felt threatened thinking he saw a shotgun in their car. That is what caused him to pull out a gun and fire repeated shots into the car. Jordan Davis, a 17 year old in the car, was killed by the shots. Dunn will have to face a minimum of 20 years in jail per each attempted murder charge. However, after strenuous deliberations, the jury was still not able to come to a conclusion on the case regarding the first-degree murder. This case relates closely to the stand-your-ground law in Florida as well as the recently controversial case involving Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman. Dunn’s attorney is arguing that the shots were fired in self-defense and is vowing to appeal. The trial will be reevaluated in a month.


The story of Dunn firing repeatedly into a car of African-American teenage boys in ‘self defense’ seems bogus to me. I think that Dunn may have felt slightly threatened but only because the teenagers were black. This seems to be a case that keeps occurring. Young black men are being racially profiled and stereotyped. My question is, why did Dunn get into an argument with those boys in the first place? I do not think anything excuses him from firing a gun into a car full of teenagers. If anything, he should have exercised self-control and pulled away from the convenience store. The whole claim that he ‘thought he saw a shotgun’ is bologna as well. This, just like the Trayvon Martin case, is yet another example of racial prejudice in our modern world. I hope Michael Dunn goes to prison and has a very long time to sit in a cell and think about the horrible crime he has committed.

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Cantor: Obama must build on immigration

Cantor: Obama must build on immigration | AP Government | Scoop.it
President Barack Obama must gain the trust of Republicans and the American people before the House can move forward on immigration reform, House Majority Leader Rep. Eric Cantor says. “Some things have got to happen, which is the president has got to demonstrate, frankly, the country and the Congress can trust him in implementing the laws,”...
Rebecca Blais's insight:

Week #23

In the very recent State of the Union address delivered by President Barack Obama, promises were made on many grounds, one of them being immigration. According to House Majority Leader, Representative Eric Cantor, Obama needs to gain the trust of the American people and Republicans before the House will be able to progress the immigration reform agenda. Cantor believes that the President has lost a great deal of trust from citizens and lawmakers when it comes to implementing the laws. He states that the President has so far only selectively enforced the Affordable Care Act and he questions the constitutionality of that. He pinpoints the lack of trust as one of the reasons why Congress has been to unproductive recently. He is strongly encouraging the Obama administration and the government as a whole to work together and enforce new immigration laws.


I had not considered it before, but I can now certainly see that trust may be an issue between the branches and political factions. However, lack of trust is not the sole reason why the government has been so unproductive. Some other contributing factors may be malice, greed, and stubbornness. In my opinion, Cantor’s views on the lack of trust causing so many issues seems like a nice way of covering up something bigger... kind of like when two people really dislike each other but when asked about it they simply say that they have different interests. It’s a nice way of saying something else. That thought leaves me curious as to what might be the relationship that the American public and the press do not see. What really goes on in the meetings and behind closed office doors?

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First lady Michelle Obama turns 50

First lady Michelle Obama turns 50 | AP Government | Scoop.it
First lady Michelle Obama celebrated her 50th birthday on the weekend with a party at which she danced until midnight and which was attended by artists such as Beyoncé, Stevie Wonder and John Legend, media reports said.
Rebecca Blais's insight:

Week #21

First Lady Michelle Obama has spent the weekend in style. She threw a party for her 50th birthday and invited all of her closest friends including Stevie Wonder, Beyoncé, and of course Barack. The invitation was exclusive and had instructions for guests to wear their dancing shoes. All of the guests kept the invitation secret and release few comments after. President Obama delivered some loving remarks on behalf of his darling wife and then joined her on the dance floor. The First Lady has proven to be an amazing dancer at past events, but that is not her only talent. She is the third First Lady to have a graduate degree, hers being from Harvard Law, and she has transformed the traditional First Lady duties to fit the modern era. Not only that but she is an awesome mother who makes time for her children even though they are in a very special position. Beyoncé performed at the opening of the party and it is being assumed that the guests all had a rockin’ time.

 

I think the First Lady is awesome. I have read many articles on her and I have found myself in great admiration for her. Honestly, I admire any woman who stands by her husband for 4-8 years while he takes on one of the most difficult jobs in American politics. Sure it has its perks, but more often than not it is filled with long nights, disasters, and work that never seems to get done. Another reason why I think the First Lady is so cool is because she is independently a successful woman aside from her husband’s accomplishments. She is a graduate from Harvard Law and she knows how to command a room. Since her spearheading the drive to lesson childhood obesity in the United States, the number of obese children has actually decreased. That’s an impressive feat! I recently saw an interview with her where she claimed her primary job was to be a mother. That is a statement truly worth admiring. In a position such as hers it would be extremely easy to be sidetracked and take on a whole new cause, leaving the children to be educated by tutors and cared for by another. However, the First Lady is not going to do that. Those two daughters are her responsibility and being married to the President of the United States takes a backseat when her children need her. They are lucky girls to have such a great mom. 

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Health Market Signups Pass 1M

Daytona Beach News Journal

News on healthcare.gov

December 30, 2013

Rebecca Blais's insight:

Week #19

The numbers are being tallied for the number of signups by the new year. The government health care website has finally passed the 1 million mark which comes as a major boost for the Obama administration. Independent experts are saying that the government website should have about 2 million by the end of 2014, but the administration is still aiming for their original goal of 7 million by March 31. They are nowhere near where they originally thought they would be by now, but the numbers are still positive, especially because 1 million of those signups come from December alone. That is a major accomplishment after all of the technical errors that left the health care website unusable in the fall. The pre-Christmas signup gave coverage starting in January and it is believed that this deadline contributed to the recent surge. Open enrollment runs until the end of March. Young, healthy people need to sign up in order to keep the prices down, but reports have not come in as of yet on the prices and signees. The federal website serves 36 states and the other 14 states have their own sites. The high numbers are coming from California, New York, Washington, Kentucky, and Connecticut. States have had more success than the federal website and their signees have not been counted in the previously mentioned total. Even though the technical bugs have been mended, other states continue to struggle. Now that the system is up and working, a new question has emerged of whether or not people really want to buy into the new ways of health care. 

 

I truly find the health care debate to be fascinating. I have done my research on the health care bill, but I still do not understand so much about it. The people who are right now being directly affected are the ones who really have something to say. I sit with my family while they argue about it and why it should be destroyed. But it is not going to be destroyed. It has passed through all three branches of government and been scrutinized by every expert and professional. The truth is those who continue to fight against it need to just accept it. I get the feeling that a lot of people mistrust it and dislike it just because it came out of the Obama administration. I have heard so much against him from people that I love that it has honestly begun to sadden me. I can understand not agreeing with the politics or decisions of the president, but I believe it is wrong to harbor hatred against him for reasons I do not wish to go into here. Whether or not you agree with him or the Affordable HealthCare Act, please lay down you weapons for one minute and consider the other side, and this goes for both sides of the argument. Walk a mile in another man’s shoes. Americans have been calling for affordable and universal healthcare coverage for a very long time. We have received what we asked for.

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Judge strikes down part of Utah polygamy law in 'Sister Wives' case

Judge strikes down part of Utah polygamy law in 'Sister Wives' case | AP Government | Scoop.it
Ruling in the "Sister Wives" lawsuit, a judge has struck down part of Utah's polygamy law.
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Polygamy

 

A court in Utah has just struck down part of a law banning polygamy in the state. The case was taken to court by the Brown family; a man and his four wives who star in a reality TV show on TLC. Together they have 17 children. They brought to light the part of the polygamy law that bans cohabitation of partners who are not married. They said this was a violation of their privacy and religious freedom. The Brown family is from a branch of the Mormon faith and they believe the law banning polygamy is outdated because it was originally created when Utah was first becoming a state. They have received backlash from other religions on the practice and worries that the sanctity of marriage is being destroyed. The Brown family is thrilled about the ruling. The case is Brown v. Buhman.  I don't know if I can really take a stand on this case. To me, polygamy seems like an odd concept. I can't imagine sharing my husband with other people. Then again, I wasn't raised as a Mormon and I don't know anybody else who has been. For the Brown family it must be an ideal lifestyle if they choose to stay a part of it. It's probably easier to have fellow moms to share the load of 17 kids with. What I worry about is the children. Do they like the way they are growing up? Is it hard to get any attention from their dad with 16 other siblings? I honestly would worry the same thing if one man and one woman had that many children, but then again, I'm sure everyone has a way of making it work in their own family. Still, it seems really odd. 
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The Mandela who saved South Africa -- and offered me orange juice

The Mandela who saved South Africa -- and offered me orange juice | AP Government | Scoop.it
It was always there, shimmering on the horizon out my bedroom window: Robben Island, a barren outcrop in the dazzling Atlantic Ocean and the world's most notorious prison.
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Nelson Mandela, former activist and President, died this last week. The worls is saying goodbye to a monumental figure who changed South Africa forever by ending the apartheid. Mandela fought against the apartheid and was imprisoned for 27 years. His release from prison signaled the end to the violent dispute that had plagued South Africa. In 1994 Mandela became South Africa's first black president and his acheivements still permeate throughout the country. As Vivienne Walt, the writer of this article, said, "even today, I catch myself a little breathless driving past a public school whose playing fields are filled with teenagers of all colors, seemingly unaware of how impossible such a sight might once have been." The democracy in South Africa has significantly grown since Madela was released from prison and now the time comes to assess the progress the country has made. A hero has fallen and the world has lost one of the greatest of the time period. It is time to pay our tribute to this outstanding individual and say goodbye. 

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In Fracas on Health Coverage, Some Democrats Feel Exposed

In Fracas on Health Coverage, Some Democrats Feel Exposed | AP Government | Scoop.it
The fumbled rollout of the health care law has forced candidates, including three congressional incumbents in New Hampshire, to balance their loyalty to the White House with the needs of an angry constituency.
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Simply look at the headlines this week and you can tell Obama is not doing well. His health care act has turned out to be a flop due to complications with the internet. He faces opposition from Republicans, Democrats, and everything in between. Many people are fuming about having to go out of their way to hospitals because their new insurance won’t cover their local hospital and others are angry because their original health care provider dropped them and they now have nowhere to turn to. This all sounds like a very negative situation, but there is some support still left for President Obama. States like California who are doing well with their new health care plan are not complaining and some Democrats like Congresswoman Shea-Porter of New Hampshire are confident that “the kinks will be worked out.” This fiasco signals a major turn of the tables for the Democrats who seemed to be on top of their game after the Republicans were getting the blame for the recent government shutdown. Republicans are thriving off the health care fail and future elections are being brought to the forefront of their minds. In the month of October, National Republican Senatorial Committee raised a total of $3.8 million.

Right now only 269 people have signed up for a plan on Healthcare.gov and only one state provider has been attracted to the scene, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield. I must agree with Senator Jeanne Shaheen in asking for people to look past partisan lines and find a solution for this whole website problem. We need to remember that the problem here isn’t which party looks bad or who messed up; the real problem is that there are Americans who no longer have health insurance due to the Affordable Care Act and they now cannot access it. 

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Analysis: Did Syria's Assad get away with chemical weapons attack?

Analysis: Did Syria's Assad get away with chemical weapons attack? | AP Government | Scoop.it
News analysis CAIRO -- Bashar Assad got away with it.  Only a few months ago, Syria's president was a widely-condemned rogue leader whose police state had just launched poison gas on commuter villages outside Damascus. Fourteen-hundred people, including...
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Americans have turned their attention to new problems on the home front, leaving behind the on-going war in Syria. For weeks, Americans watched the story unfold in Syria through mass media coverage. President Bashar Assad was accused of gassing thousands of people, including children, and sending the Syrian military to attack civilians. He was compared to the likes of Hitler, but now it would appear as if he has gotten away with a time-out in the corner and a slap on the wrist. Wondering why the U.S. never got involved? Many Americans did not want the country to get involved in yet another foreign conflict. However, President Barack Obama made some serious promises and needed an escape plan if he were to please the American people. That escape was offered by Vladimir Putin. He orchestrated conversation between the Syrian and American leaders and worked out the punishment for the Syrian side. In order for the U.S. not to attack, the Syrian government would have to destroy all their chemical weapons. After that task was completed, although difficult to monitor and calculate it was, the Syrians could resume their war using conventional weapons.

 

So basically… not much was accomplished in the field of ending mass murder and the war in Syria. America truly is a country distracted by shiny things. I pointed out in one of my previous scoops that the conversations regarding the conflict in Syria were significantly lessening as the government approached the date that the national budget needed to be approved by. Now any news from Syria is not to be found at all in the daily newspaper. What’s happening over there? Are we doing anything to help? I for one have not forgotten that an entire country of people is suffering every day. I know that they certainly haven’t forgotten. 

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White House refusing to answer Justin Bieber deportation petition  

White House refusing to answer Justin Bieber deportation petition   | AP Government | Scoop.it
The White House is refusing to answer an online petition seeking to have Justin Bieber deported, claiming the imploding pop star is a “terrible influence on our nation’s youth.”
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Week #34

A petition with over 274,000 signatures to deport Justin Bieber is being left without a comment from the White House. The petition started on the White House website and was titled “Believing in immigration reform.” Justin Bieber, young pop-star, has been in recent trouble with the law for instances such as driving under the influence and drag racing in Miami and has gained the reputation of being a hard-partying, pot-smoking guy. The petition asks that Bieber be deported to his native country of Canada and have his green card revoked due to him having a “terrible influence on our nation’s youth.” The White House refuses to comment and when asked, Michelle Obama took more of a ‘this misguided young man needs a hug and someone to talk to’ approach rather than a punish and deport approach.


This is national news? We hate Justin Bieber so much that we want him deported? Are you serious? Bieber has made a lot of music since he started his career in the U.S. and with that came a great deal of money and a large fan base. We have made him who he is today and now we must deal with the side-effects of stardom. I don’t really care what the kid does as long as he gets punished the same as everyone else and doesn’t hurt anyone. He is the least of our worries. It amazes me that we are putting this much time and energy into talking about expelling a 20-year old from the country rather than addressing more important issues. I say it’s time to move on.

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Immigration Advocates Rally to Curb Deportations - NBC News

Immigration Advocates Rally to Curb Deportations - NBC News | AP Government | Scoop.it
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Protesters marched to the White House Saturday with signs labeling President Barack Obama “Deporter In Chief” to pressure him to curb dep...
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Week #32
Large groups are marching in front of the White House in protest of the recent immigration reforms. They are fighting the policy of deportation of non-criminal illegal immigrants and their target suspect to display their protest to is President Obama. They believe he can use his powers to halt the deportation of these innocent immigrants. This is only one protest of a series that has been going on for a long time, the most notable protest being in 2006 when groups protested a House-passed immigration bill. Before the marches were aimed at the Republicans, now their focus is definitely the President. Organizers of these protests have planned events in more than 70 cities around the United States in the hope that one day the government will listen to their pleas. One of the biggest groups the protesters are trying to protect are DREAMers, immigrants who were born in another country but grew up in the U.S. “The protests, spearheaded by the National Day Labor Organizing Network, were held to mark the time advocates calculated the administration would hit a total of 2 million deportations under Obama.” People from all over the states are gathering in protest and to fight for their personal cause, whether it be their parents, children, friends, or selves. However, as we do live in America, there is protest from the other side as well. Jim McDonald with New Yorkers for Immigration Control and Enforcement held up a sign that said “No Amnesty” and insulted the protesters for not speaking english.

I was recently read an article about Jeb Bush regarding immigration in the United States. I cannot quote it, but he did make the point that we should not punish people for wanting to have a better life in our country. That is how I feel about immigration. It is not a true crime and should not be considered one to move your family in order to secure a better life for your children. These men such as Jim McDonald who insult the immigrants for not speaking english are not acting with good sense. I’d like to invite people to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes for once. Imagine if you were the one who was unlucky enough to be born on the other side of the border. You face prosecution, crime, unhealthy living conditions, and other hardships. You manage to survive, find love, and have children. The last thing a parent wants to to see their children suffer and not live a good life, so the parent is going to do everything in their power to ensure their child’s safety and future well-being. If that means crossing a stupid fence and enrolling your child in free, public schools then so be it. We are a country built on immigrants. We are the Great American Melting Pot. It is not our right to pick and choose who gets to live here and who doesn’t because the basis under all of this conflict is racism, pure and simple.

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Search area for Malaysian airliner widened after French satellite images

Search area for Malaysian airliner widened after French satellite images | AP Government | Scoop.it
PERTH/KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - The search area for a missing Malaysian jetliner in remote seas off Australia was widened on Monday after French satellite images revealed potential floating debris several
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Week #30

Everyone is still left without a clue as to where the location of the vanished Malaysian jetliner might be. There have been several pings on satellite radars, all to no avail, and the most recent has widened the search to the coast of Australia. However, bad weather is making the search even more difficult than it already is. The flight was recorded as having dropped off the radar less than one hour from taking off. Authorities are suspecting hijacking or terrorist activities. They believe that someone inside the plane shut off the communications systems and then turned the plan West and re-crossed the Malay Peninsula. Faint pings suggested that it flew for another six hours, but that appears to be all of the information available. NASA has been called into action to use their satellite and tracking radars in the situation, but their equipment is not suited for this type of ordeal. Meanwhile, the families of the missing 239 are still waiting in desperation.

 

A situation as large-scale and devastating as this one call to mind a few things. First, I am reminded that there is still so much we do not know about our own world, especially the ocean. It is an area so vast and changing that it may never be fully explored. Second, tragedies such as this bring nations together across many borders. For example, the 239 missing people on the jetliner are mostly Chinese, yet the United States, Australia, France, and many other countries are using their resources to search for an answer. It almost surprised me to think though, that with all the technology in the world, we have still not been able to locate this plane or even figure out what happened while it was still in the air. Third, not to sound crass or anything of the sort, this situation kind of remind me of the TV show Lost. Maybe, if we’re all lucky, the missing people will show up in a little while and have a great story to tell about landing on an island. That may sound silly, but it would be better than the harsh reality many believe them to have faced. My hope is that in some way or another, we will find out what happened and be able to bring peace to the families of the missing people.

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Rethinking the GOP’s 2016 nomination contest

Rethinking the GOP’s 2016 nomination contest | AP Government | Scoop.it
Don’t forget the “somewhat conservative” voters. They might decide the nomination.
Rebecca Blais's insight:

Week #28

Big questions are being raised over who the Republican candidate will be in the 2016 election. People tend to think that the Tea Party will put forth a candidate but Dan Balz says nay. There are four main factions in the Republican party and those who consider themselves “somewhat conservative” have proved in the last few elections to be the strongest. The candidates that they have thrown their weight behind have been the one to make it to the big leagues, such as George W. Bush, John McCain, and Mitt Romney to name a few. They prefer candidates with governing experience and who are not going to push radical ideas to the forefront of a campaign or administration agenda. This faction is also more motivated to oppose a hyper-religious candidates. The “somewhat conservative” faction is only one piece of the puzzle, however, and it’s going to take the strength of the entire Republican party and then some to win the White House. So far it is being predicted that possible Republican candidates for 2016 will be Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, but only time will tell.


It seems clear that Hillary Clinton is going to run for President in the 2016 election but the candidate choice for the Republican party is still as hazy as ever. They are working on getting their act together, but everyone is working in different ways and the Tea Party has put a very deep and division faction into the mix. We will not truly know who the Republican candidate will be until the caucuses are over and the real voting begins. Who knows, it’s been a while since a good dark horse has risen up to lead the party so maybe that will happen. I find it very interesting how the article details the factions in a very basic and approachable way. I did not go into explaining each faction in my summary because they were not totally essential to the overall message but I still found it fascinating how the voters in the Republican party are divided and which tendencies each of those factions tend to lean towards. Coming from Florida I would love to see a Floridian play a role in the 2016 election but it is more important to me that the person most capable of the job from each party be a primary choice.

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Shiffrin, 18, makes slalom history

Shiffrin, 18, makes slalom history | AP Government | Scoop.it
World champion Mikaela Shiffrin of the USA becomes the youngest Olympic slalom champion with victory at Rosa Khutor.
Rebecca Blais's insight:

Week #26

Mikaela Shiffrin has become the youngest person ever to win a medal in slalom skiing. She came in for the gold with a win by 0.53 seconds. Following her were Austria’s Marlies Schild and Kathrin Zettel. Mikaela spoke about how happy she is it achieve this dream of hers and to be able to compete with the athletes Schild and Zettel who were her childhood idols. She is the first from America to win a medal in slalom skiing since Barbara Cochran won in 1972. She has also medaled in Alpine skiing. The two other medal winners, Schild and Zettel, are well-known in Austria because skiing is a very popular sport there. Schild, 32, has won multiple medals and broken records whereas Zettel, 27, won her first medal in 2009 and became world champion. Mikaela is not normally recognized in the United States, but she has become a household name in Austria now.  


In class we have been taking a look at the Olympics and Politics. We recently had a discussion on the subject and we explored the concepts of international relationships, athletics, and competition. I think this story about United States slalom skier Mikaela Shiffrin is an awesome example of athletic relations. She worked in her sport looking up to idols not from her home country, but instead from Austria. She competed in the games with those idols of hers and all three walked away with medals. I can only imagine how incredible that must have been for her. Another thing that the article mentioned intrigued me; she is not usually recognized in the US, but she is a household name in Austria. Obviously Austrians pay a bit more attention to slalom skiing than Americans do and I find it quite admirable that they would discuss and want to know more about an athlete from another country. She may be competition for the Austrian athletes, but you get a sense of comradery from them all.


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Article - US easing immigration rule for terrorists support network

Article - US easing immigration rule for terrorists support network | AP Government | Scoop.it
Article - US easing immigration rule for terrorists support network
Rebecca Blais's insight:

Week #24

President Obama recently announced in his State of the Union address that he will be working on immigration reform. The first step he’s taken towards this goal has come as a bit of a surprise to some. His administration is loosening the restrictions on giving asylum to people who gave “limited” assistance to terrorists. Limited assistance could be considered passing out flyers or attending a rally, as in the case of Morteza Assadi, a 49-year old West Virginian. He and his wife came to the United States seeking asylum years ago. His wife has been granted a green card, but his case has been on hold for a number of years due to his record of “limited” assistance as a college student. He has a lawyer who is going to push his case through court and have it reconsidered, but in the meanwhile they are hoping for the government to take action. Each case will be scrutinized by the Department of Homeland Security to determine whether or not it was limited. Not everyone agrees with this “relaxation of the rules.” Republican lawmakers think that it will expose our country to dangerous people and more terrorism. The provision to expand the law is definitely receiving criticism, but it is being pushed through as one of the President’s actions without the consent of Congress that he mentioned he would do in the State of the Union.


I find it very interesting that this is the first route the President would take in reforming immigration. I suppose I find it so fascinating because I had never heard of it being a problem before. The article I have linked and summarized only cited the example of Morteza Assadi and I wonder how common of a problem this is. It must be on a rather large scale to have captured the President’s attention and be his first form of action on fulfilling his promise. Perhaps it is not that common of a problem and he is starting off small in order to build his way up to the big immigration reform. It will be interesting to find out what he will do next and how large of a scale it will take effect on. Also, this is an action the President is taking without the consent of Congress. I am curious as to what all of the members of Congress would have to say about it and whether it would pass. It is quite possible that he did this without their approval because he did not think it would pass through Congress. The Department of Homeland Security claims that they will deeply search through the records of the asylum-seekers to determine whether or not they are a threat to the nation’s security. How do they conduct their search? This is a case that I most definitely want to read more on in the future, hopefully in a positive light.

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Police Identify Shooter in Columbia Mall Tragedy

Police Identify Shooter in Columbia Mall Tragedy | AP Government | Scoop.it
Police say a 19-year-old Maryland man was the the gunman who killed two young people working in a Columbia Mall store.

Darion Marcus Aguilar, of College Park, Md. died of an apparently self-inflicted...
Rebecca Blais's insight:

Week #22

Yesterday a gunman entered a mall in Columbia and started shooting. He killed three people, including himself. His motive has yet to be determined, but he has been identified. His name is Darion Marcus Aguilar and he was a 19-year old from College Park, Maryland. One of his victims was also from College Park, but police have not been able to determine if there is a link between the two. The two victims murdered by Aguilar worked in a skateboard store at the mall. Aguilar was carrying a backpack filled with homemade explosives when he entered the mall. The threat of him being “booby trapped” stayed the police from shooting him down. His house has been searched and a laptop (to be searched) and ammunition were found. He was in the mall for about an hour before the shooting. He fired six- eight shots. Shoppers will return to the mall within the next few days to recover items they left behind in the shooting. Grief counselors will be made available to them. The mall is scheduled to reopen on Tuesday with a strong police force present.

 

I will never truly understand what makes a person want to commit murder in any form, especially a mass shooting. Is it all a way of gaining attention and trying to “out-do” the last shooter reported? In any case, the shooter most likely has a serious mental disability and imbalance. It saddens me to think that anyone could do this or think it is okay. another two innocent people lost from an attempted mass-shooting. We can now add them to the tally of victims from heinous crimes such as this one that seem to me to be happening more often than not. Is this a trend of the day in age that we must fear and live with. No person should be afraid to go to a public place, or school, or any other location for that matter. I for one hope that we will be able to reach out to anyone who may have it in their mind to commit a crime and help them. It could save many lives.

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Suburbs Wipe Out Cities' Green Initiatives

Suburbs Wipe Out Cities' Green Initiatives | AP Government | Scoop.it
Driving and larger houses wipe out the greenhouse gains in urban areas.
Rebecca Blais's insight:

Week #20

Efforts by large cities to “go green” are being put in the red thanks to the surrounding suburbs. Researches in California are finding that the city efforts to reduce carbon emissions from mass transit and reducing other green-house gases are being trumped by the pollution being emitted from America’s sprawling suburbs. Researchers at the University of California, Berkley examined household and weather data gathered by the census compiled maps of carbon footprints for neighborhoods in more than 31,000 ZXIP codes. The Technicolor camouflage shows the places with a small carbon footprint as being red and the suburbs as an angry red and orange. They found that the metropolitan areas with the smallest carbon footprints are surrounded by the most extensive high-carbon footprint suburbs. The suburbs contribute more than half of the greenhouse gas emissions in the 31,000 regions examined by researchers, yet those suburbs account for less than half of the population. The emissions from suburbs are more than twice the national average and the households within cities were less than 50 percent below national average. Cities have developed creative plans to reduce emissions, but the main problem is coming from the nation as a whole. They urge people from all living situations to make more environmentally-friendly choices.

 

This is a subject I spent a great deal of time researching last year in AP Environmental Science. It is amazing to read that the great efforts being made in the cities are making a difference, but it is disappointing to see that suburbs are getting worse. It seems to me that people are outsourcing the pollution once associated with cities into the surrounding suburbs. Really, everyone should be making an effort, regardless of their location. There are so many easy ways to reduce your carbon footprint. Recycle. Buy eco-friendly products. Make a compost pile. Grow your own food. Ride a bike. Walk to a location you might normally drive to. Share the products you own to reduce the amount that needs to be manufactured. It is not hard if you start small and work these tips into your everyday lifestyle. Hopefully, the spread of pollution and carbon footprints will improve with time, but until then veryone should keep trying. 

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Target: Justice Dept. investigates data breach

Target: Justice Dept. investigates data breach | AP Government | Scoop.it
Target said Monday that the Department of Justice is investigating the credit and debit card security breach at the retailer that's being called the second largest incident in U.S. history.
Rebecca Blais's insight:
The popular shopping center Target has been through a recent security breach. An estimated 40 million debit/credit card accounts have been hacked into. The information has been used and money has been stolen. The government hasn’t officially revealed information on what they are doing to investigate, but information has been given that Target is working with the Department of Justice. This break-in is being considered the second worst to ever occur and it could not have happened at a worse time. The holidays are a very busy time for retailers everywhere, especially Target. In an attempt to lure customers back into their store they had a 10% off sale, doubled the number of workers on customer service calls, and offered free credit-monitoring to those affected by the ordeal. However, their efforts may be done in vain. Their approval rating has made a significant drop from a positive 26 to negative 19. Ouch. Target spokesperson Eric Hausman offered the comment “We’re busy” in reference to the stores. The numbers of sales have also taken a plunge off the deep end. Over a dozen people were ready to sue Target for negligence following the first day of the breach. It’s sad to me that this happens. The heist of credit/debit card information is such a horrid display of greed and disregard for others. I truly hope that the thief or thieves behind the crime will be caught and justice will be given to those affected by the robbery. Not only does this hacking affect the customers who had their information stolen, but it also affects every single Target employee. Their entire livelihood and job is at stake now just because someone decided to pick on their store. As for the people who had their information and money stolen, I hope they have their property and privacy restored. This sort of incidence scares me. I no longer want to shop at Target. Also, who’s to say this won’t happen anywhere else. It’s altogether and awful situation.
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White House claims success on HealthCare.gov repairs

White House claims success on HealthCare.gov repairs | AP Government | Scoop.it
As expected, the government announced it met its goal to make Healthcare.gov operate smoothly for most users.
Rebecca Blais's insight:

Well it only took two months, but hooray! The healthcare.gov website is up and running. The website was launched on the first of October and was immediately found to be difficult to use and full of bugs. The Democrats were dismayed and the Republicans were rejoicing. However, Obama was not about to let the fruits of his labor go on being ridiculed. He hired Jeffrey Zients and a team of high-tech experts to fix the website. Zients and his squad have been working day and night and have significantly improved the website. It is not healthy and running, but they're still working out bugs and the website can only accomodate so many at once. If the site is full, feel free to enter your email address so you can be notified when there is space available. The site's "uptime" went from 43% to 95% and the number of users able to enroll has increased from 30% to 80%. Now Democrats are optimistic and Republicans are still skeptical. Keep in mind that the statistics are a bit skewed right now because the people who need health care the most deperately are the first to sign up and many who do not have access to or do not trust the internet are enrolling by phone or direct mail. Nobody can deny the website is doing much better than it was, but we still have yet to see what sort of effect it will have in the long-run. In the meanwhile, bravo to Zients and his team for fixing the website and continuing to improve it everyday. Whether you are for or against the site, it still needed to be fixed. A lot of people are counting on it.

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Obama: Iran deal 'an important first step'

Obama: Iran deal 'an important first step' | AP Government | Scoop.it
President Obama said Saturday that an interim agreement on Iran's nuclear program is
Rebecca Blais's insight:

Lady Gaga had just started her performance on SNL when the program was interrupted for a special speech from President Obama. He came on at a late hour to talk about the most recent advancements in the Iran nuclear weapon talk. The goal is to try and stop Iran from advancing in nuclear weapon power. U.S. and international partners negotiated a six-month deal to limit Iran’s nuclear activities and in return, they would offer up to $7 billion in relief of sanctions that have hurt the Iranian economy. In his speech, Obama pledged to make this issue a priority and discussed what sort of actions he would take if Congress tries to call for new sanctions in the short term. According to the President, new sanctions would derail the project and put the country at risk of military confrontation with Iran. The sanctions can be open to change if Iran breaks their end of the bargain and Iran is responsible for their improvement. Israel is probably going to oppose this deal because they don’t believe Iran can be trusted, but Americans are still hopeful. Only time will tell how this project turns out.

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Miami Herald journalist Jim Wyss released by Venezuelan authorities

Miami Herald journalist Jim Wyss released by Venezuelan authorities | AP Government | Scoop.it
Newspaper says reporter has been handed over to US embassy officials and that he 'is safe and will soon be reunited with his loved ones'
Rebecca Blais's insight:

A Miami Herald news reporter, Jim Wyss, has been released from detainment in Venezuela. He was originally arrested when he was reporting about the “chronic shortages and looming municipal elections” by the Columbian border. He was moved between the National Guard, San Cristobal, and Caracas. World editor, John Yearwood, and U.S. embassy officials were involved in the releasing of Wyss. Since his freeing the Herald has informed its readers of his return and Wyss has written a personal message in thanks for the support he received.

 

The President of Venezuela, Nicolas Maduro, has had poor relations with others since his election. He has expelled several American diplomats because he thought they were plotting against him and he cancelled a trip to New York due to suspicion of a plot to kill him. There are also domestic economic problems in Venezuela. They are having goods shortages and an annual inflation rate of 54%. Madura has ordered a military occupation of a chain of stores. While occupied, the stores have been taken over by the government and their usually expensive goods have been put at extremely low prices. This is all being done in a Robin Hood way. Madura thinks that goods need to be offered to the people at a fair price and is attempting to “comb the whole nation.” We’ll see how that works out. The situation in Venezuela does not sound good and any tourists, reporters, or other people visiting the country should be careful.

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