Does Sen. Feinstein’s Gun Ban Have Holes in It?

A drawing of an assault rifle.

Assault Rifle drawing

Written by Sarah Peel

Ever since the December 2012, Sandy Hook shooting, the U.S. Government has been attempting to ban assault rifles, with Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D) leading the bill. However, it has come to the light that the possible bill would have serious holes in it. The so-called ban would protect over 2,000 make and models of so called assault rifles.

Sen. Feinstein of California might have written and lead the potential assault rifle ban bill currently, but it appears she has some side interest. The ban would supposed have loopholes for 2,200 rifles that fall as hunting weapons. It would allow certain assault weapons of different models to be safe as long as they fall under the hunting rifle label. This has caused some pro-gun ban supporters upset over the so-called ban. Many claim that would cause no level of public protection and would make the law pointless. However, the officials remain that it would prevent assault weapons from getting into the hands of potential shooters, even though hunting rifles would still be sold to the public.

Sen. Feinstein has responded to the claims via The Associated Press, in which she said was her goal. She claims that she wanted to make it as clear as possible that she was not going against hunting. However, she did not expect the backlash that she and her fellow bill supporters are receiving from those within their own party. As for her own stance on gun rights, Sen. Feinstein has not been a friend to gun rights supporters. She was the master mind behind the ban back in 1996, which also made exemptions for around 600 weapons back in the day. That law expired back in 2004 during the Bush years. Since then many attempts for a new, stronger law has been made without much support nor success thus far.

No word on if this bill will even pass, but both President Obama and Vice President Biden have been doing rounds trying to raise support across the country for it. Both have traveled and will continue to travel across the country to discuss gun rights and laws. Right now no date has been set for voting, nor has the National Rifle Association stopped fighting for gun rights. Every attempt thus far for gun control has been thwarted by the NRA with success. However, with the recent rash of mass shootings, much of the public has become twice as critical to gun laws.

Hurricane Sandy to Play Important Role in Presidential Election?

Written By Jessica Nichols

Hurricane Sandy has been declared the highest costing and the largest hurricane on record. Scientists cite global warming and its effects to the recent spike in ‘super storms,’ which then begs the question of how Sandy is going to effect the upcoming presidential election.

Whether one is a democrat, republican or a third party supporter, a natural disaster transcends party lines. In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, which experts are saying was so severe partially due to global warming, how the candidates respond to these very real issues may be a decisive point in the minds of voters.

After breaking ground in the United States on October 29, Sandy has become the second-most costly hurricane in US recorded history, racking up an estimated $50 billion in economic losses, and is second only to Hurricane Katrina. Jonathan Foley, director of the Institute on the Environment at the University of Minnesota, recently tweeted this in regards to the strength and severity of Sandy, “Would this kind of storm happen without climate change? Yes. Fueled by many factors. Is storm stronger because of climate change? Yes.”

Global warming is not necessarily the most widely accepted notion, however, especially outside of the scientific community. There are still many political and religious figures that do not believe in climate change as well as our role in it, and responsibility that humans have on this planet.

President Obama supports Donna Vanzant, the owner of the North Point Marina, which was damaged in the hurricane, during a tour through Brigantine, NJ this October 31, 2012

But how can global warming alter weather patterns or the severity of storms? Scientists look to indicators like sea level to determine this. This past summer heralded a large loss on the level of sea ice. Climate Central had this to say, “The loss of sea ice opens large expanses of open water, which then absorbs more of the incoming solar radiation and adds heat and moisture to the atmosphere, thereby helping to alter weather patterns.”

Romney has been unclear on the subject at best, citing an unclear scientific stance as the source for his measured view on the topic. He told donors at the Consol Energy Center, “My view is that we don’t know what’s causing climate change on this planet. And the idea of spending trillions and trillions of dollars to try to reduce CO2 emissions is not the right course for us.”

Obama, on the other hand, may be taking a much more active role in the wake of Sandy. While Obama has never before had a problem mentioning global warming, he has of yet has not brought to the table the seriousness of the issue at hand, though he did say in a speech in Charlottesville, Va. last week, “Denying climate change doesn’t make it stop.”

As coverage of Sandy spreads and the clean-up effort is put into place, the pressure is on for this presidential election. Mitt Romney and Barack Obama are on the ropes to ensure that they are sending their message to the public, assuring them that they, too, take this issue very seriously.

Protesting Puppets: Why Supporters of PBS Marched on Washington

Written By Jessica Nichols

The first presidential debate sparked a lot of controversy, the least of which did not fall on America’s sweetheart, Big Bird. Romney’s comments about cutting funding for the Public Broadcasting Service, though conceding, “I like PBS, I love Big Bird,” inspired the protest held November 3, aptly named “Million Muppet March.”

The “Million Muppet March” brought together more puppets than probably had ever been in once place, standing for one purpose before.

Protesters marched Saturday, November 3, in support of PBS after Romney makes comments about cutting federal funding to the program

If Romney likes PBS and Big Bird, then why would he attempt to cut funding for the household name and channel? Romney had this to say, “I’m going to stop the subsidy to PBS… I’m not going to keep spending money on things to borrow money from China to pay for.”

Romney has been under fire about the comment ever since. Trending on social networking cites, memes, thousands of tweets, and an extensive media debate over whether cuts to PBS would begin to make a dent in federal deficit later, organizers created the “Million Muppet March.” Supporters of public broadcasting were outraged to hear Romney’s comments, and critic Bill Maher from “Real Time With Bill Maher” pointed out the PBS subsidy’s small proportion of the federal budget: a mere $445 million of $3.8 trillion.

The spirited march on Washington was started by animation executive, Michael Bellavia, and Chris Mecham, a university student, in response to Romney’s comments. Bellavia said, “I figured, why just make it a virtual show of support? Why not take this opportunity because it seemed like there was already a growing interest in it and actually make it an active, participatory event.”

The “Million Muppet March” saw protesters toting anywhere from fun-sized sock puppets to full-sized creations of our favorite neighborhood friends from Sesame Street: Big Bird, Bert and Ernie, Animal, and more.

Sesame Street, which has been airing for 43 years, is a very popular educational program, so there was no problem for organizers of the march to find people willing to come out and show their support for this longtime American institution. Organizers of the march say that at least 600 people signed up to participate in the actual march at the capital, with thousands more showing their support virtually through Facebook, Twitter, and even their own marches across the nation.

As the election draws nearer, supporters hope that their efforts raised enough awareness about the importance of federal subsidies to the Public Broadcasting System, for public television and public radio.

Obama Unveils America that is Built to Last in State of the Union

Obama at State of the Union Address 2012

Obama speaking at 2012 State of the Union Address

Written by: Nick Mingay

WASHINGTON – President Obama gave his State of the Union Address in Washington Tuesday in which he promised to pass legislation to help America continue its recovery, even in an election year.

At a time when the nation is enamured with the Republican Caucuses, a Newt and a Mitt, Obama had his shot to make a pitch to the American electorate and jump start his campaign for reelection. He began by focusing on the troops coming home and the end of Osama Bin Laden, his two biggest accomplishments since becoming President.

Throughout the speech, Obama emphasized the need to work together within Washington. He recognized the frustration Americans had over routine task such as the debt ceiling increase. Obama made it clear he was willing to play ball with either side of the aisle if it helped the country.

“As long as I’m President, I will work with anyone in this chamber to build on this momentum,” Obama said.

Obama also pinpointed the tax code as a major issue in 2012. His major attack was on those companies who outsource jobs to other countries. Obama said he would have those companies take a tax deduction to subsidies others bringing jobs back to American soil.

“From now on, every multinational company should have to pay a basic minimum tax,” Obama said. “And every penny should go towards lowering taxes for companies that choose to stay here and hire here in America.”

Later in the speech, Obama spoke on growing small businesses by expanded the tax relief to them. He also proposed getting rid of regulations that hinder entrepreneurs from starting their own business. These factors would allow small businesses to gain a foothold in the market and create more competition amongst established companies.

Obama also touched on how Americas reliance on foreign oil. The Keystone XL Pipeline was an obvious setback for this, but Obama laid out other avenues that could help domestic energy production.

He mentioned using hydraulic fracturing, or hydrofracking,  to collect natural gas as one way to help alleviate America’s crutch on foreign oil. There has been some debate about the detriment hydrofracking has on communities close to the operation because some companies have used diesel fuel in the process. Obama wanted to stop this from expanded into a bigger issue by stating that he will require those involved in hydrofracking to disclose the materials in the solution they use.

Obama finished his speech by noting again that the world will no longer have to worry about Bin Laden terrorizing a nation or about American troops in Iraq in 2012. This was the jumping off point for his reelection campaign. We can only wait to see if Obama’s charisma and political platform will carry him to another presidential election.

President Obama is Grilled by US Commission on International Religious Freedom

The President realizes that religion isn't black and white.

In the 2010 annual report, the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) asserted that President Obama failed to do all that he could to lobby for the protection of global religious freedom.

It mentioned that the president did not appoint an Ambassador-At-Large for International Religious Freedom, until now – a month after a request was made in a petition signed by lawmakers, scholars and human rights groups. The commission warned that an empty seat would send a message to the international community that rendered religious freedom a less-than priority for the president. The USCIRF

Religious Freedom: wouldn't it be nice?

also brought to attention the fact that Obama had not rated any countries as ‘CPC,’ or “countries of particular concern,” meaning that they have broken severe religious violations. Furthermore, it spoke on Obama rarely mentioning religious freedom while in Ankara and Cairo last year, and the fact that the president and his Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, replaced religious freedom with “freedom to worship.” On the latter subject, the commission called out the government by stating that they could muffle the issue by emphasizing how O.K. faiths are free to worship, while reserving mere token houses to the minor faiths.

This is the land of the free; so long as god remains on our currency, religion will not be judged currently.

Obama Has Handled the Tax Issue, And Tea Party’ers Still Deny It

A few Tax Party opinion signs

Announcing his 2011 budget proposal back in February, President Obama asserted that the government cannot spend as if deficits go without consequence, nor as if American tax-dollars are “Monopoly money.” But, as tax day arrives, many are questioning whether the president will keep his word, or default on a promise. While Tea Party supporters shout “Taxed Enough Already” until their voices crack, some are utterly stupefied by how such people ignore the figures surrounding the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act – aka the stimulus package -which recieves partial credit for for 2009’s record-breaking tax refunds, and a sixty-year low in federal taxes (a figure put forth by William Gale, co-director of the Tax Policy Center and director of the Retirement Security Project at the Bookings Institution.

Wrong, the budget crises is no kryptonite.

So, what does Obama have planned for our hard-earned money? Well, by the close of 2010, Americans are likely to see: A raise of the top two income tax brackets from 33 to 36 percent, and 35 to 39.6 percent; A raise in the capital gains tax rate from 15 to 20 percent – along with an increased tax on dividend income from 15 to 20 percent – for married couples with incomes exceeding 250k.

From these figures, it’s difficult to understand where the protestors get their information; after all, Gerald Prante, a senior economist for the non-partisan research organization, Tax Foundation, admitted that the increases will only reflect upon 2 to 3 percent of the year’s total tax returns.

Obama Adds Hospital Visitation to the Short List of Gay Rights

Obama spots a distant rainbow over the horizon

Though president Obama may be creeping toward victory in a tortoise fashion, his recent decision to grant same-sex couples hospital visitation rights proves that those steps are firm, and consistently progressing toward equality for  homosexuals, without the ignition of widespread cultural tumult. As it stands, some of the fiercest supporters for dramatic change are enraged with this decision, while other political activists encourage the baby-step style approach to reshaping government rules and regulations on behalf of the homosexual population of America.

This victory leads to one common goal.

The blitz began soon after the president’s election, when members of the Human Rights Campaign presented the transition team with a lengthy checklist, documenting 70 actions that the president could carry out without permission from congress. Over the next few months, activists remained in the transition’s headquarters, as not-yet appointed officials (in the departments of State,Human Services, Health, Labor and Justice)  rotated for discussions; gradually, the administration began incorporating the group’s recommendations, including: State-issued embassy ID cards for same-sex partners of diplomats; stopping the discrimination in housing-assistance programs; and an HHS pledge to change their policies regarding HIV-positive visitors and immigrants. However, the hardest task came to the surface when a phone call arrived from the White House; charged for change by a heart-wrenching story, top White House officials spoke to HRC about the best legal approach for HHS to address the issue of hospital rights for married homosexuals. And, though it will take six months for the Department of Health and Human Services to implement Obama’s order, this Thursday marks a small step for Obama, and a giant leap for American homosexuals.