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Political Issues of 2008

Agency and Bush Are Sued Over Domestic Surveillance This article by Scott Shane talks about a new class-action lawsuit in opposition to the National Security Agency (NSA), President Bush and other officials. The lawsuit was said to be handed over by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) to the Congress, requesting to end operations in monitoring telephone and internet exchanges of every citizen.

The suit was filed on behalf of all customers of AT&T who were disturbed by the mere fact that the said communication service is being manipulated by NSA and the government to obtain illegal information that could be seen as an act of violation to privacy. The lawyer that represented the EFF was Kevin Bankston, who had helped in making the plaintiff’s claim known through the use of a reliable source connected to the AT&T (Shane A13).

In the article, it was reported that a similar suit was filed last 2006 against AT&T by the EFF group when knowledge was obtained that the former had given the NSA access to customer records and communication lines without sufficient warrant. Earlier this year, Congress had thwarted the 2006 suit by granting immunity to telecommunication companies who have aided the NSA in their investigation for possible suspects of terrorist attacks since the 9/11 incident.

In response to the new lawsuit, the Bush administration has stressed that the monitoring action employed by the NSA through the AT&T is lawful since its main purpose is to catch terrorists and not to violate the privacy of American citizens (Shane A13). Comment: The topic of this article is quite interesting as one will be able to see just how vital it is for the intelligence agency to partner up with private companies in order to carry out their duties for the government.

Although it may seem alarming that the NSA has access to records provided by AT&T, concerns about privacy matters could be alleviated if the government follows explicit guidelines that does not intend to violate the rights of citizens. It would be nice if the government was transparent with its operations with regard to telecommunication providers such as AT&T. 2. Environmentalists blast changes to Endangered Species rules

The news story “Environmentalists blast changes to Endangered Species rules” by Dimmler discussed the decision of the White House to give more freedom for federal agencies to move about as they are no longer required to hold consultations with scientists and other environmental organizations in pursuing their respective projects. Chris Paolino of the Interior Department had stated that the changes made to the Endangered Species Act was an attempt to restructure organizations such as the U.

S. Fish and Wildlife Federation and the National Marine Fisheries, in its efforts to create a safe haven for endangered species since they would be able to cater to immediate pressing issues. Environmental groups have responded negatively to this change since it meant that their power over environmental matters has been limited, which would pose a great threat on protected wildlife enclaves that rely on these environmental groups.

The new regulation will take into effect before President Bush’s term ends but most environmental groups cannot wait to reverse the decision. The article also relayed Barack Obama’s acknowledgement of the concerns of the environmental groups and would try his very best to invalidate the changes made. Comment: President Bush’s rash decision regarding the Endangered Species Act was a bit disturbing as it seemed that he wasn’t considering the state of the country’s environmental degradation issues that has contributed to global warming.

Still, it was nice that Mr . Obama had taken notice of this and promised to reverse this decision once he is in office. 3. Obama wants temporary aid for automakers In this article, “Obama want temporary aid for automakers”, Barack Obama had expressed his optimism that the government would be able to render temporary assistance to U. S. automakers despite divisions in voting for transferring funds from the Wall Street bailout to the auto industry.

The White House had originally contested using any portion of the $700 billion designated for the financial services industry and banking system after the senate had rejected a federal loan proposal of $14 billion for the auto industry. At the Congressional hearings, the Senate was aid to be short of 60 votes as only a ratio 52-35 had voted to proceed with the legislation, putting the issue on a stand-still. Fears are starting to brew as General Motors Corp. and Chrysler may be financially challenged as compared to Ford Motor Co.

since the latter is more economically stable, save for its weak supplier base. With regard to salary arrangements, a suggestion made by Sen. Bob Corker implied that Union Workers from the Big Three auto companies would get the same amount as U. S. employees of foreign automakers, which did not sit well with the Big Three. Obama had also said expressed his disappointment on the auto-industry’s mismanagement of resources which has undoubtedly contributed to the current economic crisis.

White House press secretary Dana Perino has stated that The US auto industry is vital to the US market so every effort should be made in order to not further destabilize the current status of the economy. Comment: Disagreements are always present when the topic of discussion is of vital concern to everyone in varying degrees yet in this particular case, I hoped that the Senate would not arrive at an irrational decision to withhold its scattered funds on issues that keep the US economy afloat. 4.

Campaign Promises on Ending the War in Iraq Now Muted by Reality Shanker illustrated in his article a mere critique on soon-to-be President Barack Obama campaign promise to end the war in Iraq by pulling out all of the troops stationed in the war-torn country within 16 months at the start of his term till the end of 2011. Since the election, Mr. Obama has been in contact with both Robert Gates and Admr. Mike Mullen, two additional security advisers in his team, as they discuss the situation in Iraq (Shanker A35).

What became of these discussions was Obama’s recent statement that although the withdrawing of troops would still push through, a residual force would still be left behind that would oversee the protection of civilians in Iraq, with the intention of providing support and additional training to the Iraqis. Shanker had emphasized the shift in Obama’s statement to his campaign pledge (Shanker A35). The agreement between the US and Iraq regarding the status-of-forces is still subject to change as more troops are expected to be shipped off into Iraq in the early months of 2009.

Although Mr. Obama has not yet made concrete plans as to how he will go about the adjustment in delivering his promise while still compromising with security officials and the Iraqi government, he intends to merge such concerns in terms of strengthening the National Security of the US and its role in Iraq (Shanker A35). Comment: The article was very refreshing as it showed an interesting approach in Obama’s current stance in the Iraq war, a topic that was carefully scrutinized by American citizens during the election campaign.

Obama somehow did state misleading pledges that would make the people for him but it is understandable why his stance has changed since he had won the position as in politics, everything should be dealt with in a practical and cordial manner. US relations with Iraq greatly intertwined and the government should be able to maintain that if it plans on pursuing to encroach on terrorism. The US still needs Iraq. 5. Washington Council Enacts Tough Gun-Control Measure In the article by Falcone, it was reported that a new legislation has been passed in the District of Washington that would regulate the use of handguns.

Councilman Phil Mendelson has stated that the drafting of the legislation was a major accomplishment since it took in the best practices of other states, demonstarting Washington’s ability to fortify its gun laws (Falcone A19). The bill indicates that a citizen may only be allowed to own a handgun in use for self-defense. Another precept is that every gun owner is subjected to take a 5 hours course on safety training and is required to register their firearms every three years. Additionally, gun-owners are advised to submit themselves to criminal background checks every six years (Falcone A19).

Mr. Mendelson has expressed his enthusiasm over the provisions made in the bill, such as putting a mircostamp on certain handguns at the start of 2011 since that would make tracking down violent offenders and criminals much easier. The bill was said to have also put a strain on gun owners who have a history of violent behavior or have been committed to a mental institution within the last five years, containing the proliferation of handguns in the wrong hands (Falcone A19). Comment:

It’s very uplifting to hear about news like this as one could definitely see just how much law enforcers are doing their jobs in order to keep the neighborhoods safe. It’s about time that Washington toughens up their gun laws and I commend Mr. Mendelson for drafting new provisions for it. I believe that this would assist law enforcers greatly in tracking down criminals and containing gun violence. I just hope that certain measures will also be implemented in enforcing the new law so as to observe its effectively. Works Cited:

Dimmler, Erika. “Environmentalists blast changes to Endangered Species rules. ” CNN. [Washington] 12 Dec 2008. Falcone, Michael. “Washington Council Enacts Tough Gun-Control Measure. ” New York Times. [Washington] 16 Dec 2008: A19. “Obama wants temporary aid for automakers. ” CNN. 12 Dec 2008. Shane, Scott. “Agency and Bush Are Sued Over Domestic Surveillance. ” New York Times. [Washington] 18 Sept 2008: A13. Shanker, Tom. “Campaign Promises on Ending the War in Iraq Now Muted by Reality. ” New York Times. [Washington]. 4 Dec. 2008: A35

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