Stuff YOU Should Know

Posted by on Jul 31, 2015 in Stuff You Should Know

Minimum Wage Gaining Maximum Attention

Last month, the City of Los Angeles, California passed a landmark ordinance to increase the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2020. Similarly, the City of New York announced that it received a recommendation from its “wage panel” (appointed by NY Governor, Andrew Cuomo) to raise rates for those in the fast food industry. This topic is likely to be a hot one during the 2016 Presidential election. Democrats, in general, are in support of the increase, while Republicans, are generally opposed.

Supporters say this increase will inject more money into the economy, which will lead to more jobs. They also see it as a necessary step toward addressing an increasing wage inequality. Opponents say that the large increase is too much of a burden on companies and that a rise in wages will lead to inflation and the elimination of jobs. Some are conflicted by the amount of the increase, unsure of how to accurately predict how the economy might respond to the spike. Still others believe the issue is largely a political one, that both sides use this issue to appeal to their voter base.

What Do You Think? Given what you’ve read (in addition to research on your own) should the federal government consider raising the national minimum wage? Why or why not?

More Shootings in U.S.

In Chattanooga, Tennessee, 24-year-old Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez shot and killed four Marines and a Navy sailor, and injured a policeman and another Marine. The shootings occurred in two places, an Armed Forces recruitment center and a nearby naval reserve center. Despite uncovering an interest in radical Islam, law enforcement is not considering Abdulazeez as a terrorist. In Lafayette, Louisiana, John Russell entered a multiplex and opened fire, killing two people and injuring nine others before turning a gun on himself. Russell, 59, had a history of mental illness, but police have not confirmed a specific motive for the shooting.

What mostly links the incidents is the closeness in date (the former on July 16 and the latter on July 23). However, many are using the events of both to engage in the continuing debate on gun control in the United States. Those in favor of stricter gun laws believe that civilians should not have access to military-grade firearms because they are most often used to commit mass murder. Those opposed argue that stricter gun control laws do not deter crime as well as gun ownership.

Dig Deeper Some presidential hopefuls (like Bobby Jindal and Donald Trump) have made public remarks about the shootings in Chattanooga and Lafayette. Find out what they said, and report on any other candidate remarks. How do the remarks differ from one another?

A Historic Visit to Africa

Last month, President Obama spent three days in Africa, addressing crowds and talking to leaders in Kenya and Ethiopia. He is the first sitting American President to visit this area. The focus of the trip was to “increase security partnerships” in this region that is plagued by terrorism. First, he attended the sixth annual 2015 Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES) in Nairobi, Kenya. Launched in 2010, the GES made up of international businessmen, innovators and government officials, and aims to offer young people an alternative to violence and corruption.

The visit was considered a homecoming of sorts for the president, as his father (who had left the family when Obama was three years old, and then died in 1980) was born in Kenya. He emphasized his personal connection to the people and praised both the political and economic progress of recent year. He also used the opportunity to criticize the country’s long tradition of government corruption and the oppression, especially toward women and girls. In Ethiopia, he talked about stabilizing the region and combating the rising threat of terrorism, especially that of al-Shababa.

Dig Deeper Find out how the people of both Kenya and Ethiopia responded to President Obama’s visit and remarks. List at least two specific positive and two negative comments.

Pope’s Approval Rating Down

When Jorge Mario Bergoglio became Pope Francis in March of 2013, he became a very popular figure all around the world. Two years later, however, a recent Gallup poll reflects a decline in collective enthusiasm, with only fifty-nine percent of Americans polled giving a positive approval rating. In February of 2014, a similar poll showed that number at 76 percent. Experts suggest that the decline is due to growing disappointment among political conservatives and Catholics in general. Additionally, the number of people who report having not knowing who he is has risen from 16 percent last year to 25 percent.

Among the reasons for Pope Francis’ lowering approval rating are his outspoken opinions that can run counter to traditional Catholic beliefs. He has expressed a more tolerant position on homosexuality with his famous, “who am I to judge” response, and caused quite a controversy with the publication of a teaching document proclaiming climate change as a product of human activity. The pope is scheduled to travel to the United States–Washington D.C., New York and Philadelphia–in the fall.

What Do You Think? How much do you know about Pope Francis? Do enough research to develop a basic opinion and explain your answer.