After the tragedy that occurred at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut last week, should the government impose stricter gun laws? If not, what should be done?
Last Friday’s tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut has reignited the debate about gun control. As one of the worst mass shootings in American history, it is the latest tragedy in a deadly trail of mass killings. This time 20 of the 27 people killed were small children, which has added momentum to the plea to move on the issue now. Could this finally be the moment for reforming gun laws? Should military style weapons be banned from the streets?
Senator Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., who has been a leading gun control advocate and authored an assault weapons ban in 1994, which lapsed in 2004, is now expected to offer an updated version of this legislation. Now is exactly the time says New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, an advocate for gun restrictions, "Calling for 'meaningful action' is not enough. We need immediate action. We have heard all the rhetoric before." There need to be controls over the sale of weapons and assault weapons do not belong on our streets – this is the clear position of gun control advocates.
But as KQED’s The Lowdown asks, what is it with America’s Love of the Gun? The article points to the figure that “there are 89 guns for every 100 civilians," according to the 2011 Small Arms Survey. That amounts to roughly 270 million guns owned nationwide, far and away the highest gun ownership rate in the world.
Should the wealthiest Americans pay more taxes to help fix our Federal deficit?
You may have heard a lot of talk about the fiscal cliff. What exactly does that mean? Well, in 2010, President Obama and Congress agreed that if a new national budget was not agreed upon before the first of January then a special plan will go into effect. Many economists say that this special plan will send the entire country, once again, into a recession because there will be increases in taxes and huge spending cuts...causing unemployment to rise dramatically...hence the plan will send the country down a fiscal cliff.
The cartoon above by political cartoonist Khalil Bendib, expresses the opinion that the fiscal cliff will not affect the wealthiest Americans and thus they are able to parachute down and land safely.
Ok. So, that's the situation, but let's examine why the President and Congress cannot agree on a new budget that perhaps will not send the country into a tailspin.
Creating a budget is simple idea, but can be an extremely complex process. The Federal Government must develop a plan that determines what money it should spend annually along with what money it should receive from taxes, making sure that it does not spend way more than it receives... unfortunately, the Federal Government has spent way more than it has received for the past 12 years, but let's not get into that now. Here is where the argument gets most heated:
Election Day was last Tuesday and Americans took to the polls to vote for our next president (along with voting for other State and Federal politicians and various measures and propositions). We asked students which candidate offered a better future and who they would vote for. Scroll down below to read their thoughts from last week's Do Now activity.
On election night, President Obama addressed the nation in his victory speech saying, "The best is yet to come." Do you agree with his statement? What issue do you suggest he should first tackle? How should he approach it?
"Tonight, in this election, you, the American people, reminded us that while our road has been hard, while our journey has been long, we have picked ourselves up, we have fought our way back, and we know in our hearts that for the United States of America the best is yet to come." At the Obama campaign headquarters in Chicago, President Obama accepted his re-election as President of the United States, thanking a packed crowd of his supporters. He then laid out the impending issues that he will face in his second term.
"But despite all our differences, most of us share certain hopes for America's future. We want our kids to grow up in a country where they have access to the best schools and the best teachers. A country that lives up to its legacy as the global leader in technology and discovery and innovation, with all the good jobs and new businesses that follow.
We want our children to live in an America that isn't burdened by debt, that isn't weakened by inequality, that isn't threatened by the destructive power of a warming planet. We want to pass on a country that's safe and respected and admired around the world, a nation that is defended by the strongest military on earth and the best troops this -- this world has ever known. But also a country that moves with confidence beyond this time of war, to shape a peace that is built on the promise of freedom and dignity for every human being.... now, we will disagree, sometimes fiercely, about how to get there. As it has for more than two centuries, progress will come in fits and starts. It's not always a straight line. It's not always a smooth path. By itself, the recognition that we have common hopes and dreams won't end all the gridlock or solve all our problems or substitute for the painstaking work of building consensus and making the difficult compromises needed to move this country forward. But that common bond is where we must begin."
Last week's Do Now asked students if prisoners who are convicted of the most violent crimes should receive the death penalty. Here are their responses. The top video is the main resource that they viewed before tweeting. Scroll down below to read their thoughts from last week's Do Now activity. Continue reading »
In the Bay Area city of Richmond, there is a Soda Tax campaign in full swing. Supporters of the campaign have created art to represent their stance on Measure N, including the mural pictured above. Students have mixed reviews. Scroll down below to read their thoughts from last week's Do Now activity.
Should prisoners convicted of the most violent crimes receive the death penalty? Tell us why or why not? Link to a convincing argument or related article online, perhaps.
For the first time in nearly 35 years, California voters will decide on the fate of the state's death penalty law. Proposition 34, on this November's ballot, proposes a full repeal of the law. If passed, the measure would convert the sentences of all current death row inmates to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Not surprisingly, Prop 34 is among the most emotionally-charged issues on this year's ballot, marking yet another chapter in California's ongoing, soul-searching debate on justice and punishment. Opponents of the death penalty (those in favor of Prop 34) contend that executing people is never justifiable, even criminals that have committed the most serious crimes. They also argue that the death penalty is incredibly inefficient and financially wasteful, due to the number of legal appeals, and the cost of keeping prisoners on death row for years on end. Repealing the death penalty would save the state an estimated $100 million a year, according to the Legislative Analyst's Office.
But supporters of the death penalty - those in opposition to Prop 34 - argue that criminals convicted of the most violent crimes deserve to be put to death. The death penalty deters future crime, many argue, and for the families and friends of victims, it is the only way that justice is truly served.
Last week's Do Now asked students to consider the arguments around Affirmative Action and respond to the question -- should universities be allowed to make race-based admissions decisions that give preference to minority applicants in an attempt to have a more diverse student body? Read their responses below.
Would you vote yes or no on a higher tax for sugary beverages and energy drinks? Tell us your thoughts, or take it a step further and make a creative representation of how you would vote on Measure N.
In the Bay Area city of Richmond, there is a Soda Tax campaign in full swing. Supporters of the campaign have created art to represent their stance on Measure N, including the mural pictured above.
City Councilman Jeff Ritter has proposed an increase in the cost of sodas to discourage young people from overloading on sugar, which can cause health problems. Local small businesses and restaurants argue that the tax will only hurt their profits, and raise the prices of grocery bills for families.
KQED California Report segment Richmond's Proposed Soda Tax Will Go To Voters - Aug. 6, 2012
When New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg proposed a ban on super-sized sodas and sugary drinks, he touched off a debate on government's role in preventing obesity. That same debate is now taking place in one California city that will ask voters to raise the tax on sugar-sweetened drinks
In an attempt to have a more diverse student body, should universities be allowed to make race-based admissions decisions that give preference to minority applicants? Tell us why or why not?
Abigail Fisher, a white honor student, certainly didn’t think Affirmative Action was right, explaining that universities should not be allowed to make race-based admissions decisions that give preference to minority applicants. In 2008, she was rejected from the University of Texas. She sued the school, claiming that its race-conscious admissions policies unfairly and unconstitutionally favored black and Hispanic applicants over whites and Asians. Last week (Oct. 10, 2012), the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the case, the latest in a half-a-century long string of challenges to affirmative action policies.
The Court’s eventual ruling on the case will help determine the extent to which race can be used as a factor in admissions and employment decisions. If you were a judge on the Supreme Court, how would you rule and what would be your reasoning?